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CNN Live Event/Special
Threats To Fulton County Officials And Grand Jurors In The Wake Of Trump's Fourth Indictment; Sources Say, Trump Plans To Skip First GOP Primary Debate, Plotting Counter-Programming Instead; Mistrial Declared In Case Of White Father And Son Charged With Attempted Murder Of Black FedEx Driver; Abby Phillips Discusses Police System; Phillips Discusses Mass Shootings In America; Southwest Airlines Catches Engine Fire, Lands Safely. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired August 17, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Abby Phillip, and welcome to CNN PRIMETIME.
There are doxxing threats against the grand jurors in Georgia and a death threat against a federal judge in the wake of Donald Trump's four criminal indictments.
Meanwhile, he's now proposed a date for one of the multiple trials that he faces, this one, Jack Smith's federal election subversion case, and that is April 2026. Yes, that is more than two and a half years away.
And it comes as he's negotiating his surrender over in Georgia on charges that he and 18 co defendants orchestrated a criminal enterprise to overturn Joe Biden's election victory. I'll talk to one Republican who says the RICO charge in Georgia is, quote, a nuclear bomb where a bullet would have been appropriate. And we've got much more on all of this to come.
Plus, imagine that you're on a flight to Cancun. And just 27 minutes into your trip, you see this outside of your window, smoke and flames shooting out of the right engine. And tonight, I'll talk to two of the passengers who were on that flight.
And a shocking mistrial in the case of a father and a son charged with the attempted murder and chasing of a black FedEx driver who was making deliveries in a Mississippi neighborhood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D'MONTERRIO GIBSON, FEDEX DRIVER WHO SAYS WHITE FATHER AND SON CHASED AND HOST AT HIM: YOU there was a guy standing in the middle of the road holding a gun in my vehicle telling me to stop, which I did not do. They essentially just chased me out the city. And I had to file a police report after that. Shots were fired into my van as well. I feel it's my responsibility to speak up because my operator didn't survive to speak up for itself. So, I want to take that upon myself to do that for me and him as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: But I want to begin now with the threats to Fulton County officials and to grand jurors in the wake of former President Trump's fourth indictment.
Joining me now is former Trump White House lawyer Jim Schultz and also CNN Chief Law Enforcement Analyst John Miller.
So, John, I want to start with you about this doxxing incident with the Fulton County grand jurors. It's not just on its own. It's part of what seems to be a pattern here. It's that there's also a Texas woman. She's being charged with threatening the federal judge in Washington, D.C. handling that election interference case. And now we're also learning that the Fulton County officials, they're working with the FBI on some of the threats that have been aimed after those grand jurors.
How dangerous, from a law enforcement perspective, is this climate that we're in right now?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, what you're seeing is people doxxed the grand jurors' names and then put their addresses and their pictures from social media out there. You see people making threats on other chat rooms and message boards, generally.
And I have a little experience in the threat assessment world from the NYPD, where we investigated a lot of these. The doxxers aren't breaking the law. They're getting publicly available information. And the threateners are usually not the people who carry out the threat. What Fulton County officials and the FBI are really on the alert for is that person who's reading through all that, who's not one of the people out front who's going to go do something.
On the other hand, the prosecution of the woman from Texas who threatened a judge, she's being held without bail. Going after the people who are putting these threats out to grand jurors is all important because you've got to set those examples that you cannot instill fear and panic and concern in people's homes and family lives and not be accountable.
PHILLIP: Is there any way, Jim, that this does not start to affect these criminal cases? I mean, there are four of them in all these different jurisdictions, and the judges are potentially under threat. Perhaps the jurors are as well. What impact does this all have?
JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: I mean, we hope that the justice system just continues to roll along, right? And that the cases move along and that these things don't impact the cases from moving forward. Law enforcement is doing its job. The judges are doing their jobs, right, making sure that they are holding back some of the incendiary comments that the Trump camp might be making against prosecutors and witnesses and other folks.
It's going to be incumbent upon the judge to really police that.
PHILLIP: Well, this is what I wonder. I mean, do they have some responsibility here that Trump -- I mean, Trump himself is criticizing and attacking the judges and all of these things. Is there some responsibility there for them to tone the rhetoric down?
