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D.A.'s Defiant Testimony Ends For Day In Hearing Threatening Trump Case; Former FBI Informant Charged With Lying About The Bidens' Role In Ukraine Business; Trump's Historic, First Criminal Trial Now Set To Begin March 25; White House Confirms Russian Anti-Satellite Capability Is Subject Of Threat; Officials Seeing Rise In Threats Against Federal Judges, Prosecutors. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired February 15, 2024 - 18:00   ET


REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): I appreciate it.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: From Fulton County to Capitol Hill, scandal in politics is everywhere. And this weekend, I'm going to dive into the topic in a brand new series. Join me Sunday night for the premiere of my new CNN original series. It's called the United States of Scandal. We take the time to examine what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they're caught.

Again, the CNN original series is called United States of Scandal. The premiere is Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern only here on CNN.

Our coverage continues now with Brianna Keilar in for Wolf Blitzer right next door in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you tomorrow.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news, defiant testimony by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis wrapping for the day just a short while ago in a high-stakes hearing that threatens to derail the Georgia election subversion case against Donald Trump, Willis angrily pushing back at allegations that she financially benefited from her romantic relationship with the lead prosecutor that she hired.

Also tonight, former President Trump's historic first criminal trial now set to begin on March 25th. The 2024 Republican frontrunner in the courtroom, as a New York judge denied his bid to dismiss charges in the Stormy Daniels hush money case.

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 begin with the breaking news in Georgia. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis charging up to the witness stand in a hearing on whether she should be disqualified from the election subversion case against Donald Trump. At the center of it all, her romantic relationship with the lead prosecutor, Nathan Wade.

We have a team of correspondents and legal experts covering this story for us. First to CNN Anchor and Chief Legal Analyst Laura Coates outside of the courthouse in Atlanta.

And, Laura, Willis returning to the stand tomorrow after speaking at length about her relationship with Wade. Let's listen to part of her testimony.


FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: He started out as like a mentor and a professional colleague. He became my friend and somebody that I really respected.

We are good friends. My respect for him has grown over these seven weeks of attacks.

ASHLEIGH MERCHANT, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR MIKE ROMAN: Has he ever visited you at a place you laid your head.

WILLIS: Well, let's be clear, because you lied in this. Let me tell you which one you lied in right here. I think you lied right here. No, no, no, no, this is the truth. And it is a lie. It is a lie.


KEILAR: Laura, this was such dramatic testimony that we saw today.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It was extremely dramatic. First of all, the fact that Fani Willis, the D.A. of Fulton County, was testifying today. I mean, imagine if you will, Jack Smith, special counsel testifying about his romantic relationships on the stand being grilled by various litigators from any of the co-defendant cases. You cannot imagine the significance of this moment.

Remember, this is the D.A. who is prosecuting a former president of the United States and nearly a dozen other people, including four people who have already pled guilty. And she was testifying today in reaction to some of the claims that had been made in the filings, trying to disqualify her, Brianna. One of the claims that they said they had was, they had proof that she had been co-habitating with Nathan Wade, that she had had a romantic relationship before she said she did prior to him being hired.

That is why she was so defying her testimony, at times confrontational, and trying to persuade that particular judge, but also she's well aware that the world is watching right now. And she was highly offended, she said, by the accusations made and wanted to be clear on the timeline.

And she says it was never inappropriate. She does not deny the relationship, but she did not say that there was ever a time when she financially benefited from it.

KEILAR: And, Laura, a former friend of Willis' testified in what was pretty key testimony that this relationship began before Willis hired Wade. Let's listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MERCHANT: You have no doubt that their romantic relationship was in effect from 2019 until the last time you spoke with her.



KEILAR: How significant is the timeline of what she said, considering these two are no longer friends?

COATES: Well, it would have been significant had the lawyer followed up with any questions that were of actual worth and meaning. You see, when you say that, do you have any doubt, the natural inclination is to say, well, why don't you have any doubt? She says they saw them kissing and hugging. Where were they kissing and hugging? Who else was in the room? Was it in a home?


Was it in an office? What other details or proof do you have? That line of inquiry did not follow.

