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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Washington Post: Documents Recovered At Mar-A-Lago Contained Foreign Nation's Nuclear Capabilities; Michigan County Trains Poll Workers as Secret Agents; Obamas Make First Joint White House Return For Portrait Unveilings; CNN Speaks With Putin Critics Forced To Become Russian Informants; Second Suspect In Deadly Canada Stabbing Attacks Captured; Suspect In Memphis Teacher's Abduction And Death Ordered Held Without Bond. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 07, 2022 - 20:00   ET


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I just got back from Southern Taiwan, Erin, where the Army staged two days of live fire military drills. They were really trying to show how they are prepared for combat, their combat capabilities, all their weapons.

And part of the reason why they're trying to project strength and show force right now is because of the embarrassment that resulted from these civilian drones breaching these restricted areas, these military outposts.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST; All right, Will, thank you very much, and for all of that reporting, going to that crucial area in the south.

And thanks to all of you, Anderson starts now.



Tonight, the evolving reactions to the reporting by "The Washington Post" published last night around this time, some 24 hours ago. "The Post" reported that FBI agents recovered a document from Mar-a-Lago describing a foreign country's nuclear capabilities, and CNN is yet to confirm "The Post" reporting.

That said, when reached by "The Washington Post" for comment, an attorney for the former President did not deny the substance of it. Instead, he said something that we've now started hearing a lot from defenders of the former President in the last 24 hours deflecting on the facts, focusing instead on the leaks.

For example, here is Senator Marco Rubio who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee this past Sunday, explaining why the FBI recovering highly classified documents at Mar-a-Lago is a storage argument.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): This is really at its core, a storage argument that they're making, right? They're arguing there are documents there. They don't deny that he should have access to those documents.

I don't think a fight over storage of documents is worthy of what they've done.


COOPER: Well, now that "The Washington Post" published their report about nuclear secrets, perhaps being involved, Senator Rubio and others are focusing more of their argument on apparent leaks.


STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: That doesn't seem like the kind of thing you should have in your post presidential desk drawer.

RUBIO: Well, let's break this down. First of all, again, we really don't know because let's go back and understand that all of this information is coming from one side and one place, and that is sources with knowledge of the investigation.

Well, who are the sources of knowledge of the investigation? The FBI and the Justice Department and they are leaking to the media.


COOPER: So, it's a line of defense that the former President's son, Eric echoed while adding a twist of his own.


ERIC TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S SON: I mean, you literally have the FBI who is spending more time leaking stuff to the press. I mean, these pictures, you think my father happened to just leave documents all over his office floor? I can tell you my father is a very, very neat guy. He doesn't leave documents staged all over an office floor.


COOPER: So to be clear, no one has suggested that this is the way the FBI found these documents, least of all, the Justice Department which says in Court filings they were mostly in boxes and some were in desks in the former President's office.

So, it's unclear what exactly Eric Trump is trying to say there. What's clear is he did not take the opportunity to explain what one classified document, let alone many were doing at his dad's resort. He did however call the Court-approved search a "phishing expedition."

As for Republican Senator Josh Hawley, he to decried the leaks today, but not what the search covered all while adding a dose of what about- ism.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The filings show that there was classified documents at Mar-a-Lago -- SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Like the ones that Hillary Clinton deleted.

Hillary Clinton had 110 classified e-mails that she deleted off of her server in 52 different e-mail chains, eight of those were labeled top secret, but what was done to Hillary Clinton? Nothing.

RAJU: But if you're concerned about hers, shouldn't you be concerned about Trump, too?

HAWLEY: First of all, I don't know what the facts are with regard to the former President, but I can tell you, it is laughable, it is the left's Berger, stuffed classified information into his socks and other pieces of clothing, if memory serves, and nothing was done. Nothing.


COOPER: Keeping them honest, you might want to tell that to Sandy Berger, the former national security adviser who was indicted, pleaded guilty, fined $50,000.00, disbarred, and stripped of his security clearance. Consider that, and as you do, listen to what the former President's own ex-Attorney General said just this morning.


WILLIAM BARR, FORMER US ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think, you know, as I've said all along, there are two questions: Will the government be able to make out a technical case? Will they have evidence by which -- that they could indict somebody on including him? That's the first question. And I think they're getting very close to that point.


