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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
A Measure Of Justice; Jury: Alex Jones Should Pay Nearly $1 Billion To Sandy Hook Families; Source: Trump Employee Told FBI That Trump Directed Boxes To Be Moves To Mar-a-Lago After Subpoena Was Served; Sources: Jan. 6 Committee Will Treat Tomorrow's Hearing As A Closing Argument Ahead Of The November Midterms; New Poll: GA Senate Race Virtually Unchanged By Abortion Accusations Against Herschel Walker; Russian State Media: Eight People Detained In Connection With Crimea Bridge Blast. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 12, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: If you're looking at the House overall, Oregon, I think is a good snapshot. Republicans are certainly favored there. I think the question is whether they have a net gain of ten, twenty or potentially even 30 seats if it's a good Republican night.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Incredible. All right, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Harry Enten with the data. Watch Oregon.
And thanks for watching us. Now watch Anderson if you will. AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
I want to start tonight by taking a moment to share with you a picture of Emilie Parker. She was six years old when a gunman murdered her and 25 other children and staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School nearly 10 years ago.
Conspiracy peddler and profiteer, Alex Jones slandered this little girl's memory with his online rantings and tormented her father Robbie, whom you'll hear from tonight.
Take a look at Dylan Hockley. He was also six, also murdered in the worst elementary school mass shooting this country has ever endured and conspiracy peddler and profiteer, Alex Jones slandered his memory for money and tormented his parents as well. You'll hear from Dylan's mom, Nicole, tonight.
Conspiracy peddler and profiteer Alex Jones also slandered the memory of school psychologist Mary Sherlach. Her husband Bill joins us. So does, Erica Lafferty, daughter of school principal, Dawn Hochsprung. Her mom did what we hope we would all do. When she first heard shots, she left her office, ran toward the gunman, doing her best to warn others and save lives before the killer murdered her. No one can possibly imagine what her family, Mary Sherlach's family,
Dylan Hockley's family, and Emily Parker's family and all the Sandy Hook families have been through since that day and it wouldn't be bad enough and such a profound loss than all they've had to live with; instead, thanks to this person, Alex Jones, they've had to endure far worse.
They've been told their loss never happened, that their children and parents and spouses weren't actually murdered, maybe didn't even exist.
So, if there were true justice in this world, Jones would have been struck silent today when a Waterbury, Connecticut jury awarded nearly a billion dollars to them, and an FBI agent he tormented with his lies for so many years.
In a better world, he would have said nothing except perhaps to ask his listeners from whom he makes millions by selling them questionable nutritional supplements for help paying up or perhaps asking a higher guidance for forgiveness. Instead, when the judgment was read, he was on the air streaming the very same show, spreading the very same garbage he always has, deaf to whatever shred of conscience or decency he might have, which he doesn't, indifference to his victims tears.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To plaintiff Robbie Parker, A. Defamation/slander damages as to the future $60 million. B. Emotional distress damages past and future, $60 million. Total fair just and reasonable damages to plaintiff, Robert Parker and against Alex Jones and Free Speech Systems. Headline A. Headline B. Total $120 million. Initials by juror number one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In all, jurors awarded $965 million for defamation by Jones and his company for falsely denying the incident, denying their losses, and portraying them as so-called crisis actors, that's something that does not exist outside the fever dreams of conspiracy theorists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX JONES, INFOWARS HOST: Then we see footage of one of the reported fathers of the victims, Robbie Parker, doing classic acting training where he is laughing and joking and they say, "Hey, we're live," he goes, "Oh" and maybe that's real. I'm sure it is.
ROBERT PARKER, EMILIE PARKER'S FATHER: I already felt like I failed Emilie as a dad when she was alive, because I -- because we sent her to school. And I was especially starting to feel like I was failing her in her death because of what people were saying about her and what they were saying about me trying to remember her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Beyond even that, they had to endure threats from Jones' followers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This gentleman took out a phone and started recording and pulled out from his pocket a picture of me and my siblings. He took the picture and shoved it in my face and asked me to explain this picture and why I was pretending that my sister existed. He was eerily calm, but also aggressive.
