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CNN Live Event/Special

Georgia Prosecutors Pitch Massive, Long Trial For Trump And Allies; Trump's Mar-a-Lago Aide Flips On Him In Classified Documents Case; Watchdog Group Sues To Block Trump From Colorado Ballot; New Court Filing Biden Reveals Plans To Indict Hunter Biden On Gun Charges; A Dangerous Killer Is On The Loose After Daring To Escape From Prison; Attorneys For Disgraced Lawyer Turned Convicted Murderer Alec Murdaugh Push For A New Trial; Bruce Springsteen Postpones Remaining September Concerts. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 06, 2023 - 22:00   ET




KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And thank you so much for joining us. CNN Primetime with Abby Phillip starts right now.

Hi, Abby.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Kaitlan. Thank you so much and have a good night.

And good evening, everyone, I'm Abby Phillips.

It is shaping up to be one of the biggest criminal trials in American history, literally. Today was the very first televised hearing in that Georgia case against Donald Trump and 18 of his allies. District Attorney Fani Willis and her team revealed three big things about the election interference charges.

First, they want to charge and try all 19 co-defendants together. Second, this trial could last four months. And third, they'll call more than 150 different witnesses. That means that the former president of the United States could spend a third of the next year sitting in a courtroom in just one of his cases while running for a second term. It is just extraordinary.

And we are getting a preview of the tensions to come. Two of those co- defendants, Trump's legal adviser Sidney Powell and the so called architect of the coup plot, Kenneth Cheseboro, they want their trials to be separated, even though, through their lawyers today, started pointing the finger at each other, essentially over who's less crazy.


MANUBIR ARORA, ATTORNEY FOR KENNETH CHESEBORO: She was fired before this conspiracy actually even started up because she said something that was supposedly crazy and the Trump people got rid of her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The evidence will show that she was not the driving force behind that.


PHILLIP: In the end, though, the judge did deny their request. So, they will be tried together.

Joining me now is Jim Schultz, former Trump White House lawyer, and Ellie Mystal, the justice correspondent and columnist for the Nation Magazine.

Jim, I want to start with you. Look, the Fulton County District Attorney's Office, as we just said, they're planning a four-month trial, 150 witnesses, even the judge is skeptical that you could hold a trial for all 19 co-defendants as soon as next month.

But it makes me wonder, is this going to basically ensure that we won't even see this even in the next year because of how sprawling this all is?

JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: Look, I think you could see perhaps those two tried on the 23rd, but I think you also have to take into consideration the rights of the other defendants there and them not looking, asking for their speedy trial rights.

So, I do think it's very unlikely that you're going to see a trial on the 23rd with all 19 defendants. I think that's virtually impossible to do. I do think there's going to be a lot of pretrial motions. You have 150 witnesses. You're going to have a lot of motions relating to evidentiary issues, a lot of motions to dismiss. And, quite frankly, as clean as Jack Smith's case was, this one is just a mess in terms of trying to manage it from the judge's perspective.

Sure, there have been cases around the country that all the defendants in that number have been tried before for, but I don't think it's likely to happen in this case, given all the complex issues. I think you're not looking at a Georgia case until next year or even the year after.

PHILLIP: So, Ellie --

SCHULTZ: When I say next year, I mean, 2025.

PHILLIP: Right, the next year after the presidential election.

Ellie, the former Justice Department prosecutor, Andrew Weissman, he says that it really is absurd, over-trying a case is never a good thing for the government. I mean, there is, in a way, a principle here of trying to get a conviction, not just trying to make a point. Is he right?

ELIE MYSTAL, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT/COLUMNIST, THE NATION: No. We only talk about over-trying a case when we have white criminal defendants in the courtroom, right. We never talk about over-trying a case when it's people of color. We never talk about it when it's a drug kingpin. We never talk about it when it's a terrorist, right? What we saw, and what I'm glad that the American people got to see was a RICO trial. And, yes, it is large. It is complicated. But you see why we have the RICO statute. Because what happened in that courtroom today, within minutes, all the defendants say, oh, it was not me, it was her.


