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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Luhansk Evacuation Routes Constantly Shelled By Russians; Vladimir Putin Orders Blockade Of Mariupol Steel Plant So No Fly Cannot Get Through; Ukraine Releases Tape Purportedly Of A Russian Soldier Referring To An Alleged Order To Kill Ukrainian POWS; Former President Obama Warns Of Attempts To Undermine Democracy; Anger In Shanghai After Almost Three Weeks Of Lockdown; "Navalny" Airs Sunday At 9P On CNN. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired April 21, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Manu Raju, CNN, Philadelphia.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: A race to watch. Manu, thank you so much for that.
And thank you all so much for being with us tonight. I'm Kate Bolduan.
AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
Vladimir Putin in a discussion with his Defense Minister about the besieged port of Mariupol today talked up, and this is his word, "liberating" the port city. He spoke of quote, "success" against Mariupol's defenders, some of whom are still holding out in a massive steel plant, and he talked about hearing to quote "relevant international legal acts" and how the injured will receive what he described as medical assistance.
So as you consider that, take a look at this, new satellite photos from Mariupol. They come to us from Maxar Technologies, and they are pictures of what Ukrainian officials say are mass graves. One Ukrainian official called it quote "direct evidence of war crimes and attempts to cover them up."
Ukrainian officials have said they believe as many as 20,000 people have died after weeks of bombardments. CNN cannot independently verify the Ukrainians' claims.
Today less than a hundred Mariupol residents were able to leave the city, some of the children just off those buses spoke with Britain Channel Four News about what life is like in the city they once called home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GIRL (through translator): The yards are full of graves, 20 or 30 people were buried just near our house. Lots of houses have been destroyed. They are all blackened and burnt.
BOY (through translator): Everyone had to undress to their underpants, take everything off. All documents every piece of paper are checked so that nothing is there. Questions like, what do you know about Azov? About the Armed Forces of Ukraine? If you are over 18 years old, you are of military age, you will be taken away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Houses destroyed, blackened and burnt. Young men reportedly facing forced conscription by Russians. Further north, Ukrainian officials says they were only able to get a few dozen out of one frontline town, Popasna. He says that the routes are constantly shelled or mined and that every trip there is full of danger.
Today, Ukrainian Intelligence released a new tape reportedly of a Russian soldier referring to an alleged order to kill Ukrainian prisoners of war in that region.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
(Speaking in foreign language.)
PERSON 1: What can I tell you, damn it. [Bleep]. You keep the most senior among them, and let the rest go forever.
PERSON 2: Let them go forever, damn it, so that no one will ever see them again, including relatives.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: This translated words again, "Let them go forever, damn it, so that no one will ever see them again, including relatives."
Clarissa Ward was recently outside the town of Popasna. We are going to hear from her in a moment.
There is also news tonight of another $800 million security assistance package announced by the White House and word from a senior Defense official that the Ukrainians now have more tanks in Ukraine than the Russians do. So certainly a lot of developments tonight and as always, we have reporters where the news is happening, Ben Wedeman and Clarissa Ward near the frontlines in the east of the country, and at the White House, Kaitlan Collins.
We start with Ben Wedeman reporting of civilians caught in the middle of a battle for one town in the east.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): And it begins -- again.
Hell rains down, a dozen people are hiding in the basement of a bombed out theater in the town of Rubizhne.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)
WEDEMAN (voice over): "Let it stop, Oh Lord," he says. Now, there is Incoming.
A white flag hangs outside to no effect. The theater above has been bombed and bombed again and again. Yet, they stay.
Too poor, too old, too frightened to flee.
(NINA speaking in foreign language.)
WEDEMAN (voice over): Nina, 89 years old has been here for five weeks.
(NINA speaking in foreign language.)
WEDEMAN (voice over): "I want to go home," she says. "I've suffered too much. I've seen the fire and the smoke. I've seen it all, I'm scared." Nina's plea, simple.
(NINA speaking in foreign language.)
WEDEMAN (voice over): "Help us, help us." Her daughter, Liudmyla struggles to comfort her.
(LIUDMYLA speaking in foreign language.)
WEDEMAN (voice over): "We're praying to God to stop it," she says. "To hear us."
(INA speaking in foreign language.)
WEDEMAN (voice over): Ina says, "I have nowhere to go. I have no friends, no relatives."
