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Lisa Marie Presley, Daughter Of Elvis, Dead At 54; Garland Appoints Special Counsel In Biden Documents Investigation; Growing Number Of Republicans Call On Rep. George Santos (R-NY) To Resign; Calls For Rep. George Santos To Resign Growing, McCarthy Supports The Embattled Congressman; University Of Idaho Suspect Waives Right To A Speedy Probable Cause Hearing; State Of Emergency In Alabama And Georgia Due To Tornado Strikes; Attorney General Merrick Garland Appoints Special Counsel To President Biden's Investigation Of Top- Secret Documents. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired January 12, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good evening, everyone. I'm Laura Coates and this is CNN TONIGHT.
We begin with our sad breaking news. Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis' daughter, dead at the age of 54. She was hospitalized after suffering an apparent cardiac arrest just today after appearing at the Golden Globes just Tuesday night where the Bax Luhrmann film about her own father won best actor for Austin Butler. Lisa Marie's mother, Priscilla, putting out a statement tonight saying it is with a heavy heart that I must share the devastating news that my beautiful daughter, Lisa Marie, has left us. She was the most passionate, strong and loving woman I have ever known. We ask for privacy as we try to deal with this profound loss. Thank you for the love and prayers. At this time there will be no further comment.
Lisa Marie was a celebrity from the moment she was born in 1968. She was the adored daughter of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, living her entire life in the spotlight.
Much more now with CNN Entertainment Reporter Chloe Melas. Chloe, this is unbelievably sad news, especially because many people just saw her on Tuesday night's Golden Globes, many tuning in because it was the first actual awards ceremony in a couple of years and her own father being memorialized in this hit movie. What more can you tell us about that night and what's happened?
CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Laura, good evening. I was at the Golden Globes. I was at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in the ball room seated just a few tables behind Lisa Marie and her mother, Priscilla. And I immediately thought to myself when I saw her that she just didn't look like her usual glowing, bubbly, happy self. She looked a bit somber.
And I also just want to tell you a few moments ago we received a statement from the family representative saying that they are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Lisa Marie. And like you said, as for the statement Priscilla released, that they are profoundly grateful for the support.
Now, this comes as a shock to so many because just a few hours ago, Priscilla taking to Instagram asking for prayers in support, telling everyone that her daughter was rushed to the hospital. We know at CNN that paramedics responded to a call at Lisa Marie's home in Calabasas, California, for possible cardiac arrest. No other details at this time as to what happened.
But like you said, it was a huge night for the Presley family, because Baz Luhrmann, like you said, immortalizing, memorializing Elvis, their father, you know, her husband, Priscilla's husband on screen, Austin Butler, doing this incredible portrayal and taking to the stage when he won his Golden Globe with this emotional speech, looking right at the table he was sitting with them that evening. I can only imagine how devastated he is and we haven't heard back from him but we've reached out to Austin Butler for comment.
And at one point, it looked like Lisa Marie was wiping tears from her eyes. And we know how much this movie meant to the family and we know how much Lisa Marie championed Austin Butler and helped him get to know what Elvis really was like.
And, Chloe, we do have some footage and sound from her actually being interviewed on the red carpet before the Golden Globes even began, and to your point, about many are looking at this moment and reflecting and wondering, was she okay at that point? Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, tonight will be a wonderful night for Elvis.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I hope so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And have you gotten to know Austin Butler a little bit?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I'm going to grab your arm. A lot, actually. I adore him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you first saw him, what did you think?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You mean in the movie?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, just saw him, yes, in the role?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was mind blown, truly. I actually had to take like five days to process it because it was so spot on and authentic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think the biggest challenge was? Is it the singing or is there a certain characteristic to pull off, a look, a twinkle or something?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Characteristics, mannerisms, the singing, the talking without doing it in like a caricature way like it's been done in the past. It's kind of done in a sort of funny, joking way, the way he spoke. But Austin actually got it and did it perfectly without making it sort of comical.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Chloe, really important point perhaps why they were so profoundly behind the actor and this movie and the importance of their father's life and loved husband and now what a very difficult time for the Presley family. It was only a few years ago that Lisa Marie lost her own son to a tragedy.
