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The Situation Room

LAX Airport Hit By Power Issue, TSA Screening Down; Emotional Funeral For Tyre Nichols Three Weeks After Beating By Police; Veteran Says, FBI Probing Rep. George Santos (R-NY) Over Alleged Dog Charity Fraud; FBI Searches Biden's Delaware Beach Home In Document's Probe. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired February 01, 2023 - 18:00   ET




We have a lot to news to get to tonight. But, first, some breaking news right now out of Los Angeles, where LAX International Airport is experiencing a major power issue, shutting down TSA screening at the airport. Let's get the latest developments.

CNN's Natasha Chen is in L.A. for us. What are you learning, Natasha?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the LAX Airport has tweeted within the last 30 minutes that the Department of Water and Power is assessing a power issue impacting some LAX facilities at this time. You see the tweet there.

The airfield is operating normally but some terminals, traffic lights and other systems may not have power. Our teams are working on the issue with DWP now. Follow us for additional updates.

Now, that tweet continues to say that due to that power issue, TSA has stopped screening passengers in most terminals. So, if you have to fly today out of LAX, they're asking you to allow extra time here. Crews are responding as quickly as possible to restore all the systems. And the airport says that most of the terminals are impacted by the loss of power, that some departing flights may be impacted due to no power, to jet bridges, and, again, to please allow extra time and check flight status as the airport teams learn more.

Now, in just checking the department of transportation's national air space system status online, I'm looking at the number of active airport events that they have listed. So far, LAX is not listed on here. There are, of course, other issues at other airports around the country, some of them weather related like de-icing. But so far, perhaps it's just happened so quickly that it hasn't updated yet. But thus far, what we know so far is just from LAX officials themselves putting out that notice that if you are going to fly out today, that you will need to allow for extra time because TSA has stopped screening passengers in many of the terminals.

There are seven terminals there at LAX. You're looking at that image of World Way. It goes around in a loop that way. And so there could be some issues that we will definitely be following to see if they can resolve this power issue, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, very disturbing information. We're going to be continuing to follow this, of course. Natasha, if you get more specifics, let us know and we'll update our viewers. I appreciate it very much.

Right now, I want to go to Memphis, where we saw raw emotion at Tyre Nichols' funeral and impassioned pleas police reform here in the United States.

CNN's Ryan Young takes us inside of the service and the investigation of Nichols' death.


ROWVAUGHN WELLS, TYRE NICHOLS' MOTHER: Tyre was a beautiful person. And for this to happen to him is just unmanageable.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A goodbye to a beloved son, moving tributes and a call for change.

RODNEY WELLS, TYRE NICHOLS' STEPFATHER: We have to fight for justice. We cannot continue to let these people brutalize our kids.

YOUNG: Grieving family and friends celebrating the life of Tyre Nichols today.

ROWVAUGHN WELLS: I promise you the only thing that's keeping me going is the fact that I really choose to believe myself (INAUDIBLE) from God.

KEYANA DIXON, TYRE NICHOLS' SISTER: I see the world showing him love and fighting for his justice. But all I want is my baby brother back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just trying to go home. Don't I deserve to feel safe?

YOUNG: A young father, artist and avid skateboarder who died after a violent encounter with Memphis police.

BEN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Why couldn't they see the humanity in Tyre? Because we have to make sure they see us as human beings.

YOUNG: Civil rights leaders, community members and officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris.

KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: This is a family that lost their son and their brother through an act of violence at the hands and the feet of people who had been in charge with keeping them safe.

YOUNG: With the families of other victims of police brutality in attendance.

REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: The mother (INAUDIBLE) Philonise and Kiki is here of the Floyds. There is Botham John's sister and Brandon, the mother of Eric Garner from New York is here.

They know what it is to sit in a funeral like this.


YOUNG: A service painfully familiar for black communities in America.

REV. J. LAWRENCE TURNER, SENIOR PASTOR, MISSISSIPPI BLVD. CHRISTIAN CHURCH: We serve notice to this nation that the rerun of this episode that makes black lives hashtags has been canceled and will not be renewed for another season.

