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Erin Burnett Outfront
Trump Bracing To Be Among The More Than Dozen People Expected To Be Charged In Georgia DA's Election Probe; Special Counsel Got Search Warrant For Trump's Twitter Account; Hawaii Officials: 6 Dead, Crews Race To Save Lives from Fires; Utah Man, Who Allegedly Made Threats Against Biden Ahead Of Trip To State, Killed During FBI Arrest Attempt; Russians On Edge Amid Mysterious Military Fires. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired August 09, 2023 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, more than a dozen individuals. The D.A. investigating former President Trump's attempted election interference in Georgia. And it is expected to seek numerous charges in the next days.
And the special counsel Jack Smith obtaining a secret memo the Trump team used to defend the fake elector scheme. The document citing writings by constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe. Well, he's OUTFRONT to tell us what he thinks about how they used his words.
And breaking news, at least six people dead as wildfires rage on Maui. Some even jumping in the ocean to escape the flames. New video tonight revealing utter devastation.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, more than a dozen individuals could face new indictments, and former President Donald Trump believes that he will be among those charged. This time in Georgia where Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected to seek charges against more than a dozen people when she presents her case before a grand jury next week.
Now, these are live pictures on your screen right now. This is the courthouse where that grand jury is going to meet. Willis is expected to present her investigation into Trump's attempts to overturn the election in Georgia to the grand jury there and then issue indictments early next week.
Now, if you look here at the calendar, it adds to Trump's jammed legal schedule over the next days. Tomorrow, a hearing on the Mar-a-Lago case. The day after, a hearing in the special counsel's federal election interference case. So, it's day after day after day.
And we do have developments in each of those cases tonight, all of it adding to an agitated Trump. He's lashing out again on his social media today, railing against Jack Smith, the federal prosecutor investigating him, calling him, quote, deranged Jack Smith.
He posted that today. He posted that yesterday, and he posted it the day before. And sometimes, he posts it multiple times a day.
And these words are having some serious consequences already. According to a source with direct knowledge of Atlanta law enforcement movements, we're now learning the D.A. Fani Willis has recently been assigned additional security. She says she's received obscene voice message, perhaps encouraged by Trump's repeated false attacks against her, including ones like this. And this was just yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I probably have another one. They say there's a young woman, a young racist in Atlanta, she's a racist. And this is a person that wants to indict me. She's got a lot of problems, but she wants to indict me to try and run for some other office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNEETT: Trump's anger coming as he's hearing about a negative development in the DOJ federal election case. So this development is that we now know prosecutors went to gain access to Trump's Twitter account without him knowing. We'll talk more about what could mean in a moment.
Also though in a Mar-a-Lago documents case, a development in great irony. Tonight, Trump's team asking the court to allow Trump to discuss classified documents in the Mar-a-Lago case at or near his home instead of a designated secure facility at the courthouse where everyone else has to go to discuss the documents. He wants one of those secure facilities at his home.
The irony, of course, not lost on anyone that this case is all about Trump having classified documents in various places, including bathrooms at his home, and, you know, not caring about how they were stored.
We have all the angles covered tonight. I want to begin with Sara Murray. She has been closely following the Georgia case from the very beginning.
And, Sara, here we are, right, the courthouse on high alert. The sheriff there tells us, right, he is ready at any day, at any moment for this to possibly happen.
What more are you learning about these dozen or more individuals who can be indicted?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I mean, we've seen the sort of ramp-up, the buildup to this. We are expecting Fani Willis, the Fulton County district attorney to go before a grand jury next week. And sources tell us she's expected to seek charges against more than a dozen individuals.
You know, we've said before, she's eyeing this racketeering and conspiracy case, which would really allow her to cast Donald Trump, if he's someone she seeks charges against, and a number of his allies, as part of this criminal enterprise, and allow her to weave a narrative about what happened around the 2020 election and their efforts to try to flip the results. So that means efforts to pressure election officials, that means the fake electors scheme, that means the efforts to breach the voting system in Coffee County, Georgia.
And sources tell us that there are people involved in all of those efforts who are concerned and believe that they could be among those who are facing charges next week. And, Erin, of course, as you know and we have reported, Donald Trump also expects that he is going to face charges in this Fulton County investigation.
BURNETT: All right. And, of course, all that from your reporting, Sara, thank you very much.
