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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Conflict In Ukraine Grinds On Half A Year Later; Uvalde School Board Votes To Fire School Police Chief Arredondo; Uvalde School Board Votes To Fire School Police Chief Pete Arredondo; Wash. Post: National Archives Asked For Records In 2021 After Trump Lawyer Agreed They Should Be Returned; Special Election Results Fuel Hope For Dems; Oz Campaign Attacks Fetterman's Health After Crudite Flub; Black Hole Song. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 24, 2022 - 20:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: According to Italian officials, everyone on board was rescued, thankfully, and fortunately, no one was hurt, but still quite a sight to see and quite a mess to deal with.

It is still unclear what caused the yacht to sink.

Thank you so much for being here. I'm Kate Bolduan.

AC 360 starts now.



Thirty-one years ago today, Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union, and six months ago today, Russian forces invaded.

Now had their war plan succeeded, we would now be approaching the six- month anniversary of Russia's takeover of Ukraine; instead, for many reasons, first and foremost, the remarkable bravery and resiliency of the Ukrainian people, Ukraine is still independent, and it has fought Russian invaders to a standstill at the cost, which is almost unimaginable, or was until February 24th, six months ago.

The invasion changed so much for Ukraine, for Europe, for superpower relations, and the NATO alliance. For people living worlds away from the fighting and the dying, Vladimir Putin would prefer that we pay less attention to it all tonight; instead, because of just how important it is that is where we begin the broadcast, reminding you again, showing you again the moments of savage brutality and the moments of hope over the past six months.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We are all here, our military are here. Citizens and society are here.

We are all here defending our independence, our state, and it will remain so. Glory to our defenders. Glory to our women defenders. Glory to Ukraine.


COOPER: That of course is President Volodymyr Zelenskyy just hours into the invasion not fleeing the country or evacuating to Lviv or Eastern Poland, as many expected and some had urged, standing firm as perhaps too few allies and adversaries alike expected.

Today, the former actor and comedian spoke to the UN Security Council over the objections of the Russian delegation, which tried to demand he appear in person. He began his remarks by reporting that a Russian strike on a train station in Eastern Ukraine have taken at least 16 civilian lives. The death toll now stands at 22.

But if the last six months have shown anything, it is that targeting civilians is not merely a regrettable accident of Russia's war, it appears to be central to it.

The video you're about to see is from early March. It was taken during the evacuation of Irpin outside Kyiv. A family -- a mom, her two children and a friend who was helping them flee -- killed in a mortar attack.


COOPER: Screaming for a medic.

This is the aftermath, "New York Times" photographer and photojournalist, Lynsey Addario, who captured this image who you saw in that video told me that she watched, round after round, a Russian mortar fire come closer and closer thinking, "Well, it's not possible," because as she put it, they know there are civilians here.

But it was no accident, just as the massacre in Bucha also outside Kyiv no accident. More than 300 civilians murdered there, many left on the streets and sidewalks, some shot with their hands tied behind their backs, others killed on their bicycles, picking up food to feed their families. No accident.

In the last six months, we've seen a children's theater being used as a bomb shelter, targeted and destroyed. The markings on the ground outside visible even in satellite photos, "Deti" it reads, children.

Not far from there, Russian forces leveled the maternity hospital, one of literally dozens of hospitals and medical facilities targeted over the last six months according to the UN.

But if there has been one defining feature of Russian tactics towards civilians so far, it is the destruction in residential neighborhoods, which we've seen almost since day one.

Take a look at a Kyiv suburb in March: At least 33 people killed, the woman's voice you'll hear on the tape, and screaming kids, little kids.

[VIDEO CLIP PLAYS] [20:05:33]

COOPER: According to the UN, since the invasion, 6.8 million Ukrainians have fled to other parts of Europe and nearly four million have registered for some sort of temporary protection in the host countries.

Many, if they do return will have no place to come home to, like here in Mariupol, sections in which have all been all, but been leveled by Russian artillery.

It is also here at a huge steel complex in the city that the world witnessed a demonstration of Ukraine's fighting tenacity, in this case against all odds for 80 days.


COOPER: Ukrainian forces lost that siege and that city, but also have managed to drive Russian forces away from Kyiv and Kharkiv. This video from east of Kyiv showing a Ukrainian fighter using old Soviet era RPG reloading and then rushing back to a clearly exposed position to take another shot.

