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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Trump Waives Formal Arraignment, Pleads Not Guilty In Georgia Case; Capitol Physician Medically Clears McConnell After He Froze A Second Time With Reporters; Courting Accountability; Biden To Visit Florida Saturday After Hurricane Idalia Causes "Significant Damage"; Confirmed Death In GA; Six Regions In Russia Hit In Biggest Drone Attack To Date; Manhunt For "Extremely Dangerous" Escaped Convict Outside Philadelphia. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired August 31, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember in the 1950s, there is legal segregation. Black kids are not able to listen to music in the same spaces as White kids.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black and White musicians weren't allowed to play together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They had one night for White and another night for African-American.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the White kids would come to the Black kids concert, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Don't miss "Little Richard: I am Everything" Monday night, right here on CNN at 9:00 PM.
Thanks so much for joining me tonight. AC 360 starts right now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, America's best known traveling defendant and former president decides to skip the flight this time and plead to his latest charges from a distance.
Several months in one blockbuster investigative report later, Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Alito officially come clean on the goodies they get from wealthy friends.
And the latest on a manhunt underway right now for this escaped inmate doing life in this country for one murder and wanted overseas for another.
John Berman here in for Anderson and tonight, we know whose name will not be called next Wednesday in Atlanta's Fulton County Courthouse. The former president today waived arraignment pleading not guilty to 13 counts including a RICO charge connected to his effort to overturn his defeat in that state. His attorney has also filed a motion to sever the case from Kenneth
Chesebro and others being tried, at least for now, in October under Georgia's speedy trial provision.
Also today, Fani Willis got a reprieve from the state's Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who squelched a special legislative session aimed at removing her. Governor Kemp said he has not seen any evidence warranting it, adding he will follow the Constitution "regardless of who it helps politically."
As for co-defendant, Mark Meadows, we learned today that a ruling on moving the case to federal court could come at any time now that all briefs from both sides had been filed, and whichever way that goes, the Fulton County judge who has got the case said today that all proceedings in his courtroom, all of them will be live streamed and allowed to be televised.
As for this guy, one of the thousands of Americans who turned the former president's words into action on January 6, he received one of the longest prison sentences yet, 17 years for Joe Biggs, a top member of the so-called Proud Boys, another member of the group's Philadelphia chapter, got 15 years.
It is a busy night.
CNN's Sara Murray starts us off.
And Sara, now that Trump has pleaded not guilty and will not appear in court next week, what's next for him in this case in Georgia?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think there's a question about when if ever we might see Donald Trump in Fulton County superior court. We did see from his attorney, his lead attorney in Georgia, Steven Sadow, a motion to sever Trump's case from his other co- defendants. As you pointed out, several of them have filed for a speedy trial and the judge has said that will happen in October of 2023.
In this filing, Trump's attorney says there is no way they're going to be ready to go to trial in October of this year, that trying to force Trump ahead on that timeline would violate his rights to a fair trial.
There is also an open question about where Trump is going to want to go to trial? We fully expect that his team is going to try to move his case to federal court, although they have not filed for this and they may be frankly, biding their time to wait and see how this maneuver plays out for Mark Meadows.
BERMAN: So let's talk about that. Mark Meadows, these dueling legal briefs filed late today regarding his efforts to get his case moved to federal court. When is the ruling expected there?
MURRAY: Well, essentially, the judge could rule at any time now. He should have all of the information after he held a full day evidentiary hearing and then asked for additional information, which both sides filed this evening. So it's really up to the judge to put his ruling forward in writing.
And essentially what we saw were two dueling arguments, the Meadows team arguing that everything he did, he did as part of his duties as White House chief-of-staff and that even if there were things he did, that the judge didn't think were part of his duties as White House chief-of-staff, the whole case should still be moved to federal court.
The district attorney's office argued, look, we're accusing Mark Meadows of participating in a conspiracy that is not part of his efforts at being White House chief-of-staff, and so even if you may have found one act that he committed that was maybe related to those duties, it's not enough to move this case to federal court. And now we wait on the judge.
BERMAN: So Sara, the judge of the Fulton County case also weighed in on a pretty important issue. A big deal: Cameras in the courtroom. What did he say?
MURRAY: This is one of the things that could make this case obviously very different from what we've seen in the Trump cases that play out in federal court where cameras are not allowed.
