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Home Photos Shown In Jennifer Crumbley's Manslaughter Trial; Georgia Fulton County Government Stung By Cyberattack; MAGA Media Figures Target Taylor Swift Ahead Of Super Bowl; Experimental Drug May Be Alternative To Opioid Pain Meds. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 30, 2024 - 15:30   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: It's been another dramatic day in the historic trial of Jennifer Crumbley. A short time ago, jurors saw pictures from inside her son's bedroom that were taken after he was arrested for killing four classmates at Oxford High School back in 2021. You can see two shooting targets above his bed.

Jennifer Crumbley now faces four counts of involuntary manslaughter for her role in her son's attack. CNN's Jean Casares has been tracking the latest details here. And, Jean, a detective says that he found multiple weapons inside their home. What else did jurors hear today?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was, as you're saying, the execution of the search warrant in the home of the Crumbleys, where Ethan lived.

And, of course, they were executing it, getting any potential evidence. But what they were really looking for was the gun case that was empty, the gun that had just committed that mass shooting. Where was the gun case? How could he get to it? I want you to -- and there it is right there. That's the empty gun case.

Detective Adam Stoyek testified he was there at the home where that open gun case was found.


DET. ADAM STOYEK, OAKLAND COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: There was an open gun box with an empty box of 9mm ammunition on the back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Now, is this the condition that this gun case and empty box of ammunition were found on November the 30th, 2021?

STOYEK: Correct.


CASAREZ: All right, now, what else was found in the master bedroom? Because that was on the bed in James and Jennifer Crumbley's master bedroom, opened.

So was it just left there? Did Ethan put it there when he got the gun to go to the school? We don't know that yet. But inside their dresser, you will see, here are pictures. You see on a drawer, you have a locked gun case with their other two guns.

They had three guns in the house, and they were locked up in that gun case. Underneath the gun case was clothing. And under the clothing, there was holster, two magazines, and ammo.

Now, there were also some BB guns in the house, but those were -- right there. Those were actual guns locked with the factory lock of 000 inside the dresser.

Now, what's interesting is when James and Jennifer Crumbley were taken into the sheriff's department, James said, I hid the gun, and then in a separate area, I hid any ammunition.

Well, there they are together on the bed. So what is the answer right there? Where did -- were they, and is that where Ethan found them, or did he know and he got them even though his father tried to hide it?

SANCHEZ: Really significant questions. Jean Casares, thanks so much for the update -- Brianna.

CASAREZ: Thank you.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: We're also following a developing situation in Fulton County, Georgia, where the capital city of Atlanta is located. A major cyberattack has virtually shut down government operations. There are widespread disruptions affecting the court, phone, and tax systems. People can't get marriage licenses. They can't pay their property tax bills.

The county sheriff's department and even DA Fani Willis's office have lost use of their phones and their computers.


We have CNN's Isabel Rosales, who has details for us on this investigation. Isabel, who do authorities think is behind this?

ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, good afternoon. This is still very clearly an active investigation in the early stages here. And the big question is, who is responsible for this? Who is behind putting some of Fulton County's government systems to an absolute standstill? And officials have not really released who is behind the attack. They have not spoken about that and whether they even know the answer to that question.

Now, the FBI in Atlanta told CNN that it is aware of the incident. It is in communications with Fulton County's IT department. But it would not comment on the specifics of this cyberattack.

Now, so far today, that outage has not been resolved. It is unclear as to a timeline here of when systems will go back to normal. And county officials are asking residents one thing, and that is patience.

Now, the biggest impacts here have been to phone, courts, and tax systems. Essentially putting the brakes on things like marriage licenses, how you mentioned there, paying property taxes, and also firearm registrations, even registering a vehicle tag. Residents here in Fulton County forced to use self-serving kiosks. Some of the offices here in town have been closed.

Now, Robb Pitts, the chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, did comment about this ongoing situation. Here's what he said.

We at Fulton County take cybersecurity seriously and we place a high priority on the protection of sensitive information. At this time, we are not aware of any transfer of sensitive information about citizens or employees, but we will continue to look carefully at this issue.

And Brianna, we are also expecting a written update at some point today. That is per Fulton County's Director of External Affairs. So obviously, we'll be paying close eye on that details.

