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The Situation Room
White House Offers Few New Details On Mysterious Downed Objects; Death Toll Rises To 36,000-Plus Over A Week After Catastrophic Quake; Intense Fighting In Eastern Ukraine Amid New Russian Blunders; Growing Questions Over Whether Kim Jong Un's Daughter Could Be Next North Korean Leader. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired February 13, 2023 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, a slew of unanswered questions after U.S. fighter jets shot down three unidentified flying objects in as many days, the president's team trying to squelch theories about aliens. But White House officials are offering little new information about the mysterious object or who is behind them.
Also tonight, we're getting a fuller picture of the truly catastrophic loss in Turkey and Syria over a week after the massive earthquake. Chef Jose Andres joins us from the disaster zone, where his charity is mobilizing to feed quake survivors.
And CNN is on the frontlines in Eastern Ukraine right now amid intense fighting on multiple fronts, new video capturing blunders by Russian forces, including exploding tanks in one of the hot spots of the nearly yearlong war.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The Biden administration is acknowledging tonight that it still can't explain those three mysterious objects that were shot down by U.S. fighter jets over North America in recent days. The White House pummeled with questions as some lawmakers warn that conspiracy theorists are having a field day and other Americans are saying they are freaked out by all of this.
Here's CNN Pentagon Correspondent, Oren Liebermann.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, more questions than answers after U.S. fighter jets roared into the skies above North America for the third time in as many days with a mission, shoot down something.
JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: We assessed whether they posed any kinetic threat to people on the ground. They did not. We assessed whether they were sending any communication signals. We detected none. We looked today see whether they were maneuvering or had propulsion capabilities. We saw no signs of that.
LEIBERMANN: Here's what we know so far about the objects in the sky. According to U.S. officials, the object shot down ten miles off the coast of Alaska on Friday was a metallic object that broke up into several pieces when it fell to the sea ice from 40,000 feet.
The second object shot down over the Yukon Territory on Saturday appeared to be a balloon with a metal payload hanging underneath, according to a Pentagon memo sent to lawmakers Monday and obtained by CNN. It crossed near sensitive U.S. sites of 40,000 feet before it was downed.
And the third object shot down Sunday afternoon over Lake Huron was described as an octagonal object, this one traveling at only 20,000 feet.
LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We're going to confirm what they are once we collected the debris. But to answer your question, we have not recovered any debris from the three most recent shootdowns.
LIEBERMANN: The aerial objects were detected following the shoot down of a much larger Chinese surveillance balloon two weeks ago with a payload the size of three school buses. NORAD adjusted its radar systems to effectively make them more sensitive and radars set to spot and intercept Russian bombers are now picking up smaller, slower objects.
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: Obviously there is some sort of pattern in there. The fact that we are seeing this in a significant degree over the past week is a cause for interest and close attention.
KIRBY: One of the reasons that we think we're seeing more is because we're looking for more.
LIEBERMANN: National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will lead an interagency team on how the U.S. handles unidentified objects that are safety or security risk. One thing we do know --
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is no, again, no indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity.
LIEBERMANN: The Pentagon says the latest objects didn't pose a direct threat to people on the ground, but according to multiple sources, even allies of President Joe Biden worry about the silence from the commander in chief.
KIRBY: We have been, I think, as transparent as we can be. I won't speak for the president's personal speaking schedule, but, I mean, he has been deeply engaged in every one of these decisions.
LIEBERMANN (on camera): The administration facing criticism on at least two fronts here. First is the question of transparency, why hasn't there been any more info about what the administration is still calling objects or pictures of the intercepts of the latest three objects, and then the question of what's the policy here.
Pentagon and White House have said it's a case-by-case basis, but the administration went from letting the first object, the Chinese surveillance balloon, cross much of the United States to shooting down three more objects almost immediately, raising the question if they went from underreaction now, Wolf, to overreaction.
BLITZER: Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon for us, thanks, Oren, for that report.
Joining us now, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, he's also the ranking Democrat -- top Democrat on the House China Select Committee. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
We're now learning the object shot down over Canada on Saturday appeared to be, and I'm quoting, a small, metallic balloon with a payload that crossed near U.S. sensitive sites. Do you suspect China may be behind one or more of these most recent objects?
