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Dire U.S. Warning Russia May Invade Ukraine at Any Time; FDA Postpones Key Meeting on Vaccines for Kids Under Five; State of Emergency as Truckers Blockade Cripples Trade; Autopsy Reveals Bob Saget Died From Blunt Head Trauma; Documents Raise New Questions About U.S. Military Findings That No One Was Hit By Gunfire After Kabul Airport Attack. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired February 11, 2022 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Until then, you can follow me on Facebook, on Intagram, on Twitter and the TikTok @jaketapper. You can tweet the show @theleadcnn. You can listen to "THE LEAD" as a podcast if you missed it.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Jim Acosta in THE SITUATION ROOM.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. The White House issues its most dire warning yet about the threat of a Russian attack on Ukraine, saying invasion could happen at anytime including during the Olympics.

Tonight, chilling new information about how Vladimir Putin may launch a deadly war.

Also breaking, the FDA just postponed a critical meeting on the Pfizer vaccine for children under age five. We will tell you what is behind the delay, and what it could mean for the bigger push to move beyond the pandemic.

And a new state of emergency is in effect in Canada as protest by truckers cut-off major routes into the U.S. officials now threatening to use force as the blockades cripple trade and cause economic pain on both sides of the border.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jim Acosta and you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with the strongest signals yet from the Biden administration that the Russian-Ukraine crisis could explode at any moment. Our correspondents and analysts are standing by in Ukraine, in Russia, and here in the United States as we cover this breaking story as only CNN can.

First, let's go to our White House Correspondent, M.J. Lee. M.J., after weeks of U.S. efforts to prevent an invasion, time appears to be running out. M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The clock still is ticking. And while the -- in the last 24 hours, we have seen a notable shift in tone, while U.S. administration officials are saying they still have not determined whether Russia will, in fact, invade Ukraine, they say a potential invasion could come sooner than previously expected, and they are issuing a stern warning to American citizens in Ukraine.


JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We are in the window when an invasion could begin at any time, should Vladimir Putin decide to order it.

LEE (voice over): Tonight, growing urgency at the White House, the looming threat of a Russia invasion of Ukraine.

SULLIVAN: We continue to see signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border.

LEE: National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan appearing at this afternoon's White House press briefing, confirming that Vladimir Putin could launch an attack even sooner than, previously, anticipated.

SULLIVAN: There is a credible prospect that a Russian military action would take place even before the end of the Olympics.

LEE: This, a contrast from prior assessments that Russia was unlikely to invade before the conclusion of the Olympics. The U.S. now making this chilling prediction about what a Russian invasion would look like.

SULLIVAN: If a Russian attack on Ukraine proceeds, it is likely to begin with aerial bombing and missile attacks that could obviously kill civilians without regard to their nationality. A subsequent ground invasion would involve the onslaught of a massive force.

LEE: Sullivan warning in no uncertain terms American citizens in Ukraine must leave now.

SULLIVAN: Any American in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible and in any event in the next 24 to 48 hours. If you stay, you are assuming risk with no guarantee that there will be any other opportunity to leave, and there's no prospect of a U.S. military evacuation in the event of a Russian invasion.

LEE: The past 24 hours, filled with a frenzy of activity at the highest levels of the U.S. government. President Biden convening a call with world leaders earlier today to discuss the escalating situation on the Russia-Ukraine border.

Biden joining his top national security advisers in THE SITUATION ROOM Thursday night in an abruptly scheduled meeting. The president spending the weekend at Camp David.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president will be at Camp David, which is fully equipped to have engagements of all sorts, including with his national security team or European counterparts.

LEE: And expected to speak with Putin on the phone on Saturday.


LEE (on camera): Now, this phone call with Vladimir Putin tomorrow is a sign that the U.S. is still trying to go the route of diplomacy. Remember, President Biden and Putin last spoke in December. But we have heard so often, Jim, from President Biden and others around him that they find Vladimir Putin to be entirely unpredictable and that it is virtually impossible to get inside his head. Jim?

