Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Oz, McCormick Deadlocked In Pennsylvania GOP Senate Primary; Burned Bridges Of Madison Cawthorn; Buffalo Bills And NFL To Contribute $400K To Local Response Efforts; Buffalo Suspect's Discord Posts About Attack Plan Could Be Seen Online 30 Minutes Before Mass Shooting; Inside Ukraine's Fight To Protect Kharkiv; Lead Narrows For Oz In PA GOP Senate Race; Has Slight Edge In Neck-And-Neck Battle; U.S. Marshals To Provide "Around-The-Clock Security" At Homes of Supreme Court Justices. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 18, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: She made the call. She was on hold for over an hour before she got a human being.

The FDA chief is expected to testify in the crippling formula shortage tomorrow on Capitol Hill and there is a lot to answer for.

Thanks so much for joining us. AC 360 starts now.



Not the first time election night in this country did not end on election night. We've got live reporting in just a moment on the counting of the votes in Pennsylvania in the Republican primary race for Senator, still counting votes 24 hours after polls closed.

The former President, Donald Trump is not waiting for the votes to be counted. He is telling the Pennsylvania Senate candidate he endorsed, Mehmet Oz to declare victory in his words. He is also making baseless claims about cheating in the race, not for the first time.

What is a first whoever is that a 2020 presidential election denier, Doug Mastriano is now one step away from becoming Governor of Pennsylvania, just a General Election victory away from overseeing the presidential vote there in 2024.

Some fellow Republicans have expressed concerns today with Senator Lindsey Graham telling CNN's Mana Raju, voters don't want to think about the last election. Senator John Thune said some of Mastriano's past statements, quote, "Aren't ideal." His words.

Retiring Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey who says he did not vote for Mastriano, didn't say much more than that.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What do you think about Mastriano winning here? Are you concerned at all about his candidacy?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R-PA): So, I don't know Doug Mastriano at all. I've never met him. I don't think I've even had a conversation with him. So, I will suspend judgment until I get a chance to get to know him a little bit. I don't know.

RAJU: I mean, he has said that the election was stolen. He's pushed those things. Does that concern you?

TOOMEY: I'm aware that he has said things that I would disagree with. But like I said, until I actually meet the guy, get to know him a little bit, I'm going to suspend judgment.


COOPER: We'll talk more about the implications of his candidacy for the state for 2024, and also for whoever wins the Senate nomination.

Also tonight, much more than the other race -- races, I should say, including the defeat of North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn, both the youngest Republican ever elected to the House and now the youngest Republican to lose his seat.

First though, late development in Pennsylvania where as I mentioned, they are still counting votes. CNN's Jeff Zeleny joins us now from Chester, just outside Philadelphia.

So Jeff, how has the race changed today for these candidates?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN U.S. CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson really hour by hour, county by county, the race has tightened. The Oz campaign now woke up this morning when the sun came up and they were in a much stronger position than they are now as the sun goes down here in Pennsylvania.

The latest count really at this moment is about 1,243 votes. That is the lead that the Oz campaign has over Dave McCormick, but this is far from over, but Anderson, talking to advisors from both sides tonight, they believe that this will be won or lost by hundreds if not thousands of votes as Election Day clearly now becomes election week.


ZELENY (voice over): Over time in Pennsylvania, Dave McCormick --


ZELENY (voice over): And Dr. Mehmet Oz.

DR. MEHMET OZ, PENNSYLVANIA REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE: When all the votes are tallied, I am confident we will win.

ZELENY (voice over): Locked in an extraordinarily tight battle for the Republican Senate nomination with a razor thin margin from a field of 1.3 million votes cast. A day after the election, both campaigns tell CNN they see a path to

victory, with McCormick relying on mail-in votes still being counted and Oz hoping his strength at the polls holds.

In Lancaster County, election workers scrambled throughout the day to sort through about 22,000 mail-in ballots, which were printed with an incorrect code that could not be scanned. In Delaware County, 4,800 mail-in ballots were being fed one by one into a sorting machine.


ZELENY (voice over): Kathy Barnette, whose candidacy surged in the final week of the race fell short, but her imprint on the race was clearly a factor in the bitter duel between McCormick and Oz.

After the counting, the race could head to a recount if the margin is one half of a percent or less.

LEIGH CHAPMAN, PENNSYLVANIA ACTING SECRETARY OF STATE: By next Tuesday, we will have a good sense as far as whether or not there will be an automatic recount.

