Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Testifies In E. Jean Carroll Civil Defamation Case; Trump Pressures Republicans To Block Border Deal; Source: Trump Initially Supported RNC Resolution To Declare Him Presumptive Nominee, Until The Backlash; Sources: Trump RNC Supporter Withdraws Resolution To Make Trump Presumptive Nominee After Blowback; Senior Admin Official: Biden To Increase Assistance To Ecuador; Concerns Increase Over Country's Descent Into NAFCO Violence; CNN Goes Inside Ecuador's Hunt For Terror Groups; Trials Of Michigan School Shooter's Parents Set To Test Limits Of Who's Responsible For A Mass Shooting; Mother Of Michigan School Shooter Wants Son To Testify In Her Defense. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 25, 2024 - 20:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Martha fell fast and hard.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The comeback was beginning before she ever left.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She loves to be clever. She loves to surprise and she loves to defy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you had asked me, would there still be interest in Martha Stewart 20 years from now? I would have said absolutely not, before I underestimated Martha Stewart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The Many Lives of Martha Stewart" Sunday at 9:00 on CNN.


ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Cannot wait for that on Sunday night. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.

AC 360 starts right now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360: The former president meets a no-nonsense judge. What he said on the stand in front of the woman he sexually abused and what the judge did not even let his lawyer ask.

Plus, the lawmakers who've been saying for years they want a border deal but now can't seem to take yes for an answer. We are Keeping Them Honest.

And later, a school shooter's mother on trial, charged with involuntary manslaughter. Why she and her husband are being held responsible for the murder of four students by their troubled son.

Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

We begin tonight with Donald Trump's brief testimony in the penalty phase of his second trial for defaming E. Jean Carroll. It came after the judge, Lewis Kaplan reiterated in graphic detail what the former president had already been found liable for, namely sexually abusing Miss Carroll.

Also with several interjections from the defendant, the judge established tight parameters on what Trump attorney, Alina Habba could and could not ask.

It made for quite a scene today and CNN political analyst and "New York Times" senior political correspondent, and Trump biographer, Maggie Haberman was in court to see it, so was CNN's Kara Scannell. Also joining us, CNN legal analyst, Elie Hoenig and Karen Friedman Agnifilo.

Kara, what did he say on the stand?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, it was so fascinating. They spent about 10 minutes going back and forth to try to really contain the questions that would be asked and what Trump's answers would be, to stick to those confines, and then his testimony was over in less than three minutes.

So it was just three straight questions from his attorney, Alina Habba. Earlier in the day, Carroll's team actually played video clips of Trump's deposition in this case where he mistakes Carroll for Maples in a photograph and also just repeat some of his statements that he doesn't know her, calling her mentally ill.

So Habba asked Trump, "Do you stand by your testimony in the deposition?" Trump says "100%, yes." She then asked him, "Did you deny the allegation because Miss Carroll made an accusation?" Trump said, "That's exactly right. Yes, I did. She said something that I considered a false accusation. Totally false."

The judge cut him off and said, "Everything after 'yes I did' is stricken from the record."

That was really the only time we saw Trump veer away from what was very strictly adhered to, and the last question Habba asked him was, "Did you ever instruct anyone to hurt Miss Carroll in your statements?" Trump said, "No, I just wanted to defend myself, my family and frankly, the presidency."

The judge also told the jury disregard everything after "No."

So it was such a contrast from when Trump was on the stand in the civil fraud trial where he used that as a platform to make political speeches, to attack the judge, to attack the New York attorney general. You know, really kind of taking the campaign into the courtroom. That was not the case today. It was very controlled and his statements were really just specific to the questions and ones that had already been worked out.

COOPER: Elie, just from a legal standpoint, did Trump do himself any favors testifying today?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it certainly could have been way worse. I was actually surprised that he really seems to have done very little, if any harm to himself. And I think the irony of this is Donald Trump has complained loudly about the judge here, Lewis Kaplan, who I appeared in front of many times, yet I think, Judge Kaplan did Donald Trump a real favor because as Kara laid out, the judge throughout this trial has set very tight parameters, and he has allowed zero nonsense, true to form for Judge Kaplan.

And as a result, Donald Trump was not able to get up in front of the jury and go on a political tangent and to make himself a martyr. He just answered three fairly straightforward questions in very straightforward fashion.

Now, it remains to be seen, A., will the jury believe what he said, credit what he said, and B., even if so, how much is that going to reduce the damages award?

