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The Situation Room
Biden's Nuclear Armageddon Warning; Sources Says, DOJ Doesn't Believe Trump About Classified Documents; Prosecutors Say, Oath Keepers Leader Wrote To Trump In 2020 War Isn't Coming, War Is Already Here; Uvalde School Police Force Suspended; Uncertainty Growing For Hurricane Survivors Living In Shelters. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired October 07, 2022 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, President Biden ignites a firestorm with an unexpected warning that Russia's war on Ukraine could spark what he calls a nuclear Armageddon. Tonight, U.S. officials say there's no new intelligence, but the message is consistent.
Also, a source now tells CNN the U.S. Justice Department doesn't believe former President Trump has returned all the classified documents he took from the White House. We'll talk about it with a key member of the House January 6th select committee, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.
And the Uvalde Texas School Board suspends its police force, and it's expected to discuss the superintendent's retirement, all following CNN's exclusive reporting on the school massacre.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin with the firestorm over President Biden's surprise warning of a potential Armageddon following Russian President Vladimir Putin's nuclear threats.
Let's get straight to our CNN White House Correspondent, M.J. Lee. M.J., we've heard the administration say they take the nuclear threat from Russia seriously. We have not heard talk of Armageddon before. Does the White House now think Americans have reason to be concerned tonight? M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, anybody who was listening to the president's comments last night may have had good reason to feel concerned, because this was a pretty remarkable warning that we heard directly from the president, basically saying that he thinks that there is a direct threat of a nuclear war for the first time in 60 years.
But the context here is very important. Those comments that he made at a Democratic fundraiser last night, they were unplanned, they were unscripted, and so much so that they actually ended up catching some in the administration by surprise, because, really, what the president said didn't really match the tone and the message that we have heard throughout this crisis from others in the administration, including some of the most senior officials.
And now, what the administration is making clear since last night is that there really has been no new intelligence, no new development, anything new that has happened that prompted the president to make these remarks, and, really, that he was pretty much speaking frankly about what he sees as a general threat. This is what White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY (voice over): The president's comments have been very consistent. He has been reinforcing what we have been saying, which is how seriously we take these threats about nuclear weapons, as we have done when the Russians have made these threats throughout the conflict. So, the kind of irresponsible rhetoric we have seen is no way for the leader of a nuclear-armed state to speak. We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture, nor do we have indication that Russia is preparing to imminently use nuclear weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEE: So, really key from that sound is the White House press secretary saying that the U.S.'s nuclear posture is not changing. And this is not the first example, I should note, of the president saying something or the tone or the message sort of went beyond what we've heard from others in the administration on important matters, too, right, including, recently, on the Taiwan example. And I think all of this just goes to show, Wolf, that there is certainly heightened alarm and heightened concern as the administration continues to watch and wait to see exactly what Vladimir Putin is willing or not willing to do. Wolf?
BLITZER: CNN's M.J. Lee at the White House, thank you very much.
Now to Ukraine, where CNN International Security Editor Nick Paton Walsh is on the heels of Ukrainian forces as they push back Russian troops in a truly remarkable military offensive reclaiming and liberating large regions of their country.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice over): Just ahead is Russia in retreat. The road cut by a bridge blown four days ago as they fled. A lightning Ukrainian advance along the river bank here. Russian jets firing back.
Kyiv's forces, again, moving around an enemy stuck in park and reverse. Left in Russia's wake, this older anti-aircraft system, still working, we're told, and the tatty signs of how they lived in the open.
He said they didn't find any bodies here. They just ran and left it.
In Dudchany, a rush to gather the harvest. Since March, the Russians moved in next door, until Monday when they seemed to have ditched even their clothes. The air is only slightly freer now, but still here, they spent last night underground.
At night, it's hardest, he says. You just don't know who's shooting where. We brought our food down here so it doesn't get torched. Most of his wife's family live in Russia, but here, the Russians came to live next door to them, one night, drunk and armed. One came out and said, who are you, waving his gun at us, she says. He was drunk.
It was pretty dangerous, adds Vladimir. They are literally in the crossfire here. Less you know the longer you live, says Kolya, under the trees, worried about drones. We lived a good life, never touched anyone.
