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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump's Legal Team Expects Indictment In Georgia for Trump; Lawsuit Filed On Hawaii Energy Company; Trump Trolls DeSantis At Iowa State Fair; RFK Jr. Flip Flops On Federal Abortion Ban; 6 Former Cops Plead Guilty To Torturing 2 Black Men; Young Plaintiffs In Montana Climate Trial Win Case. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 14, 2023 - 17:00   ET



PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: And then, earlier today the grand jury heard from two former Georgia lawmakers. They heard from both of these women. They were both state senators, both Democrats. They both went in expected to testify about a presentation that they received from former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that was laden with conspiracy theories. These are all the witnesses that the District Attorney Fani Willis was expected to call to help present her case laying out this alleged conspiracy to overturn the election here in Georgia.

Now Jake, we had anticipated this would take two days and at this point it's unclear if they're going to be able to move forward with possible indictments today or if they'll have to continue tomorrow. Like you said, the courthouse closes at 5:00. We know they're still in there so we're watching and waiting.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Yep. It's after 5:00 right now. Paula, walk us through what happens if the grand jury does decide to indict Donald Trump and or any of his allies.

REID: So, we expect that the indictments will be for over a dozen people. The former president's lawyers have said that they do expect he will be among those indicted. We would expect that the district attorney would seek an indictment from this grand jury. Then we would expect it would go to the clerk's office where we will most likely get our copy and then it will be made public and we'll be able to read about the charges.

But one of the things that's really unclear here, Jake, is when the former president would appear for his initial appearance and a potential arraignment. In his federal cases, that happened pretty quickly, but down in Georgia, sources telling CNN that the former president's team expects it may take a little bit longer to have his first appearance down in Georgia if he is indicted.

TAPPER: All right, Paula Reid, thanks so much. As those witnesses continue to testify before the grand jury in Atlanta, Donald Trump is expecting he could be indicted at any moment. CNN's Alayna Treene joins us now. Alayna, how is Trump's team preparing for this latest indictment? ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jake, they have a playbook now.

They've had to respond to three previous indictments and they're planning to use the same playbook with this potential indictment. They are lining up surrogates and allies, having them ready to respond to potential charges if they are filed. They've also spoken to conservative media and had them write prewritten statements. And so, they're preparing a response ahead of time for when or if an indictment in Georgia does come.

Now, I'm also told that Donald Trump's team does expect that a potential arraignment, if he is indicted, would be in person, that he would have to show up in person in Georgia and appear before the court. Of course, that's an early guess from his team, from what they tell me, but that is what they're anticipating at this time, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Alayna Treene, thanks so much. I want to bring in Tom Dupree now. He served as the principal deputy assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush. So, Tom, we just heard Trump's team is expecting an indictment imminently. I know this is all speculation, but informed speculation. What kind of charges are you expecting?

TOM DUPREE, FORMER PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think these are going to be broad charges. For one thing, my strong suspicions that Fani Willis is going to indict multiple defendants, far more than the single defendant indictment that Jack Smith prepared. The other claim she might bring, which I'm keeping an eye on is a RICO charge. In other words --

TAPPER: Explain to the people what that is.


TAPPER: That's usually for gangsters.

DUPREE: Exactly. Normally RICO, it's a federal -- it's both a federal and a state statute, but what it basically does is it allows prosecutors to indict large conspiracies, conspiracies to achieve criminal activity. It's typically rolled out in the context of mobsters or organized crime figures, but it can be applied to a variety of situations. And my strong hunch is that they are looking very seriously at bringing a RICO-type complaint against President Trump and his advisers for a conspiracy involving the election.

TAPPER: So, let's talk about what we do know about what happened in Georgia. We know Donald Trump leaned on the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find the correct number of votes to flip it. We know that the prosecutor has evidence tying the Trump team, legal team, to a breach of the election machines in a Republican county. We know that there was a slate of fake electors that was submitted and not accepted.

We know that Rudy Giuliani went down there and met with legislators to talk about all these wild and outlandish and disproved claims about the election telling them uh... that they should therefore flip the election to Donald Trump. Is that a conspiracy to commit a crime? DUPREE: Well, it sure could be. What you've articulated is a bunch of

what lawyers would call predicate acts. In other words, the discrete criminal acts that you would use to tie together a larger criminal conspiracy. And certainly, Fani Willis has a whole bunch of different things she could look at. There are the items you mentioned, the call to Brad Raffensperger, there was the voting machine alleged tampering, there's a slate of false electors.