MELAS: Yes. And I just want to point out, in that interview with Billy Bush, she doesn't seem like herself, you know? She seems subdued. Something doesn't seem right. And you heard Stephanie Elam earlier with Anderson. You heard Nichelle Turner from Entertainment Tonight earlier, who interviewed her as well on the carpet, saying that something seemed off. And I think all of us sort of turned to the other and said, you know, this doesn't seem like her usual self.
But, look, like you said, it has been a rough couple years. Losing her son, Benjamin, to suicide in 2020, she opened up about it in an essay in July. I want to read you a little bit of what she said. She said, my heart and soul went with you. The depth of the pain is suffocating and bottomless without you every moment of every day. That is just -- she loved her son so much. And like she writes, my heart and soul went with you.
Now, we don't know what led to her death today but we know it has been a profoundly difficult time. She is survived by three of her other children, Riley Keough being one of them, who is an actress. We still have not yet heard from them but this has all just happened just moments ago. Again, we just saw her at the Golden Globes. It has been a big couple months for the family with Austin Butler and all the rave reviews for Baz Luhrmann's Elvis.
And we were about to have Oscar nominations. This movie is definitely, in my opinion, going to be nominated, Austin is going to be nominated. The Oscars are in March and this would have been a huge moment for the family to be there together, and now this sadness, another tragedy that the Presley family is so used to facing, tragedy and grief in such a public way.
COATES: Chloe, thank you. And, again, a mother with surviving children as well, what a devastating blow to this family.
I want to bring in Sharon Waxman, Editor-in-Chief of The Wrap. Sharon, so many people remember and know and are familiar with Lisa Marie Presley across multiple generations. You have those who remembered when she was the young apple of the eye and twinkle in the eye of an Elvis Presley and a young Priscilla. People recall from generations of my own included when she was married to Michael Jackson, another actor, Nicholas Cage as well.
I mean, the idea of many people in different generations knowing her and then learning about her even in her really open way of talking about the grief that she experienced in 2020 at the loss of her son's life. She has been in the public eye. And here we are learning that she has died. What is the reaction that you are hearing?
SHARON WAXMAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE WRAP: Well, I think people are really shocked in Hollywood and we're just seeing an outpouring of exactly that. First of all, there were people who, of course, just saw her at this -- one of the newly back in-person events at the Golden Globes awards seasons have just been so muted in past few years. And so this year, Elvis is one of the movies that is really celebratory and brings us right back to the movies.
And it was interesting, in fact, that the movie was backed by the Presley family, that they were supporting Baz Luhrmann, the director. They watched the film all together with him for the first time ahead of the movie's release, of course. So, it's really shock I think that we're going to be hearing. We already have a story on the site that reflects that from all across entertainment.
COATES: And, Sharon, I mean, she was just nine years old herself when her father, Elvis, died. And in many respects, it seems as though she considered herself a bit of a caretaker of his legacy. Is that right?
WAXMAN: Yes, I think so, and Priscilla, her mother, of course, as well. I remember talking to Lisa Marie's daughter, Riley, at the Cannes Film Festival this year. Riley has followed in the family footsteps in going into entertainment. She is an actress and she directed a film for the first time. It was at The Cannes Film Festival.
And it just is really striking when you meet the family.
There is such a strong physical look that is passed down from Elvis to Lisa Marie. Riley has it. Her brother had it as well. So, it's almost like, you know, you feel like you're touching a little bit of history when you meet the family. And she described how they all watched the movie together and there was this real sense of excitement (INAUDIBLE) when Baz Luhrmann (INAUDIBLE).
COATES: Sharon, thank you.
