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Former VP Mike Pence Says He Won't Endorse Trump In Extraordinary Repudiation Of His Former Boss; Trump Special Prosecutor In Georgia Quits After Judge Rules D.A. Willis May Stay On Case IF He Goes; Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Is Interviewed About On New Criticism Of Israel's Netanyahu By Biden & Dems; Interview With Prosecutor Who Oversaw Crumbley Parents' Trials; Sara Sidner Shares 3- Month Chemo Journey For Breast Cancer. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 15, 2024 - 17:00   ET


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY: That's a new and fascinating episode of "United States of Scandal" this Sunday night, 09:00 Eastern and Pacific here on CNN. And I will see you later tonight on news night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time. Our coverage on CNN continues right now.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now breaking news, an extraordinary repudiation of Donald Trump, as former Vice President Mike Pence declares he cannot, in good conscience, his words, endorse his former boss. We're getting reaction depends his decision, as so many other Republicans are rallying behind Trump and his bid to return to the White House.

Also breaking Trump's special prosecutor Nathan Wade just resigned in Georgia after a judge ruled District Attorney Fani Willis may stay on the election interference case only if Wade called it quits. Our experts are breaking down the decision and what it means for the former president. All of this coming as Trump just secured a delay in his first criminal trial, a new victory in his efforts to drag out is multiple legal cases until after the election.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Let's get right to the breaking news. Donald Trump's former vice president publicly refuses to endorse him as their split over the events of January 6 and other issues reaches a new level. CNN's Kristen Holmes is working this dramatic development for us.

Kristen, tell us what Pence is exactly saying.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is both surprising and unsurprising at the same time, the two men had a very fractured relationship after what happened on January 6 and Pence ran against Donald Trump for office. However, he is still the former vice president to Donald Trump and in fact during debate was asked of the crowd of all the candidates, if they would support former President Donald Trump even if he was convicted of a crime and Pence raised his hand. Now, Pence is unequivocally answering the question of whether or not he would endorse Donald Trump. Take a listen.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Donald Trump is pursuing and articulating an agenda that is at odds with the conservative agenda that we governed on during our four years and that's why I cannot in good conscience endorsed Donald Trump in this campaign.


HOLMES: Again, this is fairly striking given that he stood by him for four years, he was his former vice president, but the two men completely fell apart, had fractured relationship after January 6 after Trump and his allies mounted an extensive pressure campaign on former Vice President Mike Pence not to certify the 2020 elections to overturn those results. And as we know, Pence did not do so, he ended up certifying that election. Pence himself has said that his life was in danger on January 6. When he ran against Donald Trump for president this cycle before dropping out, he stood up to the president over January 6 saying that Trump was wrong about what happened with the election, he was wrong about what role Pence could play. Trump for his part has continued to attack Pence, he's called him weak, saying that he didn't have the courage to do what needed to be done. Despite the fact that again, for four years, Pence was a loyal soldier to the former president.

Now, Pence after dropping out has launched a new initiative to raise $20 million for, quote unquote, "conservative principles." I've talked to many of his senior advisors who say they're really trying to find a lane for him to carve out as a Reagan Republican. That has seemed to disappear. Because as we remember, Pence was brought on to Trump's ticket back in 2016 to kind of serve as the anchor for Donald Trump, to give him that gravitas with the Republican Party, with evangelical voters. And then by the end of his time in the cycle in 2024, it became clear there was no real role for Mike Pence in the Republican Party.

But a lot of questions as to how he was going to handle this kind of endorsement, was he just going to kick the can down the road? Was he going to say he would answer that at a later date? But he was very unequivocal in saying that he would not be supporting or endorsing former President Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Kristen, I want you to stay with us. I also want to bring in CNN Senior Political Analyst, Gloria Borgia, former adviser to Vice President Pence, Olivia Troye, and CNN Senior Political Analyst, Ron Brownstein is joining us as well.

Gloria, this is truly a monumental shift for Pence after loyally serving as Trump's vice president. What's your reaction?


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, my reaction is that Pence is fashioning himself right now as the keeper of conservatism as it was defined by Ronald Reagan. And that may sound like a throwback, but that's what he wants to do. And in speaking about this, he said that Donald Trump has strayed from the conservative route and on the debt on the issue of abortion, even on getting tough on China by switching his position, for example, on TikTok. And he didn't, you know, so much raise the January 6 issue, which we know is very much still there and in the ether, but he's carving out this lane and trying to be the protector of conservatism as it's been known for decades before Donald Trump took office.

