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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  February 17, 2022 5:00pm-6:00pm PST

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45 and $50,000 a year, more than six times the average income here in ukraine. and if that can grow, it could transform this country. thanks so much for joining us, you can always find the latest episode of our show and our podcast, you just have to go to audio in your favorite podcast app, search for erin burnett "outfront." thanks for joining us, "anderson cooper 360" starts now. president biden says there is no every indication that russia is ready to attack ukraine. john berman here in for anderson, what's more, and far darker than that is this, his word suggests the administration now considers war a matter of when, not if. >> yes -- my sense is it will. in the next several days. >> secretary of state antony blinken addressing the u.n.
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security council no less blunt and remarkably specific about how he would start. >> first, russia plans to manufacture a pretext for its attack. second, in response to this manufactured provocation, the highest levels of the russian government may theatrically convene emergency meetings to address the crisis, next the attack will begin. we've warned the ukrainian government of all that is coming and here today we are laying it out in great detail with the hope that by sharing what we know with the world, we can influence russia to abandon the path of war and choose a different path, while there's still time. >> secretary blinken went on to say his case is validated by what has been unfolding in plain sight for months and certainly saw more of it today, specifically in the eastern region that ukraine's president zelensky just visited, outside observers there reporting a
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sharp escalation in cease-fire violations along the frontlines dividing ukrainian and russian-backed separatist forces. this is precisely where many fear russian provocation could take place. for its part in a document set to washington today, moscow denied russia was planning to sprad but warned it would be forced to take, quote, emergency military measures if rolling back nato expansion is not met. so there's that, chief admission, the bridge yesterday but gone today, a big security conference gearing up in munich and much more. kaitlan collins at the white house, clarissa ward in kyiv, and jill in moscow, first i want to show you this from clarissa back from what could be a flashpoint from a wider conflict. >> reporter: the ukrainian
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military brought us nearly 400 miles toward the front lines in the east of the country. it's already dark by the time we land, and will only have a short time on the ground, but they are determined to show us the aftermath of heavy shelling earlier in the day. >> this kindergarten is less than three miles from the so-called line of contact, the front line, and witnesses in this area said that around 8 or 9:00 this morning started to hear shelling, loud enough that they could hear the whistle of the shells going by and two of them landed here at this kindergarten. let's take a look. >> at the end of the hallway, this is what remains of the playroom, the military says the first shell hit at 8:45 a.m., the children were eating breakfast in another part of the building. teacher tells me she immediately rushed them into the hallway, away from the windows. so she's saying in that moment, she was only really afraid for
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the children. i ask her how they reacted to the situation. our youngest children thought it was all a game at first, and we just let them pretend, she tells us. our older children understood what was happening and they were afraid. video released by ukrainian police shows the kids being hastily evacuated from the building. obviously, it's very dark here. i'm not sure if you can see, but this is actually a children's playground and if you just turn over here, you can see this is a crater and the local authorities are telling us that this is where the other shell hit. our time on the ground is restricted, fighting usually begins after dark here, as we finish up a live shot, our ukrainian minders grow nervous. yes i hear it. john, please excuse me, but our ukrainian military minders are
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asking us to move because of that shelling so we will check in with you as soon as we can. thank you. let's go. on an average day, there might be three or four major cease-fire violations around here, today, the military says there have been more than 30. >> let's go, guys. >> reporter: they're telling us we have to go now, a steady stream of artillery we can hear in the distance so we're getting on the bus to leave. in the hours after we leave, another shell hits a house in the same town, as this frontline continues to heat up at a time when calm is desperately needed. >> so clarissa, first of all, i'm glad you're safe, startling images from the donbas region. this area seen violence from russia-backed separatists for eight years now, are ukrainian authorities viewing these new attacks as escalation ahead of a possible invasion or more of the same? >> reporter: there's no question this is an escalation, john. i mean you look at a graph of what these ceasefire incidents
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would look like, violations, i should say, would go like this and then like that with today. i mean there was a massive uptick in the number of major ceasefire violations and you said, this war has been going on eight years but those frontlines largely been frozen and other than a few violations here and there, for the most part, it's been relatively quiet. to see a kindergarten where roughly 20 children were there, happened not to be in that room, but they were there in the building and it was by the grace of god that the shell hit in a different area, that is absolutely a significant escalation here, no one here is pretending that this isn't significant, and i think you could feel a sense of angst and nervousness talking to people on the ground there that it did feel somehow different and somehow ominous. >> what a dangerous, precarious moment. kaitlan, at the white house, we heard president biden not mincing words when asked if he expected russia to invade. did he talk about why he believes invasion is imminent?
