Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

More Fallout In Wake Of Weekend Bank Failures As Credit Suisse Downgraded, Regional Bank Shares Plunge; Interview With Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); US Blasts Dangerous And Reckless Russia After Drone Crash; Fulton County Investigators Have Another Recording Of Trump Pressuring A Georgia Official To Overturn Biden's 2020 Win; Michael Cohen Testifies Again Before Grand Jury Probing Hush Money Scheme; Stormy Daniels Met With Prosecutors From The Manhattan DA's Office In Trump Hush Money Probe; Texas Case May Decide If Abortion Pills Are Banned Nationwide In The United States; James Webb Space Telescope Spots A Star On The Brink Of Exploding. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 15, 2023 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: It comes as NASA today debuted redesigned spacesuits for astronauts. Massively overdue upgrade, but a crucial one. It has been 50 years since that happened. The new suits are more flexible, able to fit various body types.

That dark color scheme you see though is just a cover. The new suits will be white, like the old ones to protect astronauts from extreme heat.

Thanks for joining us. Anderson starts now.



Tonight, the latest on banking system troubles that appear to be easing yesterday, but came rumbling back this morning with word that the struggling Swiss Bank, Credit Suisse was in deeper trouble than previously thought. Then came news that two credit rating firms had downgraded First Republic Bank to junk status.

Those two factors sent markets plunging this morning and though they gained back some ground by the close, the Dow Industrials and S&P 500 still ended the day down significantly.

Shares of regional banks including First Republic were down sharply. In First Republic's case, by more than 21 percent. Big banks, which are more tightly regulated also took a hit with Citigroup shares down more than five percent.

We're going to have more in a moment on what this means to markets, the economy, your money, and reaction of the White House. Christine Romans and Phil Mattingly are with me for that.

First, we're joined by Vermont Independent senator, Senator Bernie Sanders, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee. Senator Sanders, how much confidence do you have in the banking system

right now? And should people watching be worried about their bank and their savings?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Well, I think we're all concerned about what happened at Silicon Valley and we are looking at other banks around the country. And I think, our hope and our prayer is that there is not going to be contagion.

And I think it's imperative that the Congress act and act soon in a number of areas. And I think the first point that has to be made, you know, Anderson, I went through the 2009 financial crisis and I would say that I have not experienced in my political life, a moment in which the American people were more outraged at what was happening in the country than at that time.

What they saw is huge financial institutions run by the Masters of the Universe, these billionaire type guys, engaging in fraud, destroying the banking system, getting bailed out, creating an economic situation when millions of people lost their homes, their life savings, their jobs, and nothing happened to these crooks.

And the American people looked at Washington, and they said, you know, this is wrong. We can't have two systems of justice for everybody, except for the people on top.

So bottom line here is I agree with President Biden is that whatever happens in the future, to the degree that there are any bailouts, it must not be, it cannot be that working families and the middle class bailout the Masters of the Universe. They're going to have to figure out a way on Wall Street and within our financial system that they paid for the bailout, not ordinary people.

COOPER: The Justice Department and the SEC both announced investigations into the SVB collapse. Where do you think accountability lies here?

SANDERS: Well, again, it's hard to say and, you know, they're looking at the facts. But I would say it is a little bit troubling, that literally a day before this bank collapsed, they were busy giving out bonuses, and that some of the leadership in that bank sold a lot of shares in the recent past. So that's something for the FBI and the Justice Department to take a look at.

The other point that I would make is, back in 2018, the banking industry wanted a major reform in the Dodd-Frank bill, which came about after the 2008 crash. And what they wanted was to remove many, many banks, who were being under strong supervision, because the level at that point was $50 billion. Any bank over $50 billion would be under stress tests and strong supervision to make sure that we didn't have another crisis, and what the banking folks came in, and they said, no, no, no, that's too onerous. It's costing us too much money to have to go through all of these regulatory processes.

Let's raise that level to $250 billion, meaning only the very, very largest banks. And the irony of this whole thing is that Silicon Valley Bank, the leader that, Mr. Becker came here to Washington to lobby to remove himself, his bank, from this kind of supervision.

So, you have the absurdity of them wanting to get out of supervision and then a number of years later, they come up before Congress asking to get bailed out.

COOPER: I want to ask you about a thing you're doing on insulin a moment. Just one more question on the banking.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said about Silicon Valley Bank. He said, "This bank, they're so concerned with DEI, diversity and equity and inclusion and politics and all kinds of stuff. I think that really diverted them from focusing on their core mission."


