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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

NY Times: January 6 Committee Examining Trump's Role In Proposals To Seize Voting Machines; Pfizer And BioNTech Seeking Emergency Use Authorization From FDA For COVID-19 Vaccine For Children Younger Than Five; Call Between Top U.S. And Russian Diplomats Doesn't Ease Ukraine Tensions. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 01, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, again.

Two big breaking stories, top of the hour, for us. Pfizer seeking emergency authorization, to keep kids, as young as 6-months-old, its COVID vaccine.

And this, from CNN Political Analyst, and "New York Times" Washington Correspondent, Maggie Haberman. Here's the lead.

"The House January 6 committee is scrutinizing former President Donald J. Trump's involvement in proposals to seize voting machines after the 2020 election, including efforts to create a legal basis for directing national security agencies to take such an extreme action, according to three people with knowledge of the committee's activities."

Now this springboards off her bombshell reporting that the call Rudy Giuliani made, to then Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary, Ken Cuccinelli, asking if his department could conduct the seizing, of voting machines, was made, at the direct behest, of the former President.

In other words, the former President was not merely the passive recipient, of these toxic ideas that were being spit-balled by the Motley Crew, who was around him. He was actively soliciting action, on them.

Also, that the people pitching these ideas, were not just crackpots, who wandered in off the streets. In Maggie's words, in our last hour, the Oval Office was not just a bus stop.

Joining us now is Maryland Democratic congressman, and Select Committee member, Jamie Raskin. He's also Author of the number one "New York Times" best-selling book, "Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy."

Congressman, I appreciate you being with us. We hear this breaking news, in "The New York Times," about your committee, looking into the former President's direct involvement, in plans to seize voting machines, through the Department of Homeland Security. Can you confirm that?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, it's an eye-opener, certainly, Anderson and - but I can confirm that this is one thing that we're looking into. I can't get into too much detail about it.

There has been reportage about how there was an escalating attempt, to find a department that would go along with this, whether it's Homeland Security, or the Department of Defense, or the Department of Justice.

And it looks like cooler heads may have prevailed, at the last minute, in certain points. But we're going to get all the details.

Generally, what we're seeing, is a series of tactics, of escalating illegitimacy, engaged in by Donald Trump.

And he started, of course, with the perfectly legitimate, even if, ridiculous tactic, of bringing 60 lawsuits, alleging electoral fraud, and corruption that were thrown out, by federal and state courts, including by eight judges, he named to the bench.

And actually, that gave us a meticulous record, of the fact that there was no fraud, and there was no corruption.

But then he moved to go to the legislatures, to try to get them, just to nullify the popular vote, and to create pro-Trump Electoral College slates.

And when that didn't work, he crossed over to real election fraud, when he went to Brad Raffensperger, and other election officials, just to demand that they concoct votes. "Find me 11,780 votes."


And when that didn't work, then they moved to "All right, let's get Mike Pence, just to decree, new powers, in the Vice Presidency, to reject Electoral College votes, and overturn the popular election," which is what Donald Trump was talking about, over the weekend that Pence had the power, which, of course, he did not, to overturn the election.

And, of course, the final step, was unleashing a violent insurrection, against not just the Democrats, but really, the Republicans, to make sure that they would keep this plan going, until Pence cooperated.

So, it was a series of escalating tactics, ending up with a coup and insurrection.

COOPER: I don't know, if you can say this, but, I mean, does the information, the committee possesses, whether it's White House documents, or witness testimony, does it align with what "The Times" has been reporting, which is that the President, and his allies, took steps toward - I mean, it was the U.S. military, said there was the Department of Justice, through with Bill Barr, and the Department of Homeland Security, to seize voting machines?

RASKIN: Well, I've not seen those documents. So, I'm--


RASKIN: --so, I'm reading the same reportage that you are, at that point.

And, of course, this seems to be, based on the reporting. One subplot or one set of tactics that didn't go forward, unlike the incitement of the mob, to breach the Capitol--


RASKIN: --unlike the clear efforts, to go after Mike Pence. But it does demonstrate his overall purpose, and intent, which was something that he spoke all-out, over the weekend.

One of the interesting things about Donald Trump is that sometimes people think, because he's so overt, about the criminality, that it can't really be criminal. But if you rob a bank, in broad daylight, you're still robbing a bank.

COOPER: When you heard him say, over the weekend, not only about, possibly dangling pardons, for insurrectionists, but also, using the term, overthrow the election that it wasn't about, finding out, if there were any irregularities, or voting - the sanctity of the voting booth? It was about overturning the democratic election.

