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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Sen. Joe Manchin to Speak At No Labels Event; Trump Planning To Expand Presidential Powers If He Wins; Asa Hutchinson Is Interviewed By Jake Tapper On Presidential Bid; Crime Bridge Attacked By Ukraine, Russia Ends Grains Deal; Judge Overseeing Trump's Classified Documents Case To Discuss Trial Date; Judge To Discuss Trial Date During Tomorrow's Hearing In Trump Classified Documents Case; Official: Flood Evidence Surfaces Since Suspect Arrest; Canada Experiencing Its Worst Fire Season On Record. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 17, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: This hour, a flood of new evidence has come in tied to the suspected Long Island serial killer, according to the district attorney, and now, police are searching the suspect's home to see if he kept anything from the victims.

Plus, it will be harder to breathe again in a large swath of the United States due to smoke from those Canadian wildfires that have now burned an area larger than the entire state of Ohio. When will these fires go away? When will they burn out?

Leading this hour, however, with the 2024 race and a preview of what a second Trump White House might look like. "The New York Times" reporting that Donald Trump plans a, quote, "sweeping expansion" of presidential power if he occupies the Oval Office again, intending to bring independent agencies directly under his control. This comes as the Republican presidential race is heating up with only 37 days to go until the first GOP debate.

One Republican candidate, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, will join me live in just moments. But first, on the Democratic side, an appearance by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is terrifying Democrats and sparking speculation of a White House run for Manchin on a third-party ticket. CNN's Jeff Zeleny is in Goffstown, New Hampshire, ahead of the No Labels event -- that's the name of the group. And this is expected to start at any moment.

Jeff, Senator Manchin has poignantly refused to rule out a presidential bid or an independent ticket. Democrats must be nervously watching this No Labels event for a potential announcement.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, there's no doubt that Democrats, particularly the White House, are watching carefully the No Labels movement. This has been a movement underway for more than a decade or so in Washington, promoting bipartisanship. But, tonight, here outside Manchester, New Hampshire at St. Anselm College, where many presidential candidates have stood in this very room to give presidential speeches, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is coming.

He's not yet said if he's running for re-election to the Senate. He also has not ruled out a third-party presidential run. He'll be appearing on stage behind me here with former Utah Governor John Huntsman. The two of them are the front men, if you will, for No Labels. That is the group that is promoting a unity ticket.

Now, they have not decided if they are going to go forward with this in 2024, and the reality is, they're only on the ballot in about five or six states, but by the end of this year, they are raising $70 million with the hope of getting on the ballot in a majority of states across the country. And that's exactly what is worrying some Democrats, because they believe that they realize that there's an enthusiasm gap for President Biden.

They realize that the idea of a rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump simply is not palatable with many Americans. So that's where No Labels is coming in. But one thing they are doing tonight is releasing a policy book. They're handing out these books to everyone. It's called a Common Sense Policy Book. They're really trying to strike a middle ground on abortion, on immigration rights, on gun rights.

But, Jake, it's more of a utopia in a deeply divided Washington. So, this is very much the prospect of what could come with a third-party ticket, but much has to happen between now and then. But Joe Manchin, he knows he's getting a lot of attention for this. Of course, he's famous for being a thorn in Democratic Party sides, so he'll be doing that tonight as well.

Again, he says he has no intention of being a spoiler in the 2024 race, but that's what many Democrats fear he could be if he moved ahead with this.

TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny in Goffstown, New Hampshire. Thanks so much. Also, on our "2024 Lead," presidential power may never look the same if voters put Donald Trump back in the White House. Trump and his allies are planning a major expansion of the powers of the executive branch. According to "The New York Times," those plans include bringing independent agencies under direct presidential control. That would include the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission and chiefly the Justice Department.

He also would refuse to spend money Congress has appropriated for programs he does not like and he would remove officials he does not like from intelligence agencies. With us now, Alyssa Farah Griffin, CNN political commentator and former White House communications director for the Trump administration. Alyssa, let's say it's 2025, Trump is president once again. What do you think it will look like if he is able to increase his authority over every part of government knowing what you know about him having worked for him?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, listen, Susan Glassner has a great analogy she uses in her book talking about the Trump time in office, where she compares him to a dinosaur in Jurassic Park learning to open the door, saying he could be more dangerous in a second term because he understands how the machines of government actually work. And I've warned about this. I can confirm everything that's in that "New York Times" piece, because most of it was stuff that the former president wanted to do in his first term.