The other thing that they could look at is whether there was more recent conduct by President Trump or his advisors to either tamper with witnesses or otherwise obstruct justice. That would be something that was a little different in time, separated in time from the 2020 election, but nonetheless could form a part of the charges she's about to bring.


TAPPER: Well, you talk about tampering with witnesses. We know our CNN colleague and former Lieutenant Governor Jeff Duncan, who is a witness and is testifying today, Donald Trump posted something on his social media site saying he shouldn't testify. Is that witness tampering?

DUPREE: Well, a prosecutor can make a strong case that that's witness tampering. I mean if you have someone who you either know or reasonably expect is testifying either before the grand jury or before trial and you threaten or cajole or attempt to obstruct that testimony, sure a prosecutor could make out a case for witness tampering.

That seems to me at least maybe a little too recent in time to form a basis for this indictment that presumably is forthcoming, but it wouldn't surprise me if Fani Willis has found other examples where people on the Trump team use what she believes to be improper pressure to coerce witnesses either not to testify or to give different testimony.

TAPPER: Let's bring back CNN's Paula Reid who's outside the Fulton County Courthouse. Paula, there is a key difference in this case and the federal election case having to do with Trump trying to overturn the results of the election. That's because in Georgia, Trump cannot pardon himself even if he is elected president next November.

REID: That's right, Jake. This is one of the reasons that the former president's legal team has been most concerned about Georgia. Not only the evidence that they know, many of us are familiar with, like that call with the secretary of state, many of the other key pieces of evidence that Fani Willis has gathered, but it's the fact that once this case is brought, if he is indicted, he can't make it go away.

If he is re-elected to the White House, he can, most people agree, most legal experts agree, that he would likely be able to have his hand-picked attorney general fire the special counsel. I'm sure there'd be legal challenges to that. He also, of course, has his pardon power, likely for himself and certainly for others. But the state of Georgia, that is beyond the reach of even the president of the United States. And there's no mechanism for him to make this case go away, even if he is reelected.

TAPPER: So, what happens, Tom? What happens if Donald Trump, I mean, let's presume that the verdict doesn't come in until after November 2024. And let's presume for the sake of this exercise that he wins, which could happen, both the nomination and the presidency. What happens if a -- the Georgia -- jury in Georgia says he's guilty of XYZ and he has a RICO statute? It's a five-year minimum sentence, right? I mean, the president of the United States goes to prison?

DUPREE: Well, I think there are a few hurdles they would have to get over to make that happen. I guess the first thing is, I think in that scenario, President Trump and his lawyers would basically say to the judge, you need to exercise discretion and not sentence him to jail time. In other words, he's the duly elected new president of the United States, and you should either suspend the sentence, impose a fine, defer the sentence, allow him to serve as president.

If that fails, I think the second argument the Trump team would make, at least I would make if I were in their shoes, is to say that it infringes on his constitutional duty to execute the laws of the United States. So that would be unconstitutional to force an incumbent president of the United States to serve jail time on a state charge.

We're a long way away from that point. Those arguments have never succeeded. They've never been needed to be presented before in our nation's history, but I think that's the sort of argument that you would see if the scenario played out as you articulated it.

TAPPER: And also, we should just note if such a thing and a verdict happened before the presidential election, he could run for president from prison. It has happened before, Eugene Debs in like the, in the 20's or something was -- was a presidential candidate who had been put in prison for violating the Sedition Act of all things.

DUPREE: Absolutely right. Look, you do have to dig pretty far back in our nation's history to find something even remotely analogous. And I think it's a fair bet to say that our founders probably didn't envision the scenario that we find ourselves in today.

TAPPER: Paula, we've seen Donald Trump attacking the Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on his Truth Social page even as she inside that building right now possibly preparing an indictment against him.

REID: That's right. This is nothing new. He has repeatedly attacked Fani Willis, calling her a Marxist, a racist. Today, pointing out some of the crime issues in the city of Atlanta, suggesting that she should be focusing on that instead of this indictment, similar to the attacks that he launched against the Manhattan district attorney who also indicted him in a separate case.