YOUNG: The videos of the brutal police beating were released less than a week ago and more videos of the incident are expected to be released soon. The City of Memphis saying it's preparing to release the recordings once an administrative investigation is complete and that the Nichols family and their attorneys have already seen the audio and video footage.

The investigation has led to firing of five officers and later three fire department personnel. Additionally, two more Memphis police officers and two members of the Shelby County Sheriff's Office have been placed on leave.

Contradictions between the video of the fatal beating and the initial police report have prosecutors looking into further charges, including charges of false reporting and that police account for every other officer and fire department personnel at the scene.

Personnel files for the five former Memphis police officers charged in Nichols' death show several received written reprimands or short suspensions for violating department policies, including Demetrius Haley who received a written reprimand in November of 2021 for failing to document his role in the detention of a suspect who said she suffered a dislocated shoulder as she was arrested, and Desmond Mills Jr., who received a written reprimand in 2019 for failing to document the use of physical force during an arrest. None of the officers charged in Nichols' death have previously been disciplined for excessive force. But even as questions in this case linger, the call for change is clear.

SHARPTON: We are going to change this country because we refuse to keep living under the threat of the cops and the robbers.


YOUNG: Wolf, when you think about that funeral and you see the sisters having to talk in front of everybody, that poem was really stirring up emotions in a lot of people, just trying to get home, just trying to get home. And when you think about Tyre and what he was calling for, even as he was being beaten by the officers, someone highlighted the fact that he stayed polite during all of that, calling out for his mother. And with so many mothers answered the call today by showing up here wanting to pay respects to this family but also hoping to protect their sons. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes. While he was being beaten he cried out, he said, mom, mom. Ryan Young, thank you very, very much.

Let's get some more on the investigation right now of Tyre Nichols arrest and death. The Shelby County district attorney, Steve Mulroy, is joining us right now from Memphis. Steve, I understand there are certain things you can't discuss but I know you're continuing to look at possible charges of false reporting on the initial police report on Tyre Nichols's arrest. Where does that consideration stand right now?

STEVEN MULROY, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SHELBY COUNTY, TENNESSEE: Well, we are looking into, as you said, that and everything. We're looking into the officer that was at the first scene that hadn't been charged. We're looking at other personnel that showed up after the beating had concluded at the second scene. And as you said, we're looking at people who filed paperwork to make sure -- to see if any charges are indicated.

I have asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to expedite those portions of the investigation so that we can get to a decision as soon as possible. But as this time, we're not really ready to make any announcements about whether or not there could be any charges there. There could be or maybe there wouldn't be.

BLITZER: Do you believe police were trying to cover up what happened during that arrest?

MULROY: Well, again, that is the kind of characterization of an ongoing investigation that I think it would be better for me as the prosecutor not to state right now. But I think it is fair to say that the incident report that has gone public does not match up on all fours with what one sees, when one looks at the video that has already been released.

BLITZER: The city of Memphis says more videos will be released to this case. What are those new videos that none of us have seen yet, what do they show?

MULROY: Probably most useful for the audio as opposed to the video. Because the relevant parts of the first incident and then the second incident when the beating took place are already out there for the video that has already been released.

But there is a lot of footage, maybe as much as 20 hours, and some of it I think may be more relevant because of the audio and then a lot of it depicts things that take place after the beating has already occurred and people are sort of talking afterwards, even after the ambulance takes Mr. Nichols away.

BLITZER: Could you be more specific of what that audio will show us?

MULROY: No, I don't think at this time it is proper for me to characterize it. But when it is released everyone could listen and here and watch and draw their own conclusions.


BLITZER: When do you think we'll get to hear it? MULROY: That is a good question. It's really up to the city of Memphis and the Memphis Police Department. They're the custodians of the record and it is totally up to them as to what the timing of the release is.

BLITZER: So far five police officers have been criminally charged but additional police officers and first responders who were there have been fired so far. Where do the criminal investigations into those individuals stand?

MULROY: Similarly, I've asked the TBI to investigate and also to expedite the investigation of those persons. We're not ready to say how long that will take or what the likelihood is of charges. Maybe there are no charges. We can't really say right now.

But I will want to emphasize, Wolf, that the administrative decision that the City of Memphis has made by either suspending or terminating particular employees is really a separate analysis from what we do, and what we do is simply to look at whether there is substantial evidence that criminal laws in Tennessee were broken.

BLITZER: I know you have a lot going on. Steve, thank you for joining us. The Shelby County district attorney, Steve Mulroy, I appreciate it very much.

MULROY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we're told the FBI is now looking into Congressman George Santos and his trail of lies. Stand by for new details on allegations he walked off with money raised to help a dying dog.



BLITZER: All right, this just into CNN. We're learning about another investigation into Republican Congressman George Santos. The FBI now probing the freshman lawmaker over allegations he took thousands of dollars from a dying dog's charity fundraiser.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is joining us. He's got details. What are learning, Omar?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. So, obviously, these are allegations that come from U.S. Navy Veteran Rich Osthoff. And the federal investigators are looking into what he has said about George Santos, that Santos helped raise thousands of dollars for life saving surgery for his dog and then took off with the money.

Now, Osthoff confirmed to CNN today that he spoke to a pair of FBI agents about what he has said, that he was cooperative with them and turned over text message exchanges he had in the past with Santos. They were there on behalf of the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York, who has been investigating Santos' finances. And Osthoff told CNN last month that this was years ago, during a very tough point in Osthoff's life that Santos helped raise around $3,000 on a GoFundMe, again, for this life-saving surgery, but became uncooperative when it came time to collect that money. And not long after that, Osthoff's dog died.

Take a listen to some of how Osthoff responded when we all talked about this last month.


RICH OSTHOFF, U.S. NAVY VETERAN: Santos really took a piece of my heart when he did this. I -- my opinion of humanity was very, very extremely diminished, crashed into the floor.


JIMENEZ: Now, a spokesperson for Santos has not have any comment on this thus far, even when pressed by reporters on Capitol Hill today. At the time, Santos said he had no clue what Osthoff was talking about and defending his work with animals. And the U.S. attorney's office for Eastern District of New York has had no comment up to this point.

But Santos obviously has had a number of investigations swirling around him at this point. It is part of why he, in his own words, has recused himself from his two committees on Capitol Hill to, again, use some of this words, with the ongoing attention surrounding both my personal and campaign financial investigations. I've submitted a request to Speaker McCarthy that I'd be temporarily recused from his committee assignments. But, again, a lot going on into the fold, investigating here, and this being among the latest, Wolf.

BLITZER: Omar Jimenez, reporting for us. Omar, thanks for the latest developments.

I want to get some more right now with former Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. He's now a CNN Senior Political Commentator. We're also joined by CNN Senior Political Correspondent Abby Phillip and CNN Correspondent Audie Cornish.

Abby, I'll start with you. Let's talk about these issues swirling around this Republican Congressman Santos, and there are so many. Did this just become the most potentially significant allegation, the one the FBI is apparently now investigating?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that this is one of many allegations related to financial issues that could be a real serious problem for George Santos. This has always been the part of his biography that has raised the most red flags.

This is a person who just a couple of years ago, his income as he reported it was less than $100,000 and then a few short years later spiked up so much so that he was able to donate about $700,000 to his own campaign. It raises huge, huge questions about where all of this money came from. And given all of the lies, I mean it is just an obvious thing that you would not necessarily take his word for anything, especially given that you have a case now where someone is saying, he raised money for a cause that he never actually gave to that cause. That is, I think, just the beginning of the problems here for George Santos when it comes to explaining where all this money came from and what he did with it.

BLITZER: Well, let's get Adam Kinzinger into this conversation. Do you expect, Adam, Republican leadership is going to continue to standby Santos even though there is now this FBI federal investigation?

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, I think the pressure is going to continue to increase. My guess is Santos stepping off of this committee was actually a result of leadership telling him to do that. I highly doubt that he did that on his own. They probably gave him the out of saying he did it on his own. But the pressure is going to increase.

Look, this isn't necessarily the worst thing he's done but it like ticks the list of everything that really ticks people off, which is animals, veterans and just stealing that kind of money. I think he's in real trouble with the public on this.


The interesting thing, I have a friend that saw him out a hill country barbecue in D.C. and said he was just soaking up the attention, everybody was coming up and getting selfies with him and he enjoys it. So, I don't think he's going to resign unless leadership really comes down on him to resign. But bottom line is the guy has kept the job for the next two years unless leadership can step up.

BLITZER: We'll see if they do. Audi, the allegation from a U.S. Navy veteran that Santos took off with the money he had raised, money for his dying dog that was specifically only supposed to go to help save the life of this dying dog, is this the kind of thing that really resonates with his constituents out there in Long Island?

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, in general, it puts a human face on a story right now that, you know, the borders of it are blurry. You have a campaign -- the identities of some of these campaign donors have not been confirmed by journalists who are starting to look into it. You have these expenditures he's made with vendors that haven't been confirmed with the vendors themselves. I think the Miami -- there has been some newspaper reporting into that as well.

And so you have a number of sort of investigations going on at once. And then you have some human interest story out in front of it, which kind of brings it all together for the public to really raise questions about not just the character of this person but like the very basic nature of what may be crimes.

So, I think the question I'm going to be asking is what are the investigations going forward? What will they yield? And then we can have a real conversation about the consequences for him going forward.

BLITZER: Abby, while we have you, I want to get your take on former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is expected to become the first person to officially challenge Donald Trump in 2024 for the Republican presidential nomination. What is her lane in this race?

PHILLIP: Well, look, you're already hearing her making a case that there needs to be fresh blood. I think that this is going to be a race in which a lot of Republicans are going to be making the case that voters don't want another Biden-Trump matchup.

So, even though she worked for Trump in the past, she said she wouldn't run if Trump ran, she's doing it. And you're going to hear her talking about that. You're going to hear her talking about her foreign policy credentials. And also, I mean, Nikki Haley as Governor of South Carolina was someone who prided herself in reaching across the aisle and reaching across the racial lines of a state that has a lot of deep history on those issues as well. So, I think you'll see all of that coming from her. Whether it works or not, we'll see, Wolf.

BLITZER: Adam, what do you think?

KINZINGER: Wolf, I think, Nikki Haley's lane in this is going to be the not really anti-Trumper, it will be kind of in that Ron DeSantis lane. And I just think there is really room for three candidates in this race, the kind of more anti-Trump, not a never Trumper, the Trump light, which is kind of where Ron DeSantis is, Nikki Haley and then Trump himself.

I mean, Nikki Haley's struggle is going to be, and I think she's smart actually to be one of the first to announce, because now she could kind of coalesce that, but her struggle is going to be -- she has been pro-Trump. She's has been anti-Trump. She said she isn't going to run if he runs. Now she is going to run. She doesn't have a natural constituency yet. She's a smart lady so we'll see where she goes.

CORNISH: That is a question for party as a whole, though, right? Who is the constituency where you are not defined by Trump in one way or another? What does it mean to be a Republican today? Any candidate who wants to step forward has to make that case.

BLITZER: All right guys, thank you very much.

Coming up, Tom Brady announcing his retirement again. Is the legendary quarterback actually ready to step away from football for good? I'll ask CNN's Bob Costas. He's standing by live. We'll discuss after the break.



BLITZER: Tom Brady, considered by many to be the greatest quarterback of all time, says he's finally ready to retire after 23 legendary seasons in the NFL. CNN's Brian Todd is taking a closer look at Brady's decision and his record-breaking career. Brian, this is not Brady first time stepping away from football.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, who could forget that go-around a year ago when Tom Brady announces retirement then decided he would come back. Well, today, Brady made an announcement that does seem to put some finality on an unbelievable career.


TODD (voice over): This time the man many consider the greatest player in NFL history seems to really mean it when he says he's stepping away after 23 seasons.


TODD: In a video posted to twitter today, Tom Brady alluded to his announcement a year ago that he was retiring, a decision he later reversed. And he indicated he didn't want to get emotional this time. But that idea didn't last long.

BRADY: I really thank you guys so much to every single one of you for supporting me, my family, my friends, my teammates, my competitors.

TODD: The 45-year-old leaves football with accomplishments that even to those who cover and follow sports closely are almost dizzying. He's won more Super Bowls individually, seven, than any team has won. He's been the Super Bowl most valuable player five times, the league's MVP three times. He holds the NFL's regular season record for passing yards and touchdowns.

JOHN MCCLAIN, NFL COLUMNIST GALLERY SPORTS: Tom Brady is without a doubt the greatest quarterback in NFL history. And there is nobody else that is a close number two.

TODD: His greatness enhanced by the fact that he got almost no attention when he came into the league as a gangly sixth round draft pick out of University of Michigan.


MCCLAIN: And when they drafted him in the sixth, he was an afterthought. The odds were against him even making the team.

TODD: Brady went on to win six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots but his final season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was different with uncharacteristic errors on the field, a team that underachieved and a highly publicized divorce from his wife of 13 years, supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

BEN VOLIN, SENIOR NFL WRITER, THE BOSTON GLOBE: You could see the anguish and the frustration on his face throughout the 2022 season. Both his team was struggling. It didn't look like their having a whole bunch of fun out there. And then, obviously, off the field his marriage ending in divorce and having all of those issues off the field. I think it just wore on him too much.

TODD: Now, Tom Brady heads into a world that he once told 60 Minutes he feared.

BRADY: What is it going to be? And I don't know. I heard a lot about astronauts who go to the moon and come back and they're so depressed because there is nothing they can do in their lives that could ever fill in the way that that does.


TODD (on camera): Now Brady's retirement could make that landing a little softer. Last May, he signed a contract with Fox Sports to be its lead analyst for NFL games. The figures in the contract have not been made clear but it is believed to be worth hundreds of million dollars over ten years, Wolf.

BLITZER: We, of course, wish him only, only the best. Great quarterback indeed. Brian, thank you very, very much.

Let's get some more analysis right now from CNN Contributor Bob Costas. Bob, thank you so much for joining us. Brady said he's retiring for good this time. Do you think this is really it for him? Have we seen Brady suit up for last time?

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I think this has a feeling of absolute finality to it. He was still a very good quarterback, not equal to his best seasons, but at 45, very good. A year before, at 44, he led the league in passing yardage with more than 5,000 yards. He led the league in touchdown passes with 43. They had won the Super Bowl in Tampa, the seventh of his Super Bowl wins after six in New England the year before that. And they lost in the playoff last season to the Rams in a close game and the Rams went on to win the Super Bowl.

So, up until this year, he was still elite among the elite. He fell back a little bit this year. The team around him was not quite as good. The circumstances that Brian Todd laid out may have had something to do with it, 45 years old, 23 seasons, ten Super Bowl and seven Super Bowl victories, that's epic.

BLITZER: Yes, it certainly is. As you reflect on Brady's 23 seasons in the NFL, is he in fact the greatest quarterback of all time?

COSTAS: You know maybe I'm splitting hairs here but I prefer to say he's the most accomplished quarterback of all time. His contemporary, his greatest contemporary, Peyton Manning, won five regular season MVP awards to Tom's three, but, of course, Tom finished second in the voting four times and third three times, so he was always in the mix.

But where Tom greatly exceeded Peyton Manning was in the post-season. Manning went to four Super Bowls, won two, Tom went to ten and won seven.

Now, the player that Tom Brady grew up idolizing in the San Francisco area is Joe Montana. Montana's 49ers went to four Super Bowls, they won them all. Montana was the MVP in three of the four Super Bowls. And in those Super Bowls, he threw 11 touchdown passes and not a single interception.

But by -- so if you're just comparing let's say Brady in the regular season to Manning, you've got an argument. In terms of accomplishment per game to Montana in the Super Bowl, you've got an argument. But in terms of overall volume, the 23 seasons, the ten Super Bowls, the seven Super Bowl wins, the nod has to go to Brady as the most accomplished quarterback, no question about that. And if most people want to say the greatest, I can't offer much of an argument.

BLITZER: I think your right. What do you think Brady's legacy will be?

COSTAS: Well, his legacy is that for this general period of time, late 90s up to the present time, he's on Mt. Rushmore. He's on Mt. Rushmore with Michael Jordan, who precedes him by a little bit, and with Tiger Woods, and you could put Serena Williams in there.

People who the average person who doesn't know a great deal about the sport absolutely responds to, absolutely recognizes some combination of accomplishment and charisma and the amount of time on the stage. He's on his way to becoming one of the few sports billionaires. Tiger is already there. Michael Jordan is already there. I think, according to reports, he's made more than half a billion just from football and now he has this deal from Fox that supposedly is worth nearly $400 million over the next ten years.

And when people say how can he be worth that, it isn't just the game. They're going to use him as a kind of corporate ambassador. Think of the value for trying to close a deal with the sponsor or whatever might be. Want to play golf with Tom Brady, want to go with your wife to dinner with Tom Brady? That has a lot of value.


And I would also look for him maybe sooner than he expected to be part of the Super Bowl broadcast a couple of Sundays from now because the game is on Fox. There is like a six hour pregame, a half time a post game. Having Tom Brady on the set for that, I don't know how much it can boost Super Bowl ratings, they're already gargantuan, but it couldn't hurt.

BLITZER: Yes. I'll be watching among those. Bob Costas, thank you so much for that analysis. I appreciate it very much.

Just ahead, we're getting reports of a deadly new Russian missile strike on a residential building in Eastern Ukraine. Our live update from the war zone, that is next.


BLITZER: All right. This just into CNN, Ukraine is reporting a new and deadly Russian strike on a residential building in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley is following the story for us.


He's joining us from Odessa, in Ukraine. Sam, what are you learning about this attack?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, after nightfall, Kramatorsk was hit in very much in the central part of this significant regional city of Kramatorsk, where a large apartment building has been destroyed.

Now, according to the local authorities, this was an Iskander missile, that long range surface-to-surface missile with a very big warhead that has been fired into a civilian area. At least two people are reported to have been killed, according to the local authorities. But they're also reporting, Wolf, rather chillingly that there are screams coming from within the rubble, so that figure may indeed rise.

There is a frantic effort being going on right now, with emergency services obviously trying to dig through that rubble to see who else might be within it.

Kramatorsk has been very substantially evacuated now for some months with only about 25 percent of the population left. But that is still a significant number of people. It has been hit in the past most catastrophically fairly early on in this war with more than 50 people killed in a surface-to-surface missile strike on the railway station, also in Central Kramatorsk. Wolf?

BLITZER: While I have you, Sam, what is the latest on the battlefield right now in Ukraine, including in the south where you are?

KILEY: Well, President Zelenskyy has described this latest attack as an act of terror. And it is striking though that elsewhere on the battlefield, there really is carnage that have been going on, particularly around the city of Bakhmut, which isn't particularly far. It is about 35, 40 kilometers from Kramatorsk.

That has been the scene of intense fighting. There has also been a slight up ticking the amount of fighting here on the southern front, particularly around the city of Zaporizhzhia, which, of course, is very close --

BLITZER: I think we lost our connection with Sam. Sam Kiley reporting from Odesa, and as I always tell him, stay safe over there.

Coming up, the fed search another one of president's home in the investigation of his handling of classified documents. We'll be right back.




BLITZER: All right. This just into CNN: we have an update on that major power outage that struck Los Angeles International Airport earlier this afternoon. Authorities now say power has been restored to most parts of the facility and that the TSA is expected to resume screenings soon.

A spokesperson for the L.A. Department of Power and Water said there is no indication of what caused the outage.

Meanwhile, there is new movement in the U.S. Justice Department investigation of President Biden's handling of classified documents. The FBI descending on his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

CNN's Paula Reid has details.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New details emerging from the FBI search today of President Biden's Rehoboth Beach house as part of the ongoing special counsel investigation into possible mishandling of classified materials.

The White House counsel's office today emphasized Biden's cooperation.

IAN SAMS, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL'S OFFICE: We've been fully cooperative. The president has been fully cooperative. His lawyers are in direct discussions with the Justice Department and that's going to continue.

REID: This is the send FBI search of a property belonging to the president in just two weeks and the third since agents visited his former think tank office where classified documents were discovered in November. After nearly four hours in Rehoboth today, no documents marked classified were found. But Biden's lawyer said that the justice department did take some materials and handwritten notes that appear to relate to his time as vice president.

The president has tried to downplay the matter.


REID: And his team has worked to differentiate it from the investigation into former President Trump, where prosecutors are looking at possible obstruction, in addition to his handling of classified material.

BIDEN: I have no regrets, I am following what the lawyers have told me they want me to do, it is exactly what we are doing.

REID: Even as some Democrats have expressed surprise at Biden's retention of classified documents.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): When that information is found, it diminishes the stature of any person who is in position of them, because it is not supposed to happen.

MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: To announce the appointment of Robert Hur.

REID: Today marks day one for Robert Hur as special counsel to oversee the investigation.

GARLAND: This appointment underscores for the public the department's commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly, sensitive matters.

REID: But, with a steady flow of new developments and details the White House did not disclose, the issue has become a political liability for the president.

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): The administration has not been transparent about what's going on with President Biden's possession of classified documents.


REID (on camera): Today, the White House refused to say if the FBI has conducted other searches of additional locations associated with the president. To date, dozens of classified documents have been found at the president's home and former office. And that number could increase as investigators continue to go through the materials they collected in Wilmington, and from possible other searches -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Paula Reid reporting for us -- Paula, thank you very much.

Let' discuss what's going on. Senior legal analyst Elie Honig is joining us right now. He's written a brand new book entitled "Untouchable: How Powerful People Get Away With It."

Thanks very much, Elie, for writing this book. It's really, really important and I hope everybody reads it and be smarter as a result of it.


Let's talk about what is going on right now as the president's vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, was investigated today by the FBI with the cooperation of President Biden's lawyers.

What do you make of this development?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Wolf, this is an important step towards drawing this matter to a close. And I think it really underscores the importance of cooperating with the FBI. Joe Biden had a choice here. The FBI wanted to do a search, it's what we call a consent search. They said, yes, we agree.

Had they not agreed, the alternative would've been for the DOJ to potentially seek a search warrant, which would have been much more explosive and much more difficult for all involved.

BLITZER: Let me get your thoughts on another legal issue that's developing right now. We learn today that the former attorney for Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, a man who went to jail -- handed over his cell phones now to Manhattan prosecutors. What does that tell you?

HONIG: So, Michael Cohen talk to me for this book. I talked to a lot of people who were involved in the original hush money investigation back in 2018 through 2021, including my former office, the southern district of New York. What I learned that is so interesting is that prosecutors there, federal prosecutors can consider whether they charge Donald Trump criminally for the hush money scheme, and ultimately decided not to.

But the main reason wasn't to because the evidence. They actually believed they had sufficient evidence. They were wary of some of the political factors that would come with an indictment of Donald Trump. They also believe that because Donald Trump had done so many other things since the hush money payments, including January 6, which had just happened, it ultimately decided not to charge.

And it is fascinating to me that now in 2023 them had India is looking at the collecting evidence, including talking to Michael Cohen who it is up to them whether they trust him. The Southern District decided they did not trust him. Did not want to bank a case on him. Maybe the D.A. will reach a different decision.

BLITZER: Let's talk for a second about your book, brand-new book entitled "Untouchable: How Powerful People Get Away With It". How do they get away with it?

HONIG: Well, Wolf, I was a prosecutor for a long time. I think people are fascinated with the criminal justice system. And I think back to my experience. I take people inside the criminal justice system and I show them specifically all the legal advantages, the once powerful people have. The way savvy bosses, including Donald Trump and many others exploit those advantages. And in some instances how prosecutors failed to live up to the highest ideals of the profession.

BLITZER: It's just mostly that the fact that these powerful people have money?

HONIG: Money is a big part of it. But there are other advantages as well. For example, powerful people, savvy powerful people. I used to prosecute mafia cases, real mafia cases. Mob bosses know that you try to insulate yourself. You surround yourself with other people who can do your bidding and you say as little as possible, and I think if we look at various people have been under investigation here, they are really good at that, whether consciously or just instinctively.

And as a result of, that it becomes harder to prosecute them. I tell stories about prosecutions I did where we ended up short of the boss. To my frustration, because it is harder, because they know how to cover-up themselves.

BLITZER: Thanks so much for writing this book. Once again, it's entitled, "Untouchable: How Powerful People Get Away With It". Elie Honig is the author. I hope it sells well.

HONIG: Thanks so much, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very, very much. I recommend it highly.

Just ahead, prosecutors unveil highly anticipated evidence in the murder trial of a South Carolina attorney accused of killing his family.



BLITZER: Stark, new evidence tonight from the murder trial of disgraced Alex Murdaugh. Prosecutors play video that they puts Murdaugh at the crime scene shortly before his wife and their son Paul were killed.

CNN correspondent Randi Kaye has the latest.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In his opening statement, lead prosecutor Creighton Waters promised the jury they'd see evidence the state believes proves that Alex Murdaugh was the murder scene with his wife Maggie and son Paul around the time they were killed and today he delivered.

And today, he delivered. A computer's crimes expert testifying for the state said he extracted this video from Paul Murdaugh's phone several months after his death. The video shows the dog, but it's not what the jury sees on the video that is critical to the states case. It's what they hear on it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you hear in the video?

LT. BRITT DOVE, SOUTH CAROLINA LAW ENFORCEMENT DIVISION: You hear three different voices in the video. You can tell because they are different, you can tell that they're different voices.

KAYE: Listen closely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, he's got a bird in his mouth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a chicken.

KAYE: The time that video was taken is key to the prosecutor's case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What time was that recorded again?

DOVE: The camera begins at 8:44:49 p.m.


DOVE: At 8:45:47 p.m.

KAYE: The witness told the jury the video was taken at 8:45 p.m. on June 7th, 2021, the night of the murders. Alex Murdaugh had told investigators at least twice that he was not at the kennels earlier in the night. His 911 call that night puts him at the scene at 10:07 p.m. But the audio in this video if it is him as prosecutors have

suggested, would undercut his alibi and put Alex Murdaugh with the victims at the time of the murders.

Alex Murdaugh was not identified by prosecutors in the video. Late this afternoon, a prosecution witnessed named Rogan Gibson told the jury he knows Alex Murdaugh's voice and that is Alex Murdaugh who was heard on the video.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did you hear -- recognize the voices on there?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what voices did you hear.

GIBSON: Paul's, Ms. Maggie, Mr. Alex.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How sure are you now?

GIBSON: Positive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A hundred percent?

GIBSON: That's correct.


KAYE (on camera): And, Wolf, it only got worse from there for the defense. After Rogan Gibson, another long time friend of Paul Murdaugh's testified that he too heard Alex Murdaugh on that recording, he said he was 100 percent sure it was him, and when the prosecution asked him to point out the person who heard on that recording, in the courtroom, he pointed directly at Alex Murdaugh, Wolf.

BLITZER: Randi Kaye, reporting for us, Randi, thank you very, very much.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.