SCHULTZ: Sure. I think it's important that you tone the rhetoric down. Whenever you have people receiving threats of violence, threats against their family, anytime you're trying to intimidate, witnesses might feel intimidated by that. It's incumbent upon the judge to make sure that they hold the defendant and the defendants in these cases accountable.
MILLER: It's interesting that the judge in Washington who is the subject of the threat warned the former president about inflammatory language in one of the earlier hearings. We saw the same from the New York judge.
I don't think that the former president has really responded to those warnings.
PHILLIP: Clearly not. I mean, I want to ask you, John, though, about the surrender that we could be seeing next week.
PHILLIP: This is the environment that we are in. If you're law enforcement, how are you responding?
MILLER: Well, first, there's layers of it. The Secret Service has to secure the former president, but they've now done that a few times. They've been through this drill in Miami, in New York, in Washington, that they've got down. For Georgia and Fulton County, it's going to be a little bit new because they haven't arraigned a former president there before yet.
So, that courthouse you see, the barriers are placed around it, they have mutual aid packages with the Atlanta P.D. and the other departments around to assist the sheriff's office in bringing whatever resources that are going to be needed. But we don't know what form that's going to take because the sheriff's instruction is the former president of the United States is supposed to report to the jail for a booking process and then be released.
PHILLIP: We don't even know when, really.
PHILLIP: Jim, we talked in the intro about this filing from the court, the Trump team saying they want this trial in Georgia to happen in April of 2026. How likely do you think that is? SCHULTZ: There is no way this Georgia case is going to get done this year or probably next year. She filed against 18 defendants, 19 defendants. She filed a case that, I would say, in comparison to the Jack Smith cases, that's like a Porsche built for speed, very streamlined, very concise. This is like an old '57 Chevy, right? There's a lot of defendants in the case. There's a lot of legal issues that are going to come out of it. This law in Georgia hasn't been tested in terms of the RICO statutes, in this context.
I think you've already seen former Chief of Staff and Congressman Mark Meadows filing to removal to federal court. Will all the defendants be moved to federal court if the court approves that, will some of them? Are some of these defendants going to be severed in the case? I think they probably are. I mean, these are all issues that are just going to continue to dog the prosecution, and it gives a lot of opportunity for the defense to delay the case.
MILLER: By the way, Abby, the last time I saw a 22-defendant trial in a RICO case was the Pizza Connection narcotics conspiracy in the Southern District of New York, in the federal courthouse. The trial started in 1985. It ended in 1987.
PHILLIP: Wow. Yes. I mean, look, we're already seeing Jeffrey Clark, one of the defendants in this case, also asking for a different date. Just to show you, every single one of these defendants will have their own motions that they will be making petitions to the court for different things.
Jim Schultz and John Miller, thank you both very much.
MILLER: Thanks, Abby.
PHILLIP: I now want to bring in Colorado Republican Congressman Ken Buck into the conversation. Congressman Buck, thank you for joining us tonight.
As we were just discussing, the Trump legal team, they're pushing for that April 2026 start date for the federal subversion case. And Trump clearly wants to push this well past the 2024 election where he is running.
But do you think that that is warranted given what he's being accused of? I mean, do voters deserve an answer to the outcome of that case before the election?
REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): I think voters deserve that, but this prosecution could have been brought earlier also. I think that it's very unlikely that you're going to see these 18 defendants sitting in one courtroom all at the same time. So, you're going to have multiple trial dates. My guess is that some of these removal actions that, for example, Mark Meadows filed are going to be granted. So you're not even going to see all of the defendants in state court. Some of them may remain in state court, but you're going to see multiple jurisdictions, multiple trial dates. It is a mess.
And, frankly, using a RICO statute and indicting 18 people, some of whom their crimes are really acts and furtherance of a crime, giving the president a phone number to call or setting up conversations, the scope of this prosecution, I can see why they're asking for a date that that's late.
I don't think it should start in April 2026, but it's certainly we're going to see multiple actions in multiple jurisdictions.