NICOLE HOCKLEY, DYLAN HOCKLEY'S MOTHER: I got sent pictures of dead kids because I was told that as a crisis actor, I didn't really know what a dead kid looked like, so this is what it should look like. I got mail saying that, you know, "Eff Dylan and eff you. We're going to extend an RIP greeting to you," and in parentheses RIP was "Rot in Pieces." I got a mail -- a piece of mail telling me to slit my wrists before they did it for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Jones was confronted about all of that in Court, but proclaimed himself fresh out of regret.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have families in this Courtroom here that lost children, sisters, wives, moms.
JONES: Is this is a struggle session? Are we in China? I've already apologized to the parents over and over again. I don't apologize to you. I don't apologize to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection. Objection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He certainly did not today and he really never has apologized. As we said, he was not in Court, but on the air he mocked the decision, he vowed to appeal. He also said there, "Ain't no money," to pay the damages despite having the money last week to flee the Courtroom surrounded by bodyguards who seem to have coordinated their outfits and leave town in a private jet.
Now my conversation with Robbie Parker, Erica Lafferty, Nicole Hockley, and Bill Sherlach.
COOPER: Nicole, this has been, obviously a nightmare from beginning to end, and it's not over. How did you feel today hearing the verdict?
HOCKLEY: You know, when the first -- when the first number came out for Robbie, I realized this was going to be something historic and the -- it was just -- the rush of feelings and emotions was just completely overwhelming. And I think I missed a lot after that, because I was just very much in the sort of, "Oh my gosh, they are really sending a message here and this is going to create change." So, it's been such an up and down ride, especially these last few
weeks, and now, I'm just feeling very positive because some justice is being done.
COOPER: Robbie, for you, what was that moment like?
PARKER: I don't even know if I can speak to the moment just like for myself, because I was so concentrated on what this meant for everybody that was -- has been in this with me. And remember that it's not just the families that are on this lawsuit that have been victims of Alex Jones. There are a numberless amount of people in this country, even his own listeners that have fallen victim to Alex Jones.
So, I think this number represents more than just us. I think what the jury came back with today represents the amount of damage that he has done to us as families of Sandy Hook, to other people, and to a nation.
COOPER: Erica, what has this day been like for you?
ERICA LAFFERTY, DAUGHTER OF SANDY HOOK VICTIM, DAWN HOCHSPRUNG: A whirlwind. I could not have asked to be with more loving and supporting people, both the families, as well as our legal team. I am just so incredibly thankful for everything that every single person in that room has done for me. But most importantly, I am so thankful for the really, really strong message that was hammered down by the jury today, not just for Alex Jones, but for anyone who has a sick aspiration to be like him.
COOPER: Bill, when you began this quest for justice, I'm sure you knew how difficult it was going to be. There were a lot of people who probably said, "Well, it can't be done." How did today feel?
BILL SHERLACH, HUSBAND OF SANDY HOOK VICTIM, MARY SHERLACH: An utter amount of relief. We never really knew where this was going to head or what was going to happen, and then with the default that occurred, then it was just a matter of, okay, we've determined that, what's the message going to be? What kind of response are we going to have from our jury who hung in there and did a phenomenal job? You know, what message are we going to send?
I mean, we all belong to a club that, trust me, no one wants to belong to. And over near 10 years, we've gotten to be very close, again, for all the most horrific reasons in the world and you know, at the end of it all, all I could think about was my family and what it has been like over these last almost 10 years and again, as the others have stated, the message is a very strong one in terms of a risk-reward trade-off for trying to do anything like this in the future.
COOPER: I mean, it sickens me that you had to be in the same room with this person, that you had to have this person in your head for all of these years. Do you believe that it will be possible to get him to pay what he has now been told to pay? I mean, he is flying around in private jets, he has, it seems like
endless thugs, security goons around him at all times, which he likes to show off. He has been profiting off this.
