Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Legal Team Discussing Supervised Federal Search Of Mar-A- Lago; Judge: Trump Signed Legal Documents Describing Evidence Of Election Fraud Knowing It Was False; Interview With Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Democrats Struggle With Inflation As Voters Head To Polls; Wisconsin Senate Race A Battle Between GOP Incumbent Ron Johnson And State's Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes; Martial Law In Effect In Four Ukrainian Regions Annexed By Russia; Thousands Continue To Protest In Iran Despite Reports Of Being Stalked, Threatened And Harassed By Security Forces; New, Detailed Image Of Iconic Photo From Space. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 19, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Parts of the bridge were completely destroyed by Hurricane Ian. It is an incredible feat, 21 days and back open. I mean, just look at the before and after the bridge.

Now while people may finally be able to get to Sanibel and Captiva Island, it could still be several weeks before power is restored.

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



In a moment, we'll be joined by Senator Bernie Sanders to discuss Democrats chances in the upcoming midterm elections now less than three weeks away, but first big developments in two separate investigations involving the former President.

One involves potential criminal liability for his conduct spreading election laws about the 2020 vote, and we'll get to that in a moment.

We start though with our breaking news. Sources telling CNN that the former President's legal team is considering whether to allow Federal agents to conduct a new search of Mar-a-Lago.

CNN's Sara Murray joins us now with that story. So, what have you learned about this? And why would they do that?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, sources have told us that this is a consideration on the table to allow Federal investigators to return for some kind of supervised search, so you could imagine that Trump's lawyers would also be present for something like that, and that is because the Justice Department has insisted to them in private discussions, as well as publicly in Court filings that they believe that the former President still has government documents, even after the subpoena he was given, even after the August search at Mar-a-Lago. So this would be, you know, a potential way to try to satisfy the

government's demands. There are, of course, people around former President Trump who don't believe he has any additional documents, but the Justice Department has been very insistent that they believe that there are still documents out there and that potentially Trump and his team could have run afoul of this May subpoena, which you know, could potentially put him in legal jeopardy.

Again, I want to stress this as an option on the table, not something that has been decided yet.

COOPER: So I mean, is there any indication of why the former President might be changing a tune, if that is in fact what is happening when it comes to this investigation?

MURRAY: Yes, I mean, in some ways, it is surprising because we've seen him be so adversarial toward the Justice Department. We've seen him on social media railing against, you know, the original search at Mar-a-Lago, but what sources are telling me and my colleagues is that all of these legal woes have really been weighing on the President and that he is considering, you know, a more accommodating approach, in part because they're hoping that if they take these steps, they might be able to more swiftly resolve this document dispute that they're still embroiled in -- Anderson.

COOPER: And obviously, the former President has had some difficulties with some of the various lawyers he has used in recent years. I understand you have some reporting on how this particular legal team views the potential impact of this case?

MURRAY: Yes, I mean, sort of the risk of not trying to find a swifter resolution to this as it drags on, and you could potentially expose more of your legal team to legal troubles. And frankly, we've seen that already with the lawyers around Donald Trump.

You know, Christina Bobb, she was the woman who signed on the line to say we've returned all of the materials marked classified in response to your subpoena. We now know that that wasn't true. She has hired a lawyer. She has spoken to Federal investigators.

We know that Evan Corcoran, another lawyer on the team, people are worried he could have some kind of legal exposure. According to sources, he does not believe that's the case. He believes he is going to be fine, but you know, Boris Epshteyn, who is another lawyer for the former President, also had his phone seized by the FBI.

So, there is sort of a sense that the longer this goes on, the worse it could get.

COOPER: All right, Sara Murray, appreciate it. We'll have more on that story coming up.

But first, to the other big story that we mentioned involving potential criminal liability for the former President. A Federal Judge in California today ordered e-mails turned over to the January 6 Committee, saying they indicate that former President knew his voter fraud claims regarding the 2020 election where "wrong, but pushed them anyway."

Our justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider joins us with that. So, what is this Federal Judge saying exactly?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, notably, Anderson here, this is the second time in the past seven months that this Federal Judge out of California, David Carter, is saying that former President Donald Trump likely committed crimes in those efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

And this is all coming out now because Judge Carter is now ordering John Eastman, of course, he's the attorney who orchestrated these efforts to block the certification, to even turn over more documents to the January 6 Committee.

