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Appeals Court Halts Special Master Review Of Seized Mar-A-Lago Documents; Senate Passes Bill To Prevent Crippling Rail Strike; Now, Biden Hosting Macron For First State Visit Of His Presidency; Police Stoke Confusion About Whether College Killings Were Targeted; Chinese Officials Cracking Down On Protesters After COVID Lockdown Frustration Boils Over; CNN On Scene At Eruption Of World's Largest Active Volcano. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired December 01, 2022 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: State health officials are warning of possible health complications from the eruption.

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Our coverage continues now. Alex Marquardt is in for Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you tomorrow.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news, a federal appeals court just halted a special master review of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago. Stand by for the details on that ruling and what it means for the broader investigations of former President Donald Trump.

Also tonight, the Senate passing a bill to avert a nationwide rail strike that would be crippling for the U.S. economy, President Joe Biden defending the deal, and he is poised to sign it.

And the president is hosting his first state visit, standing with France's Emmanuel Macron and reaffirming their commitment to Ukraine. President Biden now signaling he's open to meeting with President Vladimir Putin under very specific conditions.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Alex Marquardt. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with the ruling revealed just moments ago, halting the special master's review of documents that the FBI seized from former President Donald Trump's Florida home. CNN Political Correspondent Sara Murray has been following this breaking story. Sara, what are we learning?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, Alex, this obviously a big win for the Justice Department. They felt they should be able to access all of these documents during their investigation and that a special master never should have been named in this case. And now, an appeals court, three GOP-appointed judges have agreed with the government. They have halted the special master. And they had some pretty choice words. They're essentially saying that the subject of a search warrant, in this case, that was former President Donald Trump, should not be able to stand in the way of blocking these government investigations.

At one point in their opinion, they write, this appeal requires us to consider whether the district court had jurisdiction to block the United States from using lawfully seized records in a criminal investigation. The answer is no.

They also are clearly weighing how this would set a precedent, this putting in place a special master, for other people who are in a similar position who are not former presidents of the United States. They write, in considering these arguments, we are faced with a choice, apply our usual test, drastically expand the availability of equitable jurisdiction for every subject of a search warrant or carve out an unprecedented exception in our law for former presidents. We choose the first option. So, the case must be dismissed.

Again, a big lost for Donald Trump and also a rebuke for Judge Aileen Cannon, who put the special master in place in Florida.

MARQUARDT: Yes. This court -- this panel did not want to allow for an unprecedented exception. Sara, stay with us as we bring in more of our legal experts, as well as our political minds. I first want to go to Katelyn Polantz. She is over at the Justice Department.

Katelyn, as Sara was just saying, this filing by these three judges bluntly rejects Trump's legal argument, what stands out to you in this filing?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right. Well, Alex, other than the rebuke of Judge Cannon where they say, this is just no place for the courts to be involved in a government investigation, they have very strong words in this opinion about how they feel about what Donald Trump here specifically was arguing.

So, remember, Trump went into court in Florida to ask for this special master. That's where the search had taken place, where they had seized documents out of Mar-a-Lago for the FBI and for the Justice Department to be looking at as part of their investigation.

But, really, this case was an investigation happening and continues to happen in the District of Columbia. And the two things that these judges, these three GOP appointees, two appointed by Trump, are saying now is that one, there should not be special treatment for a former president. The courts just are not going to be able to do that. People who are under criminal investigation have searches executed like this. It's not enough for them to get involved just because he is a former president.

And the second thing is that they reject an argument that Trump's team has continued to try and make, that the threat and the stigma of a possible criminal prosecution of the former president is so much that there really should be a pumping of the brakes by the judiciary on this sort of proceeding, on this criminal investigation that's ongoing. And that too is something that this panel says no, we're going to reject that. The threat and stigma, the argument there that you could be prosecuted, that you may be under investigation, that's not enough for us either to get involved.

MARQUARDT: All right. Katelyn, stay with us. We're also going to bring in Norm Eisen, who joins us now.


