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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Rep. Adam Smith Is Interviewed About Spy Objects From China; Joint Chief Chairman: First Missile Fired At Object Over Lake Huron Missed Target, "Landed Harmlessly" In Lake; Nikki Haley Announces Presidential Bid, First Major Challenger To Trump; Sen. Dianne Feinstein Won't Seek Another Term; Survivors Still Being Rescued As Death Toll Surpasses 41,000; About 3,500 Fish Have Died Since Train Carrying Hazardous Chemicals Derailed In Ohio Town; Residents In East Palestine, Ohio Question Air And Water Quality Following Train Derailment. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired February 14, 2023 - 17:00   ET



OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Senators from both parties feel at ease but blasted the Biden administration for not being transparent about the objects.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The briefing was helpful today. Again, I'm not unnerved by anything. I'm confident this wasn't, you know, an attack on the country. And I think it probably served the country well to have the President explain what's going on.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: There is a lot of information presented to us this morning that could be -- he told the American people without any harm to sources or methods or our national security.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): The spate of shoot downs revealing new complications, like what happens if a fighter jet misses its target. Top U.S. general confirming the first missile, an AIM-9X Sidewinder missed the object over Lake Huron.

GEN. MARK MILLEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: The missile landed harmlessly in the water of Lake Huron. We tracked it all the way down. And we made sure that the airspace was clear of any commercial or civilian or recreational traffic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's so slow and so small you can't see it.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): New audio authenticated by the Air Force from the pilots trying to figure out what that object was over the Great Lakes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just something kind of dark object. You can see some strings or something hanging down below it. I can't say if it's holding anything.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): The U.S. and Canada haven't yet recovered any debris from the last three objects shot down. A senior Biden administration official says it's possible they may never be able to.

MILLEY: They're in very difficult terrain. The second one off coast of Alaska is -- that's up in some really, really difficult terrain in the Arctic Circle with very, very low temperatures in the minus 40s.

FRANKO1: FRANKO1. Splash one. TOI 1.


LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Meanwhile, new audio of the moment an F22 shot down that Chinese spy balloon.

EAGLE02: That is a T-kill. The balloon is completely destroyed.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): US. Military has recovered a significant portion of that balloon.

JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESPERSON: Divers were able to get into the water over the course of the weekend and we're able to recover a significant amount of debris, including some of the structure and some of the electronics.


LIEBERMANN: What we are hearing more of after that classified briefing to the Senate is what you heard there from Senator Lindsey Graham, a call for President Joe Biden to come out and simply address the public. First to say what's known, and second, perhaps also to calm everyone down over whether there's any threat here or any concern here. But so far, the White House has said, although, Biden remains engaged, there's nothing on the schedule suggesting he will make public statements about this. Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon for us, thanks.

Let's bring in the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, congressman from Washington, Adam Smith.

Mr. Smith, Congressman Smith, you've said China almost certainly launched objects shut down in recent days. And you think this is a case of China trying to come up with new ways to spy on the United States. Is that just a hunch? Or do you have evidence beyond that Chinese spy balloon that was the first of the four objects?

REP. ADAM SMITH (D-WA), RANKING MEMBER, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: I would amend that slightly, almost certainly overstates the case. =I mean, basically, we know that China has been using these balloons, you know, here in the U.S. and also elsewhere for some time. We also know that they represent a gap in our surveillance, a gap that had existed for a number of years as we've gotten reports about after the fact determining that this had happened, gaps that we've now closed.

And that's part of the reason we're starting to see so many of these objects more often is because, well, our radars in the U.S. were primarily looking for incoming missiles and incoming jets. A slow moving balloon was apparently more difficult to track. Now that we're tracking, we see them.

And the main thing is, there's a lot of different reasons why balloons could be up in the sky. But typically, if that happens, if it's a research balloon, if it's a weather balloon, the people or person that owns that balloon, first of all, lets you know that they're going to send it up. And second of all, if it got shot out of the sky, you would presume that they would say, hey, you just shot down my balloon, I just want to let you know here's what it is, that hasn't happened. So it seems like whatever these things were, they were up there for something other than legitimate purposes.

