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Brittney Griner's Wife: WNBA Star Is A "Hostage" In Russia; Former Trooper Under Investigation Over Response To Uvalde School Massacre Hired To Protect City's Children; Biden "Disappointed" By Appeals Court Ruling On Dreamers. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired October 06, 2022 - 11:30   ET



NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Because she was driving his car at the time of this attack. It was a car bombing. And the original intended target, according to U.S. intelligence officials, was actually her father. And she actually ended up being killed in that car bombing at the end of August. So, the significance of this, though, really can't be overstated at this point, just in terms of what it says about Ukraine's covert operations inside Russia, right?

Because previously, it had seemed as though those operations were largely limited to kind of the Ukraine-Russia border area, targeting fuel depots, and military bases there. But now, what this suggests is that Ukraine has been carrying out or is willing to carry out operations that really hit the heart of Russia and can actually target people who are well-known political figures there. So, the U.S. is wary of this. And of course, Ukraine, we should note has denied it from the beginning. When we reached out, they said last night that they have no additional information on Darya Dugina's death, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: All right, Natasha, thank you. Joining me now for more on this is CNN Global Affairs analyst Susan Glasser. She's a staff writer at The New Yorker. And CNN contributor Jill Dougherty. She's a former CNN Moscow bureau chief. Jill, let me start with you on this. I mean, you think that the release, just the release of this intelligence assessment in and of itself is significant. Tell me why?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, definitely because you know it -- for the United States, it does not look good to have Ukraine carrying out things that the United States says that it admitted that it was not aware of in advance and that it actually admonished the Ukrainians for doing. So that's -- you know, it's something that could be slightly embarrassing, you'd have to say. And it's a bit worrisome because, you know, where is Ukraine going with this?

Remember, in the beginning, Biden was trying to be very careful not to ignite more fighting and said there would be no U.S. boots on the ground, etcetera. So this comes out and it's -- you know, it's a sign that the Ukrainians are, are doing things that could be highly inflammatory, and in the end, quite dangerous.

BOLDUAN: Susan, what do you think the real effect of this could be or is going to be? What does Putin do with this information now? SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I think, you know, there is the risk for the Ukrainians that it plays into the Russian propaganda that has already been smearing them as terrorists, as you know, Nazis as you know, the aggressors in this conflict. So, to the extent that they're taking the fight inside of Russia, of course, that potentially contributes to Putin's propaganda machine. It plays into his hands, you know, of sparking fear. Jill and I both lived in Russia during the second Chechen war, which gave rise to Putin and put him in power in many ways.

And, you know, there was a campaign not only in Chechnya but around Russia there were a spate of terrorist attacks that were linked to the Chechen separatists. And in many ways, this was used very effectively by Putin and the Russian Government to, you know get support for their brutal scorched earth war policies inside Chechnya. And now Russia, of course, is waging this terrible war of aggression, almost a scorched earth battle inside of Ukraine so it's not entirely surprising that elements in the Ukrainian government would want to strike inside Russia itself.

BOLDUAN: Yes. You know, Jill, we're also hearing for the first time -- in a long time, really from the wife of Brittney Griner, who's now been in a Russian prison since February. Cherelle Griner sat down with CBS to lay out what she thinks is happening with Brittney's detainment and the negotiations for her release. Let me play a bit of this for you, guys.


CHERELLE GRINER, BRITTNEY GRINER'S WIFE: On his face, it just seems like my wife is a hostage. To know that our government and the foreign government is sitting down and negotiating for her release, she's a hostage.


BOLDUAN: The Biden administration has said that it's laid down a proposal for a swap. We've talked about that. But that hasn't -- seemingly hasn't gone anywhere. So, Jill, what do you think it's going to take if she's a hot -- if she really does believe that her wife is now a hostage?

DOUGHERTY: Well, she is a hostage. So, the question is, you know, what do you do to free her? And I think it was really important that Cherelle today said Biden is doing what he can but there's another party to the situation. And that other party, of course, is Vladimir Putin. So, you have to look at Putin and say, what does he get out of this?

Up to now, I think, you know, when it was really in the news every day, there was a lot of domestic pressure and there still is, but a lot of domestic pressure on Biden, do something, do something. And that helps Putin because he places pressure on Biden. Now that it's kind of gone behind the veil of diplomacy, there's not as much attention but I still think that is Putin's calculus what helps in, and right now, hurting Biden helps him. [11:35:09]

BOLDUAN: All right, it could be as simple as that. Thank you both. It's good to see you. Thank you so much.

