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CNN This Morning

At Least 10 Killed In Multiple States As Severe Storms Move North; CA Activates National Guard After People Trapped By Heavy Snowfall; Fighting Intensifies For Control Of Eastern City Of Bakhmut; Alex Murdaugh Sentenced To Life In Prison For Killing Wife And Son; Lesion Removed From Biden's Chest Returns As A Common Form Of Skin Cancer; Man Threatens To "Carry Out The Punishment Of Death" On Jewish Elected Leaders In Michigan. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired March 04, 2023 - 06:00   ET




AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone and welcome to CNN THIS MORNING. It is Saturday March 4. Yes, it is already March and I'm Amara Walker.

PAULA REID, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Paul Reid in for Boris Sanchez. Amara, it is so good to be with you this morning. Thank you for having me.

WALKER: It's so good to have you. Good morning to you. You look refreshed and like you had some good sleep, so thanks for joining us this morning.

REID: I had professional hair and makeup.

WALKER: Thanks to them, right.

Well, here's what we're watching this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just came up. 20 seconds later, it was gone. And I mean, total chaos. Wind, glass breaking out everywhere. First one I've ever been in.


WALKER: Severe storms sweep through the south. At least 10 people are dead this morning. More than 1 million people without power. We're going to take a look at the damage and where that system is this morning.

REID: And the White House rolls out another $400 million dollars in aid for Ukraine as fierce fighting continues in the eastern part of the country. Our Alex Marquardt with a look at the battle for Bakhmut.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DICK HARPOOTLIAN, ALEX MURDAUGH'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He's a liar and he's a thief and he admitted that. He's not a murderer.


WALKER: Alex Murdaugh will spend the rest of his life in jail after being convicted for murdering his wife and son. Reaction from his attorneys and what's next for Murdaugh who still faces dozens of other charges.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just feeling some anxiety about how -- what cuts I'm making and where. I'm sure I'll be going to the food bank.


REID: Putting food on the table just got a lot harder for millions of people. How they're making up for shortfalls as pandemic era food programs end.

And we begin with a deadly storms across the U.S. in the last 24 hours. At least 10 people have been killed in multiple states as severe weather brought tornadoes and major flooding to parts of the south.

WALKER: Yes, and the majority of those deaths were in Kentucky where hurricane force winds ripped trees from the ground and even toppled tractor trailer trucks. In Indiana, the high winds tore the roof off of a church and in one town a man says God saved his life after a tornado swept through his property but left him and his house untouched.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The back doors started shaking, the house started shaking and then I couldn't see nothing but why we didn't even have time to get anywhere. It was like right on top of this. The house has shaken. We were all close together in the middle room of the house still. But wow. This is the craziest thing I've ever been involved in.


REID: And heavy snow in the Midwest caused officials to temporarily close a Detroit Metropolitan airport. And more than a million people are without power as the storm pushes northward. But the real concern this morning is sleet and freezing rains as part of New York and New England could see as much as a foot of snow.

WALKER: Yes. So much going on across the country in terms of the weather. Let's go now to Meteorologist Allison Chinchar who's been tracking all of this at the CNN Weather Center. Hi, Allison. So the storms are bringing snow to New England?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that's right. So the good news is we don't have the tornado aspect of this system anymore. All that's really left is some rain and also some snow at this point. Here you can see a lot of that really heavy snow is across portions of New York, Vermont, Maine, areas of New Hampshire. So it's really mostly focused across areas of New England.

We'll get some of the snow that's already fallen. It's not that the snow is just now beginning. Areas of New York and Maine already at least half of a foot. And we're going to add on top of that. Notice here most of these areas, you're talking widespread 4 to 6 inches of additional snow.

But there's going to be some spots that could pick up an additional 8, 9 if not even 10 inches of snow again on top of what they've already had. Now in addition to snow, wind is still going to be a very big component too. So it's still possible to have trees come down, additional power lines causing more power outages.

A lot of these areas that you see here in this dark red, the high wind warning wind gusts of 60 to 70 miles per hour. The orange color wind advisory wind gusts of 40 to 55 miles per hour at that point. So again, ladies, it's going to be one of those combinations here of not only the snow, but also the wind that will stick around for much of the day today.

