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"CNN Tonight" Presents "Tomorrow's News Tonight"; Pennsylvania Manhunt Heats Up; DOJ: Special Counsel To Indict Hunter Biden; New DNA Testing Exonerates A Man After Nearly Five Decades. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired September 06, 2023 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Bad news for fans of "The Boss." Bruce Springsteen is postponing the rest of his September concerts due to a gastrointestinal condition. On Instagram today, the 73-year-old musician says he's being treated for peptic ulcer disease.
And that's it for me in "CNN PRIMETIME."
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PHILLIP: CNN TONIGHT with Laura Coates starts right now. And every friend that I know who saw him in New Jersey over the weekend, they got super lucky.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I mean, are you kidding me? The only dream I have is that one day, I'll be in his front row and he'll pull me up. He's like Courteney Cox all those years ago. Remember that? That one video. I mean, I'm a video girl. The MTV generation. I admit that. So, I mean, I have other dreams, Abby Phillip, aside from being pulled on stage.
PHILLIP: I believe this will happen for you.
COATES: Thank you.
PHILLIP: Laura, I think this will happen for you.
COATES: Thank you. I mean, it sounds painful, what he's going through right now, so maybe after all of that passes. But thank you so much.
PHILLIP: Yeah. We hope that he gets well soon. Have a good night, Laura.
COATES: Absolutely. You, too. Good evening, everyone. I'm Laura Coates and welcome to CNN TONIGHT. We've got "Tomorrow's News Tonight" right here for you with the incredible video. I can't believe this. It was the moment that the convicted murderer escaped from prison. It's kind of parkour. You all saw it today. Plus, what the judge showed us today in a Fulton County courtroom as it was televised and where all of this really is going.
But first up, a great big nope for Ken Chesebro and Sidney Powell. The judge in Fulton County, we saw it today, shut down their attempt to be tried separately from one another. They will, of course, now be tried together beginning possibly on October 23rd per their request. So, what does that mean now for the D.A.'s desire to try all this yearbook photo of 19 defendants together? Well, the judge in a word, his word, skeptical.
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SCOTT MCAFEE, FULTON COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE: It sounds like the state is still sticking to the position that all these defendants should remain and they want to address some of these removal issues. I'm willing to hear that. I remain very skeptical.
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COATES: Well, the word is "skeptical" nonetheless. And that's just the very beginning of what was a bad day for the former president. A Mar-a-Lago IT worker has now flipped on Trump in the classified documents case, and he's clearly telling a story that people want to hear. Otherwise, he would not have gotten a deal.
There's also a federal judge ruling today that Trump is going to have to pay E. Jean Carroll in a second defamation case against him, just now a matter of how much money we're talking about.
Plus, there are new clues as the manhunt is heating up on day seven in Pennsylvania. Investigators have now found footprints of the escaped murderer, Danelo Cavalcante, and they are warning that he would be as violent as he needs to be to avoid capture if he really has nothing to lose. We have exclusive video coming up of the manhunt from a couple who live in the search zone, so stay tuned for that conversation.
And everybody's asking, I've been asking, you've been asking, of course, how in the world did he escape? Well, now, we can see it for ourselves. Take a look at this video. He is the person in the background there at the Chester County Prison and it's showing Cavalcante beginning a kind of crab walk up, a parkour moves, really, right before he escaped.
They're saying that now he then pushed his way through razor wire, he ran across a roof, he scaled another fence, and he pushed his way through, get this, even more razor wire before then escaping. We got all the latest details on the manhunt tonight.
Let's begin first with the hearing on the Trump Georgia 2020 election subversion case, the whole thing playing out live on camera. Joining me now in studio is Marcus Childress, former January 6th investigative counsel, and Gene Rossi, a former federal prosecutor.
Gentlemen, I'm glad you're both here. I will not ask you to try to figure out how that man did that crab walk. I'm just not going to do it.
I'm not going to try to. My mind is blown by that moment. But there was another moment today, and many people thought there's no way the judge is going to make decision today about the actual severance.
