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The Lead with Jake Tapper

U.S. Shoots Down "High-Altitude Object" Near Alaska; Pentagon: Recovery Effort Underway After Object Shot Down; Biden: Shooting Down Of Object "Was A Success"; Republicans Distance Themselves From Scott's Budget Plan; 23,000 Plus Dead As Hope Faces For Finding Survivors In The Rubble; CDC: About 2,000 Cardiac Deaths Occur In People Under The Age Of 25 Every Year. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired February 10, 2023 - 17:00   ET



OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It was essentially right in the middle of that area, right near Prudhoe Bay on the northern end of Alaska there. That's where this was shot down.

When it was first detected yesterday, those officials say that an F35 went up to investigate. It was ultimately an F22 firing an Aim-9X that shot it down. Worth noting that that's the same type of aircraft and type of missile that shot down the Chinese balloon off the coast of South Carolina.

One of the questions we asked at the Pentagon briefing was, if there was so much intelligence to gain by letting the previous balloon fly across the United States and being able to observe it, why was this one shot down so quickly? Especially when the senators from Alaska were furious that it wasn't shot down earlier. Was Pentagon bowing to political pressure, here's what the Pentagon had to say.


LIEBERMANN: Was the decision to shoot it down before it entered too far into the U.S. airspace the Pentagon bowing to political pressure from the Hill?

BRIG. GEN. PAT RYDER, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Look, again, we're going to judge each of these objects on its own merits. It entered into U.S. airspace on February 9. We set up aircraft to assess what it was. The decision was made that it posed a reasonable threat to civilian air traffic. The President gave the order to take it down, and we took it down.


LIEBERMANN: In the end, this was shot down right over the edge of the water there, just a few miles out. That water frozen, though, so it did essentially fall on ice. There was no serious threat of collateral damages because of how small this was, according to officials we've spoken with.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Oren, has the military collected any debris from this object yet? And what happens next?

LIEBERMANN: Not yet, as far as we know. They have deployed helicopters as well as a C130 Hercules. This is a few miles off the coast, so it may be difficult to find. And it's also worth remembering that up at those latitudes, there is much less sunlight. There isn't a full day to go searching for this.

It was shot down essentially at roughly the crack of dawn. So there are a few hours to work with there. But we haven't gotten the confirmation yet that the object has been spotted and recovered. At this moment, the Pentagon is deferring a lot of the answers on what this is and what capabilities it had until they have recovered it. So we're waiting for that update to confirm that has happened and they have it in, essentially, in their hands.

TAPPER: All right. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon for us, thanks so much.

Let's bring in CNN's Chief White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly.

Phil, the Chinese balloon a week ago flew across almost the entire United States before President Biden gave the order to shoot it down or before the Pentagon thought it was wise to do so. What is the administration saying about why President Biden acted so quickly this time if political considerations did not necessarily make a play in it?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, I think it's important. One of the things White House officials have been very clear about is that they see these two situations, despite both the proximity to one another and the similarities at least on their faces, somewhat apples to oranges, as one official told me, the President was asked about this shortly after the news broke as he was awaiting the arrival of the Brazilian president, and he said it was a success. But in terms of why he was willing to give the order on the Pentagon's recommendation so much quicker than he was with the Chinese spy balloon, what officials are saying very clearly is they believe, as Oren laid out, it was because of where the object was actually flying, 40,000 feet was about the upper end of where civilian air travel or air traffic can actually traverse. That was very different from the Chinese fire balloon, which is around 65,000 feet above that, not a threat to civilian air travel. That threat or potential threat was really the driving force behind President Biden's decision to give the order.

Now, the president was briefed about this on Thursday night, around the time when two U.S. aircraft, two U.S. fighter jets got the first view of the object. Those fighter jets went back up again this morning to take another view or laid out. There are still so many questions about the shape, about the object itself, what it was actually doing.

They do believe it was unmanned. They've said it was unmanned, and they did not believe that it posed any imminent military threat to civilians on the ground. However, the decision was made due to the lack of responsiveness and due to how high it was flying or how much lower it was flying than the Chinese balloon to take the shot to actually take that object out.

