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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Hawaii Officials: Six Dead, Crews Still In Search & Rescue Mode; Hawaii Officials Update On Catastrophic Fires; At Least Six Dead In Catastrophic Hawaii Wildfires; Georgia Prosecutor Expected To Seek More Than A Dozen Indictments In Trump 2020 Election Case; Special Counsel Got Search Warrant For Trump's Twitter; CNN On Front Line Of Southern Ukrainian Counteroffensive. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 09, 2023 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Hawaii's governor says he expects loss of life from his state's apocalyptic wildfires.

THE LEAD starts right now.

State of dire emergency.


Unprecedented wildfires prompting evacuations in parts of Hawaii. Some locals opting to jump in the water as rescuers race to save lives. We're standing by to hear from Hawaiian officials any minute.

And escalating the 2020 election case in Fulton County, Georgia. Sources telling CNN more than a dozen people could soon be indicted as early as next week. Will Donald Trump be among them?

Plus, food prices, gas price, inflation all on the rise. Senator Elizabeth Warren will be here. We'll talk to her about what President Biden is doing right and doing wrong on the economy.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start this hour with the breaking news, violent and explosive wildfires in Hawaii fueled by strong winds from a hurricane 800 miles away. It is a situation so sudden and so catastrophic, on Maui, local officials say at least a dozen people ran into the ocean to try to escape the flames. And they went out so far they then had to be rescued.

Hawaii's governor said hundreds of families have been displaced and, quote, some loss of life is expected, unquote. Cell towers and 911 are out of service on Maui's hard-hit west side, compounding the difficulty for rescuers.

Right now, we're waiting a news conference, expected any moment from officials in Hawaii, and we're bring you that right when it starts.

But, first, CNN's Derek Van Dam takes a look at where this erratic disaster may be headed next.


DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): Hellish scenes of wildfires engulfing normally picturesque Maui. Powerful winds, associated with hurricane Dora, helping fuel the flames.

LT. GOV. SYLVIA LUKE, HAWAII: The fact that we have wildfire in multiple areas as a result of indirectly from a hurricane is unprecedented.

VAN DAM: Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke issued an emergency proclamation Tuesday. Governor Josh Green has been out of state but is returning tonight.

LUKE: It has turned very serious and very dire.

VAN DAM: She said the hospitals on the island are overwhelmed with burn patients and people suffering from smoke inhalation. Also, 911 cell and phone services are down, complicating evacuations.

LUKE: The Maui County has not been able to communicate with residents on the west side, Lahaina side. So we're dealing with -- because we're an island state, in addition to dealing with the disaster, we're dealing with major transportation issues as well.

VAN DAM: Right now, emergency response teams are working together to gain control of the island. The disaster wiping out power to around 14,000 homes and businesses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People sleeping everywhere.

VAN DAM: Also stopping air travel at the Kahului airport forcing several travelers to sleep on airport grounds. And according to Maui County officials, the U.S. Coast Guard has rescued at least 12 people from waters off Lahaina saying they jumped into the ocean to escape the smoke and fire conditions.

Some Lahaina residents comparing the scene to an apocalypse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People basically running for their lives.

VAN DAM: Many now saying they are homeless.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our house is gone. Everything that we had ever known is gone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone I know, in Lahaina, they're homes have been burnt down.


VAN DAM (on camera): Similarly to what Southern California residents experience with Santa Ana winds, the winds that rushed over Maui in the mountainous terrain there went through some basic thermo dynamic processes as they went up and over the mountains, they dry out, they warm up and they speed up. And as long as that hurricane continues to move away from Hawaii, it will impact this area with wind -- Jake. TAPPER: Derek Van Dam, thanks.

Let's go to Hawaii right now where officials are giving an update.

LUKE: -- as we monitor the situation and we have spoken to both mayors several times throughout the night and we have been working with not just the federal delegation, many of the state partners, many of the -- the industry leaders, thanks to Adjutant General Hara at HI-EMA.

You know, the point is a lot of residents in the state of Hawaii, when we are preparing for the hurricane, we expect rain, sometimes we expect floods. We never anticipated in this state that a hurricane, which did not make impact on our islands, will cause this type of wildfires -- wildfires that wiped out communities, wildfires that wiped out businesses, wildfires that destroyed homes.

We are learning and gathering information more and more and we just feel so sad and just great sympathy and prayers out to the people of Maui, the individuals who are impacted.


And Josh and I want to send our deepest gratitude to the mayors, both on Maui and the big island for working so hard. His -- they're both -- their teams and at the same time all of us are working very closely to ensure that the health and safety of our communities and members on all of the islands are protected. Today, we signed another emergency proclamation which will discourage tourists from going to Maui even as of this morning, planes were landing on Maui with tourists. This is not a safe place to be.