So, what would that be? You know, the only evidence we have at this point is China has done that. So that is certainly possible. But I think I did overstate the case, but it certainly seems like something that was not supposed to be there.

TAPPER: Senators say they're pretty sure after the briefing this morning that the objects are not extraterrestrial, but that's where the certainty stops about anything else they could declare. The vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said, he thinks the Biden administration has information, quote, "that is not available to us yet," unquote. Do you agree?

SMITH: I haven't seen evidence of that. I mean, you don't know what you don't know, to quote Donald Rumsfeld. So, I suppose that's possible.

But I think the Biden administration has been pretty transparent about this. They saw these three objects, and they were in an area, you know, but I think between 20,000 and 30,000 feet where they could have been a risk to commercial traffic, so they made the decision to shoot them down but they don't know for sure what they were or what they are. And I don't know, and I've had some classified briefings on this, I don't know of any evidence that suits that -- sorry, that suggests that we know more than that. So I don't know that the Biden administration is holding out. I think at this point we just don't have the specifics.


TAPPER: The White house keeps putting National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby out front and center to address media questions on this. Do you think that the President should talk about this? We've heard -- Gordon Chang was on the show earlier saying that it's important that Justin Trudeau spoke to the Canadian people about what happened over Canada over the weekend, that President Biden should talk about this too. What do you think?

SMITH: I don't know that it rises to that level at this point. There's no evidence that this is any particular grave threat to the U.S. There is considerable evidence that there have been these types of objects, you know, floating up over the U.S. Canada for some time that perhaps we didn't notice and perhaps have a legitimate purpose. I don't want us to overblow this situation in terms of what it is.

So, I wouldn't call for the President to make a statement on this at that level. I would certainly call for the administration to keep us regularly informed about what they know and what they are learning.

TAPPER: Today, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley, confirmed CNN's report last night that the first missile fired at the fourth object over Lake Huron missed its target, initially. General Milley says the first missile landed, quote, "harmlessly in the waters of Lake Huron." But this does raise the question if the U.S. going to be more aggressive about shooting down these unidentified objects, does the inaccuracy of the first missile concern you?

SMITH: Yes, no, absolutely. I think we have to be careful. And going back to the very first balloon and the Biden administration's decision to wait to shoot it down, I think more -- the more we learn, the more we know that was the absolute right decision. I mean, shoot first and ask questions later is never a particularly good approach. Take time to understand it.

And there's risk. If you're going to fire a missile at something over the continental United States or Canada, there is risk. So best to be cautious about taking that risk. And then, secondarily, as we've heard, because they waited to shoot down that the balloon that we know was from China in a place where they wanted it to, we were able to recover it because we shot it down in a recoverable spot. So I think we're learning a lot about this.

And certainly, there is risk. People, oh, just shoot it down. No, let's be cautious and understand and balance those risks, which I think the Biden administration has done a good job of doing.

TAPPER: So, senior officials say that -- the administration say that it's possible Xi Jinping and other senior leaders in China were unaware of the first balloon mission over the U.S., the Chinese spy balloon. If that is true, what does that suggest about China's government right now?

SMITH: Well, I think it's alarming. I think that the lack of transparency coming out of the Chinese government is very concerning, right up to the point where they don't seem to want to talk to us about us -- I mean, about what's going on here.

The first balloon, we called China up. They didn't get back to us for 48 hours to even offer an explanation. Maybe it took them two days to come up with the lie that they came up with, but they need to be more transparent with us. And also, as has been reported, there are similar balloons floating over other parts of the world, and they're not being transparent with those countries either. So we don't know exactly what's going on in China, and they could be enormously helpful if they would be more open and honest with not just the American public, but with the world about what they're doing.

Yes, it's distinctly plausible that President Xi didn't know about it, but they ought to be more transparent about what they're up to.

TAPPER: The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Adam Smith, Democrat of Washington, thanks so much.

Coming up, new details emerging about the Michigan State University mass shootings. What investigators say was written on a note that the shooter left behind.

Then, they've responded to hurricanes and war zones, but these volunteers from the L.A. County Sheriff's Office say they have never seen anything like the devastation from the earthquake in Turkey. Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with our national lead. Investigators say the gunman who killed three students and injured five others at Michigan State University had a note in his backpack about other mass shootings. They also say he had no apparent connection to the university, and they remain unsure of any motive. CNN's Miguel Marquez is in East Lansing, where the first victims of the horrific attack are being identified.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Students fleeing a shooter, this time on campus of a major university, Michigan State in East Lansing.

