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Four Kids Believed To Have Survived Plane Crash & 17 Days In Amazon; New Evidence In Classified Docs Probe May Undercut Trump; MA U.S. Attorney Allegedly Leaked Sensitive Info To Journalist To Influence Political Campaign; Man Pleads Not Guilty In Stabbing Death Of Cash App Founder. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 18, 2023 - 13:30   ET






BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: The Colombian Civil Aviation Authority said rescue teams followed a trail of hair scrunchies, plastic wrappings and baby bottles as they try to locate the kids. The young survivors had apparently built themselves a shelter of sticks and leaves.

The Colombian forces found three adult bodies, reportedly including the children's mother, in the wreckage of their small Cessna plane.

Joining us now to discuss and get some insight is survival expert and author, Dave Canterbury.

Dave, thank you so much for sharing part of your afternoon with us.

First, I just want to put the challenge that the kids are facing into context. You're talking about some of the densest rain forest on earth. What are they facing?

DAVE CANTERBURY, SURVIVAL EXPERT & AUTHOR: Well, the one thing I think you have to put into contact is these are indigenous people. They're tribal people, children of tribal people.

So they probably have some knowledge of the local flora, fauna, things like that, and what they can use off the landscape.

However, surviving a plane crash alone, that's phenomenal itself. And then the fact that they have the 4-year-old and an 11-month-old child becomes your anomaly because that child probably needs much more care than the older children do.

The older children are probably leading this expedition out. Would they be better off staying in place to be found? I would say, yes, they probably would.

However, they're probably thinking that if they keep moving toward water, water becomes the highway in the jungle. The closer they can get to water, the closer they are to being found.

SANCHEZ: That's a really important point. It's interesting you describe the baby as being the anomaly. Maybe for survivalists it's an anomaly, but the whole situation seems like something out of fiction, right?

And apparently, the weather isn't helping, either. There's a lot of rain falling in that area. How does that complicate the process?

CANTERBURY: Once the rivers start to swell, things like that, you have areas that are rapids. It makes it more difficult to navigate. Obviously, rivers are kind of the highways, so they'll be using those waterways to get to and from places, obviously to extract the survivors out, things of that nature.

It's more different during torrential rains when those rivers are swollen.

SANCHEZ: They've been out there for more than two weeks. If you're a child, you're in a plane crash, something horrible like that happens, you see loved ones that might be injured or killed, what's your first step? What do you do in that situation if you're in the middle of the Amazon?

CANTERBURY: Being a child, it's hard to say their thought process would be. From a survival standpoint, obviously, to understand what injuries they may have from the plane crash and attend to those injuries first.

Once that is taken care of, it becomes a simple system of sheltering ourselves from any exterior elements, making sure we have water, and the torrential rains are going to add plenty of water, and then sustainable food, especially for the younger ones who require food more often.

And then, are they going to navigate toward a waterway, like I said, or try to stay put. I tend to believe, because these tribal children were probably from a river-oriented tribe to begin with, they probably understand moving toward water is their best bet for rescue.

Going from one body of water to a largest body of water -- to a larger body of water to hit the largest river they can find, to find something in the form of civilization or someone traveling to and from.

SANCHEZ: That's really important context. These are indigenous children. They're part of a local tribe so they probably have some awareness of the rain forest and the fauna and what to eat and what not.

But it's still scary being out there, with so many things being poisonous and venomous, right?

CANTERBURY: Oh, there's no question. You have large predators out there, like jaguars, you've got poisonous snakes, you've got venomous spiders. All of those things are out there. Not to mention just the constant pestering of insects in general.

And then the constant rain, which would be a large morale factor for someone like us, but for someone who lives in that day in and day out, probably not as much of a downfall in morale as it would be for someone like us.

But I think that the fact these children are as young as they are, realizing a 13-year-old child growing up in that familiar will probably be similar to someone growing up around the eastern woodlands around the United States. They're going to know what to stay away from, what they can eat, what they can't eat, things like that.

However, alone, without anyone around, definitely going to be a challenge.

SANCHEZ: Especially with an 11-month-old baby. Yikes. That is tough. But it sounds like at least they're alive. And hopefully will be found soon.

Dave Canterbury, thank you so much for sharing your perspective with us. We would love to chat more once they're found.

CANTERBURY: Absolutely, sure. Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much.




Coming up, an exclusive CNN report that appears to expose a core weakness in Donald Trump's defense of his handling of classified documents.


KEILAR: A CNN exclusive, the National Archives has informed former President Trump it will hand over 16 records to the special counsel.