KEILAR: Fulton County, Isabel, of course, has gotten so much attention because that is where this election subversion case against former President Trump and many other defendants is being tried. Do officials think that there is any connection to that? And how is the DA's office being affected here?

ROSALES: Right, and you can certainly understand the alarm and sensitivity that a lot of people have in knowing that Fulton County was the target of this cyberattack. This is the same district attorney's office that you mentioned is dealing with the Trump 2020 election subversion case, 18 other co-defendants as well. Officials have not declared whether there is any connection nor motive between the attack and Trump's case.

Now, I do also want to point out that Willis has a big deadline at the end of this week. She must respond to a judge, to allegations that she had an improper relationship with the special prosecutor in charge of this case. Now, as far as we know as to how her office is impacted, phone lines have been lost, internet, and the court system website, obviously something, all of these things, very important to the work that they do they do not have access to.

But as far as the extent of how their work is impacted, that is not clear -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Isabel, thank you so much for that.

So up next, it sounds like some people may need to calm down. Why Taylor Swift is at the center of an outlandish far-right conspiracy theory involving the singer, the NFL, the president, and the Pentagon. We'll have more on that ahead.



KEILAR: This is why we can't have nice things. I almost sung it, but I wasn't going to do that. SANCHEZ: Wait, that's a song?

KEILAR: That's a line from a Taylor Swift song.

With the Kansas City Chiefs headed to the Super Bowl, influential MAGA media personalities, they're pushing this conspiracy theory about Taylor Swift, her superstar boyfriend, Travis Kelsey, the NFL, the Democratic Party being in cahoots, all woven together here trying to get President Biden reelected.

SANCHEZ: We promised you a conspiracy theory, Mad Libs, and that is pretty much exactly what you're going to get.

A failed Republican presidential candidate, Vivek Ramaswamy, posted this, quote: I wonder if there's a major presidential endorsement coming from an artificially culturally propped up couple this fall.

No shortage of conspiracy theories from the failed presidential candidate. It also comes after far-right conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec claimed that the Democratic Party and other powers are, quote, gearing up for an operation to use Taylor Swift in the election against Donald Trump.

KEILAR: And then a host on Fox, Jesse Watters, went as far as to suggest that Swift is a Pentagon asset, a PSYOP.


JESSE WATTERS, FOX HOST: So is Swift a front for a covert political agenda? Primetime obviously has no evidence. If we did, we'd share it.

But we're curious, because the pop star who endorsed Biden is urging millions of her followers to vote. She's sharing links. And her boyfriend, Travis Kelty, sponsored by Pfizer, and their relationships boosted the NFL ratings this season, bringing in a whole new demographic.

So how's the PSYOP going?


KEILAR: Well, let's get some tinfoil hats and bring in CNN's Andrew Kaczynski to talk about this. All right, Andrew, I mean, break this down for us. This is a really weird one.


ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN KFILE SENIOR EDITOR: Yes, that's right. I mean, we have seen a lot of nonsense on social media over the years. But as conspiracy theories go, this is pretty out there.

Far-right conspiracy theorists now have bad blood over Taylor Swift's romance with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelty and the way it has captivated America.

They now have this delusional theory that all of this is orchestrated by the NFL and the Democratic Party, and that it's aimed at delivering the 2024 presidential election for Joe Biden. Some have even claimed, as we saw, that she's a secret Pentagon asset.

Now, what is the root of all of this? Well, Taylor Swift endorsed Joe Biden in 2021. She is arguably the biggest pop star in the world, and Gen Z is an increasing voter block. Kelsey has encouraged people to get the COVID vaccine, and that's also been a target of conspiracy theories. And now all of these people are just saying this is being artificially built up for a Biden endorsement.

SANCHEZ: There's a lot of red string tying a lot of different ideas together on the pin board.

KEILAR: His brother was drinking Bud Light with his shirt off.

SANCHEZ: It's true. It's true. I do think that one of the weaknesses in the argument, though, is that the NFL is somehow aligned with the Democratic Party. I'm not sure that a lot of the NFL owners and their history of endorsements and political donations line up with that. Nevertheless, Andrew, Taylor Swift has been political in the past. You noted she's arguably the most popular woman on earth right now. Does this seem to you like a way to potentially counteract any influence she could potentially have in the election?

KACZYNSKI: Well, I think there is a real fear here from these people that Swift backing Biden could get young people to turn out to vote. She does have a massive following, but obviously this so-called plot is just nonsense.

