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Before The Primary, Haley Makes Her Last Pitches In South Carolina; National Guard Assistance Requested By Members Of Massachusetts School Committee; Manslaughter Trial For "Rust" Armorer Will Start Soon With Opening Remarks; Court Martial Pending For U.S. Sailor Charged With Espionage And Mishandling Classified Documents; Expected Today: First American Lunar Landing Since 1972; Nationwide Mobile Phone Service Disrupted By Massive Outage. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired February 22, 2024 - 10:30   ET



EADDY ROE WILLARD, EXECUTIVE COMMITTEEWOMAN FOR RICHLAND COUNTY, SC GOP: Thanks for having me, Kate. You know, it feels so exciting on the ground here, always, with our presidential primaries. There's a great deal of excitement on both sides. So, it really -- it's -- it's not unusual to have surprises. I think it's closer than the polls suggest.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: And that would be interesting. You know, in 2016, I was looking back at the primary numbers from '16. Donald Trump carried 44 of the state's 46 counties in the 2016 primary, all except Charleston and Richland County, which is your county. How important is it, if we're talking about if Nikki Haley is going to pull this off, how important is it for her to win in Richland County?

WILLARD: Well, I think the most important thing is the state in general. And I -- but I think she's very popular throughout the state, as this Donald Trump. As I think I mentioned as an officer, we don't really support or -- the other, we think they would both be great, and we hope everyone comes together after the primary to work hard to win the election in November. But Richland County would certainly be important for her.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and turnout is everything, of course. In '16 turnout for the primary, I was looking back, I think our numbers were -- there were about 740,000 people who voted in the Republican primary, and that was a primary where there were more candidates, obviously --


BOLDUAN: -- running. Now, in a two-person race, what is the expectation? What are you predicting or hearing amongst party officials and smart party insiders on turnout for this Republican primary?

WILLARD: Right. That's a great question. We, Kate, we're expecting a larger turnout this year than ever before. We're really predicting it will be close to a million turnout, a million voters turning out for our presidential primary.

BOLDUAN: And of course, the question is, who does that benefit with --

WILLARD: With only two --

BOLDUAN: -- that that --

WILLARD: -- candidates.

BOLDUAN: Yes, exactly, with only two candidates and what we will stand to learn together is who that benefits more as more folks turn out in the Republican primary. Having a bit of a technical glitch going back and forth. So, thank you for your patience, Eaddy, and making it work with us today. No, no, no. Not your fault. We're going to blame it on the -- we call them the news gods or the gremlins. Thank you very much.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: All right. Markets soaring this morning. Records being sent around the world. What has investors so gleeful at this moment?



BOLDUAN: Stocks soaring this morning after a big earnings report from chipmaker and tech giant, NVIDIA. CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich joins us now with more on this. What has happened? What is happening, madame?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Market's having a nice little morning after these incredible earnings from NVIDIA. This is a chip maker that helps train artificial intelligence. META uses it. Microsoft uses these chips.


YURKEVICH: So, we're talking about the future of artificial intelligence, and we are seeing the Dow -- that is the Dow. The Dow up at 280 points right now, and the stock just up 14 percent on its own this morning, and that is because they posted record revenue last quarter of $22 billion, up 22 percent from the previous quarter.

BOLDUAN: Oh, wow.

YURKEVICH: And then up 265 percent from the year before. I mean, it is just --

BOLDUAN: One year to -- yes, that's --

YURKEVICH: From a year ago.

BOLDUAN: People would die for that. YURKEVICH: A lot of companies would die for that. But that is really what we're seeing now in this race, in artificial intelligence and NVIDIA leading the way. A strong performer on Wall Street and basically helping to lift markets along the way.

BOLDUAN: It's really fascinating. I mean, has it been -- it hasn't been strong -- I mean, we've -- since the show began, I haven't checked. But has it -- have the markets been strong all morning on this?

YURKEVICH: All morning. All morning. Futures were pointing up and they have been riding this NVIDIA high.

BOLDUAN: All right. Let's see how high it goes and how long that high lasts. It's great to see you, Vanessa. Thank you.

YURKEVICH: OK. Thank you.


BERMAN: The question I often find myself asking.

BOLDUAN: Stop, I knew I walked right into that.


BOLDUAN: I knew.

BERMAN: -- should the National Guard be in high school hallways? That is the question stirring controversy in a community south of Boston this morning. Four Brockton school committee members asked their mayor to request the governor of Massachusetts deploy guard members to, "Prevent a potential tragedy."

They say, students, for months, have experienced a disturbing increase in incidents related to violence, security concerns, and substance abuse. The mayor's response, we need to give our administrators the tools to keep order in the school, including amending certain state rules and regulations that currently hamper these efforts. National Guard soldiers are not the answer. We've had school police working effectively and safety -- safely at the high school for decades, and others agree.


