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FBI Recovered 11 Sets Of Classified Docs In Search At Trump's Mar-a-Lago; John Klepper Confronts MAGA Crowd On Wild Conspiracies; One-On-One With "The Daily Show's" Jordan Klepper; Vanessa Bryant Takes On L.A. County Over Kobe Crash Photos; CDC Ends COVID Social Distancing, Testing, Quarantine Recommendations; Billionaires Funding Massive Treasure Hunt In Greenland As Ice Melts. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 13, 2022 - 17:00   ET





I'm Jim Acosta in Atlanta.

The newly unsealed Mar-a-Lago search warrants spark unprecedented threats of violence. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security today are warning that federal government personnel could be in danger as violent extremists are now seizing on the FBI search of former President Donald Trump's home.

Now we're learning more about the events leading up to that search. Two sources telling CNN, in June a Trump lawyer signed a letter saying that all documents marked as classified at Mar-a-Lago had been given back, but Monday's search revealed Mar-a-Lago was still harboring secrets -- top secrets.

The FBI on Monday removed 11 sets of classified documents including top secret ones meant to be viewed in secured government facilities. We now know now the Justice Department has probable cause to investigate three possible federal crimes: violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice and criminal handling of government records. As of now, we should note, no one has been charged with the crime.

Trump's first line of defense was to baselessly suggest the FBI may have planted evidence while in his home. Plan B involved claiming that Trump had declassified documents before the FBI seized them. So they're both declassified and planted. Does that make any sense?

But the Espionage Act we should note, does not hinge on whether documents are classified. So the Trump team's latest move is to blame a government agency for moving boxes of classified information to Mar- a-Lago claiming, quote, "that's not on the president".

Now, new this afternoon, the Democratic chairs of both the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees have written a letter to the Director of National Intelligence saying they want a damage assessment and briefing regarding these documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago, whether they posed some sort of national security risk to the country.

Joining me now to talk about this is the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

Director Clapper, great to see you. I have to ask you about something we were just talking about with Peter Strzok in the last hour, and that is this, that Donald Trump famously did not pay attention during his intelligence briefing, sort of gave them short shrift and so on. And yet at the same time was accumulating and storing all of these boxes of classified and top secret information.

If he wasn't showing an interest in that information while he was commander in chief, why did he need them down in Mar-a-Lago? Does it make any sense to you?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: No, Jim, it doesn't. In fact, that's been a question in my mind, again, not knowing the specific content of these documents. What was the motivation for accumulating them, moving them to Mar-a-Lago?

So I don't understand what the purpose was. I mean, you know, the imagination can run wild here as to what the potential purpose or motivations might have been. But that's one of the, you know, unanswered questions here.

ACOSTA: Right. And we now know that among the documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago, one set of documents, marked "Top Secret/SCI", four sets of "Top Secret" documents and three sets each marked "Secret" or "Confidential".

Help us out, Director Clapper, could you explain this SCI classification for our viewers as well as these other categories? Why is this so important?

CLAPPER: Well, there are three levels of classification as you infer. There's "Confidential" -- in ascending order of importance and gravity -- it's "Confidential", "Secret" and "Top Secret", and the levelation (ph) of which is progressively more serious, where in the case of "Top Secret" it could result in exceptionally grave damage to national security.

So those are the three levels of classification. Within those three levels there are compartments or segmentation of specific types of information which are restricted for the most part on a need-to-know basis. So just because somebody has a top secret clearance does not necessarily mean they have access to everything that's top secret.

Within that layer, particularly secret and top secret, there are categories, sub categories, compartments or what are called special access programs.


CLAPPER: SCI, Special Compartmented Information includes, for example, signals intelligence. The lion's share of sigint or signal intelligence is SCI, and there are certain restrictions that pertain to that in terms of access and physical security requirements that are pretty stringent.