But what did follow were accusations that perhaps she had an ax to grind. She had resigned from the office. She no longer is friends with Fani Willis. There seemed to be some bad blood, which I think could go to discrediting her in the eyes of the judge. But it was very significant. It was the only testimony we heard today that contradicted Nathan Wade and Fani Willis about an earlier relationship.

Now, if the court were to credit that testimony, that would mean that they have both been untruthful and have been disingenuous to the court, and they have a duty of candor to do something else.

KEILAR: Yes, the line of questioning clearly leaving you wanting, which is really interesting there.

Laura, stay with us. We're going to bring in some more legal experts who are following this case and our reporters as well.

Zach, obviously a very dramatic day of testimony, what was your big takeaway here?

ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes. After all those hours of testimony, after all these defense attorneys having a chance to grill D.A. Fani Willis, it still came up short of meeting that threshold to disqualify her, at least based on the evidence that was presented today.

There were contradicting narratives from the one witness who said that the relationship between Willis and Wade started before Willis and Wade said it did. Obviously, Willis and Wade both stood by their original story, so you really just have opposing sides there.

And, look, that is the threshold. That is the key to this entire proceeding to disqualify Fani Willis. They have to show that she improperly and financially benefited from this relationship with Wade. And so far today, they seem to have fell short.

Now, that doesn't mean there weren't some political takeaways as well on both sides. For the defense attorneys, you know, they did succeed in dirtying up the prosecution team, both Wade and Willis. They put them both on the stand. They forced them both to answer questions about their -- not only the romantic relationship, but also their uncomfortable dealings with money. So, in a way, they did succeed politically in that way.

KEILAR: And, Joey Jackson, obviously the central legal question behind this hearing is whether the relationship between Willis and Wade began before he was hired, whether Willis financially benefited from this hiring, which defense attorneys are alleging here. Did anything today corroborate those allegations or after conflicting testimony that we heard today raise questions for you about whether Willis and Wade are being honest in their accounts here?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, Brianna, it did not. Listen, I look at this and there are two major takeaways for me. Number one, you're looking at the issue of how does this entaint or impair the process? Is it that a grand jury was not impaneled properly? Is it that a grand jury did not make a determination that there was reasonable cause to believe that various crimes were committed and the defendants here committed crimes? Are there other built-in processes with respect to how the (INAUDIBLE) moves forward and how the jury gets to hear the case and prove beyond the reasonable doubt what happened (INAUDIBLE)?

So, what I'm looking at is how does this impair the fairness of a process? How does it detract from that? To me, it's a deflection. It's probably entertaining for everyone except for Fani Willis.

The second issue, Brianna, briefly, is the matter of the nexus and connection in any financial benefit and, ultimately, how that financial benefit was secured, what it made her (INAUDIBLE) because she was --

KEILAR: I think -- Joey, I think we're having -- Joey, we're having a little bit of problems with your audio, so, we're going to try to get that fixed. I'm going to try to get that fixed. I'm going to move on to Amy really quickly.

Amy Lee Copeland, what did you think about Willis' testimony today?

AMY LEE COPELAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: She came out with the fire of a thousand suns. Brianna, she was subject to a motion to quash the -- and across the special prosecutor, had filed on her behalf, but she said, you know, I want to speak my truth here, and she sure did.

You know, you have testimony from Robin Yeartie who said the relationship began in 2019. Ms. Willis just said that's simply not true. The relationship lasted about a year. We maybe took four or five trips. I always paid Mr. Wade back, and I always paid with cash because that's kind of how my dad taught me, is to always have cash on hand. That was probably the most unusual part of the relationship is the payment in cash.

But other than that, she came out and just refuted everything that Ms. Yeartie said. Ms. Yeartie came off as a disgruntled employee, to follow up on what Laura said about not following up on some of the questions. Ms. Yeartie was asked if she recalled conversations with Ms. Willis about the relationship. She said, yes, but she could recall no specifics about those particular conversations, nothing.

So, it was a strong showing for the state. The defense has the burden to show an actual, not a speculative conflict. And so far, I don't think the defense has met that burden.

KEILAR: Michael Moore, did she help herself?

