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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump: President Can Declassify Documents Even By Thinking About It; GOP Candidate Under Investigation In Voting Machine Scheme; At Least Eight Killed In Protests Over Death Of Woman In Morality Police Custody; Alex Jones Testifies In First Day Of Connecticut Hearing, As Sandy Hook Defamation Trial Goes Off The Rails; Russian Foreign Minister Condemns Ukraine, ICC Prosecutor At UN Security Council Meeting, Then Walks Out; Oz's Dilemma In PA Senate Race: Energizing Republican Voters; Veteran Investigates Afghanistan War. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 22, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Today, our Christiane Amanpour was slated to interview the President of Iran for his first interview outside that country. He demanded she wear a headscarf and she declined. A proud and important moment for Christiane and for CNN, sad though for Iran, which of course, the whole world deserves to hear what he has to say and answer the tough questions.

Thanks so much for joining us. AC 360 starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. We begin tonight with more plain-speaking from Judges to the former President and his attorneys.

Today, the Court-appointed Special Master ordered Trump's attorneys to back up their client's now repeated claims that the FBI planted evidence during their search at Mar-a-Lago.

Just last night three Judges from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, two of whom the former president appointed cast doubt on Trump's other unsubstantiated claim that he declassified all the documents in his possession.

The Judges wrote, and I quote: "The record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified and before the Special Master, plaintiff resisted providing any evidence that he had declassified any of these documents."

Now as we all know, as they are reported, and as every expert we've spoken to has said there is a process for declassification if you don't believe them, take it from these Republican senators today.


SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): There is a process for declassifying documents.

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): There is a process that one must go through. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Okay, so that is pretty clear.

What isn't clear or accurate is what the former President claimed in an interview last night with his TV friend, Sean Hannity.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you're the President of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it is declassified, even by thinking about it, because you're sending it to Mar-a-Lago or to wherever you're sending it and there doesn't have to be a process. There can be a process, but it doesn't have to be.

If you're the President, you make that decision. So when you send it, it's declassified.


COOPER: "Even by thinking about it," those are his words, which raises the question, if a President can declassify something that way, just by thinking it, can the next President reclassify it by thinking the opposite.

Now, that may sound absurd to anyone who isn't stoned right now, but it is not that absurd when you consider that some of the other claims the former President and his allies have made about the documents in Mar-a-Lago.

Rudy Giuliani, you'll remember claimed that keeping top secret documents at a Palm Beach Resort was, "Roughly as safe as they were in the first place." Now, last night, the former President, again claimed or tried to suggest the FBI planted evidence during their search.


TRUMP: The problem that you have is they go into rooms, they won't let anybody near that -- they wouldn't even let them in the same building. Did they drop anything into those piles? Or did they do it later? There is no chain of custody here with them.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST, "HANNITY": Wouldn't that be on videotape, potentially?

TRUMP: No, I don't think so. I mean, they're in a room.


COOPER: It is true, there were people in a room. That's about the only accurate part of the statement. So, now we wait to see how the former President's attorneys will respond to that, the Special Master they themselves asked for, Judge Raymond Dearie, who said in effect, put up or shut up, and he wants their response in writing in a Court filing following a real process, unlike the President, they cannot just think it. Here to talk about it, CNN political commentator, David urban, who served as campaign strategist to the former President; also CNN legal analyst and former Obama White House Ethics czar, Norm Eisen.

Norm, you worked on the classification protocol when you served in the White House. What do you say to the former President's claim that just thinking about declassifying it can declassify them and please verbally answer, not just telepathically.

NORM EISEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Anderson, you look high and low. In Executive Order 13526, which still remains the law to find a clause that says just by thinking about it, I can declassify a document, even a President has to submit to the law. That's the core American idea.

COOPER: But the President can decide -- verbally decide to declassify something, but then there is a ripple effect process, that there is evidence that he has done such a thing.

EISEN: And there has to be, Anderson, because if you think about these documents, as someone who himself had the highest security clearance, TS SCI. When I look at those papers, I don't see documents, I see people, the humans who stand behind them, Americans and our allies who gather this Intelligence, the American people who are protected by these extremely sensitive secrets and the danger that people are put in here and abroad when it gets out. That's why we have a process.

And for some of these documents, you have to go back to the classifying authority, even if you're the President. That is why we have laws and there is no place where we need them more than with these extremely sensitive, dangerous documents.

COOPER: David, is the former President doing his legal team any favors by continuing to make comments like this? Because now, with Judges telling his lawyers, look, produce the evidence for your claim, sign your own names to it; if they don't, it certainly doesn't make the former President look very good?


DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, Anderson, you're right about that. And I hate to agree with Norm, but I will. You know, the EO that exists could have been updated by Donald Trump, but he chose not to update it. President Biden hasn't chose to update it as well. It's the same EO that was in place that President Obama put in place on classified material, and it lays out specifically who the classifying authorities are and what the power is, what things should be classified and why.

And just as that process, when you submit something, the President could say, I think this should be classified, it goes to classifying an original classified authority who will then put on the document why it is classified, who classifies it, when it is classified.

And then as norm says, when the President is going to declassify it, if he did think about declassifying it, there needs to be -- there needs to be a memorandum that evidence is that, right? It goes in the reverse order saying the President thought about this, told me it should be declassified. Here is the memo how it is declassified.

Then on those documents themselves, they are stamped, declassified, in accordance with this memorandum on this date by this authority. So, there is an entire chain of custody of paperwork that would be there to evidence that, that's just not in place, and so the President is leaving his lawyers very little wiggle room here.

COOPER: Norm, the Special Master has also opened the door, actually to witness testimony. I want to get his words potentially holding a hearing, he said, "Where witnesses with knowledge of the relevant facts could be called to testify about Mar-a-Lago." Would that possibly include the former President?

EISEN: Well, if the government sought to bring the former President to that hearing, or if the President's own lawyers did so, potentially, it could.

COOPER: That seems highly unlikely.

EISEN: It is unlikely at this stage that they would do that, including, Anderson, because the President is at very -- I think, very serious, and perhaps the most serious risk of possible prosecution, we'll see what happens, because of the possession of these classified documents.

Anderson, if you or I or David had even a single one of these documents, or two or three, we would surely be investigated. And if you look at the history of the laws, very likely be prosecuted for their possession.

The President had over a hundred of them, and there is no -- when we were kids, maybe you watch "Bewitched" with Elizabeth Montgomery where she would blink her eyes and wiggle her nose and change reality, that doesn't work with classification authorities.

COOPER: David, you know, we heard some top Republican senators, in no uncertain terms rejecting the declassification claims. Obviously, look, the President's supporters probably don't care about this, you know, but does this -- when his attorneys are not able to back up his claims, what are the ripple effects for that?

URBAN: I mean, it's just -- it's going to be unfortunate. Look, at some point, you can only delay so long, right? You can ask for an en banc hearing here of the 11th Circuit, and then they're going to decide, and at some point, you know, this is going to be decided, and I don't think it's going to be decided in the President's favor, unfortunately, because as Norm points out and as many experts have pointed out, right, there's needs to be documents that evidence this declassification, right?

In 2020, there is A court hearing that said declassification cannot occur unless designated officials followed specified procedures. That's the Court ruling on a previous statement that Donald Trump made in 2020 about blanketly declassified some documents. The Court ruled in that case and said, not so.

COOPER: David Urban, Norm Eisen, appreciate it. Thank you.

Now to Michigan where supporters of the former President's election lies running for top statewide office this year, someone who has been more than willing on numerous occasions to spread that lie, but now that he is under criminal investigation, and CNN's senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin has questions for him. It's a different story.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This guy smiling for the pictures is running to be the top law enforcement official in the State of Michigan, so why is he also running from us?

Mr. DePerno, we'd like to give you every opportunity to answer some questions.

Matt DePerno, the Republican candidate for Michigan's Attorney General is also under criminal investigation for a conspiracy to unlawfully obtain access to voting machines though he hasn't been charged. He is also one of the main sources of the biggest lies surrounding the 2020 election, a debunk tale that Dominion voting tabulators changed votes from Trump to Biden.

His campaign manager initially told CNN, DePerno would do an interview, that didn't happen.

Mr. DePerno, can we just have a few minutes of your time? We've been trying to ask you questions for like a month and a half.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not right now. Excuse us, guys. Not right now.

GRIFFIN: What were you trying to do with those tabulators? What were you trying to prove?

DePerno and eight others tried to prove there was fraud in the 2020 election according to the current State Attorney General, they illegally seized voting machines and broke into the tabulators and performed tests on the equipment.


MATTHEW DEPERNO (R), MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL CANDIDATE: We've been able to show through our case, how the how the machines can actually manipulate votes.

GRIFFIN (voice over): It is simply nonsense. At one point, DePerno even posted a video of one of his so-called experts breaking into an actual voting machine, unintentionally proving how difficult it would be to manipulate votes.

Every machine would have to be physically breached, which is a crime. DEPERNO: What needs to happen here is database modification commands.

GRIFFIN: Jocelyn Benson is Michigan's Secretary of State.