But Jake, lawyers who have worked for the former president have made the argument to me that there are legitimate questions about whether elected district attorneys, in this case, a Democratic prosecutor, should be able to file charges against a former president of the United States or if that's something that should be reserved for the Justice Department and for special counsel.

But the former president not making that nuanced argument, right, instead calling people, quote, "nasty disasters, Marxists, leftists," calling people names and launching these personal attacks while behind the scenes. His lawyers have some other questions that I do think are going to become a theme in the court of the public opinion but probably not on Truth Social.

TAPPER: All right, Paula Reid and Tom Dupree, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

Growing questions and fewer answers as more videos emerge showing live power lines being flung in the high winds hours before the deadly Hawaii fires erupted.

Then, the first of its kind implant that could change the lives of stroke survivors who have lost mobility. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta follows one patient who could barely walk before and is now doing yard work.



TAPPER: "International Lead" now. Some cell phone service is slowly returning to the island of Maui. Wildfires there have killed at least 96 people and that number is sadly expected to rise as so many people remain unaccounted for. Many who did survive had to outrun fast-moving wildfires. Now they have no homes. The raw emotion and anguish there is palpable. Let's go straight to CNN Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir, who is on the island of Maui. Bill, has the full scope of this devastation sunk into residents there?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Boy, it's happening minute by minute, day by day, Jake. You've got some people, families who are giving DNA samples to authorities because their loved ones are missing and most of those 96 souls there were essentially cremated by these wildfires.


So that's going to take time for forensic evidence. Those who still have their homes are still affected by this economically as a huge ripple effect. It's a psychological toll as people debate about whether tourists should be welcomed or not during this very painful time. But a lot of people are putting this anxiety into action and I've seen some of the most impressive do-it-yourself relief efforts anywhere in the world.


UNKNOWN: Me and Brittany will lead the front. We got right behind us. Just stay close.

WEIR (voice-over): When Charlie and Brittany Fleck saw pictures of the devastation on Lahaina, the couple from Maui knew they had to do something.

UNKNOWN: Come, come, we need to give you cash. We got cash.

UNKNOWN: You need money?

UNKNOWN: Yeah, we need it.

UNKNOWN: Thank you.


UNKNOWN: I think there's a big ice truck coming.

UNKNOWN: We got help on the way.

WEIR (voice-over): So, they put out a plea on Facebook, and when thousands of dollars began rolling in, they began handing it out.

UNKNOWN: Thank you so much.

UNKNOWN: We're coming for you.

UNKNOWN: Thank you.


WEIR (voice-over): But that didn't seem like enough, so they organized a caravan and sweet-talked their way past red tape and checkpoints. And when they finally saw what Lahaina looks like for the first time, they wept.

But just on the edge of the burn scars we find an inspiring example of Hawaiian togetherness.

WEIR (on camera): Cold towel, are you kidding? That is aloha hospitality. Thank you.

ARCHIE KALEPA, CULTURAL ADVISOR, HAWAIIAN LIFEGUARD ASSOCIATION: Yeah. There you go man. Right there over your neck. Keep you nice and cool.

WEIR: Okay. I appreciate it.

WEIR (voice-over): Archie Kalepa is a Hall of Fame surfer and lifeguard with Maui roots that go back nine generations.

(ON camera): This is your actual house here or?

KALEPA: Yeah, this is my actual home. And we were really lucky because our neighbors, they were here fighting the fire right at this corner. And the fire department said, this is our last stand. We're going to hold the line right here.

WEIR (voice-over): While there's so much frustration over the official response so far, he says authorities deserve some understanding given the size of the disaster. KALEPA: This right here is a crime scene. And so, what people don't

understand is the government has to do due diligence before they start moving in.

WEIR: So, it's a humanitarian response in the middle of a working crime scene.

KALEPA: Exactly.

WEIR (voice-over): But at another relief pod on a beach nearby, frustration has turned to anger.

UNKNOWN: You know, everybody's like, oh, you know, they going to come and help. They going to come and help. I don't give a shit (BLEEP). Nobody came for help to us. You know what I mean? We rely on people like you guys that get compassion like we do, you know what I mean, that willing to help us because please, we need help. We need help. We need the next step. This is just the first inning. This is the first inning of what we're facing.

