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Video Shows Georgia GOP Official in Elections Office on Day of Breach; Adnan Syed Released From Prison After Judge Vacated Conviction; Organization Uses Music to Bring People Together; FDA Releases Review of How It Handled Baby Formula Shortage. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 20, 2022 - 15:30   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: New video could give us insight into efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Earlier this month CNN obtained footage of this woman, she is a Trump ally, local GOP official in Georgia, letting Trump operatives into an elections office in Coffee County.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: OK, now this happened on the very same day that a voting system there was illegally breach. Well, now CNN has obtained even more video of the party official and it apparently contradicts what the woman told investigators about this breach. CNN's Nick Valencia is here to explain this story. What do we know -- Nick?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Victor and Alisyn. We've known that the breach occurred but for the first time we're seeing exactly how it all went down inside Coffee County elections offices that day that the voting data was illegally accessed by Trump operatives. And most importantly in all of this, is it tells a much different story than what the former GOP County Chairwoman Kathy Latham says happened that day.

Latham previously said that she had no involvement whatsoever, but in the video, you can see her working apparently hand-in-hand with Trump operatives. And in this video, she is for hours inside a restricted area with these Trump operatives who appear at one point to take out computers, set them up next to election voting systems and appear to illegally access that data.

In addition to this investigation, we should mention, and it is worth noting that Latham has also been named a criminal target in what is happening here in Fulton County, their efforts to investigate election interference in the 2020 election. Additionally, we also see Scott Hall who is a Republican Georgia poll worker who in a phone call that we obtained by CNN, appears to admit to illegally accessing this voting data In Coffee County.


SCOTT HALL, ATLANTA BAIL BONDSMAN AND FULTON COUNTY REPUBLICAN POLL WATCHER: I'm the guy that chartered the jet to go down to Coffey County to have them inspect all of those computers. And I heard zero, OK? I went down there, we scanned every freaking ballot.


VALENCIA: We know that the Trump operatives were operating at the direction of the former Trump campaign attorney Sydney Powell, all of this connects to what is happening here in Fulton County with their investigation. Powell was subpoenaed by Fani Willis and her wide reaching and broad ranging investigation. They are expected to schedule to appear here to testify in that investigation sometime this week -- Victor, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: That video that you've got, Nick, is just incredible. I mean, what a story that appears to tell. Nick Valencia, thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: After more than 20 years in prison, Adnan Syed is now out of jail. He's the man featured in the first season of the popular true crime podcast Serial. A judge in Baltimore vacated Syed's conviction for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee yesterday. The judge cited material in the state investigation that was not properly turned over to defense attorneys as well as the existence of two suspects who may have been improperly cleared.

CAMEROTA: So following Syed's release, Serial streamed a new episode of its podcast. Listen now to what host Sarah Koenig has to say about this case.


SARAH KOENIG, SERIAL PODCAST HOST: Yesterday there was a lot of talk about fairness. But most of what the state put in that motion to vacate, all the actual evidence, was either known or knowable to cops and prosecutors back in 1999.

So even on a day when the government publicly recognizes its own mistakes, it's hard to feel cheered about a triumph of fairness. Because we've built a system that takes more than 20 years to self- correct. And that is just this one case.


CAMEROTA: Joining us now to discuss is CNN legal analyst Areva Martin. Areva, I was gripped as so many people were by this Serial Podcast. And anyone who listened to that had cast knew that there were big issues with the prosecutor and the police's case back then as Sarah Koenig just said. And in fact, there was at least one other plausible suspect. So now what? I mean, now do the local police go after that suspect? What happens now?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That is a great question, Alisyn. What we do know is that the state filed a motion that says they lost confidence in the integrity of the conviction. And as Sarah just said, a lot of what's in the state's motion has been available, has been known to the prosecutors. So, we can't help but conclude that it was a success of that Serial Podcast that led the state to taking the step that it did to make its own motion to vacate the conviction. [15:35:00]

The judge has given the state now 30 days to decide whether they want to try Syed again or whether they are going to drop all charges. Something that is really curious to me that was stated by Marilyn Mosby, is that they are waiting to have the analysis of the DNA evidence to make the decision about whether to move forward with another trial or not. And I'm sitting here thinking it has been 20 years. How is it that you are still waiting on an analysis of DNA evidence? I think there are just so many mistakes that were made in this case and as Sarah said, this is not much to celebrate. And we should also note that Lee's family, Alisyn, very upset. Feels like that they were blindsided, that the prosecution did not give them any notice that they were moving forward with this motion to vacate the conviction.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and we actually heard from an attorney for Hae Min Lee's family. He spoke to CNN this morning, let's listen.