That to me seems like a crime on video.

JOCELYN BENSON, MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: It sure does to me as well. Yes, and as the State's Chief Election Officer, my job is to report those potential crimes, which I did, and also ensure that any machines that were tampered with are decommissioned and replaced.

GRIFFIN (voice over): CNN has learned DePerno's so-called private investigation may have gone beyond tabulators and led to attempts to open sealed paper ballots. In an e-mail to an attorney in March 2021, the clerk of Barry County, Michigan says DePerno told her she would need to collect the ballots, which are under seal and that DePerno said they will be opening the ballot bags and resealing them. The clerk refused.

Michigan's results were not only certified, local audits and a State Senate report led by Republicans found no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The report is adopted.

GRIFFIN (voice over): What's so alarming is that DePerno's scheme in Michigan is linked to others just like it across the country. Authorities in multiple States are investigating voting machine breaches.

In a Colorado case, two men who worked with DePerno were named on a warrant in a Federal investigation for identity theft and intentional damage to a protected computer. Also named, Mike Lindell, the My Pillow guy.

MIKE LINDELL, CEO, MY PILLOW: Just demand an audit --

GRIFFIN (voice over): Who has been one of the most vocal spreaders of lies about voting machines.

And in Georgia, this surveillance video shows DePerno's IT expert -- remember that guy from that video -- in a restricted area of an election's office where voting machines were breached.

And another one of DePerno's IT experts claims in a Court case he forensically examined Dominion Democracy Suite Voting Systems in Arizona, Michigan, Colorado, and Georgia.

Secretary of State Benson says her State gave information to the Department of Justice.

BENSON: I think we've seen on every level a lot of evidence that this is a nationally coordinated effort whether it is to try to gain access to our voting machines, whether it is trying to run candidates who are spouting misinformation to become Chief Election Officers. GRIFFIN: In Michigan, not only is DePerno running for Attorney General, the Republican nominees for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Secretary of State all say they believe the meritless claim the 2020 election was fraudulent. Should they win, they would control upcoming elections.

In fact, 27 States have an election denier running for a position that could influence elections.

DAVID BECKER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR ELECTION INNOVATION AND RESEARCH: We're in a very dangerous moment right now. If people who are running on a platform of election denials, telling their voters that they will in fact put their thumb on the scale to ensure that their candidates win, we could have a real problem with actual democracy in the United States.

GRIFFIN (voice over): Election system adviser, David Becker says the danger is not just if candidates win, but also if they lose and refuse to accept the results.

BECKER: Imagine we have dozens of January 6th all over the country at different places and times.

GRIFFIN (voice over): Which is why the upcoming midterms are so consequential. In Michigan, voters will choose if election deniers will lead their State including a potential Attorney General under criminal investigation.

Are you worried you'll be indicted before the election, sir?


COOPER: And Drew joins us now. Is it a possibility he is going to be charged before Election Day? What's the status of the investigation?

GRIFFIN: You know it doesn't look like it. The special prosecutor who inherited his case has just ordered more investigative work to be done before he can make a decision on those charges -- Anderson.

COOPER: Drew Griffin, appreciate it. Thank you.

Next, what happened when CNN's Christiane Amanpour tried to interview Iran's President not seen here about a young woman's death in police custody in the week long unrest it sparked across the Islamic Republic.

And later, Alex Jones' first day of testimony in the latest Sandy Hook trial and the cruel spectacle he inflicted on the families of children whose murders he spread so many lies about.



COOPER: Iran is about to enter a second week of what is now nationwide unrest in the wake of a young woman's death in police custody. There is video tonight from the semi-official Fars News Agency showing burning cars, damaged buildings in unspecified locations across Iran.

According to Amnesty International, at least eight people had been killed in recent days, at least four by Security Forces firing metal pellets at close range. Other video shows people destroying posters of the Supreme Leader and women burning their hijabs and cutting off their hair in a symbolic show of defiance.

This all began with the death of Mahsa Amini after being arrested by Iran's notorious Morality Police for allegedly violating the country's hijab law. CNN's chief international anchor, Christiane Amanpour wanted to ask Iran's president about it, planned to during his visit to the UN General Assembly here in New York. He agreed to the interview, but then as you can see by the empty chair across from Christiane, he backed out. She however, thankfully is here with us tonight.

So, how did all this unfold? You were set to interview with him.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I was and as you can imagine, we had done quite a lot of groundwork to try to get the interview and it was difficult. There's no doubt about it.

It was difficult to get the agreement and it wasn't you know, a hundred percent until actually yesterday, Wednesday, and then it was what -- it was going to be at this hour, then it is at this hour, then it is this hour. Anyway, we turn up and as you can see, we've set up all the lights, we were told that it was going to go on and we were told he was about to come down.