ACOSTA: And Trump is claiming that he declassified everything, but he can't just wave a magic wand on his way out of office just sort of like decree, you know, these boxes here I hereby declassify, load them on the U-Haul truck, right?

CLAPPER: Well, a sitting president does have pretty broad authority for declassifying. Nevertheless, even in a case -- even if that situation though there are procedures intended to ensure discipline and rigor in protecting this information.

And typically, if something is going to be declassified, the originating element, agency or whatever who originally classified that document has a say in whether it can be fully declassified or perhaps declassified with redactions.

So I don't know whether those procedures were adhered to or not, and of course, after the president leaves office, he has no such authority.

And of course, there is a special case with nuclear material. There's been one report in the "Washington Post" that the data in question included nuclear material. The laws governing nuclear material are separate and distinct. And the president does not have carte blanche authority to declassify information that's nuclear-related.

Again, don't know that that's present. There's nothing in the affidavit that indicates that, but I think that is an important caveat.

ACOSTA: And we should note, we have not as of this moment confirmed that piece of information out of the "Washington Post", but it is certainly something to keep our eyes on.

And I have to ask you Director Clapper because you've worked in the intelligence community for so many years, and you understand not just the threat posed by terrorists and threats coming outside of the United States but violent extremists inside the United States.

And when you have people on the far right, rushing to the former president's defense, and conjuring up all of these wild and wacky conspiracy theories, it almost sounds like, you know, the bamboo ballots and voting machine nonsense that we heard between the election and January 6th.

You have a climate right now where you could potentially see a government official, perhaps federal investigators put in harm's way because of all of this crazy rhetoric on the far right. And I just wonder what your thoughts were on that.

CLAPPER: Well, Jim for me, I worry more about the internal threat and the threats to our institutions and the threats to rule of law, more than I worry about our external threats, you know, the hardy (ph) perennials of Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.

We have a bad case, as I've said before, what the RAND Corporation I think cleverly and aptly calls truth decay in this country, where we can't settle on a basic set of facts, and this is another graphic example of that.

And what it can lead to in terms of violence and threats to brave American men and women in law enforcement, notably the FBI and Department of Justice who are just trying to do their jobs, and they are now at personal risk because of this wild rhetoric.

ACOSTA: And we have to remind our viewers these are the same brave men and women who protect this country, protect the homeland against threats both foreign and domestic.

I mean, this is their job. This is what they do every day, and what's happening, you know, in the right wing sphere of rhetoric is just -- it's making their jobs even more difficult.

The former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, thanks as always for your time. We appreciate it.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Let's bring in CNN senior political analyst and former adviser to four presidents, David Gergen. David, we were just talking with Director Clapper there about the FBI being inundated with threats.

But I have to ask you, you know, as somebody who has worked with presidents both Republican and Democrat, this is a question that's come up a couple of times on this program, what would a former president of the United States, why would he need, what would he be doing with boxes and boxes of classified and top secret material at his post presidential compound, if you will? Do you buy that at all?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I do. Former presidents have frequently sought out their past records in order to write their memoirs, and some people in administrations I've known in the lower levels have tried to walk out the door of the National Archives with documents.


GERGEN: But I'd say even when presidents request, and they have to get clearance often from the CIA or some other institution before they go with something in a memoir. But even when they request, there are very high standards set.

And I think what Merrick Garland has done here now is he sent a very, very strong message to Donald Trump. "Don't mess with me. Don't fool with me. If you do, you're going to get in real hot water over the Espionage Act, over the Obstruction Act, over mishandling of documents as you said.

These are three potential crimes that are out there. And if he's -- if Donald Trump is prosecuted on any one of these crimes, there's a good chance his political career will be over. And you know, so I think given all of that, Trump is playing with really dangerous territory now.

And Garland clearly is not buffaloed by him. He's clearly not, you know, he's clearly not persuaded and he's making it tough, which is good. It's exactly what he should be doing.