On certain parts of Maui and we have shelters that are over run and we have resources that are being taxed. We are doing whatever we can and the state is providing whatever support that we could to give support to both Maui and to the big island.

You know, Governor Green is cutting his trip short. He is en route. He will be back midnight. He is cutting his trip by a week and that tells you the magnitude of how grave we think this situation is. And we have been working all night to make sure that the situation is contained.

We are thankful to the mayors and we -- we are grateful to the federal delegation, we have already reached out to -- and they have generously provided support and so we are just thankful for many supports, but at the same time, you know, please reach out to people, I mean, we -- any time there is a disaster, any time there is things like this that happen to our community that shake our community, it's the community and it's our families and our people, it is our Ohana, that help each other and this is a time we need help.

We need to be -- standing together and we need to be brave for each other, but at the same time, you know, it's just with sadness and just -- we are just struck by the devastation felt in Maui.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mahalo, Acting Governor Luke. At this time, I would like to bring up Major General Ken Hara, adjutant general of the Hawaii State Department of Defense.


So, Lieutenant Governor Green appointed me as the overall incident commander for the state for this incident. However, I just wanted to stress that in accordance with Hawaii revised statute 127 Alpha, that we are in support of the counties and they are the lead.

It is very difficult because of the conditions last night, the high winds and the fire, we really don't have all of the details on exactly how many structures are damaged, but we do know power is out and having problems with water, and I'll let the county share the details of each -- each effects by island.

We did get support from the active duty military providing helicopters to Hawaii County and then I sent two helicopters over to Maui to do water bucket fire suppression missions. And additional guardsmen to assist with search and rescue, traffic control and security, and we're standing by as the lieutenant governor mentioned close coordination with FEMA for additional federal resources.

Based on the request for our visitors, to leave Maui, we worked with the Department of Business Economic Development Tourism and the Hawaii Convention Center, so if there is anyone that is traveling off of Maui to Oahu and do not have -- and was not able to get a hotel room, they could get lodging at the convention center.

We don't have any transportation laid out. We're working that logistics now. But if you could find your way to convention center, we could provide you shelter until you get follow on transportation out of the state of Hawaii.

If you need information, on the website, so and that is Hawaii spelled out, is Hawaii Emergency Management Agency's website and you could get the current information and that will be the core site for you to get accurate information. And the phone number is 808-733-4300. And again, 808-733-4300.

But we are in coordination working with our airline partners to try to get more flights, with the hotels so they could get room, so if any of the visitors would like to stay in a hotel as opposed to the convention center, then as a last resort, the convention center.


Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mahalo, Major General Hara.

At this time, I'd like to turn your attention to the screen electronically. And joining us today is Mayor Richard Bissen with Maui County. MAYOR RICHARD BISSEN, MAUI COUNTY: Aloha mai kakou. I would like to

first thank the lieutenant governor as well as the attorney -- the acting general for arranging this joint press conference.

We know there is a lot of interest in what is going on in our county and I would like to update everyone. As a result of three fires that have occurred, that are continuing here on our island, we have had 13 evacuations from different neighborhoods and towns, we've had 16 road closures. We've opened five shelters.

And we've, as a result of that, our west side of our island, Lahaina area was cut off. Only one road was able to be traveled in and out. Power was out to 2,628 customers. There is no power at our hotels. Or even at the shelters that we opened up on that side.

I'm sad to report that just before coming on this, it was confirmed we've had six fatalities that we were able to confirm. And we are still in a search and rescue mode. And, so, I don't know what will happen to that number.

We've had many dwellings, businesses, structures, that have been burned, maybe to the ground. Mostly in Lahaina neighborhoods and the Lahaina area.

We've also should have added multiple school closures. We're grateful to the DOE to allow us to use their facilities here in Maui to be able to house (INAUDIBLE). Over 2,100 people in shelters, and within those shelters, I mentioned to you, several that are unaccounted for in the sense that they are in their cars an do not come into the actual shelter.

We are grateful again for the assets that have been sent over to us by the state. Our federal partners, our county, partners and allies, we're grateful for the outpouring of assistance. At this time, we are battling and continuing to battle the fire. We now have helicopters that were unable to get up in the air yesterday that are now using water drops to help suppress the fire.

That's the latest information from Maui County. Thank you again for allowing us to address you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mahalo, Mayor Bissen.

At this time, I would like to turn your attention to Mayor Mitch Roth virtually from Hawaii County.

MAYOR MITCH ROTH, HAWAII COUNTY, HAWAI: Aloha. I would like to thank the lieutenant governor as well as the acting general for having this press conference today. Hawaii islands, we had three to five fires depending on how you count them. Right now, we are still battling three of those fires, pretty much well-contained. (INAUDIBLE) fire, we have some containment on there, however we do still have firefighters out there who still I'm hesitant to say we have it completely under control, including highways still closed from mile 6 to 17.