GENE ROSSI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Right.
COATES: He did. And he said, Ken Chesebro, Sidney Powell, you have to be tried together. Not the other 17, but tried together. I want to talk about the winners and losers of that decision, though, because that's really part of what is coming up on the horizon.
When you heard about that, who do you think was the winner there?
ROSSI: Are you ready?
COATES: I'm ready.
ROSSI: I think the big winner is Jack Smith.
ROSSI: Because he's brilliant in charging Donald Trump by himself. Because they charged 19 people, you have a perfect storm of motions, scheduling Eric Smith. Because he's brilliant in charging Donald Trump by himself. Because they charged 19 people, you have a kerfuffle, you have a perfect storm of motions, scheduling, constitutional issues, removal.
The big loser, I think, was the scheduling of the case in Fulton County Court, because how the heck are they going to have 19 defendants in one room, in one courtroom, and not take six months, eight months. That's excluding jury selection. So, I think the big loser was the people of Fulton County.
What I think the prosecutors did and it's great that they charge big RICO, but I think what they're doing is getting ahead of their skis. They charged too many people, in my book.
So, I predict what the judge is going to do, he's going to slice off those defendants who are not subject to removal, and he's going to put in abeyance the ones who may get removed because he brought up a good point. If you try a case with somebody who's subject to a possible removal decision and the judge grants it, what do you do? You declare a mistrial and then it goes to federal court.
ROSSI: That's why I brought up the double jeopardy. So, the big winner, Jack Smith for brilliance, one defended. The big loser, I think, is the scheduling process and the whole system in Fulton County. COATES: Marcus, you're nodding your head. Do you -- do you see it the same way?
MARCUS CHILDRESS, FORMER JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL: Uh, I actually see it a little differently. So, I'm going to start with the losers, and I think the loser is going to be --
COATES: You pointed at me when you said that.
CHILDRESS: No, you're not a loser.
COATES: I don't know what that was about.
CHILDRESS: I'm going to point it back to you with the winner, too.
COATES: Okay, fine.
CHILDRESS: But the losers are Mr. Chesebro --
COATES: Make sure that point is very, very clear. Go ahead.
CHILDRESS: Mr. Chesebro and Ms. Powell. I think they lost today. Look, they did not want to be tried together. That was very clear from their filings, from their arguments in court today. They didn't want to be associated with the conspiracy, the big lie, or the fake electors' scheme. And now, the court said, jurors can hear the case fairly and decide the evidence for you independently in a way that's fair for you in trial.
The winners, I'm actually going to go with the American public. Transparency, I think, wins here today.
CHILDRESS: If you go back to our January 6 hearings, one of the big, I think, victories for us was the fact that you could watch Officer Caroline Edwards, you could watch Nick Quested, see their demeanor, hear their testimony, look at the surveillance evidence and make your own determination.
CHILDRESS: And so, the fact that we could watch this hearing today and we're having this discussion, talking about how the attorneys were arguing, how the judge actually responded back to those arguments, that was a win for the justice system. And I think we need to have more integrity with our justice system so people can actually have trust in this trial as it plays out.
COATES: That's a great point. And you think about also honing in on the why. Why would these two people not want to be tried together? I mean, if you're Ken Chesebro or Chesebro, I think, it's now pronounced, the comment from his lawyer was that he was kind of the more intellectual of the two, right? He was just opining about the Electoral Count Act. He was just offering legal opinions. He counters that to say, Sidney Powell, she was more of the Coffee County issues, much more hands-on, much more thought of as a mastermind. Of course, she denies all of those things. They don't want each other's stink on them, right? But if you are Sidney Powell, people know her from the defamation case, the Dominion case. And so, maybe if you're a Chesebro, you want a big 10-foot pole away from here. That's not happening here.
But what about the other 17, including one of them is Donald Trump, who has no intention of being tried this very year on this case? How does he fare in this?