MICHAEL MOORE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I'm glad to be with you. And I may be the naysayer in the group, I mean, we've got a say in that where I come from and it's that the kid (ph) dog barks.


And that's sort of what I felt like when the D.A. took the stand. She was combative and defensive and, really, I don't know that she did herself any favors with the judge.

I mean, he'll have to ultimately make the decision on whether or not they've proven the nexus of the financial conflict. And that seems pretty clear. I mean, I think they admit that Mr. Wade paid for things and that he's been paid about $650,000 from the D.A.'s office in the county. And somehow, mysteriously, he's been paid back with cash money that nobody can track, all the while, Ms. Willis apparently has a tax lien and hadn't paid that off.

So, I don't know that the testimony was necessarily that bad. When we talk about Ms. Yeartie, she did have not a fond parting, I think, with Ms. Willis, but she really has no more reason to lie than Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade. So, the judge will have to weigh the credibility of all those people who has the most at stake.

Remember, even Ms. Willis has acknowledged that Mr. Wade would come visit her alone in her townhouse where she had moved into Ms. Yeartie's townhouse during 2021. And so that is before the relationship is alleged to have begun. And so that may give the judge some pause to, again, you know, I don't know that I can say that today the defense met their burden, but there's more testimony tomorrow and we'll certainly see if we get into this issue of the lawyer and this text message that he was doing with the defense attorney.

Apparently, there're some comments in there that she'd like to show, and I don't know that that issue has been put to bed yet.

KEILAR: Yes, we'll have to look for that.

Laura, there was a moment today. I think it was really kind of the moment, one of the quotes from Willis' testimony that stands out. Let's listen.


MERCHANT: ,So your office objected to us getting Delta records for flights that you may have taken with Mr. Wade.

WILLIS: Well, no, no, no, look, I object to you getting records. You've been intrusive into people's personal lives. You're confused. You think I'm on trial. These people are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020. I'm not on trial, no matter how hard you try to put me on trial.


KEILAR: Does she have a point or is this fair game, Laura, that Fani Willis opened herself up to this by having someone, you know, I guess a contract employee, someone helping in this case that she was romantically involved in with?

COATES: Well, you know, both can be true. On the one hand, she is not a criminal defendant. She absolutely is not a criminal defendant, full stop. But she also is somebody who has to defend her own behavior in an action to try to disqualify her from overseeing the prosecution.

And, remember, Brianna, if she is disqualified, it's not like she passes the baton to someone else in her office. They're all disqualified. An outside agency has to come in, determine who will be the successor, and that successive team may or may not actually decide to go with the indictment as it's presented, could dismiss the case, could dismiss many defendants, or they could go forward.

And the timeline in which they could do so is anyone's guess. But she is accurate in the sense that the whole point of this, Brianna, was not so much it seemed to try to get to the end of the meat of the matter. It was to try to undermine the credibility.

No prosecutor wants to have a jury pool, potentially, looking at her or her colleagues and wondering about their sex life. They want them talking about the evidence as presented, but this effectively puts a spotlight on the one issue that they do not want to focus on. They want to focus on the underlying charges against these co-defendants.

KEILAR: They certainly do. Well, we will see what happens tomorrow. Thank you so much to all of you.

And Laura, of course, will be back tonight at 11:00 P.M. Eastern to anchor Laura Coates Live.

We do have some more breaking news ahead, a former FBI informant in the investigation of the Bidens is charged with lying. What it could mean for the president and the Republicans' impeachment inquiry.



[18:15:00] KEILAR: We have some significant breaking news that we're also following this hour, a former FBI informant charged with lying about the roles of President Biden and his son, Hunter, in a Ukrainian business.

We have CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez, who is here with the details on this.

All right, break this down for us and tell us how significant this is.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the Republicans', really, the star witness in their entire allegation that the former president -- I'm sorry, that the current president was corrupt, that he was promised $5 million by people in Ukraine to try to essentially help them while he was vice president under President Obama.

The name of the witness, the name of the informant is Alexander Smirnov. He was arrested today by the FBI and he's charged with making false statements and also creating a false and fictitious records. And those records are these 1023s, what are FBI records of interviews with him and an FBI agent wherein 2017 and 2020, he changes his story.