He is being ordered to turn over eight more documents, and at least part of these documents, one e-mail in particular, it shows how President Trump was made aware that voter fraud numbers he submitted in State and Federal Court were false, but even after he was made aware, he submitted those fake numbers to the Court anyway.

So the Judge wrote as part of this 18-page opinion, he said, "The e- mail show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong, but continued to tout those numbers both in Court and to the public. The Court finds that these e-mails are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States." So that's the first crime Judge Carter says was likely committed here, Anderson.

The second was felony obstruction. The Judge said the former President was filing all these lawsuits contesting the election, not to get legit legal relief, but instead with a specific purpose to disrupt the election process and impede the certification of Joe Biden as President.


So the Judge here is allowing even more evidence of this alleged criminal activity to be handed over to the January 6 Committee, and now the question is, Anderson, will prosecutors get this evidence, too?

COOPER: What implications could this have for the ongoing criminal probe into the former President?

SCHNEIDER: So we know the Justice Department probe and the DA in Georgia, and this really unveils even more evidence for prosecutors, particularly at the Justice Department who have been probing overall these efforts to overturn the 2020 election on multiple fronts.

But the real question now is, you know, will prosecutors, will the Attorney General Merrick Garland ultimately think it is enough to charge the former President or any of his allies with that obstruction, or conspiracy to defraud?

Interestingly, it's not just these e-mails that are being handed over in the order today, some of the documents that are also being given to the January 6 Committee involve Eastman's pitch to former Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification of the vote, which, of course, Pence ultimately refused to do.

So, there is a lot here for DOJ, for prosecutors in Georgia to sift through if they do get their hands on it after the Committee does to see if they should press charges here.

COOPER: But Jessica, why wouldn't they get their hands on it? I mean, doesn't the committee share -- can't they -- I mean, there were some issues early on about sharing information, but the Committee could just give it to the Department of Justice, couldn't they?

SCHNEIDER: Absolutely, and they very well might do that. But you know, there has been that sticking point to how much evidence the Committee has actually been handing over to prosecutors, both at the DOJ and elsewhere, you would assume that they would hand over these e- mails as well and these documentation from Eastman, but we'll see if that actually happens.

COOPER: Jessica Schneider, appreciate it. Thank you.

Perspective now from CNN political commentator, Alyssa Farrah Griffin, who served as Director of Strategic Communications under the former President and conservative lawyer, George Conway, a contributing columnist at "The Washington Post."

So George, when a Federal Judge uses the phrase "conspiracy to defraud the United States," in relation to the former President, what does that signal about potential legal exposure?

GEORGE CONWAY, ATTORNEY: Well, it signals and confirms something that we already knew, that this Judge already believes that Trump has extensive potential legal exposure under the two statutes that he cites: Section 371 and Section 1512 of the United States Code.

But that story really isn't about the Federal liability here, because compared to what the January 6 Committee has come up with, this is just tiny compared to the mountain of evidence that we've seen at the January 6th hearings.

What this is, is a smoking gun in Georgia, because if you look at what the Judge describes here of these e-mails is they file up a lawsuit, a State Court lawsuit in early December -- December 4th -- making various allegations about dead people voting, about felons voting, about unregistered voters voting, and by the end of December, they are aware that these allegations are false, and that is the e-mail that the Judge quotes here, one of the e-mails where Eastman says: "The President has since been made aware that some of the allegations have been inaccurate."

And then they go and they make him -- they -- actually, the lawyers go in, they have him file a Federal lawsuit where Trump certifies under oath or verifies under oath that these allegations were in fact true. And that's perjury, and that's certainly evidence of Federal crimes. But remember, when Eastman makes this statement, it is December 31st.

What happens three days later? Two days later? He makes -- Trump makes the call to Raffensperger. He makes that famous recorded call, infamous recorded call, where he is asking Raffensperger, demanding Raffensperger, threatening Raffensperger if doesn't to find exactly 11,780 votes, one more than he needs.

This is a smoking gun for the prosecutor in Georgia, and the Georgia investigation is very advanced. This is going to be a very important document and exhibit in the charges that I'm sure she is going to bring.

