Return to Transcripts main page
The Situation Room
Police Seek Motive For Deadly Shooting Rampage At Michigan State University; White House Says, Leading Theory Is Unidentified Objects Were Benign Balloons; Fmr. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) Makes It Official, First GOP Challenger To Trump In 2024; Sources: Prosecutors Tell Court There's Evidence Of A Crime In Bid To Force More Answers From Trump Attorney. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired February 14, 2023 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, hours after America's latest shooting rampage, police are trying to figure out why a gunman opened fire at Michigan State University. Three students are dead, five are wounded as new information is emerging about the now deceased shooter and the note he left behind.
Also tonight, the White House reveals its leading theory that the three mysterious objects shot down by U.S. fighter jets were, quote, benign. Senators have now been briefed on the downed objects as many Americans questions about what happened remain unanswered.
And Nikki Haley makes it official, becoming the first Republican to challenge Donald Trump for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. We're breaking down the early race as Trump braces for more former allies to run against him.
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We do begin with the investigation into the mass shooting in Michigan and the heartbreaking loss being felt by a tight-knit college community.
CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is in East Lansing tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to need multiple, multiple ambulances.
ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, investigators searching for a motive after shootings at Michigan State University left three students dead, Arielle Anderson, Brian Fraser and Alexandria Verner. Five others were critically injured. The gunman, 43-year-old Anthony McRae, first opened fire on the campus Monday just before 8:30 P.M.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There're still people down there trying to get out.
BROADDUS: Shooting at two locations, the first inside a classroom at Berkey Hall.
INTERIM DEPUTY CHIEF CHRIS ROZMAN, MSU DEPARTMENT OF POLICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY: While the officers were managing that scene at Berkey Hall, we began receiving additional reports of another shooting at the MSU Union building.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm coming down stairwell 13 with seven people.
BROADDUS: One witness to the shooting says his fighter or flight response kicked in.
DOMINIK MOLOTKY, STUDENT, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: So, I booked it to the far side of the classroom, ducked down and he came in and shot three to four times in our classroom.
BROADDUS: Police released the photo of a shooter taken from campus security cameras, and a caller's tip sent them to Lansing, Michigan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going to be a suspect wearing red shoes and a backpack.
BROADDUS: The search ended just before midnight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shots fire, 23:49 subject down.
BROADDUS: Police say McRae shot himself during a confrontation with police and died.
ROZMAN: We have absolutely no idea what the motive was at this point. We can confirm that the 43-year-old suspect had no affiliation to the university. He was not a student, faculty, staff current or previous.
BROADDUS: They're now investigating a two-page note found in McRae's backpack saying he's going to, quote, finish off Lansing and that there are, quote, 20 of him who will carry out shootings, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
Law enforcement now investigating a local residence where the gunman's father says he lived with him and two weapons McRae purchased in Michigan.
ROZMAN: We do have at least one weapon.
BROADDUS: McRae had been arrested before. He was released from probation in May of 2021 after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor for possession of a loaded firearm. McRae's father telling CNN his son became, quote, totally lost and, quote, evil angry after his mother died two years ago. And McCrae had obtained another gun even though he denied having it and kept it in his room.
MSU students now dealing with what's next after spending hours hiding from a gunman.
GRAHAM DIEDRICH, STUDENT MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: We took heavy furniture from around the library and just essentially barricaded ourselves into a study room to make sure we are safe.
KELLYWEBB, STUDENT, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: I was like shaking in the bathroom, and it was just terrible. I was just like preparing myself for like the worst thing ever.
BROADDUS: Despite the tough circumstances, there's one greeting among all Spartans that still unites them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go white.
BROADDUS: You guys smiled instantly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As horrible and disgusting and tragic as that was, like we are all in it together, like everyone was here for each other.
BROADDUS (on camera): And that's a greeting all freshmen learn during orientation and it was able to provide some comfort. I said go green to folks as they were walking around Grand River today.
And you know what, Brianna, this is a day that is set aside for love and friendships but hearts across campus are hurting, and that pain multiplies as the students learn more about that 43-year-old suspect who police say had a note in his pocket threatening not one but two New Jersey schools.
And out of an abundance of caution, at least one of those schools did cancel. Even though it's ten hours away from campus, investigators say the 43-year-old did have ties to New Jersey. Brianna?
KEILAR: Adrienne Broaddus, thank you so much for the latest from East Lansing.