And I want to go now to Katelyn Polantz.
And, Katelyn, you have been closely following the two federal indictments, obviously, the election interference with Jack Smith and Mar-a-Lago documents case. You've got developments on both.
So, let's start with Mar-a-Lago. Trump's team arguing that he should be able to go, you know, near his home to discuss classified documents. What are you learning about this?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Erin, this is a debate over evidence, how it can be handled, who can have it, who can talk about it, where you can talk about it, and how it can be handled specifically as Trump's team gets to see that evidence for the very first time that the Justice Department collected against him and he progresses to trial.
This fight sounds very similar like a fight that kicked up in the D.C. district court related to the January 6th case earlier this week. But this is in the documents case in Florida. What makes this different is that it's a fight over how Trump can handle the classified evidence.
So we know from the court records so far, there's about 1,500 pages of classified documents that are going to be very protected leading up into this trial. They are going to be things that can only be looked at in what's called a SCIF, a secured facility at places like a federal courthouse. However, there's also questions about where Donald Trump himself can talk about that material with his attorneys.
The Justice Department has wanted to keep it very locked down. But Donald Trump and his lawyers made an ask to the court today in Florida, saying, couldn't he look at these documents, or not look at them actually -- could he talk about these documents inside secure facilities that you can establish either at Mar-a-Lago, his resort in Florida, or at Bedminster where he lives most of the time in New Jersey.
And they say quite reasonably in some ways that actually Mar-a-Lago had a secure facility like this while he was president. They have the ability to have security around him. The judge will weigh in on this and make a determination. But it is a question of how classified information can be discussed, where that can take place.
BURNETT: It is kind of amazing, he's on tape talking about things, you know, in Bedminster. Obviously that didn't concern him before, now obviously in the legal context it's different.
In the Jack Smith federal election interference case, January 6, Katelyn, I mentioned earlier that prosecutors had obtained access to Trump's Twitter account without him knowing about it. What more do you know about that?
POLANTZ: Well, this is part of the evidence gathering phase that took place, now we know, in January and February early this year. So the special counsel's office, they got a search warrant for Donald Trump's Twitter account so that they could get the evidence directly from Twitter -- information connected to his account, whether that's public tweets or things that might be metadata or even direct messages, what are called fleets, the stories that disappear, things behind the scenes.
POLANTZ: And when they asked for that, they believed that they would find evidence of a crime in his Twitter account data. They went to a judge, a judge approved of that. They were laying out what the crimes were at that time. And then on top of it, they also wanted to make sure Twitter couldn't tell Donald Trump that this search warrant was being sought about his account @RealDonaldTrump.
And so, the judge said yes, you don't need to tell him because there was some fear that Donald Trump, if he knew about in January and February could hurt the ongoing investigation. He ultimately later was able to learn about it.
BURNETT: Yeah, very interesting. And, of course, Twitter management's changed. It's a different world.
All right. Thank you very much, Katelyn.
So, let's go now to the former Republican Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan. He's been subpoenaed in the Georgia case, which means, of course, he could very well be called to testify before that grand jury in Fulton County next week.
And Ryan Goodman, co-editor in chief of "Just Security" and the former special counsel at the Defense Department.
So, Lieutenant Governor, let me start with you in Georgia. You're likely going to be called to testify before this grand jury next week because you've been subpoenaed. So, we learned today that Fani Willis has received increased security. You hear Trump's comments about deranged Jack Smith, his comments about her.
You know, what's your reaction to that? GEOFF DUNCAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's -- it's pathetic,
right, to think that we have to add additional security because of a made-up fake narrative around an election. Our family certainly had to experience it. Brad Raffensperger and Governor Kemp and others had to deal with this.
It's unfortunate but it's necessary and it's part of the process of moving through this.
BURNETT: So, Ryan, you know, in Mar-a-Lago, this issue about the SCIF, the secure facility. So he doesn't want to go to a secure facility like anyone else. His attorneys argued his home is a, quote, highly protected location guarded by federal agents that previously housed a secure facility approved not only for the discussion but also retention of classified information.
That's what Katelyn was referring to while he was president at Mar-a- Lago. Obviously subsequently it's laying all around in bathrooms, there was no SCIF in the bathtub.
But, what do you make of this request, is it fair?
RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT: There are parts of it that are highly unusual and would be very exceptional. Then there are other parts that I think are more fair. So, the exceptional part is there have been other cabinet members that have been under criminal investigation.
