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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Giuliani Waives Arraignment, Enters Not Guilty Plea; Calls For McConnell To Step Down Continue To Grow; How Long Will Ramaswamy's Moment Last; How Long Will Vivek Ramaswamy's Moment Last?; DeSantis' Office Says No Plans To Meet With Biden In Florida Despite President Saying They Would; Inside The Rural Georgia County Involved In Latest Trump Indictment; Officials: Escaped PA Convict May Be Headed Toward Mexico; Offer $10k For Info Leading To Capture; New Info On Infamous BTK Serial Killer. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired September 01, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, she is headed to New Hampshire where she's hosting a town hall focused on education with the co-founder of Moms for Liberty, and of course that is a conservative political organization that has many followers, who are suburban mothers -- Brianna.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Kylie Atwood, thank you for that report.
And thank you so much for joining us. AC 360 with John Berman starts now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, Rudy Giuliani does the waive, as in waiving arraignment. Another key development is Georgia's RICO case against him, the former president and 17 more really gets rolling.
Also tonight how many health scares are too many health scares when you are the most powerful Republican in the Senate? The growing clash over Mitch McConnell and whether it is time to step aside.
Plus, a new reward if you know where this escaped murderer is, and new word on where he might be headed.
Good evening, John Berman here in for Anderson.
We begin with the latest maneuvering as 19 defendants in Georgia's election subversion case, all jockeying for position and for many start drifting apart from one another, on the court calendar and maybe otherwise.
Late today, Rudy Giuliani and six others waived arraignment pleading not guilty in court filing same as the former president did yesterday.
Also today, pro-Trump attorney, Kenneth Chesebro, who asked for a speedy trial along with campaign lawyer Sidney Powell filed to sever his case from hers. We're still waiting for a federal judge to rule on removing former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows case from state court.
Another item with the former president not helping to pay their legal bills, we learned today that some co-defendants have turned to crowdfunding. And in one more sign that justice can be life changing for those who answered his call on January 6th, a judge today sentenced another so-called Proud Boy, Ethan Nordean is his name, to 18 years in prison. That is one of the lengthiest sentences yet for the Capitol attack.
Another member, the guy in the now infamous window smashing video, Dominic Pezzola, he drew a 10-year sentence today.
Another busy day at the end of another eventful weeks, CNN's Jessica Schneider joins us now with the latest.
There were a number of not guilty pleas today, Jessica. What have you learned?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, the not guilty pleas now total 12, of those 19 defendants. Rudy Giuliani, just the latest here to plead not guilty. And you know, by pleading not guilty before September 6th, all of these defendants, they're going to be able to avoid those in-person arraignments at the Fulton County Court. And that includes John, the former president, who did plead not guilty earlier this week.
Anyone though, and there's seven remaining who doesn't arrange to waive their arraignment beforehand, they will have to appear in court on Wednesday morning. So we'll see what happens in the coming days.
We're also seeing this flurry of legal filings from Kenneth Chesebro. He is set to go to trial October 23rd. But first, he's saying he wants the prosecution to speed up their production of discovery. His lawyers are saying it's unacceptable that prosecutors are planning to hand everything over only by a September 15th deadline and not sooner. His lawyers are saying prosecutors can't have it both ways, saying they're ready to go to trial, but then slow walking the production of these documents.
And then secondly, John, Chesebro is also telling the court that he wants a solo trial. Specifically, he is saying, even though he and Sidney Powell both filed those motions for speedy trials, he does not want to go to trial with her.
He says he never had any direct contact with Powell. They're not accused of doing the same thing, so very much distancing himself from Powell.
BERMAN: So in a separate courtroom in terms of the judges, the federal judge's decision regarding Mark Meadows bid to move his case to federal court. Any idea when we could get a ruling there?
SCHNEIDER: It could be any day now. It probably won't be over the weekend. But maybe even Monday, likely Tuesday because the judge has received all the briefing he has asked for from both sides. The prediction is it will come before Wednesday when of course Meadows is still scheduled for that arraignment. And it appears here, John, the judge is facing one big legal question. It's can Meadows move his case to federal court? If he proves that just one of those underlying acts in the conspiracy was done as part of his role as Trump's chief- of-staff. Now, Meadows' team obviously arguing yes, they're saying it should be moved, even if there's just one act in this huge indictment that somehow touches on any part of Meadows' role.
Fani Willis and her team, of course, are arguing no, the indictment is about conspiracy and not a single act. So they really don't want the bar to be that low for Meadows -- John.
BERMAN: And Jessica, as we mentioned, several of the 18 co-defendants in this case are struggling to pay their mounting legal bills. What methods are they resorting to? How are they getting the money?