ROSSI: Well, I think Donald Trump is probably looking at his calendar right now because they're not going to set the trial for him in Fulton County, probably until March, April or May. So that's a big negative for him because at the time when he's going to win the nomination, he is going to face a trial of his peers, and they could be a verdict of guilty in September, October.
ROSSI: So, he's the big loser in this case.
CHILDRESS: I think -- I think all 19 defendants are losers because now you're seeing people starting to minimize their own involvement, starting to point the finger at others. I would be worried if I was one of the attorneys representing them that someone is going cooperate and flip earlier than my client. And so, I would be a little nervous about someone cooperating in this trial after watching how the -- how it played out today.
COATES: Well, look, the early bird gets the worm in this case. You think about that. Thank you both for all of your insight tonight. I want to bring in former Trump White House associate counsel, May Mailman, into the conversation as well.
May, we're talking about the winners and losers here and thinking about how all this is unfolding. I mean, this is but one of the, what, four indictments that the former president is facing. But there are a number of co-defendants here. There are, of course, co-defendants in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case as well.
When you're looking at all of this, taking a step back, what is your take in terms of what this is going to mean, knowing there is obviously an election about 400 or so days away?
MAY MAILMAN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE ASSOCIATE COUNSEL, VICE PRESIDENT OF RESTORING INTEGRITY AND TRUST IN ELECTIONS: Yeah. So, Trump has said that the March 4th date, that is the date settled for the D.C. Jack Smith's case. So, Gene is winner here. Um, so, he has called that election interference, and I think he's right in the sense that it's election interference in his favor in the primary.
So, we have seen Trump more than double his support during this primary season because of these indictments. I think at the very beginning, that was maybe understandable because you had Alvin Bragg's case first. I think even people on the other side of the aisle were a little bit skeptical of that.
But, you know, all of this playing out during the primary process does seem to be helping President Trump. Does it move an independent voter toward Trump? Probably not. But Trump is, I think, the near-term winner, actually, with, uh, you know, with all of these cases piling on top of him.
COATES: I mean, that's interesting, to think about the thumb on the scale, a nearing to the benefit of Trump, because we certainly see the money that is being raised, the idea of the weaponization of the government, a consistent talking point. I think he often discusses, look, they're really after you, I'm in the way, I'm taking the heat for you here.
But then you talk about that's Fulton County. Then let's go down to Mar-a-Lago for a second because Jack Smith now has a cooperating witness against the former president in that classified documents case. It's an IT worker, Yuscil Tavares, and he could testify to efforts by Trump and the other co-defendants, Walt Nauta, Mr. De Oliveira as well, in their attempts to try to delete security camera footage to keep it from being handed over to a grand jury.
That could be particularly damning for Trump. We heard a little bit about that in the indictment against Donald Trump, of course, and when they added second co-defendant, Mr. De Oliveira. But are you surprised now that there is that cooperating witness? And if you were advising Trump, obviously, you're not his counsel, but if you were advising him or the team, what would be your suggestion here?
MAILMAN: So, I guess I'm not surprised there was a lot of pressure on this person because he had a potential perjury charge. He said one thing to the grand jury at first and then he flipped his story. I think that there was pressure being put on him of if you want to avoid charges, you really should cooperate with us.
And, you know, I guess I'm not -- if I'm -- if I'm advising Trump, I would -- I would want to know what was said to this person. But at least what's in the superseding indictment, doesn't make me all that concerned because it seems like he didn't have a direct link to Trump as far as an obstruction of justice.
So, I think as clear as you can see it, even though you have to read between the lines a little bit, Trump's attorney called Trump saying that there's a subpoena. Trump then talked to Walt Nauta, Walt Nauta then talked to another person, the third named defendant, and then that person and Walt talked to now this cooperating witness.
So, there's a lot of telephone. You don't know if he's going to know what's in Trump's mind, if he was even aware of a subpoena, if he knew Trump was aware of a subpoena. So, we'll see what comes out of it, but this person is low level enough that it doesn't -- it wouldn't give me immense heartburn, I guess. COATES: I mean, there certainly has to follow the leader and follow that game, but then, again, there are three co-defendants, so perhaps testifying against one might actually induce other pressure in other ways, but that's up to Jack Smith to prove his burden in this case.