The judge in Fulton County superior court said that he does plan to allow cameras. He does plan to allow recordings of anything involving this case. I think the question is, who ends up in this case in Fulton County superior court? Who ends up in federal court where we don't have cameras and we don't get the benefit of seeing this play out live -- John.
BERMAN: Yes, and it is interesting if it does happen in 2023 or 2024. There could be cameras in the courtroom during a political campaign for at least some of the defendants there.
Sara Murray, great reporting. Thanks so much.
With us now to CNN legal analysts, former Georgia US attorney, Michael Moore and Karen Friedman Agnifilo, former chief assistant DA for the Manhattan district attorney's office, and Karen, I want to start with you on Trump waiving arraignment and pleading not guilty through a court filing.
Is this about convenience or just optics or just not wanting to go?
KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It could be any of those things. In Georgia, several of the defendants have already entered pleas of not guilty and won't be attending their arraignment, but an arraignment is an important part of the criminal justice process.
And so at some point, it will be important for Trump and others to be in front of a judge where the judge can tell them exactly what is expected of them. So that if, for example, he violates any of his conditions of release, the judge can say I told you. I told you can or cannot do this and then hold him accountable. But so far, he hasn't seen any judge in the Georgia case. BERMAN: No, not yet.
And Michael, on the issue of TV -- television cameras in the courtroom, is that good or bad news for the prosecution or defense do you think?
MICHAEL MOORE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I'm glad to be with both of you.
I don't know that it's particularly good news for the prosecution. I think it allows things to become a little bit of a circus, especially when you're talking about a case this large with this many people.
There is a precedent in the Fulton superior court of having TVs in the courtroom. We've watched murder trials, and they've been published to a YouTube channel. And so, you know, this is nothing new and not really unexpected.
I think the reality though, is if Trump stays in this Fulton County superior court, you're just running a campaign ad for most of the time that the trial is in progress. So they'll, you know, that's just the reality of where we are.
I don't know that I expect him to stay there, I do expect he'll try to move his case to federal court, depending on what Judge Jones does. He'll look at the order and make a decision about that. But we do have -- we do have the ability to watch trials on television in Fulton County.
So, it lets the public know, but at the same time, it provides a pretty good third ring for a three-ring circus.
BERMAN: Karen, what about Trump's efforts to sever his cases from the other defendants. There are all of these defendants who file motions for a speedy trial. He's like, I don't want to be part of that.
AGNIFILO: I think that is expected and I think that will be granted because defendants can in Georgia move for a super speedy trial. Right? This is lightning speed. This is a month or two from now.
And Fani Willis also today filed a motion for basically saying to the two defendants who have asked for a speedy trial, Ken Chesebro and Sidney Powell saying: Judge, can you just tell them all of the rights that they are giving up by having a speedy trial. I just want to make sure, and you have to tell them that and they have to say on the record that they understand for their speedy trial.
I think any of the other defendants wouldn't -- would say I don't give up those rights if forced to go to trial, a speedy trial that they don't want those. Say, I don't give that up, I want time to prepare and I want time to have noticed of certain experts and call witnesses and all of that.
So I think this was something that you'll see multiple defendants do, because technically the case is all joined together right now. And so the fact that it's starting soon because two have asked for a speedy trial, I think it's just more of a technicality that everyone else is going to have to move to sever so that they don't go in that lane. But I think that they will get that.
BERMAN: Michael, one of the issues, which is imminent, because the judge is going to rule on it very soon is whether to put Mark Meadows' case into a federal court. And this is a decision that will actually have long-ranging implications, maybe on other cases as well.
This has to do with whether his actions were as a federal government employee as the chief-of-staff to the president of the United States, or if what he was doing, it was political work, it was campaign work. Which argument, and they had to both file briefs on it, basically, the briefs had to make the case if he did one thing that was for a campaign, should it be in state court, or if he did one thing as a federal employee, it should be in federal court. Who do you think made the better argument?
MOORE: Well, I mean, it could go either way. I will tell you, I've read the briefs and I feel like the Meadows team made a better argument. They talked about the fact that the statute says that if anything is done, any act by someone that it can be moved. They talked about the fact that the case law supports that. there is 11th Circuit case law where we are, as well as US Supreme Court case law and in fact just the Horn Book itself, the treatise that we all use and rely on as we studied the law says the same thing.