Norm, to that point, how much of a rebuke is this filing by this panel of Judge Aileen Cannon in Florida who back in August granted Trump's request for this special master, who is Judge Raymond Dearie from Brooklyn?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Alex, it's a stinging rebuke for Judge Cannon. They criticized the judge for dismissing the analysis in summary fashion, and then they do the analysis, a four-part analysis under the applicable law, the Richie standard, at great length to show just how wrong her decision was.

And to me, what really jumps out is it's not only a rebuke of Judge Cannon but also of Donald Trump and his lawyers, because the court makes the point if we applied this ruling across the board to all Americans, to anyone who gets a search warrant, the judicial system couldn't work.

So, what they're saying is the core idea of America, the same law for everyone, no person is above the law and Donald Trump does not get special rules as a former president.

MARQUARDT: Sara, I want to come back to you. What does this mean for the logistics of this investigation into these documents and the timeline of it?

MURRAY: Well, I mean, look, logistically, the case will need to be dismissed. But what it should mean is that the government should be able to get access to this full trove of documents. You know, they already have access to the documents that were marked classified. It was already decided that those would not be covered under the special master.

But part of building the case against potentially Donald Trump in this case, against people around him, is to show how these documents were sort of handled in such a willy-nilly fashion. They were thrown on in boxes, they were mixed with other things, they were not treated with the care that you would expect for documents marked classified.

In order to do that, you need to be able to access these other documents that were all mixed in with the documents marked classified. And so that is what has been holding back part of the government's case. They also couldn't take this stuff and show to it people in their interviews that they're doing, right? They couldn't take this stuff and put it before a grand jury because they didn't have access to these documents. So, if you want to go to a grand jury and say, here is this mess of stuff we found in the former president's office, the former president's office, we found these documents marked classified and next to it were passports and next to it were some magazine covers, you need to be able to access those documents in order to that. So, in theory, they should be able to move this process along much quicker for this process.

MARQUARDT: Scores of classified documents, some with extremely sensitive national secrets.

I'm joined by Abby Phillip and Gloria Borger. Gloria, this panel not wanting to carve out what they're calling an unprecedented exception for the former president, how much of a blow is this to him?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a real blow to Donald Trump because he is going to discover that he's being treated like any other American citizen, that he is no longer president of the United States, and he's not going to be treated like president of the United States. And these are three Republican appointees, I might add, who are saying, sorry, you cannot interrupt the judicial process here.

And what he got out of it was a delay. He did. He got a couple two to three months out of this. And so in that sense, he may have succeeded, if that's what he wanted. But he didn't win in the end. And his attorneys are finding out that, and Judge Cannon, and this was a complete rebuke of her, finding out that, you know, even if you're a former president, you're just an American citizen.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And I think it also addresses something that has been a common theme for Trump making these really broad sweeping privilege claims and claiming that it covers him when he was president, when he is no longer president, when the documents actually belong to the government, when the executive branch is asking for their own documents back.

And I think that this really deals a blow to that broad and I think some would say specious legal argument that they can just throw the word, privilege, into a legal filing and that it covers them and gives them special treatment in the eyes of the law.

MARQUARDT: Katelyn, at the Justice Department, I want to come back to you, what happens next now? Will former President Donald Trump, will they appeal, his legal team?

POLANTZ: I mean, it's very likely that Trump's team would appeal. They seem to want to appeal quite a lot of things. This had gone to appeals a couple of times already. There're many other parts of criminal investigations, other subpoenas he's gotten where they have appealed. But right now we know there is a seven-day window where this is going to have to -- he has time to appeal. He has about a week. And then it will go back to the judge, Judge Aileen Cannon. And she will have to essentially eat her own words, dismiss this as under the order of the 11th Circuit, if that stands.

But one thing, Alex, that's really important to remember here, is there was a long time when Trump was president that he was able to win through delay. He was able to use appeals to lengthen out proceedings, to delay subpoenas. And one of the things that has happened since he left the presidency is that he appeals and he loses, and he loses more quickly.


He has lost several times trying to go and block subpoenas, other investigative steps at the Supreme Court.