With the shelling intensifying, volunteers are finding it hard to deliver food, as Russian and Ukrainian forces fight for control of Rubizhne, there are people down there, praying as hell rains down.
COOPER: Ben Wedeman joins us now from Kramatorsk, also with us, in the east of Ukraine, Clarissa Ward in Dnipro; and at the White House, Kaitlan Collins.
I mean, Ben, talk a little bit more about what it was like in that shelter. I mean, is there any hope of them leaving anytime soon?
WEDEMAN: That's a good question. You know, it was so dangerous in that area that as I said in that report, it is becoming increasingly difficult to deliver food. In fact, we brought them a few bags of food and some water, and they are running low.
And going into that shelter, I mean, it's not a shelter, it is a basement of this theater. It was dank and dirty, and the people were unwashed, and I can tell you, some of them looked like they were literally losing their minds.
One of the women I spoke to was partially deaf, and she had just sort of a tick. And she said, every time I hear that -- I can't hear the bomb, I feel the bombs above and we were there only 36 minutes, I timed it.
And in that time, about eight bombs fell very nearby. One of our people was in the car, outside the car shook his head from side to side, and his eyes would have felt the vibrations, and this is something these people go through day after day. Those women were there for five weeks.
So it's really just hard to imagine, you know how they are surviving, and it is going to have permanent damage. And I can tell you, I have covered wars for 30 years, and it just disgusts me to see people at that age, 89 years old, and I've seen it in so many different places going through that, it's just, the inhumanity of it is just hard to comprehend.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, it's criminal when that woman who has lived 89 years on this planet, and to go through this at that age, and I think the point you made is so important, Ben, we shouldn't be using this word "shelter." It implies is if it's some sort of secure location that you know, is getting resources or in some way, like a bomb shelter. It's not, it's a basement.
If someone is in their home right now, you know, somewhere that has a basement, they should, you know, imagine going down and living in that for five weeks. I mean, it's just sickening, and it's just horrific.
Clarissa, you were near the frontline near a town called Popasna. We'll see you report in just a few moments, I mentioned that Ukrainian military Intelligence released an alleged recording of Russian communications talking about that area. Somebody talking about killing prisoners there.
I want to play that recording one more time for people listening.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
(Speaking in foreign language.)
PERSON 1: What can I tell you, damn it. [Bleep]. You keep the most senior among them, and let the rest go forever.
PERSON 2: Let them go forever, damn it, so that no one will ever see them again, including relatives. (END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: I should point out, that was released by the Defense Intelligence Agency of Ukraine, we can't independently confirm it. What more have you learned about that? And what's going on in that in the area?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you said, Anderson, we have no way of confirming the authenticity of it. CNN has reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry. They have said "no comment" essentially, or they have yet to comment, which is not entirely unsurprising.
But we have been hearing a lot of harrowing accounts from people who live in the town of Popasna who believe that it is Russian mercenaries from the so-called Wagner Group who are heavily involved in the fighting there. Again, we have no way of confirming that. These are just accounts coming from people on the ground. And certainly, it is a very ugly battle.
What you are seeing essentially is a Russian tactic of constant shelling, indiscriminate shelling, followed by inching forward, then another round or wave of constant shelling and then inching forward, and the end result is essentially a sort of war of attrition, that results in absolute misery for civilians who are effectively trapped with no way of getting out safely, and with no meaningful progress really on the ground either.
You know, Ben and his extraordinarily courageous report in the town of Rubizhne. For weeks now, Russian forces have said that they are in full control of that town. You can see very clearly from Ben's reporting that they are not completely in control of that town.
We have also heard that they are in control of a number of other towns and the reality is, as far as we are aware, there is only one town so far in Donbas, Kreminna that they are certainly in control of.
And so you realize the scale of the suffering and the amount of artillery and shelling being pounded on this people for what, at the end of the day, is very incremental gains. It is staggering and frankly horrifying.
COOPER: Kaitlan, President Biden announced a new aid package for Ukraine today. What's in it?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Pretty powerful weapons, Anderson, and I think it reflects the gravity of which the White House realizes just how pivotal these next several weeks will be in determining what could happen here.
And so this new $800 million package announced today, it follows on the heels of the $800 million announced last week in weapons that they are sending, and this one has got about 72 Howitzers, 144,000 rounds of ammunition, over a hundred tactical drones, and these are different drones than the package last week even, Anderson. These are what the Pentagon is calling Phoenix ghost drones.