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>> well we talked to officials and they say they're watching what russia is doing, watching what russian state media is saying and also paying attention to what the russians are not doing and that's pulling the troops back from the border. as you heard multiple officials say today, only adding to them, of course we learned 7,000 figure last night with some of them arriving as recently as yesterday and you also heard the defense secretary today talking about the other steps they're taking. shoring up blood supplies, bolstering support embassy, the aircraft they're adding, all these steps that they're taking that they're saying is only adding to their capacity to carry out an invasion. and so president biden today putting a timeline on it saying he believes this could happen within days and we should also note that for president biden, he's been having these nearly daily conversations with other world leaders, of course on saturday, two big ones with zelensky and president putin as well, since then near daily conversations today was the italian prime minister and now, john, the canadian prime
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minister office saying he's hosting a call with the same set of allies again to talk about this on going crisis and what their plan is to deter an invasion from happening. >> so jill, to you in moscow, what's the russian reaction in the media, especially, to these shellings in eastern ukraine and of president biden's comments? >> reporter: well, they're not really -- excuse me -- specific reactions, but overall, you know, there's a lot of saying that, actually, you know, the ukrainians attacking as opposed to the russians are attacking, and a lot of concern about, sorry, the civilians that were in that area. and i think the most significant thing today was really that answer from the russians to the americans. it seems like kind of a tennis match sometimes, but this diplomatic negotiation of discussion that's going on. i think that was probably the
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more significant thing, although it didn't seem to be really going anywhere. >> no, except open the door to military technical measures which seem to be intentionally vague. clarissa, if the logic for lack of a better word is that any military response from the ukrainians to the shelling could be used by the russian government as a pretense to begin an invasion, how then does ukraine respond? if at all? >> well, this is the conundrum that ukraine finds itself in, on the one hand, huge uptick in shelling, kindergarten is hit, on the other hand, have to be so incredibly careful in terms of how they respond, because there is a strong belief that this is a deliberate sort of provocation which is not to say necessarily that whoever launched those shells was deliberately targeting the kindergarten itself, we certainly don't know that at all but to say when you see that kind of an uptick in activity, the fear is that it's designed to generate a response and that once you have that kind
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of heavy artillery flying back and forth, you could be moments away from a very serious escalation, because president putin has said over and over again, not just in this conflict but other conflicts before and 2008 with georgia, has said he will always protect russian people, russian speakers, ethnic russians, been handing out passports like candy in those russian-backed separatist regions, 600,000, so it would be very easy for him to use something like this if it did escalate further. if there was a strike that hit on the other side of the border and as jill said, the russians were saying that there were strikes going both ways today, that he could use that as some kind of a pretext for launching some kind of an incursion and this is something u.s. intelligence services have been predicting for a while, some kind of a false flag, all of which is to say anxiety is definitely a significant notch higher today, i would say, having been here much of the last five weeks, than we felt it
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before. usually, over the last month, it seemed like people on the streets were relatively calm, going about their daily life. i would say today, and of course we were right by the front line so it's a different situation than being here in kyiv but i definitely felt a more palpable sense of anxiety, shock, and a little bit sense of fore boding about what the future might bring. >> i listen to how you talk very carefully clarissa and this is decidedly a different moment based on what you saw today. kaitlan, we saw secretary of state antony blinken being very e explicit about the steps he thought russia would take ahead of an invasion. what's the strategy being so open with the intelligence? >> reporter: it almost felt like you were reading an intelligence report listening to the comments he made which were not initially on his schedule, was supposed to fly to germany, instead, went to new york to make this appeal to representative while he was there and talking about what it
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would look like would they try to justify an invasion and what the beginning of the invasion would look like and went to very stark detail when it came to the attempt to justify one, talked about a staged mass grave, a staged bombing, a fake drone strike, a fake chemical weapons attack, a real chemical weapons attack potentially laying out every scenario, not saying that's exactly what the russians are going to do but saying this is what it could potentially look like. you're going to see russian state media talk about it, already seen them talking about it including the shelling that happened today so i think that's been a little bit of a warning for the white house and also talking about the beginning of an attack, what that would look like and going into detail, just make it clear i think to the russians that they know what they're potentially planning and what they could potentially carry out within a matter of days according to the president. >> kaitlan collins, clarissa ward, jill doherty, extremely informative discussion, thank you all for your reporting tonight. and as it's been every night, for all we can see and report