HOCKLEY: You know, well, this now goes to the Texas Bankruptcy Court, and they will be the ones to make sure that this gets paid. And, you know, we understand that he has been on his show today, talking about his GoFundMe cause for, you know, raising money for this.
So, you know, it'd be easier to just cut out the middleman and send the checks directly to Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, because that is where the money's going.
SHERLACH: As the verdict started to come through, you could see each and every one of the legal team basically break down realizing that what their efforts are going to pay off here for basically society as a whole.
COOPER: And it is true because you say pay off, and I don't think, I know that for all of you, this is not about money, that money is a way to make -- perhaps make others in the future not go down this road, not tell these lies, not terrorize families in the lowest moments of their life.
For you what -- for each of you, what was the driving motivation here?
LAFFERTY: Money is all that Alex Jones cares about, and the only way to even begin to start to explain, I don't know, how he's made us feel is to hit him in the pocket. It's the only thing that's going to prevent him from doing this to other families. It's the only shot that we ever have of him stopping the hate and the lies and the conspiracy that he has thrown down on us for the last decade.
Money is all that matters to him and this was the only way to get a message across to him, in my opinion.
PARKER: On a personal note, for me, the payoff for me was being able to take Emilie's story back. Being able to, throughout all of this mess, remind people about who she was, and what she meant to me and her mom and her sisters. And for me personally, getting my own story back.
And so for me, the payoff was Alex Jones used the statement I gave years ago as a way to torture me and to profit from it, and he was forced to sit in the Courtroom and listen to every word that I had to say that night and I hadn't done that since that night. And I almost forgot what it was that I've shared with the world and he had to listen to that. And that was a huge payoff for me to get that back.
And then the second I stepped off the stand, I knew that I had done exactly what I needed to do in this and it didn't matter what the outcome was. That's what I gained and that was enough for me.
COOPER: I don't know if any of you want to in this moment, but I don't want to leave this interview with the name of this awful person in our -- in all our heads. I'd rather focus on the photographs of your loved ones and in the lives that they lived.
And Robbie talked about Emilie, is there anything you would like people to know about Emilie? Or what would you like people to know about her if you want?
PARKER: We don't have enough time for me to talk about what Emilie means to me and what I think she can mean to a lot of people and that -- take the time to get to know who she really is.
But Emilie means the world to me and her mom. She made our family the best version of ourselves, and anybody that got to know her, really, really knows what a privilege it was.
And so to be able to stand here as her dad and continue to protect her in the way that she needs to be protected, even after she was killed, that means a lot to me. And she's just a beautiful person. What else can I say?
SHERLACH: When you look at what Erika's mom and my wife did that morning, and the courage that it took to run out into that hallway to protect their kids and their staff, what we've what -- at least personally for me, what I've done is nothing compared to the courage that she showed and Dawn showed that morning.
And if we can keep the future events like this that will happen, and they are going to happen, but if we can, at least make it easier for those people who survive and try to live their lives in some sort of normal respect, if that's at all possible, is why I was on this trek in the first place.
COOPER: And Bill, I just want to point out for our viewers, your wife, Mary worked at the school. We were just showing her picture; Erica, your mom, Dawn was the principal of the school.
LAFFERTY: She was. I have said, not just for the last near decade, but for my entire life, if I could ever be a fraction of the person my mom was and impact lives in the way that she did, I would have a very a fulfilled life and I hope that what we did, as the families, as a team, as my new family, I just -- I just hope that she is proud.
COOPER: Nicole, is there anything you want to say, before we go?
HOCKLEY: You know, Dylan was the center of my universe and to have his name remain in positive ways and not be defamed, defaced, slandered is so important to me, and I really did this for my surviving son, Jake. He has been through so much pain already. And he is 18 now and I want him to live in a future where he won't be harassed, where people won't come up to him and say, "Oh, you were part of that Sandy Hook hoax." I want him to believe in the good of people and the power of humanity and I'm hoping that, that this is going to provide that for him, restore his faith and belief as well.