REID: Allison Chinchar, thank you.


And right now, the California National Guard is in the San Bernardino mountains to help dig out from the epic amount of snowfall. We're talking more than 7 feet in some places. There have been reports of people trapped in their homes with snow piled as high as second storey windows.

WALKER: Really incredible to see that we're talking about Southern California, the San Bernardino mountains that doesn't get that much snow ever. CNN's Camila Bernal with more.


DEREK HAYES, STRANDED IN SNOW: First, I was really frustrated. But now it's to the point where we're somewhat scared.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Derek Hayes trapped in the mountains of Southern California after an Epic Winter Storm.

HAYES: There's nowhere to put the snow, there's no way to walk around. It's, you know, it's up to my neck and a lot of places. You take a step, you sink all the way down. You have to crawl yourself back out of the snow to try to get on top of it, even move around.

BERNAL (voice-over): Derek, just one of many who are stranded.

HANNAH WHITEOAK, STRANDED IN SNOW: It's pretty unfathomable.

BERNAL (voice-over): The only thing they can do is wait for help. CHARLENE BERMUDEZ, STRANDED IN SNOW: It's just crazy. There's no way to get out anywhere.

BERNAL (voice-over): Their concerns, food, heat, medical emergencies or medicine and food for their pets, just to name a few. The San Bernardino mountains do get plenty of snow in the winter. But the past few weeks have been unprecedented, with the National Weather Service issuing its first ever blizzard warning.

ROMAN DURAN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL: Our main concern right now is to try to get the infrastructure up the mountain to be able to clear some of these roadways so that we can essentially get, you know, the people that live up there back to their houses and the people that are stuck up there back down.

BERNAL (voice-over): Emergency crews so far, carrying out roughly 100 rescues.


BERNAL (voice-over): Governor Gavin Newsom, also declaring a state of emergency for San Bernardino County and 12 others, activating the National Guard. Residents say lives are in danger.

BERMUDEZ: And we're actually going to be getting a neighbor out of his house. He's a cancer patient who is elderly and he has a doctor's appointment that he's going to try and get to.

BERNAL (voice-over): Some have been shoveling nonstop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To get the truck for the fourth time.

BERNAL (voice-over): But not all are able to do so.

WHITEOAK: It's one of the roughest, roughest experiences and -- but you sort of go into survival mode. And you just could keep pushing through. You know, I feel incredibly bad for anyone that hasn't got that physical presence.


BERNAL: And we know that members of the National Guard are already up in the mountain. They're trying to clear the roads. That is the biggest priority, getting people in and out of the mountain. We have also heard from authorities that it is still going to take some time.

They say it could take about a week to completely clear everything out. They are apologizing for not being quicker, but they're asking for patience and say that they are making progress. Amara, Paula?

WALKER: All right, a little bit of progress. There's some good news. Camila Bernal, thank you.

Let's turn now to the fierce fighting in Ukraine. The Russian Wagner mercenary group says the city of Bakhmut is all but surrounded. Russian troops also launched artillery fired north of the city. But Ukraine says its forces are holding their ground around Bakhmut.

REID: Attorney General Merrick Garland made an unannounced visit to Ukraine. He joined President Zelenskyy at the United for Justice Conference. Zelenskyy is calling on international prosecutors to hold Russia accountable for its invasion of Ukraine and the crimes that have been committed. The U.S. says evidence shows Russia has committed crimes against humanity.

WALKER: The Biden administration is sending Ukraine more security assistance, the latest package of weapons and artillery totals about $400 million. On the ground, Russian forces attacked a key bridge linking the city of Bakhmut to a nearby village as Ukraine tries to evacuate 5,000 civilians.

And CNN Senior National Security Correspondent Alex Marquardt joins us live from eastern Ukraine. Alex, update us on the situation there. What is the latest?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning. This is certainly an increasingly difficult fight for the Ukrainians in Bakhmut. Russian forces trying to surround them, surround the city, push Ukrainian forces out. As you noted, they are getting increasingly encircled.