And joining us now is the mayor of East Lansing, Michigan, Ron Bacon. Sir, thank you so much and I'm so sorry for what your community is going through right now.
In addition to the three students who lost their lives, and we mentioned their names in Adrienne's report there, five were critically injured, four of them actually needed emergency surgery. Can you give us an update on how those injured students are doing tonight?
MAYOR RON BACON, EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN: I don't have an update on the individuals still receiving health care. I think they'll be coming from Sparrow. We'll have a call in the morning, a joint call with MSU and East Lansing. So, I'll probably get an update first thing tomorrow morning.
KEILAR: This is a very tight-knit community, of course. How is the community doing in the wake of this?
BACON: Yes. I think we're kind of shifting gears here a little bit. I just think it was first getting some security and stability and getting under that lockdown phase. Today, we began kind of rebuilding and doing the counseling and making things like services available to individuals in need. And I think next it's just time to look around and think about the people that we've lost and acknowledge the many, many heroes that will emerge out of this situation and we'll move on from there.
KEILAR: The shooter had a criminal record that included a firearms charge in 2019, and yet he purchased the two weapons that he was found within the state of Michigan. How is it do you think that he was able to access these firearms? What questions does this raise for you?
BACON: And I think we've all answered these questions so many times, and I think when we go to answer them again, I think we have to bring up the name of these three young people whose futures have been ended as well as the people sitting in the hospital and question why we're not asking those questions, be it background checks, be it individual sales, be it red flag, be it whatever has to take place.
We've had all these conversations kind of enough times here even per our Congressperson, Elissa Slotkin. It's kind of -- we've had enough conversations. It's time to look at what's on the books, enforce the rules on the books. And if there's other things that can be added to make it more stringent for dangerous individuals to have weapons, that's a really simple solution, I think. It's a highly favorable and agreed upon solution that's being not adopted because a few people just choose not to at this point.
KEILAR: Michigan is no stranger to recent events not too dissimilar from this one.
I do want to just take a moment. We did just get some video in from tense moments as students were hunkering down in a classroom and heard a knock on the door. And I do want to listen to that now. Here it is.
I wonder what you think. And just to put that into context a little bit, these were students who heard a knock on the door and were on the phone with police and they said police were telling them, at least dispatch was telling them that police were not yet on the floor. So, they're going through that process of checking to make sure if they can even let someone in. I mean, what do you think as you hear these moments?
BACON: Yes, it's simply terrifying. And I feel for our children and young people. And we now have a complete generation that's grown up with this many times over as just a part of from elementary school all the way up to now, and now we're looking at this at a college level as well.
So, they live with this the entire time, and it's unfortunate that those with the abilities to even make the most minor changes were refused to pretty much their entire lifetime at this point.
It's just a massive disappointment and I feel for them, I feel for them as a parent with a young person away at college. This is my absolute worst fear. And I really don't want to give any oxygen to the shooter or the criminal in this situation. I just want to reach out from my perspective to the parents. I completely relate to the fear and this being the worst-case scenario for any parent or any young person.
KEILAR: Completely understandable, Mayor, and we thank you so much for your time this evening as your community is weathering the aftermath of this. Thank you for being with us.
BACON: Thank you very much.
KEILAR: And just ahead, the White House leaning into the possibility that the three unidentified objects shot down over North America were harmless balloons.
KEILAR: Tonight, the Biden White House is offering up a theory about those three mysterious objects that were shot down by U.S. fighter jets after days of being pressed to say more.
CNN's Chief White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly, is with us now on this story. And, Phil, officials say that these could have been benign balloons. What else can you tell us?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna, that's right. While there has been no definitive assessment, and keep in mind, the recovery efforts are still very much under way, hampered by bad conditions and bad weather, they do have a leading theory, according to the intelligence community, saying that these objects are benign, that they didn't pose any threat, whatsoever, and in part that's the reason why the president has not come out and spoken publicly about these issues. Officials making clear they don't want any kind of panic. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The intelligence community did say that they are considering or looking at this to be potentially benign. The president is taking this very seriously and he's receiving briefings regularly. We are sharing as much information as we can as possible, but we do want to make sure that the American people understand that there's no need to panic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: And rather there's been public sharing of information but also behind closed doors briefing all 100 senators in a classified setting earlier today, again, underscoring they do not have definitive answers, and still a lot of questions outstanding. And that in part, that is also driving why there's an interagency team working at this moment to try and figure out a policy process going forward.