I want to bring in CNN Contributor, as well, Nichelle Turner. Nichelle, we know that you are driving. Thank you for being part of our breaking news coverage. We really want to hear from you because, of course, not only are you a phenomenal entertainment reporter but also had a chance to actually speak with her at the Golden Globes, to observe her.
Now, again, we have no idea if there is any connection, whatsoever, to either how she appeared, her behavior, how she felt in any way on the night of the Golden Globes, but it is our last ability to see how she was in the public eye this past Tuesday. Tell me what was your impression upon hearing the news today?
NICHELLE TURNER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (voice over): Yes. I'm glad you make that clear because we don't know. We don't know the cause of death. We don't know any of that right now except for she did go to the hospital today under possible cardiac arrest. And now we have, you know, subsequently known that she has passed away.
But when we did speak with her on Sunday, my co-host, Kevin Frazier and I, she definitely did not seem at 100 percent. She seemed subdued. She did not seem at full strength. I had just spoken with her a couple months earlier at a hand-and-footprint ceremony in Hollywood for her father for the movie for Austin Butler, and I can tell you it was night and day difference of how she was. She was very upbeat, she was very bubbly, she was very outgoing, joking. She is funny, she's glib, all of those things. She did not seem that way on Sunday.
But she was happy to be there to support the movie that the whole family was behind about her father's legacy, to support Austin Butler, who she did care for a great deal and was so happy with his portrayal of her father, to support Baz Luhrmann, who was also -- who is the director who was also nominated for a Golden Globe. So, it was going to be a celebratory night for them. They had also just celebrated her father's birthday a couple of days before. So, she talked about that as well and about how special a night it would be because they were celebrating her father's birthday, celebrating the success of the film and the actor's portrayal of her father, but she did not seem to be her normal self.
COATES: Nichelle, really important to get that context, and this is somebody who has been known as the daughter of Elvis Presley but had her own music career in her own right and three albums. And we're going to continue with more news right after this at the shocking death of Lisa Marie Presley at just age 54.
COATES: Attorney General Merrick Garland today appointing a special counsel to take over the investigation into the classified documents from Joe Biden's time as vice president found where they weren't supposed to be in Biden's one-time private office, not the National Archives, and at two locations in his home in Wilmington, Delaware.
Here with me now in the studio, CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez, former White House Ethics Czar Norm Eisen and Alex Burns is here with us as well.
Listen, there are new details. We've seen the timeline of when they may have known, when they didn't know, what is happening. The point for many people today is the public is just finding out and they seemed to have botched the P.R. component of this, Evan. There was a moment they could have talked about other documents being found. They haven't. And the White House press secretary today was really pummeled today on that very point. What do we know?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that they -- when they told us on Monday about the initial batch of documents, what they described as fewer than a dozen, and they only described it as having been found at Biden's private office at the University of Pennsylvania Center here in Washington, that they also knew about a second set of documents that had been found back in December but they chose not to tell us about it, they chose not to deal with it then.
And the president went out and spoke about it in Mexico City, also seeming to give the impression there was only one set of documents we were talking about. And that is where this has become a big problem and loss of credibility for the White House and for the president and his legal team. This is, you know, P.R. 101, right? If you have bad news, get it out. Get it out once and you don't have to go fix it afterwards.
And so the attorney general, certainly, Merrick Garland, was facing a decision that was almost certainly this is where he was going to go because he got a recommendation from the John Lausch, U.S. attorney in Chicago, who said, after doing this review for over the last few weeks, that it merited a special counsel.
Now, one of the things I think we have to sort of step back at and think about is the documents. What are in these documents? What do we know? And Jamie Gangel has done great reporting on this. And certainly on the first set of documents, the ten, we now know there was at least -- one of these is a memo from Joe Biden, then-vice president to President Obama. And at least two briefing memos, one of them having to do with a phone call the then-vice president was going to do with the U.K. prime minister, another one to do with a call that he was preparing to do with the E.U. council president.
So, these are all things that sort of put, I think, this a little bit in perspective. We don't know how sensitive this stuff is still, whether it is still at the highest levels of classification. But, obviously, these are documents that did not belong in these locations, including, of course, the president's garage in Wilmington, Delaware.
