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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Hunter Biden Calls For Criminal Probs Into Trump Allies Over Laptop; First Time He Has Acknowledged His Data Was Found; Tyre Nichols' Funeral And New Video Coming Of Fatal Police Encounter. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 01, 2023 - 20:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Five Memphis Police officers have been charged with murder in Nichols' death, two others are on leave as the Department investigates the case.

Thanks so much for being with us tonight. AC 360 begins now.



We begin tonight with breaking news. Tonight, for the first time, attorneys for Hunter Biden have publicly acknowledged that it was his personal data on a laptop that was left at a Delaware repair shop. It may also be a sign they are going on the offensive.

As you know, the laptop has become the focus of President Biden's political opponents, the source of embarrassing allegations about his son's personal affairs, as well as a figurative side dish to a main course of what could be serious legal trouble for the younger Biden.

In a moment, the potential legal and political fallout. First the news itself and CNN's Jessica Schneider.

So for years now, Republicans have been going off about this laptop and Hunter Biden never publicly acknowledged that it was his. Why is he taking legal steps now?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are really ramping up their approach here, Anderson, and it's really coming at the same time that they're girding themselves for this real fight with Congressional Republicans.

So what they're doing tonight, they're fighting back against a number of people they say allegedly got into Hunter Biden's laptop that was left at that Delaware computer repair shop, and they are fighting back against the people who allegedly disseminated the contents of that laptop because these were contents that contained business documents, e-mails, and photos, and even some potentially salacious materials, all purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden. So what Biden's team is saying is that this was all weaponized against Hunter Biden, and in turn his father, all in the lead up to the 2020 election. So tonight, what they are asking for is they are pushing for the Delaware State Attorney General, also the Justice Department to investigate and bring criminal charges against everyone they say was allegedly involved in going into the laptop and then disseminating all of this information.

So this is what Hunter Biden's lawyer, Abbe Lowell is now saying. He is saying: "This failed dirty political trick directly resulted in the exposure, exploitation, and manipulation of Mr. Biden's private and personal information. Mr. Mac Isaac's (he is the repair shop owner) intentional, reckless, and unlawful conduct allowed for hundreds of gigabytes of Mr. Biden's personal data without any discretion to be circulated around the internet."

And Anderson, this aggressive approach, it really does signal what is a significant change in strategy from Hunter Biden. He has brought in new lawyers to help him defend him from this attack from Republicans -- House Republicans.

House Republicans are probing Hunter Biden's business dealings. So now they're fighting back on this laptop issue. And of course, at the same time, Anderson, Hunter Biden is facing this ongoing, unrelated Federal criminal investigation into his taxes and also possible false statements while making a gun purchase.

So a lot ramping up when it comes to his legal team.

COOPER: And Hunter Biden's attorneys aren't just asking for an investigation to the computer repair shop owner, also Rudy Giuliani, other right-wing figures. Who else can be caught up in this?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, they are naming several people here. We've got a number of letters here that they've been sending out. This includes the computer repair shop owner, like you said Rudy Giuliani, also Steve Bannon, who of course was a top adviser in Trump's White House for several months, a number of other right-wing figures that they say help distribute all of this information that was purported to be from his laptop.

So our team has reached out to all of the people named in the letters, no response also to the Attorney General's office in Delaware, also the DOJ, but Hunter Biden's legal team really opening a new front of aggression here just as the inquiries from House Republicans could also be intensifying. So fighting on many fronts here tonight -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jessica Schneider, appreciate it.

I want to go to the White House and CNN's Phil Mattingly. Any reaction from the White House tonight or anyone there?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Anderson, White House officials have long taken the approach of deferring all questions related to Hunter Biden's legal issues to Hunter Biden's lawyers and in part, that's been a deliberate effort to wall off the President, to wall off the White House from anything legal related to his son.

But this is also a very sensitive topic and officials acknowledge that the shift in posture you've seen tonight from Hunter Biden's lawyers was not something that was really recommended by many of the President's close advisers. They wanted him to keep a more low profile. And I think that gets to the reality here.

The President is deeply protective of his son, very empathetic to the recovery from substance abuse that he has pursued over the course of the last several years and obviously remains close and speaks often to his son.

However, when it comes to White House officials, they make clear to the extent they can have bright lines, even if that means trying to craft agreements to ensure that there is separation between Hunter Biden's legal issues and the White House, that is where they weigh in.

