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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Key Revelations About Attorney John Eastman's Role In Effort To Overturn The Elections; Trump And Pence Have Not Spoken In More Than A Year; Jan. 6 Committee Releases Photos Of Pence Family Sheltering In Capitol Basement; Wife Of Supreme Court Justice Becomes Pivotal Figure In Hearings After Email Correspondence With Trump Lawyer Revealed; Prosecutors: Man Accused Of Kavanaugh Murder Plot Had Firearm, Ammo And Other Items; Warm Temperatures And Rainfall Expected In Montana And Wyoming This Weekend; State Dept: Third American Missing In Action In Ukraine. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 16, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: It's incredible to see this impact.

The northern region of the park will remain closed likely through the end of the summer season.

Thanks so much for joining us.

AC 360 begins now.



It was billed as an examination of the pressure put on then Vice President Mike Pence to do Donald Trump's bidding, and today's testimony before the January 6th Committee hearings, certainly was that.

But in a larger sense, it was also revelation of just how thoroughly those who were pushing to overturn the election knew what they were doing was legally and constitutionally dubious, and potentially a crime. They knew, but according to the testimony we've heard today, they did it anyway.

And the former President not only knew that, according to the testimony, he also knew in real time that the actions he had been taking and was about to take with his 2:24 PM tweet condemning Mike Pence directly endangered his Vice President's life. He'd been told exactly how bad it was at the Capitol.


REP. PETER AGUILAR (D-CA): Although the President's Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows has refused to testify before this Committee, Mr. Meadows' aide, Ben Williamson, and White House Deputy Press Secretary, Sarah Matthews testified that Mr. Meadows went to the dining room near the Oval Office to tell the President about the violence at the Capitol before the President's 2:24 PM tweet.

SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: It was clear that it was escalating and escalating quickly.

(CROWD chanting "Hang Mike Pence.")

MATTHEWS: So then when that tweet, that Mike Pence tweet was sent out, I remember us saying that that was the last thing that needed to be tweeted at that moment.


COOPER: Congressman Pete Aguilar says the Committee's investigation shows that immediately after that tweet, the crowd inside and outside the Capitol surged.

Two minutes later, the Secret Service evacuated the former Vice President from the Senate chamber, coming within 40 feet according to the Committee investigation of the angry mob.

Now, the Committee put out new images today of the location that Pence was later taken to, a loading dock by the looks of it, where he was forced to shelter until control of the Capitol was actually restored.

The photos are new and so is the testimony that knowing what he knew, the former President still sent out a tweet that former White House Deputy Press Secretary, Sarah Matthews testified was quote, "like he was pouring gasoline on the fire," which gets the kindling for it the legal theory that was touted by Law Professor, John Eastman seen here whipping up the crowd of the former President's January 6 rally on that day.

He argued that Vice President Pence that day could have rejected electoral votes from states the Trump team was challenging. Now, it would have been interesting to hear him defend his theory before the Committee instead, this is what he mostly told the panel.


JOHN EASTMAN, ATTORNEY: I assert my Fifth Amendment right against being compelled to be a witness against myself.







COOPER: According to Committee member, Pete Aguilar, John Eastman took the fifth a hundred times. However, Michael Luttig, though widely respected conservative Judge that Eastman once clerked for had this to say about the legal theory.


MICHAEL LUTTIG, FORMER JUDGE OF THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT: There was no basis in the Constitution or laws of the United States at all, the theory espoused by Mr. Eastman, at all, none.


COOPER: That's what he told Mike Pence whose own legal staff also researched the question, also found Eastman's theory bogus and get this, told Eastman so directly.


GREG JACOB, SERVED AS COUNSEL TO MIKE PENCE WHEN HE WAS VICE PRESIDENT: The history was absolutely decisive. And again, part of my discussion with Mr. Eastman was, if you were right, don't you think Al Gore might have liked to have known in 2000 that he had authority to just declare himself President of the United States? Did you think that the Democratic lawyers just didn't think of this very obvious quirk that he could use to do that?

And of course, he acknowledged, Al Gore did not and should not have had that authority at that point in time.


COOPER: So a respected Judge and legal scholar knew the Eastman theory was bogus. The Vice President's own lawyers knew it was bogus. The Vice President's General Counsel Greg Jacob told Eastman he knew it was bogus, and there is also testimony that Eastman himself admitted that the plan he was pushing, if challenged, would go down in flames at the Supreme Court.