Also, there's this point where Donald Trump was telling Hugh Hewitt today that he's willing to go on the stand to defend himself at trial. Now, we've heard Trump say oftentimes that he would testify, then he will oftentimes say, I would do it, but my lawyers say I can't. So, in this instance, the idea of him testifying, would you suggest he do so in any of these cases?
MAILMAN: So, lawyers are risk averse, and so I would always say no, especially with Trump, where you never know what he's going to say. And so that amount of risk is just not something that you need, especially in something like the Mar-a-Lago case where I think you want to focus less on the facts because the facts are pretty bad and you want to focus more on the law.
What is the interaction between the Presidential Records Act and the Espionage Act? What is the required state of mind under the Espionage Act? These sort of questions where you really don't want to be pushing the facts and, of course, Trump is going to be out there with a whole bunch of facts. So, do I think Trump is ultimately going to testify?
No, I think these are just words. I guess my one caveat to that is usually defendants don't want to testify because they are presumed innocent until proven guilty. With Trump, you are a little bit different. Everybody already has their opinion of him. And so maybe there is something to be gained about sort of proving your innocence. In Trump's case, that wouldn't normally be there for a standard defendant.
COATES: Certainly, it's always the prosecution's burden. But it is interesting to think about he has -- well, they conceded the possession of the documents. The rest, of course, he is contesting. How will that play in the end of all of this?
Of course, I tell you, if he does take the stand, May, the prosecution will have to have a bib around their neck to stop from salivating at every word he is saying in the other three cases as well.
May Mailman, nice to talk to you. Thank you.
MAILMAN: Thanks, Laura.
COATES: Look, the manhunt is heating up tonight in Pennsylvania for that escaped murderer. He has been on the run now for seven days. But tonight, there are new clues. We'll tell you what the police have found next.
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COATES: There are new developments tonight as the manhunt for escaped murderer, Danelo Cavalcante, is intensifying. There is an incredible video released today showing how he escaped. I mean, crab walking up a wall at the Chester County Prison. He then apparently pushed his way through razor wire before running across a roof, scaling another fence, and pushing his way through even more razor wire before escaping.
Now, the prison's warden is saying that the prison tower guard didn't see Cavalcante escape, calling it a -- quote -- "failure on the human element side" -- unquote. It's the second escape from the prison just this year alone.
Now, Cavalcante has been on the run since last Thursday. And last month, he had been convicted in the brutal 2021 murder of his ex- girlfriend in front of her two young children.
I want to bring in CNN's Brian Todd, also former FBI assistant director for the Criminal Investigative Division, Chris Swecker. I'm glad you're both here tonight. We're seven days in, gentlemen. Brian, Cavalcante still has not been caught, but there had been some discovery of footprints? What's going on?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right Laura, we did learn about that today. A new piece of information, the discovery of footprints, so critical that they have found those because this guy, Danelo Cavalcante, has left very few traces of himself. This is what Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police had to say about the footprints, about their use of canine teams and other elements of the search.
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GEORGE BIVENS, LIEUTENANT COLONEL, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: There have been footprints and there have been other indicators to us that he has passed through a certain area. We've had a number of dog scent trails that we have followed for quite some time.
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TODD: A couple of other new pieces of information that we learned today, there was a sighting of Cavalcante last night. Some homeowners sighted him on the creek bed of their property. They called 911. By the time law enforcement got there, he had vanished.
Also, today we learned, Laura, at least for the moment, Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens saying that right now they do not believe they have any indication that Cavalcante has a weapon on him, but they are really concerned that he might procure one somehow because he has been seen near several homes and is believed that he has broken into at least one of them, Laura.
COATES: I mean, it has been almost a week, Brian, since he escaped. Why are they having a hard time finding him?
