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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Georgia Grand Jury Appears To Be Moving Faster Than Expected; Former GOP Legal Officials Endorse Special Counsel's Speedy Trial Date Proposal in Trump's January 6 Case; Hawaii Activates More National Guard As Wildfires Kill 96; Ukraine: 3-Week-Old Baby, Family Die In Russian Shelling; Fulton County Judge Prepared To Keep Court Open Past Regular 5PM ET Closing Time; Police Search Of Newspaper Office Sparks First Amendment Concerns; Police: Mob Steals More Than $300K Worth Of Merchandise From Los Angeles Nordstrom. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 14, 2023 - 16:00   ET


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: I don't think -- do we see D.C.?


Is D.C. in there?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: No. Florida is.

SANCHEZ: Of course.

SCIUTTO: To be clear, it's exactly what Boston needed.

SANCHEZ: Right, yeah. Exactly.

Hey, thank you so much for joining us this afternoon. We hope you enjoy your boozy brew if you're having one.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: As a Georgia grand jury meets, Donald Trump goes on the attack.

THE LEAD starts right now.

A moment of truth in Fulton County, Georgia, a grand jury bused in as prosecutors lay out their evidence that Donald Trump tried to steal the state's electoral votes. Witness testimony moves up from to tomorrow -- from tomorrow to today. The Trump attacks on a key witness.

And text messages that directly linked the former president's legal team to a voting system breach.

And Hawaii's wildfire aftermath with the death toll close to 100. We're now hearing about government failures to protect the people of Maui. The reported failed water hydrants in the height of the firefight, warning sirens that did not go off. Plus, a new lawsuit claiming that live power lines were not cut off, and that might have sparked the first flames.

Then, the raid on a small Kansas newspaper raising questions about where press freedom is going in the United States in this era. The editor targeted in the raid joins me this hour.


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

And we start today with our law and justice lead. Right now, this second, a Georgia grand jury is deciding whether Donald Trump should be indicted for trying to steal the election in that state.

It appears things are moving faster than anticipated. It was expected to take at least two days for Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis, to present her evidence. But a number of key witnesses who have been told to show up tomorrow unjustified have now been called in to testify today. Those witnesses include former Georgia lieutenant governor, Geoff Duncan, a conservative Republican, and also a CNN contributor.

CNN learning that Lieutenant Governor Duncan just walked into the ground jury room to testify. Foreboding, perhaps, Trump posted on social media earlier today, quote, I am reading reports that failed lieutenant governor of Georgia, Jeff Duncan, he misspelled Geoff, will be testifying before the Fulton County grand jury. He shouldn't, unquote.

Now, we could learn about possible charges literally any moment after all that testimony wraps.

CNN's Sara Murray starts us off today from Fulton County, Georgia, with a closer look at what these witnesses are likely telling the grand jurors behind closed doors.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: An Atlanta area grand jury arriving today to hear the case on Donald Trump and his allies efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.

FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We've been waiting for two and a half years. We're already to go.

MURRAY: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis expected to seek charges against more than a dozen individuals. Security already ramped up around the local courthouse, as the former president faces down a likely fourth indictment.

REPORTER: Is there any chance you take a plea deal in Georgia?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I don't do plea deals. We did nothing wrong. We don't ever take a plea deal. We don't take plea deals. It's a wise guy question.

MURRAY: Trump lashing out at former Georgia lieutenant governor and CNN contributor, Geoff Duncan, a Republican who's set to testify before the grand jury today.

GEOFF DUNCAN, FORMER GEORGIA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: I'm just going to answer the questions as presented to me may much like I did at the special grand jury, whatever the questions are, to the best of my ability, I'm going to answer the questions.

MURRAY: Duncan declining to say whether he felt intimidated after Trump posted today: I am reading reports that failed former lieutenant governor of Georgia, Jeff Duncan, will be testifying before the Fulton County grand jury. He shouldn't -- followed by a series of insults aimed at Duncan.

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Witness tampering, pretty blatantly. He's trying to send a message to Duncan to withhold, or whatever. Trump is just -- he just doesn't seem to be able to help himself.

MURRAY: This week's grand jury presentation, the culmination of a sprawling two and a half year criminal investigation, covering Trump's call to Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger.

