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O.J. Simpson Dead At 76 After Cancer Battle; Key Surveillance Law In Limbo As GOP Remains Deadlocked; Trump Trial On Track For Monday Start Despite Delay Tactics; Biden Fans In Georgia Hope He Can Rekindle Enthusiasm In State; DOJ: Ohtani's Ex-Interpreter Stole $16 Million To Place Sports Bets. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 11, 2024 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Taylor Swift's music is now back on TikTok ahead of her upcoming album release next week. Her record company has had bad blood with the social media app. It pulled the music from its various artists over a licensing fight, but our wildest dreams have come true just in time to make sure it's not a cruel summer for all the Swifties around the globe.

If you ever miss an episode of "THE LEAD," you can listen to the show whence you get your podcasts.

The news continues on CNN with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news, O.J. Simpson dead at the age of 76. Simpson's family says the NFL legend whose career was eclipsed by his 1995 double murder trial and this highly controversial acquittal died after a battle with cancer. We'll look back on his life and the trial of the century.

Here in Washington, the FBI director delivers a very stark warning amid Republican infighting over a key surveillance law. I'll ask the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, Michael McCaul, if Speaker Johnson can finally control his unruly conference.

And stunning new developments in the scandal rocking the world of baseball, the former interpreter for Shohei Ohtani now charged with stealing $16 million from the superstar's bank account.

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

Let's get straight to the breaking news tonight. O.J. Simpson, the NFL star whose 1995 double murder trial and contentious acquittal captivated the nation, is dead at 76 after fighting cancer.

CNN's Stephanie Elam has the latest.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, O.J. Simpson dead, leaving behind a controversial legacy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it doesn't fit, you must acquit.

ELAM: Some only know him for the so-called trial of the century for double murder after the infamous slow speed chase.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have O.J. in the car.

ELAM: Others recall Simpson's heyday as one of the best running backs in football.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boy, what a beautiful day it is here in Las Vegas.

ELAM: This is the last public statement Simpson made on social media in February, about eight months after announcing he had cancer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me take a moment to say thank you to all the people who have reached out to me. My health is good. I mean, obviously, I'm dealing with some issues, but, hey, I think I'm just about over it and I'll be back on that golf course, hopefully, in a couple of weeks.

ELAM: Simpson died two months later. Reaction from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, celebrating his on-field success as, quote, the first player to reach a rushing mark many thought could not be attained in a 14-game season when he topped 2,000 yards.

KATO KAELIN, FORMER SIMPSON HOUSEGUEST: I'd like to express my condolences to the children.

ELAM: Kato Kaelin, who rose to fame as a witness in the murder trial, put the focus on O.J.'s ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and friend, Ron Goldman, who were stabbed to death outside Brown's L.A. home in June 1994.

KAELIN: Nicole was a beacon of light that burned bright. May we never forget her.

ELAM: Others reflecting on the polarizing life Simpson led.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're scaring everybody, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to hurt anybody.

ELAM: The football star led police on a shocking low-speed chase on live T.V after he was charged in the murders.

JEFF MAILES, PHOTOGRAPHER, KCAL-TV: With every freeway overcrossing, there began to gather more and more crowds of people.

ELAM: But Simpson fought the charges in a trial that divided America. It happened as racial inequality in the justice system was front and center, following the 1992 acquittal of the LAPD officers who beat Rodney King and the riots that followed.

The nation stopped in its tracks to hear the Simpson verdict read on live T.V.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oranthal James Simpson not guilty of the crime of murder.

ELAM: Was he framed by the police or did he get away with murder? The debate raged at the water cooler and Simpson capitalized on it, writing a book entitled If I Did It, which the publisher ultimately never released.

FRED GOLDMAN, RON GOLDMAN'S FATHER: There's never closure. Ron is always gone.

ELAM: The family of Ron Goldman, who won a wrongful death civil suit against Simpson in 1997, won control of the book rights and released the book under the title, I Did It, Confessions of the Killer, in 2007.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't know I was doing anything illegal.