COOPER: Are White House officials concerned that the Republican-led congressional hearings into Hunter Biden's life and career that are expected could anger or upset the President to the point that he felt compelled to say something or would impact his or, you know, impact his reelection bid if that in fact happens?

MATTINGLY: You know, Anderson, it is very clear White House officials know how personal this is to the President, however, it is interesting that it's actually the inverse when you talk to them.


They believe politically, this has far more of an impact in the negative manner towards Republicans than it does to the President himself. They think it is very obviously politically motivated, White House officials that I've spoken to, and in some level, they believe that it's just following the lead of former President Donald Trump who obviously pursued similar issues, one that led to his impeachment, his first impeachment back when he was President.

I think one thing when you talk to White House officials, they make clear, they've got internal polling that shows that investigating Hunter Biden and investigating the President's family doesn't make anywhere near the top of the issues that they see when they get their polls back, and that is why they have maintained a pretty laser focus on the President's agenda, what he is trying to accomplish on the policy side of things, and largely ignoring or trying to defer on these issues, making clear they'll engage with Congressional Committees investigating these issues, if they believe they're done in good faith, implicitly, and that is that they don't think investigations into the President's family are being done in good faith.

When it comes to the reelection, nothing I've heard says this will have any impact on it whatsoever. They are still full speed ahead on that front at this moment in time. So right now, it's clear they think the political advantage on these issues is actually on their side and not the Republicans -- Anderson.

COOPER: Phil Mattingly, thanks.

More on the legal and political implications, which are two very different sides of this. Joining us now, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and for the politics, CNN senior political commentator, former Illinois Republican Congressman, Adam Kinzinger; and also Dana Bash, CNN chief political correspondent. She is co-anchor of CNN's State of the Union.

So Andrew, from a legal perspective and law enforcement, how significant do you think these moves are by the attorneys for Hunter Biden? What do you expect the response to be?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think they're very significant, Anderson, and I think they are probably a little bit late. Like, this is a position that Hunter Biden probably should have taken a long time ago, of course, in the history of this issue.

He is basically recasting himself here as the victim of potential cybercrimes and trafficking in stolen property and other issues like that. So you have Hunter Biden's lawyers bringing these claims to the relevant law enforcement, the heads of the relevant law enforcement agencies here, both the Department of Justice in the National Security Division, and in the State of Delaware, saying, hey, our client has been victimized by this trafficking of his material without his consent. This may have been, you know, exceeding the authorization that the repair shop had to access his files. He certainly didn't have his permission to share this information with anybody else, and you need to get involved and investigate what's happened to our client.

I think it's an aggressive, but appropriate move at this point.

COOPER: And Congressman, he has now acknowledged that is his, in fact, his laptop, which he hadn't really done before, though your former Republican colleagues in the House obviously expressed a lot of interest in holding hearings into Hunter Biden's life and career. The information, whether it was legal or not to obtain it, it is out there now from this laptop. Do you expect these legal moves in any way give them pause or change the situation of the actual investigations?


I mean, look, I've never understood why this has been and it's not even all Republicans that are really pushing this Hunter Biden laptop thing. It's basically the Freedom Caucus, and a few others. This is, you know, political gold within the right-wing. This is what you need to lead on if you want to win a primary.

But many in the GOP have long ago given up trying to, you know, attract the middle or trying to even win over some Democrats. I don't think it's going to change their fervency in doing this. It is not going to change the fact that that will be pretty much the sole focus of the oversight in the new weaponization committee. And quite honestly, I don't think it's going to move the needle one way or another. I don't think anybody is going to vote Republican that didn't or wouldn't have because of Hunter Biden's laptop.

I mean, Hunter Biden is not the President of the United States, Hunter Biden is not a US senator or congressman, he is a private citizen. But what he did is the jurisdiction of the FBI, and I think most Americans understand that that doesn't belong necessarily on the front page of political action.

COOPER: Dana, you heard Phil Mattingly talk about how officially the White House doesn't want to be seen as having anything to do with this. Is that realistic, given how much the President likes to speak off the cuff and obviously, how protective he is of his family?

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR AND POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Unclear. It's a really good question. He has tried to be very, very cautious, as you mentioned, as Phil was talking about, and simply referring to his son, obviously, as somebody who he loves and somebody who has had a lot of troubles with substance abuse, et cetera.

But it is really noteworthy, Anderson, that Hunter Biden had made this decision now to change course and in hiring Abbe Lowell, who is a very well-known lawyer, who has been working for decades here in Washington, on cases like this very high profile cases. He is a take- no-prisoners kind of attorney.