I mean, we live in an age, where it's hard to be surprised by anything. But the fact that he said that out loud, did that surprise you?

RASKIN: Well, the courts, of course, had already rejected the idea that there was some fraud, or there was some corruption. That would be a predicate for judicial action, not a predicate for beating police officers, over the head with steel poles, and Confederate battle flags.

COOPER: By the way, it was overturn, not overthrow. I misspoke, all right.

RASKIN: Yes. Yes. He said, to overturn the election.

But look, Donald Trump has made an M.O., out of trying to make totally illegal and illegitimate actions, seem legitimate, or to raise the question of whether or not it was legitimate.

And you can see what he's doing now, because the committee, and also the Department of Justice, clearly have all the goods, on what he was up to.

So, rather than being in a denial mode, or sweep it under the rug, kind of Orwellian revisionist mode, now what he's saying is, "Oh, well, yes, I was just trying to get him to overturn the election. And he had the power to do that. And I'm going to stand by that now." COOPER: Yes.

RASKIN: So, we have to be very emphatic that in our constitutional system, you can't overthrow the winner of the Electoral College, by coercing the Vice President, to declare new powers--


RASKIN: --that don't exist, under our Constitution, much less, can you unleash a violent insurrection, against the Union.

COOPER: Yes. Congressman Jamie Raskin, I appreciate your time, tonight. Thank you.

RASKIN: Thanks for having me, Anderson.

COOPER: Now, the breaking news, for every parent, of young children, not to mention anyone who wants to see the pandemic end sooner.

Pfizer, late today, announcing, it's seeking Emergency Use Authorization, for a low-dose version, of its COVID vaccine, for kids younger than five, as young as 6-months-old.

Our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joins us now, on what we know.

So Sanjay, how is this Pfizer vaccine, for kids, under the age of five, different, from what would be available, for kids, five to 12?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a lower dose. I mean, they sort of anticipated that a lower dose would be necessary - would actually do the trick, meaning you want to use the lowest possible dose, to get the same sort of immune response.

And, kids that age, are going to - what they're testing is a 3 microgram dose. And to give you some context, 5-year-olds to 11-year- olds was a 10 microgram dose. And adults, a 30 microgram dose, actually 12 and older. So, this is a 10th, of what, I don't know if you got Pfizer or not, but it's a 10th of what--


GUPTA: --people who got Pfizer, got. And for all three shots. So, that's what they sort of landed on. What they're still sort of trying to figure out is the number of doses here though.

COOPER: So, what do you make of - what do you make - so, the number of doses, that still is not clear? Did they get that - did they figure that out--


COOPER: --before they give the Emergency Use Authorization?

GUPTA: Yes, this is a little quirky, Anderson.


So, last we heard, about using these 3 microgram doses, we heard in kids between the ages of six months and 24 months, it seemed to work well, meaning it generated a good immune response, good antibodies. But kids between two and five, it did not seem to do that. So, that was what we heard, end of last year.

And now, what we're hearing is that Pfizer is going to go ahead, and submit this Emergency Use Authorization, for the two doses. Again, last we heard is that it didn't generate a good immune response. So, maybe they're sort of counting on the fact that a third dose, on top of those two doses, will get enough of immune response.

And they don't want to slow things down. So, they want to go ahead and get the Emergency Use Authorization, for the two doses. Wait for the data, on the third dose, to come in, and maybe then add the third dose in.

What is interesting here, Anderson, is that the government regulators actually went to Pfizer, and said, "We think you should go ahead, and apply, for the Emergency Use Authorization." That's according to Pfizer.

So, maybe there's something that the FDA is seeing in data that we haven't yet seen, that sort of gives them that enthusiasm for this. But it looks like that's sort of how the process unfolded.

COOPER: And so, the FDA's vaccine Advisory Committee, they meet, on February 15, to discuss the Emergency Use Authorization. How soon do you think kids, under five, would be able to get their first dose?

And would - so, parents with kids, from two - 24 months or so, to five, they would have to consider, "Do I start my child getting the course of the two doses, even if the third dose hasn't been approved?"

GUPTA: Right. I think that that may be sort of the thinking there. And that maybe the data on that third dose would come sort of by end of March. So, when you think about how the doses are sort of time - spaced out, it might fit, timing wise.

