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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

At Least 50 Killed In Russian Missile Strike On Train Station; Chernihiv Residents Fear Russians May Return; Power Outage In New York City, 45,000 Plus Customers In The Dark. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 08, 2022 - 20:00   ET


KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, INCOMING U.S. SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE): In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Incredible. Well, Jackson will replace Justice Stephen Breyer when he retires this summer.

Thanks for joining us. AC 360 begins now.



Very little can prepare you for some of the images out of Ukraine tonight. They show plainly and simply the murder of civilians as they are fleeing from their murderers.

At least 50 people killed, many more wounded today at a train station in the Eastern city of Kramatorsk. You see the bodies there, broken bones, pools of blood, men, women, and children.

The city and station are an evacuation hub for civilians escaping the Donbas. Women and children, and the elderly people, needing medical care they can no longer get because their local hospitals have already been destroyed.

Cruelty piled upon cruelty, compounded by a brazen claim by Russia that Ukrainians did this to themselves, something that the Pentagon says is not the case.

The senior Defense officials saying it is the quote, "full expectation" unquote, that an SS-21 short range ballistic missile was used in this strike. In other words, what you see here, the broken bodies spread all across what was a makeshift waiting area for evacuees was not inflicted by some errant unguided rocket or artillery shell. No, the SS-21 in its current version is accurate to within 300 feet from as far away as 75 miles.

And according to the area's top regional military official, the warhead used, cluster munitions, which scatters small so-called bomblets across a wide area, creating a large inescapable killing zone. They are weapons designed expressly for killing large numbers of



REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.) PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: So our assessment is that that this was a Russian strike and that they used a short range ballistic missile to conduct it and you've seen the reports for yourselves. Many of your colleagues have been reporting it from on the ground that there are civilian casualties there.

It is, again, of a piece of Russian brutality in the prosecution of this war, and their carelessness for trying to avoid civilian harm.


COOPER: With more than that, we're joined tonight by CNN chief international anchor, Christiane Amanpour, CNN chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, also in Kyiv, reports tonight on the devastation along the route the Russian forces intended to take all the way to Chernihiv, also CNN's Kyung Lah, a joint U.S.-Polish military exercises not far from Western Ukraine, and Matthew Chance on intercepts apparently of Russian forces talking openly about committing war crimes.

We begin with the train station attack and Christiane Amanpour.

I understand, Christiane, you spoke to the mayor of Kramatorsk today. What did he tell you?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, we spoke to the Mayor of Kramatorsk just after this attack happened and he had told us that 90 percent of the people who go there every day to get out are women, children, and the elderly. For about two weeks, it had been used as a hub. Everybody knew it, 8,000 today were leaving. And this happened when they were waiting for the train to take them West.

Here is the report and there are some very disturbing pictures.


AMANPOUR (voice over): You can hear the fear and the anguish, you can see the desperate efforts to rescue civilians after an attack on this train station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk.

A crowded platform hit by Russian missile strike as people tried to escape heavy fighting. Russian forces also struck the station building itself, the head of the railway told CNN. Now dozens are dead, including children and many people remain unaccounted for.

I asked Ukraine's Chief of Military Intelligence for his reaction.

MAJOR GEN. KYRYLO BUDANOV, CHIEF, DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE OF UKRAINE (through translator): What can I say this is another example of criminal activity of war criminal dictator, Putin. It is in our case that I hope that would be added to the criminal investigation against him in the International Courts conducting a powerful missile strike against a civilian infrastructure during the evacuation of civilians. It's an act of terrorism.

AMANPOUR (voice over): In the hours and days before this attack, the station was crowded with thousands of refugees. Kramatorsk has been a hub for internally displaced people in the Donetsk region.

Families desperately boarding trains to escape the Russian assault. Now, body bags and abandoned luggage are all that remain. The hundreds wounded are one step further from evacuation.


Painted on the side of this deadly rocket with a word "for the children," a chilling message the European Commission President tells me just strengthens her resolve to make sure Vladimir Putin fails in Ukraine.

URSULA VON DER LEYEN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: If you look at the attack today at the train station, I watched on pictures where the shelling had written on "for our children," which means like revenge for children, so they are building indeed this awful narrative as if they would be returning something, a nightmare.

