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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Zelenskyy Celebrates Orthodox Easter; New Images of Destruction of Liberated Areas around Kyiv; Investigators Probe Mystery of Deaths of Two Former Russian Energy Execs and their Families; Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Took Stand Today In Bid To Disqualify Her From Public Office; Audio Reveals Kevin McCarthy Said Trump Admitted Bearing Some Responsibility For Capitol Attack. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired April 22, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MARIANA DAVIS, STORE MANAGER, THE BEEHIVE BOUTIQUE: Everything doesn't happen overnight. Folks know that.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN U.S. CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Now, she adds this caveat.
DAVIS: Patients are just frustrated, just frustrated. Just would like to get the relief that we need, so we can start operating how we used to.
ZELENY (voice-over): Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Atlanta.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: And thank you for joining us tonight. AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening in the capital of Kyiv today in Ukraine, residents were seen at markets buying food, preparing the Easter holiday meals that bind families and communities together.
Easter weekend is a major holiday obviously for the Christian faithful, it is also a time to gather and to celebrate the hope of salvation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The 58th day of our defense is coming to an end. It ends on Good Friday, one of the most sorrowful days of the year for Christians, the day when death seems to have won, but we hope for a resurrection. We believe in the victory of life over death, and we pray that death loses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: President Zelenskyy said that life is beginning to return to normal in the liberated areas of Ukraine, but life returning also means images like this. We've just been able to confirm the details of this video. It's a
makeshift grave for a mother and her son. The video shows two plywood crosses on a grave with two names Marina Met and Ivan met, both died March 5th. This is in Irpin just outside Kyiv.
And in the neighboring town of Moschun, new satellite images detail the sheer destruction wrought by the Russian forces. These drone images, extraordinary, block after block of ruined lives, destroyed homes.
It said to have suffered the brunt of a weeks' long firefight but is now free from the imminent threat of Russian forces. The same cannot be said about other areas of the country. Today, a Russian General speaking on state television and comments picked up across the world made a sweeping statement about Russia looking to establish quote, "full control the entire southern portion of Ukraine," and that would include cities like Odessa and Mykolaiv still under Ukrainian control, and it would mean if the Russians were successful controlling an area from Eastern Ukraine to a separatist region in nearby Moldova, called Transnistria, where Russia already has forces.
Again, these words were not from Vladimir Putin or his Defense Minister or the General now overseeing the entire war in Ukraine. According to "The New York Times," it's a relatively obscure military figure. That's "The Times" phrasing, and his job traditionally involves organizing political propaganda.
We should also point out that these claims come to the very day or on the very day that Russia provided more information on the sinking of their Black Sea flagship, the Moskva. Now they say only one member of the crew died, they say 27 are missing and that 396 people were evacuated. We don't know whether those numbers are correct. We do know they still claim that rough seas and a fire onboard sank the ship.
Ukrainian forces say they struck the ship with missiles, a view the U.S. believes is credible. As we examine the claims of that Russian General and frankly any Russian official, it is also worth examining the current U.S. assessment of how well Russian forces are conducting themselves in the East.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.) PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We continue to see them try to address their integration of air and ground forces which was dismal in the early weeks of this campaign. They appear to be trying to fix that kind of integration going forward. But again, we wouldn't assess that they've solved all their problems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now this is all to say that any Russian claim needs to be heavily and carefully examined as all claims do by any force in a conflict. What we do know is this, intense fighting is still ongoing in the east where evacuations are perilous. One Ukrainian officials said quote, "The Russians do not allow us to save the civilians."
And around Mariupol, continued airstrikes as Ukrainian defenders are still trapped surrounded in a massive steel plant.
This is Easter weekend in Ukraine. We start tonight with Ed Lavandera in one recently liberated Ukrainian town and the horrors its residents witnessed.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): War stopped time here. Bombs and artillery scorch this village in Northern Ukraine, Russian occupation ravaged the minds of its people.
The story of what happened in Yahidne is just emerging, revealing how the Russian Army held this village hostage for more than 30 days.
(SOFIA speaking in foreign language.)
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Sofia shows us the underground bunker in her shed where she first hid from the fighting.
(SOFIA speaking in foreign language.)