They say that they were specifically made to go to Ukraine. They were developed by the Air Force at the request of these specific requests made by the Ukrainians of what they believe they need to help them fend themselves off from the Russians as they have moved this battle into the second phase from the invasion where they are going after cities like Kyiv, the capital, and now moving into the eastern region.
And so this is something that the White House believes is going to help maybe push them back even, not just brace themselves as a defense against the Russian forces. But it is notable just how heavy duty the weaponry that they are sending now is compared to what they were sending at the beginning of this invasion.
And I think it shows just how critical the White House believes helping them with this kind of weaponry is at this time.
COOPER: Ben, I mean, you've visited a number of villages on the eastern front over the past week. Is the fighting happening everywhere, or is it, I mean, targeted or strategic? I mean, is there a rhyme or reason for where we're seeing violence?
WEDEMAN: Well, basically, it is focused in certain areas. For instance, north of here, Kramatorsk, in the direction of Izyum, there are a lot of strategic towns where the fighting is going on, and to the east of here, Rubizhne for one of them, Severodonetsk, and there, I mean, for instance, what we are seeing is that the Ukrainians seem to be holding on --
When we went into Rubizhne, and as Clarissa mentioned, it has been reported claimed by the Russians, that they control the town, but what we saw is they don't control the town or at best, they only control part of it. And we were on a ridge overlooking the hill, watching as it appeared to be Ukrainian artillery was pounding the areas of the town occupied by the Russians, and as we entered the town, going to the checkpoints, some of the checkpoints were surprisingly relaxed.
They were not, some of the soldiers wearing helmets, which indicates a somewhat lower sense of threat in the area. So this is not the sort of attempted blitzkrieg that we saw at the beginning of the war, focused around Kyiv in northcentral Ukraine. This seems at best, a somewhat half-hearted incremental attempt by the Russians to gain small bits of territory so far.
Now whether we can attribute that to the successful resistance of the Ukrainians or the fact that perhaps the Russian troops simply their heart is not in it -- Anderson.
COOPER: That's fascinating. Ben Wedeman, Kaitlan Collins, thank you.
Still to come tonight, we are going to have Clarissa Ward's report on civilians trying to survive a battle on another frontline city.
Also, more on Vladimir Putin's talk of quote, "liberating Mariupol." Also his need to call this fight a success. "The New Yorker's" David Remnick joins us for that. And later, former President Obama with a warning tonight about those who are here in America trying to subvert democratic institutions.
COOPER: Earlier, we mentioned Putin claimed Vladimir Putin claiming quote "success" in Mariupol and saying that the Russians are, and again, this is his word "liberating" the besieged port city.
He also said that if the remaining defenders were to lay down their arms, Russia quote "guarantees their lives and decent treatment in accordance with the relevant international legal acts." Today, Ukrainian officials estimate the Russian attacks have cost up to 20,000 lives in Mariupol. We can't independently verify that.
President Zelenskyy said today that Russia has not engaged in war in Mariupol, that it was more like a, quote, "terrorist operation."
I'm joined now by David Remnick, editor of "The New Yorker" who has spent much of his career covering Russia and an author the Pulitzer Prize winning book, "Lenin's Tomb."
David, we saw Putin today in this obviously choreographed meeting with the Defense Minister, announcing the so-called liberation of Mariupol, and I mean, it is sort of fascinating to watch because the Defense Minister says the steel mill where the remaining defenders are, and reportedly many civilians as well, are surrounded and it could be taken by Russian troops in three to four days, he says.
And then Vladimir Putin on camera turns him down saying, I order it to be canceled, essentially saying, surround the place that not even a fly could escape. Why do you think it sounds so much that he made that decision, but why do you think he made that decision and wanted it televised?
DAVID REMNICK, EDITOR, "THE NEW YORKER": At this point, to try to divine the inner thoughts of Vladimir Putin is a mug's game. I should say that first of all, but I think he also knows that the Ukrainian troops that are in there are capable of killing many Russian troops should they try to go in. And so he's going to try to, you know, this is somebody that grew up on the legends of the siege of Leningrad, and he is going to try to starve them in the meantime.
But you know, I should say that overall, what you're looking at is a precedent of a paper tiger where the military is concerned.