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from ourselves, so much is hidden from view or only discernable to a trained military or intelligence expert, fortunately we have one of those, retired army major general, james spider marks. spider, you hear the reporting from kaitlan, clarissa and jill, clarissa ex-pplicitly saying it feels different tonight. does it look different tonight to your trained eye? >> well what we're seeing clearly is additional build-up for what i think is an inevitable incursion, the question is a good one, what do we see? now there are limit to see what we can see clearly. information is publicly available, but there is a host, tons of classified intelligence that our intelligence community can gather, and intelligence that we're getting from partners from allies with whom we have sharing arrangements, that's what critical. i can guarantee the president of
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the united states and secretary of state are seeing very deep classified, special category-type intelligence we will never see. certainly see them after they're unclassified or if the president certainly wants to declassify that stuff and put it out there, but clearly they're looking at things that we're not seeing and that has to be with clearly with signals intelligence which gets into communications intelligence, hi john, this is spider, spider this is john, different types of coms like that, electronic intelligence which is radars how they light up, what are they looking for, where they're located and then human intelligence which is quite phenomenal and clearly we have sources probably in russia, clearly we do, and have made and have sources inside different ministries in russia where we're getting some pretty good insights and clearly within ukraine and in the donbas region. we have sources in there and a pretty good sense of that. but you and i are not going -- you know, the guys who don't have those clearances are not going to get that stuff.
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>> no, people need to know that. we're seeing pictures of artillery here and there, that only scratched the surface of what is available to the people making these decisions now and maybe they're beginning to at least hint at what's in there. spider, do you think there's still an off-ramp to deescalate at this point for vladimir putin? >> there's always an off-ramp, right. it's just what is the cost of that off-ramp. i'm not saying i know what that is, and i don't know, i would hope that our state department, our department of defense are working on what those potential off-ramps might look like, but i don't know what nato is going to be prepared to do that would give putin a win. look, nato's got to win, our president has to win, putin's got to win, what does that look like? so if putin can say ukraine is never going to join nato, and again, nato's not asking for ukraine to join right now. that's not on the table, but seems to be the discourse here, but if putin could get a declaration from ukraine and
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nato that says we're not going to be expansive and when you look at a map of nato as it exists, existed back in the 1980s and then with the acceleration post 1999 and 2004, russia is, all those former buffer countries, buffer zone russia had with the soviet union, they all belong to nato, other than belarus, and ukraine. that's why he wants to kind of lock up ukraine and ukraine's second largest country in europe. it's monsterous and he would love to of that underbelly, that avenue of approach into russia that every enemy he's had used, would love to have that as a vassal state listening to him. >> james "spider" marks, always a pleasure listening to you. thanks for being with us. next, days after accounting fired them, a judge in florida delivers another blow, telling trumps to start testifying under oath. later, dr. fauci on why he
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♪ (toddler babbling) (typing) ♪ ♪ so when a judge says the center pieces of your argument completely misses the mark it's more than a hint your case won't end well and it turns out it didn't for the former president, trump, ivanka and donald trump jr., judge denied the claim and or orderered them to sit for depositions within 21 days. trump attorneys says they will likely file an appeal. perspective now from cnn senior analyst and abc news chief washington correspondent
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jonathan carl, author of "betrayal, the final act of the trump show," the trump lawyers have said they will appeal, that's their indication, do you think they have a good chance of getting this ruler overturned? >> no. they don't. they have a right to appeal, it will go to the first department which is the appellate level division in the new york state court system but this is a garden variety civil investigation and there's no reason to suppose i think the well-crafted opinion, strong opinion by the trial court judge in this case would be overturned so i don't think it's just going to make a difference because the reasoning is sound. >> how long will it take, you think, though? >> that could take time, it depends what the appellate court's docket is but importantly, what really matters is whether or not the appellate court will issue a state, otherwise the default position is you got to appear for deposition so it's not just the issue of whether or not the appellate court decides that