I think the big question right now, and one we've been trying to figure out is, is this reflective of some policy shift? Is this reflective of a new policy when it comes to unidentified objects moving into U.S. airspace? Officials have been very clear up to this point, they are taking each of these instances as they come separately, not necessarily defining a wide ranging policy about how this moves forward. But it is, obviously, within the context of what we've seen over the course of the last week. And I think U.S. officials right now, as they try and learn more information during the process of this recovery, are trying to get answers that they hope they can deliver to both lawmakers and the public in the near term, Jake.

TAPPER: Phil, obviously, China is, I would imagine, the chief suspect behind this new object. But there's no evidence, and we haven't been told that China was responsible for this. Has the white House even hinted about who might behind us?

MATTINGLY: They really haven't. And I think that's been a very interesting piece of all of this. They have been explicit and repeatedly so that they do not have any knowledge of the origin of this object. They don't know if it's state owned, if it's private owned, if it's commercial. That is part of the process that they hope to figure out during the recovery, Jake.


TAPPER: All right. Phil Mattingly, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss, the former Secretary of Defense during the Trump administration, Mark Esper.

Secretary Esper, what's your response to the news today? How do you think President Biden handled this object?

MARK ESPER, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: Well, it's obviously a surprise, Jake, who would think that we'd have another unidentified object, if you will, flying throughout our airspace? I think it's good that the administration reacted quickly and shot it down, but I'm curious to find out more about it. I think, as your TF noted, DOD has moved to the site, I'm sure securing it, and will begin the debris collection. And it will take a matter of days, of course, to collect it all up, get it back to a facility to examine, and then we can learn more.

What's curious about this, because I know everybody wants to jump to assume it's another Chinese balloon, but the -- if you recall, last week's balloon from China actually came from the southwest and followed the illusions. This one's coming from the north. And so, it's very curious, that angle.

And I think -- so -- I think that we should withhold judgment about who it is, what it's doing, how it got there. It may end up being just a weather balloon or something like that. So, it'll be very curious to see where this came from. And my goodness, if it was another Chinese balloon, that raises some serious questions about what's going on in Beijing.

TAPPER: What countries engage in surveillance of this type of the United States other than China?

ESPER: Well, of course, modern space, we know our adversaries such as Russia would be doing surveillance as well. I don't know if they have a balloon program. And of course, there are many other countries that have do meteorological, climate and other scientific research that put balloons up for that type of work. So, it could be any number of countries with non-hostile intent who are -- have balloons lofted in the air and moving around the world.

TAPPER: But China is the only one that of that conducts balloon type surveillance. Russia's surveillance is only done from outer space.

ESPER: Well, I don't know, Jake. You know, you don't know what you don't know.

We know that certainly Russia does surveillance from others -- from outer space. We know other countries are trying to do the same. Iran, for example, are trying to get payloads up in space permanently. So, I'll be curious to find out. I suppose this is an area where our intelligence community is now working diligently to find out who has these capabilities that may be putting balloons up and circling the globe, traversing the United States, you name it.

TAPPER: Earlier on the show, Republican Congressman Mike Waltz of Florida suggested that it should be U.S. policy to shoot down any aircraft that enters U.S. airspace. I asked him is that regardless of whether the aircraft is manned or unmanned? I want you to listen to his response.


REP. MIKE WALTZ (R-FL), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I do think so. If it's entering our airspace and we deem it's going to be -- again, if it's going to collect significant intelligence that could harm us in the future, I think that should fit the criteria. And we need to make that -- we need to make that red line well known to our adversaries


TAPPER: Do you agree with that?

ESPER: Well, this is raising a lot of questions. I do think we need to have a clear policy. We have to defend our sovereignty, and that means defending our airspace. We need to improve our procedures.

It seems like the administration's procedures have improved in the last week, given what happened in the last few hours. And we should declare very clearly how we will treat certain things. I don't think, as a rule of thumb, we should allow, you know, balloons carrying surveillance equipment to traverse the United States. We just cannot tolerate that.

But it is important to have the procedures. You know, you send up an F22, you make sure you take a good look at it. It does make a difference whether it's manned or unmanned.

And we should be able to very quickly reach out to a foreign capital and say, hey, is this yours? What's it doing? Why?