COOPER: Maggie, what stood out to you in court?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I have a slightly different take. I think part of why Trump was so controlled comparatively speaking, as he is always pretty good at figuring out the bounds of what he can get away with, and I think he had been warned repeatedly, this is not a state court. This is not Engoron's court. Kaplan is really no nonsense, and it's a federal court, so to which Trump's spokesman was thrown out of court because his phone went off at one o'clock, and the rest of us had to give up our phones. And I don't think that that's going to be -- that person is going to be permitted back.

So I think that Trump was aware of what the parameters were, but he did still go outside what he was supposed to do. And so when Kaplan was having this discussion with Alina Habba about what Trump would say, he literally kept saying, tell me exactly what he's going to say. And he would say, so is that really it? And are you standing by that? And Habba kept saying, that's my understanding, as I understand it, and it's what we hear people do with an asterisk with Trump over and over again, and he did go outside of what he was supposed to do.


So he got in the things he wanted to say in front of the jury, so I don't think he hurt himself, but I actually think he managed to get away with a little more than it seems.

COOPER: He is expected back in court tomorrow.


COOPER: How much of this is about his feelings about this case and the importance of it? How much of it is for political reasons? Fundraising?

HABERMAN: I think it's both. I mean, but I do think that he is -- he has been incensed about this case since 2021. I mean, I've been hearing complaints about this for two-and-a-half years. He regretted not testifying in the initial trial that was held. He regretted that -- you know, he heeded advice by everybody, not just his counsel at the time not to testify.

He is very big on control and he is very big on believing that he is his own best defender. So I think that's a big reason. But does it have advantages? Absolutely. And these court cases have become indistinguishable from the campaign trail.

COOPER: Yes. Karen, what was your biggest legal takeaway from what happened?

KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, interestingly, he called her prompt outcry, E. Jean Carroll's prompt outcry witness Carol Martin to the stand, his side did, and that hasn't been talked about as much as him testifying. But I thought he actually made a little headway there because this is a damages phase of the trial and the jury needs to figure out and put a number on how much damage, frankly, he did to E. Jean Carroll's life.

And what he got out of Carol Martin, who was a prompt outcry witness, meaning she's the person who E. Jean told about this back when it happened.

COOPER: Contemporaneously.

AGNIFILO: Yes, exactly. She also had some thoughts about E. Jean Carroll that she admitted to putting in writing to I think, it was her daughter, talking about how she liked the attention and she was somebody who likes the public spotlight and is not -- this was not -- this didn't ruin her life the way she has said it would.

And I think he made a little headway there from the damages portion, because that's really all they're determining is how much --

COOPER: Right.

AGNIFILO: How much money? What number to affix to this?

So if it didn't harm her, then I think that that might have made some headway.

COOPER: And Kara, what happened -- you agree with that, Maggie?

HABERMAN: Yes, I do. I think that's striking.

COOPER: What happens tomorrow?

SCANNELL: So tomorrow will be closing arguments. Both sides say they're going to take about an hour, then the judge instructs the jury on the law and then deliberations will begin maybe even by lunchtime. You know, and it is possible, I think we can see a verdict tomorrow because if you look at the first case, they had to find an answer to the question of the sexual abuse question, the defamation question, the damages question, they did that under three hours. So it's possible unless the jury is really in disagreement that there could be a verdict tomorrow.

COOPER: And also early, just in the Georgia case, the election subversion case, Trump's attorneys are joining calls for the dismissal of the DA, Fani Willis. What are they alleging in the new filing and how likely is it that she will be dismissed? I mean, her judgment is in question.

HONIG: Yes, so two sets of allegations here. I don't think either of them is likely to result in the charges against Trump being dismissed. But I think there's a real question about whether the DA can continue on the case.

The first set of allegations is that the DA's office brought in three outside lawyers to help work on the case on a contract basis. That happens. The allegation is that the DA has a personal romantic relationship with one of the three lawyers, a man named Nathan Wade.

The allegations, first of all, he is underqualified to do this. He's never tried a felony case at all. Now, he is trying the biggest felony case in the history of the state of Georgia. The allegations is that he was paid, and the documents back this up, $650,000.00 for his work when the other two were both paid under $100,000.00, and finally, the allegation is that some of that money paid to Mr. Wade was used for personal vacations that he took and personal recreation with the DA, Fani Willis. So we'll see how that comes out. There's a hearing on that on February 15th.

Allegation two is that, we remember a couple of weeks ago, the DA went in front of a church and made a public speech, where she said essentially, isn't it interesting that of the three lawyers I brought in, they are picking on the Black man, and she essentially suggested or maybe more, that the motivation behind these defendant's motions was racist, and so the allegation is that those statements are potentially prejudicial to the jury pool that will eventually decide this case.

COOPER: Karen, do you think these are grounds for dismissal?