As far as the Mauna Kea resort fire, that is still being actively fought right now. I have just got word before going on that the -- that they opened the highway that was closed. So, we're still going and in that area. So, still under a red flag warning and we see that the winds coming up is very possible for planes to get sent out. We think we almost have things put out.

But right now, firefighters are out there working. We have our shelters open, (INAUDIBLE) center. I believe at this time, those are shelters are empty.

We appreciate all the support that people have given to us, especially appreciate the team work that we've received from our firefighters, federal partners, our military, ETA (ph), national guard, a lot of our private contractors who have been out there, state (INAUDIBLE) and others who have just reached out to help.


We're so thankful for that.

But at this time, you know, our thoughts and our prayers are with Maui and we're not out of woods yet. But I think the situation in Maui right now should take precedent over this. We'll answer any questions. Thank you.


At this time, I'd like to bring up Director Ed Sniffen with the Hawaii State Department of Transportation.


Absolutely horrific situation that we're trying to work through right now, and really, hearts and prayers to Maui -- Maui County.

We are strongly discouraging nonessential travel to Maui. But the airports are still operating efficiently.

Right now, last night, we had 2,000 people staying at the airport that got stuck because they couldn't get on the red eye or they're waiting for other flights to come in. We made sure that we processed them through this morning and working with our airline partners on all of that. There is another 4,000 visitors that we are expecting to want to leave the island, from the west side. So, Kahekili Highway is open on the back road to make sure that you could come from Lahaina or the west side into town to get to Kahului.

And the Honoapiilani Highway and the bypass are closed for operational or emergency responders only at this time. There is just a lot of poles down in different areas, and fires in different spots and it's dangerous to utilize that roadway.

But Kahekili is open. We expect everybody to use that to get into town -- into the airport area. Our airport partners are amazing. They've dropped fares an offered waivers to a lot of travelers to help everybody get off of Maui, so to make sure that we could move people to Oahu or get them home, whichever they'd like, to ensure that we could start using the resources to recover and focus on the residents of Maui in that area.

We'll keep updating on our web pages, the accessibility of our highways and if any impacts occur at the airports. I would recommend to everybody, any time we have travel like this that's -- that's impacted on one island, it's going to impact others. So, before you head down to the airport, if you're going to travel anywhere, if you head down to the airport, make sure you check in with your airlines, check in on the status of your flight to make sure it's on time. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mahalo, Director Sniffen.

Finally, I'd like to bring up Jimmy Tokioka with the state Department Business, Economic Development and Tourism.


As everyone has said, it is just incredibly sad day today. We've seen the devastation. We can compare it coming from -- myself coming from Kawai to Iniki. But the difference is nobody was prepared for this. You could see the hurricane comes, so I want to ask that as the administration, we're communicating with all of the people involved, from the federal government to the state government to the counties.

But to the visitors who are watching this, and looking for answers, we're going to ask for your patience, because this is a stressful time. None of us are prepared for this, but we're preparing very well for this and General Hara is at the command. So we have the confidence that he's handled these situations before.

In my -- in my role, we are preparing the convention center. And early this morning, even prior to the proclamation for support at the convention center, we set it up to potentially accommodate 4,000 people.

They're cooking food. The preparations are there. The Red Cross is going over and setting all of that up. But it is -- it is a tall task.

The city buses will be transporting people from the airport to the convention center and we're working right now with the airport and the city to accommodate those -- that transportation for the visitors that are coming.

But I also want to say, it's not only for the visitors. Local people have lost everything. They've lost their house, they've lost their animals and it is devastating. So we're -- we are also reaching out to local people that the shelters on Maui may be full but you do have an option here Oahu at the convention center. So I wanted to make sure that you knew that.

I particularly want to thank at the convention center, Kalani (ph), Kaanaana (ph), and Daniel, and Pili (ph) and Terry Orten (ph) for accommodating this. I don't think Kalani slept yet since we got the calls last night. And we also want to thank Jerry Gibson from the hotel association.


We will have booths set up there that will tell and inform guests that are coming what the hotel status is, what the rate is and the hotels that have occupancy.

So on behalf of DBEDT and Hawaii Tourism Authority, once again, it is a sad day but we thank everyone for the cooperation, aloha and mahalo.


At this time, we'll open up for a live Q&A with the media and I'm going to repeat the question. I'm inviting Acting Governor Sylvia Luke, but either she or I will repeat the question so that everybody could understand.

So the first question is going to go to "Star Advertiser", Dan Nakaso.