I don't know nothing about -- right? They all started pointing the finger at each other. And the reason why you have a RICO statute is so you can try them all together so they can't get away with it, so that Frankie Five Angels doesn't have to know what Luca Brasi was doing if they were all part of the same criminal conspiracy.

I fundamentally agree with Jim that it's going to take a while. I don't really think that it's going to happen until 2025 because the nature of RICO is messy. But I don't think that because that we are doing a RICO trial, that necessarily means that anybody is being overcharged or over-prosecuted. They all potentially, allegedly, were part of a conspiracy to overthrow the election in Georgia. And so we are going to try them all together. And that is what RICO is for.

PHILLIP: Jim, you brought up the point that --

SCHULTZ: You might even see --

PHILLIP: Yes, go ahead.

SCHULTZ: So, you might even see -- look, you still have these determinations need to be made by the federal judge in the folks who have said that they need to be tried federally. So, that's going to delay it even more. Those are issues that are all going to be taken up and decided and are going to delay this thing further down the road.

PHILLIP: So, Jim --

MYSTAL: Yes, the federal issues are still live.

PHILLIP: Go ahead, Ellie.

MYSTAL: I was just saying the federal issues are still very live. The federal issues are still live. We don't know what U.S. District Judge Jones is going to do about that case.

I don't think Meadows has a great case to remove it to federal court. However, because of the nature of RICO, if you start taking one defendant out and removing them to federal court, you have an argument, and this came up in the hearing today, maybe you have to remove the whole case, the federal court. So, there's still a lot to play out.

And, again, that means that we are unlikely to see kind of, this is not going to be a snappy Law and Order resolution right before the commercial break. This is going to take some time.

But you know, the wheels of justice do move slowly, but they do move. And what we saw today was the start of movement to hold these people accountable for their alleged crimes.

PHILLIP: Well, look, Fani Willis is the one who says that she wants to do this quickly as well. Some of those defendants have asked for their speedy trial rights, but she said, I'm ready to go next month. It sounds like based on the case that she put together, it can't possibly be as quick as that for all of these co-defendants.

Jim and Ellie, stand by for me for a moment here.

Also new tonight, one of Donald Trump's aides is flipping on him, that Mar-a-Lago I.T. worker, who was threatened with prosecution in the documents case is cooperating with prosecutors now. And as a result, he will not be prosecuted in that case.

Now, this comes as Trump says that he's willing to testify in his cases.


HUGH HEWITT, HOST, THE HUGH HEWITT SHOW: If you have to go to trial, will you testify in your own defense?


HEWITT: You'll take the stand.

TRUMP: That I would, that I look forward to.


PHILLIP: Now if history is any indicator, don't hold your breath for that, like that time that he declined to testify in the E. Jean Carroll case, or the time that he refused to testify in the January 6th hearing, or the time he declined to testify in the investigation of his real estate empire, and the time he refused to testify in the hush money case.

Also, there's the time he wouldn't testify at his own impeachment trial, or the time he didn't sit down with Robert Mueller, even though he said that he would.


TRUMP: I'm looking forward to it, actually.

I think yesterday I was talking about two or three weeks, but I would love to do it.


PHILLIP: You see the trend here.

Jim and Ellie are still with me. Ellie, who's he kidding?

MYSTAL: Not me, Jack. Look, Trump is a liar, and so he is lying. And the fact that he is lying is one of the reasons why he can't testify, because if he testifies, he will lie, and he will catch himself another indictment this time for perjury.

Joe Isuzu is less of a perjury risk than Donald Trump putting him on the stand. No lawyer who has been through, I would say, three months of law school would dare to put Trump on the stand to lie some more. So, no, he's not going to testify. He knows he's not going to testify. His lawyers know that he's not going to testify. All of this is another lie from Donald Trump.

PHILLIP: Jim, you know him. You also have the distinction of being a former lawyer for Donald Trump. What say you?

