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Sources: Trump's Lawyers Said In June No More Classified Documents Kept At Mar-a-Lago; FBI Recovered 11 Sets Of Classified Documents In Trump Search; FBI Gets "Unprecedented" Number Of Threats After Mar-a-Lago Search; Salman Rushdie Attacker Charged with 2nd- Degree Attempted Murder; Actress Anne Heche Declared Brain Dead After Car Accident; Rep. Lofgren Weighs In On Threats To Federal Officers After Mar-a-Lago Search; New CDC COVID Guidance; U.N. Watchdog: Ukrainian Nuclear Plant Facing "Grave Hour. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired August 13, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFID MALE: Violence against law enforcement, it's uncalled for. It's lawlessness at its finest.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since the Mar-a-Lago raid, CNN has found ramped-up extremist rhetoric --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact there's SCI material out in the wild, so to speak, at risks, is particularly stunning.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST (voice-over): Actress Anne Heche has been declared brain dead.
UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A fiery 2022 car crash put her in a comma and left her with severe burns. Anne Heche led a life of public highs and lows. But through it all, she shined on screen and strived to stay hopeful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He came in the left side and leapt across the stage and just lunged at him.
UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's currently breathing with the help of a ventilator.
The question is looming over investigators right now as to what drove this 24-year-old suspect that's been identified as Hadi Matar from New Jersey to charge that stage and carry out this attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: I'm Alex Marquardt in Washington, in for Pamela Brown this evening. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
We begin this hour with the nation's top intelligence official, the director of National Intelligence, being asked for a damage assessment on classified documents that were removed from former President Donald Trump's Palm Beach resort, Mar-a-Lago.
The Democratic chairs of the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees wrote together in a letter that, quote, "The former president's conduct has potentially put our national security at grave risk."
And they want "an appropriate classified briefing on the conduct of the damage assessment as soon as possible."
Meanwhile, sources are now telling CNN that one of Donald Trump's lawyers stated back in June, two months ago, there was no more classified information being kept at Mar-a-Lago.
CNN's Katelyn Polantz has more.
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Alex, two months before the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, a lawyer for Donald Trump attested in a letter to the Justice Department there were no classified records to be found on the property, CNN learned Saturday afternoon.
Despite this claim, when investigators seized the boxes this past Monday in this criminal investigation, they found in 11 different places records still marked as classified.
That includes records at all three levels of classification, even ones tables T.S./SCI. Those are the type of records that require the most strenuous provisions for secrecy around them by being kept only in a secured facility.
These new details are fleshing out the timeline, leading to the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago.
We learned earlier this week of a meeting Trump's attorneys had in June and a subpoena for the return of the records before the search.
This letter from Trump's lawyer also adds to our understanding of why federal prosecutors may have seen no other way to resecure these sensitive records than to go onto the beach club grounds for themselves.
They weren't going to be given back by the former president's team clearly.
Now Donald Trump and some of his advisers are claiming he declassified all the records he kept after the presidency.
But when you look at what is being investigated here, Alex, obstruction of justice, criminal mishandling of government records, the Espionage Act, the classification status might be immaterial.
What matters, as the Justice Department continues to investigate this, is how potentially harmful it was to have these records out of the control of the federal government for the last year and a half. All of what happens in June is likely to become important facts if
criminal charges are materializing here and investigators try to narrow down who exactly mishandled these documents -- Alex?
MARQUARDT: Katelyn Polantz, thank you so much for that reporting.
Now with more on the search warrant and Trump's legal troubles, I'm joined by a legal analyst and former Los Angeles County prosecutor, Loni Coombs.
Loni, what do you make from what we just heard from Katelyn there about this letter from a Trump lawyer claiming in June that all the classified documents had been returned to DOJ.
We now know that was not the case. Eleven sets of classified documents going up to what's known as Top Secret SCI, which is one of the highest levels of classification.
LONI COOMBS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's right, Alex. I think there's two important things about this letter. First of all, I think it really fills in some of the gaps of the timeline that was just laid out there.
We knew there were these conversations going on back and forth between Donald Trump's attorneys and the investigators. There was this face- to-face meeting in Mar-a-Lago. There was this subpoena. They were trying to get the documents.
And then something changed because they, all of a sudden, switched to the search warrant, which is the most invasive way to get these documents out.
If they got this letter back from June from one of his attorneys saying we have no more classified documents, that's it, but they're getting information there's more classified documents there, they realize the attorneys are either not working in good faith or they just don't know what they're talking about.