The aides, like myself and others, talked him out of, and at the time, the argument was, this is too unpopular with the public, you need to focus on your re-election. But one that stands out to me, and I've kind of been raising alarm bells about, is this effort to basically eliminate the civil service, or basically make it so it's so much easier to fire career subject matter experts. That is an effort to make the government purely partisan and staffed with loyalists who are going to carry out his agenda.


And having been in the Trump White House during COVID, I can't even really express how dangerous that would be had we not had experts there. So, this is incredibly important reporting people need to pay attention to.

TAPPER: So, one of the people mapping out this new approach is someone you know, former Trump White House aide, John McEntee. He was the personnel chief. Here's what he told "The New York Times," quote, "Our current executive branch was conceived of by liberals for the purpose of promulgating liberal policies. What's necessary is a complete system overhaul," unquote. Do you think the system needs an overhaul?

GRIFFIN: No. I think Johnny McEntee needs a civics lesson. There's nothing conservative about trying to strengthen these -- trying to, like, increase the power of the presidency and the executive branch. I'm old enough to remember when I was working for conservatives on Capitol Hill and we wanted to rein in the executive branch from overreach. What's laid out in "The New York Times" reporting is the opposite. It is making the president significantly more powerful than the co-equal branches, the judiciary and the legislative branch.

And it's kind of being pitched under the guise of dismantling the administrative state, something that is popular with conservatives, but that's not in fact what Donald Trump wants to do. He wants to basically strengthen every agency with loyalists to him, staff them with loyalists to him, and then bring any independent agencies under his purview so he has more authority over them.

TAPPER: Well, I mean, the slippery slope of it is, even if you, for instance, think that Donald -- you want to give Donald Trump that power, not you, but somebody watching, wants to give Donald Trump that power, and then Donald Trump gets the power and he gets to take away CNN's license to broadcast or -- actually, I don't think we're regulated by the FCC, let's say he takes away CBS's license to broadcast, CBS News. Well, guess what? There will be a Democratic president at some point. Does he get to take away someone else's? I mean, that's how it works, right?

GRIFFIN: Well --

TAPPER: I mean, once these standards go away, they go away for everybody.

GRIFFIN: And by the way, the press will come under attack. I don't know -- this wasn't in the reporting, but CNN's Kaitlan Collins knows well that the former president -- when Trump was in office, he wanted to eliminate seats from the press briefing room. He wanted to relocate the press into a completely different part off the actual White House campus to create, you know, to take away that era of being able to oversee and report on the comings and going.

So, there'll absolutely be impacts. It's not dissimilar, frankly, from the argument that Mike Pence could overturn the elections because, okay, if you want to set up that precedent then you're saying Vice President Harris can as well. It's not conservative, it's not Republican and folks need to pay attention to it.

TAPPER: Well, it would have been interesting news for Vice President Al Gore that he could have sent Florida back to the states and declared himself president. Thank you so much Alyssa Farah Griffin. I really appreciate you're talking to us.

Here now, Republican presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson, former governor of Arkansas. Governor Hutchinson, you released a new federal law enforcement proposal today which would increase transparency in government institutions, many of which have lost public trust. One element of your proposal is to quote, "reaffirm the critical relationship between president and attorney general, emphasize the oversight rule of the attorney general and the non-interference principle of the president in specific investigations."

For those of us who believe in an independent Justice Department, that's music to their ears, but that's the exact opposite of what we're hearing from Donald Trump in this reporting who wants less independence from the Justice Department, from the FCC, the FTC. What do you make of that?

ASA HUTCHINSON, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Donald Trump has undermined our rule of law. He's undermined our law enforcement agencies. And sure, there were abuses back in 2016 that required changes. Christopher Wray has made some transformation, but I've laid out here the broadest and most comprehensive reform of federal law enforcement in my lifetime.