And the key part of this is that in 2020, he suddenly decides that he has information that shows that Joe Biden was the beneficiary of money from Burisma and that that money was intended to try to make sure that Burisma's business was taken care of in Ukraine. At the time, Hunter Biden, his son, was on the board of Burisma.

I'll read you just a part of what the FBI and what the Justice Department is now alleging against Smirnov. They're saying, in short, the defendant transformed his routine and unextraordinary business contacts with Burisma in 2017 and later into bribery allegations against public official one, which is Joe Biden, and the presumptive nominee of one of the two major political parties for president after expressing his bias against Joe Biden and his candidacy.

So, what the FBI says is that this was completely made up, that these allegations against Joe Biden and Hunter Biden were completely made up.


This case is being brought by David Weiss, who is the special counsel who also has charged Hunter Biden with tax charges and with gun charges in Delaware and Los Angeles.

KEILAR: Let's bring in Elliot Williams to this conversation. Because at issue here is this key allegation, the business person one and public official one, business person one, Hunter Biden, public official one, Joe Biden. This idea, which we now find out is a lie, that specifically they were paid $5 million each, and we've heard that trumpeted over and over again by House Republicans, it turns out it's a lie. So, what does that do to impeachment efforts now?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it eviscerates an impeachment effort, and any evidence looking current President Biden to wrongdoing was pretty thin to begin with. But if people had it and could come forward with it and substantiate it, by all means, bring it. That's how law enforcement works. The simple fact here is that not only was this the basis for impeachment, but a lot of people relied on it and were out giving speeches and statements about it, and it really all just falls apart.

Now, I'm genuinely curious, sort of as a citizen, as much as a former Hill staffer and prosecutor, what the folks on the Hill do with it now, because, literally, your star witness, his testimony has been completely discredited by law enforcement.

KEILAR: Yes, allegedly a lie, to be clear in the face of the law. But when it comes to being evidence that you would hang your hat on, if you're a member of Congress, this is not it, lying to the FBI, creating false records. Talk about the motive a little bit more behind this.

PEREZ: Well, according to the FBI, what he was doing is he was trying to pitch his own business interest to Burisma and was -- I guess, that was part of the reason why he was involved with Burisma. Here is the problem, Brianna. These allegations that he made to the FBI, which, you know, anybody who goes to the FBI and provides any information, they write it down in these records known as 1023s and they sit there and the FBI, according to this document and according to our own reporting, the FBI had trouble verifying any of his claims.

So, for the last few years, the FBI could not substantiate what he was saying. But Republicans, of course, that didn't really stop them, they fully bought into it and they built this entire case partly on this.

And so the problem is that, over the last couple years, these allegations have been kind of taken as biblical truth, right? And it turns out, according to the FBI, none of the travel records really match up. The meetings that he says he had did not happen when they did. And so that's the problem. How do you fix something that has been out there for two years or so, three years, against the president and has now been used to start an impeachment drive?

KEILAR: Such a good point. How do you unring a bell even if they rung it, they were ringing it publicly releasing these materials over the FBI's objections, which they were --

PEREZ: And, look, and I think the FBI and the Justice Department, I think, bear some responsibility here because, I mean, the question is, if you couldn't verify this, why didn't you take the further step of trying to see whether the guy was lying? It turns out that's what they did, but they only did that recently.

WILLIAMS: Yes. And, look, these are incredibly common charges. To be clear, the charge of lying -- people think of lying as perjury, put your hand on the Bible and swear under oath. Lying to an FBI officer or to a prosecutor can carry a five-year penalty. Falsifying documents or falsifying a record can carry a 20-year penalty.

Now, look, no one ever gets the full amount. No one ever does. However, these are serious crimes, and the law enforcement, Justice Department charges them all the time. So, we'll see where it goes.

KEILAR: Very interesting. Elliot, Evan, thank you so much to both of you.

Coming up, another dramatic hearing in a criminal case against Donald Trump, his trial date is now set in New York. So, what it means for his defense and his presidential campaign.