You know, we have enough airspace there to be able to do that in a timely manner. So I think this is going to really require the Pentagon and the administration to examine all these procedures and come up with a very clear policy. But I think the principle we have to hang on to, that maybe Representative Waltz is getting at is, we just cannot have either manned or unmanned aircraft, balloons, you name it, traversing the United States and conducting surveillance on us. You never know when it turns into something hostile as well.

TAPPER: I guess a lot of people probably had no idea how little we are able to ascertain in real time when it comes to any sort of reconnaissance aircraft or balloon or whatever that enters our airspace. I mean, this one entered our airspace, and the government, the Biden administration, says they still don't know where it came from. Obviously, there was all that retro inspection that found balloons that happened during the Trump years, but they found it during the Biden years.

Part of the Pentagon is the National Reconnaissance Office. How -- are they able to, like, figure out what's in the air at any given moment? Or is that just too difficult to do in this day and age?


ESPER: Well, I don't want to get into those capabilities, Jake, but I think your point is taken is we need to have the ability to see more clearly further out. We have a very good system of ground radars across the Canadian frontier. It's what NORAD uses. I know that during my time and before then, we were looking to upgrade those systems so that we could see further, deeper, lower in some cases.

But clearly, this is exposing some type of weakness, if you will, in our ability to surveil the horizon on what's coming our way, and in all things. The sooner you can learn what's happening, the quicker you can detect it, make a decision, either phone a capital, certainly send up jets, scramble jets to investigate it, to get eyes on it. But clearly, there needs to be improvement at this point, given this new vector that we're discovering.

TAPPER: Yes, I mean, I think that's the point is that we know of all the aircraft that are out there, right? The FAA knows that, supposedly, but we don't know of objects until they hit our shores or our airspace. That seems rather limited in terms of what we see on the horizon.

ESPER: Well, this gets back to the issue about understanding your airspace, protecting your sovereignty is. You want to know everything and anything that's entering your airspace and -- or approaching it, so you could quickly interrogate it and find out whether it's friend or foe, whether it's authorized or unauthorized. And in all cases, I think it's the job of the military. I know -- I viewed this as my role is to give the President decision space. That means as much time and as many options as possible to make the best possible decision to defend, you know, America and our interests. And that's -- this, again, is obviously exposing something that we need to work on, we need to improve.

We're fortunate that we have such a great land space in Alaska before it hits the continental United States. But, look, we got important strategic sites in Alaska we have to safeguard. We have the people of Alaska we need to protect. And so, it's just not a buffer place, but we need to improve our ability to look deep and understand what's happening, what's coming our way.

TAPPER: All right. Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

In just two weeks, Russia's unprovoked --

ESPER: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: -- invasion of Ukraine will hit the one year mark. Coming up, President Biden's plans to visit the volatile region. Plus, with the Super Bowl just days away, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going beyond football and examining safety on the field for all athletes at the high school level. Stay with us.



TAPPER: We're back with our world lead now. We learned today that President Biden intends to travel to Poland later this month to mark one year since Russia's brutal war on Ukraine. Poland is right next to Ukraine, of course.

Officials in war ravaged Ukraine think that today's fresh nationwide barrage of Russian missiles could be the precursor to Putin's dreaded spring offensive. Ukraine claims it has shut down more than 85 percent of the incoming missile fire. Still, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is intent on stepping up Ukraine's firepower with an official request to the Netherlands for F16 fighter jet. CNN's David McKenzie is in the capital, Kyiv, where running for shelter is once again becoming a daily part of life.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Russian forces left exposed on the frozen flatlands around Vuhledar, one of the most deadly zones of the eastern front. Ukrainian artillery and drones picking off the static targets.

Even pro-Russian sources say they've taken heavy losses here. Ukrainian foot patrols tour the southern outskirts of the heavily damaged town and they appear to be taking some prisoners, too. These men identify themselves as belonging to Russia's 155th Marine Brigade. To the north, on the edges of Bakhmut, Russian troops advancing block by block towards the city. They've been inching forward for months, taking heavy losses. Ukrainian forces desperate to deny Vladimir Putin a symbolic victory as the first anniversary of this war approaches.

Across a wide area in the east, the Ukrainians detect a buildup in Russian troops and heavy weapons that could be a prelude to a widely anticipated offensive. Ukrainian officials have told CNN that in some areas, their own troops are critically short of munitions. And throughout the country Russia launched its largest missile barrage in months, targeting Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, including this thermal plant in Dnipro.