And I was there when Ronald Reagan moved the FBI into drug enforcement. I was there whenever George W. Bush changed the FBI, so under Attorney General Ashcroft, they would be engaged in intelligence collection and not just prosecution. So, I've seen those changes. What this does is it makes our federal agencies more focused, more accountable, and more transparent. And that's the key thing under our -- whenever they have such power, we want to make sure there's good checks and balances in place.

We're going to narrow the jurisdiction of the FBI. We're going to bring the FBI more in -- under the Department of Justice so that they're not flying as a totally independent agency, but they're woven into the Department of Justice. We want to maintain the Justice Department's independence in terms of investigations on singular cases that are not interfered with by the White House, but it's also simple things like the FBI.


Let's make sure that they record interviews as a general rule versus relying upon an agent hand transcription of it in a notebook.

TAPPER: It's ridiculous when everybody's phone can record everything.



HUTCHINSON: And that is a rule that they've had forever. It needs to be changed. I'm advocating that. We're taking drug enforcement away from them so that they can be more focused on counter-terrorism and those missions. And so, this will be more effective in fighting fentanyl with one agency as the key lead coordinating those efforts.

TAPPER: Very interesting. Let's talk about your campaign which reported about $500,000 in contributions in the second quarter. Just under 7,000 people have donated. You need 40,000 obviously to qualify for the debate stage. It's disappointing for people who are rooting for you out there, it's a disappointing financial disclosure. What's going wrong?

HUTCHINSON: Well, we've got to raise more money. We've got to get to the 40,000 donors. We've got a lot of things that are working to accomplish that goal and we're going to get there. We just need a lot of help to get there for that 40,000. You know, to put it in perspective, I have 3,000 donors as governor of Arkansas in a small state, I've got to go to 40,000. You have 500 new donors every day. That doesn't get you there. You have to have more. That's why ASA is important. Help us out if you want us on the debate stage.

TAPPER: You spoke at the Turning Point Action Conference on Sunday. Other candidates who spoke were Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Donald Trump, but it seemed like anybody not named Donald Trump had a hard time breaking through with that crowd. Why do you think that's the case?

HUTCHINSON: Well, you had some adults in the room that were a little bit loud, but you looked at all of the college kids, they were listening. And that's who the audience was that I was speaking to, thousands of them. And it's actually inspiring to see them engage. You want to encourage that engagement. I say we have to be respectful of other people's ideas, but I'll go to any audience that allows me to make my case and defend my ideas.

And if I'm right that Trump is not going to be our nominee, then this audience becomes even more critical to make your case to. And so, I'll go there, I'm proud to go there, and you got to take a little booing every once in a while, if you're running for president and we can handle that.

TAPPER: Right. Welcome to the NFL. You also made an appearance this week at the Family Leadership Summit where you defended your veto. There's Tucker Carlson asked you about your veto of a 2021 bill in Arkansas that would have banned transgender health procedures for minors. You've said that you don't believe minors should have transgender surgery, but you thought the legislation went too far by interfering with parental choice.

It's something of a nuanced take in this day and age of politics where you're saying I don't agree with this but parents have the rights not me. Is there a place for that take in today's GOP?

HUTCHINSON: Well, we'll see but I hope what people see is that I'm an independent thinker. I evaluated this and there's a gray area that you've got to draw a line. I thought this went too far. The courts have held it unconstitutional and that parents have the key responsibility here.

Obviously, you've got to draw the line even with parents, but when you're talking about medical care, whether you're talking about vaccines that the children take or whether you're talking about the most sensitive issues that they face, you know, in gender, then the parents have a big role to play.

So, I sided with parents, I sided with the Constitution, the courts upheld that. But there's areas of disagreement here. I explained my position. We talked about a lot of other things there including the Mexico and how you go after the cartels and how we address the fentanyl crisis. But, you know, the controversy one gets the most attention.

TAPPER: Yeah, guilty as charged. Ten days ago, you slammed President Biden for bragging on the economy. You tweeted your own definition of Bidenomics, quote, "An economics policy of high interest rates, excessive government spending, inflation, and slow growth," unquote.