COOPER: And Alyssa, I remember you saying that you've been hearing from folks in that world -- in Trump World that the Georgia case is something that they are concerned about.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, something I consistently hear from Republicans who are still, you know, loosely aligned with Trump World is that what they're most afraid of is the Fulton County investigation. That could be for any number of reasons, but this is another fact that comes out that's tangentially related and shows that this is a President who we know lied with impunity for the entirety of his time in office, frankly, most of his career.

But this is a situation where you can't lie with impunity. You cannot lie in a Court filing and misrepresent facts. It just confirms what many of us know, which is there was this desperate period in the final days, ahead of the transfer of power after the election was called for Joe Biden, where it was really some these advisers around the President and the former President himself throwing things against a wall to see what would stick.


COOPER: And you had said to the January 6 Committee, and correct me if I'm wrong, something along the lines you had heard the former President then say, you know, can you believe I'm losing in this effing guy?

GRIFFIN: Just days after the race was called for President Biden, I walked into his dining room off of the Oval Office to check in on the former President. Joe Biden was on TV and he said, "Can you believe I lost to this effing guy?"

So the fact is, most people around Trump, including Trump himself knew he lost, but they wanted to desperately cling to power in any way that they could.

I would agree with George, I do think this is the closest thing to a smoking gun of just deliberate wrongdoing and misleading. The one thing I thought was interesting, though, to Jessica's point is, I would -- I've worked with the January 6 Committee, the work they're doing is important, but this needs to go to the Department of Justice. That's where you're going to get accountability.

They do not have power to indict him, that needs to go to the Department of Justice.

COOPER: George, how do you see this playing out in Georgia? And what the timeline there is like?

CONWAY: Well, I think the Georgia investigation based upon the witnesses they have called, seems to be fairly well advanced, and I would think that they would want to bring charges by the end of the year, because you really want to be -- I mean, I don't -- it's been going on for quite some time and I think she's held back, frankly, because of the elections.

You know, don't want to be accused of -- Fani Willis -- of affecting the election. So I think that all of -- the sense that people are getting is that investigation is moving much more quickly than the Federal investigation and this is just, I mean, this is a devastating piece of evidence here.

COOPER: We've obviously seen, you know, the former President willing to take things all the way to the Supreme Court. Are his legal options winnowing down somewhat?

GRIFFIN: It would seem so. Even the separate reporting on now he wants to open up Mar-a-Lago to further investigations and looking for more documents, it kind of reeks of desperation. I think that he is in a place where he feels cornered in various different investigations.

Even today, he was sitting down responding to allegations related to sexual assault allegations from over a decade ago. This man is cornered at every turn, and he is not surrounded by wise legal counsel. So, I think you're going to see further acts of desperation from him.

COOPER: George, do you think -- do you see legal avenue -- any legal avenues he could use to try to delay or block Eastman from turning over the e-mails?

CONWAY: Yes, I think there's -- well, no, not the e-mails. I mean, these e-mails are going to go to the January 6 Committee and the January 6 Committee has been working with the Justice Department and with the Georgia prosecutors. This is coming into -- this is going to be used against him, and it is a devastating -- as I said, a devastating piece of evidence.

And I agree with Alyssa, he is a desperate man and he is getting more and more desperate and I think we're going to see that over the coming months. And I think it's going to force his hand into, he will run for President in effect for protection against these legal proceedings, but there are just going to be too many of them.

And I think we're going to see the -- you know, I think he might get the nomination anyway, but I think we're going to see the meltdown to end all meltdowns of a public figure.

COOPER: Alyssa Farah Griffin, George Conway, thanks so much. Appreciate it. Just ahead, we will have more on our breaking news. The former

President's legal team possibly being open to a new supervised search at Mar-a-Lago. We'll talk to our legal team what that may mean about the future of the investigation to missing classified documents.

Also, Senator Bernie Sanders joins us, his thoughts on Democrats' chances as he is about to hit the campaign trail for Democrats.



COOPER: At the start of the broadcast, CNN's Sara Murray reported that the former President's legal team is discussing whether to allow a new supervised search by Federal agents of his Mar-a-Lago residence. It would be an intentional shift from a more adversarial approach toward the investigation.

We wanted to check in with our legal panel: Carrie Cordero, who served as counsel to the US Assistant Attorney General for national security; along with CNN commentator, John Dean, White House Counsel under President Nixon, they join us now.

