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At This Hour

Pressure Mounts For Biden To Address Nation On Objects Shot From Sky; 36,000 Plus Killed From Earthquake In Turkey & Syria; Trump Atty: Search For Classified Docs At Trump Properties Complete. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired February 13, 2023 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. AT THIS HOUR, more objects shot out of the sky. But answers, they're still hard to come by. Why lawmakers on both sides of the aisle want to hear more. Plus, people are still clinging to hope as the death toll is rising in Turkey and Syria. The truly incredible stories of survival, even just today. And what former President Trump's lawyer is telling CNN about a classified folder found in his bedroom. This is what we're watching AT THIS HOUR.

Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. It's a national security mystery, and over the weekend, it took another turn. Three flying objects were shot down by U.S. fighter jets over the weekend. The Pentagon saying there was no military threat, but what these things were actually doing has yet to be answered. The Biden administration offering no explanation yet. These unknown objects in the sky, they were spotted just after the U.S. military shot down that unmanned Chinese spy balloon just off the coast of South Carolina.

Now, after four shoot downs in about a week, there are lawmakers on both sides of the aisle asking for answers. One Democratic lawmaker who did not want to be named, even telling CNN that Biden's silence on this is, quote, odd. We're going to get to the White House in a moment, but let's start with Natasha Bertrand with what -- with much more on what is known and what is not. Natasha, what are you hearing this morning?

Yes, Kate. So, three objects in three days, that is what has been shot down by the U.S. military over the weekend. And we are told that the two objects that were shot down over Alaska and northern Canada on Friday and Saturday, they had balloon like features with small cylindrical metal objects hanging off of them. But still unclear where those objects came from and what they actually are. We're also told that the object that was shot down yesterday over Lake Huron in Michigan, that was flying at around 20,000 feet compared to the other objects, were around 40,000 feet.

And it was described as autogonal with strings hanging off of it and potential surveillance capabilities. This is why the Pentagon has said that they are -- they were taking these precautions and shooting down these objects because they were concerned that these could potentially be surveilling sensitive sites across the U.S. And of course, that they were flying at an altitude that civilian aircraft tends to fly at, so it could pose a risk there.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: But look, this is completely unprecedented. And the Pentagon actually acknowledged that in a call with reporters last night, saying that these kinds of shoot downs in rapid succession, or even at all in U.S. airspace have never happened.

BOLDUAN: All right, Natasha, thank you so much for that. I really appreciate it. Let's get now to the White House right now where we all could learn more today on why these objects were shot down. MJ Lee is standing by for us. She's there. MJ, what are you hearing from there this morning?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, there is certainly growing pressure for President Biden to address this issue, given that we are talking about three objects that were shot down from the sky at the President's direction in as many days. You know, we've heard from Pentagon officials, from NSC officials after each incident, with officials sort of sharing what they can in the moment. But what we have not gotten so far, and particularly over the weekend, is sort of a bigger and comprehensive explanation from the President on what the American people should really make of all of these headlines.

Now, lawmakers that I have been talking to are saying that it's important that the American public hear from the President directly. One lawmaker, as you said, saying that the silence strikes them as pretty odd given that a lot of people are actually freaked out about these headlines. Another lawmaker that I spoke to just this morning said that it's important for the President to address this issue, even if he can't really say much about what exactly these objects are.

But I think that is really the key point right now, Kate, is that U.S. officials have made pretty clear that they are still in the process of trying to figure out exactly what these objects are, where they actually originated from, whether they have reason to give the U.S. concern. And so there is this concern at the White House, at least, and people close to the President, that if he were to get behind the podium and get in front of the cameras and speak to the American people about what's been going on, that perhaps he shouldn't do this before he has a clear sense of exactly what situation we are talking about.

And I do think that is why the recovery effort is going to be so critical and why U.S. officials are in such a rush to try to recover some of the debris and actually analyze and figure out what these objects are so that the White House can better communicate with the American people. But as of right now and as of this morning, Kate, there is nothing on the President's schedule and no indication yet that we are going to hear directly from the President later today, Kate.

[11:05:13] BOLDUAN: All right, things can change fast. We'll stand by to see that. MJ, thank you. Joining me now for more on this is CNN senior law enforcement analyst Andrew McCabe. He's the former deputy director of the FBI. And CNN military analyst, retired Major General James "Spider" Marks. Gentlemen, thanks for being here. Andy, three more objects shot down now in as many days. I mean, a huge amount of unknown here and in the absence of hearing from the Biden administration, a lot of speculation. But do you think on just the most basic level, that the Biden administration should know what these objects are by now?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, there's a timing factor to that, Kate. So there's a recovery process that's going to have to take place with each one of these things. And some of them are coming down in harder to reach places than others. And then those materials have to be transported back to Virginia, to the FBI laboratory at Quantico. And then right partners, whether they're international partners or researchers here from the United States, have to be assembled to participate in what we call the exploitation of that technology, of that equipment, so all of that takes time. I have no doubt that we will understand the full scope of what these things are and what they're capable of, but it might not be very quickly.