Hunter Biden knew what he was getting when he hired Abbe Lowell and this is the kind of thing that he clearly wants to do. And it is, I agree with Andy, it is really unclear why if there is a potential case there against these actors -- Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon and others -- who have the data, whether it's actually from the laptop or some other way that they have not -- they, the Hunter Biden team -- has not gone after them before because the only thing we've ever heard from Hunter, he's really been opaque.

He had a book that came out. He answered a couple of questions about these issues, but not much. And so he's been able to be defined by these Republicans. Now they have gavels, which is very likely why you see the President's son changing course in terms of his legal and political strategy.

COOPER: But Andrew, I mean, going after, you know, whoever, you know, trafficked in this laptop and the data that was on it, it doesn't bring the data back. I mean, whatever is out there is out there for those in Congress who want to investigate it and use it to use it however they want to.

MCCABE: Yes. I agree with that, Anderson. But this is -- I see this less as a matter of trying to recover data that as you've mentioned is already out in the wild, and more is an effort to recast Hunter Biden as the victim here rather than the perpetrator of some sort of crime.

It is still not clear to me what this laptop would be evidence of any crime anyway. We know that the FBI went and seized it from the computer shop operator with a subpoena, which they brought likely would have needed a search warrant to actually look at the thing. It's a little bit confusing to me as to how they would have predicated even a request for a search warrant.

But nevertheless, this is Hunter Biden going on offense and saying, hey, I'm tired of being the target of all these attacks. In fact, I've been the victim. I'm the one that's had my private information unlawfully accessed and distributed and then shared with the world.

COOPER: And, Andrew, this is clearly being done ahead of those hearings. I mean, it's not a coincidence do you think that this is happening just ahead of the hearings and any potential Justice Department move into the investigation to his taxes?

I think I lost Andrew.

Congressman Kinzinger, the timing of this certainly seems related.

KINZINGER: Yes, I think it is related. I think, look, once you had -- when the Democrats had control the House, really the Hunter Biden laptop story, it was on certain cable news channels, it was on the internet. It was on talk radio. Now this will be you know -- because of Congress' oversight, because of their ability to set the agenda, this will now be "a legitimate discussion topic."

And I think, you know, if I was advising the Hunter Biden team, I'm not a lawyer, but that's what I would say is you have to go on offense on this.

There is no difference in having stolen the data. I mean, a computer shop owner, who Hunter Biden gave a laptop to, to fix, who stole his data, which to me has been incredible from the very beginning like that has not been a bigger story.

This is the equivalent of hacking into somebody and to celebrate this and say there is no problem, I've never understood it, and I think it's a really dangerous path for the GOP to go down on.

COOPER: Dana, one of the people Hunter Biden is asking authorities to investigate is Rudy Giuliani. You've covered the former Mayor extensively. Is it clear to you whether he is still active in the world of far-right conspiracy theories and legal battles? I mean, is he still trying to take Hunter Biden down? We haven't heard much about him.

BASH: Because he is trying to defend his own reputation, his own legal standing.

COOPER: Does he have a reputation or legal standing?

BASH: Well, legal -- look, he is under fire, for sure. Reputation aside, he is trying to defend himself on the legal front, which is in part, why the Hunter Biden legal team now, put this out, because there are a series of Republicans and those actors who are already kind of back on their heels on other issues, and this is certainly another issue.

The answer is probably. He is on the phone, a lot, making calls and it wouldn't be surprising if he was continuing to do that with this.

I just want to make a very quick point to underscore what Jessica Dean talked about, excuse me what Jessica Schneider talked about at the beginning, which is that this is a completely separate issue from the Justice Department doing an investigation with a Trump-appointed US Attorney in Delaware, different issues.

COOPER: Adam Kinzinger Andrew McCabe, Dana Bash, thanks so much.

Coming up next, Tyre Nichols' funeral, the local DA on many more hours of video of his killing that could soon come out and what the DA has to say about what is in the videos, and particularly the audio he says is particularly important.

Also my conversation with the mother or Breonna Taylor who was at the funeral today, and later new reporting on the Congressman George Santos back when most people knew him by a different name entirely.



COOPER: On the day of Tyre Nichols' funeral in Memphis, we learned that there could be a great deal more video coming out of his fatal encounter with police. CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked the local District Attorney, Steven Mulroy about that tonight on "The Situation Room."


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": What are those new videos that none of us have seen yet? What do they show?