So, we cannot rely on them to produce these documents that we desperately need. That's why they need to go to the search warrant.
But it helps fill in the gaps for why they went to the search warrant.
The other question, this attorney, why in the world would they sign this letter? Was this an intentional lie, a cover-up?, which is not a smart thing to do. Because when you do that in a federal investigation, you're subjecting yourself to your own liability.
Or did they rely on the words of Donald Trump, which, again, is not a smart thing to do. Because we know the history that Donald Trump has of lying. This attorney, themselves, is going to be in trouble at some point,
should probably get their own attorney because they're looking at their own liability.
They could everything happening from being disbarred, having their license suspended to having criminal charges.
In fact, that letter itself might be the basis for the obstruction of justice statute that was listed in the search warrant, which is a good reminder that the target might not just be Donald Trump. It may be other people as well.
MARQUARDT: Whether this was intentional or careless, that was one of the big questions right now.
Loni, let's talk awe little bit more about the charges people could be facing, including the former president.
This search warrant that was just unseal bid that Florida judge listed three federal crimes the prosecutors are looking into, including the obstruction of justice as well as violations of the Espionage Act.
So, who do you think is in legal jeopardy, and what kind of jeopardy could they be in?
COOMBS: Well, it depends on who was involved with these documents, right? We don't know that yet. That's where the investigation is going to next. Who had possession of these documents? Who was shown the documents? What happened with these documents?
The statutes that were listed here are fairly simple, but they carry major consequences.
The criminal handling of document government records is a three-year prison sentence. The obstruction of justice is a 20-year prison sentence and it also bars you from holding any federal office.
And the violation of Espionage Act is a very broad act. The specific section they cited here in this search warrant was 793.
And that's fairly straightforward. It says, if you possess documents that are of a nature that have such national security secrets that if they're released or they're revealed they could cause damage or harm to the United States.
And the person knows that or should know that, and they have those documents and someone comes and asks them for it and they don't turn them over, you're in violation of that section.
Now, remember, the 11 documents that were listed in the return for the search warrant from Top Secret to Confidential to Secret, those designations are only given to documents who, by definition, if released, would cause damage or damage tore the United States.
So, if Donald Trump or someone else was in possession of these documents and had someone come to them, for example, the FBI, and say, we need those documents back, and they say they're holding onto them, then they're in violation of that section. So, there's some major consequences.
go a little bit further because we don't know where the investigation is going to go, right? It might say no one violated these sections or there might be more evidence.
If there's evidence these documents were released or shown to another foreign government, now you're talking about Section 794. That section was not listed in the search warrant, so there was no evidence at that time.
But if the investigation goes there and that evidence shows that section, that section has the possibility of the death penalty.
So, these statutes are very straightforward, fairly simple, but have maximum, major consequences possible.
MARQUARDT: And now you also have the former president and one of his top aides claiming that these documents weren't classified, that he had actually declassified them. So, they're looking into that as well.
Loni Coombs, we have to leave it right there. Thank you so much for your expertise and for breaking that all down for us.
COOMBS: Thank you.
MARQUARDT: Now the FBI is dealing with what it's calling an unprecedented number of threats against the bureau. That's according to a law enforcement official speaking to CNN following that search at Mar-a-Lago.
The bureau, along with the Department of Homeland Security, issued a joint intelligence bulletin that warned of violent threats against federal law enforcement as well as courts, government personnel, and facilities.
CNN's Brian Todd takes a closer look.
TODD (voice-over): Multiple law enforcement sources tell CNN they're closely monitoring violent rhetoric and threats that have spiked in online forums and other platforms since the FBI's raid on former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago compound on Monday.
Shortly after the raid, in an online forum dedicated to Trump, the phrase "lock and load" was one of the top comments posted.
Another post said, "Attorney General Merrick Garland," quote, "needs to be assassinated, simple as that."
One user posted, "Kill all feds."
[20:09:59] JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO & NATIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: We have never seen anything like this. As soon as the news broke about the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago, we saw angry cries from radical supporters of President Trump, from a range of right-wing extremists.
TODD: One post CNN found called for violence against FBI agents. Former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, is now worried about agents' safety.
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Potentially, each one of those people, as they go through communities, as they knock on people's doors, show up to businesses and talk to sources with information and witnesses and victims of all sorts, could potentially be a target.