TRUMP: I just want to find, 11780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.

MURRAY: To the fake electors who convene to cast illegitimate votes for Trump, the harassment of election workers and a voting system's breach in rural Coffee County.

Witnesses, including former Democratic state representative, Bee Nguyen, and former state senator, Jen Jordan, testifying before the grand jury today about conspiracy ridden presentations Trump's legal team gave before state lawmakers in December 2020.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They had all their witnesses that purportedly were telling the state legislature that they could basically choose the electors and could throw out the votes of millions and millions of Georgians. And I was sitting there, I thought this -- this can't be real.


MURRAY: While Gabriel Sterling, an official from the Georgia secretary of state's office, was also spotted at the courthouse. He was a leading voice in rebutting Trump's election lies in real time back in 2020.

GABRIEL STERLING, GEORGIA OFFICIAL: There hasn't been direct evidence of a conspiracy. There's no evidence of some cabal over the top of this trying to switch the elections out.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, Jake, we are on high alert for any potential indictments that could be announced today as you pointed, out the grand jury is moving much more swiftly than expected. The former lieutenant governor, Geoff Duncan, was supposed to testify yesterday. He's already in the courthouse today. George Chidi, an independent journalist, was also supposed to testify tomorrow. He is in the courthouse today.

So, again, things seem to be moving more swiftly than the district attorney's team initially planned, and we are on the watch for any potential indictments.

TAPPER: All right. Sara Murray in Atlanta, Fulton County, thanks so much.

Turning now to a different investigation of Donald Trump, and a CNN exclusive, today, a group of former Republican legal officials endorsed the speedy trial date proposed by special counsel, Jack Smith, in his case against Donald Trump over efforts to overturn the 2020 election nationwide.

CNN's Jamie Gangel is here with me.

Jamie, what are the arguments these Republicans are making?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, this is the brief, and there are almost 12 legal luminaries, all Republicans. And what they're saying is that it's not only in Donald Trump's interest and his right, as we know, to have a speedy trial, but it -- but it's also in the American public's interest, because of the nature of what happened on January 6.

Here's part of what the breach says. This is really pushing back on Trump's team, and Trump himself trying to delay the trial. Quote: The former president is entitled to the speedy trial as a matter of law. He is not entitled to an unjust delay in his trial to serve his purely personal and political interests in the delay of the trial.

Bottom line, Jake, they say the facts of the trial are straightforward, the time it would take. But that the stakes could not be higher. That it is democracy, the future of the country, and, again the American public has the right to have a prompt expeditious, speedy trial.

TAPPER: All right. Jamie Gangel, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Let's discuss all of this with former federal prosecutor and CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Honig.

Eli, how much do you think the judge will take this brief that Jamie told us about into consideration? How realistic is the start date?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Jake, it's a powerful statement by a group of deeply respected former officials. But I think Judge Chutkan has made clear that she intends to decide this case without regard to whatever anyone on the outside saying. Her goal here is to decide this case without regard to politics or outside influence.

With respect to how realistic a January 2nd trial date is, I think Judge Chutkan has made clear that she is going to schedule this trial for before the November 2024 election. But January 2nd is just five months after this indictment was returned. That would be remarkably fast to hold the trial of this level of breadth and complexity.

And yes, the group that Jamie's talking about is correct, that the American public has the right to a speedy trial. But Donald Trump also has a sixth amendment right to prepare his defense. I don't think January 2nd is enough time to do that. So, I look for Judge Chutkan to find some sort of mid-ground here.

TAPPER: So, let's say she does push the start date further back. She'll be running into the hush money trial in New York, which is set to start at the end of March. Do you think prosecutors in New York might move their case to allow Jack Smith to bring his first? I mean, Alvin Bragg's case is considered the least credible, and the least important of them all, I think it's fair to say, among legal experts.

HONIG: Well, I certainly agree with that. And I think there's a game of dominoes that will sort of happen here, and yes, Alvin Bragg has made a point over the last several weeks of hinting maybe a bit more than that in his public interviews. That he would be willing to consider moving off that date.