COATES: Norm, what is your impression as to the decision to have the special counsel? And I want to take a step back as well because when you hear special counsel, and we have heard it so many times now with presidential administrations, not the least of which was President Trump, there are now two active special counsels --
COATES: Three active special counsel.
PEREZ: Don't forget about John Durham --
COATES: So, I mean -- and, again, you're right, John Durham and for Merrick Garland --
NORM EISSEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He does not -- there is nothing special about John Durham. That investigation has been a total flop. Let's talk about the real special counsels here. The one looking at the Mar-a-Lago case, Jack Smith, and the new special counsel, who has been appointed, Rob Hur. We don't have a time in history where you've had the former president and the current president being looked at this way. But the Smith investigation and the Hur investigation are two very different investigations, Laura.
In the one case you have a sweeping investigation of a former president who refused to turn documents back and documents that are reported to be containing some very serious information. Ultimately, there over 300 classified documents, including more than a hundred that were held on to and had to be obtained through a search warrant. Here, you have full cooperation. The kinds of documents if it is just what Jamie Gangel is reporting about, I saw these documents every day when I was in the White House, when I was ambassador --
PEREZ: Did you put them in your garage?
EISSEN: Never. I had a rule.
COATES: But, Evan, it was a corvette and the garage was locked.
EISSEN: I had a rule with these documents. But we don't know Biden put them in the garage. A vice president is staffed by a lot of people. I had a rule when I looked at a classified document, I read it at my desk standing up and then I gave it back to somebody else. I suspect here we may find it is the somebody-elses who were involved. So, very different situations between Smith and Hur.
COATES: I understand in terms of legally and the nuance of it, but is this appreciable for the general electorate?
ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think we are going to find out. I think the outcome of the special counsel investigation is going to matter a lot more than the fact of the special counsel investigation existing, right? That if at the end of the day the line you're hearing from Democrats, including some Democrats right here at this table right now that one of these, there is a difference between going ten miles over the speed limit and going 60 miles over the speed limit with a blindfold on, right, and that is sort of the distinction Democrats are trying to draw between the Biden and Trump cases.
We know the Trump case is really serious. We don't know that the Biden case is extremely serious. But we don't know that it isn't serious either, right? There is just a lot that we still don't know about the contents of those documents, the scope of what is being looked at and what else the White House might know they haven't been entirely forthcoming about.
And I just -- look, I am not a lawyer. I'm a political reporter. And the approach that I always take in these situations is that you have to be really, really sensitive to what you don't know. And if we were to sit here and start prognosticating that this was going to be a millstone around Biden going into 2024 or that it was going to be a big get out of jail free card for Donald Trump, I don't know about either of those things. I also don't know that Biden can just shrug this off because, at the end of the day, it was just a sort of couple briefing memos, about phone calls. COATES: I mean, it is, in many respects, not shruggable because it is spiraling in a way that was likely perhaps anticipated or not. I mean, the idea, when we think about the Trump administration, we think about a lot of self-inflicted wounds, a lot of P.R. moments that -- or things that were said or not said correctly or moments that invited greater speculation, opening Pandora's Box. When we look at this, they have not answered the question as to why not just say or hedge in a political way, Evan, look, to the extent there is anything else out there, we'll be diligent and sincere about our approach to alerting the authorities. That didn't happen.
PEREZ: That's right. And I think that is partly why a lot of us, certainly some of us who have lived these types of situations before, you kind of get your Spidey senses up and there are things that don't add up, right? And, look, again, the story they have now settled on may well be the final story and charitably I would say I can see that it is a very difficult situation to be doing these searches while you have an investigation ongoing.
COATES: By story, you mean you're skeptical?
PEREZ: The story they finally have settled on, which is that they've done these searches, there are no more documents to be found anywhere else, right? This is something Robert Hur and the investigators are going to want the Biden team to attest to, probably, right, that you swear that there are no more documents anywhere else and then we'll see what the seriousness of this investigation really ends up being.