So, I'm like -- about at 8:30 after saying some prayers and the rest, resting. And then I was told by one of the aides that the President had a suggestion that I should wear a headscarf.

So look, you know, I'm used to covering these kinds of situations, but I will wear a headscarf in Iran where it's actually the law and pretty much you have to, certainly, as a foreign correspondent anyway, but here, you don't.

And I just figured instantly in that moment that I had no choice, but to A., stand up for journalistic principles; and B., you know, it was happening at a very important time when the whole idea of the hijab was as you can see, an issue in this terrible round of protests.

COOPER: We should point out, we have video of you interviewing various Iranian Presidents over the years and there is this precedent of interviewing them here in the US, not wearing it.



COOPER: This time in particular, because this woman who died in police custody from these really notorious Morality Police, you know, the idea of having to wear a headscarf at that time, it's --

AMANPOUR: Well, it was just a nonstarter. I mean, it was just a nonstarter. It's never been -- it's unprecedented that we got this kind of pressure. And this kind of suggestion, I genuinely believe that A., either he did not want to do the interview, or he did not want to be seen publicly, especially inside Iran, with a female journalist who was not wearing a scarf, given the circumstances of what happened.

COOPER: What do you make of what is -- I mean, the images that we are seeing is extraordinary.

AMANPOUR: Yes, the important thing is what is happening, yes, the important thing is what is happening, and of course, I would have wanted to ask him how he is going to deal with that, which are the most significant protests in Iran since 2019. And back then, there was according to various different press sources and social media, because you know, there is no other way to get news, something like officially 1,500 were killed, others say, a lot more.

And this is taking on a whole life of its own. It is very difficult to tell where it is going to go and I know, everybody immediately wants to think, is this the end of the regime? I don't think so, because they will crack down and they are already saying it.

COOPER: And you know better than I, the state apparatus there is quite efficient today.

AMANPOUR: Very, very much so.

COOPER: It is an apparatus built for repression.

AMANPOUR: Yes, and the Revolutionary Guards were involved. They've already come out and said, you know, we're not going to tolerate chaos. Then they're those people call the Basij, which are the plainclothes, more sort of people on the streets who come and, you know, can really whip things up.

Now, we're hearing, and this I don't really get, but an all-female group unit of the Morality Police are going out to, you know, to lay down the law. What that means, I really don't know. Is it easier if females brutalize females? I don't know.

But the issue also is that the government denies it. The parents say the government is lying. And really people, as you can see have had enough. I mean, it's been 40 years in this particular hardline government started out by really going after social liberties and reforms and just tamping it down.

COOPER: Yes. Christiane Amanpour, thank you.

AMANPOUR: Thank you.

COOPER: Appreciate it. Good to see you.

Coming up, Alex Jones's first day of testimony in a new trial on the lies he told about the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings. He went off the rails. It is his second defamation trial. This new one in Connecticut, a short drive from where 20 children and six adults were murdered in 2012.



COOPER: Well, today was incredibly an emotional day for family and loved ones of eight of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre. They finally face the man who turned the day they will never forget into a nightmare that they can never escape.

Alex Jones testified for the first time in what is the second trial to determine what he owes financially to the families and others for the lies that he spread and for which he has already been found liable.

Now this time in Connecticut, and just so we're clear, because Mr. Jones likes to skate past what he has previously said, he has called the murder of 20 children and six adults in 2012 a hoax. He said it was staged. That it was "phony as a $3.00 bill." He has called it a false flag operation, comparing it to Hitler blowing up the Reichstag and that is just a sample of the pain that he has inflicted.

On a more personal level, his attacks and the anger of his followers has also been felt by individual families as well. In fact, the reach of his following is so broad that a YouTube channel carrying the trial had to shut down the comment section. The reason: "Due to threatening comments toward victims' families."

Again, it's a nightmare that even to this day they can't escape and it was on display again toward the end of today's testimony.

The parents' attorney questioned Jones about Robbie Parker. His little girl, Emily, was murdered at Newtown. In the aftermath, Robbie Parker participated in a news conference about the mass murderer and his daughter.

At the time, Jones essentially accused Robbie Parker of faking his emotion that day. Jones actually -- his actual quote at the time; "He is laughing and then he goes over and starts basically breaking down and crying." He said that about a father who had suffered the worst fate that can happen to any parent.

The plaintiff's lawyer asked Jones about those attacks on Parker who was at the trial today and that's when the courtroom exploded.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robbie Parker is sitting right here, he's real, isn't it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And for years, you put a target on his back, didn't you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection as to form --

JUDGE: Overruled.