Since then, US and Western Arms have helped them drive the invasion in the east to a virtual stop. The US, as of today, has spent $13.5 billion in military assistance to Ukraine, $12.9 billion of it since the war began.

Other NATO countries have also helped including Germany, which broke a decade's old practice of not supplying arms. NATO gained two members and the whole world is now sharing the burden of inflation and shortages due to the war.

Today, Ukraine marked Independence Day with a display of captured and damaged Russian tanks and Kyiv and mourned the loss of more civilian lives, at least 22, as we reported today. CNN's Sam Kiley is there for us tonight -- Sam.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is the day that marks the Independence Day for Ukraine and also the six-month anniversary as you pointed out there in your brilliant introduction, the six-month anniversary of the start of the war.

Thirty-one years ago, Ukraine shook -off Soviet domination, but they are not yet managing to shake off the Russians. And at the same time, of course, the whole idea behind this invasion that NATO was somehow threatening to Russia has actually increased in truth because NATO partners bilaterally are now doing deals, security deals and treaties and agreements with the Ukrainian government, just as Vladimir Putin feared they would.

But let's take a look back at how things have unfolded over the last five months -- six months.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The troops you can see over here, they are Russian Airborne Forces.

KILEY (voice over): Vladimir Putin was wrong to assume that Russia would topple the government and capture Kyiv in a matter of days. His 24th of February invasion officially to free the country from Nazis and stop it joining NATO met ferocious Ukrainian resistance from day one.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: I am Russian Military Ship. Propose to put down arms or you will be hit.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: Russian warship, go [bleep] yourself.

KILEY (voice over): Assault convoys to the capital was stalled, then attacked. Russian troops driven back from Kyiv fell upon civilians in Irpin and Bucha.

Their atrocities revealed when they were forced out, leaving misery and murder in their wake.

Soon, Russian turned its guns on civilians across the country as the Kremlin's tactics switched from replacing Ukraine's rulers to breaking its people.

Railway stations, residential blocks, hospitals, even a nuclear power station were and are still being targeted.

Ukraine held on and fought back, driving Russians from Kyiv and away from Kharkiv. Mariupol, a Russian-speaking city on the Black Sea Coast became a focus of Putin's wrath. Its population driven from their homes, thousands of civilians were killed and a prolonged siege ended in the surrender of hundreds of Ukrainian troops.


But they helped stall the Russian advance west, while Ukraine's government desperately sought weapons to offset Russia's advantage in numbers of men and machines.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): We're holding on for six months. It's difficult for us, but we clench fists fighting for our fate.

What is the end of the war for us? We used to say "peace." Now, we say, "victory."

KILEY (voice over): Victory is a way off, fighting in the east as trapped civilians in what soldiers there call the meat grinder. Russia has paid dearly for tiny gains, pounding towns with Russian-speaking majorities that have fled a Russian blitzkrieg.

Millions took to the rail system and roads to escape the Russian onslaught. Now, more than 6.8 million Ukrainians are refugees outside their country, another seven million are internally displaced. Russia has been held back, not driven out.

KILEY (on camera): Is it drifting into stalemate?

OLEKSIY REZNIKOV, UKRAINE DEFENSE MINISTER: The worst scenario was behind, and left behind us, and we are in the stage of stabilizing of the battlefield or battle line with a small moving of the units and we made a lot of deterrents there, and I think that we are on the edge of the new stage, because we have to go forward, to start our counteroffensive campaign in different direction.

KILEY (voice over): Force may be the only way that Ukraine will regain control of its borders, anything less hobbles its journey to democracy and into Europe and for Putin, that might be victory enough.


COOPER: So, I'm wondering if you could just talk a little bit about where the conflict, what it is like now because we don't see the images, the kind we saw in the last six months when Kyiv was being attacked, when Bucha was finally liberated, and yet the dying continues.

Some have described it as a meat grinder in the east. Certainly, months ago it was. What is the state of the battle now?

KILEY: Anderson, I think that shift has been from the sort of infantry engaging large columns of armor to a much more conventional slugging it out battle where the Ukrainians are outnumbered in terms of guns ranged against them, they say 10 or 20 to one.

