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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Twenty-One Thousand-Plus Dead, 78,000-Plus Injured Three Days After Turkey-Syria Earthquake; Pence Subpoenaed By Special Counsel Investigating Trump; Santos Charged With Theft In 2017 Case Tied To Amish Dog Breeders; Santos Charged With Theft In 2-17 Over Bad Checks Written In His Name To Dog Breeders In Amish Country; Alex Murdaugh's Best Friend Testifies In Double Murder Trial; Murdaugh's Son, Sister Told To Move Out Of Front Row Of Courtroom; Michigan Sheriff's Deputy Helps A Man With A Hug. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 09, 2023 - 20:00   ET


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This program has been going on with President Xi's direct knowledge. However, lawmakers briefed on this had been told that this particular balloon at this particular time, may have been dispatched without the knowledge of Xi, and also without the knowledge of senior People's Liberation Army and Communist Party leaders -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Well, that's incredible. Of course, I guess the implications of that incredible as well.

Will Ripley, thank you so much, from Taipei tonight.

Thanks to all of you for joining us. See you back here at nine. AC 360 starts now.



We begin with the most immediate humanitarian crisis in the world right now. It has been three days since a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the region bordering Turkey and Syria. The number of dead continues to rise from hundreds to thousands to tens of thousands.

Right now, at least 21,000 people are known to have been killed, another 78,000 injured. Because there's far less access to Northern Syria, the concern is that the casualties there could be far, far worse.

We are watching this play out right now from a distance and from a distance it looks one way, but up close is where the horror and their heroism is. These disasters happening one person at a time.

In this case, one little girl. We don't know her name. She is about five years old. She was rescued after being trapped for 89 hours, two other girls alive waiting to be freed. Small victories one at a time from a distance, small lifeboats on a sea of despair. From up close, the entire world. From up close, too, the losses come by ones, one child, one family, person by person, block by block, home by home, hour after hour, every moment of every day now since Monday morning. One woman's loss, one friend gone, one classmate missing, a patient to treat, a mouth to feed, a family to shelter again and again.

Tonight from up close, some of those stories and we want to warn you, some of what you see is graphic.


COOPER (voice over): In the darkness they search and sometimes they find them, a family crushed in what was once their home.

(UNIDENTIFIED MEN speaking in foreign language.)

COOPER (voice over): Headlamps reveal a woman partially visible laying on her side. She has no pulse. A hand frantically waves in the rubble, a man alive.

(UNIDENTIFIED MEN speaking in foreign language.)

COOPER (voice over): A baby buried next to him, a two-month-old girl is not. A feet away, they move the woman's arm and find a toddler named Hamuda (ph), she was protecting. His eyes closed, no sign of life. They pick away the concrete, but then -- the cry of life.

(UNIDENTIFIED MEN speaking in foreign language.)

COOPER (voice over): "God is great," one rescuer cries.

In another building, another child is pinned beneath collapsed concrete and steel.

(UNIDENTIFIED MEN speaking in foreign language.)

COOPER (voice over): Rescuers gave him water from the cap of a bottle. Sip by sip, second after second. They keep him alive.

Elsewhere, a boy is found. They hold his hand, work until he is finally free.

(UNIDENTIFIED MEN speaking in foreign language.)

COOPER (voice over): After so much death, so much disappointment, the rescuers rejoice for the boy.

(UNIDENTIFIED BOY crying, speaking in foreign language.)

COOPER (voice over): In the ambulance, he cries for his family. "My parents, my parents," he says. "Your family, God-willing will be okay," a rescuer tells him. "You are a hero, my darling."


COOPER: We have correspondents throughout the quake zone from the beginning, tonight with CNN's Jomana Karadsheh and Nick Paton Walsh.

We start with Jomana in Adana, Turkey.

You are in front of what used to be, I understand a 14-storey residential building and I know there are rescue crews right now searching for people who may be trapped. What has it been like over the last several hours?


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Anderson, here in Adana, you don't know you don't see the kind of extensive destruction that you see in other parts of the quake zone. But you find buildings like this one, flattened and we believe that a hundred people were inside the apartments here, and over the past 90- plus hours, you had these search and rescue crews working around the clock trying to find survivors.

But so far, they've only been able to extract lifeless bodies. And tonight, they've reached the lower floors, and so we are seeing them pulling more and more dead bodies.

And I can tell you, this is just devastating for so many people who we have met out here, who have been searching for their loved ones. I mean, they've been sitting out here in the freezing cold, not knowing whether they are going to find them or not.