ACOSTA: There's no question about that. All right, M.J., stay with us.

I want to bring in CNN's Alex Marquardt in Ukraine, CNN Nic Robertson in Russia, and also with us retired General Wesley Clark, the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander. He is now CNN Military Analyst.


Nic, let me to the go to you first, there in Moscow. The U.S. is laying out -- I mean, this is remarkable, in pretty striking detail the intelligence they have on this likely invasion. How is Russia responding at this point? Are they still claiming there is nothing to see here?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: They are. You know, the United States is clearly trying to interrupt President Putin's decision-making at a very critical moment when he has everything deployed and ready for the potential of an invasion.

The Kremlin spokesman this evening, little unusual that they speak out this evening, normally, you wouldn't hear him for the whole of the weekend, but saying that the Kremlin repeatedly says that there is no intention to invade, saying that this is some kind of provocation from the west, and behind this, the forces of the government in Ukraine will try to attack the pro-Russian, Russian-backed separatists in Donbas in the east of the country.

The ministry of foreign affairs taking a somewhat shriller approach, saying this is hysteria coming from the White House. This is provocations, threats, intimidation. The Anglo-Saxons want a war, they say, just to cover up the fact they have problems at home.

Now, if all of that sounds familiar, yes, it is, it is because it's what Russian officials here have been saying for the past month or so. And why is that? Because President Putin hasn't changed his position or tune. He has yet to say what he is going to do. He has yet to say how he is going to respond to the United States' response to his demands. So, it is a status quo.

And that phone call coming from President Biden to President Putin tomorrow, a useful piece of diplomacy potentially, President Macron calling him if he calling President Putin a few hours before that. But it does seem on the ground here that the tracks of diplomacy have all but dried up. A Russian diplomat yesterday, saying that nine hours of talks to try to solve the Minsk agreement got nowhere, and, therefore, their interpretation, western diplomacy just isn't working for them, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. And, Alex, you are in Ukraine. And we should point out, while we show a map to our viewers, Ukraine is now almost surrounded. It has Russian forces on three sides of its borders surrounded by Russia at this point, just a remarkable situation. What is the reaction in Ukraine? They have been almost nonchalant about this, throughout this buildup. This is looking less like brinkmanship and more like battle planning.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, we are hearing nowhere near the level of alarm from Ukrainian officials, as we have heard today from American officials, and that is, of course, consistent, as you say, with the differences between Kyiv and Washington, D.C. over the course of the past few weeks.

Now, that is not to say that they are dismissing this. They are taking this very seriously. But there still are differences now. Now, one of the more stark warnings and more dramatic messages we are hearing tonight is from the mayor of Kyiv, which was singled out by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan as a potential early target for a Russian invasion.

The mayor of Kyiv trying to assure his citizens that critical infrastructure is being protected, that evacuation plans are in place, that they have installed electric generators to keep power going and that there are some 5,000 air raid shelters, bomb shelters that are in place that have grown significantly over the course of the past three years, hoping it to provide some level of comfort to the citizens of Kyiv.

We have also heard from a Ukrainian official who is close to the Zelensky government saying that this is a situation that is really serious and uncertain. So, they do understand how significant this is and the potential of what could happen. The National Security Council here in Ukraine, earlier today, warning of potential provocations by Russia, made up pretext that they would use in order to invade. That is something we have also heard from the United States.

But that daylight between Ukraine and the U.S. continues, Jim. A spokesman for President Zelensky saying that it is too soon, that the security situation has not escalated enough to justify the travel advisories and the embassy draw downs that we are seeing from foreign countries, including the United States. President Biden making clear that he wants American citizens to leave Ukraine.