LAVANDERA (voice-over): She says she had food stored here that the Russians ate. This is where she slept.
Sofia says Russian soldiers went door to door rounding people up and taking them at gunpoint into the basement of the village school.
(SOFIA speaking in foreign language.)
LAVANDERA (on camera): Sofia tells us that when the Russian soldiers moved them all into the basement of the school building, that they were put down there and that the soldiers told them that they were being put in the basement to die.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): A woman named Natalia took us into the basement where she was trapped.
(NATALIA speaking in foreign language.)
LAVANDERA (voice-over): "I was in a stupor," Natalia tells me. "I was just sitting there praying, hoping it would all stop soon."
LAVANDERA (on camera): Residents tell us that there were about 350 people held hostage in the basement of this school building. Men, women and children forced to live in these horrific conditions.
In fact, it was so strangulating, there was so little air circulation that one resident told us that 12 elderly people died here because they couldn't breathe, and their bodies were left while the fighting raged outside.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): These are some of the only known images captured in the school's basement. The faces say at all. LAVANDERA (on camera): She is telling me that about 35 people slept in
this small room, nobody could lay down, they slept kind of sitting with their knees up against their chest.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): The rooms are littered with makeshift beds, schoolbooks, and Russian troop meal boxes, but it's the art on the walls that stops you in your tracks. This is how the children passed the time. Colorful drawings on a canvas of anguish.
LAVANDERA (on camera): The people who were trapped down here etched names onto this concrete wall. They marked the days with a calendar crossing out the days as they went by.
Everything down here has the feel of a World War Two era concentration camp.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Above the basement, Russian soldiers took over the school building. Residents say they were used as human shields. They knew the Ukrainian military wouldn't fire at the school with civilians inside.
Olena grabs food from a humanitarian delivery truck and takes us to her home. Russian soldiers threw grenades through her windows and defecated on the house floors.
She was also held hostage in the school basement with her one-year-old daughter.
LAVANDERA (on camera): Did you think you were going to survive that?
(OLENA speaking in foreign language.)
LAVANDERA (voice-over): "I thought my child would not survive," she tells me. "I asked them to let me out so the child could breathe fresh air because she felt bad, they said, 'Let her die. We don't care.'"
Sofia, how did you feel when you got out of the basement of the school?
(SOFIA speaking in foreign language.)
LAVANDERA (voice-over): She says, "One of the villagers opened the basement door and said the Russians left. The trapped villagers were surprised."
"In the morning, our guys entered the village," she said. "We cried, we hugged them and cried."
LAVANDERA (on camera): What will you tell your daughter about this experience?
(OLENA speaking in foreign language.)
LAVANDERA (voice-over): "Nothing," she says. Her daughter will not remember it and she will tell her nothing.
COOPER: And Ed Lavandera joins us now.
I mean, consider the challenge that people are facing now. I mean, as they're trying to live, how are they able to eat? How are they able to -- is there electricity in that area?
LAVANDERA: Every problem, every corner and you know, it is really kind of hard as we were walking around that village today really capture the scope and the magnitude of just how much everything is destroyed, and then on top of that Anderson, just, you know, the infrastructures, you're talking about electricity, power, everything is just dismantled.
And then they have to deal with landmines and you saw there at one shot of the piece that the stockpiled weaponry that was on the ground there, the residents there believe that the Russians had buried several people, if not many more, who were killed in the fighting there in the woods around that village.
They can't get to those areas because of the concern about landmines. But every aspect of life there has been turned upside down. I asked one woman what will happen of this village, she didn't think it would survive.
COOPER: Ed Lavandera appreciate it. Thank you.
We mentioned that fighting ongoing in the besieged port city of Mariupol. Well, today, former residents who were fortunate enough to escape told CNN about some of their experiences.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So many should have been evacuated, but the Russians kept shelling. They are not human beings. I don't know who gave birth to them. Horrific.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)
RIVERS (voice-over): We were just thinking about our survival. I don't know how I'm going to tell my son about such terrifying events.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I am joined now by retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Peter Zwack, a former U.S. Defense Attache to Russia.
General Zwack, I appreciate you joining us. When you hear the stories of how the Russians behaved in the areas that they occupy, how does that comport with what any modern-day military, how they should behave in an occupied area?