It has been this agonizing waves of not knowing whether they should continue to wait or begin to mourn, and I think now this gut-wrenching reality is really starting to sink in for so many people here.

COOPER: And Jomana, even people who are pulled out of the wreckage alive, they often then learn that they are the only ones from their families who have made it out or that they are the only ones and their families who are still alive.

KARADSHEH: And you know, Anderson, we saw a lot of that as well. We were in the City of Iskenderun in Hatay Province, one of the hardest hit provinces in Turkey, and there, you have people in state of shock, people just walking around on the streets, dazed and just struggling to fathom what's happened to them, and almost everyone we spoke to has lost family members, or is just standing out there waiting to find their family members and hope is fading for so many people.

I mean, here we met two sisters who had been here for two nights looking for their cousin, and they got to a point, Anderson, now where they stopped waiting here. And now, they are searching for him at hospitals and morgues, and they say they've gone from hoping to find him alive to hoping they'll find his body in one piece.

COOPER: I know you were in another -- you were talking about being in this other city and talking to some people. I think you have some sound who was it that you were talking to that we're going to hear from?

KARADSHEH: Well, Anderson, in Iskenderun, we met this man who was living in London, and when the news broke, he just jumped on a flight, came back to his city to find his sister and family members. And he says it's a miracle that they found them, they were pulled out from under the wreckage. They were trapped under the rubble for 15 hours and they came out alive.

But still, he is in a state of shock like so many people in this city.


BURAK DIK, FAMILY RESCUED: I'm speechless, to be honest. I am in a dream, a very bad dream that I'm hearing you know, so many of our friends die in here. So many relatives are dying, my feelings are all collapsed and I am only breathing at the moment.


KARADSHEH: And we heard that sort of sentiment from almost everyone we spoke to today out in Iskenderun. It is just unimaginable what people are going through right now, Anderson.

They are still searching for their loved ones. They are still confused about what happened. I mean, there is just -- they don't know what they're going to do next. They still really haven't processed what's happened to them and they can't even begin to think about the future, about waking up from that bad dream as you heard that man telling us.

COOPER: Yes, and just think so many families just waiting, you know in a parking lot on the side of a road watching a heap of concrete and cement that used to be their home or their loved ones' home and just waiting for their -- any word on somebody inside somewhere in that massive heap behind you and all over in spots throughout Turkey and Northern Syria.

Jomana, appreciate you being there tonight.

Now, we go to the Turkish city of Antakya and CNN's Nick Paton Walsh.

You are south of where Jomana is. Talk about what you have been seeing.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it has been a long day here have attempted rescues, false hope, and a brief moment of relief, particularly in the building behind me over here, Anderson.


Right about first dusk, that was an intense influx of rescuers because they'd heard noise from one of those areas and indeed, it seems they thought perhaps a police officer was trapped in there, many of his colleagues turned up, too. An hour or so of intense digging and the first body came out, that of a 21-year-old man. We saw medics giving him CPR, a pretty bad sign in that case, but then an extraordinary moment of hope, a four-year-old boy pulled from the wreckage alive, seemingly alert enough to try and struggle with his oxygen mask and take it off when medics tried to help him. But then sadly, it seemed his father followed shortly afterwards showing significantly less signs of life. That boy would have been taken out after 89 hours, trapped beneath what would have been his apartment block behind me there. And in the hours afterwards, we've seen excavators again taking up this faster paced of motion looking to clear rubble, and also freeing, releasing dead bodies that have piled up around me as the day has gone by.

But this city just devastated, some buildings intact, standing upright, others next to it pancaked, and that is going to render huge swathes of this million strong city uninhabitable for years potentially, vast reassessments of the infrastructure around me.

And you can see just here, people who would have lived here happily in their homes now burning, we don't know what, but there's a thick, acrid smoke around much of this city partly because of people just trying to keep warm in these incredibly cold temperatures -- Anderson.

COOPER: So the people behind you, they are people who may have lived in buildings somewhere around there. I mean, people are -- are they just still just waiting outside waiting for word of their loved ones?

WALSH: Yes. I mean, some of the window for people to wait for news is beginning to close now. And yes, we saw just before we came on air, people continue to rush down towards where that excavator has paused work for now, but an ambulance is there, some rescue workers, sometimes it seems full on hope, the belief that something may had been heard, there may be a sign of life that needs investigating.