TODD: Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell, a frequent target of the far-right, posted on his Twitter account a recording of a threat against him and his family, which he says came in after the Mar-a-Lago raid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Cut his (EXPLETIVE DELETED) head off. Swalwell is a worthless piece of (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Cut his wife's head off. Cut his kid's heads off.
TODD: But other members of Congress, hardline Republicans, have contributed to the violent rhetoric since the raid on Trump's Florida home.
GREENBLATT: We've seen Paul Gosar, a member of Congress, suggest we need to, quote, "destroy the FBI."
TODD: The extremist online postings after the Mar-a-Lago raid were found by CNN correspondent, Donie O'Sullivan, who tracks extremism online.
He said this about that online forum supporting Trump, where some of those threats popped up.
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That Web site is one of the very same Web sites where many of the people were talking about plans for January 6th in advance of the attack on the capitol, people discussing how to attack police officers.
TODD: In fact, one reply to the "lock and load" threat came from an account run by capitol insurrectionist, Tyler Schleicher, according to the group Advanced Democracy, which investigates cases like this.
The reply said, quote, "Are we not in a cold civil war at this point? Tyler Schleicher's lawyer did not respond to CNN's request for comment.
The Anti-Defamation League worries about what comes next.
GREENBLATT: It would be the lone wolf who feels compelled to commit an act of violence against a law enforcement official or against some other person. It could be an organized group. TODD (on camera): A congressional security official told CNN that
shortly after the news of Mar-a-Lago raid broke, the U.S. Capitol Police began discussions about monitoring and planning for potential violent rhetoric.
That official saying they have particular concern about violence being directed against members of Congress and federal law enforcement. The Capitol Police would not comment on security plans.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
MARQUARDT: And we do have breaking news into CNN. Seven people have been injured, two of them seriously, after a shooting attack close to Jerusalem's old city.
Now Israeli emergency responders are saying six men and one woman were taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds following an attack on the bus. We're told all seven of the wounded were fully conscious.
We've seen video on social media showing two Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men lying on the ground appearing to be treated for their injuries.
Police are saying that the shooter fled the scene. We will stay on that story and bring you updates.
Coming up, the district attorney who is prosecuting Salman Rushdie's attacker says the ambush was targeted and preplanned. We have new details to share in just a moment.
Also ahead, Dr. Saju Mathew with some choice words for the CDC, as he's reacting to their new COVID guidance for schools. Why he thinks there's a lack of leadership.
And a meteor hitting earth's atmosphere, apparently causing a loud boom on Saturday in Utah. We'll be speaking with an ear-witness.
You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.
MARQUARDT: The district attorney prosecuting Author Salman Rushdie's alleged attacker says the attack was targeted and pre-planned.
In court, the district attorney says that the suspect arrived at least a day before the attack. He had cash, prepaid cards, and a fake I.D. on him.
Now, the stabbing occurred on Friday just moments after Rushdie took to the stage to give a lecture. That was in western New York.
Take a look at this video. It's incredible. It shows multiple members of the audience rushing on stage to help in the immediate aftermath of the shocking attack.
CNN's Polo Sandoval has more from outside the Pennsylvania hospital where Rushdie is being treated.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alex, it's been over 24 hours and that video is still shocking to see, showing the moment of the attack.
It was not long after Salman Rushdie had actually taken to the stage to participate in a lecture event some 40 miles east from where we are here at the hospital where he's recovering.
And that video capturing the moment when an individual charges the stage, stabbing the celebrated writer multiple times.
Both a hospital spokesperson as well as the New York State police not offering an update on his condition.
However, the literary agent representing Rushdie did tell "The New York Times" on Friday that's he is currently breathing with the help of a ventilator. He suffered damage to the nerves in his arms but also to liver and faces the possibility of losing an eye.
While we wait to hopefully hear an update about his condition, the other big question is a possible motive.
It's no secret that Rushdie had been living under constant death threat since the publication of the "Satanic Verses" novel back in 1988.
That led Iranian government officials to issue a religious decree, calling for the assassination of the Rushdie. And it was one that was reaffirmed as recently as 2017.
Now this weekend, you have some of the more hardline conservative newspapers in Iran that are celebrating the attack, while Western officials are strongly condemning it.
The national security adviser at the White House calling it appalling and reprehensible. Other officials calling it an attack on freedom of expression and freedom of speech.