BRIG. GEN. PETER ZWACK (RET), U.S. ARMY: It is beyond all ethics, mores, principles, enormous violations of criminal conduct that we would say in our own side, war crimes. It has gone vicious. I mean, and war is always vicious, and Anderson, you've covered it a lot over the years.
But this is a fight right now, an existential fight for both Ukraine who is fighting for its very existence and now for the Putin regime, and they're going to continue to push forces in.
ZWACK: It's fought over the tops of villages and towns and cities, so there is -- so there is unbelievable civilian toll, and they're caught in it. You get war rage. You get losses, partisans, militias. You have the Wagner Group and exhilarators that are violent, and it's ugly, and this is the way it is when we talk about conciliation.
I don't know how long it will take in the end for Ukrainians to be able to consolidate.
COOPER: You know, earlier we heard from Admiral John Kirby over the Pentagon talking about whether Russian forces have been able to try to -- have been able to fix the issues that they were facing within their own logistical supply, within their own coordination supply between ground operations and air operations.
Do you think -- and it seems like it remains to be seen whether they have been able to, in this now, this new offensive in the Donbas area, do you think it's an army that is capable of fixing those kinds of problems in this amount of time?
ZWACK: These are fundamental military and organizational issues that normally takes months to train in a force. The Russians are having to slap together a core force with mangled forces coming out of Kyiv, and that have already been, there is a significant morale problem. And how do you factor in what is will to fight? What is spirit? Which is something Ukrainians have in abundance, and I think the Russian forward troops in many ways are being pushed into it and fighting for their lives.
But there is also a blood lust for the reasons I talked before. Logistics are trying to bring them in, but the whole battalion tactical group structure is light on logistics. The Russians have got forces from four different military districts across the country, and they are trying to put that all together with a new General, it is hard. It would take months normally to do this, it is at -- finally, a lot of these troops already have combat fatigue, early, early, early signs of PTSD on both sides, but it is really playing hard on the Russians, an enormous leadership problem.
COOPER: Yes, David Remnick from "The New Yorker" was on last night. I think it was he who said, and I might be wrong, it might have been somebody else, but -- who said that, you know, even an Army that is incompetent, but you know, an army may be incompetent, but if the Commanders don't care about their own troops, and don't care about civilians in the areas that they're fighting in, even an incompetent army can wreak huge havoc. I mean, if they are well armed and just have artillery and tanks and have no compunction about having their own troops killed or killing anybody downrange? ZWACK: Yes, I think we've seen numerous examples of just absolute loss
of control of formations, discipline that starts from the bottom up, not the top down. And I think that there is a shock that's going on out there, and the Russian, for all the reasons we've stated, it has gone into aspects of bloodlust, we've been reading and hearing about the intercepts and all that and again, the horror, it is like the Second World War this region from '41 to '44. It is fought over these villages, and of course the villages are fighting.
You've got already Ukrainian fighting spirit. But of course at that time now, the villagers also become targets, because they're seen as the enemy by the occupying force, and it's hard all around.
COOPER: Yes, Retired Brigadier General, Peter Zwack, appreciate it. Thank you.
Still to come, a mystery about the deaths of two former Russian Energy Executives along with members of their families. This is a really strange story. Two families, similar deaths, looking for answers. Nic Robertson will have the latest ahead.
And Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene testifying for three hours about what she could and often what she said she could not remember about events surrounding January 6th, as some challengers hope to prevent her re-election campaign. See how that may go, ahead.
COOPER: I want to tell you about a mystery now, one that may or may not have a connection to the war in Ukraine. In reports, most recently in Bloomberg, of Russian elites' dissatisfied with Vladimir Putin's war.
All we know is that two former Russian gas executives and members of their families died in two separate countries within 25 hours.
And now, investigators are trying to understand if they are connected and figure out exactly what happened.
Nic Robertson has details.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Coincidence or Kremlin-revenge. Fifty-five-year-old Sergey Protosenya and his wife and daughter found dead in their home in Spain, Tuesday; and Vladislav Avayev, a 51-year-old former VP Gazprombank and his wife and daughter found dead in their Moscow apartment, Monday.