But we've seen so many times today that they arrive too late. But this morning, even medical workers rushing to the scene, a bizarre street frankly, which every single apartment block was still upright, but its bottom three floors had collapsed down on themselves, and from one of those collapsed areas, an eight-year-old girl was pulled out. They had hoped she was alive, but by the time she got to the ambulance, the medical worker said it was quite clear, she had lost her life. Her mother, obviously distraught said that she hoped her little one would not be lost, would not be taken away.

And so on every street here, there is that rush to try and find some moments of relief or hope, but the despair just mounting along with the numbers of dead and this odd sense of a city having to live out in the open to escape the possibility. Some more of these buildings may collapse upon them, burning the remnants of their own homes. That's what some of this acrid smoke is from, the poor choice of choosing a kitchen cabinet we think behind us over here and that is causing the air to be very difficult for some of the kids we've seen living out in the open.

There are hastily erected tent cities in green spaces around here, tents just going up behind me over here, but none of that keeps out the cold that people are suffering from here. And this is just mounting challenges in the days and weeks ahead for a government that has got to deal with the aftermath of the quake, but also the future of the people whose lives had been taken by it -- Anderson.

COOPER: Nick Paton Walsh, I appreciate it. Thank you, Nick.

Next, breaking news, the January 6 Special Counsel subpoenas Mike Pence, what he might learn from or what the Special Counsel might learn from his testimony, whether executive privilege applies.

And later Congressman George Santos, another past criminal charge now surfacing, why it was made and what happened after police showed up to his door.



COOPER: There is breaking news tonight. The man who was hunted on January 6 by a violent mob, egged on by his boss, the former President, has been subpoenaed by the Special Counsel investigating that day.

Mike Pence, the former Vice President came just a few seconds and a few feet from facing that mob. Now, after months of negotiating over it, Special Counsel Jack Smith has made it official with a subpoena for Pence's testimony.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins broke the story for us, joins us now. Along with us is also CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Hoenig, author of "Untouchable: How Powerful People Get Away With It." CNN senior political commentator, Scott Jennings, former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and CNN legal analyst and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Elliot Williams.

As I said, Kaitlan, you've been breaking stuff on this all day. What's the latest?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: So essentially, we had sensed this was coming. We knew that they wanted his testimony and any documents he has about this. Now, Mike Pence has formally been subpoenaed asking for his testimony and documents.

It is probably the most aggressive move we have seen yet from Jack Smith, who is the Special Counsel, but it is a little confusing, but he is looking into two things, the documents that Trump took with him, but also Trump's actions on January 6th.

This subpoena I'm told is related to January 6. They want Mike Pence's testimony and any documents about that because he was one of the key people who was speaking one-on-one with Trump a lot of those times leading up to the election, leading up to January 6, and obviously that was when their relationship completely frayed at that time, but they think that he has a lot to offer.

Of course, it is going to set up this clash over executive privilege. His attorney, Emmet Flood is very big on executive privilege, so we will see where it goes.

CARLSON: But they've been negotiating this. COLLINS: They've been negotiating it, but clearly it hit an impasse. There have been talk about a voluntary interview back in November. I think that was before Jack Smith had actually been appointed by Merrick Garland to be the Special Counsel there before there was a Special Counsel.

Clearly, things escalated to where he felt the need to subpoena them, and I am told that Pence's team found out about it on Tuesday that this was coming.

COOPER: So Elie, what -- is he going to talk? What are the limitations?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So let me tell you first of all, what Mike Pence cannot do here. He cannot just ignore this subpoena and hope it goes away like we saw a lot of people do with the January 6 subpoena.

So here are what his options are. One, he can testify and go in front of the grand jury, get under oath, and answer questions. Two, he can continue negotiating. Kaitlan has reported that there has been negotiation, but sometimes serving a subpoena has a way of expediting things or moving them to the next level; or three, he can challenge this in Court as an executive privilege argument.


And I think it's important to note, Mike Pence can challenge this under executive privilege, but Donald Trump can try to come in from the outside and say I'm the holder of that privilege. I was the President. I don't want my conversations with my Vice President disclosed. That would set up a Court battle.

We would be going through the District Court, the Federal Court of Appeals, maybe the US Supreme Court with Nixonian stakes really.

COOPER: Scott, what do you think the calculus for Pence is?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I actually think this is not the worst thing that ever happened to him. I mean, obviously, he did his duty on January 6. It is a not surprise that he got subpoenaed. He is the central witness in an effort to overturn the US election and overthrow the US government. So yes, I expect him to be asked a few questions.