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): I have no evidence that suggests that and I think we're not going to know until we can recover the wreckage. As you know, some of this wreckage is in pretty tough terrain and in difficult weather, specifically, for instance, one off of Alaska went down on sea ice and there are very wintry conditions right now, which are hampering the recovery. But I think as soon as we can recover the wreckage, we'll know a lot more.
BLITZER: The White House says one possible reason they're seeing more objects is because, and I'm quoting now one official, we're looking for them with different radar filters. Is that the most likely explanation in your view as well?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Yes, I think that there's a lot to that, that they have made the radar more sensitive, and so they're picking up on objects that might have been there before. As you know, there are a lot of researchers and private companies that have drone capabilities at the 20,000 to 40,000 feet altitude range, and so we don't know if any of those objects potentially could have been research drones.
All that being said, I think I would go back to what General VanHerck said the other day from NORAD, which is we still have some domain awareness challenges, meaning that there appear to be some holes within our radar systems and our sensors that may allow for certain objects to slip through and we've got to patch those, and that's kind of an issue that has obviously bubbled up because of the latest balloon and other incursions.
BLITZER: The new House Intelligence Community chairman, Mike Turner, says he prefers the Biden administration to be quote, trigger happy, but is there a risk of the administration overcorrecting, Congressman, and shooting down objects it doesn't know all that much about? KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, I think that I would trust the military commanders on this again, Wolf. I think that if they believe that these objects may pose a hazard, for instance, to civilian airliners or to other aircraft, at the altitude of 20,000 to 40,000 feet, for instance, I think that it's better to be safe than sorry and I think that the Biden administration is probably taking the best course.
BLITZER: The U.S. defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, says, so far, none of the debris from the latest three shootdowns has been recovered. Do you have a sense, Congressman, of how long it will be until this administration can definitively say what these objects were?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: I don't, Wolf. I think that we have to give them just a little bit of time to recover this wreckage. Again, it's in tough terrain and bad weather. And in the case of the Lake Huron shoot down, apparently, this debris is at the bottom of the lake and it's quite deep where it went down.
So, let's give them a little bit of time. I think that when we speculate without more information, I think that we don't do ourselves much good. That being said, with regard to the radars and other sensors, we should do whatever we can to heighten their sensitivity right now.
BLITZER: You believe President Biden needs to come out and reassure the American public publicly?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: I think that the president will probably speak when he has more information to share. I think that right now, again, I go back to the wreckage, until you have that wreckage, you're just speculating and I don't think it would be very -- it wouldn't advance anything for the president to come out and say or speculate about what that wreckage might be.
BLITZER: Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, thanks so much for joining us.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you so much, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, an up close look at the search operation in the earthquake zone as it transitions from rescue to recovery.
Plus, we'll talk to Chef Jose Andres, who's on the ground in Turkey working to feed huge numbers of quake survivors.
BLITZER: Tonight, grim scenes and growing frustration more than a week after one of the most catastrophic earthquakes in decades, the death toll in Turkey and Syria now soaring above 36,000 men, women, and children and nearly 20,000 people have been hospitalized in Turkey alone.
CNN's Sara Sidner went to one of the many rescue and recovery operations underway in Turkey right now.
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, our crew is in Adiyaman, Turkey. This is an area where there wasn't aid immediately available to people and people were getting frustrated because their loved ones were trapped in buildings like this all over the city.
This one is actually two separate buildings and they're doing everything to try and find people now, but it is now eight days on. And I do want to mention this, and it is disturbing, we do smell death. And it turns out that there are two people that they have found dead here today.
You will see the markings there. That orange paint indicated where they found bodies. A mother and her son, her young son, were found in this rubble pile today. But they have been able in other places to find people alive even eight days on.
Now, I do want to mention the scale of this, because this is just one spot that you're seeing. This is happening all over Turkey and Syria. In the southern part of Turkey, the destruction is unbelievable. It is hard to even fathom. But we know that across those two countries, more than 35,000 people have been killed.
And there is something else that's going on here. The government here in Turkey is now going after dozens of people who they are investigating for poor building practices. This area right here, even the people around here talk about the fact that one of these buildings they said was a bad building. It collapsed immediately on to another building and now they're having to deal with death and destruction from two buildings. And this is just one area, it's happening all over the city. Wolf?
BLITZER: Sara Sidner, reporting for us. Sara, thank you very, very much.
