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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
NY Times: Trump Executive Allen Weisselberg Nears Plea Deal With Manhattan Prosecutors; Feds Charge Pennsylvania Man Who Allegedly Threatened To Kill FBI Agents; Can Rep. Liz Cheney Survive A Trump- Backed Challenger In Tomorrow's Wyoming Primary?; CNN' Clarissa Ward Returns To Kabul A Year After City's Fall; Author Salman Rushdie Taken Off Ventilator, Family Says He's Still In Critical Condition; Carl Nassib, The First Active NFL Player To Come Out As Gay, Signs Deal With Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired August 15, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: It is a cause that hits home for Drueke. He has his own dog, Diesel, and his mother says that Alex asks about the dog whenever he has been able to talk to them. She hears the excitement in his voice about seeing him when he comes home.
Thanks so much for joining us. AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
There are multiple new developments and overlapping threads tonight in the investigations, Court cases, Court rulings, and subpoenas connected with and surrounding the former President. There is significant news on the attempt to overturn the election, the search at Mar-a-Lago, and the climate of violence that he and his supporters have fomented in the wake of it.
Now on the search tonight, the Justice Department late today filed objections to unsealing the affidavit that was used to obtain a warrant, which a number of news outlets including CNN were seeking.
In language suggesting a serious and ongoing criminal investigation. The filing argues that disclosure would "likely chill future cooperation by witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high profile investigations." In other words, this may not just be about retrieving documents.
Separately, the Department of Justice unsealed charges against a Pennsylvania man accused of threatening to kill FBI agents after the search, and the former President speaking to FOX promised to help cool the climate of violence even while inciting it some more, calling it "a very dangerous time." He said: "I will do whatever I can to help the country."
He also said this, "And then they break into a President's house, a sneak attack where it was totally no one ever thought a thing like this would happen." He went on to again suggest the FBI planted evidence and said, "The people of this country are not going to stand for another scam." Fire need gasoline.
Also today, prosecutors in Atlanta notified Rudy Giuliani that he is a target of the Fulton County grand jury investigating the 2020 election. He responded late today invoking his former client.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: It is just a further desecration of the Sixth Amendment. I was his lawyer of record in that case. The statements that I made are either attorney-client privileged because they were between me and him, or they were being made on his behalf in order to defend him.
When you start -- when you start turning around lawyers into defendants when they're defending their clients, we're starting to live in a fascist state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now Giuliani, you'll recall, falsely claimed there was widespread voting fraud in Georgia tweeting again falsely: "The videotape doesn't lie. Fulton County Democrats stole the election. It is now beyond doubt. Go to the tape." Well, the tape did not show irregularities, as he claimed.
He also tried and subsequently failed to tie the former President's defeat in Georgia and elsewhere to a deceased Venezuelan dictator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: You couldn't possibly believe that the company counting our vote, with control over our vote is owned by two Venezuelans who were allies of Chavez, are present allies of Maduro, with a company whose Chairman is a close associate and business partner of George Soros, the biggest donor to the Democratic Party, the biggest donor to Antifa, and the biggest donor to Black Lives Matter.
My goodness. What do we have to do to get you to give our people the truth?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, he's not telling the truth.
In the same press conference. He said, and I'm quoting now: "I know crimes. I can smell them. You don't have to smell this one. I can prove it to you 18 different ways." He couldn't and he didn't.
But on three occasions he spread those same conspiracy theories to Georgia state legislators, something the Fulton County DA says is part of her investigation, which traces back to this call between the President and Georgia Secretary of State.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So look, I want
to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: South Carolina Senator, Lindsey Graham also spoke with Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger in the wake of the election. Today, a Federal Judge denied his request to quash a subpoena for him to go before the Fulton County grand jury.
So barring a successful appeal, he will appear. Now to refresh your memory, here is what Raffensperger recalled about his conversation with the senator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, he asked if the ballots can be matched back to the voters. And then, I got the sense he implied that, then you could throw those out for any -- really. We look at the counties with the highest frequent error of signatures.
So that's the impression that I got.