But for him politically, to be drug in under subpoena as opposed to going voluntarily, maybe he thinks that works for him politically, I do think he is genuinely concerned about his constitutional role here, which is why he did what he did on the 6th, but the executive privilege stuff does matter to him. And it wouldn't shock me to see them try to fight this out. And he would say, I just think we have to maintain this privilege and the separation of powers issues as much as possible.

So even if he loses on it, it wouldn't shock me if they if they tested that out a little bit. COOPER: And Elliot, what would a fight like that look like? I mean, where would that would that go? Clearly, I guess it would go all the way to the Supreme Court, no?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: If it doesn't go to the Supreme Court or go to the United States Court of Appeals, the DC Circuit, which is sort of like the second Highest Court in the land, Anderson, but the complication with Mike Pence over executive privilege is that the relationship with Donald Trump, who is number one, the President of the United States, number two, an individual, but number three, also a candidate for office.

Now, certainly, many of the communications he would have had with Donald Trump, in their capacity as President and Vice President are going to be protected and frankly, ought to be protected, assuming they're not talking about breaking the law.

Now it gets a little more complicated, where if they were talking about purely political matters or purely personal matters. It has got to be something that a Court will have to carve up and to the point Elie was making, it could take some time to figure out some of these very complicated issues of first impression that Courts just simply have not seen yet.

COOPER: So there is no telling the timeline of any testimony.

COLLINS: We don't have the timeline. There's a deadline on a subpoena, obviously. We don't know what that is exactly. We've been asking tonight.

The other thing that complicates this, though, is Mike Pence wrote a book and he talked about January 6th in that book, and we've heard -- I mean, press is reporting, Justice Department investigators think that that could actually potentially help them because it gets into the dynamic of well, he goes into the room, and he can answer some questions on January 6th because he talked about in his book, but he says --

COOPER: He wasn't exactly forthcoming, though, in the book. I mean he sort of glossed over some things.

COLLINS: Yes, but he talked about -- he did talk about conversations where he said Trump told him he was praying for him, things like that. So I do think there are some gray area there. I don't know how they're going to navigate that.

HONIG: Kaitlan makes a really important point, the legal term for that is waiver. The argument you would make as the prosecutor is he has gone into this in public, he's given up the privilege already, too late. Even if it's sort of halfway, once you give it up, once you let it out of the barn, you can't put it back in, that would be an argument that we may see from prosecutors.

COOPER: Would you, Scott, do you expect the former President to actually try to make an executive privilege argument? JENNINGS: Oh, yes. I mean, I don't think he wants Mike Pence to go tell anybody how he tried to pressure him into subverting the US Constitution. I mean, he was the central -- the whole plot was to get Mike Pence to do something. And then when he wouldn't do it, it was then to intimidate him into doing something and we saw how that manifested itself. So yes, I would.

COOPER: And Elliot, I mean, the subpoena from the Justice Department requests testimony and documents. How soon after the subpoena has gone out do you think the DOJ would start receiving material from Vice President Pence or his team?

WILLIAMS: Well, he has got to agree to start turning them over. And, you know, along the lines of the options we were talking about a little bit earlier, he is probably going to file a suit in some way to challenge or question the legitimacy of the subpoena.

So, we are not seeing any documents -- the Justice Department is not seeing any documents anytime soon, you know, not within days or weeks. I don't want to put a time limit on it, but again, it is probably going to be litigated because these are very complicated questions in separation of powers.

COOPER: Elliot Williams, Scott Jennings, Elie Honig, Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much.

Coming up the allegations of fraud against Congressman George Santos extend from Brazil to the US and now to puppies in Amish country. The breaking news next.



COOPER: There is more breaking news tonight. It comes at the end of a day in which we learned that the Securities and Exchange Commission is now investigating Congressman George Santos and that House colleagues have filed the motion to expel him. Now another shoe has fallen in the saga of Santos aka Anthony Devolder aka Anthony Zabrovsky, the same person who just last month said this.


REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): Look, I've worked my entire life. I've lived an honest life. I've never been accused, sued of any bad doings.


COOPER: And he was lying when he said that. He had already been charged in Brazil with check fraud. Also, a one-time homeless veteran accused him of stealing thousands from a GoFundMe page set up for the man's dying dog and yes, the dog died.