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this subpoena can be quashed and they don't have to comply, but also whether or not in the interim they stay with the lower court said they had to do which was comply with the sun bpoena, think that's unlikely and if they don't get the stay, trump and his two kids have to appear shortly. >> so john, eric trump already sat down for a deposition in this investigation back in 2020 and pleaded the fifth more than 500 times. i just want to remind people what the former president said about pleading the fifth, this was back in 2016. >> so there are five people taking the fifth amendment, like you see on the mob, right, you see the mob takes the fifth. if you're innocent, why are you taking the fifth amendment? >> so with your key political judgment and sense, john, do you think the former president may change his tune on that? >> well, look, first of all, it was an interesting bit of new information that came out from the judge that first of all it was a full two years ago that
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eric trump had given his deposition, we knew he had given a sworn deposition, we didn't know when and 500 times he had taken the fifth amendment. look, i don't think the legal strategy is going to do this change, it's hard to imagine suddenly ivanka, don jr. and donald trump himself decide they're going to answer all the questions. their path here is set. they took the fifth amendment which is entirely in their constitutional rights but i imagine that trump's view of those constitutional rights will probably change a little bit should this deposition go forward. >> so you talked about the likelihood of appeal failing, also said there may not be injunction granted here then, what happens then if the trumps refuse to be deposed. >> if there's out right defiance, unlike the situations we've seen with congressional subpoenas it's controversial and there's not a lot of enforcement
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mechanism. in state courts and federal courts if you defy subpoena out right and don't obey the order of a judge you can be held in criminal contempt and contempt of court and then you go to prison for a period of time. we've seen that happen in cases large and small, large cases get a lot of attention but it happens in cases from time to time. i don't think that's going to be the end result here. i think as jonathan points out, donald trump and his kids' view of the fifth amendment and the p propriety of invoking it is likely to change but that has consequences to, the fact you invoke the right against self incriminal inflammation can be used against you, no lawyer can make an inference about it, that's not true in civil cases. in civil cases if you invoke fifth amendment right against self incriminal inflammation, the trying to find you breaking a
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law, can subject you to inference, so it's muffin a bigger way in civil case some ways than a criminal case. >> and 500 times, that's a heck of adverse inference there. john, you wrote the book, that's terrific, during the 2016 election, trump proudly embraced an image that he was anything but a regular guy, he's a guy who always wins, richer than everybody, never loses, how central is that ethos to this saga that the president thinks he's above the law and immune to legal ramifications? >> i think it's central and i actually think the more legal jeopardy is in, let's remember, now you have hmanhattan d.a. case, attorney general, d.a. case in georgia, you have the d.c. attorney general, january 6th, committee, who knows if anything coming youfrom the juse department, i think the bigger legal jeopardy donald trump is in may push him towards running
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for that very reason. he feels he has the power if he's running, can portray himself as a victim of politically motivated prosecutions and of course, all along the way, as he is a political figure, the rnc is paying much of his legal bills. >> right, it's a discount for him. very quickly, on the merits of the case here, what of the kids, if they testify? there's no parent/kid privilege like attorney/client pribvilege here, what's the jeopardy if they go? >> it's the same jeopardy as donald trump, was there intentional fraud committed here? look, the thing the attorney general's office wants to learn is who knew what, when, what was their intent? they clearly already have a considerable amount of evidence the judge himself pointed out that there was an inflation of assets on certain occasion and a deflation of assets on other occasion when it suited the trump organization.
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the accounts have stepped back, as you already reported. the question is who's fault is it? so if you get testimony from people and they don't, they take the fifth amendment, and they make admissions about having knowledge and the intention to defraud, that exposes them to criminal liability, not just civil liability. >> great to see both of you thank you so much. >> good to see you, john. just ahead, more announcements about school mask mandates about to end including for the country's most populace state, dr. anthony fauci however calls recalling these mandates now, risky, he joins us next to discuss. we can help actively repair enamel in its weakened state. it's innovative. my go to toothpaste is going to be pronamel repair.