DAN NAKASO, STAR ADVISER: Do you have -- an estimate of the fatalities. Were they drowning or were they fire related?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before you answer, Mayor, the question is around do we have an update on fatalities and injuries on Maui County?

BISSEN: You know, I don't have the specifics for those six confirmed fatalities that we have that was because I got that number just really literally the minute before we came on to this press conference. We've been trying to get that update this morning was first time that we were able to assess obviously during daylight hours what was happening and so that's based on that.

As far as injuries, we've had a few injuries. We sent folks to Straub (ph) and I'm trying to think about six or so, not all were burn related. Three of them were. And we also had a firefighter that suffered smoke inhalation, that firefighter was also treated and I believe transported over to a hospital over on Oahu, but is in stable condition. So we did have some injuries as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor, the next question comes from -- if you could repeat your question.

REPORTER: Yes, this is for Mayor Bissen. Do you have an estimate on the number of businesses and homes impacted?


BISSEN: I'm sorry. You want to repeat the question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The question is how many businesses have been impacted?

BISSEN: We don't have that exact number just yet. Again, we're still in the assessment phase this morning. Now that we have light, so I don't want to take a guess at the number. But it is quite, it is going to be a high number. Again, power is still out in that part of the island. There were 29

poles or 30 poles that were down, 29 in Lahaina itself. So we have not been able to restore that to get a better idea and the fire is still going on in Lahaina.

REPORTER: Our next question is from --

TAPPER: We've been listening to an update from officials in Hawaii as Maui deals with devastating wildfires. The mayor of Maui County announced that six people have been killed in the wildfires and search and rescue efforts are still underway. They have trouble getting helicopters up yesterday but they are up today.

Officials also say hospitals are overwhelmed with burn patients and those suffering from smoke inhalation. These violent and explosive wildfires are not under control on Maui, which is the second largest of Hawaii's 137 islands. These fires are being fueled by strong winds from a hurricane 800 miles away.

Let's bring in CNN's chief climate correspondent Bill Weir now, as well as meteorologist Chad Myers.

Bill, how unprecedented is this kind of situation in Hawaii?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jake, you could hear it in the voice of the lieutenant governor who was talking about the fact that we are prepared as Hawaiians out there vulnerable in the middle of the Pacific when it comes to hurricanes, they know what to do. But it comes to volcano eruptions on the big island, they know what to do.

But this fire moved so quickly and the pictures we're seeing now from the air really harken back to Paradise, California, which was almost completely incinerated by such fast-moving walls of fire. And people had nowhere to go on these coastal communities. There's usually a ring road and there is not a whole lot of place to get out and they have been just suffering, weeks of very dry windy conditions, low humidity there, the leeward side of the island is much drier than anybody had anticipated. And so, people just weren't ready for this and it is heart breaking.

Lahaina town is one of the most charming beach towns anywhere in the world. There's a massive big banyan tree in the center of town.


It looks like all of it was burned away there. The first season of "The White Lotus" was filmed in Wailea, at the Four Seasons. There's a fire near there and there's another third fire closer to the middle of Maui.

And you could tell they're just really just coming to grips with it now. So much wind and smoke that they don't have a full assessment yet.

TAPPER: Chad, we're told that the fires are made much worse by this -- these hurricane winds from 800 miles away. How soon might the strong winds die down?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I think they die tonight, probably down to around 40. Now, that is still a very gusty storm, especially when you have so many fires out there.

And it wasn't only the hurricane itself that was well south of there. But also this high pressure that was north of there. And this funneling effect right through the Hawaiian Islands and I don't know if you were watching any pictures at home when they had that fly over, it was still very smoky, but you could see all of the homes that were just no longer there.

In the overnight pictures that I watched earlier today, you could see just hot spots in the dark. And we were all hoping that those were just trees. But in fact, in those night time pictures, those hot spots from the fly over, on the drone video, those were homes and they are now completely gone. The videos that we were just looking at were almost unfathomable and the one little lieutenant there, I think he was, said this reminded him of Iniki.

I was on Kauai, at when it hit about three weeks after and that was absolute devastation. So if he's looking at this like Poiku (ph) was in 1992, that's how devastating this is at this point in time.

It is still windy and very dry. There will still be more threats of fires again tonight. Fire lines are so large right now, it is going to be very difficult to get every single one of the fires out quickly. And we are, of course, as Bill will tell you, in drought there in Hawaii.

TAPPER: Yeah. CNN's Chad Myers and Bill Weir, thanks to both of you.

Maui County's chief of communications and public affairs, Mahina Martin, joins us now.

Ms. Martin, thanks for joining us.

So, we just heard six people have unfortunately been confirmed dead. A horrible number. Do you expect that number to get even bigger?

