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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
New Video Shows Intense Firefighting Near Kyiv; Russia Firing On Ravaged Mariupol From The Sea; Senate Hearing For Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson; Zelensky Says Mariupol Is "Just Ruins Like Armageddon". Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 22, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Number three, analyze the law. If you didn't -- if you were listening closely, you'd think this was a conservative judge. So this is an eminently qualified nominee who is likely to pass through the committee and then get confirmation -- Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: It certainly seems like it is going in that direction. All right, thank you so much, Elliot, I appreciate your time.
And thanks to all of you. AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Good evening.
Two big stories tonight: The history making confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman named to the court. Senator. Senator Cory Booker has just questioned Judge Jackson and the proceedings have broken for 20 minutes with three more senators remaining. Senator Amy Klobuchar joins us shortly.
We begin with evening's other big story: Russia's continued assault on Ukraine. We just got a new video of the battle for the outskirts of Kyiv part of what now appears to be a broader Ukrainian counter offensive. What you're about to see is a firefight along a rail line about 18 miles northeast of the city. You're going to hear one of the soldiers who manages to get off three RPG rounds in quick succession shout "Allahu Akbar."
The Ukrainian politician who published this video clip says that he and others are actually Chechen fighters, immigrants who've taken up arms against Russia. CNN cannot independently confirm this, we should point out. With that in mind, here is the video.
[VIDEO CLIP PLAYS]
COOPER: I'll talk more about this a little bit later tonight with CNN military analyst and retired Army three-star General Mark Hertling.
Ukrainian forces also pushed back just west of Kyiv reportedly, the area though extensively damaged is important for Ukrainians to try to control because it might help prevent Russian forces from encircling the capital. The Pentagon says it cannot confirm the area was retaken, but spokesman John Kirby did say this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.) PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We have seen indications that the Ukrainians are going a bit more on the offense now. They have been defending very smartly, very nimbly, very creatively in places that they believe are the right places to defend.
The Ukrainians themselves, several days ago said that they were planning on counter attacks, and so I think we have seen indications that they are moving in that direction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As for Russian forces, they continue leveling cities and killing civilians something that Vladimir Putin's top spokesman has denied and CNN's Christiane Amanpour pressed him on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESMAN: Russian military are not hitting civil aims, civil targets.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Look, I know you guys say that you're not targeting civilians, and you've just told me it was a Special Military Operation, which is I know what the Kremlin military censorship demands.
It is a war and it is an invasion and we are all watching it all over global television, no matter what you tell your own people. There are so many civilian targets that it's hard to count them right now. And, you know, you may deny it, but even the Chinese, Dmitry, even the Chinese who are your friends have expressed a very, very deep concern about civilian targets.
The real question is, what is President Putin's strategic goal in blasting the civilian infrastructure of places like Mariupol, which we are watching, turn to smithereens for the last several weeks now? What's the strategic goal?
PESKOV: Well, the strategic goal is to clear up the Mariupol from nationalistic regiments who are there in a heavily covered environment, and so -- and by the way, they are simply not letting people out from the city, from the town and this is a problem, because now we're receiving lots of refugees coming from there and they simply tell us, they are eyewitnesses. They simply tell us that they were used like a shield.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Putin's spokesmen referring to eyewitnesses. This next one is not in Russia and not under Russian jurisdiction. He's the Deputy Mayor of Mariupol and here is what he is saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEPUTY MAYOR SERGEI ORLOV, MARIUPOL, UKRAINE: The city is under continuous bombing from 50 bombs to 100 bombs, Russian aircraft drops each day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Another busy night. More now from CNN's Sam Kiley, who joins us from Kyiv.
Sam, you hear the Russian spokesperson talking about people from Mariupol fleeing into Russia saying they are being held hostage. I'm wondering what you make of that, and his claims that people aren't being allowed out.
We have seen residents in Mariupol using improvised or even unofficial humanitarian corridors to try to seek safety in further -- in other areas in the Ukrainian territory and some of them being shot at.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, the claim that people coming out of Mariupol have gone into the Russian controlled areas, particularly in what used -- at least to be known as the Donbas, the areas captured by Russian-backed rebels back in 2014 are true. They are relatively low in number, we understand that these are people who have got family connections, who is Russian speaking, may not be entirely comfortable, maybe deeply reluctant to go into those locations, but they want to stay alive.