COATES: What stage is Robert Hur in?
EISSEN: He is in the beginning stages but he is taking over an investigation that did gather information under the U.S. attorney in Chicago, Mr. Lausch. And he is a very diligent and experienced federal prosecutor. He was in the crucible in the Trump administration serving by Rod Rosenstein's side during some of those toughest years.
So, he is going to go straight ahead.
I think it is very important -- actually, I agree with Alex. I think it is important, including for the special counsels, for Smith and Hur. They have to put blinders on and forget what the other is doing and just decide these cases on the merits.
We don't know where the Biden case is going to go but the initial indicators are no intentional wrongdoing, no obstruction. If you look at the history of the presidents, these are not the kinds of accidental document cases that are charged. We'll see if that changes.
COATES: We will see. And, really, we'll see also on Capitol Hill about the pressure campaign that is certainly mounting for newly elected GOP Congressman George Santos. But he says he is not going anywhere. So, will the mountain of lies eventually become too much for most Republicans or even that one to ignore?
COATES: Well, were we are and House Republicans are still grappling with how to solve a problem like Santos.
The embattled New York Republican insisting again that he is not going to knuckle under to -- buckle under the growing calls for his resignation over the long list of lies that he has told about much, well, of his entire personal and professional history.
Here with me now in the studio CNN political commentator Karen Finney, former RNC communications director Doug Heye and CNN political analyst Alex Burns. Look, how do you solve this problem? You have the pressure campaign that's mounting saying you got to resign, you should resign, you ought to resign.
Yes, you can expel a member of Congress if it's that two-thirds concurrence, but there has to be the appetite. And maybe if you are someone like Kevin McCarthy, a bigger margin to lose. Where do things stand right now?
BURNS: Why, I think that last point is the critical one. The margin of control is so tight, that district that George Santos represents is a Democratic-leaning district. If there were a special election, Republicans could not count on holding on to it. And so, if you're Kevin McCarthy or if you're most of the Republican conference, are you willing to reduce your margin for error by like 20 percent in order to get rid of this guy?
And the answer at some point might be yes, but it's not there yet. You know, if he ends up being seriously prosecuted in Brazil, if the financial improprieties that we seem to see hints of in his campaign finance here become real criminal cases, then maybe we eventually get there. But right now, where you sort of have this embarrassing, unsightly, dishonest character in your conference, it's not like the first time in history that's happened in the House of Representatives.
COATES: And by the way, I want to hear from George and (inaudible) and your point Karen, as well, George Santos is actually on Steve Bannon's "War Room" but Matt Gaetz interestingly enough, was stepping in for Steve Bannon in that particular hosting role. Here is what he had to say about how he'd really, well, he has never done much wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): I wish well all of their opinions, but I was elected by 142,000 people. Until those same 142,000 people tell me they don't want me, we'll find out in two years. I've worked my entire life. I've lived an honest life. I've never been accused sort of any bad doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Until now.
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Unfortunately, I couldn't hear the sound, but --
DOUG HEYE, FORMER RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: He didn't do anything wrong. He's a great guy.
COATES: He did nothing wrong and he wants to wait until 142,000 people tell him he's got to pack his bags.
FINNEY: Right. Because he knows that actually constitutionally even if 142,000 say pack your bags, he doesn't have to go. I mean, that is part of what is so messed up about our system that you have, I mean, think about this. You have Kevin McCarthy who is so reliant and I do think this is going to be an albatross around the GOP's neck because Santos is going to be the gift that keeps on giving because all of these cases are going to unfold a little bit at a time.
But the margin is so thin they can't afford to get rid of him, but they're changing the nature of the ethics committee so the ethics committee is probably not going to go through its normal process. We're probably not going to get the two-thirds vote.