AGNIFILO: I do not. I think if perhaps she had a relationship with a defense attorney or a judge on the case, then there's a direct conflict of interest, but this is literally two consenting adults in an office romance. I mean, this is kind of more of an HR type issue than an issue that you would see would be disqualifying on a case.

COOPER: Isn't it incredibly stupid? I mean, in fact, she had a relationship with this person. I mean, this is probably the biggest case of her life. It's something that the whole country is watching. You would think any responsible adult would be ultra-careful in their behavior, wouldn't you?

AGNIFILO: Yes, you would, and she definitely, I think regrets -- part of the speech that she gave was that she's made some mistakes and I think she agrees with that assessment. But at the end of the day, it has nothing to do with whether or not Donald Trump or the other defendants did what they are alleged to have done. And this really is a distraction and a sideshow that has nothing to do substantively with the case.


COOPER: Elie, didn't she get called out previously by a judge for incredible lack of judgment in throwing a fundraiser for somebody?

HONIG: Exactly. She was already disqualified by a different judge during the grand jury phase because she held a political fundraiser for the political opponent of someone she subpoenaed.

And I agree with Karen that whether this is romantic or not, is doesn't matter to me. What does matter and I think is a serious issue is the money and the payment of an enormous amount of money to this person who she has some sort of relationship, it doesn't matter if it's romantic or not and then some of that money making its way back to her, that's a real issue.

And then separately, the comments I think, in front of a church, I mean, why do we have these gag orders on Donald Trump? One of the big reasons is we collectively, we, the justice system, are afraid that his public comments might taint the jury pool.

Here, you have the DA, very popular in Fulton County, standing up and saying the reason these defendants, these people I'm trying to lock up are making these statements is because of race. That's incredibly inflammatory.

COOPER: Everybody, thanks.

Coming up next, with a bipartisan deal on fixing the border on the brink, now the former president is trying to sink it with the help of Republican lawmakers, the same lawmakers who we should point out who've been demanding action on the border for years. We are Keeping Them Honest, next.

And also breaking news on the unprecedented move the Republican Party took up and how it might have turned the ongoing nomination process into a virtual coronation for the former president.



COOPER: With Senate talks on a bipartisan immigration and border security deal very much in question, the former president late this evening definitively answered a question that we and other news outlets had been asking for several days now, not to mention senators and Congress members, including members of his own party. Namely, why are Republican lawmakers now backing away from finalizing a deal that could help finally address the border crisis?

The former president has obviously focused much of his campaign on the issues regarding the southern border, and there is no doubt just about every aspect of border security and the asylum process does need to be reformed, funded, better managed, which is why House Republicans, for better or worse have refused to even consider funding for Ukraine, unless coupled with a border deal and that's why Republicans rarely miss a chance to blame President Biden for the border problems.


SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): The crisis at our border is a direct cause of Biden's dangerous and intentional policies.

SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): We do not know who is entering this country.

REP. ANDY BIGGS (R-AZ): It is worse than it's ever been in my experience of going to the border.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): It's not just the policy, Brian, it's people have died as a result of the policy.

SCOTT: Countless amounts of drugs being smuggled into our country and killing Americans.

REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): The Biden regime absolutely has blood on his hands for their failure to secure our border.

SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R-AL): We've had hundreds and hundreds of terrorists come across the border.

SEN. JD VANCE (R-OH): This is a disaster that doesn't just affect the border states, it affects everybody.

SEN. MARKWAYNE MULLIN (R-OK): They want as many illegals that flood their sanctuary cities that they can give IDs, that they can start letting them vote in local elections, but eventually start voting in federal elections.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Right now, America is being invaded.

BIGGS: Our geographical integrity is gone, because we don't have the southern border.

STEFANIK: It's a direct result of Joe Biden's failed policies.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): You've got people, leaders, Republican, Democrat all across America pleading with President Biden to address this problem and he refuses.

MULLIN: They don't want to secure the border. They want an open border.


COOPER: Well, actually, they don't. President Biden has repeatedly acknowledged the problems at the border, and the White House has been negotiating for weeks along with Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the Senate to reach a deal. But then, all of a sudden, several days ago, Republicans began to back away from one. And as we and others had been reporting, indications began emerging that is because the former President Donald Trump does not want a deal as long as Joe Biden is president. Said another way, he doesn't want the problem fixed or even addressed because it won't be good for him, which today prompted a number of Independents and Republicans to weigh in.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I think the border is a very important issue for Donald Trump, and the fact that he would communicate to Republican senators and Congresspeople that he doesn't want us to solve the border problem because he wants to blame Biden for it is, is really appalling.


