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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Killer's Dad: No Regrets About Helping Son To Get Guns; Husband Of Highland Park Shooting Victim Shares Her Story; Former White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone Talks To January 6 Committee On Friday; War In Ukraine Impacts Hunger In Somalia; Somali Children Starve As Drought, Putin's War Limit Food Supply; British PM Johnson Resigns Amid Scandals, Cabinet Revolt; Lawyers For Brittney Griner Hope For Leniency After WNBA Star Pleads Guilty To Drug Charges In Russian Court; "Patagonia: Life On The Edge Of The World" Premieres Sun At 9PM ET/PT. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 07, 2022 - 20:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): He now leaves Downing Street with a legacy defined by COVID-19 and his response mired in a series of scandals.


FOSTER (voice over): Max Foster.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

FOSTER (voice over): CNN, London.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thanks so much to you, Max.

And thanks to all of you for joining us.

AC 360 with Anderson starts now.



I want to show you a little boy named Cooper Roberts. He is eight years old. On Monday he was at the parade in Highland Park, Illinois with his mom Keely, and his twin brother, Luke. His mom was shot in her leg and foot. Luke was hit by shrapnel. Both are thankfully out of the hospital.

Cooper was shot in the chest. He has already undergone or he has already gone through several rounds of surgery and tonight, his family says he is now paralyzed from the waist down.

An eight year old boy, his brother, his mom, all with the kinds of wounds that young men and women came home from Afghanistan with or Iraq or Korea. They signed up knowing it might happen. Cooper, Luke and Keely Roberts, they just went to a parade.

Friends of the family have set up a GoFundMe page to help cover medical expenses and therapy. You can see the address at the bottom of the screen tonight.

Meantime, the gunman's father is speaking out telling ABC News he has no regrets about helping his son in 2019 obtain the documentation needed to buy the weapons he did, despite his son's suicide attempt, threats to kill his family, and police confiscating 16 knives, a dagger, and a sword from him earlier that year.


ROBERT CRIMO, JR., FATHER OF SUSPECT: I filled out the consent form to allow my son to go through the process. They do background checks, whatever it entails.


COOPER: The killer's father told ABC News he had no inkling his son would do this. He says his threats against the family were taken out of context and says he can't understand why his son did what he did.

More now from CNN's Ed Lavandera in Highland Park.

Ed, could the gunman's father face any criminal charges for his role in signing documents that helped his son obtain weapons after he attempted suicide and threatened to kill the whole family?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, prosecutors Anderson have been telling us for the last few days that it's simply too early for that, but we've got some more insight into how this could play out in the coming days and weeks.

The State's Attorney, Eric Rinehart told CNN earlier today that, as we've talked about, that the idea that this father sponsored his son's application for a permit to obtain a firearm here in Illinois, that action in and of itself, the State Attorney says is not a criminal offense. So that wouldn't be enough to file any kind of criminal charges.

But the prosecutor does say that they're looking at much more than that and trying to figure out if there is any kind of evidence that could be turned up that would point to some sort of liability or some sort of culpability or involvement in this beyond what the father has been saying so far.

But right now, Anderson, it appears it is simply too early to prosecute without any kind of evidence.

COOPER: And Ed, obviously, we've been talking about this eight-year- old boy, Cooper Roberts. What more are you learning about Cooper and his family time?

LAVANDERA: Well, just simply devastating news. This eight-year-old boy, Cooper Roberts, remains in the hospital. We are told that he is on a ventilator and sedated and has been so, Anderson. He was taken to the hospital on Monday afternoon, but since we learned about his identity, just a few days ago, I interviewed a gentleman who was here, a witness to the chaos and when the shooting erupted, he was here visiting a family member. He is from Texas.

And he actually -- we showed him the picture of Cooper, and this gentleman that we spoke with actually administered CPR to the young boy there on the street, just moments after he had been shot. His own son was missing in the chaos and he passed off -- and a gentleman came up to him, tapped him on the shoulder and said that he was a doctor and the gentleman passed Cooper off to this other gentleman who was a doctor to help care for him.

But looking back and we can listen to some of the interview that we did recently with this man. And he was incredibly emotional thinking about the look in the boy's eyes as he stood over them there on the ground.


BRYANT SIVESS, PARADE ATTENDEE WHO HELPED VICTIMS: He was non responsive. So, I just prayed over him, trying to help him the best I could.