Russia's state news agency says Moscow Police are investigating the deaths of Avayev and his family as a murder suicide. Tantamount to saying nothing suspicious here.
Spanish Police are now guarding Protosenya's luxury house, north of Barcelona. An official source close to the investigation says the bodies of his wife and daughter, which showed signs of violence were found inside the home and Protosensya's body was found outside in the garden.
The neighbors described them as wealthy, but often traveling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He had nice cars. I thought they were Romanian from what I understood. And besides, you could see they were people with money.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): The investigative source says Spanish Police have sealed their probe into the deaths, no leaks that might pre-judge their case.
Two different investigations, two very different jurisdictions.
Historically, Spain's judiciary significantly more transparent than Russia's. Russia's investigators releasing this ultra-short four second video of the crime scene inside the Avayev's apartment. The family's employees reportedly alerted a relative that parents and daughter weren't answering calls from within their locked apartment.
Police found all three dead from gunshot wounds.
Suspicious deaths of Russians overseas and at home are nothing new. Former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, poisoned and killed in London 2006. A British coroner questioned the apparent suicide in his locked bathroom of oligarch and Kremlin critic, Boris Berezovsky near London in 2013.
In 2018, the attempted murder by deadly Russian nerve agent, novichok, a former spy, Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
So too, in Russia, Putin critic, Alexei Navalny, poisoned nearly killed with novichok chalk in 2020.
There is no evidence Protosenya or Avayev were Putin critics. There is evidence, however, that despite Kremlin demands for loyalty among the elite, some previously silent Putin allies are coming out against him.
Today, as Putin's war polarizes Russians, for and against, suspicions of shady Kremlin killings will likely linger long after Moscow's investigators close Avayev's case.
Nic Robertson, CNN, Brussels.
COOPER: You heard Nic mentioned Alexei Navalny, the Putin critic who was poisoned, nearly killed by Kremlin agents. He is the subject of a fascinating new documentary premiering Sunday at 9:00 PM Eastern on CNN. I am joined by the director, Daniel Roher.
Daniel, thanks for joining us. What was it about Navalny's story that really drew you?
DANIEL ROHER, DIRECTOR, "NAVALNY": Well, Anderson, first and foremost, thank you very much for having me on the program tonight.
When I first met Alexei, this was a man who had just survived an assassination attempt. He was poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent as your intro indicated, and come on, that is just an extraordinary story in and of itself. He happens to be an incredible character, an amazing guy. And, you know, I just understood that this would make an incredible documentary.
COOPER: I understand that you were actually there and your crews were there when Navalny tracked down his would-be assassins.
ROHER: That's right, Anderson. We started making this film as a murder mystery. That's what we thought we were doing, a procedural film about a team of investigative reporters who were working with Alexei to piece together -- forensically piece together this map, the movements of these FSB assassins, who followed Alexei to Siberia and tried to poison him with novichok.
It was extraordinary to witness this investigation unfold in real time in front of our cameras.
COOPER: How do you think Navalny's story, and I mean, he's in prison now. How do you think Navalny sort of helps inform the world's understanding of Vladimir Putin?
ROHER: Well, I think our film is the canary in the coal mine of sorts. The horrors that we are seeing play out in Ukraine today, the war crimes that are being committed every single day, the weaponization of information, a disinformation industry that Vladimir Putin and his thugs are peddling, that is all in our film.
Our film is a sort of a micro look at this whole dichotomy, and what I really hope when people watch the film is that they remember that Vladimir Putin is not Russia, and Russia is not Vladimir Putin. What Alexei Navalny offers is an alternate vision for what Russia could one day be.
COOPER: I mean, he obviously has not seen the film, I assume, right? I mean, this wasn't finished, well, I mean, he's been in prison for a while now.
ROHER: They don't get CNN in Penal Colony Number 2, unfortunately, but I understand he has been reading all of the reviews and trying his very best to stay informed about what's going on with the film.
COOPER: It's just remarkable. What do you think -- yes, I mean, who knows how long he will be away? I mean, they can continually, obviously, the justice system there is, you know, in the control of the security services and the authorities.
Daniel Roher, I really appreciate it. The film airs 9:00 PM on CNN. It's fascinating. Appreciate it.
We will have more on the war in Ukraine later.