Russia controls territory to the north, to the east and to the south of Bakhmut. And to the west, the only part or side of the city that was still controlled by Ukrainian forces, Russia did bomb that critical bridge on what was Ukraine's last major supply route towards Bakhmut. Take a look.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): A lifeline for Ukraine's forces severed. This destroyed bridge near Bakhmut on the last main supply route to the front. Bomb, a Ukrainian soldier told CNN by a Russian missile. Meaning, reinforcing troops or getting people out immediately becoming harder.


We were on that road near Bakhmut. Military vehicles bombing towards the fight and coming back.

(on-camera): The V sign for victory.

(voice-over): Russian forces have made progress at encircling the city, leaving only the West open to Ukrainian troops. The ferocious fighting has left thousands dead on both sides. Wagner forces which have led the Russian charge have paid a particularly high price.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): Today, Wagner's leader Yevgeny Prigozhin on the outskirts of Bakhmut released a video claiming, quote, the pincers are tightening. He called on President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to withdraw his troops, saying, "give them a chance to leave the city." Prigozhin regularly exaggerates Wagner's gains. Ukraine blasted today's video as part of a disinformation campaign.

But Ukrainian commanders admit they are facing withering Russian attacks. The Eastern commander posted photos today of a visit to Bakhmut where he was briefed on the problems with Ukrainian defenses. Despite no announcement of a withdrawal, some possible signs have appeared this Bakhmut rail bridge strategically bombed by Ukrainian soldiers to make it impossible.

The head of a Ukrainian reconnaissance unit, saying they received an order to immediately leave Bakhmut without giving a reason. The neighboring Chasiv Yar, soldiers from an artillery unit told us they have no plans to stop fighting here, fearing what could then happen.

The problem is not just Russia taking Bakhmut, Hottabich says. They will not stop and will keep destroying the next cities. We need to wait for reinforcements to come and then kick them out.


MARQUARDT: Well for now, there is no mention or sign of a Ukrainian withdrawal from Bakhmut. No doubt that if Russia were to take Bakhmut, it would be a major victory as particularly after such a difficult fight on both sides. But it is up for debate how much of a strategic victory it would be.

How much more they could do from there, even with a new foothold in Donbas. How much more they could press forward, certainly after this fight in Bakhmut, which will have left them in such a weakened state. Amara?

WALKER: All right, Alex Marquardt, appreciate your reporting there from the ground. Thank you.

And as we mentioned, the Biden administration is rolling out another military and security aid package for Ukraine totaling about $400 million. The package will include ammunition for HIMARS rocket launchers and different artillery systems. It will also include armored vehicle launched bridges for the first time.

REID: And but it's not just the financial support, the U.S. and allies are sending to Ukraine, it's also moral support. And CNN Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly has details.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Amara and Paula, as the war in Ukraine continues to grind on, very clear, there is no end in sight. You can just look at what's happening in Bakhmut as a good example of that reality. So, too, is the importance or elevated importance of the relationships between a transatlantic alliance of more than 30 plus countries that have been behind Ukraine throughout the course of the last year plus.

And perhaps no bilateral relationship within that alliance. More important than the relationship between the U.S. and Germany. Now there have clearly been tensions and disagreements underneath as this has played out over the course of the last year. It's Germany that's really transformed itself in terms of how it operates in the defense space, in terms of spending, in terms of what they are willing to produce. Significant changes.

Changes that the President made clear in his meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz were critical, not just to the alliance, but what it meant to the Ukrainian people. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You've stepped up provide critical military support. And, you know, I would argue that beyond your military support, the moral support you gave to the Ukrainians is profound. It's been profound.


MATTINGLY: Now, it's worth noting this sit down between President Biden and Chancellor Scholz, it certainly included their staff, but also had a personal component as well, where it was just the two leaders. It's something that underscores a relationship between the two men that the President's advisers made clear is both very strong, and also very candid.

Back and forth dozens of calls, personal meetings is the second meeting the President has had with Chancellor Scholz at the White House over the course of the last 13 or 14 months. But it also underscores the reality that the President, according to his advisers, very much understands that Chancellor Scholz is under very real domestic political pressures, also facing domestic economic pressures as much of Europe is in the wake of Russia's invasion and what's transpired over the course of the last year.