So Carrie, first of all, I don't know, how is it possible that there would be any -- I mean, that anybody would still have documents at Mar-a-Lago to search for? That I find it hard to understand. But why do you think the Justice Department would be interested in such an offer?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I think that's a good question, Anderson.

So I find this report a little bit puzzling, because if I think about the trajectory of an investigation, a subpoena is relatively early in the investigation, and then the search warrant that they executed, which was based on probable cause is much further down in the investigation. And the search, of course, once the Judge grants that warrant, and they executed that search in August, it should have been exhaustive, and it wasn't anything that we would consider supervised by the individual that the search has been conducted against.

And so they would have gone through whatever physical spaces that were authorized by the Court in that warrant to conduct a pretty exhaustive search.

So, I really do have a big question why the Justice Department would even be interested in this offer for them to come back on a voluntary basis, under "supervision" by Trump lawyers, when they really should have found everything that they were looking for in the August search.

COOPER: John, does it make sense to you?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It doesn't totally make sense, but even more confusing is why Trump would want to concede and say, you can go to Mar-a-Lago under my supervision. I would think the Justice Department has seen -- there is so much time

that has passed, that whatever was there or whatever they suspect is missing, could have been moved to one of his other venues. He has got a place in New York City, he has got a place in Bedminster.


I would think they would insist on searching everything to make sure once and for all that they have it or that he has squirreled it away where they can't get to it, and if they find that, if they have evidence of that, they will get it not from a physical search, but from other sources.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, Carrie, would there have been anything since the FBI's search in August that would have prevented the former President or his employees from moving any additional documents anywhere else?

CORDERO: Well, to the extent that the FBI has been conducting an investigation, and we don't know, as the public, what types of sources they might have, or whether they would have been informed by individuals cooperating in the investigation, whether he had moved things.

So, what we do know is it does look like there is an obstruction investigation that is being conducted. And so presumably, they have sources of information, and they have methods of gathering information that would, we would think, clue them in if something drastic like that was happening.

I mean, the former President really has harmed himself in terms of his legal culpability over the course of this investigation by not cooperating up until this point, by dragging it out and obstructing until the point that the Justice Department felt compelled and had to go get the search warrant in August.

So, it's a little late in the process for the Trump team to be thinking about or thinking that the Justice Department would be open to this type of accommodation.

COOPER: John, do you expect the Justice Department has looked into whether documents were taken to any other Trump properties? Would that be part of their investigation? And would that -- I mean, the only -- you know, would we know about that if there had been any kind of search warrants executed on different properties? I assume we would have heard of that it would have leaked out.

DEAN: Yes, if a search warrant had been issued, and they'd done a search, we probably would know about it. It would be pretty hard to do that in both those venues without somebody getting wind of the fact that the FBI had arrived to undertake a search.

But, you know, I think they may well have based on the earlier affidavit that is blocked, and they wanted to protect witnesses, they may have witnesses that can inform them. That may be why they have suspicions they are missing documents. I don't think Trump is inclined to play nice, and I don't think you

can trust him playing nice. I think he'd only do that if it was to his benefit. If anything we know of six years of watching him and looking back over his business career, he cannot be trusted. So, it's going to be to his advantage, whatever he does.

COOPER: Carrie, if you're the former President and you're facing multiple criminal and civil investigation, State and Federal, which are you most worried about?

CORDERO: Well, you know, I'm a national security lawyer, Anderson, so I tend to think that the classified information presents some significant jeopardy in this particular case, because based on the volume of the documents that were discovered, based on the fact that he had them for so long, and the Justice Department had been trying to engage with him and his team to return them and he did not.

So, I tend to look at this through a national security lens and look at the harm caused -- the potential harm that would be caused to national security from these potential documents.

And then if he has, in fact obstructed or individuals close to him, lawyers, advisers, et cetera obstructed in the course of that investigation, I think that's the one that from a Federal perspective, really raises the stakes from the Federal government's perspective why in other cases, they would pursue a case like this. So, why would they not pursue a case in this particular instance?

COOPER: Interesting. Carrie Cordero, John Dean appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up next, I'll speak with Senator Bernie Sanders about Democrats' efforts to try to gain momentum ahead of the midterms just 20 days away. He is about to hit the campaign trail.

We'll also take a look at the Wisconsin Senate races as the tide shift between Republican incumbent Ron Johnson and Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes.