John Deutch, the director of central intelligence under Clinton, was about to be charged, and partly because he mishandled classified information at home. The idea that he could say, oh, I still want to be able to access it at home while I'm under investigation post indictment or charge would be anathema to the entire system because that's where the alleged crime took place of the mishandling of information.
So the idea that he wants to go back to these places and discuss openly classified information, that's a problem.
BURNETT: It's also an admission in a certain way, isn't it?
GOODMAN: It is an admission. It's even --
BURNETT: I mean, so what I'm saying, I need a classified space to look at this is admitting that it was classified and I shouldn't have been doing what I was doing with it.
GOODMAN: That's a good part of it. Also, they seem to have backed down from the government said they were, because the government in its filing said they originally asked to just discuss it at Mar-a-Lago without it being in a SCIF. Now they're saying create a SCIF again in his home.
The argument that this is protected by the Secret Service does not fly. The government has already said the secret service's mandate is not to protect classified information. That's not their mission.
But another part they say is it's a huge government expense to be bringing the former president to and from the courthouse in Miami every time he wants to just discuss the material. I think that's the part that sounds very reasonable and his situation is exceptional.
BURNETT: So, Lieutenant Governor, the context here, you know, as you point out, you got to get through it, and your family went through threats and Brad Raffensperger did, Gabe Sterling, all of you did, and many others. As I said, it was today, yesterday, and the day before and sometimes more than once in a day he's calling Jack Smith "deranged Jack Smith", right? He's calling Fani Willis a young woman, a racist. She's been getting a lot of threats as well.
But yesterday when he said deranged Jack Smith in a speech, and he said the charges against him are bull, you know what, and then the crowd started chanting it. They were getting fired up, they were getting in the moment.
Do you think the mood of his supporters has changed at all?
DUNCAN: Look, this is the same game. We watched this play out before, right? He's angry. He throws red meat to the crowd. He tries to stir the pot.
He spreads misinformation. He gives no facts behind his data points. It continues to just be a disaster.
Just imagine if Donald Trump was your neighbor that just moved in. Imagine if you brought a plate of cookies and wanted to introduce yourself. Oh, I've got a couple of state and federal indictments, I've got a sexual harassment case out there, and I'm sending tweets about other -- this is just deranged and unhinged.
The problem for me as a Republican is we're poised to re-nominate this gentleman to represent our party and represent our country. And it's just --
BURNETT: Right. He said he's one more indictment away from --
DUNCAN: This is the game he plays now. Look, this is going to get much tougher for him. In this indictment, it looks like all the signaling shows there's going to be multiple people. Today, it signaled 12 people or more.
These folks don't really care to be in the cool kids club anymore, right? If you're facing jail time or just telling the truth about what Donald Trump stirred the pot on, I've got to figure they're playing a different game than they played post-2020 election. These RICO charges are serious. I think he's going to have a different game to play in Fulton County.
BURNETT: And one final point here on the Twitter account. Some people might hear, okay, they went and they subpoenaed his Twitter account, and they didn't want him to know about it. And what about his Twitter account? The whole point about Twitter is that it's out there. And any tweet
that he ever tweeted and deleted was screen-grabbed a million times. And Dan Scavino and others did a lot of his tweeting for him.
So why do you think he would have wanted this information, and what could it have provided?
GOODMAN: I can think of two things. One it might give them location and device information so they know exactly which device did write the tweet and send it. Was it Dan Scavino --
BURNETT: Or was it Trump himself?
GOODMAN: Yeah. And there are a couple of very important tweets in that indictment, including the one that lights the fire against Pence once the violence erupted. And the other one is the idea is that it could be the private internal communications. And there are some indications in this court opinion that it could be that even if he didn't send them, maybe he received them.
BURNETT: Right. Because it wouldn't be in character for him to send DMs.
BURNETT: OK. All right. Thank you both very much.
And, next, a newly revealed Trump campaign memo that actually details how to use fake electors to overturn the 2020 election.
And the man behind the memo, he is now a co-conspirator in one of the DOJ indictments, cites specifically the writings of the Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe. Professor Tribe is here to respond, next.
Plus, devastating wildfires destroying a popular tourist town in Hawaii. Six people are dead in Maui. One man who has lived in Hawaii his whole life describes it as a apocalyptic nightmare. He's my guest.