BLITZER: Olivia Troye, you work for Mike Pence in the White House, how surprised by this, are you? And what do you think drove this dramatic announcement from Pence?

OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER DHS ADVISER TO VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Now look, I think I'm fairly shocked to see him come out so forcefully and actually fairly early on before the November election. But I'm proud of him. I have been waiting for this moment for a long time. I believed that he had this in him. I've seen it, it's there.

So -- and I think, you know, to Gloria's point, I also think that what he's been watching is what's happening with Ukraine, because one thing about Mike Pence is that he really knows his foreign policy. He has always been a yes, a Reagan conservative. And I think he finds that appalling right now about what's happening in Congress and seeing how we continue to fall when it comes to standing against Russia. And I think that that's something that is probably very alarming to him. And he's seen Trump continue to stoke these flames.

And I think that is, that is a big thing. And look, I think the big question is, what will he do when it comes to the November election? And who will he support in that? And what will he continue to say going forward?

BLITZER: Ron Brownstein, what kind of political impact could Trump's former vice president saying he can't endorse him? What kind of political impact you think that could have on this 2024 campaign?

RON BROWNSTEIN, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Wolf, I think the real issue is does it open the door for others to follow? You know, as Gloria said, Pence position himself as someone upholding the Reaganite flame against kind of the Trump populism and isolationism in the Republican Party, someone else who ran in that mode in that lane was Nikki Haley. And there are obviously a number of national security officials from Trump's first term from John Bolton to Mark Esper, who have come out and said that they do not believe he is fit to be president again. Does Pence provide room for these kinds of people to, in a more coordinated way, make that case to the public?

The reason why this is so significant politically, I think, is that primarily because of inflation, it is highly likely that Joe Biden will not match his 2020 numbers among working class voters of all races, including black and Hispanic voters. And that means to make up for it. He needs the -- he needs to improve further among the kinds of Republican leaning Independents, who have always been ambivalent at best about Trump and who are potentially the most receptive from the kind of messages they may hear from Mike Pence or Nikki Haley, or others, if Pence, in fact, inspires others to follow in his footsteps.

BLITZER: Yes, good point.

Kristen, just last year, as all of us remember, Mike Pence said he would vote for Trump even if Trump was convicted of a felony during -- that was during a presidential debate. So what do you think changed?

HOLMES: Look, I can't say what has changed. But I have talked to a number of people around Mike Pence who really do not like the former president. They don't like what he stands for. They do not like what he was doing to the Conservative Party. And I would assume that that extends to the former vice president as well.

Mike Pence continue to get stronger and stronger in his messaging against Donald Trump over the course of his election, over the course of his run in 2024, before ultimately dropping out. And he made a definitive decision here. And to be very clear, he could have easily just said, oh, I'll talk about that later. I'm not going to do anything on that right now. He made a decision going into that interview that he was going to say that he was 100 percent not endorsing Donald Trump.So he has come a long way from when he started.

I do want to remind viewers that when he came into the race, you know, early in 2024, he was still really hard on the Pence Trump administration going in on that saying that they work together as a team. So we've come a long way from that break.

BORGER: Well, he's still saying they work together as a team, but it was good then. And Trump on his own is as bad now. And what's so remarkable about this is when you think of the years of the Trump administration, that Mike Pence, you know, he was -- he always used to say, you know, we stand on the strong shoulders of Donald Trump and he was the most loyal soldier in the administration.


And then there was the break. And the big break was January 6. And then it got worse and worse and the people around Donald Trump don't want anything to do with Donald Trump. And I think Mike Pence feels exactly the same way.

BLITZER: Yes, very dramatic development indeed, and potentially very significant as well. Guys, thank you very, very much.

And we have more breaking news just ahead on Trump's criminal prosecution in Georgia, the special prosecutor calling it quits after the judge says its own - the only way for the district attorney there, Fani Willis, to stay on the case.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: We're following more breaking news this hour. Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade is out and District Attorney Fani Willis gets the stay on the Trump criminal case in Georgia. That's the bottom line tonight after the presiding judge issued his high stakes ruling on efforts to disqualify Willis. CNN's Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid is working the story for us.