There was some good economic news last week showing inflation cooling and U.S. workers' wages finally outpacing inflation for the first time in 26 months. Consumers also more optimistic. Do you think that Biden deserves any credit for that?

HUTCHINSON: Well, whenever you're coming out of a pandemic and you have crushing job loss and you grow the economy, sure you can take credit for it if you want, we're still not where we should be. He was in South Carolina the same time I was in South Carolina. He was bragging on Bidenomics, he owns it, and I think it's going to be the key issue next year and families are still hurting. Even though inflation is down, it is still costing more than it used to for eggs and for groceries of every kind.


You've got the challenge of now interest rates, which, you know, whether it's a credit card bill or whether you're taking out a car loan, the interest rates are higher. And so, all of these things make it difficult for the families. And so, we want the economy to get stronger, but I think Biden's on the wrong side of that issue.

TAPPER: All right, Asa Hutchinson, former governor of Arkansas. Thank you so much. Good to see you, sir.

Tomorrow, here on "The Lead," I'll be talking to another 2024 presidential candidate. I'll be sitting down for an exclusive with Florida governor, Republican presidential candidate, Ron DeSantis. We'll be in South Carolina. You can see that interview tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. eastern right here on "The Lead."

Coming up, the deadly blast targeting the longest bridge in Europe and a key access point for the Russians. That's next.

Then there's a hearing in the Trump classified documents case and the judge says she will discuss one the most important aspects of the case, stick around.


TAPPER: In our "World Lead," a key bridge linking Crimea to Russia was hit in a drone strike by Ukraine earlier this morning. Russia says two people were killed while driving their car over the bridge. CNN's Fred Pleitgen takes a look now at why this bridge is so important to Putin.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Russian investigators at the scene of the blast on the Crimean bridge that killed the couple driving this car and wounded their daughter, also causing part of the roadway to collapse.


Russian President Vladimir Putin irate, vowing revenge.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translation): There will be a response from Russia to the terrorist attack on the Crimean bridge. The Ministry of Defense is preparing relevant proposals.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): A source in Ukrainian intelligence acknowledges Kyiv was behind the attack. The Crimean bridge connects Russia to occupied Crimea. Ukraine says cutting the roadway could hamper the logistics for Moscow's war effort in Ukraine.

Analysis of the operational situation and the traditions of warfare allow us to cut off the enemy's logistics routes, the spokesman for the SBU says. The Crimean bridge is currently one of the transportation corridors for military supplies for the Russian army.

It's not the first time the bridge has been hit. In October 2022, a fuel tanker exploded, severely damaging both the road and railway and causing a massive fire. A Ukrainian official only recently explicitly indicating Kyiv's involvement.

Russia now also announcing it is canceling a grain deal that had allowed for the safe transport of agricultural goods out of Ukrainian ports. The move could cause havoc on international grain markets, prices already surging. While the Kremlin says ending the deal is not related to the bridge attack, the E.U. and U.S. blasted the move accusing Moscow of weaponizing world hunger.

SAMANTHA POWER, USAID ADMINISTRATOR: This is a reckless decision that will have profound human consequences. And it's just another example of Russian callousness and disregard for human lives.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The Ukrainians say they want to salvage the grain deal but will also continue fighting hard to take all of their territory back, including Crimea, as Ukraine's president recently told our own Erin Burnett.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translation): We cannot imagine Ukraine without Crimea. And while Crimea is under the Russian occupation, it means only one thing. War is not over yet.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And Jake, the destruction of the bridge could become a big long-term problem for Vladimir Putin as well. In that meeting with Putin, the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia said he doesn't expect that bridge to be fully operational again until November 1st. Of course, all this as the Russians need all the supplies, they can get with the Ukrainians pressing that counteroffensive in the South, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much. We're just hours away from a new hearing in the Trump classified documents case and this hearing will give us our first real glimpse into how this Trump- appointed judge, Judge Cannon, will handle the case. We're going to go to Florida next.



TAPPER: In our "Law and Justice Lead" now, Judge Eileen Cannon is putting the special counsel's team and Trump attorneys on notice tonight, telling both sides to come to court tomorrow, prepared to discuss a date for Trump's trial into his alleged mishandling of classified documents. This comes after the Justice Department has asked for the trial to begin in December.

