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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
NY Times: Officials Say U.S. Intelligence Is Helping Ukraine Kill Russian Generals; Second Night Of Protests In Wake Of Draft Supreme Court Decision To Gut Roe v. Wade; Interview With Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA); Civilians Flee Kherson After Weeks Of Living Under Russian Control; U.S. Western Officials: Putin May Soon Officially Declare War On Ukraine; New Audio: McCarthy Calls Trump's Behavior On January 6 "Atrocious And Totally Wrong"; Dave Chappelle Tackled On Stage During Hollywood Bowl Performance. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired May 04, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RACHEL CRANE, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: But it was a very charged moment and everybody -- you could hear gasps, screams not crazy screams but, "ah" like everyone was very alarmed by what had just happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Erin, the representative for Chappelle called this incident unsettling and unfortunate, and also said that the comedian is cooperating with the police investigation -- Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Stephanie, thank you so much.
"AC360" starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
There are multiple breaking news stories to tell you about this hour, including a new report now just published from "The New York Times" that says the U.S. providing Intelligence that has helped Ukrainians to target and kill many of the Russian Generals who died in action in Ukraine.
Now CNN has not confirmed the story, but one of the reporters from "The Times" will join us shortly.
A second night of protest now across the United States, the aftershocks that leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.
The message from these abortion rights protesters "do something." The question tonight is what. Already Democrats are shaping some of their attacks against Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What are the next
things that are going to be attacked? Because this MAGA crowd is really the most extreme political organization that has existed in American history -- in recent American history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: This is the second day that President Biden has appeared before reporters to say it's not just abortion rights under threat, but others including the definition of marriage. Clearly, a message is forming.
But the White House today offering few concrete details to reporters as to what it would do or could do should the Supreme Court announce that Roe is no longer the law of the land. Also unclear tonight how much the issue may motivate Democratic voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D-WA): And have this Supreme Court to rip that away from them has really stricken a lot of people, and I believe that it will have an impact in people getting out to vote in the coming election. They will want their voices heard.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Inflation is the number one driving factor, I believe in my state right now. It is hurting everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So two senators representing two very different parts of the country with two outlooks about what will motivate voters this fall and possibly other -- other falls to come.
There's also the question of how much national Democrats can do. Senate Democrats plan to vote on a measure to codify Roe's protections next week, but which plan and how many senators will vote for it is unclear.
Plus one Democratic strategy firm told CNN essentially that all politics even abortion is local, and that Democrats' success on this issue will be determined less by what national Democrats can do and more by the fights at the state level as state and local officials argue over future abortion restrictions on an individual basis.
Later tonight, our Gary Tuchman will take us to a private nonprofit women's clinic in Tennessee to look at how the Court's ultimate decision may affect the services that they offer.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights, more than half of states, 26 to be exact, could enact abortion bans if the Court strikes down Roe v Wade; 13 states have so-called trigger laws designed to take effect the moment that Roe is overturned by the Court.
For now, many Republican lawmakers appear more interested in talking about the leak from the Supreme Court rather than the draft decision itself. A number of Democratic lawmakers have already spoken publicly about their past decisions to have an abortion.
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal spoke about the complications from her first pregnancy and the toll it had on her marriage and physical and mental wellbeing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I knew I was not ready to have another child, so I religiously took my daily contraceptive pill. Despite that, I became pregnant. I consulted with my doctors who told me that any future pregnancy would likely also be high risk to me and the child, similar to what I had gone through with Janak.
I very much wanted to have more children, but I simply could not imagine going through that again.
After discussions with my partner who was completely supportive of whatever choice I made, I decided to have an abortion.
For me, terminating my pregnancy was not an easy choice, the most difficult I've made in my life, but it was my choice and that is what must be preserved for every pregnant person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, just before we aired tonight, I spoke with Congresswoman Jayapal about the Supreme Court's draft decision as well as her own decision to share her story.
COOPER: Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us. I know this is obviously deeply personal for you. I'm wondering how your own experience shaped your view of abortion rights being in jeopardy right now.
JAYAPAL: Well, Anderson, I have always been a supporter of abortion rights, but when I had to go through the experience itself, it gave me a whole different perspective on the nuances and the complexities of making a decision like this and also the incredible importance of having it be for nobody else to make except the pregnant person, because at the end of the day, we are the people that know what we're dealing with.