Paula, give us the latest.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So the District Attorney Bonnie Willis in accepting Nathan Wade's resignation wrote this, Wolf, "I will always remember that you were brave enough to step forward and take on the investigation and prosecution. You are the one who had the courage to accept the role, even though you did not seek it."

Now that Wade has resigned Willis will remain on the case. The judge found that Willis did not engage in a scheme to corruptly profit off of this he said that the defendants did not prove this alleged conflict. But she did not come out unscathed. The judge wrote, quote, "The finding is by no means an indication that the court condones this tremendous lapse in judgment on the unprofessional manner of the district attorney's testimony. During the evidentiary hearing."

The judge went through the difference between an actual conflict and the appearance of conflict and admonished both Willis and Wade for their conduct with the judge said, quote, "Put a cloud over this case." In terms of what happened next -- happens next, Trump attorneys have signaled they will engage in additional litigation. They said, quote, "We believe that the court did not afford appropriate significance to the prosecutorial misconduct of Willis and Wade. We will use all legal options available as we continue to fight to end this case."

Now, Fani Willis had originally said she wanted to take this case to trial in August, that was before the before these proceedings to disqualify her. Well, that always seemed like an aggressive timeline for a sprawling RICO case with so many defendants. But now, we've had several months of proceedings about possible disqualification, and she'll also need to find a new prosecutor to lead this case. So it appears highly unlikely this case will go before November.

BLITZER: Interesting. And Paula, I understand there's update in Trump's New York hush money cases well. What's that?

REID: That's right. This was the first criminal case against former President Trump that was expected to go, it is scheduled for March 25. Now, last night, prosecutors say they would not object with 30 day delay. Trump's attorneys are asking to delay the case 90 days so that both sides have a chance to go through 10s of 1000s of pages of new evidence. So the judge just weighed in saying that on March 25, the day the trial was supposed to start, he is going to hold a hearing.

And at that time, he will set a new trial date if necessary. And in the meantime -- while he has adjourned the case, so suspended it for 30 days. So at this point, it is unclear when exactly that case will start.

BLITZER: Paula Reid reporting for us. Thank you very much.

There's certainly a lot to discuss with our legal and political experts. And Michael Moore, let me start with you. What's your reaction to this ruling as well as this letter from Fani Willis accepting Wade's resignation from this case?

MICHAEL MOORE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I'm glad to be with all of you. I think the resignation was a longtime comment. And we could have avoided a lot of the shenanigans over the last few months if she had just seen fit to take him off the case when the issue was raised. Not to mention to not be in the position that brought us to this place to begin with. So you know, he didn't have a choice but to resign.

I think that was clearly written, it was either him or her and it was clearly going to be him. And that's where we are. But this this order, it's never a good day, if you're a lawyer, to have a judge say that you're basically not believable, and to suggest that other bodies like the state bar and the Ethics Commission and the legislature might be able to do something about it, but you as a judge feel constrained and not do it to comply with the law. So, while it's a win for her to stay in the case, certainly she did not come out of this without what I think would be more problems.

And I don't think we've heard the end of it, frankly, I think this is going to be an opinion that is trumpeted around both in Congress and likely in the Georgia Legislature as they look at ways to try to control prosecutions that they don't like. And so I think we've not heard the last of this or the sort of the scathing rebuke in the order.

BLITZER: On that point, Amy Lee Copeland, the judge found the defendants did establish what the judge calls the appearance of impropriety. So why is Willis being allowed to stay on this case?

AMY LEE COPELAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Wolf, appearance of impropriety on itself usually doesn't result in a disqualification. The Georgia Supreme Court has talked about an appearance of lawyer conduct in cases. And in this they said, you know, there needs to be some remedies, but it disqualification is really extreme. It really gets in the way of the client's wishes. So that is why Judge McAfee said either Willis and her office go or Nathan Wade goes?

And so, Mr. Wade tendered his resignation, which the district attorney accepted.

BLITZER: Yes, very dramatic development indeed.

Ankush, I want to get you your thoughts as well. Judge McAfee says the evidence didn't show financial benefit. But he also writes this and I'm quoting him now, "Reasonable members of the public could easily be left to wonder whether the financial exchanges have continued resulting in some form of benefit to the district attorney." How do you -- how do you interpret that?