SCHNEIDER: Yes, some astonishing numbers. They're mostly resorting to crowdfunding. We've got Jenna Ellis already raised more than $180,000.00. John Eastman, raising more than $500,000 And you know, John, upcoming, we do know that even though the former president has distanced himself from many of these defendants, our team has learned that he's hosting a $100,000.00 per person fundraiser at his Bedminster club next week for Rudy Giuliani. So he is still helping out at least one defendant in this case.
BERMAN: All right, Jessica Schneider, thank you very much. Have a wonderful weekend.
Perspective now from CNN political analyst and "New York Times" senior political correspondent and Trump biographer, Maggie Haberman; also CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Jennifer Rodgers.
Maggie, what do you make of the foreign president's co-defendants saying he is not funding their legal costs. He is not coughing up money to help them. He, in some cases says he doesn't know a lot of these people.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, this has been an ongoing issue, John, about people's legal fees, various people were talking about. Witnesses, anybody with any connection to any of the investigations into him for quite some time going back to 2021.
You know, he started paying people's legal fees around the time that a bunch of people were being called before the House January 6 Select Committee, and then it sort of grew from there, but not everybody has been covered.
And now you have these co-defendants who his team, Trump's team, clearly does not want to pick up the legal fees, whether it is just because they don't want to have that output of money, whether there's even enough money available in Save America, the PAC that he's been using to pay legal fees, his own, and other people's is a huge open question. They didn't have a ton of money heading into the second half of this year.
But there is also the question of whether -- and I have heard this from some advisors to him -- is there going to be an issue for him if he is funding co-defendants and therefore taking on some responsibility for them, and I don't think he wants to do that.
BERMAN: Because co-defendants might get convicted, he doesn't want to be tied to them. Is that the idea?
HABERMAN: Well, because it essentially says you're all part of the same thing, and as we are seeing with a number of people who are trying to separate out their trials and sever from other people, they don't want to be part of a large conspiracy if Trump ends up funding people who have been charged funding their defenses, I think the concern for people around Trump is that that raises a bunch of other questions, in addition to the fact that he doesn't like paying for other people's legal bills, let alone his own.
BERMAN: So Jennifer, to that point, it's expensive. You know, funding a legal defense is very expensive. This is extravagantly expensive for many of these defendants. On the other hand, what are the advantages, if any to them, if they can get their own representation, if they can separate their own defense from Trump's?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, they really should, John, because you really need an independent lawyer who is working in your best interest and not considering the interest of the person at the top of the indictment, Donald Trump.
You know, prosecutors charged 19 people. They are going to need for a lot of those people to plead out, some of those people, they're going to want to be cooperating witnesses, meaning they will testify at trial against the remaining defendants someday.
That means that some of these people, prosecutors are going to want them to turn on Donald Trump and whoever else they have testimony against. So you really need a lawyer who can advise you independently about your best interest as a defendant and as a potential witness, and to the extent you have your representation paid for by someone else in the case that jeopardizes that independence.
BERMAN: So Maggie, Rudy Giuliani pleaded not guilty today, we learned that Trump is headlining this $1,000.00 per person fundraiser for Giuliani next week. What's the relationship right now between these two men?
HABERMAN: I think a couple of things are important here, John and one, is, I know it came up before that he was hosting it, Trump. I'm not sure he's hosting it. I think he's having it at his club. I have no idea if he's charging a rental fee or what for this event.
He is headlining it, that is true. Their relationship is strained.
Look, you know, Trump has said to still, you know, have some fondness for Giuliani, but Trump has often been very critical of Giuliani over the last couple of years. He has said to Giuliani and to others well, you didn't win these cases and therefore he wasn't going to cover the fees that Giuliani was looking for back in 2020 when he was, you know, offering all of these false theories and claims about widespread fraud.
They see each other, they have known each other for decades. So it's important to look at it in that context. But these are not people who are speaking on the phone every day. Trump has a separate relationship that he had for a long time with Trump's son -- excuse me, with Rudy's son, Andrew, who is one of Giuliani's closest advisers and confidants, but that's a very separate track.
This is not a relationship that has ever gone back to where it was in, say 2018.
BERMAN: Interesting. Jennifer, we mentioned that Kenneth Chesebro is trying to sever his trial from Sidney Powell's here. Why do you think that is? What is the goal here?
RODGERS: Well, this is a RICO case. And so they are allowed, prosecutors are allowed to put in evidence of the existence of the enterprise and the predicate acts and the goals of the enterprise as a whole, which means that if you're a defendant, there's going to be a lot of information at trial that doesn't directly implicate you, but could dirty you up in a way, right?
It's bad information. It sounds terrible, and so you can be tarred by that in a way. So what Chesebro is trying to do is to avoid having anyone else at the table because he thinks that will minimize the amount of information that could be derogatory that will come in at his trial.