And then, on the streets, Jim, it is Friday night in Ukraine and they have emptied out a little by now. But here, Dnipro, it was a Friday night. People were out and about. And when I spoke to them, asked them how worried they were, they said it is not something that they are thinking about. So, there is still that stark difference between Ukraine and NATO. Jim? ACOSTA: It is stark. General Clark, let me talk to you about this. The national security adviser warned Russia could seize a significant amount of territory, and possibly launch a rapid assault on the capital city of Kyiv. As a former commander of NATO, can you walk us through how that type of invasion would unfold?

And what do you make of this disconnect between the White House and what we are hearing out of Ukraine?


It's really bizarre.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's not bizarre. The Ukrainian government has got to maintain some degree of order and calmness among the citizens. Otherwise, they can't protect their own country. So, we shouldn't look at that as bizarre.

Now, if the Russians are going to attack, you would expect it to begin with an assassination program of key-government and military officials. They have got Spetsnaz, it's probably already infiltrated. They may have special weapons in there, including Novichok, the chemical weapon that the Russians have and have used illegally, of course. So, they normally would begin with assassination effort, cyber, missile strikes, and then the ground forces would move. They could come from multiple directions, and it would probably be accompanied by, let's say, 2,000 or 3,000 Russian soldiers dressed as Ukrainians to show confusion and chaos in there.

The whole idea will be it will be over and it will be confusing and the news media in the west will say, well, we don't know what happened and maybe the government fell and we are not sure these are Russians. This is the way it will be done. And then you will see the power of this Russian military that Mr. Putin wants to show off.

And I do think we have to be clear on one thing, Jim. This is not a failure of western diplomacy. It is not. The Biden administration has done a brilliant job pulling NATO nations together. We have met with Putin. There's been nothing like this for NATO in 20 years in terms of consultation with the west and trying to be reasonable with Mr. Putin.

He has built up this force. He's had this option all along. He is going to play it for all it's worth. We don't know if he has made the decision but let's don't blame ourselves. This is all in his hands.

ACOSTA: And, General Clark, what about the timetable that we are hearing from the White House that we could see military action coming before the end of the Olympics and these warnings to Americans to get out in the next 24 to 48 hours? White House, clearly, making these statements because they think something is happening. Something is imminent.

CLARK: Right. And they can, they can observe, monitor, somehow detect the continuing forward elements of the Russian forces, as they are preparing to attack, could be uploading ammunition, could be moving counter-reconnaissance forces up to the border. They could be hearing discussions among Spetsnaz that's already infiltrated. Don't know. That's secret intelligence. We don't -- we are not privy to it.

ACOSTA: All right. Thanks to all of you for those insights. We appreciate it as we're following this developing situation in Ukraine. Stay with us on that.

Just ahead, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff will join me in THE SITUATION ROOM for more on the crisis in Ukraine.

Plus, the FDA postpones a key meeting to review COVID vaccines for children under five. How long will parents have to wait before they can finally vaccinate their kids?



ACOSTA: We are back with breaking news on the very real and very urgent threat of Russia launching a war on Ukraine. We heard the Biden administration's grave new warning an invasion could happen at any time.

Let's get more on all this with Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Congressman Adam Schiff. Mr. Chairman, what is the latest you are hearing on this mounting threat from Russia? Are you expecting a briefing on this?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Yes, in fact I have already had two briefings today on it, from the head of our intelligence community, as well as top state department officials. And I think the threat is very real and I think it is fairly imminent and the advisory that we have given our focus to leave Ukraine I think, is a very smart one.

Tragically, if Putin hasn't made a decision, then one may be fairly imminent and personally, I find it hard to conceive that he would go to the trouble of this massive buildup for the second time, merely as a show of strength.

So, there could be a very substantial invasion of Ukraine. It could include trying to take down the capital of Kyiv. Try to change the government, and as the intelligence community has declassified, it also may involve a false-flag operation where they stage something, and blame Ukraine for the outbreak of hostilities.