Coming up for us. Parents of your Uvalde School students are disgusted this morning after a state trooper under investigation for the botched police response to the massacre now has a new job protecting some of the same students who survived that attack. CNN's exclusive reporting next.



BOLDUAN: We have new reporting exclusive to CNN now. Uvalde families are really disgusted this morning, their words, after finding out a former Trooper under investigation over the response to the Uvalde school massacre now has a new job, hired to protect some of the same children who survived that horrific day. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is here with this exclusive reporting. Shimon, lay out what you figured out, what you found.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So what we found is that there was a newly hired police officer at the school district. After the shooting, they went out they said they were going to hire more officers, and they hired a new officer. Her name is Crimson Elizondo. And what we discovered was that she's a former DPS state trooper.

And even further, we then learned that she was there. She was present on the day of the shooting on May 24, one of the parents recognize her from the body camera footage. And then we learned that she was under investigation for her response to that shooting. And we've not been able to get any answers how the school hired or why they hired her, but certainly, it was very troubling to us to see this connection.

And so what we did is we went out to try and ask her some questions. We found out where this officer, Officer Elizondo was working. She's working at the Uvalde elementary school, and then we went to ask her some questions. Take a listen.


PROKUPECZ: I actually have some questions for you now.

CRIMSON ELIZONDO, FORMER TEXAS DPS TROOPER: I'm not going to answer any questions.

PROKUPECZ: Officer Elizondo, I'm doing a story about you and your time at DPS. I'd like to ask you some questions if possible.

Sir, do you know this officer who you have recently hired? Are you aware that she's under investigation for her actions on the day of the shooting? Do you think she's fit to serve you considering that her actions are under investigation? Mr. Miller, you don't want to respond to that?


PROKUPECZ: And that's been the attitude of the school district, Kate. They refuse to answer any questions. We try to include them in the story. I went to them several times, sent questions, asking for a timeline, when was she hired, were they aware of her history at DPS, nothing from the school. You know, we need that timeline. We don't have that timeline yet exactly when they hired her, what they knew at the time. But obviously, everyone who has seen this story and every family member sort of their --

BOLDUAN: But the families need -- have questions.

PROKUPECZ: They can't understand how this happened. And that needs to be answered.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Shimon, thank you so much for staying on this and bringing this report. Thank you. I really appreciate it.

Someone else who has also been demanding answers and following all of this, joining me right now is Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez. He's been part of this -- the efforts to -- state efforts to investigate the school massacre. State Senator, thank you for being here. You saw this report and you're now calling for the head of the Department of Public Safety to resign over this. Why?

ROLAND GUTIERREZ, DEMOCRATIC STATE SENATOR, TEXAS: Thank you, Kate. First off, I think that what we see in officer Elizondo's actions is emblematic of the actions of the Department of Public Safety and all of the troopers that were on scene. And that is a reckless disregard for human life. And that might seem extreme.

But those officers stayed outside. You saw from the reporting last night that she said, well if my kid was in there, I'd have gone into I promise you that. That is outrageous to me. It's outrageous to these families.

And it is outrageous that this governor has failed to act and call for the resignation of Steve McCraw, who has withheld information for the public -- from the public time and time again, has doled out misinformation and has failed to lead, and has failed to train his employees. The only abject failure that we hear -- that we have here is his own, and we need him to resign.

BOLDUAN: Have you gotten any response from McCraw, from DPS, or from the governor's office about this?

GUTIERREZ: We sent this out this morning. We're waiting on a response from them. I think, Kate, unfortunately, like many of our letters that have gone on answered from this governor's office, that we're not going to get an answer. The people of the Uvalde are not going to get an answer. And they're going to be snubbed yet again by a man that seems to be lost in his own ambition and simply doesn't care about the people of Uvalde. BOLDUAN: Speak -- answer, you're a Democrat the governor's a Republican obviously. Speak to folks who would say, well, this has politics wrapped up in it for you.

GUTIERREZ: Well, first off, I'm not running for governor, Kate. Secondly, I will tell you that Uvalde is more than just some tragic disaster where some madman went and killed these kids. It's a show of years of neglect. There's been reporting that for seven years this community was trying to seek the repair of the radio systems.

We know from the Senate hearings that DPS failed to train with communities along the border after we had spent over $4 billion at this governor's request along the border. What's happening in the border, what happened in Uvalde is a story of neglect of rural Texas. That's the bottom line.


BOLDUAN: I want to play for -- I do want to play for you one of the parents who was on CNN this morning, a parent who lost her child in the shooting. She recognized this officer on campus at the new school where she is currently sending her surviving child. I want to play for you what she said today.