But you know, John, it's not going to work because they're never going to make these prosecutors try two speedy trial cases in two months. The RICO statute is broad for a reason and it is designed so that you can try people together, charge them, and try them even if they don't know each other. They're both part of the enterprise and they're both working towards the enterprise's goals.
BERMAN: We will learn a lot of this soon, maybe even as soon as next week. Jennifer Rodgers, Maggie Haberman, thank you so much for being with us. Happy Labor Day, if that's something that people actually say.
Next, a new call from a big name Republican for the Senate's top Republican to call it a day. We're joined by two people who know him, including one who just spoke to Mitch McConnell for their take on whether his latest on-camera medical scare is one too many.
Later, a CNN exclusive and the chilling question it raises, did the BTK serial killer murderer even more people than the 10 he confessed to?
BERMAN: New calls today for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the step down and the calls are coming from inside the party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's sad. What I will say is, right now the Senate is the most privileged nursing home in the country. I mean, you know Mitch McConnell has done some great things and he deserves credit, but you have to know when to leave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: That was a Republican presidential candidate, Nikki Haley today. Her remarks come in the wake of Senator McConnell's second on- camera freezing episode.
The editor of the conservative, "National Review" also said reluctantly that he thinks McConnell should step down.
Joining us now, CNN political commentator, Scott Jennings, who was close with Senator McConnell and a longtime political adviser. Also with us former Illinois Republican congressman, Joe Walsh. He is currently host of "The White Flag Podcast."
Scott, I know you've had a chance to communicate with Leader McConnell several times today. What has he been telling you? And have you talked to him about this recent freezing incident or his health situation?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I actually saw him right after it happened a couple of nights ago. He came home to Louisville and then headlined a fundraiser for Jim Banks, who is running for the US Senate in Indiana and made remarks and spoke to the crowd and answered a bunch of questions.
And honestly, if you didn't know something had happened, you wouldn't have known anything because it was business as usual for him. So he told me, he feels fine. He's watching UofL Georgia Tech right now and looking forward to going back to Washington next week.
BERMAN: The thing is that everyone does know it happened, though many people have seen it now twice on TV. How much more do you feel he needs to tell his constituents and colleagues about what might be causing these episodes?
JENNINGS: Well, I think it was a good move and a smart move to have the US Capitol physician issue the statement that he did, that he had reviewed Senator McConnell's symptoms and his case, and so, I thought that was a good thing.
Ultimately, he is accountable to two groups of people, the people of Kentucky, who elected him in '20. He's not on the ballot again until '26, and more immediately, the Republicans in the Senate Republican Conference who he won election to as leader, and is going to be leader for the rest of this term.
He will see all of them next week. I know he's talked to many of them on the phone. But that'll be the next sort of thing here for him to get together with his colleagues next week and answer their questions and I'm sure he will do it.
BERMAN: Congressman Walsh, you are one of those conservatives who thinks that Leader McConnell should step down. Why?
JOE WALSH (R), FORMER US REPRESENTATIVE: Well, John, he's been there way too long and he is too darn old. But the problem here is transparency. I appreciate what Scott said and I know Scott knows Mitch McConnell pretty well. But we don't know a darn thing about what's wrong with him.
Yes, the attending physician of the Capitol came out with a statement, but we don't know if that attending physician actually met with Mitch McConnell. We don't know why the attending physician said he is clear to work. McConnell staff hasn't been transparent.
John, we don't even know what's wrong with him, and if we don't know what's wrong with them and this has happened now, we've seen it happen twice. The people around him seem to appear like this has happened more than just twice.
Dianne Feinstein has no business being in the United States Senate. Until and if Mitch McConnell is open and transparent about what's going on, I'd say the same about him.
BERMAN: Scott, what's your response to that? And your response to you know, Rich Lowry, at the "National Review," who has said that, you know, it's not urgent, it doesn't need to happen today. But he thinks that McConnell needs to make the decision that it's time to step aside and set the wheels in motion. What do you say to that?
JENNINGS: Well, I mean, Joe, I guess has been living under a rock. We do know what's going on with Senator McConnell. He had a concussion earlier this year, and these symptoms are, and these issues are consistent with recovery from a concussion, so it's pretty well known.
He took a few weeks off to begin that recovery process and he has been at work all summer. So it's just not true that we don't know what's going on with Mitch McConnell.
Honestly, I was very disappointed in in Rich. I'm an avid follower of "National Review." I know not very many Republicans are these days and I know Rich has to run a publication that competes for clicks and whatnot on the internet, but I thought he was way off base. And, I just respectfully disagree with him. And I'll choose to disregard that next issue of "National Review" and I'll pick up the next one.
