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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Sidney Powell Requests Speedy Trial; Trump's Team Looks to Capitalize Trial Schedule, Capitalize on Media Attention; UK Defense Ministry: Highly Likely Yevgeny Prigozhin is Dead; Wagner Supporters Pay Respects To Prigozhin At Makeshift Memorials Across Russia; Russia Says Flight Recorders Recovered From Crash That Reportedly Killed Prigozhin; GOP Debate's Effect On Republican Voters In Iowa; Active Shooter Training Program Aims To Help Teachers Prepare For Emergency Situations. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired August 25, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: "I will not resign." He claimed the criticism is "false feminism." He said the kiss was spontaneous, mutual, and with consent, but in her statement, Hermoso says Rubiales' explanation is, "categorically false" and part of the manipulative culture that he himself has generated.
Rubiales has faced widespread criticism from Spanish politicians and the players who are refusing to play until he is fired.
Thank you so much for joining us. AC 360 starts now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360: The week of defendants and mugshots may be over, but the cases and fallout have only begun, including new developments late today.
Also tonight, the 6-3, two-hundred-and-fifteen-pound blonde or strawberry haired defendant's newfound place in the fable history of mugshots.
And later, a story you'll only see here on the level of support in Russia for the Wagner mercenary army and Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Good evening, everyone. John Berman here, in for Anderson.
First up tonight, a string of new developments in Georgia's election subversion RICO case against the former president and 18 others, all of which we will talk about tonight. There is election lawyer, Sidney Powell in a court filing late today joining co-defendant Kenneth Chesebro in requesting a speedy trial, which she is entitled to under Georgia law.
Also today, a court filing from co-defendant and fake elector, Cathy Latham joining two others in claiming she was following the advice of the former president's legal counsel and acting "at the direction of the president of the United States." It is a striking admission, but also part of the defense in an effort to transfer her case to federal court, but it also raises by extension a defense first offered by another former president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... or when a president does it, that means that it is not illegal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By definition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Now, back to today, in another item, co-defendant Harrison Floyd making his first court appearance by video link from jail. He is the only one who failed to reach a bond agreement this week. The judge today refused to change that.
Meantime, the Trump campaign, which is already selling merch with the historic mugshot on it, threatened legal action against anyone else doing the same. The one catch of course, that photo was part of the public record. It is an official photo.
As for the making of it, listen to the former president last night on another network.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Terrible experience. I came in. I was treated very nicely but all of this -- it is what it is.
I took a mugshot, which I never heard the words mug shot, that wasn't, they didn't teach me that at the Wharton School of Finance.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BERMAN: So Keeping Them Honest, however, that works with this, it is hard to imagine that someone who grew up in New York and counted mob lawyer Roy Cohn as one of his close friends had never heard the words "mug shot" before yesterday.
Harder still to imagine when you see the t-shirt his political action committee was hawking up to a thousand dollars a pop back in April, the one with a fake mug shot of him on it, even harder still, when you listen to the conversation he had a few weeks before that, the one in which he clearly did hear the words "mug shot" from his friend, Sean Hannity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST, "HANNITY": You'd be arraigned --
HANNITY: That you'd be -- there would be a mugshot. You'd be fingerprinted and maybe even handcuffed. Now, when you think about being at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and juxtapose it to that, how do you deal with that?
TRUMP: Well, I deal with it. We're dealing with very dishonest people. We're dealing with thugs. We're dealing with people I actually believe that hate our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACDONALD: "You would be arraigned," Hannity said. "There would be a mugshot" to which Donald John Trump did not reply: Hey, Sean, what's a mugshot? Nor on a far more serious note has he disavowed what his supporter, Sarah Palin said about his arrest last night.
The 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate telling Newsmax: "Those who are conducting this travesty and creating this two-tier system of justice, I want to ask them, what the heck? Do you want us to be in civil war? Because that's what's going to happen."
CNN's Katelyn Polantz joins us now from Atlanta, with much more on today's developments. And Katelyn, as I mentioned, three co-defendants in the Georgia case, Cathy Latham, Shawn Still, and David Shafer, they are asking for their cases to be moved to federal court because they say they were following orders from then President Trump.
So what's the next step here?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE SENIOR REPORTER: That's right, John.
So what these three defendants are saying is an initial argument that they're trying to make that could determine the shape of this case in a couple of different ways.