Coming up, next, the details from Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene's hours' long testimony in Court. Challengers trying to prevent her bid for re-election for her conduct related to the January 6th riot.
COOPER: We'll have more of the war in Ukraine later in the broadcast. We want to switch now to the latest events surrounding the January 6th investigation.
Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia who testified for more than three hours in court today, part of a case to seek her disqualification for re-election.
Randi Kaye has more.
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene defending her alleged role in the January 6th riot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prior to January 6, 2021, have you heard that people were planning to enter the Capitol Building illegally in order to disrupt the electoral count process.
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): No. Absolutely not. I don't know anything about that.
KAYE (voice-over): True to form, Greene was combative from the start.
Early on, Greene was asked if she was aware of any effort to interfere with the electoral vote count?
GREENE: No, absolutely not. I don't know anything about that.
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): True to form, Greene was combative from the start. Early on Greene was asked if she was aware of any effort to interfere with the electoral vote count.
GREENE: I had no knowledge of any attempt. And so that's a question that I can't answer.
ANDREW CELI, LAWYER FOR CHALLENGERS: Can I ask the court to acknowledge that this is a an adverse was witness a hostile witness.
KAYE (voice-over): Greene strongly defended various tweet she was confronted with leading up to January 6, saying she was only encouraging a peaceful march.
CELI: That word peaceful is nowhere in this tweet, right. (INAUDIBLE) that word peaceful is not in this tweet.
GREENE: I can't read it.
CELI: I'm asking. You didn't -- there's not a secret code in there that's supposed to be peaceful, right?
GREENE: Well, I never mean anything for violence. I don't support violence of any kind.
KAYE (voice-over): On the stand Greene offered up the long-debunked claim that Joe Biden lost the election, which has become a rallying cry for Trump supporters.
CELI: You believed that Joe Biden had lost the election to Mr. Trump, right?
GREENE: Well, yes, we saw tremendous amount of voter fraud.
KAYE (voice-over): Throughout the day Greene frustrated lawyers on the opposing side with lots of this.
GREENE: I don't remember.
I do not remember.
Sorry, I don't remember.
I don't remember.
I don't recall.
KAYE (voice-over): At one point she said she didn't recall opposing the peaceful transfer of power to Biden. The challengers followed up with a video showing her saying exactly that. Lawyers also moved to show Greene use social media posts leading up to January 6 that alluded to violence.
CELI: Did you like a post that said it's quicker that a bullet to the head would be a quicker way to remove Nancy Pelosi from the role of speaker.
GREENE: I had many people manage my social media account over the years. I have no idea who likes that.
KAYE (voice-over): And when Greene was asked if she knew who was attacking the Capitol, she falsely blamed left leaning groups like BLM and Antifa.
JAMES BOPP JR., LAWYER FOR GREENE: Did you know at that time who was attacking the Capitol?
GREENE: No, I didn't know. We mostly thought that it was Antifa dressed up as Trump supporters.
KAYE (voice-over): Before it was over, Greene and her lawyer hammered this point home. BOPP: Were you affected by the attack?
GREENE: Yes, I was. I was on the House Chamber when it happened. I would had to be evacuated to safety. Yes, I was a victim of the riot that day.
KAYE (voice-over): Victim or not Marjorie Taylor Greene's future on the ballot is yet to be decided.
Randi Kaye, CNN.
COOPER: Let's get some perspective now in the congresswoman testimony, Jeffrey Toobin, CNN chief legal analyst and former federal prosecutor joins us. David Axelrod, CNN, senior political commentator, a former senior advisor, President Obama.
Jeff, given everything that Randi Kaye just laid out, do you think the case brought against Congresswoman Greene would be successful?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: No, I don't. I think this is an embarrassment for Congressman Greene. But I think it's extremely remote that she will be barred from Congress. This is a deeply obscure provision of the Constitution designed to keep Confederate veterans out of office. I don't think there is basically any way she will be found to have violated this provision of the Constitution and kept out of off.
COOPER: David, does this just help her with her base?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean, I totally agree with Jeff's analysis, except for one point, he calls it an embarrassment to her and perhaps it is with some, but for her, it's an embarrassment of riches. This only strengthens her with her base, she will play the victim. And she will end up on top because they will dismiss this case. And meanwhile, she'll raise a ton of money off of it, which is what she's been doing from the beginning. She's one of the most prolific fundraisers in the Republican Party because her antics are rewarded time and again. And I don't think this is going to be any different.