COOPER: And as if on cue, he rose the senator's bait posting on social media, the former president wrote: "We need a strong, powerful and essentially perfect border. And unless we get that, we are better off not making a deal, even if that pushes our country to temporarily close up for a while, because it will end up closing anyway with the unsustainable invasion that is currently taking place, a death wish for the USA."

The former president tonight describing his mind an existential crisis, something he is willing in all caps to scream about, but not anything he is actually willing to let his own party do something about, because it doesn't benefit him.

More now on all of this from CNN's Melanie Zanona at the Capitol.

It is pretty hard to believe that after hearing all of that, Republicans are not taking the opportunity to get something accomplished on the border. What has changed?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Donald Trump happened and he has really complicated the dynamic here on Capitol Hill. There were already a number of conservatives who were worried that this deal, which has yet to be released was going to be too weak for them in their view.

But now, you have Republicans who are on the fence and worried about crossing Donald Trump especially as he is on a glide path towards the nomination and has had this real resurgence inside the GOP. I'm told that Trump has actually been personally encouraging lawmakers to try to sink this deal, a large part because of the fact that he wants to be able to campaign on this issue in November and does not want to give President Joe Biden a win on an area where he is probably politically vulnerable.

Now, the senators who are involved in these negotiations say they're going to keep pressing on, they are undeterred. They're hoping to reveal bill text by sometime next week, but the reality is that it is going to be an uphill climb for the compromise at this point -- Anderson.


COOPER: We showed you the latest post from the former president telling them Republicans hold out for a "perfect border." Has there been any reaction to this? What impact could it have on, I mean, on the border itself?

ZANONA: Yes, well, luckily for a lot of these senators, they were already gone by the time Trump blasted out that post on Truth Social, but there is a lot of frustration in the ranks. This is an all too familiar dynamic for many Republicans who serve when Donald Trump was in office and it is not the first time that we've seen lawmakers working behind the scenes on a very delicate, complicated issue, only to see it all blow up in the very end because of Donald Trump.

That's exactly what looks like it's happening once again, and a lot of members are really upset about it, but they know they're essentially powerless to stop it, even though there is still a contingent of Republicans who want to get a deal on the border here -- Anderson.

COOPER: So is this officially dead in the Senate?

ZANONA: I wouldn't say it's officially dead yet. They're going to try to reveal bill text next week, try to set up a vote. They're going to try to work through the weekend and Mitch McConnell did say he is still committed to trying to find a deal here, but the dynamics have really not changed at all on Capitol Hill.

And even if it's able to pass the Senate, it is likely going to be dead on arrival in the House. In fact, I just reported that a senior leadership aide to Steve Scalise, he is the number two House Republican who sets the floor agenda in the House, he informed a group of Republican chief-of-staffs in the Senate, that if the deal comes over the way they think it is shaping up to be, that it is going to go nowhere in the House.

And so what you have here is that Senate Republicans are going to have even less incentive to back this deal, knowing that Trump is against it and knowing that it is going to go nowhere in the House.

COOPER: Melanie Zanona, thanks very much.

Coming up, breaking news, it has been quickly changing even in the last few minutes about a Republican resolution to declare the former president the presumptive Republican nominee before the race is even over. We have new details about the former president knew about the resolution and its current status just ahead.



COOPER: All day, we've been hearing new details about an unprecedented act to end what has become a bitter contest for the Republican nominee for president. First, we heard that the former president's allies wanted to effectively end the contest and put the full weight of the Republican Party behind the former president and against Nikki Haley as the presumptive nominee. Then came the blowback. After that, the former president announced he didn't want that. he said he wanted to win "the old fashioned way."

And now breaking news, new details about his support for that resolution and about the state of the resolution itself.

Kristen Holmes joins us now with the latest. So first, explain the step that the RNC was actually considering taking.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Okay, so -- well, first of all, I do want to say one thing, because I do think there is breaking news here, which is that the proposal doesn't exist anymore. It has been withdrawn by David Bossie, the Trump ally who put it forward to begin with.

So here's what happened today. We know he put forward this draft resolution, it was circulating among Republican National Committee members, essentially saying that the RNC should just come out and back Donald Trump as the presumptive nominee. This would be an unprecedented step for the committee. They are usually to remain neutral. And in fact, they would be essentially saying not only that they are backing Donald Trump, but that they were opposing Nikki Haley, which has never been done before.

So this was circulating. It was going to go to the committee. The RNC pushed back pretty hard saying, this is just a draft, it's probably not going to go through. However, it would have given Trump a lot of opportunities, because what happens when the RNC ends up actually backing a candidate is they get access to all of the RNC's files, their database, for example, their ground operations. The list goes on.