TODD: Well, the search area has been shifting constantly. It shifted a little bit to the east today. It shifted back and forth and it has expanded today. You can also tell when you're out here. This is extremely rural areas of Eastern Pennsylvania. A lot of farmhouses, a lot of rolling hills, hillsides, forests, things like that.
I'm also going to show you kind of another example of why this search is so complicated. We're going to pan to your left, my right. Our photojournalist, Jake Shire (ph), is going to take you down these railroad tracks where I am now. There are several railroad tracks and junctions that go through this area.
What we're told by law enforcement, you can see down there those engines, those engines are attached to freight trains usually, these are areas that they are searching. They did tell us that they are searching these areas because they are very concerned about the possibility that Cavalcante might jump on a freight train.
If he does that and is successful in doing that, he could, you know, obviously, get a long way away from here fairly quickly and it wouldn't even really matter where he's going, at least that wouldn't matter to him. So, what they've told us is they are securing as many of these areas near railroad tracks as they can.
But that's part of the challenge, Laura. They can secure areas like where I am right now, but all up and down these railroad tracks, that's just one aspect of the search. They've also got to comb through forests and fields and things like that.
It is very, very rural out here, which is surprising to a lot of people because we're only about 10 miles west of Wilmington, Delaware. We're only about 30 miles west of Philadelphia. You wouldn't think that it is so rural, but it is vast, rural. And at night, it is pitch black, and he can move around. That's when he has been moving around.
COATES: Chris, I mean, you're looking at the same things we're talking about here. I mean, do they have enough people assigned to this? I mean, how has this manhunt evolved in your experience?
CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION: Yeah, I mean, typically, this type of manhunt does involve a lot of agencies and a lot of people. And now, you know, with drone technology and cameras and that sort of thing, you know, there's a lot to work with. It appears from all the evidence and the sightings and the house break-in and the video that he's still within a mile and a half, two miles, somewhere around that perimeter, you know.
So, they do have him contained, it looks like, but he does seem to be able to move around at night freely. You know, job one is to keep him contained, make sure he doesn't harm anybody else.
He's a two-time killer, and he's desperate. So, you know, although it is rural, we hear that there are houses in the area. We have had the sightings and the home invasion. That family was very lucky. But job one is to keep his head down, you know, keep him contained. That's what we did with Eric Rudolph, the Olympic bomber. You know, it took six years, but he was caught within 4 or 5 miles of where he was last seen.
COATES: He was this man convicted of murdering his former girlfriend. A warrant, I believe, out for his arrest. And the murder of somebody in Brazil as well. He is a Brazilian national.
COATES: Chris, I can't get out of my head though this video of him crab walking up the prison wall before escaping. I mean, it's a remarkable lapse in security and it doesn't seem like it's the first time that he has maybe tried to go up that wall or this happened in this prison.
SWECKER: Yeah, he looked like Spiderman.
SWECKER: You know, the big lapse there, if you will, the big vulnerability is not so much that he spider up the wall. It's the fact that there was a blind spot right there, where any prisoner could go in there and not be seen. And, you know, they had a prison escaped earlier, a few months earlier, and that same person or that person got on the roof and was able to maneuver around as well. So, this was a known vulnerability.
SWECKER: There should have been cameras in there. There should have been very periodic checks between short intervals because this is a -- once you do it once, you got to red team yourselves and fix it.
COATES: Brian Todd, Chris Swecker, thank you so much tonight.
TODD: Thank you.
SWECKER: Thanks, Laura.
COATES: Next, I'll speak with two people who live less than two miles from the prison Danelo Cavalcante broke out of. And now, they believe he has actually been on their property. They're next.
COATES: Tomorrow makes one week since Danelo Cavalcante escaped a Pennsylvania prison. My next guest actually lived less than two miles from the Chester County Prison where he broke out. So far, investigators have searched their property twice. Nina and Charlie Lyman both join me now. Thank you both for being with us. The nation is really captivated by this. One, the fact that it happened at all, not to mention, of course, we're now a week into this manhunt. It's a very scary notion that's happening. Do you think that he has been on your property, Nina?