SANDERS: Really, really, really, really? No. I think the real, real situation is that again, we need to investigate to understand fully what happened. Look, that's what the banking industry does. They want to make as much money as they possibly can and they're willing to take risks to do that. And the sad part and the dangerous part is if they think they can take those risks, and if they collapse, the taxpayers of this country are going to bail them out. That is a bad situation.

COOPER: You recently introduced a bill that caps the price of insulin at $20.00 per vial. Several Democratic lawmakers in both the Senate and the House have joined you in supporting this bill. Have you received any support from your Republican colleagues on this? Do you expect to?

SANDERS: Well, we're going to do a hearing on it and I think we may get some. Here's the story. You know, you may remember, Anderson, that when I was running for President in the 2020 campaign, I'd made a trip from Detroit, Michigan with a busload of folks in the Midwest to Windsor, Ontario, in order to buy insulin. These were diabetics.

And it was unbelievable. In Windsor, Ontario, they paid one-tenth of the price that they were paying in the United States for the same exact product. And I think over the years, more and more of us, the American people, some of us in Congress have been saying to the pharmaceutical industry in general, and to the manufacturers of insulin, stop ripping off the American people.

One out of five people, diabetics in this country who use insulin are rationing insulin, because they can't afford the price. Now, the very good news is that within the last couple of weeks, Eli Lilly has announced a 70 percent reduction in their price. Novo Nordisk, another major manufacturer also announced a major reduction in their prices. And the third company, Sanofi, I think -- I think will also announce some reduction.

This is a great victory to the American people. We're going to be hearing on this issue and what we're going to say to these guys, you tell us, you tell us how we are going to make sure that every person in this country who needs insulin is going to get it at a cost that they can afford. But it's not just insulin. We're going to start looking at these are

companies that are manufacturing cancer drugs, which in some cases cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, all of these companies make huge profits.

So this is an issue we are going to stay on big time.

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

SANDERS: Thank you very much.

COOPER: To help dig in deeper in the financial state of play, as well as what the additional steps the Biden administration may take, I'm joined here by CNN chief business correspondent, Christine Romans and our chief White House correspondent, Phil Mattingly.

So Christine, things seemed a little calmer yesterday. Now, Credit Suisse, what's going on?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Things started to stabilize, then trouble blew in from Europe, essentially. Credit Suisse is its own hot mess, and has been one for a while here.

COOPER: Is that a business term? Hot mess?

ROMANS: Yes. , I think that's a technical term for the --


ROMANS: Exactly. I mean, look, this is a company that's going through a big restructuring. It announced that it was -- you know, it had some material misrepresentations in its accounting. It tried to raise money from a big investor, the investor couldn't put any more money in.

There's a lot of things going on there that are different than what happened at SVB. But it just is still that unease and that pressure in the banking system. People don't -- especially with a big global bank like Credit Suisse. You don't know what kind of counterparty risks there really are around the world. So it just added to what is already drama and turmoil in the banking industry.

COOPER: And Phil, from the White House standpoint, what changed?

MATTINGLY: Well, I mean, there's a vibe shift, right? To steal a term from the youth, Anderson, I know you're very familiar.

COOPER: In touch.

MATTINGLY: In the sense of, when you talk to administration officials, they are very clear that they don't see significant risks from Credit Suisse, A. B., that there is no connection between what's happening with Credit Suisse, as Christine laid out and what happened with Silicon Valley Bank or Signature Bank or the deposit outflows that we saw over the course of the three or four days prior. However, they understand that when anxiety is high, as you've look

across the market right now, nobody thinks Bank of America is in big trouble. Nobody thinks JPMorgan is in big trouble right now. All of their stocks got lit up today as well. That is a problem and has the potential to become a bigger problem even if Credit Suisse doesn't have -- US banks don't have major exposure to Credit Suisse.

And so what I think officials are watching very closely is the emergency actions that they took on Sunday night in response to what was happening in the US are those still taking hold like they appear to be doing over the 48 hours immediately afterwards? They feel like yes, there is some stability there at this point in time and then trying to ensure that they continue to get the message out that A., Credit Suisse is not an us problem to some degree. And B., the efforts that they put into place at this point in time matter and should give confidence.

ROMANS: And your money is safe, right? The problem right now is for bank investors. Those are the ones that are getting hit.

COOPER: For most people whose -- it is covered by the FDIC.

ROMANS: Right. You're going to go to the ATM, you're going to get your money out, you're going to -- I mean, the issue here, your money is safe, and I think the White House and the Fed have made it very clear that they will make sure your money is safe. It is investors in these banks we see the stocks going down so much, they're the ones who really get hurt.


MATTINGLY: And that's important because what drove the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank besides terrible risk management in terms of interest rate risk, is the fact that they had massive deposit outflows, right?