ELLIE DEZONNA, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: I was, like, shaking in the bathroom and it was just terrible. It's just like, preparing myself for, like, the worst thing ever.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The shooting started around 08:30 p.m. in a classroom just as the last class of the day was wrapping up.

DOMINIK MOLOTKY, WAS IN CLASSROOM WHERE SHOOTING TOOK PLACE: I booked into the far side of the class and ducked down and he came in and shot three to four times in our classroom.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The shooter, 43-year-old Anthony Dwayne McCrae, with no known connection to the school, made his way from a classroom to the student union building. Two students were killed in the classroom, one at the student union.

INTERIM DEPUTY CHIEF CHRIS ROZMAN, MSU DEPT. PF POLICE & PUBLIC SAFETY: We had officers in that building within minutes. And in that building, they encountered several students who were injured.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Across the university of some 50,000 students, panic.

GRAHAM DIEDRICH, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVESIRTY STUDENT: Myself and a few others that were with me, we took heavy furniture from around the library and just essentially barricaded ourselves into a study room to make sure we were safe.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The dead, Alexandria Verner, a junior from Clawson, Michigan, and sophomore Brian Fraser and junior Arielle Anderson, both from Grosse Point.

Alli Vanderaue, a senior at the school, watched the shooting and response unfold, unable to believe what she was seen.

ALLI VANDERAUE, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Every time I think all of us hear a loud noise, we freak out. I mean, this isn't thoughts and prayers, we need change, and we need change now. How many times do we have to sit here and watch my students die, our friends die? Like, please, like I just -- something needs to change.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Students, staff, and residents now coming together to pray and cope with how this could happen here.

The shooter's father tells CNN his son grew bitter, reclusive and angry after the death of his mother two years ago. The shooter was charged with carrying a concealed weapon in 2019. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor. His probation ended in May of 2021.


MARQUEZ: MSU is home to the Spartans. And here on campus, the Spartan statue has become a makeshift memorial and a place for students and others to come and reflect on what's happened here.

On the body, in the backpack of the shooter they found a two page note in which he made mention of finishing off Lansing. Also, seemed to threaten schools in New Jersey where he grew up. And still unclear tonight, Jake, whether the two guns he had on them were purchased legally. Jake.

TAPPER: Miguel Marquez at Michigan State University with another heartbreaking story of another mass shooting at another American school, thank you so much.

Coming up, the oldest member of the U.S. Senate has announced that she will not seek another term next year. Plus, former Republican governor Nikki Haley is officially running for president. What Donald Trump's reaction to her announcement might tell us? Stay with us.




NIKKI HALEY, FORMER GOVERNOR OF SOUTH CAROLINA: It's time for a new generation of leadership to rediscover fiscal responsibility, secure our border, and strengthen our country, our prides, and our purpose.

I'm Nikki Haley, and I'm running for president.


TAPPER: Former U.N. Ambassador during the Trump administration and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announcing her campaign for president today. She becomes the first major challenger to Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. And CNN's Kylie Atwood is in Charleston, South Carolina, for us.

Kylie, Governor Haley is expected to formally enter the race there in Charleston tomorrow. What are we expecting her message to be?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, Jake, Nikki Haley is clearly in this video casting herself as the future of the Republican Party. Someone who believes in traditional Republican ideals, noting some of those in this video, such as securing the border and fiscal conservatism, but also someone who has the lived experiences and the personal story that can attract a wide swath of voters. She talks about growing up to Indian immigrants here in South Carolina, not being black, not being white, the challenges that came with that experience. She talks about leading this state after that awful shooting in 2015 at the Mother Emmanuel AME Church just here in Charleston.

And also, she talks to her experience on the global stage when she was ambassador to the United Nations. But she also speaks to the pitfalls that the Republican Party has run into in the past and why she, as a female, is well positioned to take on the challenges of the future. Listen to what she said in that video.


KILLEY: Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections. That has to change. Joe Biden's record is abysmal, but that shouldn't come as a surprise.

