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At This Hour

Body Found in Memphis Identified as Missing Teacher; Pro-Trump Operatives Accessed Election Office on Day of Breach; Judge Halts DOJ Review of Mar-a-Lago Documents until Special Master Is Done; Uvalde Children Return to School for the First Time Since Massacre. Aired 11- 11:30a ET

Aired September 06, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. AT THIS HOUR, a judge sides with former president Trump and blocks access to the documents found in Mar-a-Lago.

Plus, students in Uvalde, Texas, return to school for the first time after the massacre that killed 19 children and two teachers.

And it is a tragic end to the search for a missing woman in Memphis as police identify the body of Eliza Fletcher. This is what we're watching AT THIS HOUR.


BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for being here, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

It is a big break and a tragic outcome in the case of a missing woman in Tennessee. Police have just identified the body of Eliza Fletcher, a school teacher and mother of two little children. She was abducted while jogging early Friday and now the man charged with first degree murder just wrapped his first court appearance.

Gary Tuchman is live at the courthouse in Memphis with more on this.

What's the very latest?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, 10 minutes before this arraignment was scheduled for an accused kidnapper, it ultimately became an arraignment for accused murderer.

We were informed by the Memphis police that the body that was recovered last night was identified as Eliza Fletcher. Such a sad outcome. This woman who was kidnapped on Friday had been missing since then.

Before her body was found, the arraignment was scheduled in the court for Cleotha Abston. We saw him coming in. He was wearing a mask, hard to tell what his facial expressions were because of the mask. But he looked impassive, he looked impatient. He had handcuffs behind

his back. The only thing he said was yes when he had to swear that he didn't have enough money to pay for an attorney so a public defender was given to him.

So he was arraigned officially on the kidnapping charges. But then the prosecutor said, Your Honor, we want to tell you we're also adding a first degree murder charge. The judge said we need to hold another arraignment. That will take place tomorrow.

The prosecutors don't want him to have bail. He has $500,000 bail right now on the kidnapping charge. The prosecutors want to completely revoke it. That will be heard tomorrow.

Either way, a sad and tragic outcome and this accused murderer is no stranger to jail bars. In the year 2000, he was found guilty of kidnapping another person, kidnapping a man, a lawyer here in Memphis, who escaped.

He served 20 years behind bars. He got out of prison in November of 2020, a little less than two years ago. And now he's back in jail again and he will be awaiting a trial ultimately or plea bargaining, perhaps some day.

But either way, he's in a lot of trouble because he's now accused of first degree murder of this 34-year-old mother of two little children, wife and schoolteacher. A very sad story, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Really is horrible. Gary, thank you so much for being there and for your reporting on this. We'll stick close to you.

Also this morning, new developments in the investigations into former president Donald Trump and the 2020 election. CNN has obtained video showing a Georgia Republican County official, escorting people hired by an attorney for Trump, into the county's election office on the same day a voting system there was illegally breached.

The video does shed new light on how those around Trump tried to seek evidence of voter fraud, often with the assistance of sympathetic local officials.

And separately, a federal judge has granted Trump's request for an independent special master to review material taken from Mar-a-Lago last month. This ruling, a win for Trump, that could slow down and complicate the government's criminal probe.

First, let's start with the new reporting out of Georgia. CNN's Drew Griffin has more on the new surveillance video that's been unearthed.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SR. INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: We wanted to show you video of the woman that was involved in this guise. Her name is Cathy Latham. Breaches like this, Kate, are happening across the country.

Voting machines in swing states have been tampered with and are under investigation. The video we want to show you actually is Cathy Latham. She's the GOP chairman, the former GOP chairman of Coffee County, Georgia.

And we obtained this surveillance, showing her at the offices where she is. And this is her leading in Donald Trump's -- or people connected with Donald Trump's attorney, Sydney Powell.

This is -- I just want to tell our operator to scroll up a little bit, because I'm going to try to show you this. This is the same woman who signed on as one of the fake electors --


GRIFFIN: -- in the documents that declared Donald Trump winner of the 2020 election. Latham can be seen escorting that team in there. This is the same day that it was violated, as you said, Kate.

What's important here is this county voted 70 percent for Donald Trump, which means they weren't looking for actual vote fraud; they were looking for access to the machines. That's what's being alleged here.