KEILAR: Tonight, the date is set for the unprecedented criminal trial of a former president of the United States now running to return to the White House, the judge in Donald Trump's hush money case in New York ordering jury selection to begin on March 25th after refusing to dismiss the charges. Trump was in the courtroom and so was CNN's Kara Scannell.


KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A New York State judge ordering Donald Trump to stand trial for criminal charges next month.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And instead of being in South Carolina and other states campaigning, I'm stuck here.

SCANNELL: This case related to a hush money repayment scheme involving porn star Stormy Daniels and former Trump fixer Michael Cohen will begin on March 25th.

TRUMP: There is no case.

SCANNELL: It's a historic first, a former president facing a jury and on trial in the middle of a presidential campaign.

TRUMP: How can you run for election if you're sitting in a courthouse in Manhattan all day long?

SCANNELL: The judge in this case, Juan Merchan, made the decision after consulting with Judge Tanya Chutkan, who has overseen the election subversion case in Washington, D.C. During a pretrial hearing in New York, Trump attorney Todd Blanche seized on that unprecedented timing protesting for a delay.

We strenuously object to what is happening in this courtroom, he told the judge, with Trump's eyes locked on his attorney. The fact that President Trump is going to now spend the next two months working on this trial, instead of out in the campaign trail running for president, is something that should not happen in this country.


What's your legal argument, Judge Merchan asked. That's my legal argument, Trump's lawyer responded. That's not a legal argument, Merchan replied, telling the lawyers he'd see them on March 25th. TRUMP: Well, we'll just have to figure it out. I'll be here during the day and I'll be campaigning during the night.

SCANNELL: This case stems from actions that took place in the days before the 2016 election, when Donald Trump, former National Enquirer Publisher David Pecker and Michael Cohen allegedly schemed to keep Stormy Daniels from going public about an affair.

According to the indictment, Cohen paid $130,000 in hush money to Stormy Daniels, then submitted sham legal bills to the Trump Organization, which the former president reimbursed with a series of monthly checks.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I did it at the direction of, in concert with and for the benefit of Donald J. Trump.

SCANNELL: Today, the parties debated questions to ask prospective jurors. An 18-person jury will ultimately be seated. Trump's lawyers wanted to delve into politics, telling the judge they need to know if people like Trump. Judge Merchan called it inappropriate, saying they need fair and impartial jurors.

TRUMP: I'm honored to sit here day after day after day on something that everybody says the greatest legal scholar say it's not even a crime.


SCANNELL (on camera): Now, it will be a jury that decides whether or not Donald Trump committed a crime. If he is convicted, he could face time in prison.

Now, Brianna, it was almost one year ago that in the courthouse behind me, a grand jury handed up the first indictment of a former president and soon another historic first, the first criminal trial. Brianna?

KEILAR: lots of firsts. Kara, thank you for that report

Let's bring in Carrie Cordero and David Chalian to talk about this a little bit more. Only on a day like today would this get a little bit lost, right, when we saw what happened down in Georgia. But Trump, this is huge. He's going to be standing trial in a criminal case next month. It is official. So, how big of a deal is this, and is there any chance that this could slide time-wise?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, time-wise, it seems like this probably is the schedule. I don't see something in the federal case changing, getting accelerated, that would bump it again. So this -- as far as we can tell, this looks like this will be the date for it to start.

But in terms of the substance of it, it is sort of amazing that this is the case that is going to be the first one in the history books against a former president, at least in my judgment of all the cases, this is the weakest one substantively. I mean, the facts are now eight years old by the time we're actually getting to trial. The case is on sort of an interesting legal theory in order to jack it up to a felony charge in terms of what otherwise would have been misdemeanors, falsification of records.

So, there is a lift that the prosecutors are going to have to do in order to actually successfully execute this trial and win at trial. But the fact that it is taking place, of course, is significant.

KEILAR: That point that this is the weakest of the cases coupled with the timing here right that the jury selection begins on March 25th, and by then Trump could already have enough delegates to be the presumptive GOP nominee. So, how does that change the dynamics here politically for him?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, think about it, Brianna, when you become the presumptive nominee, that's a term of art, right? But Super Tuesday is March 5th, right? That's where the largest prize of delegates are. A couple weeks after that on March 19th, there are some very big states with a lot of delegates, Florida, Illinois, Ohio. So, it is possible, given that Nikki Haley is running so far behind him, that he will have amassed enough delegates to hit the threshold of 1,215 delegates you need to be the presumptive nominee.