COOPER: Nicole, and Erica, and Robbie, and Bill, I appreciate your time tonight. And I so appreciate your strength in continuing this fight. Thank you.
LAFFERTY: Thank you.
SHERLACH: Thank you, Anderson.
PARKER: Thank you.
HOCKLEY: Thank you.
COOPER: It is a remarkable victory. Our legal panel next on the likelihood among other things of getting even a penny out of this guy, Alex Jones.
And later a significant new development in the Mar-a-Lago documents case reporting by CNN and "The Washington Post," that the former President himself gave orders to move boxes of them after his legal team was served a subpoena for classified documents.
COOPER: We're talking tonight about the $965 million judgment against Alex Jones in his Sandy Hook defamation trial. Now before the break, here is how plaintiff Eric Lafferty described it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAFFERTY: Money is all that Alex Jones cares about, and the only way to even begin to start to explain -- I don't know, how he has made us feel -- is that to hit him in the pocket. It is the only thing that's going to prevent him from doing this to other families. It's the only shot that we ever have of him stopping the hate and the lies and the conspiracy that he has thrown down on us for the last decade.
Money is all that matters to him and this was the only way to get a message across to him in my opinion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, Alex Jones has said today he hasn't gotten the money. He has put his company into bankruptcy, which the families are challenging and his lawyer tried to cloak it all today in the First Amendment, calling this "A very, very, very dark day for freedom of speech."
Joining us now, CNN legal analyst, criminal defense attorney, and former New York prosecutor Paul Callan; also First Amendment expert, constitutional scholar, and University of Miami Law Professor Mary Anne Franks.
Paul, obviously a huge victory for the families. This award, I think you said earlier, may be the largest of its kind in a case like this.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It may very well be the largest in American history, certainly in terms of a case that combines defamation with extreme emotional distress in a State case like this.
COOPER: Is it possible a Judge would knock down -- I mean, this was a jury verdict.
CALLAN: Well, it's not unusual for big, big verdicts like this to get knocked down. But let's face it, he is facing a billion dollars almost in liability right now, even if it was knocked down to $500 million or $300 million, it still will be a colossal, enormous amount of money, enough to destroy him financially.
COOPER: Professor Franks, for people who aren't legal experts, can you just explain where free speech ends and defamation begins?
MARY ANNE FRANKS, FIRST AMENDMENT EXPERT, CONSTITUTIONAL SCHOLAR, AND UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI LAW PROFESSOR: Well, it's sometimes a difficult line and we don't really get a lot of clarity from this case, because this is a default judgment, but as a general matter, defamation is when you have false statements of facts as opposed to opinion and they are made by someone who was either fully aware that they are false statements or exhibit some kind of recklessness or negligence with regard to whether or not those statements are false and there is some kind of injury that you can count that actually flows to the victims of this particular defamation.
And so the First Amendment and free speech covers a broad range of really harmful speech, of a lot of mistakes that people might make about facts, but when you've got someone who knowingly is promoting false statements that are injurious to someone, the First Amendment really does not provide protection.
COOPER: Paul, how hard is it to get money from somebody like Alex Jones? I mean, you can have a judgment, but there are a lot of States where it is hard to get money from people who have defrauded people.
CALLAN: It is very difficult and looking at his financial empire, and by the way, this entire case is him lying about the killings of these poor children at Sandy Hook was made only to make money. He was selling supplements with a conspiracy theorists who loves to watch him.
CALLAN: But he created shell corporations where he hides his money and he moves his money around, and he also has tried to use the Bankruptcy Courts to protect his money.
I don't think the bankruptcy defense is going to work for him because when the conduct involved is intentional and fraudulent, the Courts are very hesitant to allow you to get out from under a judgment by claiming bankruptcy.
So, this judgment could hang over his head for the rest of his life.
COOPER: So I mean, you see him flying around on a private plane, you see him flanked by bodyguards, who I assume are getting paid, or maybe they're just acolytes of his and he wants to make himself look important. But he, clearly, somebody is paying for a private plane. Is that like a shell corporation? And can you just say, well, that corporation paid for it, I had nothing to do with it.