ZELENY (voice over): Donald Trump, who loomed large in the race weighed in today saying: "Dr. Oz should declare victory."

The winning Republican will face John Fetterman, who won the Democratic Senate race, but is still recovering from a stroke with a defibrillator implanted on Election Day.

GISELE FETTERMAN, WIFE OF JOHN FETTERMAN: John is going to be back on his feet in no time.

ZELENY (voice over): The stage is set for a raucous General Election in Pennsylvania with Doug Mastriano winning the Republican Governor's race campaigning on a platform of lies about the 2020 election.

DOUG MASTRIANO, PENNSYLVANIA REPUBLICAN GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: There's this movement here that's going to shock the state here on November 8th.

ZELENY (voice over): Trump picked a winner in Mastriano, who many Republicans believe is too extreme to win in November. He will face the Democratic nominee, Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

In Pennsylvania, it is the Governor who ultimately selects the top election officials, are critical posts with a 2024 presidential campaign just around the corner.



COOPER: So, Jeff, the campaigns, are they bracing now for a recount?

ZELENY: They are, Anderson, and they believe that it's likely to happen next week, perhaps on Tuesday when state election officials say that this is within the margin, again, a half of a percentage point. But talking to advisers again, on both sides of the race, they both say the counting underway right now is more important than the recount because recounts do not usually change the trajectory of the race.

So the count going in is virtually -- is virtually important. But in the last hour, Anderson, in Lancaster County, 1,500 new ballots have come in and the counts are largely staying the same.

So that is what generally happens, they follow the same pattern. But again, the McCormick campaign keeping an eye on those early votes that are being counted today. They like how this race is moving. The Oz campaign says they also believe that they are seeing pockets out there.

So the reality is, Anderson, the bottom line, neither side is confident of winning, but you have to give a little bit of an edge to the McCormick campaign in terms of how things moved here all day long -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny, appreciate it. Thanks.

I want to check in now with CNN's John King at the magic wall. So, what are you watching in Pennsylvania, John?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So Anderson, we start where Jeff left off. These are the 17 counties that are below 98 percent reporting. Meaning, they are shy of 98 percent of the total vote. In every other county it is at 99 or 100.

So you look at these 17 counties, you see some of them in the dark red. That's Dave McCormick's color. So hope for him, especially if they're mail-in ballots, because he did well, early on in the night.

You see some Mehmet Oz though, he is the pink color here. And you see some Kathy Barnette in the Philadelphia, the collar around Philadelphia here. So the question is to count the rest of the vote.

So where are the most of them? If you look out here at Allegheny County, this is where David McCormick did quite well. They are, if you look to the far left, at 95 percent. So there's still some votes to count here. Right? Some of them are higher than that. Up here in the northern part of the state, you pick Bradford County, smaller population, but David McCormick running ahead here by about five or six points, they are only at 80 percent.

So that's why the McCormick campaign says let's count them all. There are places on the map where they think they can catch up.

Let me come back over and bring you back to the full map of the state though, as we come back in. And you see now this is how it played out. I want to show you the counties where the most ballots are outstanding. I just showed you 17 where there are ballots outstanding.

But it is Allegheny, Bradford, and Lancaster where we believe the most ballots are outstanding. So what are we looking for now? How much progress can they make tomorrow, Anderson?

And then of course, if it's very, very close, again, we're at 1,243 votes right now, a smaller lead for Dr. Oz now than when he woke up this morning. If they're that close, then you have to worry about provisional ballots, people who might have showed up at the wrong polling place or their paperwork wasn't right. They have to verify those. And then military and overseas ballots.

So Tuesday, we'll have a better sense, but I think by the end of the day tomorrow, the question is, does that hold up? To Jeff's point -- to Jeff's point, if you get to a recount, they've had six of them in Pennsylvania in modern times, never changed the results. So watch that number tomorrow night.

COOPER: What else stood out to you about last night?

KING: Well, it's fascinating if you go through it. Let me come back again, to the full map and come out and just walk through. If you walk through the timeline, this is one of the reasons the McCormick campaign does have some optimism.

If you watch how it played out, let me bring this up, and let me come back to the beginning first. This is nine o'clock at night. In most of these counties that are McCormick red, you are getting early mail-in ballots. So in places that are still counting mail-in ballots, the McCormick campaign believes he did do a better job with the mail-in ballots. That's where they base their confidence. We'll see if that turns out.