All along the road, the detritus of a failing empire on the run, Ukrainians struggling to keep up with what was left behind. Here in Havrilivka on Sunday, they took 50 prisoners, including newly mobilized conscripts. This soldier's home is literally in sight, in occupied land, so he doesn't show his face.
Your house is just over there.
There's no greater motivation, he says. We didn't ask them to come here. Home, everyone home, it is our land.
For others, home is almost a trap. Lubov is stuck here as her 92-year- old mother can't walk. She's hidden under the bedding. They have only milk and biscuits to eat. And when there's shelling, there's no basement. So, Lubov just lies on top of mama. Imagine not being able to move when the ground is shaking.
She covers her again so she doesn't fall out of bed when she goes out.
Outside, the highway is busy. However fast Ukraine moves through here, nothing can be undone or bring the old silence back.
WALSH (on camera): Now, Wolf, it's important to remember in the talk of all these nuclear threats exactly how poorly Russia's conventional military are doing on the ground day by day. We've come across a band in positions where it appears they barely had bottles of water, barely had food, barely had sponge mats to sleep upon. And so it's important to remember that when you're talking about the effectiveness or perhaps the willingness to uses of Russia's most complicated, most deadly threat. Wolf?
BLITZER: CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in the war zone for us. Nick, be careful over there. Thank you very, very much.
Let's discuss all of this with the former CIA director, John Brennan. His book is entitled, Undaunted, My Fight Against America's Enemies at Home and Abroad. It's now out, by the way, in paperback as well. Director Brennan, thank you so much for joining us.
Let's start with President Biden's very stark warning. Is he right that Putin is raising the stakes, potentially, of nuclear Armageddon?
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, Wolf, as was just reported, it's clear that Russia has suffered very major setbacks on the battlefield, and Ukrainians are on a roll. And while that's good news, there's also some worrisome consequences and implications of that, which is that Putin has to find some way to reverse his fortunes on the battlefield, which has raised the specter that he might opt to use his tactical nuclear weapons in some manner. Even though it might not be effective or efficient on the battlefield, it would be a way to send a signal that he's not going to relent.
And so I think President Biden, who has been very concerned about the potential for Russia's use of these tactical nuclear weapons raised his concerns publicly last night at dinner. And so, therefore, I think it is something that not only President Biden but others are looking at what to do in response if, indeed, Putin decides to go down that tactical nuclear route.
BLITZER: Multiple officials, Director Brennan, have cautioned that what the president said last night isn't based on any new intelligence. So, do these potentially off-the-cuff remarks by the president play into Putin's hands?
BRENNAN: No, I don't think so. I think at the beginning of this war a number of months ago, we thought that the chances of it going nuclear were very, very low. But I to think over the last eight months, again, given these setbacks Russia has, I think people are thinking about it and worrying about it more seriously. So, therefore, I think what President Biden is doing is making sure that people understand that this is a very dangerous situation.
And while I don't think we're on the cusp of Armageddon, I don't think that President Biden really meant that either. I think what he is saying is that this could enter some type of stage where the use of nuclear -- tactical nuclear weapons is not all that unthinkable.
BLITZER: Yes, it's a horrible, horrible thought, even to about that. But, clearly, it's on the mind of the president of the United States. Director Brennan, I also want to get your analysis on North Korea right now. How do you read this latest flurry of missile launches by North Korea beyond trying to gain the world's attention? Is this a sign North Korea is seriously advancing right now its own military capabilities?
BRENNAN: Well, we know that North Korea has nuclear warheads, and it has delivery systems, these different types of missile systems, short, medium and intercontinental. And so it continues to refine the weaponization, meaning, the matching of those warheads with these ballistic missiles. And so by testing it, I think it wants to gain greater confidence that, should it choose to go that route, it will be able to carry out a strike as it wants. And so, I think we can never ignore North Korea's military developments because it does pose a threat to the entire East Asia region and to the United States itself.
BLITZER: Yes. By all accounts, Director Brennan, the Biden administration is bracing for the possibility that Kim Jong-un could launch North Korea's seventh nuclear test. What levers does the U.S. have right now to try and tamp down this increasing aggression? The tension is very, very intense right now.
