Return to Transcripts main page

At This Hour

Source: Supreme Court Did Not Disclose Ties To Expert In Leak Probe; Police Chief: Video As Bad As Rodney King Beating "If Not Worse"; Detective Testifies In Alex Mardaugh Murder Trial. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired January 27, 2023 - 11:30   ET



DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Today, from attempting these. We also have a much broader Iran problem, you know. We've got them supplying drones to Russia, and of course, the nuclear program.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): The Attorney General -- you talked about this group. It laid out kind of the suspect's report of, I think the way he described it was an Eastern European criminal organization with ties to Iran. What is known about this criminal organization?

SANGER: Not a whole lot. And we have known that the Iranians have given up when they -- when they could, using Iranian actors thinking that they would be more successful, basically contracting out to these groups in Eastern Europe, much as they have done in the cyber arena. But we don't know a whole lot about these particular ties. And it's pretty remarkable that they were able to not only do the arrest here in the United States, which happened months ago but then track one of these plotters down in the Czech Republic. And so, we're --

BOLDUAN: I also want to note that. The fact that all 3 -- that they are in custody now. I mean, one -- and even in the United States. But also, just stating the obvious just how remarkable and scary it is that this assassin -- this plot was -- this assassination plot was to be -- was to be carried out on U.S. soil.

SANGER: It is. And you know, it's the outreach of an effort to try to go after the basically dissenting speech. Here in the United States, we've seen China attempted, some with critics of China. We've now seen the Iranians do it. We've seen other nations do it. And you know, when they can't actually censor the speech on the internet, they sometimes goes directly after the authors and that's when the appalling part here. Yes, you saw it in many ways in the Saudi plot to assassinate Jamal Khashoggi, same -- very similar kind of thing, acting as a journalist in the United States, but also an activist and dissenter and a U.S. resident and, of course, tragically killed in Turkey.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. An important to raise his name when we're talking about something like this for sure. David, thank you for coming on. I appreciate it.

SANGER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next. A CNN exclusive on Supreme Court leak investigation. What we are now learning about undisclosed ties between the justices and the person brought in to review the probe? We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: Exclusive reporting now from CNN about the Supreme Court leak investigation. Sources say the High Court did not disclose existing ties with former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Chertoff was the expert brought in to independently review the court's investigation into who leaked the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. Joan Biskupic has this new reporting and she joins us now. Joan, tell us more.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST (on camera): Sure. Good morning, Kate. You know, first, we had this leak of the ruling that was reversing abortion rights that shook the country. Then there was the investigation that concluded last week that said they couldn't find the culprit who had leaked it. Now, we're learning that the expert brought in to vouch for the nearly nine-month investigation that the court had done, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had long-standing financial ties to the Supreme Court.

The Chertoff firm had previously been hired by the court to do consultations and risk assessments on the justices' safety. We have an estimate that reaches close to $1 million for one of the contracts. And then another time he was hired to advise the justices on how to return to the courtroom during the COVID pandemic.

None of these financial ties were revealed by the justices when they held him up with their -- with a seal of approval that he said that he gave the investigation. He prepared a one-page statement that was issued last week with the court's report on the leak investigation in which he said that the court had done anything -- everything possible to find the culprit and there was nothing more he would recommend. The court itself has not commented on our findings, and neither has the Chertoff Group. But it just goes to show how an institution that's known for its lack of transparency, one more time has withheld a piece of information that might have helped with the context for how that leak investigation was revealed last week and assessed by the American public.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it will. And now with your great reporting out, let's see what the Supreme Court has to say and if they do eventually respond to questions about this. Great reporting, Joan. Thanks for bringing it to us.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Also, just this morning, we've got another key economic indicator showing that inflation is slowing. The PCE, which is the Fed's favorite inflation gauge came out this morning and showing the index still rose in December but at a slower rate compared to last year. Matt Egan is here with me now to give us a little more. Give us a sense. What does this mean? Put it in the context.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER (on camera): Well, Kate, this is more proof that inflation is cooling off, which of course is great news. So, year over year, inflation in December cooling to 5 percent. Now, that's not good. It's actually more than double what is considered healthy.