Again, we, you know, one thing that's all been interesting, throughout this pandemic, is we haven't seen any of this data. We normally wouldn't be reporting on things, this early.

Because, right now, all we know is that a pharmaceutical company, has asked the FDA, to, they're going to apply for an Emergency Use Authorization. That's all we know. Some point, hopefully, we'll see the data. The FDA is obviously going to review the data. But I think that's exactly the thinking.

And if it gets authorized? We've seen this before, Anderson. Pretty quickly, after the authorization takes place, the CDC weighs in, and they make a formal recommendation. This gets added to the vaccine schedule. And then, within days, the people that age, kids that age, could start getting the shot.


GUPTA: So, it could happen pretty fast. It is a smaller dose. Different kits. Different needles. So, all that has to be taken into account as well.

COOPER: Yes. Well it would be fantastic news, for a lot of - a lot of parents, and kids, out there.

Sanjay, appreciate it. Thank you.

GUPTA: You bet. Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, more breaking news, on the first day of Black History Month, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, targeted by bomb threats.

Our friend, Dr. Cornel West, joins us, to talk about that. The fight over teaching Black history, and the prospect of a Black woman, on the Supreme Court, and more, all ahead.

Later, where things stand, in the now more than a year-old mystery, of who planted pipe bombs, outside Democratic and Republican headquarters, on January 6, especially now that we've learned how close Vice President Harris, came to one of them.



COOPER: More breaking news tonight, late today, CNN learned that Rust College, in Holly Springs, Mississippi, received a bomb threat, this morning. Others did as well, bringing the number of such threats, against Historically Black Colleges and Universities, today, to 14. Comes on day one of Black History Month.

Also, in the middle of a political backlash, over what schools teach kids, about the country's racial history, and on the cusp of the naming, of what will be the country's first Black woman, to the Supreme Court, we want to get some perspective, from Dr. Cornel West, of the Union Theological Seminary, and Professor Emeritus, at Princeton University.

Dr. West, it is lovely to see you. It's been far too long. What is going on, in this country, though? On this first day, of Black History Month, in the year 2022, 14 Historically Black Colleges and Universities get bomb threats.


Well it's good to see you too, old brother. And I hope Brother Wyatt, is holding you well, and strong too.

But no, you got to keep in mind now that Black Love is a crime, in a white-supremacist world. And those colleges are sites of Black Love, that to say, they're affirming the humanity, of Black Folk, they're affirming the creativity of Black Folk.

And we should not in any way, go into a panic, or be overly anxiety- ridden. We cannot be surprised by evil. We will not be paralyzed by despair, old brother. We have to re-fortify ourselves. We have to be ready to fight, on every level, spiritual, political, economic, social, across the board.

And so, here we are, at first day, shortest month, in a year, but a rich month, meaning what? Where's the love? Where's the courage? Where's the vision? Where's the solidarity? Where's the willingness to serve? Where's the willingness to pay a cause?

As your beloved Mother says, on your text, page 273, "Love is all," brother. Love is all. It's a Love Supreme. But a Love Supreme means what? You could be headed toward a cross. You could be headed toward crucifixion. You could be headed toward assassination. You could be headed toward criminalization.

But you have to keep bearing witness with a smile on your face. That's all we got to work with, my brother.

COOPER: It is such a strange time, in this country's history, I mean, both in good and bad ways, I suppose.

But there's this now this argument, over schools, and what schools are teaching, and how the history, of Black people, in this country, is taught, and what should be taught, and who gets offended.

And, in Florida, they're talking about setting up - or, is it, I guess, Virginia, is setting up hotlines, for parents, to call, if they're--

WEST: Yes.

COOPER: --if they feel offended by what their children are being taught.

I've always thought of schools, as places, where ideas, challenging ideas, should be presented. And, of course, you want it to be age- appropriate. But that - isn't that what education is about?


WEST: Absolutely. I mean, education is fundamentally about being unsettled. It's about being challenged.

But we got to keep in mind that we are living in a moment, in which Neo Fascism is escalating. In American fascism, white supremacy is always a public face. Big money, big military in the background, but white supremacy is the public face.

So, that we know that on the one, I mean, good God, if Wall Street and the Pentagon wanted to undercut, any move, toward fascism, they would do it, because they got enough money, they got enough power.

So, the question will be, will they be willing to join, with many of us, to push back fascism? Because that's very much where we're headed.