PHILLIP: I wonder, we're obviously well into the 2024 cycle, and Trump still has this massive 37 percent lead over his nearest competitor, Ron DeSantis, in that latest Fox poll. That's a tremendous hold over your party. At this point, do you think that there's anything that could break that hold that Trump has?
BUCK: Well, I think it's too early to make any kind of prediction. Obviously, President Trump starts with a huge advantage because he has been the president before. He's run in two national campaigns before. Just based on name recognition and other advantages he has, he's going to be ahead.
I think that, really, if we're talking about this in February of next year, then we've got a real discussion about how does a Republican Party deal with a president who's facing four indictments or a former president who's facing four indictments, a candidate, and how does the party move forward from there? I think that the dynamics will change between now and then.
PHILLIP: When you think about what this Georgia indictment in particular is alleging, just a whole lot of election falsehoods, Trump himself even saying that he was going to hold a press conference on Monday to further those lies. Now, he's saying he won't do that.
But do you wonder or do you think that when you just think about that, ever wonder about just the mental fitness of a person who believes those lies, even though he's told that they're not true, and whether that person should be the one who is potentially in the White House next?
BUCK: Well, I'll tell you, first of all, the discussion that you had earlier about these threats that are being made and other actions towards grand jurors and people who are just doing their civic duty, showing up and doing their job as Americans, is despicable. And if you're innocent, start acting like it. I can't think of anything worse than trying to attack the criminal justice system because you're a criminal defendant. And I think that's just terrible of any defendant to go through that process.
I think the Republican Party will survive this. I think that we have a strong message when it comes to running against Joe Biden's record. And I think that other candidates are going to be able to step up and really assume that mantle. We have strong candidates.
Vice President Pence did the right thing on January 6th. He has shown himself to be a man of integrity. President -- I'm sorry, Governor DeSantis has done the right thing when he was helping Florida get through this COVID pandemic and crisis.
I think there are a lot of candidates who have very strong backgrounds, and I think the American public will see that and the Republican voters will see that.
PHILLIP: Well, Congressman, I hear you saying that you hope that other candidates will step up. I wonder, though, what do you think they have to do to actually make that happen? Because as we pointed out, I mean, there's a 37 percent gap between Trump and the next person on that list of candidates. That is a huge, huge void there in the Republican Party. BUCK: Absolutely, Abby. And I think one of the things that's really a
problem is Donald Trump is getting all of the press as a result of these indictments and other actions out there. And so it's hard for anyone's message to break through and have voters understand what their qualifications are, what their positions are, why they are a candidate who could lead the Republican Party in this election.
PHILLIP: Are they doing a good enough job of trying?
BUCK: Oh, I think everyone's trying. I think everyone's trying. And I think the media is doing their job, frankly. If you have an indictment of a former president, obviously, that's going to get the headlines. Someone is saying that this is my position on taxation or whatever is going to be far, maybe on page 16 of the local paper. But I think people are trying, and I think the dynamic will change.
PHILLIP: All right, Congressman Ken Buck, we appreciate you joining us tonight.
BUCK: Thank you.
PHILLIP: And up next, the man who usually sucks up all the oxygen in the room, as we were just discussing, apparently won't be in the room for next week's GOP debate. So, what is the strategy for his rivals? A leaked memo has some juicy details on that.
Plus, terror in the sky. I'll talk to the passengers who saw flames shooting out of the engine on that Southwest jet flying over to Cancun.
PHILLIP: The first Republican presidential debate is just days away now, and the elephant in the room remains. Will former President Trump even show up? What would a debate without the frontrunner be like?
Let's discuss all of this with CNN Senior Political Commentator David Axelrod and CNN Political Commentator David Urban. The Davids are here.
David Urban, I'll start with you. If you were advising Trump, as you once have, would you tell him to come to that debate and show up or, you know, there's rumors that they're considering some counter- programming. Which is the option that you would advise him on?
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Abby, I'd advise, and I'm sure David Axelrod would advise option B. When you're 39 points ahead, as he is in this most recent Quinnipiac poll of Governor DeSantis, the next closest person to the field, I think, it would be foolish for him to show up at this point.