There is independent reporting on the fact that there have been some people fleeing into the Russian held areas. The point is, that is the only way that the Russians are allowing people out of town. The people who have left Mariupol going in the opposite directions have had to run a gauntlet of Russian shelling, Russian random machine guns, children have been killed and injured on that journey.
Cars have been shot up. It is mostly private cars that have been able to get out. And indeed, we've got reporting today that eight buses or rather 11 buses that were supposed to be going in as part of a government humanitarian mission to help get people out have actually been stolen alongside -- and their drivers kidnapped by Russian troops on that road between Zaporizhzhia and Mariupol, which is the main evacuation route being taken by the those who want to evacuate into Ukrainian government territory, which seems to be the majority.
There is no evidence whatsoever, of course, that they're being held against their will inside Mariupol. This is a city that has been entirely surrounded and is being bombarded, now being bombarded and it has been from the sea by naval big guns on top of all the other ordnance being dropped on the heads of the mostly civilian population of that city.
COOPER: Sam, what do we know about fighting in and around Kyiv? We played this video earlier, which is a little confusing, because it is said to be some Chechens who are fighting on behalf of Ukraine. We've certainly heard of, you know, obviously, Chechen is ruled by a pro- Vladimir Putin thug who he put into power after leveling Grozny and installing that man in power.
Are there Chechens fighting on the side of Ukraine and just in general, what have you seen in terms of activity over the last day or so?
KILEY: Yes, there are Chechen units here actually. And there have been. There are some all Muslim units, too, as part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces or as militias who were helping to fight off the initial Russian invasion back in 2014-2015. Now most of them have been officially incorporated into the Armed Forces or attached themselves to the Armed Forces.
They include volunteers from around, particularly the caucuses -- the southern caucuses. And of course, a lot of Chechens who fought against the Russians are not happy with the rule of Kadyrov, who has been claiming at any rate through his Twitter account to be marching around on the other side of these battles.
Now this battle that we recorded we think, to be pretty sure, we geo located to the eastern side of the Dnieper River most of the combat lately though, today. Certainly Anderson, has been on this side, on the side that I am on, the western side of the river, and about five to eight, 10 miles north of where I'm standing in the northern edges and suburbs of the city where there has been very heavy bombardment, very visible bombardments along the skyline as part, we think of this ongoing Ukrainian offensive.
COOPER: Sam Kiley, appreciate it. Be careful.
COOPER: Firsthand perspective now from Lesia Vasylenko, member of Ukrainian Parliament. When we spoke just before airtime, she was in a village just west of the capital.
COOPER: Miss Vasylenko thank you so much for joining us.
President Zelenskyy has said that he believes a compromise may be found with Russia, but obviously, the fight has to continue. You've been clear you think Ukraine should not cede any land? Where do you -- are you open to some sort of compromise or some sort of negotiation?
LESIA VASYLENKO, UKRAINIAN MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Yes, of course, there is always room for compromise. We can talk about the sums of reparations that Russia has to pay to Ukraine and all the other countries that have been supporting Ukraine through the years, and through this particular month of escalation of Russian aggression.
We can talk of a discount, that's the compromise we are prepared to go on.
COOPER: Nothing involving land.
VASYLENKO: Why should we? If Ukraine goes on in concessions as to land or as to any other of the demands that Putin is making right now, we're actually going to be putting the whole world at risk.
A very, very big defense and security risk for the framework of peace and security that exists today in the world. If Ukraine is going to be ceding any land, we're going to be sending a message to all the other totalitarian leaders and dictators out there who will clearly have the notion that it is okay to go ahead to, to push on with aggression and then at the end of the day, the international community is going to do nothing, and they may even end up as winners with some land slashed off.
COOPER: There has been a concern by both the U.S. and NATO that Belarus could join the war, the invasion with Russia, could send in forces, how much would that change the nature of the conflict?
VASYLENKO: Not much. I believe that the forces in Belarus are not as numerous as they say they are. Plus, not many people in Belarus want to fight, I am in constant contact with many friends that I have in Belarus, or Belarusians who have actually left the country, but are still very well connected and they say all in one voice that the Belarusian Army is not going to be fighting in Ukraine.
The only way that they can be made to fight is if Russian officers actually put in charge of them and if the death squads are actually marching behind the Belarusian Army, making them go in and invade Ukraine.