COOPER: Jeff, depending on how the judge decides this case, could there be any legal precedent set for the future? Or is it so obscure that?
TOOBIN: Well, there could be. You know, no one exactly knows what the words of the Constitution mean here engage in an insurrection. Both words are not defined, and they are subject to many different definitions. But I think it's important to point out there are two principles and add that argue against expose, throwing out Congresswoman Greene. The first is freedom of speech, the First Amendment. You know, the First Amendment allows people to be reckless and irresponsible. That's part of what's protected.
And the second is democracy. You know, if she's a terrible congresswoman, her constituents have the right to throw her out every two years. And that principle is a very important one that we have voters decide who's in Congress, not judges and bureaucrat.
COOPER: David, do you have a sense of her popularity amongst her constituents I mean you know fundraising that can be nationwide and she makes headlines and, you know, appears in a lot of places. Do you know how she does in her district?
AXELROD: Yes, my sense is that she is in a very strong position in her district. I don't think she's expected to lose a primary. And if you win a primary in that district is so heavily Republican that you're not going to that you're not going to lose your seat. But let me just say, Anderson, if I can, I agree with everything Jeffrey said, I, you know, I am not a fan of Marjorie Taylor Greene, I am in even less of a fan of insurrection, because I'm a big fan of democracy.
And so, I think we ought to be very, very careful about, you know, stepping on these fundamental principles of democracy, even as repugnant as some of her statements and actions have been.
COOPER: Yes. David Axelrod, Jeffrey Toobin, appreciate it. Thank you.
Up next House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is working to control the fallout of newly revealed audio showing he lied about his views on the former president and the January 6 insurrection. A lot of the details, next.
COOPER: When we reported this next story last night there was an allegation and an outright denial. The allegation was reporting from journalists Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns who were on last night's program quoting their new book that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in the days after the January 6 insurrection said in a conference call to his caucus that he was going to suggest the president resign. The denial was from Leader McCarthy who in a statement claimed he never said that and attack the professionalism of the reporters in the process.
Now the reporters stood by their story and about 30 minutes after our interview showed why, they released the audio the McCarthy said did not exist.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Again, the only discussion I would have with him is that I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: There was more where that came from. This morning, they released more from the same conference call the Minority Leader saying he told the former president he bore responsibility for the attack, and then the former President agreed. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: But let me be very clear to all of you and I've been very clear to the President. He bears responsibilities for his words and actions, no ifs, ands, or buts. I asked him personally today, does he hold responsibility for what happened? Does he feel bad about what happened? He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened. That he needs you acknowledge that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: Congressman McCarthy of course, has made no secret of his designs of assuming the role of Speaker of the House should Republicans take control of it later this year. The question tonight is will he can and will the Republican conference who are still beholden to the former president stand for a house leader who partly blamed the president for the attacks, not to mention not being upfront about it.
Joining me now is former Republican congressman in Pennsylvania, from Pennsylvania, CNN political commentator, Charlie Dent.
Congressman Dent, good to see you.
We just learned the former President spoke The Wall Street Journal and told them about Leader McCarthy quote, he made a call, I heard the call. I didn't like the call, but almost immediately, as you know, because he came here and we took a picture right there, you know, the support was very strong, unquote. How do you interpret that? I mean, do you think McCarthy would be able to stay in the former president's good graces?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, apparently, he's in the President's good graces for the moment. But as we all know, President Trump likes to exercise leverage and he has leverage over Kevin McCarthy right now. Kevin McCarthy, and the Republicans had Donald Trump, you know, down on the mat really after January 6, than they let them off by going down to Mar-a-Lago and making up. And I've always believed that a lot of the reason why they kissed and made up was because they use Donald Trump for fundraising purposes. They're always raising money off his name. So Trump's name has become almost synonymous with the GOP at the moment, and, and they need him for this money. And they're raising gobs just incredible sums of money right now. So I think that's not a small part of this.
