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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Defiant as Potential Indictment Looms, Claims Innocence; One-On-One With Stormy Daniels' Attorney; Trump Attorney To Testify Tomorrow In Classified Documents Investigation; Manhattan DA's Office Slams House GOP's "Unprecedented" Inquiry Into Investigation After Trump Claimed His Arrest Was Imminent; Trump Attorney To Testify Tomorrow In Classified Documents Investigation; How Ukrainians Used Extraordinary Deception To Save Orphaned Children From Russian Occupiers; Muslim Cleric Sentenced To 18 Years In Prison For Recruiting And Providing Support To ISIS; First Person Tried Under NY Terror Laws. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 23, 2023 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And you can watch it. It's the all new CNN is original series with Eva Longoria, "Searching for Mexico" premieres this Sunday at 10:00 PM.

Thanks so much for joining us.

It is time now for AC 360 with Anderson Cooper.



Tonight, why a Manhattan grand jury in the Stormy Daniels' hush money case appears to be in a holding pattern, why one of the two Federal cases by contrast just keeps accelerating.

Sources tell us the Manhattan grand jury panel met today, but did not take up the case. It's expected to reconvene on Monday, possibly to hear additional testimony.

Tonight, my exclusive conversation with the attorney for Stormy Daniels, his thoughts on where the case is heading and whether his client wants to see the former President indicted.

Mr. Trump has been seeking donations, as you know, from his supporters, fundraising off of his claims he was going to be arrested this past Tuesday and in a new series of statements on his social network, is calling the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg a "danger to our country" and an "animal." He has also linked to an article with a photo of Bragg next to a photo of himself with a baseball bat looking like he is ready to take a swing.

Bragg's office meantime sent a letter to House Republicans who are seeking to investigate the investigators. A letter says House Republicans only got involved, "After Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene." "Neither fact," the letter continues, "Is a legitimate basis for congressional inquiry."

Here is House Speaker McCarthy's reply.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): He doesn't prosecute anybody, so I don't understand why. He only does political ones.


COOPER: More developments as well on the Federal side, lawyers for the former Vice President were in Court today behind closed doors trying to block a grand jury subpoena for his testimony in the January 6 case, and in declassified documents case, tomorrow is the day the former President's attorney, Evan Corcoran is expected to give additional testimony and turn over documents after the DC District Appeals Court upheld the Judge's incredibly rare decision to set aside attorney-client privilege under the crime fraud exception.

Now, we have reporting tonight on all of the above, CNN's Kara Scannell on the Manhattan case and Katelyn Polantz on the Federal action.

Kara Scannell starts us off.

So any idea why things have slowed down with the grand jury in New York?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, this grand jury has been hearing evidence in this case since January. We've seen a number of the witnesses close to this.

David Pecker at the "National Enquirer," Michael Cohen, who is Trump's fixer, the man in the middle of these payments and some people from the Trump Organization. You know, we're getting toward the end of this investigation. The DA's office invited Trump to go in before the grand jury, he declined, but he asked them to put a witness in and we saw that witness go in on Monday. It was one of Cohen's former advisers, Bob Costello.

Now, the prosecutors had Michael Cohen on hand as a rebuttal witness. They didn't call him there.

COOPER: He was physically there.

SCANNELL: He was physically there, but Costello's testimony went to 4:50 PM and the grand jury ends at six. So, they're sitting here regrouping, looking at how their next going to make this move.

The grand jury sat today, but it was always intending to hear another case. That's just how the grand juries work. They hear a couple of cases at a time. So we now know they are going to be back on Monday. Sources tell us they are likely to call another witness, at least one more witness and other sources say they're weighing whether or not they want to bring Cohen back or it could be someone else. So, you know, all of this takes place behind closed doors where

they're watching every day, but it's really just the decision making inside the DA's office of how they want to continue moving forward in this.

COOPER: I mean, is there any possibility that the DA, that Bragg is rethinking the merits of this case?

SCANNELL: I mean, I think prosecutors are always evaluating the evidence, and given the magnitude of this decision, the first time to bring a criminal indictment against a former President is something that's never been done before.