BRENNAN: Well, as you know, North Korea is under numerous and very major sanctions. And so, therefore, I think what the United States is doing, as it's been conducting us training exercises with South Korea, will work very closely with our regional allies but I wouldn't be surprised if Kim Jong-un decides to conduct another nuclear test, but, quite frankly, there's very little that we can do to prevent him from doing so. I just think we have to be prepared to work very closely with our allies and partners in the region to do everything possible to be prepared for any type of military move that North Korea might make.
I don't believe I don't believe it's planning to do anything at this point. I think it's just trying to continue to develop its military capabilities. So therefore, I think we have to stay focused on it, and although we're interested in what's going on, obviously, in Ukraine and Russia, we cannot neglect or ignore what's going on in the Korean Peninsula.
BLITZER: We certainly can't. The former CIA director, John Brennan, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it very, very much.
We'll have much more news. There are other developments unfolding right now. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Tonight, The New York Times is reporting that the woman who said Herschel Walker paid for her abortion also urged her to terminate a second pregnancy two years later. It's the latest blow to the Georgia Republican's Senate campaign.
CNN National Politics Reporter Evan McKend is joining us right now. Eva, give us the latest, because this is more damaging information as far as Herschel Walker is concerned.
EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: It certainly is, Wolf. This is now the second major news organization to corroborate this woman's account who says she has a ten-year-old son with walker and suggests she's coming forward because she's troubled by what she characterizes as Walker's repeated lies when asked about this.
She goes on to say, Walker is barely involved in her child's life, telling The Times, as a father, he's done nothing. He does exactly what the courts say, and that's it. He has to be held responsible just like the rest of us. And if you're going to run for office, you need to own your own life.
This is so significant, because Walker has spent much of his public life railing against absent black fathers. And, of course, the abortion component is noteworthy because of his anti-abortion position, even rejecting terminating a pregnancy in instances of rape, incest and life of the mother. If elected to the Senate, he could be in a position, for instance, to vote on a national abortion ban, if it ever reaches the Senate floor.
But according to this woman's account in his personal capacity, he urged her to get an abortion, not once, but twice, and never raised concern about being conflicted to do so based on his religious views. So, a key development tonight in this competitive Senate contest. Walker, of course, challenging Democratic Incumbent Raphael Warnock.
BLITZER: Yes, good point, indeed. Stand by, Eva. I want to bring in our Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger. How damaging do you think these new, these latest revelations might be to his campaign?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the new thing that this woman is charging that he had asked her to have a second abortion. And I think it's going to be very important, but I also believe that it's kind of baked at a certain point.
And I was talking to a Republican strategist yesterday about Warnock, and he said, look, he has the benefit of celebrity, and don't ever underestimate that. Donald Trump had the benefit of celebrity and that helps him. I think the question is what he does next, what his campaign does next. We know his campaign is in disarray. We know that his political director has been fired. And how do they respond to these charges and how does he get off of this subject, and he's facing a debate with Warnock. And so the question is, what does he do now? People who were supporting him, evangelicals are behind him, and what difference in kind does this make when this woman is saying, not once, but twice.
BLITZER: Yes, good point, indeed.
Eva, Walker's allies have been pushing him to try to mount what they call a more Trumpian type of campaign to defend himself. What are you hearing about that? MCKEND: Well, that's an interesting argument, Wolf, because one could say he is already doing that, right, vociferously denying the allegations and continuing to do so. To Gloria's point, you do have to wonder what impact this will have on the voters. CNN on the ground in Georgia this week at a campaign rally speaking to people there, and they all seem to be rallying behind him, saying that they believe him. And then you have local outlets reporting that even Republicans that don't believe him sort of have tunnel vision about the importance of this Senate seat. And even if these allegations are true, they're not so concerned about what happened in the past but how he would legislate in the future.
BLITZER: What do you think, Gloria?
BORGER: Well, the Republicans I talked to care about winning control of the Senate, period, Machiavellian, call it whatever you want, and he's a seat. And if they lose a seat, then they could lose the Senate. I mean, you could say that about a lot of seats in the Senate these days. But that seems to be this major concern.
Now, if this news today motivates more Democrats to come out, we'll see. But in that sense, you know, the question for Republicans -- and I was just in New Hampshire -- the question for Republicans is, they want to win the Senate and he's an important component of that. And so we just don't know. And the polling, you'll have to look at it a week from now to see whether this has had any impact.
BLITZER: We will certainly be looking at that polling.
