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3 Children and 3 Adults Killed by Former Student in Nashville School Shooting; David Pecker's Role in Trump Hush Money Case; Interview with Defense Attorney and Former Federal Prosecutor Shan Wu; Georgia and Alabama Struck by an EF-3 Tornado; Anti-Pension Reform Protesters Fill Streets in France; According to Philadelphia Officials, Drinkable Water Until Tomorrow Night. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 28, 2023 - 10:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: As the Nashville community and the country mourn the three children, three adults killed by a shooter at a school there, the Nashville police chief who was on the scene at the moments immediately following his officers quick response, shared this message with his community and the rest of the country.


CHIEF JOHN DRAKE, NASHVILLE POLICE: We have to do something with gun violence and mental illness. Our kids are counting on this. I was in conversations with my daughter this morning, I have a four-year-old grandson, and she's considering homeschooling. A place where it's supposed to be safe. We send our little loved ones off. They're excited to go to school. They're excited to be around friends.

And then have to deal with this tragedy. We have to come together, we have to address gun violence, and we have to address mental illness and make it safe for the ones that we love the most and are most vulnerable, which, with our kids.


SCIUTTO: Well, once again, the youngest, the most defenseless Americans, they're the ones paying the price for inaction on gun violence in this country. In 2021, more than 4,700 children, 4,700 died from firearms. It's now the leading cause of death among children in this country. Three of the victims in yesterday's shooting in Nashville were nine years old. There's Hallie Scruggs there.

But in the face of these repeated tragedies the same conversations come up and again and again. How do we stop this? And will we, frankly? Joining me now, Abene Clayton. She is the lead reporter on the "Guns and Lies in America" Project for "The Guardian". Good to have you on this morning.


SCIUTTO: So, just to address one thing you heard from the police chief there say, we have to address mental illness. You've heard that from Republicans and -- I don't mean to downplay the significance of mental illness in this country. Is mental illness, the issue here? Is it a combination of dealing with mental illness and the availability of guns?

CLAYTON: That is the number one question that I hear. And I think it is more complicated than we give it credit for. It's important to note that most people who deal with some sort of mental illness will never shoot somebody, you know.


CLAYTON: I think that conversations around access to guns are incredibly pertinent. And I also like to make sure that any policy put forth kind of is able to address all of the ways that we see gun violence show up in the U.S. Outside of these high-profile mass shootings. We know that kids are exposed to violence in so many ways directly and indirectly, so I always wonder what policies are put forth to address that as well.

SCIUTTO: Well, let's talk about one policy, and that would be a ban on assault weapons because we do have data on this because this country had an assault weapons ban from '94 to 2004 when the data indicates that there was a decrease in deaths from mass shootings. And we've seen other countries, Australia for instance, in the wake of mass shootings, banned certain kinds of weapons, and that has had an effect in terms of the number of shootings and deaths from shootings. Did this -- is that data -- in your research, does that -- is that data indicative here?

CLAYTON: I -- there are a couple of answers that I could give to that. One is that so many mass shootings are not necessarily done with assault rifles, let alone assault rifles that'll -- excuse me, assault rifles that are bought illegally. There are a number of handguns that have been used. We know shotguns are used often. But I mean, as you mentioned the data doesn't lie. There was clearly some level of efficacy to having a policy on the books that was, by all accounts, bipartisan. And we see the results now that it has been allowed to lapse.

So, it's difficult not to question how much it was worth and whether or not we need a new one. But unfortunately, as we know, these conversations just end up being very cyclical, very, you know, strained. And we don't see a lot of progress, unfortunately, on the policy or more holistic side.

SCIUTTO: I mean, is the answer here that that there are multiple causes and that therefore requires multiple solutions?

CLAYTON: Absolutely. You know, it's difficult to come on to television and to talk about this in the wake of a high profile mass shooting knowing that there are so many incidents of gun violence that may never be talked about on a platform like this. And there are so many different ways that may or may not involve police, may or may not involve policy that we can look at. But it does make me a little less hopeful to know that even the gun violence that can be addressed through violence intervention and through, you know, trauma mentoring is not being moved on, either.


So, it's difficult to even begin a conversation about assault weapon bans when we don't have enough mental health counselors in schools where children are exposed to violence daily and end up in these cycles that are impossible to get out of without, you know.

Unfortunately, we know, prison or death is how it ends up for a lot of young folks. So, that's why I always caution these conversations around policy and make sure we don't get too lost in the weeds about what the U.S. gun violence burden really is made up of, which is mainly suicides and homicides. These high-profile mass shootings account for a small portion even though they captured so much of the public attention.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Of course, the common factor is guns and all those instances you describe. Abene Clayton, thanks so much for joining us.

