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Esper Says, Trump Wanted to Launch Missiles Into Mexico Over Drug Labs; First Lady Arrives in Romania to Visit Troops, Refugees; Emotional, Graphic Testimony As Heard Details Alleged Assault By Depp. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 06, 2022 - 10:30   ET


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Group planning to rally for abortion rights.


Whitney Wild is live outside the Supreme Court.

Listen, it seemed fences go up there. It looks like post-January 6. What are you seeing and what specific intelligence is warning of police officials?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point, law enforcement sources, several of them tell us that they are closely monitoring social media chatter that suggests that there's a potential for violence against abortion clinic providers, abortion clinic staff, members of the judiciary, that would include the justices here, as well as members of the federal government.

And what we know after January 6th and what law enforcement knows across the country is that social media chatter can manifest into actual violence. Sometimes people really do say what they are going to do.

Law enforcement acutely aware of that possibility and federal law enforcement officials held a call with about 150 participants all across the country to warn them about protests that resulted in confrontations about the possibility of future demonstrations as well as for the potential for violence. So, that's what's going on across the country.

Here in Washington, there is physical proof that law enforcement officials and officials -- congressional officials, Supreme Court officials here are concerned about the potential that protests could erupt. Just take a look at this fence behind me. I'm about 5'6". This fence is a couple feet higher than me. You've seen this fence many times. It is the same fence that went up around the Capitol following January 6th. This kind of approach has become somewhat of muscle memory here in Washington following the riot.

Also down the street, you see a concrete barrier also going up over the last couple of days. Jim, the bottom line here is that while these protests, for the most part, have been -- here in Washington at least have been peaceful, there have been a couple confrontations but no physical eruptions, no real serious acts of violence here because police were able to intervene. They're very concerned about it, MPD keeping some of those police resources at least through Sunday. Back to you.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Whitney Wild with the latest for us, Whitney, thank you.

The latest book to peel back the curtain on the Trump administration makes a shocking accusation that then-President Donald Trump wanted to launch missiles at drug cartels in Mexico. The New York Times has just published an excerpt from former Defense Secretary Mark Esper explaining how Trump thought he might be able to stop drugs from flowing into the U.S. with those missiles.

SCIUTTO: Here accounts President Trump saying, we could just shoot some patriot missiles and take out the labs, quietly, adding no one would know it was us. Patriot missiles, by the way, are surface-to-air defense missiles, regardless that was a suggestion.

Joining us now to discuss, Dana Bash, CNN's Chief Political Correspondent and Co-Anchor of State of the Union.

So you have the missile suggestion, then you have another one. And I'll play the sound because Mark Esper spoke about this on 60 Minutes. This is about sending a quarter of a million U.S. troops to the Mexico border. Have a listen. I'll get your reaction.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who suggested that we accepted a quarter million U.S. troops to the border?

MARK ESPER, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Steven Miller. We were in a meeting waiting for the president to come out. We're standing around the resolute desk, and he's behind me and this voice just starts talking about the caravans are coming and we need to get troops to the border and we need a quarter million troops. And I think he's joking.

And then I turned and I looked at him and these dead pan eyes, it's clearly he is not joking.

I was just flabbergasted that not only was the idea proposed but that people in my department were working on it.


SCIUTTO: These dead pan eyes. That's Steven Miller. You understand what he's talking about here. The reason I'm bringing that up is that these were not isolated things. This is about targeting missile with Mexico, Mexico with missiles, sending troops down to that border. It also was not isolated just to Trump, right, because you had folks serving out his wishes in prominent positions, like Steven Miller. What's the result of this?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the last thing that he said there was maybe the most chilling in that sound bite you played, which is people in my department were working on it. Why? He's the defense secretary. Why did this off-the-wall, unbelievable idea even get to the point where people were clearly circumventing the sec- def as they call it here, the secretary of defense, in order to do this? And the answer is --

SCIUTTO: It means that it's real, right?

BASH: It means that it's real but the answer is because they knew that people who were in positions, like Mark Esper, were trying to push back against some of these absolutely wild ideas that the president had and that were being pushed by the Steven Millers of the world.

Jim, I have known Steven Miller for years and years and years. He worked on Capitol Hill. He worked for then-Senator Jeff Sessions. And he is a one-note Johnny. He is all about immigration, has been for a long time. And back then, then he was on the fringe of the GOP.


People didn't listen to him. In this case he was in the Oval Office with the ear of the most important man in the country.

SCIUTTO: I've had conversations with him, Erica, about his view of immigration and making a case for only a certain kind of people belong in this country.

HILL: Yes, which we heard a lot of, right?

Dana, when we look at too -- Jim and I have been talking about this throughout the morning. When you look at these revelations, inevitably, there's going to be the question of why are you saying something now, why not then? He does say he thought his real act of service, he had decided, was to stay there essentially to do what he could, to ensure that certain things didn't come to pass.

But I wonder, with yet another book full of shocking revelations about what was happening in the White House, what is the real impact moving forward?

BASH: Well, we don't know the answer to that. It's a really good question, Erica. He specifically -- Mark Esper specficially says, according to the reporting of this book, that he does not believe that Donald Trump is fit to serve, that he has one focus and that is himself and not the public good and that he should not be in that role.

And, as you said, he argues in this book that he stayed as what he called the ultimate public service to try to protect from some of these ideas that the president was throwing out there and they got increasingly wild, according to Esper, and others who have written books, as he got closer to Election Day 2020. Never mind what happened after he actually lost the election.

But we also have to keep in mind that this is a man, the former defense secretary, who wants to preserve his own reputation. He is and always will be Donald Trump's former defense secretary. So, he's trying to contextualize that in this book.

SCIUTTO: Yes, that's a good point. Dana Bash, thanks so much.

BASH: Thank you.

HILL: Still to come here, the new explosive allegations made by Actress Amber Heard against her ex-husband, Johnny Depp.


AMBER HEARD, ACTRESS: I'm looking in his eyes and I don't see him anymore. I don't see him anymore. It wasn't him. It was black. I have never been so scared in my life.


HILL: Coming up, more of the graphic emotional testimony from Heard's second day on the stand.



SCIUTTO: Right now, the first lady, Jill Biden, is serving meals to U.S. and NATO troops in Romania. You see her there. It's the very first on her four-day visit trip to Eastern Europe.

CNN White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond covering the trip. Jeremy, tell us what's on her agenda there.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, as you said, the first lady there serving dinner to U.S. troops stationed in Romania. This coming just minutes after she landed in Romania, which is her first stop on a four-day tour of Romania and Slovakia with a focus, of course, on U.S. troops and supporting them but also on Ukrainian refugees.

The first lady saying last night as she departed Joint Base Andrews that she wanted to show the Ukrainian people, deliver a message from herself and the president of the United States for them to note that we sand with them. She also said earlier this week that she wanted to show them their resilience -- the resilience of these Ukrainian refugees has inspired her and so many other Americans.

Now, the first lady, after she has this dinner with U.S. troops, we know that she's also going to be going to a school in Romania where Ukrainian refugees have been enrolled and getting educated. She's also going to meet with the Romanian first lady.

And then on Sunday really is the centerpiece of this visit, because it is Mother's Day. The first lady is expected to spend time with Ukrainian mothers and their children who are in Slovakia, and she's also expected to visit the Ukraine/Slovakia border, where refugees have been filtering in. there are more than 850,000 refugees in Romania, and 350,000 in Slovakia. And so the first lady is set to meet with humanitarian aid workers, refugees and really to show a sign of U.S. support for those refugees and for the countries that are hosting these refugees and, of course, the U.S. troops that are trying to safeguard those NATO -- safeguards Romania and Slovakia, both NATO members as well. Jim, Erica?

HILL: Jeremy Diamond, I appreciate it, thank you.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead this hour, the frantic hunt still underway for a dangerous murder suspect and the officer who allegedly helped him escape. What authorities said he would do if he ever got out of jail, coming up.



HILL: Court is dark today in Johnny Depp's defamation trial against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, but this day follows two days of gripping testimony from her. Yesterday, she testified she had tried many different ways to end Depp's alleged physical abuse.


HEARD: It felt like nothing I could do, felt like nothing I could do would change the sobriety patterns, felt like nothing I could do with stand up to him and nothing I could do made him stop hitting me, nothing.


HILL: CNN's Chloe Melas joining us now with the very latest.

So, we're actually not going to hear from anybody for just over a week. Testimony will resume on May 16th. But walk us through what we heard yesterday on the second day on the stand for Amber.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: There is so much to unpack here, hours of emotional testimony. And I think it's just -- it's hard for people to wrap their heads around because, for weeks, we heard Johnny Depp's side and we heard Johnny Depp take the stand four separate times saying in several instances that he's never struck a woman, that he's never hit a woman before.

Amber, a totally different scenario of what their relationship and their marriage was like.


Here's a little more of what she said yesterday, specifically about James Franco.


HEARD: I was being very deliberate about my movements, wasn't saying anything, I wasn't engaging. I am walking away from him slowly and he tells me to hurry the (BLEEP) up. Hurry up. And I just look at him one more time wanting to penetrate the monster to see the man that I love underneath that, the man I loved. And he tells me to hurry up again and I pull my gaze away from him, I walk away from him, my back is turned to him and I feel this boot in my back.


MELAS: So, Amber in this specific part of her testimony, Erica, is talking about Johnny Depp allegedly kicking her in the back with his boot because he was so jealous about her friendship with James Franco, who she was starring in a movie with. There were actually reports that at one point James Franco was even going to potentially testify, but that doesn't look like that's going to be happening.

So, the next move here is that Amber, she may take the stand one more time in a week but she will ultimately be cross-examined by Johnny Depp's legal team. And I think that's where potentially we'll see more evidence of what she has or could some of what she said fall apart.

HILL: Well, in terms of cross-examination, there was this biting statement that came out from Johnny Depp's legal team last night, basically saying, hey, just wait for the cross-examination. But Amber Heard's team also released a statement.

MELAS: Yes. So, you had Johnny Depp last night releasing a statement saying that this was the performance of her lifetime and that everything that she said was absolutely false, reiterating that he's never struck anyone and not struck a woman before.

Then you have Amber Heard's new P.R. team, because, remember, she fired her P.R. team in the midst of all of this, this new P.R. team called Shane Communications, putting out a very lengthy statement last night to CNN, in which they criticized Johnny Depp for not even looking her in the eye during her testimony, saying just, wait, there's more to come, criticizing the fact he's been coloring and doodling and all the things that have gone viral that Johnny Depp's fans have been loving.

So, look, I think that things are going to get more heated. But what's interesting is that there is a sort of unprecedented break because the judge has a prior commitment, so it's a lot of time for both parties to figure out exactly what they want to do next.

HILL: Yes. And I think that's the question too, what does happen during that week, right? And if you're a member of the jury, what's going through your mind in that week as you're replaying this?

MELAS: And how do you avoid just the onslaught of social media and so many people talking about this?

HILL: I mean, it's a case that has really captured so much attention, and I would argue not just because you're dealing with celebrities but because the picture that's being painted is so volatile and so concerning and reflects the sad reality in many relationships in this country. Chloe, nice to see you, though. I appreciate it. Thank you.

MELAS: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: It has now been a full week since an Alabama corrections officer helped an accused murderer escape from jail. Investigators say they have received hundreds of tips from across the country, and U.S. Marshals have released this image of what Officer Vicky White, who was blond at the time of her disappearance, might look like if she altered her appearance to have darker or shorter hair.

CNN's Ryan Young joins us now live from Albama. Ryan, What's the latest on the manhunt? Are they getting closer?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Jim. Look, that's the big question right now. I will tell you, the Marshal Service and the sheriff's department have been happy that we've all been here throughout the entire week, that's because every time we do one of these live shots, they get more and more tips. And they so many people across the country are just so interested in this story. They're getting calls from all four corners of the United States.

Now, take a look at some of these pictures they put out just yesterday on the detailed tattoos on the back of Casey White. You can understand they are concerned about this man being out on the run. One of the things they did once he got loose was they called all his victims in all his prior cases to give them a heads-up. Some people do fear for their safety with this man on the run.

We also talked to the man who's leading the fugitive task force yesterday. He gave us a brief moment to talk about all the things they're doing to try to track these two down. One thing that he indicated to me though was they believe these two have been planning this for such long time. And you have that law enforcement component in this because she worked. They had such a head start. They are trying to catch it up.

But I think the tips are getting better but take a listen to what he told us yesterday about this ongoing search.


CHAD HUNT, COMMANDER, U.S. MARSHAL GULF COAST, REGIONAL FUGITIVE TASK FORCE: We've gotten several hundred. And to be quite honest, all the four corners of the United States, we've gotten tips. I mean, we're seeing stuff coming in from the northwest down to the southwest up to the northeast and everything in between.

And we have to look at every single one, because it's going to be that one small tip that we think might be irrelevant really kind of breaks the case open.


YOUNG: Yes. Jim, you know how serious this case is when you have a member of law enforcement basically betray their own brothers and sisters, but one of the things that's actually helping law enforcement in this case is all the memes and all the jokes about this one.


Because of that, so many people are interested, more calls are coming in. You're talking about an individual who stands some 6'9" and they believe over 300 pounds. And the jokes are so good that it keeps being shared on social media. And that's why they believe they're getting even more tips because people are paying a lot of attention, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's one way to get the word out, no question. Ryan Young, thanks so much.

YOUNG: Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: And thanks so much to all of you for joining us today, this week. We hope you have a good weekend. I'm Jim Sciutto.

HILL: And our Erica Hill. Our colleague, Bianna Golodryga, picks up our coverage after this quick break. Stay with us.