And fascism is about what? Censorship. It's about what? Planting distrust, in people. Planting, despair, in people, and then posing as the only alternative to the chaos, the only alternative to the anarchy. That's how you get American fascism. That's how you got Mussolini. That's why you got gangsters, like Hitler.

And we are in a moment now, where we've got to be stronger, spiritually, stronger, morally, in our solidarity, and in our truth- telling. Tell the truth about our history.

The truth about our history is not solely slavery, and Jim Crow. John Brown was a white brother, who died for Black people. We have to tell a history that is all-encompassing, but it will not, in any way, be a history that will look pretty.

COOPER: You know?

WEST: No human history looks pretty. Irish history is not pretty. British history is not pretty. Indigenous people's history is not pretty. Also, history of Argentina is not pretty.

Human history is not a pretty thing. And yet, there's always been countervailing forces, of love, and justice, and service, to the weak and vulnerable that tend to push it back. That's what we got to stand for, my brother.

COOPER: But also acknowledging that human history, or the history of a country, of any country, is not pretty, it's not a - that's not something to hide. If anything, it shows us--

WEST: Yes.

COOPER: --how far we have come, in some ways, and maybe how far, how little, how short a distance, we have come, in other ways. But, I mean--

WEST: That's right.

COOPER: --it is a mark. It is part of us. I mean, I have shameful things in--

WEST: But - and it's a mark of maturity.

COOPER: I have--

WEST: It's a mark of maturity.

COOPER: We all have heroes and villains in our - in each of our family's past. And yet, it's not - that is just part of who we are. And it helps us reflect on who we want to be.

WEST: Absolutely. And if we look inside of our own souls, you see the same kind of civil war, on the battlefield, of our souls. No story of our own lives is pretty-only. All of us have faults, and foibles, and limitations and blindnesses. And we also have virtuous breakthroughs. So, it's just a question of maturity.

The problem is, America has grown powerful, and grown rich. It has yet to grow up. It has moved from innocence, to corruption, without a mediating stage of maturity, as the great F. O. Matthiessen put it.

And we've got to grow up. James Baldwin was right. But then - but all of us can be in the process, of pushing each other, in that way. Because when we do, we're in it together. We hang together, we hang separately, my brother.

COOPER: Dr. Cornel West, I need more Dr. Cornel West in my life. I'm reminded that every time you're on this broadcast. And I appreciate you being with us.

WEST: If you just stay strong, my brother.

COOPER: I will, thank you. You too. Appreciate it. You make me stronger.

WEST: That's wonderful!

COOPER: We should mention - oh, Dr. West has actually done, a series with MasterClass, which I don't know, if you've seen MasterClass? I like this program. It's really interesting. Really fascinating people talking about interesting stuff.

I cannot wait to see yours, Dr. West.

The title is "Black History, Black Freedom, and Black Love." It's available to stream for free, all month. Look forward to that.

Just ahead, the latest, on the investigation, of the pipe bombs, found outside the Republican and Democratic Party headquarters the day of the Capitol attack. Almost 13 months later, what we know, and crucially don't know, next.



COOPER: It's been almost 13 months, since the attack on the Capitol. And one of the biggest unsolved mysteries, about that day, is the identity of who placed pipe bombs, outside the Washington headquarters, of both major political parties.

According to exclusive reporting, yesterday, by CNN, one of those bombs came dangerously close, to the Vice President.

Tom Foreman has the latest on the investigation, and the mystery.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Who is this person, caught on security cameras, just blocks, from the Capitol, on the evening of January 5, 2021? Federal investigators believe this individual left a pair of pipe bombs, outside Democratic and Republican Party headquarters, bombs that were not discovered, until early, the next afternoon, as the Capitol erupted.

STEVEN D'ANTUONO, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FBI'S WASHINGTON FIELD OFFICE (on camera): In this area, where the bombs were placed, if they did go off, they could have caused some serious harm or death.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Even crude pipe bombs can be enormously powerful, flinging fragments, in all directions, at more than 1,000 miles an hour.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: On that day, I was not only Vice President-elect. I was also a United States Senator.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Sources have now told CNN, the incoming Vice President, Kamala Harris, drove within yards, of one of these bombs, on January 6, and was inside the DNC office, with that bomb, outside, for nearly two hours, before the device was found.

But it's been more than a year, since that incident. And it seems the trail has gone cold. So, what do we know? The FBI says their suspect carried a backpack, or a gray hoodie, a mask, and Nike Air Max Speed Turf sneakers.