CLAYTON: Thank you for having me.

SCIUTTO: Well, former publisher of the "National Enquirer" was back in front of the grand jury investigating Former President Trump's hush money case. The role he may play in all this coming up.



SCIUTTO: A New York grand jury investigating the hush money case against Former President Trump said to meet again tomorrow after hearing from another key witness. The man you see being driven away right there, David Pecker. He's the former publisher of the "National Enquirer". He faced the grand jury for a second time yesterday. We still do not know the timing of a decision on a potential Trump indictment.

I'm joined now by defense attorney and former federal prosecutor Shan Wu. Shan, good to have you on this morning.


SCIUTTO: What do you think is going on here? Bringing this witness back? He is, of course, central to this investigation. But also, the timeline here, do you see prosecutors here trying to line everything up, or perhaps second guessing themselves?

WU: Well, it's -- I don't think they're second guessing themselves on the -- of course, it's hard to figure that out without being in there.

SCIUTTO: Uh-huh.

WU: But timeline wise, it seems to line up with this defense witness, Costello, that went in last week. And we know that they had Michael Cohen on call that day in case they wanted to put him in to rebut, the attack that Costello was mounting on Cohen's credibility. So, timeline wise, it sounds like perhaps they wanted pecker to go in to rebut some of that. And we can assume that some of the points Castello was making was that the real purpose of the money paid to Stormy Daniels wasn't to interfere with the campaign at all, but rather for some other purpose, like just trying to protect Trumps privacy.

So, certainly Pecker would be in a position to know that. I think the question is, you know, did they really need to rebut that because, as a former prosecutor who worked in a lot of grand juries, I tend to be a bit of a minimalist. I'm kind of worried if they put in too much testimonies into the grand jury.

SCIUTTO: Understood. As you watch this, there's been a lot of discussion to indict. Prosecutors have to base that indictment on what's been described as a novel legal theory. Can you explain the basis here, and from your perspective as a prosecutor? Is it novel?

WU: It's novel. In the sense -- of course, we don't exactly know which charges they're going to do yet.


WU: But one of the theories is that it would be novel because they charged the falsification of business records, and then if they can tie that to the intent to cover up some other felony, then that gets amped up to a felony conviction. So, the potential novel idea is whether or not they would tie it to a federal campaign violation. Now, they could go with the number of state violations, including a state election violation, or perhaps some of the tax fraud that had been previously charged against the Trump organization.

But the discussion we've been hearing about it being novel, really centers around the idea of trying to use the federal campaign, finance violation as that sort of bump up and that, you know, that is novel. And it could raise some anticipated arguments from Trump's attorneys that they might try to claim or you can't do that with the federal campaign violation.

SCIUTTO: So, we have this Manhattan case. We also have ongoing cases, one in Georgia regarding interference and attempt to overturn the election there, as well as, the DOJ's own piece of that and possible incitement of January 6th, et cetera. You have more than one it once. But you also have this possibility where there will be more than one indictment against the former president. What will that look like if that were to happen, and over what sort of time period?

WU: Oh, absolutely. That could certainly happen. I do think the Georgia one, I think a lot of people felt that would -- tend to come out before Alvin Bragg suddenly -- got very interested in this case, after it'd been dormant. The Justice Department ones, those are much more at factually complex or very sprawling. I think it will take quite some time for those to really reach the point where they make a charging decision. I mean, certainly Jack Smith is moving ahead very swiftly. But I don't really see it as their imminently going to charge. So, that could easily drag into the presidential campaign season.

SCIUTTO: Goodness. And here we, Shan Wu, always good to have you on. Thanks so much.

WU: Good to see you.


SCIUTTO: Don't miss CNN Primetime, "Inside the Trump Investigations", that airs live tonight at 9:00 eastern time.

Well, there is new video into CNN of the destruction left by that tornado in Georgia. It started in Troop County, Alabama on Sunday, ended 30 minutes later in nearby Meriwether County across the state line in Georgia. A 20-mile path, the tornado was an EF-3 with max winds of 150 miles per hour. Five people injured during that storm on Sunday. Just incredible trail of destruction.

Thousands of protesters are once again marching across cities in France as anger continues over pension reform. They want to raise the retirement age a couple of years. What we're seeing in the streets coming up.