Everybody had thought beginning with Vladimir Putin that this was a modernized, first rate, European military capable of marching into Kyiv in a few days taking it over, decapitating its government, replacing Zelenskyy and so on and so on. We've been hearing that for weeks now. And what you have seen, both as a general picture and in the details, is a mess of a military. One that has been hollowed out by neglect, by corruption, by poor training by -- you know, you're looking at an Army that's lost eight Generals, eight Generals. It is unheard, and much less than in a couple of months.
"The New Yorker" has an extraordinary interview this morning by Isaac Chotiner with a military expert named Joel Rayburn, I commend you to read this, it's just a detail by detail portrait of how incompetent, badly trained, poorly equipped this military is, however, you have to believe two things at the same time. It is perfectly willing and able to pound the hell out of Ukraine with the arms that it does have, and just cause havoc for week after week, month after month, because Putin certainly doesn't care about his own losses.
COOPER: Yes. And not only, yes, if you don't care about your own forces, and you don't care, certainly don't care about the people, the potential civilians that you are killing, you can inflict untold horror even if you are completely incompetent and flailing around. I mean, it's --
REMNICK: That's right. I'm afraid, that's right, and this could go on not just for weeks, but for months and months and months.
Remember, Putin does not live in a world of politics. There is no feedback system for the vast majority of his population. People in Russia are not hearing about the disaster that has their so-called special military operation. You're not turning on -- there is no CNN to turn on and see corpses.
Information leaks have very mysteriously and in little bits and pieces, you know, mothers may or may not, parents may or may not hear about sons dead at the front. This news is blocked off from Russia. And this is part of the increasing isolation of Russia, and its economic isolation.
On no level -- on no level -- moral, political or military is the great mastermind of so many magazine covers in the last 20 years proved out, this is a disaster on every level.
COOPER: I keep, you know, day after day watching these images and hearing people and I'm just amazed at this conflict -- and others have said this in much better ways than I could -- but I don't think there has ever been a conflict which has been so watched and videotaped and recorded from every single angle, except perhaps from the Russian force's angle, because they don't allow you know -- they're not going to allow independent journalists to travel with them.
But I mean, during World War Two, if you'd been able to talk to people in the you know, in the underground during the Blitz, or talked to people hiding in basements night after night after night; talk to people who, you know, soldiers who were on the frontline. I mean, it's extraordinary that we are witnessing this and hearing Russian forces talking on open communications, hearing the actual communications of the Russian forces, talking about killing people and here, I mean, it's one day I mean -- REMNICK: A moral point of view, if we could absorb on a moral level, what war actually is, what war actually is, we would never commit it. We would never have committed it anywhere. No human being would have a moral sense would, but onward we go.
You know, as an editor, you know, I just -- I can't help saying this, the extraordinary job that that correspondents in the field had been doing, whether it's your Clarissa Ward or our Luke Mogelson or Joshua Yaffa or Masha Gessen and James Nachtwey.
COOPER: James Nachtwey, my God.
REMNICK: I mean, he just sent him some images and I just -- I couldn't get out of my chair for 15 minutes. They were so gruesome and I knew they had been taken you know that day or the day before and you see his -- they inform you all the time.
COOPER: James Nachtwey published a book called "Inferno" in 1999 of his pictures and it is my -- I have it open in my house, I look at it all the time. I mean, his work is extraordinary. And you know, he is there taking just incredible images, but I mean Ben Wedeman just had their report, you know we call it a shelter, but again, you know, I keep pointing this out, we shouldn't be calling these things bomb shelters because they are not, they are grubby basements.
They are root cellars that people are living in, and you know, an 89- year-old woman, her hands caked in dirt and dirt under her nails stuck in this place who has lived 89 years and her life is reduced to, you know, sitting in this, you know, just dirty, dank cellar for the weeks -- for weeks and may never come out of there.
REMNICK: Yes, let me just say, those images are precisely what you are not seeing on Russian television. What you're seeing on Russian television is happy TV, and occasionally outrage against the West and sanitized reports of the liberation of Ukraine of Nazi elements, hour after hour after hour. That's what you see.
And those people in the press who are working at Medusa or Echo of Moscow, or all the other outlets that Americans have now become fluent and knowing about are living in Istanbul and Riga and abroad and putting up things on YouTube that for the most part, tragically, do not reach Russian eyes.