And so there was a lot of blowback about this.

COOPER: So what has happened now?

HOLMES: So essentially, what happened is that Donald Trump, who we are told actually was for this resolution when it was proposed to him and just a reminder, David Bossie is very close to Donald Trump, it is very unlikely that Bossie would put this forward without going through someone in the Trump campaign.

So we were told that they gave it a greenlight, but then they received a lot of backlash, essentially, allies telling me that they were warning the campaign that this could backfire, that this could cause problems that this could essentially give Nikki Haley a leg up because it was making it look like Trump was trying to stack the deck against her.

So Donald Trump puts out a statement saying essentially, this and let me find it because I put it all the way over here. Okay, he posts this on Truth Social. Remember after agreeing on this: "While I greatly appreciate the Republican National Committee, RNC wanting to make me their presumptive nominee and while they have far more votes than necessary to do it, I feel for the sake of the party unity, that they should not go forward with this plan, but that I should do it the 'old fashioned way' and finish the process at the ballot box."

Now, obviously, David Bossie heard that message loud and clear, and has now withdrawn this resolution.

COOPER: And what did Nikki Haley have to say about this whole idea?

HOLMES: Well, we got two things. First of all, she took a page out of Donald Trump's playbook and started fundraising off of this saying the RNC is trying to back the establishment candidate, being Donald Trump. So a very Trumpian move.

We also heard this from her spokesperson said, they said, "If Ronna McDaniel, (who is the chair of the RNC) wants to be helpful, she can organize a debate in South Carolina, unless she's also worried that Trump can't handle being on the stage for 90 minutes with Nikki Haley."

Now, this is something that Nikki Haley has been pushing for saying she wants to take Trump on. I have talked to Trump's campaign many times, there is no indication that he's going to change his strategy and get up on the stage with her. Right now, they don't really feel like they have to. They feel like they still are winning this -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Kristen Holmes, thanks very much.

Howard Dean joins us now. He is both a former Democratic Party chairman and a former presidential candidate and former governor of Vermont, obviously.

Governor Dean, good to see you. The former chair of your own party, can you just put this in context, if this resolution had actually moved forward, how big of a deal would this have been?

HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER GOVERNOR OF VERMONT: Well, I mean, this is so interesting, because it's actually tied into the immigration debate. Is this Trump's party? Or is this the Republican Party? Or does this party even belong in America?

What you've got is one guy who at his whim, can twist around senators and congressmen in any way and then make them look stupid 10 minutes later, and this is exactly what's going on at the RNC.

It is a ridiculous idea that the DNC or the RNC should intercept what is the public process in terms of who gets the nomination and nobody would do that in their right mind. But we know somebody who's not in their right mind who actually seems to have had their henchmen draw this up and then realize it was a really stupid thing to do.

COOPER: You know, on the border issue, as Mitt Romney pointed out today, I mean the idea that the former president would, you know, get senators, members of the House and most importantly right now, members of the Senate to basically back away from an actual border deal because he didn't want to give any kind of perceived win to the White House while -- you know, during this election because he wants to run on the border. I mean, it is not surprising I guess, but it is -- I mean, it is deeply cynical.


DEAN: Anderson, Donald Trump has never given a damn about the United States of America. The only thing Donald Trump gives a damn about is Donald Trump. That is what is going on here. His trouble is when he has the power to intimidate all those people in his own party who are being jerked around so fast they have no idea which is up or down anymore, it hurts the country.

We need a strong Republican Party. Right now, we don't have any Republican Party. We have a guy who's controlling them all because they're so fearful. They're hiding under the bed. It's ridiculous.

COOPER: But to hear, you know, all these members of the House, Republican members of the House pointing out all many problems on the border, any kind of a solution at hand for some sort of nonexistent, perfect solution that the former president is talking about down the road. It's, you know, I mean, people's lives are, I mean, people are dying, people's -- you know, there are a lot of people's lives are hanging in the balance here.

DEAN: The Republican Party cares much more about the Republican Party than they do about the United States of America. And I think people are going to figure that out. And I suspect Joe Biden is going to beat Donald Trump. And that's why, at the end of the day, Americans are patriotic.

And I know there are a lot of people who think Donald Trump is the solution to all these problems. The fact is, Donald Trump is going to make them worse. And it's going to be a huge problem because Donald Trump does not care about all those people who goes to the rally. He'd sell them out in five seconds if he needed to. He's selling out his own members in the House and Senate right now.

COOPER: You don't believe that the former president will win?

DEAN: No, I don't. I think Biden's going to beat him because I think eventually people are going to get that Donald Trump cares only about Donald Trump and he doesn't give a damn about any of those people are going to his rallies.