Nobody could have known the incredibly difficult situation that I had had with my first child being born just one pound 14 ounces.
JAYAPAL: I mean, literally, she was this big, the size of a small squash. And I had so many issues for months with not even knowing if she was going to live or die. And so to then have somebody else tell me that I have to have a government mandated pregnancy, when I knew that I was not in a position to do that, I think all came into sharp focus. And so now today, I see so many stories, and there isn't a good story
a good abortion story or a bad abortion story. It's just the choice that women have to make about their own bodies, and nobody else should be involved in that other than our doctors and our loved ones.
COOPER: What do you think would have happened to you back then, if a ban had been in place?
JAYAPAL: Well, you know, I live in a state, Washington State where we do -- we have protected the right to choose, but let's say I wasn't in this state, I wouldn't have been able to get an abortion unless I'd had the money. I probably could have scraped together the money for it, if I think about it now. But it's not like I was in a situation where that would have been easy.
And on top of that, I would have had to try and find somewhere that would do an abortion, because I just -- I was not in a place where I could have had another baby.
And my life would have been at risk, the baby's life potentially at risk. And so it's not like banning abortion would get rid of abortions. It would just get rid of safe and legal abortions. People would continue to have abortions, and I think that is the other thing that we really need to think about because this Supreme Court majority, five Justices who were appointed by two Presidents who did not even get the majority of the popular vote are trying to mandate that we carry a pregnancy.
I'm not telling anyone to have an abortion. I don't think anyone should tell me to not have one.
COOPER: With the filibuster in place, though, Democrats don't have the votes in the Senate to codify Roe into law. So, where does that leave you?
JAYAPAL: Well, I think three things. One, we can bring it to the floor and get people on the record. Two, there are some Republicans, women who said that they supported the right to a woman's right to choose who confirmed some of the Supreme Court Justices who lied to them.
And I think we should really appeal to them to be on the right side of history and to join us in a carve-out to the filibuster, and then we would have 51 votes. So that's the second piece. And if all of that fails, then, Anderson obviously it's to the ballot boxes.
And in any situation, I think it is important for people to understand that the Alito opinion as it was written and leaked, if that is really the opinion that stands makes a stunning argument. It makes the argument that if something was not designated as a right, actually specified in the Constitution of 200 years ago, than it is not a right today, and that is true of privacy as it relates to abortion, but also as it relates to any number of other issues, same sex marriage, but also how about interracial marriage? How about all of the things that we have considered settled law that now could be overturned?
So I think this obviously, is something that will animate people in November at the at the election booth.
COOPER: I guess the argument from some conservatives on that is, well, even though the Supreme Court had ruled -- had passed Roe v. Wade, it still wasn't -- their argument is that it wasn't necessarily settled law in that it still was an issue that divided the country. It wasn't that there was an overwhelming majority of Americans, that everybody was on the same page in supporting it.
JAYAPAL: I found that to be one of the most ludicrous arguments that was being made, because are they saying that by overturning Roe v. Wade, that somehow we're going to have a more cordial discussion around this? That somehow this is going to bring the country together? That I thought was a really disingenuous statement from Alito.
And I would just say actually, this overturning Roe v. Wade is way out of step with the country. The polling is anywhere from 59 to 70 percent of Americans, depending on which poll you look at supports maintaining Roe v. Wade.
This is not a partisan issue. This is about freedom for women to make choices about our own bodies.
COOPER: Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
JAYAPAL: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Let's look at some of the politics of all of this. David Axelrod joins us, former senior adviser to President Obama and a CNN senior political commentator and CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger as well.
David, what does it say to you the most Republicans after wanting to appeal Roe v. Wade for decades right now seem to prefer to focus on the leak of the draft opinion from the Supreme Court, not the actual pending overturning of the constitutional right to an abortion?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It says that they're the dogs that caught the car basically. I don't think that they wanted this result right now, if I were a strategist in their councils, this would have landed very badly, because they know how divisive this issue is. They think they've got this election under control, the midterm elections, now comes this decision, and it does threaten to galvanize constituencies who it appeared were disinterested in the election or less interested than others, particularly younger voters who, in large numbers oppose this measure.
