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Don Lemon Tonight
Trump Asks Supreme Court To Intervene In Mar-A-Lago Docs Fight; Secret Recording Played At Trial Shows Oath Keepers Allegedly Planning For Violence In D.C.; Ukraine Pushes Further Towards Kherson As Zelenskyy Praises 'Fast And Powerful Advance'; Rescue And Recovery Efforts Continue In Fort Myers Beach After Hurricane Ian; Police Say Series Of Homicides In Northern CA Are Related. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired October 04, 2022 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: What does he want here, you think?
TARA PALMERI, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, PUCK: I think they're arguing a technicality, but they're trying to smack back the Ninth Circuit of Appeals, which has really dealt them a lot of blows. He has not had many wins in this case except appointing a special master, and that has turned out to backfire on him because the special master doesn't seem to be really ruling in their favor.
So now they're trying to find another avenue for support, and for Trump, that's the Supreme Court where he appointed a third of the justices, and he seems to think that this court, which leans republican and that has so many of his appointees and in his mind his people, will maybe rule in his favor.
But it is such a small technicality. I'm not even sure it will really change the direction of the case. Maybe it is just a win is what he needs to change the perception in the public domain right now --
PALMERI: -- so he's willing to go there. But let us not forget that the Supreme Court has ruled against him so many times when it comes to disclosing his public information, including January 6 Committee. And I just think it's a risk because what if he loses? What is he supposed to say? The Supreme Court are bunch of traders? These are the people he appointed.
LEMON: Of course!
LEMON: Of course, that's exactly what he would do. John, listen, Tara just really sort of said what I -- what -- how I feel. Is it because it's such a small carve out here, right? Is it -- he and his attorneys pointing to this one little thing that they could win so they at least can say that they have a win even though it is -- it seems incremental or, you know, that it doesn't really matter that much? Do you get my point? JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I do. I do. And while it is not always clear what Trump is doing, it's always clear he's looking for delay. This will certainly assure some delay in. How long, it's unpredictable.
Clarence Thomas, the circuit who is -- it's his circuit, as a member of the Supreme Court, to take jurisdiction over. He took the case right in. He could have sat on it, done nothing. But he apparently thinks it is not a big emergency.
But there is some emergency, enough to get the Justice Department to file a response brief, which, I think, will blow this whole thing right down to the minutiae it really is, which is giving Trump's lawyers access to the classified documents they don't have access to.
LEMON: Hmm. Again, look more clearly to the point that I was trying to make here. This emergency request is over, that very narrow subset of classified documents, even if Trump gets his way. Do you think this is going to stop the DOJ from investigating his handling of these highly sensitive documents? John?
DEAN: Is that to me, Don?
LEMON: Yes, sir.
DEAN: No, I don't think it will stop the investigation at all. To the contrary, I think that regardless of what happens, they are going to continue with their criminal pursuit. What this could do, it could make it a little more complex if they lost at the Supreme Court level but not hamper their ultimate objective of trying to find out what Trump has done to the national security and whether or not he should be indicted for abusing our national security information.
So, I think those are very much on track, and he has done nothing to deflect that.
LEMON: Charlie, you're chomping at the bit to get in here, what do you want to say?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA REPRESENTATIVE: It's clear to me that Trump is simply trying to delay this process. That's all this is about. He wanted the district court level. His crackerjack lawyer team got beaten like rented mules at the appellate level.
He's just trying to gum up the works, slow it down, but I don't think it's going to slow this -- I don't think it's going to really materially affect the investigation itself unless you would want it at the Supreme Court level. It's a hail Mary pass. I suspect he won't be successful.
LEMON: Do you think he is just trying to get some win here and delay?
DENT: I think he would like to see the appellate court ruling overturned, but I doubt that will happen. So, he's going to the Supreme Court. You know, this is a last gas effort, but he's gumming up the works, he's slowing it down, and I'm not sure really what he's going to gain from it other than slowing down a little bit.
LEMON: John, remember, Trump has said that he could, you know, declassify material just by thinking about it. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you are the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it's declassified, even by thinking about it, because you are sending it to Mar-a-Lago or to wherever you are sending it. When you send it, it is declassified. We -- I declassified everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I mean -- how can --
LEMON: How can anybody take him seriously? I mean, it's idiotic, what he's saying. I guess people are taking it seriously. None of the people who at least -- legal minds or folks who have been here or any other network except the conservative networks who are just, you know, so far, you know what, that they can't see daylight.
Listen, whether it -- John Dean, whether it be at the Supreme Court or with the special master, does Trump have to present actual proof that he declassified anything and will that matter to the case that the DOJ wants to bring?
DEAN: First of all, it's not relevant to a potential criminal case that is apparently the one that Justice Department is considering based on their warrant -- their search warrant whether it's classified or not. There, it just deals with the content of the national defense information that would be contained in these documents, apparently.
So, classification is not relevant there where it does -- nor is it relevant under the Presidential Records Act as to whether he can claim possession or not. Typically, no president has ever tried to claim that classified documents are his personal records. Just the way they are generated within the intelligence community defies belief that Trump could think that these are somehow his possessions. I don't get it.
And the brief itself that was filed with Clarence Thomas today, that he has sent on for justice to take an action on (INAUDIBLE) the issue again, does not make any effort to say whether they're calling these documents classified or unclassified. It just sorts of uses some fudge words in there and proceeds and doesn't flush it out.
At some point, some judge is going to ask the lawyers for Trump, to be clear, are you saying these documents are classified or declassified? Let's make it clear, get that on the table. That has not happened yet.
LEMON: You know, this investigation, Tara, loves over the midterms and the prospects of Trump running for president in 2024. He has not announced it. Does it depend on how this case goes?
PALMERI: I think that this latest move is the narrative shift that I'm sure he wants ahead of an announcement that he's running for president. But I have heard from people in his inner circle that these investigations are weighing down on him. Just this summer, we are hearing every week, oh, we're about to plan an event. There is going to be a big announcement.
He could tweet at any moment that he's going to run for president. But you are hearing less and less of that. He has become preoccupied with these investigations.
And perhaps, they think that he needs some winds ahead of the midterms even though he is not on the ballot, as we know. But he is sort of there, right? And the narrative lately has been that he is losing, especially, you know, in the court of public opinion and legally.
So, I could see this as a momentum builder ahead of the midterms and possibly ahead of his own announcement for presidency.
LEMON: I don't think he's going to run. But that's just me. Charlie, listen, don't forget though that there's a lot going on here. Separate DOJ investigation, the January 6th that's happening, the Fulton County investigation over pressure to change votes. Despite all of these investigations though, is Trump still a viable candidate for the GOP, you think?
DENT: I think he's a viable primary candidate. I think he can win a primary today -- in today's Republican Party. Of course, the big question is, can he win a general election? I would argue that he so deeply flawed he can't. Now, maybe if there are three party -- a three-person race, he might be able to pull something out. But I think he's so deeply flawed. He has been so discredited. I think -- I always felt that he has been a diminishing figure.
LEMON: You said that a lot. I think for the average person, Charlie, you and I are on the same page. The average person is just tired of his B.S., so tired of his antics. To the diehard Trump supporter, they love him and they always will. But for the average person, they just don't want the --
DENT: We will see what happens in this midterm. If Republicans underperformed significantly, I can assure you that Donald Trump is going to take a lot of the blame by making himself the center of attention.
Everyone knows that this should have been a great republican here, but because of Donald Trump's interventions and the Dobbs ruling, I mean, he's -- I just don't see how he's viable going forward. And if you talk to lot of Republicans, they are tired of him.
DENT: They do not want him to run. They are not enthusiastic. And I keep reading reports that Trump might not have his heart into it this time. PALMERI: Yeah.
DENT: But he might do it anyways. But we will see. At some point, Republicans are going to get tired of losing. You lose the House, you lose the Senate, you lose a lot of winnable races. Look at some these candidates who've been nominated, who are really going to lose very winnable races for the GOP. At some point, the adults are going to say, you know, we are a party, we are supposed to win seats. You can't govern if you do not win, and Trump is not helping them win.
LEMON: And you can't govern too with all of this chaos. It makes it hard to govern. It makes it hard for the GOP, at least traditionally, I think so, to stand up for what they believe in. You talk about abortion rights and what have, and then you have a candidate who is possibly a senator who has allegedly paid for an abortion. Do you get my point?
DENT: Governance was hard even before Trump. I mean, we had a group of Republican members -- I have to say that -- who I called rejectionist wing of the party, who could simply not get to yes, who did not understand that they had to vote affirmatively on something to keep the government open, not to default on the country's obligations, to do certain very basic fundamental things.
I fear that group of people may be growing after this midterm. And if Republicans have the majority, I can assure you, we are going to see some pretty chaotic governance issues. I mean, who's going to vote for these things? Republicans are going to have to vote to keep the government open if they have the majority, with Joe Biden as president.
LEMON: But you're going to run again, right?
DENT: Just talk to my wife.
DENT: She's watching right now.
LEMON: Thank you, all. I appreciate it.
PALMERI: Thank you.
LEMON: A secret recording of an alleged Oath Keepers meeting, discussing plans to bring weapons to Washington, and we've got that recording.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): We're not getting out of this without a fight. There's going to be a fight. But let's just do it smart and let's do it while President Trump is still commander-in-chief. (END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Day two of the trial against the leaders of the far-right militia, the Oath Keepers. And today, federal prosecutors played a secret recording of an alleged November 2020 planning meeting that appears to show the Oath Keepers planning for violence in Washington. The five Oath Keepers leaders are being charged with seditious conspiracy which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.
Joining me now to discuss, CNN senior national correspondent Sara Sidner and former FBI special agent Mike German. So good to have all of you on. Sara, I want to get to you because the secret recording that was played in court today, what did we learn?
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, there were a lot of recordings played in court today, all of them secretly recorded by someone who was on the call. It was an Oath Keepers planning call, according to the FBI agent who had taken the stand to verify the voices and the words that were coming out of the mouth of some of the members of the Oath Keepers, including Stewart Rhodes, the leader and founder of the Oath Keepers.
He was secretly recorded in November of 2020, so this is obviously long before January 6th, but it is this planning meeting with his Oath Keepers group. And here's what he says. He says, we are not getting out of this without a fight. There is going to be a fight. But let's do it smart and let's do it while president Trump is still commander- in-chief.
Well, he wasn't the only person that was recorded sort of talking about sort of fighting in terms of being mad that President Trump had lost the election and that Joe Biden- was going to take the presidency.
We also heard from two other defendants. One was Jessica Watkins, who prosecutor says is always trying to fit in as a transgender person, that she was trying to fit in to this group, and Kelly Meggs, both of whom are seen inside of the Capitol unlike Rhodes who was only seen outside the Capitol.
There was recording of them discussing weapons and whether or not what weapons are legal to bring into the District of Columbia which has very strict laws about bringing in firearms to this particular area. Here is Kelly Meggs talking about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY MEGGS, OATH KEEPERS MEMBER (voice-over): Pepper spray is legal. Tasers are legal. And stun guns are legal. And it doesn't hurt to have a lead pipe with a flag on it. STEWART RHODES, OATH KEEPERS LEADER (voice-over): For example, when I was walking through the street of Portland, I was quote/unquote unarmed, but I had my helmet in my hand. Guess what that was for? That was to whack someone right across the face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: It's a lot of talk of violence, but the defense says, well, look, these were all things that happened in the lead up to a November 14th big MAGA rally here in D.C. And at the time, there was no January 6th. It's hadn't been planned, they weren't talking about it, they never mentioned January 6th in these recordings that were played to the jury.
But a lot of what you heard there really goes to the case that the prosecutors are putting on, which is this is part in the beginning of stages of this plan to stop the peaceful transfer of power, Don.
LEMON: Hmm. So, I understand that one of the Oath Keepers defendants spoke with CNN after court. What are they saying?
SIDNER: Yeah, we heard from Thomas Caldwell. I want to remind you who he is. He is a Navy veteran. He lived in Virginia. He didn't really know this group at first but you're going to see a lot of things going back and forth. He is one of the people and only one who is not an actual member of the Oath Keepers but what they are calling an associate of the Oath Keepers.
He is also, according to the government, the leader of these quick reaction forces who was talking a lot about bringing weapons to Virginia, to stage them in Virginia, at a hotel, in order to bring them over to Potomac when the time came, but they were called for, in case -- quote/unquote -- "needed" in this scenario on January 6th. But here is what he says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS CALDWELL, NAVY VETERAN, ALLEGED ASSOCIATE AND LEADER OF OATH KEEPERS: It went well. It went well. It was a long way to go. And the truth is going to come out. The truth is going to come out. And I have all faith in my lord and savior, Jesus Christ. It's going to be fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: So, that's him outside of court today. I was in court watching the proceedings today. And I will tell you that the truth, according to prosecutors, is that he and the others tried to stop the transfer of power, that is why they are facing a very serious charge, the most serious charge, seditious conspiracy.
Their defendant attorneys basically say, look, you know, they did a lot of talking, a lot of bombastic things, but you cannot, you know, say it's illegal, just what they are talking about, that they are not responsible for this. So, it'll be interesting to see how this all plays out, but there's a whole lot of evidence, Don.
LEMON: All right. Mike, let me bring you in, because the federal prosecutors are alleging that the Oath Keepers spent months planning for violence in D.C. These recordings seem to really help that argument.
MIKE GERMAN, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Yeah, exactly. You know, it's very rare, when you have a conspiracy case, to have evidence this solid, right? One of the things you have to prove in a conspiracy case is that there is an agreement to commit a future crime. And this tape actually is that agreement occurring in real time as it's happening.
So, it's very powerful evidence, and I think is a smart tactic by the prosecutors to put this right up front, even though as it came out that they weren't yet talking about January 6th, but the agreement lasted through January 6th.
GERMAN: So, the fact of the agreement is an essential element to the crime.
LEMON: As you and Sara both made it clear here, the secret recording is from November of 2020. It was given to the FBI later that month. The FBI never reached out. I mean, it wasn't until March 2021 when the tip to the FBI was resubmitted, and then the FBI made contact. Could violence have been prevented on the 6th if the FBI had acted on the tip sooner?
GERMAN: It certainly highly likely that they could have been better prepared for the attack. This was -- it is just one other piece of information that the FBI had available. And we know that there were internal reports within the FBI.
We know that other law enforcement agencies were receiving reports and passing them on through intelligence sharing mechanisms. So, the FBI's original story that they didn't have threat warning, this is another piece of evidence that that's actually not accurate.
LEMON: Even though because we've heard for months before January 6th that the FBI was on the lookout for white domestic terrorists. Christopher Wray was even testifying about this before Congress in September of 2021, you know, saying that the biggest threat to our country -- that the biggest threat our country faces was white domestic terrorist. So, it seems that they would have been ahead at least thinking about this or should have been on their radar?
GERMAN: It certainly should have been. One of the things that was bothering me during that period was a lot of the violence these groups were engaging in was happening in public. Right? They weren't hiding what they were doing. You might remember the Oath Keepers were involved in a standoff with federal law enforcement agents in Bundy Ranch in Nevada and at the Oregon Malheur Wildlife refuge. So, you know, this kind of resistance to federal law enforcement isn't something that the Oath Keepers haven't engaged in prior. So, there was plenty of criminal predicate for the FBI to justify a broad investigation. And we know the Oath Keepers were only one of several groups that were there on January 6.
So, it's hard to imagine why they didn't understand that all of these groups coming to D.C. at the same time pose a problem.
LEMON: Yeah. Sara, this trial is happening in federal court where cameras are not allowed. For cases significant, wouldn't transparency be better here? Listen, you are our eyes and ears, and the reporters and producers were in that courtroom. But just for the sake of transparency, you know?
SIDNER: I don't know if it's as much transparency because literally, every single word that's being said in court is being sent out in some form. But I do think it is seeing is believing, right? So, when the public sees people talking, when they can relate and listen to tone of voice and listen to the back and forth and th direct and the redirect and the cross-examination, it really helps paint a picture for the public.
But let's remember, federal court has never had cameras allowed in the court. And in this case, it is really about what the jury hears. When you are talking about justice, it's about what the jury hears, the evidence the jury sees, and how they go about looking at it, going through it.
This is going to take about six weeks, Don. And I got to tell you, it is mind-blowing how much information this jury is going to have to look through and sift through to try and come up with their verdict. There is a lot! And when I say a lot, I mean more than I've ever seen of evidence in this case. Plus, you have five defendants and each of them have at least one attorney. So, there's a lot to see here, and we will be in court watching it all.
LEMON: At least one attorney. That means some of them have more.
LEMON: Buckle up, Sara, you're going to be there for a while. Mike German, thank you very much. We will be calling you as well. Thank you so much.
GERMAN: Thanks for having me.
LEMON: Ukrainian forces pushing further into Russian-occupied territory. They are making their way towards the strategic town of Kherson in the south. Why taking back the city could be a deciding factor in this conflict? That is next.
LEMON: Ukrainian forces advancing in Russian-occupied territory, pushing further into the southern Kherson region. That area is one of the four regions Russia has claimed as its own after holding sham referendums. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy touting this success of what he calls the fast and powerful advance.
So, joining me now, Democratic Congressman Jason Crow, member of the House armed services and intelligence committees, and CNN military analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton. Good evening to both of you. Thank you so much.
Colonel, I'm going to start with you. Ukraine appearing to keep up its momentum with these new gains. So, give us the lay of the land here. What is happening with Ukrainian counteroffensive and why is it so successful?
CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, RETIRED AIR FORCE COLONEL: Well, this is really interesting, Don, because what you see, you know, when you look at the map of big Ukraine right here, you've got some significant advances that the Ukrainians were able to make in the area right near Kharkiv. So, everything to the north and east of Kharkiv has been part of the scene that they've really been so successful at.
And when you look at the advances specifically, you see that the four regions, these are the ones that Putin had said he is going to annex, we are talking about Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson, these four areas right here, look at how much the Russians actually control, they basically control these areas right in through here.
But everything you see it's being contested by the Ukrainians. And what's particularly specific about this is, right in this area, they are getting a hold of all of the logistical resupply areas that the Russians have in this area. That's significant because potentially, what they can do is they can cut off the Russians and move them out of this area back into Russia itself, which is right here.
Now, when you go into the Kherson region, which is in the southern part right here, look at what the Ukrainians have done here. The object is to get Kherson, which is a Ukrainian city that the Russians occupied at the early parts of this war.
Right now, they are finally moving forward and they've gotten villages like this one, Velyka Oleksandrivka, and another one, Davydiv Brid. These are important villages because what they do is this begins the process for the Ukrainians to move in like this. And if they do this, they can cut off the Russian forces that are in Kherson and also on the west bank of the Dnipro River, and that is a big deal for them at this point.
LEMON: Congresswoman, I'll bring you in because the U.S. is announcing today an additional $625 million in security systems to Ukraine. But we know the Ukrainians also want long-range rockets from the Biden administration. Do you think the U.S. is providing enough to the Ukrainians?
REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Well, I think we are doing a remarkable job of supporting the Ukrainians and this administration has moved massive amounts of equipment and weapons to the Ukrainians in really historic speed.
But there is more to the story as well. We are also providing intelligence support. We are also providing training. We are providing strategic support and planning support. There are so many things that we are doing that are putting the position -- the Ukrainians in position to win.
It's astonishing actually what's happening. You know, six months ago, nobody would have given the Ukrainians a chance because on paper, the Russians have every advantage. They were the second largest military in the world. They had every advantage, just from an analytical perspective. But this shows that paper armies do not fight. Real ones do!
So, all of the problems that the Russians are encountering are showing the dark underbelly of the Russian military. It's also showing the courage, the prowess, the bravery, and the will of the Ukrainians.
LEMON: You know, colonel, I want to talk about this new A package. It includes four more high mobility artillery rocket systems, as well as additional howitzers and ammunition. How important are these weapons to Ukrainians?
LEIGHTON: Don, they're incredibly important because when you look at the weapons system like the HIMARS, for example, and we have a graphic to show, depending on the type of model of HIMARS that you get, it's can have a range of up to 300 miles. Now, the Ukrainians right now have a shorter-range version of this and it doesn't go that far.
But this is what it is capable of. It can also -- other key thing here, this relates to the (INAUDIBLE) system that can be launched from a HIMARS launching system. But these weapon systems are critically important because what they enable is the targeting of all of the different entities that the Russians have.
So, if you look, for example, at the map right here and the ranges that are possible, if you have HIMARS located in areas like this, you can in essence grab everything in these areas right here. And if you do that, this puts all of the Russian forces in Ukraine at risk, and that becomes a critical thing for the Ukrainians to do and it also advances the goals, of course, of the western alliance.
LEMON: Congressman, a Russian diplomat warning today that U.S. military aid like the package announced today hastens the possibility of a direct military clash between Russia and NATO. Are you worried about this conflict getting bigger than it is, especially given Putin's unpredictability?
CROW: Well, we always have to be diligent to Putin's erratic tendencies. He's certainly is desperate now. He is suffering domestic political pressure, the likes of which he has never actually seen during his tenure as president.
CROW: So, he is starting to do unusual things. So, the administration is really looking at all the different scenarios right now. They're looking at the different contingencies. They've had done this methodically and deliberately with an eye toward escalation.
So, you know, we cannot -- at the end of the day, we cannot allow Vladimir Putin to have veto power over the way we are going to support our partners and our allies. We have to do what's necessary to put the Ukrainians in a position to win.
And this is the way I've always put it: We have to be willing to do what's necessary. That includes providing of (INAUDIBLE). That includes providing of advanced fighters and everything that Ukrainians need to win, that they have shown their ability to use. We have to do what's necessary to put them in the position to win.
Otherwise, what we are doing is we are voicing a status quo. And the status quo will eventually be won by Russia. Ukrainians have demonstrated over the last couple of months, they can win this, they have the momentum, they have the tactical and strategic capability. Now, it's time to finish this off by providing the support that is necessary.
LEMON: Congressman, I have to ask you about this Ukrainian police claiming today to have uncovered a torture chamber in a town formally occupied by Russian forces in eastern Ukraine. Police say among the items found was a container full of extracted gold teeth. Local residents say that they heard screaming, constantly, from the building. As a veteran yourself, what do you think when you see something like this?
CROW: Well, during the invasion of Iraq, when I was a paratrooper, we saw these torture chambers, we saw all of the signs of the history of the torture of the Saddam Hussein regime. It's terrible. It's horrific. It's the worst of human nature.
And unfortunately, it's happening with a terrible horrific prevalence by the Russians in Ukraine. They are committing war crimes. They are doing brutal terrorist things. They are using rape as a weapon of war. They are murdering innocent civilians. They are torturing and executing people. They are putting mass graves.
And the only way it will stop, if the Ukrainians stop it with our support. So, we have to make sure that is getting done. And that's also why, as a member of the intelligence committee, I'm leading an effort to create a coordinator within the intelligence committee to actually gather all the evidence of all of these war crimes so it can be eventually used for prosecutions so we can bring these folks to justice.
LEMON: Thank you, congressman. Thank you, colonel. I appreciate it.
LEIGHTON: You bet. LEMON: The death toll from hurricane Ian currently stands at 105. Fort Myers Beach was one of the hardest hit areas. And next, we have an update on the search and rescue efforts from a local official.
LEMON: So, it has been almost a week since hurricane Ian tore through Florida. The latest CNN reporting confirms the state's death toll now stands at 105. Fort Myers Beach was among the hardest hit communities.
For more on where things stand now, I want to bring in Fort Myers Beach City Councilman Dan Allers. Councilman, appreciate you joining us. Sorry you're going through. It's been nearly a week since hurricane Ian hit. So far, your county, Lee County, reported 55 confirmed deaths. Talk to me about the search and rescue process there. Are you expecting the death toll to rise? I hope not.
DAN ALLERS, CITY COUNCILMAN, FORT MYERS BEACH: Well, yeah, you and I both. I hope not. There's a very good chance it probably could. I was down again today on the beach and the dogs were out searching. They're in their second wave. So, they completed their first wave of search and rescue. They started their second where they have the dogs out, doing a little more in-depth search with the stronger noses, if you will, to do some searches.
In one of the streets, it looked like they had maybe alerted to another situation. So, unfortunately, that's a reality right now. We're still going through it.
There's a lot of entities that are in town. We got people from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas. Obviously, the state of Florida. There are quite a few teams out there trying to get some answers, trying to get people in contact with their loved ones.
You know, patience right now for everybody who wants to get back on to the island is very important while these professionals complete their mission.
LEMON: Yeah. I was just looking -- you're living it, but we're looking at the video that's up on the screen. It's just really unfathomable. You talk about the professionals that are down there helping and the people wanting to get back. You're saying people are ready to get back and build back. How much longer will they have to wait to get the all clear to return to their homes or what's left of it?
ALLERS: Well, about -- we had originally -- some of the residents were able to walk on the island to get back to their homes. Our south bridge was compromised, one of the south bridges coming out of the islands. So, it's really one way to get on the island. That was from the north side (INAUDIBLE) bridge. And the people -- because of that, you had to haul stuff five, seven miles down the island to be able to get stuff. People are pushing shopping carts from the local grocery store with their stuff in it.
It was really hindering the process of the search and rescue teams to do their job. So, a decision was made to close the bridge down. That's a difficult decision. But in my opinion, it was the right decision. In one day, they had about 23% roughly of the island searched when the decision was made to close the island. In one day, it went from 23% to over 90% of search with the first wave. So, I believe it was the right decision.
As far as when people are going to be able to get back on the island, you know, originally, we shut it down for a week. Hopefully, that timeframe is still intact. We certainly want people to be able to get back to their homes to retrieve whatever they can, to salvage what they can, to protect their homes, which ones are still left standing. But we have to let these professionals do their job. We have to.
There are still many, many people who haven't had contact with their family members. It's important that they get some closure, they get some answers. Hopefully, we can give them some answers. Hopefully, we still find some people that are still missing.
The county sheriff's office has done an excellent job. Local officials in Lee County, the state, federal, everyone has pulled their resources. And it's really impressive to see the amount of people out there that even though they are not from the state, whatever state they are from, they are very compassionate, they are very thorough, they are very kind to people they come across with, they are very good at what they do. We just need to give them the time.
LEMON: Yeah. As we see in these situations, there are so many people who come out to help. Councilman, thank you! Again, sorry that you are dealing with this. Best of luck. We will continue to update our viewers on this. It is important that they know what's going on. We hope you guys get back to normal, whenever that is, but as soon as possible.
ALLERS: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Thanks so much. Be well. We will be right back.
ALLERS: Thank you.
LEMON: So, police in Northern California investigating the possibility that a serial killer is in their midst. Authorities in Stockton say five homicides committed this year between early July and late September are linked through ballistic evidence, and they're connecting those murders to a killing in nearby Oakland in 2021 also through ballistic evidence.
So late tonight, Stockton police releasing this surveillance video of someone that they're calling a person of interest who has been seen on multiple videos related to several of the shootings.
I want to bring in now CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst Mr. John Miller. John, thanks. Good to see you. What is going on here? You've got this -- police releasing the surveillance video, person of interest in these six homicides, saying that they have seen this person on multiple videos related to several of the shooting incidents. So, what do you think? What can you tell us?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, we've got a guy who did two shootings, one in Oakland, 70 miles away, 400 days ago, and then one six days later, and then he goes quiet for more than a year, and then he starts doing another shooting and homicide basically every couple of weeks.
So, where did he go for that year? And what made him return to killing and pick up that pace? So, they are going to be looking for that. And, you know, the matches they are making are ballistic matches. So, is it possible that there is more than one person? Yes, it possible. Is it likely, based on the history, an offender characteristic? No.
We've got a hungry serial killer out there who is who is probably on the prowl more often than not, and who only strikes when the conditions are as he chooses, which is desolate areas, a victim who is alone, no obvious video cameras, which is why the images of him are just these silhouettes for a few seconds.
LEMON: But why a year? Was he on to something? Why did he stop for a year? He or she?
MILLER: Well, I mean, that could be a couple of things. It could be that he tried it a couple of times and something made him nervous. It could be that he got arrested for something and went away for a year.
LEMON: Well, there's just -- Stockton police says that there is one surviving victim, a woman who actually encountered the suspect holding a gun. This was more than a year ago. She's lucky to be alive. What kind of information you think she was able to share?
MILLER: So, we learned a lot from her. She is a homeless person at that time. She's in a tent, and he comes in through the tent, you know, with the intent of shooting her. And she comes at him and drives him back. Now, he shoots her, she lives, but she's the only victim that we can say saw him and interacted with them. She says that he wore a mask covering his face. He didn't say anything. And, you know, she's a miracle to be alive.
LEMON: Commonalities connecting all of these shootings in both Oakland and Stockton. What kind of physical evidence you'll be looking for in a crime scene to link them altogether? MILLER: You would be looking for the bullets recovered either from the victims or if they went through the victims. You will be looking for shell casings from that gun if they were injected there. That is how they are matching these crimes together.
And you are looking for, how is he choosing these victims? A number of them are homeless, but he also maybe operating on the assumption that people walking alone in the streets at that hour may be homeless, and a couple of cases, he could be wrong.
LEMON: Where does this investigation go from here?
MILLER: Well, the bad news is every time he strikes again, police get more clues, his risk factor goes up. The good news is all this attention and additional patrols and the heat may drive him underground or, as we've seen in the past, it may drive him to another location where he just picks up again where he is not expected.
LEMON: Let's hope they get him. We appreciate you. Thank you, John Miller. We'll see you soon.
MILLER: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. It is almost two months since the FBI executed a lawful court-approved search of Mar-a-Lago, which yielded more than a hundred documents marked classified that do not belong to him. The former president has taken every step possible to slow the legal process surrounding them, everything short of taking his case to the Supreme Court.
COOPER: And now, he has done that, something most to ordinary people in his situation cannot even dream of doing. And again, most people aren't ex-presidents and most ex-presidents are not like this ex- president.