COOPER: Is there -- I mean, even with poll numbers as they are, even with, you know, I mean, the current president has historically low poll numbers right now.

DEAN: I'll tell you -- so did Harry Truman, you know, when he won in 1948 and beat Tom Dewey. And Tom Dewey was a much better American than Donald Trump ever was. So, I mean, look, I just think if you look what Biden's accomplished, it's probably more domestically in terms of especially climate change, jobs in rural America, and boosting our tech. He's accomplished more than any Democratic president domestically since Lyndon Johnson. So, eventually this is going to seep through -- look, the American people are not stupid. And they're going to eventually figure out that they're going to get hurt badly by four more years of Donald Trump.

And this is the perfect evidence. This guy will turn on a dime to do whatever he thinks is going to help him. And he does not -- he doesn't care about immigration. He likes the immigration problem because it gives him a leg up in the election. That's pretty sad.

COOPER: Governor Dean, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

DEAN: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up, the connection between securing the southern border and the explosion of drug and gang-related violence in Ecuador. How bad is it in Ecuador? David Culver takes us to the front lines next.



COOPER: According to a senior administration official, the crisis of the southern border is one likely reason the President Biden plans to increase assistance to Ecuador. Ecuador was once considered an island of peace and stability in the region, but now with drug trafficking and gang violence, the country is under a state of emergency, and U.S. officials worry that could prompt residents to flee toward the U.S.

You may remember the video from earlier this month, authorities in Ecuador say 13 armed men burst into a TV station during a live broadcast. No one was killed. There were unconfirmed reports of the injuries. There have been explosions, police kidnappings, prison riots. Recently, in the last election, a presidential candidate was assassinated.

Tonight, David Culver shows us what police there are facing. We want to warn you some of what you're about to see is disturbing.


DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're the fourth in a convoy of what looks to be about four pickup trucks, all of them unmarked, no lights, no sirens, all the officers in plain clothes.

CULVER (voice-over): We're with Ecuador's National Police Force as they're dispatched to a house with suspected ties to terror groups. They won't tell us where exactly we're headed, and they ask us to blur their faces. So we'll keep it vague.

We're just outside Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city, and headed into one of the most violent areas, Duran.

More than a dozen officers storm what could be mistaken for an abandoned barn, but their intel suggests otherwise. They cuffed two men and searched the high grass and weeds. On each corner, security cameras strategically positioned. Officers hack them down.

CULVER: As they leave here, we've noticed even he's carrying some evidence. It's like a gun and several rounds in that baggy.

CULVER (voice-over): This is just one of thousands of raids across Ecuador carried out over the past two weeks. Ecuador's military now deployed to neighborhoods. We went with them.

CULVER: Over here, we see two guys who have been detained for now.

CULVER (voice-over): Officials arresting more than 3,000 people so far. Ecuador's latest surge in violence sparked by the suspected prison escape of notorious gang leader Jose Adolfo Macias, known as Fito, reported missing from this massive prison compound on January 7th.

CULVER: If you look over here, this is where officials tell us Fito was being held, possibly is still being held. They really don't know.


CULVER (voice-over): A top military commander telling me the prison system is rife with mismanagement and heavy gang influence. So much so that Fito could still be hiding inside.

Fito's disappearance led President Daniel Noboa to declare a state of emergency, vowing to neutralize terror groups. A day after Noboa's declaration, on January 9th, 13 armed men took over a television news studio in Guayaquil.

They put guns to the heads of employees, forcing them to the ground. And held up what looked to be sticks of dynamite. Folks watched it all unfold on live TV. Among them, Camille Gamarra and her husband Diego Gallardo. Feeling the unease, Diego decided to pick up their 10-year- old son.

But minutes before reaching his school, someone opened fire on the streets. Diego stopped messaging Camille, who was frantically trying to call him. A police colonel eventually answered and told Camille, Diego had been shot.

Chaos rocked Ecuador that day, especially in Guayaquil, where barricades went up and streets shut down. This young girl, still in her school uniform, also hit by a stray bullet. The hospital later saying she survived. Thanks to a security guard who drove her to the emergency room.

A family friend was able to get Camille's son to safety, but Diego died before Camille could get to him.

CAMILLE GAMARRA, HUSBAND KILLED IN ECUADOR VIOLENCE (HARRIS: I couldn't do a thing, left sitting here. I couldn't do a thing.

CULVER (voice-over): Across town, National Police and Armed Forces stormed the television studio, capturing the gunmen before they could kill any of the hostages. CULVER: And this is the studio. But the terror group entered and 13 of them.