AMANPOUR (voice over): Russia has denied responsibility for the strike, calling it a provocation by Ukraine. But the brutality of this invasion is well-documented despite Russia's military consistently denying attacking civilians.

Kramatorsk was one of the first places targeted when the Russian invasion was launched February 24th.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Why do they need this war against Ukraine? Why do they need to hit civilians with missiles? Why this cruelty that the world has witnessed in Bucha and other cities liberated by Ukrainian Army?

AMANPOUR (voice over): On Friday, Ukraine announced 10 humanitarian corridors, including one in the Donetsk region, but civilian casualties are increasing every hour that Russia's bombardments continue.


COOPER: Christiane, I mean, it's just so important, I think, to just take a moment and point out what we have seen over the course of these many weeks now. We have seen Russia target and hit a theater in which hundreds of people were sheltering, which had the words "children" written outside it. We have seen dozens, I can't even remember the total number that officials have said, I believe it was more than 70 health facilities, hospitals that have been hit.

So they are targeting people when they're hiding. They're targeting people when they are in hospitals, because they've already been hit. And now, they are targeting places where people, just the escape routes for people to just try and leave. I mean, this is truly -- it is impossible to see this as anything

other than a total war on the civilian population across the board. It's not just soldiers. I mean, it's civilians at every point of the escape route.

AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, look, that's absolutely true, because that is what we've seen unfold. I mean, they may be trying to actually get some kind of military objectives. A lot of them are, as we've seen, focused actually, on the civilians, especially the close-up fighting, or the close-up execution style, murders, and massacres and sniping that we saw of individuals in the towns and villages that were liberated around Kyiv.

But these are, as you say, just this, you know, it's just this heavy artillery, this heavy missile power. Here, they call that missile Tochka-U, which is the SS-21. It has got a warhead, we were told by the Defense Intelligence Minister, who says it's about 480 kilograms. I mean, that is huge.

And while it is true that the Russians are and will continue, I've been told by military experts, harass the rest of the country, even as they try to focus on the east with attacks on infrastructure like factories, like railways, like fuel depots, it is a fact that they are not taking care about the civilian use. And in this case, this station in Kramatorsk, was known to be used for the last two weeks, at least, when people noticed that you know, the assault was growing and the troops were gathering around Kramatorsk and Donbas, so everybody wants to leave and this was the hub.

COOPER: We do know in the program earlier this week that Hungarians re-elected their President who is an ally of Vladimir Putin. I know you spoke with the Prime Minister's spokesperson today. What did he tell you about how Hungary is viewing all this?

AMANPOUR: Well, you know, it's really, really difficult to understand because Hungary is a member of the E.U., on the other hand, it's a bit of an outlier. The E.U. has a lot of problems with the internal workings of Hungary, whether it's, you know, restriction on the press, whether it's the corruption of the rule of law and the judicial process. And whether it's Hungary just constantly rubbing up against the democratic principles and rules of the E.U., and latest is that Hungary says and I asked the spokesman that it will -- if Putin asked and if it needs, it will break ranks with the E.U. and pay for energy in rubles.

As you know, the E.U. has said flat out that was an extortionist claim, or rather demand from Putin and they weren't going to do it. They called it blackmail. As yet, they haven't done it. But you know, they have not sent weapons to defend the Ukrainians. And you know that President Zelenskyy has called out by name, the Prime Minister, Viktor Orban when he was just saying, don't you understand what's happening here. Look at Mariupol. Look at everywhere.

They just don't budge though, they have their own view of what they're doing, and they say: Hey, we were just re-elected resoundingly. The people want us to be doing what we're doing. [20:10:16]

COOPER: You know, I've talked about this a little bit. You've covered the war in Bosnia and Serbia, the siege of Sarajevo for years. Just being there, does it bring back memories of that time? I mean, do you think about the people killed on the breadline several weeks ago, I mean, how many times were there people killed on lines, you know, waiting to pump water or at the marketplace in Sarajevo?

AMANPOUR: Yes, absolutely. And you know, this week, it is 30 years since the siege of Sarajevo began. Thirty years ago, it was the longest siege in modern history and it was aggressors in the mountains firing and sniping and shelling on the residents and civilians, the victims in the valley and the city of Sarajevo.