ACOSTA: Right. And he seems, Trump seems to be playing a game of chicken with Merrick Garland because I mean -- David, you and I are old enough to remember when Donald Trump was out on that campaign trail every day with chants of lock her up, he was going after Hillary Clinton on the way she handled classified material and so on. I mean he burned this into the brains of his supporters over and over and over again.

And yet appears to have improperly taken all of this material to Mar- a-Lago and gotten into a back and forth with the FBI and the Justice Department over whether or not he should have it. And then conjuring up all of these excuses, we declassified them. Oh no, maybe some of the stuff was planted and so on. Trump knows what he is doing here, does he not?

GERGEN: He does. He's been stiff arming Garland. That's how we got into in mess because Garland and his folks, the FBI, kept pressing Trump and his team to give us the documents, let us see documents. They've been subpoenaed, we have learned today that one of the Trump lawyers signed a paper saying that Trump had given over all of his classified material. It was done. And now we've discovered of course he was lying.

And I think Garland's view is to Trump, stop lying to me, if you keep doing this, I'll throw the book at you. And I think Trump is very, very close to having that happen to him.

ACOSTA: And of course, all of this is happening apart from the conversation about January 6th where we're talking about a Trump scandal that's separate and apart for the most part from January 6th.

And, you know, David, this leads me to my next question, and that is, President Biden, and I know this is a subject near and dear to your heart. President Biden recently met with a group of historians, and they warned him that American democracy is facing a once-in-a-century threat, and that people keep waiting for that Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon moment when Republicans tell Trump enough is enough.

But over the past week, what have we seen? I mean, I'm old enough to remember when people were saying that Rupert Murdoch has turned his back on Donald Trump, that he's given up on Donald Trump. What did we see on Fox News all week? They were all coming to Trump's defense over and over and over again. And the Republican party has largely come to Donald Trump's defense over this search. What do you make of that?

GERGEN: Well, I think Jim, this is the one area where I would disagree with Garland. I think had Mar-a-Lago been handled, you know, he already sent people down there -- I mean the government sent one team down to Mar-a-Lago looking for documents. I think they could have done this in a less dramatic way that gave Trump this cudgel to hit the FBI over the head and hit the Justice Department over the head. I think Garland -- I think he was trying to do the right thing, as I

say. He send a terribly important message to Trump but I think the dramatization of all of this gave Trump an early advantage, and now I think Garland has sort of caught up with him.

And I think the nation is awakening to the fact that we have a president who may have been messing around with nuclear secrets about nuclear weapons. And that has set, the rumor mills, as you know, Jim, are working overtime in Washington about why would the president want to keep nuclear weapons documents. Did Jared Kushner want to see those documents? Are the Saudis involved. All of these kinds of questions are now floating, trying to -- and we're going to just have to wait to see how this all turns out, to see what the underlying issues are.

But right now, there's a lot of speculation, and very little real hard knowledge except for the fact that Garland is on Trump's tail, and he's not going to let up.

ACOSTA: And this warning from historians that American democracy could be in trouble.

GERGEN: Yes, I'm really curious about that. I'm sorry I missed that, but I'm really pleased that President Biden had the historians in. I think it's salutary (ph). One of the things that --

ACOSTA: And do you agree with that assessment, David?


GERGEN: Oh yes. I do think -- I think we're in serious danger. I think the historians are right to point that out. But the historians, like a Jon Meacham or a Doris Kearns Goodwin, for example, they will also tell you, you know, we've had moments like this before.

We've had existential threats to the republic on at least four occasions when we could -- all the lights could have gone out. Started just when we were a new republic, and George Washington lost six of his first eight battles, and we were on the ropes for a while before there was a comeback.

You go to the civil war, which was a lot to get through, you know, if Gettysburg had gone the other way, the Union might have unraveled.

You go to the Great Depression with Franklin Roosevelt, I think we were very close to the edge -- a lot of democracies fell during that period of time.