So, what happens when you become the presumptive nominee like that? Well, normally, after you hold a big press event to say that you've become the presumptive nominee, you are fully pivoting all your attention to now every day combating in the general election, in this case, against Joe Biden. That's not going to be Donald Trump's schedule.

Now, I understand. He's turning the courtroom into the campaign trail, and he's going to make the case against Biden from press conference outside of court. But his time is going to be spent in that courtroom as a criminal defendant precisely at the moment that any other candidate would normally be amassing their general election team, getting out to every battleground state, and really launching the most concerted part of the campaign.

KEILAR: He is going to have to focus on this. At the same time, as you mentioned, it's the weakest of the cases. And then you have the fact that we're watching this case in Georgia that has become a little bit tarnished by what has happened with Fani Willis and Nathan Wade. And then you have the Hur report on Biden that, maybe not legally, but at least, politically, you have Republicans using to invalidate the Trump case when it comes to documents, all of those things together.


But what effect do you see that having?

CORDERO: Well, I think each of the cases has been shipped away in different ways. So, if you take the Hur report first, I've always thought that the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case is the strongest criminal case against the former president, but there were a couple things in that report that I think potentially he will use as defenses. I don't think they'll be successful. But, for example, the fact that the report talked about other presidents, in particular, former President Reagan, keeping personal notebooks.

The Trump case is different. It's not about notebooks. It's about documents. But I think that sort of historical part that other presidents were lax in some ways with classified documents will be in his favor.

The Georgia case, we will have to see what the judge decides in terms of whether he disqualifies the D.A. But that case is definitely in a different place than it was when she first brought it.

KEILAR: So much to follow. Thank you so much to both of you for helping us do it here.

Coming up, Kansas City residents are in mourning tonight after the deadly Super Bowl rally shooting, as police reveal their theory about why this happened.



KEILAR: Kansas City residents are preparing to hold a vigil tonight for the victims of the Super Bowl rally shooting, including the woman who was killed. This comes as police say they've released one of three people detained for questioning after determining that person was not involved.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is in Kansas City with more.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Gunfire. Police say a possible personal dispute at the end of a rally celebrating the Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl win, leaving one woman dead and over 20 injured.

CHIEF STACEY GRAVES, KANSAS CITY POLICE: victims age range between eight years old and 47 years old. At least half of our victims are under the age of 16.

PROKUPECZ: Two juveniles are now in custody for the shooting.

Is this some kind of gang, crew --

GRAVES: You know, the relationship between the subjects involved, that's still under investigation.

PROKUPECZ: Several guns were recovered, according to police.

Do you have enough evidence at this point?

GRAVES: So some of those questions, I'm not able to give a direct answer just because I want to protect the integrity of this investigation. PROKUPECZ: It seems like we are so many hours from this. At this point, you are not announcing an arrest. (INAUDIBLE).

GRAVES: We have subjects that are detained.

PROKUPECZ: At least one person was tackled by bystanders. Trey Filter said he helped knock down one man and hold him until police arrived.

TREY FILTER, SUPER BOWL RALLY SHOOTING WITNESS: We were pretty elated once we knew he had him. And they started yelling that there's a gun.

PROKUPECZ: Casey Filter said she grabbed the gun.

CASEY FILTER, SUPER BOWL RALLY SHOOTING WITNESS: At first, I actually thought it looked like a toy, but then once I picked it up, I quickly realized it definitely was not.

PROKUPECZ: Nearly 24 hours after the parade ended, crews are out here cleaning up and what they're finding are many of the personal items that people left behind as they were running for their lives. You could see some of them here blankets and chairs with strollers, little strollers here from babies.

The aftermath of thousands of parade goers rushing for cover as hundreds of officers on scene ran toward the shots.

MANNY ABARCA, SUPER BOWL RALLY SHOOTING WITNESS: All of a sudden, through the partitions, a wave of people come rushing through, screaming, gun, run, and I was watching people being trampled.