COOPER: We are just 20 days away from the midterm elections. Polling suggests the Republicans have the upper hand. President Biden trying to reverse that with high gas prices today, he announced the sale of an additional 15 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a move that won't happen until December.

Gas prices are just one obviously the many headwinds the President and his party are facing. The President also gave remarks on the bipartisan infrastructure law today, and he is going to travel to Pennsylvania tomorrow to give remarks on that topic and attend a fundraiser for Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate candidate, John Fetterman. They obviously think that's a crucial race.

Then on Friday, he will travel to Delaware to talk about student loan forgiveness.

Just before airtime, I spoke with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on the Democrat strategy.


COOPER: Senator Sanders, you said you're embarking on this pre- election campaign blitz, because you're concerned the energy level for younger people and working class people is not as high as you feel it should be. Why do you think that is?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Well, I don't know, but I do know that in recent years, we have seen a significant uptick in young people participating in elections -- 2018 and 2020. And I just want to make sure that given the fact that we have a younger generation that is quite progressive, people who are concerned about economics in the sense that their standard of living is lower than their parents and can't afford housing, who have a passionate concern about racism and sexism, and homophobia and xenophobia, I just want to make sure that they understand how terribly important this election is, and see if we can get them out to vote.

COOPER: You've warned the Democrats should not focus solely on the issue of abortion traditionally, even people who say that abortion is an important issue for them. It has not been an issue that has been top of the list and certainly in exit polls of why people have cast a particular ballot.

You've said that Democrats have to have an economic message to voters. Do you think the Democrats have over indexed on focusing on abortion?

SANDERS: I think maybe. Look, I happen to believe that a woman's right to control her own body is absolutely where we should be and that the Supreme Court decision was a total disaster. In the year 2022, we should not be telling women what they can do with their own bodies.

I also happen to think that given the fact that for the last 50 years, real wages for American workers are lower today than they were 50 years ago, that people can't afford healthcare, they can't afford prescription drugs, that many people are working for starvation wages at a time when the very wealthiest people in this country are becoming wealthier and we see more and more income and wealth inequality.


I think those are issues, Anderson you just cannot ignore. People are hurting.

And here is what is, to me really rather amazing. The Republican agenda for working class people is a total reactionary disaster. You have a party, which in the midst of a moment when the rich are getting much richer, you know what they want to do, they want to give massive tax breaks to billionaires, when so many of our seniors are struggling to keep their heads above water. You are seeing it every day Republicans are more and more overt about saying you know what, we want to cut Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. When you got millions of workers working for starvation wages, we can't get one vote for them to raise the minimum wage to at least 15 bucks.

COOPER: But --

SANDERS: No support for universal health care, no support for taking on the prescription drug industry and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. So, this is an issue. I think we should engage on.

COOPER: A recent New York Times/Seina poll shows that voters who say the economy and inflation are the most important issues. They prefer Republicans and Democrats by 34-point margin. I mean, if what you say is true, how do you believe the Republicans came to dominate on this issue?

SANDERS: Well, it is a style degree. And I think that the Democrats simply abdicated and walked off the debate stage. They have allowed Republicans to do all the talking the Republicans talk about inflation. Well, inflation is a serious issue. What are they going to do about it? Are they going to low wages is that their response? Inflation is a global issue. Many countries around the world it is sadly higher than it is in the United States. What are they going to do about the high cost of prescription drugs? Do they have the guts to take on the pharmaceutical industry? No, they do not.

COOPER: Former President Obama made some comments on a podcast recently Pod Save America, I talked about some of the focus on language among more liberal members of the Democratic Party. I just want to play this for our viewers and get your reaction.


BARACK OBAMA (D) FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: How does politics even how's it even relevant to, you know, the things that I care most deeply about? My family, my kids, work that gives me satisfaction? You know, having fun? Not being a buzzkill. Right.

Sometimes Democrats are. Right. It's like, you know, sometimes people just want to not feel as if they are walking on eggshells.


COOPER: Certainly, a lot of Republican candidates have used his wokeness as an attack line a lot in the election. Do you agree with that the former president said?