Just hours before President Biden is slated to speak in Salt Lake City, FBI agents shoot and kill a Utah man accused of threatening the president.
We have breaking details on this, ahead.
BURNETT: Tonight, new details revealing how the Trump campaign initiated a fake electors scheme in an effort to subvert the 2020 election. All of it coming to light in a campaign memo, the "New York Times" has obtained after the special counsel referenced it in the federal indictment related to Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Kenneth Chesebro, pro-Trump lawyer and unindicted co-conspirator number five in that same indictment, he is the one who argued in the memo that the then Vice President Pence, while presiding over that Electoral College certification, should declare that he alone had the power to open and count votes from fake Republican electors. And, in making this argument that Pence had the ability to do it, had the ability to turn this election for Trump, he cited specifically legal arguments from constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe, claiming that Tribe had, quote, noted that the only real deadline for a state's electoral votes to be finalized is before Congress starts to count the votes on January 6th.
Now, Laurence Tribe is OUTFRONT now. He is the constitutional law expert and, of course, Harvard law school professor.
All right. So, Professor, here we are. You get cited specifically, your arguments in Chesebro's memo to overturn the election. He is your former research assistant at Harvard. Here he is using your analysis in the memo.
What do you say to him?
LAURENCE TRIBE, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR: Well, he spelled my name right. That's about it. He took everything and twisted it completely. I've known this guy, I was going to say kid because he was pretty young when I first met him, for 34 years. He was the research assistant, together with people whose names I think you know, Elena Kagan, Barack Obama.
But unlike them, he turned to the dark side. That thing you quoted, yes, it's true I said that in Florida because of the way Florida's laws were written, you could keep counting right up to January 6th. And I was making that argument partly as an advocate in Bush v. Gore saying that the court should not have stopped the re-count when it did on December 12th. That was Florida.
In Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and Georgia and the other states, the laws are different. And I never suggested that there was some universal rule that, regardless of what Congress says in the Electoral Count Act, and regardless of which slates are certified, that you could just keep counting and counting and counting.
So, Chesebro just took some words, scrambled them, kind of like recombinant DNA and completely, completely twisted them. The guy is kind of Machiavelli, very laughable stuff.
BURNETT: So, I want to ask you about something else you wrote in the memo. But because you bring up the context here in Bush v. Gore, he was your research assistant. He worked with you on a number of cases, including the 2000 Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case.
What -- you know, you talk about him now as Machiavellian or as you mentioned, turning to the dark side. What were your impressions of him then and over the decades you've known him?
TRIBE: Well, at first, he seemed like a very smart kid, maybe a little OCD, maybe a little weird, but very smart and very fast. But the more he worked with me, the more reluctant I became to give him anything to do that would require judgment. And he certainly didn't indicate that he had any deep convictions or, you know, much of a moral compass.
And it became clear, and that's why I stopped working with him a few years ago. It became clear that he was more or less for sale to whichever person or group would listen to him and trust him. So I think he's really the worst of the legal profession, smart but without a conscience. No moral compass, no sense of right and wrong. And it's clear that he took these things.
The reason he cited me, he made a point of saying that because a liberal like Tribe backs me up, we've got a good thing going here because he couldn't turn the other way. But, you know, if these memos had not been confidential, he would never have dared write it. Because right away --
BURNETT: Well --
TRIBE: We would have said that's not what I said at all.
BURNETT: So, I want to just read from it because it's interesting to some of what you're talking about here. In the memo, he acknowledges that he's probably not going to be successful in what he's trying to do. But thinks that he can get what he wants anyway. That's my layperson summary of this.
Even if in the end, the Supreme Court would rule that the power to count the votes does not lie with the president or the Senate but instead lies with Congress, letting matters play out this way would guarantee that public attention would be riveted on the evidence of electoral abuses by the Democrats and would buy the Trump campaign more time to win litigation that would deprive Biden of electoral votes and add to Trump's column.
I recognize that what I suggest is a bold controversial strategy, and there are many reasons why it might not end up being executed. But, basically very clear here laying out that it would switch the attention, and it would enable Trump to get more electoral votes.
TRIBE: Yeah. I mean, it's clear that he wasn't playing the role of a legal adviser. He was playing the role of a kind of Svengali putting together this stuff. He says one way we could really get attention and one way we could really make a difference is by posturing things so that the one justice who might go with us at least to delay things, Clarence Thomas, as the circuit justice for the circuit that includes Georgia, might have to weigh in.