Plus, underscoring that despite any disagreements they may have about specific weapons systems or the amount of assistance that may be provided, the relationship itself is integral.


Germany's role inside the E.U., inside the NATO alliance is absolutely critical and therefore, staying United a steadfast unity. The President has really kind of made the through line of the last 13 months when it comes to that alliance. It's more important than anything else. Guys?

REID: Phil Mattingly, thank you.

And still ahead, Alex Murdaugh is sentenced to life in prison for the murders of his wife and son. Reactions from his attorneys to the sentencing and why they vow to appeal. And what about the dozens of other charges Murdaugh is facing?

Plus, the man accused of threatening several Jewish lawmakers in Michigan will remain in jail. The charges he's facing and how one of the women he's accused of targeting is responding. Plus, a person in Florida dies after being infected with a brain-eating amoeba. What health officials say might have been the cause. All that coming up.


REID: And former South Carolina Attorney Alex Murdaugh will spend the rest of his life behind bars. He was given two consecutive life sentences with no possibility of parole at a hearing yesterday.

WALKER: Now Murdaugh was taken for processing immediately after the sentencing was handed down. He will undergo medical tests and mental assessments before being sent to a maximum security prison. CNN's Randi Kaye has a report.


JUDGE CLIFTON NEWMAN, SOUTH CAROLINA CIRCUIT COURT: I sentence you for term of the rest of your natural life.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alex Murdaugh given two life sentences for the murder of his wife and son.

NEWMAN: I know you have to see Paul and Maggie during the night times when you're attempting to go to sleep. I'm sure they come and visit you.

ALEX MURDAUGH, MURDER DEFENDANT: All day and every night.

KAYE (voice-over): After more than a month in the courtroom, jurors took about three hours Thursday to convict Murdaugh of murder for his wife, Maggie and 22-year-old son Paul, who were found fatally shot on the family's property in June 2021. A juror told ABC --

CRAIG MOYER, JUROR IN ALEX MURDAUGH TRIAL: I didn't see any true remorse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you know he wasn't crying?

MOYER: Because I saw his eyes. I was this close to him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So it's basically 45 minutes for you guys to come to a decision.

MOYER: Probably about 45, maybe an hour.

KAYE (voice-over): Murdaugh once a prominent lawyer in the area took the stand last week in his own emotional defense. Maintaining he found the bodies after returning from a brief visit to his mother that night. Despite cell phone video placing him at the scene.

NEWMAN: Remind me of the expression you gave on the witness stand was it, oh, what tangle web we weave. What did you mean by that?

MURDAUGH: That when I lied, I continue to lie.

KAYE (voice-over): The defense relied heavily on Murdaugh's opioid addiction to account for his deception and lies about his whereabouts, something the judge and jury didn't buy.

NEWMAN: They've concluded that you continue to lie and lied throughout your testimony. Not credible, not believable.

KAYE (voice-over): Despite all the circumstantial evidence against him, Murdaugh maintained he was not guilty.

MURDAUGH: I'm innocent. I would never, under any circumstances, hurt my wife, Maggie. And I would never under any circumstances hurt my son, Pawpaw.

NEWMAN: And it might not have been you. It might have been the monster you become when you take 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 opioid pills.

KAYE (voice-over): Still, Murdaugh's defense team says they wouldn't have done anything differently.

HARPOOTLIAN: He's a liar and he's a thief and he admitted that. He's not a murderer. We saw a relationship between Paul and Alex that just inexplicable that he would execute his son and his wife in that fashion.

CREIGHTON WATERS, LEAD PROSECUTOR: No one who thought they were close to this man knew who he really was. And Your Honor, that's chilling.


KAYE: And Paula, Amara, when I interviewed Alex Murdaugh's defense lawyers, they told me they do plan to appeal within 10 days that would be on the grounds of these alleged financial crimes being introduced in court. They didn't believe that all of those should have been introduced.

They were expecting just some of them. But when they all came into play, his defense lawyers told me that is when they believe they lost the jury. Their best hope at that point, they thought it was a hung jury, or a mistrial. Back to you.

WALKER: All right, Randi Kaye, thank you so much for all your reporting.

Joining me now, CNN Legal Analyst and Criminal Defense Attorney Joey Jackson. Good morning to you. I know you talked about this yesterday, as did I. I mean, I think so many of us were struck by Judge Clifton Newman's very personal, measured and compelling words for Alex Murdaugh prior to his sentencing. Let's listen to a little bit more of that.


NEWMAN: And it was especially heartbreaking for me to see you gone -- go into media from being a grieving father who lost a wife and a son to being the person indicted and convicted of killing them.


WALKER: I mean, it was clear that the judge knew Alex Murdaugh. He even said that he had seen him practicing law before him. He said, I knew you, I knew your lovely family. You were gregarious. And we heard in Randi Kaye's piece, you know, calling him a monster or at least the drugs turned him into a monster. How unusual is it to see such a personal connection?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Amara, good morning to you. It's a rare occasion where you have a judge that not only presides over the trial, but really has a personal dynamic and interconnection with the defendant in the case, right, in addition to saying that, Amara, what you noted. The judge saying that you are a nice guy, right?


You -- I saw you, we were together at parties, we interacted together. You smiled, I smiled. To see this, to see just this, you know, degeneration into what has occurred is just overwhelming. And so the judge, of course, Amara, giving very thoughtful, reflective remarks and meting out just an appropriate punishment, he did have two life sentences.

But it is certainly highly unusual that you have a judge who unfortunately has to do his duty. You could say fortunately, in this instance, based upon, you know, ultimately what he was convicted of, that has that relationship, that connection to the defendant, who stands before him ready for justice and sentence.

WALKER: It also underscores just how prominent his family was, and his father and his grandfather, you know, how he mentioned that. The portrait of his grandfather had to be taken down in the back of the courtroom to make sure that there would be a fair trial.


WALKER: Look, the judge also mentioned that, you know, while he didn't question the prosecution's decision not to seek the death penalty, even though the case, you know, met the statute to do so, there were many before him who got sentenced to death for lesser crimes. Why didn't the prosecution pursued death?

JACKSON: Yes, that was very compelling also. You know, they picture, Amara, there are certainly disparities in our system. You know, it really -- I don't know why the prosecution didn't opt to do that. It certainly could have been because of the dynamic of his family, the fact that for generations, they had really run that county.

And as a result of that, decided just to go and attempt to get a conviction and the life sentences that they did, the judge, certainly noting that, right, for far less, as you mentioned. And so it's an interesting dynamic. In order for the judge to have imposed it, of course, and the jury to have considered it, it would have been -- notice would have had to been filed and provided by the prosecutors that never happened.

And so it'd be an interesting question, and of use moving forward to ask them, you know, look, if people have been convicted and certainly sentenced to death for far less, why in this instance, based upon who this defendant was, was it not pursued in this particular case? WALKER: Yes, I don't think a lot of people can think of more heinous crimes than that, you know, shooting and killing your own family members that might deserve death, if you do believe in the death penalty.

So we also heard from the juror, one juror talking to ABC News, that it took 45 minutes, it took three hours for the jury to come out with a guilty verdict. But this jury is saying that it took 45 minutes for them to come to this consensus, even with two people, two jurors saying that they were at a not guilty decision.

And one saying that, you know, he or she wasn't quite sure what to think. But he also said this, that he didn't believe Murdaugh when he was crying on the stand. Listen.


MOYER: I didn't see any true remorse, or any compassion or anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even though he was cried a lot on the stand.

MOYER: In that regard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He never cried. What do you mean by that.

MOYER: All he did was blow snot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you not see tears?

MOYER: No tears.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you know he wasn't crying?

MOYER: Because I saw his eyes. I was this close to him.


WALKER: He said something to the effect of, you know, he was just making snot, not crying. Do you think the defense regrets that they allowed Alex Murdaugh to take the stand in his own defense?

JACKSON: You know, so a few points have been made, Amara, here. The first is just in terms of pivoting to the quickness of the verdict. They're there for six weeks, and many have said, oh, it's so quick. The reality of that is that you're formulating opinions and thoughts every day as things are developing. You don't leave those at home.

So when you go into the jury room, of course, you have thoughts, of course you have opinions and so they reach a ultimately a decision and conclusion. The second point to be made is that the jurors are there. They're feeling it, they're seeing it. They went to the crime scene. They know the evidence. They know the testimony.

And so ultimately, they did reach that in the timeframe they reached it but they've been there all of that time. The third thing and final very brief to your point, he had to testify, Amara. There were too many lies that he told. He said he wasn't there. They filed what's called alibi notice which is giving the court notice that you're going to be saying and arguing that you had nothing to do with it because you weren't not even at the scene.

Then out comes a video, cell phone data, everything connecting him. He had to explain it. Obviously, the jury felt that he was conning them just was deceitful. It was only -- it was too much. And the jurors that you saw and you played just did not believe anything he said just like he lied to his client, he lied to them.

WALKER: Yes, Joey, we got to go.


I do want to ask you this last question to move this forward because the judge had mentioned that there are over 99 pending charges against him at least when it comes to alleged financial crimes, of course, there was the other deaths surrounding or connecting the Murdaughs as well. We won't go into that.

Do you think the $9 million that were allegedly stolen from clients and his law firm and what have you, that will be recovered and given back?

JACKSON: Yes, Amara, great question. And I just don't see that based upon so many clients that he bilked out of millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the limited resources, certainly the sale of the home. But a lot of that could be encumbered by other areas.

And so, it would be unfortunate that I don't think a lot of that money will be recovered and people will go really without recourse based upon the terrible things that he did and looking them in the eye like he looked the jury in the eye --

WALKER: Yes --

JACKSON: And stealing their money.

WALKER: Yes, really been a remarkable six weeks watching this trial unfold. Joey Jackson, really a pleasure to have you on. Thanks so much.

JACKSON: Always, thank you, Amara.

REID: At this hour, a terrifying plot to kill several Jewish government officials in Michigan stopped. Now, the man accused of making those threats will remain in federal detention. The latest on the investigation next.



WALKER: In today's top stories, a lesion removed from President Biden's chest last month has come back as a common form of skin cancer. Biden's doctor, Kevin O'Connor said on Friday that the biopsy tested positive for basal cell carcinoma, and that all cancerous tissue has been removed, but Biden will need to continue gerontological surveillance going forward. And in February, Dr. O'Connor reported that Biden remains healthy and is fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency.

REID: And actor Tom Sizemore has passed away after suffering a brain aneurysm. Sizemore was hospitalized earlier this month and had been in a coma in intensive care. Sizemore appeared in a number of hit, crime and war movies in the '90s and early 2000s, he was of course, best known though for his role in "Saving Private Ryan" as Sergeant Mike Horvath. Sizemore was 61 years old.

And the man accused of threatening to kill Jewish government officials in Michigan will remain in federal custody. Jack Carpenter III appeared before a judge Friday.

WALKER: And while Carpenter is consenting to being detained, he is challenging the court in another way. Here's CNN's Omar Jimenez.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, the suspect Jack Carpenter consented to being detained, but he also through his attorney distributed a letter, challenging the court's personal jurisdiction over him. Now, that could be because the FBI says he doesn't believe that law enforcement or the government has jurisdiction over him.

That said, he remains in federal custody, and the threats he's accused of posting online allegedly came from out of state, where in one of those threats, he allegedly wrote, "I'm heading back to Michigan now, threatening to carry out the punishment of death to anyone that is Jewish in the Michigan government if they don't leave or confess."

And now, later adding, "any attempt to subdue me will be met with deadly force in self-defense." Now, he was eventually arrested. But Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel confirmed what a source had already told CNN, that she was the target of this alleged plot.


DANA NESSEL, MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's also not lost on me that as I sit here before you today, a mentally-disturbed man awaits court proceedings in Detroit based on threats he made to use his arsenal of firearms to murder me.


JIMENEZ: Now, Amara, Paula, as for this suspect, he was an employee at the University of Michigan for ten years until 2021, he claims on social media he was fired for refusing to take experimental medication. Now, the university wouldn't comment on that, but they did require COVID-19 booster shots for all employees around that time.

And in this particular case, he's accused of violating an interstate communication law when it comes to threats. We haven't seen a plea just yet, but when I approached his public defender after the hearing on Friday, he had no additional comment. Paula, Amara. WALKER: All right, Omar Jimenez, thank you. And make sure you tune in

next hour when we sit down with an expert in polarization and extremism to discuss the recent spike in anti-Semitism across the country.

REID: And coming up, millions of Americans will now have less money to help put food on the table as pandemic-era and a boost from pandemic- era programs to food stamp benefits come to an end. A look at the impact for those who rely on those benefits just ahead.



REID: The struggle low income families face to make ends meet is about to get much harder. Millions of Americans who depend on government benefits to put food on the table are now facing a significant cut as the pandemic-era relief program comes to an end.

WALKER: CNN's Gabe Cohen explains how some are coping with the loss of emergency funds that some experts say kept more than 4 million people out of poverty in 2021.


MICHELLE RICKETTS, SNAP RECIPIENT: And beans, got a lot of those.

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michelle Ricketts stocked up her Pittsburgh pantry in February, knowing this month, buying food will be much tougher.

RICKETTS: I should be good until April.

COHEN: The 63-year-old is on food stamps, part of her fixed income. But she says her monthly SNAP benefit is about to go from $277 a month to $23.

RICKETTS: I'm going to be struggling.

COHEN: Wednesday marked the end of a pandemic hunger-relief program, emergency SNAP benefits passed by Congress at the start of COVID expired for more than 16 million U.S. households in 32 states and D.C., where they were still in place. On average, SNAP recipients will lose $98 per month, and some households like Ricketts' could lose more than 250 as the program returns to its pre-pandemic totals.

ELLEN VOLLINGER, SNAP DIRECTOR, FRAC: It is going to be a big impact. We don't believe that they have a financial cushion based on everything we know about these households.

COHEN: These benefits kept 4.2 million people out of poverty, lowering child poverty by 14 percent according to the Urban Institute. Inflation on much more than food continues to strain Americans.


RICKETTS: We're going from $131 to $228. I don't even know how that happens.

COHEN: Michelle is behind on her surging power bills. She postponed her dog's vet appointment to save money.

RICKETTS: I'm just feeling some anxiety about how -- what cuts I'm making and where. I'm sure I'll be going to the food bank.

COHEN: In a survey, roughly, three-quarters of U.S. food banks reported that ending these benefits is already driving up demand as donations drop and food costs surge.

(on camera): Are you worried about keeping up with demand?

LISA SCALES, PRESIDENT & CEO, GREATER PITTSBURGH COMMUNITY FOOD BANK: We are worried about keeping up with demand.

COHEN (voice-over): Lisa Scales heads the Greater Pittsburgh community food bank which was $2 million over budget in the second half of last year before the SNAP cuts.

SCALES: We're expecting to see a dramatic increase in the number of people we serve each month.

COHEN: Like Jodie Sprinkle(ph), a single mom waiting to find out how much her SNAP benefits will drop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going to hurt. That's one thing it. It's going to hurt.

COHEN: In some states, these nonprofits say they may have to ration food or limit selection, so there's more to go around.

SCALES: If our network can't meet the demand, it means that more and more kids will go to bed hungry, seniors will struggle.


WALKER: That's a tough situation, Gabe Cohen, thank you. Still ahead, a Florida man has died from a brain-eating amoeba. Why health officials say his attempts to clear his sinuses with tap water may be to blame.



WALKER: An investigation is now underway in Florida after a person died following a rare brain-eating amoeba infection. State health officials say the deadly infection may have been caused by the victim using tap water to rinse out their sinuses. CNN's Jacqueline Howard, what more can you tell us?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: I can tell you this stuff is still being investigated by the Florida Department of Health. Health officials in Charlotte County say the person who died was infected with a brain-eating amoeba, quote, "possibly as a result of sinus rinse practices utilizing tap water", end quote. And they recommend using only distilled or sterile water for sinus rinses.