STEVEN MULROY, SHELBY COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: You know, probably most useful for the audio as opposed to the video because the -- you know, the relevant parts of the first incident and then the second incident when the beating took place are already out there for the video that's already been released.

But there is a lot of footage, maybe as much as 20 hours, and some of it, I think maybe more relevant because of the audio and then a lot of it depicts things that take place, you know, after the beating has already occurred, and you know, people are sort of talking afterwards, even after the ambulance takes Mr. Nichols away.


COOPER: At the funeral today, calls for justice and change from Vice President Harris and others, but also reminders of who he was, the life he lived in the people he was taken from.


KEYANA DIXON, TYRE NICHOLS' SISTER: I see the world showing him love and fighting for his justice, but all I want is my baby brother back.



COOPER: Tyre Nichols was a young father, a skateboarder, photographer and a son. Here is his mom today.


ROWVAUGHN WELLS, TYRE NICHOLS' MOTHER: The only thing that is keeping me going is the fact that I really truly believe my son was sent here on an assignment from God.


ROWVAUGHN WELLS: And I guess now this assignment is done and he has been taken home.


COOPER: Tamika Palmer attended the services today. Her daughter, Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by police in Louisville three years ago next month.

Attorney Ben Crump paid tribute to both today.


BENJAMIN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Many of you may have heard about this coincidence that Breonna Taylor and Tyre Nichols were born on the same day in the same year, June 5, 1993.

So I want to acknowledge Tamika Palmer, and I know you said it brought back so many memories and pain when you found out it was the same birthday. So if you would stand, Tamika Palmer, let us at least acknowledge Breonna Taylor's mother.


COOPER: Well, Tamika Palmer spoke with us just before airtime.


COOPER: Tamika, thank you so much for joining us. Can you just tell us what was it like to be at Tyre Nicole's funeral today?

TAMIKA PALMER, BREONNA TAYLOR'S MOTHER: Emotional. The room was filled with a lot of families who came out to support Tyre Nichols' family, so I guess that's the good part in it, but it just was so emotional.

COOPER: When you heard that Tyre and Breonna shared the same birthday, even the same year, June 5, 1993. I mean, that's extraordinary.

PALMER: It is. It just brought a lot back to me. So I was very emotional learning that. Just to -- for me, it's -- you know, he could have been my kid. He was the same age as my kid, and to have died with the same fate --

COOPER: During the service, many people were calling for the passage of the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act. Do you have any hope that any kind of police reform legislation can get -- actually can get passed?

PALMER: It has to. Hope is such a such a word for it. Because you know, we've been holding out hope for so long, but I don't know that we can continue the way that we have, so something has to happen.

COOPER: It must -- I mean, every time there is a killing like this, every time there is a tragedy like this, it must bring it all back for you, not that it ever goes away for you.

PALMER: It definitely brings it back. I just -- you know, with everything that's going on, I can't believe officers are still choosing to behave in this manner. I think that just with all that has happened, you'd want to be on your best behavior and just kind of making sure that people around you are doing the same thing.

COOPER: Did you think with greater use of police body cameras, that that would happen, that people would realize that well, you know, the cameras are on. But even in this case, in Tyre's case, the cameras were on. They did what they did, and then it seems like police reports right afterward were doctored up, were false.

PALMER: Well, that's the problem. You can have the cameras on all day long, but until you actually start holding these people accountable. That's where we fall short at, you know. People are -- they are standing behind qualified immunity, and that will always be a problem.

COOPER: Eric Garner's mom was on CNN earlier today saying that Tyre Nichols' death digs into old wounds and said that she lives her son's death over and over again. Obviously, you talked about that as this brings it all back for you.

To see so many other parents there who have -- and spouses and siblings who have lost loved ones, it is obviously a group nobody wants to be part of, but is there a connection that you instantly have with everybody?


PALMER: Absolutely. To be in the room with people who know exactly how you feel, people you don't have to explain to what you're going through and how you feel and the anger you're holding, or the disbelief and, you know, you don't have to explain that to these people because they know exactly how you feel.

COOPER: Ben Crump, the Nichols' family attorney said that the swift action by Memphis officials in charging officers in less than a month since Nichols' death, that should be what he called the blueprint going forward.

Do you think this will be the blueprint going forward? PALMER: I would like to hope so. I definitely think that it gives us hope to see that people do know that, you know, they can give justice quickly, like it doesn't have to be a thing going on for two, three, five, ten years like --

COOPER; Tamika Palmer, I appreciate talking to you. I know you've had a long day and I really appreciate you taking the time. Thank you.