Authorities say, the suspect's meandering paths suggest he or she was not from the area. And the bombs were made from galvanized pipe, kitchen timers, and homemade black powder.

Beyond that, according to "The Atlantic," the FBI has scoured hundreds of hours of video, and interviewed more than 900 people, even studying the way, the person walks, in the camera footage, hoping to find a suspect match, through gait analysis.

D'ANTUONO: I'm coming to you today, to once again ask, for your help, with our pipe bomb investigation.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Still, the call from investigators, for help, remains unchanged.


D'ANTUONO: We still believe, there is someone out there, who has information that they may not have realized was significant, until now.


FOREMAN: It is impossible to say, whether this suspect, even had ties, to the Capitol attack, or what the real goal was that day. All we know for certain is that someone managed to plant two bombs, in a city, boiling with security forces, and police. And, all this time later, is still on the run.


COOPER: Tom, thank you. Tom Foreman, reporting.

Perspective now, from Andrew McCabe, former FBI Deputy Director, and CNN's Senior Law Enforcement Analyst.

Andrew, you know, I've talked about this before. I mean, is it clear to you why we don't know more, at this point?

Especially - I mean, it's fascinating to me that someone can take a meandering walk, in Washington, D.C., at a time like that, and lay down pipe bombs, and we don't - that there's not more publicly-known, at this stage, or that this person has been apprehended?

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, I know. Anderson, it's amazing, right? In this day and age, when every house, has a Ring doorbell camera, on it, and there's video surveillance, every time we turn around? It's just extraordinary, to think that this person is still unidentified.

But I have to point out that these investigations are particularly hard. If you look back at, you know, the best example, of course, is the Unabomber, who took, I think, took the FBI, something, in the neighborhood of 15 years, maybe 17 years, of investigation, to ultimately identified Unabomber.

And that was, of course, only after he submitted a manifesto. And the FBI engineered to have that published in "The Washington Post," and "The New York Times." And then, his brother stepped forward, when he recognized it, and identified him.

These are very, very tough cases. There's no doubt in my mind that the Bureau is doing everything they possibly can. They just don't have much to work with.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, I remember the case. And I think you and I've talked about this, even in the past, of someone, who, in New York City, rode a bicycle, up to - I can't remember, if it was a recruiting station that in Times Square?

MCCABE: A recruiting station.

COOPER: Yes. And--


COOPER: --and set a bomb. And it was caught on video, or on whatever surveillance camera, and they've never been caught.

MCCABE: The infamous bicycle bomber, right? The best piece of evidence we had was the bicycle that was ultimately recovered, and is thought to have been used, by the bomber, in that crime. And that person has gone unidentified and, of course, unarrested, since that time.

So, if you're incredibly careful, about the type of evidence that you leave, on the device, if you never touch it, without gloves on your hands, and you handle it, in a kind of protected way, so that it doesn't pick up sort of trace evidence that would be left on a device like that, and you're careful to conceal yourself, in the delivery of that device? It's not easy, but it can be done, to evade detection, in this way.

COOPER: Also, I mean, I know - and we're not - we're not saying anything that anybody doesn't probably already know.

But there's often talk about the fingerprint, of a - the device itself, an explosive device itself that bomb-makers often, the way they do something, has a, you know, each person maybe does it differently.

I don't know, if pipe bombs are so simple that that may not be the case. But, I mean, they obviously have the devices. So, they were able to look at that. And clearly, that has not led them anywhere, at this stage, either.

MCCABE: That's true. But that really becomes important, as we go forward. So, we refer to that, as the signature of the device, the way the device is constructed.

Maybe the way the end caps are welded onto the pipe, the types of materials that they use. This was homemade black powder. So, that will leave some sort of unique chemical signature.

So, all that will be important, the next time, this person leaves a device somewhere, investigators will likely be able to match it to this one. But, right now, if it's the first time he's done it? We're really working hard case.

COOPER: Yes. Andrew McCabe, I appreciate it. Thank you.

MCCABE: Thanks.

COOPER: More high-stakes diplomatic talks, on the Russia-Ukraine crisis today, we'll speak with a former Commander, of the U.S. Army Forces in Europe, who recently traveled to Ukraine.



COOPER: Tensions are still boiling, over in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, despite high-level diplomatic talks, today.

According to a State Department official, in a call today, with Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, didn't give an indication that Russia will de-escalate from the Ukraine border.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian President Zelensky announced, what he called, a format, of political cooperation, involving Ukraine, the U.K., and Poland.