COATES: Hold on. Talk about more about that. People are missing that particular point as to all of the concessions that McCarthy made and the idea the rules package and what that means. They had them as a part of the ethics discussions that they have essentially taken away. Some of the Democrats are going to have to phase them out, term limits, right?
There is the idea of having a certain window of time to staff more people which is going to lead to uh-oh, not enough people to really carry out things, essentially.
FINNEY: Right. Not enough people will carry out things to do the work of really coming forward with a case that says this is why for a two- thirds vote and, unfortunately, constitutionally, his own constituents, there is no process by which they can recall him the way we could a governor or impeach him. So, they are kind of stuck with him for the next two years.
COIATES: Dough, on that point though, I mean, and Alex raised the point about, you know, this is a Democratic-leaning district, but yes, it's going to be a bit of a crap shoot. But Republicans in Nassau County are already saying that we don't want him there. You're not one of us. You cannot be there.
Is it a better strategy to try to pressure him and hope that you can get a Republican to replace him if you're the Republicans right now as opposed to waiting two years from now when you got the gift that kept on giving for two years?
HEYE: Let me be a little counter intuitive here. George Santos doesn't feel any pressure to resign whatsoever. So, we can talk about what did Kevin McCarthy say or not, say what committees is he going to be on or not be on or Steve Scalise or Nancy Pelosi or anyone else. This guy has no pressure to resign. In fact, he is getting paid every two weeks right now, maybe for the first time in a while.
So, he's going to stay. There is no mechanism to remove him short of an expulsion vote. The last time it happened was after a member of Congress had been found guilty of bribery and racketeering. Not charged. Found guilty. So, if we want to let the legal process play out, that's fine. That's going to be a while.
And even if these rules were not changed in House Ethics, excuse me, it takes a long time. I remember in 2013 or '14 a member of Congress coming in the office that I was working in who was in a scandal and he'd been arrested with drugs.
And he said, he had already said he was going to resign. He said, I've changed my mind. I'm not going anywhere just yet because there is no mechanism to remove him unless two-thirds of the house wanted to. And if I'm a Democrat, I might want him to stick around a little bit. It's good politics.
COATES: Really? So --
HEYE: Condemn him but let him stay.
COATES: Do you agree?
BURNS: Oh, I think for Democrats it's much, much better to have him there and visible than to have certainly like an inoffensive generic Republican in that seat. But I think Democrats would really like to have that seat. If that seat opened up --
FINNEY: I was going to say I think we take the seat if we can.
BURNS: -- and the party got to go really big and a special election under different conditions than they had last November. Because let's face it, the fact that George Santos won that race to begin with it's no reflection on his sort of skill as a politician or the kind of campaign he ran.
There was a red wave in the suburbs of New York City and he happen to be the guy on the ballot. Could that -- would that happen again this spring or this summer? Definitely I can't count on it. What I do think would be real embarrassing for Republicans, this is a very, very tight majority they have. There could be situations where the deciding vote on matters of incredibly important policy is this guy, right? And that's just a bad look.
COATES: Well, let me ask you, though, aside -- I can't (inaudible),
HEYE: And that can be.
COATES: Yes. Aside from the lying, what about the following the money notion? There is a discussion now about what, $700,000 that he loaned to his own campaign. Questions about it and he is refusing to answer. And by the way, Matt Gaetz was talking about that in a very kind of friendly interview on "War Room," but asking about that and he did not answer about the origins of this money.
And he said something almost tongue in cheek about it didn't come from China. It didn't come from; I think Ukraine or Burisma. He was alluding to, of course, Hunter Biden. Is this something that has legs?
FINNEY: It certainly seems like it could. I mean, just from what we know about the various machinations of his finances, it certainly seems like that maybe the case that has the most legs, teeth, pick your metaphor, in addition to perhaps this whole situation in Brazil.
But the other thing I wanted to say is, you know, I happen to know the person who ran against him and I also happen to know that this information about him was out there. And there were journalists who chose not to pursue the leads that were readily available.