CALLAN: Well, that's what people try to do when they're trying to hide money. They create a shell corporation or they have somebody else that they induced to start the corporation and then on the sly, they slip them money, which comes back to the person involved.
But if you're a careful investigator, you can expose these frauds and track the money down and collect the money, and especially for somebody like him, there was testimony that he has made as much as $100 million, which I find astounding selling supplements to people who believe his crazy theories.
I don't think it will be difficult to track his money down. Remember, this judgment was just handed down. There haven't been a lot of other judgments that, you know, are viable and are being enforced against him, but it is all going to come down at him now.
COOPER: Professor Franks, beyond Alex Jones, do you think this verdict will have an impact on or serve as a warning to others who spread just vile conspiracy theories and try to profit off them?
FRANKS: In some ways, that is the most encouraging thing about this verdict because what it really does signal is a rejection of this attempt to hijack the First Amendment and to claim free speech about lies and to try to profit from that kind of propaganda, and it is not just about Alex Jones. That's the business model for so many, far- right extremists, so many bigots.
This is really a sign that says you want to skate on this thin ice here, well, sometimes you might get away with it, sometimes you might not. But the profit model is not going to work for you or at least it's not certain to work and this entire enterprise of pretending that what you are doing is protected by the First Amendment is starting to look really dubious.
COOPER: Yes. Mary Anne Franks, appreciate your time tonight; Paul Callan as well, thank you.
Just ahead, new reporting leading up to the FBI's search at Mar-a-Lago in August and what an employee of the former President has now told investigators.
COOPER: New details tonight in the former President's actions leading up to the Mar-a-Lago search A source tells CNN that an employee the former president told the FBI about moving boxes from a basement storage room tom Mar-a-Lago after the former president's legal team was served a subpoena for classified documents. Now this on the former president's order. The source also says the FBI is surveillance video showing a staffer moving boxes out of the storage room. The Washington Post was first to report the witness account. Joining me now is the Washington Post national security reporter, Devlin Barrett, he shares the byline on the story.
Devlin, so what more can you tell us about this Trump employee what they're claiming about the former President's actions?
DEVLIN BARRETT, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: So, it's a really interesting twist in the investigation. And that's we're told that the first time the FBI interviewed this person, this person said they didn't move boxes, they didn't have anything to do with the documents. And the second time this person was interviewed, they told a very different story. And that's that, in fact, this person did move boxes and did so at the ex-president's specific instruction.
That's important for a couple reasons. One, because it's someone describing what the President said to do. And two, because that description pairs up and tracks with the security footage that they, that the investigators have. And those two things together, are they believe are powerful evidence.
COOPER: Do you know who this person is? And do you know why they changed their story?
BARRETT: The folks I've been talking to are very protective of this person's identity. It's not quite clear exactly why they -- why their account changes so significantly, but I do think one of the things to understand that has obviously been going on, and it's hard to see from the outside, but obviously the FBI has been gathering a lot of information throughout. And sometimes what can happen in cases is that one version of events doesn't really hold up to scrutiny as the FBI continues to gather information.
COOPER: How important would these witness accounts likely had been in convincing key figures within the FBI and the Department of Justice actually seek the court authorized search of the former president's property in August?
BARRETT: I'm told this person is considered a very important witness, important in the development in the investigation, important in their understanding of what happened, and obviously important in ultimately the decision to execute a search warrant. Because, again, the witness account matches what they see on the security footage.
COOPER: Is it clear to you where the investigation that, is that in the stage?
BARRETT: That is very hard to say. I think it's clear that they are moving forward in in a fairly brisk pace. But you know, federal investigations are often much slower than the public expects them to be. So, you know, what is fast to an FBI agent or a prosecutor doesn't necessarily feel fast to people who are not at the Justice Department or the FBI.
COOPER: Yes. Devlin Barrett, appreciate it. Fascinating reporting. Thank you.
BARRETT: Thank you.