Now, it's not solely up to the prosecutor. If he did want to move, he will then have to go to his state judge here in New York and asked to move that trial. But I do think that if Judge Chutkan and Jack Smith's team needed that timeframe to try their case, I think there's a compelling argument to go into the Manhattan court on the hush money case and say, hey, let's put this one off so they can do the January 6 trial.

TAPPER: Let me ask you about the social media post, Donald Trump posted about Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, in which he said that he was reading reports that Duncan was going to testify before the grand jury and Trump writes, quote, he shouldn't, unquote. Is that witness intimidation? Is that witness tampering, do you think?

HONIG: Absolutely, yes, in my view. I don't see any gray area here. If you look at the Georgia law on witness intimidation, witness tampering, it says: any attempt to influence or intimidate someone in order to try and influence the testimony or convince them not to testify. This to me is right down the middle.


And, by the way, Geoff Duncan, of course, is a colleague and friend of ours at CNN. Even if Geoff is un-intimidated, he will I'm sure going there, I'm sure he's doing it right now answering the question straight up.

The question is, what's the intent by the actor, by Donald Trump in this case. If Donald Trump had texted that same message to Geoff Duncan, there'd be no question and the fact that he put it out on Truth Social to me makes no difference. I think this is straight-up witness tampering, witness intimidation.

TAPPER: Would -- is it possible that Trump might see some sort of punishment for it? HONIG: If I'm at the prosecutors office right now, I'm thinking hard

about do we need to add this into the indictment. It doesn't take long to put in front of a grand jury. You read on Truth Social, you read on the Truth Social and you say, look, it's up to you to decide the intent here.

TAPPER: You previously talked about our show about how potentially racketeering charges which Trump and his allies might face in Georgia, racketeering charges carry mandatory prison sentence of at least five years. Do you think that those charges are on the table, do you think?

HONIG: Absolutely. This is -- would be a game-changer for the exact reason you say. First of all, Jake, of all the changes that have been lunged against Donald Trump, none of them carry a mandatory minimum, racketeering would. And the theory behind racketeering is you have a group of organized individuals who work together to commit a series of crimes.

And I think if you break this down in Georgia to the false electors scheme, to the false testimony, we just saw clips of Rudy Giuliani giving to the other false statements and pressure topics Donald Trump exerted against Brad Raffensperger and other Georgia officials, I think there is a case to be made that the racketeering laws do fit this quite nicely.

TAPPER: Hmm. Elie Honig, thanks so much. I appreciate it.

HONIG: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Marc Short joins me now. He was chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence, who is a current presidential candidate. Thanks so much for being here, Marc,

So, Donald Trump expects he's gong to be indicted for a fourth time since leaving office this week. Yet, he continues to dominate all the polling out there, state by state and national polling among Republican voters.

Do you think that a fourth indictment might have a different impact than the previous three?

MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: I don't know, Jake. I think there's no doubt that the previous three probably rallied Republican voters to his defense. I don't think they were neutral. I think they were beneficial to him politically. I think it's probably because the very first one brought in New York was probably the most specious one that I think a lot of Republicans felt was the most political.

But, you know, as we move on into this, I don't think anybody knows how it's going to play out as to whether or not it continues to have benefits for Trump politically, because there is a difference between indictments and actually sitting there in a courtroom in a trial and how that impacts voters.

TAPPER: So, former Vice President Pence is still facing allegations, they're false, from Trump and another Republicans that he had the ability constitutionally to overturn the election results. You team came out during the January 6 hearing, your team of the vice president's office was communicating with the Senate parliamentarian about what to do with these fake electors.

Here's a -- here's a text message from the office of the vice president, it's an email, rather, I'm sorry, hope you're doing well, do you have a spreadsheet you can share for all of us that received? This is about these -- these fake electors.

What did the par -- what guidance the parliamentarian offer? Because I know she sent you guys, you sent the vice president's office a fake electors slate from five or six states.

SHORT: Well, the parliamentarian met with the vice president on the day of January 3rd. So, the vice president was up in the Senate, swearing in the new members of Congress.

And we met with the parliamentarian that afternoon. She was very hopeful because she actually gave contacts to say, you know, we actually get people sending in fake slates every four years.

TAPPER: Oh, it happens all the time.

SHORT: And they're meaningless.

TAPPER: They're meaningless, okay.