JONES: Well, I would have said his name. It is true. I've said other people's name not knowing who they are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You put a target on his back just like you did every single parent and loved ones, didn't you? Didn't you?

JONES: No, I didn't.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Argumentative. It is speculative. There is no foundation for it and it is inappropriate at this time.

JUDGE: Let's move on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are real people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she just told us to move on.

JONES: Just like all the Iraqis that you liberals kill and love. Because you're unbelievable. You switch on emotions on and off when you want, it's just an ambulance chasing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don't you show a little respect?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection, Judge. I think that you get what you're given in this Court.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have families in this courtroom here that lost children, sisters, wives, moms.

JONES: Is this a struggle session? Are we in China? I've already said I'm sorry hundreds of times and I'm done saying I'm sorry.


COOPER: We're joined now by "The New York Times" Elizabeth Williamson who has covered the trial and was in the Courtroom today. She is the author of the remarkable book "Sandy Hook: An American tragedy and the Battle for Truth."

Elizabeth, did Alex Jones Show any kind of remorse on the stand today? And I'm wondering how the families reacted to the chaos.

ELIZABETH WILLIAMSON, AUTHOR, "SANDY HOOK": So Anderson, no, he didn't show any remorse. He has repeatedly said that he has apologized to the families, but if you try to look for evidence of that, it is non-existent.

I mean, he has -- anything he has tried to say in a kind of, you know, half way has always been accompanied by a wink and a nod to his audience, which are conspiracy-minded and continue to believe that Sandy Hook was a false flag.

So no, and the families were reacting to really what they were reacting to was a videotape of Robbie Parker talking about his daughter on the night after her death, which was also something that didn't move Alex Jones.

COOPER: He continues to raise money all this time. I mean, he is trying to make money off this trial.


WILLAMSON: Yes, he has created, sorry about that. He has created a website called Kangaroo Court in which he's inviting his supporters to help send money and support his legal defense in this case. It's notable that this is the first day that he has shown up in court even though this trial has been going on for more than two weeks. Although he's been holding press conferences out in front of the court, and maligning the trial on his show.

COOPER: We -- as we heard the family's attorneys told Jones that he'd put a target on the family's backs, we know that they still face threats from people who believe Jones' lies. You tweeted, there was actually a conspiracy theorists sitting behind you in court. What was that person saying?

WILLIAMSON: Yes, so that person came in sort of right at that pivotal moment, when Jones started falling apart, and in the proceedings started to really go off the rails. And, you know, they were playing this this videotape of Robbie, just reminiscing about Emily, in a press conference. You know, as I said, the night after her death, so he was tearful. He was trying, he was actually expressing compassion, including for the gunman. And this guy was sitting behind me kind of snickering and hissing and saying, fake. So, that just shows you how these theories have endured, and how Alex Jones continues to press the buttons of his audience a decade after the shooting.

COOPER: So, there was the other similar trial that Jones faced in Texas, the jury award of the parents of a Sandy Hook victim, almost $50 million, that total may end up being kept by state law there. What kind of judgment could Jones be facing in the trial in Connecticut?

WILLIAMSON: So here in Connecticut, the laws are quite different, as you know, I've written about for the Times, Jones has lost all four of the defamation cases filed by the Sandy Hook families against him. So, these are just trials for damages. This is the second of three. So here in Connecticut, you know, he has been found already liable for violating the Unfair Trade Practices Act here in the state by using lies to sell merchandise. So, there is no limit on the punitive damages that could be assessed to him as a result of violating that law.

So, he's really fighting for his financial life here. So maybe that accounted for some of his behavior today.

COOPER: Elizabeth Williamson, your reporting has been extraordinary. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

WILLIAMSON: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Up next, the latest on Russians trying to escape Vladimir Putin's mobilization order. Plus, I'll speak with the International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor investigating allegations war crimes and got his response the attack level at him today at the UN by Russia's Foreign Minister.



COOPER: Vladimir Putin's new mobilization to revive his depleted forces in Ukraine and spark images like this. Long queues at Russia's land border with an agent in Georgia. At least 1,300 have been detained across the country for anti-war protests, the scenes of the actual mobilization can also be heartbreaking, tearful goodbyes between family members was a far more tense scenes and at the UN Security Council meeting in New York, their Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived, gave his speech blaming Ukraine for the invasion, then essentially walked out. He also attacked our next guest Karim Khan, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, who's been in Ukraine investigating allegations of war crimes.