And I think with this case, there also has been a lot of public criticism of the strength of the evidence, particularly because it's a law that hasn't been used before. That does not mean they're not going to bring this case, but I think like any prosecutor would, they are looking at this and evaluating constantly the strength of their case and where they feel that they are.

COOPER: Yes, but on the strength of the case, I mean, getting an indictment from a grand jury, that's a much lower level bar than it is from actually getting it from a jury at a trial.

SCANNELL: Right. But I mean, prosecutors don't want to lose and the saying is like you don't shoot the king and miss. Right? So there already is a lot of criticism of is this the case, given how many criminal investigations Trump is under, is this the one that you want to go with first?

And, you know, each prosecutor looks at their case through their own lens, and their facts. This fact pattern has been around for seven years now. Federal prosecutors have looked at it and passed, the previous DA had looked at it and was only going to include it in a large indictment involving you know, questions about the financial statements and the accuracy of them at the Trump Organization.

So, it is very interesting that Bragg now taking a look at all of the evidence that they have is focusing in on this, you know, but it's still a big decision, and something that he's going to want to get right.

COOPER: Kara Scannell, appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Now, my exclusive conversation with Clark Brewster, attorney for Stormy Daniels. I talked to him just before airtime.



COOPER: Mr. Brewster, I appreciate you joining us. Can you just explain the level of cooperation that Stormy Daniels has had with Manhattan investigators and what they've asked her so far?

CLARK BREWSTER, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: Well, sure. Stormy has always made it known that she would share any information she had and chronological information or any documents and had a meeting with them of some length. Actually, I think there were four or five prosecutors present.

We did it over Zoom, but she's been very open and cooperative with them.

COOPER: I interviewed Miss Daniels for "60 Minutes" back in 2018. I asked her about the payment that was made to her and I just want to play that for our viewers.


COOPER: Was it hush money to stay silent?

STORMY DANIELS, ALLEGEDLY RECEIVED HUSH MONEY FROM DONALD TRUMP: Yes. The story was coming out again. I was concerned for my family and their safety.

COOPER: I think some people watching this are going to doubt that you entered into this negotiation, because you feared for your safety. They're going to think that you saw an opportunity.

DANIELS: I think the fact that I didn't even negotiate, I just quickly said "yes" to this very -- you know, strict contract and what most people will agree with me, extremely low number is all the proof I need.


COOPER: As you know, the former President denies any wrongdoing. He says, this was an extortion plot. Some of his political allies have downplayed it as a mere personal transaction.

Is there any doubt in your view that the payment was designed to help protect his campaign?

BREWSTER: Well, I think that reasonable people knowing the facts, and the timing would reach that conclusion. I see no reason to believe otherwise.

COOPER: What does Miss Daniels want to see happen here? Would she be pleased if the former President was indeed indicted?

BREWSTER: Well, I don't know about pleased. I will tell you that in my interactions, whether I've represented her now since March of 2019, she has always been very straightforward in truth telling. And I think more than anything she desires that the truth be told and found by -- and the denials, and the accusations of dishonesty cease.

So I think she is more interested in the resolution of this being determined upon the truth rather than anything else.

COOPER: As you know, the timing of this investigation has been called into question given that it centers around a payment from back in 2016. Did Miss Daniels think this was all behind her? I mean, not just the legal saga, but having to deal with the former President's insults and things like that?

BREWSTER: Well, she's been through quite a lot as your station has reported. I mean, she's been through the Avenatti chronicles, the issues associated with the defamation lawsuit in California, as well as the non-disclosure litigation out there.

But more than anything else, I mean, she doesn't have any control over how this is prosecuted or brought to a jury in any way. She simply is there and willing to support and tell the truth, whichever way it decides to go.

COOPER: If the former President is in fact indicted, and she was called to be a witness, would she be prepared to testify?

BREWSTER: Yes, she's made that very clear. She would be willing to testify and she would support her testimony with documents and evidence and corroboration with witnesses if necessary.

COOPER: I also know you provided the prosecution with communications between the former President's attorney in this matter, Joe Tacopina and Stormy Daniels from back in 2018. Can you explain in kind of layman's terms what those communications were about how they may possibly impact any Court proceeding?