WALSH: Come on, Scott. Look, these -- as a former member of Congress, some of these people who are there, they feel like they're entitled to be there as long as they want.
When you're a United States senator or a member of the House, and there's something wrong with you physically, you have an obligation to be open and transparent with the voters.
We don't know why he froze up for a second time. They've attributed it to lightheadedness or dehydration. Their answers have been sparse and not at all forthcoming. Scott, that's wrong.
BERMAN: Joe lodged his last question, what do you think happened?
JENNINGS: Can I just --
BERMAN: Go ahead. Go ahead, Scott.
JENNINGS: Yes, if I may just respond that the idea that anyone feels entitled to be there, well, he is entitled to be there because he got elected by the people of Kentucky and then he got elected by his colleagues. So you know, he won a lot elections and that's why he's in his seat he's not entitled to it. No one is entitled to it, but we seem to forget he did handily win re-election in '20 and handily win election as Senate Republican Leader just last year. So the idea that he was placed there or has some ownership of it is just also not true.
BERMAN: Scott Jennings and Joe Walsh, appreciate it.
WALSH: He is not entitled to be there if he can't do his job, and if he can't tell his constituents what's wrong with him, that's a problem.
BERMAN: We will see next week as you both said when the other senators return, that I imagine will be the next step here.
Thank you both. Have a great weekend.
Just ahead, hurricane recovery efforts should be beyond presidential politics, but late word this evening that a meeting that President Biden said would occur with Governor Ron DeSantis during the president visit tomorrow to witness the destruction caused by Hurricane Idalia. That meeting may not happen. We will tell you what the governor's people are now saying, that's next.
BERMAN: So just in the CNN, there is no confusion over whether President Biden will meet tomorrow with Republican presidential candidate and governor, Ron DeSantis during his trip to Florida to view the damage from Hurricane Idalia.
Earlier today, President Biden told CNN that yes, he did plan to meet with DeSantis. The governor's people tonight saying the opposite.
Joining us now with that new statement, senior White House correspondent, Kayla Tausche.
Kayla, what is the Florida governor's office say about all this?
KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, some of the plans are coming together for President Biden's visit to the Sunshine State. We're getting late word today from the DeSantis camp that there are no plans for the two leaders to meet.
A DeSantis spokesperson telling CNN: "We don't have any plans for the governor to meet with the president tomorrow. In these rural communities and so soon after impact, the security preparations alone that would go into setting up such a meeting would shut down ongoing recovery efforts.
But just yesterday, John, I asked the White House's Homeland Security adviser, Liz Sherwood-Randall, whether such a meeting was in the works, and she noted it's customary.
BERMAN: So what are --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH SHERWOOD-RANDALL, UNITED STATES HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: We're just planning the visit, but I will say that every time I've been to Florida with the president, he has met, of course with Governor DeSantis and traveled the disaster zone, whether it's from last year's hurricane, or when the Surfside condominium building collapsed.
Often they'll meet, have a briefing from the emergency responders. It can be in the open as it was from the hurricane last year. It could be in a briefing room as it was at Surfside.
They are very collegial when we have the work to do together of helping Americans in need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAUSCHE: Collegial and in close contact, just around the time that the Homeland Security adviser made those comments yesterday, I'm told that a White House official says that the president informed the governor of his plans to visit the state and that the governor raised no concerns at that time, and that the visit is being closely coordinated with state and local officials as well as with FEMA.
So, John, it appears there's either been a change of plans or a change of heart.
BERMAN: So what does Biden plan to do when he goes down to Florida?
TAUSCHE: Well, it's safe to say those plans are a little bit in flux right now. We're still awaiting final word from the White House on exactly where the president is going to be going and who he'll be meeting with. The White House will only say at this hour that the president will be visiting the hardest hit communities. He'll be meeting with local officials and emergency responders on the ground and be getting some of those briefings, but it doesn't sound like he'll be getting one of those briefings alongside Governor DeSantis.
BERMAN: All right, a curious little twist there. Kaila Tausche, thank you very much.
More presidential politics now. Vivek Ramaswamy is in New Hampshire this evening. It is part of a day's long swing through the first Republican primary state, and days after announcing 200 endorsements from Republicans in the state.
His rise in profile and polling has been met with repeated attacks by his Republican opponents and others about his positions on foreign policy January 6, and whether he has any substance at all.
Even Eminem this week told him to stop using his song "Lose Yourself" after he wrapped it, karaoke style in Iowa.
Kyung Lah has more on the youngest candidate in the Republican presidential primary field.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I started it not zero percent, but zero point zero percent in March.
Hey everyone, how are you?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): From obscurity to caucus curiosity.