MAHINA MARTIN, CHIEF OF COMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, MAUI COUNTY: I think these are early numbers. The daylight, as you heard, mayor said this is a pretty sad day with six fatalities. We're going to keep our thoughts on the families and it is important now that our efforts are geared up for understanding what else may be happening in those areas that were effected and as well as yesterday.

TAPPER: Crews are still in search and rescue mode, we were just told. How is that efforts going on as the wildfires continue to rage?

MARTIN: Well, these are still active fires. Search and rescue efforts will come in areas that are being safe and accessible for those crews. So, these are completely active fires. I think it is important to keep that in mind and it is going to be a case by case and area by area, neighborhood by neighborhood situation. TAPPER: 911 service and cell service has been out in West Maui. What

is the current status of emergency communications on the western part of the island?

MARTIN: On the western part of Maui, yes, 911 services remain very limited. You could use it on this side of the island but in Lahaina, in the areas, and those Maui district. Landlines could call a direct number to the fire station that we're providing. Cell towers unfortunately have been up and that's been very problematic.

TAPPER: And this fire seemed to move extremely quickly. Some evacuation orders came in the middle of the night. Did these fires come as a complete shock to Maui officials? The size and how catastrophic they seem?

MARTIN: Yes. The winds alone in one area on the mountainside of Hula, we have reports of wind gusts up to 80 miles per hour. Those rapidly spread the fire in the West Maui area in the mix of commercial shops as you saw some of the footage, are circulating as well as the residential areas, it's very quickly -- it's very, very unfortunate that we have three separate fires going on, three separate areas of the island. We deployed and it is been all hands on deck throughout the island for first responders.

TAPPER: All right. Mahina Martin, thank you so much. And, obviously, our thoughts and prayers are going to people of Maui. We're going to have much more from Hawaii ahead.

We're also following some major developments in the consequences facing those who tried to overturn the 2020 election. Sources tell CNN that more than a dozen people could soon be indicted in the Fulton County, Georgia, investigation.


Plus in a federal case, newly unsealed court documents show that the special counsel secured a search warrant for Donald Trump's Twitter account.

We have a busy afternoon here on THE LEAD. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome back.

We are going to continue our coverage of the violent and explosive wildfires in Hawaii. Officials confirming a few minutes ago that six people have been killed, though that number is expected to rise. Search and rescue efforts remain under way.

Let's bring in the director of operations for Air Maui Helicopters, Richie Olsten.

And, Richie, you flew over the devastation today, tell us what you saw? RICHIE OLSTEN, PILOT, AIR MAUI HELICOPTERS (via telephone): Well, we

wanted to see what kind of damage there was because we just saw bits and pieces on news last night from our homes. And so we thought we would fly over there and see if there was some kind of aid that our company could give to people on that side. But we were not prepared for what we saw. It was heartbreaking.


It looked like an air that had been bombed in the war. The devastation, the hundreds of home, an entire area burned to the ground, the historic area burned to the ground, the harbor burned to the water. It's just destroyed.

These historic buildings that can't be replaced. People that out of their homes, hundreds of people with no place to stay. Just -- I had two other pilots with me and a couple of mechanics and when we landed, we were just in tears. Our hearts going out to the people of Lahaina on that side of the island, and what they went through last night. They must have been terrorized as the flames swept through the town and they escaped to whenever they went to, the shelters. It was just -- it was devastating. It was -- in my 52 years of flying on Maui, I've never seen anything like that in my life. And, like I said, we weren't prepared to see that kind of destruction.

TAPPER: And -- I mean, are there hopes that the winds will die -- our Chad Myers, our weather guy told us that the hope is that the winds will die down this evening. I'm just wondering if there is any sort of hope in sight here beyond that?

OLSTEN: Yeah, we were -- there is a family praying for that to happen last night and right now, here at the airport, it's not as windy as it was yesterday and the day before. So the winds have died down a little bit. We're hoping that they're not going to pick up super strong again this afternoon and this evening.

And when we were returning from viewing the fire, wind ward aviation was on the way out there with helicopters with buckets to try to extinguish the remaining small fires in the fields above the town.

TAPPER: Richie Olsen, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

OLSEN: All right.

TAPPER: Turning now to our law and justice lead, more legal trouble could be brewing for Donald Trump and not only Donald Trump, but his allies.

CNN is reporting that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected to indict more than a dozen people as soon as next week. Willis has been investigating actions taken by Trump and his allies to try to overturn the results in Georgia in the 2020 election. In a state that Joe Biden won, including efforts to pressure election officials, a plot to put forward fake electors and a voting systems breach in one county.

CNN's Sara Murray joins us now.