I tried to get some chest compressions on the boy, and then someone came over told me they are a doctor, so I asked him if he could take over. I felt he was more qualified and my son was missing and quite frankly, my mind was there. I was trying to -- I couldn't focus. My own son was missing. That was kind of front of my top priority.



LAVANDERA: So, Anderson, you really get a sense there, the emotion in his eyes and the chaos, the magnitude of this moment that so many people were dealing with, trying to figure out how to make the right decision and saving lives, finding your own loved ones in those chaotic moments. That is kind of frantic, frightening scene that these families were under.

COOPER: Ed Lavandera, thanks.

That GoFundMe page for the Roberts' family remains on the on the bottom of your screen. Thinking about that eight-year-old boy, now looking at photos of Katie Goldstein, one of the seven murdered on Monday drives home the cruelty that a holiday event so completely suited to families enjoying the moment together should be turned into the horror of parents seeing their children shot or in Katie Goldstein's case, her daughter Cassie, seeing her mom die.

It's more than anyone should have to bear, but Katie Goldstein's story, the life she lived and how she died. Cooper Roberts' story in the life ahead for him, all, we're learning about everyone touched by this. It's also a reminder not to become numb to it all. Because the people at that parade were not simply the latest in a terrible trend, they were distinct individuals who led their lives, brought meaning to this world and joy to the people around them.

It's something I spoke about with Katie Goldstein's husband, Craig, shortly before airtime.


COOPER: Craig, thank you so much for being with us. I'm -- as I've told you before we began, I'm so sorry for your loss, for your daughter's loss.

Your wife sounds just such an incredible person, and I wonder if we could just start by you telling us a little bit about her.

CRAIG GOLDSTEIN, LOST WIFE, KATIE IN HIGHLAND PARK, ILLINOIS SHOOTING: I could tell you what type of person she was. She was a generous and self-sacrificing friend, but she was never a doormat.

She had an incredible sense of humor, but she was the quietest person in the room. She rarely had a bad word to say about anybody, but she wasn't naive.

She -- one of my friends said something about her, which I have been thinking so much about. For the last two days, he said something like, Katie was such a good person and when you were in her presence, you became a better person.

And I understand what he meant. She carried herself with such grace. When you were with her, you want it to be your best self, and I think that's so true.

COOPER: I heard a story that you met, I believe in college, but it wasn't until 20 years later, when you met again. And can you just tell me about the moment you met again? Because I understand something happened in that moment.

GOLDSTEIN: Twenty years later, I realized that Katie was the one that got away. I called her in Milwaukee from Chicago. I was -- I thought we would be on the phone for five minutes, we were on the phone for an hour.

It's like we were still best friends. And when I hung up the phone, I thought to myself, I could fall in love with her.

We met two weeks later for coffee, what could have been an hour, but we went next door to a bookstore. We sat on a sofa and we leafed through a book. And I thought to myself, "I'm going to fall in love with her and I'm going to marry her."

And when we compared notes -- when we compared notes afterwards, I learned that at that same time, she was thinking the same thing. And I say this without exaggeration, from that first date, my life has been a fairy tale.

COOPER: Wow. What a blessing. GOLDSTEIN: Thank you. It was so true. It was so true.

COOPER: And you've raised two beautiful daughters together and she from what I understand, she loved nothing more than a night playing games with your daughters. I mean, she was all about your family, about you and your family.


GOLDSTEIN: Yes, you know, I -- she -- when we got married, she stopped working, because we wanted to spend more time together and when the girls were born, of course, she wanted to be home with the girls.

Katie always had -- she always had a smile on her face. She was always in the best of moods. And it's not because she was a simple person, it is because that's what was in her heart.

COOPER: I heard that when your daughter, I think she was in a band, or that had performances and Katie went every night. There were three nights of performances and she went every single night, which, you know, a lot of parents might go for one night, but she went for everyone, which is a lot.

It's just, yes -- it gives me chills to hear you talk about her because it really, gosh, I wish I met her, and I think a lot of people probably do who are listening right now tonight.

Can you just tell us -- talk a little bit about why you wanted to speak? Because so many people, I understand the desire to not have the person you have loved and the person who you love, not just be a statistic or, you know, a picture that flashes across a TV screen, can you just talk a little bit about what you hope comes out of you talking?

GOLDSTEIN: Katie was a private person, when I say that, she was very engaged in the world. But she did not seek attention, and I feel like in some ways, it's a violation that I am talking about her.