COOPER: We're less than a month from the midterms and the house January 6 committee is set to hold another hearing tomorrow with new testimony and evidence.
CNN's special correspondent Jamie Gangel joins us now with her new reporting on tomorrow's proceedings. So, what are your sources telling you about what may happen tomorrow?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Anderson, we're being told all roads lead to Donald Trump. Big picture. The hearing is supposed to focus on quote, his state of mind and his involvement, the events around January 6, that's according to someone familiar with the committee's work.
I'm also told the committee is expected to make the point that almost two years later Donald Trump remains a clear and present danger to democracy. And that's not just a slogan, they are going to point out that he continues to pretend the election was stolen, he continues to rile up his supporters with lies. And they believe he is setting up for repeat in 2024.
We're also told there's going to be a great deal of new documentary evidence, new witnesses, including possibly members of Trump's cabinet, new revealing e-mails from the Secret Service and expect new video that we have never seen before from January 6.
COOPER: Is it clear that the committee is going to present evidence or testimony from people in the former president's inner circle?
GANGEL: So, I think we are going to see more testimony and sort of two categories. We've been told to expect new evidence from witnesses we've seen before, as well as new witnesses that we've never seen before, and possibly former cabinet members, three cabinet members who were interviewed over the course of the summer, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Treasury Secretary Minuchin, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao who resigned on January 6, all three had been interviewed. And I'm told they were asked about the 25th Amendment, and what they thought about January 6, those are all possible.
COOPER: And this we believe, right is the last hearing before the midterm elections. What do you think the committee will do next?
GANGEL: So first of all, I want to say Never Say Never. The committee, though, they still have to come to a decision about whether to send a criminal referral or referrals to the Department of Justice. So, I think we're going to see that down the road. They're going to gather in December to release the report.
But Anderson, I just want to I was told last night, do not rule out more hearings, maybe not before the midterm elections. But the committee is continuing to do interviews, their investigators are still working. And if they find something, there could always be a pop-up hearing. I expect they're going to use every day between now and the end of the year, Anderson.
COOPER: Jamie Gangel, appreciate it. Thanks.
Our special coverage of the committee hearings begins tomorrow at noon, Eastern. Is going to continue through, excuse me, through the afternoon. Hope you can join us for that.
Up next, new polling in the Georgia Senate race and the questions they raise, are the abortion allegations against Republican Herschel Walker turning voters away from him and toward the Democratic challenger. We'll take a look at the numbers and talk to James Carville.
COOPER: And tonight, new polling from Quinnipiac University in the Georgia Senate race conducted after the abortion allegations against Republican Herschel Walker were first reported last week. It shows Walker behind his Democratic opponents and Raphael Warnock 52 to 45% among likely voters. It's about the same as a mid-September poll. Also, Warnock's favorability ratings unchanged at 50%. While 55% of likely voters now have an unfavorable view of Walker, which is down four percentage points from last month.
Joining us to talk more about it, Democratic strategist James Carville, who advised Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign.
James what it tell you, that, despite all the recent controversy around Herschel Walker and abortion, according to polls, race remains basically unchanged.
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I mean, it's unchanged, but Herschel Walker is not in a very good position. And, you know, I don't think the abortion allegations that mean, what he did in that was, in my opinion, almost honorable. Of course, he lied about it, and Republicans are hypocrites on abortion, but it is really disturbing is the fact that he neglects his children. And he's tried to choke one of their mothers and tried to put a gun to the head of another one.
I mean, I think Herschel Walker is just the perfect vehicle to expose the rot, it's the modern Republican Party. It's almost like he was divinely sent here is an example of just how rotten they are.
COOPER: Well, so let me ask you the flip then, if Democrats had a candidate as flawed as Walker on the ballot, and control the Senate hung in the balance, I mean, do you really think they would act any differently than Tom Cotton who's gone to campaign or you know, the others?