So what went on through the night? McCormick leads, 11 o'clock McCormick leads again. Very close to race throughout. At midnight, McCormick still leads by a little bit. It was overnight when he started counting more votes, mostly in this part of the state here, 12:30 AM, Oz takes the lead. At 5:00 AM that lead is up to a thousand votes.

Anderson, we began the day with Dr. Oz at 2,686, and so then we end the evening now 1,243. So again, Dr. Oz at breakfast felt more confident than he does at dinner. Both campaigns, they'll have a reasonable approach. We'll keep counting.

COOPER: John King, appreciate it. Thank you.

Perspective now in Pennsylvania from Abby Phillip, anchor of "CNN Inside Politics Sunday," and CNN senior political commentator, former senior Obama adviser, David Axelrod.

So, David, what does this tight race between Oz and McCormick say to you about the former president's influence on the party?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think he exerts influence on the part -- great influence on the party. I don't think Oz would be in contention and he may well win this race without Donald Trump. You know, he is probably going to win with about a third of the vote. Obviously, it wasn't determinative for a majority of voters there. But

he's still -- look, even, Anderson, the people who don't get his endorsement, are trying to position themselves as Trump friendly, which tells you that he still wields a great deal of influence in this party.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, Abby, if you add up the supporters of Oz whom the President endorsed and the supporters of Barnette who though the President says she's untested and couldn't win in a General are clearly people who probably would have voted for Trump or for Oz if Barnette was not in the race.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And it adds up to over 50 percent of the electorate in Pennsylvania. You know, I think the other thing about this is that I mean, really all three of them were trying to be the heirs of Trump's political legacy, so it isn't even those two.

But there is something happening in a lot of these primaries where you are seeing the Republican electorate splitting in some interesting ways. There are the kind of almost fundamentalists, which I think, in this case would be the Barnette supporters. There are those who are kind of just willing to go where Trump leads them, they would go to Oz.

And then there are those who are supportive of Trump, but maybe want a candidate who they think has broader appeal, and that is where perhaps McCormick is.

And I think you're seeing that not just in Pennsylvania, but also in states like Ohio. And of course, in Georgia, that will really be tested when you have this huge matchup between a candidate that Trump despises, who doesn't actually try to like demonize Trump, but just isn't as closely aligned with him as maybe the other candidate in the race, David Perdue is.

COOPER: David, the advice from former President Trump to Dr. Oz to just declare victory even as the votes are being counted, is this the template for Trump-aligned candidates moving forward?

AXELROD: Well, we'll see. It is a familiar tune from Trump obviously, which is if you don't win, claim that it was stolen from you. And, you know, it is kind of ironic that you're ending up in this race so hotly contested in a situation where mail-in ballots yet to be counted could determine the outcome. So it lines up neatly with his theory that somehow there's something wrong with these ballots, which there is no evidence to support.

But you know, this issue of the legitimacy of the elections is very much the dividing line. You know, even McCormick was not willing to say whether or not the last election was legitimate. So, you know, what we see around the country is table stakes for Republican candidates generally, is whether they are willing to at least show some nodding, you know, assent to the idea that there was something amiss in the last election.

Now in Georgia, there is a different story because Governor Kemp angered the President by certifying the election in Georgia when the President didn't want to certify it and that is the whole root of their problem.

In every other way Kemp is a Trump Republican, and he is a damn good politician. And right now, he is sitting with a two to one lead over former Senator David Perdue, the candidate Trump has endorsed. So that is going to be an interesting race next week.

COOPER: Also, now Abby, in Pennsylvania in the governor's race, Doug Mastriano, is the Republican nominee. He was obviously endorsed by the former President.

He was all in on the Big Lie, ran talking a lot about the last election. He would -- if he became Governor, he would appoint the Pennsylvania Secretary of State who would oversee the 2024 election in that state.

PHILLIP: Yes, that's why -- I mean, the stakes are high in Pennsylvania for so many reasons, but that's a huge one. That person has the ability to basically oversee the next presidential election in which people like Mastriano have made it clear that they are willing to do things like, for example, allowing the State Legislature to overrule the will of the voters in a particular state for any reason, I mean, including that they just simply didn't like the outcome of the votes. That's so dangerous.