PALMER: Absolutely. Thank you.


COOPER: She talked to us from the airport on her way home.

Just ahead, there is breaking news, new information about a Federal investigation to Congressman George Santos, that's ahead.


COOPER: There is new information tonight on what by even George Santos standards was one of the more bizarre and frankly disturbing allegations against him involving not only deception, but possible financial fraud as well. It involves his association with a veteran in New Jersey whose dog was dying and desperately needed surgery.

The veteran has told CNN that Santa was helped raise money to aid the dog using a GoFundMe page. The veteran who at the time was homeless living in a tent says he never saw the roughly $3,000.00 that was raised and that later, his dog died.

CNN's Omar Jimenez joins us now with more on the story. So what more did you learn?


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Richard Osthoff is the navy veteran. He told us today that two FBI agents came to his home today to ask about, obviously, this entire ordeal as you said, where he has said that Santos helped him raise money for life-saving surgery for his dying dog, never got that money, the dog died four months later. And Osthoff said he was co-operative, he turned over text messages that he had exchanged with Santos back in 2016, which is right around when this entire ordeal happened. Very tough time in his life as he detailed and when he spoke about all of this, Osthoff to CNN just a few weeks ago, this is a little of what he said.


RICHARD OSTHOFF, US NAVY VETERAN: Do you have a heart? Do you have a soul? And he probably would lie about that. I mean, I don't want you to ever hurt anybody like you hurt me again, George. And nobody else should have to go through that. I almost killed myself when that dog died. That's why I'm here. I don't want him to be able do this again.


JIMENEZ: And on the latest developments, a spokesperson for the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York did not have a comment here. Neither did George Santos when he was asked about it on Capitol Hill today. Now, when this story was coming out just last month, Santos said that he had no idea about all of this. But, obviously, those are claims he is making up against those of Osthoff's.

COOPER: Yes and reportedly, seems like he has text messages. Is there any sense of a timeline of -- if the FBI was talking to the veteran today, a timeline of their investigation?

JIMENEZ: Well, he has got a lot of investigations going on at this point into his personal finances, into his campaign finances. At least one congressman from New York does believe that this investigation could move much quicker than those on the campaign finance side. To use his words, he said that US Attorneys are the only ones that can move at the pace necessary to actually get some answers on a normal timetable here. But obviously, a lot of questions, not a whole lot of answers.

COOPER: Omar Jimenez, appreciate it. Thanks very much. I'm joined now by senior editor Andrew Kaczynski who has a new report on that's pretty fascinating, the details pieces together new information about George Santos when most people knew him as Anthony Devolder. So can you talk -- what have you discovered about kind of the evolution of Anthony Devolder into George Santos?

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN SENIOR EDITOR, KFILE: Yes, what we found is pretty interesting. Before 2019, he didn't post really about politics at all. He posted about, you know, celebrities; he went on a Real Housewives talk show and took a selfie; a big Lady Gaga fan. But around 2019, January, this starts to change. He sends lots of angry tweets at politicians, people in New York specifically like AOC, Chuck Schumer. But he wasn't really getting any attention. No one was responding to him.

And he gets, you know, sort of this pickup when he joins this group of sort of diverse pro-Trump activists in New York City. The Republican Party was attempting to diversify and here comes, you know, called Anthony Devolder still at this time. He is young. He is gay. He is Latino and allegedly, according to him, very successful.

COOPER: So how did -- that's how he began to make inroads with Republicans?

KACZYNSKI: So the first instance that we found where he started connecting people was in March of 2019. There was this rally in New York City at Trump Tower. It was with Republicans basically in the tri-state area. He shows up there with the gays, For Trump sign. There is video online of him yelling at another guy who kind of basically came to rabble-rouse with a Confederate flag, telling him to go home. The next couple of days, he attends these events for this movement which is called the WalkAway Movement.

And it's basically, this movement to take people who are traditionally members of the Democratic coalition, women, people of color and tell them to leave the Democratic Party and come to the Republican Party. He attends these events. He says I'm Anthony Devolder. I am very successful. I'm gay. I'm Latino. And most importantly, to these people, he is a Trump supporter.

COOPER: And at what point does he decide to run to congress?

KACZYNSKI: So we found basically, with these events, he is making connections. He is meeting people at these events. He is making connections. They see him. They see his story, which they find personally compelling.

COOPER: Sure. The mom died in 9/11, the holocaust survivor, (INAUDIBLE).