ACOSTA: And there are military exercises underway in Belarus as we speak. Just another sign of things being ratcheted up. And, Mr. Chairman, Sullivan -- Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser, says there is a real possibility Russia will seize a significant amount of Ukrainian territory and could launch a rapid assault on the capital of Kyiv.

What would a full-scale invasion mean for the U.S. and the rest of Europe? Because this has the potential to be just very destabilizing for the entire region, and have a spillover effect, I would assume, in a number of countries.

SCHIFF: That is absolutely right. I think it would have huge consequences. You know, first and foremost, obviously, for the people of Ukraine because there could be very substantial casualties. The Russians may think that they can get in and get out, you know, the history of invasions, including our own, demonstrates that is seldom the case. So this could be prolonged and it could be bloody.

If the Russians expect, as I think Putin wrongly does, that he can stop Ukraine's, you know, trending away from Russia, its desire to be more integrated with the west.


This is more likely to push Ukraine more into the arms of the west, bring NATO closer in terms of NATO forces moving closer in NATO countries to the Russian border. So I think it would be enormously counterproductive from the Russian point of view. But it could have consequences all around the world.

If we stick together, as an international community, and I think we will, we'll be bringing about the most severe sanctions on Russia that will, I hope, devastate the Russian economy. But China is watching all of this with an eye towards Taiwan.

If China doesn't see a vigorous response by the international community, they may feel they have a free hand to invade Taiwan. So, huge consequences that go beyond Europe and really go all the way around the world.

ACOSTA: And I want to get your reaction to some of this new reporting that has come in about the January 6th attack on the Capitol. There are gaps in the White House' call logs from January 6th as you may have read in news reports over the last couple days, including from CNN. You serve on the select committee.

Do you plan to subpoena former-President Trump's personal cell phone to get a more complete picture of his calls that day? How can you get to the bottom of why we have these gaps? Why there are these gaps in the call logs?

SCHIFF: You know, I really can't comment on that, certainly not with that kind of specificity. I can say that with respect to many areas of inquiry, we have multiple sources of information. And we are pursuing all of them to put together a complete record of, you know, what was the president doing? What was he not doing? Tragically and what I think is an historic dereliction of duty, second to practically none.

So we have multiple sources of information. And we use them as a cross check on other information we receive to piece together, you know, what was going on not just with the former president but with others in his campaign, on his White House staff, in the communications arena and we are getting a pretty full picture.

ACOSTA: All right. I imagine that picture will be getting fuller as the days go on. Congressman Adam Schiff, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, we appreciate your time. Thanks very much.

SCHIFF: Thank you. ACOSTA: And coming up. The FDA delays an advisory meeting on COVID vaccines for children under five. The agency now says it wants to see whether thee doses of the Pfizer shot works best for that age group.


ACOSTA: There is more breaking news we are following tonight. The FDA postponing an advisory panel meeting on authorizing the Pfizer COVID vaccine for children under 5 citing new data.

Let's dig deeper with CNN Medical Analyst and Emergency Room Physician, Dr. Leana Wen. Dr. Wen, you have got kids I think in this age group. What is your reaction to this breaking news? It's going to be disheartening I have to think to a lot of parents out there.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: As a mom, Jim, I feel like I just got gut punched. I mean, this is really difficult because our children -- kids under the age of five are the only group who are still not eligible to be vaccinated and to be protected at this point.

And so, it's extremely frustrating, especially as we look at the timeline if now the data are not going to be available until April, that means that our kids may not be able to be fully vaccinated until June. That's a really long time to wait.

That said, I still think that the FDA came to the right decision because their job is to make sure, make absolutely sure that the vaccines they authorize are safe and effective.

And I never thought it made that much sense to approve two doses, expecting that a third is going to work. You either have the data or you don't. And in this case, if we have to wait until April to get the data for three doses, let's wait until then, be absolutely sure.

ACOSTA: And -- but why not get a head start with two doses? And you could always add that third dose, if needed?