China and Russia are on the march. They all think we can be bullies, kicked around. You should know this about me, I don't put up with bullies. And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you're wearing heels.


ATWOOD: Now, we heard a response from former President Trump, who is her only other contender for the nominee at this moment, saying he wishes her luck, but noting that in the past, she said she wouldn't run if he was running as well.

And we should note, Jake, that she doesn't even mention President Trump or being in the Trump administration in that video rollout. We're expecting her tomorrow to also really lean into her story, who she is as a person when she launches her campaign officially here in Charleston, South Carolina. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Kylie Atwood, thank you so much.

Let's discuss with my panel. Abby, so much to chew over here, but let's start with the fact that she says she stands up to bullies. I think there are some people in the Never Trump ranks of the Republican Party who would say, not necessarily, you worked for Donald Trump and you've defended him many times.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY: Yes, yes. I mean, she worked for Trump. She criticized him obliquely, then supported him, and then -- it's been a lot of back and forth with her. I've actually had the same question I asked people around her, what is she going to do about that? And the response is basically like, OK, well, she'll cross that bridge when she gets to it.

She's like a lot of other Republicans who are planning to be running like Pompeo and like DeSantis, who are just basically figuring they will deal with the Trump factor when they have to. And in the meantime, they don't think they'll be punished because so many others are in the same position of being on both sides of Trump.

So for now, I mean, I think that that's fine because she's not alone. It's not like she's the only person. I mean, Ron DeSantis ran on Trump as Trump often says when he ran for governor the first time. Mike Pompeo wants to run for president, he also worked for Trump, so she won't be alone there. But at some point, they're going to have to answer for it.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: I mean, the biggest question I have is what constituency does she have, even within the Republican base and in a Republican primary? Because so much of that base, a good portion of it still we saw based on the 2022 cycle, go towards Trump and go towards Trump's candidates. And when he's actually the one that is running, where exactly is she pulling from him on that? There was nothing in that rollout that saw that sounded as though she was really differentiating herself, policy wise or on any type of issue from Trump.


TAPPER: So, she said in that video that Republicans have lost a popular vote seven out of the eight last presidential elections, Donald Trump would not agree with that statement --


TAPPER: -- because he is delusional or lying or whatever, but he thinks that he won the popular vote twice. And a sizable percentage of the Republican Party voters think that. She stated just a fact. She probably didn't even realize what she was saying at the time. She was just saying we need to do a better job of appealing to a majority of voters. But here's what I think she might run into when you tell me as a pollster, a lot of people just don't even agree with her presenting facts.

ANDERSON: I think she knew exactly what she was doing.

TAPPER: Oh, you do. OK.

ANDERSON: I don't think that this was a mistake.


ANDERSON: I think she and her strategist have to know that there is a third of the Republican Party that is with Trump no matter what. And they're the exact folks that are going to have the reaction to that sentence that you just noted. But there is a good two thirds of the party that even if they don't love the way the 2020 election went, that's not going to be the thing that turns them off.

If she goes sort of fully attacking Donald Trump, I think that will cause a bigger problem. I think that'll mean that there are some Republicans that they like Trump, but they're still available to someone else, and threading that needle is going to be very hard.

That's why I think the strategy of don't talk about Donald Trump right now is very smart. It's savvy, because he is like a black hole. He's going to be a big just gravitational force pulling on this race, and you have got to get escape velocity or you are going to get sucked in. And this is her chance to escape.

TAPPER: She's from South Carolina, which knows from dirty politics.


TAPPER: But usually it's other people who launch the personal smears. I think it's very likely that Donald Trump himself personally will attack her if she does actually become a threat.

BEGALA: That's been his M.O. --

TAPPER: Right.

BEGALA: -- from day one. And you know, I disagree, Kristen, I may be wrong because it's your party, not mine. But I think primaries are like prison. You want to be the bull goose of cell block R, you go up to the biggest, baddest guy there and punch him right in the nose. And don't tell me you're tough on bullies if you can't take on Donald Trump.

I think the very fact that she seems appealing to a lot of people like me suggests she's a politician with a great future behind her. Because the Republicans want angry and they want divide. They want Trump.