Now, they have better equipment. Now, some better equipment. They are replacing their Soviet era equipment with American and other NATO partners who have been sending multiple launch rocket systems, new howitzers, and so on, not the strategic weapons that they've been asked for, not the jets, not the fighter jets, not their helicopter gunships, not even the killer drones that they so desperately need to turn the tide back.

The danger is that this slugging match, it is very much like a kind of Second World War series of frontlines with efforts here and there to punch through, the Russians frequently trying and devastating, flattening small towns, just in order to take them, taking effectively capturing ashes in areas that they are claiming to liberate is not working for either side that the danger for the Ukrainians is that this will become a stalemate and that is why they're talking so constantly about the counteroffensive recent American uplifting supplies of weapons, renewed supplies of rockets and other equipment is definitely going to help, the Ukrainians say.

But they do need those extra NATO weapons that allow them to get back onto the front. One last thing, though, they are shifting a bit we're seeing a lot more kind of covert behind the lines operations against the Russians. We're going to see a lot more of those in the coming months -- Anderson.

COOPER: Sam Kiley, appreciate you being there on this anniversary. Thanks so much.

Four days into the invasion with Russian forces targeting residential neighborhoods in and around Kyiv, we first met a mother and her three children sheltering in a basement.

We got to know Olena Gnes over the last six months. She saw her husband join up to defend the city and both of them tried to give the kids a normal as existence possible, all while documenting it. Here is a moment from our first interview.


OLENA GNES, UKRAINIAN CIVILIAN DOCUMENTING EXPERIENCE IN YOUTUBE CHANNEL, "WHAT IS UKRAINE": We in Ukraine, we will do whatever is needed to protect our own land because it's our responsibility, our love and we are Ukrainians. We are being killed by Russians.


But, guys, you can be the next and it's obvious. So, let's stop Putin while he is in the territory of Ukraine.


COOPER: Nearly six months later, it is a pleasure once again to speak to Olena Gnes.

Olena, first of all, thank you for joining us. It is great to see you. How are you?

GNES: Thank you, Anderson. I am fine. It's such a pleasure to see you again. I'm fine. I'm alive.

You see, I'm alive. My kids are alive. I'm talking to you from my home in Kyiv, in the capital of Ukraine.

COOPER: We are six months into this war. It was mentioned, today is Ukrainian Independence Day. We are seeing increased Russian strikes, civilian casualties. There has been a lot of concern in the run up to Independence Day. There has been an attack at a train station in Eastern Ukraine.

How are you feeling about where you are where things stand in the war right now?

GNES: Well, the day was really a special day because we were really highly concerned about probable, you know, a lot of strikes from Russia. I expect it even more, basically.

But we see that Russia did not cause more deaths simply because it couldn't. This means Russia became weaker than in the beginning of the war.

I think that the only reason why we didn't have massive shelling of Kyiv, for example, is that Russia just couldn't break through our air defense. COOPER: Are you optimistic -- are you are you more confident now than

you were in the past?

GNES: Well, if you remember, I was always confident when you were asking me when the Russian attempts were moving to Kyiv, when they were just 10 minutes away from me, I told you that Ukraine will win.


GNES: Question was when and what price we're going to pay for this? And, it is still the same. I'm still confident that Ukraine will win. I still hope that I will see this. It would be a pleasure to see it with my own eyes how Ukraine wins and it would be nice if this happens sooner. Because every day, Russia kills people. It's not only today, it's every day when civilians and militaries, people of Ukraine are killed by Russia.

COOPER: I understand there were celebrations in Kyiv, some included burned out Russian tanks in one of the squares. Did you go to any of those? Did you see those?

GNES: I'd love to, but I'm always with my children and I think I don't want them to see this with their own eyes yet. They are already quite traumatized with all of this. So, I think it would be too much for them.

COOPER: I understand not only was today Ukrainian Independence Day, but for your youngest, it was also kind of an Independence Day.

GNES: Oh, yes. She made a special present and a big surprise to us because she walked for the first time.


GNES: By the way, during an interview, I was giving an interview and then she suddenly walked and I'm "What?" Now, you became independent, my little girl.

COOPER: It's amazing on Independence Day that she walked. I mean, you couldn't write that.

GNES: Exactly, exactly. She showed how independent is. You remember when we talked for the first time, when the war started, she was only four months old.