Multiple sources tell CNN that the records show that Trump and his top advisers knew how to correctly declassify records while he was president.

Trump has claimed that, as president, he could declassify documents by simply removing them from the White House, a claim he repeated last week as at CNN town hall.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN TOWN HALL MODERATOR: Do you still have any classified documents in your possession?


COLLINS: Do you?

TRUMP: No, I don't have anything. I have no classified documents.


And, by the way, they become automatically declassified when I took them.


KEILAR: CNN's senior legal affairs correspondent, Paula Reid, is joining us.

Paula, why does the special counsel, Jack Smith, want to get a hold of these records.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: They're interested in these records because they will establish the extent to which the former president was aware of the proper process for declassifying materials.

Notably, last night, one of the former president's attorneys was on CNN. He acknowledged, yes. his client was aware of the process, but at one point he stopped using it.

Let's take a listen.


JIM TRUSTY, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: He is aware of a bureaucratic process that can be used. He used that bureaucratic process in the middle of his presidency to declassify the Crossfire Hurricane matters that are the subject of that 316-page report we saw this week.

But at the end of his presidency, he relied on the constitutional authority as commander-in-chief, which is to take documents and take them to Mar-a-Lago, while still president, as he was at the time, and to effectively declassify and personalize them.

He talked about declassifying them, but he didn't need to. If you look at the Constitution, if you look at the Presidential Records Act, there is absolutely no basis for saying that bureaucracy rules and the president doesn't have the authority entrusted him by the voters to possess and to declassify and to hold onto documents.


REID: So Trump's legal team has given various, at times, conflicting explanations for what happened with these documents.

Here he's saying, yes, he used that process while he was president, but toward the end of the administration, he stopped going through the bureaucratic process.

And he said he had the power to do that because the president's powers to declassify are very broad. But he also conflating two things, the Presidential Records Act, which requires, when you leave office, all the documents, all the records belong to the government, and again, those powers to declassify.

They have also previously said that he had a standing order that everything would be declassified. The former officials have no knowledge of that. He's saying, yes, he knew about the process, but he didn't have to use it. And he didn't. And that's something that's never been tested by the courts.

KEILAR: He's conflating a lot.


KEILAR: -- as you point out.

Paula, stay with us.

I want to bring in CNN legal analyst, Norm Eisen, to talk about this.

Norm, these 16 letters showing that Trump knew how to properly declassify. How big of a deal is it for the special counsel's case?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Brianna, I think the 16 letters are significant for the special counsel's case.

Because if Jack Smith charges this matter, and it goes to a jury, the jury will need to decide, is this some made-up story or the reality?

The reality is the law applies. Donald Trump cannot just declassify documents by blinking. That law is in place. And this is proof that he knew it. Very big deal.

KEILAR: So, also CNN has learned, Norm, that's National Archives officials, in a closed-door interview in Marsh, told the House Intel Committee that every administration since President Ronald Reagan has misclassified classified materials. There's been commingling of classified and unclassified documents.

Clearly that's different from documents being requested, subpoenas not complied with, but nonetheless, could that help Trump?

EISEN: Well, it's apples and oranges, Brianna. There's no doubt that, inadvertently, mistakes have been made in every administration or made all the time.

But here you have a pattern over many months of the government demanding these very classified, very sensitive documents back, and evidence not only that they were withheld, but there may have been obstruction, a cover-up about the documents.

That's totally different than what all the other administrations have done.

KEILAR: Norm, I want to bring Paula back in to talk about something completely different here that's making headlines. That is another DOJ investigation, this one having to do with a U.S.

attorney out of Massachusetts, Rachel Rawlins, accused of leaking sensitive DOJ information to a journalist, lying to investigators, which is a big deal, and improperly attending a fundraiser with first lady, Jill Biden.

What more can you tell us about this?

REID: This U.S. attorney yesterday, she was the subject of two damning investigative reports. The first one by the Justice Department's internal watchdog found she leaked sensitive DOJ information to a reporter to help a political ally. Then she lied about it in the course of the investigation.

A different report found that she violated the Hatch Act, which requires that federal officials do not try to interfere in local elections.

In fact, they said that once they investigated it, they found her conduct to be some of the most egregious transgressions of that act. But they are not going to investigate her because she is going to resign.


KEILAR: Highly unusual.

REID: Highly unusual, especially when we talk so much about election interference, about efforts to overturn the 2020 election, to have this is incredibly damning for this U.S. attorney.

KEILAR: All right, Paula Reid, Norm Eisen, thank you so much to both of you.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Still ahead, the man accused of killing the founder of Cash App was just arraigned in court. The new details we're learning about the case.