So I can imagine that when Fani Willis saw that and saw that this guy is scheming to steal the electors from Georgia, that must've at least piqued her interest.
And it certainly must've piqued Jack Smith's interest. That's why he's an unindicted co-conspirator. And if any of these people deserves to be indicted, it's Mr. Chesebro.
He was really the architect of the scheme.
A lot of people give Eastman credit for it. But Eastman isn't half as smart, probably is about as immoral but not half as smart as Chesebro. Chesebro had a four-dimensional chess game going, if this happens, look at this, here's the backup, here are the alternatives, here's the PR strategy.
It was really a disgusting abuse of the lawyer's license. And I think he should lose his license and probably should be indicted and not just serve as an unindicted co-conspirator.
BURNETT: All right. And, of course, we'll see what happens in Georgia as well where we're now reporting more than a dozen indictments, more than a dozen individuals may be indicted there as well as, as you point out, that he has a conspirator -- unindicted co-conspirator in the DOJ indictment.
Thank you so much, Professor Tribe.
TRIBE: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And, next, breaking news on the deadly wildfires in Maui. The helicopter pilot who saw the damage from above says it looks like a bomb went off.
Plus, a man killed by FBI agents who were trying to arrest him after allegedly making violent threats against President Biden.
BURNETT: Breaking news. You are looking at video of the extensive damage tonight in Maui from raging wildfires on the island. You can see the shops and the store building near the Lahaina harbor burnt to the ground.
At least six people are dead. Crews are now racing to find others who were not able to get out.
And we at OUTFRONT have obtained video. This is taken from the water. Look at this. You can see the smoke filling the air as fires continue to burn. It's like an apocalypse, as we said.
Popular tourist sites like the sugarcane train and outlets of Maui completely destroyed. Thousands displaced from their homes in a chaotic evacuation that seemed to catch many off guard. These images that we received, it's almost like things we've seen in Ukraine.
Bill Weir is OUTFRONT.
LT. GOV. SYLVIA LUKE, HAWAII: We never anticipated in this state that a hurricane, which did not make impact on our islands, will cause this type of wildfires.
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While Hurricane Dora is hundreds of miles south of the Hawaiian islands, the storm brought winds of up to 80 miles an hour to Maui, turning the tinder-dry hillsides here into a blowtorch and catching hundreds of people between flames and the Pacific Ocean.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody was prepared for this.
WEIR: Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke issued an emergency proclamation Tuesday, and Governor Josh Green is returning to the state tonight.
LUKE: He is cutting his trip by a week. And that tells you the magnitude of how grave we think the situation is.
WEIR: Thousands are in evacuation shelters and rescue operations are underway for both Maui and the big island of Hawaii where several other fires are burning as well.
MAJOR GEN. KENNETH HARA, ADJUTANT GENERAL, STATE OF HAWAII, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: Right now, the priority is for saving lives, preventing human suffering, and mitigating great property loss.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone I know in Lahaina, their homes have been burnt down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lahaina is on fire.
WEIR: In one of the hardest-hit areas, the charming tourist Mecca of Lahaina, the Coast Guard said it rescued 12 people who jumped into the ocean trying to escape the flames. Officials say thousands are without power. The 911 emergency system has been down at times. And hospitals are overwhelmed with burn patients. At least three in critical condition.
LUKE: It has turned very serious and very dire.
WEIR: Most striking to so many residents, just how fast the flames spread.
CLAIRE KENT, ESCPAED FROM LAHAINA: At one point, we were sitting there and I was feeling the wind shifting. I said should we turn the radio on and see if things are getting bad? But I didn't get a text message. It was all just, like, word-of-mouth like people running down the street saying you need to get out. There were guys riding around on bicycles just screaming at people to leave.
WEIR: With hundreds of homes and businesses feared destroyed, the extent of the damage won't be known for days. But images from the sky give a glimpse of the destruction. Overnight, more than a thousand travelers had no choice but to sleep on airport grounds after several flights were canceled. Officials in Hawaii now discouraging nonessential travel to the Aloha State.
LUKE: Even as of this morning, planes were landing on Maui with tourists. This is not a safe place to be. WEIR: Bill Weir, CNN en route to Maui.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT now, Dustin Kaleiopu, who had to evacuate from the wildfire in Maui and lost his home.