STEVE KELLY, ATTORNEY FOR HAE MIN LEE'S FAMILY: The family has described it best I think, Young Lee and her brother described it in court, that's when he said that he feels both blindsided and betrayed. Blindsided by what happened in the court yesterday and the way that the family was treated. And betrayed by the state's attorney's office that for 20 years had told them this is the guy who murdered your daughter and sister. What happened yesterday, they were completely excluded from the process.


BLACKWELL: And of course, we can sympathize with Lee's family that this just kind of happens and they weren't given a head's up. Is there a duty or is it just a courtesy to include the victim's family in this process?

MARTIN: It is not a legal duty, Victor, but definitely typically the prosecution works very closely with victims' families, keeps them apprised of actions that they are taking. Particularly something as monumental as filing a motion to set aside a conviction. You would expect that the prosecutors would be in contact with the victim's family.

Particularly in this case because what we're learning is that the prosecution worked very closely with Syed's attorney for over a year to uncover what we are now learning to be this new evidence, that if that evidence had been presented may have resulted in a different outcome of this trial. So, to have that close working relationship with the defendant's attorney and not have any contact as we're told by Lee's family with the victim's family is unusual. And I'm sure is going to be the subject of a lot of questions from victims in this state and in this city.

BLACKWELL: There is a lot in this story that's unusual. Areva Martin, thank you. One organization is leveraging the power of music to solve racial

divides in this country. Meet the Black Legacy Project, a champion for change, next.



BLACKWELL: Time now for "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE." This is a weeklong series that highlights extraordinary people innovating with vision and courage to lift us all up. My champion is Todd Mack and Trey Carlisle, are doing just that. They are working to narrow the racial divide through the power of song.


BLACKWELL: Music is so powerful. If you ever want to understand people, a place, a time, listen to their music.

TODD MACK, FOUNDER/DIRECTOR, MUSIC IN COMMON: Music as a universal language is just a fantastic force to bring people together.

BLACKWELL (voice over): Todd has been doing this for more than a decade now. His organization, Music In Common, has evolved into creating these conversations through music.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, SINGING: If this little light of mine, I want to let it shine

BLACKWELL (voice over): Going city to city to bring different races and different religions together.

MACK: I started in response to the murder of my friend Daniel Pearl, "Wall Street Journal" reporter. And he and I were bandmates and good friends. That was just sort of a call to action from me to harness that power of music to combat the hate that drove his murder.

BLACKWELL: How did you meet Trey?

MACK: Trey was one of our program participants about six years ago.

TREY CARLISLE, PROGRAM COORDINATOR, MUSIC IN COMMON: It would be great for now to have a discussion.

MACK: It has been fantastic to see him rise through the organization. Trey in my opinion is the poster child for Gen Z. He is simultaneously young at heart and wise beyond his years. And I learn from this guy every day.

BLACKWELL: For someone so I don't think to live along Sweet Auburn in Atlanta, and to absorb and appreciate the history around him, to try to ease some of the suffering across this country, it's admirable.

CARLISLE: So, to be able to share the home of King, the home of Congressman John Lewis, it really gives us inspiration and direction for us to build a world where we embody more equity and belonging. CROWD CHANTING: Hands up, don't shoot! Hands up, don't shoot!

BLACKWELL: Trey in 2020 saw the problem that the entire world saw and said what can we do with our talents, with our love, with our passion of music and this problem that we need to face.

CARLISLE: So, we thought how can we bring what Music in Common does to engage in this context.


There are songs that have been written by black and white folks alike throughout the 400 year history of race relations in the U.S.


CARLISLE (voice over): They still ring true today and that became the grounds for the Black Legacy Project. We will travel to communities, spread word about the round tables, engage in this healing dialogue where they can recognize your shared humanity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The willingness for people to share --

CARLISLE (voice over): Using these historic songs as the talking point to do so. And from that, those conversations, have local black and white artists create presently interpretations of those songs.

And then co-write an original about how we can move forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, SINGING: And it's about moral -- we're just not doing the walking.

CARLISLE: And then the project culminates with a showcase of the songs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Black Legacy Project.