Privately, Kevin McCarthy, I think I believe what he said that he should resign and that the President poor responsibility, but the public statements are quite different. And what's really sad about this that Kevin McCarthy and Liz Cheney, were largely aligned on the issue of Donald Trump after January 6. But Liz Cheney, of course, said the quiet part out loud repeatedly, and she's been punished for it. And now, you know, Kevin has got some explaining to do. We'll see if Donald Trump stays with him in the long term, as you know, he can turn on a dime.
COOPER: The former president also told The Wall Street Journal that he thought it was a big compliment, because, quote, they realized they were wrong and supported me. In the President's -- I mean, I don't -- do you believe that they realized they were wrong, or did they a, want him, as you said, for fundraising? And also did they then get, you know, hear from the folks in their districts and their base saying, we still like Trump?
DENT: No, I don't think any of those members. Look, these members, privately many of these Republican members, certainly the more the establishment-oriented members, they find Trump to be an embarrassment, a disgrace, they dislike him. They want nothing to do with him. Those are their private views. Publicly, obviously, it's quite another matter. So I don't think anybody thinks they were wrong for condemning Donald Trump.
But again, I think they're really more worried about not losing favor with Trump and, and more importantly, the base of the party, which much of which is still closely aligned with Donald Trump. But we should remember Anderson that Donald Trump is a diminishing figure. Now, that said, he is still a dangerous figure, and he can cause a lot of damage for many of these Republicans in the -- in their primaries. And they all know that. And we have to keep remembering that Donald Trump lost in 2020, while Republicans down ballot did extraordinarily well.
So it nearly never made sense to me why would they continue to, you know, try to latch themselves on to a sinking ship. And it's only because they only have to worry about a primary.
COOPER: Yes. Charlie Dent, it's always good to talk to you. Appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
DENT: Good. Thanks Anderson.
COOPER: Up next, we have more on the war in Ukraine. We'll talk to actor Liev Schreiber who took the brave journey to Poland and Ukraine to aid humanitarian efforts and support Ukrainian organizations on the ground.
COOPER: According to the UN, more than 5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia began their invasion with more than 7 million internally displaced in the country. Since the start of the war, Poland has seen the largest amount of refugees pour over the borders with the latest UN data shown nearly 3 million Ukrainians have escaped to Poland.
Earlier, I spoke with actor, director, screenwriter and producer Liev Schreiber, who co founded a group called BlueCheck Ukraine to help that and support Ukrainian aid groups on the ground. He also recently returned from Poland, Ukraine where he was aiding humanitarian efforts.
COOPER: (on-camera): Liev, thanks so much for being with us. I love the idea of BlueCheck Ukraine which you co-founded it -- because when you're in a place where so much is happening, there's so many great, you know, individuals, small organizations that don't get the attention that they should but are doing really important a human work and a very human level and that's what BlueCheck Ukraine is all about. How did you talk? How did you approach it?
LIEV SCHREIBER, CO-FOUNDER, BLUECHECK UKRAINE: Well, I have a group of friends who, fortunately are much more experienced in humanitarian relief than I am. But the idea was that we would, the BlueCheck concept was that like in the social media, you know, you have some system of verification so that you know who you're talking to is who they say they are, and that the money people are spending is going where it needs to go.
COOPER (on-camera): Have you ever been in a situation like the one you saw in Ukraine and Poland?
SCHREIBER: No, I haven't. It was extraordinary. I think, obviously, the big takeaway for me, and I know that you're familiar with this as well because you've been there is the resilience and the courage of the Ukrainian people. Obviously, also the compassion and the generosity of the polls as well. But I really didn't expect it to feel that defiant and that alive, which was really quite encouraging.
COOPER (on-camera): You worked with World Central Kitchen, which we've done a lot of reporting on over the years. You were there for the start of Passover and Easter, what was that like?
SCHREIBER: It's fantastic. I mean, it really is an extraordinary thing that Jose Andres is doing. A lot of these people, as you know, been walking for miles and miles, women and children, and they crossed the border and for them to be provided a warm, delicious meal and I know because I helped prepare a lot of them and ate more of them is really an extraordinary thing to get a smile from somebody in a warm bowl of borscht are something familiar. But they're --
COOPER (on-camera): That was like the giant, the biggest bowl.