COOPER: To his second question, whether the former President should be indicted he said he hoped not. However, he added that there would be considerable pressure to do it because people would ask questions about fairness and whether a former President should be above the law.

Quoting Bill Barr now, the former Attorney General, "Look, if anyone else would have gotten indicted, why not indict him?" Now, the fact that the former Attorney General is even entertaining the question of charging a former President is certainly something, but before getting to the growing legal ramifications, I want to first bring in our national security and counterintelligence voices tonight, CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe and former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. He's currently a CNN national security analyst.

So Director Clapper, you've called these documents the holiest of holy when it comes to sensitive information. Can you just explain possible national security risks for the US if an adversary were to gain access to them while they were in Mar-a-Lago.


JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Anderson, the first thing I would have to say here is that we don't actually know the substance and content of any of these documents. You can certainly infer things from their classification, and in this particular case, the subject topic matter assuming the reporting is accurate.

And the reason this is so important from an Intelligence perspective is that when I said they're the holiest of holiest, is because the reason nation states make a decision to have nuclear weapons is because they've decided they need them for their very existence, for their survival.

Ironically enough, this is something we and North Korea have in common. We both decided at different times that we needed nuclear weapons as a deterrent from an attack from an adversary.

Accordingly, from an Intelligence perspective, knowledge of a country's capabilities are the most closely guarded secrets that they have and in turn are the hardest to glean for us.

So, if these documents are exposed or revealed, they'll reveal two things, potentially. One, of course, is what we do know about a foreign nation's nuclear capabilities, which in turn could lead to back engineering by that State, to figure out how we got it, that information and close it off and it could take years to restore that.

That actually means that by virtue of the fact we're more ignorant of an of a nuclear-equipped country that that diminishes our own national security.

So that, you know, that's a big deal, and then the other side of that coin is it also could reveal what we don't know, which then could serve to reinforce on the part of that nation, what they're doing to continue to mask information and prevent us from gaining insight into their nuclear capabilities.

So on several levels, this is potentially quite damaging, in my opinion.

COOPER: And Andrew, once national security officials became aware that something of this magnitude was included in these documents, again, if "The Washington Post" reporting is correct, what steps would be necessary to ensure that these secrets, in fact, remain secret? The whole special classification of this and how they're stored seems to be a big piece of this.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It certainly is, and no fact makes that clearer than the reporting that several of the agents on the search warrant lacked the necessary access to those Special Access Programs to actually review the documents.

So these things are so limited in their distribution to people with not just top secret, but SCI access and Special Access Program authorities that you're going to have to search to find the right people to be able to really dig into these documents to conduct the sort of assessment that Director Clapper is talking about to understand like, what have we lost here? What's the worst case scenario in terms of these documents falling into the hands of an adversary? What if we compromise sources and methods?

Have we betrayed the trust of a of a trusted ally? Some of those nuclear nations who could have been the topic of discussion in these pieces, if the reporting is accurate, are friends of ours and not all adversaries. And so, they could compromise existing important relationships with allied countries.

So, there is just very many levels of potential damage here and at the very first outset, you've got to find the right people with access to these programs to even be able to look at the stuff. That's really complicated.

COOPER: And Director Clapper, the former President and his supporters have made the claim that he declassified all of the documents found at Mar-a-Lago. Obviously, there's been a lot of reporting on that since then, people pointing out that, obviously, to declassify all of this while the President does have powers in that regard, there would be a paper trail of it. There would be other people who were informed, there will be other agencies that would be informed.

Does it make any sense to you that he would declassify material related to nuclear capabilities?

CLAPPER: Well, no, it doesn't. And the fact that none of this makes sense, but most acutely, I think, nuclear-related information. And it's also something of a non sequitur to say he assert that he declassified something and nobody else knows about it.

So, if the rest of the government still believes that whatever he -- a magic wand he waved to declassify if no one else knows that and still treat it as though it is classified, well, essentially it is still classified.


CLAPPER: There has to be some evidence of declassification written on the document, and if they were declassified, it would be documented.


CLAPPER: And to the best of our knowledge, it wasn't.

COOPER: Director Clapper, appreciate it. Andrew McCabe as well.

More now on the legal implications if "The Post's" reporting is correct that the former President had at least one highly classified nuclear related document at Mar-a-Lago. We should mention, he calls anything nuclear related "a hoax."