It's interesting, his son, Walker's son, Christian, has been outspoken this week in really blasting his father for all these revelations.
MCKEND: He has, and we haven't heard from him in a few days. But Republicans that we were speaking with almost suggesting that that has been more damaging, right, the son's account. And for his part, Walker just saying that he loves his son and not really trying to debate his son publicly. We actually have that video, so let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIAN WALKER, HERSCHEL WALKER'S SON: Lie after lie after lie, the abortion part drops yesterday, it's literally his handwriting in the card. They say they have receipts, whatever. He gets on Twitter, he lies about it.
Okay, I'm done, done. Everything has been a lie. Don't lie on my mom. Don't lie on me. Don't lie on the lives you've destroyed and act like you're some moral family man. You all should care about that, conservatives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCKEND: So, Christian really giving credibility to the Daily Beast report, and now we're getting additional details from The New York Times story.
BLITZER: Yes. And I suspect more will be coming out in the coming days.
Eva, thank you very much. Gloria, thanks to you as well.
Coming up, stocks tumble after the latest jobs report. We're going to take a look at why the numbers have investors so worried right now.
BLITZER: The latest unemployment report sent U.S. stocks tumbling today as investors worry that stronger than anticipated job gains will lead the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates even higher.
Let's dig deeper with CNN Business Correspondent Alison Kosik, who's joining us right now. Alison, overall, the jobs market remains strong, so why is this still such cause for concern?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that's a great question because this is kind of topsy-turvy. The stronger jobs market, it's great for workers, but we're in this weird time where we actually want to see the jobs market slow down, because until it does, inflation will continue to be a big problem.
So, you look at September's job gains of 263,000. It's softer compared to recent months, but there's still a lot of hiring happening. Other signs that jobs picture is strong, the unemployment rate falling to 3.5 percent because fewer people looked for work, and wages, they cooled off but remain elevated. So, you take all of these numbers, and they're one more piece of the puzzle that the Federal Reserve is putting together as it determines how much longer to keep raising rates and by how much.
The big takeaway from this report today, the Fed will continue on its aggressive rate-hiking path to tame hot inflation. That's why we saw the stock market tank today with the Dow falling more than 600 points, because the thinking is the stronger jobs data, it means that things aren't getting any easier for the Fed.
So, at its next meeting in November, the Fed is expected to most likely again go big and hike rates by another 0.75 percent for the fourth time in a row. And the higher rates go, the more likelihood it is that will put the brakes on overall economic growth, possibly pushing the economy into a recession, the biggest concern of all. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes, that's a real fear out there. Alison Kosik, thank you very much.
Meanwhile, there are also new developments tonight in the legal battle over classified documents former President Trump took from the White House. A source is now telling CNN that the U.S. Justice Department doesn't believe he's returned all of those documents.
Our Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider is here with me, she's working the story for us. Jessica, what can you tell us? JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, in addition to that, our team has learned that DOJ officials have actually communicated with Trump's attorneys in recent weeks, demanding that the former president return any of these classified materials.
And it's something we've seen DOJ officials hint at in several recent court filings. You know, they've recently referred to the fact that they've found folders at Mar-a-Lago during that FBI search that had classified banners but nothing inside, also banners that said, return to staff secretary military aide.
You can see it there on the detailed property receipt.
Also, investigators raised the red flag after they were initially restricted from using any of that classified material in their ongoing criminal probe. They actually wrote this, saying that that restriction on them impedes efforts to identify the existence of any additional classified records that are not being properly stored, which itself presents the potential for ongoing risks to national security.
And, you know, Wolf, it wasn't only that. Prosecutors also referenced this order restricting them in their appeal to the 11th Circuit, where they said that it was preventing the FBI from taking investigative steps that they said, in their words, could lead to identification of other records still missing.
So, we've seen DOJ hinting at this possibility that there are these missing records, potentially still at one of Trump's properties. So, the question is, what does DOJ do from here? Do they continue this so far fruitless back and forth with Trump's attorneys? Do they subpoena Trump? Do they, again, do another search of one of his properties, possibly Mar-a-Lago, Bedminster, Trump Tower? Do they make Trump appear in court in some sense, whether it's on paper or in-person and attest to this? So, there's a lot of questions as to what DOJ does here because of this big concern that Trump still has some missing documents.