There have been notices handed in by the soldiers of Belarusian Army and the officers of the Belarusian Army, saying that they will not invade Ukraine, and they don't want to do it, and the resilience is very strong. So even if they do -- even if the Belarusians are made to cross the border and walk into Ukraine, I doubt that this will be a force that Ukraine will really have to reckon with, and I'm pretty sure that most of the Belarusian soldiers will just be very happy to lay down their arms and actually be taken hostage by the Ukrainian military.
COOPER: Given the success that Ukrainian forces have had on the ground against Russian forces, are you concerned that that Russia may just try to do to Kyiv, what they have been doing to Mariupol, essentially, just try to destroy the city?
VASYLENKO: That is one of the most difficult questions that I have heard over the last weeks. And unfortunately, I have to answer that yes. Russia, the war tactics they are employing, they are absolutely barbaric. Some call it in the form of general scorched earth, but it's more than that.
The Russian Army is deliberately targeting civilians. They're targeting women and children in particular.
COOPER: Lesia Vasylenko, I appreciate your time, and please be careful.
VASYLENKO: Thank you very much and Glory to Ukraine. Keep supporting Ukraine.
COOPER: We've also been checking throughout this entire invasion with Olena Gnes who has been living with her three young children in a basement in Kyiv while her husband who was formerly a journalist is now volunteering to fight.
We spoke again tonight.
COOPER: Olena, you're still under curfew now. How are you doing? How are your kids doing?
OLENA GNES, UKRAINIAN SHELTERING IN KYIV: Well, I cannot say we are absolutely fine, but I try to stay strong and I try not to panic and you know, just to stay calm, and even to bring some joy to my children.
Before the curfew, I bought them some new toys. So they were able to play with them today. Sorry.
COOPER: It's okay.
GNES: But today in the afternoon, there were missiles that were -- they were hit in the sky by our air defense system, but parts of the missiles, they fell in our neighborhood. And one just fell into the river, very close to the beach where we usually swim in the summer with children, and the other one, it fell on the buildings and caused the fire.
And the disturbing message for me is that this happened in the middle of the day. So before missiles were falling, like at night, or very early in the morning when we were hiding in the shelter, and this time, it fell in the afternoon when usually we go home, you know, for a couple of hours and that's means it comes closer to us.
COOPER: And you can hear that?
GNES: Oh, yes. We could hear it very clearly because we went a little bit upstairs just to see the light from the windows from the basement. And all of a sudden all the glass was shaking and there was one loud explosion and like everybody like stood still, then there was another explosion.
And I said run into the shelter, and we started running and we ran and yes -- and later we found out what was it because you know, when it happens, you do not understand what's happening.
But you know what, my husband told me later, he said you know, if you hear the explosion, it's good because that means you're still alive. So it's good.
COOPER: You were saying -- I mean, all the all the time we've talked you've spend so much time trying to make life as normal as possible for your children. I know you said right before the curfew you got some gifts for them. What did you get?
GNES: We were just -- before the curfew, there were long queues everywhere to all the supermarkets here, so I decided not to stay for such a long time. So I just was like walking in the neighborhood looking what is available and what was available is a shop where I could buy toys. I just said, okay, kids can go and choose wherever you want. And Katya has chosen a paper house.
COOPER: A doll house? We're seeing it now, yes. It's beautiful.
GNES: This is very symbolical because it looks like she wants to have the feeling of home, you know, having her home is very important to her. And Daras picked up a helicopter, a police helicopter with police cars because for him I think it's very important to feel protected and protect the others and to restore justice because they say what's happening right now is not fair, because this is what I'm telling them and what they understand.
COOPER: So he -- I know, the last time we spoke you said that he wants to now be a military pilot so he has the police helicopter now, I guess to practice a little bit. I love what you said that -- it's so interesting what you said that Katya is -- the house -- the doll house for her is important because the idea of having a home is so important.
GNES: Yes, yes, exactly. Exactly.
COOPER: Does it -- the last time you were at home or one of the times you were at home I remember you saying when -- I mean, the apartment that you lived in before the war that you said to the kids at a certain point, we're going to go home and he meant back to the basement, that home has become the basement.
Do you think Katya feels that way?