But this is the kind of politics that is not just prevalent in Pennsylvania, but in a lot of states around the country, in places like Michigan and Arizona where you're seeing officials running on not just the Big Lie of times past, but also on ideas on, you know, legislative proposals that would basically implement those ideas in the future for future elections.

AXELROD: And we should we should point out, Anderson, that next week, another race in Georgia is the primary for Secretary of State where Brad Raffensperger, who also enraged the President, by refusing his request to find the requisite number of votes to allow him to win on the ballot. The President is strongly supporting Congressman Jody Hice, who is trying to replace Raffensperger and is a Big Lie proponent and would be more compliant if Trump were to run for election again.

COOPER: David Axelrod, Abby Phillip, thank you so much, appreciate it.

There is more primary news ahead including the political downfall and primary defeat of Congressman Madison Cawthorn and why some of his Republican, fellow Congress members on Capitol Hill appear relieved.

Later, an update on the mass murder in Buffalo. Ten people this weekend, one of them, a woman who dedicated her life to her family. Learn more about this family's incalculable loss.



COOPER: We're continuing to track the Pennsylvania Republican Senate race because as you heard before the break, the votes are still being processed in several key counties and Dr. Mehmet Oz's lead has narrowed to just a 10th of a percentage point.

Now North Carolina and perhaps, the surprising truth about life as a lawmaker that no matter where you stand on the political spectrum, namely how much trust matters, political success often hinges on not breaking faith with the people who put you in office, sometimes though politicians come undone by losing the trust of their colleagues, enter North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn, and tonight exit Madison Cawthorn. More from Randi Kaye.



REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): I'm a fighter. And I'll be a strong voice for faith, family, and freedom.

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Big promises from Madison Cawthorn, but that was 2020 when the Congressman from North Carolina was first running for office.

CAWTHORN: We are just focused on caring about the people that I want to represent.

KAYE (voice over): But at some point after his stunning political victory, everything changed and Cawthorn's political future began to unravel. His message seemed to turn from caring to chaos.

This was him on January 6th, last year, just before rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

CAWTHORN: My friends, I want you to chant with me so loud that the cowards on Washington, D.C. that I serve with can hear you.

KAYE (voice over): There was also this inexplicable behavior by Cawthorn. This video of him punching a tree went viral, with millions of people just trying to figure out why.

And after Russia attacked Ukraine, Cawthorn said this about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

CAWTHORN: Remember that Zelenskyy is a thug.

KAYE (voice over): The blowback from his fellow Republicans was fierce.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Madison is wrong. If there's any thug in this world, it's Putin.

KAYE (voice over): Republican Tom Rice of South Carolina told CNN Cawthorn was more interested in throwing bombs than he is and actually trying to help the country.

Cawthorn also racked up a number of questionable incidents, driving with a revoked license and carrying handguns through TSA airport security twice.

CAWTHORN: I made a mistake. I forgot to disarm before I went through a TSA checkpoint. That's my bad.

KAYE (voice over): Still, perhaps nothing Cawthorn did or said was as stunning as his accusations in March, claiming he'd been invited to a cocaine-fueled orgy in Washington.

CAWTHORN: Oh, hey, we're going to have kind of a sexual get-together at one of our homes. You should come. And then you realize they're asking you to come to an orgy and then you watch them doing it, a key bump of cocaine right in front of you.

KAYE (voice over): Cawthorn's comments on the podcast "Warrior Poet Society," sent Republicans in Washington and his home state of North Carolina reeling. Many were already losing patience with the freshman Congressman, claiming his problematic behavior was dragging down the party.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy --

McCarthy: I just told me he's lost my trust. He is going to have to earn it back.

KAYE (voice over): McCarthy also said Cawthorn later admitted his remarks about the orgy were not true. Senior Republican Senator Richard Burr told CNN about Cawthorn, "He is an embarrassment on any day that ends in Y."

Then just this month, with Cawthorn already in jeopardy of losing his re-election bid, despite the support of Donald Trump, an opposition group posted a video of him online. That video appeared to show Cawthorn naked in bed with another person.

Cawthorn confirmed it was him in the video and tried to explain it away on Twitter writing: "Years ago in this video, I was being crass with a friend trying to be funny. We are acting foolish and joking."

North Carolina Republican Senator Thom Tillis who chose to support Cawthorn's opponent in the primary describe the video like this.

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): Absurd. Too embarrassing.


COOPER: And Randi joins us now. Do we know what's next for Mr. Cawthorn?