SEGREY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (in translation): We have no confidence in the work of this body. For eight months, we were waiting for steps to be taken against impunity in Ukraine. And we don't expect anything more from this institution or a whole range of other international institutions.


COOPER: I'm joined now by Karim Khan, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court. Any response to what he said?

KARIM ASAD AHMAD KHAN, INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT CHIEF PROSECUTOR: And no, it was interesting. I think you summarized it very accurately. No confidence in international institutions, not just International Criminal Court, but the other institutions as well. And all one can do is keep trying to do one's job.

COOPER: Let's talk about what you're doing in Ukraine, because it's really extraordinary. I mean, this is the biggest operation field operation for the ICC. Is that right?

KHAN: Absolutely. The biggest deployment in the history of the ICC was in May. And since then, I've had a continuous field presence in the field investigating crimes within our jurisdiction.

COOPER: And can you explain how you are working? I mean, obviously, we've seen images of horrible things happening in Ukraine, you have to figure out a chain of command, you have to figure out what is actually something you can gather evidence and prosecute. How do you go about? KHAN: Well, you know, divided up and tried to have a structural investigation and looking at the information we receive and trying to verify it. So, I've identified certain priorities. I'm trying to partner with the Ukrainians, or the national authorities, and I've got people on the ground. One has seen clear, and you've been all over Ukraine. You've seen the bodies in Bucha. And you've seen the destruction of our buildings in (INAUDIBLE) and want to seem clear allegations that I think have a solid basis to, you know, what appears to be the targeting of hospitals and schools. And one is focusing on those and look at the children, thousands of children apparently have been moved into Ukraine.

So, it's focused on those then trying to look at the different reservoir of evidence, witnesses, but other evidence as well, to see what is the truth and that's what it's about. It's not about politics. It's about getting to the bottom of what's going on.

COOPER: Suddenly, you said in your speech today really struck me, you said in any conflict, there are responsibilities. Anybody who picks up a gun anybody who fires a missile must realize that the law is alive and not in slumber and that accountability is absolutely essential. And that requires determined action.

That notion that you want Russian soldiers any soldiers in the field to know that the law is not in slump, but the law is alive and will apply to them that they have agency over their own actions.


KHAN: Absolutely. I mean we know from Nuremberg superior auditors no defense and whether you're a senior commander or foot soldier, nobody should labor under a misapprehension that they can get away with it that in the fog of war, one can rape or kill or target people, because in the end, science has progressed. And there's a multiplicity of sources, that in the end, whatever the difficulty is, we have a track record International, being able to build case against those individuals that are most responsible, and we need to do our job. And we need persistence and determination amongst international authorities as well.

COOPER: I mean, you've devoted your life to, to the law to justice. Often in the past, the ICC has worked after a conflict is over the you are -- I mean, this is ongoing. And is that -- that's got to bring in some challenges.

KHAN: It does. But it also brings opportunities. I mean, we're not here for ourselves as lawyers or for judges, we have to be here for the most vulnerable. And that means whatever the inconvenience whatever the difficulty is, we need to be where we most needed. And unfortunately, and when we're investigating war crimes, very often the best place to be is in a war zone. And the opportunity is very often battlefield evidence is available. And that persistence, that determination, I think, allows us to build partnerships with different authorities, the United Nations and different stakeholders, but actually grab evidence collected and then scrutinize it so that we can hopefully get to the bottom of what's going on. COOPER: Vladimir Putin has announced mobilization at least 300,000 Russian troops perhaps could be involved. What are you most worried about this conflict escalate? I mean, what worries you most right now about this conflict and about being able to do your job?

KHAN: Well, I think everybody has a multiplicity of worries. I mean, from the children that are crossing borders with plastic bags, and with, you know, mothers or grandmothers. That's a massive worry, what will happen to their futures? What will happen -- will they have something to go back to, but you know, this is also an existential threat, in many ways, because we have the Secretary General of the United Nations, never mind, President Putin and others have raised the specter of nuclear weapons. So, this is something that should stop us in our tracks, not to be diverted or to be bullied. But to realize this is a very pivotal moment, what we need to do is understand that the rule of law and accountability has a part to play. It's not going to solve, you know, all the issues in the world. But it's we need to realize that that is one of the anchors of stability and security.

And to try to deliver on promises made since Nuremberg. And we will keep saying never again, we keep lamenting and crying when we see Rwanda and we see Yugoslavia, and we see bombed out hospitals and schools and shelters and refugees, you know, in Bangladesh from the Rohingya, from Myanmar. But what are we doing about it? And I think this has to be a wake-up moment. It has to be a moment where we finally say, whatever their short-term political difficulties, that compliance with the rule of law brings is the only option we've got if we're going to try to have a good chance of peace and security, because it's not a God given right. You've got to work for peace, you've got to earn peace. And that requires holding on to principle, not expedience.