WEN: The problem, though, is we don't have data saying that two doses are effective. That's what I was waiting for. I was waiting for and really hoping and praying that the data would come out saying that two doses protect, for example, against severe disease. May not protect against symptomatic disease but even if it protects against severe disease, I would have been happy to get my kids two doses, and then hope the third one will give an extra level of protection.

We don't have those data and that's why I think waiting until we have the data for three doses that instills further confidence, which is a major reason because we know that for older kids, that vaccine uptake is really low. I don't want to have any level of discomfort or lack of confidence around the data when they come out.

ACOSTA: And this has been so confusing for so many parents, who are eager to get their kids vaccinated. Do you think it was a mistake for Pfizer to start this process, get everybody's hopes up before all this data was ready? WEN: I think it would have been worse if the FDA went through with their meeting on Tuesday and then their advisers may have voted down the authorization. That would have caused a lot of confusion and then the anti-vaxxers would have seized on that and said well, look, experts don't agree.

I think it is much better to pull back now, and say we just don't have enough data. It's not that the data aren't solid, it's we don't have them, and so let's wait until we get all the data in.

Again, I think this to me, again, as a parent is disappointing, but as a public health expert, it is actually heartening because we can see that the process is working. This is what the FDA is supposed to do. I trust the FDA to ensure that all Ts are crossed and to make sure that when they come out with the authorization, that this is truly a safe and effective vaccine.


ACOSTA: Absolutely. Let's put safety first, no question about it. All right, Dr. Leana Wen, thanks, as always. We appreciate it.

A state of emergency has been declared in Ontario, Canada, as a blockade by truckers protesting COVID-19 vaccination rules is crippling trade with the U.S.

CNN's Lucy Kafanov in Windsor, Ontario for us. Lucy, it looks like you have got a situation going on behind you right now. What is the latest?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, you can see and hear the demonstrators behind me. They have been holding firm despite the cold, despite the wet weather of their blockade of the Ambassador Bridge, that critical route into Detroit, Michigan.

Now, a Canadian judge has ordered the protesters to end their five-day blockade, which has disrupted the flow of goods between the two countries. That is set to take effect at 7:00 P.M. tonight, less than an hour from now.

It is not clear, at this point, when or if law enforcement will descend on this area to forcibly remove them but the protesters did take a vote minutes ago, promising to link arms and remain here on this location. They are not dispersing.

The mayor of Windsor, Ontario, threatening to start towing cars away if the protesters don't leave. The premiere of Ontario declaring a state of emergency, as you pointed out, with severe consequences, fines for noncompliance, including a maximum of $100,000, up to a year in prison, more resources given to police, local police departments across the country to deal with this protest or these protests.

And Canada's prime minister also saying that all options are on the table, he's been urging the demonstrators to go home, he has promised severe consequences for the truckers, potential loss of licenses, criminal records, the ability -- the loss of the ability to travel internationally.

And, of course, this isn't the only area that has been affected. We are across the border from Michigan but also North Dakota and Montana have seen disruptions of flow between the two countries on the border by these truckers and like-minded protesters.

We have also seen the impact on jobs, the blockade threatening to raise inflation and also cost paychecks -- workers' paychecks, according to the National Association of Manufacturers CEO. And the U.S. auto industry, hit incredibly hard by this. Ford, General Motors, Toyota, and others, seeing disruptions at their plants, some, as far away as in Alabama canceling shifts, running on reduced capacity.

So, a lot of impacts here, but the next few hours will be critical, Jim, in seeing how events unfold. But even if these protects are clear, we are already hearing about new protests in Toronto planned for this weekend, and also a convoy in Buffalo in support of these demonstrators. Jim?

ACOSTA: All right. CNN's Lucy Kafanov, thank you very much on that tense situation in Canada. We appreciate it.

Just ahead, Justice Department releases new video from the January 6th insurrection, and it sure doesn't look like legitimate political discourse.