KAYE: We don't, Anderson. We know that he conceded last night to his opponent, Chuck Edwards. Edwards described Cawthorn's behavior on that phone call in which he conceded as classy and humble. He said that Cawthorn offered to support his campaign and work with him as well, but he is 26 years old, Cawthorn, so he certainly has some time and some decisions to make about his future.

But just today, the House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, telling our colleague Manu Raju, that Cawthorn has a very bright future. He has some issues, but he wants to help him, McCarthy says. He is young and his career is not over.

So Anderson, we'll see if Madison Cawthorn returns to Washington, continues his political career, maybe takes a second round of politics and we'll also see if he learned anything the first time in the first go round -- Anderson.

COOPER: Randi Kaye, appreciate it. Thanks.

Ahead, breaking news on the investigation of the Buffalo mass shooting and the social media platforms the accused shooter allegedly used to plan the attack and we'll look at the remarkable life and legacy of one of the victims of the shooting.



COOPER: As police continue to investigate the mass murder of 10 people in Buffalo this weekend, the Buffalo Bills today delivered food to residents in need near the supermarket where the shooting happened and laid flowers at the Memorial for the victims. The Bills AND the NFL have also teamed up to contribute $400,000.00 to local response efforts.

There are also new details on the shooting investigation itself. New York's Governor Hochul said today, signed an executive order establishing a dedicated Domestic Terrorism Unit within the New York State Intelligence Center that will also focus on monitoring social media.

This, as the New York Attorney General launches an investigation into the social media platforms that the accused shooter allegedly used to plan, promote, and then livestreamed the attack.

CNN correspondent, Brian Todd joins us now from Buffalo.

So I understand the shooter was posting about the attack online as recently as 30 minutes before opening fire.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. That's what investigators have just found out that 30 minutes before this attack occurred, the suspect kind of opened up a private chat forum on the app, Discord, and revealed his plans for the attack.

He invited only a select few people to join that chatting platform and look at his plans. This was kind of a diary of the plans that he had been making for the past roughly six months. And that includes the fact that he chose the zip code here because of its high percentage of Black people in this area, that he visited the store three times on the date of March 8th, surveilling the store and even drawing a map of the inside of the store, that he took note of how many Black and White people were in the store at a given time on that date.

Also, that he planned for this attack to occur on March 15th, but delayed it several times. Now, I spoke to former FBI special agent here in Buffalo named Jonathan Lacey. Jonathan Lacey says he believes that it's possible that the suspect used that chat, the private chat forum 30 minutes before the attack to try to radicalize others, to maybe follow in his footsteps.

And he says that FBI personnel are going to be going after the people who viewed those plans in those 30 minutes prior to the attack trying to find out who they are, what they knew, what they saw in those -- you know in that forum and whether they might have even been complicit in this, Anderson.


So there's a lot for the FBI to scrub regarding those plans were revealed just 30 minutes before the massacre.

COOPER: Yes. Brian Todd, appreciate it. Thanks.

One of the victims of Saturday's recent mass shooting was Ruth Whitfield. She was 86, she was a mom, a wife, grandmother whose life was taken she was stopping from groceries after visiting her husband in a nursing home.

Joining me tonight her son and former Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield, also the family's attorney Ben Crump.

Thank you both for joining us. I'm so sorry for your loss Garnell. What do you want people to know about your mom?

GARNELL WHITFIELD JR., SON OF BUFFALO SHOOTING VICTIM RUTH WHITFIELD: I wanted people to remember her for the way she was able to love not just us, but, you know, anybody that was in need. She sacrificed her entire life for our family, loves us unconditionally, supported us in everything that we endeavor. And she was married to my father for 68 years. Throughout that time, she was faithful and loved him, especially over the last eight years. He was interned in a facility, nursing home, he has dementia. And she provided daily care to him to ensure that he maintained the quality of life, washing clothes, cutting his nails, trimming his hair, whatever he needed to maintain his dignity and quality of life she provided on a daily basis.

And on last Saturday, she got up she went to the nursing home and did what she did every day. She left there to go to the grocery store on the way home and encountered this individual.

COOPER: Have you told your dad what happened to her?

WHITFIELD: We've not. We visited with my father for the first time, as you might imagine, we've been just overwhelmed with this. We visited, we've checked on him. But we visited him physically for the first time yesterday, my siblings and I, we had a wonderful visit with him. We're trying to tread lightly here and do what's best for our father. We're not sure what this will do to him. But we want to be very careful. We had a wonderful visit yesterday. And we intend to take him to the memorial service. So in the next few days, we will talk to him further.