And the one third, I think you're, right, he can't lose. But the two thirds can be divided up among 10 people, just like last. Trump is going to steamroll her just like a whole lot of very nice governors that he ran against the last time, Huckabee and Bush and Christie and Gilmore and Kasich, Scott Walker, I just think she's going to be on that whole ash sheep of history.

ANDERSON: I think the difference between 2016, there's two differences. One, I think people who don't want Donald Trump to be the nominee anymore will get the memo a little more quickly. I still worry about this whole, well, if it's Donald Trump versus one other person, then who wins because we did see that movie in 2016. And for those who didn't want Donald Trump to win, didn't end so well.

But I think the other thing that's different is last time Donald Trump was the unknown. He was the exotic, the different, the woo, this might be exciting in a field of, you know, was it 15 others that -- like, we knew what that was, right? But this time now, Republicans have other options, like Nikki Haley, like Ron DeSantis, people that they like and they go, OK, well, I know what Donald Trump is, but I also know what Ron DeSantis is, I think, and I like him, too. They have more options that I think they like, in addition to Donald Trump no longer being an unknown anymore.

PHILLIP: I guess my one thing about Nikki Haley is that if you're going to make your tagline, to your point about kicking bullies in the face or whatever, it has to actually ring true. And if people kind of go, huh, that doesn't make sense, I think that's a real problem for her in terms of identifying what she's really about as a candidate.

The generational argument, I think, strikes true. But this idea that she's standing up to people like Trump without naming Trump, I don't think is going to really ring a bell for voters who know. I mean, they're not -- voters are not stupid, it takes a quick Google search to find out that she used to work for Trump.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And if you're going to win the popular vote, which, as she noted, Republicans haven't done, then you're going to have to win back a lot of Independents or center right leaning voters who left the Republican Party in the 2020 election.

TAPPER: Where is the fertile territory for the non-Trump Republicans? Like, who are the people that they should try to appeal to?

ANDERSON: So, they should be looking to appeal to folks, if we're looking demographically, college educated Republicans in particular are ones who maybe did financially pretty well under Donald Trump, they probably liked his economic agenda quite a bit, but are turned off in terms of style. In my polling, you can even look at groups like evangelical voters who have typically actually gravitated toward Donald Trump because he said, I'm going to appoint the judges that you want, et cetera, if you segment them out by education, non-college educated evangelicals, that's a pretty big piece of Donald Trump's base. But college educated evangelicals were actually able to be peeled away by someone like a Ron DeSantis or maybe even a Nikki Haley.

TAPPER: Are there enough of them, you think?


BEGALA: No, because he's so dominant with non-college educated voters. When he won the New Hampshire primary, he won non college educated Republicans by a margin of 28 in a field of 11. Nobody else got more than 14. And then the next one in Nevada, he won by 37 non-college voters. And that's when he famously said, and I'm quoting him here, I love the poorly educated. One of the great Trumpisms ever.

TAPPER: Well, but he has a point. So one other last thing of a bit of business. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has finally announced that she is not going to run for re-election. This sets off, obviously, a scramble. We know that Congressman Adam Schiff and Congresswoman Katie Porter have entered the race. Congresswoman Barbara Lee is expected to join as well. Do you think anyone is a favorite?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right now, I'm not sure that one of those three is, I mean, we know that Katie Porter and Adam Schiff are really great at fundraising and they are powerhouses in that at getting attention. Schiff is clearly going to be running more on his January 6 committee experience, whereas, Katie Porter is going to be kind of running a war and esque, I think, campaign statewide, no matter what.

As Paul and I were talking earlier, it's going to be a more progressive candidate, I think that emerges ultimately than Feinstein was.

PHILLIP: And worth noting that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already endorsed Schiff. So the Democratic establishment is really lining up in their camps pretty early in this race. And Barbara Lee is going to be making the case. That's one of those Senate seats in California used to belong to a black woman who is now the Vice President.

And there's a real desire to have that piece of history be in the Senate again. I just don't know if it'll be enough, given the demographics --

TAPPER: Thanks to all.

Coming up next, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Guptas on the ground in Turkey. Where more than eight days after that deadly earthquake, people are still being found alive in the rubble. We're going to take a look at some of the medical miracles among the death and destruction. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, the death toll from the earthquake in Turkey and Syria has surpassed 41,000. The number is so big, it's hard to even understand. And yet we are also still seeing and hearing stories about people being found alive in the rubble.