Trump's team has pushed to delay the trial until after the 2024 election. CNN's Paula Reid joins us now from Fort Pierce, Florida. Paula, walk us through this rather important court hearing scheduled for tomorrow.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, it is a really important hearing because this is the first time that both sides of this case will appear before Trump-appointed Judge Eileen Cannon. She's going to oversee this case and the decisions that she makes, both big and small, will have an enormous impact on the outcome of this case.

Now, tomorrow's hearing is supposed to be focused on how classified materials will be handled during this trial, but the judge has also said that she wants both sides to come prepared to talk about a trial date as that has been a hot topic in this case. There is a tentative date for next month, but that's not realistically when this is going to go to trial.

Jake, the special counsel has said that it would be ready to take this case to trial in December, but defense attorneys for former President Trump have said it's premature to even set a date. They would like to delay this until after the 2024 election. So, all eyes tomorrow will be on Judge Cannon and any indication she gives about which way she's leaning on the timing for this case. The other big questions are of course, will former President Trump be in attendance? He is not expected to be there and it's unclear if his co-defendant, Walt Nauta will attend.

TAPPER: And Paula, prosecutors are asking for a protective order over the classified information in this case. What would that do, a protective order like that?

REID: So, ahead of any trial, prosecutors need to share the evidence that they've collected with the accused as part of a process called a discovery. And in this case, of course, you have some materials that are classified. And prosecutors want the judge to agree on a set of rules for how those classified materials will be handled and the extent to which they can be shared with the defendants.

Defense attorneys, they say, have raised some objections, but it's not clear exactly what their objections are. But Jake, the longer it takes the two sides to agree on this process, the more likely it is that this will have the impact of delaying a trial. And of course, that is really a win for defense attorneys. So, once again, all eyes on Judge Cannon tomorrow and how she deals with all of these issues.

TAPPER: All right, Paula Reid, thank you so much. With us now to discuss senior legal analyst for CNN's Ellie Honig.


Ellie, as you've just heard Paula mention, Judge Cannon wants to discuss a trial date in tomorrow's hearing. What is the likelihood, you think, that Judge Cannon will actually set a date in tomorrow's hearing? And if so, would it be set in stone?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Jake, I think given this new reporting, it is now probable that Judge Cannon will set a trial date anytime between December, when DOJ is asking for it, or sometime thereafter when Trump's team has asked. Important to note, though, if we get a concrete trial date, write that one down in your calendar in pencil, not in magic marker, because federal trial dates get set and then move back all the time for any number of reasons. The other possibility is the judge may set some intermediate dates for discovery and motions and then say, we'll come back in a couple of months, I'll give you my ruling on motions, and then we'll set a trial date. Then those are the two options for tomorrow.

TAPPER: What does the precedent from other recent federal cases involving classified documents tell us about what would be perceived as a reasonable timeline between the time charges are brought and the start of a trial?

HONIG: So recent precedent actually favors Donald Trump here, Jake. DOJ indicted this case in June. They're asking for a trial date in December. That's six months. In his brief filed last week, Trump cited two recent federal classified documents cases, one of which took about a year and a half to get to trial, the other took three years. Now DOJ had a chance to respond. They cited two other cases, which took about nine to 12 months each.

So essentially, DOJ is now saying to the judge, we want Donald Trump to be given less time to prepare his defense than any other recent federal classified documents case.

TAPPER: Prosecutors are asking Judge Cannon to approve a protective order over the classified information shared in the case. Is that standard, and do you think the Judge Cannon will approve it?

HONIG: It's standard, and it's actually mandatory by law. The parties and the judge have to work together to come up with some way that those classified materials are going to be shared with the defense lawyer, the defendants, eventually the jury, and eventually the public. I think it's clear that Judge Cannon and DOJ want to get those rules in place quickly. And I think Trump probably sees this as another chance to drag his feet.