WINTHROP FARWELL, BROCKTON, MASSACHUSETTS CITY COUNCILOR: I think you call the staff together. Get a task force of some volunteers. Listen to the faculty who deal with these kids every single day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you going to do, tell the National Guardman to break up a fight? And it's just going to cause animosity with the students.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, he need to be structured. He need to be disciplined. But first you got to send -- you got to start somewhere, but not just jump the gun with National Guards. (END VIDEO CLIP)


BERMAN: With us now is Tony Rodrigues, one of the four school committee members asking for this action. Tony, thanks so much for being with us. If the National Guard were to be sent in, what would you want them doing inside the school?

TONY RODRIGUES, MEMBER OF BROCKTON MASSACHUSETTS SCHOOL COMMITTEE: We want them providing, stability and services that they have been providing across the country. And stepping in as -- being a substitute teachers and monitoring our hallways and securing our doors where we have a continuous influx of students leaving the school property unauthorized and students that don't belong in the building, coming into the building.

BERMAN: What would they do specifically that the current school security is not or cannot?

RODRIGUES: I mean, we're dealing with a magnitude of a deficit where there was a huge layoff last year that affected this year. And there's a shortage of staff in the building. And we also -- you know, we have 20 to 25 educators that are calling out every day, which leaves roughly about 600 to 800 students that are unsupervised. So, these kids are just roaming the halls and causing chaos. So, I mean, there has to be a level of support to make sure that the school is safe.

BERMAN: Is that a new thing? Is this something that just started happening? Why now?

RODRIGUES: I mean, it -- it's been happening for, you know, for quite some time, but it -- it's increasing by the week. And, you know, the deficit is, you know, had -- this is the effect of the having the deficit and laying off numerous teachers. And then also, nationally, we have a teacher shortage.

So, you know, you have a, you know, a building that's roughly 3,700 students. And you know, a few weeks ago we had 35 educators call out, that's roughly 1,100 students unsupervised and those substitute teachers to cover those classrooms.

BERMAN: So, some families of students in Brockton, they agree that the situation in the school is right now unworkable and they want to see it improved. But they say the idea of National Guard troops in the hallways, it makes them uncomfortable. What do you say to them?

RODRIGUES: We've deployed the National Guard across the country. Even Former Governor Charlie Baker deployed the National Guard to act as bus drivers because there was a bus shortage -- you know, there was driver shortage with transportation. We've used them to provide COVID (ph). We used the National Guard for any type of relief or disasters to help the community.

So, right now, we're in a dire need and we need the support of the National Guard and hopefully the governor listens to our request to deploy them. This isn't something that we're militarizing the school or making it into a -- you know, into a prison. It's to make sure that the students are safe because the amount of violence is increasing. The disrespect, educators being assaulted.

It's alarming at the amount of rate, you know, of students that are lacking the discipline. And it all -- and starts at home first. And I think there needs to be a corrective plan to hold the parents accountable as well for their students' actions.

BERMAN: Tony Rodrigues, we appreciate your time this morning. Thank you so much for being with us.

RODRIGUES: Thank you.

BERMAN: We should note that CNN has reached out to the police chief and other council members, but have not heard back yet. We should also note this is an issue now for the governor. I mean, the National Guard is the one who can deploy National Guard troops. So, ultimately that would be a decision from the governor.


BOLDUAN: That's a good point.

Opening statements are happening any moment now in a trial about the deadly shooting on the "Rust" movie set. We'll be back.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN, the world's news network.

BOLDUAN: Any moment, opening statements are expected to begin in the involuntary manslaughter trial for the woman who was in charge of the prop guns on the set of the movie "Rust". Now, prosecutors say, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed violated numerous safety protocols that led to the death of the film's cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins. CNN's Josh Campbell has more details on what to expect from this trial.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate. The jury has been selected in the criminal trial of Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who of course was the weapons handler on the set of the movie "Rust" back in 2021 when the gun being held by actor Alec Baldwin went off. killing the film's cinematographer. I'm told from a court official that this jury consists of 12 people, that's seven men, five women, four alternates were also selected.

Now, the court moved through this at a pretty fast clip on Wednesday, getting this all wrapped up in one day. I'm told that 70 residents of Santa Fe County were brought in for questioning, both individually as well as a larger group.

Now, the contents of those solo sessions, that's private. But I'm told by a court official at one point, the judge addressed the entire audience asking them, who in this room has heard about this case, either from the news media, or the internet, or by word of mouth? I'm told that the majority of people in that audience raised their hand and said, yes.

Of course, there's this misnomer in criminal law that if you've heard about a case, you can't serve on a jury when in reality, what the judge is looking for is someone who can render an impartial verdict regardless of what they know about the case. At least according to the court official, they now have their jury. We could hear opening arguments begin as soon as this morning.

And finally for her part, it's worth pointing out Hannah Gutierrez- Reed has pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter, as well as a separate charge involving evidence tampering. Her attorney says that he believes his client is being scapegoated.


BOLDUAN: Yes, let's see what happens. All about to get underway. Josh, thank you so much.



BERMAN: All right. This morning, CNN is learning new details about a decorated U.S. sailor now accused of espionage and facing court martial. The U.S. Navy says, a chief petty officer took classified documents and transferred them to a foreign government at least six different times.

CNN's Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon following this for us. Again, Oren, explain this case.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: So, this revolves around Bryce Pedicini, a chief petty officer in the Navy who had a fairly long career that, from the looks of his Navy record, had gone well. He enlisted back in 2008. Serving on three different U.S. destroyers, so three different U.S. Navy warships. Most recently the USS Higgins.

In fact, Navy prosecutors say that back in November 2022, Bryce Pedicini had begun transferring classified information to a foreign government. Something as you point out, he did a number of times over the course of the next several months, according to prosecutors. In November 2022 and then again in December, January, and February.

It was in May 2023 when Pedicini was serving in Japan that Navy prosecutors say he took a picture of a classified screen and was ready to transfer that information to give that over to a foreign government. This is when in mid-May of 2023 he was arrested, taken into custody, and he has been held since then in pretrial confinement. At this point, a Navy official tells us in San Diego.

Pedicini now faces 14 different counts of espionage and attempts to transfer classified information, as well as other charges here. As his court-martial moves forward, it is worth noting a couple of things about his Navy record. First, he's been given three good conduct medals and a National Defense Service Medal. He was also promoted in August '22 to chief petty officer. That is when, according to, Navy prosecutors, several months later, he began to transfer a classified information to a foreign government. The charge sheet, the document we have here does not specify which foreign government.

John, it's also worth pointing out that this basically played out as the entire Jack Teixeira saga was unfolding. That's when, according to prosecutors there, Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Teixeira was posting leaked information online in a Discord server. He was arrested just one month before Pedicini here.

BERMAN: Yes, a lot of questions here, Oren. Not the least of which is which foreign country was eager to get its hands on this information. Thank you for covering this for us. Keep us posted.


BERMAN: Also, so many questions and so few answers about the huge cell phone outrage this morning that in some cases is still going on. What is still happening? Why is it happening? Why have there been so few explanations?



BOLDUAN: SOS, that is what thousands of cell phone users woke up to today. The major cell phone disruption as AT&T says they're urgently trying to fix it.

BOLDUAN: Couples struggling to conceive facing new challenges and fears as fallout over the Alabama Supreme Court's embryo ruling intensifies.

BOLDUAN: And countdown to touchdown, not football. This kind of touchdown. Historic moon landing decades in the making is still on track to happen today.

I'm Kate Bolduan John Berman. Sara is off. This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

All right. So, all morning we have been tracking what has turned into a major service outage for cell phone users across the country. Right now, it appears service is beginning to be restored as AT&T outages appear to be tapering off. Still, tens of thousands of customers are reporting no service on their devices. This all started around 4:00 a.m. on the East Coast when people started waking up to bricked phones, unable to make calls or even send text messages.

CNN's Brian Fung, he's been tracking this all morning. He is got the very latest for us. Now, Brian, do they know yet what the exact causes of this?

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECH REPORTER: Yes, Kate, at this point, there's no specific cause that's been identified. But an industry official tells CNN that there doesn't seem to be anything related to any kind of cyberattack or malicious activity that seems to be driving this. Instead, it seems to be related to what's known as peering, which is, how the industry hands off cell phone calls from one network to another.

So, it appears to be, you know, something technical in nature and not something malicious. But you know, again, these companies are still trying to get to the bottom of it. Verizon says that its network is unaffected, but they believe that this issue should be resolved fairly soon. T-Mobile also reporting that its network is unaffected.

And you know, if you're a Verizon or a T-Mobile customer who's, you know, having trouble making calls, it's likely because your phone is trying to contact someone who is an AT&T customer, and that's the reason why you're having issues.

Now, what can AT&T customers do about all this? Well, even if your cell phone service is down, you can still access Wi-Fi through your Wi-Fi chip in your phone. So, if you're, you know, inside a building or in an office at home, you could use Wi-Fi to still make calls in many cases over that technology without using the cell phone signal that is currently out of service for tens of thousands, if not more, you know, across the country. Kate.

BOLDUAN: So that -- that's a helpful tip and a band aid for the moment, right? But there -- we are also reports that 9-1-1 services were impacted by the outage. What are you hearing about this?