And so what the state has done is said, look, he can't be served in his official capacity because he was breaking the law. Well, that's putting the cart ahead of the horse. That decision of whether or not he's guilty of some crime happens at a trial, and that would be -- that's the purpose of moving it to another court.
We're talking about here, is there some plausible claim, some very small bird, but is there a plausible argument to be made that something he was doing was in furtherance of his job? Things like setting up phone calls, setting up appointments, doing those things, and that's there.
So I think it's going to give the judge something to think about over the holiday weekend.
BERMAN: It will definitely give the judge something to think about. Remember Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia Secretary State testified, Karen, that he thought it was a campaign call and he thought it was inappropriate. He thought it was a political call.
Do you have a gut instinct about what the judge might rule here?
AGNIFILO: So yes, I have a gut and my gut is actually that it'll probably be removed, not because it should be removed, but I think that the judge, it's a federal judge, he sits in the 11th Circuit, which is quite conservative, and then it would appeal to the Supreme Court, which is obviously very conservative. And I think knowing that he could be overruled, that could delay this case, I think he will ultimately, or potentially remove it. I think he could, that's my gut.
But from a legal analysis standpoint, there are three elements that Mark Meadows has to meet, one, that he is a federal officer; one that he was acting, doing his job; and third, that he has a federal defense. In these motions that were filed today, Meadows did make a good argument that the act, right, that the actions he was doing were for his job.
But Fani Willis talked about the defense, the federal defense and her argument was quite clear. He has no plausible federal defense. So I think on that argument, she might actually win.
BERMAN: Well, this judge has a big decision and has made clear it could come at any time.
Karen and Michael, thank you both very much.
MOORE: A pleasure to be with you.
BERMAN: We have a late update on Mitch McConnell's health after he froze for a second time yesterday.
Also what Clarence Thomas's financial disclosure form shows about the trips and favors he received from a billionaire friend, and what a former judge makes of the High Court's ethics.
Later the manhunt for an escapee sentenced to life for one murder and wanted for another.
BERMAN: The Capitol physician today medically cleared Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to continue his regular work schedule. That's not the whole story here. The fact that it was necessary is, coming a day after this moment which we should warn you is difficult to watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): ... my thoughts about what?
REPORTER: Running for re-election in 2026.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you hear the question, Senator? Running for re-election in 2026?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, I'm sorry, y'all. We're going to need a minute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So that was the second time this has happened on camera in as many months.
The reaction of the people around him suggested to CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta when we spoke last night that this actually may have happened more than twice or at least wasn't unexpected by his staff.
CNN's Manu Raju joins us now with more.
Manu, what's the senator's office saying about this now?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, really not a whole lot, John, really in the immediate aftermath of that episode yesterday, an aide said that he was experiencing lightheadedness and that he would consult with a physician and that before he would go on to the next event.
We have not even heard from Senator McConnell himself. He did attend a private event yesterday after that incident would say a Congressman Jim Banks who is running for the United States Senate, a fundraiser. People who attended the event said he sounded normal, he sounded fine, he was engaging. They did not talk about that issue at that event.
But today, even though his office has not weighed in at all, McConnell, we have not heard from as well. They did release a letter from the Capitol physician, a very brief letter from Brian Monahan, the physician saying that occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery, and can also be expected as a result of dehydration.
It doesn't really explain the root cause of this. There is a question -- medical experts raised questions about all of this, but it does point to the concussion Senator McConnell endured when he fell, hit his head at a Washington hotel back in March. He was sidelined for nearly six weeks. And he's fallen, I've learned also a couple other times earlier this year, as well all raising questions about Senator McConnell's health. He is 81 years old and has led the Senate Republicans for 16 years -- John.
BERMAN: Manu, what are other senators saying about this now?
RAJU: Yes, there are a lot of questions still, John. The question, too, is how long can Senator McConnell remain as the Republican leader? He is almost certainly expected to continue to serve through the rest of this Congress, that ends at the end of next year. But what will happen after that? That remains the big focus.