KALEPA: Tourism is our number one source of income. I would hope that our representatives, our politicians, our government would ask the people from here, when can we open? They should not be telling us, oh, we want to open six months from now. The truth of the matter is when you look at the overall devastation, we are not going to be ready to allow people to see what we're living through in six months.


WEIR: Archie says he hopes that this outpouring from around the world from Maui is sustainable beyond these weeks into next year, the years it will take to rebuild. And they're very hopeful they can rebuild in a sustainable way to avoid the addictions of fossil fuels that set up the conditions for this tragedy and give some ownership to Native Hawaiians, multigenerational Hawaiians who are being priced out of these beautiful paradise settings right now. So, the soul is being driven out there. They just want to stay in their home and rebuild in a way that connects this community and keeps this from happening ever again. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Bill Weir in Maui. Thank you so much. Let's go now to CNN's Nick Watt. Nick, so many questions remain about how this fire started and how it got as bad as it did. Today, new information about how power lines on the island might have played a role.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake, the local utility is now under increasing scrutiny. Did downed power lines spark the fires? Should they have done more over the years to prepare for something like this? And should they have preemptively shut down the grid in such high winds?

You know, a class action lawsuit has already been filed against the power company and it reads in part, "by failing to shut off power during these dangerous fire conditions defendants caused loss of life." Here's the pushback, "specific to a formal power shutoff program, we, like most utilities, do not have one," a Hawaiian electric company spokesperson told CNN.


And he said that shutoffs would have had to have been coordinated with the first responders because on Maui, quote, "electricity powers the pumps that provide the water needed for firefighting. He wouldn't comment further on the litigation, says their focus right now is helping the recovery. Jake?

TAPPER: And Nick, our investigative team uncovered some social media videos that focus on those power lines. What did they seem to show?

WATT: Well, you know, these videos are ramping up the pressure on the utility. We see poles and pylons bending in high wind and downed powerlines. Listen to Shane True as he films outside his house.


UNKNOWN: Hey, heads up, the line is live on the ground right there. Thank you. Hey, the pole line is live. See them right there. I saw a line that started -- started from up the road there.


WATT: Now, the utility has been making some efforts at fire mitigation. Last year they asked for nearly $190 million for a quote, "climate adaptation program," but in the previous four years they did not remove any hazardous trees outside of the right of way around their equipment. You know, utilities have been found at fault for fires in the past. Over here in California, PG&E was found guilty of 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the fire that pretty much destroyed the town of Paradise.

Now, I must stress, there is no official cause yet for the fire that destroyed Lahaina, and clearly there were a few factors at play, those storm winds as well as a lot of dry vegetation. The big remaining question, what provided the sparks? Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Nick Watt, thanks so much. Joining us on the phone now is Kekoa Lansford, a resident of Lahaina on the island of Maui. A few days ago in Lahaina, you said people were still finding bodies floating in the water. Is that still the case? Tell us what you're seeing now.

KEKOA LANSFORD, LAHAINA RESIDENT (via telephone): (Inaudible) get, try people around to support the bodies to shore or to do something about them. And then (inaudible) there were bodies in the water.

TAPPER: All right. Yes, Kekoa Lansford, we're having trouble. I know there is a real problem with cell phone connectivity on Maui. We're going to we're going to check back with you when we get a better connection to use so people can hear what you're saying. Okay, Kekoa Lansford, on the island of Maui. Thank you so much.

And you can help a life fire victims, head to -- for a list of resources. You can also text the word Hawaii, H-A-W-A-I-I to this number, 707070. Coming up, heartburn is not the only fallout from the Iowa State Fair. There is the 2024 presidential politics and that's next.



TAPPER: In our "2024 Lead," Donald Trump was out on the campaign trail this weekend. He attended the Iowa State Fair briefly along with other Republican presidential candidates. While many of the candidates attended events and met with voters, Donald Trump seemed focused mainly on upstaging Ron DeSantis. My panel joins me now.

So, Jonah, at the fair, it appeared President Trump was at time trolling DeSantis. He had this plane flying overhead with a banner that read, "Be More Likeable, Ron." That's a reference to a story about DeSantis preparing for a gubernatorial debate and be more likeable, I think it's written on there.