CARVILLE: Well, I would like to think so. But understand the origin of Herschel Walker was, he was discovered as a potential candidate by Lindsey Graham, who talked Donald Trump into backing him who Georgia Republicans nominated as the nominee. I would hope and I don't know this, there would be no United States senator on the Democratic side, who would be so stupid is to recommend Herschel Walker. And I don't think there's any Democratic ex-president who would be so stupid as to back him as Donald Trump. Peddling (ph) said that political parties go to great lengths to try to the, you know, United States Senate seat is worth a lot. And the more to take on and defend him, the more that this is all public, in front of the entire country. I think the effect of this goes way beyond the borders of the state of Georgia.
And by the way, Herschel is not doing that well. He's down a pretty good bit in a in a pretty 50-50 environment. So, I'm -- wait and see. But I think people are watching this and they watch it and just the massive stunning hypocrisy that we got Newt Gingrich saying we should vote for him because he's got mental issues. That's, that's pretty amazing to me.
CARVILLE: Senator Bernie Sanders recently wrote an op-ed that he's alarmed that many Democratic candidates are being advised to focus solely on abortion in their closing arguments. He said, quote, while the abortion issue must remain on the front burner, it would be political malpractice for Democrats to ignore the state of the economy and allow Republican lies and distortions to go on answered. What do you think?
CARVILLE: I've sort of agree with him for the most part, but I think the abortion issue is very people are really angry about this. I think it's very motivated Democrats, but I also think it's a way to show how extreme they are. Is there really a lot of talking about cutting Social Security and Medicare. And the public when they will watch him take away a 50 year right, believe correctly, that these Republicans are capable of doing anything.
So, I think that a focus on abortion is certainly warranted in America and there's been done but I think you can certainly need to expand beyond that. And Senator Sanders is right to talk about, you know, how the Democrats are trying to help people deal with cost-of-living increases, which is so big, on how Democrats are trying to help deal with what other issues that people face with their life, and you can use this as a springboard? It's certainly a critical issue. But it needs to be used to demonstrate just how out of touch and extreme the Republican Party has become.
COOPER: Is it like in '92, all about the economy?
CARVILLE: Well, it certainly is about the economy, but it's also about a lot of other things. You know, it's about people, you know, people lose their right after the 50 years. It's about the Supreme Court of not allowing, you know, sensible climate regulations to go through or sensible gun regulations. And so, I mean, it sort of sensitive about the economy a lot. But there are other things that work.
And also, you know, we've had some historic job creation, and the Republican Party has no position at all on cost of living other than as bad. I don't know, a single thing that they've proposed to deal with this. The Democrats are dealing with, trying to deal with through prescription drug costs and, and then and other things. So yes, we shouldn't run away from the economy, but the abortion stuff and the freedom and choice stuff, is there right in front of voters also.
COOPER: Do you think Democrats hold on to the Senate?
CARVILLE: Yes, you know, I hope so. But then I'm told that it's a 70% chance by the quants. I don't know what it wouldn't, I guess I would be a little more optimistic that we do. But I think there's some really key races that, you know, people getting really, really competitive in North Carolina. You know, and that that would be a big win and looks like we're doing just great in Georgia. And you know, Ohio too. God was out of bloodbath the other night. I mean, I think Tim is going to win that race. I really do. I mean, he just it was one of the most sterling debate performances anybody's ever seen.
COOPER: Do you have like quants in your attic like working just around the clock crunching numbers and stuff.
COOPER: Do they send you messages. Mr. Carville, we think this.
CARVILLE: I text back and forth and, you know, so no one can say because it the race is really close to what generally happens. If you have eight competitive races, it generally does not break for 4-4, it'll go 6-2, 7-1, if it's a big enough year to go 8-0. I suspect that's what we're going to be looking at on election night in November. But I don't know that and neither does anybody else because by historic standards, as presidential approval and direction of country we should be facing a wipeout.
CARVILLE: And right now, no such thing is happening.
COOPER: James Carville, good talk to you. My best your family thank you.
CARVILLE: Always Anderson. Thank you, sir.
COOPER: Thank you.
Next, CNN's Matthew Chance in Moscow with new details on the Crimea bridge blasts and Russia's continuing missile strikes against Ukraine.