ANKUSH KHARDORI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So look, I interpret that as an expression of the judge's skepticism about the testimony that he got from Ms. Willis and Miss Wade, that skepticism permeates the opinion, you know, Paula referred to it. This is a bad opinion for the DA. I mean, it's good in the sense that she cleared the near term roadblock, but no prosecutor wants to see an opinion like this written about them. It is scathing.

And she has a problem now. And it's not a courtroom problem, it is a problem with her constituents who have -- also happened to be the jury pool. And those people are going to be reading this opinion too, they're going to be following the news. And she's going to have a lot of work to do to try to repair and restore her credibility to try to keep this case on track.


KHARDORI: And it's unclear to me based on what we've seen for the last few months, that she's up to the task, but I hope so.

BLITZER: Well, you make very important points indeed.

And Gloria Borger, Donald Trump weighed in on all of this just a short while ago. He wrote this and I'm quoting him now, "The Fani Willis lover, Mr. Nathan Wade, Esquire, has just resigned in disgrace. Nathan was the special in more ways than one prosecutor engaged by Fani," pronounced funny Willis, "to persecute Trump for crooked Joe Biden and his department of injustice for purposes of election interference, and living the life of the rich and famous." So what do you make of this?

BORGER: Well, this is just Donald Trump gloating, which is something I think we've come to expect, in a way, you know, his team did have a real victory, even though Fani Willis is staying on the case, this is going to delay the case for him. And I think he should be very happy about that. But this gives him an opportunity to continue to undermine the Justice Department the way cases are conducted. And even though this is a state case, it's going to be important in the election, because it's the state of Georgia, which is a very important state, and it's up for grabs. And if he can continue to say that the district attorney who's up for reelection in the state of Georgia was playing hanky-panky here with my future, it could help him in the general election.

BLITZER: Yes, Georgia has emerged as a real battle ground --


BLITZER: -- state indeed.

Michael, how much will losing lead prosecutor Nathan Wade set this case potentially back? And how will she replace him?

MOORE: Well, the District Attorney's Office in Fulton County is the largest in the state. And there are plenty of assistants and capable lawyers who could step in. And we saw some lawyers argue on the DA's behalf during the motion process. So there are people that can come in. There are also lawyers all over the country willing to call in and try to get involved in this case that, you know, obviously, not just the notoriety, but the historical nature of it draws people in.

And so, there are plenty of lawyers out there who will get in. You've got two who were special assistant DA. So, you know, Ms. Cross (ph) is one of them. And another lawyer who the RICO specialists, you know. This -- there are people who will step in.

So, the case can move forward. The question will be whether or not there's an appeal from this where they asked the appellate court to reconsider this. At the same time, will the DA asked the appellate court to consider Judge McAfee's dismissal of six of the counts that are out there?


MOORE: So those are things that, you know, that also bode well for Trump and his effort to continue to push this case past election. And I just frankly, think there's no way that this case gets heard before the end of the year.

BLITZER: Interesting. All of you make really important and excellent points. Thanks to all of you for joining us.

And just ahead, we'll have the latest on Israel's war against Hamas. Why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is defying President Biden and what it means for military operations in Gaza.



BLITZER: On Capitol Hill tonight, start new evidence of the growing partisan divide over Israel. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is ramping up his harsh criticism of the Majority Leader Chuck Schumer after Schumer stunning call for new leadership in Israel. Let's get some more from the -- from our Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona right now.

Melanie, how is McConnell responding to Schumer in this new CNN interview?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, this was an incredibly sharp rebuke from Mitch McConnell. He had already taken to the Senate floor, remember, yesterday to lambaste Chuck Schumer over his calls for new leadership in Israel. But in a new exclusive interview with our Manu Raju, McConnell really escalated his rhetoric and said Schumer speech is a direct contradiction of not only United States policy, but also democratic policy.

Let me read you part of what McConnell told Manu. He said, "You can't spend years hyperventilating about foreign interference in our democracy and then turn around and tell allies, particularly Democratic allies, who their leader should be and when they should have elections." And then McConnell went on to criticize and attack Schumer directly, who is the highest ranking Jewish official in the country saying, "Just because he's Jewish doesn't give him a pass to advocate something that's completely inconsistent with our past approach to democratic country."

So some very strong criticism there from Mitch McConnell. And it really does underscore the growing power partisan divide over Israel, an issue that traditionally has really united both parties. Now you have a growing number of Democrats, particularly on the left who are calling for any aid or conditions, excuse me, on any aid to Israel in order to tamp down civilian deaths in Gaza, something McConnell outright rejected in this interview.

Now, Schumer's office did not respond to this new criticism from McConnell. But they did point us to a post from an Israeli opposition leader saying that this speech is just proof that Netanyahu is losing some of his biggest supporters in the United States. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Melanie, thank you. Melanie Zanona up on Capitol Hill.

All of this comes as the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is defying President Biden announcing plans to go ahead with military operations in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza, home to some 1.4 million Palestinians. Our chief national security correspondent Alex Marquardt is getting details for us. Alex, what do we know about this looming military offensive that the Prime Minister apparently now supports?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: He certainly does support. He's said for quite some time that this is the plan. And now his office is saying that the IDF is preparing the operational side of this operation and for the evacuation of those 1.4 million Palestinians, Wolf. That is really the major concern here. We heard President Biden last weekend saying that Israel going into Rafah is a red line.

His administration has walked that back a little bit saying that they want to see a comprehensive plan for what Israel intends to do with those 1.4 million Palestinians. Here's what the Secretary of State had say earlier today. Take a listen.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: President Biden has been very clear that given the large number of civilians in Rafah, about 1.4 million, we have to see a clear and implementable plan, not only to get civilians out of harm's way, but also to make sure that once out of harm's way they're appropriately cared for with shelter, with food, with medicine, with clothing, and we've not yet seen such a plan.


MARQUARDT: So the expectation is that this would be a major offensive. The only real detail we've gotten from the IDF is that they plan to put these civilians in what they're calling humanitarian enclaves that will be supported by the international community. But clearly, Wolf, the Biden ministration wants a lot more detail before they are supportive of Israel's plans in Rafah. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, tensions with the Israeli government very, very strong right now. For the first time on another related issue, humanitarian aid I understand, Alex, has started arriving in Gaza by sea. How far does this go?

MARQUARDT: And this was a mission that was carried out by World Central Kitchen, the NGO, Wolf. And they shipped in some 200 tons of aid of food. That's about half a million meals. Now, that's a good number. But broadly speaking, a lot more is needed. That's a lot more than say those air drops. The U.S. carrying out its 11th airdrop today, an American plane dropping some 36,000 meals, so half a million versus 36,000. The ships are putting in a lot more meals than those planes.

But World Central Kitchen, Wolf, now saying that they're preparing another ship with 300 more tons. This is separate, Wolf, from the maritime corridor that the U.S. is preparing with other allies that will take some two months to prepare with that pier that the DoD and others are building. The bottom line here, Wolf, is any aid helps with the U.S. continues to pressure Israel to open up more land crossings to flood the zone, to flood Gaza, particularly northern Gaza with more desperately needed aid. Wolf?

BLITZER: Alex Marquardt with the latest, thank you very much.

Joining us now a key Democrat in Congress, Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan. Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us. What specifically do you think the Biden administration should do if Israel were to invade Rafah?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Well, I think the President made it clear that that was a red line. Now, as you've heard this, Secretary speak and others, there are more than 1.4 million people that have been moved from Gaza into that corner. There are only 2.2 million people in the entire country. They have no food. They have no place to live. They have no shelter. There are no toilets. There are no showers or medical.

These people have to be kept safe. We've seen somewhere between 12 and 14,000 children killed. I don't think anybody wants to see more civilians killed. So I don't think we have a clear picture of what is being planned, how they say they're going to keep civilians safe, but they cannot kill more innocent civilians and they cannot kill more innocent children.

BLITZER: What's your reaction, Congresswoman, to these comments from Senator Mitch McConnell, was Schumer, the Democratic leader, was Schumer wrong to call for new elections in Israel?

DINGELL: So I would never -- Senator Schumer is the highest ranking Jewish official in this country. And I think he expressed the thoughts of many people, were they personal comments? Were they official comments? I don't know. But I think many people -- look, what Hamas did was a terrorist act and we want those talks in his own. But nobody can sit and watch what is happening right now. The innocent lives of so many civilians and not want something to happen that is going to stop mutiny get there. Hamas does need to be addressed. But there are too many people dying. And it's got to be stopped.


BLITZER: Yes, Senator Schumer, the majority leader, he made those comments on the floor of the Senate during a 40 minute speech. So it sounds like pretty official statement indeed. As you know, how do these more critical comments about Israel and Netanyahu from President Biden and other influential Democrats impact Michigan voters, many of whom are upset with President Biden's handling of Israel's war against Hamas, as you well know.

DINGELL: I'm going to tell you that many of the constituents that I represent and listen, I've been with both of the communities this week while I've been home, I was with the Jewish community on Wednesday night, I've been with many members of the Muslim community the last couple of days, everybody is just really struggling. They're very angry. But until people know that their families are safe, that they're not under constant threat of violence, that they're getting food. I mean, people are watching children who starve to death.

That community, I think is just very, very concerned about where this is going and what's going to happen. And the Jewish community is concerned by what they're watching this hatred. They've got family that serving in the military. I don't think anybody's happy with what we're watching right now. It's just a very terrific, ugly mess.

BLITZER: And another matter completely, I just want to get your thoughts, Congresswoman, while I have you. We just learned the former Vice President Mike Pence now says he cannot in good conscience endorse Donald Trump as president of the United States. What's your reaction to that?

DINGELL: I -- that I should stay out of GOP politics. But I'm going to say to people, there's probably -- he's one of the people that knows Donald Trump, the best in this country. The fact -- I've worked with Mike Pence on many projects that should have been bipartisan and civil in nature is a man of conscience and people should really pay attention when someone like that makes the decision that they do. I think it's a very significant announcement.

BLITZER: And he served as vice president under a Trump, what, for four years. Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan, thank you very much for joining us.

DINGELL: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, an interview debuting this hour with the prosecutor in the trial of James Crumbley. What she's saying about the historic guilty verdict in the case of a school shooter's father.



BLITZER: New tonight, an interview with the prosecutor involved in the cases of both James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the 2021 Michigan school shooter. CNN's Jean Casarez talks with the prosecutor, a day after James Crumbley was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, the same charges his wife was convicted of just a few weeks before. Jean?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have not heard from Karen McDonald in over two years because of a gag order that wasn't lifted until last night.


KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR: I've never ever, ever thought or doubted that this case was strong.

CASAREZ (voice-over): James and Jennifer Crumbley, didn't pull the trigger. But Karen McDonald, the Michigan prosecutor who oversaw both cases says they were clearly responsible.

MCDONALD: I knew once the actual evidence was in front of 12 reasonable people that they would come to the conclusion. We can't just let them walk away from that. It's just not right.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Legal experts now saying the guilty charges against the Crumbleys will likely set a new precedent surrounding the degree to which parents of school shooters can also be held accountable.

CASAREZ: Did you realize at the time that charges like this had never been brought in this country before?

MCDONALD: Absolutely not. I never asked that question.

CASAREZ: This is a special set of facts. But isn't it warranted those charges that you brought, aren't they warranted in circumstances around this country by prosecutors in all of our states?

MCDONALD: Well, we have to have prosecutors and law enforcement and community members asking the right questions, when that case was presented. And I was met with, well, we can't charge them, what are we going to charge them with? And where's the legal duty? And I said, we have to find that. But I know it exists. Because I know that our law -- our set of laws are based on what's right and wrong. And I know that we have a duty to other children and other people to protect them.

CASAREZ: She says evidence the parents immediately suspected their son was the shooter calling 911 and texting him helped convince her to charge them.

MCDONALD: I looked at them mom's phone and, you know, the last text she sent was Ethan don't do it. This, to me was never a close call.

CASAREZ: Can anything be done in the criminal justice system to address the mental health aspect of a minor when the parents know it, see it, and don't do anything about it?

MCDONALD: Yes, and we're doing that. But I want to be clear about something. A lot of times we like to say there's a mental health crisis in the country -- in this country. And until we stop, address that we won't prevent gun violence. That's not true. We don't need an army of therapists to solve this problem. What we need are database, evidence-based components to teach just basic core distress, tolerance and emotional social curriculum and then we need to teach people how to identify someone who's in crisis.


CASAREZ (voice-over): McDonald has been a high school teacher, judge and prosecutor, but says it's her role as a parent that really drove her in this prosecution.

MCDONALD: I'm a mom, and I promised those parents that I would from the day I met them, that I would handle this case as if that was my own kid, right or wrong and I have.


CASAREZ: This elected county attorney says she does not foresee pursuing criminal charges against school officials. But the families of those four students murdered that day on November 30th, 2021, they want accountability from the school itself. Wolf?

BLITZER: Jean Casarez, thanks for your really excellent reporting throughout all of these developments. We really appreciate it.

And coming up, an intimate and very emotional firsthand look at the breast cancer battle being waged by our own Sara Sidner.



BLITZER: Tonight, a very emotional and deeply personal look into one of our colleague's battle with stage three breast cancer. CNN's Sara Sidner shares some intimate moments after her breast cancer diagnosis and the lessons she's learning right now, as she goes through chemotherapy.


SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: When I found out I had cancer and that I had to go through chemo, I thought, oh my God, I am going to be lying in bed, drinking food out of a straw, unable to do anything, unable to live my life, my normal life.

Thank you.

This is also my country.

There is nowhere to take cover here.

All right. All right. Prime time, here we go.

Today is chemo number six of the 16 that I have to. It is poison going into your system. So you are being poisoned in order to try to heal you, which I find absolutely insane. But that is the way it is. Everybody gets different drugs and has different issues. But for me, the first couple of infusions, I was fine in a way I could not have imagined.

And I don't want to be sick. And so far I haven't been.

I've been actually said to my doctor, is this shit working? I felt like superwoman by the fourth one that I felt pretty bad for a while. I still went to work. But there were a couple of times one in particular, I said, can you guys bring the bucket over here, I might be sick.

Just making sure he looked good.

We decided to try cold capping, which is something that you can do to try to save your hair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just take a deep breath.

SIDNER: Normally, 60 to 80 percent of your hair goes after your second infusion, and if you're lucky into your third.

Aww, I'm just kidding.

So I was prepared for it. There's nothing I can do about it. And that doesn't look like a lot probably but it sure the hell feels like it. There is a six -- in my case, stage three, 60 to 70 percent survival rate. I've got several more months of chemo. Once that finishes, there is a break so that your body sort of deals with the residuals of chemo treatment and then I will get a double mastectomy, I will get radiation. I mean, it feels like it is never going to end. But it's just one treatment at a time.

I know cancer is not supposed to be funny. But what can you do? I got a laugh.

Just be kind to yourself.

From the time really of puberty for me, I've disliked the way that my body is. When I asked my body to take in poison on a regular basis and asked my body to survive. There was one day I was in the gym, I picked up my phone.

And I'm thinking this body, this body that I have mentally tormented. I need to apologize to it.

I was really neglecting myself. And that makes me sad that I was just sort of taking advantage of this body and not giving it back what it needed, OK? Idiot does that.

Peace out.

This is a real lesson about what real self-care is. And real self-care to me is --

I'm drinking my water.

-- drinking enough water, is going for a run, is being able to work out, letting yourself be mad, letting yourself cry. And why am I just learning this now at 50, I don't know.

Because I'm trying to tell people that I'm visiting with you people.

We say all these things like make sure you live every day like it's your last. Most of us are just not capable of doing that. Now, I actually do that.

-- cancer. I'm ready. I'm still here.


BLITZER: And our special thanks to Sara for showing us her battle with breast cancer. Sara, everyone here at CNN is rooting for you. Stay strong. We love you.


And coming up, a top prosecutor working on Donald Trump's Georgia criminal case resigns after an ultimatum from the judge overseeing the trial. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis just accepted the resignation of the special prosecutor in the Trump criminal case in Georgia. We're following all the ramifications of a judge's long awaited ruling that included scathing criticism of Fani Willis and her conduct.

Also breaking, a new victory for Donald Trump in his efforts to delay going to trial until after the November election. The judge in the New York hush money case agreeing just a short time ago to push back the start date.

And a powerful repudiation of Trump's bid to return to the White House as his former vice president, Mike Pence, refuses to endorse him. Standby for new reaction to Pence's dramatic and important decision.


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