GNES: A little bit. Yes, a little bit. We brought already so many things here into the basement. We made this place like almost like home. We have here our pillows, our like small blankets, some toys. We sleep here all the time. So it's already almost one month that we sleep here in the basement and we really feel here like more relaxed and protected than upstairs on the eighth floor.
And I don't want to leave lose this home while we are at war to move anywhere. And we have this illusion of safety here.
COOPER: You feel the basement is safer than the lottery of staying in an apartment?
GNES: Yes, yes. For me, this is my maybe subjective feeling, but I feel here -- I can -- I know that here, I can fall asleep and I can feel relaxed and then I know that children are relaxed if they see me relaxed and they can sleep if I can sleep and I know that it's only Milav (ph) like my husband is on duty, so he's not available right now, so three kids, they are my responsibility and I just need to be safe and strong enough. And I decided to stay in Kyiv, not to move anywhere, but at least
here, I have to be as safe as possible because I'm not going to be a martyr, yes, I don't want to die. I want to survive and for my children to survive. And in this situation, I think I'm doing the most of what I can do to keep them safe. And at the same time to be useful for my country and to win in this war.
COOPER: I know you were able to see your husband, I think, it was yesterday for about 30 minutes. We have some video of him playing with the kids. It seems so normal that scene -- if you if you looked at it, you would never know what was going on outside.
GNES: Yes, yes. And basically what you see this mess around in the room, basically, normal for us to -- this is how it looked before the war, it is not because of the war. This is our normal situation when children mess around. Like our living room is like a big playing ground where they do no different kinds of things. Yes. And they really wanted to know to eat him, to kiss him, to bite him, to hug him. Yes, they miss him a lot.
COOPER: Yes. Well, I'm so glad to talk to you and I wish you well, and I wish you continued strength.
GNES: Thank you very much. Thank you. Hope to see you again.
COOPER: Yes, we will.
COOPER: Olena Gnes and her family.
We will take up the apparent Ukrainian counteroffensive shortly. We are with retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.
Next, with historic Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson now in a brief recess, we'll look at the day's key moments and we'll be joined by Senator Amy Klobuchar.
COOPER: Senate Judiciary confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson are going to late into the evening tonight. They pick up again after a brief recess in just a few minutes with questions remaining from three more senators.
In a moment, we'll talk to Senator Amy Klobuchar on what is, after all history making night, but first to catch you up and all that has been happening until now, here is CNN's Paula Reid.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On the second day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson forcefully pushing back against G.O.P. attacks, accusing her of being lenient in sentencing child porn offenders.
KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, U.S. SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE NOMINEE: As a mother and a judge who has had to deal with these cases, I was thinking that nothing could be further from the truth. The statute says, calculate the guidelines, but also look at various aspects of this offense and impose a sentence that is, quote, "sufficient, but not greater than necessary to promote the purposes of punishment."
REID (voice over): Those guidelines she says are out of date as they suggest tougher sentences based on the number of photographs received in the mail.
JACKSON: And that made totally total sense before when we didn't have the internet, when we didn't have distribution. But the way that the guideline is now structured, based on that set of circumstances is leading to extreme disparities in the system.
REID (voice over): But Republican Senator Josh Hawley still used his entire allotment of time to talk about the issue.
SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Judge, he was 18. These kids are eight. I don't see in what sense they are peers. I've got a nine-year-old, a seven-year-old and a 16-month-old at home and I live in fear that they will be exposed to, let alone, exploited in this kind of material.
JACKSON: This particular defendant had just graduated from high school and some of, perhaps not all, when you were looking at the records, but some of the materials that he was looking at were older teenagers, were older victims attempting to take into account all of the relevant factors and do justice individually in each case.
REID (voice over): Today was the first chance lawmakers had to question Jackson with another big focus being her previous representation of Guantanamo Bay detainees.
JACKSON: Federal public defenders don't get to pick their clients. They have to represent whoever comes in and it's a service.
REID (voice over): The issue touched off this tense exchange.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): ... suggest that the President of your own party released them in --
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I am suggesting the system has failed miserably and advocates to change this system like she was advocating would destroy our ability to protect this country. We are at war. We're not fighting a crime.
REID (voice over): Senator Ted Cruz zeroed in on critical race theory, the idea that U.S. systems are inherently racist using charts and books.
JACKSON: Senator --
REID (voice over): It was one of the few times Jackson appeared visibly annoyed.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Do you agree with this book that is being taught with kids that babies are racist?