Joining us is CNN legal analyst and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Elliot Williams; CNN legal analyst, Carrie Cordero, whose tenure at the Justice Department included serving as counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for national security. Also with us, CNN political commentator, David Urban who served as a campaign strategist to the former President.

Carrie, for Justice Department officials investigating this, how critical is it to figure out why the former President had this material in conjunction with who may have had access to it? CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it's

critical for the intelligence damage assessment for them to understand not sort of what his thinking process was, but what actions actually were taken with respect to the documents.

So, the factual investigation about did anybody else see these documents? Were they communicated to anyone? Who else had access to them? What was the intention to do with them?

So, was there something that triggered the search that was trying to prevent it? Or had it just been so long that they had been trying to get the documents back voluntarily that they finally just had to execute the physical search once they got the Court order?

But now that we know a little bit more detail about the nature of at least one of these particular documents, and we know the classifications of others, there are consequences beyond just the US national security establishment.

As the Director was saying earlier, there are foreign policy considerations. There are foreign countries, as Andy was saying, there are foreign countries, allies of ours that have to conduct potentially -- I'm sure there's other countries who want to know what country was the subject of that particular document. They want to know whether their capabilities have been compromised.

And so it triggers not just something in US interests, but interests that are fundamental to the existential survival of other nations, of our allies around the world.

COOPER: David, you said last night, when we talked that the foreign president having these kinds of top-secret documents at his beach resort for 18 months is inexcusable. The former President's allies continue to basically kind of not really address this particular story. They are focusing on the leaks, and I understand the concern over leaks.

Do you still -- are you still of the opinion that this is inexcusable, having, in fact, "The Washington Post" reporting is correct?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, Anderson, so again, you know, you remember my background, right? I went to West Point, served in the military; had a very, you know, top-secret security clearance myself, and dealt with secure and classified materials for a long period of my career.

These documents, Special Access Program documents are incredibly, incredibly sensitive, and has been outlined previously, right, the secrets that they hold -- the methods -- sources and methods, how they're collected, what they contain -- all are limited to very, very few people.

And so, you know, it's concerning not just that they were there, but who else had access to them? Who put them in a box? Who carried him down? What lawyers looked through an inventory of these documents and read them, and said, "Yes, this is okay for us to keep." Right? There are so many questions that have yet to be answered about it that

it is troubling. If the report is true, it is very, very troubling and having Special Access Program documents in any facility outside a SCIF is just mind boggling.

COOPER: Elliot, do you think this complicates the role of a Special Master, given how sensitive these documents are? And is there any legitimate claim to executive privilege?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, it's an excellent question, Anderson. The Special Master's role was complicated enough based on the fact that the Judge never quite defined what the Special Master would be doing. You know, look, there never had to be a Special Master named in this case.

Now, of course, that's where we are in the Justice Department and President Trump's attorneys are going to sort of make some sense of that. But, you know, getting to David's point about who gets these kinds of clearances in order to even get a Special Master, they're going to have to find someone who is either A., already has an incredibly high level of security clearance, or B., get one very, very quickly; and number two, will be palatable to all of the parties.

And so yes, the sensitivity of these documents, assuming they're there, is going to create an incredibly complicated situation for the Special Master.

Again, to be clear, the Judge could have left the situation in place and the President could have moved to just exclude the evidence at trial if he ever got there. But needless to say, this is where we are and we'll just have to see in about a week when the parties hash out what it'll look like.

COOPER: Well, Carrie, the Federal government still has the option of appealing the decision to appoint a Special Master. Do you think they should do that? Is there any deadline for filing an appeal?


CORDERO: So, my understanding is that right now, there is not a deadline that they have to file an appeal, and I would imagine that the Justice Department is still considering whether to do that. I think, it is a really hard call, Anderson, whether or not they appeal in this case, because there is both a legal aspect to it.

So from my perspective, because I don't judge that there was a reason to appoint a Special Master in this, there is the potential to really create some bad law here, if they don't challenge it, if they let this Special Master proceed in this case without challenging, without laying out the arguments, at least, for why it was unwarranted in this particular case, as compared to any other case around the country where a physical search is executed based on a Court order.

So that's one, you know, that's one piece of it.

COOPER: David, how far do you think it will be to find a Special Master who has the security clearance to do this?