TAPPER: Interesting move today by the legal team for Jack Teixeira. For those who don't remember, he's the Massachusetts Air National Guardsman accused of posting a trove of classified documents on the social media sharing site Discord. Teixeira asked a judge to be released from jail, where he awaits trial. He says that he faces the same counts as former President Trump, and prosecutors allowed Trump to be released. Look, it's obviously not the same situation, but what do you make of his legal argument?

HONIG: Well, it is an interesting argument, Jake. What Teixeira is saying is, I'm a first time offender. Donald Trump is a first time offender. I'm locked up waiting for trial. Not only is Donald Trump released, he's not even released on bail conditions. He's just released on his own good word.

He's arguing that's unfair. DOJ is going to come back and say there's two reasons you can lock someone up pending trial. One is flight risk. And they argued that Teixeira, given his conduct, was a flight risk. And the second is danger to the community. And I think DOJ is going to say, when you look at the specifics of what Teixeira did, the way he disseminated sensitive documents to many, many people online, I think DOJ is going to argue that's a different scenario.

TAPPER: Yes, quite different cases. Elie Honig, thanks so much. Appreciate it.


A major update one state six week abortion ban, a judge just issued a temporary ruling that's next.

And then what police say they found in the basement of the suspected Long Island serial killer's home. As the district attorney says, there is a flood of new information coming in. Stay with us.


TAPPER: We have some breaking news for you now. A major development involving Iowa's new abortion legislation that just became law just last Friday. An Iowa judge is now temporarily blocking the new law that bans most abortions in the state after six weeks. The legislation came after Republican Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds called for a special legislative session last week with the sole purpose of passing the law. The judge's ruling means abortion will now remain legal in Iowa up to 22 weeks. At least 14 states have passed more restrictive abortion laws in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade last year.

In our Law and Justice Lead, today, police are sifting through a deluge of new evidence in the case of the suspected serial killer who lived among New Yorkers for a decade, including a hidden vault in Rex Heuermann's basement filled with hundreds of guns. Heuermann's Thursday arrest was the first in a cold case that confounded police for years known as the Gilgo Beach murders.

Court documents show that Heuermann lured, assaulted, and murdered at least three women, then buried their bodies in burlap sacks along the Long Island shore. CNN's Brynn Gingras is in Massapequa Park. Brynn police say they're also looking for items from the murders Heuermann might have kept. What kind of items might he have kept?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anything, Jake, anything that they can connect Heuermann to his alleged victims. That could be something that he took off them, possibly. They're looking not only in this home behind me, but also at a nearby storage facility. And Jake, we have been here all day today, and I can tell you this home where Heuermann lived with his wife and daughter, it's going to look a lot different than it did last week.

We have been seeing just items taken out and put into evidence. Office furniture, a Playboy magazine, guns, as you mentioned, an arsenal, according to authorities, of guns was found in the basement of that home. So there's just a lot of evidence that authorities are going to be sifting through. When you talk about those trophies, sources are telling us that's going to be a process, right?

If they find anything, not only do they have to run the forensics on possible, quote unquote, trophies that he might have kept, but they also need to show those right to the victims' families to see if anything has significance.

So this is a very much a long investigation that is continuing at this hour and will be continuing for quite some time. We're also learning, Jake, that his wife or again who he lived in this home, well, they're helping, they're cooperating with this investigation, Jake?


TAPPER: All right Brynn Gingras, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, John Miller. John, Suffolk County Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Carter says it's, quote, the worst case I've ever seen. He repeatedly described Heuermann as a, quote, demon. But this investigation is far from over, you say.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: You know, it may just beginning because as you see charges being brought in three of the murders charges may be coming in a fourth. There are a number of roads that they're going to have to travel down here, which is number one, can they connect with the physical evidence and forensics that they get out of that house, that they get out of that storage area, that they get out of other locations, that they may search this suspect to other bodies among the almost 10 that could fit into this pattern?

The second thing is, does a alleged serial killer stop killing when police find, you know, his burial ground, or does he keep going with a change of MO? Here's a guy who has a timeshare in Las Vegas, access to hunting cabins upstate, relatives that he visits down south. So what they're going to be looking at is what is his pattern of life, where has he been? And have people disappeared or vanished in those places? It's going to widen.