SCHULTZ: So, look, I think this is just more Donald Trump bravado, right? There's no chance that he's going to testify at these trials. There's no chance that his lawyers are going to agree for him to do that. So, I agree with everything Ellie is saying there. I don't think there's any chance he testifies, and there's no lawyer in the right mind that would allow him to testify.

PHILLIP: So, we were just talking there about the Mar-Lago worker who struck that deal with the special counsel's office. He's agreed now to testify in the classified documents case.


In exchange, he's not going to be prosecuted.

But, Jim, I wonder, this idea that if you turn on Trump, you don't get prosecuted, can the other co-defendants or even unindicted co- conspirators hang their hat on that, that if they flip, they escape all consequences here?

SCHULTZ: It depends on the conduct and the allegations that have been made against those particular defendants in those cases. So, there may be some break that they're given. They may not be given immunity. But I'll tell you what, they all have to be looking over their shoulder right now, looking at that, looking at what that former defendant in the case did, the deal that he made and saying, maybe I should be doing the same thing to save my skin.

That's got to make Trump really nervous and the other defendants in the case nervous because they're going to be looking around and saying, who's going next?

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, and, Ellie, from a purely psychological perspective, I mean, there's a huge impact. I mean, how big of a deal is this for the special counsel's team?

MYSTAL: I think the real issue here is that Trump doesn't have any more pardons to sell, right? He's not the president. He can't dangle pardons in front of these people. He can only say that if he gets elected president again, maybe he'll pardon them. But even that doesn't work for Georgia.

So, I do think look, one of the reasons Trump has been able to avoid accountability, prosecution, whatever, for so long, is that most of his people have stayed amazingly loyal to him. The Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, you know, people have taken the weight for Donald Trump, right? This might be where it all starts to break down.

And once his own people start turning on him and start telling the truth to prosecutors and to the states, things are going to get even worse for a person who's now under four, five indictments.

PHILLIP: I have a feeling there will be quite a few more twists and turns in this case. You have in at least the documents case two individuals who have attorneys who are tied to Trump. That, in and of itself, is a big source of potential problems down the road for those co-defendants and perhaps for Trump as well.

Jim Schultz, Ellie Mystal, thank you very much, both of you.

And up next, a watchdog group sues to keep Trump off the ballot, citing the 14th Amendment. That group's director makes his case right here, next.

Plus, an Obama campaign veteran calls his party a bunch of bedwetters and tells them to relax about Biden's chances. Hours later, we're learning that Hunter Biden is about to be indicted.

And we're now seeing video of how an inmate escaped that prison as the manhunt intensifies by the hour.



PHILLIP: Should Donald Trump be banned from the ballot? A new lawsuit tonight is trying to make that argument. A watchdog group is now suing on behalf of six Republican and Independent voters in Colorado to keep Trump off the 2024 Republican primary ballot there.

Their argument stems from a rarely used provision of the 14th Amendment that bans insurrectionists from holding public office. Colorado's Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, said in a statement that she hopes this case will provide guidance to election officials on Trump's eligibility as a candidate for office.

The executive director of that watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Noah Bookbinder, joins me now. Noah, thank you for being here.


So, Noah, I really want to kind of put you to the test a little bit here on some of this, because while I understand what is so appealing about this for a lot of people, frankly, this is really, really untested.

I do wonder, though, first of all, why choose the state of Colorado, which Biden won pretty handily by almost 500,000 votes?

BOOKBINDER: Colorado really emerged as our lawyers looked really state by state as a particularly good first place for this kind of lawsuit for a couple of reasons. First of all, different states have different laws as to how you can challenge the qualifications of a candidate for office.

And Colorado has a statute that says that the secretary of state is required to remove from the ballot anyone who is constitutionally unqualified. It also has law that says that citizens can go to court to challenge a candidate who's not qualified.

So, it has a procedure built in. It's a quick procedure. And it's relatively early in the primary calendar, so that the case will be ripe earlier than in some other places. It also had really a terrific group of courageous plaintiffs who were willing to make a stand on this.