SHORT: It was important for her to stipulate that unless they're certified by the state, it doesn't really matter. In 1876, there was a contentious election which then the Elector Count Act followed to set forth the criteria for certifying state electors, and knowing that none of them had been certified by the state. In fact, the Republican legislatures in those contested states had said, we'd already certified ours. We're not looking at this again.

There was -- there was no recourse for somebody who wanted to present a false or a separate slate of electors.

TAPPER: Yeah. No, it's interesting. And also, we know that from these emails that the parliamentarian emailed back with a spreadsheet detailing what they called deficiencies of the fake elector submissions. And Pence -- when he made his presentation on the floor of the Senate, as presiding officer, as president of the Senate, he said something normally a vice president say the same thing every four years. He said something different. I'm not sure if we have that sound bite, but I'd like to run it if we do.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Are there any objections to counting the certificate of the state of Alabama that the teller has verified that it appears to be a regular in form and authentic?


Hearing none.

This certificate from Alaska, the parliamentarians advised me is the only certificate of vote from that state, that purports to be returned from the state. And that's annexed to it a certificate from authority of the state purporting to appoint unascertained electors.


TAPPER: The language he was using there was much more detailed, and much more precise about what the parliamentarian was telling him.

SHORT: So, the parliamentarian provided our office with traditional scripts and our general counsel, Greg Jacobs, our head of legislative affairs, Chris Hudson (ph), worked with them to say, can we alter it in these ways? And there's some ways it's allowed, some ways, it's not. But it's very carefully articulated because the vice president wanted the American people who were watching to understand that there's only one slate that had been certified. And that's what I'm authenticating.

Because we know there will be different stories and we say, what about this alternate slate? And there, again, they're meaningless mostly they've been certified by the state, anybody can present them. But it doesn't matter.

TAPPER: Right, and the scheme allegedly has that Trump and John Eastman and the others that were coming up with these fake slate of electors from all over the country, in Michigan they're being prosecuted right now. They wanted the vice president to act as if, oh, I don't know which one of these fleets is real. I'm going to have to send it back to the state, right?

SHORT: Well, in part. I think it's important to remember that really the request simply for the vice president to reject. And only in the last couple of days leading up to January 6 was it really pushed up on the vice president's team to say, perhaps you can delay because people felt that sounded better.

But, Jake, it's important to understand that it wouldn't have a material difference. It was the same purpose because the idea was that statutorily Congress had to determine the next president. So, if you delay it, the idea really was well then this gets pushed to the House of Representatives. And the notion is in the House of Representatives, if it ever gets to that point, each state gets one vote. And they were 26 states that are Republican delegation and 24 that had Democratic delegation.

So, even though it sounds like, oh, it just buys us more time whether we think this, none of the states we're going to rethink it. They already certified. But separately, the intention was if we force a delay, this kicks the host the House of Representatives in attempt to overturn the result.

TAPPER: It's just -- for people to understand how this wasn't just like random, organic, weird happenings. There was a conspiracy and the fake electors that were being filed and prosecuted in Michigan right now, this was part of what you and your staff had to deal with and we're trying to figure out ways to stave off this illegal scheme.

SHORT: Well, I can assure you, there are also random weird happenings --


TAPPER: Sure, that, too.

SHORT: But, yeah, I think that the general counsel and vice president carefully put together that language with the vice president to try and educate the American people, there's only one slate to certify of electors here, and that's what I'm looking forward with.

TAPPER: Marc Short, thanks so much. Appreciate it. Good to see you again.

SHORT: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up next, the failures that may have sparked the flames in Hawaii and contributed to the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than 100 years.

And coordinated smash-and-grabs, an unintended consequence when police and city leaders try to crackdown on the violence.

Plus, eyes on the enemy. CNN's exclusive look at technology on helping Ukraine's front lines.



TAPPER: In our national lead, more members of the Hawaii National Guard were activated today responding to the unspeakable devastation from the Hawaii wildfires which has claimed at least 96 lives, and scores remained unaccounted for. Cadaver dogs have only searched 3 percent of the fire zone as of Saturday night.

CNN's Gloria Pazmino is on Maui alongside the devastating residents as one nagging question persists, could any of this have been prevented?