So I think you're encountering sort of two people here, right? There's people who believe this conspiracy theory and are spreading it, and there are people who don't and are spreading it anyway to take advantage of people who believe it.

Vivek Ramaswamy is a good example of that. Here's a guy who was a former presidential candidate who widely speculated that the Super Bowl is being rigged to make way for a Biden endorsement. And this is someone who, when running for president -- or before running for president, he condemned Trump for January 6th, but then later claimed that the riot looked like an inside job.

So, and of course, why would it even be surprising, right, that Taylor Swift is endorsing Joe Biden? She supported him in the 2020 election. Democrats tend to get endorsements from celebrities. So it's hard to really find logic in any of this.

SANCHEZ: We do appreciate you making the attempt, though, Andrew Kaczynski. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

KEILAR: Important to know what's going on out there, though, like what people are talking about.

SANCHEZ: To get a pulse for where the mentality is, but really just far flung and not tethered to what's happening here on Earth.

KEILAR: Stone cold weird, people. SANCHEZ: So there could soon be an alternative to opioids. We're going

to tell you about a new painkiller seeking FDA approval in just moments.



KEILAR: The CDC reports that of more than 110,000 deaths from drug overdoses in a year, 70 percent involved opioids. And that is why the medical world is taking note of one experimental drug, which just took a step closer to FDA approval. It's called VX-548, and a study found that it relieves some patients of acute pain, even though it is not an opioid.

We have CNN medical correspondent Meg Tirrell here with the details. Meg, tell us a little bit about this drug and what it was able to do.

MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, people in the drug development world and the world of treating pain are very excited about medicines like this because they are not opioids.

They actually go after pain really in the peripheral nervous system. So never getting into the brain the same way opioids do. They work on things called sodium channels, and they really zoom in on ones that have genetically been proven to be very specific in terms of pain.

They've actually found that some people with mutations in genes affecting sodium channels like this either feel too much pain or too little pain. And so they tried to harness that genetic research and create this drug. And so now they've completed these phase three studies and they were successful. So they say they plan to file for FDA approval in acute pain later this year.

Now, what did they see in this study? Well, they looked at two different kinds of surgeries, and we'll show you the results from one. This is an abdominoplasty, or more commonly known as a tummy tuck surgery.

They tested this drug against a placebo and also against an opioid drug, oxycodone and acetaminophen, a combination. They looked at the pain reduction reported by patients taking these over the next two days. And what they found is that they obviously beat placebo, which is the top line there, but that this experimental drug, VX-548, performed about as well as the opioid did.

And of course, it doesn't come with the addiction risks and other side effects from opioid pain medicine. So there's a lot of hope here for this new class of medicines, guys.

KEILAR: Yes, we'll be keeping an eye on that. That certainly would be exciting. Meg, thank you for that report.

Up next, the terrifying lengths that one woman took to try to save her dog.



SANCHEZ: So we want to give you this video full screen. You'll see a woman clinging to the hood of a car inside her beloved French bulldog.

Yes, this happened in Los Angeles, and according to the alleged victim, she was eating on a patio with her dog when a woman grabbed her pet and just took off. Unfortunately, the victim fell off of the car, was not able to save -- look at her gorgeous little dog there, Onx? Onyx? Onyx? Onyx.

Yes, that was tough for me. OK, but she was treated, the woman was, for minor injuries. So OK, but still injured in all of this, and she's still hoping to get her dog back.

SANCHEZ: Yes, so if you see that car in the Southern California area, you may want to call the authorities. We'd love to get Onyx back.

KEILAR: Or that dog, more importantly, Boris, if you see Onix.

SANCHEZ: Yes, yes. Would you jump on a hood of a car for your dog?


KEILAR: Like, for sure. I don't even have a dog, but I have had a dog. I think, in retrospect, I'd say, man, I wish I hadn't done that, but I might actually do that.

SANCHEZ: Ah, poor little Onyx.

KEILAR: They're like, they're your little babies.

SANCHEZ: The only reason I wouldn't do it for my dog is because I feel like she would be driving the car, trying to get away. She's got a criminal streak. We won't talk about that on the air.

KEILAR: Yes, it would be a different kind of story, but also a good one to end the show with someday, I'm sure.


"THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.