And now the breaking news, another story involving checks and dogs and charges first reported in POLITICO. There's the headline, "Santos was charged with theft in 2017 Case tied to Amish dog breeders."

Jacqueline Sweet is a freelance journalist who is covering Congressman Santos for POLITICO. She joins us now.

Jacqueline, can you explain how Santos came to be charged with theft in Amish country?

JACQUELINE SWEET, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: A lot about this is still a mystery. We did know there were charges filed in 2017 in York County, Pennsylvania, which is center of Amish country.

The case was -- the charges were expunged. So there wasn't any Court records of them. Recently, a woman who was his friend in junior high happened to run into him in early 2020. And he said, can you help me? I was served a warrant in my apartment and can you help me address these charges? What should I say?

So she has legal knowledge, so she tried to help him and so she recounted to the Pennsylvania State Police what he told her and she shared that now with me.

COOPER: So the charge was dismissed. Santos' record was expunged I think in 2021. Do you know why it was expunged?

SWEET: We know what he told the friend, so what the friend told me was that so they couldn't find him for a couple of years. They finally served the warrant.


This is according to his story. He told her that she told me, they served the warrant in 2020. And he sends an email explaining that his checkbook had been stolen. He didn't write the checks and he produced some evidence, which was the checks and his bank statements.

And she said that on his behalf. And then he went to Pennsylvania to explain it to them and he told her he convinced them to drop the charges. The expungement we don't really know that maybe would have had to -- have been a filing that he did and that could have taken some time, we don't really know that yet.

COOPER: And this is -- obviously, the second of Santos's controversies involving dogs, his alleged animal charity, Friends of Pets United, has he commented about this?

SWEET: Not to my knowledge. Not yet. His attorney didn't return requests for our comment -- for our -- comment to us. So not that I've heard yet.

COOPER: And how was it that you came to find this?

SWEET: So again, people -- there was a trace of the expunged charge in some background reports, but there was no information, and -- there was no information available from the court. I thought it may have possibly have to do with dog breeding because I knew from other sources that I've, you know, been talking to for a long time now that they said he made trips to Amish country to rescue puppies from Amish readers.

And I knew that these adoption events were going on. And then when I finally was able to connect with the former childhood friend who helped him write the letter, that's when it all came together.

COOPER: And what were the checks used for?

SWEET: So they're written out, so the memo lines, most of them say puppies or puppy. Therefore, $700 to $2,000. And when I talked to these breeders in Pennsylvania, they said those were, you know, typical amounts, one, two, three of these pure-bred puppies. So that's what we know just for the memo of the checks. We have the check records that it says puppies.

COOPER: And so, it's not clear what he was actually accused, though, of -- was he accused of stealing or?

SWEET: No, the checks didn't clear.


SWEET: And so, we cannot -- so the assumption -- we know the charge was theft by deception. So we can put to it together.

COOPER: Got it. OK, Jacqueline Sweet, I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Just ahead --

SWEET: Thank you.

COOPER: -- new testimony in the double murder trial of Alex Murdaugh. What a friend says he and Murdoch discussed around the time that Murdaugh's wife and youngest son were murdered.



COOPER: A close friend of Alex Murdaugh testified today about speaking to Murdaugh around the time his wife and youngest son were brutally murdered. Chris Wilson, who was a fellow attorney, also testified that Murdaugh to Wilson about stealing money from clients to fund a drug habit.

Murdaugh's a member of a once prestigious South Carolina family, or at least people thought they were. He's accused of killing his wife and youngest son. Prosecutors say it was to deflect attention away from financial crimes that were about to be revealed. Here's Randi Kaye's report.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What time was that first call?

CHRIS WILSON, FRIEND OF ALEX MURDAUGH: Looks like it was at 09:11 p.m. incoming from his cell phone.

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alex Murdaugh's best friend, Chris Wilson, testifying that Alex called him at 09:11 p.m., the night of the murders. That would have been about 20 minutes after prosecutors say Alex's wife and son were killed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he sound normal to you?

WILSON: Sounded normal, yes, sir.

KAYE (voice-over): Normal is how he said Alex sounded. Wilson told Alex he had to call him back later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what did he say?

WILSON: He said that's fine, no problem.

KAYE (voice-over): That phone call could be key. Prosecutors seemed to be trying to show Alex was allegedly trying to create an alibi after the murders. Chris Wilson said he called Alex back at 09:20 p.m. And Alex told him he was almost at his mom's house. All of this tracks with prosecutors saying Alex fired up his car and left the property where the murders took place about 09:06 p.m. that night.