SANDERS: Well, what I agree with what I take from that is, we have got to make politics relevant to ordinary people's lives. And I think that, in general, the Congress, the corporate media, if you like, has ignored the enormous desperation that working class families are now experiencing. And it's not just inflation. People can't afford to send their kids to college, they can't afford health care, which is skyrocketing. They can't afford the cost of rent, which is also skyrocketing. And I think what we have got to do is make politics relevant to ordinary people, bring people into the process, hear what they have to say. And explain to them why the very richest people in this country are doing phenomenally well, why they are -- while they are struggling.

And then have the guts Anderson to take on those powerful corporate interests, whose greed, in my view is doing so much harm to working families throughout this country.

COOPER: Yes. Senator Sanders, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

SANDERS: Thank you.

COOPER: The -- one of the closely watched Senate races is in Wisconsin between incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson and Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes. Johnson has a long history of controversies and conspiracy theories from his role in the former president's fake electoral scheme to his claims at the January 6 Capitol riot wasn't an armed insurrection. He was also a critic of the COVID vaccines and even peddled mouthwash as a treatment for COVID.

CNN's Manu Raju has the latest on his bid for re-election.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It wasn't too long ago that Democrats could hardly believe their luck, despite being saddled with controversy.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Guys, this is a complete non-story.


RAJU (voice-over): In unpopular in battleground Wisconsin, Ron Johnson decided to run for a third Senate term making him the most endangered GOP incumbent, but the terrain has shifted. And now Johnson has an edge against Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes.

(on-camera): How's it so hard to beat him?

TOM NELSON (D) OUTAGAMIE COUNTY EXECUTIVE: People are just hitting their heads against the wall. How did we -- how do we let this happen?

RAJU: Johnson has benefited from a perfect storm first winning in the 2010 Tea Party wave and then during Donald Trump's 2016 stunner, and now buoyed by voter anger over inflation.

(on-camera): What has happened in the last two months has changed this race.

ANDY LODUHA, REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIR, ONEIDA COUNTY: Well, I think inflation I mean, everybody's feeling in their pocketbook.

RAJU (voice-over): After Barnes won his party's nomination in August, a poll showed him up by seven points. Now the same pollster shows Johnson ahead of Barnes by six with likely voters. In the two months since the primary, Johnson and big GOP groups have outspent Democrats by millions on TV attacking Barnes on crime and immigration.

UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mandela Barnes doesn't have the judgment to keep our communities safe.

UNDENTIFIED MALE: Mandela Barnes stands with defund the police.

UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mandela Barnes is a radical leftist.

RAJU (voice-over): Putting him on the defensive.

LT. GOV. MANDELA BARNES (D-WI-) SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Look, we knew the other side will make up lies about me to scare you.

UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ron Johnson caught lying.

UNDENTIFIED MALE: Mandela, he's the real deal. Mandela doesn't want to defund the police.

RAJU (voice-over): Largest supporters fear that is hardly enough.

UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, his campaign seems to be faltering.

RAJU (on-camera): Are you concerned that those attacks may be working?

MARILYN NORDEN, WISCONSIN VOTER: They seem to be working? Yes, I'm very concerned.

RAJU (voice-over): One of Barnes's primary foes and current supporter blames national Democrats for an ineffective as strategy after the primary.

NELSON: They have the national party come in and screw things up in the first month of the general election. In my book is unforgivable. The National Party has totally failed us and so it's going to come down to Wisconsin Democrats.

RAJU (voice-over): Campaigning in the small towns of northern Wisconsin. Barnes told CNN he was not caught flat footed.

(on-camera): But are you prepared for this onslaught of attacks?

BARNES: The reality is we always expect to Ron Johnson to distort the truth and try to hide from his own record.

RAJU (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) ads have largely steered clear of some of Johnson's controversies, like his downplaying of the January 6 Capitol attack or sowing doubt on the COVID-19 vaccine. Instead accusing Johnson of enriching himself in office and for supporting a ban on abortion.

UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wouldn't just ban abortions. Doctors could go to jail for it.

RAJU (voice-over): Barnes who would be the state's first black Senator slated to appear next week in Milwaukee with the nation's first black President Barack Obama, but no plans yet with the current president whose unpopularity remains a liability.

(on-camera): Do you think Biden should run for reelection? BARNES: I will cross that bridge when we get there. We still got to get through November 8, 2022.


COOPER: And Manu Raju joins us now from Milwaukee. How Senator Johnson planning on spending these final weeks before the midterm?