There is growing doubt that he will remain leader after the end of this Congress, meaning there could be a leadership race in November 2024 and even some Republican congressmen, including one, Kevin Hern, who I asked about this said that there may be some more issues involving Senator McConnell that he has led on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Did you see Mitch McConnell yesterday? He froze up. What do you think about that? REP. KEVIN HERN (R-OK): I think it is tough. You know, obviously, the
fall he had was more -- that's what it is connected to, it is more damaging than most people thought.
RAJU: Yes. Do you think that he should stay as leader of the Senate Republican conference?
HERN: That's something for the Senate to figure out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: But John, Congress has been on recess pretty much for all of August. The Senate comes back next week. So Senator McConnell will have a lot of questions to answer from his own colleagues. He'll meet with them on Tuesday evening with his leadership team and the full Republican conference on Wednesday.
BERMAN: Look, it'll be interesting to see if he is as visible as he normally is when the Senate comes back in a week.
Manu Raju, great to see you. Thank you very much.
Today was financial disclosure day for two Supreme Court justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, both you will recall were the subject of reporting in ProPublica and elsewhere on the gifts that they got and the hospitality they enjoyed from wealthy friends.
Today Justices Thomas and Alito officially disclosed what they got and from whom. In Justice Alito's case, it was a flight by private jet to a luxury fishing lodge hosted by a hedge fund billionaire and a trip to Rome. In Justice Thomas' case, it was a whole lot more. Here is CNN's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A pair of private jet trips in 2022, a vacation at an Adirondacks estate in 2014. Those gifts to conservative Justice Clarence Thomas from Republican megadonor, Harlan Crow are among the disclosures in a newly released financial statement from the justice. His lawyers say any earlier omissions were strictly inadvertent. This latest news has caught critics enraged.
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: How is it possible that we do not have a code of ethics that is binding upon the highest court in the land.
CLARENCE THOMAS, US SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I come from regular stock.
FOREMAN (voice over): This film on Thomas was funded by the billionaire real estate man, Crow, who says he met the justice in 1996. They became friends. Both love Motown music and never discussed cases.
Yet earlier reports from ProPublica named Crow and three other big businessman as ultra-wealthy benefactors of the justice, giving him at least 38 destination vacations, including a previously unreported voyage on a yacht around the Bahamas, 26 private jet flights, plus an additional eight by helicopter, a dozen VIP passes to professional and college sporting events, two stays at luxury resorts in Florida and Jamaica, and one standing invitation to an uber exclusive golf club.
BRETT MURPHY, PROPUBLICA: Justice Thomas has been living a life of extreme luxury for 30 years underwritten by at least four different ultra-wealthy benefactors.
FOREMAN (voice over): In a five-page statement, a lawyer for Thomas called such hints of impropriety a partisan feeding frenzy and political blood sport insisting the justice has committed no willful ethics transgressions.
Noting for example, Thomas says in the new disclosures one of those private jet flights was due to an unexpected ice storm, another because of increased security risk tied to the court upending abortion rights law.
Thomas earlier said he was told he didn't have to report everything anyway. So other conservative defenders are calling this as Thomas has, just generosity among friends.
KERRI KUPEC URBAHN, FOX NEWS CHANNEL LEGAL EDITOR: There's really only one fact that matters if you cut through the noise, and it's that Harlan Crow, and all of these friends in question had no business before the Supreme Court. Full stop.
FOREMAN (on camera): Still, some court watchers say these wealthy donors and Thomas shared deeply held conservative beliefs and with public faith in the justice is already plummeting, their cozy relationships could be costly to the court's reputation -- John.
BERMAN: All right, Tom Foreman, thank you very much.
Perspective now from someone who sat on the federal bench and unlike the Supreme Court justices actually had a formal code of ethics she had to follow.
Nancy Gertner is currently a senior lecturer at Harvard Law School and she joins us now.
So Judge Gertner, you see Justice Thomas claim he, "inadvertently omitted a private real estate deal, private plane travel and vacations, all tied to billionaire Harlan Crow." Do you buy that?
NANCY GERTNER, FORMER FEDERAL JUDGE: No, I don't buy it. There's a story in ProPublica that Thomas had at one point disclosed the private plane trips by Harlan Crow, then there was an "LA Times" article about it and the disclosures stopped.
Other judges have disclosed private plane trips. All of the experts say that the disclosure rules even before they were recently amended to clarify this issue, even before that, you know, required disclosure of anything except personal hospitality.
One of the plane trips was a flight to New Haven to give a speech. He was well outside of personal hospitality. But let me just, as a broader context, every federal judge who is listening to this, every federal judge, who's been on the bench is barred from taking money for speeches, is restricted to how much money you can get and teaching, is restricted to travel that is just sort of, you know, economy travel.
And the reason for that is not just actual impropriety, but the appearance of impropriety. The concern that we don't look like we are bought, and even if it's not true, it sets that appearance and clearly what ProPublica is describing which is the 38 destination vacations et cetera et cetera, certainly raises the appearance of impropriety, especially when they were not disclosed.
BERMAN: You know, the lawyer for Justice Thomas, as we just heard from Tom Foreman there, criticized what he called a "partisan feeding frenzy" and it all accounted to a political blood sport. What do you say to that?
GERTNER: Well, I think that if this had been the case with anyone on the court, not just a trip here or there, if it had been this kind of, this dimension of support by wealthy donors, I have no doubt there would have been the same outcry and there have been similar outcry in the past with respect to justices who have had these kinds -- not when it is done with what Thomas has done, but there has been that kind of outcry.
It points out less than a partisan feeding frenzy, it says something about a court without rules, a court without ethical rules. That's what it speaks to and it doesn't matter who the target is. It speaks to that more than anything else.
BERMAN: Well, and it shouldn't be taking a public outcry to even have this discussion going on and who is responsible for creating these rules in your mind?
GERTNER: Well, the disclosure rules have been in effect since the 70s. They were the immediate response to Nixon's -- to Watergate. So they've been around, these justices have had to file disclosure reports.
So the ethical issues are one thing, recusal all of that, but these disclosure rules have been in effect. So these are justices who have filed inadequate disclosure rules, who have failed to identify very, very substantial -- very substantial trips and very substantial support.
I mean, the notion for example as Justice Thomas said in the latest disclosure, that he had to take a private plane after the Dobb decision because of security issues. Dobb was in May of 2022. That hardly justifies all of the flights that predated that. Then he said he needed to take one of these private planes for an ice storm.
Unless we're prepared to give a fleet of private planes to all of the federal judges on the public dime, that it just doesn't make sense.
But more significant, this is someone who's simply giving the back of the hand to the existing disclosure rules, and that should be troubling whatever side you're on.
BERMAN: Nancy Gertner, we appreciate this. Thank you very much.
GERTNER: Thank you.
BERMAN: Just ahead, after spending two nights anchoring this broadcast in Florida to cover Hurricane Idalia, we are going to go back there to check on the cleanup and recovery efforts from a storm that pummeled Florida and other parts of the southeast after making landfall as a Category 3 storm.
Brian Todd is in Perry, Florida tonight and joins us next.
BERMAN: President Biden says on Saturday he will toward the destruction in Florida caused by Hurricane Idalia, which is now over the Atlantic Ocean. At least one person is dead in Georgia after the powerful storm ripped through the southeast. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says there was significant damage in the Big Bend region of his state.
There was a record storm surge in places like Cedar Key, Florida. Residents there say they have no power -- sorry, they do have power now, but no running water. Others in Florida and Georgia say they have no power and now temperatures are soaring into the 90s. One estimate puts recovery at between $12 and $20 billion.
Brian Todd is in Perry, Florida with the latest on the recovery.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've seen a lot of really heartbreaking damage.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis touring some of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Idalia in the Big Bend region of the Gulf Coast.
DESANTIS: People really made good decisions, protected themselves. Also, this forecast turned out to be accurate. It had been eyeing the Big Bend many days ago. And that's what ended up happening.
TODD (voice-over): Now, as the remnants of Idalia make their way up the east coast, we're getting a clearer picture of the damage. One of the hardest hit areas, the town of Perry, Florida, where many streets and homes are covered in downed power lines and massive trees.
Alexis Griffin and her four children arrived back at their home in Perry to this. No fewer than four large trees had crashed on their home.
ALEXIS GRIFFIN, LIVES IN PERRY, FLORIDA: Just feels like, you know, something out of your control that has been ripped out of, you know, ripped out of your hands. It's kind of devastating.
TODD (on-camera): How do you feel about how you start back?
GRIFFIN: You don't know what to think or how to think it. It's just taking it one step at a time.
TODD (voice-over): This 83-year-old woman and her 92-year-old sister were in their house when most of their roof wrecked off.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought it was a tornado that hit. The roof just flew off, and then the -- then it started leaking.
TODD (voice-over): Dale Farmer says, although his home is damaged, it doesn't matter to him. He's just grateful to be alive.
DALE FARMER, LIVES IN PERRY, FLORIDA: Material things don't matter anymore. Every day is a blessing we have. And every day I get up, I tell myself, today is going to be the best day of my life. And today is the best day of my life. And that's it.
TODD (voice-over): Idalia made landfall near Keaton Beach, about 22 miles south of Perry as a Category 3 storm. With maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour. Across the region, roads are littered with debris, power poles, and trees, some completely ripped from the ground. And then there are unbelievable scenes like this, a home pretty much torn apart by the wind, no longer a roof covering it.
Yet somehow the bed in this upstairs room looks virtually untouched. Meanwhile, North Carolina, seeing severe flooding today in places like Columbus County. South Carolina has already experienced inland coastal flooding and powerful winds, tearing down trees and power poles. And in Georgia, crews work to continue to restore power and clear roads.
Back in Florida, residents and business owners in Cedar Key also picking up the pieces from what's left after Idalia. A process that those on this small coastal island say they aren't unfamiliar with and one that the community always comes together for.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As soon as you hear Cat 3 and above, all of the community gets together, the boarding up happens, the library gets emptied, the museum, there's lots of prep, and all this can be rebuilt.
TODD: Back here in Perry, Alexis Griffin says, as far as actually stepping back into this house right now, she's actually afraid to do that. Now in the broader picture, the firm Moody's Analytics says their preliminary estimates show that the hurricane has done about $12 to $20 billion in damage and lost output to this region, John. And they're still just trying to figure out some of these damage.
BERMAN: A lot of damage to be sure. Brian Todd, great work. Thank you so much.
Up next, they come without warning in their attacks are spreading across Russia. The increase in drone attacks, which are slowing, turning the Ukraine war into -- or slowly turning the Ukraine war into a two-front problem for Vladimir Putin.
BERMAN: Ukrainian military officials say they have penetrated the first line of Russia's defense in the south, and are now seeking to widen the wedge in the Russian line that they have created. Now, this is a notable achievement in what has been a slow moving counteroffensive, and it comes a day after the biggest drone attack to date on Russian soil.
Six regions attacked on Wednesday, including Moscow. Matthew Chance has more.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barely a night passes now, when Russians somewhere aren't shaken by powerful drone attacks. This recent barrage hitting an airport in the city of Pskov, some 400 miles from the Ukrainian border.
Russian air defenses spread thinly, unleashes firepower, but faced with a major upsurge in drone attacks. There were just too many targets to defend.
Russian officials say at least four military cargo planes used to transport troops and equipment to the war zone were damaged. Footage of the burning aircraft suggests destroyed. A significant blow to Russian logistics.
On Russian state TV, controlled by the Kremlin, the drone strikes are barely mentioned. Instead, the focus is on Russia hitting Ukraine and targets being struck across the front lines by Russian forces. But the Kremlin can't hide what's happening.
Russian civilians like these in the Bryansk region are sharing videos online. This family were congratulating their daughter on her birthday as the drone strikes thud close by. Stop the music, she tells her mom. That's the fourth explosion, she says.
On security footage in Bryansk, near the Ukraine border, you can hear one of the drones before it hits. Russian officials vowed a punishing response. But Moscow's revenge attacks are no match for carefully planned strikes on targets picked to cause maximum disruption.
And to force Russians to see their Ukraine war coming home.
BERMAN: And Matthew Chance was recently in Russia, joins us now. Matthew, what's behind this -- what seems to be a change in tactic from the Ukrainians increasing their drone use in Russia?
CHANCE: Yes, well, I mean, it's extraordinary. As you say, I've just come back from Russia, from Moscow, from St. Petersburg as well, and people are pretty complacent still about these drone attacks that are taking place on a daily basis.
But, I mean, I think, you know, part of it is that the Ukrainians want to change that. They want to show Russians that a price is being paid for the war that's carrying on for the most part in their territory in Ukraine. And so that's having some success, I think.
But I think that the primary reason for this change of tactics and this upsurge in the drone strikes is that the Ukrainians want to really disrupt as much as possible. The supply of troops, the supply of logistics, the supply lines to the front lines for the Russians to make it as complex as possible for them to really complicate their defense of those areas that the Ukrainians are pushing against.
They're still engaged in that summer offensive. It's not made a lot of progress, although it's making a bit more recently, and this is complicating things even further. For a Russian military, that is also stretched when it comes to its capacity in defending those very long front lines in Ukraine.
BERMAN: Matthew Chance, as we said, recently returned from Russia. Thanks so much for that report.
Coming up, a manhunt involving dozens of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies is now underway for an escape convict to authorities say is extremely dangerous. We have a live report from Philadelphia near where the escape occurred next.
BERMAN: State and federal law enforcement agencies are now engaged in a manhunt for a conflict described as, quote, "extremely dangerous" after he escaped from a prison outside Philadelphia. Danelo Cavalcante is in prison, or was, for the brutal murder of his former girlfriend whom the DA's office says he stabbed 38 times.
Our Danny Freeman joins us now from Philadelphia. Danny, you know, what more do you know about this guy and how he got out of the prison?
DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the big question that we are frankly still waiting for answers for is exactly that. How did he actually get out of this prison? Law enforcement officials, they're not saying at this moment, but they're really trying to emphasize the message that you began with that this suspect, this inmate is extremely dangerous. They're encouraging residents to stay inside, to be on high alert as this multi-agency manhunt continues. But, John, I want to get back to what we do know about when this all started. Law enforcement officials say this started around 8:50 this morning, Thursday morning, and that's when inmate Danelo Cavalcante escaped from the Chester County prison.
It's about 30 miles west of where we are in Philadelphia right now. Now, he was seen though at 9:40 a.m. in the area around the prison, and he was wearing a white t-shirt, gray shorts, and white sneakers. And John, that's important because law enforcement officials, they believe that he was able to change out of his prison garb after he ultimately escaped.
Now, why this strong language? Well, this gentleman, this inmate, was convicted just in the past two weeks of first degree murder. He was sentenced to life without parole just last week. And again, as you said, it was for fatally stabbing his former girlfriend 38 times in front of her children.
And John, the motive, according to prosecutors, for that murder that he was convicted of is because the girlfriend discovered he was actually wanted for another murder in Brazil. That's why prosecutors said he ultimately killed his girlfriend because the girlfriend was threatening to expose him. So again, that's why law enforcement is -- are saying that he is extremely dangerous.
Take a listen to how the district attorney of Chester County characterized him earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEB RYAN, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, CHESTER COUNTY, PA: His depravity knows no bounds. I mean, this is someone who has nothing to lose, as you indicated. So I don't know what he's capable of doing. If he's already engaged in a murder in broad daylight in front of her two children, there's no stopping him from doing anything more egregious.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FREEMAN: And John, at this point, we know that there are dozens of agencies out there searching into the evening. They're using K-9s, drones and helicopters at this point as well. John?
BERMAN: Do they have any sense about where he might be and what the danger might be to the general public?
FREEMAN: Well, John, as you heard right there from the DA, clearly a lot of concern for the general public. In terms of the specific whereabouts, law enforcement haven't been specific in terms of their details. They have said that they are searching generally in the 6- mile radius around that county prison. And I will say that law enforcement mentioned he does have family in the area, but they are in contact with him. And just for a little perspective, John, for the murder that this inmate was accused and convicted of, the man here in question actually fled to Virginia. That's where law enforcement agencies, or agents rather, were able to pick him up. Police, of course, hoping that they can find him here after escaping from prison in Chester County in the close area. John?
BERMAN: All right, Danny Freeman, stay on this. Keep us posted. Thank you very much.
CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Charles Ramsey is with us now. He's a former Philadelphia Police Commissioner. Also here, CNN Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller, former NYPD Deputy Commissioner.
And so John, you know, Danny laid it out there, 8:50, he escapes, an hour later, he's seen walking in a t-shirt along the street. How does a guy get out? I mean, a guy convicted two weeks ago, how does he get out?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: So if you look at the big picture in Pennsylvania, you know, we had the Burnham escape in January. I think he escaped on July, rather July 6th. He was captured on the 15th. We had the two inmates from Philadelphia who escaped a Philadelphia city jail.