So when I saw the pictures from the Kramatorsk station today, I immediately was transported back to the market massacre in Sarajevo. There were two, one was in '94, the other one was in '95. I mean, that was the same kind of carnage, the same kind of scene. Different weapons systems, it is true, but nonetheless, the same kind of carnage on a civilian target in a European city.

It is almost impossible to comprehend that this is still going on. Kyiv is a major historic, you know, European city in 2022, and much of Ukraine is as well and all of this happening at this time is very difficult.

And I have to say that Ursula von der Leyen, head of the E.U. said, Putin must fail. And so she's telling Zelenskyy today, that they are really taking their application for E.U. membership seriously, and they really should -- so she got him, you know, basically told him that this is a very serious process now of getting them into the E.U.

COOPER: Christiane Amanpour, appreciate it. Thank you.

Chef Jose Andres' team at World Central Kitchen has been feeding evacuees in Kramatorsk, including at that station for the past couple of days leading up to today's attack there.

I want to get perspective from CEO, Nate Mook who was very nearly on the scene along with his people when the strike took place.

Nate, thanks for joining us, where were you during the attack? I'm wondering what you saw or heard?

NATE MOOK, CEO, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN: Yes, so with the World Central Kitchen team, we had just passed by the train station where we had spent much of the last two days. We were headed to our World Central Kitchen warehouse to pick up some flour to take to a bakery that was going to be producing meals that we were going to serve at the train station later that day, and in the coming days ahead.

So we're just a couple minutes away. We had just driven by when we heard the explosions, these big thumps. We heard about six to 10 of them and we knew that something had happened. One of the people at our warehouse said he had actually seen one of

the missiles in the air, he could see the wings of it. And that one was knocked down by Ukrainian Air Defenses.

We then heard very quickly that two of the missiles had struck the railway station. So just a few minutes later, we headed over to see what the situation was and it was catastrophic.

COOPER: I mean, as you said, you've been at that station the day before. You have been working at train stations all throughout Ukraine for weeks now since this invasion began. There was -- I mean, I think I know the answer to this, but I'm going to ask it anyway, was there any chance Russian forces would have mistaken this for a military target anything other than a direct attack on an civilian infrastructure target?

MOOK: I don't think there is any way they could have confused this. It was very public that this train station as with so many others in Ukraine were being used to evacuate civilians. This station, especially over the last number of days had had thousands of people at it. We spoke to the mayor yesterday morning, and he said between 8,000 and 9,000 people were evacuating every day from this train station and they were prioritizing mothers with small children, the elderly, and those with disabilities. These were the people that were at this train station.

I had been there the last couple of days and spent a lot of time talking to the station director there as we were planning to set up food distribution. And there was no signs of any military activity nearby. There are no military bases nearby. This really purely was a direct attack on innocent civilians.

COOPER: So how are people now who are going to be using the railways to try to get to safety? What do they do now? Is it clear yet?

MOOK: You know, I think that's sort of being figured out right now. For what we heard by the railways, they are not sending any more passenger trains this way, not only because it puts the civilians in danger, but also their staff. A number of their staff have been killed in attacks like this one, and these heroes have been, you know, moving people, evacuating people from all over the country during the course of this invasion.


So it looks like the options are going to be the buses now, the bus stations, getting people on buses. I know the city has been preparing for a potential attack.

We spoke to the mayor who said he had been learning some of the lessons from Mariupol. They were making a lot of plans in preparation, but of course, I don't think anybody expected such a deliberate attack on innocent women and children.

So we think the buses are going to be the next best thing. The road right now is currently clear to go south out of the city. So, it seems like that's going to be the way.

We are headed to the bus station tomorrow to see how we can support similarly to what we were looking to do at the train station, providing some hot meals and coffee and tea.

COOPER: And you were in Kharkiv, I think just the other day. Are you able to set up, you know kitchens there? Are there restaurants you can partner with people to get food to serve to people?

MOOK: You know, every city is a little bit different. Here in Kramatorsk, because of the evacuations, there's pretty much nothing operational here. It's a smaller city, about 80,000 to 90,000 people remain.

So here in in Kramatorsk, we've been bringing in food by railway car, tons of food in and that that's been going to our local partners and being distributed for people to cook. We're obviously going to have to find a new approach to go by truck now instead of by train.

In Kharkiv, we have been able to activate dozens of kitchens around the city. It's pretty amazing. The city is quiet. The streets are a bit like a ghost town, but behind the closed doors in Kharkiv, our kitchens that are cooking thousands, tens of thousands of meals every single day.