DWAYNE "THE ROCK" JOHNSON, ACTOR: I'm completely heartbroken over this.

GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson who has strong family ties to Hawaii echoing a sentiment shared by many.

ROB GAUDET, FOUNDER & CEO, CAJUN NAVY GROUND FORCE: Hope is really the most important thing that we need, and to be sensitive to those who have lost everything.

PAZMINO: But hope is a high bar for many fire survivors, especially those with missing loved ones, watching as rescue and recovery teams sift through the ashes, while remnants of the fires still burn.

TASHA PAGDILAO, LAHAINA FIREFIGHTER: Every day going back to help clean up, and help put fires out. It seems like a nightmare that we're trying to wake up from.

PAZMINO: Also rumors that the tragedy is becoming a morbid spectacle.

SUSAN SLOBODNJAK, MAUI RESIDENT OF 31 YEARS: I heard there was a snorkeling boat looking at Lahaina town. Give them respect, people died here.


PAZMINO: Questions are growing over the outdoor warning sirens used for hurricanes and tsunamis which were left silent as wildfires swept through there.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D, HAWAII: The attorney general has launched a review of what happened with those sirens, and some of the other actions that were taken.

PAZMINO: Some survivors were sent techs through phones without service. And the chaos of fleeing --

EMILIE JOMS-FRISQUE, MAUI FIRE SURVIVOR: Trees were falling and branches were starting on fire. Power lines were falling down.

PAZMINO: Those power lines the focus of a new class action suit filed against Hawaiian Electric, claiming the company failed to cut power as toppled energized lines ignited wildfires.

Hawaiian Electric says it will cooperate with the review into exactly what happened.


PAZMINO (on camera): Now, Jake, we've been here in this area of Maui trying to speak to people about what happened. And I just want to give you an idea of the devastation. You can see this home behind me, completely burned to the ground, the only thing left standing is the chimney, the cars. Everything is gone.

And I've spoken to the owner of this property a few minutes ago, she walked off. She was surveying the damage and she told me that she is still in survival mode, still just has not been able to process the emotions of what's happened here. Another neighbor told me that it was the tree that brought down those power lines. As you, know that lawsuit has now been filed.

They say as long -- as soon as the tree brought down the power lines there was a spark, it was just a matter of hours before entire homes were up in flames -- Jake.

TAPPER: Gloria Pazmino on the island of Maui, thank you so much.

[16:25:03] And you can help Hawaiian wildfire victims, head to,, for a list of vetted resources. You can also, if you want, text the word Hawaii to the number 707070.

Coming up next, was it retribution for investigative reporting? The police raid on a small town newspaper raising questions about the status of freedom of the press.


TAPPER: Topping our world lead today, a, quote, act of piracy on the Black Sea according to the government of Ukraine. A Russian battleship fired warning shots at an empty Turkish cargo ship on Sunday, and then sent a helicopter full of Russian servicemen to the Turkish vessel and questioned the Turkish captain for an hour. Russia claims that the ship did not respond to an inspection request.


Well, on land, Russian shelling hit the southern region of Kherson, buildings and families torn apart. A mom and dad, a 12-year-old boy and just over a three-week old baby girl who lived in this house did not survive.

In response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed, quote, completely fair retaliation against Russia. Meanwhile, the U.S. just announced a new $200 billion round of military aid for Ukraine, which includes more artillery, air defense munitions, and mine clearing equipment. That last piece is especially vital, as Ukraine's defense minister declares Ukraine is now the most heavily mined country in the world.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh got exclusive action to a team that finds those deadly explosives on the frontlines.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The fire still smolder at dusk, moving to the front of Ukraine's counteroffensive near Robotyne.


WALSH: There was intense bombardment around this area. And now the sun is setting, the occasional round being fired. Most of it seems to be towards Russian positions.

We're here to learn of a new tactic that may help Ukraine overcome one of the hardest obstacles here, minefields. Shell fire is a constant overhead. The drone unit used daylight to help direct artillery fire.

This isn't coming shortly.

They're using this to correct the next shell that's fired.

And know they must keep hidden. OLEKSANDR, 15TH NATIONAL GUARD: If the enemy sees the drone, he will

unleash everything he has, artillery, tanks and mortars.