KACZYNSKI: 11 years, he said working on Wall Street. And he starts this Facebook group at the same time too where it's called United for Trump 2020. Like, we talked about just earlier, the GoFundMes. He had a GoFundMe. He made these grandiose promises.


And then around 2019, the end of the year, he starts going to Queens events. He is running for office under a new name. He has -- he actually is--

COOPER: He goes to Queens?

KACZYNSKI: Queens Republican events.


KACZYNSKI: As you know, he is meeting people. He even actually had a public access talk show in Queens. And he is doing it under this name George Santos which even confused people who knew him. We actually -- we have audio of him introducing himself and there is a speaker, and he says, "Who is this guy? I thought his name was something else."

COOPER: I think you have a -- do you have a clip of that?

KACZYNSKI: Yes, we have audio of that.

COOPER: Yes, OK. Let's take a look.


UNKNOWN: Folks, another important speaker, another congressional nominee, George Santos. George, who we know as a friend, he is known as Anthony Devolder to me. So I don't know where George Santos came into the thing. But that's what it says here.

REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): I'm a victim of circumstances. My parents were Latino, so it's George Anthony Devolder Santos.


COOPER: Is it George Anthony Devolder Santos? I mean, what is his actual name?

KACZYNSKI: That is actually his name. I mean, I actually -- I posted a tweet once where I had countered ten different names he used. George Santos, Anthony Santos, George Devolder, Anthony Zebroski -- no one really knows where that one came from. We reached out to his office, we reached out to his attorney and we asked, could we talk to you about his evolution, how he got here, like most people, we didn't hear back.

COOPER: Yes, that's not going to happen, at least for a while. Andrew Kaczynski, thank you. Fascinating stuff on A new video played at the Alex Murdaugh double murder trial today, a tape the prosecutors believe undercuts his claim that he wasn't at the scene of the killings. So we will see that next.



COOPER: Accused murderer Alex Murdaugh long claimed he wasn't at the scene where his wife and youngest son were shot dead. He told law enforcement he was visiting his mother before he returned home and discovered their bodies.


ALEX MURDAUGH, MURDER ACCUSED: She is a dog lover. She fools with the dogs. And I knew she had gone to the kennel. I was at the house. I left the house and went to my mom's.


COOPER: Prosecutors played footage they believe undercuts that alibi. CNN's Randi Kaye was back in the South Carolina courtroom today.


UNKNOWN: Give it.

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the video prosecutors believe puts Alex Murdaugh at the murder scene around the time his wife and son were killed. A computer crimes expert testifying for the state said he extracted this video from Paul Murdaugh's phone several months after his death. The video shows a dog, but it's not what the jury sees on the video that is critical to the state's case, it's what they hear on it.

UNKNOWN: What do you hear on the video?

LIEUTENANT BRITT DOVE, SOUTH CAROLINA LAW ENFORCEMENT DIVISION: You hear three different voices in the video. You can tell because they are so different. You can tell that they are different voices.

KAYE (voice-over): listen closely.

UNKNOWN: At this time, the state's going to publish that video. It is not under seal.


UNKNOWN: Hey, he has got a bird in his mouth.

UNKNOWN: Bubba (ph).

UNKNOWN: Hey, Bubba (ph).

UNKNOWN: It's a guinea (ph).

UNKNOWN: It's a chicken.

KAYE (voice-over): The time that the video was taken is key to the prosecutor's case.

UNKNOWN: What time is that video recorded again, Lieutenant Dove?

DOVE: The camera begins at 8:44:49 PM.

UNKNOWN: And ends when?

DOVE: At 8:45:47 PM.

KAYE: The witness told the jury the video was taken 8:45 PM on June 7, 2021, the night of the murders. Alex Murdaugh had told investigators at least twice that he wasn't at the kennels earlier in the night. His 911 call that night puts him at the scene at around 10:07 PM. But the audio in this video, if it's him, as prosecutors suggest, would undercut his alibi and put Alex Murdaugh with the victims at the time of the murders, at the time their cell phones ceased all activity and locked. That was about 8:49 PM.

UNKNOWN: Were there ever any other outgoing calls made from Paul's phone?

DOVE: No, sir, not that I found.

UNKNOWN: Were there ever any other calls that were answered, incoming calls ever answered on Paul's phone?

DOVE: No, sir.