And I think that you'll see some counter-programming. There's rumors that he's going to do some sort of event with perhaps Tucker Carlson on Twitter, which would be quite a return, right? So, former President Trump returning to the platform, which booted him off and in kind of a grand fashion on the night of the debate would be something to see.
PHILLIP: As long as it works out, right?
URBAN: Exactly. I'm going to glitch out, right?
PHILLIP: So, Axe, look, this is who is on the debate stage so far. You've got, you know, basically the main candidates here, Nikki Haley, DeSantis, Ramaswamy, Doug Burgum is on there, Tim Scott, Christie, Pence, Trump, if he wants to be.
But if Trump isn't there, what would you advise the other candidates to do to actually take him on in that setting?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, I mean, the thing is, you can't spend the whole night taking Trump on, and a bunch of them have shown a hesitance to take Trump on. I mean, Christie will miss Trump because Trump is the great white whale to Christie's Captain Ahab. And his whole -- the premise of his candidacy is I'm the guy who's willing to say the emperor has no clothes. So, his strategy will have to change. He will still go after Trump, but it will have to change.
For the others, look, I think part of the problem with Trump is he sucks out all the oxygen from the room even when he's not there. This whole race has been dominated by him. And what these other candidates have to do is they have to burnish a message that means something to people, and they have to burnish whatever their comparative advantage is to animate that message. And this is an opportunity to do it.
But, Abby, when you're preparing for these debates, you have to recognize that most of the people won't be watching it. And so you also have to figure out how to land a moment, a moment that will become viral that is on your message. I mean, we've seen candidates in the past, Kamala Harris did this. She landed a great line. It caused a sensation, but there was no follow-up to it in 2020. I guess it was '19 then.
So, those are the things that I'd be thinking about right now.
What's my message? What is my comparative advantage? How do I come up with lines that will live and that will give people, people who don't watch the debate a sense of who I am? PHILLIP: So, David Urban, in that very spirit, The New York Times had obtained this really fascinating internal memo that seemed to reveal debate advice from a pro-DeSantis super PAC.
So, the memo said that he reportedly needs to, quote, take a sledgehammer to Vivek Ramaswamy, the political newcomer who's been rising in the polls. He should also, quote, defend Donald Trump when Christie inevitably attacks him. And he needs to attack Joe Biden and the media no less than three to five times. What do you make of --
AXELROD: Add on water and stir.
PHILLIP: What do you make of that?
URBAN: Yes. Listen, as Axe says, that's a tall list to do in a very short period of time and get it out in a coherent manner, which people are going to remember, right? I mean, right now we've got hammer Ramaswamy, right? Vivek is out calling him Robot Ron back, and there's some good tay-to-tay (ph) back and forth already as a result of that memo.
But it's not uncommon to see things kind of leaked and telegraphed in an advance of a debate, trying to score some points before the debate occurs, because, as Axe says, not many people are going to remember what happens after the debate.
PHILLIP: And, Axe, I mean -- yes, go ahead.
AXELROD: I just want to say one thing. I think that was one of the most amazing and maybe a little bit appalling things that I've seen. This wasn't just a two-page memo meant for the public to read. This was like hundreds of pages of strategic advice, which, by the way, if the candidate spends time reading hundreds of pages of advice, he's making a big mistake.
But hundreds of pages of strategic advice that was posted on the company of one of the principals in this super PAC so that the campaign could get their advice because they're not allowed to talk to each other. But, of course, other people saw it as well.
So, now his whole strategy, if he follows any of their advice, and the whole world has it seen it, it's on the front page of The New York Times, he tries to land any of these lines, and he's just going to get hammered for being basically a trained seal act. It really was malpractice, as far as I'm concerned.
PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, look, I get the super PAC can't talk to the campaign and you've got to leak it and all of that, but --
AXELROD: You've got to be more creative about it. Right, I think that's about right.
URBAN: Well, we're talking about him.
PHILLIP: Yes. Well, that is true, too. David Axelrod and David Urban, David and David, you guys should take the show on the road. And if you want to hear, actually, what Vivek Ramaswamy has to say about all of this, just stay tuned right here on CNN. He's on in the next hour with our own Jim Acosta.