So I had an opportunity to spend a lot of time there visiting our partners on the ground, and it's pretty amazing. We've set up a warehouse there to keep them stocked. We've got trucks coming in every day, and really, these kitchens are a lifeline to so many right now in Kharkiv because the city is under constant shelling.

COOPER: Yes, it is really extraordinary that you are able to set up in a place like Kharkiv and all the places especially in the east of the country as you are. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much, Nate.

MOOK: Thank you so much, Anderson.

COOPER: Nate Mook from World Central Kitchen.

Much more head tonight including Clarissa Ward's reporting on the path of destruction that Russian forces cut through civilian areas in Northern Ukraine and their failed attempt to take the city of Chernihiv.

And later, a CNN exclusive, text messages obtained by the House January 6th Committee showing Donald Trump, Jr. already pitching ideas to his dad's Chief of Staff for overturning the 2020 election before the election was even called.



COOPER: We began the hour with an attack on civilians that caused mass casualties in a matter of split seconds. This next report from CNN's Clarissa Ward documents the slow rolling, but near total destruction of civilian areas in Northern Ukraine in Russia's failed push on the City of Chernihiv, that and the fear that people have there now that they have not seen the last of.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is what remains of Russia's presence in much of Northern Ukraine. A hastily abandoned camp by the roadside just 30 miles in from the Belarusian border where soldiers dug in and prepared for their advance. Their foxholes still littered with their rations.

(on camera): So this is where it looks like they were doing their cooking. You could see some onions, coffee, some water, some cans over there. But what is so striking walking around this camp is that, it's just a mess. It seems there was a total lack of discipline.

(voice over): Around the corner in the village of Chernysh, Ludmyla Stepanovnat (ph) tells us residents hid their valuables as Russian forces looted the area.

(LUDMYLA STEPANOVNAT speaking in foreign language.)

WARD (voice over): "Five weeks they were staying here. Tanks were all around us. At night they would shoot at the houses with machine guns," she says. "Praise God. They didn't touch us."

As the Russians continued their lightning offensive down to the City of Chernihiv, their tactics grew more brutal. Faced with stiff resistance on the ground, they doubled down on bombardment from the skies.

Ukrainian soldier Bagdan Verbinski (ph) shows us what is left of the village of Novoselivka just outside Chernihiv. The scale of the destruction is jaw dropping, not a single house is untouched.

Bagdan explains that this was the final push to get into the city.

WARD (on camera): So he is saying that this was a Ukrainian position. The Russians bombed it heavily, and then Russian soldiers were actually here in this area just a mile away from the city.

(NIKOLAI KRASTAMAL speaking in foreign language.)

WARD (voice over): Nikolai Krasmatal (ph) never saw the Russian soldiers here, but he felt the full force of their assault.

(NIKOLAI KRASTAMAL speaking in foreign language.)

WARD (voice over): "This is my cellar," he says. He tells us his nephew was sheltering from the bombardment there when it took a direct hit. Pinned down, Nikolai was forced to bury him in a shallow grave in the garden.

(NIKOLAI KRASTAMAL speaking in foreign language.) WARD (voice over): "We put a cross and covered it with the shields so

that dogs won't dig him up," he says. "I feel such hatred for Putin. I want to tear him apart. I lived for 70 years. I never saw a beast like this."

Many here fear they haven't seen the last of him.


On a destroyed bridge, an emotional Tatiana and Svetlana are returning from their first visit with their parents since the war began. They're worried they may not see them again.

(TATIANA speaking in foreign language.)

WARD (voice over): "We don't know if the Russians will come back to the village where my parents are," Tatiana says. "And this is so scary."

In the end, Russia's offensive in the north was a failure, but the scars of its assault remain deep, and the prospect of a return to normalcy still seems far away.


COOPER: And Clarissa joins us now. I mean, seeing that report, the line between the living and the dead is so thin. I mean, who lives and who dies? There is so much randomness to it. And, you know, we've seen this now day after day of people being buried in their backyards, in their front yards, just wherever it's possible. And you know, in shallow graves, and we've heard that repeatedly about people afraid that the dogs will come and so they try to cover the grave with something. It's just so -- it's just so friggin brutal.