TAPPER: A source tells you that Heuermann asked about the news coverage of his arrest?

MILLER: When he was taken into custody, he was brought to the county jail. And there's an intake process that prisoners go through where they get their prison uniform and they're told the rules and where they're going to stay. And his question was, is it in the news? And the answer was, yes, it's in the news.

TAPPER: So you just were referring to the Gilgo four, the victims. It's just four of the 11 sets of human remains found along that Long Island beach. Given the evidence, what do you think the chances are that someone not connected to Heuermann was responsible for the other seven killing?

MILLER: You know, it's a really interesting question, Jake, because, you know, on the face of it would be highly unusual for someone to select a desolate burial place for four victims and have other people select the same place and bury or conceal other bodies there. It's not usually a group dynamic between people who hide bodies, so there's that. But then there's also, frankly, in a highly suburban, densely populated area. It's one of the few desolate areas where from the road, you have a really good line of sight of anybody coming up on you in a car from either direction. So it's possible they're not connected, but they're going to have to go through the motions to make sure that they can eliminate all of them from this case as much as connect them.

TAPPER: So Heuermann pleaded not guilty on Friday. But it's just a fact that eventually many serial killers do confess to their crimes depending on how this case unfolds. Do you think Heuermann fits the profile of someone who might eventually confess? I mean, the evidence, if it is as presented, seems rather overwhelming.

MILLER: So it's based on the affidavit. It's a very strong case with connections in DNA and telephone records and an eyewitness and so on. But the first thing he did was not make statements to police. The second thing he did was to invoke his right to have an attorney, which is his right. So he is not one of those suspects who shrugs his shoulders and says, well, you got me, let me tell you the whole story.

If he opens up, if he is found guilty, if he admits that he's behind these crimes, that's much more likely to be at the back end of a process where he's going to try to get out of this by having his lawyer mount the best defense and point at other suspects, which we already got a hint of today from the attorney.

TAPPER: Well, what will his defense be, do you think? You talked about what the attorney suggested that he'll point to other people that were maybe sought. I mean, he'll say, yes, my client's DNA was on this victim, but that's because she was a sex worker and he availed here his self of that, but not because he killed her. What possible defenses could there be?

MILLER: Oh well, Jake, you know the trial dynamic. They'll bring in another DNA expert who will say that the testing was flawed or the chances are much less than described, they'll attack the evidence. And because this is a case that's gone on for a decade, they're going to be able in discovery to really have access to all of the suspects they've looked at before. And some of these suspects looked really good and were eliminated simply by the investigative process.


When they went to eliminate this suspect who had no criminal record, who hadn't been on their radar before, really March of 2022, they kept taking every step to eliminate him, and instead of eliminating him, they actually brought him close there. So the defense will take advantage of whatever information points in a different direction.

TAPPER: All right, John Miller, thanks once again for your expertise. Really appreciate it.

MILLER: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: More than 500 of the 900 Canadian wildfires are burning out of control as it's getting harder to breathe in parts of the United States. When will there be some relief? Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our Earth Matters Series today, smoke from hundreds of Canadian wildfires continues to blanket the skies from Chicago to New York, leading to new air quality alerts. About 900 wildfires rage across Canada, but what's driving them? CNN's Paula Newton is in Quebec with the latest on efforts to contain the blazes.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They've come all the way from America's Southwest --


NEWTON (voice-over): -- now here in northern Quebec's scorched lands joining hundreds of other American and international firefighters doing what they can to slow wildfires that just won't quit.

KROHN: At this point, we're just trying to secure the edge and make sure that the communities are safe.

NEWTON (voice-over): The Silver State Hotshot crew is looking for hotspots. They are firefighting crews specially trained and skilled now taking on Canada's record-breaking wildfires.

(on camera): I know you're from Montana, Big Sky Country, but this was a big fire.


NEWTON (on camera): It was a big territory.

KROHN: In the scope for us, in the states, this would be one of the largest fires ever to occur in the United States. So, yes, it's a giga-fire.

NEWTON (voice-over): The total area burned in Canada already has shattered records -- now 10 million hectares. That's almost 25 million acres -- an area nearly as large as the state of Ohio -- and still burning.