CULVER (voice-over): We saw firsthand the damage left behind.

CULVER: So this is the studio door and you can see, I can count here one, two, three, four, five, six, about a half dozen bullet holes.

CULVER (voice-over): The day after our visit and a brazen strike against the government, suspected gang members assassinated the prosecutor investigating that studio takeover.

CULVER: You can see he's pulling this car over right now.

CULVER (voice-over): Police and military now stepping up their efforts, setting up random checkpoints. Every possible hiding place, searched.

CULVER: I just saw one of the soldiers signaling to the other, look at his arm, look at his arm.

CULVER (voice-over): They check tattoos for any gang affiliations, and even scroll through people's phones. They also board commuter buses to get intel.

CULVER: He's asking, do they have anything they need to tell him or inform him about. He says, we're doing this operation for you all.

CULVER (voice-over): Residents here struggle with what's happened to their country over the past few years. They tell me gangs are growing bolder and holding people and their businesses hostage, demanding protection money, known as vacunas.

CULVER: What happens if you don't pay the vacuna, if you don't pay the extortion?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They get a contract killer and kill you. They put a explosive outside your store.

CULVER (voice-over): The military tries to weed out those responsible, raiding homes like this one, holding the suspects at gunpoint as neighbors, including kids, watch.

It's a lot to take in.

CULVER: She says, the fact that there are police here, it's comforting. She accepts that and that there's military now patrolling the streets. What she doesn't like is that it goes into people's homes and it's now pouring out onto the street.

CULVER (voice-over): But this is war. At least that's how the government here sees it. And they're asking the U.S. for support, desperate for tactical equipment, ammo, and intel.

CULVER: Why should the U.S. help? Because people will look at this from the U.S. and they'll say, well, that's Ecuador's problem. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, if you don't help us, probably you will see more people trying to cross the borders, I mean, because these people is in the middle of gunfights on their neighborhoods. What would you do?

CULVER: Hey, you're not going to stay there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't want to stay here.


CULVER (voice-over): Back on the front lines, after executing their raid, we're reminded of the fear instilled by these gangs, even among law enforcement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I'm going to cover my face.

CULVER (voice-over): This officer putting on a ski mask in 90 degree heat and thick humidity before stepping into frame. And yet beneath those tactical layers, a soft spot. This soldier's not been home in a week. Telling us the reason he's fighting, is for his little girl. She wrote him a letter in English.

CULVER: I want you to know that everyone misses you here at home. And we want you to return safe and sound. And I ask you to help the country to be a better place. You are number one.


COOPER: David Culver joins us now. How badly does the country's law enforcement need more international support or, I mean, what exactly are they asking from the U.S.?

CULVER (on-camera): It does feel a bit desperate, especially, Anderson, at one point, we were with several of the soldiers as they were preparing to go in for one of those raids, and we looked around and we noticed some of them were not putting on helmets and extra layers of protection.


And I asked one of them, I said, do you feel that confident, this could be a pretty light mission going in? And he said, it's not that because we just don't have the resources. I wish I had it. He said, we're also limited ammo wise to about 12 bullets a day.

So they need the resources. And it sounds like right now the U.S. is stepping up back. Our colleague Priscilla Alvarez, she sent me a note from her colleague, a conversation with the White House and they're trying to, as they put it, throw everything they have at this in the next 30 days to try to bring Ecuador under control.

And it's interesting talking to the folks on the ground because there's a direct correlation between what we're seeing with migration and what's happening in destabilizing these countries. So if it falls in any more disarray, it's going to be an issue. COOPER: Yes. David Culver, thanks so much.

Ahead, a history making case. A mother on trial for involuntary manslaughter, accused of being responsible for her son's deadly school shooting rampage. The father is also going to face trial on the same charges. I'll tell you what happened in court today.



COOPER: An historic trial is underway in Michigan in connection with the shooting deaths of four students at Oxford High School in 2021. Seven others were wounded. The shooter was 15 years old at the time. He's confessed the deadly rampage and he's serving life in prison without parole. His parents though are facing involuntary manslaughter charges related to his crimes and that's a first. Never before has this happened in the U.S.

Testimony in the mother's case started today. The father will be tried separately, and that's tentatively scheduled for March. If convicted, they each could face 15 years in prison. Prosecutors allege they ignored warning signs, and his father bought him a gun, and they took him to a shooting range.

With today's court details, here's Jean Casarez.


MARC KEAST, ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR, OAKLAND COUNTY, MICHIGAN: Jennifer Crumbley didn't pull the trigger that day, but she is responsible for those deaths.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Prosecutors laying out their case why Jennifer Crumbley should also be held responsible for the shooting deaths of four students committed by her son in November 2021 at Oxford High School in Michigan.