This wasn't something administration officials expected. They've been grappling with this in real-time and a recognition that they need to put together not just answers but a process for how to deal with these things in the future should have some outline of those protocols by the end of this week, Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, we'll be watching for that. Phil Mattingly at the White House, thank you so much.
And joining us is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut. Sir, thanks for taking the time tonight. You know this obviously, this leading explanation right now that these three objects were benign but also the administration has few answers that they're putting out there publicly.
Are you concerned that the U.S. scrambled fighter jets to shoot down objects that it apparently doesn't know much about?
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Well, not really, Brianna. Now, I am concerned that this is not going to be a long-term solution to every piece of atmospheric garbage that we find up there. And I should note that we had a briefing today at noon. It was unclassified, it was by phone by the House, and what I heard in that briefing has been substantiating some speculative theories I've had for a couple days now, which is that we have recalibrated our radars that were calibrated, as one might imagine, to pick up things that are very fast moving, you know, at certain altitudes. And now that we're actually looking because we've recalibrated those radars, lo and behold, we're finding a lot of stuff.
And I'll take you back to the hearings that we did about a year ago, last year, on unidentified aerial phenomena, what most people call UFOs. And what we learned in those hearings was there's just a lot of stuff up there. There are weather balloons. There are academic research balloons. There are balloons that are designed to try to provide Wi-Fi in rural areas.
And so, what I heard today sort reinforced my belief that these are, in fact, benign, but of course the White House, the government can't confirm that until they can get to some very remote areas and actually look at the wreckage.
KEILAR: Are there images or even descriptions of these objects before they get to the wreckage from before they were shot down, that the administration could put out in the interest of transparency?
HIMES: So, in each of these instances, the president has been advised by his -- largely by the Department of Defense, that these various -- again, I think they're balloons and that's to be confirmed, pose no threat at all. So, how do we know that and I should just say up front that we're not going to advertise to our adversaries abroad at how exactly and how precise we know, but as you imagine we can get a really close look with sensors at these things, and that allows the Department of Defense to make a judgment that it poses no threat. The Department of Defense can determine whether it has navigation systems, whether it has propulsion. And so, yes, the Department of Defense can get a really good look at it.
Now, we're not going to make a lot of that stuff available because, again, we just don't need our adversaries knowing precisely how well we can determine what's in the air.
KEILAR: One of these missiles missed its target, went into Lake Huron. What is more harmful or potentially harmful to you, a missile going into Lake Huron or one of these sort of unidentified or benign objects?
HIMES: Well, you know, again, I want to make sure people don't have anxiety that they don't need to have. You know, the probability that you're going to get hit by an errant missile in the United States or in the middle of Lake Huron is probably the probability that you win the lotto tomorrow.
And I will tell you that in the briefing today, the Department of Defense told us that they had reason to believe because they've tried other methods, I sort of understood it to be more traditional canon fire from aircraft that missiles kind of may be the only thing that works.
But what I'm more concerned about, Brianna, is that we can't be in the business of scrambling fighter jets with all of the expenses that's involved and, yes, a little bit of risk. And the real risk that I would be worried about is not so much a missile hitting somebody in the wilderness but the fact that we could make a mistake or that somebody less capable, a country less capable might make up a mistake and end up shooting down a civilian airline. We've seen that happen before back in 1982 with the Soviet Union.
So, we obviously need a better way to deal with what I think, and, again, this is to be confirmed, just largely errant balloons and other garbage that's floating around up there.
KEILAR: And, Congressman, just lastly before I let you go here, you've worked very closely with Congressman Adam Schiff and we now have word that Senator Dianne Feinstein is not going to run for re- election. Will you back his run for Senate?
HIMES: I am backing Adam Schiff. I sat right next to him for many years on the Intelligence Committee and got to know him very, very well. He is remarkably intelligent, would make a remarkable senator. And so he has my full support in his quest to ultimately be a senator from the state of California. KEILAR: All right. Congressman Jim Himes, thank you so much.
HIMES: Thank you, Brianna.
KEILAR: Coming up, how Nikki Haley is positioning herself against Donald Trump now that she's jumped into the presidential race becoming Trump's first GOP challenger.
KEILAR: Nikki Haley now has a jump on other Republicans who may challenge Donald Trump in 2024. The former South Carolina governor, former U.N. ambassador formally announcing her campaign today. CNN's Kylie Atwood is in South Carolina covering Haley's newly launched campaign.