And, in Moscow, Russian President Putin, accused the U.S., of attempting, to draw Russia, into an armed conflict, with Ukraine, after talks with the Hungarian Prime Minister.

Despite efforts, to ease tensions, it is a different story at the border.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Half a dozen soldiers, in snow-covered trenches, no sign of heavy weapons.

Russian-backed separatists are just half a mile away.


WARD (on camera): (FOREIGN LANGUAGE) every day?

He's saying that every night there's fighting, once it gets dark.

WARD (voice-over): These front lines have been frozen, for years. A Russian offensive would change that, in an instant.


COOPER: And joining us now, is CNN Chief White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins.

How's the White House responding to this latest - the latest comments, from Putin?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, remember, Anderson, this is kind of the first time, they are also hearing, from President Putin, in quite some time.

Because, he and President Biden have not spoken since December. He has been virtually silent, in these last several weeks, as they've continued to amass, their Russian forces, on Ukraine's borders.

And so, when he comes out today, with the Hungarian Prime Minister? And he's accusing the United States, of trying to draw Russia, into armed conflict. He's accusing the U.S., of ignoring their security demands.

And that written response that the U.S. sent last week, the one that we were talking about, last night that Russia says they still haven't really responded to that they are working on responding to, right now.

And also, accusing NATO, of, the word he used was, swindling Russia. I mean, making these claims basically laying the blame, of what's been happening, at the feet of the United States, and of the West.

And this is something that the White House was pushing back on, today, saying that everything that Putin is saying, should be taken basically, with a grain of salt.



JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I mean, this is - you know, Secretary Blinken has used, some of these analogies, in the past.

But when the fox is screaming from the top of the henhouse that he's scared of the chickens, which is essentially what they're doing? That fear isn't reported as a statement of fact.

And as you watch President Putin, screaming about the fear of Ukraine, and the Ukrainians? That should not be reported as a statement of fact.

We know who the fox is in this case. We have seen the buildup of troops at the border. We have seen them move troops to Belarus, on another border.

And our role, in the United States, is to work with other countries, around the world, to keep that border - door to diplomacy open, because certainly all of our preference is to de-escalate and to prevent an invasion from happening. But that is up to President Putin to make that decision.


COLLINS: Now, Anderson, one thing, we are not hearing, from the White House, as much, is this talk about an invasion, being potentially imminent.

Of course, that was the word that you heard people, like the Press Secretary, use several times, in the Briefing Room. The President himself said that if he had to guess, he would believe that Russia was going to go into Ukraine.

But today, in an interview, with NPR, the ambassador - the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield said she wasn't going to use the word, imminent, because they are still trying to give Russia, this basically a diplomatic off-ramp, is how she referred to it.

And there was some hope, from U.S. officials, based on the comments that Putin made today, talking about continuing dialog, responding to the United States, maybe having the French President come and visit Moscow that, maybe that diplomacy is still an option here, and that is a path forward.

Really, everyone's waiting to see, as you know, Putin is scheduled to go to China, for the start of the Olympics, at the end of this week. So, everyone's kind of watching and waiting to see. But it was significant, to hear from Putin, for the first time, in several weeks, today, on this.

COOPER: Yes. Kaitlan, appreciate it. Kaitlan Collins, at the White House, thank you.

Joining us now is the former Commander of the U.S. Army Forces in Europe, and the Pershing Chair, at the Center for European Policy Analysis, retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, who was in Ukraine, over the weekend, spoke with President Zelensky.

General Hodges, appreciate you being with us. I'm wondering what you saw, and what you heard, in Kyiv, and how you assess the situation, on the ground there.


First of all, I was impressed with President Zelensky. That guy is a fighter. He is not confused about the threat. He understands very clearly what the threat from the Kremlin is.

But he also, is working hard, to try and keep his population, let's say, calm and confident, about their preparations. And, of course, this is having a significant impact on their economy, as well.

COOPER: In your meeting with Zelinsky, I mean, was it clear to you, where his head is at, tonight, with the threat from Russia?

I mean, there's been this debate about the word, imminent, essentially, that the White House has been using. We've heard from number of Ukrainian officials, who've spoken off the record, pushing back on the idea of imminent.

HODGES: Well, I think it's probably a good thing that the White House is backing away a little bit, from the word, imminent, because that implies, obviously, as you know, that it's absolutely going to happen.