RAJU: Well, Anderson is not entirely clear. We asked his campaign what he is doing, especially this week, as we were reporting on this piece, they would not disclose his campaign events and they wouldn't disclose that to other reporters as well. He did appear on Fox News a couple of times, he did ask for some donations. Now on the Democratic side, an outside group today released an ad attacking Johnson over his comments over January 6, but that has not been a major focus of the Democratic campaign. In fact, I asked Mandela Barnes why they have not chose to focus on that issue. Instead, he said we want to focus on other issues like economic ones instead.

But Democrats still believe there is a path to victory here that Marquette University polled that has Barnes done by six points tested likely voters when it tested a larger set of voters registered voters. It showed the race and a dead even race. So, Democrats hope if they can get their voters to the polls, they still have a path. You know, Johnson seems to have traction at this point in the campaign. Anderson.

COOPER: Manu Raju, thanks very much. We'll see.

Up next, martial law in effect in four Ukrainian region as Vladimir Putin claims to have annexed. We talk to CNN's Matthew Chance on the ground in Moscow, next.



COOPER: Martial law is now in effect in four Ukrainian regions that Russia claims to have annexed a move by Russian President Vladimir Putin that's in violation of international law. It comes as Russian installed leaders and Ukraine's Kherson region began ramping up efforts to relocate civilians. Our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen traveled to Ukraine's eastern front in one of the Russian occupied regions where Ukrainian troops are facing a hardened Russian defense.

Here's part of his report.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Our car hasn't even come to a full stop when the first shell hits nearby. The medic stops we need to take cover as best we can.

UNDENTIFIED MALE: We're waiting here for the shooting.


PLEITGEN (on-camera): So, we're taking cover here because we just had some incoming artillery fire. We're going to wait and hope that there's not any hits anywhere close to us.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): We're at the receiving end of a full Russian artillery barrage. Photojournalist Richard Harlow tracks several other projectiles whizzing close over our heads.


COOPER: That's to be on the front lines. Now, we got a Matthew Chance who joins us from Moscow.

Matthew, explain what all this means for the four regions that Vladimir Putin is talking about declaring martial law.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think on paper, it means quite a lot. Because these are draconian laws. It means that the military authorities, the Russian military, in the areas where it's in charge, have virtually absolute power to do whatever they want. They can seize property, they can force people to fight in the front line, they can make arrests and detain people. And so, these are very tough laws indeed.

But actually, in practical terms or on the ground, I'm not sure they're going to make a whole a lot of difference, these are already war zones and of course Russians don't have control over a lot of the areas over which they say they've imposed martial law. And so, I think that's something to bear in mind.


I think we have to remember, though, that Russia or the Kremlin, and the military authorities here have been heavily criticized over the past couple of months, about the way the wars, the conflict, the military situation has been conducted. By the generals here, there's been a lot of internal criticism. And this is the Kremlin's answer to that to show that it's not going to back down, it's going to double down and do whatever it takes to, you know, put up go all in on this continuing special military operation, as they call it.

COOPER: Putin also announces increasing the power of local authorities in all Russian regions and adding additional restrictions to Russian regions near Ukraine. What does that mean exactly?

CHANCE: Yes, well, I think that's really, really ominous, because he could have imposed martial law on those areas as well, he didn't -- he just impose them on those four regions, inside Ukraine. But it was kind of like a martial law light in the rest of the country, particularly on the border area, where there are really tough travel restrictions that are coming into force, there's going to be a lot of military checkpoints, and, you know, a real serious managed military crackdown in those areas, where there has been quite a sustained artillery bombardment, at times from inside Ukraine to those border areas.

But even further afield, you know, sort of go as you go further east into Russia, even in Moscow, the Capitol, you know, there are tough military restrictions being imposed here. Now, it's not as bad as martial law in those Ukrainian regions. But there's always that groundwork that's now been laid, there's every possibility that if the circumstances require it, or demand it from the point of view of the Kremlin, they could always expand martial law to those border areas, and potentially across the rest of the country as well.

So, in that sense, it's a really concerning development.

COOPER: Matthew Chance reporting from Moscow. Thanks so much Appreciate it.