JACKSON: Senator, I have not reviewed any of those books, any of those ideas. They don't come up in my work as a judge, which I'm respectfully here to address.
REID (voice over): Democrats, though often use their time to highlight the historic significance of her nomination and provide a reprieve for Jackson during the grueling day-long hearing.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): I think you're doing very well, and as you can see, this is a bit of a tough place.
REID (voice over): Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: With that, we are joined now by Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat from Minnesota and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
How do you think, Senator, Judge Jackson is doing so far?
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): She is such a strong person, Anderson, and she showed incredible grace under pressure, 11 hours of grilling and counting with more to come. She has shown she's smart, that she knows the law. And she's been able to explain the role of a judge. You know, it's not to make policy. It's to make tough decisions about cases. And the other thing that got a little lost as I was listening to all of the recordings that just played, you know, her brother was a police officer served in the military, her uncle was a detective. Her other uncle was the chief of police in Miami, and she has received a letter of endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police, people that know her well that have seen her perform as a judge.
And I think all of that came up. But the biggest thing that came out was her humanity, her role as a mom and balancing that with her job as a judge, and just really what a good person she was, there was a lot of good energy and optimism. And I can't say that it comes at a time where, as you just pointed out on your program, we're in the middle of this horrendous, horrendous attack on Ukraine. It makes us realize how important our democracy is. And as we're coming out of this pandemic, our moment to connect again, that'd be 300 plus million silos, but actually participate in our democracy face to face, respect each other's view --
KLOBUCHAR: -- that's the timing of her incredible nomination.
COOPER: As we've heard a number of senators, Republicans trying to pin down Judge Jackson on her view on critical race theory suggesting also that she's lenient on child porn sentencing, which she obviously forcefully disputed. I'm wonder what you make of those kind of those lines of questioning.
KLOBUCHAR: OK, first of all, on policy front, I remember being at other hearings, including Justice Coney Barrett's hearing, and many, many times she said, that is not my role as a judge. My role is to decide cases and not policy. She didn't answer those questions. I've had many, many people before her, including Democratic nominated Republican nominated judges, that is nothing new at all. That's not their role. Secondly, when it comes to the cases, I was pointed out by some of my colleagues, our Republican colleagues that were making such a big deal about this. They have supported judges who of course, have given similar sentences in these cases in particular cases. We have seen that before.
It's just a -- it's one of the things a Supreme Court nominee highest office in the land when it comes to the judiciary, you answer questions and she's doing it well.
COOPER: It does seem that -- I'm wondering your perception of how much some of the questioning is based on, you know, holdover, anger from the confirmation hearings for judges Brett Kavanaugh or Amy Coney Barrett. And by the way, we're showing a live shot down the hall are waiting to see the Judge coming back from a short recess.
KLOBUCHAR: Right. And her parents and her family by her side throughout this entire hearing, by the way. I think that the lot of re litigating that could be done in the past. You've heard our Republican colleagues bring it up, you know, we could be talking about it all the time to because of the fact that one judge was rammed through right before the election. The other judge was held for a the opening for a long period of time. But we litigating is behind us. What's in front of us right now is incredible woman, first black woman to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, following 115 justices. She's the first one. And someone with such experience going into this as a judge, she will have more experience than four of the people that currently serve on the court when they were nominated as a judge.
So, just gives you a sense of why she's doing well in these hearings.
COOPER: Senator Amy Klobuchar, appreciate your time. Thank you.
KLOBUCHAR: It's great to be on, Anderson.
COOPER: Thank you. As the confirmation hearings get back underway, we'll have more coming up, and next we're going to go back to our coverage of the war in Ukraine with a look at the state of the battlefield from Kyiv to Mariupol.
COOPER: We're going to bring you more of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings which are ongoing just a moment. Right now we want to switch back to our coverage the war in Ukraine for broad view of where things stand after everyone was one month of fighting from outside Kyiv or Ukraine is said to be seeing some positive signs to Mariupol where today President Zelenskyy said there was nothing left there quote, just ruins like Armageddon.
CNN's Phil Black has details.
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ukrainian forces are pushing close to the capital. They say they've regained control of this road and the surrounding area. It's Makariv, a short drive west from Kyiv. The head of the region's police released this video of his visit soon after, it shows him reclaiming a melted Ukrainian flag from the local police station.