And coming up next, a black FedEx driver allegedly chased down and shot by two white men while doing his job delivering packages in Mississippi. So why did the trial abruptly end today? We'll tell you next.
PHILLIP: A mistrial was declared today in the case of a white father and son charged with attempted murder of a black FedEx driver, D'Monterrio Gibson.
D'Monterrio Gibson says that he was chased and shot at while he was just doing his job, delivering packages in Brookhaven, Mississippi last year.
Now, here's the courtroom reaction from D'Monterrio Gibson's mother when this trial apparently fell apart.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID STRONG, LINCOLN COUNTY JUDGE: With great reluctance, the court has no choice in this matter but to grant the motion for a mistrial.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Let's get right to CNN's National Correspondent Ryan Young in Atlanta. So, Ryan, what happened in court today? Why did the judge take this extraordinary step to declare a mistrial?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You can see D'Monterrio's mother clearly upset and angry. And the judge was actually reflecting that this has never happened in his 17-year career.
From what we understand, there was a detective who apparently did an interview of one of those men who were charged and never handed over that video to the defense or the prosecution. And this came up during trial. So, it sort of had to pull back because the video wasn't entered into evidence. So, it kind of astonished everyone.
But let's go back to this case when you think about January, 2022, he was trying to deliver a package, and apparently he was in a Hertz rental car, and it had Hertz on the side, but he was wearing his FedEx uniform. He went to deliver the package, and then all of a sudden these two men started shooting toward that car. I believe we have some pictures of the bullet holes that were inside that delivery van. So, you can understand why the mother would be so very upset. The fact that her son was working his job delivering packages, and
then all of a sudden he was shot at by these two men. They were charged with attempted murder. This case was proceeding and then all of a sudden, you have this detective get on the stand and admit that this video evidence that he had all this time since January 22 was never delivered to both sides so that mistrial was called. There's been some talk about this case could go right back to court pretty soon but honestly as the mother was sitting there you can tell she was very angry about this entire procedure.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, you can tell there's a lot of distrust down there in Mississippi of the system as well. Ryan Young, thank you very much.
PHILLIP: I want to now bring in CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson. Joey, I mean, as Ryan was saying, the judge was just blown away that this could happen. How could something like this happen?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, you know what, Abby, it shouldn't, right? But here it did, right? And here's the reality. There are certain rules of engagement at trial. And one of those rules are that you have discovery. Discovery, we don't have trial by ambush here. What happens is before trial, whether it be criminal or civil, civil involving money, criminal involving criminality, as this trial is, you turn everything over.
And so, what the prosecutor does is they speak to their detectives, they speak to their police, they glean what information is available. Are there videotapes, are there statements, are there police reports, are there phone records, or is there surveillance? Whatever it is, you hand it over to the defense. Right? At the same time, the defense counsel has reciprocal discovery obligations.
What that means in English is, hey, we have stuff, too. You give it to the prosecution. And the reason that's valuable, not only to ensure justice, right, because you have a better and a fairer trial when you have all the material, but it also helps to determine whether there's going to be a trial because if you get the information and it's so compelling against your client. You go to the D.A. and you say, hey guess what, let's settle. In this case you have a videotape statement?
JACKSON: -- and you're a detective, and you don't hand that over? That's like 101.
PHILLIP: Is this a prosecution mess up here?
JACKSON: So --
PHILLIP: I mean ultimately at the end of the day they need to know what evidence they have.
JACKSON: Exactly. I always hate to ascribe blame, right? Perfection will lose us all. But the realities are is that when you're a prosecutor, you speak to whoever are going to be witnesses and you say, hey, what do you have? I need that. But apparently in this case you have a detective who testifies and makes an admission that I had this all along, it's in my possession, I know I should have turned it over, and I did not. And so how could you get a fair trial in that circumstance? How could people trust the system in that circumstance? And the judge, to his credit, say, hey, I have no choice, I have to declare this.
PHILLIP: But if you're -- if you're a victim here in this case, this is justice deferred and perhaps justice denied. In the clip, we played earlier, he talked about Ahmaud Arbery. There are so many similarities in these cases.