COOPER: Garnell, you actually went to the supermarket on Saturday looking for your mom.

WHITFIELD: Yes, sir. I did. I caught my mother a couple of times after I heard something had happened in the city. There was a shooting. Didn't know what the -- what it was all about. But I heard there was a shooting. So I picked up the phone. I caught her a couple of times. She didn't answer the phone. And I waited a little while and thought that I might go and, you know, check on her. She may have been in the house and not had her phone next to him. She didn't like the way her hearing aids. So there's a chance she didn't hear the phone. I went to the house twice and did not find her there. And I immediately went down to the scene at the Tops Market.

COOPER: When you told by police what had happened to her there?

WHITFIELD: Eventually I was (INAUDIBLE) knowing most of the responders in the city, having worked with them over my career, I was able to talk to them. I got some escorts and walked the perimeter of the scene, looking for her car in the parking lot. And once we knew the car was there was just a matter of finding out where she was. We had hoped against hope that she was one of the witnesses that had been evacuated to police headquarters to be interviewed and debriefed. And so we said about trying to find if she was there. Obviously she was not there, but had gone into the store.

COOPER: Benjamin, I know you're planning legal action on behalf of the Whitfield family. What are you looking at here?

BEN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR WHITFIELD FAMILY: Well Anderson, one of the things I know, this family Garnell and his siblings have told me is that their mother was a woman of love, and that her legacy will not be defined by this act of hate. And so, what we're doing is looking to be able to transform this tragedy into some positive change. And we're going to use everything in our power to do that, whether it is bringing lawsuits against gun manufacturers and good distributors, so that this won't happen again on. Looking at the root of the problem Anderson, not just trying to hold accountable, this sick individual for this heinous act of hate, but getting to the root of the hate those who inspire these young, insecure people to go out and commit senseless acts of violence.

COOPER: What happens now I mean as a family?


WHITFIELD: What happens now is we're going to draw on all of the things out of the love, out of the lesson she taught us everything that she poured into us, we're going to tap that. And we're going to come together as a family, we're going to rally around each other, going to rally around my father. But make no mistake about it. We can't take her place. We can't replace her in each other's lives, in particularly in our father's lives. So we have a very difficult road ahead, where we have to try to do the best we can to maintain his continuity of care, maintain his level of dignity, and maintain her memory in such a manner befitting a person of this stature.

A very vague concern about all of the things that people are talking about the sideshows, all of these other things, my mother's gone, nobody can give her back to me. So we want to do whatever we can to make sure that people remember her for the woman she was. She was a strong, proud, black woman. She raised her family. She abided in the law. She loved people, she loved her community. And we're very thankful for that. And we're thankful for this opportunity to share that with the world.

COOPER: What a blessing that you had her in your life for this length of time and learn from her and received and gave love to her. Garnell Whitfield Jr., thank you so much. And I again, I'm so sorry for your loss. And Ben Crump as well, tank you so much.


COOPER: Up next, the latest on the war in Ukraine, with American diplomats returning to Kyiv and NATO signaling that Ukraine could now have the battlefield momentum. Will also take you to the frontlines of the fight for Kharkiv where the fighting is still raging just a few miles now from the Russian border.



COOPER: U.S. Embassy in Kyiv reopen today with the American flag being raised for the first time since a close three months ago ahead of Russia's invasion. And as American diplomat returned to that city back in Washington, the White House is solidifying its support for Finland and Sweden to join NATO, saying they're confident their applications for NATO membership will be approved despite pushback from Turkey and other member country.

This comes as a NATO military official tells CNN that momentum has shifted significantly in favor of Ukraine. And the debate is now over whether it's possible for Kyiv to retake Crimea and the Donbas territories.

CNN international security editor, Nick Paton Walsh joins me now from Kharkiv. What's the latest been there on fighting?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Certainly we are seeing signs of Ukrainian progress, but they're also sadly balanced by Ukraine losing territory that it had seemed more optimistic about certainly in the place we're about to see our report from the outskirts of Kharkiv, the city which is feeling significantly more relaxed because of the successes Ukrainian forces have had pushing the Russians back. You do occasionally hear blasts here, but certainly today Ukraine has said that they've pushed yet further north away from the city here.