And then the Second World War when we were perilously close.

You can look at all of those and from a historian's point of view, they give you encouragement because we did pull together. You know, Abigail Adams wrote a famous letter to her son John Quincy, saying in adverse times like this, that's when great people emerge, that's when statesmen emerge, that's when heroes emerge.

So you know, there's a lot to be said but this is the moment with fresh leadership, strong leadership we could pull ourselves together as a country. But right now (INAUDIBLE) to get on that track, it's going to require a lot more work than we have done so far.

ACOSTA: And a lot of courage, more courage than we're seeing right now.


ACOSTA: David Gergen --

GERGEN: Absolutely.

ACOSTA: Thank you so much for your time. As always, appreciate it.

GERGEN: Thank you. Good to talk to you, Jim.

ACOSTA: Good to see you.

With primary season heating up, the "Daily Show's" Jordan Klepper joined old buddies. He's back again and yes back into the MAGA verse and has some of the wildest interactions yet. If that can be said. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Biden doesn't know what he's doing.

JORDAN KLEPPER, COMEDIAN: He recently just killed the head of al Qaeda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe it.

KLEPPER: Do you think that's just a made up news story.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just like bin Laden was Obama.

KLEPPER: Clarify who's still alive. Bin Laden?





ACOSTA: Even before the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump was leaving his mark on the Republican primary season. Of the ten House Republicans who incurred Trump's wrath by voting to impeach him, three lost their primaries, four said they were retiring from Congress, only two have won.

Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney will be the last to face voters this Tuesday.

Recently the "Daily Show's" Jordan Klepper traveled to a Trump rally in Wisconsin to discuss some of the big midterm issues. But instead, what he heard was a lot of conspiracies.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not going to be a conspiracist or anything like that but I just watched a movie last week with Robin Williams in it. It was called --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- "Man of the Year". and guess what, they had election fraud back then. So machines are switching to doing it electronically and they were caught in lying.

KLEPPER: Is this a documentary?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it's just a movie.

KLEPPER: Are there any lessons we can take from "Mork and Mindy"?


KLEPPER: Who do you see as the current legitimate president?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think we currently have one. If we do, maybe hopefully Trump's running behind the scenes, keeping the military on our side.

KLEPPER: The recent attack that took out the leader of the al Qaeda who ordered that attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I didn't read a whole of that. I try to stay out of the media as much as possible because it's all a bunch of theatrics anyway.

KLEPPER: And you're not somebody who gives into theatrics.


KLEPPER: What don't we know about 9/11?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it was all planned. I think that came down on their explosives.

KLEPPER: It was an inside job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I think so. But I think Bush knew it was happening.

KLEPPER: Really? Is Biden just wasting time there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Biden doesn't know what he's doing.

KLEPPER: He recently just killed the head of al Qaeda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe it.

KLEPPER: Do you think that's just the made up news story.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just like bin Laden was Obama.

KLEPPER: Clarify who's still alive? Bin Laden.



KLEPPER: JFK Jr. is still alive?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think JFK Jr. is going to try to expose globalists because they killed his father.

KLEPPER: I thought he was a magazine magnate who lived in New York.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I don't think so.


ACOSTA: Absolutely breathtaking. All right.

Joining me now is the great Jordan Klepper, contributor for the "daily Show". Jordan, I'm going to let you talk for a few moments while I grab my bottle of Advil.

Are you ever surprised? I mean, I have to wonder whether you rank some of these conspiracy theories, like this was the best. This was the second best, I suppose it would happen by the day that you would do this sort of ranking but, I mean, it's just remarkable what folks come up with.

KLEPPER: Yes, I will say for this piece we went out expecting to talk about issues for the midterms. We thought we were going to get people's reactions on the overturning of Roe v. Wade. And people were jumping down our throats talking about JFK Jr. And not just one person, multiple people, everyone we came up to.