KEAST: Despite her knowledge of his deteriorating mental crisis, despite her knowledge of his growing social isolation, this gun was gifted.

CASAREZ (voice-over): In an unusual move, prosecutors brought involuntary manslaughter charges against Crumbley and her husband, James, accusing them of disregarding the risks when buying a gun for their son four days before the shooting, even though he was struggling with mental health.

KEAST: They didn't do any number of tragically small and easy things that would have prevented all this from happening.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Crumbley and her husband are being tried separately, pitted against each other now, after Jennifer was overheard in jail blaming her husband. Both have pleaded not guilty. The defense arguing that Crumbley could not know that her son's struggles would lead to murder. SHANNON SMITH, ATTORNEY FOR JENNIFER CRUMBLEY: When you evaluate that evidence, and know what she knew and what she didn't know, you will see that this was absolutely not foreseeable. This was absolutely not expected.

CASAREZ (voice-over): In the spring of 2021, text messages show Crumbley's son told his mother he was seeing things. "I got a picture of the demon." "It is throwing bowls." "Can you at least text back?"

On Black Friday that year, James, using money his son earned waiting tables, went with him to buy a gun. This Sig Sauer 9 millimeter. That weekend, Jennifer took him to a shooting range. At school, two days later, their son was drawing a gun, bullets, and blood. "The thoughts won't stop. Help me. Blood everywhere. My life is useless."

His parents were asked to come to the school, where the counselor told them --

SHAWN HOPKINS, OXFORD HIGH SCHOOL COUNSELOR: I am concerned that he needs somebody to talk to for mental health support.

SMITH: And did you tell either one of them when that should occur?

HOPKINS: I said, as soon as possible. Today, if possible.

CASAREZ (voice-over): The Crumbley said they had to get back to work but would take him to a professional within 48 hours. No one looked in their son's backpack. Inside was that gun. He took it back to class and two hours later, open fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Medical emergency, Oxford High School. Scene is not secure.

CASAREZ (voice-over): When he heard about the shooting, James Crumbley called 911.

JAMES CRUMBLEY, FATHER OF THE MICHIGAN SCHOOL SHOOTER: I think my son took the gun. I don't know it's him. I don't know what's going on. I'm just really freaking out.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Jennifer texted her son, "Don't do it." But it was too late. Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana and Justin Schilling were dead.


CASAREZ (voice-over): In court today, one teacher recounting the terror when she was shot.

DARNELL: I realized he was raising a gun to me. I had texted my husband, I love you, active shooter. And then I started feeling blood dripping down my arm.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: It's really an incredible case that, I mean, he said that he was seeing demons in their house and they bought him a gun and took him to train shooting. I understand the mother wants her son to testify on her behalf along with his psychiatrist.

CASAREZ (on-camera): And it's a big legal issue right now because Jennifer's son texted a friend at school. He moved away, but there are thousands of texts and one of these texts, a lot are going to come in, but one we know is going to come in where he texted his friend and said, I told my dad, I've got mental issues. I want to go to the doctor. He needs to take me.

And my dad said, oh, suck it up. Take a pill. And my mother just laughed. That's coming in. However, it was just learned the psychiatrist assessed him after he was in jail. Talk to him about this text. He said, you know, I made that all up. He said, I didn't -- I just made it up to my friend. It wasn't true. It didn't really happen.


So now they want, the defense wants the psychiatric records, the psychiatrist to testify, and their son, Jennifer's son to testify to have what they believe is the full truth here. But the appellate lawyers are saying, no, this is privilege information. He's not going to testify. You're not going to get those records. So it's a big issue.

COOPER: All right, Jean Casarez, thanks very much.

We'll continue to follow. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Reminder, new episode of my podcast about grief, "All There Is" is now available. You can point your camera at the QR code that's on the screen right now, and a link will appear on your phone that you can click to download it. In this latest episode, I talk with a remarkable woman named Shamayim Harris. She's known as Mama Shu in her Detroit area.

Two of her four kids have been killed. Three years ago, her 23-year- old son, Chinyelu, was working as a security guard when he was shot to death. And in 2007, her two-year-old son, Jakobi Ra, was killed in a hit and run.

What's incredible about Mama Shu is that she has turned her loss into love. And, as she says, her grief into glory. She's dedicated her life to transforming a rundown street in Highland Park, Michigan, into a vibrant community called Avalon Village. She was one of CNN's top 10 heroes of 2023.

You'll find the episode and others on grief and loss on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcast.

Thanks so much. I hope you enjoy it.

The news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.