PROKUPECZ: One family said several of them were hit.

JACOB GOOCH SR., SUPER BOWL RALLY SHOOTING WITNESS: My son got shot and my wife got shot. She got shot in her calf. I got shot directly in the ankle.

PROKUPECZ: Lisa Lopez-Galvan died at the scene. She was a local Kansas City area radio D.J. The city now grieving after a day of celebration. Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Lineman Trey Smith said he and his fellow players had to take cover and helped young fans stay calm amid the shooting.

TREY SMITH, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS FOOTBALL PLAYER: I'm pretty angry because of senseless violence, you know, someone lost their life today. You have children that are injured, you have children that are traumatized.


PROKUPECZ (on camera): And, Brianna, where I'm standing here is where all of this unfolded, where we saw all those people running for their lives after those shots rang out. Today, they spent a day cleaning this area up. It's all pretty much cleared up and reopened.

But, of course, in terms of the investigation, in terms of the people, the two juveniles that have been detained, we still don't have a lot of information about them. Police have yet to announce any charges. So, there are still a lot of questions here, and we're certainly hoping to hear from police soon.

KEILAR: We'll look for that. Shimon, thank you for that report.

And just ahead, the White House revealing new details about a national security threat from Russia. I'll discuss that and more with a key Democrat from the House Armed Services Committee.



KEILAR: We're following new developments around the national security threat that was raised by the chairman of the House Intel Committee. The White House confirming the threat involves an anti-satellite capability being developed by Russia.


JOHN KIRBY, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER: This is not an active capability that's been deployed and though Russia's pursuit of this particular capability is troubling, there was no immediate threat to anyone's safety. We are not talking about a weapon that can be used to attack human beings, or caused physical destruction here on earth.


KEILAR: With us now, Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan. She's a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Congresswoman, thanks for making the time for us this evening. You were, of course, in the intelligence community for years. How should the public be thinking about this threat of a new Russian satellite weapon?

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): Well, look, I mean, I think the way this whole thing came about raise more questions than it was worth, right? I mean, we all got this notice to come and see this intelligence and our SCIF, in our classified spaces. I've been here for five years. I've never had that kind of -- kind of alert, go out over the wires. We all were thinking this must be something imminent, an imminent threat.

And as you heard from the White House, it's not -- I'm sad frankly that we're even talking thinking about it publicly because when you'd have sensitive classified information like this, that now the whole world is talking about, the sources and methods that got us that intelligence are now seriously at risk.

So I think that people should, should not be alarmed. I think that you'll have to speak with the chairman of the House Intel Committee on why he decided to alert us like that and raise all this attention to this issue. You know, I'm a former CIA officer. I'd prefer if we kept these things quiet so that we can learn more about them and dismantle them.

KEILAR: Yeah, why are we talking about it publicly? According to one prominent House Republican, that actually seems to be the point.


That person telling our Manu Raju that this is actually about FISA, about foreign surveillance authority that is expiring here shortly, and this was part of the motivation for the chairman doing this.

Do you believe that's the case?

SLOTKIN: I don't know. Again, you'd have to see Mr. Turner. I mean, Mr. Turner is someone who I served with on the Armed Services Committee. He's a security minded person. He cares a lot about Russia and strategic capabilities.

So I really don't know if that was the case. The FISA bill was pulled by the Republicans so we didn't vote on it this week, anyways. They pulled their own bill.

So I don't pretend to understand. I just know that as a CIA officer, we don't like exposing this kind of secret squirrel information to the whole world. And I think it's unfortunate because we've burned whatever source got us that information.

KEILAR: I do want to turn now to Israel's war in Gaza. The IDF raided the largest hospital in southern Gaza. They found no hostages. They did detain three people. They suspected involvement in the October 7th attacks.

Doctors say that civilians were killed by Israeli snipers while they were fleeing the hospital.

You worked alongside the military in the Middle East for so long. What kind of investigations, internal investigations should events like this trigger if the Israeli military wants to maintain international legitimacy.