I think -- it is shocking to us, this cult of MAGA-ism is melting brains, full stop. And you talk to people and you realize when you normalize the idea that a dead dictator is affecting our elections, people's brains get thirsty, they start looking for other ideas, and suddenly they resurrect the dead child of a former president. And so suddenly you're amidst these seances of political ideas coming out of sheer boredom, frankly.

ACOSTA: And you had one of those rally goers refer to a Robin Williams movie, which is a movie.

But let me ask you about this because you had one rally goer show you an app that translates words into numbers. I'm not even sure how this works. Uses that to guide her belief system. Let's take a look at that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Type it in the calculator, you get these numbers. And so Michael Jackson's last concert was "This Is It", comes to 113.

KLEPPER: And you know what that means. Do you, I don't know what that means.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 113 means not true.

KLEPPER: so Michael Jackson, that wasn't his last concert.



KLEPPER: Michael Jackson is alive. People are talking, is bin Laden still alive?


KLEPPER: Are you doing math right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I'm trying to remember his real name -- Tim.

KLEPPER: Osama. Osama bin Laden.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, Tim someone, I forgot his last name.

KLEPPER: Tim is not the most Saudi name.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wasn't Saudi. He was from the CIA.

KLEPPER: How does MAGA and Trump fit into all of this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, Trump, 88. J. Kennedy, 88.

KLEPPER: So they're the same person?



ACOSTA: I don't know either, Jordan. I mean, I have to wonder, do you ever pull out your phone and Google stuff and say, ok, here's the information that you need. It's right here. I guess they don't believe that either.

KLEPPER: Well, I will say, on this one in particular in the airport on the way home, I pulled out my phone just to see where some of these ideas started from because it did feel like it was coming out of nowhere, and you start to pull the strands, you get pulled in.

I'm pretty sure Osama bin laden wasn't Tim bin laden, but the Internet is an amazing thing. And if you type Tim bin Laden in the Internet, you can go down a rabbit hole. And so I often leave these things with that. I think they're not

pulling this out of thin air. There are strands that are out there that you can hold on to, and they take you to these wild places.

And I think that woman who was talking about this mathematical language is an oddity at a Trump rally, usually count up to the Second Amendment at a rally like that. But this has some history to it. And I think it has the allure of the divine which for many folks there, if their conspiracy can be attached to something greater, they often go all in.

ACOSTA: Right, and when you're in a cult, you'll believe just about anything. You'll fall down the disinformation rabbit holes that you're finding people in.

And you also spoke to voters who claim to believe in election integrity but at the same time were supporting Republican Senator Ron Johnson who has spread election lies, and let's watch that clip.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like Ron Johnson. We're trying to get election integrity.

KLEPPER: You wouldn't bring fake electors in and shove that on somebody to try to affect an election.


KLEPPER: You wouldn't vote for somebody like that.


KLEPPER: Ron Johnson did that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want people that believe in the constitution.

KLEPPER: He did try to bring fake electors to Mike Pence.



ACOSTA: Ok. Do you ever get through to anybody, Jordan, when you're -- because I see you, you're fact checking a lot of this in real time, so I know you're doing a lot of preparation before you go into these interactions. Do you ever get through to somebody and have somebody say aha, yes, ok you got me on this, that's correct.

KLEPPER: Well, I think that "ok" speaks volumes.


KLEPPER: I've had a lot of moments that are like that where you confront somebody with facts or information they don't want to hear. And ok is about as far as you get because you realize in that moment,

they're not going to accept a new reality. It's too difficult to shift the paradigm that have gotten in the car, they've built their houses around, they've come to build up their lives around, they built their Facebook posts around, and suddenly this is here.

So ok basically means stop I'm moving on. And so sadly, we're often on different planets here, we're in different realities. And so you try to have an earnest conversation about election integrity but that word is defined differently for them and me, sadly.