So as the investigation presses on, we do know that Hadi Matar, the man who has been identified by New York State police as the individual allegedly responsibility for the attack, he pleaded not guilty to second-degree attempted murder and assault in western New York earlier today -- Alex?
MARQUARDT: All right, our thanks to Polo Sandoval for that report on that shocking attack on Salman Rushdie. Tomorrow night on CNN, we will be speaking with a man who witnessed
the attempt on Salman Rushdie's life firsthand. That will be at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.
Now, Actress Anne Heche has officially been declared brain dead from injuries she sustained in a fiery car crash in Los Angeles last week.
Her family shared some words in a statement, saying, in part, "We have lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend."
She does remain on life support so that doctors can preserve her organs for possible donation.
CNN's Chloe Melas has more on her life and career.
ANNE HECHE, ACTRESS: Oh, he just wanted to give some time alone.
CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER (voice-over): Anne Heche first rose to fame on the soap opera, "Another World," playing dual roles of twins from 1987 to 1991. It earned her a Daytime Emmy Award and let to films like "Donny Brasco," "Six Days and Seven Nights" and "Wag the Dog."
But it was her highly publicized romantic relationship with Ellen DeGeneres in the late '90s that really put her in the spotlight.
HECHE: Ellen is the embodiment of male and female. That is why our energy connected so quickly and so easily. I've always felt in my being that I'm both male and female.
MELAS: They were considered one of Hollywood's first lesbian power couples before breaking up after three and a half years.
Heche said she believed it damaged her career and cost her roles.
HECHE: This is impossible.
MELAS: Heche eventually bounced back in both her career and personal life. She appeared in numerous TV shows and was married for eight years to Coleman Laffoon. They had a son.
She also shared a son with her former "Men in Trees" costar, James Tupper.
HECHE: Even though I was in therapy for years, I never told anybody I had another personality. I never told anybody I had voices and spoke to God. I never told anybody about it.
MELAS: The actress was open with her battles with mental illness. In her 2001 memoir, "Call me Crazy," she wrote about enduring sexual abuse as a child.
Heche was hospitalized in 2000 after wandering in rural California, knocking on a stranger's door and making strange statements.
HECHE: I think I was at the bitter, bitter end. I was the in a place where I was ready to leave this planet on my spaceship.
MELAS: A fiery 2022 car crash put her in a coma and left her with severe burns.
Anne Heche led a life of public highs and lows. But through it all, she shined on screen and strived to stay hopeful.
HECHE: I always wanted to heal my life. I always wanted to see the good side of life. I always wanted to see the good in everything that happened to me.
And I could not be happier with who I am right now. I could not be happier with what I've been able to accomplish in my life.
MARQUARDT: And our thoughts are with Anne Heche's family.
Our thanks to Chloe Melas for that report.
You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Still ahead, a member of the January 6th House committee weighs in on the threat to federal officials after the search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago home.
Plus, what the impact of the investigation will have into classified documents on the insurrection probe.
Stay with us.
MARQUARDT: Now, to the January 6th investigation. The House Select Committee has unearthed some really troubling information so far. And it's also chasing missing and erased text messages from Secret Service agents as well as outgoing military officials.
Now, earlier today, I spoke with Select Committee member, Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, about the investigation.
As well as the FBI search for documents at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence, including those related specifically to Roger Stone's pardon and his clear connection to January 6th.
Take a watch.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): It's theoretically possible. Obviously, we don't know what the FBI got. If they got it, it doesn't mean the committee will get it. They're not necessarily sharing their information with the legislative committee. But clearly, Roger Stone was one of the individuals who was tied up
with the insurrectionists in many ways. He came into the committee and took the Fifth Amendment on every question. So, yes, we're very interested in that.
I mean, we don't know whether there were -- what was communicated between the former president and Mr. Stone, but it would be of interest to the committee.
MARQUARDT: After the search earlier this week, President Trump, his allies, right-wing media, there's been this furious reaction.
And it's been rather familiar. There's been, you know, conspiracy theories that have been floated, accusations of politicization of the FBI.
How worried are you that, you know, some members of the Republican Party could be fueling potential violence?
LOFGREN: Well, it's very clear that they are. For example, Congressman Gosar tweeted, "We've got to destroy the FBI to save America."
Well, you know, shortly thereafter, some unhinged guy who was involved in the January 6 insurrection attacked the FBI office in Ohio.