The city of Zaporizhzhia hit 17 times in one hour. A Russian cruise missile struck the power grid. The immense power of the strike throwing a car onto the roof of a house.

They are not humans, says Yevhen of the Russians. I don't know what they are thinking about when they are doing this, when they press the buttons and shell civilians.

The Ukrainians say they brought down 61 of the 70 missiles fired.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): Enough to limit damage to the power supply. As sirens blared, thousands of people in the capital, Kyiv, took to the subway shelters to run businesses and take classes. It's a well- practiced routine.

The children may not be comfortable, says teacher Olena, but since September, the alarms have been so frequent that they've got used to classes in the metro.

In the skies above, the war against Russia's missiles and drones goes on.


MCKENZIE: And those attacks continue into tonight, Jake. There have been several reports from Ukrainian forces that there have been drone attacks in the south and also threats here in the capital, Kyiv. They've asked people to stay indoors, stay underground as those air sirens go off to keep safe.

You can be sure with President Biden coming to the region in the coming weeks that President Zelenskyy will continue pushing the U.S. and others to get more sophisticated weapons to push any advance of the Russians anther (oh) eastern front, including possibly those F16s. Jake.


TAPPER: David Mackenzie and Kiev, Ukraine, thank you so much.

A comment made in 2012 by now Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida may come back and haunt him if he decides to run for president if Donald Trump has anything to do with it. Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our politics lead, quote, "It was a success." That's what President Biden told CNN about his order to shoot down what the White House is calling a high altitude object near the northern coast of Alaska. This comes, of course, near only a week after a U.S. fighter jet downed the Chinese surveillance balloon.


Let's discuss. Abby, obviously, quite a different handling of this unidentified flying object incident with the previous one. How much do you think it was the criticism that led him to have an itchy trigger finger this time?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY: Yes, I mean, I think they're being hyper vigilant in this case. It sounds like the details of this are quite different from the other balloon, including that there's not really much of an indication that there were any communications going back and forth. The size of the balloon was far smaller. But I think they're trying to send a message that they know what's up there and they're going to take it down if it comes close to the United States.

I think the White House also probably, this is a bit of a guess, they don't mind the narrative that they're shooting things down. I mean, I think that some -- a lot of Americans probably got of a jolt of, you know, a jolt of patriotism last weekend to see F22s flying out and shooting down a giant Chinese balloon. And I think that's probably not a bad thing to kind of tap into that a little bit.

TAPPER: What do you think?

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I mean, look, I think they're clearly acutely aware of how it looked, right, and the way that it played from a political perspective. And clearly when we're talking about this on your show earlier this week, like the imperatives of the intelligence community and the way that the intelligence community may grapple with something like this may put the communications aspect of it on the back burner. And perhaps nobody, you know, made the right phone call to the White House to alert people that, hey, like, you know, you can take a picture of this balloon with your iPhone, which means that it's going to be a political problem.

That you know, sure, that they both feel the need to do this, but also and the reality is, the intelligence community probably does this more than we ever know, we just don't ever hear about it. And in this case, they feel the need to say, like, hey, we actually did this. That seems like a political move to me.

TAPPER: Republicans still criticizing President Biden about what happened last week. Congressman Mike Waltz was on the show earlier, a Republican from Florida, saying that he's still -- I'm paraphrasing, but something along the lines of -- that he's still suspicious that the only reason they shot down the balloon last week was because people saw it, it was detectable by the human eye and that they wouldn't have come forward with it information at all because they were so eager to send Secretary Blinken to China, have those high level talks.

SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: Yes, no, definitely. I think there was reporting that there were balloons during the Trump administration that I don't think we shot down, and you never really heard about those. So, it's interesting then that the Biden administration had to eventually say something about this balloon because Americans could see it from the ground. And I think to their point, too, as well, he knew that this was an easy spot for Republicans to criticize him on. And so, even though this balloon appears to be much smaller, I think that he definitely wanted to shoot it down sooner rather than later, because a lot of Republicans were wondering how the first balloon was ever able to make it over airspace and low enough that Americans could see it.