He says Makariv is still under fire and every second civilian building is damaged or destroyed. There isn't much left. But if Ukraine can now hold this ground, it could prove crucial in stopping Russian forces from encircling the capital.
In Ukraine's east, the city of Kharkiv hacking. Another much wanted price for the invading force has reported a noticeable increase in Russian munitions fired from a far. Intelligence assessments and Western governments say that's happening more because fighting up close isn't going Russia's way. But still no city in Ukraine has been bombarded like Mariupol. There is only daily torment for the hundreds of thousands still under siege there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Each day Mariupol is destroyed more and more. Till now in our estimation about 90% of our infrastructure is damaged and destroyed. It is under continuous bond then, from 50 bombs to 100 bombs. Russian aircraft drops each, each day.
BLACK (voice-over): But Vladimir Putin spokesman is still comfortable saying this.
DMITRI PESKOV, PRESIDENT PUTIN'S SPOKEMAN: Our military are targeting only military goals and military objects on the territory of Ukraine not civil ones. Russian military are not hitting civil aims, civil charges.
BLACK (voice-over): One of the still unanswered questions of this conflict, how great are Russian losses on the battlefield? The Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda appeared briefly to know the answer. In a report published Monday, it said 9,861 deaths had been recorded by Russia's Defense Ministry with more than 16,000 wounded. Then much later that day, the report was edited, and the numbers removed, the tabloid said it was hacked, and someone inserted false information. The published figure is notable because it tracks with U.S. Defense Department estimates of up to 10,000 Russian deaths in Ukraine. After four weeks, Russia's invasion is stalled with little momentum and no significant winds. No problem says President Putin spokesman.
PESKOV: We're speaking about special military operation that is going on, and it is going on strictly in accordance with the plans and with purposes that were established beforehand.
BLACK (voice-over): Phil Blank, CNN, Lviv, Ukraine.
COOPER: Well let's get some perspective now from retired Lieutenant General and CNN military analyst Mark Hertling.
General Hertling, you saw the report, the Russians presumably have the munitions to be able to decimate other cities like they have Mariupol. Do they have the troop levels to be able to actually hold to move into the cities afterward and hold the cities?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: They do not Anderson. You know, what we have to look at is the strategic objectives of Mr. Putin was to replace the Ukrainian government and destroy through a battle of annihilation, the Ukrainian army. That's the strategic objectives. His operational objectives were to occupy Kyiv, and overthrow the government and then surround the Ukrainian army in a battle of annihilation to get rid of them. He has failed in all four of those counts, not only on the strategic basis, but on the operational basis, he does not have the force, as many people have been saying, from the very beginning, he threw 190,000 troops surrounding Ukraine four weeks ago. And what you have to consider is not all of those are combat troops, I would say less than 50% are frontline fighting truce, because that's how an army works, you have to have just as many people supporting an army as you have fighting.
So that means he's got about 80,000, at most soldiers to put in six different places, he does not have the force to overcome some of these cities. At the same time, the Ukrainian force, about 240,000 or so when they first started this battle has a lot better opportunity to move around, conduct this act of defense, and they're doing a phenomenal job, in my view right now, although it is very tough.
COOPER: So I mean, is this if it becomes just a war of attrition, with Russia, just slamming missiles into cities? And you know, Ukrainian fighters fighting valiantly and pushing back on the ground, how does that resolve? I mean, what does that go?
HERTLING: Well, there are going to be some key points. And I think we're seeing some of that right now. Mariupol is the perfect example. It is exactly like if you -- if any of your listeners want to look at the Battle of Grozny Chechnya, in December of 1994 to '95. It is exactly the same tactics and operations that the Russian forces use there --
COOPER: Well that's terrifying.
HERTLING: -- for a one city of a smaller size with less people. So you know, what we're seeing is they can't hold Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol, attempt to gain in Odessa are some of the Kherson. I mean, you could go on and name the cities where there's literally hundreds of thousand people.
So right now we're seeing them focused on Mariupol, and the citizens are putting up a great fight there as well, although the city is in ruins, and it's the kind of thing that Mr. Putin has done before on multiple occasions.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, a comparison to Grozny in the '94, '95 time period and '96 time period. I mean, that's a terrifying comparison. That was a hellscape after they were done with it.