BREWSTER: Yes, so Mr. Tacopina had mentioned that he had never met Miss Daniels and didn't have any attorney-client relationship. In fact, in February of 2018, there was a fair amount of exchange between Miss Daniels and Mr. Tacopina's firm.

She had a number of not only conversations, but extensive e-mails outlining details of this transaction involving the former President, as well as witnesses and a chronology and what took place. That series of written exchanges led to a direct conversational lengthy conference with Mr. Tacopina's firm.

So, I would say that he is at least conflicted to a point where he couldn't represent opposition on that issue against her.

COOPER: And was the retainer the Tacopina asked for from Miss Daniels?


BREWSTER: Yes. At the conclusion of the exchange of information a few days and the conversations and the e-mails, Mr. Tacopina, according to Stormy quoted a retainer figure that she would have to come up with in cash. She told him she would consider and see whether she could raise those funds. Ultimately, she then interviewed Michael Avenatti and chose to go that route. And so Mr. Tacopina wasn't formally retained, but all the information which led to his decision to quote a retainer figure had occurred.

COOPER: Clark Brewster, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

BREWSTER: My pleasure. Thank you.


COOPER: The New York grand jury case maybe moving slowly, not so the classified documents case. Donald Trump's attorney goes back in front of a grand jury tomorrow, this time, the attorney-client privilege does not apply. That story is coming up as is the latest from Ukraine.

We will take you to a Ukrainian orphanage that is now a crime scene. How Russian occupiers took children from there, and you'll meet the Ukrainians who have risked their lives to try to get them back.


COOPER: Of all the criminal investigations the former President is facing, none has seen the kind of legal drama that the Federal documents probe has, whether it's the search of Mar-a-Lago or yesterday's lightning fast Appeals Court decision upholding a Judge's stunning decision to invoke the crime fraud exception to attorney- client privilege.


COOPER: Now, last night in the program a former Federal Judge told me that in all her 17 years on the bench, she'd never once found a reason to do that.

So tomorrow, Trump attorney, Evan Corcoran will testify before a grand jury.

CNN's Katelyn Polantz joins us now with more on what to expect. It's obviously tough to overstate how high the stakes are likely to be with Mr. Corcoran's appearance tomorrow. Do we know how this is going to play out tomorrow at all?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE SENIOR REPORTER: Well, Anderson, we know that he is going to have to go in and he's going to have to answer questions that he was not willing to answer before the things that his client, Donald Trump wanted him not to share with the grand jury and things that he himself did not feel he was able to share because they were part of his work as an attorney.

Now, Evan Corcoran, he is not just any attorney working for Donald Trump. He was essentially the primary defense attorney, responding to all of the parts of the Mar-a-Lago investigation as the criminal prosecutors had been trying to figure out why they couldn't get back or if they had even gotten back over the classified documents that were at Mar-a-Lago.

So if you look at that timeline, the timeline of all of the things he was part of, that is what we know now through reporting from my colleague, Sara Murray tonight, what he is going to be asked about tomorrow. So he is going to be asked about the May subpoena that they got from the Justice Department last year saying, return all the classified documents you have, their response to that, the searches they did, the draft letter they wrote back to the Justice Department saying, here it is, here's what we found, we did searches, you've got all and everything. At that time, they didn't get everything back, but that's what he was

-- he and other lawyers were saying and then also there was a June phone call between Evan Corcoran and Donald Trump that the prosecutors could learn about, and it was on the same day that the Trump Organization was subpoenaed for surveillance videos that then showed people moving boxes.

So those are the things he is going to be asked about, and that is a lot that he didn't say before that he will have to say now.

COOPER: And he also has to turn over documents, I mean, contemporaneous notes or any recordings. Right?

POLANTZ: That's right, and it is very likely that if the prosecutors don't have those already, it's very likely that he will be carrying them into the Grand Jury tomorrow. That was specified in the Court Order that we saw yesterday afternoon that he did have to turn those over, too.

COOPER: And is it clear why the former President's legal team has not appealed the order forcing him to testify?