COOPER: Karim Khan, appreciate your time. Thank you.

KHAN: Thanks.

COOPER: Appreciate what you're doing.

Up next, Dr. Mehmet Oz is dilemma in the Pennsylvania Senate races as he takes on his Democratic opponent Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman.



COOPER: Midterm elections are just over six weeks away and few states are any more pivotal than Pennsylvania where 2020 election deniers, the Republican nominee for governor Doug Mastriano. He had a key role in supporting the former president's efforts to overturn the election and was part of the mob the Capitol on January 6, but never went into the building. Pennsylvania's outgoing Republican senators Pat Toomey, who interestingly has yet to even weigh in on Mastriano.

Our Manu Raju caught up with Senator Toomey on Capitol Hill today.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Why have you not taking a position on Doug Mastriano, why don't you weigh into that race?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R-PA): Because I'm focused on the Senate race.

RAJU (on-camera): You want to weigh in any further about him or would you give we make your position known before November on him?

TOOMEY: We'll see.


COOPER: The outgoing Republican senator won't come in on the Republican running for governor make that what you will as for the Senate race, Toomey says he's focused on CNN's Jessica Dean -- focused on as CNN's Jessica Dean caught up with voters in a Pennsylvania diner to get their take on the two candidates, Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz and Democrat Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two hours west of Pittsburgh, Bedford Pennsylvania is home to an historic downtown, scenic landscape, and some of the Commonwealth's most conservative voters. Former President Donald Trump won this county with more than 83% of the vote in 2020.

UNDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): United States of America.

DEAN (voice-over): Every week, a group of retired veterans meets at the Route t220 diner to drink coffee and talk politics.

CLAY BUCKINGHAM, BEDFORD COUNTY VOTER: These are people that are running businesses and saying let us run our own show and we're -- we may not have all the education that you do and we may not know all of the intricate things about economics, but we know how to balance your checkbook.

DEAN (voice-over): This is the same diner Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz visited back in February. Oz eked out a primary victory after a recount winning by just 951 votes and faced the immediate challenge of consolidating the support of a somewhat skeptical Pennsylvania GOP base.

NED FREAR, BEDFORD COUNTY VOTER: Oz was Trump's candidate. It's not our candidate. People in Bedford County are probably going to hold their noses and vote for him. Because Fetterman is a dead loss as a candidate.


BUCKINGHAM: That's my feeling about Oz, I'm sorry that I'm going to have to vote for him, but I'd rather see him as Senator than see Fetterman. DEAN (voice-over): A recent CBS News poll show just 36% of Oz's supporters say they are, quote, very enthusiastic about voting for him, 64% of Republican voters in Pennsylvania said they wished someone else had been nominated. Still in Bedford and neighboring Somerset County where Trump won with more than 77% of the vote. Most Republican voters we spoke with are ready to cast their ballot for Oz. More than anything eager to deny his opponent Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman a win.

GUY BERKEBILE, CHAIRMAN, SOMERSET COUNTY GOP: The big prize is control the Senate.

DEAN (voice-over): Guy Berkebile is the chairman of the Somerset County Republican Party. And he acknowledges that some local voters had doubts about the television doctor.

BERKEBILE: We're a very Christian based conservative county. They were somewhat hesitant on Dr. Oz at first, no, they weren't sold on his Second Amendment stance. A lot of pro-lifers here. You know, they weren't sold on whether he was prolife or not. Some of them it took a little bit of time, but you're realizing that, you know, my best option is to vote for Dr. Oz.

DEAN (voice-over): Like a lot of the people who live here, Karen Walker-Shaffer, and Terri Mitchell have known each other for decades. And they share a lot of the same concerns about the state of the nation.

KAREN WALKER-SHAFFER, SOMERSET COUNTY VOTER: The economy, inflation is just out of this world right now. Energy is a big issue right now. And then, of course, the border crisis.

DEAN (voice-over): Mitchell said she met Oz and his wife and found them to be genuine.

TERRI MITCHELL, SOMERSET COUNTY VOTER: Obviously, he's our candidate of choice now. So, we need to back him because red is better than blue.

DEAN (voice-over): Jennifer Feedly (ph) also saw Oz in person when he visited Somerset.

UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to listen to what he had to say. And I liked a lot of things that he had to say.

DEAN (on-camera): Are they voting for Oz or against Fetterman?