JACKSON: Oh, yeah.
PHILLIP: A black man being chased down by white perpetrators. They were convicted in that case.
PHILLIP: First of all, do you think this case will go back to trial at some point? And if it does, do you have a sense of how this evidence stacks up?
JACKSON: I do. So yes, it will go back to trial. Because what happens, Abby, is when there's a mistrial, double jeopardy doesn't attach, right? Double jeopardy is when you tried for the same offense twice, you can't be, but you're not technically tried because it didn't happen. It's not final.
So, the answer is it will go forward. The question is, when will that be? In terms of how the evidence stacks up, listen, whenever you're chasing someone who apparently was in, he's a FedEx driver, he wasn't in a FedEx truck, wasn't marked that, apparently was marked Hertz, but why are you shooting at that person? Generally, when you shoot at someone, you're in immediate fear of death or serious injury. You have to respond proportionate to whatever threat they pose.
So, what threat did he pose? And you have to act reasonably. And if those three elements are not met, it wasn't immediate threat, your force was disproportionate, you're shooting, right? They're not doing anything to you and you're not acting reasonably. That signals conviction.
JACKSON: Long way away from that, they have their right to due process, the defendants that is, but they have to explain, defense hasn't a burden, but inquiring minds of the jury will want to know why did you do it? Was there any justification? If the answer to that is no, guess what? Means you're guilty.
JACKSON: But, we'll see. PHILLIP: Well, look, this is one of those cases where it really shows
defense lawyers matter, but prosecutors matter quite a lot, too, to get restitution for victims, as well.
PHILLIP: Joey, thank you very much for joining us.
JACKSON: Always, always. Thank you.
PHILLIP: And coming up next, can parents be held accountable for an 18-year-old's racist shooting rampage? My next guests are now suing to find out. Plus, a Southwest plane catching on fire mid-flight. We'll speak to some of the passengers who were on that extraordinary flight.
PHILLIP: It's a rare legal move and it could be a game changer. In a new push for accountability, the survivors and family of a victim of the 2022 racist mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, they're suing social media companies, gun companies, and the killer's parents, as survivors are still grappling with how to recover after that massacre.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: I haven't been back to work.
And sometimes people ask me, too. They're just like, how was work? I'm like, I haven't been to work since May 14, 2022. How do you think it is?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: And joining me now is the only child of Celestine Chaney, Wayne Jones. Celestine was killed inside of that Topps grocery store in 2022. Also with us is the Executive Director and Chief Litigation Counsel at Everytown Law, which is an organization focused on gun safety litigation. That's Eric Terschwell.
Eric and Wayne, both of you, thank you for being with us tonight. Wayne, I do want to start with you. First of all, I am very sorry for the loss of your mother. I wonder, what do you hope that this lawsuit will achieve for you and for your family. What does justice look like for you in this case?
WAYNE JONES, MOTHER KILLED IN BUFFALO MASS SHOOTING: Justice looks like some action in Congress. You know what I mean? Not just the monetary benefit of this. We're looking for some laws to be changed so the next family don't have to go through this.
PHILLIP: And Wayne, you know, typically the courts have been reluctant to hold parents responsible for the actions of their children. In this case, it might even be more difficult because the shooter here was 18 years old at the time of the shooting. But if you were to speak to his parents right now, what would you want to say to them?
JONES: I would just want them to reach out to us and say, we're sorry for what our son did. They haven't reached out and said a thing. Just apology goes a long way, you know. Just have accountability for what your son did. PHILLIP: And Eric, the arguments in this case are pretty wide-
ranging. They include defendants from the gun industry and the shooters' parents as well, social media companies. We've reached out to all of them for comment. And here is what YouTube responded with.
They said in a statement, "Through the years, YouTube has invested in technology, teams and policies to identify and remove extremist content. And we regularly work with law enforcement, other platforms and civil society to share intelligence and best practices."
So, Eric, these social media companies, they have been given quite a lot of immunity in cases like this. How are you going to approach this from a legal perspective to prove that they should be held accountable?