TAPPER: And Pia, one of the questions I asked Congressman Waltz was because he seemed to think that we should shoot down anything that enters our airspace. And I said, manned or unmanned, it doesn't matter? And basically, yes, that was his position.

PIA CARUSONE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. Look, I mean, I think that this story is interesting to people, it's literally an object in the sky. But there's wide agreement that we should do everything we can to send a strong message to China that they can't interfere with our operations here. And the fact that the President took decisive action on this, I think is important, and I think shows -- sends the American public a strong message.

TAPPER: Speaking of sending a strong message, Senator Mitch McConnell earlier today sending a strong message --


TAPPER: -- to Senator Rick Scott. Senator Rick Scott, as we all know, when he revealed his Rescue America Plan, called for every federal program to be sunset, and if it's worthwhile, it can be reinstituted by Congress. And President Biden, during the State of the Union address, accurately said that some Republicans want to sunset Social Security and Medicare, which is what Rick Scott proposed, because those are federal programs.

Mitch McConnell today said, that's not a Republican plan, that's a Rick Scott plan. But we should note that when Republican National Committee Chair Ronnas McDaniel, when it was released, the Rescue America Plan from Rick Scott, she praised it. She said, quote, "Republicans like Senator Rick Scott have real solutions to put us back on track. Republicans are offering a clear plan to protect and reinvigorate the America we know and love." Did none of these people read the plan?

PHILLIP: Well, Mitch McConnell read it. And to be fair, from the very beginning, McConnell was like, this is going in the trash can. He really had no interest in this plan. And that's part of the reason for the bad blood between these two men. He really dismissed it out of hand and knew how damaging it would before the midterms.

This is part two of a strategy. Well, I guess you could call it a strategy on Rick Scott's part to put out a plan that he thought was great.


The Democrats then immediately seized on and ran on. I mean, they ran on this in 2022 as well as the last midterm cycle. And they found it to be a very effective argument to redirect the American public towards something that they know Americans really care about, which is the issue of entitlement.

I think the White House is more than happy to have this discussion, and it doesn't help that Republicans haven't put anything else on the table. It would be one thing if they were saying, OK, this is Rick Scott's plan, but we have a whole other plan. The problem is that the only plan that's out there is Rick Scott's plan. And so when they're saying we're going to negotiate over all these other things on the debt ceiling, it's not as credible because there are no other things on the table right now.

TAPPER: That's interesting because McConnell did say that they weren't going to put out like some sort of Senate plan when everybody was running for re-election last year.

MATTHEW: Yes, and I think too, definitely this is Biden and Democrats way of trying to distract from record high inflation and an economy that a lot of Americans are currently suffering under. And so it's smart politics for them, honestly, to keep touting the Rick Scott plan as, hey, Republicans want to cut Medicare and Social Security.

It's a little disingenuous because, you know, you have McConnell saying this is a bad idea and that, you know, it's dead in the water. In addition to that, prior to the State of the Union, Speaker McCarthy also said that any cuts to Medicare and Social Security were off the table. So party leadership has indicated this is not going to go anywhere. And so I think, you know, it seems that Rick Scott is being hung out to dry.

HUNT: Well, but that's why it's such an unforced error on Rick Scott's part. I mean, and you -- I mean, just watch some of the interviews Rick Scott is giving around this. I mean, he clearly as -- and you can pick it up behind the scenes too, when you talk to people close to both these men. I mean, this fight between the two of them is personal. It is nasty. It is angry.

McConnell, you know, and his team think that Rick Scott is hurting the overall prospects of the party. I think that's why he put it the way he did, saying, this is just Rick Scott's plan, it's not the Republican plan. I'm in charge of the Republican Party. I mean, by all intents and purposes, he is right now in Washington and Rick Scott's people keep trying this and keep, you know, keep taking shots at McConnell. This is not the first time that this has happened. I kind of wonder what might be -- like, at what point they get the message that, hey, like, this isn't really going over very well, but so far, not so much.

CARUSONE: Well, I think part of the problem is the Republican Party is nominating candidates at the highest level around the country. We saw in '22, every Senate candidate in every major contest Republican had at some point or currently openly thought out loud, maybe we should privatize, maybe we should cut the knot, says Blake Masters in Arizona, or, you know, take a hard look at it.