So I think that they do not want to talk about the substance of this because it is politically inconvenient for them.
COOPER: Gloria, do you think Republicans avoiding the actual implications of repealing Roe v. Wade, in large part or decrying the leak and pivoting to the economy is a smart strategy?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's the only strategy they have when you have 70 percent of the American public saying that, you know, we ought to keep Roe v. Wade, as it is and keep it on the books.
And so what they're doing is talking about the leak instead of Roe v. Wade, but it's kind of ludicrous in a way that they're doing it because of course, they've been using cultural issues as a way to get at the Democrats, the woke Democrats, et cetera, et cetera.
If there ever was a cultural issue, it's abortion. And now, they're leaning away from it, because we're close to the midterm elections and they know that it's going to bring out those young voters that David is talking about, it's going to bring out suburban women, you know, whether it'll be enough to get Democrats in more seats, we just don't know, but it certainly will close that enthusiasm gap that the Democrats currently have.
COOPER: David, the Democratic senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin was asked today if he thinks the abortion rights will be the driving issue for the midterms. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANCHIN: Inflation is the number one driving factor, I believe in my state. Right now, it is hurting everybody. Not just at the pump, but at the grocery store, at the drugstore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Do you think he's right?
AXELROD: Yes, I mean, I do think inflation is probably top on people's list of concerns. I think that it would be a mistake to say, this issue is going to supersede all others on the minds of most voters. The question is, will it bring people to the polls who otherwise wouldn't have come for whom this is the number one voting issue? And I think that's the question.
I think Democrats would make a mistake if they try and if they become monomaniacal about this issue. Clearly, it's an important issue. It's a seismic event. But right now, people go to the gas pumps every day. They go to the grocery stores every day, and they have other concerns. And so Democrats have to walk and chew gum at the same time. They need to make this case. They need to use it to galvanize their constituencies, but they also need to address these other issues, it would be a mistake not to
COOPER: Yes. Gloria, there is a CNN poll that came out today saying the economy is far and away the most important issue to voters. Abortion is being connected by some Democrats to economic issues as well, given the U.S. has no universal paid leave or universal childcare.
Do you think Democrats can effectively tie the two together? BORGER: Well, they're going to try. I was talking to a Democratic
pollster today about this. And I said: Well, how can Democrats use this? They have to talk about the economy, too, as David is saying, and he said, Look, this can't be just organic. I mean, this just can't be oh, sometimes you mentioned it, and sometimes you don't mention it.
What it has to be is a -- you know, they have to lean into it, and at every chance, yes, they talk about the economy, but they also have to try and portray Republican candidates, particularly in the Senate as radical, because this is a policy that is removing a law that has been on the books for 50 years, and say, if you vote for this candidate, you are voting for radical policy, and here are the implications of that policy.
So you have to do both. You have to say this is how we help you as voters, but also, this is how the Republican Party is going down a radical path that you may not be able to come back from for decades.
And he says, that's the way to kind of move on it, but you can't just do it here and there. You have to do it right in the candidate's faces.
COOPER: Gloria Borger and David Axelrod -- go ahead, David.
AXELROD: Can I just add one thing to that? I think that one of the things people are sensing right now is there is a sense of chaos out there. There's a sense that things are disorderly.
This is a very, very upheaval -- this is a big upheaval here, and I think connecting Republicans to that and predicting what the future might be, not a calming influence, but a further roiling influence has some promise for Democrats, but it's going to be tough.
COOPER: David Axelrod and Gloria Borger, thanks.
Just ahead, the breaking news that we mentioned at the top of the broadcast as Ukraine's counterattacks push back Russians in the east around Kharkiv in particular. "The New York Times" just published a story saying that the U.S. is helping target and kill a number of Russian Generals who have died in action.
One of the reporters on the story is going to join us.
Also, despite Vladimir Putin telling his General to not attack the steel plant in Mariupol, Russian soldiers doing just that and Ukrainian soldiers still trying to beat them back. Details ahead.
COOPER: Now to the breaking news we mentioned at the top of our broadcast.