Just an implication that, look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The lawyers for Senator Graham argue that his calls to Georgia officials were directly related to his responsibilities as the then Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
And there was also more today. We learned that the Federal grand jury looking to January 6 has subpoenaed former White House attorney Eric Herschmann, that man there. He is the one who told the former President's election lawyer, John Eastman to, "Get a great effing criminal defense lawyer, you're going to need it."
Also, today, there is new reporting in "The Washington Post" and I'm quoting from the lead in "The Post," "A team of computer experts directed by lawyers allied with President Donald Trump copied sensitive data from election systems in Georgia as part of a secret of multistate effort to access voting equipment that was broader, more organized, and more successful than previously reported."
Now, if tonight were a movie, perhaps the title would be "Everything, everywhere, all at once."
And there is also breaking news on top of all of that on the man who may know more about the former President's business and finances than anyone else.
CNN's Evan Perez joins us with that. So, what are you learning? EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson,
Allen Weisselberg, who was a top executive with the Trump Organization, "The New York Times" says that he is about to finalize a plea agreement with the District Attorney in Manhattan.
As you'll remember, he was indicted in the summer. And you know, he is facing these tax charges as part of a tax scheme that the DA says also involves the Trump Organization.
What's key about this plea agreement or this anticipated plea agreement that "The New York Times" is reporting on is that they say he is not expected to cooperate against the Trump Organization or anyone else in the Trump family.
We know that the DA's investigation is still ongoing, though it seems to have lost steam in the last few months. Right now, it appears he is going to -- you know, he is looking at perhaps a five-month jail sentence at the end of this, but it really gives you a sense, Anderson, of all of the different parts of these investigations that touch on the former President.
He has got a host of legal problems stretching from New York to Atlanta -- Fulton County -- to now in South Florida obviously as a result of the search of his home in Palm Beach.
COOPER: So Evan, just to be clear, Allen Weisselberg -- weren't some of the charges, things like tuition was paid by the Trump Organization for his grandkids' school or his kids' school or something like that.
PEREZ: Right, exactly.
And what prosecutors -- they charged him with various tax schemes because they were trying to see if perhaps, they could pressure him and have him provide information on the what the alleged tax violations of the Trump organization itself, that seems to have petered out. It seems that they're ready to sign a deal with Weisselberg without getting any of that cooperation that they were hoping to get against either the organization or members of the Trump family.
COOPER: Evan Perez, I appreciate it. Thanks.
Joining us now, conservative attorney, George Conway; CNN contributor and former Nixon White House Counsel, John Dean; and CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.
George, what do you make about the Weisselberg deal? Because clearly, a lot of people looked at, he is the guy who knows where the proverbial bodies are buried in terms of taxes and finances.
GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE ATTORNEY: I'm not all that surprised, because I think -- you know, we saw the resignation of those two prosecutors earlier from the Manhattan DA's office, because they felt that the new incoming DA wasn't willing to pursue the case in the way that the prior one was. And so I think this is -- what we see in New York is really going to
be focused on the civil side. The New York Attorney General, who has the authority under a very broad civil statute to bring charges of fraud and insurance fraud or tax fraud or bank fraud against the Trump Organization or the Trump family. And she would meet a lower burden of proof, she would only have to prove her case be by preponderance of the evidence, and she got a lot of traction this week because Donald Trump pled the Fifth Amendment 440 times.
And in a civil case, they can use that to infer facts against him and against the Trump Organization.
COOPER: John Dean, what do you think about how significant this Weisselberg news is, if it is?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I was a little surprised. I thought they'd squeeze him a little harder. Five months, I think he probably figures he can do that standing on his hands. So he is willing to go and get it behind him.
I assume he thinks that Trump will take care of him. That it's a fair deal. He has been taking care of him. So, he's not going to be the rat, if you will.
You know, I don't know if they are going to press that cause order in the criminal court. I think Georgia is right on, on the civil case. It is dynamite and it's going to hurt Trump a lot, probably financially much more than any in the Criminal Court will do.
So it seems like, you know like it's over.
COOPER: Gloria, in terms of Rudy Giuliani and the Fulton County, Georgia investigation, I know you have some reporting about his grand jury appearance this week.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I spoke with his attorney, Bob Costello, and all I can tell you for sure is that he is going to appear this week, but that's about all we know.
His attorney said to me that he made it clear to the Georgia prosecutors that: "If you think he's going to talk to you about conversations he had with his client, you're delusional." And then he also said to me, "They want to play hardball. We know how to play hardball."
They're calling it a political stunt. So Anderson, it doesn't really sound productive to me. It seems to me like he is going to follow the lead of the President of the United States in pleading the Fifth.
COOPER: And George, if Giuliani -- so he's been told he is the target of this Georgia probe or how -- legally, what does that mean for him exactly?
CONWAY: He's in deep trouble. If you're a target of the probe, that means they are thinking of and they're likely considering indicting you, and they're telling you that and I think it is very interesting that they're doing that because it shows that the Georgia -- the Fulton County DA's office is looking at this case in a very -- in a holistic way, the way the January 6 Committee is looking at it.
They're not just looking at the call that Trump made to Raffensperger, they're not just looking at the call that Graham made to Raffensperger. They're looking at fake electors. And in the case of Rudy Giuliani, you know, his involvement and all the other stuff, but also his involvement in attempting to influence the Georgia Legislature and making false statements to the Georgia Legislature about the existence of fraud.
And you know, you can't make -- you know, you can say whatever you want on TV, but if you make false statements to the government and government officials like legislators, that's potentially wrong.
COOPER: And if they were to indict Giuliani, does that mean there's a higher chance that something would happen to the former President?
CONWAY: Yes, of course, because everything -- you know, this is part -- they're looking at this as a broad, overarching conspiracy, a multipronged conspiracy involving attempts to improperly influence the Secretary of State, attempts to improperly influence the legislature and lie to the legislature and also attempt to create these false slates, these fraudulent electors.
And so, they're looking at this not in terms of just individual one- off charges, but they're looking at it as a broad criminal conspiracy, and at the top of that conspiracy is one Donald J. Trump.
COOPER: John, all this talks about attorney-client privilege. That doesn't cover an attorney engaged in potential criminal activities, does it? Where does this lead Giuliani?
DEAN: Absolutely not. There is something called the crime fraud exception, and if they are sitting and talking about criminal activity, there's no attorney-client privilege.
In this case that Fani Willis is bringing and developing, there have been a lot of hints that it is going to be a RICO case and those can be very sweeping with predicate acts or criminal activities in many jurisdictions outside of Georgia. So this could get -- this is going to be a big case. She has already named several other targets and she is experienced at handling RICO cases, brought a very tough one a few years ago. She has also hired the foremost authority in Georgia on RICO cases.
So I think this is moving ahead at full speed. And I expect that it'll be a pretty devastating case that will include Donald Trump.
COOPER: John, the irony of that, if my memory serves me correct from my time in New York in my misspent youth was that Giuliani actually made a name for himself by going after mob figures with RICO. There is certainly some irony here. With RICO cases, don't they usually go for like the low-hanging fruit
in the hope -- and really hit them hard and in the hopes that they will turn on people higher up the chain? Is there any chance that Giuliani would do that?
DEAN: Well, that's possible. What they do is they take the predicate acts, which are other criminal activity and charge them against the organization that is part of the conspiracy, and that would be the campaign and all those who worked with the campaign, and they would sweep them all in.
Now often because there are much higher penalties on these RICO cases, you get people that Rudy is very used to doing, squeezing and getting them to help.
I don't know if he is willing to do that, but I don't think he wants to spend his retiring years in a Georgia prison either.
BORGER: But we also know that a number of the fake electors had been told that they were targets themselves and Giuliani's lawyer said to me today, you know, they were all told that they were targets. We kept asking, we asked about a half a dozen times, they wouldn't tell us if we were a target and now, we discover two days before the hearing that suddenly we are a target.
BORGER: I mean, they have no responsibility to tell him way in advance, but that should have been a really big hint.
COOPER: Yes. Gloria Borger, John Dean, George Conway, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Next, more on the threats to the FBI in the wake of the Mar-a-Lago search. A former Homeland Security Secretary joins us.
Later, Congresswoman Liz Cheney on the eve of her primary, the foremost Republican investigator of the former President is facing from Republican voters.
COOPER: Today's Justice Department request to keep a lid on any further disclosures about the MAR Lago search is fascinating in what it suggests about where the investigation might lead.