FMR GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R-SC): I'm Nikki Haley, and I'm running for president.
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Nikki Haley making it official and telling her story.
HALEY: I was the proud daughter of Indian immigrants, not black, not white. I was different. But my mom would always say your job is not to focus on the differences but the similarities, and my parents reminded me and my siblings every day how blessed we were to live in America.
ATWOOD: The 51-year-old casting herself as the future of the Republican Party.
HALEY: It's time for a new generation of leadership.
ATWOOD: Not the past.
HALEY: Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections.
ATWOOD: Haley highlighting her accomplishments as a two-term governor of South Carolina, her home state.
HALEY: Every day is a great day in South Carolina.
ATWOOD: Including cutting taxes and leading her state through the aftermath of the 2015 deadly shooting by a white supremacist at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
HALEY: We turned away from fear toward God.
ATWOOD: At the time, Haley confronted a controversial issue, spearheading efforts to remove the confederate flag from the state capitol.
HALEY: The biggest reason that I asked that flag to come down was I could not look my children in the face and justify it stay in there.
ATWOOD: In her video today, Haley, touted her experience on the world stage as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
HALEY: China and Russia are on the march. They all think we can be bullied, kicked around. You should know this about me, I don't put up with bullies. And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you're wearing heels.
ATWOOD: But no mention of President Trump, who tapped her for that role. Haley's entrance prompting praise from Republicans today even as some are concerned that a crowded primary could benefit former President Trump.
REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): To see someone -- you know, see some of the leadership coming out of South Carolina is exciting but I do have concerns if there are too many people on the ballot by the time it gets to South Carolina, that that lessens the chances of anyone else sort of coming out in this thing.
ATWOOD (on camera): Now, a number of Republicans today, Brianna, welcoming the news that Nikki Haley was hopping into the race but not many of them coming out with formal endorsements yet. For example, Congresswoman Nancy Mace from South Carolina has a close relationship with Nikki Haley, telling CNN This Morning, telling Kaitlan Collins, that she's waiting to see how the field shakes out and citing some concerns about there being an overcrowded race, which could then benefit the former president, Trump, who is right now Nikki Haley's only opposition, but that isn't going to be the case for long.
But tomorrow is Nikki Haley's opportunity to make her case for the first time as a presidential candidate to the people here in South Carolina.
KEILAR: All right. We'll be watching with you. Kylie Atwood, thank you so much.
Let's bring in our panel to discuss this news. And, Kaitlan Collins, I know you have some new reporting about how the other candidate in the race, former President Trump, is responding to this news.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's remarkable to see that the first person who is putting their name in this ring to challenge Trump for the GOP nomination is someone that he once tapped to a high-profile position in his administration. And, of course, the former president's response to this formal announcement, which we knew was coming from Nikki Haley, he noted what she said last April, which is that if he ran for president, she would not be running for that Republican nomination. And, of course, we now know she has reversed that, she has changed that and called for a new generation of leadership.
And what we've heard from sources is that even though Trump says in a statement that when she called him to tell him she is in fact running, that he wished her luck in this race.
Privately, he has expressed annoyance about the idea that she's running, mainly because she had said she wasn't. He did nothing that was really someone that he had to think of as a challenger.
She's certainly not the most formidable in his eyes. He's the most anxious about former Governor Ron DeSantis, who also has not entered yet but is expected to do so. But this comes as advisers are telling him what you heard Kylie saying there what Nancy Mace said earlier, which is that they believe a big field is actually going to benefit him in the end. Nancy Mace is not saying that in a good way but the former Trump advisers -- the advisers to Trump are saying that they do believe it will help him in the end if it's a lot of people in this race.
KEILAR: David, is there a lane here for Nikki Haley, do you think?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, were just at the outset, so lanes are yet to be paved, if you will. But, certainly, there's opportunity for her here. You saw that line that Kylie included in her piece from her video highlighting the fact that Republicans have lost seven of the eight popular votes in the presidential election, the seven of the last eight presidential elections, that they lost the popular vote. That was a clear indication that she's putting herself forward as somebody that can broaden the appeal of the Republican brand, right? It also obviously was he's not to settle reminder that Donald Trump lost the popular vote and he's the only guy in the field right now.