NINA LYMAN, HOME SEARCHED TWICE IN PA MANHUNT: So, we've had reason to believe that perhaps he has. We have a couple -- we're at 65-acre farm with 50 acres on the backside. So, my husband and I live in the center of the woods that is about a mile and a half from the prison.
Yesterday -- I'm sorry, Saturday evening, we heard some very strange things in the woods, saw some things on our cameras, and we did alert police. We have been working with agents and police. And then this morning, there is a kind of tree house clubhouse that has been shut for some time, that has a door that has been shut due to the safety of our five-year-old, and it was kind of shoved open, which would take some force --
CHARLIE LYMAN, HOME SEARCHED TWICE IN PA MANHUNT: Yeah.
LYMAN: -- some brute force to shove that open. So, we ended up -- we called one of the troopers, we took them off, and they did come up again in search of property. But we do have several nooks and crannies. We have three barns, haylofts, horse trailers. There are three houses on the property. So, we're a little -- we are taking precautions.
COATES: Well, what did you see, Charlie, on this, you know, the images or whatever you saw that made you alert the police besides the treehouse?
C. LYMAN: On the trail, the one camera at the barn, we saw what we think was a flashlight coming through. The officers took our video back. They claimed it was some bugs.
COATES: I mean, your son's school, I understand, has been closed for multiple days now. It must be very unsettling, to say the least, to think that if you believe he has been on your property, that you have homes on your property, a treehouse as well, maybe them being tampered with, what are your concerns now? What are you being told by the schools as to why it's being closed, Charlie?
C. LYMAN: I guess they're worried about the safety of the kids. I can't blame that. You know, who's to say? You know, kids at the bus stop, he comes through. I don't know. You know, I think it's the best the schools do stay closed. Kids stay home. You know, they encourage everyone to lock their doors, windows, so forth.
You know, we've been trying to help the officers when they come up here. We grew up here our whole life. We've hunted and as kids played in the woods all around here. I gave a lot of the officer suggestions like if I was on the loose running through these woods, this is the way I would go. This is where I would hide. We've been trying to help them out in that respect. I ran across a bunch of U.S. Marshals earlier today, and I was talking to them. And I said, where you guys from? They said, Philadelphia. And I said, okay, well, I've grown up here my whole life. And this -- like I just said, I've talked to them a while about like if I was on the loose, this is where I would go. You know, this is --
COATES: Did they follow your advice?
C. LYMAN: Yeah. They said, yeah, you're very helpful. I told them, you have the stream beds and stuff like that. If you want to stay hidden, you're not going to find him going in that direction.
N. LYMAN: And there's a lot of drainage pipes underneath the main road that they have blocked off that are pretty -- you know, you could get in there pretty easily. There's a lot of retainage ponds that have the drainage pipes. So, the biggest reason for the school closures are because of the road closures.
So, this whole area within, you know, a half mile to mile radius has been locked off. And there's staff that can't get to schools. There are children that can't get to schools. There are school buses that can't get to schools. They did say that if there were school buses in the area that had to go through these roads and these closures, they would have an escort, which is very comforting.
COATES: A police escort?
N. LYMAN: Yeah, I believe a police escort. They did release that at some point. And that was what we were told. Honestly, I would still probably drive my child to school and make sure he went through these locked doors. As a mom, I want to make sure I can see him go through these locked doors --
-- these locked doors and right into my locked truck that, you know, we carry. So, we are protecting ourselves adequately on the farm here. We are taking shifts. We're up every hour, every hour and a half. We do have several security cameras around the facility itself so we can kind of get some angles and see what's going on. We get those security cameras on our phones. We have monitors in our house and that sort of thing.
COATES: Are the police asking for that footage? Are the police asking you for -- are you providing it? Are your neighbors doing the same? Is it sort of a mutual understanding to just hand it over every time it comes in?
