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Panel Recommended Charging Graham, Perdue, Loeffler; Special Grand Jury Recommended Charging 39 People; Officials: At Least 8 Credible Sightings Of Escaped Killer; Philly DA Released Body Cam Video Of Man Shot by Officer. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired September 08, 2023 - 15:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Unredacted and released, we now have the list of people a special grand jury in Georgia thought should face charges for interfering in the 2020 Election, but in the end dodged indictments. Now reaction is coming in from some of the key players, including South Carolina senator, Lindsey Graham.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: A shocking video released in the case of a police officer who shot and killed a 27 year old man during a traffic stop. That officer has now been fired and faces multiple charges, including murder. We're going to walk you through that shocking video and the difference in what we see from the original story police told.

And later, waiting for a rescue, we're going to tell you when crews may begin what will be a very complicated mission to save an American stranded more than 3000 feet underground in a cave. We are following these major developing stories and many more all coming in right here to CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

SANCHEZ: Recommended but not charged, new details revealing on the sprawling Georgia investigation into allegations of 2020 Election interference by Donald Trump and his allies. A report released just a short time ago shows that the special grand jury recommended charges for some of the former president's closest associates, but ultimately they were not charged.

It includes some big names, including current South Carolina senator, Lindsey Graham, and former Georgia senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Graham was scrutinized for a phone call, you might remember, he made to Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, after the 2020 Election, a call that came before Trump's infamous find the votes call in early January of 2021.

The special grand jury also recommended charges for a pro-Trump attorney, Cleta Mitchell and advisor, Boris Epshteyn, and his former national security advisor, Michael Flynn. All of them managed to dodge indictments from the district attorney. In all, the special grand jury recommended charges against 39 people, but District Attorney Fani Willis charged only 18 of them.

We should note there was one defendant, Mike Roman, who was indicted, but was not in the report.

Let's get you straight to Capitol Hill now and CNN's Melanie Zanona who has reaction from Sen. Graham.

Melanie, what are you hearing about this?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: That's right. We did hear from Senator Lindsey Graham for the first time since this news broke today and he is defending his actions. He said he was just doing his due diligence as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that he just had concerns about the mail-in voting process. And he also noted that he ultimately voted to certify the election results, including in Georgia.

But as a reminder, there are conflicting accounts about what occurred on a phone call between Graham and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Raffensperger said that Graham essentially pressured him to toss out legal mail-in ballots and that it made him very uncomfortable. But Graham has denied that accusation.

He told our Manu Raju back in 2020 that he was just calling to inquire about the mail-in voting process, about the signature verification system. And he also said that he wasn't even talking about the 2020 presidential election, that he was talking about a critical pair of Senate runoff races in Georgia that occurred in January 2021. But let's take a listen to what he told reporters in South Carolina earlier today.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): This is troubling for the country. We can't criminalize senators doing their job when they have a constitutional requirement to fulfill. It would be irresponsible for me, in my opinion, as chairman of the committee, not to try to find out what happened.


ZANONA: So again, you heard Graham right over there just denying any wrongdoing in this case. But I do think it is a good reminder of just how involved Trump's allies, including members of Congress, were involved in this effort to try to overturn the 2020 Election. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Melanie Zanona from Capitol Hill, thank you so much.

SCIUTTO: All right. Let's speak now to CNN's Paula Reid, Evan Perez along with CNN Legal Analyst, Norm Eisen.

Just, Norm, big picture legal look here for a moment, 39 folks recommended to be indicted by this special grand jury. The DA ends with 19, fewer than half.


Does that show prosecutorial - I don't know if restraint is the right word or that she's trying to build her strongest case against the strongest group of defendants?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, when you have Jack Smith with one defendant and Fani Willis with 19, it's a little tough to use the word prosecutorial restraint. I would say it does show prosecutorial discipline. As somebody who's practiced criminal law for over three decades, prosecutors don't always indict everyone that a grand jury may feel evidence exists as to, they have to ask themselves multiple questions like which of these almost 40 are the strongest cases.

If I charge a Lindsey Graham, will I get massive legal objections based on the Constitution for a sitting senator? If I charge another name that's gotten a lot of attention, a Cleta Mitchell, one of the alleged organizers of this conspiracy, according to this special grand jury.

But was her conduct more aggressive lawyering or did it cross that line into criminality? Was she active on that infamous January 2nd Brad Raffensperger call? She didn't talk very much. So those kinds of considerations, I think, sound prosecutorial discipline.

One last thing, Lindsey Graham complained. We just heard the sound that this was a criminalization of his duties. But it's just the opposite, Jim, because Fani Willis said, no, I'm not going to charge Lindsey Graham. So I think it speaks to her prudence.

SANCHEZ: Paula, let's take a step back, because the release of this report is something that is extremely rare and it gives us a unique insight into how special grand jury members interpret evidence.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, what makes this grand jury special is that they hear the evidence, they heard from dozens of witnesses over seven months and then they make recommendations to the district attorney. Those are not binding on the district attorney, but it is extraordinary to be able to see this kind of information, because now we know one of the data points that she was using when she made her decision to go ahead and move forward with indictments.

So it's extraordinary to have this kind of access. CNN was one of the organizations that pushed to make this public. As we know, there were no objections among the jurors to releasing this and the judge said, look, now that the indictment is out, I am willing to release this.

But some people may also argue that there's a reason that the grand jury process is secret, to protect people who may have been recommended for charges but not ultimately charged, and just to protect the process as a whole.

SCIUTTO: Well, Georgia has these transparency laws, which we saw with the release of the names of the jurors themselves, right? I mean, that's the law there, whether it's going to be adapted to our new times is a question.

One thing we also see in here, and this is very interesting, is the exact votes, right? How many jurors voted to indict and did not indict. What do we learn from that? EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the things that's interesting is that we see consistently at least one no vote on many of the names that we know were in the end charged, right? And I - we don't know whether it's the same member of the grand jury, it's the same juror that is objecting to pretty much all of them or whether that is - whether we had a mix and match of certain number of jurors who are unsure about particular people.

For instance, certainly on Cleta Mitchell, on people like Lindsey Graham, you see big differences. There were 13 yes votes on Lindsey Graham, seven votes on no votes on Lindsey Graham. Cleta Mitchell, along with a lot of the other ones that were - that ended up being charged, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, you see 20 yes votes and one no vote.

It's interesting also reading this list, right, going through - I focus on Cleta Mitchell because she was one of the people who early on signed on to the former president's efforts to try to overturn the election. There was also Boris Epshteyn who was instrumental in trying to design the fake elector scheme. And, of course, Mike Flynn, who also did not get charged and he was one of the ones who suggested using the military to try to go seize voting machines.

These are all people who ended up not getting charged. I should note, we did hear from Mike Flynn's lawyer. He said that this is - he called this a witch hunt, a political witch hunt. Of course, Boris Epshteyn declined to comment, except to say that he wants to be called a lawyer for the former president, not just an advisor.

SANCHEZ: Notably on the question of Boris Epshteyn, he wasn't indicted here. He wasn't indicted in the federal case either. Does that tell you anything when 20 jurors vote to recommend an indictment, one votes against and yet nothing from Fani Willis?

SCIUTTO: His was not a close call in terms of the vote.



EISEN: Well, it tells us that the criminal justice system is not a matter of exact calculations, that in the end of the day, there are very fine prosecutorial judgments are made. Now, New York Times has reported that one of the unindicted co-conspirators in the Jack Smith case may, it's not definitive, it may be Boris Epshteyn.


So we'll see if there's any further developments there or not.

But I was very struck - Evan and I both - they're like scorecards, these cats (ph) so we both marked them, I was looking over. The Lindsey - it takes 12 - a majority of the special grand jury to indict. And Lindsey Graham got 13 yes votes, just one more than was necessary in one of the closer tallies here. So those - it's the - I think it's the genius of - part of the genius of the American criminal justice system. You - it is not all up to prosecutors and judges, it's up to ordinary people to average Americans who sit there and make these judgments as well.

SCIUTTO: Just as the jury trial will be. And ultimately ...

EISEN: The ultimate test.

SCIUTTO: You need that to be unanimous. That's a - that'll be the issue, right, when you get there.

Norm Eisen, Evan Perez, Paula Reid, thanks so much as always.

Still ahead, a police officer in Philadelphia turns himself in to face charges for killing a man during a traffic stop. How prosecutors and the officer's defense team are reacting to just disturbing, shocking new video released today.

SANCHEZ: Plus, SAT and ACT to CLT, why the use of a college entrance exam in Florida is drawing controversy, next on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.



SCIUTTO: Pennsylvania authorities say there have now been at least eight credible sightings of the convicted murderer who broke out of prison last week. Today, we are getting a look at the command center set up to track him.

CNN's Danny Freeman is outside the Chester County Prison.

Danny, any news? Are they making any progress?

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Listen, Pennsylvania State Police, they are definitely projecting strength on day nine of this manhunt for Danelo Cavalcante. And I want - I did get a chance to tour that command center just a few hours ago.

But actually, before I get to that, I do want to bring you a bit of breaking news that CNN has just confirmed. I can tell you that the corrections officer who was on duty at the time of Cavalcante's escape, just a little bit - half a mile away from here, the Chester County Prison, that corrections officer was terminated yesterday afternoon. That confirmation coming from a Chester County government official.

And just to rewind for a second to remind viewers, basically, the acting warden of the prison said that Cavalcante was able to crab walk up a part of the exercise yard, get up to the roof, jump over and through some razor wire and that was how he was able to escape. But the acting warden really pointed to the tower guard, a corrections officer, who did not report nor see, according to the warden, that escape as it happened. And they're saying that that's part of the reason why Cavalcante got about an hour's head start on authorities once he was able to leave the prison. So that news just coming into us.

Now, back to the actual search itself. This area, this search area, I should say, has been expanding. We're now seeing north of 350 law enforcement officials - nearing 400 - on the ground, in the air, on horseback, trying to find Cavalcante.

But during this tour of the command center that I attended a few hours ago, I asked Pennsylvania State Police why this show of force, which is the largest amount of law enforcement officers this search has seen yet, how come this didn't come sooner. Take a listen.


FREEMAN (off camera): Why wasn't this amount of people deployed right away?

LT. COL. GEORGE BIVENS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: The numbers, you will see them rise and fall. If this isn't successful, I may keep the same number, depending on what the information is. We had as many as we needed for the various operations that we had going on. It doesn't do us any good to bring all of those resources and pull them from other places, because they're not just sitting around with nothing to do. They've got policing functions elsewhere when they're not here and so there's a balance there.


FREEMAN: So that's the explanation right there. But make no mistake, there definitely is a show of force today. The largest number of law enforcement agents on the ground searching for Cavalcante on day nine of this manhunt. Back to you.

SCIUTTO: Still a lot of work to do.

Danny Freeman, thanks so much. Boris?

SANCHEZ: His job was to protect lives. But now this Philadelphia police officer is being accused of murder. Today, Officer Mark Dial surrendered to authorities for the shooting death of 27-year-old Eddie Irizarry last month. Dial turned himself in just hours before the Philadelphia district attorney released the chilling raw footage of Dial's body camera showing that Irizarry's life ended roughly five seconds after Dial exited his police car. The video also contradicts what police initially said about the killing.

The DA said the footage and other evidence also show the charges of murder, aggravated assault and more are warranted, listen.


LARRY KRASNER, PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Confirmed by a judge of the court of common pleas who signed off on these charges, support all the charges we have brought, including a charge of first degree murder, that jury instructions support it, that the law supports it. And frankly, in my opinion, it's not even really a discussion.


SANCHEZ: CNN's Brynn Gingras is here to walk us through the video released by the DA.

Brynn, these images are difficult to look at, but Irizarry's family wanted transparency. They wanted this to be out in the public.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Boris. They said they wanted full videos, both officers' body camera footage, not edited, not blurred, released to the public. And that's what the DA did today after also filing these charges against one of the police officers. The second police officer is not facing charges, it's important to note that.


But let me walk you through some of that video. This happened in mid- August. Eddie Irizarry, he was pulled over by police. And you can see from the video in plain sight that it's within seconds, like you just said, Boris, that the officers get out of their patrol car and then shots were fired five seconds after they exited the video.

Now, there is a little bit of a lag in the audio of that body camera footage. So it's difficult to understand how many warnings were given to Irizarry before those shots were fired, though you do hear one on one of the police body cameras from one of those officers. It's unclear which one.

But again, a big point here that is so important to this story is that initially when Philadelphia police announced this incident, they said Irizarry was outside his vehicle and he was shot after not listening to commands from police.