And I also want to show you some additional video we have, because a couple of weeks after this, Kate, a fellow by the name of Doug Logan, he was the head of Cyber Ninjas, the same outfit that ran that Arizona audit, partisan audit, and also was involved in Michigan, where an investigation has got a group of co-conspirators trying to access and tamper with these voting machines, all under investigation.

He was at the same place in Coffee County, which they believe to show, shows this coordinated kind of effort to try to find what they never could find, Kate, was any kind of evidence of machine-based voter fraud that would somehow magically overturn this election for Donald Trump.

So this is all about this investigation that continues to happen here in Georgia, in Michigan and in other states around the country.

BOLDUAN: So much to this and more than one state now, as you're laying out. Good to see you, Drew. Thank you.

Joining me now, CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig and CNN's Kara Scannell.

Kara, we're going to get to Drew's reporting in a moment but I wanted to ask you first about, you have some important reporting about this judge, judge Aileen Cannon, blocking DOJ, blocking DOJ from further using any of the material seized from Mar-a-Lago and putting in place this special master.

What happens next, now that we have finally this decision from her?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So the first immediate question is what will the Department of Justice do?

They're said they're reviewing the decision and everyone is waiting to see if they're going to file an appeal because a number of lawyers have pointed out that there could be some fertile ground for them to challenge here. But they may choose not to.

Now assuming that they don't, at least as things stand now, the judge has set a deadline for Friday, in which she wants both attorneys for the former president and the Justice Department to submit a joint filing, with a list of candidates who could potentially serve as a special master.

Some of these people, they'll have to have security clearances because of some of the highly classified documents that were within the 11,000-plus that were taken at Mar-a-Lago.

She's also asking them to come up with an outline of essentially what the special master's duties will be and what the limitations will be, as well as a schedule and who is going to pay for this. If it will be something they split or if one side will pick up more of the tab than other.

BOLDUAN: Just to the big question, do you think DOJ should appeal?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's interesting because if this was law school, of course, because they lost and there's legal conclusions the judge drew about executive privilege and the role of a special master that DOJ has to dislike in a serious way.

But we're in reality here. You have to think practically. The biggest concern DOJ has with this special master is delay. It will take weeks, probably a month or more, for the special master to get through this.

Now if you appeal, you go to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, a very conservative court of appeals, usually seen as the second most conservative of the 13 different courts of appeals we have in the federal system.

So the appeal itself will almost certainly take longer than the amount of time it would take a special master to go through the documents. Keep in mind, if you're DOJ, if you appeal to the 11th Circuit and win, Donald Trump is going to get up to the next level to the Supreme Court. That's even more delay.

BOLDUAN: How can the Justice Department, though, continue its investigation without access to everything that has already been taken?

HONIG: They're in a really awkward position. If you look at the ruling, the judge doesn't necessarily say you must cease and desist all investigation. The judge specifies you cannot use these documents in your investigation.

But where do you draw the line?

They can no longer go through the documents.

But can you do an interview with a witness that is informed by one of the documents?

So the judge has left a lack of clarity to some extent on what DOJ can and cannot do.

Does DOJ want to try to continue the investigation separate and apart from the documents?

Or are they going to be worried it's all seen as one thing and why even go there?

BOLDUAN: How much does this slow down or stop the criminal investigation until it moves forward?

HONIG: It's a question of how long the special master will take. There have been other examples. I'll give you one example.

When Michael Cohen was a subject of a search warrant, the special master was a retired federal judge from here in New York, Barbara Jones. It took her four months to get through the documents, April to August of 2018.

However, however, there we were talking about a number of laptops, phones, electronic devices.


HONIG: The amount of information on a phone and a laptop is many times more than can be obtained than even in dozens of hard copy boxes.

BOLDUAN: There's another aspect, the judge made clear she thinks the former president is, I'll describe it as like a special category. One place she writes about it in the order is as a function of plaintiff's former position as President of the United States, the stigma associated with the subject seizure is in a league of its own.

In doing so, she's -- would you say she's completely rejecting the Department of Justice's argument?

As even from the attorney general and down, when pressed about any aspect of charging Donald Trump, that everyone should be treated the same.