All right, let's go to another location in Turkey right now where we're joined by Chef Jose Andres, the Founder of the World Central Kitchen that's helping to feed earthquake survivors. Jose, thank you so much for us and thanks for all the important work you're doing.
I know you travel around the world responding to disasters. Can you give us the sense of the scale of the devastation you're now seeing in Turkey?
JOSE ANDRES, FOUNDER WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN: Well, my friend, devastation is something like we cannot still understand. I was in 2010 in Haiti, in Port-au-Prince, and this was massive. Tens of thousands of Haitians die. But this is in one city, one place, that more or less help from America and other parts of the world could come.
Here, we are talking about ten major cities and many more, probably hundreds of smaller towns all across 450 kilometers from one end to the other, north to south. This is massive. To go from where I am right now in Adana, let's say to the north, to Elbistan, it's six hours drive. This is how big this earthquake has been. It's not enough dogs. It's not enough search and rescue teams used in the early hours and days to take care of every single building that has flattened down. It's not enough of anything.
That's why the international community has to be supporting Turkey and the Turkish people. I've never seen anything like this. Probably, this is the biggest event we're going to see hopefully in this century. This is one earthquake for the ages.
BLITZER: Yes, and the pictures are so devastating, the stories of those suffering, the men, women and children.
And you and I have spoken on many occasions, Jose. You often speak about the importance of food in times of crisis. How important is it to serve food that is actually familiar and comforting to those in need right now? Tell us what World Central Kitchen is providing?
ANDRES: Okay. World Central Kitchen is an organization that (INAUDIBLE) to be next to the people in the places that they are obviously damaged by an earthquake or hurricane or other events. But in Turkey right now, I feel we are only used putting a finger in one hole of hundreds and hundreds of holes.
But I'm very proud of the work that the members of World Central Kitchen are doing. We are already in the north of 450,000 meals. We are already at this moment doing 100,000 meals a day. We have very much around 21, 22 restaurant partners that they are partners we support and we can very quickly start using those restaurants to deliver meals and we have already eight kitchens working or about to open in the next day or two to get support around multiple cities.
Obviously, the food we do it's local. Why? Because it is what locals love, it is what the local volunteers and cooks know how to cook, it is what the ingredients are available to us. The best way to provide comfort and dignity and show appreciation and love to the people you're trying to help is to be respectful to their traditions and to their ways, but this also has marked their way. That's why much of the -- many of the menus we're doing are Turkish, traditional Turkish cooking dishes.
And this is the way we do it here and in any other part of the world.
Obviously, we are in places that at times we're talking about minus 10, minus 20 Celsius degrees. People that they don't go into their homes, even if their homes were safe because they are afraid that the house will collapse above them so many people are outside, living in tents, living behind trucks or living in their cars. This is the situation.
So, food is not only something like fills their body but also gives them warmth in these very cold nights of Turkey. So, food, my friend, can never be an afterthought in a humanitarian crisis. Food has always to be very quick, front and center, because food, in many ways, is what gives hope to people that tomorrow, things hopefully will be better.
BLITZER: It saves lives. Jose Andres, we're grateful to you, we're grateful to World Central Kitchen for all you are doing during these awful, awful times. Thanks so much for joining us.
ANDRES: Thank you for having us.
BLITZER: And to find out how you can support World Central Kitchen and other organizations helping earthquake victims, go to cnn.com/impact and impact your world.
Coming up, we'll go live to Eastern Ukraine where fierce urban combat has erupted in a key city. And New York Times Columnist Thomas Friedman will tell us why he believes year two of Russia's war against Ukraine is going to be, in his word, scary.
BLITZER: The NATO secretary-general has a new warning tonight about Russia's war in Ukraine, saying Vladimir Putin's forces are already launching their ominous new military offensive. This as an intense new round of fighting is already underway on multiple fronts in Eastern Ukraine.
CNN Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley is on the ground for us there. So, Sam, what are you seeing right now?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest in Eastern Ukraine is that the town of Bakhmut still in Ukrainian hands has had the two main supply arteries to it from the Ukrainian perspective, if not -- both have been cut. Heavy fighting around a village of Krasna Hora, which overlooks the highways, so regardless of who controls that village, the situation for Ukraine fighting in that town is extremely dangerous now. It's house-to-house fighting, which means they can't use artillery and tanks, commanders on the ground have told us, Wolf.
Further north, there's also a big push from the Ukrainians in Kreminna and Kupiansk is being heavily shield, all indicators that perhaps this offensive has started. But it hasn't all gone Russia's way in the town of Voludar. Reportedly, they've lost up to a battalion of marines when they were fighting in the open. And this is where Ukrainians have had the edge when the Russians have been force to fight in the open, very vulnerable to some of the precision strikes that the Ukrainians have been able to deliver and demonstrating some pretty catastrophic incompetence on the Russian side, a lot of losses in that area where, broadly, the Russians are trying to get on the front foot, Wolf.
BLITZER: Sam Kiley, reporting for us, stay safe over there, thank you very, very much.
Now let's bring in the best-selling author and The New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman. Tom, thanks so much for joining us. We have a lot to discuss, but, first, I want your thoughts on Ukraine. This video were showing from the east shows Russian tanks driving directly into a mine field, tank after tank exploding. What does that say about the cost Putin is willing to pay nearly a year into this war?
THOMAS FRIEDMAN, THE NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: Well, you know, it's to say that, Wolf, that Putin believes he cannot win, he cannot stop and can't afford to lose. And so he's ready to throw as many men, as many bodies into this war to make sure he comes out with something, some face-saving outcome that will justify the incredible cost he's paid already.
But, you know, convicts don't make good tank drivers overnight. And when you basically raided your prisons to find soldiers you can throw into this front, you're going to get that kind of thing. Napoleon said in war morale is to war with three is to one, that is which side has the morale and, clearly, the Ukrainians have it and all the Russians have is fear, either fear of Putin, fear of losing, and fear of dying. They are not going to win a war that way. You may be able to force a stalemate but not that way.
BLITZER: You say this, and I'm quoting you now, Tom. You say year two of the Ukraine war is going to get scary. Tell us what you mean by that.
FRIEDMAN: Well, things get scary, Wolf, because Putin is ready to throw absolutely any amount of manpower into this war to pay any price and bear any burden to not come out a loser. And that is scary because mass does matter. And so it either requires us to meet that mass, help the Ukrainians meet that mass with more mass, they don't really have it, or much more sophisticated weapons that can neutralize that Russian mass. One way or another, it's going to mean an escalation.
BLITZER: Yes, it's going to get intense, this spring offensive, so- called, it's going to be brutal.
I want to Israel, Tom, a subject you know well. Tens of thousands of Israelis protested in Jerusalem today against Prime Minister Netanyahu's plan to overhaul the judicial system in his favor. You obtained some very rare -- a very rare statement from President Biden in recent days and he told you this, and I'm quoting now, this is President Biden saying to you, he said the genius of American democracy and Israeli democracy is that they are both built on strong institutions, on checks and balances, on an independent judiciary.
Building consensus for fundamental changes is really important to ensure that the people buy into them so they can be sustained. That's the quote from the president of the United States.
How revealing is it that the president of the United States, Tom, weighed in on this very volatile domestic Israeli debate?
FRIEDMAN: Well, I think the president, under two things, Wolf, one is that this Israeli domestic debate could quickly turn into serious social and economic instability in Israel that in that region can spill over to Palestinians, to Gaza, to Jordan, et cetera, and can really affect our interests, number one.
But also I think comes from deep caring by President Biden for Israel. I think it is a country he authentically feels close to, wants to see succeed and believes that Netanyahu's move to basically destroy the independence of the Israeli judiciary and Supreme Court, to put it under his thumb at a time when he himself is on trial for corruption is something that not only will unravel stability in Israel, but, Wolf, even more so, Israel as a startup nation.
What the business pages in Israel are reporting this morning is the number of global companies that are either moving money out of Israel or holding up investments in Israel because they fear, they hear the talk of civil war or deep civil unrest.
And, Bibi, we all know, Netanyahu, in many ways, is the father of startup of Israel. He deserves great credit for that. And what I see him doing with this crazy overreach is actually destroying or undermining or certainly weakening the incredible Israeli economy. Israel is one of the top 20 economies in the world now that he himself helped to create.
BLITZER: Because the Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, he's on the same page. He's warning that the country, and I'm quoting him now, is on the brink of constitutional and social collapse and possibly a violent collision. What do you fear is the worst case scenario?
FRIEDMAN: Well, I fear the worst case scenario would be, I don't want to use term civil war, but real civil strife, if Netanyahu continues down this track. Because, you know, Israel got wealthy by developing this incredible overtime rule of law legal system.
And to suddenly, in a space, of two months basically, completely unravel it based on some crazy right-wing think tank with ties to the federalists in America, the Federal Society, is insane. There's a lot of parallels, Wolf, between Putin and Netanyahu. Both, we thought, always thought they're the smartest man in the room, but both completely overplayed their hands, both misunderstood the global context within which they are operating and both are now really, really in trouble.
BLITZER: All of us are remembering your best-selling book, From Beirut to Jerusalem. Tom Friedman, thanks so much for joining us.
FRIEDMAN: I appreciate it, Wolf. Thank you.
BLITZER: And just ahead, what we will learn this week from a Georgia special grand jury about its investigation of former President Trump and his actions after the 2020 election.
BLITZER: Right now, we're on the brink of getting new information about the investigation of former President Trump's efforts to overthrow the 2020 presidential election results in the state of Georgia. Parts of a special grand jury's report will be released on Thursday.
CNN Political Correspondent Sara Murray is joining us right now. Sara, so what do we expect to learn when some of this report is made public?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a judge ordered this just today. This is a special grand jury that spent months digging into efforts by the former president and his allies to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia and the judge said that there are three areas in this report that he said are ripe for publicly publication, the introduction, the conclusion as well as allegations that some witnesses may have perjured themselves before the grand jury.
Here's part of what the judge said in his order about that section. The special purpose grand jury discusses its concern that some witnesses may have lied under oath during their testimony to the grand jury. Because the grand jury does not identify those witnesses, that conclusion may be publicly disclosed at this time.
Now, Wolf, what we are not going to learn on Thursday, which I think everyone is itching to know, is whether the special grand jury recommended charges against the former president or anyone else in his inner circle.
The judge made clear in his order that he is going to keep all of that under seal for now. It does two things. One, it protects the Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis as she moves ahead with her investigation. She said her decisions on potential charges are imminent. She said that last month.
And the other thing it does is to protect the rights of people who go before this grand jury. You know, the D.A. is really running a show in that case. They can't have their attorney's with them. No one has faced charges yet in that matter. So, he wants to make sure he protects the rights of potential defendants or people who are named in that report, Wolf.
BLITZER: Sara, remind our viewers this grand jury down in Georgia has brought a number of very high profile witnesses from Trump's orbit, right?
MURRAY: That's right. I mean, they heard from 75 witnesses during the course of their investigation. That includes people like South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who fought hard to try not to appear, it includes Cassidy Hutchison, a former aide to Mark Meadows, as well as Rudy Giuliani, a former Trump attorney.
And, look, Giuliani is one these people in this investigation who the D.A. named as a potential target of her probe as well as a handful of people who acted as pro-Trump electors, fake electors in the state of Georgia.
Again, we don't know if these folks, if any of them were the ones who may have perjured themselves. We don't know if the grand jury potentially recommended charges against any of them. We 're going to have to wait a little bit more before we see the actual names that might fit some of these allegations, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Sara, thank you very much, Sara Murray reporting.
Let's get more on this. Joining us now are CNN Legal Analyst Carrie Cordero and Defense Attorney Shan Wu.
Shan, we're not going to hear who specifically will be charged, you just heard her report, but will we get a better sense of where this is all heading as a result of this report that will be released on Thursday?
SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Probably very little of that, Wolf. I think it's an unusual situation. Normally, you wouldn't get any type of release of grand jury material prior to their actually being a charge something in court. But because it's the special grand jury situation, the judge is really trying hard to balance the public interest in knowing along with protecting the integrity of the investigation. They apparently have some special laws, there at least a tradition, that unless the people have been named or charged, they're going to keep them redacted out of that report.
So, the areas of report that we're seeing, it may give us some hints as to what the concerns were about this perjury. That will be very fascinating to see, but I don't think we're going to get much clue as to the million dollar question, which is who has been charge.
BLITZER: Let me get Carrie to weigh in on this. Will we eventually learn which of these witnesses may have actually perjured themselves?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, we're not going to learn it from the report that's going to be released later. When we potentially would learn that is when a D.A. actually brings charges.
So, that's the most significant thing about the order the Judge McBurney has issued. And I actually worked with Judge McBurney when he was a former prosecutor at the Justice Department. And so, his main concern here was fundamental fairness and not releasing too much information in the report that's going to come out where the individuals who might be named, if there were individuals named in the report, would have an opportunity to defend themselves.
The grand jury process, the special grand jury process as he described it in his order, didn't allow that kind of due process. And so that's why people are not going to be named and it's going to be a very limited amount of information that goes out.
BLITZER: Looking forward to reading this report on Thursday. We'll get some indications of what's going on.
I want to turn, Shan, while I have you, to the investigation of the classified documents, the whole issue that was found on Trump's properties down at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. Our Paula Reid, she had a chance to speak with one of Trump's lawyers who offered this explanation. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIMOTHY PARLATORE, DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: He has one of those landline telephones next to his bed and has a blue light on it and it keeps him up at night. So, he took the manila folder and put it over it so that it would keep the light down so he could sleep at night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That manila folder had the word classified on top of it.
WU: Unusual choice for a lamp shade. I don't know if that really gets him some very far in terms of a legal defense. He needed to block out the blue light. The real question obviously is why are there so many classified documents as well as the folders that they used to be contained in floating around down there. So, that's an odd kind of defense, as I'd say.
BLITZER: Yes, that was an odd defense. What do you think?
CORDERO: Yes. It's unusual. It's not particularly helpful to the former president. It really doesn't explain why classified documents were there. And I would question why that would be helpful to somebody who is potentially facing extensive criminal investigation, including obstruction on the classified documents and the mishandling of them.
BLITZER: It's interesting because in that same interview with Paula Reid, Trump's lawyer blamed White House what he called procedures for leading to these issues surrounding the classified documents that were found down at Mar-a-Lago. And he said the Justice Department, and I'm quoting now, should get out of this. What do you say?
CORDERO: Well, there is an argument to be made, because now that the other instances of classified documents have been found at the current president's office, former office, a location after he became vice president, former Vice President Pence had classified documents. So, there is an argument that can be made that perhaps there are procedures that are not working properly in terms of the handing of classified information when presidents and vice presidents and perhaps even other senior ranking national security officials are leaving government service.
So, that is a question. I think that's may be a question for Congress. It's certainly a question for the National Archives, but it is separate as to the Justice Department's investigation into the mishandling of classified information. And that's where whether or not this is all an accident and all of these cases or whether there was some intent to mishandle them or potentially expose them does warrant Justice Department --
WU: It indicates that Garland maybe jumped the gun a little bit on appointing a special counsel on Biden because now he's in a very factually similar situation with Pence and where's the special counsel.
BLITZER: We'll see what happens. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.
Coming up, the suicide of a 14-year-old girl after she was brutally beaten and bullied and accusations her school did little to help.
BLITZER: Tonight, a man is in custody in New York City accused of driving a U-Haul truck into multiple pedestrians. Fire officials say eight people were injured, including a police officer. The incident began when police pulled over the rented truck in Brooklyn. The driver initially evaded police and then struck several people. Authorities say there are no indications that this is terror related.
In other news, the superintendent of the New Jersey school district is resigning following the suicide of a 14-year-old girl seen on video being beaten in the hallways of her school.
CNN's Brynn Gingras has this report.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The video last less than a minute, we are showing you edited segments.
The attack, vicious, and a warning you may find it disturbing. A New Jersey dad says his daughter was jumped in the halls of her high school. The next day, he says she took her own life.
MICHAEL KUCH, FATHER: They think it's fun to attack people and make videos and post them.
GINGRAS: Michael Kuch provided the video to CNN. It shows 14-year-old Adriana walking with her boyfriend when a group approaches the couple, first hitting her with a water bottle several times. She's beaten to the ground as school personnel intervene.
KUCH: She blacks out and they don't call an ambulance. They take her to the nurse's office.
GINGRAS: Kuch says he's the one who alerted to police to what happened, and to the video which quickly circulated online, prompting a slew of hateful comments.
If the school contacted the police and file the report and conducted an investigation, these videos would have been discovered immediately, Kuch said in a Facebook post after his daughter's death.
KUCH: Adriana was the most happy, beautiful young lady in the world.
GINGRAS: The superintendent at the time says police were notified and the four attackers were immediately suspended. They've also been criminally charged, one with aggravated assault. The superintendent resigned Saturday.
The tragedy now putting a spotlight on the school with protests on campus, and two more parents are coming forward with more allegations of bullying that they say went unchecked.
One family suing after a mom says her teenage daughter was bullied at the same high school more than a year ago, providing this video of the incident to CNN. The school basically just dismissed them as some conflict. They didn't offer any protection for the client and didn't call the police, their lawyer claims.
The school district denying the allegations in the suit and saying in a recent statement it is reviewing current and past allegations of bullying and will undergo an independent assessment of its anti- bullying policies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These data show a distressing picture.
GINGRAS: The tragedy comes as the CDC released findings showing teen girls have experienced record high levels of violence, sadness, and suicide risk post-COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly one in three high school girls in 2021 seriously considered suicide, up 58 percent from a decade ago.
DR. KATHLEEN ETHIER, DIRECTOR, ADOLESCENT AND SCHOOL HEALTH, CDC: This nationally representative survey of U.S. high school students reveals the changing health risks our young people are facing.
GINGRAS (on camera): It's important to note that superintendent, Wolf, also resigned after making some very questionable comments, including blaming the behavior that you saw in that video on the pandemic -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Awful situation.
Thank you very much, Brynn Gingras, reporting for us.
If you -- this is important. If you or anyone you know needs to talk to someone, we urge you to call or text the national suicide and crisis life line at 988. It's free and confidential.
Just ahead, has North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un picked his successor? We'll have the unfolding details, when we come back.
BLITZER: Tonight, we're following growing questions around North Korea Dictator Kim Jong-un's possible successor.
CNN's Brian Todd is working this story for us.
Brian, I understand there are some significant new signs that Kim is actually favoring his daughter to one day take the helm.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Wolf, tonight, there are new images of Kim's daughter which suggests that, along with more information we are getting on how he is raising her profile.
TODD (voice-over): New images symbolizing the growing importance of Kim Jong-un's young daughter, believe to be named Kim Ju-ae, an elegant white horse on parade, written by a decorated North Korean officer. North Korea state media says this is the favorite horse of the dictator's daughter.
Kim Ju-ae is believed to be around 9 years old. Western observers believe she is the second of three possible children of the dictator. But that can't be verified by anyone outside North Korea. What seems more clear tonight is that a recent series of events are seen as a kind of grand unveiling.
PATRICK CRONIN, HUDSON INSTITUTE: This is a coming out party of his daughter. She is going to be around for decades.
TODD: Kim Ju-ae was at her father's side at a massive military parade in Pyongyang, beaming with enough confidence to give him a very public show of affection. Analysts have little doubt of what all this symbolizes.
JEAN LEE, THE WOODROW WILSON CENTER: It's entirely likely that he wants to show Kim family continuity, that he wants to show his people that there is a succession plan.
TODD: The night before the parade, Kim Ju-ae went with her father and mother Ri Sol-ju to a banquet, where she was seated in the middle in front of a powerful group of generals.
She's sitting in the middle. How significant?
LEE: Yeah, these moments are always staged, and they are staged with propaganda in mind. This is a history-making photograph and is designed to build the mythology even at this age around her.
TODD: There are no signs that Kim Jong un is seriously ill or would give up power any time soon. But whenever a transition does happen, how would a country that has known no one at the top other than a male in the Kim dynasty, for all 75 years of his existence, respond to a female leader?
LEE: It is a very patriarchal society. But when it comes to the Kims, it's like a royal family. It's more important to be a Kim, his descendant from Kim Il-sung, than to be male.
TODD: Kim already has an influential woman by his side. His younger sister Kim Yo-jong, has taken on increasingly important roles and is now considered to be the second most powerful person in North Korea. And analysts say Kim's young daughter has ample time for an apprenticeship. CRONIN: She now has a decade to establish herself increasingly as a
serious figure to learn from her father the machinations of geopolitics, of how to play China, of Russia, of the United States, of South Korea, of Japan.
TODD (on camera): Analysts say Kim Ju-ae is also poised to learn from her father, how to gain the trust of the military, which commands the country's nuclear arsenal and she'll from him the dark secrets of who to trust and not trust in the halls of power in Pyongyang -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much to that report.
And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.