LOFGREN: Now, I'm not -- yes, I'm not suggesting that Representative Gosar approves of attacking physically the FBI, but certainly that kind of rhetoric is heard by people who are extremists, and who are apparently feel that they're being called on to save their country by engaging in violence. And that is something that all of this in public life ought to think about before we start saying these inflammatory things.
And I think I'm understanding that law enforcement is under extraordinary threats. I mean, we should be thanking our law enforcement personnel for what they do to keep the country safe and to protect us instead of attacking them as so many in the Republican Party are doing today. It's really shameful.
MARQUARDT: It's really shameful.
Now, still ahead new guidelines from the CDC for living with COVID just as kids are going back to school. We'll have Dr. Saju. Mathew here to share the concerns that he says he has with that new guidance. That's coming up next.
MARQUARDT: Just as the new school year is starting all across the country, the CDC is ending its recommendations on social distancing and quarantines. No longer recommending testing for students to stay in school if they've been exposed. And now they say it's OK for classrooms to mix and not stay in what have been known as cohort groups.
Joining me now with more is Dr. Saju. Mathew, a primary care physician and public health specialist. Doctor, thank you so much for being with us this evening. You appear to be very frustrated by these latest guidelines. You tweeted this on Friday, the CDC is the world's headquarters for controlling and preventing disease. What is it controlling? And what is it preventing anyone seeing their latest guidelines on schools and COVID? So if we aren't dying from COVID, it's OK to get COVID over and over again? So, Doctor, tell me what they're getting wrong.
SAJU MATHEW, PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN: Yes. So, Alex, I mean, I know it's easy to criticize CDC, but I felt very strongly about that. And the reason is, this pandemic is far from over. I know we don't want to hear about it, but over 400 people are dying daily. And if you use that calculation per year, that would be over 146,000 people that will be dying.
And I think what's happening is we've come to this current pandemic where most of us won't die because we have great vaccinations, we have great antiviral therapy. And that's incredible. But you don't want to get COVID over and over again. In fact, a recent study, a large study showed that if you get COVID, more than three times, your risk of brain injury and heart problems are greatly increased.
So now that schools are opening back up, we're dealing with monkey pox, polio, and COVID. I just think that CDC is sending the wrong message. And to be honest with you, I think CDC has caved into public opinion and not science.
MARQUARDT: So, let's pivot a little bit, Doctor, to monkey pox. You yourself, you're a member of the LGBTQ community, you just got your vaccine yesterday. And we've got some of the video that you posted on Twitter. Tell me why it's important to you to get the subcutaneous injection as opposed to the intradermal injection, if you wouldn't mind explaining the difference between those two.
MATHEW: Right. So traditionally, most shots are given into the fatty layer, which goes into your arm the nurses pinches the skin, it's a longer needle. And that's traditionally how we get vaccinated, while the FDA is trying to increase the number of doses because a lot of people are scrambling to get vaccines, there is a tremendous shortage in the US. So what the FDA is saying is when you open one vial, if you give it subcutaneously, you can only inject one person. But if you do it literally into the skin, which is called intradermal, that you actually have five more doses available.
But the problem is it requires a special kind of skill, Alex, to be able to do that intradermal shot. It's basically what patients would get if you get screened for TB at your doctor's office. So it requires some skill. I've done it quite a few times, but it took me a few months to learn how to do it well. So if it's not done correctly, you will be getting one-fifth of the dose and you will be under dosed. But I do want to reassure people that if it is going to be rolled out in the new FDA method, there will be a lot of teaching done so that people will do it correctly. But right now, most places are giving it the traditional subcutaneous way.
MARQUARDT: And, Doctor, I want to hit on yet another disease. And one of the more disturbing news -- pieces of news of late is the reemergence of polio, which was detected in wastewater in New York City. How disturbing to you is that, that we're now talking about polio in 2022?
MATHEW: You know, I think it's extremely frustrating. It's frustrating to realize that here in 2022, we have whether it's one person that was diagnosed in New York, having paralysis, nobody should be paralyzed from polio. We've got four shots that children should be getting at the pediatricians office. And if you get all four shots, you are 100 percent or close to 100 percent protected against polio.
So this is a time for parents who have, for whatever reason, refuse to give your kids the polio vaccine to talk to your pediatrician and get it. And one more thing, Alex, is it's about one in 200 people that get paralyzed from polio. So if this one person was discovered to have paralysis, that means there are a lot of cases that are undiagnosed with polio. So bottom line, get the shot. Nobody has to be paralyzed from this terrible disease.