A new "New York Times" report quoting, "U.S. official says that U.S. Intelligence is helping Ukraine kill many of the Russian Generals who died in action in Ukraine." We should point out again, CNN has not confirmed this story. One of the reporters in "The New York Times," Julian Barnes joins us now.
Julian, appreciate you being with us can you just talk more about what you've learned regarding the role of US intelligence in the battlefield
One of the reporters in the New York Times Julian Barnes joins us now.
COOPER: Julian, appreciate you being with us. Can you just talk more about what you've learned regarding the role of U.S. Intelligence in the battlefield deaths of Russian Generals?
JULIAN BARNES, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Sure. So what the U.S. is doing, it is providing the location of the sort of mobile headquarters, the sort of mobile tactical headquarters that different Russian units have. These move around the battlefield, right? So their location is changing pretty regularly.
But the U.S. kind of points to the Ukrainians, you know, where they are. And then the Ukrainians add their own Intelligence. They have been eavesdropping on some of these Russian units, and then they decide when to strike and they decide if the sort of Generals are there at the time.
So it's very much a partnership with the Ukrainians, but we know that many of the 12 Russian Generals that have been killed, the U.S. has been an Intelligence partner in those strikes.
COOPER: I was reading the article and one of the officials you talked to or person you talked to said that the U.S. has stopped short of providing information about the highest level Generals who have been in the battle zone, is that correct?
BARNES: Yes, and that's an important point. This applies to General Valery Gerasimov, the sort of top uniformed officer in the Russian military, and he was in Ukraine in recent days, you know, visiting the frontlines, you know, presumably giving new orders to those top Generals.
And the U.S. has a policy that they're not going to target those most senior Russian leaders, and they're not going to help the Ukrainians either. So there were reports that the Ukrainians tried to strike at the position that he was at or had been, but the U.S. did not help with that strike.
COOPER: Do we know how the U.S. is able to locate these Generals on the battlefield?
BARNES: Now, the officials we spoke to would not talk about their sources and methods. But, you know, in a general way, you know, we can figure this out, right?
There's a lot of satellite imagery, both the U.S. classified satellite program and, you know, commercial satellites that the U.S. contracts with. And this allows them just like outside analysts do to track the movements of the military.
But this is what they call All-Source Intelligence. Right? So there's all kinds of different Intelligence agencies that are contributing to locating the tactical headquarters of various Russian units.
COOPER: There has also got to be a lot of concern on the U.S. side that that, first of all, this story getting out there, but just the very fact that according to your sources they are doing, they are sharing this information that Russia would see this as an escalation of U.S. involvement or direct attack against them.
BARNES: Yes, that's an important question, and it is something that, you know, everyone weighs very delicately and thinks about, which is, you know, providing transparency about what the U.S. is doing. But on the same token, U.S. officials don't want to escalate. They don't want to give Vladimir Putin an excuse to make the war worse.
Now, the situation here is the U.S. has been very open that they're sharing a lot of Intelligence. The Russians have acknowledged that these Generals have died. And so this is less of a case that Putin is going to say, this is escalatory. You know, we've had public testimony from U.S. Intelligence officials that they are doing lots to share with the Ukrainians. What we're doing here is putting just a little bit more detail about what that is
COOPER: Julian Barnes, appreciate it. It is fascinating reporting. Thank you.
There is more breaking news from Ukraine. The ongoing standoff at that steel plant in the southern city of Mariupol appears to be worsening. Not only are the Russians bombing it from the outside. Vladimir Putin's soldiers are according to Ukrainian forces inside that plant, where hundreds of civilians may still be trapped as Ukrainian forces engage in bloody battles with Russian forces.
Meanwhile, 10 weeks into Russia's invasions, there are new gains by Ukrainian forces in the Northern Kharkiv region as they retake yet another village close to Russia's border in their widening counteroffensive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(SOLDIER speaking in foreign language.)
TRANSLATION: This is how we liberate, step by step, village by village, our land.
(TROOPS speaking in foreign language.)
TRANSLATION: Glory to Ukraine. Glory to our heroes.
(SOLDIER speaking in foreign language.)
TRANSLATION: It's over. We've returned. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In the last two weeks, Ukrainian troops have retaken about half a dozen villages in the Kharkiv area.