SCIUTTO: Well right now protesters in multiple cities across France are demonstrating for a 10th day. All this against the government plan to raise the retirement age to 64 from 62. Earlier this morning, striking rail workers blocked train tracks to one of Paris's main railway stations. Union leaders are calling on French President Emmanuel Macron to put the reforms on hold and instead appoint a mediator. CNN Sam Kiley is in Paris this morning.

And Sam, I mean, the scale of these demonstrations, also the damage. Remarkable. Tell us what you're seeing there.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, you're joining me from the Boulevard Voltaire, where you can see there's at least two trash fires that have been ignited here at the front end of todays (ph). This is an organized demonstration, in other words, one called by the unions, part of the widespread mass action in terms of strike action that they have called for across France in protest against these economic reforms, the raising of the pensionable age from 62 to 64.

But it also goes beyond that, because the reality is that here in France, in terms of the legislative process, the reforms are basically a done deal. What the unions now want is dialogue. Now, the government has offered dialogue but not any kind of concession, and it's certainly not an agreement in advance of any kind of concession on that change to the pensionable age being at 64.

Now, the Interior Ministry have deployed 13,000 extra police around the country -- those are aerosol cans and other fireworks going off in the background, Jim. They deployed 13,000 extra police, 5,500 extra police in gendarmes here in Paris, the French capital. And that is because, over the weekend, environmental protests, unconnected directly with it turned very, very nasty. There was a lot of injury. A lot of injury, both of protesters and of the police.

And there are deep concerns that as night begins to fall here, that things could get a lot more violent, a lot worse here in Paris. We saw quite a lot of violence last Thursday. There have been a number of demonstrations with 5,000 to 6,000 people. Unions here believe that this demonstration is probably smaller than the one seen last Thursday, but the energy of it is a little bit nastier, Jim.

SCIUTTO: No question. Listen, to stay away from the booms. Sam Kiley from Paris, thanks so much.

Well, back here in the U.S., Philadelphia residents can safely drink their tap water, but only through tomorrow night. That is the latest word from city officials who will then test again to make sure the water is still safe. They are keeping a close watch on the water supply this after a chemical spill upstream on the Delaware River. Some residents, well, they're skeptical following confusing guidance from the city. CNN Correspondent Danny Freeman joins us now live from Philadelphia.

I'd be confused, too, Danny. I mean, to say, it wasn't safe then it's safe for a period of time and then it won't be safe again tomorrow. I mean, what's really happening here?

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, and I will tell you it's interesting to, every day now, get alerts, safety alerts on your phone, saying the water is safe but only until this specific time. So, we're not out of the woods just yet, but you're right. The City of Philadelphia said that up until tomorrow evening, Wednesday night, at 11:59, the water out of your tap is safe to drink. But again, we'll still be waiting for guidance. We should get an update tonight as to how the latest testing is going.

But I want to take us back, this all started, as you said, on Friday actually, with that chemical spill that happened near the Delaware River, it seeped into the Delaware, it happened about 20 miles north of here. And the Delaware is, of course, one of the main water suppliers for the City of Philadelphia. So then, on Sunday, the city sent out that first flash (ph) alert recommending folks drink bottled water out of an abundance of caution, but that sent everyone in the city basically to grocery stores. They cleaned out shelves buying water, and then only a few hours later the city sent out another alert, saying, actually, the water is absolutely fine to drink.

Well, we wanted to ask the city directly about those mixed messaging on Sunday that sent folks into a bit of a panic running to the stores. Take a listen to what city officials had to say just last night.


MICHAEL CARROLL, PHILADELPHIA OFFICE OF TRANSPORTATION, INFRASTRUCTURE AND SUSTAINABILITY: We may be over communicating with people, and as a result, perhaps we're elevating folks' anxieties. It's a difficult thing to balance. But in giving this information for people to evaluate, we're hoping we're able to build trust with the community so that they can understand we're giving them the best information we have. The water is safe. And this is something that helps them make decisions and hopefully have more trust in the work that we're doing.



FREEMAN: Now, again, the city is saying clearly, as you hear right there, the water is safe to drink, but that has not necessarily stopped residents from continuing to buy bottled water, to go out to the stores, and basically give themselves a little peace of mind until they get the official all clear that there will be no more water, that the water will be safe to drink past any set time.

But we're still going to be waiting and seeing if that time is extended. Hopefully we'll get more updates this afternoon. Jim.

SCIUTTO: And we will share those updates with you as we get them as well. Danny Freeman in Philadelphia, thanks so much. And thanks so much for all of you for joining us today. I'm Jim Sciutto. "At This Hour" with my colleague Jessica Dean today starts right after a quick break.