URBAN: Well, so Anderson, I don't know. Right? But as just as pointed out, you're going to have to find someone who not only has TS SCI, but then can be read into the programs, right?

They have to be read in by the appropriate agencies. Just because you hold the clearance doesn't mean you could have access to these programs.

And just to point out what Carrie was talking about, you know, the 11th Circuit may not be the most favorable Circuit to appeal to, right?

So, if the Department of Justice appeal, it loses, right, don't forget, the Trump administration appointed over 25 percent of the Circuit Court Judges, they're sitting currently right now on the bench are Trump appointed Judges, if they get an unfavorable ruling here, it could be very bad precedent going forward. So, that's something else the Department of Justice needs to take into consideration.

COOPER: David Urban, Carrie Cordero, Elliot Williams, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, a CNN exclusive. You'll hear election workers being trained to break the rules so they can act as -- and this is a direct quote -- "undercover agents" this fall during the elections.

Later, two veterans of the Obama-era on the significance of the moment today as the former First Couple return to the White House along with their new portraits for the first time since 2017.



COOPER: CNN exclusive tonight. It is especially apt considering that we're now less than two months out from midterm elections. It's also especially alarming in what it reveals about some people who will be working the polls in a bellwether state.

Details now from CNN's Drew Griffin.



DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): CNN obtained this recording of a Wayne County GOP training session over Zoom the night before the Michigan primary last month.

CHERYL COSTANTINO, GOP COUNTY CHAIRWOMAN: So you're all really undercover agents. Congratulations. That's undercover training.

GRIFFIN (voice over): It is extra training, partisan training, not just for volunteers observing elections, but including the actual paid election workers who will check in voters, hand out ballots, even helping the counting, which is why what they are being told is alarming.

COLBECK: There is a lot of bad stuff that is happening in this upcoming election, so we're going to have to keep our heads on a swivel and just start documenting irregularities.

GRIFFIN (voice over): The poll workers are hired by towns and clerks and Wayne County's Republican chairperson, Cheryl Costantino tells them they may need to break the rules to uncover fraud.

COSTANTINO: They were told by their trainers that they could not have their phones with them.

So, I would say maybe just hide it and maybe hide a small pad in a small pan.

You need to take accurate notes.

LARRY LUDKE, TRAINEE: If we are observed with a pen and a piece of paper writing at anything, they just said they would -- they would ask us that, that they would remove us.

COSTANTINO: That's why you got to do it secretly.

GRIFFIN (voice over): This training for the primary was just practice for the upcoming midterms according to Costantino and it's not just what's being taught, it is who is doing the teaching.

COLBECK: We think a lot of the monkey business that's happening is happening at the vote aggregation location.

GRIFFIN (voice over): That is election denier Patrick Colbeck, who co-led this training session. He is a former state senator who wrote a book called "The 2020 Coup" and has a blog filled with debunked conspiracy theories about voting machines.

He spread so much disinformation about the 2020 election, he got this cease and desist letter from Dominion, the voting machine company saying, "You are knowingly sowing discord in our democracy, all the while soliciting exorbitant amounts of money."

He has appeared on Steve Bannon's show and with the My Pillow guy, Mike Lindell.

COLBECK: We did see evidence that it was connected to the Internet.

GRIFFIN (voice over): There is no evidence any voting machines were connected to the Internet in the 2020 election, but Colbeck is still asking Republican poll workers to check.

COLBECK: There's this little icon down the very bottom right-hand corner, and what I'm trying to do is to see whether or not these machines are indeed connected to the internet.

GRIFFIN (voice over): Colbeck refused to speak to CNN, but the other leader of the training, Cheryl Costantino did.

GRIFFIN (on camera): You were training these people to be undercover spies. That was the words you are using. And I'm wondering why?

COSTANTINO: Well, first of all, if you remember in the election two years ago, there were so many problems.

GRIFFIN (voice over): With election staffing, she said; with who counted ballots, but she is an election denier, too.

She filed a baseless lawsuit in Detroit alleging election fraud in 2020, it was thrown out.

Why did she tell election workers to act like spies?

COSTANTINO: To kind of reframe it and make it more fun and interesting. I said that, just, you know, instead of causing a bunch of scenes and things like that, just write it down, just kind of be like spies and let me -- you know, let me know what's going on.

GRIFFIN (voice over): While Michigan's primary election went smoothly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did nothing wrong.