So, I think we should also take a step back and recognize that the system failed on all fronts in terms of holding this person accountable for the things he was saying and the way he presented himself to the voters.
COATES: Did the opponent say that publicly about the information or was out there to find?
FINNEY: Let's -- well, in the course of campaign sometimes information finds its way from one campaign to a journalist and perhaps then it gets printed in a paper and in this instance my understanding is that did not happen.
BURNS: The candidates do also have the capacity to raise money and then use that money to purchase advertising on television where they can air allegations like these, right? So, it's not just on the press to make sure negative information about candidates is widely circulated.
HEYE: He's defending even to reporters defending the journalists.
HEYE: Every time. Every time he can get a pitch and it's not successful
COATES: It's so funny how that works. But let's just say maybe the -- tell your kids, you are the one who is not supposed to lie, but put that out there for moment everyone.
There is an Idaho murder suspect, Bryan Kohberger, and he appeared in court today. You may see him, he was shackled. He was in an orange prison uniform. I'll tell you where that shocking case is going next in just a moment.
COATES: The suspect in the stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students appearing briefly in a courtroom today for the second time since his arrest. 28-year-old Bryan Kohberger dressed in prison orange; his hands free but his feet shackled.
Now, he faces four counts of first-degree murder. And today, he waived his right to a speedy, probable cause hearing. The judge scheduled that hearing now for late June. CNN's Gary Tuchman is in Moscow, Idaho tonight and we're also joined by Dr. Stephen Seager, a psychiatrist with Well Coast Medical Corporation. Gentlemen, thank you for joining me. I want to begin with you, Gary, because what can you tell us about today's court appearance?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, I can tell you that right now Kohberger remains in the county jail in Moscow and this building is also the courthouse. So, we saw him in courtroom number one today. And as you said, he was wearing his jail suit and he was shackled.
I think what's notable, I've been here for two hearings now, both times totally unemotional. I mean, if you're going into court and you face the possibility of a death penalty and that's ultimately what Idaho could decide to do if he's found guilty, is give him the death penalty, you might be freaked out, you might be scared, you might be crying, you might look worried.
He's looked totally unemotional. And then you have the family members, the victims, who were in the front row looking at him the whole time. He didn't look at them. And as you said, there could have been a preliminary hearing next week, but his public defender waived the right to a speedy trial. So, what's going to happen is the hearing will take place on June 26th. It could last for up to a week.
And it's kind of like a mini trial. There is a low standard of proof needed to bind the defendant over his trial. The judge just needs to hear sufficient evidence so, prosecutors will release more evidence. Last week, we saw an affidavit. One of the things in the affidavit said that his DNA was found on a knife sheath on the bed of one of the victims.
That is overwhelming evidence if that is indeed true and the jury believes it because it places him in the house. We expect we will learn more about this, more evidence in June.
COATES: And a really important point, the idea that probable cause hearing not a preliminary hearing, not going to be a full trial. It's going to be a time to figure out whether to have him remain in jail pending the ultimate trial in this case.
And on that point about his emotion and where he was, and what he was doing, was his own family in the courtroom today? Because I remember in his first appearance before he was extradited over to Idaho there was a moment when I believe he whispered back or mouthed back in some way, I think the words, I love you, to his own family. Is anyone in the courtroom aside from his public defender who was present there for this defendant?
TUCHMAN: The courtroom was full, Laura. Mostly journalists and as I said family members of the victims. There was no evidence whatsoever of anybody in the courtroom who loves Kohberger.
COTES: Dr. Seager, I want to bring you in here because we are listening to Gary's descriptions and observations inside that courtroom. I'm wondering what goes through your mind because it's a little bit about what we know about him so far. He has a bachelors and a masters, a Ph.D. student in criminology. No previous run-ins as far as we know with the law. You are a psychiatrist, and I'm wondering what you make of the observations that people have had up to now about just who is this suspect?