So, for all of those reasons, we thought this was a good first stop. It won't be the last stop. We and others will bring other cases as well.

PHILLIP: So, just days before Trump launched his presidential bid, a year ago, over a year ago, you warned him in a letter that you would pursue this very thing and disqualifying him from holding public office. Why did you wait a full year to file?

BOOKBINDER: Well, we wanted to bring the case when a court was going to consider it to be ripe, when a court wouldn't kind of throw it out as premature, and also because we are ready to go in with witnesses, with evidence to put on a full case and prove that Donald Trump is constitutionally disqualified.

That takes time to get a team together, to get all that evidence together. That's what we've been hard at work on for that year.

PHILLIP: So, one of the sticking points here is that the 14th Amendment does not have any context about what the due process is for people who might be subject to it. Who does get to decide who has violated the 14th amendment?

BOOKBINDER: Well, I mean, as you said, this has been little used, and that's a fortunate thing because we haven't had a lot of insurrections in this country, but it has been used.


There is case law from the 1860s after the civil war, and there is also a case my organization represented New Mexico residents in a case last year against a county commissioner, Couy Griffin, who was an organizer of the January 6th insurrection.

PHILLIP: But can I just jump in here on that, just for context for our viewers? The cases in the civil war era were against people who actually fought in the civil war. So, there's that. And then the case you just mentioned about 2022, that individual was actually convicted of playing a role in January 6th. What's missing here for Trump is a conviction.

BOOKBINDER: Well, so it's interesting. So, Couy Griffin was convicted of a misdemeanor offense of essentially trespassing. He was not convicted of insurrection. And, in fact, none of the post-civil war cases involved people who were charged with or convicted of insurrection.

There's actually a whole lot of case law saying this is a totally different thing from criminal cases. This isn't a criminal punishment. It's a qualification. It's like the Constitution says, you got to be at least 35 to run for president and you can go to court.

And if a 23-year-old runs for president, you can go to court and say that this person is not constitutionally qualified. You have to establish with evidence that they're in fact 23 years old, not 35. And if you do, they're off of the ballot.

It's the same thing here. Obviously, the substance is much more serious. But if we can go to court and it's a civil trial, you proved by preponderance of the evidence that there was an insurrection, that this person in this case, Donald Trump, engaged in that insurrection, and we did that in the case of Couy Griffin in New Mexico, totally apart from his misdemeanor conviction, and in that case, a judge ruled that he was disqualified. That can happen here as well.

PHILLIP: I don't want to hold you too much to your example of the qualifications on age because I think it's pretty clear those are not really that comparable. I mean, this is a question of who gets to decide, A, what an insurrection is, whether someone's conduct constituted engaging in an insurrection, whether that should be applied in a particular area. It's really actually quite different. And I will say because, frankly, you can prove from a factual perspective how old a person is. Those other questions are difficult.

But what underlies a lot of this is the American people are being asked here to say, okay, we're going to let judges decide that. Do you understand why some people might not be comfortable with that?

BOOKBINDER: I certainly do. I would say that, look, deciding difficult issues, particularly difficult constitutional issues, is why we have courts. That's what our courts do every day.

I take your point that somebody's age is obviously a much simpler question, but the American court system decides questions of what does the Constitution mean and who does it apply to on a daily basis.

And in this case, whether you look at what the House select committee on January 6th found or what conservative scholars, Professors Bowd and Paulson (ph), very prominent conservative scholars, wrote a major piece about this. A lot of people across the political spectrum are looking at this, and they're saying the law and the facts are actually very clear here.

Now, it is true that certainly one line of criticism is, shouldn't the American people get to vote. And one of the rejoinders to that is that's what happened in 2020. The American people got to decide whether they wanted to vote for Donald Trump. They didn't vote for him. He refused to accept the result of that election and actually, ultimately incited a violent attack. There's no particular reason to believe that the result would be different this time. So, the idea that sort of we just trust it to democracy, when you're talking about someone who has literally attacked democracy, I think is not particularly satisfying.