MARQUARDT: It's such an important note if you have not gotten it, certainly get it. It is a terrifying disease. Dr. Saju Mathew, thank you so much for talking about all of those about COVID, monkey pox, really appreciate it.
MATHEW: You bet.
MARQUARDT: All right. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. Still ahead, there are new concerns in Ukraine about safety at a critical nuclear power plant as the Russians and Ukrainians accused each other for recent showing nearby. That's coming up.
MARQUARDT: Concern is growing in Ukraine over the condition of Europe's largest nuclear power plant. The plant's operators now warning that it is operating with a risk of violating radiation and fire safety standards due to damage from constant shelling by the Russians and Ukrainians.
Now, in the Eastern Donetsk region, Russia is still blaming Ukraine for bombing a Russian-run prison that held at least 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war. However, a CNN investigation found that Russia may not be telling the truth. CNN's David McKenzie walks us through those findings. And we must warn you that some of the images you're about to see are graphic.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Svietiana hasn't heard from his son in more than two months.
SVIETIANA, SON IS DETAINED IN OLENIVKA (through translator): They were promised that they would be taken prisoner in order to save their lives.
MCKENZIE: Her son, like sons and husbands of many at this demonstration at Kyiv, is a prisoner of war, held at a Russian camp in Olenivka.
(CHANTING "SAVE OUR HEROES")
It's a cry for help. But for many of the POWs, one that came too late.
At least 50 of them were killed in an attack on the building where they were held. Russia was swept to blame Ukraine, saying that had killed its own to prevent them from confessing war crimes.
IGOR KONASHENKOV, RUSSIAN MINISTRY OF DEFENSE SPOKESMAN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): A deliberate missile attack on July the 29th from the American HIMARS multiple rocket launch system on a pretrial detention center in the area of the settlement of Olenivka.
MCKENZIE: Russian journalists at the scene displaying remnants of the HIMARS rocket, serial number included. But a CNN investigation found that it's extremely unlikely that a HIMARS struck the prison.
CHRIS COBB-SMITH, BRITISH ARMY VETERAN AND SECURITY ADVISER: We would see a crater in the ground and we would see more blast damage.
MCKENZIE: British army veteran and weapons expert, Chris Cobb Smith, has seen his fair share of missile strikes. He says this wasn't one of them.
COBB-SMITH: We would see certainly on this firewall here, we would see fragmentation pop marking from an --an explosion, from the fragments of the munition as it went off. And that's not what happened. All we're really seeing here is evidence where a fire, an intensive fire. So to me this does not indicate a large detonation.
The available video and images show bodies badly burned, some still in their blanks. Forensic pathologist tells CNN, a fire preceded by a small explosion was likely responsible.
BENJAMIN ONDRUSCHKA, PATHOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER HAMBURG- EPPENDORF, HAMBURG: It seemed to be that something needs to be exploded close by to the very burned badly, resulting in a detonation resulting in a fire.
MCKENZIE: Ukraine is using U.S. donated 200-pound HIMARS rockets to hit Russian depots and other high-value targets. But the visuals of the aftermath that have emerged are usually different from the scene at the prison. Before and after satellite imagery from a confirmed HIMARS striking (INAUDIBLE) shows a Russian warehouse destroyed by the blast. At Olenivka, there are burn marks on the wall but crucially no structural damage.
COBB-SMITH: Everything in the sight have blackened. The bodies have been severely charred, everything you can see has been -- has blackened with -- the HIMARS we've seen presented as evidence do not display any blackening at all. It does not look as though they've been in the scene of an intensifier.
MCKENZIE: Cobb-Smith and other experts say it's unlikely that the incident was accidental. Olenivka is believed to house more than a thousand prisoners. Here, you see the satellite images from the day before the incident showing POW circulating in different areas of the camp, but Ukrainian officials and relatives say around 200 prisoners were moved to this warehouse in a different zone just before they were killed.
Ukrainian officials also say the incident happened on the eve of a prisoner exchange. Kyiv has rejected Moscow's version, and accused Russia of using a powerful incendiary weapon against the building and the prisoners.
MCKENZIE: CNN's investigation can almost certainly rule out Russia's version of events, but we may never know why those prisoners were moved and exactly what happened. Russia has publicly invited the Red Cross and United Nations experts to visit but both organizations say they have yet to be given access to the prison.
The families of the prisoners are increasingly desperate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm asking all people who can, who cares to help bring back our sons, our heroes.