REMNICK: And that, and that will delay things and that will ensure that this disaster continues.
COOPER: David Remnick.
REMNICK: There is no politics.
COOPER: Yes, David, thank you so much.
REMNICK: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up, we'll be joined again by Clarissa Ward. She was just outside one of the frontline towns we mentioned at the top of the broadcast. Her report on civilians struggle to survive constant Russian bombardment.
Also from President Obama, making an impassioned speech about the threat of misinformation to democracy.
COOPER: At the beginning of our broadcast, we played what has reportedly been the intercept released by Ukrainian intelligence, reportedly of a Russian soldier referring to an alleged order to kill Ukrainian prisoners of war in Popasna. And we can't confirm the contents of the tape or its authenticity, only that the frontline city is under heavy bombardment as Russia looks for victory in the east.
More now from Clarissa Ward.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a road few are willing to take it. But every day, volunteer Aleksandr Prokopenko (ph) makes the dangerous drive for its Russian forces in his hometown of Popasna to rescue fellow residents from the heavy fighting.
WARD (voice-over): They shell everything, he tells us. School buses, the Red Cross, anything that moves.
(on-camera): So why do you do this work?
WARD (voice-over): I love my town and I can't leave it, he says. I can't leave the people here, somebody needs to help people.
He's hoping the rain provides some lead up in the relentless artillery. It's better for us but it's worse for the road, he says. You can't see the potholes and the shrapnel from the shelves.
He arrives at the village of Kamyshevakha on the outskirts of Popasna. In the last few days it has come under heavy shelling. Anatoly is now being evacuated with his son Vladimir. People shouts at us to show what the Russians have done. Those who stay here are now completely cut off from basic services.
(on-camera): So there's no electricity here, no water at all. And you can see they're actually collecting rainwater.
(voice-over): It's time for Anatoly and Vladimir to go. Their entire life now packed into the trunk of Aleksandr's (ph) car. Leaving the village we spot a house destroyed by shelling. As we get out to take a closer look a tearful Galina Nikolaevna emerges. She tells us it happened two days earlier. The first hit was at 5:50 and then there was a second hit, she says and that hit my garage. She takes us around what remains of her home. The steady thugs of artillery can still be heard.
(on-camera): The roof is completely destroyed.
WARD (voice-over): This is where the first shell hits, she says. Galina had just woken up and is lying in her bed when it happened. We have nothing left, she says. In the living room, she takes down the drapes that were hung to hide any light.
WARD (voice-over): This is how we tried to mask ourselves, she tells us. There's no need for them anymore. Galena (ph) and her husband still don't want to leave their home. But she understands that Russia's offensive here has only just begun. And it's going to get much worse.
WARD (voice-over): I lived until 60 and now I have lost everything, she says. Honestly, I have no words.
For those like Anatoly and Vladimir who do leave, there are few good options. Aleksandr (ph) takes them to a dormitory in the nearby town of Bakhmut. They can stay five days for free. After that it's up to them.
In the next door bed, another couple rescued by Aleksandr (ph) tells us there is nothing left of their home. But they don't blame President Putin.
WARD (voice-over): Thank you America, she says. It's a horror. It's a nightmare.
WARD (on-camera): So it's interesting, she's saying that she thinks that Russia actually wanted to negotiate here, and she blames America primarily for this war.
WARD (voice-over): Putin wants to find a peaceful solution her husband tells us.
Please don't tell this bullshit to the whole world, Aleksandr (ph) says. It's not an uncommon view in these parts of eastern Ukraine making the situation here all the more complex.
Aleksandr (ph) says he evacuated anyone whatever their political views. He knows there are still so many out there who need his help.
COOPER: And Clarissa Ward joins us now. You know, life is so much more interesting and complicated than anyone ever imagined is going to be. I mean, you would like the in the movie ending of that piece, you know, she would -- that woman would say something against Vladimir Putin, and that man would be, you know, and thank the guy who brought her there. And in reality, she has this very different opinion not based on any facts, clearly. And he yells at her, you know, or yells, but sort of, you know, speaks strongly firmly to her. It's just, you know, it's just an interesting. It's just interesting how life works out. I'm not saying this very well, but I just find it fascinating.