PHILLIP: One of the things you just mentioned is that you are gathering evidence, preparing to go to court, basically to have a trial on this subject. Just explain to us here, are you suggesting that, basically, you're going to put Donald Trump on trial in all of these different jurisdictions and litigate the factual question of whether or not he participated in an insurrection?

That sounds to me similar to the question that's being investigated at the federal level by Jack Smith. It sounds to me similar to the question being investigated at the state level in Georgia.


You all are going to do that state by state?

BOOKBINDER: Well, we are starting in one state, and we may well do others. And these are not criminal trials. We're not trying to have anyone go to prison. This is just a question of qualification. But we are ready to make a comprehensive factual showing. And then we'll see what happens from there.

That may enable future court cases. It also may empower secretaries of state who can make these constitutional decisions on their own, but may not want to do that before a court has had the opportunity to look at evidence. They may be able to go and do that without having the same kind of procedure in every state.

PHILLIP: Look, I mean, a lot of secretaries of state, including Jena Griswold, we read her statement, we spoke yesterday to the Michigan secretary of state as well, they believe this is going to the Supreme Court. This is a really conservative Supreme Court. Donald Trump has appointed several of its members. What makes you think you would be successful at the Supreme Court level if this goes there, as it might eventually?

BOOKBINDER: I do think that this is something that obviously is of tremendous national importance. It's certainly very possible that it will end up in front of the Supreme Court. And it's always hard to predict what the Supreme Court will do.

I will say that this is a Supreme Court which actually has been pretty strong in taking the position that Donald Trump specifically is not exempt from and is not above the law and is subject to oversight. It took that position in cases that came before it about whether Congress could conduct oversight of Donald Trump. It's not a court that has, in any sense, seemed to want to condone the kind of insurrectionist activity we saw after the 2020 election.

So, I think -- and I also would point back to the really impressive conservative scholars, including a prominent former Judge J. Michael Luttig, who have come out and said, the facts in the law are clear here that Donald Trump is disqualified under the 14th Amendment.

We think that we're going to be prepared to make a strong argument to this Supreme Court, if it gets that far, and that they will be willing to listen.

PHILLIP: All right. We'll see how that turns out. Noah Bookbinder, thank you very much for joining us.

BOOKBINDER: Thanks so much for having me.

PHILLIP: And up next, Hunter Biden to be indicted, a senator dares Republicans to impeach the president and a former Republican governor says if Trump loses the 2024 race will be the last election, quote, decided by ballots rather than bullets. Dana Bash is here to talk about all this and more.



PHILLIP: A brand new court filing from the special counsel investigating Hunter Biden reveals plans to indict the president's son on gun charges by the end of this month. Now, Hunter Biden had previously reached a deal involving a gun possession charge, which would have allowed him to avoid prosecution if he met certain conditions. But that deal fell apart in court last month.

CNN Anchor and Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash joins me now. Dana, this is clearly a legal problem for Hunter Biden but if you're the White House or the president's campaign, how much of a political problem is this?

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: It's certainly not a welcome development. Let's make that very clear just to state the blatantly obvious, Abby, because it's one thing for Republicans in Congress, particularly those who have control of the House of Representatives to be waging investigations into Hunter Biden, making claims that they haven't yet proven with any kind of evidence about Hunter Biden and his father.

It's a whole different thing when the Biden Justice Department through a special counsel, but -- who became a special counsel last month, but yet it is still the Biden Justice Department files charges and what we will likely see it will be an indictment of the president's son.

Now, is this a major issue in the grand scheme of things? No. I mean, this is a gun charge as you mentioned. It is a charge based on the fact that he signed a form when he bought a gun saying that he was not under the influence of drugs and he -- that was not true. He was taking drugs. He was now very open about the fact that he was addicted to crack cocaine.