POLANTZ: It's not actually. Donald Trump tends to appeal everything, even if it's a really long shot. But in this case, you know, Anderson, the best way to look at this as they were essentially out of time, they were clearly running out of time going into yesterday, whenever they were asking the Appeals Court for this help, and this Federal Appeals Court, they would have to step up to put on hold the testimony. It wasn't just like a passive appeal that would put everything on ice.

And so whenever yesterday, the speed that the Appeals Court came back at this with that they hadn't appeared to write anything. Additionally, even though it's all under seal, it didn't look like they were explaining or weighing law in any way, it was just a flat out denial on both the documents and the testimony.

They weren't going to block it and that's it. So, they would have had to get somebody to step up and help them in a very short time before Friday, and they didn't do it.

COOPER: Katelyn, appreciate it. Katelyn Polantz.

Now, the law firm of Roth, Coates and Eisen, former Federal prosecutor, Jessica Roth currently of Cardozo Law School here in Manhattan; CNN anchor, Laura Coates; also former Federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst, Norm Eisen, who served as counsel to House Democrats in the first Trump impeachment.

So Laura, given that Evan Corcoran is expected to not only testify tomorrow, but turn over these documents, how likely do you think it is the prosecutors may soon find a smoking gun of sorts? If there is one, he would have it, wouldn't he?

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. And of course, it seems as though there's already been some smoke that was conveyed to the Court at two different levels to suggest that there was some extraordinary reason to actually pierce what has been so sacrosanct.

I mean, the idea of piercing the attorney-client privilege is saying, look, we normally will hold this very dear, but it seems as though there may have been an attempt to use an attorney as some conduit of crime or fraud or some way to pierce it. That's very significant.

So the contemporaneous notes he has written, any kind of things he has in his own possession that we'll have to convey right now, these could ultimately lead to one of two things, either to confirm what the DOJ likely already knows through their grand jury of other witnesses, or it could exonerate completely and say this attorney did all that he was supposed to do to confirm that everything had been turned in, or that he was played for a fool.

One of those two things is going to happen, and we will see what the result is.

COOPER: Jessica, I mean, if you were the former President, and given the totality of all these things, how concerned would you be that your former attorney or attorney is having to testify?

JESSICA ROTH, NEW YORK CARDOZO LAW SCHOOL LAW PROFESSOR AND FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I would be extremely concerned because the very fact that the District Court and now the Court of Appeals have both found that the crime fraud exception applies means that they've seen evidence that the President was consulting his lawyer in furtherance of committing a crime.


COOPER: And that means not just one Judge has seen it, but others in --

ROTH: The Appellate Court Judges, right, that panel. So, I'd be very concerned because Judges do not lightly pierce the attorney-client privilege. As has already been said, it's extremely rare for a Court to do that.

So if I were the former President, I would be extremely concerned about what it is that persuaded the Judges that this was one of those rare circumstances where the attorney-client privilege should be pierced, and what Evan Corcoran is going to go in and say and what evidence he is going to present.

COOPER: Norm, does the speed at which the Courts have moved to compel Corcoran to testify tell you anything about the possible strength of the DOJ's case?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Anderson, it does. We already knew it was a powerful case. I mean, you can't hang on to hundreds of classified documents, and do that, despite requests. We already knew there was a probable cause finding of obstruction and other crimes for the search warrant.

But now what the speed tells us is, number one, that the conduct was so serious, this means that Judge Howell, the District Court Judge found a prima facia case of crime. That's even stronger than probable cause. And number two, that things are moving very rapidly. There's some reason that Jack Smith is accelerating this way. That suggests peril as well.

So it does have the feel that together with Donald Trump's other legal problems, he has got a big one on these Mar-a-Lago classified documents.

COOPER: Laura, with the hush money case here in New York, how do you interpret the delay so far in the grand jury's proceedings?

COATES: Well, you know, it could be a delay that is caused by recollection and reflection to say, listen, we may have an incentive getting more testimony and more witnesses to cross a T or dot and I, or it could very well be that there is more information for a charge that we are yet to know about that they are trying to buttress in some way.

Although it does give me pause, if the reporting is accurate that they're thinking about using another witness or recalling a witness to either rehabilitate or buttress some testimony, that gives me pause, Anderson, because normally, the grand jury stage is one of the easiest parts for a prosecutor. You know, the statement and you can indict a ham sandwich, it's a probable cause thing. It is not beyond a reasonable doubt, not that you want to be dismissive of that ultimate burden.