MCKENZIE: But they don't even know who was killed that night. Know what killed them.
David McKenzie, CNN, Kyiv.
MARQUARDT: CNN did reach out to the Russian Defense Ministry for a response, but we have yet to hear back.
Now new pictures just into CNN, a group of armed Trump supporters gathered outside the FBI office in Phoenix, Arizona. Photographs taking this morning showed Trump supporters carrying handguns and assault-styled weapons on the street that is allowed under Arizona's open-carry law. One of the demonstrators said they're at that location to support Trump and protest what they call the unlawful search at Mar-a-Lago.
Now, this week the FBI, along with the Department of Homeland Security, issued a joint intelligence bulletin warning of violent threats against federal law enforcement, courts, and government personnel as well as facilities. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Coming up. A mysterious boom heard across two states refusing residents. Meteorologist Gene Norman is here to explain what experts think it likely was. We'll be speaking with someone who heard it. We'll be right back.
MARQUARDT: There are questions tonight about what caused a large boom that was heard in parts of Utah and Idaho. Listen to this.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What the (BLEEP) was that?
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MARQUARDT: Loud, low rumble there. Now, the noise was caught on cameras in Salt Lake City and well beyond. Here's another video.
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MARQUARDT: Utah's governor says it was probably a meteor. And just a short time ago, we got this video from the Snowbasin Resort in Huntsville, Utah. CNN meteorologist, Gene Norman, joins me now to help try to figure this out.
Gene. We're looking at a remarkable -- you got that picture right there. Do we think that this did come from a meteor?
GENE NORMAN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's probably the most likely explanation, Alex, simply because of what we can see. I mean, a lot of -- a lot of people heard that boom. But not many people saw what this Snowbasin Resort saw. There it is. You can see that flash, we slowed it down. So you can see it.
Now, of course, light travels faster than sound. That's why a lot of people didn't see this. But they heard the boom. And you also see a couple of clouds in the distance. So we don't think it was lightning simply because we do have the satellite picture from that time period. And what we can see is, yes, there are some clouds around, but these red boxes, these are energy sensors in the satellite, and they detected what is most likely the meteor striking the atmosphere. And the flashes would be what you saw in that first video.
So it was a sonic boom with just like a shockwave. It occurs anytime something is moving faster than the speed of sound. And, of course, once the object hit the atmosphere, it slowed down. But it was quite a sight to see and hear.
MARQUARDT: Yes, amazing to see that in broad daylight and not at night. Gene, I want to go to Ron Keller. He's in Draper, Utah. He's an earwitness, if you will, to that event. So, Ron, we heard -- we saw some clips there and it sounded to me like a low rumble, almost like thunder. What did you hear?
RON KELLER, EARWITNESS: Yes, we heard a loud noise in the sky. And I -- we live in a two-story house and the second story shook quite a bit. It felt as if someone had dropped a large piece of furniture. But I checked upstairs and I checked the basement, no problem, but -- and it didn't feel like an earthquake having grown up in Los Angeles. I remember earthquakes, quite a few of them.
But I do also remember what sonic booms were when I was a kid. And some of the neighbors felt that it was a local construction site that was blowing off some dynamite. But later I found out it probably was this meteor hitting the atmosphere.
MCKENZIE: So, did you feel like you had to take cover or were you more curious about where it was coming from?
KELLER: Just curious, because it -- once the boom hit and the shaking was very quick, it stops. So earthquakes tend to have a rolling feature then you wait for the aftershocks. So I knew it wasn't that. So we just -- me and the cats were here. My wife was out shopping. She heard the noise up in the sky. And we just waited to see what the news was because we didn't think it was going to be anything more than that.
MCKENZIE: Have you heard of this concept of meteors creating booms like this before? Is this something that's happened in your area?
KELLER: No, we haven't heard that. We know about things traveling faster than the speed of sound. You get sonic booms but have never had an experience with a meteor coming through the -- through the sky and making that sort of a noise, so.
MARQUARDT: We only have a couple of seconds left. Did you call your wife up to add to make sure she's OK? Did she call you?
KELLER: She called me. She said, hey, someone said there was construction work and dynamite, but that was it. And I teach high school math and I can't wait to get back on Monday to see what the kids felt.
MARQUARDT: All right, gents. Gene Norman and Ron Keller, we got to leave it right there. That is just a remarkable thing to see in the sky. Thank you both. "Patagonia: Life on the Edge of the World," that's next. Take care.