JACOB: And we had an extended discussion an hour and a half to two hours on January 5th and when I pressed him on the point, I said, John, if the Vice President did what you were asking him to do, we would lose nine to nothing in the Supreme Court, wouldn't we? And he initially started, well, I think maybe we would lose only seven to two. And after some further discussion, acknowledged, well, yes, you're right we would lose nine-nothing.



COOPER: So if this testimony is accurate, it means that despite admitting that his plan was unprecedented, inadvisable if the other side did it, and almost certainly legally indefensible, John Eastman pressed forward on January 6th, so did Rudy Giuliani, so did the former President, who also it was revealed today, made one final call to his Vice President on the morning of the 6th, one final call to pressure him and ultimately insult him.


QUESTION: What did you hear?

NICHOLAS LUNA, FORMER ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: So as I was dropping off a note, my memory, I remember hearing the word "wimp," either he called him a wimp. I don't remember if he said "You are a wimp, you'll be a wimp." Wimp is the word I remember.

QUESTION: Did Miss Trump share with you any more details about what had happened, or any details about what had happened in the Oval Office that morning?

JULIE RADFORD, FORMER IVANKA TRUMP CHIEF OF STAFF: That her dad had just had an upsetting conversation with the Vice President.

LUNA: Something to the effect, this is the wordings wrong. I made the wrong decision four or five years ago.

QUESTION: And the word that she relayed to you that the President called the Vice President, I apologize for being impolite, but do you remember what she said her father called him?

RADFORD: The p word.


COOPER: And then a short time later, knowing the man was in harm's way from an angry mob for refusing carry out a plan he had been told was wrong and knew was wrong, he sent out a tweet, the President sent out a tweet attacking him, whipping up the crowd.

According to the testimony today, he had every reason to know what he was doing was wrong. According to the testimony today, so did the people pushing John Eastman's plan to overturn the election. According to the testimony today, so did John Eastman himself.

As for what Eastman did after January 6th? Well, today, the Select Committee said they have an e-mail that he sent to Rudy Giuliani asking to be included on a list of potential pardoned recipients.

The Committee today argued that this indicates he knew his actions were potentially criminal.

Joining us now, voices from across the legal and political landscape, CNN law and national security analyst, Asha Rangappa, CNN senior political commentator and former senior Obama adviser, David Axelrod; conservative attorney, George Conway, and CNN political commentator, former Trump campaign strategist, David Urban.

David Axelrod, what was the most significant revelation from the hearing in your mind?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I mean, clinically, the revelation that in the President's presence, the person who is advising him on this strategy acknowledged that it was illegal, and that the President pressed ahead with it was quite a revelation.

The fact that the degree to which he knowingly unleashed this violence on his own Vice President was a revelation. But Anderson, there was one thing that really struck me, and it is the conversation, you just reported, his last conversation with Pence knowing all of this, knowing that they were asking Pence to do something unconstitutional, something illegal, he called Pence a wimp, or worse, for not going along.

And this has been the concern about Donald Trump from the very beginning. It's not about his policy positions. I may disagree with many of them. It's that he doesn't believe in rules and laws and norms and institutions and he thinks that people who do are suckers, and he resented that Pence in his view was being a wimp and a sucker instead of doing what he thought they could get away with to try and salvage this -- the presidency for him.

I think it was a really, really deep insight into how Donald Trump approaches the world.

COOPER: George, the allegation that then President Trump was told repeatedly that his plan for Pence to overturn the election was illegal, but tried to do it anyway. Could that amount of criminal liability in the eyes of the Justice Department?

GEORGE CONWAY, ATTORNEY: Yes. Absolutely. I mean, I think as David points out, Trump didn't care about the facts. He doesn't care about the law. He only cares about what he can get away with.

And what the two hearings this week have done is shown essentially two separate and, but related, but separate and independent ways to show criminal intent. Monday, they show that Donald Trump didn't give a hoot about what the truth was, about the facts.

You had Attorney General -- former Attorney General Barr saying that no matter what you said to Trump, Trump did not care about what the actual facts were. We heard Richard Donoghue, the Acting Deputy Attorney General basically say we'd shoot down one crazy factual claim, and then he'd just throw out another. He didn't care about the facts. He was willfully blind to the facts.