GRIFFIN (voice over): A poll challenger affiliated with Colbeck and his training was thrown out of Detroit's ballot counting center for repeatedly getting too close to workers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told them that they were breaking the law.

GRIFFIN (voice over): What's happening in Michigan is happening across the nation. Attempts are underway to make sure the ultra-MAGA run the election process from poll workers all the way up to candidates for Secretary of State and Attorney General.


GRIFFIN (voice over): Trump attorney, Cleta Mitchell has led seminars in eight swing States all under the presumption Democrats cheat.

CNN caught up with her in Wisconsin.

CLETA MITCHELL, DONALD TRUMP ATTORNEY: So that we'll be able to make sure that there's another set of eyes going on watching the ballots, watching the voting, watching the process, knowing what's going on in the election offices.

JEFF TIMMER, SENIOR ADVISER, THE LINCOLN PROJECT: These training sessions are planned chaos. These people are being radicalized.

GRIFFIN (voice over): Jeff Timmer used to lead the Michigan Republican Party.

TIMMER: They think they're saving democracy from the cannibal socialists where in fact what they're doing is eroding the public's faith in elections.


COOPER: Drew Griffin joins me now.

Drew, are States prepared if a bunch of partisan, as they say ultra- MAGA election workers show up to work this election?

GRIFFIN: They are trying to get prepared. Michigan Secretary of State whom you had on the show last night says her clerks are prepared and they can remove some of these people if they are violating the rules.

But I think more importantly, Anderson, the clerks tell me that these election deniers, these MAGA people actually are borne of ignorance of the voting system, and when they actually get them in there to do the work of the election and see the process, many times they become pretty good poll workers.

So, there is some hope there -- Anderson.

COOPER: Also, you know, as you report, when you drilled down on a lot of these people who are spreading these lies, they're all making money from this in one way or another. That guy had a book that he is selling full of conspiracy theories. They have websites. They are selling stuff.

GRIFFIN: This is a complete industry. This is a 100 percent grift. I'm telling you that this goes back to the My Pillow guy interview that we had on your show -- featured on your show.

I mean, he is just riding this seminar after seminar of these kinds of vote denial things they're going through. It is turned into a cottage industry and more than they can keep it going on their blogs and other podcasts and other little radio shows, the more money they make.

COOPER: Drew Griffin, I appreciate it. Thanks.

Coming up next, the Obama's return to the White House for the official unveiling of their White House portraits. David Axelrod, who served in the administration with the Obama's was at the ceremony. He and journalist Nancy Gibbs join us for a look at the relationship between the former President and his successor, President Biden.



COOPER: Former President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were joined by family, friends and former staff for the unveiling of their official White House portraits. It is the return of a tradition between former presidents and their successors that did not occur during the last administration. According to one of our next guests who was there David Axelrod, it was a joyful reunion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA (D) FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Someone once said that, if you're looking for a friend in Washington get a dog. Our family was lucky enough to have two wonderful dogs. But I was even luckier to have a chance to spend eight years working day and night with a man who became a true partner and a true friend. Joe, it is now America's good fortune to have you as president.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FMR FIRST LADY OF UNITED STATES: Too often in this country, people feel like they have to look a certain way or act a certain way to fit in, that they have to make a lot of money or come from a certain group or class or faith in order to matter. But what we're looking at today, a portrait of a biracial kid with an unusual name, and the daughter of a water pump operator and a stay-at-home mom. What we are seeing is a reminder that there's a place for everyone in this country.


COOPER: I'm joined now by CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod, who served as a senior adviser to President Obama, also Nancy Gibbs, a journalist who covered the Obama administration and is co- author of The Presidents Club Inside The World's Most Exclusive Fraternity.

David, as we mentioned, you were in attendance. What was the mood like as the Obama has made their first joint return back to the White House since 2017?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Anderson, it was really extraordinary. You know, there was a tremendous gathering of Cabinet members and staff members, some of them who are working for President Biden now. But it was as if the years had melted away, and everybody was together, again, in common cause and there was a sense of joy that has been so absent from our politics for a while. And it was more than I imagined it would be, it was quite an occasion.

COOPER: Nancy, it's interesting, because your former First Lady Michelle Obama today saying that traditions like this matter how symbolic are moments like these now important they are not only to the office of the presidency, but to democracy itself.