You know, so it's -- the problem is that these election cycles, it's like you have the party leadership and then the candidates that they're nominating are out there with very strong records, often on video, talking about privatizing Social Security, letting, you know, letting us gamble our savings on Wall Street. So I think it's a partying conflict around this issue, and the American public is for sure not supportive of the idea.

TAPPER: And It's not just Democrats that are taking on Republicans for this. CNN's KFILE team is out with a new article showing that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, back when he was a member of the House, once backed a plan to privatize Medicare and Social Security during his first campaign for Congress in 2012.

And about this KFILE's team writes former President Donald Trump and Democrats have already signaled plans to weaponize DeSantis's comments against him should he announce for president. So it's not just Democrats. Trump is going to go after DeSantis on this.

MATTHEWS: Certainly. And I noticed in that story as well, they reached out to comment -- DeSantis's office for comment, and they declined to comment, which is interesting because those comments that he made previously were over 10 years ago. It's fair that his position on that could have changed by now. But the fact that he's not going on the record to say whether or not he still supports those decisions, it's allowing the Biden campaign and Trump campaign to fill that void.

TAPPER: Yes, no, there's nothing wrong with saying, yes, I thought that 11 years ago. I don't think it anymore. But no comment doesn't do that.

Thanks, one and all. And of course, if you didn't get enough Abby Phillip on the panel today, and who did, really? Who could have? Be sure to catch Abby on Inside Politics Sunday at 08:00 a.m. Eastern, only here on CNN. Thanks to all.

How do you move forward when all you see is loss and destruction? We're going to go back onto the ground in Turkey and we're going to talk with a U.S. aid worker. That's next.



TAPPER: Now to Turkey and Syria, 23,000 lives lost so far, with countless victims still trapped under the rubble of buildings flattened by Monday's magnitude 7.8 earthquake. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh reports now for us from the southern port city of Iskenderun, where those who survived the quake are still in a state of complete shock.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The distance is city that once was, now its people left to pick up the pieces of their broken lives. Today, aid made it to this makeshift camp in Iskenderun. Young and old, they dig through the piles of clothes and shoes, essentials for survival now. No one can yet comprehend.

Elif (ph) comes up to us crying. She's not only lost her home, her only sister is gone. I have no mother, no father, she tells us. She was my everything.

In seconds, every life here upended. For days, Fatima hasn't let go of 10-year-old Fendik (ph). Whenever hears sirens, his entire body shakes. When the earthquake happened, I thought it was doomsday, she tells us. We're living in apocalypse.

Her daughter Melis (ph) was preparing for her wedding. Now they're living in the back of a truck. They say they're thankful to be alive, but it's all just too much.

These girls want to show us their tent. They're from Syria, but Turkey is the only home these children have known.


Inside the tent, Ibrahim (ph), who fled the war in Syria 10 years ago, tells us he lost 18 members of his extended family in the earthquake. Says he thought the days of carrying his children to safety, protecting them from collapsing buildings, was behind him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Foreign Language)

KARADSHEH (on-camera): They're saying they were terrified when the earthquake happened, but they're just glad that they are safe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Foreign Language)

KARADSHEH (on-camera): God bless the souls of all those who die, she says.

(voice-over): No parent can shield their child from this reality surrounded by death and destruction. There's no escaping this nightmare.


KARADSHEH: And Jake, so far the Turkish government has been saying that its top priority is search and rescue operations. And although the chances of finding people still alive under the rubble is getting slimmer by the minute. The search and rescue operations are continuing. I mean, on almost every street we've been on today, there are active search and rescue operations.

But take a look at this. You have people out here in the open. It's freezing cold. This is a kid's playground, and it has been turned into a makeshift camp. You've got some tents that have been set up by the government, but at the same time, you have so many people who are sleeping on benches, sleeping on the floor. They're just covered in blankets.

They're sitting by these fires they've created. I mean, we've seen this everywhere. You have people still sleeping in their cars. So, Jake, right now, the shift -- the focus is really going to shift to humanitarian aid, to relief efforts, because we are really seeing now this -- the -- this is turning into a real serious humanitarian crisis.

You've got millions of people across this quake zone in Turkey who have been impacted by this earthquake, and they have nowhere to go right now.