BLITZER: Yes. Clearly, the stakes are enormous, right? Jessica, thank you very much, Jessica Schneider reporting.
Let's get some more on all these developments. A key member of the January 6th select committee, Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California is joining us right now. Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us. I want to discuss your committee's upcoming hearing that's going to be significant, but, first, let me get your reaction to that report. How concerned are you that former President Trump may still have very sensitive, highly classified government documents that he hasn't handed over yet?
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, I don't have any information other than the news report, but if that's the case, it would be of great concern. Some of this material is, I believe, highly sensitive. I know that when I go to see classified documents, I have to leave all the electronics outside. You can't take notes. I mean, people are very careful, and you know, they did find these empty folders, so what's the deal with that? Was there other -- is there more classified material? He's got multiple residences, New Jersey, New York, Florida. You know, I can understand the concern.
BLITZER: Yes, the concern is enormous right now.
Let's move on, Congresswoman, while I have you. Your select committee's next public hearing is set for next Thursday. Members say this will provide what they call context. So, how much new information will you present, will you tie up the many loose ends of this investigation?
LOFGREN: Well, we -- I think all the loose ends will finally be tied up in the report, actually. But we have been working throughout the summer, interviewing individuals, reviewing documents. We have had just a huge amount of documents from the Secret Service that we're going through, and we have found some new things that we will be able to present, but also to be able, I think, to tie together some loose ends, maybe not every single one, as you know, we're still being stonewalled by some witnesses. But we hope that this will be -- help fill in some of the gaps for the public.
BLITZER: Your select committee chairman, Bennie Thompson, has said this hearing may not feature live witnesses. Is that still the case?
LOFGREN: That is quite possible. As I say, we have worked all summer long, interviewing witnesses, and you saw in prior hearings that we are able to effectively present testimony using the video that we've taken of these interviews. So, that has actually been very helpful for people to understand, you know, it's possible we could have a live witness, but I think we've learned that the work we put in all summer may yield, you know, video witness.
BLITZER: Yes, those video testimonies that you have released in earlier hearings, very significant.
Has your committee, Congresswoman, had more time to discuss whether you'll eventually issue what are called criminal referrals?
LOFGREN: Well, we will be having a discussion soon. The chairman has asked several of us to sort through the pros and cons, especially the lawyers on the committee, so we can have a full consideration in the near future, but we have not reached a conclusion on that at this point.
BLITZER: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, thanks, as usual, for joining us.
LOFGREN: You bet. Have a good weekend.
BLITZER: You too. Thank you.
Just ahead, very disturbing allegations in the Oath Keepers trial, prosecutors now saying the group's leader warned of a, quote, bloody civil war just ahead of the January 6th insurrection.
[18:35:11] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: There are new developments tonight in the seditious conspiracy trial of key members of the Oath Keepers, including its leader, who prosecutors now say actually wrote a letter, an open letter, to President Trump just before the January 6th insurrection.
CNN Law Enforcement Correspondent Whitney Wild has the latest.
WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Stewart Rhodes, the lead of the far-right group, the Oath Keepers, was the focus of today's testimony in the seditious conspiracy trial.
Prosecutors presented letters they say he wrote to then-President Donald Trump in December 2020. The chilling words addressed directly to the former president read, war isn't coming. War is already here. Strike now. If you fail to act while you are still in office, we, the people, will have to fight.
The letter, written around the same time Rhodes appeared at the so- called Jericho March in D.C. in December 2020.
STEWART RHODES, OATH KEEPERS LEADER: If he does not do it now while he is commander in chief, we're going to have to do it ourselves later in a much more desperate, much more bloody war. Let's get it on now while he is still the commander in chief.
WILD: the letters were signed by Rhodes and Kellye SoRelle, the self- described general counsel for the Oath Keepers, who was also know facing federal charges.
Prosecutors have leaned heavily on audio secretly recorded in the lead-up to January 6th, including from a virtual meeting Rhodes hosted just days after the 2020 election.
RHODES: There's no such thing as another election in this country of any meaningful sense of the term if you let this stand.
WILD: The meeting's purpose, preparing for battle at a pro-Trump rally on November 14th.
RHODES: He has to know that people are behind him, that he will not be deserted, and he has to have positive pressure. But we got to be in D.C. You got to be willing to go to D.C. and street fight Antifa.