COOPER: I know.

GNES: Well, she was always in my hands. Now, she is sleeping in her bed right now. And now she is in walking. She has eight teeth right now. She grows. Now, life goes on. You can't just, you know pause the life, it goes on.

COOPER: How do things compare now in your life to the way they were even two months ago?

GNES: I do not have any more this extra fear all the time when I like breathing, I'm thirsty all the time. You know, this fear is not with me anymore, of course.

But we have kind of illusion of normal life. We are back home, not in the basement anymore. Everything is available for us.

But we know that the war goes on, and if the army stops fighting, if the world stops supporting us, we know Russians will come back here to Kyiv, and of course we all know that the Russian missiles can reach any place in Ukraine, so there is -- it is not safe anywhere in Ukraine.


And this danger, it is always with us. We just know that it can happen at any moment, and you never know where exactly this Russian missile can fall.

COOPER: Olena, it's so good to see you and your family is just growing and I can't believe that Dureena has gained her independence on this day. I wish you the best.

GNES: Thank you. Thank you for not asking me am I leaving Ukraine or not? Because I am still living in Ukraine. Many journalists asked me this question today and they know what I'm thinking, why six months after the war, still Ukrainians are being asked, are you afraid? Are concerned? Are you leaving Ukraine?

Why is it still not Putin who is afraid? We received so many compliments today about our bravery, so many you know, about our courage of the people. And like the world seems to be so united against Putin and what he is doing, but why the worst still goes on?

If you're really stronger than all of us, why is still happening every day to us?

COOPER: Olena Gnes, thank you.

GNES: Thank you.

COOPER: Much more ahead tonight. There is breaking news.

The Uvalde Texas School Board voting just now to fire School Police Chief Pete Arredondo for his role as Incident Commander in the tragedy at Robb Elementary School. We will have a live report.

And later, new reporting on just how far back the Federal government was trying to get documents back from the former President and even his former White House Counsel agreed they should be returned. New information, ahead.



COOPER: Breaking news now. The Uvalde School Board in Texas has just voted to fire School Police Chief Pete Arredondo.

Arredondo faced intense criticism over his handling the shooting at Robb Elementary where 19 children and two teachers were murdered.

Earlier tonight, parents expressed frustration with the closed-door meeting calling for more transparency.


BRETT CROSS, UNCLE OF ROBB ELEMENTARY VICTIM, UZIYAH GARCIA: We have just been told that Mr. Arredondo is not going to be here because he doesn't feel safe and I'm going to sit here and say that nobody has threatened him.

Do not take this into closed sessions. We deserve to hear.

Our babies are dead. Our teachers are dead. Our parents are dead.

The least you all can do is show us the respect to do this in the public.


COOPER: Joining me now in Uvalde, Texas, CNN crime and justice correspondent, Shimon Prokupecz.

So, what's the reaction of the family members in attendance now that Arredondo has been fired?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: There is certainly relief, Anderson for many of the family members, from many of the community members, many of the parents who are sending their kids back to school in just a few weeks here in Uvalde.

So, there is a sense of relief because no one really thought that this would happen. You know, there's so much frustration here.

It is hard to believe, Anderson, we are 90 days, three months after this happened and we have still been talking about the same kind of information. The fact that there is no transparency, the fact that there has been no accountability. The fact that we still don't have so many details.

So, the fact that this happened today perhaps starts to move things in a positive direction for many of the community members and the family members, but certainly they have all indicated, this is nowhere near done.

They are very unhappy with the school board and the school system. So, they are going to go for more here, and they're going to go after other individuals here at the school, and certainly the School Board.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, it's still unbelievable, to your point that we don't know exactly what occurred on that day with the police response. I mean, there has been more details given, but there is still so many questions unanswered.

Before the Board went to closed session to make their decision, there were brief public comments. I just want to play something else someone said there, a plea from a student.


UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I'm here today to make a statement. If a law enforcement's job is to protect and serve, why didn't they protect and serve my friends and teachers on May 24th?

I have messages for Pete Arredondo and other law enforcement that were there that day. Turn in your badge and step down. You don't deserve to wear one.


COOPER: Can you describe what it was like in that auditorium?