Tap water should be boiled for at least one minute and then cooled before it's considered OK to use for sinus rinsing. And that reduces the risk of infections with micro-organisms like the brain-eating amoeba. And this amoeba has the scientific name Naegleria Fowleri, it's a single-celled organism found in soil and warm freshwater environments.

It causes rare infections by entering the body through the nose. For example, if someone is swimming in a lake and gets water up their nose, and symptoms of infection include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, it can progress to stiff neck, seizures or hallucinations, and infections are deadly.

Between 1962 and 2021 here in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says only four out of 154 people known to have been infected survived the disease these brain-eating amoeba infections can cause. And that's why health officials warn, follow safe water practices especially with sinus rinses.

REID: Yikes, like we needed something else to worry about. Jacqueline Howard, thank you. And still ahead, the comeback of the season. The Nets stormed back from 28 points down on the road to beat one of the NBA's best teams. We'll show you the highlights next. Plus, how did HQ Trivia go from internet obsession to total meltdown? The million- dollar question, what happened?

The new CNN film "GLITCH: THE RISE AND FALL OF HQ TRIVIA" premieres tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. on CNN.



REID: The Brooklyn Nets pull off the biggest comeback of the NBA season to beat the Boston Celtics.

WALKER: Andy Scholes has more on the epic rally in this morning's "BLEACHER REPORT", hi, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, hi, good morning Amara, Paula. You know, teams, they blow leads all the time in the NBA, you know, you get up by a lot, and you just kind of let the foot off the gas. You know, but the Celtics, one of the best teams in the NBA, you would think a 28-point lead would be safe, well, it wasn't.

Boston, they had jumped on the Nets from the start in this game. They were up 22 after the first quarter, but the Nets just started to chipping away. Mikal Bridges who was the big piece acquired in the Kevin Durant trade, he poured in 38 points and the Nets were just dominant in the second and third quarter. The game wasn't even close at the end. The Nets come all the way back to shock the Celtics, winning 115-105.


stop playing, you know, no matter what the score is, it was down big, but we were just going to fight, you know. A lot of game, and we've got to have fun and just keep playing together. .


SCHOLES: Now, Bridges' former team, the Suns now 2-0 with Kevin Durant in the lineup, Durant scoring an efficient 20 points against the Bulls last night. In the process, he moved into 13th place on the NBA's all- time scoring list. LeBron, the only active player with more points than Durant. Devin Booker scored a game high 35 points, Suns won that one, 125-104.

All right, we had an incredible finish to the Knicks-Heat game in Miami last night. New York, up by one, 30 seconds left, when Tyler Herro steals the ball from Julius Randle, takes it the other way for the score. Heat takes a one point lead, next possession, Randle is going to have the ball again. He nearly loses it again, but he finds the handle, puts up the three-pointer with time running out and it falls.

Heat's coach Erik Spoelstra said, he did that playing a hundred times, ninety-nine times, it would end up in our favor. But Randle, 43 points in this one, Knicks win 122-120, extending their winning streak to eight straight games. All right, and family, Max Scherzer was testing the limits of what he can get away with when it comes to new pitch clock in baseball yesterday.

Top of the third, he started throwing a pitch the moment the home plate umpire reset the clock. Well, that was too quick for the umps, so Scherzer was actually called for a balk, which he wasn't very happy about. A few minutes later, it looked like the Mets had pulled off a double play, but it ended up getting called off because the umpire's ruled Scherzer failed to start his motion before the clock had struck zero.

After the game, Scherzer, well, he talked about how he's still working on how he can use that clock to his advantage.


MAX SCHERZER, PITCHER, NEW YORK METS: You've got to press the limit on what you can and can't do, you know, pressed it today. You know, find out what you can and can't do with this. So, you know, you've got to press the limit to find out where the boundary is on this.


SCHOLES: Yes, I'll tell you what, guys, it's going to be so much fun watching baseball this year and all the players, the pitchers learning how to adjust to that new pitch clock.