HERTLING: Yes, I think the UN called it the most destroyed city on Earth. And between 6 -- 5 and 6,000 Chechens were killed, civilians were trapped in buildings. The Russian said, oh, yes, you can come out and have a relief column, refugee calm, and as soon as they came out and started doing a column to get out of there, the Russians would bomb them again. It is exactly the same tactics that they used before they should have been held for war crimes then they need to be held for war crimes now because they are targeting specifically civilians.
COOPER: It does seem like the U.S. is, you know, trying to provide greater anti-aircraft, anti-missile capabilities to Ukrainian force. How essential will that be moving forward for them?
HERTLING: Well, both the javelins and the stringer stingers that we've talked about so many times are important. Drones will be critically important. The Ukrainians are pushing back with their artillery now. And I think that's what we're seeing outside of Kyiv. And in order to have a counter artillery battery barrage to take out the other person's artillery, you have to have counter fire radar, that kind of radar that tells you where the Russians are shooting from. But you also can strike those artillery pieces and some of the tanks with drones and with Javelin missiles. I think that's what we're seeing outside the city limits of Kyiv right now, the battle that's going on there, I would suggest in seeing the smoke coming out of that. Those are not artillery rounds, fallen Anderson, those are things burning. And I would bet that it's the Ukrainians that are actually having an effect on the Russian forces in and around Kyiv, and some of the other major places.
Remember, we're four weeks into this other than Mariupol, which has been really destroyed. Russia has not taken any other city. And that's just phenomenal based on the objectives that Putin had.
COOPER: Yes, it's stunning. Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, always appreciate it. Thank you.
Just ahead --
HERTLING: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: -- more on the breaking news stories this hour, the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson back now for from dinner break. We'll take you there live next.
[20:50:22] COOPER: The Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson have now resumed after short dinner break. So want to listen in for just a moment. Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana.
KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: -- mindful of the constraints on judicial authority.
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): OK. Well put. So let me ask, we can go to the Constitution, let's say the Bill of Rights to make to narrow the discussion and read about our explicit rights. Religious freedom are right, not to be unreasonably searched or seized freedom speech. They're right there. That's why they call them explicit. But the court has ruled we have a bunch of unenumerated rights. Am I correct?
JACKSON: The court is determined there are certain personal rights related to individual autonomy that are implicit in the concept of ordered liberty or deeply rooted in our nation's history or tradition.
KENNEDY: But they're on enumerated?
COOPER: You've been watching Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, take some questions from Senator John Kennedy. It's been a long day of questions with some particularly fiery exchanges between Judge Jackson and several Republican senators.
Want to play you one right now. This from earlier today with Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Critical race theory frames all of society as a fundamental and intractable battle between the races, it views every conflict as a racial conflict. Do you think that's an accurate way of viewing society and the world we live in?
JACKSON: Senator I don't think so. But I've never studied critical race theory and I've never used it. It doesn't come up in the work that I do as a judge
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I'm joined now by Bakari Sellers, he's a CNN political commentator, former Democratic state lawmaker in South Carolina, also the author of a children's book, new book, Who Are Your People. Also, Nia-Malika Henderson, our senior political analyst, and Jeffrey Toobin, a former federal prosecutor and CNN chief legal analyst.
Jeff, what do you make of how this is going so far?
JEFF TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the nominee is doing just fine. What was most interesting to me today was the insight about where the Republican Party is today and what putative presidential candidates are trying to do. We just saw Ted Cruz trying to use critical late race theory which had absolutely nothing to do with the judge's qualifications or her record. He just wanted to make it clear that he was against it.
But by far the weirdest half hour that we saw was Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, devoting his entire half hour to one case that the judge decided a case involving an 18-year-old accused of possessing child pornography. And it allowed Senator Hawley to talk about pedophilia and pornography in a way that was quite clear and appeal to the QAnon folk, the cult that is now a bigger part of the Republican Party and this weird obsession that QAnon has with Democrats and pedophilia.
And I think, you know, that was really the agenda that the Senator Hawley had, that had really almost nothing to do with the nomination --
COOPER: I just want to --
TOOBIN: -- of -- for the supreme --
COOPER: --play some of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-AR): It really bothers me, when in every case child porn case you've had, we've had discretion, you've sent below the guidelines and below the government's recommendation. And saying that sex offenders are truly shunned in our society. Is it your view that society is too hard on sex offenders? You say they truly are shunned in society, you wrote that many of these laws are products of a climate of fear, hatred and revenge. So just -- is that Is that still your view? I mean, do you think that these laws are too tough that were too tough on sex offenders explain what you meant in this case in 2013, and it seems to be the same thing you said many years ago.