ACOSTA: Right. And I have to ask you this, Jordan because I think this is very important before we go. You recently did an entire special about the Republican Party's embrace of Hungary's authoritarian leader, Viktor Orban, who is unapologetically anti-immigrant among other things. And has even denounced the mixing of races.

Despite all of that, he spoke at CPAC last week, and here's a bit of that.


VIKTOR ORBAN, HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER: I can already see tomorrow's headlines. Far right European racist and anti-Semite strongman, Victorian Horse of Putin, holds speech at conservative conference. Don't worry, a Christian politician cannot be racist.


ACOSTA: I mean as someone who went to Hungary and delved into these issues with Viktor Orban, what did you make of his appearance last week, the fact that he was there at CPAC?

KLEPPER: I think it's despicable. You know, we went there because Hungary is being talked about at CPAC. We went to CPAC. Viktor Orban is being held up on this pedestal. When you go to Hungary, and you realize why, and what is happening in Hungary is not reflective of the America that I was promised in schools or any of the values that we have.

And you hear about Orban coming here to America, he's not stopping in D.C. He's going to CPAC, a week after talking about how we shouldn't mix races, like you said, and frankly, I keep waiting for that moment where the backbone in somebody on that party at CPAC, if this is really where they are, discussing the forward progress of the conservative movement, why you would have that person be emblematic of that, and nobody stands up.


In fact, it becomes -- as you showed, it becomes a punch line, so frankly, we went there to try to see where many in the GOP want to head.

And it's scary. And it's repressive. And it's taking those Democratic norms and chipping away at them. ACOSTA: And I have one follow up to that, and it's interesting you

bring that up. There are a lot of folks who are optimistic in the months that follow January 6th in that perhaps this would break the Trump fever dream.

That perhaps the Republican Party, the conservative movement will snap out of it. And they won't be under the trance of Donald Trump anymore or under the control of Donald Trump anymore.

And you're out there, Jordan, on the campaign trail. I know this because I've been out on the campaign trail, and you have to be there to see it and observe it in person.

And I'm wondering what you think. Do you think that things are getting better in that regard, that you're seeing smaller clouds, people less, you know, in that grip of the former president, or is it getting worse? Do you think it's getting worse?

KLEPPER: You know, it's hard for me to get a sense of perspective at these things. And it does feel like the crowds are perhaps smaller. But again, he's not technically running for president now. I don't know what a big crowd is at an event like this.

I would like to think there are people who are getting unnerved by these ideas, that no longer holds its sway. But what I am noticing when I'm talking to people is the rhetoric is stronger, it's angrier, it's wilder than ever before.

And the last one we went to, honestly, it's back in the Midwest, it's in Wisconsin. We've been there before. And usually, you get these outlier opinions, every five or six people you talk to.

And this one, everybody was dialed in to straight conspiracy. And the baseline about the election being stolen was already so far into a wild place.

We came home, and our jobs were on the ground. If this is where MAGA is right now. It's in a scary place.

And it seems to have hold over the party in a way that I would be shocked in what happens next if this really becomes the face of this next generation of the GOP.

ACOSTA: All right. The great Jordan Klepper, you have to go out there and see it for yourself, report on it, to know what it is. And what it is, is disturbing what we're witnessing right now. It's hardwired in.

Jordan, great to have you on as always. Thank you so much, appreciate it.

KLEPPER: Thanks, Jim.

ACOSTA: Coming up, harrowing new details about the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and the testimony that was too emotional for his widow to remain in the courtroom. That's coming up.



ACOSTA: The family of Anne Heche is remembering the actress one week after she was hospitalized following a devastating car crash. Relatives say the 53-year-old is being kept on life support in hopes that her organs can be donated.

Because she has no brain function, Heche is considered legally dead under California law.

Her son, Homer, released a statement saying, "My brother, Atlas, and I lost our mom after six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings. I'm left with a deep wordless sadness. Hopefully, my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom."