WARD: It is brutal. It's brutal, and honestly, Anderson, it's just absolutely haunting.

I mean, seeing that man, Nikolai, imagining him under heavy fire. And I should add one thing that we weren't able to get into the piece today, but he actually lost his hearing entirely, almost as a result of just nights and nights, weeks on end of heavy bombardment, explosions going off all around him. And you can imagine him trying to bury his nephew in a shallow grave, not having any real assistance around him.

He said that basically, he was one of the only people who decided to tough it out and stay where he was. And you see that a lot in this conflict, particularly with elderly people, they tend to be more reluctant to leave their homes, even in the most extreme situations, Anderson, they are the ones who decide that they don't care, essentially, or they are willing to cope with a very real possibility that they might die because they don't want to leave their homes, and they feel simply that it's too late for them to try to start a new life -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, you hear from so many people, you know, what are they going to do? Flee to Warsaw, you know, at age, in their 70s and try to find work? I mean, it is not -- fleeing is not easy, staying -- I mean, it's an impossible choice. It's a choiceless choice.

I know, in a number of places, Ukrainian forces, have actually taken down some of the bridges -- or in the past, took down the bridges to stop the Russian advance. I think we saw that at the bridge you were at in Irpin as well.

How hard is it now for people to get around in Chernihiv and elsewhere?

WARD: Yes, I mean, this is a major problem and I think it is something that perhaps, you know, one assumes that the worst is over for them, that they have survived the most horrendous part of their ordeal.

But actually, the struggle is still very real for many people living in these villages that are largely cut off. You saw that bridge in this story as well, and you rightly point out it's the Ukrainians, who downed a lot of these bridges to prevent Russian forces from getting in to the city's center.

But what it means now is that people can't move around freely, aid can't move around freely. A lot of the roads are completely impassable, some of them are littered with mines.

And in addition to the sort of fight for survival in terms of bombardment, there is also a fight for survival in terms of having enough food, having enough heat, the temperatures there plummet at night. It is freezing cold often, and food and water and all these essentials that most of us take for granted, are only just starting now to get through to some of these hard hit areas.

So it is going to be a very long climb ahead for these people, indeed, Anderson and all of that, with the sort of sense of dread and even frankly, expectation that they could find themselves once again facing Russian soldiers in their own backyards.

COOPER: I mean, there is nothing to stop Vladimir Putin from deciding once the Donbas has been dealt with in whatever way they're going to try to do that, if they want to try to move back on Kyiv or Chernihiv.

Clarissa, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up, disturbing radio communications released by Ukraine said to be of Russian soldiers talking frankly about killing and raping civilians. Those clips when we return.



COOPER: The horrific images that we have shown you tonight are just part of a growing body of evidence that points toward what certainly appear to be war crimes by the Russian military. Intercepted communications released this week by Ukraine's security service and analyzed by CNN appear to reveal Russian soldiers in Ukraine talking about shooting civilians, destroying villages and rape.

CNN's Matthew Chance has more details. We warn you, some of what you will hear is disturbing.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is a war where every Russian atrocity can be recorded, and as the Kremlin is finding out, every illegal order potentially intercepted and exposed.



CHANCE: Intentionally targeting civilians, something Russia categorically denies is a war crime. Kremlin blames Ukrainian forces for the devastation and the bloodshed. But hours of audio recordings said to be of Russian soldiers communicating with their commanders and released by the Ukrainian security services seem to tell a very different story. One of civilian areas laid to waste by Russian forces on purpose.









CHANCE: And killing civilians isn't the only excess of which Russian forces are accused. Multiple reports have emerged of rape of young women, even children, by rampaging troops. One intercept records a Russian soldier in a tank regiment telling a horrified woman on the other end of the line what he knew.





CHANCE: But these are not the crimes of victors. Time and again, Russian armor has been ravaged by Ukrainian forces amid reports of severely disrupted supply lines.



CHANCE: And plunging morale among inexperienced soldiers, some as young as 18. Disturbed by the violence, and desperate for peace so they can go home.




CHANCE: But instead of medals, there are now growing calls for those suspected of war crimes to be tried. It may never happen but forensic teams are in Ukraine piecing together evidence just in case.

Already, there are thousands for whom justice must be done.