Fortunately, we already know where it has led when it comes to threats against the FBI. They've grown sharply last week, including an attempt to kill agents in Cincinnati.
Today, charges were unsealed against a Pennsylvania man who allegedly wrote online that he was willing to die in order to harm as many FBI agents as possible, so there's that. There is the former President continuing to incite anger at the Bureau and more.
[20:20:10] COOPER: In a moment, I'm going to talk to a former Secretary of
Homeland Security, but first, CNN's Jessica Schneider.
Jessica, what is the latest?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Anderson, we saw the DOJ in a Court filing today and they are arguing forcefully against the public release of that affidavit. This is actually what provided the basis for the search warrant that media companies including CNN are arguing to unseal.
But Federal investigators, they are telling the Judge in this filing just how detrimental releasing it would actually be for their ongoing investigation. And really crucially, here, Anderson, DOJ has disclosed a major detail in this filing, and it is that prosecutors have actually talked to more than one witness in the course of this classified material investigation, meaning, you know, there may have been more than one person who tipped them off that classified material was still at Mar-a-Lago up until the search last week.
So in this filing, as well, DOJ is telling this Judge, that if this affidavit is unsealed right now, it would really compromise the entire investigation. It would have, you know, this negative effect on witnesses who already have agreed or who maybe will agree in the future to cooperate.
So really here, the DOJ is saying the stakes to keep this affidavit sealed are high. And it's really clear at this point that the criminal investigation into classified material is ongoing. You know, meaning people are still talking to the DOJ and that prosecutors continue to dig on this and probably other things as well -- Anderson.
COOPER: What's the former President now saying about this?
SCHNEIDER: Yes, So he -- Trump gave a print interview for FOX News's Digital site today, and he said a number of things, but he said that his reps reached out to the Justice Department to offer help in what he said, would be tamping down the outrage in this country.
You know, the former President said, you know, the temperature has to be brought down. Trump in this interview said he hasn't heard back from the DOJ, you know, but that's likely because officials have already been quite clear that it is Trump's rhetoric that's driving really many of these threats against law enforcement.
You know, we've seen threats, in particular against those two special agents whose names were revealed by Breitbart after Trump's team provided that conservative outlet with the unredacted copies of the search warrant.
So while Trump is saying, telling FOX that the country's in this very dangerous position, it really at this point, it is the former President who has stirred up a lot of this dangerous sentiment we're seeing boil over here.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, even in this FOX Interview, as we said at the top of the broadcast, I mean, he says that on the one hand; on the other hand, he still continues to stir the pot on this and try to ratchet up the rhetoric.
Jessica Schneider, appreciate it.
Perspective now from Janet Napolitano who served as Department of Homeland Security Secretary in the Obama administration.
Secretary Napolitano, I appreciate you joining us.
When you look at the number and the specificity of these threats to Federal officials and their families, including that threat to place a so-called dirty bomb in front of FBI headquarters, I'm wondering what your reaction is. Have you seen anything like this?
JANET NAPOLITANO FORMER DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, I think we all ought to be quite concerned. Because as we have seen develop over time, and particularly during the last few years, words are quickly being turned over into actual violent actions.
And so, you know, the men and women in law enforcement in our country, men and women of the FBI, I've worked with many of them over the years. They are very dedicated, professional, individuals and to have them at risk at all, is -- it's really appalling. I can't think of another word for it. It's just appalling.
COOPER: A Pennsylvania man was arrested for violent threats against the FBI on a social media network. When it comes to social media, does it make it easier to identify threats? Because they're making them in public? Or is it more difficult because it's hard to tell who's serious and who isn't?
NAPOLITANO: Well, I think in terms of how you go from what is posted on social media to actually going into doing a conversation with an individual who did the posting, the problem is there is so much of it now that that's an additional burden on law enforcement to kind of track down who is putting these posts out there and ascertaining whether they are a serious threat or not.
COOPER: It's not just, you know, people on social media. I mean, there are members, there are elected Members of Congress who have been calling for, you know, defunding the FBI, destroying the FBI.
To have this coming from -- I mean, Lindsey Graham was on FOX, the other -- I don't know, several nights ago -- and the host was saying that the FBI is, you know, planting evidence and routinely does this and he was sitting there kind of nodding along, not objecting to any of this.
I mean he's on the Judiciary Committee.
NAPOLITANO: Yes, I mean, and the defund the FBI, that's just ridiculous. The FBI is the nation's premier Federal law enforcement agency and they work day in and day out to protect the men and women of this country, just as the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security and throughout the Federal law enforcement world, and also State and local law enforcement. They get wrapped up into this as well.
So I think, you know, particularly for those Members of Congress, those who hold elected office, they need to take a step back, take a deep breath and really recognize the harm that they are causing to the law enforcement operations of the United States.
COOPER: You're not only a former head of the Department of Homeland Security, you also served as Attorney General of Arizona. Have you heard anything that makes you think the search for the former President's residence was not lawfully carried out?
NAPOLITANO: No. From what I can tell, and I was a former US Attorney for Arizona as well, and I worked with Merrick Garland at that time, and for a search of this type to be conducted. I have every assurance that every I was dotted and T was crossed. They're not messing around with this one.
COOPER: You're also the former Governor of Arizona, which obviously has swung for Democrat in the last presidential election for the first time since '96.
Arizona's GOP nominees for Governor, for US Senate, and Arizona Secretary of State, they're all promoters of the former President's lies that the 2020 election was fraudulent. Do you think is enough is being done to secure our election systems with the midterms just three months away?
NAPOLITANO: Right, well, you know, as we know, every election system is managed at the state and local level. But I can say with confidence that the Arizona election system has been run very well by Republicans and by Democrats for decades.
And so to have a cast of nominees in Arizona who are all election deniers and fraudsters and all the rest is disappointing, to say the least.
COOPER: Yes. Janet Napolitano, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
NAPOLITANO: You bet.
COOPER: Coming up, Liz Cheney facing voters in Wyoming tomorrow. Can she survive a Trump-backed challenger? CNN's Jeff Zeleny is there, what Republican voters are saying, next.
COOPER: Ten House Republicans voted for the former president's impeachment, four of them are retiring, three lost their primary racism only to have one there's and then there is Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the last of the 10 to face Republican primary voters. The vice chair of the January 6 House Select Committee. She's facing Republican voters in Wyoming's primary tomorrow and certainly has an uphill fight against a candidate endorsed by the former president.
Our Jeff Zeleny is in Wyoming talking with voters there.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We have to set aside partisan differences and understand that there's something much bigger at stake here.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the eve of the Wyoming primary, Liz Cheney is in an uphill fight to hold her congressional seat, even as she begins eyeing the next steps in a bigger battle ahead.
CHENEY: Many people will come up to me and say I never voted for you before, but I'm going to do it this time. And I say great, and let's keep that going.
ZELENY (voice-over): A Republican from one of the state's most storied political families, Cheney has become a pariah in her own party, and she's turning to Democrats and independents for last minute lifeline.
ANNETTE LANGLEY, WYOMING VOTER: I never thought I'd vote for Cheney, but she has earned my respect.
ZELENY (voice-over): Annette Langley says she is a proud Democrat, but she stood in line for nearly an hour today to change parties and vote Republican.
LANGLEY: She might not win, but she needs as much support as possible for doing what she's doing.
ZELENY (voice-over): The odds are long, considering how former President Donald Trump's shadow looms large in Wyoming where the state's rolling summer beauty has been punctuated by a scorching political campaign between Cheney and Harriet Hageman.
HARRIET HAGEMAN (R-WY) CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: We're fed up with Liz Cheney.
ZELENY (voice-over): If the crossover vote doesn't save Cheney, her admirers hope it could help avoid an embarrassing blowout, the Trump would revel in.
DONALD TRUMP (R) FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Liz, you're fired. Get outta here.
ZELENY (voice-over): Mike Sullivan is a former Democratic governor of Wyoming who served three decades ago.
MIKE SULLIVAN (D-WY) FMR GOVERNOR: Wyoming, always a trailblazer.
ZELENY (voice-over): He planted a treaty (ph) sign in his front yard to send a message for democracy and the rule of law. SULLIVAN: Without regard to her politics, she has reflected herself as a leader. I think history will prove and she -- her the legacy that she leaves will be a very impressive and important one.
ZELENY (voice-over): Joe McGinley, a former GOP County Chairman in Casper said he believes some Republicans are afraid to admit their support for Cheney, fearing the wrath from Trump and his loyalists.
JOE MCGINLEY, CHENEY SUPPORTER: There's a lot of people out there that are supporting Representative Cheney that are just afraid to speak up unfortunately.
ZELENY (voice-over): Yet others are downright disappointed in her.
BRYCE FREEMAN, WISCONSIN VOTER: Short of that whole impeachment in January 6 hearing thing, she probably would have been all right. I don't think she's going to be able to recover from that myself from what I can see.
ZELENY (voice-over): The outcome of Tuesday's primary will make clear whether such a hidden Cheney vote exists, or if Republicans reward her for not changing her positions in the face of a brutal campaign.
CHENEY: I will never violate my oath of office. And if you're looking for somebody who will then you need to vote for somebody else on this stage, because I won't.
ZELENY (voice-over): These days, Cheney is hard to find outside of friendly audiences at house parties, which aides attribute to rising threats of violence. She told CNN last month she was well aware of the headwinds facing her.
CHENEY: I don't intend to lose. But some things are more important than any individual office or political campaign.
COOPER: Jeff Zeleny joins us now from Jackson, Wyoming. So, if she falls short tomorrow in the primary, what's next?
ZELENY: Well, Anderson, the next thing is that back to the hearings, the January 6 hearings want to resume in September. So that is going to be her focus throughout the fall. And don't forget she still has that congressional until early January. But I am told her speech tomorrow evening if she does fall short is going to offer a roadmap for the next steps for Liz Cheney. Her advisors tell me she's going to remain very much involved in the fight ahead. Of course, that would mean her central focus has been as she said, trying to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office again.
So we do not know if she will actually come out and say she plans to run in 2024. But look for a bit of some guidance I'm told about what her next steps are, likely forming some type of a group externally to help other Republican candidates. The bottom line is this is definitely not the end of her career if she falls short tomorrow, but the beginning of a very new chapter. Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Interesting chapter no doubt. Jeff Zeleny, thanks.
Coming up, Afghanistan one year after the Taliban returned to power, it's already been a year. Clarissa Ward was in Kabul the day they took back the capital. She is back there tonight. Live report on what life is like now for women and children and millions facing hunger there. Next.
COOPER: It was one year ago today that the Taliban entered Kabul and the flag of the U.S. Embassy came down. Taliban had completed their return to power two decades after the U.S. invasion following the attacks of 9/11. It was a terrifying day for many people who were there.
As the security situation deteriorated at the airport, the Pentagon had to double the number of troops. Afghans fearing repercussions from the Taliban were trying to rush the airport desperate to get out.
Amid the chaos of the airport gates over the coming days there was fear of terrorist attacks and 11 days later, it happened, 13 U.S. service members and about 170 Afghans were killed.
CNN's Clarissa Ward was in Kabul when the Taliban returned and tonight she is back in Afghanistan, country facing a whole slew of challenges now that the Taliban has taken charge.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a three-hour journey from Shakila's (ph) home to the center of Kabul. But each morning, she and other women make this walk driven by hunger, need to feed their children.
Their destination is this bakery, one of many across the capitol where crowds of women now sit patiently every day, quietly hoping for handouts.
(on-camera): So all the women have been pressing pieces of paper with their phone numbers into our hands. They're desperately hoping that maybe we can help them.
Shakila (ph) tells us on a good day, they might get two or three pieces of bread. Every morsel counts.
(on-camera): Were you doing this a year ago or has the situation become worse in the last year?
(voice-over): There's no work this year, she says. My husband has a cart. But now he only earns 30 to 40 cents a day.
One year after the Taliban took power, Afghanistan is isolated and increasingly impoverished, largely cut off from the global banking system. And the foreign aid that once funded almost 80% of this country's budget. It is also unmistakeably safer. One thing the Taliban has been able to improve is security. Outside Kabul's airport, shops are open and the streets are calm.
(on-camera): Excuse me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says first --
WARD (on-camera): Cover my face? OK.
(voice-over): Far cry from the chaotic scenes we witnessed last summer.
(on-camera): He told me to cover my face. But he doesn't want to comment on that trenchant he's carrying.
(voice-over): Ten of thousands risked life and limb to try to flee the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay behind him, stay behind him.
WARD (voice-over): Many feared for their lives. Others that the Taliban would take the country back to the Middle Ages.
For these girls, that fear has come true. They were just a year out from graduating and the Taliban announced a de facto ban on girls secondary education after sixth grade. Now they have improvised ways to defy the ban, setting up unofficial schools where they continue their studies. Naheed Sadat's (ph) dreams of a diploma may have vanished, but her drive has not.
NAHEED SADAT (PH): I always say to myself that I am so powerful. I was strong. And these things can't bring my (INAUDIBLE) and my dreams and what I want to do.
WARD (on-camera): Do you ever feel scared?
SADAT (PH): Yes. It's so risk from -- for us that we do -- we don't cover our face. And we study our lessons.
WARD (on-camera): You're very brave.
SADAT (PH): Yes, I know.
WARD (voice-over): Girls education is one of the main reasons no country in the world has yet recognize the Taliban government. The point we put to foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Cahar Balkhi.
(on-camera): When will the Taliban allow teenage girls to go back to school?
ABDUL CAHAR BALKHI, SPOKESPERSON, AFGHANISTAN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: From the perspective of the government, there's a range of mix of issues that has led to the temporary suspension of secondary schools. The most important and significant part of this is that the policy of the government of Afghanistan is education for all citizens of Afghanistan.
WARD (on-camera): And yet all citizens of Afghanistan are not currently able to get an education. What is the holdup?
BALKHI: It seems that international actors are unfortunately weaponizing the issue of education instead of coming forward and interacting positively. They are trying to find moral justifications for some of the inhumane policies of sanctions, which is leading to the collective punishment of the entire people of Afghanistan.
WARD (on-camera): Do you want to see girls going to school again?
BALKHI: The policy of the government of Afghanistan is very clear. And that is education for all citizens of Afghanistan.
WARD (voice-over): The Taliban says it wants to see peaceful and positive relations with all countries including the U.S. But those prospects were dramatically diminished. The head of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed by a U.S. drone strike in a villa in downtown Kabul just over two weeks ago.
BALKHI: We've made it very clear that the government of Afghanistan was unaware of the arrival or presence of Mr. Zawahiri in Kabul. So far, we have been unable to establish that as a fact, as a matter of fact, that Mr. Zawahiri was indeed present in Kabul.
WARD (on-camera): Isn't that almost more frightening, though, the idea that you're claiming, potentially the leader of al-Qaeda was here in the center of the city, and you didn't even know about it?
BALKHI: Again, we contend that notion that he was even present here. But even if he was, these types of incidents happen everywhere in the world.
WARD (on-camera): But they really don't. I mean, how can the U.S. possibly trust the Taliban leadership, though, to stay true to its promise that it will not allow sanctuary to be granted to terrorist groups?
BALKHI: If we look at the Doha agreement, the articles that are -- that define the commitments of the Government of Afghanistan, all of them have been fulfilled. And if we look at the commitments that the United States of America has made, sadly, they have not fulfilled a single article. But we're hopeful and we continue to urge the United States to adhere to that agreement.
WARD (voice-over): It's a brazen position that complicates efforts to unfreeze funding to help the Afghan people, millions of whom remain hungry, and reliant on the kindness of strangers.
COOPER: And Clarissa joins us now from Kabul. I mean, it's so heartbreaking to see that that young woman who you interviewed who's so strong and brave, and you know, still learning, and the arguments from the spokesman, it makes him they make no sense. I mean, that they want everybody to go to school, but for some reason, girls are the only ones who can't.
WARD: And I think the real frustration, Anderson is that we pressed him repeatedly, even beyond what you just saw in the piece as to why exactly girls can't go to school. What are the issues? Because everybody is willing to help out here in the international community, Western countries, Eastern countries, do they need buses? Do they need uniforms? Is it an issue of the curriculum, and there is no specific answer being given as to what the holdup is. We've spoken to several sources, though, who tell us that even within the Taliban, the vast majority of their leaders do want to see girls going to school. But there is some kind of a holdup, because certain hardliners are just entrenched in their very antiquated views on this subject. And because the group only wants to show it to have having a face of complete consensus, they are lagging behind on this, but they are feeling the pressure.