People got scared to death, they shifted all their deposits away. The real problem, the reason why systemic risk came up, the reason why the only the 16th largest bank in the country threatened the entire financial system for a 48-hour period is because depositors at regional and small banks around the country were fleeing. They were taking their money out, sending them to the big banks.

The administration has made very clear, depositors -- protecting those depositors, that is central to everything.

COOPER: What's the Fed likely to do about interest rates?

ROMANS: Well, that's a good question here, because it's actually the prescription for inflation, which is what's been bothering you know, regular people for a year is higher interest rates, but those higher interest rates are putting strain on the banks.

So this vicious cycle here is the Fed has this balancing act. I think most people I talk to think the Fed is going to be cautious when it next meets. I don't think anyone thinks there will be a 50-basis-point interest rate hike next week on March 22nd.

But at the same time, we still have inflation that is too hot, you know, consumer inflation is running triple what the Fed would like to see. So it still does need to tamp down in inflation.

One interesting part of this is the tightening of the banking sector stress and the banking sector may actually act a little bit as tightening in the economy. So it might be working in the Fed's favor as long as you don't have some kind of calamity.

COOPER: All right, Christine Romans, Phil Mattingly, appreciate it. Thank you.

By the way, the top of the next hour, CNN's Poppy Harlow goes deep on the failure of Silicon Valley Bank. Christine and Phil will be there, how it happened and what it could mean on a larger scale. The program is called "Bank Bust: What's Next for America's Money." It airs at 9:00 PM Eastern right here on CNN.

New word also on Russia's attempt to recover pieces of the American drone they forced down over the Black Sea and the steps taken by the US to make sure that effort is fruitless. We'll have that report next.

Also, US and Russian Defense Chiefs talk, each side is trading accusations.

And later tonight in the hour ahead, a new report on the existence of another recording of the former President, a conversation he had with the top Georgia lawmaker. A conversation we haven't heard before trying to overturn the 2020 election.



COOPER: A key development tonight in Russia's downing of an American drone yesterday over the Black Sea. American officials tell CNN that the Russians have reached the crash site and to what they'll actually find, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley today said most likely not much.

He said the MQ-9 Reaper probably broke up adding the what he called mitigating measures were taken to ensure that sensitive Intelligence will not fall into the wrong hands.

Meantime, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin today said he spoke with his Russian counterpart about the incident calling it part of a pattern of "aggressive and risky and unsafe actions" in international airspace.

He also said that American aircraft would continue to operate wherever international law allows.

A Kremlin spokesperson saying today that relations between the two countries are at their "lowest point."

Joining us now State Department spokesperson, Ned Price. Ned, can you confirm the reports late today that the Russians have

reached the crash site of the US drone that went down the Black Sea and they began attempting to retrieve it?

NED PRICE, US STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Anderson, I can't. I can't go beyond what you heard from senior Defense officials earlier today.

What I can tell you is that our own Defense officials are studying the feasibility of a US recovery operation, but there are a couple of points here that would mitigate the gain that anyone could come up with as a result of that.

First, this drone was operating dozens of miles away from the nearest land. And so when it was forced to go down, it went down in a part of the Black Sea that probably is four or five thousand feet at depth. That is going to make it difficult, perhaps exceedingly difficult for anyone to recover this drone.

Second, it probably didn't crash and hit the water in a single piece. There may be a wide debris field. It may span several miles, again at those extreme depths.

And then finally, we as we always do, took prudent measures to see to it that should this aircraft fall into the wrong hands, that there would be little to no Intelligence value that anyone, friend or foe, would be able to derive from it.

COOPER: General Milley was also pretty clear that the attempt to intercept it was intentional. So, what does that mean for relations with Moscow moving forward? I mean, is there a chance this would happen again?

PRICE: So, there's no question. This was unsafe, it was unprofessional. It was also tinged with a great deal of incompetence. You look at the video of what happened, and you essentially see a Russian pilot careening in what appears to be an uncontrolled manner, hitting the drone and forcing us to take it down.

There is no question that this was exceedingly dangerous, it was reckless. But Anderson, this was also part of a pattern. This was not the first time that Russian pilots have harassed US aircraft and have gone after them in a in a reckless way.

Look, we don't want to see one of these incidents escalate. It is our goal to see to it that everyone is operating responsibly. The United States was doing that when we were flying in international airspace well above international waters.

Whether the pilot in this case actually intended to bring the drone down, I don't know that we can say for certain at this point. But it really doesn't matter. What matters is what actually happened and the pilot was careening in such a way that forced us to take this down. And those were the consequences. Those were the implications.