BERKEBILE: The sense that I get is that it's a very small portion of our voters who are saying, you know, I got to hold my nose vote for Oz, I guess. You know most of them have come on board. I am not getting any feedback that people are going to sit the election out.

DEAN (voice-over): Jessica Dean, CNN, Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, still to come tonight, meet my champion for change. Jimmy Hatch, a former Navy SEAL who served in the war in Afghanistan, almost lost his life there. He's been investigating the war with others so the U.S. doesn't make the same mistakes again. His journey, next.



COOPER: All this week in a series we call Champions For Change. CNN is bringing you stories of everyday people who are changing society and getting things done.

Tonight, I'm honored to bring the story of my champion for change my friend Jimmy Hatch, he's a retired Navy SEAL who's working to avoid the mistakes learned by the war in Afghanistan for future American conflicts. And he's doing it with the help of college students, many of whom were just babies at the beginning of the United States as long as war.


COOPER (voice-over): It's been a long journey for former Navy SEAL Jimmy Hatch to the Halls of Yale. At 55 after a lifetime of service, he's finally pursuing his college degree and investigating the war that nearly cost him his life.

We first met Jimmy back in 2015.

JIMMY HATCH, FMR NAVY SEAL: Hostage rescue stuff is really hard.

COOPER (voice-over): He was speaking out for the first time about a mission to rescue Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan. On the mission, Jimmy Hatch suffered a catastrophic gunshot wound.

HATCH: Hit me right about the knee, (INAUDIBLE) kind of out the back of my leg.

COOPER (voice-over): Jimmy had to be rescued, bandaged and bleeding his 21 years as a Navy SEAL were over. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his actions that night.

HATCH: Will not lose this war. Because that's deep. There's a lot of layers. And we're all blessed.

COOPER (voice-over): Hatch had was blessed to survive, but his military dog Remco was killed on the mission. He honored Remco and other working dogs who helped save lives by founding Spikes K9 Fund, a charity that provides protective gear and training for working dogs who face danger.

In 2017, I first profiled Jimmy as a Champion For Change. And he convinced me to go skydiving with him to raise money for Spikes K9 Fund. In 2019, after a chance meeting with a Yale professor on another skydiving trip, Jimmy was encouraged to apply to Yale's Eli Whitney program for non-traditional students with exceptional backgrounds and aspirations.

HATCH: And a few months later, I received an e-mail saying that I was accepted. And I was shocked and I looked at my wife and she said, you'd be an idiot if you just didn't know.

COOPER (voice-over): So, age 52, Jimmy Hatch became the oldest freshman in Yales class of 2023.

Last year during the United States is chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, I asked Jimmy to come on CNN, someone fought and lost so much there.

HATCH: I just think we did a lot of wrong things in Afghanistan. And I think the solution is to figure out how not to do it again.

COOPER (voice-over): Turns out Yale University like Jimmy's idea, in a matter of weeks, they designed a year long class to investigate what went wrong and Afghanistan, and produce a report of their findings. They invited Jimmy the undergraduate to not only take the graduate level class, but to be an unofficial co-professor with a retired U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson.

ANNE PATTERSON, FMR U.S. AMBASSADOR: Jimmy was basically the founder or the brainchild behind the course. And he was a huge benefit, because Jimmy had had on the ground experience in Afghanistan.

HATCH: My first class was in that.

KATIE TAYLOR, YALE UNIVERSITY JUNIOR: Jimmy, when he came to you, I think, showed us that education of service to that his service to the country didn't end when he stopped being a Navy SEAL and serving in active combat. But his idea that this was a new phase of his service to the country, and that he was there to learn something so that the world would be better.


COOPER (voice-over): The class spent months speaking to a number of generals, ambassadors, members of the Afghan Special Forces and even a spokesman for the Taliban.

HATCH: I do believe that one of the things that needs to happen if the military is going to stop being the easy button for how we solve things is we're going to have to talk to people who don't want to talk to you. And so, for me, the last people in the world I want to talk to was the Taliban.

COOPER (voice-over): Jimmy Hatch hopes the report will inspire Americans of all walks of life, to hold the country's leaders accountable in America's future conflicts.

HATCH: I believe that in a way, a part of the United States of America died in Afghanistan, and that my classmates, and I picked them up and brought them into our classroom and are attempting to bury them with respect and learn the lessons that created them.


COOPER: Well, if you're interested reading the report by Jimmy and his class, there's the link at the bottom of your screen Also, if you want to find out more about Jimmy's charity go to Be sure to tune in Saturday 8:00 p.m. Eastern for the Champions for Change one hour special.

The news continues. Let's hand over to Sara Sidner in "CNN TONIGHT." Sara.