SCANNELL: It's interesting because there are two angles to this here. She's saying, remember, this was a magistrate judge, who signed off on the search warrant and within that search warrant had signed off the way that they would handle sifting through these materials and looking for attorney-client privilege.

There was a specific protocol in place in that search warrant. So she's setting that aside and saying she thinks it needs to be handled differently.

She's saying also she's doing this for the perception of fairness. We heard this in some of these other special master cases. They want to be above the fray.

She says the former president may be wrong on this claim of executive privilege but he should have the right to bring this up legally. But it is a complete rejection of the department's position.

They say there is zero place for a special master here, that the special master has been used in the context of attorney-client privilege but never before with executive privilege, which is in the executive branch, which the Department of Justice is part of that.

BOLDUAN: That becomes super complicated. I do want to ask while we have time about Georgia and what Drew was reporting and Zach Cohen has been reporting as well on the new surveillance video.

Now you have surveillance video into this question of tampering with the 2020 election.

How does this change, do you think, the ongoing investigation, if at all, into kind of the fake elector scheme?

HONIG: If this is proven out, if there is proof the people in the surveillance video actually tampered with the election machines -- and what do we mean by tampering?

If that can be proven out, that changes everything. We know what they're investigating down in Georgia is this fake elector scheme, the certificates, the pieces of paper that say these are the electors for Donald Trump.

There's a defense there. The defense would be, we weren't trying to trick anybody. We're saying, if he happens to win in court, these are the people who are going to cast electoral votes.

But if you are hacking into, breaching election machines, I don't see a defense to that. That could be different in kind if it's proved.

BOLDUAN: Does this suggest anything about how close this part of the investigation could get to Donald Trump?

HONIG: Well, look, the people we saw in that video are several steps removed from Donald Trump. You had to go through Sydney Powell. But I think big picture, the Fulton County district attorney's investigation seems to be moving more quickly and more directly toward real power sources than any of the other pending investigations.

BOLDUAN: Interesting. Elie, Kara, thank you so much.

Coming up for us, students in Uvalde, Texas, are returning to their classrooms for the first time since the massacre at Robb Elementary School, a community still hurting, a community still demanding accountability and answers. We'll take you to Uvalde next.





BOLDUAN: "They are not going to protect us."

Those are the words of an 8-year-old boy in Uvalde, Texas, starting third grade today. A first day back to school for so many children and so many families and a community all still grieving the tragedy that hit Robb Elementary School just three months ago; 19 students, 2 teachers shot and killed inside their classrooms.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is live for us at this hour.

What is it like there today?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, everyone here knows this isn't the way the first day of school is supposed to go. So many emotions that people are dealing with.

Teachers trying to put on the best possible face, greeting children here at the school campuses with smiles this morning. But everyone knows this is a far cry from what a normal first day of school should be like.

This is the first time students across Uvalde are gathering inside classrooms since the tragic shooting back in May, where 19 children and two teachers were killed. The school you see behind me, this is where last year's second and third graders at Robb Elementary, who are now third and fourth graders, will attend classes this year.

We saw a mixture of smiles, a lot of apprehension and nervousness among families. Officials have added 33 Texas state troopers to campuses across the city. There's also 8-foot fencing around several campuses.

So these are some of the security measures that are being taken. Despite all of that, there is still a great deal of apprehension, especially among the families of the victims.

We spoke with Brett Cross, who is raising his -- who was raising his nephew as his own son, Uziyah Garcia. He was one of the 21 victims. He has four other children in Uvalde schools. And he talks about how difficult this first day of school will be for their family.


BRETT CROSS, UZIYAH GARCIA'S UNCLE: The school says that they're doing certain things but then you look around and they're not done. This is something that terrorizes you daily and nightly. I close my eyes, all I see is my son, I hear the gunshots. You know?

It's something that doesn't ever go away.


LAVANDERA: And Kate, so you know, the apprehension and nervousness that so many families feel.

[11:20:00] LAVANDERA: There are more than 130 students who parents have chosen to do virtual schooling instead of attending in person. It speaks to the nervousness and apprehension so many families have.

BOLDUAN: Understandable. Good to see you, Ed. Thank you for being there.