WALSH: Still, the basic problem that it's trench warfare, and minefields. And that by definition makes the going slow.

But as the sky darkens and the air cools here, an advantage has emerged. One of their drones is equipped with a thermal camera, they have noticed out in the wide crated fields, about four kilometers away, where the Russians hide. Something new. Some of these white dots are Russian land mines. They retain the heat of the summer sun as their earth around them cools. The contrast is greatest at dusk or dawn, experts say. So, they seem to glowed.

The unit told us they use special charges to blow up the minds. It's not a precise science. But a huge help and seeing an invisible enemy.

OLEKSANDR: We took a tree line, one kilometer by 300 meters wide. We found up to 53 booby traps. And these are not made of one grenade. We call it a 'bouquet". Grenades on top of another grenade.

WALSH: Encircled by minds, don't try to tell them the counteroffensive could be faster.

ANTON, 15TH NATIONAL GUARD: There have been many scary moments. Every time you go to work, you step over our fear. Because who else will do it? Nobody. If someone else goes and gets hurt, you can't forgive yourself.

WALSH: There is little time to reflect.

Go, go, go.

As a Russian helicopter spotted coming right at them. We take cover for it pass. This is the kind of threat we're in danger every day when just one piece of information can send them running for cover.

Then we leave.

Hours after we left, we're told that trench network came under heavy Russian attacked, which they repelled. But the grind is constant, and rare, and any advantage no matter how small is urgently welcome.


WALSH (on camera): Now, Jake, it's important to remember when you look at that use of essentially relatively low technology to try and confront an extraordinary enemy there, that volume of land mines that we oftentimes imagine the western equipment given to the Ukraine military generously at times. There's sort of been enough, this kind of answer the question of do they have the tools they need to do the job here.


They are still up against the Russian military. They have quite a lot of sophisticated equipment on their side. They certainly feel it there on those front lines. And day by day, they are doing everything they possibly can to inch forward.

But you saw there in those thermal images just how many land mines there are in one small field. That's what they're up against. That's what's taking the limbs of their colleagues and friends every day. And that's what they're now using those heat cameras to try to find a way around, ingenuity every day, but still, a constant grind, Jake.

TAPPER: More great reporting from Nick Paton Walsh in Dnipro, Ukraine, thank you so much, Nick.

Coming up next, the video that CNN just obtained of a controversial, outrageous police raid on a small Kansas newspaper.


TAPPER: This just in from Fulton County, Georgia, the judge presiding over court today says he is prepared to keep court open passed 5:00 p.m. tonight, as the grand jury there here's evidence about Trump's effort to overturn the election results in that state, perhaps illegally.


I want to bring in CNN's Sara Murray, who's outside the courthouse, and former federal prosecutor, Elie Honig.

Sara, walk us through what's happening inside that building right now, how big a deal is it that the judge might keep the courtroom open past 5:00 p.m.?

MURRAY: We don't know exactly what this means. Our colleague Zach and Maxime are inside, they're inside the courtroom where Judge Robert McBurney, who's the presiding judge this week, e told reporters he's prepared to keep the courthouse -- the courtroom open past 5:00 p.m. Now, that could mean that the ground jury that's hearing this Trump case is just going to take a longer than 5:00 p.m. to continue hearing from the witnesses we know have been going in front of them today.

You know, we know former Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan showed up just a little while ago. Independent journalist George Chidi showed up just a little while ago. They were supposed to testify tomorrow. Their appearances got moved up.

So, maybe it's about trying to wrap up some witness testimony today. The other option, of course, is that the grandeur is trying to finish this whole thing today. That it's possible that they can hand off indictments. So, we're waiting to see, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Eli, is this something that happens often on days where prosecutors are presenting to grand juries?

HONIG: No, Jake, it's pretty unusual for this to happen because usually if you have a grand jury that's scheduled to go home at, say, 5:00, they will leave at 5:00, because they have childcare responsibilities, and other things.

So, the fact that they're being kept, if they are in fact kept after that, that tells me that it's something unusual is happening.

Now, the grand jury is there to serve the court. And so, if they're needed to stay after, they'll be told that, and they'll make it work. But this is not business as usual. This is unusual. But it's also not entirely unheard of.