The reports you're about to see from this little outskirt radial road that goes around the city, a matter of 20 minutes drive from where I'm standing here where Ukraine says today it had about two or three miles more success pushing the Russians away.

Here's what we saw.


WALSH (voice-over): Every inch of respite from Russian shelling here comes at grotesque cost. But once rain down on the second city of Kharkiv now lands here.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep the distance, OK?

WALSH (voice-over): Ukraine declared here Ruska (INAUDIBLE) liberated over two weeks ago, but it's never simple.

(on-camera): These tiny villages, which before the war, were places you wouldn't notice driving through have now become the key battlegrounds to defend vital cities like Kharkiv.

(voice-over): While the fight to protect Kharkiv still rages with every step fast and cautious because of mines, Russia's border is now just nine miles away.

(on-camera): Did you ever think (INAUDIBLE) Russia nearly three months.


WALSH (voice-over): But Russian troops are even closer.

(on-camera): That's in the forest across the field over this wall that they say frequently at nights Russian reconnaissance groups try and move in on the village.

(voice-over): The next tiny hamlet is being fought over. And this is where Kharkiv's defense cannot fail.


WALSH (voice-over): The U.S. most effective gifts in some of Ukraine's youngest hands. This is a homegrown defense volunteers, software engineers, economists, funded mostly by our guide, a farming millionaire. Russia's brief occupation, never planned to leave anything of value here. (INAUDIBLE) one a van full of TVs for looting.

KOZHEMYAKO: They see that we live better, and they do not even sink that something is wrong with them, not with us. You know? They think that because America gives us everything for free. And they hate us for that. And they rob us and they kill us. WALSH (voice-over): Yes, they hold back an enemy that's slowly proving as inept as it is immoral by placing incredible value on the smallest patches of their land.


COOPER: It's fascinating to see how close the Russian forces are there. What else did you learn from the Ukrainians you talk to?

WALSH: I think all startling Anderson, is how utterly different these two sides are. What we understand from those Ukrainian troops is they were mostly facing Luhansk separatists, men with experience frankly over the last eight years fighting that proxy war backed by Russia paid by Russia to maintain the front lines. There are men who seem to some degree be desperate because they're often not sure really what kind of retreat they could even make if they chose to pull back there.


On the Ukrainian side, these are volunteers these are to be heard their software engineers who are versed in Microsoft and agricultural millionaire there who funded that particular unit appealing for crowd funded funds as well. He spent his 50th birthday and a matter of days ago, on the front line, people with extraordinary high sense of morale. Indeed a medic who talked about a period he'd had when he was most scared near Kyiv, where they were told Special Forces were about to encircle them. His entire groups survive despite simply being volunteers who were barely even familiar with the arms they were carrying. And he said how that had killed the fear in him.

So, if you're looking at the longevity here of Ukrainian forces and their morale that speaks so clearly to why NATO officials may be thinking momentum is going in Kyiv favor. Anderson.

COOPER: In addition to that killed the fear in him. And that's continued. Nick Paton Walsh, thanks for that reporting from Kharkiv.

Coming up while we wait to see how the Pennsylvania Republican senator -- Senate race turns out. We want to look ahead to the next Tuesday in the Republican governor's race in Georgia, where the incumbent Brian Kemp who upheld the state's 2020 presidential election results is facing off against Trump back former Senator David Perdue. There's new polling tonight, CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten has that next.



COOPER: Back to our breaking news from the top of the program. As they still count votes and they're too close to call a Pennsylvania Republican Senate race, Mehmet Oz is lead has narrowed, he now has a slight edge over his opponent, David McCormick. And while we might not get a result for days, there's still some available data that could be predictive about how the voters are feeling heading into the next big primary in Georgia this coming Tuesday.

Here to break it down is the best and only --


COOPER: -- senior data report that we know Harry Enten. Hey.

ENTERN: I feel bad because I must have yelled so loudly last week that you had to separate me from you in a different flesh. So my apologies on that. I'm going to try and keep my voice perhaps a little bit lower for you and the audience.

COOPER: Just you be yourself.

ENTEN: Thank you.

COOPER: So what are some of the key takeaways from the last 24 hours?

ENTEN: Yes, I mean, look, we'll look at the Republican side first. And you know, I think we're all interested in this Trump factor, right. And I would say he had a mixed evening. Look, he won in the North Carolina Senate race with Ted Budd, Doug Mastriano won although granted, Trump endorsed really late in that race he endorsed basically Mastriano was a short thing.