SCHREIBER: That's, that's the vat of horse. Yes. I really was very tempted to bathe my (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER (on-camera): I understand you also met somebody who's some called the Ukrainian Ray Donovan.
SCHREIBER: Yes, I called him the Ukrainian Ray Donovan. This is an extraordinary guy named Pablo Shulha and his wife, who work in conjunction with an American charity actually called KidSave. And KidSave, had initially set out to try to rescue 117 of their KidSave abortions. But then they started to work with this guy, Pablo, and Pablo, between when the war started and now has sort of been with him and his wife and their group have rescued. I think something like over 10,000 displaced women and children.
And this was a very sort of stoic guy and kind of the real Ray Donovan, in many respects, didn't get emotional about anything he was saying to me until he told me a story about a kid in Culver City, who held a bake sale and bake dog biscuits, to send the money to Pablo and sent Pablo $160. And when Pablo told me that story, he just, he broke into tears. And it was it was incredibly moving to me. That that's the part that touched him after everything that he'd seen that getting help from America, knowing that we felt connected was probably the most powerful thing for him.
COOPER (on-camera): Your mom's dad was Ukrainian if I'm not --
COOPER (on-camera): -- mistaken.
COOPER (on-camera): I don't know if he'd spent time there before. But was it -- did it feel personal in some way to you? Did that impact you in any way?
SCHREIBER: Yes. It feels really personal to me. But I, you know, I think that's distinctly American. You know what I mean? I love to think of us as a nation of grandchildren. English, African, Chinese, in my case, Ukrainian and Polish, but that's who we are. And I think if there's any silver lining in the violence that Putin has visited on Ukraine, and by proxy the rest of the world, it's the idea that when this war started, I think our country felt conflicted, polarized. And I think the biggest mistake Putin made was that I do feel like he's united us a little bit, that he's reminded all of us what it is to be American. That how close we are two that that our grandparents escaped that tyranny and came here to a country where we feel an obligation to defend those liberties and opportunities that our democracy provides.
So, I'm not only really proud to be of Ukrainian heritage right now, I'm also pretty proud to be an American. What I'm experiencing is this sort of groundswell of support from Americans for Ukraine, and if they would like to help, please go to us ukraine.org/bluecheck and donate. I guarantee you it will go to someone who needs it.
COOPER (on-camera): Yes and it's a lot of smaller organizations which are highlighted by BlueCheck Ukraine, which don't necessarily get the attention that other larger ones do. So it's, it's important to give --
SCHREIBER: That was a big part of our mission to try and identify. And hopefully preferably Ukrainians who are doing the work on the ground. You know, this livid symphonies, just extraordinary, the woman, (INAUDIBLE) who runs that I was just so impressed with what.
COOPER (on-camera): What -- you went to the Lviv Symphony, they're playing, but --
SCHREIBER: Yes, they're playing Mozart's Requiem. But what's so extraordinary about this footage, I don't know if you can tell --
COOPER (on-camera): Yes.
SCHREIBER: -- because it's so dark, is that there's no seats in the concert hall. And it's, you know, it's up to your ears with boxes of medical aid, and medicine and food. And so, they're rehearsing obviously, they can't tour right now because of the war. But they're rehearsing Mozart's Requiem, and at night, they kind of packed boxes and send them to the front lines in the places that need the most.
COOPER (on-camera): Wow. That's extraordinary.
SCHREIBER: There's a priest I think that's the priest who's blessing the food that they're sending out for the Easter holiday.
COOPER (on-camera): Yes. Well, I like the notion that's this food that has had the music flood over it, you know, is then sent out around the around the country.
COOPER (on-camera): Liev Schreiber, lovely talk to you. Thank you.
SCHREIBER: Thank you so much.
COOPER: The organization he's supporting and co-founded is BlueCheck Ukraine.
More on the documentary about Alexei Navalny, we showed you earlier just ahead.
COOPER: This Sunday night the CNN premiere of the new CN -- Sundance Award winning CNN Film "NAVALNY" details the unbelievable true story of the man who took on Putin to live to expose the truth. "NAVALNY" Sunday, 9:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN.
The news continues. Want to hand it over to Laura Coates and Jim Sciutto in Ukraine. Jim.