Joining me to talk more about this is Jesse Rizo, an uncle to Jackie Cazares, who was 9 years old when she was killed at Robb Elementary.

Thank you for being here.

What does today mean for the community and for the Cazares family?

JESSE RIZO, JACKIE CAZARES' UNCLE: It's a somber feeling, ma'am. It's a sad day, knowing they're not able to send their youngest to school. The oldest one, Jasmine, is a senior in high school and she went to school. But it's a somber moment, a sad moment.

BOLDUAN: I was going to ask you about her big sister. First, we're looking at pictures of you with Jackie at her first communion. That was just before all this happened. She would be starting fifth grade today.

This is one of the many tough milestones I have been thinking about that you all will be facing.

What are you remembering about Jackie today?

RIZO: Her beautiful smile, the -- just the way she hugged and welcomed everybody. The care she had for anyone, all the little pets, the little animals she had. It's just terrible. She's missed, for sure.

BOLDUAN: You mentioned Jackie's big sister, who is a senior this year. She's talked very publicly about how scared, terrified, she said, to go back for her final year. She even told Texas lawmakers in June, she said, I have my senior year and that's it.

Am I going to survive it?

You said she's headed back today.

How is she feeling or what was that -- what can you tell us about that decision and that conversation about what she was going to do?

RIZO: I know that it was a tough decision. At the beginning, she wasn't sure what she was going to do. She debated to go virtual or go in class and it was a tough choice. But she felt that her type of learning, that she's better served if she actually would attend class.

It's worrisome for the entire family. We all are concerned about the security measures, things at school. But Jasmine knows that that's going to be the best type of setting for her and her learning. BOLDUAN: The safety measures that they have put in place since that

horrible day, the fencing and cameras, more public safety officers working at the schools, do you think this is enough to keep people safe?

And also to help students and families feel safe?

RIZO: It's a beginning of something. I think they're trying to do what's right. It's just, it's tough for the family members, especially, because we haven't received the transparency we have been asking for. We haven't received the accountability we have been asking for.

We feel that having the same type of leadership is just not acceptable, the same people that were on duty, so to speak, that day, not just police officers but across the board, beginning with the superintendent. They're still the people in charge.

And those are the people that we get the pushback when we ask tough questions. We have asked them certain things and they seem to either not want to answer the question, don't want to be transparent or they're simply negligent.

So when you have to make the decision whether to send your kid back to school, you have to look at the big picture. If you see that, it's tough to trust it, although I understand that the students have to move forward and they have to continue going to school. But it is a tough decision, though.

BOLDUAN: Sure is. You know, the entire world is seeing today really once again the amazing resilience of the children of Uvalde, just showing some video of just bright, smiling faces, getting out of cars, and great teachers, welcoming them to their classrooms today.

What is your biggest wish for these little ones as they start the new school year?

RIZO: I wish that they remain strong. It's tough. I see them as innocent children and it's very -- I can imagine the challenge that they're faced with, you know. And I'm glad that the teachers, the principals, they're making them feel welcome, at ease.

I understand there's a lot of troopers out there. There's going to be counselors out there. It's tough for everybody, tough for parents, tough for the community.


RIZO: But the children are the toughest ones. I wanted to share something with you, if I may. One of my friends' children, she's 9 years old, she was at Robb, a grandchild, she was at Robb that day.

And the child actually decided to have a keychain with all of the names of the children, of the children and that teachers that passed away, that she created this keychain with all their names, letter by letter. As I was told the story this morning, it brought me to tears. I think,

just the thought of a 9-year old asking the parent, can you take me to the local store to buy these things so I can build something?

And to sit letter by letter, name by name, just amazing, the feelings they have. But at the same time, the innocence that was stolen from them. You know, it's something she should be focused on, what am I going to wear the first day?

What kind of shoes am I going to buy?

It breaks my heart and that's just one story. There's other stories like that.

BOLDUAN: So many stories.

RIZO: It breaks my heart.

BOLDUAN: Just the strength that she had and presence of mind to want to carry the memory of everyone that was lost that day. All of her fellow students and carry them with her on her backpack is just equal parts tragic and so, so unbelievably sweet.

Thank you so much for coming on to speak with us. We will hold up and remember Jackie today and many days. Thank you so much.