We have made very clear to Moscow in no uncertain terms from the State Department, from the Defense Department, in military channels as well, that this is unacceptable, and it's dangerous.

COOPER: Is it possible that this was just a reckless pilot choosing to do this? Do you think this was orders that came from elsewhere?

PRICE: So it's certainly possible that this wasn't intended, the end result at least wasn't intended because when you look at what happened, you do see a Russian aircraft appearing to careen out of control, almost. But Anderson. I think the broader point is, again, that this is not the first incident of its kind. Yes, this is the first one where our forces have come into contact with one another, but our aircraft, our drones have been harassed by Russian pilots almost consistently.

And to say that that consistent pattern is the consequence of pilots doing this, Russian pilots doing this on their own volition that just doesn't ring true.


PRICE: The fact that we've seen a pattern on the part of the forces of the Russian Federation suggests to us at least that there's at least some senior level approval of this kind of activity. That's why we think it's so important that at senior levels in the State Department and the Defense Department within the military, we also convey to the Russian Federation that this is unacceptable, it's risky. And this has the possibility to escalate things.

Look, the only thing that's worse than an intended conflict, as the President likes to say, is an unintended conflict. And it's these types of maneuvers that has the potential to put US aircraft, even US forces in contact with those of the Russian Federation. That's not in our interest. It's not in Russia's interest and we don't want to see that happen.

COOPER: Secretary Austin confirmed today that he spoke to his Russian counterpart. Do you have any more details about what was relayed in that conversation?

PRICE: The conversations that we've had in State Department channels from the State Department in Washington, from our embassy in Moscow, from the Defense Department, from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who also spoke to his counterpart have always -- had been really consistent with what we've been saying publicly.

We want to send a single, unambiguously clear message to the Russian Federation that this is unacceptable. This is something that we take very seriously.

In a way, we were lucky in that this incident didn't end with the death of a Russian pilot. We've been very lucky in that other risky encounters and maneuvers on the part of Russian pilots haven't resulted in similar outcomes, risking American lives or risking additional American aircraft.

We don't want to see this pattern continue. It is never in our interest to see Russian aircraft and American aircraft coming to such close contact. We want to make clear as we did today, as we did yesterday, that this kind of activity should cease.

COOPER: Yes, Ned Price, I appreciate it. Thank you.

More now on a different type of drone, far less sophisticated than the American Reaper and Global Hawk. They're made in China. They've become a big part of the war in Ukraine.

CNN's Ivan Watson has more.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Ukrainian military footage of a drone strike on a Russian rocket launcher.

The bloody war between Russia and Ukraine is being fought on the ground and in the sky using drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs, some of which were never intended for military use.

WATSON (on camera): This is one of the weapons in this war, a drone that could fly far behind the frontlines carrying a powerful bomb rigged to hurl deadly pieces of shrapnel like this.

WATSON (voice over): Ukraine's territorial defense gave CNN an exclusive look at what's left of a weaponized UAV originally manufactured in China.

Ukraine State Security Service says an agent reported the launch of the drone from Russian occupied territory and troops shut it down at 2:00 AM on Saturday.

WATSON (on camera): This is remarkable. The officer is explaining that his men shot this drone down using rifles. Rifles.


WATSON: So the drone was flying low.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

WATSON (voice over): "The drone was flying low and visible to the naked eye," he tells me.

WATSON (on camera): This is where the bomb landed. The explosive device on the drone.

WATSON (voice over): Troops rigged the unexploded 20 kilogram bomb with explosives and then sprinted for cover. Officers identified the drone as a Mugen 5, which the manufacturer Mugen Limited, also confirmed to CNN.

The company is based in Xiamen, China. Designing UAV airframes for activities like forest fire prevention and agriculture.

WATSON (on camera): Mugen drones have been available for sale on Chinese online marketplaces like Alibaba, and Taobao for up to around $15,000.00 prompting some tech bloggers to give it the nickname the Alibaba drone.

WATSON (voice over): Mugen 5 condemns any use of its drones on the battlefield, adding that the company ceased to accept orders from both Russia and Ukraine since the start of the war, but in January, Russian forces displayed these images of what is also a Mugen 5. The Russian military claims it was a Ukrainian UAV that it shot down.

Drone expert, Chris Lincoln-Jones calls these militarized UAVs, dumb bombs.

CHRIS LINCOLN-JONES, DRONE WARFARE EXPERT: This particular drone that we've been looking at would be much more effective if it had a decent camera in it.

WATSON (voice over): The former British Army officer who specialized in drone warfare says he expected more from a military superpower like Russia.