TAPPER: All right. Elie Honig and Sarah Murray, thanks to both for the update.

In our national lead, a raid on a Kansas newspaper has sparked concerns about police violating the First Amendment. Law enforcement officials say they searched the home and offices of one of the newspaper's owners after finding evidence they say of a crime committed. But the owner says no crime was committed. The search was illegal he says, and an attack on the free press.

What began at a coffee shop in a small town in Kansas is now a national outrage.


TAPPER (voice-over): It's a scene one might expect in an authoritarian country, not in the heartland of a nation where freedom of the press is a hallmark of its liberty. On Friday, in Marion, Kansas, police raided "The Marion County Record", circulation 4000. They seize computers, cell phones, and other materials including the newspaper's file server, according to publisher and co-owner, Eric Meyer.

Eric Meyer's home, and the home of the paper's co-owner, his 98-year- old mother, Joan, was also raided, and her computer and other belongings were seized. Eric says the stress, shock and grief contributed to his mother's death on Saturday.

Eric Meyer believes the raid was retribution for a story he published about being kicked out of a public event, for a Republican member of Congress hosted by local business owner, Kari Newell. Kari Newell says she did so because she didn't trust the paper's reporting. Meyer claims that after he and his reporter Phyllis Zorn were kicked out, Zorn got a tip about carry new, alleging driving without a valid license after a DUI in 2008.

They didn't publish the story, but their offices were raided anyway, alarming freedom of the press advocates including Emily Bradbury of the Kansas Press Association.

EMILY BRADBURY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, KANSAS PRESS ASSOCIATION: It's really hard to believe that this is not a retaliatory measure or something.

TAPPER: Kari Newell says the paper unlawfully used her credentials to get private information about. The reporter Zorn says that the information came from a source. And when she verified it's authenticity she did so under her own name. The Marion Police Department with help from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation executed the search warrant, alleging violations of identity theft of Newell and unlawful acts concerning computers. A warrant was signed by a county judge.

Such raids are normally a very rare occurrence in the U.S., given free press protection spelled out in the bill of rights, and the Privacy Protection Act of 1980, which protects journalist from search and seizures, requiring a subpoena.

BRADBURY: The proper protocol would've been use subpoena power to get any information they were looking for. We haven't seen a subpoena, there was never a subpoena filed for the information. Any sort of information that they were looking for, to our knowledge.

TAPPER: In this case, the Marion County Police Chief Gideon Cody says there are exceptions such as, quote, when there's a reason to believe the journalist is taking part and underlying wrongdoing, unquote.

"The Marion County Record" denies any wrongdoing.

MISTY MARRIS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's very difficult to ascertain whether or not this is violative of the law, the Privacy Protection Act, or whether the circumstances fall into one of the very, very limited exceptions.

TAPPER: Dozens of news organizations across the country including CNN are condemning the raid. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press sent a letter to the Police Chief Cody saying: Newsroom searches and seizures are among the most intrusive actions Law enforcement can take with respect to the free press, and the most potentially suppressive of free speech by the press and the public.



TAPPER (on camera): The chief of police, Chief Cody, said in a statement to CNN, quote, I believe when the rest of the story is available to the public, the judicial system that's being questioned will be vindicated, unquote. I guess we shall see.

Coming, up coordinated crime rings and an unintended consequence when big cities tried to crack down.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Turning to Los Angeles, where police say a coordinated, quote, mob of criminals ransacked a mall and broad daylight Saturday, and stole more than $300,000 worth of stuff. The shoplifters reportedly sprayed guards with bear spray, and more than 30 suspects scatter to different cars and fled.

CNN's Josh Campbell is in Los Angeles.

And, Josh, this happens to be the second such incident in just five days in the Los Angeles area. This kind of crimes happening in San Francisco, here in D.C., its force businesses -- business owners to shut their doors for good in some cases.

How is L.A. dealing with these very intense and strategic smash-and- grabs?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, we're hearing expressions of anger, a frustration, a fear. I mean, these are people who are going about their days at the shopping all on a Saturday afternoon, when this flash mob of criminals, over 30 people started ransacking the store. It was terrorizing to people who were there, fleeing.