This remarkable video shows the moment of survivor who had been trapped in the rubble for more than eight days, made contact with rescuers by waving at their camera earlier today. Also today, two brothers, ages 18 and 20, were pulled out of a collapsed eight story building in Kahramanmaras.

In the same city, a few hours later, a 35-year-old woman was rescued alive. Many of the rescue teams who have come from around the world, including from here in the United States, are bringing their much- needed experience to this humanitarian crisis.

Here's CNN's Jomana Karadsheh.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Deep in the heart of Turkey's disaster zone, these Americans are in a mission like no other they've known. As soon as the earthquake hit, volunteers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department say they just knew they had to be here.

MIKE LEUM, MONTROSE SEARCH AND RESCUE VOLUNTEER, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: The type of thing that we feel strongly about because we volunteered to do search and rescue back in America. And so, it's one of the things that's just burning in our heart to get out there and help people if we can.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): They do mountain rescues, have responded to hurricanes and even traveled to Ukraine. They've never seen anything on this scale before.

COLIN LIEVENSE, MONTROSE SEARCH AND RESCUE VOLUNTEER, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: I mean, the destruction here is incredible. There's -- we're in one city right now where there's -- you know, we could go to each and every building and just know that there's someone that needs help there, and there's not enough people to help them. Even though there's over 100,000 rescuers, they would need a million. And this is just one city.

LEUM: Yes.

LIEVENSE: -- in a very large picture of Turkey.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): On Monday, they helped rescue a 17-year-old boy, the third life they've saved this past week in hard hit Hatay. But there's just so much to do here.

LIEVENSE: We were looking at a pile of rebel the size of this building behind me, and we're standing there just on a pile of rocks. We knew there were hundreds of people underneath us, and getting to them is just near impossible.

LEUM: This is where we feel helpful and -- because so much devastation is being witnessed.

LIEVENSE: It breaks our hearts.

LEUM: There's been times, though, you know, complete happiness and joy because of people being found. So it's a rollercoaster of emotion.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): The group says they're only here to support the people of Turkey reeling from their deadliest earthquake.

LIEVENSE: The people of Turkey are doing the hardest thing they've ever had to do. They're having to unbury their own community, their friends, their loved ones. Some of the people that we're working with lost their entire family, and they're helping to dig out --

LEUM: And then to get out of here.

LIEVENSE: -- and they're helping to dig out other people's families.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): There's no giving up. Everyone here is searching for a 70-year-old grandmother. Just one mission in one city, in one massive earthquake zone.


KARADSHEH: And Jake, when the team came out here, they didn't really know what they're going to be doing, their EMTs. They thought they would be setting up at a field hospital, but they were diverted towards search and rescue because this is where they were needed the most. They tell you that they are -- they don't do urban search and rescue. They don't have the right equipment.

But their work has made a difference, as has the work of other teams that have come in from around the world. And we saw today in that one neighborhood how much people appreciated having them there and how grateful they were for them being there with the Turkish people. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Jomana Karadsheh in Adana, Turkey. Thank you so much.

As we said, even though the earthquake happened more than eight days ago, rescuers are still finding survivors in the rubble, miraculously. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is on the ground in Turkey. Sanjay, how do people survive so many days later, trapped without food and without water?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is pretty remarkable. I mean, you know, first of all, the number of people who've died, as you said, 41,000. That is hard to get your head around.


But there's been some 85,000 people who have been injured in need of medical care. They are the survivors. And it's pretty extraordinary. You know, typically when you think about the needs of somebody who's trapped under the rubble, water, 100 hours, maybe going without, that would be the max.

One of the things that's happening here is because it is so cold outside, it's dropping below freezing. That's sort of a double-edged sword, Jake. One hand, it reduces the need that may -- one may have for water, but obviously makes it difficult just in terms of the overall conditions.

I will say 90 percent of people typically are rescued within the first 24 hours. If you start to look beyond that, then the sort of maximum time to rescue after that is about six and a half to seven days, you know. So we're just beyond that at this point now.