EGAN: And food inflation is still a problem, just look at the price of eggs, but everything is relative. And when you look at where things have gone, there -- it is moving in the right direction. That is what we all want to see, right? Main Street -- that's good news, Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, which is meeting next week to try to decide how much higher to bump up interest rates.

We also just got new numbers out on consumer confidence. And it shows that consumer sentiment in January jumped to eight, nine-month high. Again, if you look at that chart, it's not at healthy levels. It's still below pre-COVID. But it is moving in the right direction.


One thing we need to keep an eye on here though, Kate, is the price of gasoline because it is moving sharply higher again. And that is something that could undermine the progress of both for consumer confidence and for inflation.

BOLDUAN: But it was just going to -- OK, so now I got to keep -- because it was just going down. That was the bright spot in all of the data before.

EGAN: Yes.

BOLDUAN: But well, we will continue to follow. Thank you, Matt.

EGAN: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it. We're going to get back to our major story this morning. The Memphis police -- the Memphis Police and the reaction, the video about to be released from Memphis. Memphis police chief this morning compared the deadly police beating of Tyre Nichols to the infamous 1991 police beating of Rodney King. The attorney who represented Rodney King joins us next.



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It has been said that it is reminiscent perhaps worse than the Rodney King video. Is that your assessment?


LEMON: Yes. DAVIS: I was -- I was in law enforcement during the Rodney King incident. And it's you know, very much aligned with that same type of behavior.

LEMON: If that it's worse?

DAVIS: I think sort of groupthink. I would -- I would say it's about the same if not worse.



BOLDUAN: That's Memphis police chief CJ Davis, with a warning really about the video that the city is set to release tonight of the police officers savagely beating Tyre Nichols. Saying that it will remind many people of the infamous 1991 police beating of Rodney King. Saying it's as bad if not worse. But when you think of it, it has to be worse because Rodney King survived that beating. Tyre Nichols did not.

Joining me now is John Burris. He's a longtime civil rights attorney who represented Rodney King after that police beating. Mr. Burris, thank you for being here.


BOLDUAN: We will all see the video of Tyre Nichols, this video tonight. But from the comparison -- from that comparison from the people are making -- the people that have seen this video comparing it to Rodney King, what do you think that means?

BURRIS: Well, it means that the police were out of control and that they were beating a person senselessly without any justification for it. Surely, in Rodney King's case, there was this beating that went on and went on and on, and they were trying to beat him in -- to submission. And as a consequence of that he received terrible, terrible injuries, many of which you probably never really recovered from. I don't think that he ever recovered to go back to being King -- Rodney King than he was before.

And so, these kinds of beatings not only adversely affected him in the most damaging way, but it also affected the community as well. Because in those days, look, there wasn't this outcry in support of Rodney King. The black community was outraged, but the vast majority of the community was not because they had never seen this type of beating before. And so, Rodney King was kind of the first time that people could really see that police could in fact engage in the most brutal type of conduct imaginable. And some of it obviously was racially motivated because in that -- on the tape, we could hear during the trial that there was the N-word being said often, but we don't necessarily have that.

I don't believe in the present case with Tyre Nichols. And as much as all the officers were black, that doesn't mean they didn't use racial slurs, but it's a different connotation when the officers who engaged in conduct are black versus those in the Rodney King case when there's three of those were white men. And so, you had the stark reality of it.


BURRIS: And plus -- and in Rodney King, you had a long history of these particular officers engaging in severe misconduct. I can remember officer Powell was the person talking about Gorillas in the Mist. It was this complete stereotypic notion of the community and it was racially motivated. I would not think that that's necessarily true here in Memphis, but it can't be. Just because it's black offices does not mean it's not racially motivated. Particularly, there's a practice that's taking place of stereotyping the black community and going after people in that community very well can be.