And so, the Biden, the Hunter Biden legal team, they insist that this is something that they are going to be able to figure out and that they will maybe be able to dismiss it down the road. But at this present state, it is certainly not great news for Biden in any way legally or politically.

PHILLIP: Yeah, it's a really good point. It's potentially actually a double-edged sword for Biden. But this is all happening on the same day, actually, that Jim Messina, who led Barack Obama's 2012 reelection campaign, is sending a message to Democrats, basically saying, don't worry so much about the president's reelection chances. He's arguing that Biden is in a better position than most people realize. But first of all, the polls say otherwise. And, Dana, I know you and I both remember in 2016 when other Obama alums were basically making the same argument about Trump. And, you know, we ended up with Donald Trump as president of the United States.

BASH: They were wrong.


BASH: That's right. You're exactly right. And also, you and I both know that telling Democrats not to be, in Jim Messina's words, "bed wetters" is like telling the sun not to rise in the east and telling the ocean not to have waves come up on the beach.


It's just not going to happen. And again, this is Democrats who admit this over and over again. The big argument that Messina made in this series of slides and the slideshow that he made was about the economy and the argument that the economy isn't that bad. He used statistics talking about the so-called misery index that it's actually in a better position than it was when Barack Obama was re-elected and Messina ran back 12.

But one of the things that has not gotten that much attention in Messina's presentation, Abby, was the idea that a third-party candidate and or a pretty serious challenger within the Democratic party could be something that Democrats need to be paying much more attention to. He noted that just when you look at the primary challenge, Jimmy Carter was challenged, didn't win re-election. George H.W. Bush was challenged, didn't win re-election.

And on the flip side, the third party, if it is so incredibly tight, as we expect it to be, any little bit of erosion when it comes to Joe Biden's support could help Donald Trump and he's talking about people like Cornel West or maybe the No Labels organization which is still very much flirting with a third party run.

PHILLIP: Yeah, yeah. I mean that seems to be the thing that a lot of people in Biden world are keeping their eye on and most concerned about. Dana, I want to get you to respond here to this. This is from former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee who today made some waves when he said this on his show.


MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: People in power use their police agencies to arrest their opponents for made-up crimes in an attempt to discredit them, bankrupt them, imprison them, exile them, or all of the above. And if you're not paying attention, you may not realize that Joe Biden is using exactly those tactics to make sure that Donald Trump is not his opponent in 2024. Here's the problem. If these tactics end up working to keep Trump from winning or even running in 2024. It is going to be the last American election that will be decided by ballots rather than bullets.

PHILLIP: I mean, you could call it loose language, but honestly, Dana, it's just, it seems really irresponsible.

BASH: And it's part of a pattern, Abby, never mind the former president who has used similar language, not just pre-January 6th in 2020 and the beginning of 2021, but even recently as a candidate and other Republicans. And that is what is so dangerous, that this isn't a one-off from a former governor in Arkansas, a former presidential candidate -- who knows better, but it is an -- that you're hearing from people who are trying to make the argument against Joe Biden, making the weaponization argument, the Justice Department argument, but taking it so much further than they know is responsible to do, especially given the fact that we just have to look at January 6th to see how this kind of rhetoric has consequences.

PHILLIP: Yeah, we already know what the consequences are, unfortunately. Dana, thank you so much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

BASH: Great to see you. Great to be here.

PHILLIP: And he crab-walked up a wall. He pushed his way through razor wire. He scaled a fence and more to escape prison. See the video, next. And a new twist in the Murdoch murders case that no one saw coming. Stay with us.




PHILLIP: Tonight, a dangerous killer is on the loose after daring to escape from prison, and we are now seeing how he did it. Just look at this video of convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante crab-walking between two walls at Chester County, Pennsylvania. Police say that once he climbed those walls, Cavalcante pushed his way through two layers of razor wire and incredibly, another inmate at that same prison made an identical escape just four months ago. But he was captured within a few minutes of his escape. He's -- Cavalcante has been on the run now for a full week.