But in addition to this generational argument that Haley is going to make, she's making this a broadening the appeal of Republicans argument that she believes she can be the one to get a majority of Americans behind a GOP candidate. We'll see if she can do that. She's got conservative credentials as a former successful governor in South Carolina. She's got the foreign policy credentials. There's certainly a role for her in this race, but there are two heavy hitters at the outset and she's going to have a lot of work to do ahead of her. KEILAR: Yes. Nia, to David's point, you can't ignore that when she's
mentioning in her announcement that Democrats have won the popular vote in seven of the last presidential elections.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. It's a shot at Trump at the end to that. She talks about stand up to bullies. That seems to also be a shot at Trump. She talks about the fact that if you hit back at a bully, it hurts more if you're wearing high heels. So, she's embracing the fact which she will likely be the only woman in this race. She hasn't run for office since 2014 or so and the landscape has changed quite a bit.
I was sort of struck by how conventional this ad seemed. Like for somebody who's saying she represents a new generation, the ad was sort of kind bland and cookie cutter to look at it. We'll see what he says in her announcement tomorrow. She's making, I think, arguments that are much more sort of logical and driven by sort of the head rather than the heart. And what you find in primaries, I think, is these are emotional appeals really that successful candidates make to primary audiences. So, it's not about sort of I'm a better general election candidate. Those candidates who make that argument tend to not do so well because these primary audiences, they really are moved by their guts and their emotion. So, we'll see how she does. We'll see what she has to say tomorrow.
KEILAR: Yes. Congressman, Kylie pointed out there astutely that you have Republicans with a very warm reception of this news, they aren't endorsing her at this point. What do you make of this?
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Look, I think she's doing two things. She's playing the best hand she can being at a disadvantage at the start, obviously. She's not Ron DeSantis, she's not Donald Trump. I think clearly she's running for vice president as a possibility. It doesn't mean she wants to be president, she really does.
But I think what you're going to see on the Republican side is people sitting back, either jumping on Donald Trump right away, jumping on Ron DeSantis right away, or if they don't jump on either those bandwagons immediately, seen how the field shakes out. Because if you're not going to be in one of those two camps, I can speak as a former politician in this, you want to get on the winning team. You want to see who of the others is going to be on the winning team. It's probably not going to be Nikki Haley but I think she is playing the best hand she can given her disadvantage from the start.
KEILAR: Haley jumping into the race, David. You also have Florida Governor Ron DeSantis being asked today if he plans to follow suit, and here's his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Wouldn't you like to know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Well, yes, wouldn't we like to know, David?
CHALIAN: We would. I mean our reporting indicates that when the Florida legislative season wraps up at the end of May, beginning of June maybe a time line for DeSantis to jump into this thing, all signs are pointing that he is going to do so. But what we called that right there, Brianna, that's called stoking the speculation.
KEILAR: Yes. It worked very well. Thank you so much to all of you. I really appreciate the conversation.
And just ahead, the stunning new rescues in Turkey, where survivors are being saved from the earthquakes' rubble more than a week afterward.
[18:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KEILAR: Tonight as the death toll rises from the catastrophic earthquake in Turkey and Syria, we're also following miraculous stories of survivors pulled from the rubble more than a week later.
CNN's Nada Bashir is in Istanbul with more on the urgent rescue and relief efforts.
NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voice over): Eight days on and the scale of the destruction is still difficult to grasp. The landscape permanently changed, the death toll still rising, those who made it out alive now grappling with a devastating new reality.
For Samir and Amal, it is a reality that's painful to come to terms with. They fled their apartment with three-year-old Lina and seven- year-old Yusef (ph) seconds before the building collapsed.
Now, they found temporary shelter in the home of one generous Istanbul resident living overseas. But their trauma is difficult to overcome and memories of the quake still haunt this family.
SEMIR CEKIC, EVACUATED FROM QUAKE ZONE: Our friends and relatives are still under the rubble. The whole family is gone.
AMAL CEKIC, EVACUATED FROM QUAKE ZONE: Yusef (ph) tells me, mom, I don't have a room, I don't have a house, no toys, no friends, I want to go back to school. Lina is constantly crying. She's my only daughter. She's changed a lot.
BASHIR: The chances of finding survivors beneath the rubble is getting slimmer by the hour, but in Turkey hope persists with more miraculous rescues over the past 24 hours. But as the days pass by, the focus is shifting to recovering the dead and helping the living.
As you can see here, these volunteers have formed a human chain to carry these boxes of donations into this truck. They're being loaded, ready to leave this distribution center in Istanbul and head straight Southeast Turkey.
Now, according to coordinators at this center, there are some 20,000 volunteers working around the clock across two centers here in Istanbul. They've been working for the last week, sorting through thousands of boxes of donations already to be sent to people impacted by the earthquake.
But coordinators here say they need more support and fear they will be forgotten by the international community.
Were you scared when it happened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. BASHIR: Scary?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very.
BASHIR: Very scared?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BASHIR: And while acts of generosity may go some way to help, for those who've lost everything, the rebuilding is just beginning.
BASHIR (on camera): And, look, Brianna, over the last 24 hours, we have continued to see these miraculous, remarkable rescues just in the last few hours, according to our sister channel, CNN Turk. A couple was rescued after their five-storey apartment building collapsed. They were buried beneath the rubble for 209 hours.
While they describe this as a miracle, they say their five children are still buried beneath the rubble, urging those rescue teams to continue searching for them. And, of course, that is the reality for so many people now in Southeast Turkey, waiting for news of their loved ones, hoping they might still have survived. But, of course, the reality is that that window for finding survivors is closing very, very quickly. Brianna?
KEILAR: Nada Bashir, thank you for that report.
And for more on how you can support relief efforts in Turkey and Syria, go to cnn.com/impact and help impact your world.
Coming up, we're getting some breaking news just into THE SITUATION ROOM about the investigation into former President Trump's handling of classified documents. We have that next.
KEILAR: We have some breaking news right now on the federal investigation of former President Trump's handling of classified documents.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins is back now with us, along with CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams.
Kaitlan, what are you learning?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, we're learning prosecutors who were investigating Trump's handling of classified documents are now seeking to compel one of his attorneys to come back and testify before the grand jury again. That attorney is Evan Corcoran. He's already testified before the grand jury for about four hours or so, I'm told. But they actually want him to come back, and this time they're trying
to overcome that attorney-client privilege that protects what he and Trump had talked about privately. In doing so they've written to the judge alleging that they believe Trump used Evan Corcoran in furtherance of a crime or fraud. That is that fraud-crime exception prosecutors are trying to make the argument to judge to overcome attorney-client privilege basically so they can get him back in there and have him answer questions.
It's an incredibly aggressive move, probably one of the most aggressive we've seen so far from the special counsel overseeing this investigation, Jack Smith. We don't know they'll be successful, but this is really notable development, seeing this coming from these prosecutors who are overseeing this investigation.
KEILAR: Yeah, Elliot, what do you make of this?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, it's a big deal. Picking up on Kaitlan's point the attorney-client privilege is one of the most sacred privileges that exist in American law. The comments you make to our attorney are treated with confidence and outside of the scrutiny of any court, with one big exception, what's called the crime fraud exception.
If a court can find that a client was either in cahoots with an attorney and jointly committing crimes with that attorney or using their attorney in furtherance of committing a crime, then the attorney-client privilege is in effect waived and they can compel him to testify.
So, this is quite significant, partly on account of how seriously our laws treat the attorney client privilege.
KEILAR: Yeah, it really is a huge development here. And, Kaitlan, we know that Corcoran appeared before the court recently. So, he's been before the court before. Do we know if he declined to answer some questions?
COLLINS: Yeah, and he's not the only one who's gone. You know, Paula Reid now just reporting earlier, actually three Trump attorneys have gone before the grand jury now, but Evan Corcoran is the one they want to speak to again. And, yes, we are told in his last appearance, he did decline to answer questions investigators had based on that attorney-client privilege.
So, that's why this is such a big deal here. And we don't ultimately know how it's going to be resolved. But for people watching at home and wondering why Evan Corcoran is the one that they'd like to speak to.
Again, he's been the one who's been overseeing the Trump response to this with the other team of Trump attorneys. He's the one who drafted that statement that was given to the Justice Department back in June, signed by another Trump attorney, but Corcoran played a role in drafting it, saying that they conducted a diligent search of Mar-a- Lago about classified documents that they have not found anymore.
Of course, we know when the FBI showed up in August, they found a lot classified documents. So, that could potentially be part of this. But just really notable that they are now making this allegation in writing to the judge here.
KEILAR: Yeah, it really is.
Kaitlan, thank you so much for the report.
Elliot, thank you for the analysis.
And just ahead, some newly released video and emotional testimony as the dramatic trial of the South Carolina lawyer accused of murdering his family is now reaching a critical point.
KEILAR: Prosecutors are nearing the end of their case against disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh who is standing trial for the alleged murder of his wife and son.
CNN's Brian Todd is following this story for us.
And, Brian, we're also learning more about the defense's next moves.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Brianna. There is a crucial decision that Alex Murdaugh's defense team has to make in the coming day, a decision that puts his questionable credibility on the line.
REPORTER: Alex, is that your voice on the tape?
TODD (voice-over): This dramatic double murder trial reaching a crescendo tonight, after emotional testimony today from the sister of Alex Murdaugh's murdered wife.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
TODD: It comes as Alex Murdaugh's defense team is strongly considering putting him on the stand to testify on his own behalf. That's according to a source familiar with the case who spoke to CNN who says that decision is expected soon and could be a last-minute call.
JEFFREY JACOBOVITZ, TRIAL ATTORNEY: It's an important decision to make whether to put your client on the stand. You really have to see how the government's case came in, how the state's case came in. If you think you're winning, if you think the testimony would hurt you or help you.
TODD: If Murdaugh does testify, one thing he'll likely to have to explain is why he said he was at his mother's house around the time of the murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul when his voice according to several witnesses including two who testified today is heard on a video clip at the scene very shortly before the murders occurred.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whose voices did you hear?
ROGER DALE DAVIS, JR., KENNEL CARETAKER AT MURDAUGHS' PROPERTY: Paul, Maggie and Alex.
TODD: Other video from a police body camera just played at trial this week shows Alex Murdaugh speaking to a responding officer at the murder scene on the family's South Carolina property soon after Murdaugh reported their deaths.
ALEX MURDAUGH, MURDER DEFENDANT: Did you check the pulses?
POLICE OFFICER: Yes, sir.
TODD: Murdaugh appears distraught but immediately goes into an explanation of what could be behind the murders.
MURDAUGH: My son was in a boat wreck, months back, he's been getting threats. Most of it has been benign stuff. We didn't take serious.
POLICE OFFICER: OK.
MURDAUGH: You know, he's been getting like punched. I know that's what it is.
TODD: Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty to the murders. Prosecutors say he killed his wife and son to deflect attention from a series of alleged illicit schemes he was running to avoid legal and financial ruin.
With those issues of credibility, should Murdaugh take the stand?
SARA AZARI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He needs to explain this to the jury. There's no one better than him. He also needs to look at the jury, right off the bat and say, I am a scumbag, I'm a thief. I'm a fraud. But I did not kill Maggie and Paul.
TODD: The prosecution with serious challenges of his own. Key evidence like blood spatter on the suspect and murder weapons missing.
AZARI: In a case where the jury is thirsty and hungry for science, they are served nothingburger after nothingburger with the side of fraud, right? There is no DNA.
TODD (on camera): Alex Murdaugh faces 30 years to life in prison if he's convicted of these murders. With the future of the trial itself could be in jeopardy. Two jurors were dismissed Monday after contracting COVID-19, leaving just three alternates available. Both sides have suggested delaying the trial, but the judge for the moment has decided to continue -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right. Brian, thank you for that report.
Here in Washington today, we heard an emotional appeal to U.S. senators, urging them to do more to keep children safe when they go online. I was at the hearing where witnesses spoke about the negative impacts of social media on teens and push for new regulations, including Kristin Bride who shared her story with CNN. Her son Carson, died by suicide in 2020 after receiving a barrage of anonymous cyberbullying messages on an app integrated with Snapchat.
Listen to her describe how she found him dead just hours after they celebrated his new summer job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTIN BRIDE, LOST SON TO SUICIDE DUE TO CYBERBULLYING: We told him how proud we were of him getting a summer job during the pandemic. And it was a wonderful night and we were looking forward to summer.
And the very next morning, I look up to the horror that he had hung himself in our garage while he slept. And there are no words to describe the tragedy of that morning, and every day afterwards. We learned through the school community that he had been being cyberbullied.
There is absolutely no way that anyone parents can feasibly manage the fire hose of online harm that are being directed at our kids every day. We need help from the federal government. And we need it now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Kristin Bride, Carson's mother, and other witnesses who were there before the Senate Judiciary Committee say they don't want to ban social media for children or for teens. They just want consumer protections enacted and enforced to prevent what happened to Carson and so many others from happening to more kids. And if you or someone who you know is in distress, we do urge you to call or text 988 to reach the suicide and crisis lifeline.
I am Brianna Keilar in THE SITUATION ROOM for Wolf Blitzer.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.