Joining us now from Kramatorsk with the latest in the invasion is senior international correspondent, Sam Kiley.
So Sam, what are you learning about the battle inside of the steel plant in Mariupol?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, details, obviously, it is ongoing as far as we understand it, are fairly limited. But we know from the Ukrainian authorities, Anderson, that there was a breakthrough by the Russians of the perimeter that they are being somehow engaging now in much closer quarters combat following a very substantial series of airstrikes, continuing artillery strikes, and even naval operations against the few hundred holdouts of Ukrainian military, but also there are civilians in underground bunkers effectively in catacombs underneath this massive steels works, including 30 children, according to Ukrainian officials, Anderson.
So the Ukrainians are saying that there has been some kind of penetration of their perimeter, it's not clear now whether or not they're able to actually fight underground, whether they're forcing the Ukrainians to the surface, but this also come as almost simultaneously with a Russian offer, and it has often been taken with more than a pinch of salt in the past to allow the evacuation at least of civilians from that very location over the next three days. It is now Thursday morning here in Ukraine.
So that evacuation is very unlikely to be conducted if there is ongoing fighting, of course, the Russian agenda will be, Anderson, to try to finish the job from the Russian perspective, try and capture those troops, and somehow get to the civilians, too. But this has been a long, bloody confrontation. And every time the Russians have claimed a breakthrough, it seems the Ukrainian has been able to fight back -- Anderson.
COOPER: This also runs completely counter with Vladimir Putin himself very publicly said in a staged conversation with one of his Generals saying don't assault the steel plant just surround it so a fly can't get out.
KILEY: Yes, I mean, that was some time back, wasn't it? And almost immediately after that, there was a series of attacks. There are ongoing air assaults in particular, are getting, in fact, greater and greater levels of intensity.
But this is, not, in a sense, a defiant act by the Russians military ignoring their Commander-in-Chief, but yet another example of Putin's use of or misuse of truth, what he says and what he does and what the orders are not obviously connected, and we've seen that time and again throughout this campaign.
He is, for example, arguing that no civilians are being targeted that most certainly is the case throughout the East.
COOPER: Sam Kiley, appreciate it. Thank you.
Now to Southern Ukraine, where many civilians are making a daring escape from Kherson, the first major city occupied by the Russians at the start of the invasion.
Nick Paton Walsh caught up with some of those evacuees on the long road to freedom.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice over): That road to salvation here is a dusty track where a few know the route and just follow the car in front. Above the trees, a dust likely from fires caused by distant shelling.
These are over a hundred cars that have run the gauntlet out of Kherson, the first city Russia occupied.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No school. No almost hospital.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The moment is terrible. There are so many Russian military there.
PATON WALSH: What do they do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They -- at the moment they do nothing.
PATON WALSH (voice over): Isaiah (ph) tell of exhaustion. Hours held at Russian checkpoints.
The only emotion left after two months under the Russian gun, a slight smile of freedom. The idea dawning that life under occupation is behind them, even if their life displaced by war is ahead.
PATON WALSH (on camera): You can see just in the length of this queue here, the scale of the desperation that we're talking about here. People fleeing Russian occupation, leaving this morning at first light from the City of Kherson, the first to be occupied by Russia at the start of the war. Some of them on their fifth attempt to get out.
PATON WALSH (voice over): Something this time was different. It was easy.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)
PATON WALSH (voice over): "We left early and they were all asleep," she says.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)
PATON WALSH (voice over): "Goods have dried up. Everything is from Crimea," she adds.
Edick (ph) in front squeezed 10 in here.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)
PATON WALSH (on camera): Saying, "Here is good."
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)
PATON WALSH (on camera): Tried for a week to get out.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)
PATON WALSH (voice over): "We were just on the way to get out and they let us pass as human shields when things were flying over us," she says. "It was terrifying."
Five attempts, Edick said, they didn't let us through. Just turned us around.
WALSH (voice-over): They fled a city where things were not going according to the Kremlin's plan, the sham referendum Russia planned to consolidate control never happened. And this weekend, almost at the moment, when they introduced the Russian currency, the ruble, the internet and cell service suddenly went off. But even the youngest, the hope ahead is palpable. It was sad to leave he says, but where are we going, we'll be better.