And, Dustin, I am so sorry for such a loss. I know your family has lived in that home for generations. I just can't imagine what you're going through right now. I know you've got family members who you haven't even been able to get in contact with.
I mean, how are you even managing right now?
DUSTIN KALEIOPU, LOST HOUSE IN MAUI WILDFIRE: Honestly, I've not slept in over 24 hours. I spent all night all through the morning scrolling through my phone looking for family members trying to get in touch with my mom. I know that she's safe, I know where she is.
But, like I said to another interviewer earlier, my voice was broadcast to you before I got to speak to my mom and let her know I was safe. The infrastructure here is not capable of handling this kind of tragedy.
BURNETT: Dustin, we're looking at images of Lahaina that we've just received just from the harbor. And it looks like a war zone. It looks like it's been bombed out. It is like an apocalypse.
I know you just heard there people talking about just the shock of how fast it moved, right? These are shopping centers just completely destroyed. Tell me about the moment you realized the fire was spreading towards you, were you also just shocked by the speed?
KALEIOPU: I wasn't home when the fire had started. I was staying at my brother's house a mile or two away from home. And I live with my dad and my grandpa.
So, my dad called me and said I heard there's a fire, I can't get in touch with your grandpa. Go check on him.
I get to him, it's windy, there's a little bit of smoke, but nothing major's going on. There's trees down in our yard but nothing bad. My brother ends up joining us and we fall asleep because there was nothing else to do, everything was closed, no electricity.
We woke up at about 3:30, 4:00 and the winds started howling. And the smoke started getting closer. My brother took a drive two blocks from our house and noticed that his office building was on fire.
Then the smoke started getting thicker and blacker, and the condominium across the street from our house looked like it had started to catch fire as well. And it took until about 4:15 when my neighbor's yard had caught on fire, and I told my grandpa that we needed to go. And I know that he and I put it off as long as we could because we didn't think that we would lose everything like we did yesterday. We thought we'd be safe.
Five years ago, the same thing happened with a hurricane causing a fire, and the fire department was at our door letting us know that we needed to evacuate. But this time there was nothing. Like the woman had said in that earlier clip --
BURNETT: No warning, yeah.
KALEIOPU: It was all word-of-mouth -- no warning at all. We had to wait until everything was on fire because we had no ability to know really how much of it was really going on.
BURNETT: I know that, you know, you talk about your father and your grandfather. And I know your dad actually went back to your house about an hour after you had evacuated because he wasn't sure if you'd made it out. He was going to check for you. What did he see?
KALEIOPU: Nothing. Our entire street was burnt to the ground. And he had come from work after not talking to me. This is about 5:00 now. He had not talked to me since 10:30 yesterday morning. And he had seen nothing.
And he's driving his truck through the street, which is on fire. There are downed power lines. He's driving over rubble trying to look for us. So, my brother told me that he would stay back on the side of the highway to look for my dad and to go to our meeting spot that we had agreed on.
And he caught my dad in the line of traffic evacuating town was able to flag him down, pulled over when my dad realized that it was my brother. He had completely lost it because he had assumed that everybody had died in the fire just by how drastic things had been when he got there after being at work all day.
BURNETT: I can only imagine how it felt when he realized you were alive.
KALEIOPU: It was -- it was bittersweet. It was a lot of emotion, a lot that we're still processing.
BURNETT: I can only imagine as you're still dealing with this and the fires. Dustin, thank you very much. Thank you so much.
KALEIOPU: Thank you.
BURNETT: And we continue to cover that. As we said, Bill Weir is en route right now.
Next, President Biden is heading to Salt Lake City tonight. But FBI agents shot and killed a Utah man accused of threatening his life earlier today. We have the breaking details next.
And whiplash. Dozens of arson attacks throughout Russia now leaving Russians on edge. The Kremlin blames Ukraine. But our Matthew Chance is actually in Moscow with the story that you will see first OUTFRONT.
BURNETT: Breaking news: the FBI shooting and killing a Utah man while trying to arrest him for allegedly making graphic threats against President Biden. All of this just hours before Biden was set to arrive in Utah. Criminal complaint revealing dozens of violent messages directed at not only President Biden but also at the Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg.