PROKUPECZ: You know, it's still -- you attend these School Board meetings, it is sad. But you're also seeing family members that are starting to fight for themselves and continuing to voice their feelings over how they have mistreated, how they've been disrespected.

And sitting there, time and time again, you see that. You know, I've been to so many of these meetings. I've been to every meeting this week. There has been a meeting in this community with family members.

Monday night, there was a School Board meeting. They left family members sitting there for over three hours as they went behind closed doors to discuss grievances that were filed against the Superintendent. For three hours, these family members sat in the room waiting to find out what was going to happen.

And then a School Board members came out, spent a few minutes describing what happened and then left. Took no questions, didn't address the family members, and that's why you're continuing to see the frustration we are seeing tonight from family members and that sort of is what went on today.

They wanted the School Board members to conduct all their business in open, do it in front of the public, in front of the family members, but still even today, they went behind closed doors to have this discussion. But then obviously we saw the outcome that we saw and for the family members, it was an outcome -- it was the right outcome and it was the outcome that they wanted -- Anderson.

COOPER: Can you describe the 17-page letter that Arredondo's lawyer sent right before the meeting started?


PROKUPECZ: It is puzzling Anderson, it is hard to understand how there is this lack of compassion towards the community members here, towards the family members, where Pete Arredondo does not take basically any responsibility for his actions that day. In fact, through this letter, the statement that his attorney put out, basically defends himself entirely feels blameless and feels as though he did nothing wrong that they saying that, no matter how much we tried, we could not save them all. He talks about how the chief knew -- what the chief knew and did everything. He knew how to save the children and school employees on May 24th.

He talks about that one point, there's this sort of antagonistic tone, where the lawyer writes about what should the chief done. Should he have with his with the district have preferred a gunfight with officers in the hallway, to break out again. He said that Arredondo did everything right, that Arredondo did everything he was supposed to do to try and save the children inside that classroom, the children inside that school.

And then Anderson, he talks about how he does not feel safe, how Arredondo does not feel safe to come and face the school board, to defend themselves. And so that is why he has to write the 17-page statement saying that he's received death threats, and that he can't carry his gun, and therefore there's no way for him to feel safe. And that is why he can't come to the school board and defend themselves. So this was a letter that essentially, he wrote, defending himself saying that he did nothing wrong, and basically saying that he wanted his job back. So it's really --

COOPER: I mean --

PROKUPECZ: -- it's sort of it lacks compassion.

COOPER: The answer to that attorney's question in that document is, yes, that's exactly what he should have done. He should have rounded up the people he had with them and gone into that room and taken out the gunman. That is what -- that's not me saying that that is what any reputable law enforcement --


COOPER: -- person will tell you in this country. And that has been standard procedure. And I'm sure even his lousy police force was trained in that -- in those methods, because that is standard procedure and has been now for more than a decade.

PROKUPECZ: Right. And he tries to argue in this letter Anderson that any reasonable officer would do exactly the same thing. And we know that's not true.

COOPER: That's not true.

PROKUPECZ: It's exactly what everyone, everyone who has been trained to deal with this situation tells you this is not what you're supposed to do. This is not us saying this. This is not the family saying this. This is not people trying to they say I have some key rights in this letter that they want a villain. Every law enforcement official who has done this training leading experts in this field, all say that what Pete Arredondo did on that day was wrong.

COOPER: Yes. And when -- yes, the little he did do. Shimon Prokupecz, appreciate the reporting as always.


COOPER: Next, new reporting that the National Archives wanted documents returned from the former president as far back as May of last year. More ahead.



COOPER: President Biden today said he had no prior notice of the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago quoting him now, none zero, not one single bit. However, there is new reporting tonight in the Washington Post and just how much warning the former president had long before the search that the government wanted his documents back.

Josh Dawsey shares the byline on the story headlined archives asked for records and 2021 after Trump lawyer agreed they should be returned.

So Josh, can you just walk us through your reporting? You reviewed a May 2021 e-mail to Trump lawyers from the National Archives. What's the takeaway?

JOSH DAWSEY, POLITICAL INVESTIGATIONS REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: So the takeaway Anderson is that in May 2021, the top lawyer for the National Archives reached out to three different lawyers for Trump. And here's what he said. He said that in the final days of the Trump White House made identify two dozen boxes of presidential material that had been in the residence and the oval -- in the White House residents not in the Oval Office, but in the residence.