And today, the presentation was about how he was willfully blind to the illegality of having Vice President Pence violate the 12th Amendment, his oath of office and the Electoral Count Act and either way of showing that Trump was willfully blind to the facts or to the law, either one of those, I think would suffice to establish criminal intent which actually is a point that Judge Luttig made in his written statement when he talked about the potential accountability of Donald Trump for trying to steal the election.


He said willful blindness to facts or to law is not a defense and he didn't use the word criminal liability there, but that's clearly what he was talking about.

COOPER: David Urban, I just want to play an exchange from the hearing between a member of the Committee and Vice President Pence's counsel. Let's listen.


AGUILAR: While the Vice President made several calls to check on the safety of others, it was his own life that was in great danger.

Mr. Jacob, did Donald Trump ever call the Vice President to check on his safety?

JACOB: He did not.

AGUILAR: Mr. Jacob, how did Vice President Pence and Mrs. Pence react to that?

JACOB: With frustration.


COOPER: David Urban, is that at all defensible for the President not to check on the safety of the Vice President. And not only that, as we also heard in testimony today, for him to have sent that tweet at I think it was 2:24 PM knowing the attack is underway, knowing his Vice President is in danger, a tweet, which was actually then read by the mob and spurs on the mob.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Anderson, clearly it's reprehensible. Clearly, what the President's phone call to the Vice President earlier that was recounted there in previous clips where he called him some pretty harsh names and raised his voice, it was recounted by several people who heard the conversation.

You know, Mike Pence is an honorable man, served his country very honorably, did the right thing that day and for the President to lash out him like that, and then not only not to check on him, but to kind of stir the pot is -- it is just reprehensible. It is indefensible.

COOPER: Asha, attorney John Eastman allegedly e-mail Rudy Giuliani about receiving a presidential pardon after January 6th. Eastman also pleaded the fifth a hundred times when he sat down with the Committee, do you believe he could potentially face some kind of criminal liability here?

ASHA RANGAPPA CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Oh, absolutely, Anderson. There is no question about that. The very fact that he Acknowledged that his own legal blueprint was illegal, you know, tells you his state of mind. And so I think that he definitely faces criminal liability.

I think that it's also important to understand that Eastman's plan was sort of the epicenter, the eye of the hurricane for all of the other moving parts for the weaponization of the DOJ to send letters to states telling them that there were fraudulent election votes, weaponization of the State Electoral College and the slate of electors that they were sending, and potentially even the weaponization of the Supreme Court.

He clearly entertained the possibility that, you know, some of this would end up in front of the Supreme Court. And, you know, even in his initial suggestion that the vote would be seven-two, he seemed to feel that there were two votes that would go in his direction, despite the fact that it was so obviously illegal.

So, you know, I think we need to understand that he was very central to this and he was acting in concert with Donald Trump.

COOPER: David Axelrod, I mean, these witnesses were hardly liberal Trump antagonists, which I think is important to point out and they were top Pence aides, as well as conservative former Federal Judge who said the former President and his allies are still quote, "a clear and present danger" to American democracy.

Do you think this has any impact on politics in this country?

AXELROD: You know, I'd love to say, yes, Anderson. I think that we are so hardened and we are so polarized, you know, when only 30 percent of Republicans say that they believe President Biden was properly elected, and that they think there was something wrong with the last election, it shows you just how deep this polarization runs. And you wonder how many of those people can be persuaded by what has been really, really compelling testimony?

I would like to -- I would hope, yes, but I kind of doubt it. And I don't think we're going to see a big shift in attitudes about politics or about Trump as a result of this. We'll see. There are still several hearings to go and a final report.

I just want to say one other thing. You know, I was thinking about this when you asked Dave Urban about Pence. At the end of that day, three hours after the mob descended on the Capitol, the President finally yielded to urgings and issued a video way too late.

But in that video, he addressed the mob that was threatening Pence's life. And he said, "You're very special. We love you." But he didn't pick up the phone to call his Vice President who had served him loyally for four years to see if he was all right, and that's an appalling juxtaposition.