He traveled with an entourage also, Trump, largely made up of Floridians, DeSantis' home state, including members of Congress who endorsed him, including Byron Donalds, Matt Gaetz, Anna Paulina Luna, Mike Waltz. Do you think this bothers DeSantis at all?

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Probably. And look, I think the strategy kind of worked, right? Because like, I'm just going to put it bluntly, not very many attendees of the Iowa State Fair know any members of the Florida congressional delegation. They don't recognize them. They don't care about them. But you just mentioned it. It's mentioned all the media stories about this, about how Trump trolls DeSantis and that I think what they were going for.

TAPPER: And Paul, another theme of the weekend, candidates needling Trump to try to encourage him to join the debate stage, I think next week. Take a listen.


MIKE PENCE, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People ask me sometimes what I think about maybe debating Donald Trump. I tell people I've debated Donald Trump a thousand times, just never with the cameras on.

NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, I think President Trump, it's his decision whether he wants to get on the debate stage or not. You have to earn the support of the American people It's hard to earn their support if you're absent.

RON DESANTIS, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have to earn this nomination and you have to show up. You have to debate.


TAPPER: Do you? Do you have to earn the nomination? Do you have to debate? PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, and Trump would be foolish

to do so. He may do it because he's a pretty foolish guy. The question is, is his ego bigger than his political sense? And --

TAPPER: So, you think it's smart to not --

BEGALA: Yes, I do. I think he gains nothing. He's 40 points ahead. I think he should campaign hard. By the way, I love the trolling. I do. I'm sorry. I'm a small, horrible person. I think it's great when you do stuff like that.

TAPPER: It's all above board. I mean, it's all within --

BEGALA: Right.

TAPPER: -- for Trump, I mean, that's, you know, it's clean.

BEGALA: But also, he knows DeSantis, who's very high intellect, but not very quick-witted, right? Arnold Schwarzenegger, somebody threw eggs at him when he ran for governor. You know what he said? You owe me a piece of bacon.


Okay, home run. What if DeSantis looked at him and said, oh, look, ladies and gentlemen, there's Con Air, right? Or maybe he's lost, like he lost the White House and the House. And they say something, DeSantis could have done this. But --

TAPPER: You're like me, though, with the Con Air reference. It's a little dating though.

BEGALA: Yes, well, you know, I'm an old --

TAPPER: But I take your point. Laura, in order to join the debate stage, Trump would have to sign the RNC pledge which says that you will support the Republican nominee no matter who it is. Trump has said he doesn't want to sign it, that there are three or four people that he wouldn't support.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And at the same time, Fox executives are begging him to join the debate stage, holding dinners with him, asking him to join. I think that ultimately, even if the former president signs it to get on the debate stage, that it doesn't mean there's enough evidence, we've seen this play out before. It doesn't mean he's going to actually hold true to it and support the eventual nominee if it isn't him.

So I think that right now I mean, I'd be surprised if the former president actually joins the debate stage because he has said over and over again, Paul's point, which is that he doesn't think it would help him, that he's so far ahead in the polls and he can counterprogram and he's threatened to potentially counter program.

And when I've talked to some Republican strategists across swing states, they say, look, Trump could just drop in somewhere, command a crowd of thousands, and that's all he needs to do. He doesn't have to be there every day the way the other candidates have to.

TAPPER: Yes. And of course, people, these candidates are all looking for their breakout moment, where people like, oh, Nikki Haley, oh, Ron DeSantis, whatever, Vivek Ramaswamy, who's polling pretty well in a few states, started rapping at the Iowa State Fair, a little tribute to Eminem. Take a listen.




TAPPER: So that happens. Any thoughts? I mean, first of all, he's trying to lean into young voters, but I will say that the people who like that song are oldies like you and me, right, Gen Xers. Do you know that's -- do you know who Eminem is?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes. I know who Eminem is. He's also a big millennial.

TAPPER: Millennials like him.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Millennials like Eminem.

TAPPER: OK. I stand correct.

GOLDBERG: He also found like the one white rapper to be, right. I mean, look, I can't get too worked up about it one way or the other. I mean, I don't like performative politics, generally speaking, but it was kind of a passable performance.

TAPPER: Sure. It was good rapping.

GOLDBERG: Yes. At the same time, look, I think that Ramaswamy has been very effective at meeting a big chunk of the Republican electorate that is paying attention, that is tuned into all of this stuff by being a bomb thrower and an entertaining guy.