CARLISLE (voice over): And that is something that we promote to the entire local community so people of all backgrounds can come and see it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, SINGER: It is about action, it is about time, it is about --

CARLISLE (voice over): This is a really innovative way to approach topics difficult to talk about and through those conversations bring about change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, SINGER: Rise up, rise up, to rise up

BLACKWELL: But you are musicians. You've used what you have to try to change and improve race relations in this country. What's the message for them?

CARLISLE: We have a five word motto. Music can change the world. And I think that is the answer. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CAMEROTA: Now that's wonderful. That your music is healing, music is universal, it is the universal bridge. I mean, that's great work that they're doing.

BLACKWELL (on camera): It's such a fantastic approach because there are so many conversations that are difficult to sit down and have, but if you come together around music, it makes it a little easier. And I also like that in addition to interpreting songs from history, that they create their own song. And then that becomes part of the history of the city in which they are visiting. So, the next city up on the list, they are coming up on Atlanta and I know there is some good music there. So, we're waiting to see what comes out of Atlanta from the Black Legacy Program.

CAMEROTA: I think you really enjoyed reporting on that story.

BLACKWELL: I did, I did enjoy it and I thank Todd and Trey for allowing me to tell their story. Listen, we're going to share more of these inspirational stories all week.

CAMEROTA: Be sure to tune in Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern for the CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE special.

OK, this just in to our newsroom. An internal FDA report on how the agency handled the infant formula shortage. What it found, next.



CAMEROTA: The FDA just released an internal review that examines how the agency handled the months-long infant formula crisis.

BLACKWELL: CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is with us now. So, what does it say?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Victor, this is really stunning. The FDA says that they have had systemic vulnerabilities. Now that may sound like much and it may sound like bureaucrat talk, but I've covered the FDA for 30 years. They do not communicate -- I don't mean they don't communicate well, they often just don't communicate at all. Or when they're criticized, they just deflect that criticism.

So, for them to say we have systemic vulnerabilities is actually kind of a big deal. So, let's look at these specific areas where they say the agency needs to do better. Because they are very clear that they need to do better.

They say they need to modernize their data systems. They need to update emergency response capabilities. Now, look at those two. You would hope that the people who are regulating our food and drugs would already have modern data systems, would already be great at responding to emergencies but apparently, this needs work. They also say they need to strengthen their work focus. They say they

need to focus on industry accountability. The FDA has notoriously blamed for being too cozy, too in bed with industry, so that's an important point. And also increase their understanding of Cronobacter bacteria. That's the bacteria that infected the infant formula at an Abbot plant in Michigan that caused all these problems.

Remember, this has been just such an incredible challenge for the FDA. Not only did families suffer, children ended up in the hospital, but also a whistleblower told the federal government about problem at this Michigan plant eight months before, and nothing basically was done -- Victor, Alisyn.

BLACKWELL: That's a big deal and hopefully they're trying to fix all of that. Elizabeth Cohen for us, thank you.

Amid Russia's war on Ukraine and the global pandemic, President Biden is said to deliver a pivotal speech to world leaders. More on that ahead.



BLACKWELL: A restaurant in Arizona, along Route 66, is a new Guinness record holder for offering the most milkshake varieties. Delgadillo's Snow Cap has 266 options. They took some liberties here.

CAMEROTA: I feel like they're cheating actually.

BLACKWELL: This is in one cup. Oreo, rice, orange, fish burger.

CAMEROTA: Excuse me while I throw up. How about, orange, chorizo, chocolate chip, chicken nuggets milkshake. Again, same reaction. They're just throwing everything at this point into a blender.

BLACKWELL: Had I known that this were an option, all you had to do is throw the odds and ends and a few shimmies of salsa. I would have gone for this.

CAMEROTA: You could have done a world record. How about this one. Salsa -- I mean to stop there, salsa milkshake, that's revolting. But here's something really nice they did. They offered them to the locals after they made them for free.


BLACKWELL: I'd like to know one person who finished at. I like the cherry rice one. I think that would be good.

CAMEROTA: Oh, no, no, you don't need rice in your milkshake. None of this is right. But they got the world record.

BLACKWELL: Banana, tea, hot dog is on their.

CAMEROTA: What's this? BLACKWELL: This is a burger on top of it. Oh, this is the fish burger.

There we go.




BLACKWELL: 267 is still attainable if anybody wants to go for it.

CAMEROTA: And "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.