It's going to -- you know, they're going to see, obviously, the rescue mission still continue. Sometimes people have pockets of water that may help, but there's all these different conditions that are sort of, you know, adding to the mix here, Jake.

TAPPER: So you're in Turkey, in Adana. Tell us what you're seeing.

GUPTA: Well, you know, when you talk about, as you were just hearing, the scale of things, so many people who are in need of medical care, many of the hospitals in the area were destroyed as well. But one of the largest trauma centers is in Adana, which is part of the reason that we're here.

They have seen some 5,000 patients over the last seven days. This is, you know, nothing like they've ever seen before. I had a chance -- they gave us this incredible access, I had a chance to talk to the chief of staff of the hospital, asking him basically how they were coping, what they were seeing. Here's what he said.


GUPTA: Have you ever seen anything like this? Has the hospital ever been this busy before?

DR. SULEYMAN CETINKUNAR, CHIEF OF STAFF, ADANA CITY TEACHING AND RESEARCH HOSPITAL: We lived in COVID pandemic in this hospital two years ago. And again, our stuff is very successful for managing the pandemic situation.

GUPTA: That was busy for the pandemic, but this is --

CETINKUNAR: Traumatic pandemic. I called it now traumatic pandemic. It's a little bit more difficult than COVID pandemic.


GUPTA: Just a few minutes into our conversation, they were all page, Jake, to go to the helipad because another person came in. This was a 26-year-old woman. I don't know if you're seeing this footage, Jake, but she had just been rescued a couple of hours earlier. She had soft of a what's called a classic crush injury, meaning her limb, her leg in this case, was pinned underneath the rubble.

And when that happens, all these toxins can build up in the limb. And when you take the pressure off, those toxins can sweep into the blood supply. So you have to get somebody care right away. Give them IV fluids. And in her case, she's going to need dialysis. But that happened while we were there, and, you know, we're day eight now, Jake.

So, as you heard, the rescues are continuing. Many of those patients are coming to hospitals like the one you just saw there.

TAPPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Adana, Turkey, thank you so much.

Coming up, the government says the area around a toxic train derailment in Ohio is perfectly safe. But why are there reports of thousands of fish in the area dying? Activist Erin Brockovich weighs in next.



TAPPER: It's been nearly a week since the evacuation order was lifted in East Palestine, Ohio, where a train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed on February 3. You might remember, three days after the derailment, fearing an explosion, authorities controlled what they called a controlled release of the toxic chemicals.

They burned off, which created a massive black cloud over the town. And while the EPA has tried to reassure the public that the air and water in the area are safe, not all residents are convinced. They are incredibly concerned about the long-term potential impacts, both on the environment and the economy.

CNN's Jason Carroll is in East Palestine, Ohio. And Jason, Ohio, Governor DeWine gave an update on this just a short while ago. What did he have to say?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He did, he did. And one of the headlines coming out of this update from the governor as well as state health officials, Jake, is that they're now strongly recommending that those who evacuated and returned home, some of those folks, they're saying you should be drinking bottled water until further notice.

This is especially true, they say, of pregnant women and also women who are breastfeeding. Also included in that are folks who have private wells. And so this announcement just coming out just a short while ago, they're saying that again, most of the contaminants have been contained, but they want to wait for more testing to come back from the municipal testing that is still outstanding.

So right now, in terms of the cleanup effort, they're focused on four waterways. They do say that since the train derailment and since the controlled release, they say that now an estimated 3,500 fish have died from 12 different species. We've spoken to a number of people here on the ground who are hearing about all this information.

They are extremely frustrated and quite frankly, really worried about their safety. The governor was asked about that. He said if he lived in the area, would he feel safe being at home?


GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R), OHIO: I think that I would be drinking the bottled water and I would be continuing to find out what the tests were showing as far as the air. I would be alert and concerned, but I think I would probably be back in my house.



CARROLL: Again, state officials say the air quality is safe. They are still waiting for some more test results on the water quality, but a lot of people here feeling very unsafe at the moment. Jake?

TAPPER: Yes, understandably so. And the town is inviting members of the community to get together tomorrow. What do we expect at that?