RAMASWAMY: We fight for the truth. We stand up for the truth. That is what won us the American Revolution. That is what will win us the revolution of 2024.
LAH (voice over): Standing before a sign with one word, "Truth," Vivek Ramaswamy, 38-year-old former biotech exact and first time candidate is hitting multiple corners of Iowa, seeking to capitalize on a political moment--
RAMASWAMY: Nice to meet you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you.
LAH (voice over): Fueled by a Trump-like populism.
RAMASWAMY: I think what we have a lot of in this country are like conspiracy realists. And so as I am one of them.
LAH (voice over): That some supporters prefer to the Republican frontrunner.
LAH (on camera): Do you think he can beat Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, without a doubt. I am -- we are tired of losing. Trump lost.
LAH: It doesn't seem to make sense. How are you going to beat Trump when you have a Trump base and he is running?
RAMASWAMY: I think the way I'm going to do it is by speaking in an uninhibited way. I think I'm the only candidate in this race at this point that is speaking my mind truly without running it through preordained filters.
That's proving to be a competitive advantage. You know, it does draw some backlash at times, but I think that's what people in this country are hungry for.
LAH (voice over): Ramaswamy brushes off criticism that he plays loose with the truth even on the debate stage.
CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In your book, you had much different things to say about Donald Trump than you're saying here tonight.
RAMASWAMY: That's not true.
LAH (voice over): But it is true. In his 2022 book, Ramaswamy did praise parts of Trump's record while also offering sharp criticism of how Trump handled his 2020 election defeat.
RAMASWAMY: We might as well embrace it as our last best chance.
LAH (voice over): Ramaswamy takes Trump's style even further on the issues, pledging to fire 75 percent of federal workers, eliminate all affirmative action in America, and use US drones to attack Mexican drug cartels, all while bucking the very party whose nomination he wants.
RAMASWAMY: Using the Republican Party as a vehicle for advancing in America First agenda.
LAH (on camera): Your fellow Republicans have called you --
RAMASWAMY: I just want to stop you there for one second. I kind of cringe when someone says fellow Republicans. I'm not a party man.
LAH: But this is still a caucus system.
RAMASWAMY: Yes, absolutely.
LAH: A party system.
RAMASWAMY: Well, I think many people who will be caucusing in the Republican Party are like me, people who are disgusted with the establishment.
LAH: So you don't need the party structure.
RAMASWAMY: I don't need the party structure. No, we need -- we need the patriots who represent the people of this country. That's what we need.
And the Russia-China military alliance --
LAH (voice over): But the more some Iowans hear from Ramaswamy, the more you hear questions about his foreign policy ideas.
RAMASWAMY: Just do the math in your head.
LAH (voice-over): Like giving parts of eastern Ukraine to Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was the one that asked the question about Ukraine. I think he's wrong about the Ukraine.
LAH (voice-over): And whether this Ramaswamy moment is just that, a moment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the new flavor of the month. I mean, we've seen this in previous presidential races, too. Someone catches on for a little bit then they fade.
LAH (on-camera): So some of the words that have been used to describe you, political performance artist, absurd excuse for a presidential candidate, obnoxious, annoying, conspiratorial, little regard to truth, ideology, or the practicalities of American government. How do you respond to people who say, this guy is an opportunist, he's an interloper?
RAMASWAMY: I guess I'm never going to debunk somebody else's preconceived notion, and nor am I going to try to. My job in this race is to tell everybody who I am and what I stand for.
LAH: John, you mentioned his age. Ramaswamy is actually the very first millennial Republican candidate to run for president. So is that reflected in his crowds? Well, when we went to his events, we did notice that a majority of these crowds, these caucusers, potential caucusers, tend to still be of a different generation, an older generation.
But we did also see younger people. These younger voters, John, say the reason why they came out in the first place, the reason why they'd be interested in caucusing at all for the Republicans is because of his age, that they felt some sort of connection to him. John?
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Kyung Lah, great work as always. Thank you so much for that.
So two CNN senior political commentators join me now. Former Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger and former Obama Senior Adviser David Axelrod. Congressman, let me start with you. You just heard Vivek Ramaswamy say he's not a party man. He doesn't need the party. How much truth is there in that?
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I think it's probably right to an extent because the party, all it does is reflect candidates now. I don't think people still talk about a party structure. It doesn't exist. It doesn't exist really in the Democrats or the Republicans. They don't have any power.
All it is is a vehicle for somebody to run in a primary. But he -- I mean, how much he has changed his views, how much he just wants to get attention, you know, that actually may work right now. And he's a smart guy. I don't know how smart he is on things like foreign policy, but he's smart enough to know at this moment what people are looking for, is somebody that just says outrageous things, because for whatever reason, that's what politics has become.
BERMAN: You know, David Axelrod, he is getting a lot of attention. He's been on this meteoric rise from near obscurity to where he is right now. In your experience, does this kind of momentum, you know, how much does it last? How much can it fizzle?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think there are two elements of this. One is I think Adam's right, you know, he has observed the moment and he understands how to get attention and he understands the more outrageous, the more attention you get. The problem is there's -- the world champion of outrageous is on the ballot as well and he's doing pretty well.
So he's basically fishing in a pond that isn't very productive because so much of the MAGA base, which really responds to his message, already is committed to Trump, and so far there's no indication that they're going to leave him.
The second thing is the nature of these races is the better you do, the more attention you get, the more scrutiny you get. And so that, you know, I think sort of the MAGA folks don't care if he gets fact checked and the fact check comes back false. They're accustomed to that.
But if there are people there who -- in the Republican Party who actually want to move on from Trump, who don't appreciate Trump style politics, he's hardly the guy they're going to gravitate to because he's basically a Trump -- you know, he's a Trump updated version of Trump himself.
BERMAN: Congressman, I want to shift gears back to what we started this block on, which was this confusion over whether President Biden will meet with Governor Ron DeSantis when Biden goes down to Florida to view the hurricane damage tomorrow. Do you think that DeSantis team is worried about the logistics of it, as they said in a statement, or is it more about the optics?
KINZINGER: There's a 1 percent to 2 percent chance it's logistics. There's a 98 percent to 99 percent chance it's the optics. Look, politics has become, you know, from even 10 years ago when there were moments you could put politics aside and do what you were actually elected to do, which is lead, help, you know, that kind of stuff, it has now infected everything.
And Ron DeSantis, at the cost of the benefit to Florida, has decided his political campaign cannot have him meet with Joe Biden, the President of the United States, who ultimately will be signing the checks that Florida is going to be begging for.
[20:35:14] I mean, it is absolutely outrageous that at a moment -- I couldn't imagine being governor of any state, having a tragedy like that, and then turning around and thinking about how this could affect my election. It just -- it's where we're at now, and people have to just reject that.
BERMAN: Look, I mean, Charlie Crist practically changed parties because he greeted President Obama warmly in Florida when he was there.
BERMAN: Governor Christie was on the debate stage a week ago.
BERMAN: People are still criticizing Christie --
BERMAN: -- for greeting Obama after Sandy, David. So can you understand DeSantis' view?
AXELROD: John, I thought about that when Adam said even 10 years ago, well, 12 years ago Chris Christie during Hurricane Sandy, Superstorm Sandy, you know, greeted the president warmly, who was coming to work with Jersey to get them the resources they needed to deal with this incredible tragedy. And he was vilified for it and it was a burden that he carried with him into his presidential race and it was raised everywhere he went, it morphed into you hugged Obama, you know?
And so, Adam's right, this is what our politics has become. And I do think that there are a lot of Americans who are hungry for something different. I just don't know that they're voting in the Republican primary.
BERMAN: David Oxford, Adam Kinzinger, great having you on tonight. Thanks to both of you. Have a great weekend.
KINZINGER: You bet.
AXELROD: OK, guys.
BERMAN: Next, inside the rural Georgia County involved in the latest Trump indictment. What locals have to say about the accusations?
BERMAN: Prosecutors say four of Trump's co-defendants charged in the Fulton County case have connections to an alleged voting system breach after the election, the 2020 election. In another part of the state, more than 200 miles away, in the most free, rural, and heavily Republican Coffee County, Trump got nearly 70 percent of the vote there. CNN's Elle Reeve went there and talked to some locals who say they're not surprised by the accusations. Here's her report.
ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): This is where it all went down?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is where it all went down. This other door, is where they had camera footage in reference to the voter breach.
CHRISTY NIPPER, ELECTION SUPERVISOR, COFFEE COUNTY: It's blown my mind that something this important has happened in our little county.
MIKE CLARK, COFFEE COUNTY, GEORGIA RESIDENT: You walk inside a voter's registration with no mask on, and they just give you the votes. They just give them to you. Why? I mean, that show you right there. It ain't just started. It always been just like that.
REEVE (voice-over): In the Georgia indictment of Donald Trump and others, prosecutors allege what might sound like a wacky, unprecedented scheme, that rural Coffee County election officials allowed Trump associates to access voter data. But some locals say the allegations are right in line with the history of voter intimidation and suppression.
(on-camera): Are you surprised the breach happened in Coffee County?
OLIVIA COLEY-PEARSON, DOUGLAS CITY COMMISSIONER: Not at all. Because they knew they had somebody who would allow them to come in and do it.
REEVE (voice-over): Among those 19 mugshots, Douglas City Commissioner Olivia Coley-Pearson saw some familiar faces. Fellow Coffee County locals who she'd tangled with in past elections.
CATHY LATHAM, FORMER COFFEE COUNTY GOP CHAIR: Olivia Pearson's up to her normal, handing out hamburgers and hot dogs.
REEVE (voice-over): Coley-Pearson has been a voting rights activist in Douglas, the majority black county seat for many years, and not everyone's been happy about it.
LATHAM: All kinds of things happening in Coffee County just to get people to come vote. Yes, it's not really good situation down here.
REEVE (voice-over): Georgia allows disabled or illiterate people to get help voting. After the 2012 election, Georgia investigated Coffee County complaints that Coley-Pearson assisted ineligible people and began calling voters she'd helped.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She signed on the back of it that she assisted you, and I was wanting to know because she didn't mark -- it's not marked why she assisted you, and I was wondering why you needed assistance?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I can't read.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm illiterate.
REEVE (voice-over): The state didn't charge her, but local prosecutors charged her with two felonies, saying she'd helped other voters who were ineligible. After two trials, she was found not guilty in 2018.
COLEY-PEARSON: You would think it was murder, robbery, something that really done some damage to our community. But I was trying to help somebody who wanted to exercise their right to vote.
I don't know. I don't know.
REEVE (voice-over): Then while helping a woman vote in 2020, Coley- Pearson asked about the buttons on a voting machine. She says Missy Hampton, the former election supervisor now under indictment with Trump, began yelling at her.
COLEY-PEARSON: Missy just began hollering at the top of her lungs. That's what you got in trouble for last time, punching buttons or touching buttons or something to that effect. It struck a nerve for me because I was on trial, fighting for my life for something that I was not guilty of. So I did raise my voice at that point, and I said to her, you were lying then like you're lying now.
REEVE (voice-over): In a deposition, Hampton said she spoke in a normal voice and that Coley-Pearson was being disruptive. Coley- Pearson left to pick up another voter, and when she returned, police stopped her outside the polling place, saying she'd been banned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's out here touching my damn machine.
COLEY-PEARSON: And I got arrested. I was put in handcuffs.
REEVE (on-camera): In handcuffs.
COLEY-PEARSON: I'd never been arrested before. I didn't know, you know, it's so tight like that.
REEVE (on-camera): It's just shocking to hear someone treated like they're a violent criminal.
COLEY-PEARSON: Exactly. Especially being an elected official. I stand up for what I believe is right, and some people have a problem with people when you speak out.
REEVE (voice-over): At the time, she'd been driving Rolanda Williams, who agreed to talk if we didn't show her face.
ROLANDA WILLIAMS: I mean, I was scared and fearful, and I was just, like, telling Ms. Olivia, I didn't want to go back up there to vote, and I won't go back and vote because of everything that's going on. I didn't understand why they called this crooked coffee, but now I understand. REEVE (on-camera): Why do you think it happened in Coffee County?
WILLIAMS: Because of racism.
REEVE (voice-over): Hampton and former county Republican Party Chair Cathy Latham are accused of allowing Trump associates to copy voter data. Both pleaded not guilty and have not responded to CNN's request for comment. Latham has said she was not, quote, "personally involved" in the breach.
(on-camera): Do you see a connection between what happened to you and this big push after the 2020 election to dispute the vote totals in usually majority black cities like Atlanta, Detroit and so on?
COLEY-PEARSON: Of course. There's a certain amount of power and control when you're in certain offices. Some people will do whatever it takes to maintain it. And if it takes voter intimidation to do it, some people are willing to intimidate people.
REEVE (voice-over): The Election Commission initially denied surveillance footage of the election office breach existed. So far, there has been no local investigation into what happened. Hampton resigned in February 2021 for falsifying timesheets. Christy Nipper is the new election supervisor.
NIPPER: The day that they voted me into this particular position, the first thing that our chairman said was, who gets behind the counter? I was like, nobody.
REEVE (voice-over): Now she says the public needs reassurance, that the county's elections are secure.
NIPPER: You know, this has always been a really small town and people have always been pretty close knit, regardless of party or anything like that. We were all from Coffee County, and this has kind of divided people in a sense. But I think it's like that across the whole country, it's not just here.
REEVE (voice-over): That division was clear in our conversations with people around town. But even among Trump voters, there was an openness to holding people accountable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know, they proved it. I mean, if they have, I'm 100 percent against it. Do I like Trump? I wouldn't want more him setting table than me this morning talking because I don't like him. But yes, I think he had good values and I think right now that he is being -- I don't know, maybe he should be held up responsible.
REEVE (on-camera): What do you say to black people in Coffee County who say, well, actually, I have faced discrimination here, and there's a whole history of trying to keep black people from voting, and it is not the 60s anymore, but it's not perfect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I personally think that's about the vote. REEVE (on-camera): Why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they got the same right to vote, right? I mean, you know, they're in the military now. I mean, you know, good --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With cyber side (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I mean, there's no segregation to talk with them.
COLEY-PEARSON: Now, some people are in denial, especially around here, because they're friends with the folk from Coffee County that's involved. And I know you're innocent until proven guilty, but, you know, that video speaks volume.
I hope it sheds more light. I hope those people in Coffee County who were pointing their finger at me can really see now, you know, it was a bigger picture.
REEVE (voice-over): Elle Reeve, CNN, Douglas, Georgia.
BERMAN: And thanks to Elle for that report.
Just ahead, we'll tell you where authorities think the murderer who broke out of prison yesterday might be headed now.
BERMAN: A convicted murderer remains on the run for a second day with a huge multi-agency manhunt underway for him. Law enforcement is offering a $10,000 reward for any information leading to the capture of Danelo Cavalcante. He is 5 feet tall and 120 pounds and he was doing life without parole. Law enforcement officials believe the 34- year-old may ultimately try to head to his home country of Brazil, where there is an outstanding warrant for a different murder.
Now a CNN exclusive, he confessed to 10 murders almost two decades ago. He was known as BTK, a name he gave himself short for bind, torture, kill. He is currently serving life sentences in a maximum security facility in Kansas. And now there is new evidence that may connect the infamous BTK serial killer to additional murders.
Our Jean Casarez spoke to the killer's daughter and got exclusive access to some of his diary entries and drawings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was a very full of life, typical teenager.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Cynthia Dawn Kinney, a 16-year-old cheerleader who vanished from an Oklahoma laundromat in 1976. The self-proclaimed BTK serial killer is now the prime suspect in her case and several other unsolved homicides spanning three states.
It was parts of this journal belonging to BTK, real name Dennis Rader, shared exclusively with CNN that prompted law enforcement in Oklahoma to act. Shortly after Kinney's disappearance, the sheriff's office received an anonymous call.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That male caller informed them that she was located in an old barn.
CASAREZ (voice-over): No evidence that lead was ever looked into. Her body was never found. But authorities are now looking at this journal entry by Rader -- "Bad Wash Day".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He marked that in 1976, he had murdered someone from a laundromat.
CASAREZ (voice-over): For the first time, law enforcement is revealing detailed drawings made by Rader, showing young girls tied and bound in barns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our hope was to get these drawings out in hopes that someone will recognize these barns.
CASAREZ (voice-over): As investigators combed through Rader's old files for clues that could link him to Kinney's murder and several others, an unexpected volunteer stepped forward, his daughter, Kerri Rawson.
KERRI RAWSON, DAUGHTER OF SERIAL KILLER DENNIS RADER: If he's innocent on these, I will defend him. If he is guilty, I will nail him to the wall.
CASAREZ (voice-over): Working with authorities, Rawson visited her father in prison for the first time in 18 years.
RAWSON: He's in a wheelchair. He has no teeth left, and he went from this like vivacious man that was hiking with me right before he was arrested to like an elderly man.
CASAREZ (on-camera): Did he confess to you?
RAWSON: No, he did not.
CASAREZ (voice-over): Rader has been in prison since 2005 after pleading guilty to 10 counts of murder. He has not confessed to any additional crimes. But just last week, authorities heard this during one of his prison calls.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said there might still be some things in some old barns.
CASAREZ (voice-over): This new investigation led authorities to dig up the area around Rader's former family home just last week in Kansas. The result, more potential evidence discovered, a well-constructed hiding hole.
(on-camera): What did you find in the hole that you can tell us?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Personal type items. You know, we found items that could have been used for binding people. We found some different remains from materials, you know, carpet fibers.
CASAREZ: John. I was also told that in that hole, they found what are called trophies, items that definitely belong, they say, to females. Now, the next step is that all of these items need to be forensically tested. They need to see if there's any relevancy to these brand new items just discovered to these unsolved cases.
This hole was just found last week, John, because of Osage County, Oklahoma. And now Osage is saying that all of these unsolved homicides that they're looking at, they know what the girls were last seen with, last wearing. They have seen Polaroids that Rader made that are part of that journal that have him even wearing some items from his victims.
They believe there are some matches of these unsolved victims to items. They want the FBI, they want the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to see if they have those items. So forensics is going to be the key to this.
BERMAN: Stunning new details. I imagine we'll be hearing a lot more from you on this. Jean Casarez, wonderful report. Thank you.
We'll be right back.
BERMAN: The news continues. "THE SOURCE" with Kaitlan Collins starts now.