NANCY GIBBS, CO-AUTHOR, "THE PRESIDENTS CLUB": And I think that's right. And we -- yes, they're symbolic, but there's substance in the story. Today, the story had sort of skipped a chapter. But normally you can see two politicians fight a fierce campaign against each other, like Bush and Clinton in 1992, come together for one of these unveilings and just honor their service and remind people that the President is the one person elected by all the people, who serves all the people, including the ones who didn't vote for him. Obama, they talked about the presidency as being a relay race, which suggests that at some point, they view themselves Democrat and Republican, as being on the same team. It's like during transitions when the incoming and outgoing presidents meet to talk about national security and then they ride together on inauguration day to the Capitol. All of those are these gestures that Michelle Obama was right. They're important and they send a powerful message about the importance of institutions and the continuity that is more powerful than some of the things that divide us.

COOPER: David, I just want to play something that President Biden said today to the crowd Let's watch.



JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: There are a few people I've ever are known with more integrity, decency and moral courage than Barack Obama.

Mr. President, nothing could have prepared me better or more to become president of United States and beat your side for eight years. I mean, from the bottom of my heart.


COOPER: What is the relationship between President Biden and former President Obama like now? I mean, you said they had a very rich partnership during the Obama administration there. There's been a lot of written about tension among their staffs. How do you see it?

AXELROD: These men weren't particularly close, when Barack Obama tapped Joe Biden to be vice president. And I watched their relationship grow. You know, when I went to see Biden, I was one of the last people to interview him when we were considering him for vice president when Senator Obama was, and he said, look, I ran for President because I thought I'd be the best president, but the voters had a different idea. Now I want to help Barak. A year into the administration, he called me into his office and he said, you know, remember what I told you said, I was wrong. He said, the right guy won, he said, I'm just so pleased to be his partner and working with him. He's an extraordinary guy. That's what he believed, and they became personally close.

So yes, there's always going to be those kinds of tensions, there's rivalry, and so on. But at the core, these men had a real friendship, I think, more than perhaps any vice president and president in recent history.

COOPER: Nancy, as you know, as we talked about these portraits would have been unveiled during the Trump administration. That's the tradition before President Trump up ended what's been a 40-year tradition. You've written extensively about The Presidents Club and how presidents have always honored those traditions, even if they diverged. Do you think it will ever fully go back to that?

GIBBS: I do, because I think you know, 240 years of history is pretty powerful. And it's important to remember that, that Donald Trump's rejection of The Presidents Club wasn't just incidental to his presidency, it was central to it, the Bushes, the Clintons, the Obamas represented everything that he was against, all of their, you know, norms and networks and knowledge and, and so it was a very deliberate thing for him to distance himself in a kind of equal opportunity way from all of them. I think most presidents throughout history have found their predecessors were really useful as occasional diplomats, as backchannel communicators, as the few people who they can look to as peers because they have all carried that same weight on their shoulders, and they carry a lot of the same scars.

COOPER: David, do -- what do you think the odds are that President Biden would unveil the Trump portraits? I mean, do you think the former president would even accept an invitation back to the White House?

AXELROD: Well, seeing as how he doesn't believe that he's a former president, I don't know that he's ready for a portrait unveiling. It's a really interesting question. I think it's a tough question, but I don't think they're, there's no receptivity on their part.

Let me just say, Anderson, though, to Nancy's point, when we were in transition between two administrations, George W. Bush could not have been more gracious to us. And it wasn't because we had been so kind to him in the campaign. We were not. It was because he viewed himself as a trustee of the democracy. And he wanted to hand it off to us in good stead and in good shape, and give us a chance to succeed. And I will never forget the kindnesses that he and his team extended to us during that period. That's how it should be whether it'll ever be -- I don't know that Donald Trump buys into it. Nancy is right. It's not part of his political project. But most presidents understand that.

COOPER: Yes. David Axelrod, and Nancy Gibbs, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

AXELROD: Thank you.

GIBBS: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up, the latest on Ukrainian counter offensive to retake territory from Russia. Also, a look inside one of Russia's most secretive agencies, the FSB will replace the KGB after the fall of the Soviet Union. CNN's Matthew Chance speaks, with former informants about the agency, the war and why they're speaking out now.