And that Pat Cipollone, according to the White House lawyer. I mean, according to the archives lawyer, Pat Cipollone, the White House lawyer, wanted the material returned. They had asked repeatedly for the material to be returned and not been returned. And they were asking again in May 2021, to please return the material. In fact, they were almost begging. And they said besides the boxes, they had noticed several other high profile items that have not been returned. Former President Trump's correspondence with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator, his correspondence with a former President Obama had not been returned, even though that it's customary for presidents to return that, and that they really needed all of these things back.

And what that shows is that long, long, long before the raid happened on Mar-a-Lago, the National Archives and former President Trump's lawyers were concerned that he had not given materials back that he was supposed to return.

COOPER: So just to be clear, based on your reporting, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, and the National Archives were both would -- they were in agreement that records kept in the White House residence were supposed to be turned over. But they weren't. Is that correct?

DAWSEY: According to the e-mail that we reviewed, the top lawyer for the National Archives said, the Pat Cipollone had issued a termination saying that the records in the White House residence should be returned during the final days of the administration. When we reached out to Cipollone, spokeswoman for the lawyer declined to comment. So we don't know his side of the story. But we know according to that written record from the top lawyer for the National Archives, Pat Cipollone, had agreed that those boxes should be returned to the government before former President Trump left for Florida.

COOPER: Is it clear why they weren't turned over?

DAWSEY: It is not. I mean, that has been the one of the lasting mysteries of his entire ordeal is trying to figure out why for President Trump wanting to keep all these materials. He's built some confidence of the materials were his they didn't belong to the government, and that he rightfully deserved possession of them. Other folks say, some of the records he wanted to show he wanted to fly out to -- he wanted to fly out to friends and, and club members.

We don't know precisely of his point why he kept all these materials. But we do know that among his advisers, his lawyers, there's kind of a quizzical notion of even after all these efforts to give him back, why didn't he give him back?

COOPER: So, I mean, what's remarkable about this story is that it's just another example. And a very early example, the National Archives asking for records to be turned over. Clearly the former president and its representatives had multiple opportunities to cooperate with the government. And head off action by the Justice Department and the FBI.

DAWSEY: Well Anderson, what this shows is that actually before former President Trump even left office during the final days of his presidency, that is when the first request from the archives came in to please give these boxes back. We didn't know that before, but they had gotten involved so early, and then they were repeatedly involved throughout the spring of 2021. And the former President Trump's lawyers knew about these extensive efforts and when involved in these as well to get the documents back.


So this e-mail shares is that long before this bubbled into the public ground before the public understood what was going on more than a year before, there was efforts to get all of these things back to the National Archives.

COOPER: It also sort of paints a picture of how directly, I mean, again, it would seem and correct me if I'm wrong, how directly the former president was involved in decisions about what documents to keep and where he wanted to keep them. I mean, the Kim Jong-un letter, you know, these things that he brought up to the residence he was holding on to.

DAWSEY: Right. I mean, we and the New York Times have both reported that the former president himself was involved in the packing and deciding what went with him and what stayed at Mar-a-Lago after he agreed to give certain things back. A lot of the other advisors around him did not want to be involved in the packing because they didn't have classification authority. They didn't know exactly what he had taken. And it was a messy situation by all accounts.

So, what we've been able to determine is that the former president himself took the lead on this process on moving stuff to the residence and taking stuff to Mar-a-Lago and then deciding a year later, or so, what he would eventually return to the National Archives, even though he did not return everything that they believed was theirs.

COOPER: Josh Dawsey from the Washington Post, appreciate it. Thank you.

DAWSEY: Thank you.

COOPER: The Democrats seemingly more optimistic about the midterms after key win the last night's primaries is momentum on their side, Republicans will crunch the numbers, next.


COOPER: So Democrats are now expressing the sort of cautious optimism about the midterms. You certainly didn't hear from them earlier this year. Whether it's the result of recent legislative victories, the Supreme Court's ruling on abortion or results in key races that last night culminated in a primary win that a lot of Democrats view as a bellwether for the midterms.

Joining me to discuss our favorite CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten who wish to notice the only one we have. And also the one the only CNN political commentator, Van Jones, a former special adviser to President Obama.

All right, Harry, so some Democrats saying that the political landscape for the midterms is not as dire as it looks months ago, that the overturning of Roe v. Wade has a lot to do that. What does the data show?


HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: So, you know, you mentioned last night special election right in New York's 19th district, says a district that Biden won by a point and a half. All of a sudden you see the Democrat there, Pat Ryan winning by a little bit more than two points. It wasn't the only special election last night, there was also a special election last night, New York's 23rd district. Yes, the Republican candidate one there, but only won by six in a district that Donald Trump won by 11.

Indeed, if you look at the four special elections that have taken place, since Roe v. Wade was overturned, the Democrats in them have been outperforming Biden's baseline by an average of four points. Compare that to the special elections that took place before Roe v. Wade was overturned, Republicans were outperforming their baseline by six points.

So essentially, what we're seeing is a massive divide between the pre- Roe era and the post Roe being overturned are with Democrats with clear momentum if you look at these special elections.

COOPER: So then Democrat, Pat Ryan ran with a very pro choice message. Will that translate to other races?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think so. I mean, listen, I -- we're happy. It feels, it feels good, feels good. We have to sort of season of shame, where, you know, Democrats are just so disappointed and frustrated, what's going on in D.C. dismayed by the Republicans. We've gone from disappointed determined now, because, you know, Biden is winning. And also, you now see people feeling like, look, the Republicans have been doing terrible stuff when it comes to January 6, excuse me, inexcusable, and women are standing up across the country.

So I think right now, with the economy being terrible, you'd expect Republicans would be just crushing us everywhere. And they're not. They're not crushing us everywhere.

COOPER: But essentially, because I mean, traditionally, in polls -- in the exit polls, voters who even say they're concerned about abortion on one side or not of the debate, that is not the top issue that is driving them to the polls.

JONES: I think that's because up until now, you haven't had the Supreme Court thrown in the garbage can. And I think people are looking down the barrel of what if Republicans get more power? Where are they going to do? I just think that for a while, the normal thing you would expect people saying the country's going the wrong direction, that's only going to help Republicans. But what's happening is people are looking at the Republican saying that it's going the wrong direction, because Republicans are doing stuff that is scary when it comes to women's rights when it comes to LGBTQ, and when it comes to excusing the insurrection. And there's a concern about democracy, and are we going to have a democracy.

And that all together now has Democrats standing up and you see it now it's going to be a different fall outcome than people expect.

COOPER: Harry, I mean last night I guess was pretty tonight for I guess what you call establishment candidates. Where do we see those more moderate candidates doing well?

ENTEN: Yes, I mean, New York is a pretty good example. Right? Sean Patrick Maloney, who's the DCCC chairman, easily beating back a challenge from his more liberal challenger, Alessandra Biaggi. Dan Goldman, also in New York's 10. We haven't declared a winner in that race yet. But he's clearly ahead and my guess is that he probably will pull it out.

On the Republican side, look, Daniel Webster held on against Loomer down in Florida. Also in upstate New York, Carl Paladino who has said so many things that my goodness gracious, I can't believe he got defeated as well in his bid to join Congress or at least win the Republican nomination.

But the thing I'll point out here, Anderson, is Dan Webster should not have been in trouble. Carl Paladino should not have come close to winning. So the idea that these guys even came close to me is yes, the moderates and yes, the establishment did pretty decently. And yes, it's true that Dan Goldman is probably going to end up winning, but he's only winning with about a quarter of the vote.

So yes, it was a good night for the more moderate candidates, the more establishment candidates, but I wouldn't necessarily be saying it's all good for them.

COOPER: Yes, Van, I mean, Laura Loomer came really close to, to actually winning.

JONES: That's scary.

COOPER: And I mean, she's, you know, she calls herself a proud Islamophobe. I mean, you know, the fact that she came that close single digits, what does that say?

JONES: Well, it just shows that there's a lot of disquiet in the country, and that these extreme candidates can make more headway than they should. And it shows a lot of stuff. It's not healthy. I'll also say that for progressives, you know, at the congressional level, the moderates did really well. But even here in the state of New York, you had a target on the back of a lot of progressives at the state level, local level, (INAUDIBLE) were backed by the Working Families Party Democratic Socialists, they won. So even though the moderates in our party have been able to win at the congressional level, there's still a progressive fight back at the local and state level.