And I think he's actually probably the second choice for a lot of Trumpers, as opposed to Ron DeSantis, which the whole plan was that he was going to be the alternative to Donald Trump. Ramaswamy has figured out how to fill that space. I think he's kind of a lightweight when it comes to the actual substance of things, but so is Donald Trump, and it's been very successful for him.

TAPPER: And so, Paul, on the Democratic side, Robert Kennedy Jr. made an eye catching remark over the weekend. He -- well, this is what he told a reporter, I think an NBC reporter, about whether or not there should be a ban on abortion.


ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that a decision to abort a child should be up to the women during the first three months of life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you would cap it at 15 weeks?



KENNEDY: Yes. Yes, for three months.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So three months, you would sign a federal cap on that?

KENNEDY: Yes, I would.


TAPPER: Then just hours later, RFK Jr.'s campaign put out a statement that read, in part, quote, Mr. Kennedy's position on abortion is that it is always the woman's right to choose. He does not support legislation banning abortion, unquote. And the campaign, I believe, tried to blame this on there was bad sound or whatever. I don't know, it seems pretty --

BEGALA: He said it three or four times in that interview.

TAPPER: He looked like he was working it out.

BEGALA: Right. He kept coming back to it. And it's not 15. He said 12.

TAPPER: Right.

BEGALA: Do the math, buddy. It's 12. It reminds me when his Uncle Teddy was running against Mitt Romney for the Senate. Romney claimed he was pro-choice earlier. He said he was pro-life. And Teddy said to him in the debate, Mitt, you're not pro-choice, you're multiple choice. Bobby's now multiple choice.

TAPPER: Yes. What do you think of that? Do you think that this is going to hurt Robert Kennedy, or do you think the people, whatever it is, 10 to 14 -- 10 to 19 percent of the Democrats in certain polls say they support him, do you think they don't care? They're just anti- Biden. BARRON-LOPEZ: I think that, yes, he's definitely benefiting from this anti-Biden wing. But they're -- I don't see how you actually make a viable case in the Democratic primary, one that where you can potentially win, which he -- I don't think he can at all. And that's safe to say. And say that you support a national ban on abortion at 12 weeks, you know, at three months. This is such a salient issue for Democratic voters.


And even independent voters, and those voters that Republicans or an independent candidate is going to try to have to win over if they want to make a viable case. Because all the voters that I've checked in with in these swing states that are maybe on the fence, they say that abortion is one of their biggest issues. TAPPER: Yes. Especially since Roe v. Wade was overturned, which is one of the reasons it was so staggering that he didn't seem have a position articulated at the time, because this is kind of important to Democratic voters.

GOLDBERG: Yes, I kind of welcome it, it's because it's been much commented upon on my side of the aisle about how Republicans are not -- don't have the vocabulary to talk about abortion because they could hide behind Roe v. Wade all this time. It's nice to see Democrats actually not have the vocabulary either.

TAPPER: Although I'm not sure how many people would consider him a Democrat at this point, but just saying. Anyway, thanks so much.

An emotional court appearance today, six Mississippi law enforcement officers who called themselves the Goon Squad, accused of torturing two black men. The reaction from those men ahead.



TAPPER: A horrific story out of Mississippi in our Law and Justice League today. Six now former law enforcement officers pleaded guilty today. The state charges for abusing and torturing two black men. The former officers who once referred to themselves as the Goon Squad pleaded guilty earlier this month to federal charges for the same January incident. The brutalized victims say the officers handcuffed, kicked, waterboarded and attempted to sexually assault them for nearly two hours. CNN's Ryan Young shows us how this story went from cover up to courtroom.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One by one, six disgraced former law enforcement officers were led into a Mississippi courtroom Monday to plead guilty to state charges related to assaulting Eddie Parker and Michael Jenkins for nearly two hours. The torture included physical, racist and attempted sexual abuse and a cover up.

EDDIE PARKER, VICTIM OF DEPUTY ASSAULT: I enjoyed the view of seeing the shame, the walk of shame, the head down. I hope this is a lesson to everybody out there. Justice will be served.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you plea count one aggravated assault, guilty or not guilty?