Sara, indictments against more than a dozen people. So who might that include?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, look, she has a pretty wide scope for her investigation, so there are some familiar names I think we're looking for. Rudy Giuliani, Trump's former attorney, was told months and months ago he is a target of this investigation, same with David Shafer, the head of the Republican Party in Georgia who served as a fake elector.

And, of course, Donald Trump himself is at the center of the investigation. His team believes that he is going to be indicted for a fourth time. But again, there are people who were involved in the Coffee County voting systems that are worried they're going to be on list of people who could be charged, the people who pressured election officials, who have concerns that they could be among those charged. So, we will see what happens when she goes before a grand jury next week and makes her case, seeking these indictments.

TAPPER: Right. And this will be the first time Georgia charges are brought. We've had federal charges.

You're also learning that Fani Willis, the district attorney, has been eyeing conspiracy and racketeering charges. What might that indicate about the breadth of this case?

MURRAY: So, it allows her to charge multiple defendants and craft this narrative that it was part of a criminal enterprise and if she decided to charge Donald Trump, that Donald Trump was at head of it, and all of these efforts were essentially linked. So, it allows to you we've together a narrative of what happened around the 2020 election and also when you're looking at racketeering charges, they come with much steeper penalties than some of the underlying crimes, if you want to pressure a witness to flip, if you want to pressure, you know, a defendant to try to take a plea deal, this gives more leverage to the prosecutor.

TAPPER: Fascinating, Sara Murray, thanks so much.

And, of course, we also have federal charges against Donald Trump in our law and just justice lead. A newly obtained court filing show that special Jack Smith's team secured a search warrant back in January for Donald Trump's Twitter account. This is part of the investigation into over turn the election on a federal level. The search was so secret, Twitter was barred from telling Trump it was even happening.

Twitter, which we should note has changed its name to X, was fined $350,000 for delaying handing over its records to the special counsel. But the company, run by Elon Musk, ultimately did comply.

CNN's Paula Reid is here with us now.

Paula, break down the story for us. What kind of information were prosecutors hoping to gain from Twitter, from Donald Trump's Twitter account? I mean, the public posts are there. PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. It

suggests that they wanted something that was not public. But this opinion is clearly written to obscure what the specific request was beyond just data and records.


It's very clear that they did not want us to know. And it is also clear that there was some tension, the government being frustrated with Twitter for dropping hints in some of the hearings about what the request was and in Twitter then blasting the government for not being clear enough about exactly what it was they were seeking.

TAPPER: Why did Twitter run by Elon Musk, we should note, delay handing over records of Trump's Twitter account?

REID: So they did not appear to object to the warrant itself but they took issue with the secrecy, not being able to inform Trump about this warrant. They argued that was a violation of the First Amendment and the current laws that govern electronic communications and social media.

Now, one of the arguments that prosecutors made is they said, look, if he knows about this warrant, he could try to destroy evidence, or even flee. But when judge made their decision on this case, they did not take into consideration him being a real flight risk.

TAPPER: Why did prosecutors ultimately agree to allow Twitter to tell Trump about the search warrant?

REID: Eventually they felt enough was public about this investigation that it was okay to inform him about the warrant. But they were careful to try to protect the identities of investigators, and, Jake, that's what we see now in this eight months after the warrant was requested, there are concerns about former president lashing out at the people running this investigation.

TAPPER: All right. Paula Reid, thanks so much.

With us now to discuss, CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig.

Elie, what would prosecutors be looking for on Trump's Twitter account that wasn't already public in his tweets?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Jake, if it was just Donald Trump's public tweets, those are already publicly available, and you could get them by subpoena, which is a much easier method.

The fact that they went and got a search warrant tells me prosecutors were looking for something more. And that could include draft but unsent tweets and I base that on a couple of things. First of all, I know from my own experience prosecutors and investigators often want to look into draft emails, draft texts because you could get some valuable insight into a person's state of mind.

And second, if you look at the January 6 committee report, there are several mentions throughout their draft memos and draft documents because again they could be really revealing as to a person's state of mind.

TAPPER: Also, of course, DMs, I would think, any private messages in there, right?

HONIG: Right, yes.

TRUMP: And Trump reacted to the news of the search warrant of his Twitter account. He wrote, quote, just found out that crooked Joe Biden's Department of Justice secretly attacked my Twitter account making it a point not to let me know about this major hit -- hit in quotes for some inexplicable reason -- hit on my civil rights. Nothing like that has happened before. Does the First Amendment still exist, unquote.

Elie, as Paula noted, there are concerns about possible violations of his First Amendment, right?

HONIG: Yeah. But I don't think the First Amendment is going to be an issue here. First of all, prosecutors use people's statements, their public statements as evidence of crimes against them all the time. That's sort of evidence 101.

The other thing is the way prosecutors did that, they got a search warrant. Meaning they had to go to a federal judge, established probable cause. The judge had to then sign off on it.