Joining me now is Kevin Mulverhill. He was the sheriff in Franklin County, New York, when two convicted murderers escaped from prison there in 2015. They had help from a former prison employee who was enamored with the men. She smuggled weapons in to help break them out. One of the inmates was recaptured. The other was killed in a shootout with police. Now, Kevin, the prison warden here in Pennsylvania is calling this basically a failure on the human side. What do you see when you watch that video? KEVIN MULVERHILLE, FORMER FRANKLIN COUNTY, NY SHERIFF: Well, Abby, I

think it just goes to show that inmates, just because they're in jail, doesn't mean they're not an intelligent person, doesn't mean they lack initiative or the fortitude. And this is obviously a man who does not want to be incarcerated. And he would do anything to get out. I mean, it's almost ninja-like. You know, it takes a real planner to look at something like this and be able to pull it off.

PHILLIP: I mean, he almost makes it look easy. The thing is, just four months ago, another prisoner basically did the same thing, not only escaped from the same prison but used the same climbing method.


The prison added the razor wire to try to block access to the roof but can a prison ever really be made completely escape-proof?

MULVERHILLE: Well when Sweat and Matt escaped from Clinton they were the first to ever escape from that state facility. You know, as a Clinton County sheriff, I ran the Clinton County Jail, you know, you do talk about inspections and you always you know try to plan for any given scenario. But you're competing against people -- who have nothing else to do, 24-7 but to plan their escape, plan around playing what they want to do

PHILLIP: This search now has been going on for a week. There have been multiple sightings. Investigators have even spied footprints today. When you led the search for these two murderers who escaped from a maximum security prison, that took three weeks. Do you think that in this case, the manhunt could take that long?

MULVERHILLE: I think they're dealing with a lot smaller area than we had. I'm sure they're using as many or you may be even more resources, and resources are going to be the key and act. The other key to this is the public. If you say some -- if you to see some if you see something say something it's important to get that communication to the -- to the right people in the right hands.

So, I know they had sightings and it just indicates to me that they're getting closer and the thing they have to do now is just keep pushing him, don't give him a chance to rest keep pushing him, you know, keep bringing in fresh horses, you know new dogs, new officers. Just keep on the chase, you know. It's important. We got ta catch this guy before he hurts somebody.


MULVERHILLE: He's a bad man.

PHILLIP: Yeah, a convicted murderer here. Kevin Mulverhill, the sheriff. Thank you very much.

MULVERHILLE: Thanks for having me.

PHILLIP: And there's a new twist to the Murdoch family murders case. The court clerk is being accused of tampering with the jury. The co- author of that clerk's tell-all book about the trial is here to respond next.




PHILLIP: One of the most watched trials of the year has a new twist now. Attorneys for disgraced lawyer turned convicted murderer Alec Murdaugh are pushing for a new trial. They're accusing the clerk of the court of tampering with the jury. Rebecca Hill is accused of advising jurors not to believe Murdaugh's testimony and pressuring them to make a guilty verdict. They claim that she did these things to secure for herself a book deal and media appearances that would not happen in the event of a mistrial.

She co-authored that book with my next guest. It's called "Behind the Doors of Justice: The Murdaugh Murders". Hill is not responding to these allegations, but my next guest, Neil Gordon, is. Neil, thanks for being here. I want to first get you just to respond here to some of these allegations. One of the jurors says that Hill instructed the jury to, quote, "watch Murdaugh closely and to look at his actions and movement". That juror says they interpreted those instructions to mean that Murdaugh was guilty. Did she say that?

NEIL GORDON, CO-AUTHOR "BEHIND THE DOORS OF JUSTICE: THE MURDAUGH MURDERS": Not to me. We spent four months together working on the book and I asked her many, many questions about all of her duties which included working with the jury, with the judge, with the witnesses with the media with the public and we went through just a litany of questions and nothing like that ever came up whatsoever. And I was not there at the trial and did not meet Becky until three weeks after the trial, as well.