BOLDUAN: Yes. General, what do you think of this situation as it stands right now?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, as an intel guy, I look at this from the perspective of what is some nation or corporation or some non-state entity trying to figure out about how the United States conducts its national defense operations. Look, we've had these four balloons over the course of a week, or at least we've had a balloon confirmed. We've had three other objects. We'll label them UFOs at this point.

But as a result of that, not only is their intelligence collection that we need to be concerned about, but also how the United States responds to that. What is our posture? When did we pick up these movements? What was our communications in terms of our type of response? How did we go about the business of making the decisions? And other nations and other entities want to try to figure that out. So, you know, the old expression, let's throw up a trial balloon and see what happens? That's exactly what's happening in this particular case.

We've got this activity and the United States is responding appropriately. I do think at this point, as Andy indicated, we'll know a heck of a lot more going forward. But I think it's important that this administration square with the American public. I mean this is an aberration we haven't seen it before. And they should come forward and say, look, this is what we know and this is what we don't know. But we're working at it. We're going to come up with some answers and you will know.

BOLDUAN: Andy, what do you think of the relative quiet, if you want to call it or silence from the administration so far on this? I mean one Democratic congressman, as MJ Lee was saying, told CNN that the silence from Biden is odd.

MCCABE: Yes, you know, I don't know if I would call it odd. I think they're probably being careful because they don't have a lot of definitive things to come out and say right now. And let's remember, as Major General Marks has just laid out for us, this is essentially intelligence activity at its highest right? And that work goes on quietly in the shadows. We don't typically discuss publicly intelligence collection opportunities that we've uncovered or even when we uncover our adversaries collecting intelligence on us or here in the United States.

So it's of a strange situation. That being said, it is important to manage the public relations side of this that has become for, like it or not, a very public series of events. And so it would -- I mean, my own opinion, I think it would better for them to come out, maybe it's not the President, maybe it's the National Security Adviser or somebody else at DoD to come out and address what we do know and what we are comfortable saying publicly at this point.

BOLDUAN: General, if any or all of these additional airborne objects are turn out to be completely benign, not spy equipment of any kind, is that good news or bad news considering the President is now I'm throwing pens behind my shoulder, apologies everyone, but is that good news or bad news considering the President said F-22s to track these things down?

MARKS: Well it's simply a statement of the fact if there was -- if they were benign as described, at least we would know that. And that's OK. Whether it's a -- whether it's a, you know, whether it's a balloon with a capability or it's a whatever with no capability other than it got our attention. It got our attention and we responded appropriately. This gives adversaries an opportunity to figure out how they can possibly kind of get into our mechanism of national defense. What is it that is going to draw our attention?


So if we're going after -- we don't know what that is until we know what it is and it's important that we stay vigilant. And it's important also that, you know, having spent my life in the intel business, if we don't have the narrative, if we don't describe what's going on, whole bunch of folks are going to make it up. So I think we -- I think this administration needs to get ahead of this.

BOLDUAN: Andy, the Chinese Foreign Ministry this morning has come out and accused the United States of flying balloons into, they say illegally into its airspace more than 10 times since 2022. The U.S. quickly called that false. What do you think of that? What does that say about the dynamic of kind of everything at play now?

MCCABE: You know, it's a little bit of diplomatic whataboutism, like, you know, well, you did it too, sort of thing, which you have to expect that particularly from the Chinese. They've been embarrassed, I think, by the initial balloon that they admitted was theirs. Nevertheless, I mean, we all and those of us in the intelligence game or who have been fortunate to be a part of it for some period of time, understand that nations of all sorts participate in very similar intelligence collection activity.

I don't know what the United States has or hasn't done with balloons headed to China, but it's well known that we collect as often and as aggressively as we can on our adversaries. And certainly China is one of our primary targets. So you have to expect some degree of aggressive intelligence collection coming in every direction. Now, you know, part of that game is not to get caught. And when you do get caught, you have to ride out the diplomatic consequences of having been caught. And that's the unfortunate situation that China finds themselves in right now.

BOLDUAN: All right, it's good to see you both. Thank you.

So, 182 hours later, a miraculous rescue today, a young boy pulled from the rubble alive more than seven days after the devastating earthquake hit Turkey and Syria. We're going to take you there. That's next.



BOLDUAN: It has now been one week since that devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, but rescuers are refusing to get up hope, give up hope. And here is why. Today, a 13-year-old boy in Turkey was pulled from the rubble alive after 182 hours, truly amazing. You see them tried to delicately but quickly and urgently getting that boy away and to safety. And of course, at the very same time, the death toll is still rising. More than 36,000 people are now confirmed dead in Turkey and Syria.

Joining me right now is to talk more about this is Muhammad Ashman. He and his wife and children, they survived the earthquake in Gaziantep, Turkey. He's also the communications manager for the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, which provides health care in parts of Syria. Mohammed, thank you so much. It's wonderful to see you again.