And I should note, if Donald Trump wants to challenge this search warrant, he absolutely can do that. He could argue prosecutors improperly obtained the search warrant and improperly executed it, and it's not going to be a First Amendment question, it is going to be an evidentiary question but he'll have his chance to challenge this for sure.

TAPPER: Turning to Fulton County, you heard CNN's Sara Murray just report that Fani Willis, the district there in Atlanta, is expected to indict more than a dozen people, perhaps as soon as next week.

Are you surprised? What does that tell you about her case?

HONIG: I am a little surprised. It tells me that Fani Willis is getting ready to take a very broad, very aggressive swing here. And just for the sake of scale, Jack Smith has indicted one person, of course, Donald Trump, and he's named six other co-conspirators and that covers the entire nationwide efforts to steal this election and now we hear that Fani Willis is looking at indicting a dozen people, only relating to Georgia.

Now, part of that could be consistent with Sarah's reporting that some of the focus is on local officials who wouldn't necessarily be on Jack Smith's radar. But it is a very aggressive swing and indictment is the easy part for prosecutors. Hard part is whether she could back it up.

TAPPER: Do you think that we will see next week assuming the indictments come down, that 12 people charged in the same indictment or will they be 12 separate indictments maybe?

HONIG: Very interesting strategic decision. That is entirely up to the D.A. On the one hand, if you charge everyone together, you essentially eliminate any chance you have of trying Donald Trump quickly before the election because you're indictments is going to be so heavy, so over loaded with defendants.

On the other hand, if you split them into 12 separate indictments, you have a better chance of getting Donald Trump to trial quicker but you're asking for 12 separate trials. Each of the people is entitled to their own trial. You can group them together for a separate indictment. So tricky calculus to do here for the prosecutor.

TAPPER: Might it be, for instance, Donald Trump in one indictment and the fake electors -- I'm just making it up, I don't know -- but all of the fake electors in another one, and then co-conspirators in a third indictment?


HONIG: Great point. Absolutely, you could do Donald Trump by himself and group the others more than one at a time, sure.

TAPPER: Willis says it's going to take about two days for her to present her case before the grand jury. She's expected to start next week, Monday theoretically. Could we see these indictments announced as soon as close of business on Tuesday?

HONIG: Absolutely. And two days, that doesn't sound like a lot of time to present a case. You are allowed to summarize evidence in front of a grand jury. So, you don't have to call every witness individually. You could call law enforcement who could summarize vast amounts of information and all signs, Jake, are pointing to us getting word of this indictment quickly, if not immediately after its returned.

TAPPER: All right. Elie Honig, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Let's go now to the world lead, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy top met military commanders today to discuss their counteroffensive. He acknowledged that beating the Russians back has not been easy, and is progressing much slower than some, including the U.S. had hoped.

Ukraine forces are tasked with breaking through Russia's multi-layer defensive lines in the eastern and southern parts of the country. Those lines are riddled with tens of thousands of mines and vast networks of trenches like you saw in World War I.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is on the front where attacks are ramping up and a brief warning now, this viewer may be disturbing for some viewers.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The brutal work here, the world hasn't seen but wants results. From the west, they have words and weapons of support. But out here, it is them alone. In searing heat cloaked in dust, in the southern counter offensive near Orikhiv (ph), Ukraine has the initiative.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on Dima, fire!

WALSH: Yet, they have to shoot their way forward. Round by round.

The Russians are just past the building on the horizon.

Let's keep moving, guys. They're very anxious that we leave.

We're the first journalists to reach this part of Ukraine's counteroffensive push south towards Robatina (ph).

So, they're pretty sure the tank was spotted by the Russians. And so, now, we're moving fast out of here because they're expecting return fire.

The losses from their early assaults evident. This a destroyed U.S.- supplied Bradley armored vehicle.

This thick dust, these tankers moving forward to fire at Russian positions which they say are beginning to look in peril as Ukraine's southern counteroffensive pushed forward.

The 15th National Guard have lost many friends here, but also gained ground. It has been incredibly tough. But some faces we saw over the past week have brightened. Robatina has gotten closer.

Some of the assessment of their fight and the tools given towards it grates here. They're being expected to do things no NATO army would attempt with equipment they would scoff at.

The Humvee we travel in with tires so thread bare no American soldier would be expected to drive it. They have no time for arm chair assessments that they're failing.

VITALY, TANK OPERATOR, 15TH NATIONAL GUARD BRIGADE (translated): They are wrong. We have successes. It depends on how fortified they are. Above all, don't underestimate the enemy.

WALSH: And that underestimation is visible here, in the nearest town of Orikhiv, pummeled by the main problem, Russian air superiority, and the half ton bombs they drop.