COOPER: Russia's President Vladimir Putin today said his military has quote, lost nothing in Ukraine that despite a U.S. assessment that a new Ukrainian counter offensive in South is making gains aided in part by renewed attacks in the east that have prevented Russia from shifting forces and also taking back several villages in the process. U.S. officials said Ukrainian objective to take back the southern city of Kherson which was lost very early in the war is ambitious but also possible. Regardless, it's expected to be a long and brutal campaign.

CNN's Matthew Chance recently had the rare opportunity to speak with two former informants for Russia's FSB, the agency that replaced the KGB. It's a fascinating conversation for the look, it gives us inside the secret of security service their opinions on the war. And the reasons these defectors are speaking out now.



MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is where we sleep. This is how we live. Mikhail says. It's the Russian political activist turned FSB informant shows us around the Dutch refugee center where he's now seeking asylum. True control will be sure all I want for the future isn't positive, normal life, he says without any more of these adventures.

It was as a young opposition campaigner that Mikhail seen here at an antigovernment protest in Russia caught the attention of the Kremlin security service the FSB. His later work for Alexei Navalny, Russia's most prominent jailed opposition leader must have made him particularly valuable, but he was originally targeted to be turned he told me with FSB threats.

MIKHAIL SOKOLOV, FMR FSB INFORMANT (through translation): They knew I was avoiding military service and gave me a simple choice either to cooperate with them or go to prison for years. Basically, I was threatened. And as a 19-year-old student, very frightened. There are so many stories, even videos of people being abused in prison to even think about that is scary.

CHANCE (on-camera): You were working with Navalny, whose pictures of you working quite closely with him. What have you information did you get the FSB about him?

SOKOLOV (through translation): I wasn't his close friends so I couldn't give them information specifically about him. I was just working in a regional office. So, they were more interested and when we were planning to hold meetings or protests, and of course what kind of investigations we were conducting. We even cooperated on some of these investigations following any media outcry, the FSB would either in prison or protect a particular official.


CHANCE (on-camera): But as well as keeping tabs on activists inside the country, the secretive Russian security services also appear to have been stepping up surveillance of Russians living abroad. Mikhail says the FSB pulled him out of Russia and sent him to the former Soviet Republic of Georgia to infiltrate the growing expatriate community there, escaping repressions at home, alongside a network of other FSB informants already in place.


CHANCE (voice-over): Informants like Vsevolod Osipov, another young political activist, who says the FSB also threatened him with prisons. Less he sent detailed reports from Georgia, what Russian opposition figures there were thinking.

Specifically on the Ukraine war, launched in February this year, which forced many Kremlin critics into exile. And the FSBs informant operations he tells me into overdrive.

(on-camera): What does that say to you about what the fears are in Moscow, about what could happen in the future? What are they frightened of?

VSEVOLOD OSIPOV, FMR FSB INFORMANT (through translation): Social services are very well aware of our history. When a huge Russian immigrant community emerges abroad where people speak freely to each other, work on projects together, help Ukrainian refugees and basically create a mini-Russia abroad, which is not under the control of FSB, they are afraid that history will repeat itself. In 1917, Lenin came to Moscow in started a Russian Revolution, and they are terrified the regime will be threatened once again by war.

CHANCE (voice-over): It was their opposition to the war, but Vsevolod and Mikhail say finally compelled them to turn their backs on that FSB handles. Mikhail even appeared on Georgian television, berating the Russian regime, for which he had spies (ph).

SOKOLOV: I texted the FSB guys and told them that they had started this war, that it was horrible. I saw all the images online, and they turned my world upside down. Because I not only felt hatred towards the Russian government, but towards myself for working for them for all these years.

CHANCE (voice-over): It is self-hatred, and a deep sense of guilt for the lies and betrayals, he says he was forced to make.


COOPER: And CNN's Matthew Chance joins us now from London. It is so fascinating to hear from these two, it would seem they're taking a huge risk in in speaking out.

CHANCE: I think they are generally, you know, speaking out and turning your back on the Russian security service, the FSB. You know, is obviously very risky. I mean, people have been killed in Russia for far less than that. But it's particularly interesting given the situation that we're seeing in Russia now, whether there has been a crackdown on dissidents, in politicians who are in opposition to the Kremlin, independent journalists, they've all been systematically rounded up, and have either left the country or have been put in prison. So there really is a climate of fear in the country.