But I feel like it is important that people understand that people view her as a full person. I want people to bear witness. I don't want people to be numb to events.

I feel like I'm an ineffectual person, but the best I can do is perhaps paint a picture of Katie that will motivate someone to help -- to help with violence.

COOPER: I'm not going to ask you to replay the events of that day. But I do just want to ask, because I understand your daughter was with Katie, your daughter saw the gunman and told Katie we have to run and that they ran together and they were together when Katie was shot and that your daughter was able to say, "I love you" to Katie.

That in all the horror of this and there's nothing that comes out of it, but in all the horror that is at least a small blessing I would imagine to know that that Katie knew -- that Katie heard that word love in that moment.

GOLDSTEIN: I can share with you what I understand happened. They heard a pop, pop, pop. Katie and other people thought they heard firecrackers. My daughter looked up at the roofs and she saw the gunman. She said, "Mom, we have to run." And it was they were running and Katie dropped to the ground.

Cassie hid behind a garbage can, leaned out and she said -- she said, "Mom, I love you." And with that, Katie closed her eyes. She stopped breathing.

And it's important for my daughter to think that Katie heard her and my daughter imagined that when Katie heard that she was safe, it was then that she was at peace and closed her eyes.

I know it sounds like a fantastic story, but I'm telling you, if this could be true of anyone it would be true of Katie, and then someone ran and snatched up my daughter, Cassie, and they said, "You have to run." And I was at home, I was able to find her a few hours later.

COOPER: Craig, thank you for sharing a little of Katie with us, and I know you said she was a private person and -- but I appreciate you opening up the window and letting us see her incredible smile and learn about her and also for reminding us to bear witness, because I think it's so important when it's so easy to just see something on television on the news and think you've heard it before and it is another thing that's happened and it just becomes part of the background noise and we can't allow that to happen.

And I appreciate you adding your voice and making us bear witness. Thank you.

GOLDSTEIN: Yes, that is my worry. I don't want people to become numb. And thank you very much for giving me an opportunity to talk.

COOPER: Craig Goldstein, thank you.


COOPER: Up next tonight, the Justice Department digging deeper into the former President's fake elector plot. See, who is soon expected to hand over subpoenaed documents.

And later, Boris Johnson steps down as British Prime Minister. Take a look at what happens next and what it means for the US, that's a big question, ahead.



COOPER: Tomorrow, the January 6 Committee will talk to a crucial witness whose name has come up often in testimony, Pat Cipollone, White House Counsel to the former President. Cipollone's testimony will be behind closed doors and according to sources, videotaped. Now separately, CNN has obtained video of authorities executing the

authorized search last month at the Fairfax, Virginia home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark. That footage shows Clark entering the door in boxer shorts and a shirt. Clark then asked an officer, "Can I call my lawyer? Can I put my clothes on?" He was not allowed to get dressed until investigators cleared the house.

Sources familiar with the matter tells CNN that the raid was part of the Justice Department investigation to efforts to overturn the 2020 elections. And the Department of Justice has not stood still since then. New details on how the criminal probe has evolved now from CNN's Sara Murray.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In battleground states across the country, GOP activists, Republican Party Chairs and even a State Senate President.

KAREN FANN (R), ARIZONA SENATE PRESIDENT: I am the Senate President in Arizona, and it is our job to make sure we have fair and accurate elections.

MURRAY (voice over): Are getting hit with subpoenas. As early as this week, some Republicans tied to the plan to put forward fake electors for Donald Trump are set to turn over information to Federal investigators sources tell CNN.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): If they have something they think is a crime, they'll bring an indictment, and that's when you will find out what they're doing.

MURRAY (voice over): The Justice Department's investigation into January 6th began with the violence that erupted at the US Capitol and charges against more than 800 alleged rioters including the leaders of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.

But in recent months, it's expanded to cover the fake elector scheme in seven battleground states with subpoenas to prominent Republicans like Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer, and Arizona Republican Party Chair, Kelli Ward.

KELLI WARD, Arizona Republican Party Chair: Do not let this election be stolen.

MURRAY (voice over): The probe also inching closer to Trump as investigators raided Jeffrey Clark's home, the former DOJ official who pushed Donald Trump's voter fraud claims.

JEFFREY CLARK, FORMER DOJ OFFICIAL: They even brought along something, Tucker, I've never seen before or heard of, an electronic sniffing dog and they took all of the electronics from my house.

MURRAY (voice over): And also seized electronics from former Trump election Attorney John Eastman, who peddled baseless fraud claims and pushed a legal theory that Vice President Pence could block the 2020 election certifications.

JOHN EASTMAN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP ATTORNEY: All we are demanding of Vice President Pence is this afternoon at one o'clock, he let the Legislatures of the State look into this.

MURRAY (voice over): Beyond the DOJ probe, a separate criminal investigation into Trump and his allies is escalating in Georgia, where investigators subpoenaed key Trump allies including Rudy Giuliani and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

The District Attorney there says more subpoenas may soon be headed to Trump's inner circle.

FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We're going to do our due diligence.

MURRAY (voice over): And a separate Congressional investigation unearthing new details like Trump's eagerness to go to the Capitol January 6th, and the legal risks that went with it.

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of, please make sure we don't go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We're going to get charged every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.


MURRAY (voice over): Those revelations increasing Trump's criminal exposure and raising the odds he could face repercussions.


COOPER: And Sara Murray joins us now.

Sara, the Committee were obviously wanting or hoping that Pat Cipollone can corroborate Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony and also obviously add to it.

MURRAY: Oh, absolutely. But I think if you just look at Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony, you know, obviously, it's come under fire. So they want to add credibility to that to corroborate that. But she also testified about key conversations where Cipollone raised concerns that people could have weapons that, you know, somebody could die when violence broke out at the Capitol.

And he also raised key concerns about the legal exposure that people at the White House including the former President could have if Donald Trump went to the Capitol at that time, which from Cassidy's testimony, we know he wanted to do.

So I think this is going to be important to the Committee. It also potentially could be important to the Justice Department as they weigh what to do.

COOPER: Sara Murray, appreciate it. Thanks. Joining us now is former FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe. He is now

a senior and senior law enforcement analyst.

Andrew, how significant do you think it is that the Committee will finally hear from Pat Cipollone under oath?


ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It's a very big day, Anderson. I mean, Pat Cipollone is an important witness for many different reasons. And I think the one that's coming to people first is this idea that what he says could bolster or support the credibility of Cassidy Hutchinson and that's certainly true.

But he is significant in his own right, because of his presence in that notorious meeting on January 3rd, in which Trump had pretty much of a showdown with folks from the Justice Department and Jeffrey Clark kind of debating over their strategies to try to force the Justice Department to overturn the results of the election.

And then of course, Cipollone's observations of what he saw and heard and thought about what happened on January 6th, so he's an incredibly significant witness for many reasons.

COOPER: Some of the subpoenas the Department of Justice issued to people allegedly involved in the fake electoral plots called for documents to be handed over to the Department of Justice by tomorrow. What kinds of material do you think would be most helpful to investigators?

MCCABE: You know, investigators always start with communications, documents and evidence that connect people together, right? So you're always looking for e-mails, you're looking for text message records, you're looking for telephone logs and things of that nature, things that connect witnesses talking to each other about the issues that are relevant to the inquiry, things that go to establishing the existence of agreements between people to take joint actions, those are all the building blocks of conspiracy charges.

And so I would expect those are some of the basic things that the department is looking for with those subpoenas.

COOPER: Do you think the Department of Justice, frankly cares whether or not a criminal referral is given by the Select Committee? I mean, there is no reason that -- the Department of Justice doesn't have to wait for some sort of criminal referral. It's not an actual thing, right?

MCCABE: That's absolutely right. Yes, the referral is -- if the Committee makes a referral, it is really just kind of window dressing at this point.

The department is well aware of what's going on. I'm sure they're watching each one of these hearings very closely enough to include the Attorney General himself to the extent that he has time to do so. They don't need a referral from Congress to take any action, and they

are also not compelled to take any action on the basis of a referral from Congress or anyone else.

They have enormous authority to do that of their own volition and I'm sure they're engaged in that already.

COOPER: Just lastly, I want to ask you about this new revelation that you and former FBI Director James Comey were both in recent years selected for intensive tax audits by the Internal Revenue Service, which are very rare that the probability of both of you having this done to you is extremely rare.

The head of the IRS who was appointed by President Trump has referred the incident to the agency's Inspector General, but denies the audits were politically motivated. Do you believe they were politically motivated?