COOPER: Well, I think, you know Mike Pence and his family reading that tweet you know and there are now photographs of them in what looks like a loading dock and looking at his phone reading that tweet that the President sent where they are, you know, they've just been fleeing for their lives, and they see this tweet from the President, you know, twisting the knife.



COOPER: George -- URBAN: Anderson, I'm just going to say, Anderson, I don't think that a cheerful call from the President would have made any difference at that point to your point and to Axe's access point about, you know, being dug in and ever been dug in here, you know, I think one of the most important thing that's happening now quietly behind the scenes on Capitol Hill in the legislative branch and legislative process is the Electoral Count Act is being revisited and going to be amended.

So this will never be a question again, and we'll never have to face anything like this. It's not as sexy as these hearings, but it is very, very important that we fix that.

COOPER: George --

AXELROD: And David, if you have Secretaries of State around the country who basically are willing to subvert the election process based on conspiracy theories, and you have many of them running now, I don't think the threat will come and go. I think the threat is still with them.

URBAN: I don't disagree, David, I just think that -- I think you won't see a constitutional crisis that you would have seen on January 6th again.

AXELROD: Okay. Fair enough.

COOPER: George, you just wrote an op-ed in "The Washington Post" about how the hearings laid bare the critical role of the 25th Amendment, in this case, the failure to invoke it. How much do you think we'll learn in future hearings about those 25th Amendment discussions behind the scenes?

CONWAY: Well, I think we're going to hear -- you know, we're going to hear at least one hearing day devoted to what the heck was Donald Trump doing for 187 minutes? They alluded to that a little bit today.

And Representative Cheney, Vice Chairman Cheney talked about how they were going to talk about the fact that multiple members of the Cabinet were talking about invoking the 25th Amendment. And I think that all comes in together about what his state of mind was when he was for three hours doing absolutely nothing watching TV, watching TV, we've heard in press reports, gleefully. We may actually hear live testimony about that.

And when he said that Mike Pence may be deserved, we will have live testimony on that. We're going to hear about his state of mind when he basically engaged in a massive dereliction of duty that you know, contrasts sharply with the police officer slipping on her colleagues' blood and with Mike Pence refusing to leave the Capitol.

COOPER: Yes, there was that whole campaign commercial about you know, the call comes at 3:00 AM and who is picking it up? There was -- he wasn't -- there were no phone calls being picked up by the President. He was not making any calls --

CONWAY: It's three in the afternoon. COOPER: Yes, I mean, it's incredible.

Asha Rangappa, David Axelrod, George Conway, and David Urban, appreciate it.

Coming up next, to George Conway's point about the state of mind, the President's State of Mind, word that the former President is watching the hearings that he quote, "Wants to draw blood." We'll tell you from whom, the reporting on that ahead.

Later, a closer look at what we learned today about the danger to Mike Pence from a journalist who has done extensive reporting on his security situation that day.



COOPER: Before the hearings began today, the former President posted on his social network that he was, and I'm quoting now, quote: "Hereby demanding equal time to spell out the massive voter fraud and Dem security breach." There is new reporting tonight that he is also looking for some form of payback, specifically against one of the witnesses today.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins joins us now with more on that.

So Marc Short and Greg Jacob, Mike Pence's former aides, we heard a lot from them today. How did that play with the former President, do you know?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Marc Short is someone who is always particularly irked to President Trump ever since January 6 happened and he told people he was banning him from the White House after he was with, of course former Vice President Mike Pence that day.

I think people forget before Marc Short was Pence's Chief of Staff, he was the Legislative Affairs Director for President Trump in the West Wing. He obviously worked closely helped manage relationships with lawmakers on the Hill. And so he is someone who has certainly drawn the former President's ire ever since January 6, because Trump has told people he believes that Marc Short helped convince the Vice President then at the time, of course, not to meet his demands, not to try to object to the certification process on Capitol Hill.

And so he is someone testifying today that President Trump has complained to people, former President Trump has complained that all the testimony on Capitol Hill since these hearings have started, Anderson, has been negative toward him. And I don't know if maybe there are people who have testified, people who are still in Trump's orbit that have been telling him they've said more positive things that have not been used in these hearings.

But he has complained that all the testimony has been negative toward him, and you see Marc Short going and testifying today saying, you know he notified Secret Service the day before January 6th because he was concerned about Pence's safety, that they disputed when Trump put out that statement saying that he and Pence were in perfect agreement on what Pence could do on Capitol Hill that day, when of course, as you saw Marc Short and Jason Miller testifying, they did not believe that was the case.

That was not what Pence had communicated to Trump at the time. He was actually saying basically exactly the opposite.

COOPER: You've done a lot of reporting on the breakdown of relations between the former Vice President and the former President. What stands out?

COLLINS: It's dramatic because these are two people who used to have lunch together once a week, they were very close. You often saw Pence falling very closely in line with whatever Trump was saying at the time when he was in office and the breakdown in their relationship has just been incredibly severe.

I mean, they have not spoken interested in over a year from now. Of course, you saw aides testifying today about just what that conversation was like that day on January 6th, when Trump was in the Oval Office, they called Pence, he was talking to him. Ivanka Trump saying she had never heard her father speak to Pence in the way that he did. People saying that he used these vulgar terms when he was talking to him because Pence was not going to do what he wanted him to do.


But for Pence on the other hand, it's kind of been this fine line, this tightrope given he is someone who has challenged Trump at times on this, maintained what he did that day and said he believed it was the right thing. But also Anderson, he is obviously eyeing a presidential run in 2024, and obviously, he wants to court Trump's base that is so endeared to him.

So it's kind of been this fine line between the two of them as he has tried to downplay the rift between the two of them, but it's very obvious they haven't spoken in over a year.

COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. Thanks.

Still not knowing what the Justice Department will do with what the Select Committee is uncovering, today, we learned the Department wants the Committee to turn over transcripts of witness interviews. CNN's Evan Perez joins us now, what his sources are telling him about that.

Do we know specifically what the Justice Department wants from the Committee?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: They want everything, Anderson. They want transcripts of all thousand interviews, witness interviews that the Committee says that they have done and the Justice Department first asked for these transcripts back in April. And we learned today in a Court filing that they asked again this week and the reason for that is that there are a group of Proud Boys, members of this extremist right-wing group that are on trial. These are the people who helped lead the charge into the Capitol.

And under the rules, under the law, the Justice Department is required to turn over everything in possession of the government -- in the government's possession that could be relevant to those people's defense, and so that includes transcripts that the Committee has.

COOPER: So why wouldn't the Committee just hand them over?

PEREZ: Well, so far, we've only heard very weird things from the Committee, including that this is their work product. Chairman Thompson was asked about it by reporters, here's what he had to say.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We are not going to stop what we're doing to share the information that we've gotten so far with the Department of Justice, we have to do our work.


PEREZ: And so, you know, the Committee seems to be saying wait until we have done our work in September, and we'll turn it all over.

COOPER: But I mean, there are Xerox machines. I don't understand why do they have to stop their work in order to give them copies of transcripts?

PEREZ: Right. Yes, it doesn't make any sense, Anderson, and especially because if you think about it, all of this criticism from the Committee members against the Justice Department saying that Merrick Garland needs to step it up, that there needs to be more work done by the Justice Department to do these prosecutions.

And so now you have prosecutors saying, well, this is actually going to impede our work. This is actually going to hurt our ability to bring accountability to some of these people who invaded the Capitol on January 6.

COOPER: All right, Evan Perez, appreciate it. Thanks.

Why didn't Vice President Pence get into a car driven by the Secret Service as the insurrection was unfolding? We're going to have more on that from a reporter who has uncovered a lot of details about the threats to the Vice President back then.



COOPER: Much for today's hearing build not only with the political pressure being applied to former Vice President Pence leading up to the Capitol attack but how imminent the physical danger was to him and his family. The Committee showed new images of the Vice President sheltering with Secret Service in a basement as the rioters breached in the U.S. Capitol or as a loading dock looks like it. Also demonstrated just how close the mob got them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vice President Pence and his team ultimately were led to a secure location where they stayed for the next four and a half hours, barely missing rioters a few feet away.

REP. PETER AGUILAR (D-CA): Approximately 40 feet. That's all there was. Forty feet between the Vice President and the mob.


COOPER: The Committee also revealed testimony by White House aides that the President Trump already knew rioters were inside the Capitol before he tweeted that Pence quote, didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution.

I'm joined now by the Washington Post, Carol Leonnig, who has chronicled the security issues depends finally face that day. She is also the author of Zero Fail The Rise And Fall Of The Secret Service and co-author of I Alone Can Fix It. Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year.

Carol, what did today reveal to the American people about the danger the Pence family and their entourage were in.

CAROL LEONNIG, NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Anderson, I think what today unveiled and uncovered was how much closer to mortal danger, Pence, his wife, his daughter and his aides all were in. You know, we chronicled very shortly after January 6 that Pence came within 100 feet of rioters that were storming into the building as he was spirited off the Senate floor and to the hideaway with his secret service detail. Actually, it was not 100 feet, it was 40 feet. And what we also learned is the degree to which his secret service detail was pressuring him to leave as soon as possible. Because of the people chanting hang Mike Pence, hang Mike Pence outside. The family was aware of this, but they weren't aware of just how horrible it was.

Greg Jacobs, Pence's attorney told the World Today, you know, he heard rumblings outside but he didn't really realize just how catastrophic things could have been.

COOPER: It's interesting. I mean, was and I'm not sure if we know this, but was Vice President Pence aware in that moment at that time, just how close the mob was and 40 feet away from him and his family.

LEONNIG: No, my understanding from sources is that he knew it was close, but not that close. He was spirited to the hideaway before those rioters got to the basically the riser in between the two floors and confronted officer Goodman who brilliantly as you know, in this video, led those rioters away from the Senate floor and ultimately away from where Pence and his family in his detail were in hiding. Then he was taken to the basement because his detail leader said OK, we're done. We're out of here.

Pence had turned him down Anderson, two times and on the third time to evacuate, his detail leader said we have to get out of this floor. We have to get to the basement. It's not safe. But of course as you know from Today's testimony when they got to the basement Pence was still suspicious essentially about being spirited away from the Capitol. And he had gained a new determination that he was going to stay, finished the work, certify the election, the victory of his opponent, Joe Biden. He was going to finish the work, even though, as you've shown here tonight, the President had put a target on his vice presidents back.


COOPER: And to see him I mean, again, reading, you know, looking at the phone, being aware of the, you know, the tweet that the President had sent out in this incredibly dark moment for him and his family. That's just such an extraordinary, extraordinary moment. What other reasons based on your reporting, made the Vice President want to stay put?

LEONNIG: You know, what I learned in Zero Fail and the reporting about the deep dive into the Secret Service is that the service was very conflicted. Many people who served at the right hand of President Trump were essentially MAGA hat supporters. They were all in for Donald Trump.

COOPER: I mean, not the Secret Service personnel.

LEONNIG: Yes, they took to their own social media platforms, their own Facebook postings, or Instagram postings to cheer on some of the rioters as patriots.


LEONNIG: And buy that, now, of course, Pence didn't know that when he's in the basement of the Capitol. But what he did know and what his aides knew was that the President was not caring about Vice President Pence's life. He had just said Pence shows no courage as people are chanting. Trump supporters are chanting to end Pence's life. And he was suspicious and his aides were especially suspicious that perhaps the Secret Service wasn't calling the ball. Perhaps Donald Trump, through other secret service senior leaders in the White House was calling the ball about removing and whisking Pence away from the Capitol. And he was determined not to do that.


LEONNIG: He decided somewhere between, you know, the Senate hideaway and the basement limousine. I'm not getting in that car. I'm not leaving.

COOPER: It's so chilling that reporting that -- it's just incredible. Carol Leonnig, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Just ahead, an in depth look at someone we mentioned earlier, Ginni Thomas wife is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas why the committee is increasingly interested in her and her response to their request for an interview.

And later new photos supposedly the two Americans in Ukraine who's worried family members we talked to last night in this program. The photo which we can't confirm appears to show them hands tied behind their backs bound held by the Russians, the back the truck looks like. We'll have the latest on what we know about them and word of a third American now missing as well in Ukraine.



COOPER: Earlier in the broadcast, we were discussing Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The January 6 Committee chair says they now want her to appear before the panel. She told her conservative publications she's open to the idea and quote, can't wait to clear up misconceptions.

Thomas is of interest in large part because of her correspondence is one of the former president's top legal advisors at the time, John Eastman, who we've talked about tonight, who is himself a former clerk for Thomas's husband, Clarence Thomas.

Now, Randi Kaye has more.