KAYE: Alex Murdaugh was not identified by prosecutors on the video, but this witness, Rogan Gibson, testified that Paul was sending the video in question to him that night, so Gibson could see his injured dog. He told the court he is sure that's Alex Murdaugh's voice on the recording.

UNKNOWN: And did you hear, recognize the voices on there?


UNKNOWN: Did you recognize the voices of your second family?

GIBSON: I did. UNKNOWN: And what voices did you hear?

GIBSON: Paul's, Ms. Maggie and Mr. Alex.

UNKNOWN: And how sure are you now?

GIBSON: Positive.

UNKNOWN: 100%?

GIBSON: That's correct.

KAYE (voice-over): On cross-examination, the defense tried to chip away at Gibson's testimony about the tape but it seemed to backfire.

UNKNOWN: Now, you heard a voice say, "No, it's a chicken." Do you remember whose voice that was?

GIBSON: That was Mr. Alex that said it the first time and then Paul said it was a chicken.

KAYE (voice-over): And it only got worse for the defense when Paul's long-time friend and roommate, Will Loving said, "He heard Alex on the recording too."

UNKNOWN: How sure are you?


UNKNOWN: The person whose voice you recognize on there that you identified as Alex Murdaugh, do you see him in the courtroom here today?

LOVING: Yes, sir.

UNKNOWN: Can you point him out for the jury?

LOVING: He's sitting right there.


KAYE: And as that video played in court, Anderson, Alex Murdaugh sat at the defense table crying. But we learned in court whatever happened that night happened very, very fast. We know that video we saw today was recorded at about 8:45 PM. Paul Murdaugh got a text which he opened at 8:48:59 PM, just 36 seconds later. Anderson, he got another text from that friend of his, Rogan Gibson. That text was never opened. So just 36 seconds later, his phone had gone silent forever and he was never heard from again, Anderson.

COOPER: Wow! So, that was just seconds -- that was how long after that recording? That text message?


KAYE: The recording was at about 8:45 PM and that text message would have been about 8:49 PM. That's when they say -- the prosecutors are saying his phone was locked forever. So four minutes from the recording, that phone was locked for good until they unlocked -- until authorities unlocked it, about just 36 seconds from the last text he actually read.

COOPER: It's so eerie watching that video, knowing that minutes later both of those people would be dead. Randi, appreciate it. Thank you. For more on the trial's development, we turn to Criminal Defense Attorney and Senior Legal Analyst Joey Jackson. I mean, is that as close to a smoking gun as they have gotten so far?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST AND CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Without question. So you have a shot in a case when you have no eyewitnesses. There is no eyewitnesses here. There is no surveillance to demonstrate that you did it. No surveillance here. No DNA to connect you to the murder weapon or to the crime scene as here. But you kind of do have the DNA, why? Point out two people that have identical voices. You won't be able to find them. And so what the prosecution has to do, Anderson, is get him to the crime scene. But then it gets worse because not only does the voice, his DNA, right, not literally, but certainly figuratively, it's unique, no two people have the same voice.

COOPER: And identified by two people who are very close to the family.

JACKSON: Correct. And you heard in the prosecution's question, "Did you hear your second family member?" Really sticking it home, like there would be no mistake. And then it gets worse than that, why? Because then you have the indication that only moments later, the phones went dead and the friend that his son was apparently communicating with could not get through. What does that tell you? It tells you his son had no ability to get through to his friend because his son was no longer there. Then it gets even worse. When you have an alibi you were hoping napping after dinner and you were never at the scene, why would you lie about that unless you had something to conceal? And so it undercuts the alibi, it puts him at the scene and it otherwise demonstrates that he potentially had something to do with it, if not the fact that he is guilty.

COOPER: And I mean, if he was there, that's his voice, and he murdered his wife and his child. I mean, he is -- the fact that he is chatting with them, playing around with them and the dog minutes before is insane.

JACKSON: It's troubling. So there are cases, Anderson, which we call circumstantial cases. Circumstantial cases are predicated upon that just that, circumstance. I come into the studio and it was perfectly dry when I came here. I go outside, it's not raining but it's wet all around. What does that demonstrate? It demonstrates it's raining. So if there is circumstantial evidence, it certainly would be clear that this would be powerful circumstantial evidence, last point. We talk about the concept of reasonable doubt. What does that mean? Beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury is instructed that it's not to a mathematical certainty you have to establish someone's guilt. It's that you have to establish is it reasonably clear. And what this does is it undercuts his alibi, a central element of his defense and therefore undercuts the fact that he would not be guilty. So very compelling and what we call damning evidence in this case.