TAPPER: Jomana Karadsheh in Iskenderun, Turkey, thank you so much for that report.

Let's bring in John Morrison, he is deployed with a USAID led response in Adiyaman, Turkey. He's also a planning section chief for the Fairfax County Virginia Fire and Rescue Department. John, thanks for what you do, and thanks for joining us.

You told CNN earlier today that your team has seen victims pulled out of rubble alive up to seven days after the other quakes. We're now more than four days out of this quake. Has your team found anyone alive today?

JOHN MORRISON, PLANNING SECTION CHIEF, FAIRFAX COUNTY FIRE AND RESCUE DEPT.: No, not today. We're still working and doing those wide area searches. As your reporter said, everywhere you go around the city, there are search and rescue teams working, and us among them. So we're working and trying to find those places where victims may be deeply entuned inside the structures so that we can use our heavy breaching and breaking concrete tools to rescue those victims.

TAPPER: John, how do you do this job and stay hopeful amidst all this devastation?

MORRISON: It's certainly difficult sometimes, but we were sent here to do a job, and that job was to help people as best we can. And so we certainly have seen victims, you know, that have been rescued several days beyond the current time we have. And so that gives us some hope and some optimism that the work we're doing is meaningful and that there's the potential to still have victims alive in the rubble.

TAPPER: Your team has rescue dogs specifically trained to find people in the rubble who are still alive. How vital are the dogs to your operation?

MORRISON: Yes, they're essential. Along with the technical search components that we have such as acoustic listening devices and search damages. So the dogs are one of the first assets we deploy on a rubble pile. We'll send one dog running over the pile to see if they alert on human scent, and if they do, we'll send another dog then to confirm, and see if that second dog gets the same area.

And then when we do, we'll use our technical search devices to sort of hone in and see if we can find something that is deeply doomed. So with us here on this, we have 160 search and rescue team members between Fairfax County, Virginia and Los Angeles County, California that are here as part of the USAID search and rescue team and twelve dogs along with those people.

TAPPER: So Turkey's Ministry of Family and Social Services announced today that the families of 263 children who have been pulled out of the rubble in Turkey, their families could not be reached. What is the protocol for reuniting families or trying to do so if you do miraculously find someone alive in the rubble?

MORRISON: So a lot of times, the 112 system equivalent to the American 911 system here is functional. So by the time that we get them, typically it's several hours from when we hear somebody to when we can actually retrieve them and get them out by having to go through the concrete to get them out.

So there is time to bring that ambulance or the police over to turn them over to definitive care and they'll work to do the reuniting with the families.


TAPPER: The best of America. John Morrison in Adiyaman, Turkey, thank you for what you do. It's inspiring and so important.

Many of you want to help when you can with CNN's impact your world, head to for more.

Ahead of the Super Bowl this weekend, the super bowl this weekend concerns about safety are still top of mind after the on-field collapse of Buffalo Bills player Damara Hamlin. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta is investigating the safety of contact sports at the highest -- at the high school level. That's next.


TAPPER: Good news in our politics lead, Democratic Senator John Fetterman from the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania has been released from the hospital. According to a statement from his office, multiple tests ruled out another stroke and showed no evidence of seizures. The senator was hospitalized Wednesday after feeling lightheaded.


Of course, you remember, last May, Fetterman suffered a near fatal stroke just days before the Senate Democratic primary, which he won. Fetterman's doctor acknowledged last year that he continues to suffer auditory processing issues, but they say he is recovering well.

In our sports lead, a standing ovation last night at the NFL Honors for the medical and athletic training staffers who helped save Damar Hamlin's life, the Buffalo Bills player who suffered cardiac arrest during a game last month. But would a high school player have gotten the same immediate and effective lifesaving treatment and this had happened during one of his games?

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigates.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead and go over to the cot. I don't like how he went down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to need everybody. All call. All call.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Buffalo Bill's safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field in January, Pete Laake immediately thought about his son, Peter.

PETE LAAKE, PETER'S FATHER: It really brought back a lot of emotions, and still does to be truthful.

GUPTA (voice-over): Two years ago, then a high school freshman, Peter Laake was playing defense for the Loyola Dons against the McDonogh Eagles. He was right around the 20-yard line. And what you're about to watch is the exact moment his heart stopped beating.