This is happening as villages and roads change hands daily hear these Ukrainian soldiers in the next village anxious to not have their location or faces shown. We evacuated 1,500 people over the last week one said kids, elderly. Russians let them through if they say they're going to Kherson, further on they drop off their cars, bikes and go on foot to our side. Across the fields, the agony of Russia's blundering and senseless invasion pours out.
COOPER: Joining us now from the South Central City of Kryvyi Rih, Nick Paton Walsh.
Nick, what else you're learning about the civilians that need to get out of that steel plant in Mariiupol. Is there any chance they can get out?
WALSH: Limited, I would say Anderson. Just let you know the noise behind me is an air raid siren although the town I'm in has had limited strikes against over the past week. Certainly the move today, according to the Ukrainian president took 344 people out from the wider area of Mariupol. Remember, there's different phases of this evacuation there are those who only have to get out of Azovstal and hundreds, possibly still underground.
Those who got out that we spoke to yesterday described a series of separate sort of underground bunkers, catacombs almost which contain different numbers of people, no one individual really having full oversight as to how many were there, but are thought to still be hundreds, still women and children, the number of 30 children put around the date by Ukrainian officials. They're obviously not coming out amid this pitched onslaught by Russian forces and the notion, of course, the Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu, that the area is fully blocked.
But today's move moving people who are trying to get out from the city in general. I understand from a source close to the investigation that yesterday's move, in fact had 50 buses involved in it that were empty, that were not filled up by civilians, only five emerged with 100 or so people from Azovstal. And so, this is a clear indication that the capacity of that United Nations and Red Cross move the desire for them to escort civilians out is obviously getting some resistance from Russian forces at checkpoints there if indeed 50 vehicles didn't have people on them.
So the hopes, of course are these 344 mark a pickup in the possibility for civilians who are not in Azovstal steel plant to start getting out. But Anderson, you have to remember these are tiny numbers if in three or four days of all this global pressure, the discussions between the UN and Red Cross and the Kremlin, whether it's Secretary General of the UN went that that's actually yielded about 500 people getting out with 100,000 civilians still possibly inside, then we are literally scratching the surface here. And it seems yesterday 10 times as many buses left empty, those are actually filled up by people trying to get out.
So, an enormous urgency now this final team's Russian escalation towards the steel plant there may be underway and great uncertainty as to whether there's any possibility of civilians getting out during that fight. Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Nick Paton Walsh, I appreciate the reporting as always. Thank you.
Much more on the reporting for The New York Times that U.S. intelligence is helping Ukraine kill Russian generals as part of a classified effort to provide real time battlefield intelligence helping them with information. We'll get reaction from a Russian political activist, founding member of Pussy Riot once jailed for speaking out against Putin's regime. Next.
COOPER: USS doesn't have boots on the ground in Ukraine. But according to a break in New York Times report, U.S. intelligence has been helping Ukrainian forces with real time battlefield intelligence that enables them to kill some Russian generals in the front lines with targeted assistance. CNN has not confirmed that. Joining us now for perspective on Putin's war overall as someone who spent nearly two years in prison for criticizing Vladimir Putin Pussy Riot founding member Nadya Tolokonnikova.
Nadya, thanks so much for being with us. This coming Monday, May 9 is Victory Day in Russia, celebrating the day that Nazi Germany surrendered to the Red Army in Berlin. Vladimir Putin is expected to make a speech on the war where some thought he might double down call for general mobilization against Ukraine. Do you see this day as significant potentially for the war in Ukraine?
NADYA TOLOKONNIKOVA, FOUNDING MEMBER, PUSSY RIOT: On the ninth of May is a really significant day for Putin himself. Because he the whole reason why he started this war in Ukraine because he has his own really absurd way of reading Russian history. And because he lacks of any positive -- pulex (ph) positive program for Russia, he does not have any positive prospects to show for Russian citizens, he goes back and looks at Russian history.
I mean, as you know, you've seen it happening in the U.S. but slogan Make America Great Again. So, it's kind of like that makes the United States great again. And a lot of people hear that, yes, he's going to call for mass mobilization.