PHILLIPS: One of the things she's also accused of doing is instructing the jury to not be misled by Murdoch's defense. I mean, you have spoken to her recently, as these allegations have come up. What is she saying to all of this?

GORDON: Well, right now, I did speak with her this evening, as a matter of fact, Abby, and she's been kind of huddled up in her home with her husband reviewing pages and pages of these allegations. And they're taking them one at a time through the affidavits very carefully. She has attorneys that are advising her. These are very serious allegations.

And she's going to answer them one by one and then pass them on to her attorney, and then the attorney will be presenting things in terms of the response through a court filing. And at that point, she'll feel comfortable responding to the allegations. But she's very anxious to respond.

PHILLIP: So, she didn't deny them to you when you spoke to her today?

GORDON: Oh, she has said before on a few conversations that have appeared on some cable websites, she simply said, these are not true. I need time to respond to the allegations. So, that's all that I can -- that's all that I can tell you.

PHILLIP: The filing also argues that he'll pressure jurors to come to their conclusion in their deliberations quickly, even adding that smokers can't smoke and take smoke breaks until after the deliberations were complete. As you pointed out, I mean, these are really serious allegations here. Does it sound like something that this person that you've spent quite a lot of time with would have done?

GORDON: Very interesting. You know, Walter Burrow was considered to be like Mayberry, and if Walter Burrow is Mayberry, then Becky Hill would be much like Aunt B. And I don't know if you ever watched Mayberry growing up or on the re-runs, but the point of the matter is I've never heard her raise her voice. I've never heard her pressure anyone. It's just -- I don't think it's in her DNA. You know, certain people are just very reserved and very measured with their thoughts. And that's how I would describe Becky to a T.

So, I find that extremely hard to believe just from the time that I spent with her. And I don't know too much, again, about the smoke situation that you brought up but the way kind of the court system works is, with Becky having so much overarching responsibility in all those areas that I described earlier, the chief bailiff, really, his one role was to carefully watch the jurors and make sure that they were in the correct place at the correct time. So --


PHILLIP: One of the -- I mean, I do want you to -- I want you to just before you go here, I mean, you wrote this book with her, right? And one of the allegations is that the whole point of her trying to get a quick verdict is that she wanted the notoriety that came with this book. That's also a very serious allegation that would kind of embroil you into some of this, as well.

GORDON: Very fair, Abby. And I take extreme exception to what attorneys Harpootlian and Griffin said at the press conference. They just got it wrong. The fact is there was no book deal coming her way or our way. We spent $30,000 of our life savings together, our families, to be able to purchase books in advance and get editors and deal with attorneys and get everything that we needed to do to be able to -- and you know -- this book. So, not only did we not receive an advance and money, we came out of pocket. So, none of that made sense to me.

PHILLIP: All right. Neil Gordon, thank you for joining us and thanks for answering those questions.

GORDON: My pleasure, Abby.

PHILLIP: And just in, a surprise announcement from Bruce Springsteen, why he is suddenly canceling a month's worth of shows.





PHILLIP: Bad news for fans of The Boss. Bruce Springsteen is postponing the rest of his September concerts due to a gastrointestinal condition. On Instagram today, the 73-year-old musician says he's being treated for peptic ulcer disease.

And that's it for me in CNN Primetime. CNN Tonight with Laura Coates starts right now. And every friend that I know who saw him in New Jersey over the weekend, they got super lucky.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: I mean, are you kidding me? The only dream I have is that one day I'll be in his front row and he'll pull me out, like Courtney Cox all those years ago, remember that? That one video, I'm a video girl, the MTV generation, I admit that. So, I mean, I have other dreams, Abby Phillip, aside from being pulled on stage.

PHILLIP: I believe this will happen for you, Laura. I think this will happen for you.

COATES: Thank you, I mean, it sounds painful what he's going through right now, so maybe after all of that passes. But thank you so much.

PHILLIP: Yeah, we hope that he gets well soon. Have a good night, Laura.

COATES: Absolutely. You, too.