COOPER: And Matthew Chance joins us now. I mean, it's extraordinary to have the sheer volume of documentation, whether it's, you know, it's videos, it's cell phone intercepts, radio intercepts. It's extraordinary that Russian troops are so disorganized, they're talking on open frequencies that are easily intercepted.

But, I mean, if there is to be a war crimes process, the mountain of evidence will certainly help in that process.

CHANCE (on camera): Yes. And, you know, there are hours of audio intercepts that have been released by the Ukrainian security services. I know the Germans have accessed and intercepted some phone calls as well, which may be pinned to specific crimes, which could really help in the prosecution process, if there is one in the future.

But, you know, as well as, you know, evidence for potential crimes, these intercepts, you know, they are a fascinating glimpse into the morale, that mindset of these, you know, Russian forces that have been deployed in Ukraine.

I mean, some of the other stuff, you know, that I couldn't get into that report, one soldier talking about how -- bragging about how he's looted stuff from Ukrainians, a laptop, sneakers, a suit, cosmetics. I mean, it's ridiculous. Another one complaining about how he doesn't know why he is there. He said he was promised a victory march, they all were, not a protracted war, another soldier complaining that he feels like cannon fodder and been sent to Ukraine to die, really panicked, really desperate, and at times vicious. So, I think, yes, a really fascinating insight, glimpse into what Russian soldiers are thinking as they prosecute this horrific war.

COOPER: Yes. Matthew Chance, I appreciate the report. Thank you.

Coming up, our first look at U.S. troops conducting live-fire exercises with forces from NATO ally Poland, also new details about the large U.S. military presence just across the border from Ukraine in Poland.



COOPER: The Biden administration has said the U.S. military does not have any active role on the ground in the war in Ukraine but the U.S. military has beefed up its presence in a number of NATO countries.

Tonight, Kyung Lah has our first look at what some U.S. forces are doing in Poland.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): No words needed. This is the NATO message to Russian President Vladimir Putin. This is the first look at American troops firing weaponry on the ground in Poland since the war in Ukraine began. U.S. and Polish forces publicly showed off the might of the west in a bilateral live fire training exercise. One by one, Polish tanks lined up heavy artillery and paratroopers dangled from helicopters, landing on a battleground that is designed to prepare for a war just a short drive away.


The 82nd Airborne Infantry Brigade Combat Team based at Ft. Bragg has been drilling with American Blackhawks here in Poland for weeks, deployed in mid-February before Russia invaded Ukraine. As the U.S. soldiers run across the field, a U.S.-made Javelin missile launches. It's a portable surface to air system that's been critical for Ukrainian forces in the war.

What we understand is that there are two platoons here, about 60 American troops taking part in this live fire act. It's a show of force. We're about just two hours away from the Ukrainian border. The Americans trying to show that they are indeed working with the polish troops.

This is just a small snapshot of the greater U.S. Force here. A U.S. official says approximately 11,000 U.S. Troops are deployed in this NATO country. They're a visible sign of a larger military ramp-up near Ukraine. A senior U.S. official tells CNN about eight to ten aircraft a day land at airfields near Ukraine with weapons and security assistance material that is moved into the war-torn country by truck convoy. This bilateral drill ends with a photo op for the cameras, the two countries side by side. What is the message you're sending to Russia?

COL. MICHAL MALYSKA, POLISH TERRITORIAL DEFENSE FORCES: We are strong. We are cooperating with our forces from all NATO. We're ready for any action. We are ready to defend our country.


COOPER: And, Kyung, what did the American troops who you were able to talk to tell you?

LAH (on camera): Well, first, I want to explain, Anderson, that you may have noticed that we didn't show any members of the 82nd Airborne in our story. That's because there is a blanket no-media policy for U.S. troops here in Poland. And there is a reason for that. They want to show restraint. But, nonetheless, you know, the military wants to explain that what they are doing here is a noble cause, that they really do believe in it. And they do say that it has not been easy. It has been winter here, very cold in Poland. They have been sleeping in tents, they have been away from their families, but that this is a job they believe in. Anderson?

COOPER: Kyung Lah, I appreciate it. Thanks very much, Kyung.

Up next, exclusive new reporting on text messages that Donald Trump Jr. sent just two days after the November 2020 election to the top- White House adviser to his father.



COOPER: We have exclusive new reporting tonight tied to the January 6th investigation. CNN has learned that just two days after the November 2020 election, Donald Trump Jr. texted his father's chief of staff at the White House with ideas for overturning the election results before the race was even called, all in hopes of keeping his father in office.