COOPER: You know, and to watch the assault that's going on the steel plant in Mariupol, it's such a sort of just a microcosmic example of the lives that Vladimir Putin tells. I mean, he went on television very intentionally in a meeting with a general of his and said, you know, publicly as if he was giving the order for the first time, no, don't assault the plant.
The general said it will take three or four days to clear it. He said no don't do that encircle and make sure a fly can't get out and yet really from that very moment they have continued to assaulted it. And we can see the images right now as we're speaking of massive bombardment of that and according to Ukrainian forces inside the steel plant, they have breached the perimeter and there's very close combat inside the steel plant now.
TOLOKONNIKOVA: I'm just really curious, we have some people we're now inside of that, that building and where our medias on it, our media outlets represent we're in touch with the wife of one the fighters who's leading the, this revolt inside of this plant. And she's, quite frankly, expecting her husband to be murdered. And it's just really painful to see this historic drama to unfold right in front of our eyes.
And yes, putting lies all the time is hinted, but I said it myself. I remember when I was in jail, he said multiple times that these girls do not deserve prison. They should not be convicted for jail time. And nonetheless, we were sent to jail for two years.
COOPER: There's been a rough -- a rift now, between Russia and Israel just over the past few days. Israel did very cautious in their -- what they've said about the war in Ukraine about Putin's invasion. As you know, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that that it doesn't matter that Ukraine has a Jewish President, that he could still be Nazi because, quote, the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews. And he went on to repeat baseless claims that Hitler had Jewish ancestry, which is a anti-Semitic trope that goes back a long time.
The people who speak for the Kremlin use the phrase so often that I have to ask is Nazi just something that people in the Putin regime call people they don't like? Or does it actually have a more specific meaning in Russia? Because they use it so often, it seems about so many people it seems almost I have no meaning.
TOLOKONNIKOVA: Well, we have two meanings of that as we have historic meaning regarding the Second World War. Second meaning in anti-fascist circles. So people who like Neo Nazis, there are people you calling at United States alt-right. And I think we have this third meaning that is being brought to us by appearance led by Putin's regime who definitely do call everyone who they do not like Nazis. But I think Lavrov's remarks are outrageous. They -- they're completely unacceptable. And this is just shameful to me that this kind of person represents my country.
COOPER: I mean, is anti-Semitism common in Russia in your experience, or among the Putin circle.
TOLOKONNIKOVA: I haven't seen anti-Semitism in my circles, they can ask for the whole country but never encountered it. No, when I lived, lived and experience (INAUDIBLE) potential say, not going to move to Moscow. No, I haven't seen it.
COOPER: Nadya Tolokonnikova, I really appreciate talking to you as always. Thank you so much.
TOLOKONNIKOVA: Thanks so much.
COOPER: Coming up, we have more new audio what House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy was saying to his caucus in the days following the January 6 insurrection.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Yes, but what the president did is atrocious and totally wrong.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight, new audio tapes the Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy, speaking privately by phone with Republican leadership in the days after the January 6 assault on the Capitol, airing his opinions about the former President's actions and what if anything could be done.
Paula Reid joins us with the tapes and the latest.
So, what exactly is McCarthy heard saying this time?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson this audio is of course the latest in a series of recordings that reveal what the GOP leader was saying privately to other House Republicans in the wake of January 6. And in this latest recording, McCarthy's heard discussing the 25th Amendment.
Now to put this in context, in the aftermath of January 6, a number of Democrats, including members of leadership, publicly called for former President Trump to be removed from office either through impeachment or the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. No invoking the 25th Amendment would have required then Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of the Trump cabinet to vote to remove the then president from office due to his inability to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Anderson that would have been an unprecedented move.
Now this audio was obtained by the New York Times and shared with CNN. Let's take a listen to this short clip.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOHN LEGANSKI, HOUSE GOP AIDE: I think the options that have been cited by the Democrats so far, the 25th Amendment, which is not exactly an elegant solution here.
MCCARTHY: That takes too long, it could go back to the House, right?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
REID: So the fact that McCarthy is heard pressing one of his aides for details about how the 25th Amendment process would work. It shows there was a serious conversation at the highest levels of GOP leadership. This wasn't just idle chatter about an abstract theory, even if it was ultimately deemed not a viable option.
COOPER: McCarthy also talked about wanting to speak with President- elect Biden.