Well, it's very obvious now from this body camera footage that he was not outside his vehicle. He was inside and he was shot and he was killed. And his defense attorney, I want to mention also saying that - I'm sorry, the defense attorney for Mark Dial saying that he believes these charges now against this police officer who has been fired from Philadelphia police, well, they're not warranted. He called them appalling. And he also said that they're going to fight them.

We do want you to watch some of that video now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raise your hand. Raise your hand.

MARK DIAL: Show me your hand. (Inaudible) out, I'll (inaudible) shoot you.

4-13, shots fired, shots fired, 100 West Willard.

Get your hands up (inaudible) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) West Willard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

DIAL: All right. All right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. (Inaudible) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...


GINGRAS: And so, again, that's a short section of the video that I described to you. It's important to note that, again, an officer did give a warning about a knife. There were knives found inside the car. But all of that, of course, is going to play out in this trial.

And right now, that officer, he's being held on $500,000 bail, Boris, and he'll be back in court later this month.

SANCHEZ: Brynn Gingras, thank you so much, Jim?

SCIUTTO: With us now, civil rights attorney, Areva Martin.

Good to have you, Areva.

When you look at that tape, which we should acknowledge is just difficult to watch, how quickly those shots were fired. Does this have the makings of a first-degree murder charge, in your view?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think absolutely, Jim, when you look at the video, there is no evidence that these officers had any justification for firing their weapons. They gave a command. We at least hear one command. There may have been other commands. We couldn't hear them on the video. But they never gave Eddie Irizarry any opportunity to respond to the commands that were given to him. His window was up during the entire incident. He's seated in his car.

So even though there were knives found after the fact, there's no evidence that he raised his hand, that he pointed the knife at them, that he did anything that was a threatening gesture to these police officers that would have justified the shooting of him in the five seconds in which they fired their weapons.

And then when you look at the conduct afterwards, Jim, really appalling. Talk about appalling. His attorneys use that word, I'm going to use it. Their conduct was appalling even after the shooting.

SCIUTTO: Are you talking about the story they told, because a key discrepancy here is that the police said initially he was outside the vehicle. Of course, he was not, as the video shows.

MARTIN: Absolutely, Jim. That fabricated story to justify the shooting of Eddie Irizarry. The police told the public that he was outside of his car. There's even one report that he was outside of the car with a knife and that that somehow justified the shooting. And then we get the body cam video and it directly contradicts the story of the police officers.

He's in his car, his windows rolled up. He's not brandishing the knife. He's not making a threatening action or movement towards the police officers. And then there's also - when you look at the entire body cam video, Jim, you could hear conversations between the officers.

One officer, the officer that has not been charged, making it clear that he wasn't the shooter, as if he's getting this story together. The other officer that is involved in the shooting telling people stop talking because the mic is hot.


So a lot of conduct that's disturbing.

SCIUTTO: Yes. You and I, unfortunately, have talked a number of times about police-involved shootings, often under circumstances like this where it seems like - I hate to use the expression - jump the gun. You know what I'm saying and that's not to disparage the good police work of many and most police officers.

Here you have an officer now charged quite quickly with murder. Are we seeing the legal system catch up to some degree, in other words, that it's more likely to charge and hold officers in cases like this to account legally?

MARTIN: I think, Jim, we are. But we have to give a lot of credit to the activists, because initially the Philadelphia Police Department, they weren't going to release the body cam video. They had not released it. This shooting took place back, I believe, on August 15. Here we are, September 7th - September 8th.


MARTIN: So it's not as if the police responded or the district attorney responded without the activism of people on the ground. So I think public pressure definitely does have an impact and is moving police departments and district attorneys' offices to move more quickly on these cases.

SCIUTTO: Yep, and body cam footage as well, particularly when it contradicts the police testimony initially.

Areva Martin, thanks so much.

MARTIN: Thanks, Jim.


SANCHEZ: Still ahead, the governing body for Florida's education system set to allow college applicants to submit results from an entrance exam popular among Christian schools and conservative groups, but it is controversial. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What gets tested ends up getting taught, that if you change this one thing in American education, you could fundamentally change all of education with it.


SANCHEZ: The president of the Florida Education Association is here with us on CNN NEWS CENTRAL to react to the news. We're moments away from coming back. Stay with us.