And later, the ruby red slipper heist. It's been 18 years since these, worn by Judy Garland in the "Wizard of Oz," were stolen. How investigators made a break in the case to then file charges. Coming up on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.



KEILAR: Today, we are learning more about what Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's team described as a relentless pursuit by the paparazzi.

The team claimed that by standers and pedestrians in New York City could have been in danger as photographers tried to capture pictures of the couple between the Ziegfeld Ballroom, which you see her in midtown, and the 19th Police Precinct there on the upper eastside. The photo agency says that it is investigating but points out that

accounts from photographers paint a slightly different picture.

In a statement, the agency said, "The photographers' report that one of the four SUVs from Prince Harry's security escort was driving in a manner that could be perceived as reckless."

"The vehicle was seen blocking off streets. And in one video, it is shown being pulled over by the police."

Not surprising, of course, there are differing accounts here.

We're hearing from a taxi driver who picked up the couple. He said that Harry and Meghan were nervous and scared in his car.


SUKHCHARN SINGH, TAXI DRIVER WHO PICKED UP HARRY & MEGHAN: It was their security guard who said where they were going. Right? And as soon as he's about to say where they're going, all of a sudden, the paparazzi stormed the taxi and there were flashes coming from every direction. They were up against the car, taking pictures, stuff like that, standing in front.

We got stuck behind the garbage truck, and when the garbage truck moved, they started following the car and behind us.


KEILAR: The NYPD called the incident challenging, did not character it as a chase and noted there were no reported collisions, injuries or arrests.


SANCHEZ: Here's a look at some of the other headlines we're following this afternoon.

The South Carolina House has passed a controversial bill that would ban most abortions as early as six weeks. Democrats filed more than 1,000 amendments to try to deter Republicans from passing it. The bill now heads back to the GOP-controlled State Senate.

Meantime, convicted biotech fraudster, Elizabeth Holmes, has been ordered to report to prison by May 30th. Yesterday, the Theranos founder requested a pause on her 11-year sentence while appealing her conviction. The judge denied her request.

The suspect gave authorities the slip for nearly 20 years, but now a man has finally been indicted for stealing a pair of the original ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore in the "Wizard of Oz." Authorities claim he broke into the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota in 2005, smashed a glass case and stole the iconic footwear.

Jim? SCIUTTO: After multiple delays, the man charged in stabbing death of Cash App founder, Bob Lee, was arraigned today in a San Francisco court and will remain behind bars.

Nima Momeni pled not guilty to plunging a kitchen knife into Lee's hip and chest in the early morning hours of April 4th. Surveillance video from that night captured Lee's final moments when he limped down the street, wounded, begging for help.

But the back story in this case is starting to read something out of a dramatic crime novel. Police say Momeni and Lee actually knew each other, that they were in a car together just moments before the alleged attack.

Lee was also friends with Momeni's sister. And at the time of Lee's death, a toxicology report showed drugs in his system. Additionally, Momeni has previously been accused of assault.

CNN national correspondent, Natasha Chen, joins us with more.

Natasha, prosecutors now believe the killing may have been premedicated. But they had known each other and had multiple contacts. They were together moments before this took place. Do we have any idea how this played out?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jim. In the filings we're reading, prosecutors say this was a planned, deliberate attack. Because they say the suspect brought a kitchen knife with him in the car where they were together moments before the killing happened.

In the early morning hours of April 4th, prosecutors say Momeni drove Lee to a dark secluded place. And through surveillance footage, they say you can't make out faces very well, but the two figures are wearing outfits consistent with what Momeni and Lee were wearing earlier in the day.

Prosecutors say they can see Momeni making a sudden movement toward the victim and then throwing the knife away, fleeing the scene in his BMW at a fast rate of speed and, quote, "leaving the victim to die slowly."


And today, in the courtroom, our colleagues, who are there right now, are telling me that family members of both Lee and Momeni showed up to the arraignment. That Momeni's mother and sister were there. And that he pleaded not guilty, denied all allegations.

Afterward, we're hearing the district attorney is currently speaking to our colleagues. The defense attorney also spoke not too long ago, saying to remember all these people knew each other and that everyone is heartbroken about Lee's death -- Jim?

SCIUTTO: Goodness, knew each other. The circumstances and allegations just frightening. Natasha Chen, thank you so much.


KEILAR: President Biden meeting with world leaders in Japan, but it won't be the trip he hoped it would be thanks to a looming crisis back here in Washington.

And should teens be allowed to take Uber by themselves? The company may be ready but are parents? We'll have that ahead.

You're watching CNN NEWS CENTRAL.