PETER LAAKE, EXPERIENCED CARDIAC ARREST: I went to the ball, like stepped in front of it, and I just got hit. Like, I've done that many times before.

JEREMY PARR, ASSISTANT ATHLETIC DIRECTOR AND HEAD ATHLETIC TRAINER, LOYOLA: And I kind of even winced in like -- just thinking in my head, oh, that one's going to hurt.

GUPTA (voice-over): Jeremy Parr is the assistant athletic director and the head athletic trainer at Peter's school.

That sunny day, he was watching diligently from the sidelines.

PARR: Because this shot was pretty hard, I was watching Peter instead of the course of the action of the game.

PETER LAAKE: And I started looking for what was going to happen next and then just like that, you know, I like got dizzy and I just like blacked out.

PARR: I could hear first. He had some agonal breathing. So it was like this gasping or gurgling for air. He's prone on the ground. I checked for a pulse, and we didn't have one.

GUPTA (voice-over): The diagnosis, commotio cordis, a rare phenomenon with fewer than 30 cases reported every year.

Now, let me show you what happened to Peter. His heart here is contracting and relaxing. That's a normal rhythm. But at the exact millisecond, the heart needs to recharge before the next beat, that's this little bump here, the lacrosse ball hit the left side of his chest. As a result, his heart never got the chance to relax. It starts fibrillating instead. Peter goes into cardiac arrest. And the clock starts ticking.

GUPTA (on camera): What was that like for you?

PARR: Didn't have time to think. With no pulse, no breathing, we needed to get the AED and EMS activated as soon as possible.

GUPTA (voice over): And in Peter's case, it all worked, and fast. Two to three minutes. But watching all this as a parent, I couldn't help but wonder, what if this were my kid's school? Your kid's school?

As part of a CNN investigation, we learned that nowadays, at least 20 states have laws requiring AEDs. And in reality, about 70 to 80 percent of schools have at least one defibrillator on hand. But how accessible they are, that is the real issue we uncovered.

GUPTA (on camera): What if it had happened, you know, a few miles away from here?

PETE LAAKE: It would have been a totally different outcome. You can do CPR till you're blue in the face and it's never going to restart the heart. It is 100 percent access to an AED within a very timely period.

GUPTA (voice over): Turns out, where you live makes a big difference. For example, in Ohio, in Michigan, more than 70 percent of public schools had AEDs, but in locations that simply couldn't be reached in time. In Oregon, just half of schools had an AED accessible within four minutes of all sports venues.

In Vermont, despite 81 percent of schools having an AED, just 16 percent of them had them located at fields or arenas and about half the time they were in the school nurse's office or the lobby.

PARR: This is an example of a portable --

GUPTA (voice-over): We learned that athletic trainers are critical. In schools that had athletic trainers, were more likely to have AEDs. The chance of survival from a cardiac arrest nearly doubled to over 80 percent if an athletic trainer or AED were used. But as things stand now, a third of the country's schools don't have anyone in that position.

PARR: All athletes should be afforded the same resources that we have here, that Division I athletes in college have and professional sports as well.

GUPTA: That's the thing, it's availability and access. Both are crucially important. And it's one of the most important things you can do for your kids. Make sure AEDs are available and accessible in your kid's school. It saved Peter Laake's life and allowed for moments like this.


[17:55:09] GUPTA: Now, a lot of people may be wondering about the cost of these AEDs. $1000 to $2,000, depending on the model. But, Jake, that's not a yearly cost. I mean, you know, they -- as long as they stay charged, they can be used for many years. Need roughly one AED per 500 students. That's what parents should be asking for.

And again, make sure they're accessible. Not that they just have them, but they're accessible, preferably within two minutes, Jake. As you saw there, it can save a life, makes a huge difference.

TAPPER: All right, Santa Gupta, thank you so much.

Coming up on Sunday on State of the Union, I'm going to be enjoyed by -- joined by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota. That is Sunday morning at 9:00 Eastern and again at noon.

Coming up next in The Situation Room, we're going to have more on the unidentified object that the U.S. Military shot out of the sky this afternoon. A former director of national intelligence weighs in live. Until then, I will see you Sunday morning. And, of course go Birds.