Just this year, he was not able to hold off Democrats in the House from getting access to records from his presidency from the National Archives. The Supreme Court rejected that. He wasn't able to hold off Democrats from getting access to his tax returns on Capitol Hill. That was just something that has been moving through the system. The Supreme Court said they weren't going get involved there. And then even in this case, this had gone up to the Supreme Court once before when it was just about classified records that were seized out of Mar- a-Lago.

Remember, what they're ruling on now isn't the classified records. Those have been in the hands of investigators and the intelligence community for a couple of weeks, even months now. And so he can go to the Supreme Court again but they have not seem to have any interest in taking these things.

MARQUARDT: All right. Everyone stay with me. There is a lot more to discuss. The breaking news does continue next with more on an appeals court halting the special master review of the documents that were seized from former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home. We'll be speaking about all this with a key member of the house intelligence committee, Congressman Jim Himes.



MARQUARDT: More now on the breaking news, a federal appeals court halting the special master review of documents seized from former President Trump's Florida home, Mar-a-Lago. We are back now with our legal and political experts.

I want to read another quote from this remarkable filing. It says, it is indeed extraordinary for a warrant to be executed at the home of a former president but not in a way that affects our legal analysis, or otherwise gives the judiciary license to interfere in an ongoing investigation.

Abby, we keep seeing this word, extraordinary, throughout this filing, which really highlights how rare all of this is.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, it is rare that he is a former president. It is rare that a former president would take documents and have them in his home. But I think the point that the court is making here is that none of those things change the application of the law to this particular situation. And that's really at the crux of a lot of this. The argument that if you look back at all of the things that the Trump legal team has said in their legal filings, it really suggests that they do believe he should be treated differently because he is a former president. They do suggest that, you know, he has extraordinary powers to hold on to things that he doesn't have the power to hold on to.

And I think that the court, in dealing with this part of the issue, is also speaking more broadly about that way that the former president's lawyers have positioned themselves in saying that's not how any of this works. And I think that that will have implications not just for this case but for a lot of other legal cases that he's involved in, in which he is in some ways often seeking to cloak himself in the presidency when he no longer has that position.

BORGER: I think the question is who else would have gotten a special master here, nobody sitting at this table.


BORGER: Nobody. He somehow got a special master because Judge Cannon said, okay, yes, we're going to appoint a special master, even though these classified documents are at your home. And most people, by the way, would be going the jail if they had those documents at their home.

PHILLIP: And, remember, Judge Cannon at the beginning, she had to ask the Trump lawyers to go back and rewrite their brief.


PHILLIP: Because it didn't have any applicable information in it. So, she seemed to be really looking for a way into this case.

MARQUARDT: It was sloppy.

All right, joining us now is Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us this evening.

First, I want to get your reaction to this news that the federal appeals court put a stop to this special master review of those Mar-a- Lago documents. What do you think this message is for former president Donald Trump?

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Well, thanks for having me, Alex. I mean, I think two things. Number one, Donald Trump's approach any time he is being investigated for anything is to try to delay and to use the courts as a mechanism to delay. And for him, it works, because he is a former president, right? We're all tangled up in questions about can you prosecute or indict somebody who is running for president, it sort of works for him. It doesn't work in the courts. He loses in court almost all the time with the exception, of course, of the ruling of Judge Cannon, which has now been overturned by an appeals court.

And I think that's really, really important. Because guys like me, and hopefully the American public worries that his appointees could be, quote/unquote, Trump judges. And the record is not one that lends a lot of credence to that idea. Plenty of his appointees, of course, have ruled against him. But in this case, Cannon issued a ruling that was enormously controversial that was in his favor. Well, the appeals court just took care of that worry.

MARQUARDT: And, Congressman, do you hope now that this will allow the DOJ to move faster in this investigation, which, as we know, is under the guidance and is being led by Special Counsel Jack Smith?

HIMES: Well, we always all hope that any time there is an investigation that faster is second behind doing it competently. Obviously, when the political implications are what they are with an ex-president, you really want them to do it competently.

But, yes, not only is this going to allow presumably the investigation to proceed faster, but if you sit on the Intelligence Committee, like I do, this will also allow the damage assessment, if you will, that the Director of National Intelligence is undertaking to determine whether sources, methods were compromised. Now that they're unfettered in their ability to get those documents, I would assume that the damage assessment will move forward more quickly as well.

MARQUARDT: And we are waiting to see whether the January 6th congressional committee makes any criminal referrals later this week. But based on what you've seen so far, do you believe the Justice Department will now ultimately charge former President Trump?

HIMES: Well, I'll say two things about that, Alex. One, a congressional referral doesn't have a lot of weight in law or with the Justice Department. The Justice Department will indict if they believe that they can win a case in court, if they believe that it's proper.


Now look, I'll give you my layman. I'm not even a lawyer. But I'll give you my layman's observation here, which is that if any person, me or -- and I could name for you a number of people who are sitting in jail today because they took documents much less sensitive than documents than were found at Mar-a-Lago, my observation would be that pretty much anybody else on the planet who had all kinds of highly sensitive documents in an insecure location that they were not entitled to have, they would be indicted.

MARQUARDT: Congressman, you talked about -- these criminal referrals are just symbolic, but do you think that they could be -- that they are important if they are made?

HIMES: I don't know the answer to that question. What I can tell you, because I live in a political world, is that outing the facts and letting the American people see what was really behind January 6th, who was supporting it, who was funding it, what actually happened, what people around the president said, that's of enormous value to the American public. Whether it's of a lot of value to the Department of Justice, that is not my job to say.

MARQUARDT: All right. Congressman Jim Himes, thank you so much for your time and your expertise this evening. I really appreciate it.

HIMES: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: Sara, I want to go back to you. To what extent does this make the task of Jack Smith easier? And does it speed up the process for him?

MURRAY: Well, I mean, look, I still think there is, of course, the question of whether the Trump team does decide to appeal this. But certainly it's much easier for you if your prosecutors can get access to all of the documents they need quicker to make their case.

Part of this, again, is about how the former president, how the people around him were handling these documents. And it's not just about how they were handling the documents marked classified, but the way they were sort of were strewn about and mixed with a bunch of other unrelated things, whether they were other papers from the presidency, whether they were Trump's mementos.

And so in order to do that, again, you need these documents. If you can move that along faster, I think that that is certainly a win in the prosecutor's view.

MARQUARDT: We'll certainly wait to see what the next move is by the special counsel. Thank you all for joining me this evening. I really appreciate it.

All right, coming up, how the Senate voted to avert a nationwide rail strike, and what it means for the U.S. economy, that's coming up.



MARQUARDT: Tonight, legislation to prevent a shutdown of America's railways is heading to President Joe Biden's desk, the Senate passing the bill a short time ago and beating a critical deadline.

Let's get right to Capitol Hill and CNN's Melanie Zanona. Melanie, the president wanted to get this bill by Saturday. He was very clear about that. Walk us through how this vote unfolded today in the Senate.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, that is what we call little Senate magic around here. When things are at a standstill, it doesn't look like things are going to happen and then all of the sudden they start moving at lightning speed.

So, remember, in order to move quickly on anything in the Senate, you need the cooperation of every single senator. So, what GOP and Democratic leaders agreed to was to hold two votes in exchange for lawmakers' cooperation. First, they voted on a Republican amendment that would have given negotiators more time. That failed. Then they voted on a Bernie Sanders amendment that would have add paid sick leave to the deal. That also failed. And then, finally, they voted on the rail deal itself. That passed, although 15 lawmakers did vote against it, ten Republicans and five Democrats. And just as a reminder what is in this deal, it includes a 24 percent pay raise, it includes better health care premiums and benefits and it also includes thousand dollars bonuses every year. But it does not include additional paid sick leave. Right now, workers only get about one day. And so that is something that the unions were pushing for. That is why progressives were trying to fight for this. They say unions are some of our strongest allies. We should fight for this issue. It's an important issue. It's paid sick leave.

But they heard from cabinet officials earlier today who said the consequence of an action would be huge. Ultimately, most Democrats and Republicans ended up swallowing this deal and listening to Biden's pleas to get this to his desk by the end of the week. Alex?

MARQUARDT: Yes, that paid leave a major sticking point. Melanie Zanona on Capitol Hill this evening, thank you very much.

ZANONA: Thanks.

MARQUARDT: Now let's go the White House, where President Joe Biden is hosting his first state dinner tonight honoring French President Emmanuel Macron, the two leaders downplaying their differences today and aiming to present a united front on key issues, including Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Here is CNN Chief White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On a day carefully calibrated to elevate a critical alliance --

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Mr. Putin is -- let me choose my words very carefully.

MATTINGLY: -- President Biden, signaling a willingness to open a line of communication with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

BIDEN: I'm prepared to speak with Mr. Putin if, in fact, there is an interest in him to decide and he is looking for a way to end the war.

MATTINGELY: With clear preconditions.

BIDEN: He hasn't done that yet. If that's the case, in consultation with my French and my NATO friends, I'll be happy to sit down with Putin to see what he has in mind. He hasn't done that yet.

MATTINGLY: The brutal war in Ukraine now in its ninth month at the center of a three-hour sit down with French President Emmanuel Macron, after which Macron was explicit in his commitment not to circumvent Ukraine in any peace talks.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: We will never urge the Ukrainians to make a compromise which will not be acceptable for them.

MATTINGLY: Biden's first state visit underscore the value and durability White House officials see in the relationship with America's longest running ally, with two leaders going to great lengths to demonstrate their unity and iron out clear-cut differences.

BIDEN: And I make no apologies.

MATTINGLY: Biden moving to clearly address French concerns with sweeping subsidies included in his cornerstone economic climate legislation.

BIDEN: But there are occasions when you write a massive piece of legislation, and that has almost $368 billion for the largest investment in climate change on all of history.


And so there is obviously going to be glitches in it.

MATTINGLY: And providing assurances that issue would be addressed.

BIDEN: I'm confident, that's my answer.

MATTINGLY: For Macron, a day and a dinner underscoring a White House view of a relationship that has only grown in its importance in Biden's first two years, one driven, officials say, by a genuine personal connection.

BIDEN: I begin to refer to him privately as my closer.

MATTINGLY: A connection that has been critical in a moment when geopolitical threats have rattled alliances worldwide.

BIDEN: France is one of our strongest partners and historically, but one of our strongest partners and our most capable allies. And Emmanuel has also become a friend in addition to being president of that great country.


MATTINGLY (on camera): And, Alex, if the consequential substance was really at the center of that three-hour closed door meeting, the real capstone of any state visit is the glitz and glamour of the dinner. Guests are filing in right now. You can see the red carpet where President Macron and his wife, Brigitte, Bridget will arrive shortly. That dinner will be in heated tense on the south lawn, red white and blue-themed.

What you hear from White House official says, at a moment where they can finally have one again, the first of President Biden's time in office, they are very happy to entertain, several hundred guests expected to attend, really kind of underscoring a relationship that has been laid very clear throughout the course of this day.

MARQUARDT: And the menu, including lobster, sounds pretty good. Phil Mattingly at the White House, I really appreciate it.

Coming up, we will go live to Georgia with just five days to go before the high-stakes Senate runoff, former President Barack Obama tonight headlining a rally, hoping to close the deal for incumbent Raphael Warnock.



MARQUARDT: Tonight, former President Barack Obama adding his significant political star power to the hottest undecided contest of the midterm election. That is, of course, the Senate runoff in Georgia, putting incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock against Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

Now, Obama's rally with Warnock begins soon. Walker also has an event of his own tonight.

And CNN's Dianne Gallagher is there. Dianne, just five days away before this runoff, how is the race looking?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, you can probably see behind me, they're still setting up for the Herschel Walker event tonight where Senator Lindsey Graham is going to be the headlining surrogate on this final early voting day eve. Now, look, Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was supposed to attend this event. The campaign, though, says that he had a family emergency and will not be here.

There is a host of other Republican surrogates who are likely going to be giving the same message here in Woodstock tonight, as former President Barack Obama is willing to be giving to voters in Atlanta in just a few moments, essentially telling the crowds of people that look, you've got to get out and vote tomorrow, the final day of early voting, or make a plan to vote on Tuesday, Election Day.

Now, look, Senator Raphael Warnock brought President Obama here to campaign for him before the general election as well. He is sort of the not so secret weapon of the Democrats. And part of this is because of those daily record-breaking numbers we've seen for this abbreviated period of early voting. More than 1.1 million people voted through Wednesday, more than a million of those early in-person.

There are some campaigns that worry though that could be deceiving because those are such large numbers and it is still just a short amount of time. So, they still feel there are plenty of voters out there that they can motivate to get to the polls, either on Friday or on Tuesday. And ways they're doing that, of course, is spending a lot of money. We're talking about $77 million put into this four-week runoff period in television ads.

And the Democrats have a 2-1 advantage there in how much they're spending. We're talking 52.9 million from Democrats to just 24.2 million for Republicans. And, Alex, to crystallize just how much more money Democrats are putting into this race than Republicans, Senator Raphael Warnock, the candidate, has put more money, $24.8 million, into ads than all of the Republican spending combined. MARQUARDT: Just an extraordinary amount of political funds pouring into that state. Dianne Gallagher, thank you very much, a busy few days ahead of you now.

Let's get more now with CNN's Chief National Affairs Analyst Kasie Hunt and CNN Senior Political Analyst Nia-Malika Henderson. Thank you both for joining me this evening.

Nia, I want to start with you. We have President Obama heading down to campaign for Senator Raphael Warnock. How much of an impact can he have at this late stage in the race?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, at this point it's all about enthusiasm and it's all about turnout. These kinds of rallies that are going to be likely huge, because it's Barack Obama, and people haven't seen him in this way in a little while, I mean, he was obviously there for the campaign before, but he still generates a lot of excitement. He generates excitement among African- American voters, among young voters, among suburban voters, among Latino voters, among Asian-American voters. Those are the demographics that Raphael Warnock are going to really need to show out and show out early, right? It's the last day of early voting tomorrow. He wants to get those folks out as they really want to build up lead because they know that, on Tuesday, that's when the Walker voters will show up.

MARQUARDT: And it's not just one Obama who is working on this effort.


There is also the former First Lady, Michelle Obama. She is lending her voice to back Senator Warnock's campaign. Let's take a listen.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER U.S. FIRST LADY (voice over): Hey there. This is Michelle Obama, and I'm calling to make sure you have a plan to vote for Reverend Raphael Warnock. This election is going to be very close, and there are a lot of folks on the other side hoping you stay home. But we need you to get out and vote one more time for Raphael Warnock.


MARQUARDT: Kasie, we haven't seen much of Michelle Obama on the campaign trail during this midterm season. So, now that she is doing this, and it's a call, a recording, what does that signal to you?

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, partly that she only has one candidate left on the field that anyone is going to ask her to do a favor for. Michelle Obama is not necessarily someone who has made -- she doesn't certainly love campaign politics, right? She was pretty clear about that when she was in the White House. It's something other people have speculated if perhaps she wanted to run for anything, president of the United States, she could do it. She is not interested in it. But this -- the dynamics of this race I think are such that she is a particularly effective person for Democrats to be able to deploy, and frankly cutting a robo call takes a lot effort than what her husband is out there doing and potentially has very high reward, especially for the types of voters that she is trying to reach, people that use like more traditional methods of communication, perhaps older voters, rural black voters perhaps in Georgia that she might be able to speak to.

HENDERSON: Yes, listen. And I think for voters, it reminds them of the good old days, right. I mean, they love Barack Obama in a state like Georgia. They love Michelle Obama in a state like Georgia. It reminds them of what the Democratic Party stands for, right? And then you have Raphael Warnock, who is a historic figure in of himself, right, as are the Obamas as well. He is the first black senator elected to the Senate from Georgia.

So, it will be a real moment. And I think people will want to come out and see. He was very effective on the campaign trail for Raphael Warnock in the prior year election. So, they want to bring him out again and gin up that excitement and have people go to the polls.

HUNT: And, look, here the other thing too, right? I mean, the biggest hurdle that Walker has is that all of these negative stories that have piled up about him, and when the Senate was on the line, it was easy for all these Republicans from Washington to come down and make the argument to voters, hey, this potentially is the 50th vote in the Senate. It's really important that you pull the lever for the party, even if perhaps you've got some problems with some of the things that have been exposed about Walker's past, whether it's abortion or violence towards women or whatever your problem with him is. That's not the case here, right?

So you're trying to get voters excited to vote for a candidate. It's a much tougher hill to climb if you're Walker's people than if you are Warnock's people.

MARQUARDT: And to that point, Walker would need now in these final hours some of those bold-faced names and he is not really getting them. I mean, he doesn't necessarily want former president Donald Trump on the trail. He's got Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. He's got Senator Lindsey Graham. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dropped out today, we understand, because of a family emergency. So, does that tell us anything about the state of Walker's campaign?

HENDERSON: Yes. I mean, I think it tells you that he is a candidate that Republicans went into this feeling was a very weak candidate and has only gotten weaker, right, as the days have gone on. It's a real disservice in many ways that this had to go to a runoff.

So, he is out there again. There are more terrible stories about him. The ads that the Warnock campaign are running on him showing to focus groups reacting to gibberish that Herschel Walker is saying, I think those are --

MARQUARDT: That vampires. HENDERSON: -- about vampires, which are apparently very cool to Herschel Walker. So it's a -- he's got Lindsey Graham who is of course the senator from nearby South Carolina. But Lindsey Graham ain't Michelle Obama and ain't Barack Obama either.

MARQUARDT: Sorry, would you like to say something.

HUNT: No, no. Go ahead.

MARQUARDT: Well, now we have 1.1 million Georgians who have already cast their ballots. Tomorrow is the last day of early voting. Nia was talking about how President Obama is going to get some of those remaining voters out for Warnock. But if you're the Walker campaign, how you inspiring voters?

HUNT: Well, again, I think that, that's really the tough part, I mean, the quote/unquote inspiring. The Kemp piece of this is important because he developed a very strong organization in the state. And he has lent it to Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans who are focused on this race and are trying to use that information, the databases they built to try and get as many people to vote in this election as possible.

But I think the reality is when I talk to Democrats here in Washington and Republicans who are very invested in the outcome, the reality is Democrats right now are much more optimistic than Republicans are.

MARQUARDT: All right. We've got to leave it there. Thank you both very much. I appreciate it.

And just ahead, confusion and mystery stirring in Idaho where police keep contradicting their own statements about whether the four college students were stabbed to death were specifically targeted.



MARQUARDT: Tonight, in Idaho, new statements from police are stoking confusion around the brutal stabbing of four students at the state's university.

CNN's Brian Todd has been following the story for us.

Brian, there's still no word from authorities about a suspect, about a murder weapon and now, there is questions about the targets of the attack?


Officials in Idaho seem to be stumbling at least in their messaging about this investigation tonight. As they struggle to clarify that messaging, parents of the victims still don't have many answers.


TODD (voice-over): Tonight, authorities say they believe the stabbing murders of four University of Idaho students was a targeted attack.


But only after a confusing back and forth in recent days on among state and local officials, about whether that's their belief or not.

JAMES SCHIELD, FORMER CHIEF OF INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS, U.S. MARSHALS: There's too many people providing information to the media. They need to limit and have one point of contact.

TODD: The Idaho state police now tells CNN, the reason for the uncertainty is because investigators have not concluded if the target was the resident itself, or the people inside. The Moscow police chief, in an interview with ABC, was evasive when asked why they believe the attack was targeted in some way.

CHIEF JAMES FRY, MOSCOW, IDAHO POLICE: We aren't going to reveal that. That's part of the investigation, trying to pull the pieces that will help give us that before, the during, and the after.

TODD: Last night, hundreds of people attended a vigil for the four victims. Some other parents spoke.

STACY CHAPIN, MOTHER OF VICTIM ETHAN CHAPIN: It's to make sure to see if they spend as much possible, because time is precious and it's something you can't get back.

TODD: The father of victim Kaylee Goncalves talked about how his daughter and fellow victim Madison Mogen had been friends since sixth grade.

STEVE GONCALVES, FATHER OF VICTIM KAYLEE GONCALVES: Every day, they did homework together, they came to our house, they shared everything. In the end, they die together, in the same room and the same bed. And it's a shame, and it hurts.

TODD: Nearly three weeks after the four students were found stabbed to death inside this off campus rental house, police have produced no suspects. No descriptions of a possible suspect, and no murder weapon.

CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: There's an awful lot of pressure that's on them right now but they need to methodically go through the evidence and see what they have, and just keep working this case until they come up with someone.

TODD: There was two roommates inside the house at the time of the attack who survived and were not harmed. Investigators don't believe they were involved in the murders. Analysts say the police could have a suspect in mind. And they're not telling the public everything they know

RAMSEY: Bad guys watch television, too. And so, you don't want to put too much information out publicly because your killer is probably paying closer attention to media coverage than the average person is.

TODD: What mistakes might the killer or killers make to get themselves caught?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talking to someone, bragging about it, having remorse and then telling someone about it frequently ends up identifying somebody you would never have suspected.


TODD (on camera): And we have this just into CNN. Investigators telling us that they believe a sixth person may have been living at that residence, at that house for the murders took place. Alex, previously they knew that at least five people live there. Now they believe a sixth person may have lived at the house. They don't believe that person was present at the time.

MARQUARDT: Very interesting. And, of course, these families still desperate for answers.

TODD: Absolutely.

MARQUARDT: Brian Todd, thank you very much for that report. Appreciate it.

Coming up, new details of the racially charged palace sandal that's been overshot in the U.S. visit of the prince and princess of Wales.



MARQUARDT: We are learning new details tonight about a racially- charged scandal that has now led to the resignation of a long time lady in waiting to the late Queen Elizabeth, a godmother to Prince William. This coming as the new prince and princess of Wales, William and Catherine, visit Boston.

CNN royal correspondent Max Foster is there for us tonight.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A royal visit to the United States, overshadowed by accusations of racism back home.

A black charity executive, Ngozi Fulani, told the BBC how she attended an event at Buckingham Palace earlier this week. It wasn't a game where she was really from.

NGOZI FULANI, CHARITY WORKER, SISTAH SPACE: I'm really from here. Yeah, but, okay, so, I can see that this is going to be a challenge. She said, what's your nationality? And I said, lady, I was born here. I'm British. I was thinking that would be the end of it. But no, where are you really from? Where are your people from?

FOSTER: British media identified the palace official as 83-year-old Lady Susan Hussey, the late queen's lady in waiting for more than 60 years. I'm godmother to the Prince of Wales. Buckingham Palace responded quickly and unequivocally: The individual

concern would like to express your profound apologies for the hurt caused, and has stepped aside from her honorary role with immediate effect.

William and Kate touched down in Boston on Wednesday ahead of their three-day visit for the second Earthshot Prize Awards, a prize they helped set up for advances in climate science. The fiasco threatens to overshadow any focus on environmentalism.

Behind closed doors, the royals will be devastated the issue of racism within the monarchy has reared up yet again.

Speaking to Oprah Winfrey in 2021, the duchess of Sussex, Meghan, pointed to her own experiences of racism inside palace walls.

MEGHAN, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: Concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born.

PRINCE HARRY: I did everything I could to protect my family.

FOSTER: Incidentally the duchess of Sussex and her husband, Prince Harry, released a trailer for their upcoming Netflix docuseries on Thursday. And the pair was shortly received a human rights award from the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation for their heroic stand against structural racism within the royal family, according to organizers.

Like William and Kate's recent visit to the Caribbean, where they were dogged by questions about the monarchy's colonial past, this world tour, is again, and felt the effects of history.


FOSTER (on camera): Alex, this would've been a huge frustration to the prince and princess of Wales, who are here in Boston for one reason, which is to promote solutions to the climate crisis, culminating in the Earthshot Prize, which is being held here on Friday night. It's something that Prince William in particular has been working towards for months if not years -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: Our thanks to CNN's Max Foster in Boston.

I'm Alex Marquardt here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thank you so much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.