Emotional moments in an L.A. courtroom this week where Kobe Bryant's widow, Vanessa, is suing L.A. County over its handling of gruesome photographs taken at the crash site where the NBA legend and his daughter were killed along with seven others.

CNN's Natasha Chen has details.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On Friday, the jury heard from one of the whistleblowers and one of the deputies accused of taking and sharing unauthorized close ups of crash victims, including Kobe and Gianna Bryant on January 26, 2020.

We previously heard from a whistleblower who saw a deputy sharing these grizzly photos at a bar. But on Friday, we heard whistleblower, Luella, explain how a Los Angeles County firefighter was showing photos of human remains from the crash at an awards gala.

She happens to be the cousin of one of the victims in the crash so she was particularly emotional in recounting how the group of people were huddled around a phone looking at the alleged gruesome photos.

She said one of the firefighters eventually walked away from the huddle jokingly saying, I can't believe I just looked at Kobe's burnt up body and now I'm about to eat.

As she was on the stand, Vanessa Bryant was visibly emotional. I saw her with her head in her hands, rocking slightly forward and back trying to hide her face as she cried.

She was not in the room at all for afternoon testimony of Doug Johnson, one of the first sheriff's deputies to have climbed the treacherous hillside to reach the crash scene.

He says he took about 25 site photos at the request of another deputy to share with command staff 1,200 feet below, so they could form a strategic response. He said about a third were of human remains. And he remembers taking

pictures of body parts, people missing a head, missing arms or legs, organs lying in the open.

He said he had texted these to the deputy who requested them, and also air dropped them to a firefighter that to this day has still not been identified.

So the county's argument that the photos are contained is disputed by Vanessa Bryant's team who argues there could be more photos out there that we don't know of.

Deputy Johnson said he was unaware of any policy that would have prevented him from taking these photos and sharing them with other first responders.

He said, quote, "I know I didn't do anything wrong." He says he doesn't regret his actions that day.



ACOSTA: Coming up, dramatic changes from the CDC regarding COVID-19 protocols. What you should do if you're exposed and what this means for the new school year, next.


ACOSTA: Just as students across the country are heading back to school, the CDC is making a major shift in easing its COVID-19 guidelines.

The nation can move away from restrictive measures such as quarantines, after exposure, COVID screening, and social distancing. The focus will now move to reducing severe illness from COVID.

CNN's Nadia Romero joins me now.

Nadia, this is where a lot of people are already right now. They have moved on from a lot of these measures. What should parents know as they send their kids back to class.

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, parents should know these new CDC guidelines are here but there may be a lag between now and when they see the school districts following the new guidelines, if they decide to do so at all.

Let's jump into what has changed. You'll see first, it is now OK for different classrooms to mix. No longer isolating children in individual classrooms.

And that test to stay guideline, that's out the window as well. School children exposed to the coronavirus no longer need to take a regular test and test negative to stay in the classroom.


And the White House coronavirus response coordinator says this really comes from the cries from educators and parents talking about the impact that these previous guidelines had on their kids, not allowing them to really develop socially.

That social aspect not just reading and writing and math but being able to go to different classrooms.

And this also impacted teachers who were not able to share resources when they could no longer mix and move around the schools.

So those are the new guidelines and we asked one medical analyst why he believed the CDC was making those changes now, and here's his response.


DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST; I think the CDC has given up on trying to prevent transmission of this virus across the country, and they're focusing now on trying to reduce the amount of disruption to American society.

We have about as much COVID circulating in this country as we ever had. And when I see the CDC sort of tell people don't worry about social distancing anymore, to me, it's like they've thrown their hands up in the air.


ROMERO: So the CDC also saying that, you know, we have come a long way since the beginning of this pandemic. So something that we saw in the very beginning, social distancing now something that they no longer say we need to do. They're loosening those restrictions.

So we reached out to the Atlanta public school district. They have about 52,000 students in their district, and they also have teachers who have mandatory COVID-19 testing weekly.