So, you to see people like this sort of step forward, they've left the country, admittedly, and speak out, indicates that, you know, despite those risks, there are probably a whole lot of other people in Russia as well, that have remained silent, but share their horror and their sort of anger with the Russian state for embarking on this complex in Ukraine.

COOPER: Yes, and we've certainly seen Russians who have left the country getting killed in places that they think are safe in England and elsewhere for speaking out. Matthew Chance, appreciate it, fascinating.

The search is over time for the second suspect one and that string of deadly stabbings in Canada we'll have new details.

Also, the family of (INAUDIBLE) mom, Eliza Fletcher releases a statement as the man accused of abducting her peers in court. What they're saying tonight about the mom, wife and teacher who was kidnapped while jogging. A live report from Memphis coming up.



COOPER: We have this just in, police in Canada have taken into custody the second suspect wanted in connection with 10 deadly stabbings in the province of Saskatchewan over the weekend. On Monday night, we told you that the other suspect was found dead. Authorities said the two men who were brothers carried about the attacks on Sunday. The youngest victim was 23 the oldest 78 and all but one are from the indigenous community of James Creek -- James Smith Cree Nation. There's no word on a motive or whether the brothers knew any of the victims.

Now to Memphis were the family of Eliza Fletcher, who was abducted during an early morning jog was later -- and was later found dead has released a statement. This comes in Syracuse kidnapper and killer was back in court.

Our Gary Tuchman joins us now from Tennessee. So, what happened in court today?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the man accused of killing Eliza Fletcher was supposed to have his arraignment in this courthouse behind me indeed he was in the courtroom so were as the judge, so were the attorneys, so were family members of the victim, so as the news media. But the judge announced he was postponing it until tomorrow, and that's because he said there was a complication with the public defender representing the defendant didn't publicize what that complication was. The judge had to make a decision tonight and announce it tomorrow and that everything would be settled and the arraignment would take place tomorrow.

So, there was no arraignment, no plea, but court business was taken care of the judge acknowledging that this defendant is charged with murdering this woman. Also, yesterday he told us during an arraignment he was charged with kidnapping. In addition, he agreed with a prosecution request to get rid of any possibility of bond for right now, that's not surprising based on the nature of the charges. We can tell you this defendant, he was wearing a mask but he showed absolutely no emotion, whatsoever.


Eliza has a big family, parents, a husband, two small children. None of them were in the court but she did have aunts and uncles and cousins who were in the courts sitting in the first row very quietly bearing witness for their loved one.

COOPER: And has the family made a statement? TUCHMAN: Right, nothing on camera yet and that's understandable, but they did release a paper statement. I want to read it to our viewers quickly, Anderson. We are heartbroken and devastated by the senseless loss. Liza was such a joy to so many, her family friends, colleagues, students, parents, members of her second Presbyterian Church Congregation and everyone who knew her. We are grateful beyond measure to local state and federal law enforcement for their tireless efforts to find Liza and to bring justice to the person responsible for this horrible crime. Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Gary Tuchman, appreciate it. Thanks.

Up next, two big announcements.


COOPER: Two big announcements for you tonight. First big congratulation goes out to a friend of lead Vlad Duthiers and his wife Marian Wang who are expecting their first child, a baby girl in January. They're going to be amazing parents. Vladimir and Marian tied the knot during the pandemic in September 2020. Vlad was a production assistant here "360," he rose the ranks, he worked with us in Haiti, he became a CNN correspondent. He's now at CBS News. We wish Vlad and Marian the best and we cannot wait to meet their daughter. We've now have a play date.


Also, I have a new project I want to share with you, it is a podcast and wasn't sure the world really needs another podcast, but it's my first one and I'm actually really proud of it and I hope you liked it it's called All There Is. I started recording it along, while I was packing alone, while I was packing up my mom's apartment at the end of last year after she died. And it's a podcast about the people we lose and the things they leave behind and how we can all move forward with, with loss and laughter. And with love. We don't talk about loss and grief, I think enough in this country. And we all can feel very isolated and alone in our loss and our grief. And I found reaching out to other people and talk to them about their experiences with loss and grief, incredibly empowering, and really life changing. And I want to share those interviews with you.

You can find a trailer for the podcast at or any other place you listen to podcasts, Apple podcasts, it's featured there. The first episode, we'll post a week from today on September 14th, you'll find it on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts, and you can sign up to make sure you don't miss it.

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