ELAM: It wasn't until 2008 that Simpson would go to jail, serving nine years for kidnapping, armed robbery, and assault with a deadly weapon after he broke into a hotel room to retrieve his stolen belongings.

GOLDMAN: What we have is satisfaction that this monster is where he belongs.

ELAM: The legal turmoil overshadowing what had been a trail-blazing life.



ELAM (on camera): And we now have a statement from Kim and Fred Goldman. That would be Ron Goldman's sister and father. And it says, in part, quote, the news of Ron's killer passing away is a mixed bag of complicated emotions and reminds us that the journey through grief is not linear.

For three decades, we tirelessly pursued justice for Ron and Nicole. And despite a civil judgment and his confession in If I Did It, the hope for true accountability has ended. And their message goes on to say that they will continue to advocate for the rights of all victims and survivors and saying that they thank people for keeping them and especially Ron Goldman in their hearts.

And so you can see, even though O.J. Simpson's life is over, the legacy of the pain from all of the turmoil in his lifetime still persists. Wolf?

BLITZER: Enormous pain, indeed. All right, Stephanie Elam in Los Angeles for us, Stephanie, thank you.

Let's get some more from our experts, including some former CNN journalists who extensively covered Simpson's trial. And I'll start with Roger Cossack, an old friend here at CNN.

Roger, you were here at CNN covering O.J. Simpson's first criminal trial almost, what, 30 years ago. This case is often called the trial of the century. Put it into perspective for us.

ROGER COSSACK, FORMER CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, for me, it was someone who suddenly was thrust on television to describe this trial of the century. It was, of course, life-changing, but it was a culture- changing event for the country. Suddenly, O.J. Simpson, who we all had thought of as this wonderful football player and pitch man, no one could believe that he would have done something like this, and there he was.

The trial that Robert Shapiro did, I always thought, was a brilliant thing, you know, he would not rest, and he made a preliminary hearing go very, very quickly, and that trial went very, very quickly. And I always thought that perhaps by doing that, the prosecution really wasn't ready for this case as well as they should have been. Perhaps they just thought it was a slam dunk. But this changed, certainly changed, put reality T.V., I think, on the air, and I think changed the way we viewed trials and events ever since.

BLITZER: Very important. Jim Moret, you also covered this trial for us at CNN at the time. Talk a little bit about how towering and controversial a figure O.J. Simpson was.

JIM MORET, FORMER CNN ANCHOR: Look, O.J. was a beloved figure. He could not walk down the streets of Los Angeles without being met with accolades. People saying, hey, O.J., how are you? He was loved. He was beloved by the cops. He was beloved by his fans. He was a pitch man. He was an actor. He was an athlete. He was bigger than life.

And as Roger said, it was hard to reconcile that O.J. we knew with this O.J. that was being presented by the prosecution as a sociopathic double murderer, somebody who could do something so horrific.

And let me tell you something, having seen the autopsy photos, it was a horrific killing. Make no doubt about it, and you have to think about the victim's families today more than anyone, but it was hard to reconcile these two O.J.'s, and the jury eventually sided with O.J. himself and said, not guilty.

BLITZER: Let me bring Laura Coates into this conversation. Laura, this trial came shortly after the Rodney King case, and I want you to take a look at our viewers to take a look at this. This is the audience reaction when there was live coverage of the jury's verdict during the Oprah Winfrey Show. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- the crime of murder in violation of Penal Code (ph) Section 187a, ability upon (INAUDIBLE), a human being of charge and count one of the information..


BLITZER: This really gets to the deep a racial division surrounding this entire case.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It's so true. I actually remember watching that. We'd recorded it in my high school, actually. It was when the verdict came out. We were taken out of classes to actually see this all play out. This really showed you not just that O.J. Simpson was on trial, but through the lens in which people view the justice system.

Here we are on the verge of a major trial this coming Monday, a high- profile case where the defendant says there are two systems of justice in this country, two-tiered, one for the rich and one for the poor. Well, we also know there's one for black people and those who are not. And I think one of the things that what this trial showed was how people viewed what was fair, what the influence of the cops would be.