YOUNG (voice-over): The men admitted to calling themselves the Goon Squad, giving themselves that moniker because of their alleged willingness to use excessive force and not to report their actions. On January 24th, the six officers entered the victim's home without a warrant and according to the charges, handcuffed, repeatedly tased and attempted to sexually assault the two men after a white neighbor complained about suspicious activity at the home. It ended with Jenkins getting shot in the mouth.

DARREN LAMARCA, U.S. ATTY. FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI: They left him lying in a pool of blood, gathered on the porch of the house to discuss how to cover it up.

YOUNG (voice-over): In July, I spoke to Parker, Jenkins and Jenkins' mother and CNN toured the home where the crimes occurred.

PARKER: It's hard to stand right here, knowing what happened right here.

YOUNG (voice-over): Jenkins' injuries make it difficult for him to speak.


YOUNG (on camera): Has anyone from the department ever reached out to you and apologized? Have they ever asked for anything at all?


YOUNG (voice-over): Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey, who's also named in a federal lawsuit by the victims but does not face any charges, spoke about the incident in late June.

BRYAN BAILEY, RANKIN COUNTY SHERIFF: I believe in my heart that this department remains one of the best.

YOUNG (voice-over): He later apologized, saying he didn't initially fully understand the gravity of the crimes. Today he issued a statement saying in part, we hope that today's guilty pleas brings some sense of justice to the two victims in this case.


YOUNG: Jake, when you think about the pain that this family had to go through, Mary Jenkins said she didn't believe her son was going to survive this. Now the big question moving forward, how many other victims have been involved with this Goon Squad? That's a question that we'll continue to ask as well. Once again, it's important to note that these men also pled guilty to those federal charges. Jake?

TAPPER: Yes. Ryan Young, thank you so much for that important report.

Coming up, children as young as five years old, taking on the state of Montana in court and winning. But what will this ruling actually mean when it comes to protecting the climate?



TAPPER: In our Earth Matter Series now, as we continue to see more devastating and deadly extreme weather events such as the fires in Maui, a major legal victory. A judge has ruled Montana's continued use and mining of fossil fuels violates the state's constitution's guarantee of a clean and healthful environment for current and future generations.

Sixteen young people from Montana sued the state in Rikki unprecedented case. And I'm joined now by the lead plaintiff, Ricky Held, Julia Olson is also with me. She's the chief legal counsel for Our Children's Trust, the organization representing young people in pending climate cases in four other states. Rikki, congratulations. I have a 13-year-old and 15-year-old and I often think about how are they and that generation, including you, going to judge my generation when it comes to climate change and especially the baby boomers who, you know, between you and me, I think are mainly responsible.

But today's ruling may set legal precedent for similar cases in other states. It won't, however, stop the mining or the burning of fossil fuels in Montana. So what is your reaction to the ruling?

RIKKI HELD, PLAINTIFF, MONTANA CLIMATE COURT CASE: Well, first of all, I'm just really excited about the ruling. It's been a long time coming. We've waited three years just being part of this case, and we've known about human cause of climate change at least half a century so, just getting a ruling that listens to our stories and our voices and to the best available science is just really important.

And, yes, all we can do is the actions that are in our control moving forward and whether that's as individuals or states, we can take responsibility and all generations are involved in that.

TAPPER: And Rikki, the Office of Montana's Attorney General said in a statement, quote, this ruling is absurd, but not surprising from a judge who let the plaintiff's attorneys put on a weeklong taxpayer- funded publicity stunt that was supposed to be a trial, unquote. Montana is expected, of course, to appeal the ruling. You just graduated from college. Will you continue this fight if the state appeals?

HELD: Yes, if -- Julia can talk about the more. But if it gets appealed, then we'll go to the Montana Supreme Court and it'll continue. Yes.


TAPPER: Julia, on a practical level, what does this ruling accomplish beyond obviously the symbolic victory?

JULIA OLSON, CHIEF LEGAL COUNSEL AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Yes, I mean, this ruling is monumental. It's one of the most important rulings on climate change in the history of the world. And what happened in Montana was experts, climate scientists, energy specialists, medical professionals, and the youth like Rikki took the stand, and they told the truth about what's happening to the planet and to Montana and to the health of these young people.