KIMBERLY MATA-RUBIO, DAUGHTER LEXI KILLED IN UVALDE SHOOTING: The school district doesn't care about my kids. And I've been so patient -- I've been so patient. We enrolled our -- we rolled our kids this year again. They're still with the CISD. I gave them a chance to redeem themselves to make things right. And it's just a blow after blow.


BOLDUAN: Blow after blow, Kimberly says. She lost her daughter Lexi in the shooting. She hurt -- she's sending her child to that school right now and seeing this officer there. Shimon asks a question that isn't answered and needs to be. How can this happen? How can these parents at least not be looped in with something like this?

GUTIERREZ: You know, one, that's the real tragedy. We're 134 days in here. We have a district attorney that says that she can't release anything because there's a criminal investigation. As of 10 days ago, she met with the families and said nobody was going to be indicted, not one police officer, and therefore that would lead us all to believe that there is no criminal investigation. So who is she covering up for the governor, the Department of Public Safety, other law enforcement agencies?

These families deserve the truth, and they are not getting the truth from law enforcement for whatever political reasons they might have. They deserve the truth. And they deserve that this drama that is unfolding on us day after day, they deserve it to stop. They deserve all of this information to be brought out and peel this bandaid off so that people can get to a true sense of beginning to heal. They will never -- the thing that these parents have to look forward to, unfortunately, is just a $1 sense of pain. But DPS continues to cause more pain on them, Kate.

BOLDUAN: State Senator, thank you for coming on and continue to be on this. Obviously, as you can see from Shimon's dogged reporting, he will stay on this as well. We'll continue to cover this. Thank you very much for your time.


BOLDUAN: We'll have we have much more news ahead AT THIS HOUR. But first, let's turn to this. One of the best forms of exercise is walking. Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains how low-impact walks are beneficial to your life in today's "CHASING LIFE."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta, host of CNN "CHASING LIFE" podcast. While we all know exercise is important for our health, oftentimes, we picture it like this. I've got some good news. There is plenty of evidence now that lower- intensity activity like simply walking can make a world of difference both physically and mentally.

Recent study found that people between the ages of 40 and 79, which took about 10,000 steps per day, will be 50 percent less likely to develop dementia within seven years, and they cut that risk by 57 percent if they walked a brisk pace. Another study found that two and a half to five hours of moderate activity each week can lower your risk of early death from cardiovascular disease, and also cancer. Even when you walk, comes with its own benefits. Taking a short walk after a meal can help lower your blood sugar. That's according to one study.

So here's how to make walking work for you. Start by establishing a routine. That means begin walking maybe 10 to 15 minutes at what experts suggest is a purposeful pace, not a window-shopping pace. From there, you can start walking longer and faster and even on new terrain. And better yet, make it a social affair. Taking a brisk walk with a friend can actually enhance your brain health.

You can hear more about how to optimize your health and chase life wherever you get your podcasts.




BOLDUAN: A federal appeals court is ordering a lower court in Texas to review the Biden administration's changes to a program that prevents hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the United States as kids from being deported. President Biden called the ruling on Dreamers "disappointing" and also said this in a statement. Today's decision is the result of continued efforts by Republican state officials to strip DACA recipients of the protections and work authorization that many have now held for over a decade.

Much more to come on that. And there's also this. The stars of the U.S. women's soccer team, speaking out after an independent report uncovered years of systemic abuse in professional women's soccer. Today, star Megan Rapinoe is joining the chorus of calls for accountability.


MEGAN RAPINOE, U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM PLAYER: Is as sick as this sounds, I feel like we're used to having to take on so much more than gameplan and tactics. I feel like we have an incredible ability to shoulder so much.


BOLDUAN: And still, they persevere through. Since the investigation that was revealed, the president of U.S. Soccer announced the league will create a task force to implement the report's recommendations. Now after a day like this, I want to close with something to just smile about.


Oakland A's catcher, Stephen Vogt playing in his last game before retirement, it newt was an afternoon he will never forget, starting with his very first at-bat.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our daddy, our dad, the number 21, Stephen Vogt.


BOLDUAN: It's awesome. Those were his children announcing him as he stepped up to the plate. That alone would have been a great way to end his career -- any career quite honestly. I've my kids denounce my walk-on. But then this happened in the seventh inning at his last time at-bat.



BOLDUAN: Just look at his face. The look of joy just sums it all up. Vogt said that hitting that -- hitting that home run brought out the little kid in him once again, taking him back to the days of playing baseball in his front yard. Amazing stuff.

Thank you so much for watching. I'm Kate Bolduan. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after this break.