REID: That's right. McCarthy also said during the call that he wanted to reach out to then President-elect Joe Biden. Why? Well, let's take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: Yes, but what the president is atrocious and totally wrong. From the standpoint, we're 12 days away. I mean the one point I make with Biden, if you have an impeachment and you're stuck sitting in the Senate, and he needs Cabinet members, he's got Secretary of Defense, he's got a lot of things he's got to have moving. And if you think from a perspective, you put everything else away, this country is very, very divided.
(END VIDEO CLIP) REID: So you're at the top of that clip criticizing then President Trump and also appearing to want to work towards a smooth and speedy transition. A CNN has reached out to McCarthy's office for comment.
COOPER: And how's the former president responding to this latest?
REID: Well, that's what's so interesting here. I mean, McCarthy has moved really quickly. This is not the first clip and he has moved really quickly to try to solidify his relationship with Trump and it appears that he's done what he needs to do to keep his most important constituent Trump happy.
The former president said after the initial audio tapes were released last month, then well, he didn't like what he heard McCarthy saying their relationship remains strong in part because he says McCarthy worked so hard since January 6 to win his support. But Anderson of course, we also know that leading in to the midterm elections, solidarity among Republicans is really critical to taking back the House and the Senate.
COOPER: Paula Reid, appreciate it. Thanks.
Fear and confusion fill the crowd of the Hollywood Bowl after comedian Dave Chappelle was attacked onstage during his performance last night. Details, next.
COOPER: Los Angeles Police Department says the suspect is in custody after a video showed a person rushing on stage attacking comedian Dave Chappelle during his performance at the Hollywood Bowl last night.
CNN national correspondent Nick Watt has details.
DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN: Make some noise for hip hop history --
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dave Chappelle was introducing the next act, suddenly. The comic Colossus tackled by a man who rushed the stage wielding a knife shaped like a replica gun.
RACHEL CRANE, CNN REPORTER: I mean, he rammed right into him.
WATT (voice-over): CNN's Rachel Crane was just a few feet away sitting in the second row.
CRANE: One second you're laughing and the next second, honestly, I was fearing for my life because I thought that perhaps this man had a bomb in that backpack on his back.
WATT (voice-over): He did not and Chappelle was not injured according to the LAPD quickly cracking jokes.
CHAPPELLE: I am going to kill that.
WATT (voice-over): The 23-year-old male suspect was hurt in the melee taken to the hospital and arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. Any motive remains unclear.
Chappelle in his recent Netflix special does note that he angers a lot of people with his comedy.
CHAPPELLE: Now listen, when we get mad at me. Gay will get mad at me, lesbians get mad at me. But I'm tell you right now that's true. These transgenders. This is what (INAUDIBLE) want me dead.
WATT (voice-over): This assault took place just about a mile away from another recent onstage attack on a comedian the infamous Oscar slap. Last night, Chris Rock was also performing soon by Chappelle side making reference cutting detention.
CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: Was that Will Smith?
WATT (voice-over): So still unclear why this happened and maybe more importantly, how this happened.
CRANE: It felt like an eternity before the security got there and you know, intervenes. In actuality, I'm sure it was just a few seconds, but it was a very charged moment and everybody could ever gasps, screams.
COOPER: And Nick Watt joins me now from Los Angeles. I mean, I would think there's a lot of security and event like this. Do we know how this person managed to get the weapon inside and get on the stage?
WATT: Well, Anderson, those are very good questions. And we don't know the answers yet. I mean, how could this person get a knife through the metal detectors into the Hollywood Bowl, particularly with so many high profile performers and frankly guests in attendance. Chappelle's people have put out a statement saying he is cooperating with what they call the active police investigation and will not let this incident overshadow what he says has been a great run here at the bowl.
You know, it was ironic earlier in his set, Chappelle was joking about having to increase security at his home. After apparently somebody was hanging around shouting racial slurs at him at his home, then this happens when he's on stage. Anderson.
COOPER: Nick Watt, appreciate it. Thanks.
Coming up, with protests for a second night following the leak of the draft Supreme Court opinion that would strike down Roe v. Wade, fears groaning about what this could mean for other decisions that have secured rights for Americans. We'll talk to the lead plaintiff named in the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, next.