And for those girls, though, Anderson, as you said, it doesn't look good. There is no imminent prospect, that there's going to be a major change on this front.
COOPER: What's happened to the people who helped the U.S. military who were then left in Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrew?
WARD: I mean, they're everywhere, there's tens of thousands of them. According to the State Department, nearly 160,000 Afghans are eligible to apply for the SIV, the Special Immigrant Visa. And the U.S., understandably, is completely snowed under, they're being processed at a glacial rate, in part because of bureaucratic issues, the interviews that are necessary, would have taken place at the U.S. Embassy here in Kabul, obviously, that's not possible anymore. And people who are trapped here can't get to a third country to do those interviews. The State Department saying they might not even be able to process all these visa applications by the end of President Biden's term.
But I can't stress enough Anderson, we get phone calls and messages from people all the time. And even today, when we were out in the middle of the city during a sort of Taliban celebration, a man came up to me, he said, I don't really feel comfortable talking to you here. But this is my name. This is my phone number. I used to be an interpreter for the U.S. military, and I desperately need your help. And the frustration for us, of course is that we can't help it's a very difficult process.
COOPER: Clarissa Ward, I'm so glad you're there. Thank you very much.
Up next, the latest on author Salman Rushdie's condition following Friday's brutal attack. The reaction to it across the globe.
COOPER: Tonight, author Salman Rushdie is recovering from an attack in upstate New York Friday that left him with several -- severe injuries. According to the county district attorney, Rushdie was able to be taken off a ventilator over the weekend but it's still being treated for stab wounds and other injuries. And this comes as authorities are investigating his attacker trying to see if he acted alone.
Joining me now with the latest CNN crime and justice correspondent Shimon Prokupecz. So what more do we know?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so he's doing OK. He is speaking with investigators. They've been able to ask him questions. But the key thing here is the suspect, Hadi Matar. Who he is, and what this is all about is something that certainly investigators are trying to figure out. What someone else behind this, was he motivated by someone to conduct this attack. He's only 24 years old.
So there's some concern that someone perhaps was directing someone overseas. And that is something that certainly the FBI is looking at us. And that is why they're now involved in this investigation. Anderson, there are national security implications with this. And the fact that this was an attempted assassination of a dissident something that is very concerning for U.S. officials.
COOPER: There's been reaction obviously from the U.S. State Department but also Iran.
PROKUPECZ: Yes. So Iran is essentially the Foreign Ministry releasing a statement saying well, we didn't they didn't direct this attack, but there's kind of blaming him for this. They're blaming him and his supporters for this attack. The State Department also coming out today, blasting that kind of response from the Iranian officials saying that, it's despicable. And they're also saying that the Iranians have been gloating over this attack, happy over this attack so they're raising all kinds of concerns.
But the bottom line right now for the FBI and certainly U.S. officials is to see if someone else was perhaps behind this attack.
COOPER: Yes. Shimon Prokupecz, appreciate it. Thank you.
Carl Nassib, coming up, the first active NFL player to announce he is gay is making return to a familiar team. Details next.
COOPER: Carl Nassib, the first active NFL player to announce that he is gay tell CNN he has signed a deal to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. According to ESPN, Nassib reached a one year deal with the team. He previously played with Buccaneers in 2018 and 2019, was recently played for the Las Vegas Raiders, but was released earlier this year.
Last month, Nassib joined me on the program and said he was keeping his options open, waiting for the best opportunity to join a new team. We wish him the best.
If you ever miss "360," you can always listen to a podcast go to cnn.com/podcast or any of the major platforms, just search for "Anderson Cooper 360."
That's it for us. The news continues right now on. I want to hand it over to Aliysn Camerota in "CNN TONIGHT." Aliysn.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Anderson, thank you very much. I'm Aliysn Camerota. This is "CNN Tonight."
A week after the removal of 11 sets of classified documents from Mar- a-Lago, some of them labeled top secret, tonight there is more intrigue about exactly what in information was being stored in Donald Trump's basement, and why.