They are not the only ones that are going into court right now and having to put up some arguments initially, there are two others doing that as well, Mark Meadows and Jeffrey Clark, but what these three people have in common is that they were fake electors for Trump after the 2020 election in the state of Georgia. They are charged for that activity and what they're trying to do is say, we don't want our case in state court, we'd like our case to be heard in federal court.
And the reason we have the ability to do that, and the reason we want that to happen, is because, because we were fake electors, that means that we were acting at the direction of the president.
Now, that is going to be a legal argument about where this case lands, if it gets split up, if the defendants are in federal court or state court trying this, but it is also a little bit of a preview of what could happen at a trial.
There is one of the big things we're watching for here is if defendants are splitting with different legal arguments from Trump, either cuddling up to him or distancing themselves from him. And with this argument that they're making, that could become something that they'll try to make later on as well, try to say, we were just doing what we were told, how could we be charged with a crime there?
BERMAN: Yes. We are going to dig into that a little bit, because that's really interesting.
Also, today, late today, Sidney Powell requesting a speedy trial as Kenneth Chesebro did. His trial date is October 23rd. Does that mean that's when Sidney Powell will go also?
POLANTZ: Quite possibly. Now, that might not be the date that anyone goes to trial. Trial dates move, they really do. They move back because of arguments. They move because people need more time, but these two people are also in this position already pushing themselves away from Trump and then Trump is saying he doesn't want a trial date set at all, at this point, let alone at that time so soon.
And so Sidney Powell and Ken Chesebro, they are both people to watch here. They were lawyers working for Donald Trump, in that federal court case against Trump on the same topic, the 2020 election. They are both co-conspirators who are uncharged there. And so watching what these two people do is so important, because it could signify, if they are willing to try and move in a direction that is not the way that Donald Trump wants to go with defending these cases.
BERMAN: So Katelyn, I'm want to look ahead to Monday, just a few days away from now, because there's this crucial hearing for Mark Meadows in his efforts to move to federal court. What are we going to hear and see here?
POLANTZ: John, we're going to see people under oath for the first time in any court being on display as giving evidence in the case against Donald Trump and in this particular situation, the case against Mark Meadows.
So in this hearing, it is a hearing regarding Meadows trying to move his case from state court to federal court, because he says, he too, was acting essentially under the presidency. He was the chief-of-staff at the White House when he helped set up that call for Donald Trump and spoke on it somewhat whenever Trump was calling Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of State.
And so at this hearing on Monday, it'll be like a mini trial, theoretically. The DA's office is subpoenaing witnesses, including Raffensperger himself, others who were witness to that call. They're going to bring them to the witness stand, put them on display, have them testify, and then the judge is going to look at this and determine should Mark Meadows be able to move his case to federal court and get some constitutional protections around him? Because he was the White House chief of staff, or should this stay in state court?
Was he doing politicking when he was setting up that call working for Trump after the election? The other thing that the judge very well could weigh in on is if everybody should have their case in federal court, and maybe signify exactly what should happen with Trump's case as well if Trump could try and do the same thing -- John.
BERMAN: It is like this preseason scrimmage. It will be fascinating to see.
Katelyn Polantz, great to have you there. Terrific job explaining all of these developments.
Perspective now from CNN legal analyst, Jennifer Rodgers; former federal judge, Nancy Gertner. She is currently a senior lecturer at Harvard Law School. Also with us former Georgia State senator, Jen Jordan, who testified before the grand jury run by Fani Willis there.
I want to start with you, Senator, if I can, you know, of these three Georgia figures who are now trying to get their cases moved to federal court.
JEN JORDAN (D), FORMER GEORGIA STATE SENATOR: Right.
BERMAN: Does it feel to you as if or how much does it feel to you as if they're throwing Trump under the bus here now arguing as Katelyn said, you know, he told me to do it.
JORDAN: You know, that's what it seems in terms of what they filed with the federal court. The problem is, is that if you really look at what they're saying, it looks like the people who were directing them to do things really were Trump's campaign lawyers. And so I know that with respect to form, in terms of keeping the campaign separate from the official office, Trump didn't do a great job and it kind of all melded together.
But that is going to be of particular interest for the judge here because obviously, you can't do electioneering or politicking, let's say, because that violates the Hatch Act if you are a federal employee or someone acting under color of law, so I think that's going to be a real specific thing that Judge Jones is going to look at.
BERMAN: We have a judge here. Let's ask about that. How strong of an argument is it, Judge Gertner that you were doing potentially elicit acts at the direction of a former president? How convincing is that to get their case moved to federal court?