COOPER: According to Russian state media today, eight people have been detained for Saturday's blast, the damage the only bridge connecting Crimea to the Russian mainland. Meanwhile, according to reports, Russian forces inside Ukraine continue their attacks. The Ukrainian military says one town alone was hit by more than 300 shells. Joining us from Moscow is CNN's Matthew Chance. So, what do we know about these eight people allegedly detained in connection with the bridge attack?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it gives us an idea of just how extensive the Russian authorities believe this attack was in terms of its planning. Five of the eight people are Russian nationals, the others are either Ukrainian or Armenian. The FSB, which is the Federal Security Services, which has been sort of overseeing this investigation say that they believe the explosives that blew up that bridge were hidden inside rolls of sort of polythene film, on the back of a truck that truck was loaded after being originating in in Ukraine and making its way through a circuitous route via Georgia and Bulgaria and Armenia into Russia. And across that bridge where it exploded.
The Ukrainians for their part, Anderson are saying, I'm not saying anything about this, except that this investigation is not certainly not accepting responsibility for what was an enormous blow to the Russian Armed Forces. And, of course, to Vladimir Putin personally, who opened this bridge himself back in 2018.
COOPER: What's the reaction been in Moscow to Russia series of strikes against Ukraine this week?
CHANCE: Well, I mean it's quite disturbing in the sense that it's, it's being applauded. I think that's certainly that's the consensus that you get when you watch Russian state television, where for many weeks now, for many months, even in the aftermath of the various serious setbacks that Russia has suffered on the battlefield in Ukraine, there have been growing calls for Russia to take stronger action, you know, for Russia to take it take its gloves off, as it were, and to really, you know, show the Ukraine, what it can do.
And so, this massive spike in missile attacks and rocket attacks on targets inside Ukraine is really the Kremlin sort of pandering to that hardline criticism of how the operation has gone so far. So, in general terms on state media, or where there has been criticism of how the operations being conducted so far, they are sort of welcoming this upsurge in rocket strikes.
COOPER: In a CNN exclusive interview Jake Tapper last night, President Biden said he saw no real rationale to meet with Vladimir Putin now, though he left the door open if Russia was willing to discuss the freedom of us basketball star Brittney Griner. Has there been any response to this from the Kremlin?
CHANCE: Not a direct response except to say that there are no high- level bilateral meetings is how they phrased it, the Kremlin that have been discussed either by Russia or the United States recently. And so, there's no meeting in prospect.
But, you know, a Kremlin spokesman did say that if there was an offer they wouldn't repel that. And so, they're still leaving the prospect open for a possible talk. There's a lot of speculation in the background by the way, that Putin may go to the G20 Summit next month in Indonesia or in Bali, Indonesia. President Biden would go there as well. The speculation being perhaps there they can have talks on the sidelines, but at the moment, nothing has been confirmed.
COOPER: All right, Matthew Chance, appreciate it.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: A new episode of my podcast All There Is, is out today. It's about grief and loss. You can point your cell phone at the QR code on the screen right now for a link to it.
The podcast is a deeply personal exploration of grief and loss, and this week's episode is about anticipatory grief. I tell a very personal story about my experience watching one of the most important people in my life struggle with dementia for 10 years before she died. Her name was Mae McClendon (ph) I've really talked about her publicly before but she raised me and was really a mom to me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): Watching her decline, watching all the dreams I'd had of giving her a house or having her live with me when I had kids one day. Watching all that disappear was, it was like nothing I'd ever experienced. It was a different kind of grief different than my mom, different than my dad, different than my brother.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I also talk to a wonderful filmmaker named Kristen Johnson whose mom died from Alzheimer's in 2007 after seven years struggle and her dad now has dementia, she talks a lot about anticipatory grief as well.
You can put your cell phone at the QR code on your TV screen right now for a link or you can find the podcasts on Apple podcast or anyplace you listen to podcasts.
The news continues. Want to hand over Jake Tapper in "CNN TONIGHT."