At any moment, it may not matter how much cover you have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Su-35 jet in the air.

WALSH: In Moscow's warped world of targeting, it is these men, the military medics who feel hunted. The underground world in which they live is hidden as the last two triage points have been bombed, and then the three hours above ground, this is what happens.

This is rare footage of their front line rescues. The painkillers clearly not enough. Treatments given at up to 100 miles an hour. Over bumpy shelled roads, it seems miraculous anyone makes it. Sometimes they don't all come back.


On Friday, fellow medic Andrei, age 33, was hit by artillery. They buried him Monday.

EUGENE, MEDIC, 15TH NATIONAL GUARD BRIGADE: We went there immediately. Another team picked up the driver. And that was the hardest thing I ever did, pick up the body and deliver it to the morgue.

VLAD, MEDIC, 15TH NATIONAL GUARD BRIGADE: His family, his mother -- they are in temporarily occupied territories. They couldn't even come to the funeral.

WALSH: Down here, death is far too close and they seem to shut it out.

EUGENE: When they hit further than 100 meters away from us, we don't pay attention. If it's closer, we just laugh hysterically.

VLAD: I tell everybody, we will all die, but a bit later. Maybe in 50 years.

WALSH: And they need the war to end in months though, not years, before nothing but dust is left.


WALSH (on camera): Now, the medics you saw on that report, while they were treating casualties this morning, it appears people caught in another Russian minefield, troops that is. And also, too, in that town of Orikhiv, we spent a lot of time over the past months, a key center for humanitarian aid. That was hit in June where many lives were lost, the devastation there quite startling what these half ton bombs dropped by Russians.

One morning we were in there, 14 in one morning alone. The damage that's doing to that town -- Jake.

TAPPER: And, Nick, you are part of the only news media crew allowed in this part of the front lines. What did people tell you about this ongoing offensive?

WALSH: Look, it's rare to get a view of this part of the counteroffensive, the main thrust of what Ukraine is doing right here. Yes, they are pushing along the south but this is where the majority of the effort is, where all, frankly, of the chips are being laid down. When you hear all this criticism of Western analysts, this is and is going as fast as they would like, they're not feeling the pace of change they wanted or expected, NATO supplied arms would bring that, some of those arms are really as good as perhaps they said on the can. You saw the threadbare tires on the Humvee there. Imagine giving that to somebody in the 101st mounted.

But at the same time, they are dealing with extraordinary Russian airpower here. They do not control the skies. They're vulnerable to drones, Russian jets, missiles. We heard them ourselves. We saw the damage we can do.

No NATO army would try this without air superiority yet, somehow, there are those in NATO and the west hoping the Ukrainians can suddenly take on these new weapons and achieve the whole thing without controlling the skies. It's slow. They are dying. And I think at times they wish people were more patient about their sacrifice -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much for the remarkable reporting.

Also in our world lead, an answered prayer. American nurse Alix Dorsainvil and her daughter had just been released. Nearly two weeks after they were kidnapped in Port-au- Prince, Haiti. The community ministry El Roi Haiti where Dorsainvil works released a statement confirming their return. Gangs in Haiti frequently carry out kidnapping for profit operations, targeting local communities for ransom payments.

According to one report, there were 1,014 kidnappings in Haiti from January to June just this year.

Also in our world lead, 41 people reportedly died in a migrant shipwreck near the Italian island of Lampedusa. Four survivors told the Red Cross that the migrant boat left Sfax, Tunisia, several days ago and 45 people, including children, were on board when the boat capsized after being hit by a big wave, within an hour of departing Tunisia.

This is just the latest strategy amid a spike of people making the dangerous sea crossing from northern Africa to Europe. According to the Italian government, 93,754 refugees have arrived in Italy by boat this year. The United Nations estimates more than 1,800 refugees have been reported dead and missing so far this year.

Several developments we're following this hour. Those now deadly wildfires in Hawaii, six people have been killed.

Plus, that investigation in Georgia ramping up into efforts to overturn the 2020 election. More than 12 indictments on the way there. We're also just learning FBI agents shot and killed a man suspected of threatening President Biden. We'll have much more of the news ahead.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, gas prices are on the rise. Americans have more than $1 trillion in credit card debt for the first time ever and more people than ever are borrowing money from their 401(k) plans. But inflation is falling and the job market has been strong.

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts will join me live to discuss the economic disconnect.

Plus, CNN has learned that starting next week, more than one dozen people could be indicted in the Georgia election probe involving Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in that state. Is Donald Trump on this list?

But leading this hour, apocalyptic images from Hawaii where wildfires have killed at least six people in Maui County. Violent and explosive wildfires have torn through the island of Maui destroying homes and businesses.