And breaking news, CNN has learned the National Archives threatened to go to Congress or the Justice Department if former President Trump failed to turn over sensitive White House documents he stashed at Mar- a-Lago.



ACOSTA: More breaking news this hour. CNN has learned the National Archives threatened to go to Congress and the Justice Department in an effort to get former President Trump to turn over certain records from his presidency, as required by law. Multiple sources familiar with the matter describe it as a tense situation.

Let's talk about that, and more with CNN Chief Political Analyst, Gloria Borger, and CNN Chief Legal Analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Gloria, what does it say to you that this quest to receive missing Trump documents from the White House escalated into this apparently months-long struggle involving multiple lawyers, even a threat from the National Archives, typically, a mild-mannered bunch, to go through Congress of the Justice Department?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well it says to me that it wasn't as amicable, as the former president and his aides wanted to portray it. Donald Trump had the secure he believes at the White House and then, he packed up and left and moved, he decided he could take anything he wanted with him. Maybe, he wanted to sell some of it on e- bay. I mean, who knows? But, you know, this is not a good situation, and we are going to see how this unwinds.

ACOSTA: It is always him selling something, Jeff Toobin. And a source tells CNN the document turnover has not been fully resolved. That is another thing CNN reporting is picking up on. And that Trump is still in possession of documents that the Archives wants. How do you predict this playing out, Jeffrey? Because, you know, he has to comply with the law. I mean, I know we are talking about Donald Trump but he is supposed to comply with the law.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: That's right. Well, look, I mean, I think we are just proving that the former president was right when he said he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, and his supporters would stick with him.

I mean, you know, we have this parade of at least potential obstruction of justice, whether it's destruction of documents, shoving documents down the toilet, removing documents that he is not supposed to, having classified information in an unsecured location.

All of this is happening, and the Republican Party has been completely silent about it, and presumably will still be, so the question is what will the January 6th committee do? Will they learn anything further? And then, will the Justice Department at least do an investigation or, much less, take action?

ACOSTA: And, Gloria, I mean, as more light is shed on the many ways Trump mishandled White House documents, there is also the here hypocrisy.


I mean, let's talk about this. Let's watch how then-candidate Trump attacked Hillary Clinton over this very issue.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Her judgment is horrible. Look at her judgment on e-mails. Who would do it?

She showed great negligence and the real world is negligence in what happened. She put us all at risk.

If I got a subpoena, think of this, if I got a subpoena for e-mails, if I deleted one e-mail, like a love note to Melania, it's the electric chair for Trump.

Hillary was a criminal. She deleted her e-mails. People go to jail for that.


ACOSTA: I mean, that is the standard that he is setting for her part, Hillary Clinton responded to this news with this tweet featuring a hat that says, But Her E-Mails. Let's talk about this, Gloria. I mean, I have been to a number of Trump rallies. I seem to recall the phrase, lock her up, being chanted quite a few times. BORGER: Well, it's -- you know, obviously, it's hypocrisy at the highest level. But what's so stunning to me is that you are not hearing Republicans talk about it. Republicans aren't saying, oh, wait a minute, those things should have been sent over, you know, we are appalled at this.

And these are the people's documents and I think maybe Mitt Romney had a pretty good take on it. And he said, you know, I don't put it at the top of the list. It's more down toward the bottom of all the things Trump has done. But I voted to remove him from office. And he said, you know, his behavior consists of a long list and this just isn't at the top of it. And that -- you know, that is not to excuse it but it's just like it's one more thing. It's one more grift.



TOOBIN: But, Jim, this is also a challenge for journalists, not just politicians, because we spent a tremendous amount of time on Hillary Clinton's e-mails.


TOOBIN: And I think out of duty of fairness, we need to point equal attention at least to this issue.

ACOSTA: No question about it. I mean, we keep saying with Trump, there is no bottom, but maybe at the bottom is a lot of White House documents.