But he also had losses. He had losses in the Idaho governor's race. He lost the North Carolina's 11th district with Madison Cawthorn. And obviously it's too close to call in the Pennsylvania Senate race.

On the Democratic side, I think the same word of mixed, mixed, mixed night for progressives right, are projected or projected to win or lead, you know, Pennsylvania Senate, obviously Fetterman the projection that he'll win. But also look at Oregon five, right. Kurt Schrader longtime incumbent, he right now is trailing. Incumbents rarely ever lose, they only lose about 2% of the time in primaries and House races. At least that was the case in 2020. But of course, they also lost are projected to lose both in North Carolina, one in North Carolina four.

So the word I use is mixed.

COOPER: What trends you seeing?

ENTEN: Look on the Republican side, the thing that I think is really interesting is this question, this kind of gets at it. Are you more of a supporter of Donald Trump or the Republican Party? Now look at the NBC poll that was out this past week and look at that 58% say they are more a supporter of the Republican Party than Donald Trump. That is vastly different when the numbers are basically reversed on Election Day 2021. When it was just 38% who said they were more of a supporter of the Republican Party than Donald Trump, and 54%, the majority said they were supporter of Donald Trump versus the Republican Party. And I think that kind of fits with the results we saw last night where Trump really didn't do that great. He did perfectly fine.

And on the Democratic side, right, I think a key number we can kind of look at is congressional approval rating among Democrats. Back in February 2021, Democrats loved what was going on in Congress, 61% approved the job that Congress is doing a really high number because most people really hate Congress. But now look, March of '22. Democrats don't like Congress very much. And I think that is part of the reason someone like a Kurt Schrader is in trouble is because Democrats right now are kind of fed up with all this kind of moderation and basically begging and pleading with the Republicans to work with them. Democrats now are about as pissed off as Republicans normally are.

COOPER: And there's some big primaries next week, especially in Georgia, what are these trends predict about that?

ENTEN: Well, I would say that Donald Trump doesn't exactly like what's going on in the state of Georgia. (INAUDIBLE) I was just that, by the way last week, I was seeing my second cousin once removed for his barmitzvah. Congratulations to you, buddy.

COOPER: Oh, nice. Mazel tov.

ENTEN: Look, Brian Kemp is going to win this primary. Unless the polls are way off, he's going to win this primary. Look at this. This is a Fox News poll that literally broke at 6:00. Your EP Charlie basically said put this on the air and I agreed with him, I thought was a great idea. Look at the trendline here, Brian Kemp was only at 50% in March, he's now at 60%. And now and David Perdue, who was endorsed by Donald Trump falling through the wayside. And this is part of the reason why if you look at the newspapers down in Georgia say, where's David Perdue? It looks like he's basically given up and Donald Trump has basically given up on the race.

And you know, it's not the only southern primary that's occurring next week, where Donald Trump perhaps his name isn't worth as much as we kind of thought it was. Remember (INAUDIBLE) Mo Brooks. He was endorsed by Donald Trump. Then all of a sudden Mo Brooks was doing really poorly and so Trump was like, you know, what I'm going to withdraw that endorsement, so I don't get a loss in my column.


Well guess what happened since he withdrew that endorsement? When she you know it, Mo Brooks start to gain some momentum. And now if you look at the numbers, he's basically tied for that runoff spot. We're going to see what happens. But I would honestly argue if this past week was a mixed bag for Donald Trump, this upcoming week could be his worst night. So far this primary season and the south which has normally delivered for Donald Trump looks like it may do the exact opposite this upcoming Tuesday. So I'm looking forward to it.

COOPER: All right, well look forward Tuesday night. Harry Enten --

ENTEN: And maybe we can be in the same room next time?

COOPER: Absolutely, I promise you.

ENTEN: Thank you. Thank you very much.

COOPER: Harry Enten, thanks so much. ENTEN: Bye.

COOPER: Up next, new word on security precautions ahead of the Supreme Court abortion ruling.


COOPER: Fencing is already up on the Supreme Court and now with a ruling on abortion expected soon in the draft of it already leaked, the Justice Department says that U.S. Marshal Service is working to provide around the clock security at the Justices homes.


Earlier today, CNN reported the Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement partners and potential danger to the public and members of the court.

News continues. Let's hand over Laura Coates in "CNN TONIGHT." Laura.