JACKSON: Senator, it's not the same thing I said many years ago, many years ago as a law school student, I was evaluating a new set of legislation, state laws about registration, and I was analyzing them as law students do. Wasn't about the sex crime, it was about the characterization of the law. Is it a punitive law? Is it a prescriptive law? And how would a court go about determining that? That was the frame that I used, then it could have been about anything it was about the characterization of legislation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Nia, I'm wondering make of how the Judge is doing and the line of questioning.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, listen, she has displayed remarkable restraint in patients with a lot of these ridiculous questions. And I think Jeffrey Toobin is exactly right. There's a lot of dog whistling to folks, in QAnon with some of these questions. I initially said, when Judge Jackson was nominated when her name was floated, that they would try to make her a caricature and make her out to be someone who would try to force feed children critical race theory. And that's exactly what Ted Cruz tried to do in the hearings today asking her a question about whether or not she thinks babies are racist, or her answer saying this was well outside of the purview of what she would do as a justice. And what she has done already, as a judge, I think is a spot on our response.
We'll see further what other Republicans try to do. But there are many Republicans on this committee who want to run for president in 2024. Want to be on Fox News and want to use this as a fundraiser. So that's what we've seen from many Republicans. But overall, she's done quite well, I think there's nothing that we saw today, that would suggest that she won't be the next justice on the Supreme Court.
COOPER: Bakari, you know, if it's a Republican judge or, you know, or conservative judge, we often see grandstanding by people asking these questions. So it's not completely out of the realm of the history that we have seen in other hearings. I'm wondering what stands out to you about the kind of questions she's getting?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, first and foremost, I mean, we've heard these types of questions before Jeffrey Toobin, a slightly older than I am more of a scholar will probably tell you that these line of questions remind you of the same questions that Thurgood Marshall had. This is not a new playbook that the Republicans are showing for today. The fact is, they're trying to make black folk out to be hyper criminalized or sympathetic to criminals, as you see that line of questioning. You see the indoctrination of little white children or white babies as Nia talked about through CRT. But what you also see is something that's more succinct than something that's more profound.
There are two things that I noticed today. One is that you had to older black individuals, the parents of Judge Jackson, have to sit in that room with such patience and grace, and see they're overly qualified daughter have to take on this bombardment of asinine, ignorant, anti-intellectual questions being thrown at her, although she is equally if not more qualified than any justices to sit on the court. And then Anderson, you saw a black woman have to be equally, if not more qualified, sit in front of these individuals who were lobbying questions that were beneath the dignity of their office.
And so, I didn't think of it from the same perspective of Jeffrey, in terms of the most asinine line of questioning coming from Josh Hawley, because I actually gave that award to Tom Cotton. But that just goes to show you that there are many individuals who are not asking these legally succinct questions. If you disagree with her about precedent, that's fine. But she's not someone who's sympathizes with pedophilia, that's outside the lines or the bounds of what should be asked in some of these hearings. But as Nia-Malika Henderson can probably respond better than any of the other three of us on here, this is what black women or women in general have to deal with on a daily basis. This is a microcosm is probably going to backfire Republicans in a larger political sense. TOOBIN: Two minutes --
TOOBIN: Please Nia.
HENDERSON: I think that's right. And if you compare how she has had to comport herself to the way Brett Kavanaugh comported himself during his hearing when he was getting tough question, this sort of tantrum, he threw in the way she is just sitting there, taking these questions on, you know, goes to show the kind of line and tightrope that black women in positions of power and trying to get higher position have to kind of toe the line in terms of their behavior.
TOOBIN: And in John Kennedy two minutes before we went on the air. He said he thought he was praising her. Oh, you're so articulate. In 2022, you think praising a black person is articulate is praise. I mean, it just shows that we are not as different from 1967 when Thurgood Marshall who was also articulate was named to the Supreme Court.
COOPER: Appreciate it, Jeff, Nia-Malika Henderson, thank you so much. Bakari Sellers as well.
The news continues, let's hand it over Laura Coates in "CNN TONIGHT." Laura.