BORGER: We'll see. Yes.

ACOSTA: All right. Gloria Borger, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you very much.

Coming up, a sad update on the death of beloved Comedian Bob Saget, the Florida sheriff investigating his passing says Saget most likely died of head trauma after accidental fall.



ACOSTA: Tonight, the Florida sheriff investigating the death of actor and comedian Bob Saget says the case is now closed.

Our Brian Todd has more on that.

Brian, even after this autopsy report, there's a lot of questions surrounding Saget's death.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Questions and unanswered questions, Jim, and a lot of mystery. At least one prominent neurosurgeon believes the severity of Saget's injuries indicate something more serious than a simple fall in the bathroom as authorities believe. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)


BOB SAGET, ACTOR: It's a date.

TODD (voice-over): The latest ruling on the death of actor and comedian Bob Saget sheds new height but also raises more questions. Saget died alone in his hotel room in Orlando last month.

The Orange County, Florida, medical examiner office releasing an autopsy report saying the 65-year-old died from blunt-head trauma. That it is likely Saget's, quote, suffered an unwitnessed fall backwards and struck the posterior aspect of his head and that the manner of his death was an accident. No information has been forthcoming on how Saget might have hit his head but the sheriff of Orange County has a theory.

SHERIFF JOHN W. MINA, ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA: There is speculation he may have slipped in the bathroom. But again, there was no visible signs of trauma to the back of head to the naked eye, until it was revealed in the autopsy. So in other words, we do not believe that he was struck with anything. We believe this was an accidental death, probably most likely caused by some type of fall, hitting a flat surface.

TODD: Saget's family released a statement saying they believe authorities have concluded that Saget, quote, hit the back of his head on something, thought nothing of it, and went to sleep.

But neurosurgeon Daniel Barrow says based just on his reading of the autopsy, that he doesn't believe Saget would have been conscious immediately after the fall. And --

DR. DANIEL BARROW, CHAIRMAN, DEPARTMENT OF NEUROSURGEON, EMORY UNIVERSITY: This suggests that there was level of injury to the -- to the brain that was far more than just a simple ground-level fall as one might expect in a typical hotel room.

TODD: Barrow says he bases that on the fact the autopsy says Saget had injuries to the eye sockets and the side of his head, as well as to the back of his head. He said if someone came into his emergency room with those injuries --

BARROW: I would be concerned that they were involved in a motor vehicle accident, a -- a fall down a flight of stairs, a fall from a -- a -- a large height, an assault.

TODD: But Barrow and other experts say it is still possible to suffer a head injury, which the victim thinks is minor at first but then gets gradually worse.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: He had a significant blow, you may develop some, at the time, what is sort of slow bleeding. Not significant bleeding right away but the blood starts to accumulate over time. TODD: The autopsy says Saget's heart had 95 percent blockage on one

side, that he had anti-anxiety medication and an anti-depressants in his system, and he tested positive for COVID.

The experts we spoke to say none of that would have likely figured in his death. They say, if you suffer a significant blow to the head, these symptoms should prompt you to seek medical attention.

GUPTA: If you are -- have a headache and the headache is worsening, if you develop confusion, if you have nausea and vomiting, if you are slurring your speech.



TODD (on camera): Also tonight, Bob Saget's family says no drugs or alcohol were involved in his death -- Jim.

ACOSTA: Brian Todd, thank you very much. Just ahead, a very important update to the CNN investigative report on the deadly Kabul airport bombing.


TODD: Now, a follow-up to a CNN investigation into U.S. military findings that no one was hit by gunfire during a suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members and at least 170 Afghan civilians at the Kabul airport amid the chaotic U.S. withdrawal last August.


Newly released documents are raising alarming questions about the military probe.