Up next, protests continuing Iran after the death more than a month ago, a 22-year-old woman while in custody of the morality police for allegedly not wearing a hijab. Now a rock climber who didn't wear hijab while competing overseas she has traveled back to Iran. The question is will she face punishment? I'll give you the update on what she is saying about the incident, coming up.



COOPER: In Iran for more than a month, people continue to protest the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody of the so-called morality police for allegedly not wearing hijab. Protesters are defined crackdowns. Just this week, a crowd took the streets in Amini's hometown lighting fires as you see there.

In another recent protest, students marched in the streets waving their headscarves anywhere between 60 and 200 people are estimated to have been killed so far, but CNN cannot confirm those figures. Now there's concern for a rock climber who's back in Iran. Elnaz Rekabi is her name. She competed in South Korea as you see without a hijab. She said today it was an accident. She returned to crowded the airport chanted Elnaz, the hero.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh joins us now with more. Jomana, thousands of people are still showing up at these protests every day risking their lives. What are you hearing from those inside Iran?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson is really remarkable. It's been nearly five weeks since these protests started. And not only are they continuing to spread like wildfire across the country, they've morphed into what some are describing as a national uprising and calling for regime change this despite the government's attempts to crush these protests, they are using the same brutal tactics they've used in the past in dealing with protests. We have been speaking to people, protesters who are taking part in these protests, as well, as those who took part in demonstrations back in 2019. Those were quite different. short lived and they were more about the economy. But they're all reporting firsthand. These terrifying tactics used by the authorities, Anderson. They're not only being shot out when they're out on the streets, they're beaten up. They say they're detained, tortured for days on imaginable torture. And they're coerced into signing confession, saying that they've been paid by the U.S., the UK and Israel to create chaos in Iran. And then they're released but it doesn't stop there. They say that they're watched for years, and they're threatened. This one man we spoke to who is a protester in 2019, he says authorities continue to harass him. They freeze his bank account at times and sometimes they call him threatening to kill his children and rape his wife. And he's out on the streets again, protesting this time with his children. It's just remarkable. This defiance nothing seems to be stopping the people right now. And they know the cost of their defiance in Iran, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, we've seen you know, cell phone videos of people being stuffed into trunks of cars, shot in the street. There's reporting to protesters. I know you've had reporting to protesters who get injured or sometimes too scared to go to hospitals to seek medical help.

KARADSHEH: And we've seen these horrific images of their injuries over the past few weeks. Anderson, the security forces not only using live ammunition according to human rights groups, they're also shooting at them with metal pallets, birdshot there, filling up paintballs with metal pallets and shooting them at protesters. So, you end up with these horrific injuries.

And protesters are telling us they're too scared to go to hospitals because security forces are going to hospitals and clinics. They're hunting down protesters, identifying them by those same injuries that they've inflicted on them. We've had reports of doctors arrested, ambulances being used to detain protesters and you end up in a situation where these protesters are telling us they don't know who to trust. They don't know what to do right now. Some are relying on a small --



KARADSHEH: -- underground network of doctors who are risking their lives helping them and then you've got others who are reaching out to the Iranian community --

COOPER: Yes. It's incredible.

KARADSHEH: -- abroad, including in the U.S. asking for help connecting them to doctors.

COOPER: Yes. Jomana Karadsheh, I appreciate it. Thank you.

When we come back, new detailed images from an iconic view of space.


COOPER: We want to leave you tonight with a look at the heavens. This is a new image from NASA. They're called the quote, Pillars of Creation. If you know anything about space, it's an iconic image. But thanks to the James Webb Space Telescope, we've never seen it in this level of detail. Remember, these are images that come to us from about 6,500 light years away. Essentially what we're looking at is interstellar dust and gas that speckled with newly formed stars. It's incredible.

Also, a new episode of my podcast, All There Is, released today. You can point your phone camera at the QR code on the screen right now for a link. It's a podcast about loss and grief. And we've had a series of remarkable conversations with people like Stephen Colbert and Molly Shannon and others about their experiences with grief.

This week's episode, I talk with artists composer Laurie Anderson who's awesome. We talked about the death of her husband rock legend Lou Reed and also the death of her beloved dog Lola Belle. And some of the unexpected ways that she says she felt after those losses.


It's a fascinating and at times funny conversation and I hope you listen. And I hope it helps. All There Is, is available on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

The news continues. "CNN TONIGHT, "with Jake Tapper starts now.