LINCOLN-JONES: This seems to be a very crude, unsophisticated, not very technologically advanced way of conducting operations.



COOPER: It is fascinating, Ivan. Those so-called dumb bombs are not the only drones being used in the battlefield obviously in Ukraine. How do they compare to the drones given to Russian by Iran?

WATSON: Those are kind of killer drones. They carry much larger warheads and they have done substantial damage in the past. There's been some analysis on them and kind of the components that are used to direct them, many of them coming from the US and other Western countries. They're just one of the many drones in the sky out here.

In the beginning of the war, the Ukrainians were using Turkish made Bayraktar armed drones that did a lot of damage to advancing Russian columns, and there are constantly reconnaissance drones along the frontlines.

The Ukrainians are relying to a great degree on crowdfunding and donations for the individual units to be able to afford small commercial drones that are essential for kind of protecting their units on the frontlines for being able to figure out where Russian positions are.

COOPER: It's incredible. Ivan Watson, thanks so much.

It is a busy night. There's a new report of another recording of then President Trump trying to pressure a Georgia official after the 2020 election, and in another case involving the former President, Stormy Daniels met with New York prosecutors today. Details on both of those developments, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: In Fulton County, Georgia investigators looking to the

former President's actions after the 2020 election have a recording of another phone call where he pressured a Georgia official.

Now the new reporting is from "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution." A source confirmed to CNN the existence of the recording, which has not been made public.

According to the Atlanta paper, the then-President called Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, a fellow Republican to push for a special session to overturn President Biden's win in the State. Ralston died last year.


The newspaper report said five members of the Special Grand Jury that investigated the former president said the audio of this phone call was played in court. You may remember, there were other phone calls by the former president to Georgia officials at the time, including the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

According to the Special Grand Jury foreperson, they recently wrapped up their work and recommended multiple indictments. So, it's now, right now, up to the Fulton County District Attorney to make charging decisions. So there's a lot to get to tonight. Joining me right now is CNN's senior legal analyst Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor and author of the new book "Untouchable: How Powerful People Get Away with It." Also joining us is CNN political analyst, Gloria Borger.

Elie, from a legal standpoint, how significant is this new call?

ELIE HONIG, CNN'S SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The list -- the description of this call really gave me deja vu because it sounds very similar to the call that we've all heard many times that Donald Trump placed to the Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger. And what this would show me as a prosecutor is that Donald trump had a very specific strategy and approach how he was going to go about pressuring these state officials. He called them separately and tried to lean on them essentially on the assumption of, well, you're Republicans and I'm a Republican, so you're going to use your authority here to swing things my way. So I think it gives prosecutors a powerful argument that this was done intentionally and strategically.

COOPER: And also this came a month before the Raffensperger call.

HONIG: Yeah. So --

COOPER: I mean, this was a plan -- I mean, this was not something he just did once and on a whim.

HONIG: Exactly. And there's a third call, remember he called this Georgia Bureau of Investigations investigator who he did the same thing to. He pressured her as well. Frances Watson was her name. And so again, the argument is this is thought out, careful, deliberative.

COOPER: And yet, both to their credit, Raffensperger and Ralston brushed off the president.

HONIG: Yeah, the response from Speaker Ralston was the exact same, "All due respect, Mr. President, we don't think you're right here."

COOPER: Gloria, I mean, what does this (ph) say to you that not only that this has now been played to the grand jury, but also that this was a call we didn't know about and it came a month before the Raffensperger call.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN'S SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, the president and his troops were completely unyielding. And one other thing this story talks about is that former Senator Perdue of Georgia was asked by the grand jury about an apparent meeting that he had with Governor Kemp asking him to reconvene the legislature. Now, we don't know the story behind that. We don't know what his response was, but we do know he was asked about that. So if that is in fact true, then there would be three times that officials in the State of Georgia were asked to try and overturn an election. And it's because Donald Trump wanted it done, and he went person by person by person to try and get it done.

COOPER: It is incredible, Elie, that it ended up being because of the strength of local election officials, state election officials that the president did not get to subvert the election.

HONIG: It's really worth remembering and remarking on. I mean, these were people who in Donald Trump's world view, you have an R next to your name, I have an R next to my name, you'll do whatever I say. But this is an important feature of our system that separates the state from the federal officials, and these officials said no, I'm not aboard this. One other thing, the Speaker of the House Ralston who is now passed away, that call still will be admissible in evidence because what's important is Donald Trump's statements on that call.

COOPER: I want to bring in Kara Scannell on this new reporting about the Trump hush money investigation as well. So, Kara, what's the latest? What have you learned?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN'S CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so today, Stormy Daniels is the person at kind of the center of this hush money payment, met with Manhattan District Attorney Prosecutors who are investigating the payment. I mean, obviously, she's someone who alleged that she had an affair with Trump and then received the $130,000. So, her meeting according to her lawyer was over Zoom, it wasn't in person, and it just with the prosecutors, but it came the same day Michael Cohen was back before the grand jury for the second time. He said to his knowledge he's completed his service and he feels relieved about it. He said it was an active session that almost all the grand jurors asked him specific questions.

He's the person who linked up the payment to Stormy Daniels and, then on the other end, received the reimbursement. And that's what prosecutors are look at here, as they look at whether to bring charges against the former president. So, we've now seen kind of all these actors come in. We saw from the campaign, Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway. It's really a finite number of people and most of them have gone in before the grand jury prosecutors. So, really feels like we're building to the D.A.'s Office to make this decision of whether to charge the former president.

COOPER: Elie, the timing of it seems like it's thickening (ph).

HONIG: Yes, this is end game stuff here. As Kara said, you're sort of finishing out the circle. You've got Michael Cohen, you've got Stormy Daniels. They gave Donald Trump his chance to come in and testify before the grand jury, which he's not done. So I think we're pretty close to an indictment here. But again, this will be a very difficult case if they do indict.


COOPER: Yeah, I mean, Gloria, this is not, legally -- the -- if they do actually indict, what they're trying to do is, it's a legally unusual argument they're making.

BORGER: Yeah. I mean, look, what it started out was a paperwork offense and what they may be turning it into is a felony, a criminal case of campaign election fraud. And that may be a very difficult case to make before a jury. We do know that Michael Cohen went to jail for this, that he pled guilty for part of this, that he testified under oath before Congress on this. So they may try and turn him into a credible witness, even though he went to jail, for lying about this.

But -- but it is a very, very difficult case to make, particularly since -- and we were talking about this earlier, you have other cases out there like the Georgia Grand Jury who's also taking their job very, very seriously as we saw in this piece today, with the interview with jurors. And it seems to me, reading between the lines, that they believe there were very, very serious offenses committed there. So the question politically is, is it wise to bring this case first? But that's not the way the justice system operates.

COOPER: Yeah, Gloria Borger, Elie Honig, Kara Scannell, appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up any moment, a federal judge in Texas could decide whether to block the most widely used form of abortion, pills despite their presence in the U.S. for more than two decades. It's a trial that may have reverberations across the country. We'll have a live report from Texas. Also joining us is former Planned Parenthood President, Cecile Richards.



COOPER: We're waiting for one of the most anticipated judicial decisions on abortions since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. A Federal Judge in Texas will decide whether to block at least temporarily the most widely used form of abortion, which is pill while a challenge to their safety as well as the authority to the FDA winds it way through the court system, possibly to the Supreme Court. It is without question a case with immense national implications. CNN'S Rosa Flores has more.


ROSA FLORES, CNN'S CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): During the four-hour preliminary injunction hearing, the judge raised one possible scenario where he could keep the approval of the drug Mifepristone intact and instead block the FDA'S more recent moves to make the abortion pills easier to obtain.

JAMI LYON, PROTESTER: It's a 20-year-old drug that's actually used to save women's lives.

FLORES (voice-over): Legal concerns already restricting access. Walgreens announcing it plans to stop the sale of abortion pills in states where abortion remains legal after Republican-led states threatened to sue. In this case, the plaintiffs are arguing the drug is unsafe and the FDA's approval process was flawed.

Mainstream medical groups saying the plaintiffs used misleading information in the filing. And the drug company's attorney says serious side effects occur in less than 1% of patients, with the risk of death non-existent. The Women's March and other abortion advocacy groups say the plaintiffs went "judge shopping" to find someone they believe will rule in their favor. By filing the case in Amarillo where there is one Federal Judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, a President Trump appointee who went from working at a religious liberty law firm on anti-abortion advocacy to the federal bench.

JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It would be unprecedented for a judge, a single judge, to say the FDA got it wrong 23 years ago. There's never been an instance where anyone has overturned the ruling of the FDA against the FDA's wishes.

FLORES (voice-over): Judge Kacsmaryk's handling of today's hearing had been shrouded in secrecy. The judge saying he didn't want to publicize the proceeding out of security concerns, pointing to unnecessary death threats and voicemails and harassment, sparking outrage over the lack of transparency.

LYON: I'm dressed like a clown to show what a circus he's created. It's a joke. He's making the American court system into a circus.

FLORES (voice-over): More than half of all abortions in the U.S. in recent years were medication abortions, most using Mifepristone, and a ruling against this drug would have wide implications.

DR. KATHERINE MCHUGH, FELLOW, AMERICAN COLLEGE OF OBSTERICIANS AND GYNECOLOGISTS: And Mifepristone is not just used in abortion care. It's also used for miscarriage management.

FLORES (voice-over): The judge didn't rule from the bench today and said, he'd issue an opinion as soon as possible.


COOPER: CNN'S Rosa Flores is in Amarillo, Texas. What was the tone inside the courtroom? Any indication which way the judge may rule?

FLORES (on camera): You know, I'll start with the tone. He was very straightforward in the courtroom. He was never aggressive towards the government, but it was very clear that he was sympathetic for the plaintiffs. Now, there's nuance there because the plaintiffs are asking this judge practically to yank this medication off the shelves. But the nuance is that in the questions that the judge asked the plaintiffs, it was clear that the judge really is not ready. He was skeptical about doing this in an aggressive one swoop.

Now, Anderson, the other very interesting thing is that one of the questions that this judge asked the plaintiffs, he asked them, "Okay, so point to one case in which a judge has done exactly what you're asking me to do." And Anderson, they didn't have an answer. There is no case because this is an unprecedented case. It would be unprecedented for a judge to tell the FDA that they got it wrong.

COOPER: Yeah, Rosa Flores, appreciate it. I want to perspective now from Cecile Richards, the former President of Planned Parenthood. Richards, how important is the outcome of this case not just for Texas, but people living in states where medication abortion is completely legal?

CECILE RICHARDS, FORMER PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Look, Anderson, this is unbelievable that we are sitting here looking at -- first, we have a 50-year-old precedent overturned by the Supreme Court, the right to own decisions (ph) about pregnancy. Now, we have a single judge in West Texas basically sitting here, ready to take away access to, as you've stated, the most commonly used form of medication to end a pregnancy. It is completely safe. It's safer than Tylenol. It's been in use for 22 years, and there's literally no rationale -- and as, you know, the reports coming out of the hearing today were even the anti- abortion lawyers that are making this case admitted there is zero precedent for this ever happening.


64.5 million women in America potentially will lose access to this medication. And as you say, it is not simply in states like Texas that have banned abortion. It's states all across the country, including states New York, California -- it doesn't matter. This is -- I can't even -- I can't overstate how radical this move would be, but I also think, listen, it's part of what the Republican agenda has been, which is to make abortion illegal all across the country. And this is just the next step. COOPER: The drug is also used for miscarriage management and other health care emergencies for women. If it's no longer available nationwide, what happens in those cases?

RICHARDS: Well, that is a huge concern. And I -- you know, we just saw in Texas, again, a place where it's very dangerous to be pregnant, and we had five women just sue the State of Texas, women who desperately wanted pregnancies, that went wrong where they could not get assistance. And that would be -- that's the kind of case that you're talking about here where women who are miscarrying need access to Mifepristone, doctors need access to this drug. And the fact these kinds of decisions are being made by a judge because of his own political point of view, not because of the safety and well-being of women, it's really serious.

And I guess, that's what I'm seeing across the country, Anderson, women are terrified. They can't believe that this is happening to them. And it's -- it's getting worse. We're seeing now in Florida, of course, Governor DeSantis trying to move to ban all abortion virtually in the State of Florida. It just seems to continue on.

COOPER: Access to abortion care is more difficult now than it has been in a decade or decades, I should say, in this country. Brick-and- mortar clinics in states where abortions is legal are already stretched to capacity. How would this ruling impact those clinics?

RICHARDS: Well, that's one of the problems. So about 40% of abortion providers only provide medication abortions, so that would mean that that's no longer available through them. And already there is a public health care crisis of, you know, women who are being forced to leave their state to access care in other places. You know, you go to states where -- Kansas is one of the states where they literally cannot take all of the people that are coming to them from Texas and other states where abortion has been banned.

It's really -- it is dangerous for women. It's dangerous for pregnant people all across America. And I think one of the things, Anderson, that is important to recognize, the Republicans are going to these judges because they can't get -- they can't get the American people to agree with them. This is hugely unpopular, and so to see that they're shopping for judges that will do things like this, like take away access to medication abortion, it's the most anti-democratic move that I can imagine.

COOPER: Cecile Richards, appreciate your time. Thank you. We'll be right back.