Alex said he was napping before that and was not with his family around the time they were killed. Wilson said Alex then sent him a text at 09:52 p.m. saying, call me if you're up. Wilson testified he called Alex back at 09:53 p.m. on the night in question to discuss a case.

WILSON: I told him I needed to talk to him, and he said, hey, that's cool, but I'm about to get back home. Can we talk tomorrow? And I said, sure, fine.

KAYE (voice-over): That last call would have been just before Alex returned home. Just before he says he found his wife and son shot multiple times and bleeding. Alex called 911 at 10:07 p.m. On cross examination, the defense leaned on Wilson to tell the jury what a loving family the Murdaughs were.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you agree that Alec's number one priority was his family?

WILSON: Yes, sir, it appeared that way to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I say his family, I'm talking about Maggie, Paul, and Buster.

KAYE (voice-over): On the issue of gunshot residue --

MEGAN FLETCHER, SLED GUNSHOT RESIDUE EXPERT: This jacket is the jacket I examined.

KAYE (voice-over): Megan Fletcher, an expert on gunshot residue, testified for the state. She told the court she found a significant amount of gunshot residue on the inside of a blue rain jacket recovered from Alex Murdaugh's mother's home, following the murders.

FLETCHER: I confirmed 38 particles characteristic. Given that it's on the inside, in order for it to be consistent with transfer, an object or objects with a high amount of gunshot primary residue on it would have had to transfer to it.

KAYE (voice-over): An object like a firearm, as prosecutor John Meadors hinted at with this line of questioning.

JOHN MEADORS, PROSECUTOR: Can you had a gun inside that rain jacket that had recently been fired, and you were taking it somewhere to hide it or transport it? Would be 38 particles inside, inside the rain jacket be consistent with transfer from a recently fired firearm?

FLETCHER: That is a possibility, yes, sir.

KAYE (voice-over): The state's working theory seems to be that Alex Murdaugh used this rain jacket to wrap up at least one of the murder weapons, to allegedly dispose of them, then stashed the jacket in his mother's house. A theory the defense tried to knock down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have no idea how gunshot primary residue ended up on that garment, correct?

FLETCHER: I cannot tell you how it got there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Or when it got there.

FLETCHER: Or when it got there.


COOPER: And Randi Kaye joins us now. What have you learned about this incident in court involving Alex Murdaugh and a member of his family?

KAYE: Yes, Anderson. A source who had knowledge of this incident told me that Alex Murdaugh's sister Lynn passed him a book in court yesterday. And the source told me that nobody knew about that, so it was considered contraband. They didn't know what was in the book or what this was all about.

And then we had that bomb scare in the afternoon, so the whole courthouse was evacuated. Alex Murdaugh was taken back to jail, and only later did they realize that he had this book in his jail cell. So they confiscated it. And Anderson, the book's title is worth noting. It's by John Grisham. It's called, "The Judge's Rules."

But it's also important to let you know that just a few minutes before this happened, Alex Murdaugh's same sister Lynn, and his only surviving son Buster, were admonished in court for their conduct. Buster, apparently, according to the court clerk on the record, telling me that he was making obscene gestures at a witness while that witness was testifying. So now his sister and his son have been moved back in court, further away from Alex Murdaugh, further away from that witness box. And they've been warned, if this continues to happen, they will be barred from the courtroom, Anderson.

COOPER: Randi Kaye, I appreciate it.

Legal perspective on the case from Julie Rendelman, who is a current defense attorney and a former assistant D.A. in New York City, and Defense Attorney Mark O'Mara. So what do you make of this testimony from the friend of Mr. Murdaugh?

JULIE RENDELMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I mean, I'm not sure I make that much of it. I mean, the issue really is about the time, because the question is whether or not he was calling him in order to establish an alibi. And one of the things he does say that is an issue for the prosecution is he says he seemed very calm, he seemed completely fine, didn't seem excited.

And so, you know, the argument -- I'm sorry, for the defense is if he's not very excited, then that bodes to them that he's not reacting. For the prosecution, I mean, that's an issue. Although the prosecution can say, you know what? He's lied to everyone.

COOPER: Right.

RENDELMAN: His entire life about who he is.

COOPER: For decades. I mean --


COOPER: -- if it's true about the financial crimes, he's been lying to everyone for a long, long time.

RENDELMAN: Including his best friend.

COOPER: Right.