MATT RAU, INCIDENT COMMANDER, SOUTHWEST AREA INCIDENT MANAGEMENT TEAM: And when they burn like this there's no way to even put people in front of it to even stop the fire. There's no amount of resources on the ground or from the sky that's going to be able to stop one of these fires when they get the momentum.

NEWTON (on camera): As shocking and, frankly, unsettling as it is, this fire is just far too large to extinguish. In fact, the area already burned is larger than most countries on the planet. It means that not only does the fire burn but there is going to be a lot of smoke.

(voice-over): And that means many American cities could be shrouded in smoke on any given day for weeks or months to come.

RAU: Don't be surprised if it continues. And secondly, this is a problem that is going to go on into the future. When it's the year to burn and the conditions are right it's just going to continue to burn.

NEWTON (voice-over): Here in Quebec, many were evacuated within minutes as the flames threatened towns and fires burned with raging speed.

JIMMY SEABURN (PH), RESIDENT: (Speaking foreign language).

NEWTON (voice-over): Jimmy Seaburn (ph) is grateful to see American help. He says he had minutes to leave in June and was upset to leave behind the family pets. They were fine when he returned six days later but he fears his home will be threatened again.

(on camera): (Speaking foreign language). It's incredible but it's not normal.

SEABURN: (Speaking foreign language).

NEWTON (voice-over): He says it's not normal but cautions we should all learn to expect the worst from the weather now.

The rain helps. It has finally arrived in some places. But in the words of one Canadian official, it's like a drop in an otherwise empty bucket.

The mayor of this town, Chibougamau, says the rain is an answered prayer. She may not have to evacuate her town again. But they have to adapt, she says. No one imagined so much would burn so quickly.

NEWTON (on camera): Were you scared?

MAYOR MANON CYR, CHIBOUGAMAU: Currently, I wasn't scared. I was mad. And then I have to come down and say Manon, you have a job to do. And that's why I just -- I stayed calm and I said to my people let's be patient. Let's do it and keep it Zen.

NEWTON (voice-over): It may be difficult to stay calm as Mother Nature rages. The cliche applies here in every way possible. Canada is burning and it's out of the woods yet.


NEWTON: Jake, I know what you're thinking. It's raining, right? That should help. As I explained, though, not really. There are fires burning in this country from west to east. That means the smoke will continue to shroud those American cities from any direction, really? This is going to last quite a while. And Canadian armed forces are now deployed to the west to help with those fires that are now out of control. As officials repeated to me so many times, Jake, this is more than one country can handle.

TAPPER: Paula Newton in northern Quebec. Thank you so much.

Still ahead on The Lead, Ford is knocking thousands of dollars off one of its most popular vehicles. What's prompting that pricing scale back? We'll bring you the details, but first, here's CNN's Wolf Blitzer with what is next in The Situation Room. Wolf?


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Jake, we're going to discuss provocative new moves on both sides of the war in Ukraine with the top National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. I'll ask him about Ukraine's new attack on that bridge linking Crimea and Russia, as well as Vladimir Putin's decision to pull out of a critically important grain deal with Ukraine. And I'll try to pin down Kirby on when the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, may actually visit the United States after President Biden invited him there today. All of that much more coming up right at the top of the hour here in The Situation Room.


TAPPER: In our Money Lead, Ford is slashing prices on their electric pickup truck, the F-150 Lightning. Ford debuted the Lightning in 2021, retailing between close to $60,000 for the baseline model and 100,000 for the premium. The price update brings down the cost by nearly $10,000, with the basic now going for just under 50 grand. Ford says the price drop is due to increased plant capacity, scaling up production and lower battery costs.

Last month, the company received $9.2 billion of loans from the Department of Energy to build up their EV battery factories. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Bluesky, if you have an invite, the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. I'm also on Threads. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to the lead whence you get your podcasts. All 2 hours just sitting there like a delicious cheese sandwich in Columbia, South Carolina.


Tomorrow on the lead, don't miss my exclusive sit down with Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis from the campaign trail in South Carolina. That's only on The Lead at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. I'll see you tomorrow.