NANCY GERTNER, FORMER FEDERAL JUDGE: I think it's a stretch to get that into federal court. I think that though, you've got to start with the stretch that is Mark Meadows stretch first.
He has -- he clearly was acting as chief-of-staff, and the question is whether the law says that all you have to do is to be a federal official, sort of all these acts, the charged acts of crimes took place while you were a federal official.
It is clear that this judge has rejected that argument, because if that argument were accepted, Meadows would be in federal court now, since he clearly was chief-of-staff when he was doing these activities.
The likely standard is whether or not what he was doing was related to his official status, and as the previous speaker indicated, campaign stuff is not related to your official status, likewise, messing around with the Electoral College standards is not part of your official acts.
If Meadows doesn't have this argument, it is inconceivable then that Shafer and others who are trying to go under their umbrella would have this argument as well.
BERMAN: And Jennifer Rodgers, there is the separate aspect to this, which is also interesting, when they, in a way are pointing the finger at Donald Trump. He told me to do this, his people told me to do this, could that impact the case specifically against Trump?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it could at some point, John. I mean, at this point, they are just trying to get in to federal court, but if they either plead out and cooperate with authorities and prosecutors are certainly going to try to thin this herd right away and get some of these people out of the case, if they cooperate and testify against Donald Trump, presumably, this is what they're going to say, which will be very strong evidence against the former president and others.
The other way it could come up is if they remain in the case and go to trial alongside the former president and testify in their own defense and say that they were acting at the direction of Donald Trump and therefore should be found not guilty.
So there are a couple of ways, if this is their evidentiary position, then it could be a problem for Donald Trump down the road.
BERMAN: Judge Gertner, let's shift to the speedy trial request now coming in from Sidney Powell. Also, she is joining Kenneth Chesebro in this. What are the benefits and risks of getting a speedier trial for these co-defendants?
GERTNER: Well, again, I'm speculating now, but I wonder if what they're trying to do by moving for a speedy trial is get out from under the other defendants.
In other words, they could move to sever their cases from Trump and Meadows, et cetera. But by asking for a speedy trial to which is my understanding, they are entitled under Georgia law, their case goes on a track, which is different from the others.
And so whatever their defenses are, this is a way of saying, hey, you know, my case is going to be separate from their cases. There's also a very -- you know, sort of interesting pattern here about the ways in which each of the defendants in the Georgia case are basically acting inconsistent with one another.
Our previous discussion about Shafer suggests that. They are beginning to you know, point the finger at one another, but this speedy trial, Trump wants delay, and they want a speedy trial and the only way one can reconcile those two is if they go forward, while the rest of the defendants are delayed. BERMAN: So Jennifer, another theory, here is the nine-dimensional chess theory here, which is that all the defendants think it would be good to put some stalking horses out there. First, put a couple of cases out there first, so they can all see one case, all the evidence presented, and then they have the evidence of that trial, Trump would, specifically when he then stages his defense, any merit in that?
RODGERS: Yes, I mean, that's what the benefit is, if you see someone else go first, prosecutors will have to put forward all of their evidence of the existence of the enterprise, the predicate acts that underlie the RICO conspiracy. So there's a lot that you get to know.
I think other defendants other than Trump would be happy with this result, because they would get to see a preview of all of these witnesses, see them cross examined, et cetera.
The big guy, though, at the top of the ticket certainly doesn't want that, because he's made pretty clear he doesn't want this to go and doesn't want voters to see particularly in Georgia, where there are likely to be cameras in the courtroom, the full weight of the government's case before the primaries even start.
BERMAN: Now, that's a great point. They can see these trials voters could before the first votes are even cast here.
Senator, I want to ask you about this other new aspect that we are seeing on Monday, Mark Meadows, this this first hearing, Mark Meadows, what do you think we will see there? Some of the witnesses and Brad Raffensperger, you know, could be called to testify there. What is it you think we'll see, and tell us about the judge whom, you know, this federal judge, Obama-appointed, Steve Jones?
RODGERS: Yes, so Judge Jones is widely respected across the aisle. I mean, all attorneys really do respect him and what is interesting about him specifically with respect to this case that deals with questions of federalism between state and federal courts is that half of his life as a judge was as a superior court judge in Athens.
So he gets kind of both sides of it and understands just how careful he needs to be here, because he is really setting a precedent. He also understands that everybody is going to be looking at everything he's doing.
In terms of the hearing that's coming up, I think it's going to be really revealing what exactly the DA is going to try to get from some of the witnesses. For example, the investigator, Frances Watson, there was a text that Meadows sent to her that basically said: Hey, can you hurry this audit up if the campaign can throw some money your way? Right? That doesn't sound like a federal official to me or someone acting as a chief-of-staff.
He also was going to have some of the Trump lawyers, the Trump campaign lawyers, the DA has come in and testified. And I think what that signals to me is, look, if Meadows was not acting as part of the campaign apparatus, then the attorney-client privilege doesn't attach and those gentlemen will need to testify.
BERMAN: It gets to a lot of what the crucial issues will be in this entire case. Actually, this case and also, frankly, the federal case as well, we could see a lot of very interesting things here.
Senator, thank you. Judge, thank you. Jennifer Rodgers, thank you as well.
Next, the former president's frame of mind with four arrests behind him and four trials ahead.
And later, what Vladimir Putin is now saying about his late ally, turned rival, Yevgeny Prigozhin, that and what becomes of the Wagner Group mercenary army now.
BERMAN: When the former president surrendered to the first of his four felony indictments, he returned to a celebration at Bedminster. After his next arrest in Miami, he basked in a hero's welcome at a local landmark restaurant.
Last night, after barely an hour-and-a-half on the ground in Atlanta, he flew back to New Jersey to literally no fanfare.
CNN's Alayna Treene is nearby and joins us now.
Alayna, what's the mood within the former president's team? And how do they think yesterday really went?
ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, John, I rode with the former president's team in the motorcade yesterday, both from the airport to Fulton County Jail, but then also back to the airport, and I could tell that they weren't really sure how yesterday was going to go. But in the hours after that, and also all throughout today, I've been speaking with his team, and they think that it went as well as it could have, and particularly, they were pleased with the media coverage of it.
And again, because it was pulling away and really sucking up a lot of the oxygen of the debate coverage. Of course, normally the day, after a debate, you have the media dissecting what candidates had said on stage, of course, Donald Trump was not there. But instead, a lot of that attention was focused on Donald Trump's surrender, and they do think it's a positive even though of course, it's something that Donald Trump did not want to happen. He was frustrated by it. They still see the benefit of having that wall-to-wall coverage focused entirely on the former president -- John.
BERMAN: What are you learning about this mugshot? I mean, even the Trump campaign is using it in merch for fundraising. Did Trump really want to take it?
TREENE: He didn't. He definitely -- and I think he has made that very clear, both privately and publicly. He did not want to go to Georgia yesterday. He did not want to have his mugshot taken.
I also know from my reporting and speaking to Donald Trump's team, they had actually gamed out what they wanted that mugshot to look like. They basically settled on wanting him to appear defiant in it. You can see very clearly in that shot, that he is kind of scowling.
That was the image that Donald Trump and his team wants him to portray and wanted him to portray in that mug shot. But of course, two things can be true at the same time, John, as much as he didn't want that mug shot, his team does recognize the monetary benefits of fundraising off of it.
And you've seen the t-shirts, the mugs, Donald Trump rejoining X, formerly known as Twitter in order to share that photo. So they're not shying away from it as much as he did not want that to happen.
BERMAN: What's on the schedule for him this weekend?
TREENE: Well, he will remain here in New Jersey at his golf club, which is just near where I am now, John, and he doesn't have many scheduled events or any really -- his team had told me that they wanted to give him a break after this week. And I think that kind of reflects just how deflating this was for the former president.
I think they've now been through this four times, and in Georgia, he had to go through things that he never did before in the previous indictments, which was to get a mugshot, to go through the processing at a jail itself, and so they wanted to clear his schedule.
But I do think behind the scenes and what his team will be doing is talking about what the next year will look like. We know that Donald Trump's lawyers and the former president himself want to try and push these trials beyond the 2024 election. But I do think increasingly, they're recognizing that they may not be able to do that, like especially with the mounting legal battles that he is facing, and, you know, the four indictments.
There is a chance that they will have to have a trial within the crucial period of primary election season, as it is opposed right now -- John.
BERMAN: And it's something no campaign has ever had to deal with before, not like this.
Alayna Treene, great to have you. Thanks so much.
More now on the mugshot itself and the photo gallery it joined.
CNN's Tom Foreman has a snapshot.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Hardened criminals wandering celebrities, and now, this one.
For many, a mugshot is a step toward the penitentiary, but Donald Trump hopes his will lead back to the presidency.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... what has taking place here is a travesty of justice. We did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong.
JOHN EDWARDS FORMER US SENATOR FROM NORTH CAROLINA: Go to the caucuses tomorrow night, and let's change America together. Thank you.
FOREMAN: He is not the first politician snapped that way. Former senator and Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, was charged, but not convicted of scheming to violate campaign finance laws to hide an affair.
Former Texas Congressman Tom DeLay was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy, then the conviction was overturned.
The Lonestar state's former governor, Rick Perry was accused of abusing his power and when those charges were dismissed, he made the Trumpian move of using his mugshots to raise money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is in fact OJ coming down the freeway.
FOREMAN (voice over): And it's not all politics. Almost 30 years ago, that white Bronco chase led to this timeless mugshots of celebrity OJ Simpson, which "Time" Magazine darkened making him look more sinister. "Time" apologized and OJ --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not guilty of the crime of murder.
FOREMAN (voice over): Other celebrities have wound up before police cameras, too. A defiant Jane Fonda, a smiling Robert Downey, Jr.; a young Lindsay Lohan, a disheveled Nick Nolte, and Bill Gates before he was a billionaire.
MAN: The streets seemed quiet, but agonized protest.
FOREMAN (voice over): Then there are mugshots that have truly become iconic, notably civil rights leaders from Martin Luther King, Jr. to John Lewis taken into custody for standing up, or in the case of Rosa Parks, sitting down for their rights.
FOREMAN (on camera): The modern mugshot began in the late 1800s, the invention of a French detective who wanted a better way to keep track of suspects and criminals.
Since then, millions have been taken, but never before of a former US president, let alone one who wants to be president again -- John.
BERMAN: Yes, history.
Tom Foreman, thank you so much. Just ahead, flowers and tributes for Wagner's Yevgeny Prigozhin from supporters inside Russia days after his apparent death. We're going to have their reaction.
Plus, the latest on the investigation of the plane crash that appears to have claimed his life. Our Matthew Chance is in St. Petersburg tonight, home of Wagner's headquarters. He joins us next.
BERMAN: Russian authorities say they now have the flight recorders from the plane that crashed killing Wagner mercenary leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin. The British Defense Ministry today said that it is "highly likely" that Prigozhin was aboard and is dead. That follows a similar assessment from The Pentagon.
These developments come two days after the plane carrying Prigozhin, we think and nine others fell from the sky at reportedly 8,000 feet per minute before the crash. US officials say there is no indication a missile hit the plane, but that they are evaluating other possibilities including an onboard explosion that might have caused the crash.
In a report you'll see only on CNN, our Matthew Chance has made his way to St. Petersburg in Russia tonight, home of Wagner's headquarters, hearing from those Russians who supported Vladimir Putin's one time ally.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shocked, if not surprised, supporters of Russia's Wagner mercenary leader, have been paying their respects, laying flowers and lighting candles at makeshift memorials across the country. For all his violent and foul mouthed outbursts, often critical of Russia's military leadership, Yevgeny Prigozhin struck a chord. Especially with people like Daria here in St Petersburg, who told me how strong and interesting she found his personality.
He always stood up for his fighters, she said, in the special military operation, what Russia calls the conflict in Ukraine.
(on-camera): Are you sad that he is gone?
(voice-over): I'm only sad they were so vile to him, she answers. It's a bitterness many Russians now share.
(on-camera): This photograph here, I think, probably one of the last ones of Prigozhin. And it says in Russian, in this hell, he was the best, speaking about him in the past tense.
Some people have laid patches, Wagner mercenary group patches from the side of their uniforms, because a lot of the people that are paying their respects here today are either members of Wagner or they're families of members of Wagner.
The organization's known for its cruelty. And this hammer here, it's very heavy. Pick it up. It's got Wagner written on it. Look, it's become a potent symbol of just how ruthless Wagner was, because it was with a tool like this that they executed someone they regarded as a traitor and they filmed it happening absolutely gruesome.
But that video consolidated Wagner's image as a ruthless, hyper violent organization that would do anything to protect the motherland.
ALL: Wagner! Wagner! Wagner! Wagner!
CHANCE (voice-over): Even staged that dramatic uprising in June, marching troops towards Moscow in the biggest challenge to Kremlin authority for decades. Many Russians suspect Prigozhin's presumed death in this plane crash was cold-hearted revenge. But the Kremlin denies involvement. And few Russians dare say otherwise, at least publicly.
Some of my closest friends are Wagner, says this man, who asked us to hide his identity at the memorial. They're just Russian people, he tells me, who thought they were doing the right thing. They can't talk for Prigozhin, he adds.
(on-camera): Who do you think is responsible for his death? Who killed him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Foreign Language).
CHANCE (on-camera): No comment?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
CHANCE (voice-over): These are dangerous times in Russia to throw allegations around.
BERMAN: Amazing. And Matthew Chance joins us now from St. Petersburg. Matthew, Putin did comment on Prigozhin's death yesterday. What are Russian authorities saying today about the investigation?
CHANCE: Yes. Yesterday, Putin, you know, asked the country to, you know, not hold back judgment, essentially, until the outcome of that investigation. Today, investigators say they've recovered the black boxes from the aircraft, an Embraer Legacy 600 that plunged into the ground with who we believe Yevgeny Prigozhin and nine other people on board.
They say they've taken the human remains away, 10 bodies they've recovered, and they're doing forensic tests and DNA tests to try to confirm positively exactly the identities of those people on board. And so, ultimately, soon, hopefully, we should get official confirmation that it was indeed Yevgeny Prigozhin on board that aircraft and that he is actually dead.
At the moment, they're not officially confirming which is a very odd situation to be in.
BERMAN: Matthew, how's the media in Russia covering this?
CHANCE: Well, I mean, they covered the crash, obviously, and they've covered the things that President Putin has said and the investigators having recovered the black boxes and things like that. But what's really striking is that all those things that, you know, you saw me report on from earlier today, the memorials across the country, not just one in St. Petersburg, but the several of them in Moscow, in Novosibirsk, in all sorts of places around Russia, with, you know, hundreds of people around the country turning out to pay their respects to Yevgeny Prigozhin.
That's not even got a mention. Certainly not in any of the state media. And I've tried to look at some of the newspapers that have been coming out over the past several hours as well. They haven't even looked at it as well. So it feels like certainly when it comes to the state media, they've been, you know, reluctant to report on the public sympathy for this man, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of Wagner.
I mean, it is so sensitive right now. The country feels like it's on a sort of knife edge. And I think people are very shocked, as I said, shocked, but necessarily surprised that this air crash took place. And even though the Kremlin denies categorically that it had anything to do with it, people do still have deep suspicions.
BERMAN: Matthew Chance, it is remarkable reporting you are delivering. It's great having you there. Stay safe. Thank you very much.
I'm joined now by CNN Military Analyst, Retired General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme ally commander and a senior fellow at the UCLA Burkle Center. General, you know, obviously, the Wagner group filmed sledgehammer executions, Prigozhin led this revolt, this march on Moscow. Yet now there are these memorials popping up in several Russian cities. What's the takeaway here?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's a different culture, John. That's the basic thing. When we look at Russia and we look at Putin, we see him through our own eyes and through our own background, and we want to believe that everybody's the same and sees things the same. But Russia has a different culture. They have a culture of sacrifice.
They have a historical legacy of brutality. They were overrun by the Mongols. Ivan the Terrible of the 15th century took charge. He was brutal, and it's been a brutal history of oppression, murder. The Serfs were only freed in Russia in 1862.
Before that, the nobles owned the people, that the land -- and the land was given by the tsar. And all of this is part of the Russian character. So after being invaded by Napoleon, invaded by Hitler, death, sacrifice, brutality, and service of the state, yes. And in Russian culture, the state is all powerful. It's what protects Russia in a way that Americans don't have any real appreciation for. And so, for Putin, Prigozhin was used. He was useful in holding the war together in the east. Maybe he reacted with a spasm of anger going on his march to Moscow. Maybe it was a setup designed to smoke out people who were of dubious loyalty.
Maybe Putin afterwards decided he could use him for a while in Belarus. Maybe Putin then decided he was a liability. But all of that simply shows the Byzantine character of the way the Russian intelligence operates, the ruthlessness, relentless drive for success of Vladimir Putin.
BERMAN: I think the important question for perhaps the United States and Ukraine is, what impact, if any, you think this incident will have on the war there?
I think we have to be careful of wishful thinking here. As we see it, of course, it looks like, hey, there's a shakeup, and Putin's weak and so forth. But in reality, this may make Putin stronger. He has surfaced people who were potentially disloyal. We don't know if they were or not. The generals that were fired.
He's gotten rid of a rival. He's shown he's an iron leader. He's not afraid to use force. He's not afraid to kill in support of the Russian state. And despite the outpouring of grief that we saw in St. Petersburg, yes, there are people who will feel that way. But if we went back to those people and asked about the war, about Putin's leadership, we might find some surprising answers.
They might say, well, you know, Putin is protecting us. He's doing what's necessary. This is what a Russian president must do. It's a different culture. So let's not get ahead of ourselves and think that this means Russia's crumbling. Putin's in this for the long term.
In war, simple things are difficult. And so, there are a lot of difficulties that we always point out with the Russians. We don't always see the difficulties that the Ukrainians have because they're very careful to prevent us from publicizing it. It's a tough fight.
CLARK: I think Ukraine is going to come on top if we support. But this is a war unlike anything that the American military has experienced recently and unlike anything the American public understands.
BERMAN: Look, it's important perspective. Thank you so much. General Wesley Clark, great to have you on tonight.
CLARK: Thank you, John.
So how are voters feeling after watching the first Republican primary debate? CNN's John King continues his all over the map series to see if the debate swayed the minds of voters that he recently met in Iowa.
BERMAN: A little over a month from now, several 2024 Republican hopefuls will take the stage again in the party's second primary debate. As we wait for that in a continuation of his all over the map series, CNN's John King reconnected with some Iowa voters we met last week, but this time seeing where they stand following the first debate.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): It is debate night, and in Iowa, popcorn is the snack of choice. Betsy Sarcone is thrilled to watch with her parents and thrilled Donald Trump decided to boycott and leave the stage to others.
BETSY SARCONE, IA REPUBLICAN VOTER: I think that, you know, in the past it's kind of felt like the schoolyard bully calling his friends names and I'm not really interested in that.
KING (voice-over): Sarcone is a suburban mother and two-time Trump voter eager to move on.
SARCONE: I am pulled towards DeSantis.
KING (voice-over): Governor Ron DeSantis was her favorite when we first met several weeks ago, and as she tuned in Wednesday night. But the debate shook things up.
SARCONE: My personal favorite was Nikki Haley. I think she said -- she had a lot of commentary on different topics where I said, wow, I agreed with everything she said right there.
NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Martha.
SARCONE: She also came across as not nasty but knowledgeable. There's a difference.
CHRIS MUDD: This is a typical residential install. I mean, this is --
KING (voice-over): Chris Mudd owns a solar energy company is a strong Trump supporter. And when we first met, had this to say about the former South Carolina governor.
MUDD: I'm not a big Nikki Haley fan.
KING (on-camera): Why.
MUDD: I've just never really --
KING (voice-over): Connect to her.
MUDD: -- connected to her.
KING (voice-over): Mudd is still for Trump. But after the debate texted, Nikki Haley made good use of her time. Sioux City Attorney Priscilla Forsyth liked Haley's take on abortion and her take charge style.
HALEY: Let's treat this like a respectful issue that it is.
KING (voice-over): "Nikki Haley really helped herself," Forsyth told us. So a good night for Haley was one clear takeaway from our Iowa group. Another was that entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy stirs a Trump like divide.
VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Trump, I believe was the best president of the 21st century.
KING (voice-over): Trump supporter Mudd loved it. I'm for the USA, Mudd texted. Trump reps that best in my opinion. Vivek sounds great. Not to Forsyth. This is earlier this month after Forsyth attended a Ramaswamy event.
PRISCILLA FORSYTH, IA REPUBLICAN VOTER: Yes, I really got the feeling he's brilliant. He's got energy. He's young. I really liked him.
KING (voice-over): Post-debate this. "He just isn't grown up enough to be president. He's trying to be Trump, but he isn't." Sarcone and her parents also unimpressed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Ramaswamy's probably went down because of that abrasiveness.
KING (voice-over): But what is toxic in the suburbs is often tonic to others in today's GOP.
SARCONE: Some Trump people might have found that attractive about Ramaswamy, right? So he might pull some of that crowd. Who knows?
KING (voice-over): Trump is way ahead. And that won't change if the anti-Trump vote is sprinkled across this debate stage.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our country is in decline.
JACLYN TAYLOR, IA REPUBLICAN VOTER: His statement was powerful when he said the country is in a downward spiral. And DeSantis has been elevated for me.
KING (voice-over): That's a shift from a few weeks ago.
TAYLOR: There's just a lot of around him. Is that a technical term?
KING (voice-over): How these booming suburbs shake out matters? So even if there is a new favorite after debate number one.
SARCONE: So you won a DeSantis-Haley ticket?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For Haley --
SARCONE: Haley-DeSantis. It's Haley-DeSantis. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
KING (voice-over): The shopping will continue. And for many, math more than policy will shape the final choice.
SARCONE: The question is, can she win, right? So that's my main question. She personally would be my favorite candidate right now, but DeSantis at this point looks more viable.
KING (voice-over): Pass the popcorn. The second debate is in a month.
BERMAN: It's so interesting to hear that thinking. John King reporting.
Just ahead, as millions of students across the country kickoff the new school year 360's Gary Tuchman traveled to Nashville, the site of a school shooting in March to attend an active shooting training for teachers. His reports next.
BERMAN: This was the first full week back for students at the Covenant School in Nashville, the site five months ago of a mass shooting that took the lives of three students and three adults. It did prompt a special session for lawmakers this week, but so far, the tragedy has yielded few legislative solutions.
One enduring lesson appears to be that active shooter training save lives at the school. 360's Gary Tuchman has more on the man behind it.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Whitney Earhart (ph) and Evie Coates (ph) are elementary school teachers who have been told to listen for a noise from another part of their school building. This noise --
TUCHMAN (voice-over): This is the instructor of an active shooter training program who wants school employees at Nashville, Tennessee's Ensworth School to know gunshots don't always sound like gunshots. To be aware, they sometimes sound like --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Someone working on a construction or like a repair project.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or it's like sanding or something like that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The trainer is Brink Fidler, a former cop, the owner of a company called Defend Systems.
BRINK FIDLER, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, DEFEND SYSTEMS: This saying is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, and he probably said it. He was a pretty smart guy, right? If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): He's training more than 200 teachers and staff at this private K to 12 school, training that comes from a devastating and upsetting perspective. Fidler trained the teachers and staff at Nashville's Covenant School the year before a shooter murdered three students and three school employees in a rampage this past March.
The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department believes that the training the Covenant staff received saved lives. The shooter never got into a classroom. Fidler knew some of the victims and was friends with the school headmaster, Dr. Katherine Koonce who was killed.
FIDLER: She's a leader, man. You know, she is a lead from the front person. She did it right and did it what she was going to do as a leader. And unfortunately it cost her her life. But I think if you had the chance to ask her would she do it again, the answer would be yes.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The Covenant School employees follow this key training, says Fidler.
FIDLER: First thing they need to do if it's not safe to leave is make sure their door is locked, get the window that's in their door covered, and get their kids out of the line of fire. Those are the three most important things you have to do.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Fidler says the shooter fired through the locked doors of several classrooms, but nobody inside was hurt. The children were out of the line of fire. Other important lessons, being vigilant about visitors carrying backpacks.
FIDLER: The amount of crap you can fit in a backpack is alarming, the first one being this guy.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Also in this relatively small backpack, Fidler has a bunch of additional 30 round magazines and three Glock pistols. The training emphasizes not being a sitting duck if a shooter is about to enter a classroom door. Fidler demonstrates a potential defensive scenario with fellow trainer Tracey Mendenhall.
FIDLER: So when I go to step to the door, she's going to c clamp it, which looks like that. Everybody say how she grabbed it, just top and bottom. So all -- what does she know I'm getting ready to do? Pull back. So what we want her to do is just use that to her advantage. So as soon as I pull back, she's going to drive straight up.
But you get under the gun like this, because who thinks right now I can pull this gun down and tap her on the head if I pull straight down. Does anybody think I can do that? You can't do it. And why not? What's under the gun? All of her.
[20:55:09] TUCHMAN (voice-over): And then there is medical training. If there are no medical personnel around, the trainers say, school employees should know how to properly use a tourniquet.
TRACEY MENDENHALL, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS AND TRAINING: You are watching for the bleeding to stop. You are not counting the amount of times you twist it, alright? Now, we're going to twist it to the three 180s.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think I can.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): This active shooter train lasts for almost five hours.
(on-camera): What do you think about the instructions?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I like the hands on component and doing it makes a lot of sense.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): As you've seen, the training is intense and visceral. The trainer knows what he teaches is a sad sign of the times.
FIDLER: It's terrible. But I'm also glad to do it oddly enough because there is something that can be done to help people in those situations, and that's what we're about.
TUCHMAN: John, the school security industry, experts say, is a $3.1 billion industry in this country. It's going up every year. Brink, who we spend time with in Tennessee for this story today, for example, is with his trainers, teaching teachers and administrators this program in Minnesota. He says he's had this company for six years and he's never been busier than he is today.
BERMAN: Look, it's so smart, so practical, but so chilling. So chilling.
Gary Tuchman, what a report. Thank you so much. We'll be right back.
BERMAN: The news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.