ERIC TIRSCHWELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CHIEF LITIGATION COUNSEL, EVERYTOWN LAW: So, what we've alleged, and we actually filed two lawsuits this week, and in both of these lawsuits, as you mentioned, there are three groups of defendants. One of them is social media companies. And as to the social media companies, that includes YouTube and Reddit.
What we've alleged is that their algorithms and the way they drove content to the shooter helped to radicalize him and provided him with information about how to acquire and equip himself to carry out this massacre. And while it's true that the courts have interpreted the immunity that Congress gave online companies quite broadly, we believe that our focus on the unreasonable dangerousness of these algorithms allows us to get through that immunity and to hold these companies accountable.
PHILLIP: Yeah. And as you say, you know, you're seeking this kind of responsibility from all these different players, which I think some experts have said is an uphill battle. You're seeking compensation for negligence also that resulted from the psychological trauma that was faced by both the families and by the victims. How confident are you that argument will succeed in court?
TIRSCHWELL: Yes, so one of our lawsuits is on behalf of 16 other survivors of this mass shooting, folks who were working and shopping at the Topps Market on May 14th and found themselves in the midst of a mass shooting, literally not knowing if they would live or die and running for their lives.
And we're very confident that when a court -- and we hope a jury hears their stories, they will have no doubt that these are survivors who are entitled to their day in court, and they are entitled to compensation for the wrongful conduct that contributed to this shooting by the defendants that we've sued in the gun industry, social media companies, and as you mentioned, the shooter's parents.
PHILLIP: And Wayne, before we go, I want to give you the last word to just take a moment and tell us about your beloved mother, who you lost in this horrible tragedy.
JONES: She was a single parent for majority of her life. Her parents died at an early age. She survived three aneurysms.
She survived breast cancer and for her to lose her life shopping. What she loved to do is a tragedy.
PHILLIP: All right. JONES: In itself. PHILLIP: Yeah, it absolutely, it absolutely is. Wayne and Eric, thank
you both very much for joining us tonight.
TIRSCHWELL: Thank you.
PHILLIP: And now, imagine being on a plane when the engine just catches a fire. My next guests, they don't have to imagine that at all. It just happened to them. Stay with us.
PHILLIP: A terrifying moment on a Southwest Airlines flight on Tuesday night. Just take a look at this.
Smoke and flames coming from underneath the right wing of that flight 307 from Houston, Texas to Cancun, Mexico. The airline says that the flight returned to the airport to check out what they called a potential mechanical issue and thankfully it landed safely.
Now, joining me now are two passengers, Jordan and Lynde Kleinecke. They were both on the plane when that engine caught a fire and we're grateful you lived to tell the tale, Jordan. You and Lindy were on this flight for your vacation. Actually, you might still -- are you still on your vacation?
JORDAN KLEINECKE: Yes, we are.
LYNDE KLEINECKE: Yes, yes. We started.
PHILLIP: You're still on your vacation. What made you realize that something was wrong here?
LYNDE KLEINECKE, PASSENGER ON SOUTHWEST FLIGHT WHEN ENGINE CAUGHT FIRE: I think, you know, when you go on a plane, there's many crosswinds. And so, I guess you kind of expect it more later in the flight. But right when we took off within about three minutes, we started heading south towards Cancun. And within a minute of turning, you felt the plane kind of go side to side like we were in a crosswind, but then it started like shifting this way and going side to side and immediately we all started looking at each other like that's not something -- we're avid flyers we know and that's not something we've ever experienced, so --
JORDAN KLEINECKE, PASSENGER ON SOUTHWEST FLIGHT WHEN ENGINE CAUGHT FIRE: It was definitely a one-time experience, hopefully.
LYNDE KLEINECKE: I think for sure we knew when the captain came on and he said you know we have engine problems, we'll be landing on the ground here shortly, you know, and hung up.
PHILLIP: Oh, so what goes through your mind when you hear pilots say there are engine problems? Did you hear anything? Was there a loud boom or anything like that when the fire started?
JORDAN KLEINECKE: Yes, I was sitting on the wing with the engine. I heard basically just a boom, but you know how it is. I mean, when you're flying, you hear noises and everything going on. I didn't start thinking anything about it until we started swaying really weird. And then when the pilot came on, just because he came on and hung up, he kind of knew something was going down. But yeah, I mean, it was just a boom and basically just started kind of swerving everywhere.