RENDELMAN: And so if he's able to lie to him on every level, then he's the type of person that maybe could coverup the fact that he might be a little excited that he had just killed his wife and his son.

COOPER: Allegedly, he's been lying about an opioid addiction even to his family, and I imagine the financial crimes to his family as well.

MARK O'MARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Decades worth of lies. And what the prosecution doesn't have to do is give that much of a motive. But if they come across with an argument, if he's almost pretty much a sociopath, right, with everything that he's done, stealing from almost everybody who he's come into contact with, then it's a little bit easier for the jury to make that leap of sorts, that he could easily have killed a son and a wife and then come across without a blip in his blood pressure, talking to a buddy of his.

COOPER: So you think that witness could have helped the prosecution? O'MARA: I actually think it helped the prosecution in a number of ways. It's another testimony concerning all of the financial crimes. And it's also showing that possibly this guy is so sociopathic so much that he doesn't care at all about how he presents himself, yet he's willing to do the other thing he needs to do is an alibi.

COOPER: Because that hurdle of how is it possible that a father would kill his -- not just his wife, but his son, you know, at close range?

RENDELMAN: Yes. I mean, people -- as a prosecutor, people killed each other because someone looked at them funny, I mean, or someone didn't like the way their chicken dinner was made by their wife. So people happen to kill at the most random times.

The issue is they think he planned it. And so it's not just an act of immediate reaction where he's suddenly killing his family, and so they think he actually planned it. And you have to accept that the motive, the finances are the reason that he planned this elaborate scheme to kill his wife and his son. And you have to question why.

By the way, he's a lawyer, so he's going to know that if his wife is killed, who are they going to look at? They're going to look at him. They're going to look at his finances which is exactly what he doesn't want.

COOPER: Well, also, he did allegedly have somebody -- hire somebody to shoot him in the head for insurance purposes.

RENDELMAN: Yes. Well, I'm not sure I agree that he killed -- that he did that for insurance purposes. I'm so suspect about that. I think -- my theory is that he had shot, he had the guy. He knew he wasn't going to be killed that day. He wanted another possible suspect out there. He was worried that they were coming towards him.

By the way, I'm allowed to theorize because everyone seems to be theorizing, even the prosecutors making up kind of what things mean.

COOPER: But either way, it's a cold -- and whether it's actually to shoot you in the head or to make it look like you're having somebody shoot in the head. It's cold and calculating.


O'MARA: It is.

RENDELMAN: By the way, if you listen to the 911 call, which I've listened to thousand times, I laugh because he's so sincere about the fact that this guy came along, shot him in the head. He's lying. He's lying to the whole thing. And when you put that next to the 911 call he makes, you start to say, who is this person really?



O'MARA: I mean, the theory of this case is so polarized, right? Either complete coincidence, very innocent guy who was just put upon by all these circumstances and an overzealous prosecution, or completely calculated everything. And that's why when the state brings out his other calculations, this feeling and whatnot the calm demeanor.

Even the telephone -- or the interview that he had in the car with these sort of tears but no tears, and all of a sudden able to come out with a whole bunch of other opportunities to present evidence as to why someone may have done it. So I think the prosecution is doing a good job of showing that polarization. This guy is just evil.

COOPER: The sheer number of dead bodies in this guy's rearview mirror, though, who have died under bizarre, unusual circumstances or unexplained circumstances is extraordinary.

RENDELMAN: It is. But again, you know, that's not why they're -- what they're supposed to be focused on. It's the craziest tale. And, by the way, I was laughing, I'm like, there's probably more that we don't know about. You know, it's interesting, though, when we focus on this case and talk about, you know, whether or not the motive really is going to connect to this.

I do worry kind of about how the finances are going to impact the jury and if the jury at the end of this case is going to wonder, why are we here? Are we here about the fact -- I'm willing to convict him for all these finances. I'm not sure it's led me to the murder. And that's -- you know, if there's three more homicide trials that come up because of his -- every person that's come in his way, then that'll be an interesting next couple of years.

COOPER: Yes. Julie and Mark, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Up next, so much sadness and lying in the world. The story of compassion and kindness. Coming up next, I'll talk with the Michigan sheriff's deputy who helped a man he found a loan in his car on the side of the road, stressed out and in tears. And the remarkable thing that happened between them when they started to talk.



COOPER: We have new details on a story we first told you last night. In a moment, I'll talk with the Michigan sheriff's deputy who went above and beyond when he checked on a man who had pulled over on the side of the road. Man was clearly stressed out and in tears. Take a look.