CNN international security editor, Nick Paton Walsh, has our report, which contains video some viewers may find disturbing.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): The U.S. military insists nobody was shot after a bomb detonated here at the Abbey Gate of Kabul airport in August. The pentagon says all the casualties -- more than 180 -- were killed by the lone-suicide bomber.

They had disputed the findings of a CNN investigation, based on medical records doctors at several Afghan hospitals and 19 survivors who saw people shot or were shot themselves that raise serious questions about the military's findings, and whether gunfire hit Afghan civilians.

The military maintains U.S. marines and U.K. troops fired on just three occasions, all harmless warning shots over the heads of the crowd.

JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We respect the reporting of CNN, clearly, but our -- our -- we -- we are going to stand by the investigation, which did not find any conclusive evidence that there was gunfire of any kind by American troops on -- on Afghan citizens.

WALSH: The more evidence has emerged in nearly 2,000 pages of documents from the U.S. investigation released over the weekend. While military investigators admit not speaking to any Afghan civilians, the papers reveal what the U.S. military survivors of the blast told them -- what they heard and saw.

Firstly, one marine said she joined other marines opening fire in the aftermath but did not know what she shot at.

MARINE: I went in, and saw a lot of marines shooting by the jersey barrier. There was a lot of smoke. I couldn't see where they were firing. They grabbed me and I started firing my weapon, as well. I don't know what I was firing at.

WALSH: Other marines who were at the blast site reported seeing rounds impact around them. One said --

MARINE: I saw marines return fire. I heard three distinct shots hit the back windows of the tower. The third round impacted right in front of my face, as I was closing the ballistic glass window.

WALSH: Another quote read --

MARINE: I could hear sporadic rounds snapping of a head for about five minutes. I didn't see any traces but I saw sparks when bullets would impact things.

WALSH: Another.

MARINE: When I was applying tourniquets, I saw ricochets, never saw a shooter.

WALSH: Another read --

MARINE: I saw the shots hitting around us.

WALSH: Some interviews are done in a group and with the names redacted, it is hard to determine how many troops are talking in each group or their rank.

Within the documents, some U.S. military personnel say they did not fire at all despite the chaos and possibility they were under attack. Others report not hearing gunfire.

Much of the testimony is consistent with the conclusions of the investigators, but some interviewees do describe the impact of bullets near them while the U.S. investigators said the only shots fired went over people's heads.

A U.S. military spokesman said: The marine statements were deemed less credible, partly as a result of the junior rank and inexperience of some coupled with the likely impact of the blast on their recollections. He added: Investigators had contradictory information from several

credible sources and that there are conflicting statements as well as inconsistent evidence saying the investigators drew conclusions based on a preponderance of all the evidence collected.

U.S. military investigators have also said no bullets were pulled from patients treated in the aftermath. A person with U.S. combat medic experience on duty that night recalled differently.

MARINE: Originally, a lot of the wounds were classified as gunshot wounds but they were actually because of shrapnel. But there was some gunshot wounds. There was a non-U.S. patient that had a bullet inside the back of his head after small-arms fire.

WALSH: A U.S. military spokesman told CNN this medic was not in the operating theater, and that surgeons who were did not report removing bullets from patients.

Yet, the documents show U.S. personnel at times describing scenes similarly to Afghan survivors. And raise yet further questions as to whether the U.S. military has fully investigated.


WALSH (on camera): Now, these testimonies are surely going to raise questions about the objectivity of that investigation. We already know the investigators didn't talk to Afghans on the ground, and didn't hear the insistence that we heard from them that civilians were killed by gunfire.

But now, it transpires U.S. Marines spoke of instances that didn't really gel with the conclusions of that investigation, that all gunfire was harmless. Yet, that testimony was discarded it seems, as well. They have their reasons.

But Afghans on the ground are going to start asking themselves how objective that is. Spokesman John Kirby said they'd look at new information, we will have to see what he makes of this.

ACOSTA: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, thanks for that excellent report.

I'm Jim Acosta. Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.