Remember the infamous part about Mark Furman taking the stand, and at first glance, out of the casting, the quintessential detective and police officer only to be confronted with his own racist statements and changing the tide of how the jurors essentially saw this.

I remember thinking at the time among conversations in family and friends and community about how following Rodney King, there was such distrust for the police.

And, of course, here was somebody with a lead black defense attorney in one with Johnny Cochran.


You had a defense team that was built of the most stature of defense counsels and you had a very wealthy black man who had, for all the reasons we talked about, had all the accolades and praise.

And so this was the lens in which people started to view the justice system, whether it was fair or not.

BLITZER: I want to bring Jane Velez Mitchell into this conversation. Jane, you also covered this trial for us back then. Take us back to Los Angeles at the time of the trial. What was the atmosphere like as this trial was actually taking place?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, ANCHOR WHO COVERED O.J. SIMPSON TRIAL: Well, it was so charged, Wolf. It was all anybody could talk about. And it was a divisive situation. You never knew who was going to say what about this case. But I have to say, the lessons of this tragic saga are still with us today.

The prosecution had overwhelming evidence. It was -- well, as Marsha Clark said, it was a trail of blood right from the crime scene to O.J. Simpson's car, to O.J. Simpson's estate, right into his bedroom and to his socks, the blood found on his socks.

But the credibility of the police department was at stake because the key detective collecting all that evidence was a man who had used the N word something like 41 times and that was caught on tape and he lied about it. So, the lesson to police departments today still resonates. You can have all the greatest forensics you want, but if your credibility is shocked and the people don't trust you, then forget about it. It doesn't matter. And that's something that I think still is a lesson for law enforcement across the country today.

The other thing is there was tons of DNA evidence. And I remember I was a local news anchor working out of Paramount Studios and anchoring as hours and hours of this DNA evidence came in, a lot of it very complicated. People were not that familiar with DNA the way they are today. So, the prosecution thought they had an overwhelming case because of the overwhelming nature of the DNA evidence, but a lot of people really didn't get the DNA evidence.

And the final thing I will say is that some of the best witnesses, like the woman who says she believes she saw O.J. Simpson in his car leaving the crime scene and the guy who said he sold them the knife, well, they never got to testify because they sold their stories. So, the media madness played a huge role in all of this as well.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Jim Moret, I want to get back to you, whether you've seen the trial, whether you saw it or not you, all of us have heard the phrase, if the gloves don't fit, you must quit. How defining was that moment.

MORET: Oh, it was extremely defining. It gave the defense an opportunity to basically have O.J. Simpson testify without the burden of cross-examination. O.J. Simpson was controlling that glove. He could make it appear as if it was too small. It was the worst moment for the prosecution to allow that to happen, and it was a gift to the defense.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Jane. O.J. Simpson clearly assembled a so-called dream team of lawyers for his defense team. Why did they get that moniker?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, they were very, very clever. There was even allegations that they redecorated O.J. Simpson's home for the jury tour, taking basically what he had there out and putting in some things that might appeal to the jury.

So, they were playing fast and loose in a lot of ways. And I really feel that by accusing the Los Angeles Police Department of planting evidence, they were taking a huge risk. A lot of people might not buy it, but it turns out that that argument, that all that damning evidence that was found, the blood drops here, there, and everywhere was planted, that did resonate with the overwhelmingly African- American jury.

And as you've mentioned, this comes in the wake of a sense of mistrust of the LAPD. Anybody who has seen that Rodney King beating, which happened in 1991, leading to the riots in 1992, you know, you could see why there was such mistrust.

BLITZER: Important points, indeed. Everyone, thank you very much important note to our viewers stay with CNN for Laura's program later tonight 11:00 P.M. Eastern. She's devoting her entire show, the special coverage, The Life and Death of O.J. Simpson. We'll all be watching.

Just ahead deep divisions among House Republicans right now putting a key national security bill at risk. The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is here live. We'll discuss.

Plus, how jury selection will play out Monday in Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial and what defense lawyers will be looking for.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: More chaos up on Capitol Hill tonight, House Republicans deadlocked over the future of a very controversial surveillance law, as FBI Director Chris Wray urges Congress to renew what he calls an indispensable tool, a direct quote.