LYNDE KLEINECKE: Yeah, and I think the things that go through your mind or what's going on? Is somebody gonna get on and explain something? You know, my parents were on the flight with us. They travel a lot for work. Jordan travels a lot for work. So, my first, you know, instinct, was to turn to them and say, hey, have you all ever felt this before? Have you all ever had to do an emergency landing?
And so, I mean, I think in the moment, there's not a lot that goes through your mind. You're just kind of like, you know, what is that? And trust them.
PHILLIP: You guys are -- go ahead, Jordan.
JORDAN KLEINECKE: And so, I looked over at her whenever basically everything was going on. You can kind of tell. I mean, you could probably hear a pin dropping that airplane just because everybody was paying attention. But I was like, these are trained professionals and know what they're doing. They're going to get us down safely. And that's exactly what they did. So, I mean, shout out to the captain and flight attendants. They did an awesome job getting us home safely.
PHILLIP: You guys were cool, calm and collected. It sounds like, was there a smell? Could you smell anything burning?
LYNDE KLEINECKE: Oh, yes.
JORDAN KLEINECKE: You could smell gas. It smelled like gasoline.
PHILLIP: Oh, wow.
JORDAN KLEINECKE: Fuel. LYNDE KLEINECKE: Yeah. It's not fuel but a little bit of smoke. We were -- we lived in Galveston, Texas so, I guess the closest thing I could say is like the burning marine fuel from a boat inside the cabin and so, you know, we all, again, we're looking at each other. I still, to this, you know moment I don't understand no one on the plane freaked out. I mean even this passenger who took this video, you know, we were silent. We didn't know what was going on. I mean everyone thinks that it's gonna be screaming and chaos and I didn't pick up my phone once. I didn't. Nothing was going through my mind other than waiting for somebody to get on the microphone and tell us more, I guess.
PHILLIP: Yeah. Well, you all landed safely, as we said, but then you got on another Southwest flight. Were you nervous to get on that other flight? Or were you just like, we got to get to Mexico as quickly as possible.
JORDAN KLEINECKE: It's gone bad. I mean, I was, I felt that was probably the most -- safest flight I've been on.
LYNDE KLEINECKE: Yeah.
JORDAN KLEINECKE: Because it was one of those deals where something happened, you know what I mean? But everybody on that flight, the second flight for sure, we're reassuring, hey, everything's going to be good. Safe takeoff, safe flight. It was -- we were good, but I'm happy we got here.
LYNDE KLEINECKE: Yeah. I -- I really don't know how to explain it, but the second flight, I don't think I've ever been more confident in a flight and in my safety than in the second one. And I think, you know, my confidence came, you know, the first one was horrible. And I feel like everybody has like that one flight. And so, I'm like, no way this is going to happen again. And you know, the trust that you have, especially after going through that, you -- the only thing you can say in the moment when you're sitting on that plane is their professionals, they've trained for this, the professionals, they're trained for this, and you pray to God.
And that's truly the only things that were going in my mind. And so, the second flight, I don't even think I could iterate how much peace I had. And I know how weird that sounds, but it's like, okay, that was my one.
LYNDE KLEINECKE: You know, and I don't know, I just, I've never been more calm on a flight. I've never had peace like I did on the second flight.
PHILLIP: I hear you on that. And as you said, the pilots and their training, it really kicked in those moments. Jordan and Lynde Kleinecke, thank you both very much. Have a margarita for me on the beach while you're at it. We had many, trust me. The minute we got here. We were like, we need something.
PHILLIP: I bet. Thank you, guys.
JORDAN AND LYNDE KLEINECKE: Thank you.
PHILLIP: And coming up next for us, a death threat toward the judge in Trump's criminal trial in Washington, D.C. A judge who experienced the deadly consequences of being the target speaks out.
PHILLIP: And that's it for me here on CNN PRIMETIME. "CNN TONIGHT" with Jim Acosta starts right now. Jim, I know you got a great show ahead. Have a good one.