The man, Craig Robertson, also posting numerous photos of weapons on Facebook. Here he is dressed in camouflage used by snipers holding a long-range rifle.
So, let's go straight to Josh Campbell, our security correspondent.
And, Josh, I know that you are learning some new details about what prompted an FBI agent to do what really is so stunning here, which is to open fire on the suspect.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This appears to be in self-defense. FBI agents on the SWAT team there in Utah showed up this morning around 6:00 to take this suspect into custody. I'm told from a law enforcement source that as they were giving him commands, he pointed a gun at the agents, one of those FBI agents opened fire, that obviously the threatening gesture. That agent opening fire, fatally shooting this suspect.
Now, let's talk about why they were there to begin with. This was the subject of an investigation into threats against President Joe Biden who is expected to be in Utah today. I'll read you part of what is alleged to have been the suspect's troubling social media history. He said at one point, I hear Biden is coming to Utah, digging out my ghillie suit, that's that camouflage attire worn by snipers, and cleaning the dust off the M24 sniper rifle.
That's obviously concerning to U.S. Secret Service and to the FBI. They were at this residence and they try to take him into custody.
Now, this investigation actually began back in March. It was a social media company that saw something online that troubled them. They contacted the FBI's national threat operations center. This is the global clearing house for tips.
They called the FBI, said we see something that's troubling us. That actually pertained to Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, an alleged threat against him. The suspect allegedly writing: Heading to New York to fulfill my dream of eradicating another George Soros two- bit political hack D.A. I'll be waiting in the courthouse parking garage with my suppressed nine-millimeter to smoke a radical full prosecutor that should never have been elected.
The suspect then went on to describe in detail, graphic detail how he would kill Bragg. We're not going to repeat those vile details. Obviously, a troubling story here on social media.
BURNETT: Very troubling. And I know you're learning that the FBI at one point had confronted him.
CAMPBELL: That's right. FBI agents had this suspect under surveillance. He had a lapel pen with an AR-15. At one point those agents confront him about this social media history. The suspect allegedly told him that that was all a dream, he told the agents come back when you have a warrant.
That they did showing up in the early morning hours today, 6:00 again the suspect according to law enforcement source pointed a weapon at those agents, they shot him fatally. Of course, the circumstances around that shooting remain under investigation at this hour, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Josh, thank you very much.
CAMPBELL: You bet.
BURNETT: And, next, dozens of military recruitment centers throughout Russia hit by arson.
We're going to have the report you'll see first OUTFRONT.
And one Florida school district limiting the reading of Shakespeare's classics. I'm going to talk to a Florida teacher who said the move is, quote, absurd.
BURNETT: Tonight, deadly Russian missile strikes on a residential area in Zaporizhzhia, destroying a church and stores. At least two people were killed. Others were injured.
This is a large fire broke out earlier at a warehouse in southwest Russia. Now, no cause has been given yet. But it is the latest in a series of mysterious and recent fires in Russia, including just today in Moscow, now leaving Russians on edge.
Matthew Chance is in Moscow with more.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The explosion shook the Russian city, sending a dark mushroom cloud billowing into the skies. Closer to the blast, you can see the windows falling from the buildings above. Leaving residents shocked at the devastation.
One local records these images of her destroyed sewing business, and suggests a drone may have been spotted by one of her friends moments before the explosion. Outside, a local reporter spots what appears to be an artillery shell on the ground, although officially the blast is being cast as an industrial accident at a fireworks factory.
Russian officials denying sabotage, or that this is a sensitive military plant making optical equipment like night-vision goggles for Russia's war.
This place hasn't been used to produce mechanical optics for ages, says the Moscow governor at the scene. It's only pyrotechnics made here, he insists.
Still, amid an upsurge of attacks at home, Russians have good reason to be nervous.
August has been particularly fraught, with a spike in small-scale drone strikes on Russian cities, including the capital.
There's also been at least two dozen arson attacks on military recruitment centers across the country, like this one in the far eastern republic of Buryatia. But arrests are nationwide. Russian officials say vulnerable citizens like pensioners are being duped into fire bombings by Ukrainian agents posing as police or predators calling in loans.
I was called by bankers, says this arrested woman, I thought were the FSB, she says.
But a spokesman for one Russian partisan group denies Russians are being coerced, telling CNN that if people weren't angry with the authorities, they wouldn't do anything. The Kremlin, he says, wants to hide the true level of discontent.
At the moment, there's no real evidence the latest factory explosion was anything more than the devastating safety breach officials claim. But with the impact of war now increasingly felt at home, it's left many Russians on edge.
CHANCE (on camera): Well, Erin, tonight there have been more casualties inside Russia, with shelling reported close to the border with Ukraine, killing one person and injuring another four. But, of course, that pales compared to the death and destruction being suffered inside Ukraine. But it is undoubtedly bringing Russia's brutal war back home.
Erin, back to you.
BURNETT: All right. Matthew, thank you very much. As I said, in Moscow tonight.
Well, next, Romeo and Juliet, a classic. But now too racy to teach? A Florida school district says it will limit Shakespeare's classics due to a new state law restricting discussion of sex in the classroom. I'm going to speak to a teacher next.
[19:56:12] BURNETT: Tonight, Shakespeare censored. One Florida school district says it will no longer have students read the full text of plays like "Romeo and Juliet," "Hamlet," and "Macbeth." This is in response to changes in state law under Governor Ron DeSantis, which limits to talk sex in schools.
Now, the Hillsborough school district, which includes most of Tampa, students will only read excerpts of Shakespeare's works to avoid racy scenes.
OUTFRONT now, Joseph Cool, a high school teacher in Hillsborough County.
Joseph, I remember reading those plays in high school. I don't remember anything sexually explicit. But I do remember reading them and reading them in full. You've been teaching Shakespeare in your class for more than 20 years, right? It's been a cornerstone of what you've been teaching your students as well.
So, let me read a famous scene from Romeo and Juliet. These are the last words from Juliet before she dies. Oh, happy dagger! This is thy sheath; there rest, and let me die.
So, this is now explicit, so they can't read the end of "Romeo and Juliet," it's banned?
JOSEPH COOL, TEACHER AT FLORIDA SCHOOL DISTRICT LIMITING SHAKESPEARE READINGS: Well, I want to be clear. You know, the director from our interim superintendent made it clear that teachers can, but it simply was removed from our curriculum in the high school level. But the particular quote that you talk about, you know, Shakespeare was by no means averse to sexual puns, euphemisms, or illusions.
But in that scene, she does have a dagger in her hand. And, of course, the innuendo is the sheath is referring to something else and of course the dagger as well. I think that discussing that might bring up some situations in the classroom.
BURNETT: So, you support it being banned in light of the legislation or you don't?
COOL: Oh, absolutely not. No, I think it's very difficult to teach just excerpts of Shakespeare. When you take a look at the play, for example, there are things you can't get out of that that you can't get from reading an excerpt, like the theme, in particular, character development.
There's so many things that's rich for academic discussions, scholarly discussions, that if we narrow it down or pare it down to something as small as an excerpt, you're missing so much. And we're not preparing our students to be college students and be able to be versed in that.
BURNETT: No, no. I remember reading them. I never remember any conversations about this, although I can imagine some high schools that might make it more appealing to have the other conversations they can laugh about something. But let me ask you about this. Your school district appears to be
alone in this decision for now, but obviously you're dealing with a set of laws in Florida that are changing the way a lot of things are taught and a lot of books that are available. Your school district says they're doing this to protect you from possible disciplinary action. I know you don't support it, but what are you saying to that, when they're starting to put more and more parameters, whether to protect, or because they support it? What's the actual impact?
COOL: Well, I certainly believe that the district leaders and also the people in charge of the curriculum are definitely trying to protect teachers. Much of the legislation that's been coming out recently is so vague. And school districts have no choice but to follow the law.
But whenever there is so much ambiguity and people reached out requesting clarification that we're still waiting on, teachers are nervous. And they're taking the brunt of this. And it's really distracting from what we are here to do, which is to teach students. And we're worrying about all this other ancillary stuff that is really detracting from us being our very best.
BURNETT: Yeah. And as you said, you believe detracting from your ability to prepare students for college.
COOL: Yeah, absolutely.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Joseph, I really appreciate your time. Thank you very much, and I hope your students do get the benefit of reading Shakespeare. Sometimes I think we all know, if you don't read it then, you may never read it in your life. And it is a wonderful thing to have that exposure.
BURNETT: Thank you.
COOL: Thank you for having me.
BURNETT: All right. You, too.
And thanks so much to all of you for being with us.
"AC360" with Anderson begins right now.