Joining us now, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Republican Congressman Michael McCaul. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): Are American lives at risk if Congress doesn't reauthorize FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as the FBI director warned today?

MCCAUL: 100 percent, I agree with Director Wray. Wolf, in my prior life I was a federal prosecutor after 9/11, counterterrorism, I worked with the FBI on FISA warrants. We stopped a lot of bad things from happening. If we do not reauthorize FISA tomorrow and we go dark, put the American people in jeopardy and put them at risk at a time when the world is actually becoming more and more dangerous, whether it be Hamas out of the Middle East and Iran to the jihadists in Afghanistan in the Middle East. This is the wrong time to play politics with this.

BLITZER: Are you okay with a two-year extension of FISA as opposed to a five-year extension which so many people actually do want?

MCCAUL: I would prefer the five years to give the FBI certainty. However, I understand why Speaker Johnson compromised on the two-year, and that was to get enough Republicans to vote for what's called the rule to then proceed with final passage of the bill.

So, I think this was probably a necessary compromise that will get us past the rule into final passage hopefully tomorrow morning.

BLITZER: We are just learning, Congressman, that the holdouts on FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, appear to be warming to at least some modifications, namely that the new version of the bill be that two-year reauthorization instead of what so many want, that five-year authorization.

You're okay with the two-year window at least as a minimum?

MCCAUL: I will take a two-year reauthorization rather than letting FISA expire. That would be extremely dangerous to let that happen.

And, by the way, well, if we have significant reforms over 50 in this bill that deal with issues like we saw with the Carter Page incident into the investigation of the former president. That's what a lot of my colleagues were concerned about. I think a lot of those concerns are taken care of by the reforms that are put in the underlying bill.

BLITZER: Do you think the former president, Donald Trump, is right when he says he was once the target of FISA?

MCCAUL: You know, my understanding is, in a sort of reckless way, that he in fact was. Now, he came out yesterday saying that he wanted to kill FISA and then had to come back and explain that he was mistaken and that he doesn't want to kill FISA. I mean, it's a fairly complicated statute that involves not just FISA, but what's called 702. And I think he's corrected that error. And, obviously, on my side of the aisle, that's a very important thing to know that he supports overall passage.

BLITZER: Yes, it's interesting. The House speaker, Johnson, he's scheduled tomorrow to give remarks with the former president down in Florida at Mar-a-Lago, just days after Trump helped deliver another blow to Johnson's leadership. Is Johnson taking his marching orders from Trump?

MCCAUL: Well, I mean, he went forward with FISA and get criticized. I personally think, Wolf, he's committed to getting us a supplemental bill on Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan in the Pacific. I hope by next week we can get this done regardless of what the former president says.

I hope the meeting down there that he has with the former president, he can get him on board with some of the reforms we have to the Senate-passed version of the supplemental.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens tomorrow. We'll see what happens with that desperately needed military aid for Ukraine.

Congressman Michael McCaul, thank you so much for joining us.

MCCAUL: Thanks, Wolf. Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Coming up, what Donald Trump is now saying about the judge in his upcoming hush money trial with jury selection now just days away.



BLITZER: With just four days until the start of Donald Trump's hush money trial, everything appears to be on track, despite multiple attempts by Trump and his lawyers to delay. The former president lashing out once again today at the judge overseeing the case. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Another corrupt New York Judge Juan Merchan gagged me, that's gagged, like you can't talk, but he gags me with respect to a case that everyone, including the D.A., felt should never have been brought.

It only happens to me because I'm able to tell people what's happening and those people get extremely angry with what is happening. This judge should be recused and the case should thrown out.


BLITZER: All right. Let's get reaction from our Chief Legal Analyst Laura Coates and CNN Legal Analyst Elliot Williams.

Laura, what can we expect when this trial gets underway on Monday with jury selection?

COATES: Well, in part, perhaps some more whining about woe is me, but this is going to happen by all accounts. And we're going have the voir dire process, which essentially has jurors potentially who will come into the courtroom have to answer questions along this questionnaire.

A lot of them are going be run-of-the-mill, though, Wolf, about your views on police, about you views of justice, but there are going to be a lot of targeted ones about our views on Trump, where you get your news from as well, and you're going to have the defense and the prosecution, trying to figure out who's going to be the audience member that they can persuade the best to meet their burden of proof or to defend the actions.

It will be something that will have you thinking to yourself, what would be ideal juror. If you're Trump, it's going to be somebody who believes they could buck the system, is anti maybe the political establishment in some ways, maybe in pro favor of him. For the actual prosecution though, they want people who are going simply say they're going to follow the law.

Here's you're not going to have, someone who is going to have no idea who Donald Trump is or the subject matter of this case Those people do not exist.

BLITZER: Is there a chance Trump, even at this late moment, can get another delay?

COATES: Anything is possible in this world, including the fact that he could very well try to get to get rid of his counsel.


Now, that could be a very transparent move for the judge to suggest, hold on, suddenly after three motions and three days failed, you want to have new counsel? But stranger things have happened. But if that were to be the case, I would suspect this judge would want a quick turnaround to the next trial date because they are ready to go.

BLITZER: Yes, they certainly are ready.

Elliot, you heard Trump say today that he's under a gag order, and I'm quoting him now, because people get extremely angry when he tells them what's going on, what's his reaction. What do you think about that?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's a typical strategy by the former president to take a half-truth, spin it into a lie, and then keep repeatedly saying it until the public, or at least a segment of the pubic, believes it. And this idea that the gag order is because he makes people mad is simply not true.

The purpose of gag orders, in any context, even outside of Donald Trump, is to prevent anyone from, number one, impeding the administration of justice, or number two, spiking threats to members of court personnel or court staff or anything like that. That's the sole reason. And he is getting in the way of his own trial and his own ability to get a fair trial with the kinds of speaking that he's doing.

Now, many people will believe this idea that this is all about Donald Trump but know whenever defendants speak out in way that does they run the risk of getting gagged.

BLITZER: As we know, Laura, this clearly a historic moment, the first time in American history that a former president will face a criminal trial right now. So, what's your assessment? What are the chances that and he will be convicted?

COATES: Well, too bad we don't have cameras in the courtroom because the historic nature of this. We were countering what's happened in The O.J. Simpson trial months and months of watching. People could actually see the justice system on full display.

Here, we're going to be left to the devices of not only our own commentary and those who are in courtroom, but Donald Trump himself coming out in courthouse has to give his version of it. Why that's so important is because you're going want to understand the way the process works, how the motion practice has come down, what comes into evidence, and what does not, the demeanor of the judge that he is constantly attacking.

I think one of reasons this judge did not include himself in the gag order is because he didn't want to take the bait. The idea of a here ducky-ducky scenario that Trump is trying to put in his place, he doesn't want follow because he knows full well that any iota of indication that gives, that somehow he has a personally vested interest or retaliatory stance could be used against him.

That's the real issue of not having the people able to have a camera, but at the end of today we're going to actually see a former president of the United States, a presumptive Republican nominee standing trial, and he still has, remember, the presumption of innocence.

BLITZER: He certainly does. How do you see it?

WILLIAMS: How do I see it, you know, I think the trickiest thing, this is picking up Laura's very first question about jury selection, how do you get 12 people who are palatable to all sides? And the mere fact that someone has an opinion about Donald Trump in either direction doesn't disqualify them from the jury.

It's all about can this person credibly say, I can put my personal views aside and judge this defendant, you know, honestly and openly. And that's a really hard exercise when the person on trial is literally one of the top five most famous people on the planet.

So, it's something I'm going to be watching for very closely what exactly do they get out of this group of jurors and where do they get them.

BLITZER: Jury selection starts on Monday. And jury selection, especially in a trial like this, is so, so critical.

WILLIAMS: So critical. And, you know, and I've been burned -- I'm sure Laura Coates has been -- she's a better lawyer than I am, but I'm sure she's been burned the jury selection because you're trying -- there's pop psychology to it. It's law but also trying to read can this person follow orders not just that they love prosecutors or cops but how will they be in group when working together, who's going to be the foreperson. And, you know, sometimes you just mess up.

BLITZER: We're going to have extensive live coverage starting Monday of this historic trial. Elliot Williams, Laura Coates, to both of you, once again, thank you. Just ahead, we'll have more on our top story with a closer look back at the lives and legacies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Golden.



BLITZER: More now on the breaking news, O.J. Simpson dead at the age of 76 after a battle with cancer. Simpson's career on the football field was quickly overshadowed after the double murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman.

Brian Todd is taking a closer look at the victims for us. Brian, Simpson's acquittal in this case remains so controversial, what, nearly 30 years later.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Controversial and still very painful Wolf for the relatives of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. On a day when so many are talking about O.J. Simpson, the sensational trial in his legacy, we also wanted to do a deeper dive on the victims and what they left behind.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice over): Nicole Brown met O.J. Simpson when she was 18 working as a server in a Beverly Hills nightclub. They began dating while the football star was still married to his first wife, Marguerite, a tempestuous beginning to a relationship that would become unstable and violent. During their seven-year marriage, there were reports of physical abuse with Nicole calling the police on O.J. multiple times. There was also a disturbing 911 call in 1993 following their divorce with Nicole sounding terrified.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does he look like?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's O.J. Simpson. I think you know his record.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you just stay on the line?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to stay on the line. He's going to beat the shit out of me.

TODD: Nicole Simpson was attempting to start a new life with the two children she'd had with O.J. Simpson at the time of her murder on June 12th, 1994. She was 35 years old. At that time, 25-year-old Ron Goldman was an aspiring actor and model who also had dreams of opening his own bar or restaurant.

He was working as a server at a restaurant called Mezzaluna on the night of the murders and went to Nicole Brown Simpson's home to return a pair of glasses that someone in her party had left at the restaurant that night. He was stabbed to death just a few weeks shy of his 26th birthday.

Throughout O.J. Simpson's trial, Goldman's father, Fred, and his sister, Kim, were in court just about every day. The expressions on their faces reflecting an anguish they seemed to constantly be reliving.

GOLDMAN: He's a sick man and he ought to be put away.


TODD: Fred and Kim Goldman broke down as the acquittal verdict was read for O.J. Simpson. Since that day, Fred Goldman has done everything he could to keep his son's memory alive.

GOLDMAN: A family member of a victim of violent crime doesn't get closure. That horror stays with you in your head forever.

TODD: The Goldman and Brown families later filed a civil lawsuit against O.J. Simpson. Simpson was found liable for the deaths. But Fred Goldman has said they were only able to collect about $130,000 out of a judgment of over $33 million dollars. Still --

AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY AND LEGAL AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: By using the media in the way that they did, I think it helps other victims who may be involved in similar situations have a roadmap for how they too can put pressure on law enforcement as well as keep the memory of their loved ones alive. TODD: Since the murders, Nicole Simpson's sister, Tanya Brown, has published books on mental health and domestic violence. And Kim Goldman works as a victim's rights advocate.

KIM GOLDMAN, RON GOLDMAN'S SISTER: I'm going to just take it one day at a time, and, you know, this is the life that victims and survivors live.


TODD (on camera): Responding to the news of O.J. Simpson death today, Fred Goldman chose to not make it about OJ at all, telling People magazine, quote, this is just a reminder for us of how long Ron has been gone, how long we have missed him, and nothing more than that. That is the only thing that is important today, end quote. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Brian Todd reporting for us, Brian, thank you very much.

Coming up, shocking new details today in a story involving baseball, gambling and now stealing. How the feds say a one-time confidant stole millions from one of the biggest names in the game.



BLITZER: In Georgia, some Democrats are hoping President Biden can recreate a surprise victory in the state, not by making the case against Donald Trump but for his own record.

CNN's Miguel Marquez spoke with some of the president's biggest fans in a county that could decide the 2024 election.


CECIL CLARK, CLAYTON COUNTY VOTER: I'm Cecil Clark, retired marine, master gunnery sergeant, and a loyal Joe Biden fan, a supporter, and super voter.

I was right there.


CLARK: Yes, I would say.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): With the country headed toward a highly competitive and hard-fought election, Biden superfan voters like Cecil Clark, who made a critical difference in this battleground state in 2020, want to repeat history.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They deliver us a clear victory.

MARQUEZ: So you like a lot of Democrats are very worried and motivated by your dislike of Donald Trump. Do you like Joe Biden? CLARK: I like Joe Biden.

MARQUEZ: Do you love Joe Biden?

CLARK: Well, I loved you Joe Biden. I think he's a great American.

MARQUEZ: This is Clayton County is suburb south of Atlanta. And in 2020 a deep, deep blue patch in Georgia where Biden won by fewer than 12,000 votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A surprise battleground in this election.

RON MILLER, CLAYTON COUNTY VOTER: I remember actually watching on election night when the numbers were coming in and Clayton County actually put Biden over the top.

CLARK: I was screaming, hollering at the television, like yes, yes, yes.

PAT PULLAR, CLAYTON COUNTY VOTER: I was just crying because I knew all the work that we did in this county.

MARQUEZ: Yet support for the incumbent president has faded since 2020, including from his own party.

YASMIN NEAL, CLAYTON COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRWOMAN: My biggest concern is people not voting. That sincerely keeps me up.

MARQUEZ: So is this going to be more of a negative? You're concerned more about Donald Trump, or you're voting for Joe Biden.

NEAL: I think we need to focus squarely on voting for Joe Biden. People are still asking the question, how is the president and the presidency affecting and improving my quality of life, and I feel as though the moment that our president or the administration can answer that question for the everyday citizen, that'll be the de that he's definitely on his way back to the White House.

MARQUEZ: You get cards from the White House almost every year.

PULLAR: Yeah, yeah. This is the latest one from Joe Biden and family.

MARQUEZ: How difficult is it to here Democrats talking down Joe Biden.

PULLAR: It's really hard to hear and you know, as passionate I am, it does become a little bit disheartening.

MARQUEZ: But if you could change one thing about Joe Biden, what would it be?

PULLAR: He wouldn't shuffle when he walks.

Just improving upon the messaging that gets down to the lowest of us.

BIDEN: I'll always be present for all Americans. PULLAR: But when his State of the Union message, I was just like

standing up in my bedroom, clapping by myself, saying oh, my goodness, Joe, you've done it.

MILLAR: I wish she could have inspired the confidence of more people primarily just so you can get them to the poll.

CLARK: You know, he may have with his age, loss a step, we all lose a step, but the man's mind is still sharp. It is Joe Biden and Donald Trump. And I believe it or not, I believe Joe Biden is going to win bigger than he won in 2020.


MARQUEZ (on camera): And look, Democrats in Clayton County like Democrats everywhere, realize that they're not going to win in November with just super Joe Biden fans. In Clayton County, they say they've identified 90,000 people who may have moved into the county or maybe new voters or haven't sat out the last couple of election cycles.

Those 90,000 potential voters, they hope to turn to real votes come November -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Excellent report. Miguel Marquez, thank you very much.

Also tonight, the U.S. Justice Department is charging a one-time confidant of baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani.

CNN's Nick has the details.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Baseball's biggest star was, according to a federal prosecutor, bilked of over $60 million by his interpreter, friend, and confidant.


MARTINE ESTRADA, U.S. ATTORNEY: Mr. Mizuhara used and abused that position of trust in order to take advantage of Mr. Ohtani.

WATT: Ippei Mizuhara today charged by the Department of Justice with bank fraud, which carries a maximum of 30 years behind bars. The biggest question has been, how could Mizuhara have allegedly stolen that much money without getting caught?

Well, according to the complaint, Mizuhara helped to Ohtani open a bank account and told all the star's other advisors that Ohtani wanted this one which held all of his baseball earnings to be private.

And --

ESTRADA: We obtained recordings up telephone calls which Mr. Mizuhara spoke with bank employees lied to them about being Mr. Ohtani gave personal biographical information for Mr. Ohtani in order to impersonate him and thereby convinced the bank two approve large wire transfers of large amounts of money to the bookmakers.

In just over two years, say investigators, Mizuhara placed approximately 19,000 bets on sports some as big as $160,000. When he won, the money went into his account. When he lost, he covered his debts from Ohtani's. He lost over $40 million in all.

This lawyer represents a bookmaker Ippei Mizuhara used.

DIANE BASS, LAWYER FOR BOOKMAKER MATTHEW BOWYER: And Ippei will tell you and Matt will tell you that he was a terrible gambler.

WATT: But he just couldn't help himself.

Apparently, Mizuhara never bet on baseball. Soccer was more his thing.

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Just to kind of just go over the result. In conclusion, Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has told lies.

WATT: Mizuhara allegedly wrote in a text to that bookie in June last year, I have a problem. LOL. Can I get one last, last, last bump? That's gambling lingo for a credit extension.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I never bet on baseline. Any other sports or never have asked somebody to do it on my behalf.

WATT: Texts also appear to prove Ohtani had no idea. He has were told cooperating fully with investigators and while some suspicion did swirl these past few weeks, Ohtani carried on doing what he does best one, playing baseball, logging a career-best five straight multi hit games, maybe put that down to the untroubled mind of an innocent man.


WATT (on camera): And his interpreter is allegedly right now negotiating some sort of plea deal, that's according to "New York Times". He's expected to turn himself in tomorrow and make his first court appearance here in Los Angeles -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Nick Watt, thank you very much.

And we'll be right back with more news.



BLITZER: This Sunday on CNN, the back-to-back series finale of "Space Shuttle Columbia: The Final Flight".

CNN's Kristin Fisher has a closer look.


KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Most NASA astronauts know exactly where they were and what they were doing when the Columbia space shuttle disintegrated over Texas, killing all seven astronauts on board.

WOODY HOBURG, NASA ASTRONAUT: I was actually in high school. And I was -- I was actually in the shower.

STEPHEN BOWEN, NASA ASTRONAUT: Don't usually turn on the TV to watch landings with my family, but that day I did. And after a couple of minutes, I kind of shoot them, said, hey, you guys go outside and play. And it was clear something was not right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Crew six astronauts and cosmonauts return home to earth.

FISHER: NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg returned to Earth in September after spending 186 days in space. Bowen, the commander of NASA's crew six mission to the International Space Station knew the Columbia crew. He worked the recovery operations and he was at NASA when the agency determined that it was a well-known problem with pieces of foam falling from the external tank and striking the shuttle at launch, that ultimately led to Columbia's demise

BOWEN: That -- that moment really, really hit home

FISHER: Since then, Bowen has been to space four times, including three shuttle flights.

BOWEN: Safety over the past 21 years, I think we've worked at it, but as a continuous process.

FISHER: When Bowen, Hoburg and two others attempted to launch for the first time in February 2023, on a SpaceX Falcon IX rocket and Crew Dragon capsule, they scrubbed with just two minutes left on the clock due to an issue with igniter fluid.

BOWEN: We later learned that it was actually a NASA person in the room who had made the call not to do that. And I looking back at it and thinking about that willingness to say no, to stop, to say, we don't need to launch today. We really appreciated that and that -- that's an example of where we've moved a little bit past, hopefully, the things that have gotten us in trouble in the past.

FISHER: Now, NASA is attempting to return astronauts to the moon for the first time since the Apollo program. In January, the agency announced a ten-month delay to the first crewed Artemis mission, citing safety concerns.

One area of concern, the Orion spacecraft heat shield. The same protective tiles that were damaged on Columbia.

BOWEN: You know, it was the heat shield for Columbia, but that's not necessarily the next thing that's going to get us, you know? It might be something else that we haven't thought of.

HOBURG: There is inherent risks and everything we do. And so we have to find ways to make sure that we understand what the risks are and mitigate them, but then actually go fly. FISHER: Kristin Fisher, CNN, Washington.


BLITZER: And be sure to tune in this Sunday for the finale of the CNN original series "Space Shuttle Columbia". It begins at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

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

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.