WILD: Prosecutors also presented a text Rhodes wrote in late December that said, they won't fear us until we come with rifles in hand.
The defense continues to argue the Oath Keepers viewed their role as peace keepers, trying to protect Trump supporters.
EDWARD TARPLEY, ATTORNEY FOR STEWART RHODES: We just have to see. I mean, this is a marathon, not a sprint. So, you know, every day, more information comes out, and we'll just see how that all plays out.
WILD (on camera): one of the other major themes here is that the defense has continued to say, and witnesses have agreed, that at several Trump rallies, Oath Keepers were not responsible for any violence, Wolf.
BLITZER: Whitney, stand by. There's more we want to discuss.
I also want to bring in CNN Legal Analyst, the former federal prosecutor, Elliot Williams. Elliot, what's your main takeaway from this new reporting now that the first week of this historic seditious conspiracy trial has actually wrapped up?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Wolf, it's really striking how little is in dispute in this trial. Everyone on all sides is in agreement of, number one, what happened on January 6th, number two, who the people were on the grounds of January 6th, and what their role in January 6th was.
Now, the open question here, and this is what prosecutors and defense attorneys are going back and forth with, is, what was their intent? Did they come intending to engage in acts of violence? And, look, comments that were just read like the one a moment ago, that, you know, they won't fear us unless we come with guns. That is threatening language. And it's going to be very hard for the defense to cast that as anything other than a call to violence.
BLITZER: Whitney, what's behind this decision by the prosecutors to focus in right now on the Oath Keepers' leader, Stewart Rhodes?
WILD: Well, they're trying to build this conspiracy case that they say really flows from Stewart Rhodes. They say he was the leader of this organization and the other four people who are on seditious conspiracy trial right now were really his top lieutenants carrying out his calls to action in various ways and through various text messages and in various audio recordings. So, they're building it out from him and that it will spread throughout the rest of the co- conspirators.
BLITZER: Elliot, prosecutors have presented really a significant amount of evidence in this trial, including secretly recorded audio files and an open letter that Rhodes actually wrote to then-President Trump. Do you think this will be enough to meet the high bar of this case?
WILLIAMS: Look, it's a very high bar, proof beyond a reasonable doubt. We know the term. It's what prosecutors have to meet in any criminal case. It's a very, very high burden. And like I said, you know, in the first question, getting to that intent question, what was in the minds of the defendants, is always the tough question in criminal prosecutions.
Now, look, it's very, very valuable for juries to hear surveillance video, surveillance footage, surveillance audio like that was played here, because you hear the defendants in their own voices carrying out these schemes that prosecutors are saying they engaged in.
Now, it's very different than just reading a transcript or just hearing about something. So, it's powerful evidence. We'll just have to see what the jury does with it.
BLITZER: Whitney, what can we expect when the trial resumes?
WILD: Well, we expect to see more and more witnesses who are detailing a really day-by-day approach, a day-by-day growingly desperate effort by Stewart Rhodes and others to try to stop President Joe Biden from assuming the presidency by any force necessary. And the key them here is that, and you heard it in Stewart Rhodes' own words, that they were going to do it with or without Trump. That will be a major theme throughout this trial, Wolf.
BLITZER: Good reporting, Whitney, thank you very much. Elliot, thanks to you as well.
Coming up, the Uvalde, Texas School Board suspends its police force, details of new fallout from the school massacre.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: New fallout tonight from the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting. The school board suspending its police force and expected to discuss the superintendent's retirement next week.
CNN crime and justice correspondent Shimon Prokupecz has been on top of all these developments. He's breaking all the time for us.
Shimon, these are very significant developments that are just coming out of Uvalde tonight.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, certainly very significant, Wolf. Understand that this community's been seeking accountability, and at least now they can sort of feel that there is something finally happening, things that they have been asking for to hold officials there accountable.
And what happened today truly I have to tell you, Wolf, for the families was shocking. The entire police department, the school police department, which consists of just several officers, was suspended. Many of them now placed on administrative duty taken out of the schools.
This, of course, all comes after our reporting that an officer, a newly hired officer there at the school was a former DPS state trooper, Department of Public Safety state trooper, there she is on your screen, and was under investigation. And somehow the school hired her. I tried to ask that officer questions last week as well as with
another individual who was also placed on leave, and then retire. Kenneth Mueller, he's an administrator at the school, here's me trying to ask them questions.