GINNI THOMAS, WIFE OF JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS: Clarence Thomas, you're the best man walking the face of the earth.

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Virginia Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has some explaining to do. Like what about those e-mails she exchanged with conservative Attorney John Eastman, who the House January 6 committee says, help devise a scheme to try and overturn Joe Biden's victory. It's unclear what Ginni Thomas a well-known conservative activist said to Eastman in the e-mails or if she will appear before the Committee to try to explain any of it.

The Committee is also investigating more than two dozen text messages Ginni Thomas sent just days after Biden's victory to Mark Meadows, who was Donald Trump's chief of staff.

G. THOMAS: The second Reagan revolution is growing.

KAYE (voice-over): In one text from November of 2020, Ginni Thomas wrote to Meadows, helped this Great President stand firm Mark, the majority knows Biden and the left is attempting the greatest heist of our history.

In another she seemed to embrace a long held false QAnon conspiracy theory that Trump had watermarked mail-in ballots so he could track potential fraud. She wrote to Meadows, watermarked ballots in over 12 states have been part of a huge Trump and military white hat sting operation in 12 key battleground states.

And Ginni Thomas also stood by lawyer Sidney Powell, who spread the long debunked conspiracy theory that electronic voting machines had somehow switched ballots from Trump to Biden. She wrote to Meadows, sounds like Sidney and her team are getting inundated with evidence of fraud, make a plan. Release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down.

At one point the Washington Post reports Ginni Thomas urged Meadows to watch a YouTube video about the power of never conceding. In an interview this year with the conservative website The Free Beacon, Ginni Thomas said she briefly attended the January 6 rally at the Capitol, but returned home before the insurrection. Ginni Thomas did not respond to CNN's request for comment. And Eastman's attorney declined to comment.

CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: My wife is totally my best friend.

KAYE (voice-over): According to Clarence Thomas's 2004 biography, Ginni Thomas was born Virginia Lamp and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. Her father reportedly was an engineer, and her mother was an outspoken Republican activist who played a prominent role in her daughter's life. According to The New York Times, she joined her high school's Republican Club in 1974.

Later at Creighton University in Omaha, she earned a law degree and then moved to Washington to work as an aide for then Congressman Hal Daub, a conservative from Nebraska. She reportedly met Clarence Thomas in 1986 at a conference on affirmative action, they married in 1987.

C. THOMAS: I keep a sign on my desk. Don't make fun of your wife's choices. You were one of them.

I, Clarence Thomas --

KAYE (voice-over): In 1991, in The Washington Post, a friend described a couple as intellectual soul mates. The New York Times reported Clarence Thomas described his wife as a gift from God.


Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach County, Florida.


COOPER: We are learning more about what authority say was afforded assassination attempt against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and about the kind of weapons and other equipment authority said that the suspect was carrying.

Whitney Wild, joins us now. So what new details have we learned?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDEN : Well, Anderson, prosecutors have laid out these new details which shows that Roske had a long list of items with him which includes dozens of rounds of ammunition. The indictment shows that he had two magazines loaded with 10 rounds, each of nine millimeter bullets and 17 other rounds of basically loose ammunition that were contained in a plastic bag. He also had a black speed loader that's a mechanism, an aftermarket products that can help quickly reload ammunition. In addition to that the indictment shows he had a black, hard knuckled tactical gloves, a black thermal imaging monocular, a tactical knife and zip ties among other items.

This man, 26-year-old Nicholas Roske is now facing one count of attempting to assassinate a Justice of the United States. Police say Roske flew from California to Maryland to target Kavanaugh because he was upset over this pending abortion ruling as well as a pending Second Amendment ruling. He was also angered over this shooting in Uvalde, Texas. He indicated to police that he believed that Kavanaugh would loosen gun laws and he told police that he wanted to give his life purpose by killing the justice and then himself. Police say his plan was to break into Kavanaugh's house and do just that.

Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones told CNN that once Roske arrived at Kavanaugh's home and he saw two deputy U.S. Marshals posted outside, he quickly turned around to contemplate his next move.


MARCUS JONES, CHIEF, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE: Yet actually arrived in a taxi cab at near the residence of Justice Kavanaugh, at which point in time he began to walk down the street to actually to see the residents, where he observed the U.S. marshals who were actually there guarding the U.S. Supreme Court Justice and his family. And so, the individual decided to continue to walk by.