WARD: Yes, it is baffling, baffling moment. No, it's, believe me, I know exactly what you mean. And as she was saying it, I was like, is my Russian failing me? Am I not understanding correctly, because it seems to me that she is blaming America for this war. And then the two of them proceeded to have this back and forth argument, Aleksandr (ph) the volunteer and this couple. And it was just extraordinary, because you understood that for many people in the eastern part of Ukraine, Russian is their first language, they are still listening to Russian television and radio. And in fact, when we were sort of spinning through the different radio channels in the car, one day, we could pick up Russian radio channels.
And so, they're being still spoon fed a diet of really intense Russian propaganda. And you could hear she was literally parroting the talking points that have been sort of trotted out on Russian media. But you also understand what an effective tool that was, because nothing Aleksandr (ph) could say he said to her, who brought the weapons in here who attack this country who invaded like, what are you talking about? And still, she would just cycle through the same series of talking points that she had heard on the radio or on the television.
And so, you realize how powerful that tool is to have such a hold on people who are really only getting their information from Russian language media.
COOPER: But what an extraordinary man Aleksandr (ph) to, you know, do this in this village that he doesn't want to leave, that he feels dedicated to no matter who the people are, what their opinions may be. Clarissa, I really appreciate it the reporting as well. Be careful.
Up next, former President Barack Obama reminding the nation today the continuous efforts to weaken democracy, and repercussions that come when the people lose trust in the country's leaders. And with his warning comes revelations in a new book about the disgust at least initially of some top Republicans in Congress of the President's actions on January 6. We'll talk to the authors about that.
COOPER: The speech at Stanford this afternoon former, President Barack Obama gave a stark warning about efforts to undermine democracy while reminding the country the former president's attempts to overturn the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA (D) FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: The fact is autocrats and aspiring strong men have become emboldened around the globe. They're actively subverting democracy. They're undermining hard won human rights. They're ignoring international law. More shed Democratic, backsliding isn't restricted to distant lands right here in the United States of America, we just saw a sitting president, deny the clear results of an election and help incite a violent insurrection at the nation's capitol. Not only that, but a majority of his party, including many who occupies some of the highest offices in the land, continue to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the last election. And are using it to justify laws that restrict the vote and make it easier to overturn the will of the people in states where they hold power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As President Obama spoken the support the former president received from any Republicans the consequences they can bring. There are new details being revealed showing how the top two Republicans in Congress changed their tone in the days following the January 6 insurrection.
According to an upcoming book This Will Not Pass Trump-Biden And The Battle For America's Future from CNN political analyst and New York Times national political correspondent Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy privately blasted the former president after January 6, McCarthy reportedly told several other top House Republicans that quote, what he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend it. And when speaking about the House impeachment vote against the former president with his advisors, McConnell reportedly said, the Democrats going to take care of the son of a bitch for us.
Perspective now from authors Alex Burns and -- Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin.
Alex, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy put out a statement today responding to your reporting, saying, quote, The New York Times is reporting on me is totally false and wrong. It comes as no surprise that the corporate media is obsessed with doing everything it can to further a liberal agenda. This promotional book tour is no different. If the reporters were interested in truth, why would they ask for comment after the book was printed?
What is your response? ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well Anderson, I think our response would be that we have ironclad confidence in our sourcing on this information and the sort of broad strokes attack on reporters, on the media is the kind of unconvincing denial that I think people have come to expect from Kevin McCarthy on these kinds of sensitive subjects. What our reporting in this book shows is that there was a crucial window immediately after January 6, with the Republican leadership in Congress recognize the danger that Donald Trump posed to the country and at least in private said they were going to do something about it. And then ultimately, they chose not to.
And Anderson that should for every reader, for every viewer who's interested in this book, it ought to be a clear signal about how they would behave if Donald Trump became president again.
COOPER: Jonathan, you also reported that McCarthy was telling fellow Republicans privately that he would push for the former president to resign that he's, quote, had it with this guy, unquote.
JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
COOPER: So how did he go from -- had it with this guy to, how's it going guy down in Mar-a-Lago?