COOPER: Yes, incredible day in court. Joey Jackson, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Just ahead, two stories involving Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in education first. The latest on his fight against AP course work on African American studies that has pitted him against the College Board and now the College Board against The New York Times. We will explain that in a moment. Plus, we will discuss with a third-grade Florida teacher why the book shelves are now empty.



COOPER: A short time ago, the makers of the Advanced Placement courses pushed back on The New York Times characterization of its newly released course framework for African American studies. Times in its reporting said the contemporary writers associated with topics like Critical Race Theory were in an earlier draft were "purged" and that the College Board had changed its coursework after criticism from conservatives like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who said the Board was pursuing a "political agenda."

The College Board called The Times reporting "rife with inaccuracies and a gross misrepresentation." CNN has reached out to The Times for comment. This comes as DeSantis has had a major impact on grade schools in Florida. Books in some schools are now missing from classrooms as teachers and administrators struggle to comply with what my next guest, a Florida third-grade teacher says are "vague laws on what books teachers can and can't have in their classrooms."

I'm joined now by Andrea Phillips. Ms. Phillips, thanks so much for being with us. Can you just explain what happened last week when your Florida School District decided to remove all books until they could be vetted?

ANDREA PHILLIPS, SCHOOL TEACHER IN FLORIDA: Yes, thank you, Anderson. Last week, we had a school meeting and we were shown a video that our District put together from our Chief Academic Officer and our Superintendent. And they basically said to us that until they have clearer directives from the state, all classroom libraries and media centers were to be made unavailable to students. They really wanted to err on the side of caution because the directives that they've been given so far from the State have been fairly unclear.

They've been told that basically HB 1467 was passed in order to have more transparency for parents within the classroom. I've been a teacher for more than a decade and teachers have always had their doors open. But all books, no matter how they come into a school, whether they're purchased, donated, teachers buy them, whatever it is, they now have to be vetted by a certified Media Specialist. And the problem with that is, we have a part-time one at our school. We have thousands of books at our school. The other issue is they don't have a specific system in place yet to vet. So it's -- last week, we were told to make all of our books unavailable to students, so until further notice. Yes.


COOPER: OK, so all books are now unavailable to students until further notice and there's not specific guidelines on what is inappropriate. I mean is that -- why are there not specific guidelines? You would think if they are so concerned about this, there would be -- because I mean, if there is only -- if it's up to one so-called Media Specialist to review thousands of books, what are they looking for?

PHILLIPS: That's a great question. So part of the Bill that was passed, it was in response to with the Parental Rights Bill, I believe. And what it states is that books have to be free of pornography. They also cannot include any issues of discrimination based on race, color, sex, or national origin. They also for Grades K- 3 cannot include anything related to gender identity. And that goes back to the Bill that people have dubbed the 'Don't Say Gay' bill. So those are really the only specificities that we've gotten.

And the Media Specialist at my school in particular, what she's using is a 12-question Microsoft Forms piece that someone put together, that she goes through and answers these 12 question on every single book in the school, and it's just too subjective. I mean one person doing this -- what one person finds offensive, another may not. So no one's going behind the Media Specialist and working with them either. They're not getting the extra support because you have to be a certificated Media Specialist in order to do this work. We're short on those. We've had these budget cuts for years that these resource teachers are dwindling left and right. So we just -- we don't have the means to do this work.

COOPER: So if a kid in your classroom wants to read a book, what do you do?

PHILLIPS: I give them a District issued curriculum book and tell them that that's what I have available to read. So the books I am allowed to have in my classroom are my current curriculum books. I am an interventionist, so I use a phonics program. I work with students who are reading below grade level and I see about 60 to 70 students a day. If they finish their work, what I used to do is, I had a really expansive library in my classroom that came by donation from my family, my friends, my community.

I was running a little free library out of my classroom as well because I work in a low socioeconomic neighborhood, and I wanted to make sure my kids had access to books outside of school. Now I can tell them you can read some more in your curriculum books. So it's kind of like finishing your job and getting more work to do, rather than me being able to instill a love of reading for pleasure.

COOPER: Yes. Andrea Phillips, I appreciate what you do. It's a tough job, and it seems particularly tough these days. I appreciate it. Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Thank you, Anderson. I appreciate you bringing light to this.

COOPER: Still to come, we're going to dig into the latest search for classified documents by federal investigators, this time at President Biden's beach home. What does it say about the investigation and will there be more searches? details on that ahead.