So it's still -- listen, it's not a left wing period, it's not a right wing period. It's a turbulent, volatile period, and we'll see how it goes.

COOPER: All right, Van Jones, Harry Enten, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up, following the fallout from his crudite controversy, Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate and celebrity doctor, Mehmet Oz taking heat very personal attack against the Democratic rival and stroke survivor John Fetterman. We have details ahead.



COOPER: A lot of criticism tonight, directed the campaign for Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate and celebrity doctor, Mehmet Oz this time about an attack on the health of his opponent Democrat John Fetterman, who recently returned to the campaign trail. The new controversy comes shortly after Oz faced intense backlash over video involving crudites that went viral for all the wrong reasons. It's also raising serious questions about Fetterman's conditions.

CNN national politics reporter Eva McKend, has the story.


EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER (voice-over): From Erie to Pittsburgh.

JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA) SENATE CANDIDATE: Steel workers. MCKEND (voice-over): Pennsylvania's Democratic candidate for Senate John Fetterman back on the campaign trail more than three months after suffering a stroke.

FETTERMAN: If I'm your next senator to Washington, D.C., guess what? You're still going to have a senator that's going to be living across the street from your steel plant.

MCKEND (voice-over): Rally members of the United Steelworkers Tuesday, Fetterman was on message but often halting in his speech and occasionally dropped words mid sentence.

FETTERMAN: Being anti-union is anti-American. What is wrong with demanding for an easy, safe, kind of their income, a path to a safe place for them to win or excuse me to work.

MCKEND (voice-over): Fetterman declined to answer questions from CNN and other reporters at the event. A campaign spokesperson telling CNN, Fetterman is doing really well, walking five to six miles a day and following doctor's orders.

They didn't say when the public would receive a status update from his physician about his condition, instead pointing to a June letter from his doctor that said Fetterman would return in six months for a checkup and noting a July interview with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette where the 53-year-old said he had nothing to hide. While acknowledging he at times struggles with hearing, may miss a word or slur two words together.


RICHARD BERNSTEIN, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY NEUROLOGY PROFESSOR: It is one of the most common symptoms of a stroke, the slurred speech doesn't always indicate a problem with language processing, sometimes it's simply a problem with pronunciation.

MCKEND (voice-over): In May, doctors attached a pacemaker with a defibrillator to Fetterman's heart to treat his cardiomyopathy, a heart disease that makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood through the body. In that same July interview with the Post Gazette, Fetterman said he is working with a speech therapist. Fetterman's health has emerged as a line of attack by his rival celebrity doctor, Mehmet Oz. Since releasing this video aimed at highlighting grocery store prices.


MCKEND (voice-over): Oz has come under withering criticism for being out of touch, but now he's trying to turn the tables releasing a statement Tuesday that said, if John Fetterman had ever eaten a vegetable in his life, then maybe he wouldn't have had a major stroke. Fetterman responding, I know politics can be nasty, but even then I could never imagine ridiculing someone for their health challenges.

Fetterman supporters at that union rally downplaying concerns over his health. JOJO BURGESS, STEELWORKER: I think that he's back fairly quick from it, to be honest with you.

JIM JOHNSTON, STEELWORKER: I think if it was, you know, a bigger issue than what it is he would actually absolutely be more open about it.


MCKEND: A key question now is when are we going to see these candidates debate Oz really making this a central issue. Fetterman's campaign telling me that Fetterman is ready to debate Oz, but has not committed to a date as yet. Anderson.

COOPER: Eva McKend, appreciate it. Thank you.

Still to come, take a listen, what is this noise? It was discovered deep in space. Details next?


COOPER: On Monday we brought you stunning new pictures the planet Jupiter sunlight shining off the planet and brilliant detail like we've never seen. Tonight, our head is in the stars once again thanks to new social media posts by NASA they say that yes sound can travel in space and this is what Black Hole sounds like.

NASA says the reason you can hear anything at all is that while, yes sound cannot travel in a vacuum like space, the black hole basically produces ripples through the surrounding gas in this particular galaxy cluster. And those ripples can then be translated into sound or a remix as NASA has called it previously. It is remarkable.


The news continues. Let's hand over to Laura Coates in "CNN TONIGHT." Laura.