MARTIN: Well, you know, we take readers Anderson into the inner sanctum of the Capitol, private rooms, conference calls, small meetings, and this is where in the days after January 6, Kevin McCarthy is really considering breaking ties with Donald Trump. He was his biggest cheerleader, during his presidency, during Trump's presidency. And in this moment, he's thinking about breaking ties. And he's trying to figure out a way, how can I pull this off, but it becomes clear pretty quickly, Anderson, that his fellow members of the House on the Republican side aren't that interested. They just don't have the same antipathy toward Trump that a handful of the kind of old guard folks in the party do. And the reason for that is because they are hearing from people back home, and their constituents just don't care about January 6, they like Trump.
And so McCarthy takes that temperature, right. McCarthy is trying to figure out how do I keep my flock happy? And it turns out that his flock does not want to walk away from President Trump. And so McCarthy, there's a 180 from those days after January 6, where he's telling his colleagues he's going to urged Trump to resign and instead, he decides to re-embrace Trump. He's done at Mar-a-Lago before the month of January is over.
COOPER: Alex, I just want to play a part of what Senate Minority Leader McConnell said on the Senate floor justifying his vote to quit the former president.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: But after intense reflection, I believe the best constitutional reading shows that Article II, Section IV, exhausts the set of persons who can legitimately be impeached tried or convicted. It's the president, it's the vice president and civil officers. We have no power to convict and disqualify a former officeholder who is now a private citizen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: But according to your reporting, McConnell had told people privately quote, if this isn't impeachable, I don't know what is.
BURNS: He did. And Anderson what's more, in our book, we report that McConnell told his allies on January 11, that the Democrats quote, the Democrats are going to take care of this SOB for us, that was a reference to the gathering momentum for impeachment in the House of Representatives. So, if he had grave misgivings about the ability to convict somebody, once they had left office, he certainly was not expressing them on January 11, at which point it was very clear that any impeachment trial would extend past the end of Donald Trump's presidency.
And I think the story that you see with McConnell, it's somewhat more nuanced than what you see with Kevin McCarthy. But as Jonathan said, he takes the temperature of the Senate Republican Conference. He hears from folks back home, his friends, his former colleagues, and of course, his voters. And he gets a pretty clear read on where the Republican Party is and where it isn't, and where it wasn't at the time. And where clearly is not today is ready to go to war with Donald Trump.
COOPER: Yes. I mean Jonathan is so interesting that window of time where they thought, you know, some of the old guard thought they could, you know, we saw with Lindsey Graham that night, you know, when he took to the floor, the night of the insurrection --
COOPER: -- you know, he was like I've you know, I've wished it didn't end this way with him and got yelled at, I think the next day at the airport, getting the temperature from his constituents back home, and then reverses himself.
MARTIN: And we have an entire chapter as for chronicling the hours of January 6, day and night, and then the immediate days afterwards, that week is so crucial from the 6th to the 13th when the House does impeach President Trump. Because there's this moment there where you can sort of almost feel the plate seeming to shift, I emphasize seeming to shift. Because there are a lot of Republicans who never like Trump, Anderson, they faked it for years, and here was their chance to finally in their eyes, get rid of somebody that they viewed as a cancer on their party. And they were going to take advantage of that.
And it just turns out there wasn't the will. And that as the days went on, and it got further from January 6, there was not the kind of appetite among people in the GOP caucus to move on Trump and to cut ties from him for good. But it's incredible in those first days, what they were saying and doing behind the scenes. We go deep into that in the book, and then how far away they move from that sort of tough talk posture in the weeks to go. COOPER: Yes. Jonathan Martin, Alex Burns, its fascinating reporting Thank you. Their book This Will Not Pass Trump-Biden In The Battle For America's Future is going to be released on May 3rd.
Coming up, frustrations boiling over as residents of Shanghai have been on lockdown for weeks with China's zero COVID policy forcing some into government quarantine facilities and living others stuck in their homes. More than that ahead.
COOPER: There's a lot of anger and frustration in Shanghai, tomorrow, marking three weeks into the full city was put on a strict COVID lockdown. Today it's a city of about 25 million people reported 11 new deaths and nearly 18,000 COVID cases bringing the total to almost 450,000 cases. And as China battles its biggest COVID wave yet there's zero COVID strategy is taking a big toll on residents and expats with no clear end on when the lockdown will be lifted.
CNN correspondent David Culver has more.
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Test positive for COVID- 19 in Shanghai, and Chinese officials want you out of your home and sent to a government quarantine facility assuming their space.
JOSH VAUGHN, FOUNDER, BLACK SHADES: There's nowhere for them to send me. All right. I'm not allowed to go in the hospital. And I have to stay here.