Details now from CNN's Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: November 5th, 2020, two days after the 2020 election, votes were still being counted, the final outcome, still in doubt. But President Trump's son, Don Jr., was already passing on ideas for overturning the election if necessary to ensure a second term for his father.

It's very simple, Trump Jr. texted, before outlining several options. We have operational control, total leverage.

Trump Jr. was texting White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. This text, reviewed by CNN, hasn't been revealed publicly before. It is in the possession of the January 6th select committee. In a statement to CNN, Trump Jr.'s lawyer says, quote, after the election Don received numerous messages from supporters and others. Given the date, this message likely originated from someone else and was forwarded. Meadows' attorney declined the comment.

On election night, President Trump, was already laying the groundwork to claim the election was stolen.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: To me, this is a very sad moment, and we will win this. And as far as I'm concerned, we already have won it.

NOBLES: Behind the scenes, his son and adviser, Don Jr., was sharing ideas with Meadows for how to subvert the Electoral College process, leveraging Republican majorities in the Senate and swing state legislatures.

State assemblies can step in and vote to put forward the electoral stale, Trump Jr. texted. The text message from days after the election ticks through questionable legal theories, many of which would eventually be employed by the Trump campaign and GOP operatives across the country. We have multiple paths. We control them all.

The paths Trump Jr. refers to in the text include creating alternate slates of fake electors, pushing the vote back to state legislatures and forcing a scenario where neither candidate had enough electoral votes to win leaving it to the House to vote to vote by state delegation to elect the president.

Republicans controlled 28 states, Democrats 22 states, Trump Jr. texted. Once again, Trump wins.

Trump Jr. was a prominent surrogate for his father, traveling the country on his behalf. In the days leading up to the election he told Trump supporters that if Trump lost, it would be because the radical left cheated.

DONALD TRUMP JR. SON OF FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Make sure everyone gets out and votes because if you don't, they are going to steal it from you.

NOBLES: But while he publicly warned against fraud on the left, his private text message to Meadows foreshadows a legal strategy his father's allies would eventually launch, even teasing the showdown in Congress on January 6th two months before it happened. We either have a vote we control and we win or it gets kicked to Congress, 6th January 2021.

This text part of a tranche of thousands of texts from Meadow the committee has in its possession and has already used as part of its investigation.


COOPER: What else was in those texts from Donald Trump Jr.? It's fascinating to hear this.

NOBLES (on camera): Yes, Anderson, there were so many interesting things about what this text message lays out. But I found one of the most remarkable things to be the sheer confidence that they would be successful in overturning the election results, that Donald Trump Jr. suggests that Donald Trump, his father, should begin plans for a second term. He wrote fire Ray, fire Fauci, make Grenell the interim head of the FBI, have Barr select a special prosecutor on hard drive from hell and the Biden crime family.

The text reads as basically an inevitability that despite what the will of the voters had said, despite the fact that his father did not get enough votes in the key states to win this election, that they had enough legal avenues to stand in the way of the certification to win the election and then employ all of these things that they wanted to see happen in his second term.

COOPER: Donald Trump Jr. is inexplicably confident about many things, it seems. Ryan Nobles, thank you so much.

Up next, a welcome reminder that despite the horrors of war, love can still shine in Ukraine.



COOPER: We started the hour with the devastating missile strike at the train station in Eastern Ukraine. We want to leave you tonight with a message of hope and love.

Meet Anastasia and Anton, the newlywed bride and groom. Just days ago the couple got married surrounded by the ruins of the northern city of Kharkiv. The nurse and doctor have volunteer as a medic since the start of the war. The groom, Anton, has an important message. He says love will defeat everything.

Despite the horrors that are happening in his war-torn city and throughout Ukraine, he adds, there is still room for love and kindness.

Thank you, Anton and Anastasia. We wish you both the best.

The news continues. I want to hand things over to Jake Tapper who is in Lviv, Ukraine. Jake?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Anderson, thank you. I'm Jake Tapper. This is CNN Tonight live from Lviv, Ukraine.

More than six weeks into this bloody Russian invasion, the U.S. State Department says, quote, we can no longer be surprised by the Kremlin's repugnant disregard for human lives, unquote.