So -- but at the same time, we know in the Rodney King case, what we had was these officers were found not guilty. And that was shocking. And I would say that ultimately, we had to have in federal criminal trials, we had to -- criminal crimes and ultimately had a federal civil trial, which I was in. And even in that case, there was justification on the part of the judge himself to indicate that much of what had taken place was lawful and did not necessarily blame the police officers for it. I don't know if that's going to happen in this one.

BOLDUAN: Yes. With the -- with your perspective, I mean, from 1991 and since then, you've represented many victims of police brutality since then.


BOLDUAN: And now you have Tyre Nichols. How much progress do you see -- how much progress do you think there has been made in policing when we're still talking about allegations of police brutality on this level today?

BURRIS: We certainly are having that. But I will say that I can see a lot of progress being made. That has been made in different jurisdictions and different police agencies. And mainly the most important thing is the cell phone and the body-worn cameras because now you don't have this dispute about the hearsay of the officer versus that of a victim or witnesses. So that part has been extraordinarily important. So, therefore, we have many more officers were being held accountable. We also have many more officers being prosecuted than we had before.

But by no means is this problem totally corrected, I've been involved in a number of cases and we still have improper shooting, we still have improper beatings, but I will say this. Since the cameras have been there, we have not had the kind of beatings that we see in this particular case. This is really shocking that you would have officers engaged in this level of beating that are comparable to Rodney King when they have cell phones and video cameras when everybody can see unless they thought that the policy of the department was -- would protect them.


Obviously, it's not going to but you cannot have that kind of level of activity and think that you're just going to get away with it when someone has a camera. Of course, you always have the question, of, you know, the code of silence among officers, and in this case, you will have to kind of work through different rules. And the same thing we had in Rodney King's case. Remember, the defense put up a ballad, very aggressive defense basically trying to make Rodney King the victim of his own demise that he in fact did cause whatever happened to him to happen because of his own conduct. And so, that notwithstanding what appears to be on the face outrageous conduct in the outrageous beating that there will be efforts on the part of these defense lawyers to try to demonize Tyre at some point during the case just to save themselves.

BOLDUAN: And we have -- and we have seen that in previous trials for, that is for -- that is certain Well, this evening, we will all see this video together, and we will see about those comparisons to the horrible beating of Rodney King as well. John Burris, thanks for coming on.

BURRIS: Yes. Thank you. Good to be with you.

BOLDUAN: We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: Alex Murdaugh's attorneys are cross-examining the seventh witness in his murder trial. On the stamp now, a detective who interviewed him at the scene. Dianne Gallagher's watching this in South Carolina for us. So, Dianne, what's happening?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Kate, the prosecution back up right now talking to Detective Rutland with the Colleton County Sheriff's Office. She was present for that first interview with state law enforcement agents that night that Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were murdered at their home talking to Alex Murdaugh. And we got a chance to listen to that interview.

There were some very bizarre points in there, including where he hypothesized as to who could have killed his wife and his son, talking about the boat crash from 2019, talking about someone that they had hired who was bizarre and had told strange stories. But what the prosecution has focused on is the fact that Alex said that he checked on his wife and his son, trying to check their pulse checking on them.

And the fact that he was clean, the detective noting -- and I want you to look at this photo taken from a body cam video from an officer who responded. You see that clean white t-shirt that Alex Murdaugh has on. The detective is saying that his hands were clean, his shoes were clean. The defense though, of course, Kate, trying to do cross- examination saying wouldn't that be an indication that he didn't shoot them? Remember, this is a very gruesome crime scene here. Oh, the prosecution again trying to point out there's unexplained water, perhaps there was a change of clothes at play here. We're continuing to watch this.

BOLDUAN: All right. Dianne, thank you so much for that. I appreciate it.

The family of Tyre Nichols is going to hold a press conference very shortly. We're going to bring that to you. "INSIDE POLITICS WITH JOHN KING" picks up after this.