If he could have if there was the opportunity to, I think he had significant plans to actually break into the residence. I think he had actual plans to actually do what he said he was going to do.


WILD: Anderson, it was his sister who he reached out to, who convinced him that he should call 911. So again, a very close call there based on what police have said. If convicted, Anderson, Roske faces a maximum sentence of life in federal prison. Back to you.

COOPER: Whitney Wild, appreciate it. Thank you.

The danger in Yellowstone is not over. The threat of more flooding in the National Park and the surrounding area, coming up next.



COOPER: Tonight, parts of Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding area are facing the threat of more flooding. That's just days after raging floodwaters washed away bridges and homes and left roads and ruin. Now rain could fall again and temperatures could climb to the 80s and 90s which means more snow melts into potential for more trouble.

Nick Watt has the latest from Montana.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The water plant here in Billings was built to work when the river runs at 15 feet or below. This week, it hit 16 and a half, a 500 year event, a record high that plunk forced to close briefly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is pretty surreal seeing all the bridges go down across the state. I mean, just glad this one still here.

WATT (voice-over): Here's one up river that did not survive before and after. Just how abnormal unpredictable was this rush of water, well, this time last year the Yellowstone River at Billings was running at 8,000 cubic feet a second, a record low. This week, it hit 87,000 peaked around here Wednesday afternoon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Started moving cattle about noon in the back there and moving towards the front up here where it's a little higher ground. The last ones had to swim out. It was that deep. They were -- it was all you can see was their heads.

WATT (voice-over): Further up a Yellowstone tributary in Red Lodge the river ran through it. Broadway Avenue now covered in rocks left behind by floodwaters. The southern part of Yellowstone Park might open as early as Monday, the north entrance going to be months. New satellite images show what little is left over the only road in. This flooding was fueled by heavy rain and high temperatures melting snow, tonight similar conditions return.

CHAD MYERS, CNN SEVERE WEATHER EXPERT: Overnight last night was perfect. Zooming you in to Yellowstone, temperatures were below freezing on top of that snow. So stopping the melting in its tracks, freezing the snow back up. But then by tomorrow, more temperatures well above freezing, more melting, and even by Saturday, the possibility of some rain. There's a lot more snow on top of those mountains.

WATT (voice-over): Our exclusive video shows what this river has already wrought.


WATT: So, where has Governor Greg Gianforte been through all this? Well, the answer is we don't know, because he won't say. The first with that something might be strange was Tuesday when the Lieutenant Governor not the governor signed the disaster declaration. One of his senior advisors just told me this evening that the governor and his wife in fact left the state on Saturday. That's the day before the floods. They went overseas on a personal trip. He won't say where, citing security reasons, but they are apparently back tonight and the governor will be visiting those flooded areas tomorrow.

Now everyone's allowed to vacation but it's just the length of time it's taken into come back and the strange secrecy that's going to raise a few eyebrows. Now he was very active on social media. You know, he tweeted on Monday we are closely monitoring the flooding in south central Montana. He didn't say where he was monitoring it from because he was not monitoring it from inside the state.


Now, there is of course a bit of a whiff of, you know, Ted Cruz in Cancun when the power went out and it was very cold in Texas last year. You know, but I ended some better news, rain, snow melt is coming, but the good news is probably only going to raise this river by about two feet and hopefully that will not cause any more damage. Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Nick Watt, appreciate it. Thank you.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Tonight, an update from Ukraine. The State Department has confirmed a third American volunteering in the front lines in the scene action. Grady Kurpasi is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. His family has heard from him since late April.


Meanwhile, a photo post on telegram appears to show two other missing American volunteer fighters in the back of a Russian military truck with their hands behind their backs as if they're bound apparently confirming they're captured by Russian forces. We can't verify where this photo was taken. Andy Tai Ngoc Hyunh and Alexander John Robert Drueke are both from Alabama. The men were with Ukrainian forces north of Kharkiv, they've been missing for nearly a week.

Last night, I spoke with Hyunh's fiance and Drueke's mom. They said the men wanted to share their military training with Ukrainian fighters. They want them to come home safely and not -- and together, not without the other.

The news continues. Want to hand over Laura Coates in "CNN TONIGHT." Laura.