Also one wanted for murder, gang members. They were able to sneak out of their cell, use a lookout, climb over two sets of barbed wire fence, and literally have an Uber, not kidding now, an Uber waiting for them, called in by a fellow gang member. They were also captured.
So, what you're seeing here is prisons under pressure because of staffing levels, funding levels, guards having to work overtime, system breakdowns, but each one of these has to be looked at and say -- and examine, you know, how -- you can't have murderers walking out of prison.
So you've got Chester County detectives looking for them. You've got Pennsylvania State Police, who, based on just what we're talking about --
MILLER: -- have become pretty experienced in tracking these guys down. And, of course, the U.S. Marshals, who are probably the most expert man hunters for fugitives and escapees, all working together.
BERMAN: So, Chief Ramsey, where do you start when it comes to searching for someone like this?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, you're going to start with an area somewhat near the prison. I mean, he had an hour ahead start, which is not good. And it's going to expand out from there probably already has, no doubt.
I mean, you've got helicopters, you've got drones, you've got all these different law enforcement agencies, probably some door to door to make sure that people are aware that this individual is on the loose. He is extremely dangerous. We -- he was convicted of one homicide, probably committed another homicide.
And so he has absolutely nothing to lose. And so he is a threat to the public, no question about that. But as John said, the U.S. Marshal Service is very skilled in this. The state police are as well. They will eventually catch this guy.
The hope is that he can't hurt anyone else before he is brought into custody. They'll also be looking to see if he had any help. I mean, apparently before he had friends that were there to help him. He wants to leave the country apparently. So you, obviously, have to be aware of that and make the proper notifications.
So they'll do everything they possibly can to kind of zero in on this guy and catch him again before he has a chance to hurt anyone else. But one last thing, John, nobody should escape from a detention facility, period. And I know staffing's an issue, all this stuff.
But listen, you got to have the right protocols in place. There's no point in arresting people and putting them in jail if you're just going to let them escape. And so something is wrong in Pennsylvania with all these escape prisoners taking place.
BERMAN: No, not to be glib, but, you know, you've got one job when you have someone in prison, which is to keep them in prison. I mean, that is the number one thing there.
John, how much of a threat do you think he poses to the public? What he's convicted of is a brutal, horrifying murder and then obviously now wanting a connection with another murder in Brazil?
MILLER: Well, as both the prosecutor and the learned Chuck Ramsey have pointed out, you know, he's got nothing to lose. It's not like he's going to go to jail for longer. So he is a threat. Key factors are going to be, does he have help on the outside? He had help escaping the first time from two friends, but I think he's going to find a shortage of friends.
Does he have access to weapons? And you know, his weapon of choice has been a knife, so it's not hard to get access to that. So, yes, he's a threat. Five feet tall, 120 pounds, which actually could have been a factor in how he escaped.
BERMAN: Charles Ramsey -- Chief, you know, he was arrested the first time in Virginia trying to flee. Obviously, that might indicate that he might do the same again. How far do escapees typically get? Is it difficult for them to get states away from where they start?
RAMSEY: Well, it depends. If he's able to get access to a car for an example. And obviously, one of the things you'll be doing now is checking to make sure you had any carjackers. Have he had any auto thefts? Have he had anything like that? Can he have -- does he have access to a vehicle? Can he, you know, jump on a freight train that happened to be going through the area?
Anything that might help him increase the distance away from the prison in a fairly quick fashion. Now, when they saw him an hour later, he was still on foot south of the location. So hopefully, he is still on foot, which means that the radius of the search could be a little smaller, but there's always that possibility that somehow he got access to a car or some other mode of transportation and is able to get away --
RAMSEY: -- much further distance. That's why time matters.
BERMAN: Certainly does.
RAMSEY: The longer he goes uncaptured, the further away he can be.
BERMAN: Chief Ramsey, John Miller, thanks to both of you. We'll be right back.
BERMAN: So look who's riding shotgun in a car. No bull. I mean, that is really a bull in a car. And in the news, because police in Norfolk, Nebraska, pulled it over, It did make a mess of the car, by the way. The New York Times, the owner said he's been driving the bull around for seven years with no complaints until now. You should know the officer did let him off with a warning. That seems like a perfect way to hand it over.
To "THE SOURCE" with Kaitlan Collins.