And what the ruling will do is it will stop fossil fuel pollution, not overnight in Montana, but it does really hamper the state's ability to continue to approve new fossil fuel projects. The judge says it's unconstitutional to continue to do so, and the state's going to have to look hard at continuing to allow fossil fuel development and emissions in Montana going forward. TAPPER: But if the state does appeal the ruling and it goes to the Montana Supreme Court, is that friendly terrain for your case, do you think, Julia?

OLSON: I think the Montana Supreme Court is a very fair and thoughtful court that is willing to uphold the Montana Constitution and protect the rights of the people of Montana, including its youth. So we think we have a really fair shot, as any case does headed up there. And in the meanwhile, Judge Seeley's opinion is the law of the land in the state of Montana and the state's required to comply with it.

TAPPER: And do you plan on doing this in other states?

OLSON: We do. We have a Hawaii trial set for June 2024. We're going to the Utah Supreme Court this fall, and we're also in the Virginia Court of Appeals in addition to our big federal case, the Juliana versus United States litigation, where we're also aiming to get to trial early next year.

TAPPER: All right, Julia Olson and Rikki Held, congratulations to both of you and thank you for your time today.

OLSON: Thank you.

TAPPER: Turning to our Health Lead, stroke is the fifth most common cause of death in the United States. And for those who do survive, strokes often leave them disabled. Now, for the first time, a deep brain stimulator is helping disabled stroke patients move. CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta followed one patient in a trial who went from only being able to take a few steps to being able to do yard work and cook.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stan Nicholas was a born performer. A founder of the Cleveland based Burnt River Band, he spent decades on stage. But it all came to a halt one evening in 2017. He was 66 years old.

STAN NICHOLAS, FOUNDER, BURNT RIVER BAND: I lost my balance and I fell to the floor. Every time I got halfway up, my knees would buckle and I'd fall down again.

GUPTA (voice-over): Fourteen hours later, a friend walked into his home and found him on the floor.

NICHOLAS: I was taken to a university hospital in downtown Cleveland, where I woke up with a doctor standing over me. I asked the doctor if I had died. The doctor said, you had a bad stroke.

GUPTA (voice-over): This is what Stan's brain looked like a few days later. All that dark part on the left, that's the part of Stan's brain that died because it hadn't received enough blood. NICHOLAS: So I couldn't walk when I woke up. I couldn't move my left arm or my left hand. I thought that I was going to be disabled for life. I've had a lot of therapy.

GUPTA (voice-over): Within a few months, all that Stan was able to do was take a few steps, and then he simply plateaued.

(on camera): When you first saw him, what was the expectation for his recovery?

DR. ANDRE MACHADO, NEUROSURGEON, CLEVELAND CLINIC: The expectation was poor. He was more than a year out from his stroke. He had already undergone physical therapy, occupational therapy, and despite the early improvements, he was stable. He wasn't improving anymore.

GUPTA (voice-over): That's why Dr. Andre Machado, a neurosurgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, offered something to Stan that was a first in humans, a deep brain stimulator. That's what you see there. Now, you may have heard of these for Parkinson's disease, but this was being placed specifically to help Stan recover from his stroke.

(on camera): Stan had weakness but was able to walk with his left leg. But it was really his arm. He was unable to close and open his hand and lifting his arm. He was having difficulties.

MACHADO: He had enormous difficulties using his hand for any useful activity of daily living on the left side.

GUPTA (voice-over): So in September of 2020, three years after his stroke, Stan underwent an eight hour long operation where this 1.3 millimeter probe, which is as wide as a grain of sand, was placed into the cerebellum of his brain.


(on camera): He had physical therapy, stimulator placed. How soon after did you start to see any changes?

MACHADO: Within the first month.

NICHOLAS: I can lift my left arm, which I couldn't do, like this.

MACHADO: This can transition from being hope, which it is today, to perhaps a treatment that will be a standard treatment in the future.

GUPTA (voice-over): For Stan, it now means being able to live independently.

NICHOLAS: It's helped me out with my cooking, ferry my meals and eating and things around the house, yard work and household chores.

GUPTA (voice-over): And hopefully one day he'll be able to play again.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER: And our thanks to Sanjay Gupta for that report. CNN is live at the Fulton County Courthouse this evening, where the grand jury appears to be working ahead of schedule. And they are still working, even though it is long after 5:00 p.m. What we're learning about today's testimony as that investigation into 2020 election crimes could soon lead to an indictment. Stay with us.