STEPHEN SEAGER, PSYCHIATRIST, WELL COAST MEDICAL CORPORATION: Yeah. I'm also worked as a forensic psychiatrist for five years taking care of people who are mentally ill and criminals. The two questions are, is he -- that there are two silos for people who basically do multiple murders. One is are you mentally ill and the other is are you a sociopath criminal?
And the problem with him is the standard at least in California is did you understand the nature of your crimes and did you know it was wrong? And usually, people who don't understand what they're doing, they're delusional. I think they're carving up a watermelon and they carve up a person.
But the other thing, it's either/or did you know what you're doing is wrong? Clearly, he did because he fled the scene. He had evidence he went around. So, the case for being mentally ill is really weak.
COATES: I just want to be clear though on this and just so we are very prudent and cautious about this and it's the prosecutor in me who appreciates that burden of proof that would need to be met.
COATES: This is somebody who is suspected of this crime, has a presumption of innocence still, and he is still a defendant in this action. But you have said that this crime that you've seen so far and what we know does not fit a pattern. And it's kind of a unique, one- of-a-kind case you looked at. Tell me why.
SEAGER: Because you either -- usually these kinds of crimes, you're either a career criminal, but he has no arrest record, or you're mentally ill, but he has no mental health record. I was talking earlier to somebody and this really is one of those sweet (inaudible) things where it's sort of one a kind.
This guy had no record, no brush with the law. No brush with the mental health system and one day decided I'm going to go hack these four women up with a knife. And that just doesn't happen very often. So, he just doesn't fit in one of the two traditional silos. No one can make much sense out of this.
And from the psychiatric point of view, he's not known -- he doesn't appear to be mentally ill. I couldn't say without talking to him but he doesn't fit in the classic silo of being mentally ill or a sociopath criminal. He just is pretty clean. I think he got a ticket for not wearing his seat belt and that was all they could dig up on him.
COATES: Well, there are still a lot of questions still to be answered about this defendant who again, is alleged to have committed these crimes of three -- killing three women and a young man as well. And so, we'll be eager as all of us to understand. No one more eager than the families of the victims who lost their loved ones. We will stay on this and better understand. June looks to be the next court appearance so we have some time ahead of us. Thank you, gentlemen.
We also know there are deadly tornadoes ripping through the south killing at least six in Alabama and the threat still isn't over.
COATES: It's a scary and a deadly day, unfortunately, in the southeast. Severe storms sweeping through Alabama and Georgia, spawning more than two dozen reported tornadoes. At least six are dead in Alabama. The governors of both states declaring emergencies, with so much widespread destruction.
Selma, Alabama city etched into history during the civil rights movement, was hit extremely hard by a massive tornado. Some buildings were actually completely flattened. Many homes and roofs blown off; their power lines are down. Debris sent as high as 15,000 feet in the air. Listen to just what one of the many lucky survivors had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: We are at the tax office. Lord, look at our vehicle. Lord, we ain't worried about them. You all, we need to -- thank God for this structure and the Lord for blessing all of us in particular in all of this. Lord, we could have been gone. We had to run. Everybody jumped on top of each other they're like (inaudible). You all hear me. Lord, when I say we blessed, we are blessed. Lord has mercy. Oh my god, this is the building beside us. Oh my god.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Well, the National Weather Service says the tornado that struck Selma was likely on the ground, on the ground for at least 50 miles. And it caused damage in seven Alabama counties. In Georgia, tornadoes were confirmed on or reported in six counties. You can see one wall of a warehouse in a suburb of Atlanta that completely collapsed.
Potential tornado damage was reported in Kentucky, and also in Mississippi as well.
And we've got major news out of Washington here tonight where Attorney General Merrick Garland, today made the special counsel in the Biden documents investigation. And we'll bring you the latest developments, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAL)
COATES: A major development in the investigation to President Biden's handling of classified documents. The attorney general, Merrick Garland, now naming Robert Kerr, a Trump appointee as special counsel in the case. Which means there are now two presidents and potentially two 2024 presidential candidates, both being investigated by a special counsel.
I want to bring in former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, and former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean.