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New Day

Parts of Florida Continue Recovery Efforts after Hurricane Ian; Sedition Trial of Five Members of Oath Keepers Continues in Washington, D.C.; Tesla CEO Elon Musk Criticized for Suggesting Conditions for Possible Peace Agreement between Russia and Ukraine; North Korea Without Warning Fires Missile over Japan. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired October 04, 2022 - 08:00   ET



BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: If they're waiting in hour long gas lines, that's when it is a real test of the fabric of a community. And it's vital, these days now in particular, to show these folks some signs of help.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, people start getting angry. You start getting angry right now if you don't feel like you're getting the help you need, or it isn't the outreach you feel you need. Fort Myers Beach is going to be closed basically. Sanibel Island, they're going to let some residents go back.

WEIR: Yes, we're heading back down there tomorrow, and we just got word they will allow residents with their own boats to go out to Sanibel Island and say, look, be very careful. When we were there, with the Cajun Navy, there was a propane tank that had been thrown around and was just hissing, the gas, you could smell it in the air. There were a couple of house fires started that way. But you can understand the pull. You want to go see your American dream and what's left of it, and to salvage what you can. And this is happening sporadically around the area.

BERMAN: And look, there are decisions that need to be made. There are short-term decisions and long-term, but Sanibel, the causeway is down. So you can't get there by car. So if you're going to be on Sanibel Island, you have to go back and forth by boat.

WEIR: Exactly.

BERMAN: For a long time.

WEIR: For a long time, exactly. And that bridge is going to take -- we were thinking, like, how could they put metal plates? But it's broken in so many places, it is going to be that way for a long time. I should mention, though, there is a community called Babcock Ranch in Charlotte County that is all solar. They have got this solar array, all of it survived the storm. Minimal damage, full power.

And so as we talk about the future, about rebuilding, and the resiliency of living on the coast, wouldn't it be nice to not have to wait in a gas line or worry about generator fumes and to have air conditioning and light and information right now? You wonder if this is the kind of event that shifts people's minds as we think about fuel sources now that they're so much more affordable going forward. But it is going to be a big, big, big job for a long time.

BERMAN: Bill Weir, it's great to see you here. I know you're going back. So we look forward to speaking to you when you're back on the ground there.

WEIR: See you there tomorrow.

BERMAN: Thank you so much.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, sources are telling CNN the ninth and likely final House January 6th Committee hearing could be October 13th. That is not an official date. It is a possibility, though. And this comes after panel members postponed the previously scheduled hearing for September 28th as hurricane Ian was bearing down on Florida. Now, if the hearing does take place on this new date, it would be about three weeks before the midterm elections.

And soon the Oath Keepers sedition trial will continue here in Washington, D.C. Five members of the far-right group accused of plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol on January 6th in an attempt to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power. During opening statements, prosecutors framed how they believe the jury should think about the allegations, saying in part, "They said out loud and in writing what they planned to do. When the opportunity finally presented itself, they sprang into action."

Joining us now is CNN senior national correspondent Sara Sidner. So, Sara, what have jurors seen so far from the prosecution?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, the opening statements began, and what they saw was some of the evidence that they're going to be picking through throughout this trial. Some of that evidence the public has seen, you have seen, I have seen, because it is the video. And when the prosecution said, hey, you're going to see them saying these things, you're going to see text messages of them actually spelling out their plan, that's exactly what the prosecution showed in some of their opening statement.

And one of the things that you saw in the very beginning is the prosecution started with a history lesson on how elections are finally certified and what this group allegedly did to stop it by force. And what you heard from the prosecution are big ideas, one such as these people concocted a plan for armed rebellion to shatter a bedrock of American democracy. That is sort of their case in a nutshell.

Then you heard from the defendants' attorneys. Now, remember, there are five defendants here, one of whom is probably the most high- profile, which is the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes. Each of the attorneys had the opportunity to also present their case, which is why this is going to take up to six weeks.

And each of them had a little bit different things to say about their clients and their clients' role. Ultimately you had someone coming up and saying, look, they were there as peacekeepers, that was Rhodes' attorney. He said they were waiting for the president to invoke the insurrection act, and they were there to basically hold the peace. But the problem is the insurrection act was never enacted. And so they're going to have to explain all of that to a jury.

But they also said that they're going to prove this was not a plan to disrupt the government. They say, look, our clients may have gone inside of the Capitol, some of them stayed outside.


But then you had an attorney who really tried to break apart the FBI's initial case in which they said his client, Mr. Caldwell, Thomas Caldwell, was the mastermind at the very beginning and then changed their mind to say, oh, actually it was Stewart Rhodes. So he tried to break apart the FBI's initial case that they put forward in this supposed conspiracy, and this seditious conspiracy.

But I do want to make very clear how big of a deal this case is, for lack of a better word. You have to think about this case in the sense of this is perhaps the largest case that you are going to see because these members are accused of seditious conspiracy. The last time that happened, it was about 10 years ago in Michigan, and the government lost that case because the judge threw the case out. In this particular case, they have hundreds of hours of video. They have tens of thousands of messages between members of this group. They have statements from several of the defendants in this case that they're going to try to spell out and show that they conspired to stop the government from doing its business and they were going to do it by force.

On the other side, they're trying to break all that apart, saying this group goes to protests and different things for years, and they have never been involved in doing something like this. And they are going to try to prove that they were not conspiring to stop the government from doing its business, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, and they're trying to use Stewart Rhodes' words against him, which we're seeing to some effect there. Sara Sidner live for us here in Washington, thank you.

BERMAN: The Ukrainian officials including the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy hitting back at Elon Musk after the billionaire tweeted out a poll with a proposed peace plan in which Ukraine could give up, presumably, some of its territory and hold new elections in areas annexed by Russia. Ukraine's ambassador to Germany responded, "F-off is my very diplomatic reply to you." Zelenskyy started a Twitter poll of his own asking his followers, quote, "Which Elon Musk do you like more?" The options, one who supports Ukraine, and one who supports Russia.

With me now is CNN senior global affairs analyst Bianna Golodryga. And Bianna, I don't know if Elon Musk thinks he is playing it neutral, down the line here, but the position he's taking isn't a neutral one. BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SECURITY GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes. And I

told you, just off camera, I wasn't excited about this story because I don't want to give him any more attention than he clearly was seeking with this provocative tweet. He's an expert in many areas. Obviously, diplomacy and Russia and Ukraine he is not. It has caused a lot of people in Ukraine to really question what his motivation was here, because he had been seen as a real savior there with his Starlink satellite system which had been providing Internet access to the country for months now. So why he did this, I don't know, but he clearly needs to have a history lesson here.

BERMAN: Right, and e's saying have a referendum or referenda, United Nations monitored in those areas that Russia just annexed. How do you do that when there is hundreds of thousands of displaced people --

GOLODRYGA: And who is he to say when to have a referendum? First of all, this is a country that had declared through voting their own independence in 1991, including Crimea, I should add, to a smaller margin. That having been said, they still want to be an independent country. So now under force of Russian soldiers, you're going to say have another vote? Doesn't make sense.

BERMAN: And again, you know who loves this plan? Russia.

GOLODRYGA: They have said so. The Kremlin has said we welcome his voice weighing in to here and looking for peace. This is not the time or the place.

BERMAN: Thank you, Elon Musk, Russia is saying there.

Another big bit of international news overnight, which is North Korea launched a missile over Japan. I want to bring in CNN's Will Ripley, who has been covering this. And Will, it has been a long time since this type of missile launch from North Korea.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Five years. I remember the last time they flew a missile over Japan because I was living there at the time. You hear these air raid sirens, and you assume that this is just another test, but you really don't know for sure. And that was the feeling that was experienced by tens of millions of Japanese from the northern island of Hokkaido, down to central Tokyo. These sirens went off, and really by the time they sounded, Japan had a matter of minutes if not seconds before this missile traveling at 17 times the speed of sound was over Japan. And it flew over Japan for a total of one minute. That's how long it took to go over -- to go over Japan, because this thing was barreling through the skies.

It was 600 miles up, and it ended up splashing down without any reports of damage or injuries in the Pacific Ocean. But Japan had no idea because North Korea gave no warning about this. And now we are hearing from the United States and officials who are gravely concerned about what is viewed as a serious provocation by Pyongyang.


JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: We're watching this, obviously, very, very closely. This one went a longer distance than we have seen in recent weeks and months.


We're still doing the analysis right now to make sure we completely understand what capability is that they fired here before we make any pronouncements about it.

Each time they do this, they learn, they get better, they get more capable. And that's what makes us want to stay vigilant.


RIPLEY: Admiral Kirby speaking there. He has handled this type of situation before, John, as you know. This missile is believed to be a Hwasong-17, which is a missile that North Korea has test fired many times. But what makes this launch different is how far the missile traveled. I've talking to a couple of experts who say this may be the longest distance that North Korea tested a missile. Usually the trajectory, they'll send it up very high and send it back down without actually flying over Japan or going that far out into the Pacific.

It's a sign, they say, that Kim Jong-un is becoming more brazen. Frankly, he's already so heavily sanctioned, he's not worried about sanctions. He's worried about developing his program and getting his weapons systems perfected. And that may be what they're trying to gain here more than any sort of message or any political statement. It is simply, he has a mission, he has an agenda, and he's going down the list, and also on that list, that short list, experts say is a nuclear test.

BERMAN: Will Ripley for us, thank you so much, Will. But Bianna, the question is why and why now.

GOLODRYGA: It's the don't forget about me. I'm right here. I want nukes, too, right. And so while the world is focused on Ukraine and Russia, by the way we should note that Kim Jong-un was the first country, North Korea first country to recognize those four annexed areas in Ukraine. Not even Belarus has done that yet. So clearly, he's looking for attention. And there are concerns, especially among South Koreans, that we could have some sort of nuclear test within the next couple of weeks. You have the Chinese Communist Party Congress in a few weeks, and we have the midterms here in the United States. So clearly an area to watch.

BERMAN: Where and how far that was shot clearly seems to be a deliberate message. We can do this and we can do it better.

GOLODRYGA: We shouldn't forget, what did President Obama say when he met with President Trump before he took office, that this will be the one region that will keep you up at night. Clearly, the world has changed in many ways. This still poses a threat not only to their neighbors, but to, I would say, the United States as well longer term.

BERMAN: Bianna Golodryga, great to have you here this morning. Thank you so much.


BERMAN: Police in central California investigating a string of murders that they believe are related. And we just learned there are even more victims.

KEILAR: Plus, Georgia's Senate nominee Herschel Walker who is running on a nationwide abortion ban is now denying allegations that he personally paid for one. We'll have that report ahead.

And some fascinating images coming from NASA's latest mission.



KEILER: This morning, the Republican nominee for Georgia Senate seat Herschel Walker is denying a "Daily Beast" report that he paid for his ex-girlfriend's abortion more than a decade ago. Walker is currently running on banning abortions with very few exceptions.

Now, CNN cannot independently confirm "The Daily Beast" report which Walker has strenuously denied.

CNN's Eva McKend is joining us now with this story.

Eva, what can you tell us about this?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Brianna, the former NFL star has faced a litany of controversies, but this has to be the most explosive to date.

"The Daily Beast" reports they corroborated the woman's account of Walker paying for her abortion by reviewing a medical receipt from the abortion clinic, as well as note card Walker allegedly sent the woman at the time. The tabloid additionally reports they reviewed a bank deposit receipt that included Walker's signature handwriting.

Now, Walker, an anti-abortion hard-liner who even resists terminating a pregnancy in instances of rape, incest and life of the mother, is facing a steady drumbeat of stories that cast doubt on his credibility. He blasted in latest story as a flat-out lie, denying what he dismissed as disgusting gutter politics in the strongest possible terms.

Take a listen so how he defended himself on Fox News last night.


HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATE COMMITTEE: It is a flat-out lie. And now you know how important the seat is. The seat is very important that they'll do anything to win this seat, lie, because they want to make it about everything else except what the true problems that we have in this country is, this inflation, the border wide open, crime. They don't want to talk about that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKEND: Now, shortly after the story was published, Walker's son Christian, an outspoken conservative activist, took to Twitter to attack his father and leveled a series of accusations against him, essentially characterizing him as a liar.

BERMAN: Any sense, Eva, of how this factors into the race?

MCKEND: So, I think it is too soon to tell. I think we're all still digesting all of this. Democrats in Georgia appear to be treading lightly for now. I reached out to many sources and haven't heard back as yet.

Now, the NRSC, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, they devoted millions of dollars to electing Walker and they pretty quickly got into defense mode last night, telling me that this is a distraction, and firmly standing behind their candidate, arguing they feel as though they're winning the conversation by talking about things like inflation, and that Democrats and their allies in the media are deflecting.

The question, though, is now is Walker a figure like Trump who can do no wrong in the eyes of his supporters or do the accumulation of these stories prove to be too damaging?

John, we're just two weeks away from early voting in Georgia.

KEILAR: The NRSC, they're standing behind their candidate, Eva. Are they standing behind his denial?

MCKEND: You know, that's a good question, Brianna. They said -- they characterized the allegations, they say that stories that may or may not be true. So, that's a really important point. They are not outright denying the content of the story.

And we'll just have to see in the days and weeks ahead if that is going to continue to be a sustainable position.

KEILAR: Yeah. Certainly. Eva, great report, thank you so much. Eva McKend.

A manhunt is under way in California after a string of homicides police believe are linked. We have the mayor of Stockton joining us next.

BERMAN: And a newly released report uncovering abuse and misconduct within women's professional soccer. We have the details, ahead.



KEILAR: This morning, more tragedy in south Florida after a joyride took a horrific turn for three boys. Pinellas County police say three teenagers stole a Maserati with keys inside for a ride early Monday. When officers approached the cars, the kids took off at speeds of more than 80 miles per hour. The driver lost control and flipped the car. Now, a 15-year-old is dead, and another faces life threatening injuries, and the driver is in critical condition.

BERMAN: Hackers releasing information belonging to the nation's second largest school district, Los Angeles, after the city district refused to pay ransom. Some of the information released includes students' names and addresses and the personal information from school contractors including passports and driver's license numbers.

This is the superintendent.


ALBERT CARVALHO, L.A. UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT: Based on what we know today, we are able to confirm that the release was actually even more limited than we have originally anticipated and based on what we have seen. There is at this point no evidence of widespread impact as far as truly sensitive confidential information.



BERMAN: With me now, CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller.

John, you got experience, like direct experience in this field. One of the things you said to me, it is almost always preventable.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Almost 100 percent of the time. There is the rare, rare penetration where they found, you know, some incredibly obscure glitch in the system. But most of the time, they're exploiting normal vulnerabilities that if a major organization had executed proper internet hygiene on their system could have been avoidable. This is one of them.

BERMAN: Yeah, this is one of them. This school district should have known better, you're saying?

MILLER: Well, there was an inspector general's report in 2019 that said the system is vulnerable, in these ways, it means multifactor identification, it needs this, it needs that. And when the superintendent tried to implement these things, there was a lot of pushback, it is going to make the system too hard to use, too many steps, and it never got done. And this is the price you pay for convenience.

BERMAN: So who is this group that did this?

MILLER: So, this is a shadowy online hacker group, you know. They're not all a bunch of kids in one room. These are people spread out across the globe. They target educational institutions, 27 school districts this year, 28 colleges. But they hit Australia, they hit UK, they're hitting hard in America. BERMAN: And based, again, on your experience, these groups, they make

demands, the district did not meet the demands, is that the way to handle this?

MILLER: That's a tough question. The vice society comes in and they say, we locked up your data and if you want it back, it costs this much. That's a hefty price tag.

But it is not even about the money. And there is a double extortion here, John. It is not just we're not going to give you back your data, it is if you don't pay, you're not only getting access to your system and your records, but we're going to put it out online for everybody else to see, exposing private data.

So that's the double extortion. But, 40 percent of ransomware victims pay. And they get the key to their data back. But the double edge there is 80 percent of that 40 percent get hit again because in the dark web, in the online communities, people know they pay.

BERMAN: Yeah, they're a mark, all of a sudden.

John Miller, stick around. We have more for you in a second.

KEILAR: This morning, police in Stockton, California, are searching for a person of interest who may be tied to a series of homicides. Five men were shot and killed in Stockton here in the last four months. Overnight police say two more shootings back from April of 2021, a woman in Stockton who survived, and a man killed in nearby Oakland, may also be linked. The officials are hoping to track down this person captured here on surveillance video. Joining us now is the mayor of Stockton, California, Kevin Lincoln.

Mayor, thank you so much for being with us. This is incredibly scary for your community to be going through. Is this the work of a serial killer? Is that how you would characterize this?

MAYOR KEVIN J. LINCOLN II, STOCKTON, CA: Well, Brianna, what we know is that there has been a series of killings here in the city of Stockton and now more recently we realize that there is a linkage to a series of -- additional killing in Oakland, California, and one survivor victim here in Stockton. And so this is very, very concerning. But it is a very, very vital threat.

KEILAR: Is there a reason to stay away from that serial killer moniker? Is this how should people should be relating to this in your community? I just want to get a real understanding of this.

STOCKTON: Sure, sure. Well, we have a multi -- we have a task force that is under way right now, a multi-jurisdiction, multi-agency task force where we're engaging our federal, state and local partners as well. And so, we're examining this case from every angle. We don't know if there is one individual or if there is a series of individuals that are responsible -- responsible for these homicides. So, however, these are by definition a series of killings here in Stockton, California. We know it expanded outside the city and we're taking it very seriously. KEILAR: So, overnight, two more shootings were connected, and this

goes back a ways. This is from April of last year, the other five range from July to September of this year.

Do you have concerns there is obviously a period of time in between April of last year and then here this summer that there will be other cases that are connected to this?

LINCOLN: This is very, very concerning. And that's why, you know, with the updated information this past -- over the evening, we realized through the investigation that there are two additional homicides, one additional homicide and one additional shooting that is related. So, our law enforcement, again, our multiagency task force, they're going to continue to do the great job.