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breaking news about school mac mandates, a short time ago, california governor newsom out lined the states plan to return to normalcy saying the end of mask mandates would be the end of this month, the masks will come off, he says, the news follows similar announcements today by governors of north carolina, washington and new mexico, all democrats by the way and calling for an end to mask mandates in schools. on wednesday, our next guest, dr. anthony fauci saying the move to lift mask mandates was risky and dr. fauci joins us now. so nice to see you dr. fauci, why do you think unmasking children in schools right now is risky?
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what do you think could happen? >> well, john, if you look at the cdc that tracks the metrics in this case, the metrics being cases, although they are coming down rather sharply, which is really very good news, both hospitalizations and cases are coming down in a rather sharp decline, they have the coating of either substantial or high degree of viral activity and well over 90% of the country is in that area where it's recommended by the cdc to keep going on with the masks. we would hope that if that trajectory goes down, and the projection at the local level of lifting masks mandates after a period of time, i don't know the different states have different projections of when they want to do it, hopefully that will coincide with the level being so
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low the metrics of the cdc will coincide but right now, 97% of the country is within that zone that the cdc recommends to keep the masks on and it is risky if you take it often right now. what we're all hoping for, john, and i believe there's a reasonably good chance we're going to see that, that over the next few weeks, if that trajectory keeps coming down at that sharp angle and we don't have a flattening off at a level that's above the level of, you know, really being a problem, that we could be in reasonably good shape. but again, we always got to be careful that we've been to this show before, where things came down, you pull back a little, and it bounces back. not only the current variant doing that, but we've always got to be prepared to address it and readdress it again, if we get a different variant. hopefully, we're not going to see that, but we've got to be pre
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prepared for that scenario, but right now i'm looking at that chart and it's coming down really nicely, so hopefully new metrics will help guide the people at the local level of what to do. >> it's great the cases are going down, phenomenal, i'm thrilled, i guess my question is are you concerned that taking off masks in schools will cause that number to go back up again? >> well, i have said it before john, and there's no reason for me to change that now. it is risky. it is risky. you may get away with it, very well, it's possible you'll get away with it but you do have a risk when you pull back if you have a certain dynamic of infection that you'll have a rebound and hopefully the states that are doing that have a plan if in fact we do see a rebound up, they'll be able to reinstitute the mitigation methods they're now pulling back on. you know, when you want to pull back and say we're done, well, you know, the virus may not be done with us. so going down may be the right thing, keep going down, pulling back, but you have to be prepared to remitigate again if you see a rebound coming up.
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>> so the fact of the matter is what you're telling me is a recommendation. what the cdc issues is recommendations. i think that word has been manipulated by some over the last two years to be sure, but if state after state and city after city is ignoring or going around the cdc recommendation, has the cdc lost some of its relevancy? >> no, i don't think so. i don't think so at all. the cdc is very relevant, john. they look at the scientific data, they analyze the data and they make recommendations. has always been the case that at the local level, the local health authorities working with their administrative leaders, be they governors or mayors or leaders at the local level will make their decision. they can utilize or not. we -- i think it's the wrong thing to say that the cdc is irrelevant. they are the scientific organization that accumulates the data and makes
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recommendations on the basis of the science. it's up to the local people how they're going to use that. >> dr. anthony fauci, i want to leave it at that but leave people with a positive message, you're saying cases are headed where right now? >> they're going way down, john. what i like is the steepness of the slope down. it went way up really high and literally every seven day evaluation of the average, we now, yesterday, had 126,000 cases, remember, it wasn't too long ago when we had close to a million cases a day. >> i know, believe me. dr. anthony fauci, thank you so much for your time tonight, appreciate it. >> good to be with you, thank you very much. still to come, more breaking news on ukraine and how president biden is managing a major geopolitical crisis that could affect america's influence abroad while trying to keep domestic agenda afloat, former obama senior adviser joins us ahead. can “ahhhh” more. - ahhh... - ahhhh... - ahhhhh!!!!!!! - ahhhhh!!!!!!!