I think that in the Zelensky government, they believe that this pressure is going to continue, in hopes that the government cracks somehow, and then finally gives in to some sort of concession to the Kremlin. And, of course, that the same thing would happen with all of us that there would be a crack somewhere.

And, if you understand that, then you can actually withstand it, for a longer period of time. They know that the Russian forces, what they're doing now, they really can do this indefinitely.

COOPER: What are the capabilities of the Ukrainian forces? I mean, I've read that they've improved a lot, over the last several years. And obviously, the U.S. and others have been sending over Javelins and other more high-tech weaponry.

What would a fight look like?

HODGES: Well, I was listening to Clarissa's report, earlier. And, of course, she's right. They're in those trenches. And she has a feel for what it looks like, in that particular segment.

But Ukrainian Armed Forces have improved significantly, since 2014. The United States, Canada, U.K., we've been working with them. And frequently, my soldiers would say, "Sir, we're learning so much from Ukrainians, about what it's like to fight, against Russians."

And the Ukrainians are very, very tech savvy. They are adaptable. The equipment that we provided, they immediately put it to use. So, this is a - this is a good ground force.

Where the Russians, of course, have the overmatch, is going to be, in terms of naval capabilities there, in the Black Sea, in the Sea of Azov, air forces. So, there is a mismatch, in certain aspects.


But, on the ground, I think that we're not going to see this big giant red arrow, going across Ukraine, towards Kyiv, because the Russians don't have the capability, at least, not yet, to actually be able to do this. There will be a lot of casualties.

COOPER: And there's also been a lot of talk about the Ukrainian population, and their willingness, perhaps, for a more protracted conflict, of a different variety. Do you think that's realistic? I mean, again, this is all dependent on a Russian invasion.

HODGES: Sure. So, if there is a new Russian offensive, and they do attempt to drive deep, into Ukraine? I'd tell you, I would hate to be a Russian truck driver, in a convoy, because there will be thousands of Ukrainians that are armed.

There's a sense of determination and defiance that I've encountered when I've spoken with Ukrainians. This is not going to be pretty. And I don't want to romanticize the idea of 30,000 people with AK-47s in the woods. But this will be - this will be ugly.

And, of course, the Russians will retaliate, in a way, where a lot of innocent people will be killed, well, just be clear about, who we're dealing with here.


HODGES: And these Territorial Defense Forces, we're a long way, from them being ready to fight. There's some organizational things, and training, of course. But I think what struck me was the determination and the spirit.


HODGES: Ukrainians are going to fight.

COOPER: Lieutenant General Hodges, really appreciate your time. Thank you.

HODGES: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up, the man many consider to be the NFL's best player ever, Tom Brady, officially retiring. Many of his superfans are having a bit of trouble accepting that.

A familiar face, on this program, will be here, to share the woes, as he waves goodbye, to a champion. That's next.



COOPER: Well, tonight marks a historic moment, in the history of this program. The mention of football on three consecutive broadcasts. The previous couple days were sort of suspect. But today, it is legit.

Tom Brady is officially really, seriously, actually retiring, after days of suspense, following the ESPN report that upstaged this weekend's Conference Championships. The seven-times Super Bowl winning quarterback confirmed to the world today, he is finished with the game.

While the news is beyond bittersweet, for Tampa Bay Bucs fans, it is simply the end of a way of life, for the New England Patriots faithful. That includes my colleague, John Berman.

Not sure, if you've noticed, but John has been telegraphing, his heartache, in between anchoring newscasts. You'll notice his coat and tie had been replaced by his Brady Patriots jersey.

And a fellow broadcaster is starting to get a little worried.


BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And one last thing, before I go here, Alisyn and Victor?


COSTAS: Somebody - somebody's got to get John Berman, on a therapist couch. I'm worried about that boy.


COSTAS: In the aftermath.


COSTAS: I'm just worried about him.

CAMEROTA: We are. We all are. We're working on it behind-the-scenes.


CAMEROTA: Don't worry, Bob, OK?


COOPER: And John Berman is here, to talk about his feelings.

John, this is a safe space. There's no judgments here. Are you OK? How are you doing? How are you really--

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: Talking does help, Anderson.

COOPER: --how are you really, really doing?

BERMAN: I'm confused a little bit. I feel a little bit lost.


BERMAN: But I'm pulling it through, with the help of friends, and family, and colleagues, like you. And I really do--


BERMAN: --I really do appreciate the check-in.

COOPER: So, what's going on? Why is it such a big blow to you, a big deal, to you, and to many people, in Brady-Nation?