PROKUPECZ: I actually have some questions for you.
OFFICER CRIMSON ELIZONDO, ISD OFFICER: I'm not going to answer any questions.
PROKUPECZ: Officer Elizondo, I'm doing a story about you at your time at DPS.
I'd like to ask you some questions, if possible.
Sir, do you know this officer who you have recently hired? Are you aware that she's under investigation for her actions on the day of the shooting? Do you think she's fit to serve here considering that her actions are under investigation?
Mr. Mueller, you don't want to respond to that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PROKUPECZ: And, Wolf, the school also suspending putting on administrative leave, lieutenant there Miguel Hernandez. He was the commanding officer of the police department after it fired its police chief.
What's significant about him, wolf, is that he received information that Officer Elizondo was being investigated, but somehow, some way they still hired her, and as a result of that, today, the school suspending him as well.
We also got word late today that the superintendent now, he intends to retire next week. He says he's going to announce his plans for retirement, and then the transition will begin. And certainly, wolf, this is significant. This school system has not seen anything like this in quite some time. For the families to see this kind of accountability is certainly something they've been wanting for some time.
BLITZER: Very significant developments. Shimon, thank you very, very much.
Up next, life in temporary shelters is getting harder for survivors of hurricane Ian who lost their homes. Where do they go next?
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: They survived hurricane Ian but lost almost everything.
CNN's Leyla Santiago is on the scene for us tonight.
ALEXIS HINSON, MOTHER STAYING IN SHELTER WITH YOUNG CHILDREN: It's been very stressful and overwhelming.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORREPONDENT (voice-over): Alexis Hinson has been living in a shelter now for 11 days. The kids are getting cranky. It is difficult to explain to them they're new reality. Uncertainty is growing.
HINSON: It's hard to get your kids to realize what is going on when they are so young. Honestly, I don't have a plan. It's really just a waiting game right now.
SANTIAGO: The family of three is staying at the Hertz Arena, a mega shelter in Lee County run by the Red Cross. Cameras not allowed inside here but the Red Cross provided this video which shows children, families and hundreds of cots.
Organizers tell us about 500 people will be staying here tonight.
TIFFANY GONZALEZ, RED CROSS SPOKESWOMAN: The Red Cross is here for as long as need be.
SANTIAGO: A big ask for many, just a warm shower, the comforts of the home that Hurricane Ian took away.
VANESSA DIEUJUSTE, NURSE: It is everything to someone affected the hurricane.
DENISE GRIFFIN, FORT MYERS BEACH RESIDENT, STAYING IN SHELTER: I have my first nightmare, and it was about 2:00 this morning.
SANTIAGO: Denise Griffin is also staying here. Her home in Fort Myers Beach was wiped away.
A former paramedic and 911 dispatcher, she's frustrated about how mandatory evacuation orders played out.
GRIFFIN: I wish I would have known earlier, give a couple of days I could have walked off the island, but we have less than 30 hours and I have a bike and I don't have a car.
SANTIAGO: While we were, Florida's lieutenant governor stopped by. We asked her about the criticism and calls for accountability.
LT. GOV. JEANETTE NUNEZ (R), FLORIDA: We're going to engage on focusing on rebuilding. We're not going to criticize our local emergency managers.
SANTIAGO: She says she wants to focus on making sure people have access to services they desperately need.
NUNEZ: FEMA has been an integrated and an active partner every step of the way. So we're really pleased with the response.
SANTIAGO: A long term response for what's been a nightmare disaster.
That nightmare you had?
GRIFFIN: Water. I love the water but not like that.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): And, Wolf, every single person I talked to had the same question, wondering how long they can depend on this shelter. Lee County telling me they have three shelters still open -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Leyla Santiago, thank you very much.
Finally tonight, we want to congratulate our senior editorial producer Melissa Gimo (ph) and her husband Andrew on the birth of their son Nicholas Lewis Cotton. Nicholas was born on September 27th and is already sporting THE SITUATION ROOM onesie. Take a look. How cute.
Congratulations to the family.
And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Please be sure to join us beginning Monday for a two-hour SITUATION ROOM. That's at 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Eastern weekdays.
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