SLOTKIN: I mean, I just know what we did in places like Afghanistan and Iraq and we had some major investigations that went on related to hospitals in places like Kunduz, Afghanistan. I mean, we had our own history with this. We learned our own painful lessons in our own wars, and it should spark an internal investigation that helps us understand the -- any mistakes that were made or why civilians were killed if they were killed, I mean, there's a whole military procedure that the United States it goes through.

And in the case of Afghanistan, apologies, public apologies came from four-star generals at that time in our own cases. So I -- you know, democracies have a special responsibility with their militaries to hold themselves to a higher standard, right? And I think that's what certainly the world expects whenever you go into a hospital.

KEILAR: Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it. SLOTKIN: Thank you.

KEILAR: Coming up, an alarming increase in threats against federal judges across the country, including some of the most powerful and high profile jurist in the legal system.



KEILAR: There's a disturbing uptick in the number of threats made against federal prosecutors and judges in recent years with potentially deadly consequences.

Brian Todd is monitoring this story for us.

So, Brian, tell us what this means for how these civil servants are doing their jobs?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, it adds a great deal of stress. It means hiring body guards, installing enhanced home protection systems, and other measures. And it means those judges and prosecutors have to look over their shoulders almost 24/7.


TODD (voice-over): Prosecutors in the New York and Georgia criminal cases against former president Trump that had high profile hearings today have faced threats to their personal safety.

FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: My dad was begging me to leave the house. He wasn't afraid for me, afraid for his grandchildren.

TODD: Threats to prosecutors and judges at all levels -- federal, state, and local, have reached an alarming crescendo. The head of the U.S. marshals warning this week of the increased threats to federal court officers.

RONALD DAVIS, DIRECTOR, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE: In the past three years, that number threats against federal judges have more than doubled as have threats against prosecutors and other court officials.

TODD: The Marshal Service, which is responsible for protecting federal judges, says the number of federal judges who've received serious threats rose to 457 in the fiscal year that ended in September 2023. That was up from 300 the year before and 224 in fiscal year 2021.

Threats to federal prosecutors, also more than doubled in that span.


JIM SCHIELD, FORMER U.S. MARSHAL, RAN PROTECTION FOR JUDGES: I think it has to do a lot with our political climate that we have today that polarization in our parties and the misinformation and social media is fuel for the fire.

TODD: Several threats are connected to cases involving Donald Trump. A Texas woman was recently sentenced for threatening in voice mails to have U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon assassinated in front of her family. Cannon is overseeing the federal case against Trump in the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation.

Judge Tanya Chutkan, who presides over Trump's federal election subversion case in Washington has received at least one death threat and has gotten increased protection since taking Trump's case.

Judge Chutkan has also been the victim of swatting, a prank call made to law enforcement to lure police to a location under the false pretense that a crime has been committed or is in progress. Even though they're hoaxes, swatting calls are dangerous.

SCHIELD: Going into someone's residents is one of the most dangerous things a police officer can do.

TODD: In 2022, a man was arrested outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and later charged with attempting to kill Kavanaugh.

Below the Supreme Court level, the marshals don't have the resources to protect every federal judge 24/7.

In 2020, a disgruntled lawyer came to the New Jersey home of Federal Judge Esther Salas, trying to kill her and ended up killing her son, who answered the door and wounding her husband.

JUDGE ESTHER SALAS, U.S. DISTRICT COURT FOR NEW JERSEY: Let's start ceiling personally identifiable information of judicial officers. Make it hard for people to track us down and shoot us in our homes.


TODD (on camera): That's actually one piece of advice from former U.S. Marshall Jim Schield to judges and prosecutors on how to protect themselves. In addition to disguising their home addresses, he advises them to always be conscious of their surroundings, especially when they're traveling to and from work, and to stay away from social media. Brianna.

KEILAR: What a lot for them to take on as they deal with this. This isn't what they used to have to deal with, Brian.

TODD: Not at all. It's really dangerous for them. It's really never been more dangerous for judges and prosecutors especially.

KEILAR: Incredibly alarming.

Brian Todd, thank you so much for that report.

I'm Brianna Keilar in THE SITUATION ROOM. We thank you so much for spending your evening with us.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now