CARROLL: From everything that we've heard here in the ground, expect a lot of fireworks. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Jason Carroll in East Palestine, Ohio. Thanks so much. Another person who's been following this disaster closely is consumer advocate and environmental activist Erin Brockovich. Erin, welcome back to THE LEAD. The EPA has tried to reassure residents of the East Palestinian Ohio area that any immediate danger has passed. But government officials confirmed approximately 3,500 fish have died in Ohio's waterways after the derailment.

When asked about those deaths and reports of people getting headaches and sore throats, the health director for the state of Ohio says it doesn't look like air quality is to blame. What do you make of all this?

ERIN BROCKOVICH, CONSUMER ADVOCATE AND ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST: Oh, my gosh. Well, after just listening to that report, just kind of goes to show the delay of information that's getting out to the people and addressing their concerns. Since this happened on February 3rd, I've been hearing from the community as early as February 4th about children having breathing issues, on set of asthma attacks, rashes, projectile vomiting, getting evacuation orders, not knowing where to go to shelter in place.

A lot of confusion, a lot of miscommunication, if no communication. Here we are 10 days out, and now you're just hearing the governor, as your reporter just stated, now there's an issue with don't drink the water. This is precisely what's concerning this community, because all the information isn't in yet.

Look, it was a trained derailment, 10 cars of a very hazardous chemical, vinyl chloride that was set to explode, that they put into a controlled burn, and the information isn't all in. So what assurance are you going to give this community that it is, in fact, safe, which has been their concerns all along, and now we're hearing drink bottled water.

So this is a bad situation for this community, and they have every right to be concerned. And the reports go on to animals that have died, chickens that have beyond the fish. This is so mismanaged and such a systemic issue going on in all of these environmental issues that aren't being addressed. And leaders really need to show up at that town hall and be present and hear what's happening to that community. So it's very frustrating and concerning.

TAPPER: The Ohio, EPA says it's not sure how much of these chemicals spilled into the soil or the water. They also acknowledge that the cleanup and monitoring of the derailment site could literally take years. Is this an indication that people should not live in East Palestine, Ohio, or the surrounding area?

BROCKOVICH: That's exactly what the community wants to know. And as long as this information isn't given to them, full transparency. Whether you do or don't know something, you leave them in a horrible, vulnerable position to return to an environment that is unsafe and that is absolutely unacceptable from local, state and any federal authority.

Look, this community wants to believe that the oversight is protecting them, but we're hearing way too many stories how long it could be for cleanup. We don't have all the data yet. Don't drink the water. Why would they want to live there?

TAPPER: So you --

BROCKOVICH: At this point, I don't think there's faith or trust, Jake --

TAPPER: Yes. You've been calling --

BROCKOVICH: -- in what the government agencies are telling them.

TAPPER: You've been calling on the Biden administration to better about communicating with the residents of East Palestine, Ohio, who, as you notes, feel that as though they've been left in the dark. What should the Biden administration, what should the Biden EPA do differently?

BROCKOVICH: Show up and hear that community, see that community, listen to that community. Go out there, find the dead animals, do the testing. Start doing water testing and being transparent with them. Look, by not showing up, by not addressing this, a national trained derailment of very hazardous information.

You do nothing but create a vacuum of an upset community, a misinformed community, a distrusting community, and it adds to rumors, speculation, losing trust, and a lot of theories.


Show up and answer their questions. Be present. Act like you care about what's going on in your backyard in this country and be involved and not just sit there and give them a bunch of misinformation and then you wonder why they're frustrated. Show up.

TAPPER: What are you expecting at the open house, the town hall tour tomorrow?

BROCKOVICH: Well, so, right before we came on, I've heard that they've changed that town hall, which would be a format for the community to ask and get questions answered. It's been turned into an informational desk where you can go and get information of which I understand Norfolk Railroad will be there. That just small (ph).

The town hall isn't going to be what is expected. So I expect there will be even more outraged and upset citizens who now aren't going to get their questions answered. Rather, the narrative will happen for them instead of us hearing their narrative, what happened to them.

TAPPER: Erin Brockovich, thanks so much, as always.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to THE LEAD from whence you get your podcasts. It's all two hours sitting there like a giant plum.

Our coverage continues next with Brianna Keilar, she's in for my friend Wolf Blitzer in a place I like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM".