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Biden Signs Burn Pit Legislation into Law; "Primary Suspect" Arrested in Albuquerque Muslim Killings; Trump Invokes Fifth Amendment Rights in NY AG Probe; CNN: FBI Search Came Amid Belief Trump's Team Not Being Honest; NFL Seeking Full-Season Suspension for Deshawn Watson. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired August 10, 2022 - 13:30   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: A life-changing and perhaps lifesaving moment for veterans and their families today. The president has signed critical burn pit legislation into law.

It's the PACT Act, which expands health care benefits for vets who got sick because they were exposed to toxins. Millions will feel the impact of this legislation.

For the president, it's personal. He believes his son Beau's fatal cancer was caused by this toxic agent overseas.

At the ceremony today, the president addressed the daughter of a vet who also died from cancer.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That is my grandson. His daddy lost to the same burn pits. He knows what you're going through.

But guess what? You're going to do this and you're going to be strong. It's hard to take care of a mommy and a grandma but you got to do it.


CABRERA: The V.A. secretary says his department is ready to implement the new law immediately.

Authorities say hundreds of tips led them to the suspect of four deaths of Muslims in Albuquerque. And 51-year-old Muhammed Syed is formally charged now in two of the killings. The police call him the primary suspect in the other two.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is joining us.

Ed, you were in Syed's home speaking to his family before his arrest was announced. How did this go down?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, as we've been reporting on the story for the last several days, we were tipped off because perhaps this was a family that we should look into.


When we arrived at the house, several family members invited us inside. And what we found was clear signs that authorities had just been in

there hours earlier executing a search warrant.

Several hours later, we learned that 51-year-old Muhammed Syed has been taken into custody and described as the prime suspect in these murders.

As you mentioned, he's formally charged with two of the murders for now but authorities believe they will be able to charge him with all four members.

Family members of Mohammed Syed said he had left hours before authorities arrived to execute the search warrant. They say he was driving to Texas because he had plans of moving the family there.

And indeed, authorities say that they captured him and took Mohammed Syed into custody about 60 miles east of Albuquerque.

But right now, authorities say they are still trying to determine exactly what the motive was behind these killings.

But there is evidence -- and we heard this from family members, that his families know many, if not all of the victims, that have been murdered here the last 10 months.

This is more from investigators.


HAROLD MEDINA, CHIEF, ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO, POLICE DEPARTMENT: You know, one of the questions I know probably come up today and we addressed early on as an administration, are we labeling this a hate crime or label this a serial killer?

We stood strong and held the line we would not use any of those labels at that point in time.

But we still don't have any indication that either of these incidents on or topics or labels would have been appropriate.

As the investigation continues, if it changes, we will surely notify the public and be transparent about that.


LAVANDERA: Family members of Mohammed Syed insist he could not be capable of carrying out these murders.

In court documents, Ana, Mohammed Syed apparently told investigators as well that he did not murder these four Muslim men in Albuquerque. But investigators say they have shell casing evidence that ties the

murder scene to Mohammed Syed, to several firearms that were taken from his home and in his car as well -- Ana?

CABRERA: Ed Lavandera, with the latest from Albuquerque, thank you.

Thumbs up but not speaking up today. Former President Trump declining to answer questions from the New York attorney general today. The latest on this legal battle is next.



CABRERA: It's only Wednesday. So far this week, the FBI has searched former President Trump's Florida home. An appeals court says the House can obtain his taxes from the IRS.

And today, he refused to answer questions into a three-year civil investigation into his business finances.

Let's discuss this with former Trump White House lawyer, Jim Schultz, and CNN law enforcement analyst, Peter Licata. Peter was also a supervisory special agent at the FBI.

Guys, we are learning former President Trump pleaded the Fifth today.

Jim, this is somebody who has said pleading the Fifth means you're guilty. I quote, "The mob takes the Fifth." "If you are innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?"

Those are Trump's words. If Trump pleaded the Fifth today, what does that tell you?

JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: So I think it tells me, look, this is a civil investigation by Attorney General James. They are asking questions in connection with a civil investigation. And probably asking some questions that, you know, his lawyers instructed him not to answer.

And the only downside for him in terms of this civil case, should it go to trial, he would get an adverse inference against, you know, the representations he made because he failed to testify.

We get an adverse inference, meaning the jury would be instructed that to take what -- to take these -- in an adverse fashion. And they could be used against him in that civil proceeding. So there's really not a risk for him in taking that.

I think there's a political risk for him taking the Fifth Amendment because, you know, he has said those things in the past.

So I think that is the calculus here. I think he is listening to his lawyers, which is something he probably should be doing.

But I also don't think there's a big risk in him doing it, except for the political implications, as you've said.

CABRERA: Let's move on to the latest with the Mar-a-Lago search this week.

Peter, we are learning, after months of discussions with Trump's lawyers, there was suspicion that Trump's people were not being completely truthful and were holding materials and that's why the DOJ made this move.

Now Republicans in particular are demanding more information and transparency from the DOJ about this search. Should the Justice Department tell Americans what is going on here?

PETE LICATA, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: The answer is question. It's court documents. Sooner or later, the affidavit the affidavit is going to be made to the public as a matter of court documents and court records.

So it will become available. So that is transparency in itself. So we will find out exactly in the details of that court document what the government was looking for and what they were going to seize.

Moreover, the second part of the search warrant, on any search, is the return, which is an itemized list of all the items that were seized from the particular residence, in this case, the president's residence.

All of that information will be presented in court or as part of further proceedings in the near future.


CABRERA: But when you say, "near future," we don't know how close that is.

For those who are saying, you need to answer to this immediately, Merrick Garland, DOJ, tell us what you got, show us some of your cards, explain why the Justice Department wouldn't do that at this stage.

LICATA: Honestly, you hope the Justice Department is going to be transparent, not just with politicians but with the American public. We expect that with all investigations.

As a former FBI agent of 21 years, I expected my bosses and my administration to be transparent with what I was doing on a routine basis when it came to responding to transparency (ph) in investigating crimes.

So that is what you would hope that there's transparency across all levels in all three branches of the federal government.

CABRERA: But, typically, they don't say what is going on in an ongoing investigation, do they?

LICATA: No. Not what is ongoing. But the court document, itself, should be made available --


LICATA: -- to the public like any other arrest warrant or search warrant.

CABRERA: Got it. That would come if there are charges or indictments here.

Jim, Trump's own lawyers have now suggested that the FBI may have planted evidence. This appears to be a conspiracy theory. They haven't backed it up with any proof of their own.

I can't help but wonder if they are trying to get out ahead of something by saying that. Is this an acknowledgment that what investigators did find was incriminating?

SCHULTZ: I don't know that it's an acknowledgment of incrimination. I do think it's a misdirection play on their part. And they are advocating on behalf of their client.

I understand from some of the public reports that the cameras were on during the entire time of the search. I'm not sure whether that is accurate or not but that is what has been publicly reported that they were asked to be turn off, that they remained on.

To the extent that there were any issues there, I'm sure that they could be brought to light through the cameras and shown one way or another.

But it seems to me like a misdirection play on the part of the lawyers in that instance.

CABRERA: They are talking about the search, Jim, that his lawyers, you know, aren't sharing the actual warrant that would have been handed over to Trump. What would that warrant tell us?

SCHULTZ: Well, we just heard about that and that would tell us what the FBI was looking for.

But I do think that, you know, like I said -- like you said, Peters -- there's going to be transparency as it realities to what they were looking for and that will come very soon.

What the politicians are asking for is for Merrick Garland to come forward and explain himself, why now, why the search, why not just issue a subpoena?

Those type of questions during an ongoing investigation, you're never going to hear.

But at some point and time in the future, they will get that opportunity should the Republicans take over Congress and will be able to ask that during oversight.

When the matter is over, they'll have an opportunity to ask those questions of Attorney General Garland.

CABRERA: But, Jim, why wouldn't Trump's team say, here are the documents that we got, we can show you what we have, when they are making all of these allegations?

SCHULTZ: No idea! I don't know what is in the documents. I don't know why they are holding them. We all don't know.

At some point in time, we will know. We'll know what is in the documents and we'll know what they were looking for and we will know what they found. I think that will all come out in due time.

I think in the meantime, the big question is why? Why now, when they were likely negotiating back and forth at some point in time, dating back to June, about turning over this information.

Then that must have broken down at this point. And then once the Trump side refused, there was some disagreement, there was distrust between the lawyers for the DOJ and the lawyers for Trump.

And they felt the need to go in with 40 agents and 40-plus agents instead of just issuing a subpoena, it's a head-scratcher. And I'm sure it will come to light at some point.

CABRERA: As a journalist, I would have more questions. It can be frustrating when we don't have all of the answers. But you guys have your expertise and have given us insight into the process and that certainly has helpful

Thank you both, Jim Schultz and Pete Licata.


We will be right back.


CABRERA: The head of the NFL is slamming one player's behavior and pushing for a much harsher penalty. Commissioner Roger Goodell says Cleveland Browns quarterback, Watson, should sit out an entire season for his conduct, not just six games based on the evidence he's seen.

CNN's Don Riddell joins us now.

Don, what all did Goodell say?

DON RIDDELL, CNN HOST, "WORLD SPORT": What he said was really, really important, Ana.

Let's quickly reset. Deshaun Watson has paid $230 million by the Cleveland Browns. That is the richest contract in NFL history.

He is the subject of numerous claims alleging sexual and misconduct, 24 civil lawsuits have been filed against him, 23 have been settled confidentially. Watson has repeatedly denied these allegations.

Last week, an independently appointed judge issued him a six-game suspension but NFL appealed it on Wednesday.

And for the first time, the commissioner, Roger Goodell, has given his reasons why they want a much tougher sentence.


ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: There was multiple violations here, and it was egregious, and it was predatory behavior. Those were things we always felt were really important for us to address in a way that's responsible.


RIDDELL: The NFL are under an awful lot of pressure here to come up with a tougher sentence.


The NFL does not have a good reputation when it comes to disciplining its players for behaving in this kind of manner.

But we have no idea when this is going to be resolved. The Browns are going to be playing the first of three preseason games this week on Friday. The season starts in just under a month's time.

There's no timeline given by the NFL or anybody else for when this is going to be resolved one way or another.

CABRERA: Certainly indications it could be more than six games that Deshaun Watson sits out.

Don Riddell, thank you very much for that update.

That does it for me today. Thank you for joining us. I'll see you back here tomorrow same time, same place. Until then you can find me on Twitter, @AnaCabrera.

The news continues next with Victor Blackwell. Stay right there.