DEPUTY JAKE THORNE, MACOMB COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: So what can I do for you today? Do -- you say you don't want to hurt yourself, right? No. Have you ever attempted suicide or anything like that in the past? OK. Is there anything I can do to help you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I could use a hug.

THORNE: I'll give you a hug. Seems like you got a lot going on, man. It's all right. It's all right, man.

It seems like a lot to take on, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then we can give you some -- we can get you some help.

THORNE: Yes, we can get you somebody to talk to and stuff.


COOPER: Well, they talked for quite a while. The deputy gave the man the phone number to the local crisis center and his own phone number and said to call him. It made a difference. The man thanked him and said, it means a lot.

Joining me now is that Sheriff's Deputy Jake Thorne and his boss, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham. I appreciate both of you being with us. Deputy Thorne, first of all, I just found this so moving, what you did and your partner and how is the man that you helped? How's he doing, because I know you've talked to him a couple of times since?

THORNE: I actually spoke with him earlier today, and he's seeking out professional help and he's doing really well. I talked to him for about 45 minutes. And actually when I come to work tomorrow, I think we're going to meet up in person and just check on them.

COOPER: I know you said your own experience as -- in the Marines helped you connect with him. Can you talk about that a little bit?

THORNE: Yes, sir. When I came out of the Marine Corps, the combat experiences weighed really heavy on me. And when I got out of the service, the weight on me a little bit more than I actually knew. It took my wife from realizing it, from an outside perspective and actually convincing me to get professional help, to talk through the things that weighed on me so much. And talking to a professional or talking to somebody that understands helps tremendously on somebody.

COOPER: One of the things that I think is so remarkable about the job of law enforcement is you never know who or what you're going to encounter in any roadside stop. In any call that you get, how often -- and you're sort of forced to deal with, you know, people where they're at. And, you know, that can mean a mental health issue. It can mean an emotional crisis, whatever it may mean. How often do you come across people who, I'm just need a hug or somebody to talk to?

THORNE: It actually happens more often than you think. We show up to welfare checks at homes, civil standbys where people are just upset with the situation that's going on and the training that we get here at the sheriff's department and the training I've had in the marines and my own personal experience. You just sort of put it all together and you figure out each situation and help that person.

COOPER: Sheriff, I mean, was this a textbook case of how officers should interact with someone who's struggling? I mean, just -- to me, it just seems so human and decent and just compassionate. SHERIFF ANTHONY WICKERSHAM, MACOMB COUNTY, MICHIGAN: You know, it's a problem for the Macomb County Sheriff's Office with Deputy Thorne and Deputy Parisek, you know, how they engage with this individual and help this individual. All of my new personnel that I hire, whether it's in the jail or on the road, you know, one of the things that I really stress is that you have to treat people like you want to be treated, you know, or human.

Everybody has emotions. We are problem solvers. And as you said, you know, you never know what type of call you're going to go on. But majority of the time when people call us, we have to solve a problem for us -- for them.


And usually, I tell them to take that little extra time, you know, have that ear out. Listen to what they're saying and see if we can help them out. You know, these guys did an excellent job. We are getting emails, phone calls and thank yous and gratitudes from around the country and it just makes me a sheriff of Macomb County Sheriff's Office, proud that I have members in my office that can go on out there and treat people with respect and to help them out when they need it.

COOPER: Deputy Thorne, I'm wondering what reaction have you heard from fellow officers, from just people who've seen this?

THORNE: Just -- they said I did a really good job. And, yes, on the moment, it's just -- I would like to think that's the person I am just to help him out. And, you know, I could just tell by his voice and everything and he wasn't a threat in any which way. A lot of people ask me if I give up hugs a lot. It's actually the first time someone has ever asked me for hugs.

COOPER: I got to say it seems like you didn't like bat an eye about it. You were like, sure, yes, I'll do that.

THORNE: No, just because of my own personal experience, I knew where he was coming from. That young man was hurting deep inside and I'm just glad that it helped him out and we set him in the right path so he can get everything in line.

COOPER: Yes. Well, Deputy Thorne and Sheriff Wickersham, I really appreciate what you do and I really appreciate you talking to us tonight. Thank you.

THORNE: Thank you.

WICKERSHAM: Thank you.

COOPER: You'd be safe out there. Thank you.

The news continues. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" is next right after quick break.