MCCABE: Well, I don't know the answer to that, Anderson. And I think it's absolutely worthy of investigation. I mean, the highly unlikely circumstance that James Comey and I were both selected at random, combined with the absolute, you know, well-known facts of how we were both pursued and harassed and targeted by the former administration, when you put those things together, I mean, it obviously raises some very clear questions that need to be investigated.

I'm a little bit concerned by the head of the IRS' somewhat reflexive comments that indicate almost a pre-judgment of, "Oh, my gosh, this could never have happened here" when we know that the former administration and President Trump were or engaged on multiple fronts in trying to use the structures of government, the institutions we rely on for Trump's own benefit.

So yes, is there something to look at here? Absolutely, there is and I hope they do it in a thorough and transparent way.

COOPER: I mean, if in fact, it was politically motivated, that would be extraordinary.

Andrew McCabe, I really appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up, the warning from Russian President Putin and a message for him from Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and this comes into the war is causing a massive hunger crisis in many places, but thousands of miles away. CNN's Clarissa Ward journeys to Somalia with the story, next.



COOPER: Vladimir Putin today signal that his invasion of Ukraine will not end anytime soon. During a meeting with State Duma leader, Putin said the conflict will drag on until quote, the last Ukrainian is left standing. He also blamed the West for what he called encouraging and justifying genocide against people in Donbass. This comes as Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he would not see territory to Russia for peace.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): Ukrainians are not ready to give up their land as new territories of the Russian Federation. This is our land. We have always said this, and we will never give it up.


COOPER: CNN's chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward joins me now from Somalia. Just one of the places already starting to feel impacts the world food shortage exasperated by the war in Ukraine.

Clarissa, can you connect the dots for us between Ukraine and what you're seeing in Somalia?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So Anderson, Somalia is no stranger to hunger. There was a famine here in 2011 that killed a quarter of a million people, and again, in 2017, the country came very close to famine, strong action from the government and the international community averted it. But right now, it's as if Somalia is in the eye of the perfect storm. There have been four failed rainy seasons, there has been an economic downturn on the back of the COVID- 19 pandemic. And now the impact of the war in Ukraine thousands of miles away is threatening to push this country over the edge.



WARD (voice-over): On the edge of the Naim camp just outside Somalia's capital, Zanza Muhammad (ph) shows us the fresh graves of those who have died here.


WARD (voice-over): There are 30 she says in total, victims of this country's record drought. As the camp administrator Muhammad is tasked with burying the dead.



WARD (voice-over): From that corner to this one she says, this line of graves is all children.

(on-camera): You must weigh on your heart to have to bury these little children.


WARD (voice-over): You feel such sadness when you bury a baby she tells us. I'm a mother and I can feel their pain as a parent. Some 500 yards away Norta Alihomi (ph) has yet to visit the graves of her three children. Severely malnourished, they died after contracting measles.

I cannot bear to go she says, the grief I would feel.

Aid agencies warned that Somalia is marching towards another famine. Nearly half the country is hungry. Some 800,000 people have been forced from their homes this year alone.

(on-camera): So two months ago, this camp didn't even exist. Now, there are more than 870 families living here.

(voice-over): Conditions are dire. And the world's attention is elsewhere. Thousands of miles from the front lines of the war in Ukraine, the impact of Russia's invasion is being felt here. Food and fuel prices have skyrocketed as Russia's blockade of Ukrainian wheat threatens global supplies.

MOHAMUD MOHAMED HASSAN, COUNTRY DIRECTOR, SAVE THE CHILDREN: The wheat that is consumed in Somalia, 92% of it comes from Russia and Ukraine when you put together. So the price of wheat has doubled in some areas, you know, 150% increase.

WARD (on-camera): So you had climate change, COVID, but the war in Ukraine is really threatening to push Somalia over the edge.

HASSAN: Yes, definitely. Yes. Yes.

WARD (on-camera): And what about if the war continues in Ukraine, if that blockade remains in place? What impact will that have here?

HASSAN: I cannot imagine what will be the impact.

WARD (voice-over): The stabilization ward at the Banadir Hospital offers a glimpse of what may be to come. There are no empty beds and many desperately sick children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's unconscious.

WARD (voice-over): Dr. Hafsa Mohammed Hassan works around the clock. She said her youngest patients alive.

(on-camera): How many years have you been working in this hospital?


WARD (on-camera): Eight years?


WARD (on-camera): Have you ever seen so many children being brought in with malnutrition?

H. HASSAN: No, this is the worst situation I'm seeing. And the number of the cases are increasing day by day. The hospital is very occupied with these cases.

WARD (on-camera): Are you overwhelmed?

H. HASSAN: Yes, it's overwhelming, the situation is overwhelming.

WARD (voice-over): In one bed, we meet her Hareda Abdi (ph) and her four-year-old son Mohamed. I already lost three children in this drought, she says softly.

(on-camera): So you came here to save your son? How do you cope with that kind of loss to lose three children? How do you get through the day?

I can't cope with the situation, she says. I just pray my remaining children will survive.

It's a prayer shared by so many women here, one that the world has yet to hear.


COOPER: And Clarissa, is the international community aiding -- is the international community listening?

WARD: Well, the real problem right now for aid agencies honestly is funding, that funding just is not coming in, in part because the world is understandably very focused and consumed with what's going on in Ukraine. But according to the UN, they haven't even raised yet a third of the $1.46 billion that they need to avert a major catastrophe. And some of the people that we've been talking to here on the ground from aid agencies say that we're talking about potentially a matter of weeks, not months before parts of this country could be in a state of famine and it stands to be even worse than what we have seen before.

So it is a dire situation. But the challenges of raising the funding that is so desperately needed are very real, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Clarissa Ward, appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up next, what is behind the downfall of Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson? And what comes next?



COOPER: Well, the man of the moment in the UK isn't even a man, it's a cat. Larry, the cat has lived in number 10 Downing Street for 11 years. As of yesterday, he'd already seen two British prime ministers come and go and now with the resignation of Boris Johnson, Larry has outlasted three of them. Johnson who like to compare himself with Winston Churchill was done in by a series of scandals and a spate of resignations within his own cabinet. But underlying it all was the sense within his own Conservative Party, that their leader simply wasn't playing it straight with them?

More now from CNN's Bianca Nobilo.


BIANA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the moment he longed to avoid.

BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER OF UK: To you, the British public, I know that there will be many people who are relieved and perhaps quite a few will also be disappointed and I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world.

NOBILO (voice-over): It's the culmination of a gruesome 24 hours where Boris Johnson saw his government crumble around him after he was accused of lying about knowing of allegations of sexual misconduct against one of his party's members. It's just the latest in a string of controversies that surrounded the embattled prime minister.

2020 was meant to be a year for realizing his Brexit vision. Then came coronavirus. From the start, he was accused of not taking the virus seriously enough.

JOHNSON: I was at a hospital the other night where I think there were a few -- there were actually a few coronavirus patients and I shook hands with everybody. You'll be pleased to know (ph).


NOBILO (voice-over): In just last month the Prime Minister was booed in public before narrowly surviving a confidence vote by members of his own party following the last scandal Partygate, where Johnson was photographed attending multiple large gatherings, including one for his own birthday during the strict COVID lockdown that banned everyone else from doing the same.

KEIR STARMER, LABOUR PARTY LEADER: His own party finally concluded that he's unfit to be Prime Minister.

NOBILO (voice-over): And his attempts last year to protect a Member of Parliament who'd breach lobbying rules just added to the list of scandals that tarnished the administration. In recent days, nearly 60 members of Parliament from his own party resigned. He desperately tried to steady the ship, but the tide turned quickly against him. Even the newly appointed UK finance minister told the Prime Minister to do the right thing and go now just 24 hours after vouching for him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think this prime minister has integrity?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what do we need to know? (INAUDIBLE).

ZAHAWI: Well, because he's determined to deliver for this country.

NOBILO (voice-over): In the end, support for Boris Johnson had evaporated and he got the message loud and clear. JOHNSON: As we've seen at Westminster of the herd instinct is powerful when the herd moves, it moves. And my friends in politics, no one is remotely indispensable.

NOBILO (voice-over): It's not known when Johnson will leave the stage with his team suggesting he may stay on as caretaker Prime Minister until as late as October.

STARMER: He needs to go completely. None of this nonsense about clinging on for a few months. He's inflicted lies, fraud and chaos in the country.

NOBILO (voice-over): Johnson's exit leaves the question of who might take his place. It's a difficult choice for an already fragile democracy, perhaps one of Johnson's most unwelcome legacies.


COOPER: And Bianca Nobilo joins us now. So what happens next? How quickly could a successor be decided?

NOBILO: Well, Anderson to add to the political instability, it's a flexible process. Typically, a leadership contest might take around six weeks or 40 days, but the Prime Minister's team are suggesting that he might be staying on for three months. Essentially, it means that the number of people who are standing to be Prime Minister are whittled down to two by the parliamentary party, then those two candidates are put forward to the members of the Conservative Party in the country. So not MPs, just regular citizens. There are around 200,000 of those.

But what is so remarkable about this leadership contest is not only are they notoriously unpredictable, but this one is wide open like never before. There is no consensus over who it might be. It might be someone on the far right of the party and ardent Brexiteer or perhaps a former defense minister who had a reality TV career. Nobody knows. And that means that the future of the direction of this country and the future of the Conservative Party are entirely at this moment up in the air, Anderson.

COOPER: Bianca Nobilo, appreciate it. Thank you.

WNBA star Brittney Griner pleads guilty to drug charges in Russia. What her legal team is saying about that decision, next.



COOPER: The lawyers for WNBA player Brittney Griner are hoping for leniency after she pleaded guilty in today's trial. The basketball star has been detained in Russia since February on an attempt to drug smuggling allegations. Despite pleading guilty, she says she had no intent to commit a crime and the hash oil in her luggage was the result of her packing in a hurry in her words. According to her legal team as Griner's choice to plead guilty, CNN's Abby Phillip joins me now.

Abby, you interviewed Brittney Griner's wife last week where she called on U.S. officials to do more to bring Griner home. What are the details behind this decision to plead guilty?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, there was a lot of thought and a lot of deliberation around it. This is a complex situation in which she's in a legal system where there is a 99% conviction rate. And so what I'm told from sources close to Griner is that she was basically advised by attorneys and by experts are that she should do what is, she should consider what is in the best interest of getting the shortest possible sentence because an acquittal is just very unlikely in the system.

And just today, we got a statement from her attorneys in Russia, who basically were saying she pleaded guilty and is now asking for a leniency from the part of Russian authorities. It says that Brittney sets an example by being brave, she decided to take full responsibility for her actions as she knows she is a role model for many people. And considering the nature of her case, the insignificant amount of the substance and BG's personality and her history of positive contributions to global and Russian sport, the defense hopes that the plea will be considered by the court as a mitigating factor and there will be no severe sentence.

This is really critical, because I think the while they hope for a deal that will bring her home, there is the possibility that even if she is convicted, that she would remain there and the lightest possible sentence is something that is of the utmost priority, I think for her and obviously for her family as well.

COOPER: And when you spoke to Brittney Griner's wife, she asked for a meeting with President Biden. Has the White House been in contact with her?

PHILLIP: Yes, she did ask for a meeting with President Biden and certainly was hoping for one in person. But we know that this week that President Biden and Vice President Harris spoke with Cherelle Griner by phone. And Anderson, we also learned today that President Biden sent a letter to Brittney Griner through, you know, U.S. representatives in Russia. We don't know what was said in that letter. But I'm also told tonight that President Biden actually read the contents of a draft of that letter to Cherelle Griner in their phone conversation yesterday. That is, I think, a sign of their effort to reassure the Griner family that a lot of effort is being put into bringing her home.


Of course this is just the beginning still of that process, but that is what I'm learning tonight that President Biden actually read the contents of that letter that he sent to Brittney Griner to her wife yesterday.

COOPER: And what's next in terms of actual sentencing? PHILLIP: So, we're learning today from Brittney Griner's attorneys in Russia that they expect that this trial will end by the beginning of August. So even though she pleads guilty, there will still be a trial. And hopefully at the end of that trial, I think what they're hoping is that whatever the result of the trial, they'll be able to start the process of perhaps a negotiation to bring her home, Anderson.

COOPER: Abby Phillip, appreciate it. Thank you.

Up next, exploring the wonders one of the last untouched places on earth, the land in Patagonia in South America.


COOPER: This Sunday night on CNN, you can join an incredible journey to far reaches of South America. Don't miss the debut of the new six part CNN Original Series, "PATAGONIA LIFE ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLD."

Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Patagonia. See this land of extremes like never before. Were animals and humans once enemies now fight together against new challenges. What does it take to live in one of the most wild and isolated places on earth? Patagonia, Life On The Edge Of The World. Premieres Sunday night on CNN.



COOPER: Wow, I want to go there.

The news continues. Let's hand over to Kasie Hunt in "CNN TONIGHT." Kasie.