Obviously, the people that were working at this business, and as you mentioned, we saw similar incident days before in nearby Glendale, California, where another group had hit a mall and stole upwards of $300,000 worth of merchandise there as well. You see that video there on your screen.

Now, our colleagues, CNN affiliate KCAL, caught up with residents of the Valley area, right after the latest incident. Here is some of their reaction.


CHRISTOPHER RICHARDSON, WEST VALLEY RESIDENT: This is my neighborhood. I have neighborhood pride no matter how bad it gets. But this is the second. This is not the first time.

ERIC COHEN, VALLEY RESIDENT: It's just brazen. Nobody is afraid of the repercussions.

STEVE GROSSMAN, WOODLAND HILLS RESIDENT: Police are handcuffed themselves. They can't do what they're supposed to do. They're not -- criminals aren't being prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

MERI GROSSMAN, WOODLAND HILLS RESIDENT: I won't go near this mall, or any mall. I do all my shopping online. It's just -- it's too dangerous.


CAMPBELL: In that last point there, Jake, is so okay but it's not just people in the mall who are terrorized, but entire communities are affected when businesses start to close because of crime, particularly, this affects lower income Americans because of the place where they shop for their groceries, or other retail items closes due to crime, it costs money to travel across town to buy what they need. These are certainly not victimless crimes, Jake.

TAPPER: Not at all. Josh, Los Angeles has a no bail policy which just went back into effect this summer. Explain what that is, and how that might be contributing to the rising crime if you -- if you think that there could be a direct correlation?

CAMPBELL: That's right. Current bail policies indicate that for certain crimes, nonviolent crimes, there is not bail in most circumstances. So, if you get arrested your out on the street without having to pay bail. Now, criminal justice advocates say the reason is because bail policy in their view disproportionately affects people who are lower-income. If you are wealthy and you are arrested, you can pay money, your out and about. If you don't have the funds, you sit in jail.

Now, the issue there is that the other extreme from no bail or for high bail is no bail. And we're hearing prosecutors say, look, there has to be a middle ground here, including the district attorney up in Yolo County who was on CNN recently. He is the former head of the District Attorneys Association here in California. He has an idea for how to find that common ground.

Have a listen.


JEFF REISIG, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, YOLO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: There's lots of things we can do differently. And one of them is simply to have a risk assessment on every single individual when they're arrested before you make the decision to release or not. That's the problem with zero bail is it's just an automatic release.


CAMPBELL: So, in his video, you look at individual assessments, what someone's propensity for perhaps offending again. The recidivism rate right now, the policies are for certain offenses, you were out. We'll see if that idea gains any traction here in Los Angeles, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Josh Campbell in Los Angeles, thank you so much.

We're back with the big news this afternoon. A Fulton County judge preparing to keep that courtroom open late in the evening if the ground jury wants to. The ground jury is meeting and they're hearing from witnesses in that state's 2020 election fraud case. We're going to go live to the courtroom, next.



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

This hour, a, quote, walk of shame. That is how one victim is describing the emotional court appearance of six Mississippi officers who call themselves, the goon squad, and are accused of torturing two Black men.

Plus, a mile per minute, that's how fast the fires in Hawaii were moving as they destroyed everything in their path. Right now, the death toll in Hawaii stands at 96. But that is expected to rise as officials tried from up the number of people missing and unaccounted for.

Leading this hour, the Fulton County, Georgia court house would normally be closing in just a few minutes. But tonight, the judge says that he's willing to keep his courtroom open. This as a ground jury is continuing to hear evidence about efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. That testimony has been moving faster than expected today.

Sources say that Donald Trump's team is preparing for a potential indictment to be delivered imminently.

Let's get straight to CNN's Paula Reid who's outside the courthouse in Fulton County, Georgia, for us.

And, Paula, there has been a lot of movement there in the last few hours. Tell us what's happening right now?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, witnesses were scheduled to come in tomorrow have been called in early because things are moving so quickly. And, right now, we know that former Republican Lieutenant Governor, Jeff Duncan is inside the courthouse, another witness, George Chidi, an independent journalist who was also scheduled to come tomorrow is also called in this afternoon.

And then, earlier today, the grand jury heard from two former Georgia lawmakers. They heard from both these women.