N. LYMAN: Yes, yes. So, our neighbors are being very cooperative. Everybody is being super cooperative. Police and agents are being very friendly with us. They're being cooperative with us as well. So, there is a big team and group effort here about what's going on. I know a couple of people have -- they have ring cameras. The one neighborhood, Parkland (ph), that was broken into is walking distance. They actually had a chopper yesterday that had his mother's voice in Portuguese. And they had made a press release that they were going to be flying the chopper eventually.
I was sitting at my desk and I said, what is that noise? What is that? And I went out on my deck and sure enough, the chopper was flying around and it was his mother's voice. She was very distressed, crying, screaming over an intercom. And they flew it around for about an hour and a half. It was two hours constantly playing her voice, asking for a plea of surrender, to surrender to police. So, that was a little -- that was a little chilling.
COATES: But the combination of the two, just to hear that distress call and what's been going on and what you're all enduring, you're just one of the families who are experiencing all of this. Nina, Charlie Lyman, thank you so much. I can't believe what you've had to go through. Thank you so much.
C. LYMAN: All right. Thank you.
N. LYMAN: Thank you.
COATES: Well, the DOJ says tonight, they're going to indict this man, Hunter Biden. What that means for the president's son and what it means for the president, that's next.
COATES: The Department of Justice says that Special Counsel David Weiss now intends to seek an indictment against President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, this relating to a gun case. I want to talk about it right now with CNN's Kara Scannell, who has the very latest for us this evening. Kara, what are you learning tonight?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Laura, we learned in a court filing this afternoon that Special Counsel David Weiss says that they are going to seek an indictment related to the gun case this month, saying that because of the Speedy Trial Act, that they would need to make decision on this case by September 29th. They are saying they are going to do so before that date.
You know -- and remember, this was part of this pretrial diversion deal that he had reached last -- back in July. Under that deal, he would have avoided prosecution on a gun possessions charge, possessing a gun while he was under the influence of a controlled substance. He has been very public about his cocaine addiction. You know, that was a felony that faces a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison.
So, that was going to be diverted if he met certain conditions, including not using drugs and not possessing a gun for 24 months. That deal fell apart. What we don't know from this filing is exactly what they will try to seek an indictment on, if it will that same felony or if it will be, which we know something they were looking at, falsifying the form in which he filled out to get that gun.
So, that remains an open question at this point, but certainly, in this case, is looking like it's going to move forward with a felony charge against the president's son, Laura.
COATES: Well, that might surprise a lot of people because if that deal imploded, and we all remember what happened in that courtroom in the shock, frankly, that it all went south so quickly and wondering what would happen next, then the special counsel appointment, obviously, the elevation for David Weiss, why is any part of that deal also on the table if it all imploded?
SCANNELL: Well, what's interesting here is that Hunter Biden's lawyers have said that they believe it was binding because it was signed by Hunter Biden and the Justice Department prosecutors. They are saying that diversion agreements are usually just between those two parties, so it should stick.
Now, the special counsel's office is saying, well, it lacks one other important signature. That's the head of probation in Delaware. And because that person never signed it, they say this deal was never executed and, therefore, it's not binding. So, they were signaling to the judge today that they're going to move forward with this. Biden team is saying that they are going to push back on this. They think their deal is valid.
So, it looks like we're going to have some further fighting in court over this gun case and where it may ultimately leave, Laura.
COATES: Is he going to try to make another deal? I mean, obviously, there's some questions now about getting every "I" dotted, every "T" crossed, given what would happen before, but is there any reporting about there being another deal on the table at all or are we past that?
SCANNELL: Well, I mean, Biden's lawyers have said repeatedly since the deal fell apart and since Weiss was appointed special counsel that they do hope to resolve this case at some point, you know, in a deal -- likely in a deal.
I think the big question, though, here is we still have the tax investigation that's open. That's where there was a plea agreement. Prosecutors have said that at this point, they're going to move forward to bring a case to trial. We don't know exactly what charges will seek in that case.
And then they did say, because they're appointing a special counsel, that this is going to be a broader investigation where they're potentially going to look at some other areas, whether it was foreign lobbying or possible foreign bribery.