We asked them, are you going to change any of your policies? This was their response:

"Atlanta public schools is currently reviewing the newly released guidance for K through 12 schools. In addition, we're awaiting updated guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health."

"When revising health protocols from our school district, we consider recommendations from CDC, Georgia Department of Health, and monitor the impact of COVID-19 on our school district."

And this is also something that we heard, Jim, from educators. They didn't want a blanket policy. They wanted to be able to take those guidelines and tailor them for their school district.

We're still waiting to see that impact as it relates to schools from these new guidelines -- Jim? ACOSTA: All right. Nadia Romero, thank you very much, appreciate it.

Coming up, the treasure hunt that has some of the richest men in the world digging in Greenland.

And join CNN's Fareed Zakaria for his special, "THE FALL OF KABUL, ONE YEAR LATER," airing tomorrow at 10:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.



ACOSTA: Melting ice in Greenland is a prime example of the dire impacts of climate change. But in an ironic twist, the ice is also creating opportunity to find newer sources of precious metals needed to power green energy.

As CNN's Rene Marsh reports, it's sparked a massive treasure hunt among billionaires all scrambling to mine for these essential resources.


RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the southwest coast of Greenland, some of the world's richest men are funding a massive treasure hunt, involving a chopper and a transmitter, in hopes of discovering a trove of critical materials capable of powering the green energy transition.

A band of billionaires, from Jeff Bezos to Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates, is all betting that below the surface of the hills and valleys on Greenland's Disko Island and Nugssuaq Peninsula, there's enough nickel, cobalt, and copper to power hundreds of millions of electric vehicles.

KURT HOUSE, CEO, KOBOLD METALS: So we're looking for a deposit that will be the first or second largest, most significant nickel, cobalt deposit in the world.

MARSH: The Billion Club is financially backing California start-up KoBold Metals, a mineral exploration company, partnered with U.K.- based Bluejay Mining to find metals that power renewables and E.V.s.

Bluejay mining says Greenland's climate change-induced ice melt is changing the game for sourcing these sought-after metals.

BO MOLLER STENSGAARD, CEO, BLUEJAY MINING: You can see that you are dealing with longer windows from sea ice. We have longer periods where we are able to transport ore, metal from Greenland to the global market.

MARSH: A camp of 30 geologists, geophysicists, cooks, pilots, and mechanics are on site. And CNN is the first media outlet to get video of the activity happening there.

They're taking soil samples, flying helicopters with transmitters to measure the electromagnetic field of the subsurface and map the layers of rock below.

Artificial intelligence is analyzing the data to pinpoint exactly where to drill next summer.

While the vanishing ice opens opportunity for unearthing and transporting these metals, it's also fueling sea-level rise and extreme weather. A concern for scientists in eastern Greenland working below the surface of the ice sheet in ice tunnels using heavy machinery to drill and retrieve ice samples.

Analysis of the 60,000-year-old ice may yield clues about Greenland's past climate.

Concern is also high in northwest Greenland where CNN joined a team of NASA scientists measuring ice melt on the arctic ocean.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're trying to understand how that melt is happening now, how that ice that used to survive several years in a row is now disappearing.

MARSH: The disappearing ice highlights a unique dichotomy. Greenland is ground zero for the impact of climate change. But it could also become ground zero for sourcing the metals needed to power the solution to the crisis.



ACOSTA: Great peace there.

And new video into CNN capturing a loud boom this morning in Utah.





ACOSTA: The governor and National Weather Service are saying this massive boom was likely caused by a meteor hitting the atmosphere, not an earthquake or thunder. But definitely pretty loud. And we will stay on top of that and get the latest on that.

That's the news, with all the boom. Reporting from Atlanta, I'm Jim Acosta. We will see you back here tomorrow at 4:30 Eastern.

Pamela Brown takes over the CNN NEWSROOM after a break.

Have a good night, everybody.