When we spoke just last week, just after the disaster, you all were sleeping in your car. Now I'm told that you were able to move into a tent and then moved some hundreds of miles away to more safety and security. How are you and your wife and children doing today?

MOHAMED OSMAN, SPOKESMAN, UNION OF MEDICAL CARE & RELIEF ORGANIZATIONS: Yes. Thank you, Kate. Yes, actually it has been really hard to live in a tent and in our car for one week. We went to a safe place just for me and for wife and children and at the same time to have access to my laptop to manage to communicate and coordinate more for the people inside Syria, our colleagues there. Yes, thanks God, we are all good now, we feel safe for temporary and managing to help more lives.

BOLDUAN: Mohamed just first, we're showing our viewers some of the pictures that you've provided to us this morning, just the adorable faces of your children just in -- when you were all in the car together. I mean, your youngest is just one year old. I mean it's impossible, probably, for you and your wife to process everything that you all are going through and your community is going through. But what are you telling your children? What are you telling your kids about what's happened and what's happening?

OSMAN: Actually, it was very hard to tell them the whole story. We managed to psychosocially support them, to just make them calm down. My oldest child is 13. He's understanding everything. And I just put a notebook and pen within his hand and just tell him, express your feelings, express yourself by writing. His writing now he's reaching the 25th pages of his own story. So that's the only thing I could provide for them.

BOLDUAN: A long road, but a wonderful thing that you're doing and providing to help your sons and all of your children get through this. You're not only a survivor, you and your family, you're also, as you've mentioned, you work for a major humanitarian group in the area, providing medical care to Syrians who are fleeing conflict there. And there are so many challenges getting aid into Syria. What are you hearing about that?


OSMAN: Yes, actually, I'm in a daily basis, an hourly basis, actually, communicating with our colleagues and the ground. And one of the main reasons I'm here to be able to communicate with them. As, you know, also are running about 30 facilities now, the 30 health medical facilities, about 62 ambulance cars and 10 mobile trailings. But the main challenge we are facing here in northern Syria is providing aid for them.

Almost nothing are received until now from as aids, nothing mentionable, actually, they are barely received some consumables and some food items. And that's it. Actually, we feel forgettable. We are very sad and angry in the same time from neglecting the whole world for the Syrian situation. We are seeing all aids coming to Turkey, and that's right and helpful. But in the same time, nothing, nobody mentioned Syria as the same parallel situation as Turkey. It's very hard for us to work alone, actually.

We feel alone in this disaster. We tell this minute are looking for the people under the rubbles. We are suffering from this weather, actually, and no instruments and equipment enough to provide for these survivors.

BOLDUAN: So much is needed urgently now and in the long term, just, I mean of course, in Syria, even before this, and also in Turkey. Mohamed, before I let you go, you're dealing with so much. What is your biggest worry for your family right now? In a strange way, and it's very hard to even say this, you're the lucky ones. You're all together and you're in a safe place and you're able to provide help to others. What's your biggest worry for your family?

OSMAN: Yes, our future, actually. Me and most of Syrian refugees here in Turkey and also for IDPs inside Syria, the future, we are living day by day. We don't know what will hide for us tomorrow. So the biggest fear now is, let's say, settling down, looking for a place to live, because I cannot stay at the hotel for one more week. I cannot afford to pay that much amount of money for living. The shelter is number one, fear for every Syrian and Turkish people as well, the shelter and the money running, the essential needs for our children, of course.

BOLDUAN: Mohamed Osman, thank you so much. It's good to see you. Thank you.

MOHAMED OSMAN: Thank you. Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Of course, we'll continue to follow that and we'll stay in touch with Mohamed and his family, of course.


Still ahead for us, lawyers former President Donald Trump, they say that they are now done searching for classified documents. And one of those attorneys had an interesting explanation about a classified folder in Donald Trump's bedroom. That's next.


BOLDUAN: Now, in a CNN exclusive, one of former President Trump's attorneys says the search for classified documents at Trump's properties is now over officially. And he also explained why a classified folder was found in Donald Trump's bedroom. Paula Reid has this for us. Very interesting interview, Paula, you spoke with this attorney. What did he tell you?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, he really tried to downplay the investigations into his client and the legal jeopardy the former President Trump is facing. But we know from our reporting that Special Counsel Jack Smith is moving ahead aggressively to gather more evidence in both of his investigations. We've learned that two other Trump attorneys have appeared before the grand jury in recent weeks. And we've also learned that the Trump legal team has handed over new pages with classified markings over the past few months. And they also handed over a laptop that had copies, scanned copies of those same classified materials on it.

And we learned that those had been scanned by a staffer from a political action committee. So, of course, Kate, I had to ask him why someone like that would even have access to classified materials. Let's take a listen.


TIMOTHY PARLATORE, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: She was working as an aide to the President. And this is a box that had all of his daily schedules from his time in office. And she scanned all of those as part of, you know, being available for future speeches or, you know, biographies or things like that. She had no idea that there was any classification markings on anything. And as soon as we found out about that, we called up DOJ to let them know and immediately provided them access to it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [11:30:07]