COOPER: This is the time when I -- that I know most of us who are in here could use a Nosh. A lot goes on during commercial breaks. Now, a new report in the Wall Street Journal says that could be a problem at least if sandwiches are involved. And honestly, shouldn't they always be? Actually, not. The general story says otherwise, suggesting that the very sandwiches that many of us eat may also be "heart bomb" -- that's a bad thing -- of salt, preservatives, and sugar, and the "saboteur of the American diet." So who else to talk about this smear campaign other than our Senior Data Reporter, Harry Enten.


So, what does the data show? I'm fully on board with this anti- sandwich thing, by the way.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN'S SENIOR DATA REPORTER: No. COOPER: Processed meats are terrible. And like the white bread, all this bread with added sugar is just terrible. So tell me what does the data show?

ENTEN: Yeah, I mean look, when I think of a sandwich, I think of a Pastrami sandwich when I was growing up.

COOPER: The rye one.

ENTEN: Maybe some Russian dressing.

COOPER: Don't know what that is.

ENTEN: It's just so good. But the fact is, when you look at what percentage saturated fats make up from sandwiches from the, you know, of the American diet, it's 19%. Look at sodium, it's 20%. Look at added sugars.

COOPER: It's a killer.

ENTEN: 7%, which was a real shocker to me because it's the white bread rye. And also --

COOPER: Even the wheat bread that's not actually really -- it has got a lot of added sugar in it.

ENTEN: Yeah, it's not great. It's also like stuff like ketchup. This was the surprising thing.

COOPER: All sugar.

ENTEN: It's all sugar. My Russian dressing, which has ketchup in it. It was very disappointing to me. I couldn't believe that the article suggested mayo was better. I'm not sure about that. I prefer ketchup to mayo but --

COOPER: So if you're going to have a sandwich, which you know --


COOPER: -- we all do want to have a sandwich from time to time. The article, as I remember, recommended like chicken breast and like actual turkey, not processed turkey.

ENTEN: Yeah. So grilled chicken would be one of them, not processed turkey is the other. I took a look at the six most favorite sandwiches, the favorite sandwiches, the six highest of Americans, and those were the two healthiest by far. BLT, grilled cheese, you could see some others on there, roast beef.

COOPER: But even the turkey, like we think getting a Turkey sandwich is healthy, but it's -- when there's processed, it's really not.

ENTEN: That's right. It's the salt, right. So, the fact is though, what I'm really upset about is I used to like to go to McDonald's or Burger King, get a grilled chick -- COOPER: My favorite.

ENTEN: -- but I get grilled chicken sandwich, I felt like I was cheating.

COOPER: No, there's no point.

ENTEN: Well, that may be why they canceled it, which is the most disappointment thing to me in the world because I used to love and get just a small little fries.

COOPER: You must have done away with their salads in a lot of locations.

ENTEN: I know. It's just very upsetting to me because it was a nice, cheap meal, something I could feel healthy with. And they've gotten rid of it. It's terrible.

COOPER: It's still the two cheeseburger meal for me now. I don't do the Big Macs anymore. But in this study, thank goodness for peanut butter, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

ENTEN: Right. So --

COOPER: They're the greatest things on the planet.

ENTEN: I hear you loved peanut butter.

COOPER: I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat, not white. You keep the sweeteners as low as possible, you don't use like the -- you do like a preserve or something that has lower sugar, added sugar.

ENTEN: Correct.


COOPER: And the peanut -- I don't like the peanut -- I like the Skippy. But there is the better peanut butter that you --

ENTEN: Less stuff that's in the peanut butter, the better.


ENTEN: Just keep it to the peanuts. Why do you like peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

COOPER: It's so satisfying and delightful, and I know how to make it, and it's easy. It's like, I mean, what could be better? I could love on that. I have lived on that for (inaudible) time.

ENTEN: My girlfriend can live on it too, but I have to be honest. I prefer just a plain jelly sandwich. I know that's kind of sacrosanct. But I like a plain jelly sandwich and I like it on white. I know we are saying go with wheat, but I like a plain jelly sandwich.

COOPER: On white bread? A jelly sandwich?

ENTEN: Yeah.

COOPER: I don't know who you are, Harry Enten.

ENTEN: You never know who I am now.

COOPER: Coming up, the James Webb Telescope does it again, capturing a rare and incredible moment deep in our galaxy, details next. This is not even a thing.


COOPER: Time now to take you 15,000 light years away. That's where the Webb Space Telescope has captured a rare sight that has certainly gotten the attention of astronomers and space fans everywhere. According to NASA, this star, WR 124, among the biggest and most radiant stars known, is about to die before going supernova. Supernovas, as you may know, are the hottest, brightest objects in the night sky. The star is surrounded by a cooler glowing halo of gas and dust, a lot of it, equivalent to the mass of 10 of our suns.