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more on breaking news this eeb evening, reported moments ago, president biden will host a call on ukraine, according to canadian crisis. also scheduled on the line, leaders of france, germany, united kingdom, nato and more, joined by axelrod, senior adviser of obama and senior
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commentator, what's it like to be in the white house juggling a crisis like this, one the american people may not be as concerned about though as they are about other things? like inflation, like their daily lives here. you know, what are the conversations at the oval office? >> well, look, you can't ignore a crisis like this. this is a frontal assault on, you know, the global order. and on the sovereignty of nations. so you can't ignore that. but you do that knowing that you're focusing on this and attention is focused on this and probably not on what people are talking about around their kitchen table. the president did go forward today and have an event out in the country on infrastructure, so they're trying to keep a normal schedule for him but the focus in the white house is very much on this and it has to be. >> you wrote an opinion piece in the new york times about how you think president biden needs to
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start framing things as he heads into the state of the union, show some humility, you wrote in part, the state of the union is stressed, claim otherwise, the highlight of progress we made without acknowledging the regard road we travelled and the distance we have gone would be out of touch, you can't just keep telling americans things are better than they feel. end quote. >> yeah, i think that's important. you have to link up to the lived experience of people and there is an impulse and look, we felt it in the obama white house during the great recession, there is an impulse to report on all the good things you've done, and all the efforts you've made and the progress that it's produced, but if you do that too energetically, without regard to what people are feeling, without regard to the fact that we've gone through an epic national trauma from which people are still recovering, then you're not going to be heard. and joe biden is well equipped to do that. he is a guy who has natural
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empathy, he is middle class joe from scranton and that's the guy who needs to show up as the president of the united states on march first when he speaks to the nation and congress. >> has he been trying to jaw bone people? what made you write this? did you see him slipping into something that want going to do well for him. >> well i watched his press conference on the anniversary of his inauguration and wanted energetically to report on everything he had done, like report card day, and i felt it was off-key and when he was asked what to learn from the last year, he said i'll get out into the country more and i thought that was a great answer but he said i want people to know what we have done for them and that's not really why he needs to to get out into the country, why any president does, some of that, yes, but you want to hear from people and want them to know you want to hear
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from them. so i just thought that the state of the union would be better if it takes just a slightly different tack and we'll see what happens. >> very quickly, obviously, this trend around the country to lift mask mandates. how does the president deal with this clear desire that's popping up around the country? >> yeah, very tough. i mean a lot of democratic governors out in front of him and i think one of the reasons, john, they scheduled this speech so late is his hope is by march 1, he'll be able to align himself with people who want to stop wearing masks . >> thank you so much for joining us. coming up disgraced attorney murdock and the death of a 19-year-old man, steven smith, why authorities are reopening the cold case. w,w, look at all ! you get hungry for morore and then you're just like, “wow, i'm learning ababout my family.” yeah, yep. which one, what'd you find? lorrrraine banks, look, county of macomb, michigan?
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in south carolina, five deaths appear to have collections to alex measure dough, the once prominent attorney facing several charges, including insurance fraud and a botched fake suicide attempt, including the death of a young woman involving a boating accident, also the double homicide, in which that son and murdock's life were brutally murdered, plus the death of murdock's housekeeper. also the death of a 19-year-old man which has been reopened based on evidence discovered by south carolina law enforcement in the murdock double homicide case. our randi kaye is in south carolina tracking the evidence. >> almost seven years with no answers for you in terms of what happened to your son. what does that feel like? >> heartbreaking. you know, he was a human, and he deserves justice. >> sandy smith is talking about her son, a bright, blue-eyed 19-year-old with dreams of becoming a doctor.
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stephen smith was killed july 8, 2015. a passer by on sandy run road in hampton county called 911 about 4:00 a.m. >> on the road or side of the road. >> in the roadway. >> stephen smith's body was found in the middle of this road. a pathology said it appeared to be a hit and run. but the highway patrol's incident report noted they didn't find any vehicle debris, skid marks, or injuries on stephen's body consistent with someone being struck by a vehicle. according to the case notes, stephen died from blunt force trauma to the head. there were no visible injuries on him other than a gaping head wound. sandy has never accepted her son was the victim of a hit and run. >> what do you believe happened to your son? >> i believe he was beaten to death. >> and then dropped in the road?
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>> and then layed in that road hoping somebody was going to run over him. >> reporter: for sandy, much doesn't add up. she says her son would have been too afraid to walk alone in the middle of the night. if he had car trouble, sandy says he would have used his cell phone, which was found on his body to call for help. >> he was literally left on the side of the road like a piece of trash. >> reporter: mike hem lap is sandy smith's lawyer. he too believes her son was murdered, and here's why. >> being hit by a car is a brute and violent act and you would have lots of injuries all over your body. i've never seen a hit and run where the shoes remained on the feet. >> reporter: evidence shows stephen's loosely tied shoes were still on his feet. it's not just stephen's family who have doubts. audio included in the case file shows even the lead investigator at the time didn't believe this was just a hit and run.
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south carolina state trooper todd proctor. >> typically you don't see the highway patrol working a murder, and that's what this is. there's no doubt. we're not classifying this as anything other than a murder. >> reporter: yet stephen's case went cold and might have remained so had it not been for the double homicide of the wife and son of disgraced south carolina attorney alex murdaugh. they were found shot to death last june. just days after the south carolina law enforcement suddenly announced it was opening an investigation into the death of stephen smith based upon information gathered during the double murder investigation of paul and maggie murdaugh. >> you know he was put on the shelf for so long. now he's back out there. >> reporter: s.l.e.d. has not said what was found or what if anything stephen smith's relationship was with the murdaugh family. the murdaugh name is mentioned dozens of times by both witnesses and investigators.
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>> did your son know the murdaugh family? >> he went to school with buster, yeah. and they played, like, little legal ball together. >> buster murdaugh, alex murdaugh's surviving son, is mentioned during witness interviews. during one audio interview in the case file released by highway patrol to cnn, the investigator, stroop, todd proctor, says this. >> foster was on our radar. the murdaugh's know that. >> reporter: why exactly he was on their radar is still unclear. our attempts to reach buster and proctor were unsuccessful. sandy smith also says randy murdaugh, alex's brother and a personal injury lawyer, tried to insert himself into the case by calling stephen's dad before the parents had even seen stephen's body. >> he said, that was strange. randy's wanting to take stephen's case, investigate stephen's case pro bono. >> sandy describes randy
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murdaugh constantly calling, asking them to give them stephen's electronics, including stephen's ipad and cell phone. >> the thing that's most surprising to me is how quickly he called because the family had just found out. >> reporter: we reached out to randy murdaugh to ask about this, but he didn't respond. >> there are people in hampton who know what happened without question. and for whatever reason, they haven't come forward. perhaps that's fear. >> reporter: sandy smith hasn't given up hope her son's case will be solved no matter who may be involved. >> what does justice look like for you? >> somebody go to prison. and stay there for a long time. >> reporter: and john, the south carolina law enforcement division tells me that they are making progress on this investigation. it is active and i donongoing e though they haven't made any arrests. to be clear, john, this is a murder investigation. you heard the investigator in our story say that. he believes the scene was
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staged, that the body was placed in that road. and now after all these years, john, so many questions and so few answers for that family. >> what a tangled web. randi kaye, thank you so much for that. we'll be right back. translat: certified goosebumps. certified from headlamp to tailpipe. that's certified d head turn. and it's all l backed by our unlimited mileage warranty. that means unlimited peace of mind. mercedes-benz certified pre-owned. translation: the mercedes of your dreams is closer than you think.
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(burke) you get a whole lot of something with farmers policy perks. [echoing] get a quote today. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪ -- captions by vitac -- the news continues, so let's hand it over to laura coates and cnn tonight. >> hi john berman. always nice to see you especially. thank you all. i am laura coates and this is "cnn tonight." alarms are being sounded metaphorically in the loudest ways yet by the west. the president, our defense secretary, our secretary of state, the head of nato and others all putting russia on blast for sinister intentions, in hopes to somehow stave off an invasion of ukraine, which they keep warning is imminent. >> every indication we have is they're prepared to go into ukraine, attack ukraine. my sense