CULVER (voice-over): American Josh Vaughn taken in early April to a pop up tent outside of Shanghai hospital.
VAUGHN: This is supposed to be like a nice hospital. And this is where I'm sleeping tonight.
CULVER (voice-over): China's zero COVID policy requires every positive case and close contact to be isolated in the city inundated with an Omicron fueled surge that began in early March there's been a scramble to build makeshift isolation centers. The government evicting some residents from their homes so their apartments can be turned into quarantine facilities. People living in mainland China's most international city, frustrated by the city's admittedly mangled and chaotic execution of a harsh lockdown and mass quarantine efforts. For expats, it's even more difficult.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I was positive about 12 days ago. There's no way I'm still positive.
CULVER (voice-over): This recording widely shared on Chinese social media appearing to capture the agitation one German resident experienced with a Shanghai local official who called to apparently take him to quarantine for a second time. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been in the camp already. They didn't want me. They sent me back home. It's ridiculous. It's a disgrace.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the government, for Shanghai, for China. It's a really big joke. So get to CDC, come here, take a test. I'll be negative and then we can talk.
CULVER (voice-over): Others left in COVID limbo.
GABRIELE, SHANGHAI RESIDENT: The only way I can open my door is that I need to call my community and tell them and receive food because actually there's no other way I can get food from outside.
CULVER (voice-over): Gabriele who asked we only use his first name fearing repercussions spoke to us from his sealed department. He says officials told him his results were abnormal, never confirming he actually had COVID. Still they've kept him inside for days. A COVID guard posted to keep him from leaving.
GABRIELE: It feels like they don't know what to do with foreigners or like their system is not really working with foreigners. The (INAUDIBLE) will be the losses shine I will say. I don't know if we'll ever recover especially for us international people like if it's like a completely different signals, right. We're going backwards in time basically.
CULVER (voice-over): In online chat groups, we found dozens of other expats now trying to leave. One person writing China used to really have it all. It's just not the expat friendly place it used to be. And this person saying the first four and a half years were just incredible. Shanghai just isn't the same anymore.
But some like Josh Vaughn eager to hang on. He's got too much invested in his company.
VAUGHN: I've worked so hard on this. I've put everything I have, preparing myself for this moment, for this season. And it's almost like a make it like a make us or break is moment.
CULVER: So small businesses aside like Josh, is there economically on a bigger scale, Anderson. And there are already indications that leadership here is concerned, they're trying to come up with ways to restart factories and production, without undermining Beijing's zero COVID policy, but some of the solutions, they just don't seem sustainable. For example, they want some of the companies to actually take on the liability of housing employees on site to regularly test them and to create basically their own COVID bubbles. You got to imagine a lot of Western corporations, they're not happy with that approach. So economically, if they whether this year in China, you got to look at the politics, you got China's central government already shifting blame for the mismanagement of the lockdown. The local officials here in Shanghai, they're going to take the heat. And it's likely that's going to help shield the Chinese Communist Party, and its undisputed leader Xi Jinping, as he looks later this year to what is the most important event and that is when the party congress is likely to put them into a an unprecedented third term nearly unprecedented. That will help pave the way for him to rule for life, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. It's just -- it's incredible to see the measures they're taking there, David Culver, appreciate it.
Next, look at the new CNN film and the story of a brave man who stood up to Vladimir Putin.
COOPER: Alexei Navalny is a Russian opposition leader, anti-corruption campaigner, prisoner and assassination attempt survivor. Here's a look at -- a new award winning CNN film called "NAVALNY" detailing the really unbelievable true story of the man who took on Vladimir Putin to expose the truth.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Remarkably Vladimir Putin faces a legitimate opponent Alexei Navalny.
ALEXEI NAVALNY, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: I don't want once Putin being president. If I want to be leader of a country, I have to organize people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Kremlin hates Navalny so much that they refuse to say his name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Passengers heard Navalny cry out in agony.
NAVALNY: Come on poisoned, seriously? We are creating the coalition to fight this regime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you are killed, what message do you leave behind for the Russian people?
NAVALNY: Is very simple, never give up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Navalny, Sunday at 9:00 on CNN.
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COOPER: Well the news continuous. Let's hand over Laura Coates and Jim Sciutto in Ukraine. Jim.