That was all part of this five-year investigation that had really narrowed to just the gun and the tax case. But that is a big question now of whether the investigation will really broadly reopen, we do know Republicans have been pushing on this issue, or if we're going to see two discrete charges in different jurisdictions and we could ultimately end up where we started with a plea deal down the road. Laura?
COATES: Kara Scannell, thank you so much. Interesting. Very much so. Well, Leonard Mack was wrongfully convicted of rape five decades ago. Five decades ago. He spent years behind bars. And now, at the age of 72, he is being exonerated. I'll talk to him next.
COATES: Nearly five decades after he was wrongfully convicted of rape, a New York judge has overturned the conviction of 72-year-old Leonard Mack following new DNA testing that eliminated him as the perpetrator and identified a different man who has since confessed to the crime.
Joining me now is Mr. Leonard Mack and Susan Friedman. Mr. Mack, thank you so much for being here in particular. You have been hoping to clear your name for nearly 50 years. And it finally happened on your 72nd birthday, no less. You had to tell us, what does this all feel like in this moment?
LEONARD MACK, EXONERATED 47 YEARS AFTER WRONGFUL CONVICTION: To be honest, it feels unreal because -- well, it finally happened. And because it took so long, 48 years. And the reason it feels real is because the reality is setting in.
Yesterday, when the judge read her decision and said that the conviction had been vacated and I was exonerated, I just thank the Lord that it was -- the day finally came. And now, the reality of it is setting in.
COATES: Mr. Mack, you spent more than seven years in prison for a crime. And I want to reiterate, you did not commit this crime. You did not commit this crime. And yet you have been fighting all this time, really, to get your name cleared.
And as the reality sets in and thinking about what was lost that time, what it did to you, to your family, you say that it really changed the entire trajectory of your entire life.
MACK: Yes, it did. As a result of the conviction, of the charge, to be charged with that, and to have to go to prison for it, knowing that I didn't do it, the animosity and the hatred that I had back then and being put in prison, in maximum security prisons, knowing that I didn't do it, and I was determined in my mind that I was going to prove my innocence and that I wasn't going to give up.
Even though I was -- every time I'd submit a motion, it would get denied, it would get denied, but I never gave up. I had that hope that something was going to happen, that my innocence was going to be proven. It was going to be shown that I didn't do it even though back then, they didn't have DNA. But that's what kept me going, was my faith and hope.
COATES: Susan, you took this case, actually, even though Leonard had been out of prison for decades. And to his point, this is the longest case to be overturned based on new DNA evidence ever by the Innocence Project. I wonder, what was it about this case of Mr. Mack that made you want to take this on?
SUSAN FRIEDMAN, INNOCENCE PROJECT ATTORNEY: When we looked at this case, we saw that it had all of the hallmarks of a wrongful conviction. It had multiple eyewitness misidentifications. It had false misleading forensic serology evidence that was presented. And the other thing that really stood out about this case is the way that tunnel vision really drove the police and prosecutors' decisions in this case.
When you look at this case, you see that the IDs were completely unreliable. The serological evidence was exculpatory. And despite that, police decided not to reopen the case and see if there were any other leads. So, to us, it was a really compelling case of innocence.
COATES: Mr. Mack, thinking about what you had to endure, that feeling of what if it were them to have been faced with something so horrible, to be accused of something like this, not to have done it, I wonder, how did you have, even to this moment -- I mean, you're talking about keeping the faith, how did you have the mental fortitude and strength to still believe, to endure what people thought about you?
MACK: Knowing that I didn't do it and just having the mindset that I'm not going to give up, I'm not going to throw in your towel. I'm going to -- I'm going to, uh, continue with this. I was -- I said that I'm going to continue it until the day that I die. I'm not going to give up. I know that I didn't do this. I know that I didn't do it.
COATES: Thank you so much for joining us today. Your story is so important. Susan, Mr. Leonard Mack, thank you so much.
MACK: Thank you. You're welcome.
FRIEDMAN: Thank you.
COATES: Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.