BERMAN: So, it's 22 years. I mean, that's like a big chunk of my life. I'm not that old of a guy.


BERMAN: I mean, Tom Brady, I've had a relationship, with Tom Brady, longer than my wife and I have been married. We've been--

COOPER: Wow! OK. Yes. Don't, but--

BERMAN: We've been married more than 20 years!

COOPER: Yes. I don't think--

BERMAN: You know?

COOPER: --you should say that your wife. It's not the kind of thing - I don't know much about. But I--

BERMAN: Hall--


BERMAN: Hall pass. Hall pass.

Listen, also, with Brady, look, if you're a Boston sports fan, in all seriousness, you were used to things going wrong. I mean, that's just what happen to you. If you were a Red Sox fan, the Patriots were terrible, for a while. Things just ended badly. And then, with Brady, all of a sudden, they didn't.


BERMAN: All of a sudden, things stopped being bad, and things got really, really good.

COOPER: So, what exactly - what's he going to - do you know what he's going to do now? I mean, what happens with football player, after they retire? It's obviously, for Brady, it's a whole another level. His name recognition. He's globally-known. He's obviously, I assume, has lots of money in the bank. What happens?

BERMAN: I think he's going to succeed. My hunch is whatever he does, it'll go - it'll just go well. No, he's into these hyper, into this nutrition stuff. He's got this company, TB12--

COOPER: Right.

BERMAN: --where he doesn't eat nightshades, and he eats things that make his joints, not grind or something. He's also married to Gisele Bundchen, who I think has made more money, in her career, than he has. Substantially more. So, I think, I have a sense that they're going to find a way to be happy.

COOPER: I hope so. They also have adorable kids.


COOPER: So, I hope that he can spend a lot more time with them.

I've seen a lot of - as you know, I really don't know much about football. I did catch the end of the 49ers game, this weekend, because I was on a plane, next to somebody, who happened to be watching. And so, I turned it on, on my screen. And it was enjoyable to watch.

Is he the GOAT? I've seen a lot of people referring to as the "GOAT," which I looked up, and I know it's the "Greatest Of All Time."


COOPER: But is he - is he the GOAT?

BERMAN: I think, in football, the answer is a clear, yes. Seven Super Bowls. No one else is even close. No one else is even remotely close. He was in 10. And the success he's had, over the duration, is just - it's just, you can't argue against it.

If you're talking about other sports, I mean, there's Michael Jordan. Bill Russell, with the Celtics, won 11 championships. He won an Olympic gold medal. He coached to the championships. He won a college championship. Bill Russell might be the winningest human, in the history of mankind.

But Brady, the GOAT, when it comes to football.

COOPER: And I'm being told to get your reaction to a headline. I have no judgment on this headline. I didn't write it.


"Tom Brady, who lost two Super Bowls to the Giants during his legendary 22-year-old"--


COOPER: --"22-year NFL career, retires."

I'm assuming that's not how you would--

BERMAN: I think that--

COOPER: --describe it.

BERMAN: I think that's just cruel.

COOPER: Yes. That seemed like a slight--

BERMAN: I think there're mean--

COOPER: --of some story.

BERMAN: --mean malicious people, out there, who want to do nothing besides hurt.

COOPER: That was probably a Giants fan, who wrote that--

BERMAN: I think they need to--

COOPER: --somewhere in a Control Room, somewhere.


BERMAN: I know. Absolutely. And I think they should be ashamed of themselves.


BERMAN: Frankly.

COOPER: So, how long?

BERMAN: Now, look?

COOPER: How long--

BERMAN: Yes, yes.

COOPER: --are you going to wear that jersey for?

BERMAN: I don't intend to take it off, ever. It's actually, the funny thing is, I got this jersey, and I used to only wear it, when the Patriots were in the Super Bowl. But it's got a lot of use. I mean, as a result, I've worn it a lot of times.


BERMAN: So, you know?


BERMAN: It's Patriots Super Bowls and CNN live shots.

COOPER: All right, well, John Berman, I wish you well. And I'm sorry for what you're going through. And I hope, I'm sure, Tom Brady feels the same way, about breaking up with you that you feel about him breaking up. So, maybe he'll give you a call.

BERMAN: Anderson, it means a lot. Thank you. COOPER: All right, John, thanks very much.

And we'll be right back.


COOPER: The news continues. Let's turn things over now to Don and "DON LEMON TONIGHT."