But if you're having trouble right now convincing a number of grand jurors that you want to indict a particular case, and they're reluctant, that will inform you a great deal.

So remember, you have 23 grand jurors, say you have the majority of 12, who want to go forward with something, that doesn't give you much comfort that 11 said you don't even have probable cause. If that's where they are, that's a whole different ballgame.

COOPER: The other consideration, Jessica, is you had this rebuttal witness on Monday. It is very possible that they may call somebody else in to rebut the rebuttal witness.

ROTH: It is possible. It is possible that they're taking some time to evaluate what is the best response to that rebuttal witness, that could be one explanation. It could also be that they're taking time to evaluate whether they want to use the power that they have by issuing grand jury subpoenas to collect any further evidence or subpoena any further witnesses because a prosecutor's hand is strongest when using the grand jury.

You can still issue subpoenas to appear before trial, but your hand is strongest when you can issue grand jury subpoenas. And so it may just be that they are taking their time to see if there's anything else that they want to use that power to collect before the case proceeds to this next public stage.

COOPER: What do you think about the pressure that the DA is under from House Republicans? ROTH: Well, I think that it's as the DA said in his letter, I think

that the request for him to come testify before Congress, I think was extraordinary and inappropriate and I was glad to see that he issued a very strong, forceful response.

COOPER: Norm, it is interesting, I mean, they don't even know exactly what evidence he has or what argument he is making. They just outright said, don't pursue anything.

EISEN: Anderson, it's extraordinary. In my decades of doing criminal law and working on congressional investigations and as part of legal teams defending them, I have never seen such a blatant nakedly political partisan effort to interfere with a State or Federal prosecution.

When we were doing the first impeachment of Trump, Bill Barr wouldn't even come talk to us about the Mueller investigation, which at that point had been closed without charges.

So I think that it is wrong. I was glad to see the District Attorney fire back with that smackdown letter and I will say that I don't think that is the letter of a man who is wobbly or shaky or blinking on bringing charges.


EISEN: Having practiced in New York, there is often some routine up and downs as you're ending a grand jury and I think that they are moving with all deliberate speed. I continue to expect charges and soon.

COOPER: Norm Eisen, Laura Coates, Jessica Roth, thanks so much.

Just ahead, the political ramifications of the investigations as House Republicans rally around the former President, expand their investigation to the Manhattan District Attorney.


COOPER: More now in the battle between the Manhattan District Attorney and House Republicans, the legal counsel for the DA's office responded to Republicans congressional inquiry with a blistering five- page letter today as we discussed.

She wrote that the Republican inquiry into what could be the first criminal indictment of a former President lacked a "legitimate basis for a congressional inquiry." She goes on to say that the claims investigation is politically motivated are "unfounded." It comes after the Republican Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jim Jordan last night expanded its investigation with requests for more documents and testimony.

I'm joined now by two CNN political commentators, Jonah Goldberg, co- founder and editor-in-chief of "The Dispatch" and Van Jones, former special adviser to President Obama and also by CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger. Jonah, how -- I mean, first of all, what do you think of the

Republicans' efforts to stop this without actually even knowing the details of it?

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think it's wildly inappropriate, right? It would be one thing if Bragg came out with a really faulty preposterous legal theory. I'm inclined to think that the legal thing behind this is really not easy to defend, it is bad.

COOPER: There's a lot of people who feel that way.

GOLDBERG: But you cannot threaten a law enforcement officer, an officer of the court, with political retribution for something they haven't done yet, based upon rumors in a newspaper. It's just -- it's --


COOPER: Apparently you can.

GOLDBERG: Well, you can, but it's wildly inappropriate. I do think -- look think the Bragg investigation is politically motivated. I think this is politically motivated. This is one of these eye for an eye, leaves the world blind thing.

Everybody is going outside of their lanes. Everyone's bad behavior is justifying worse behavior on the other side. And -- but there's no justification for what they're doing because it is just simply an attempt at political intimidation based on nothing at this point, and it's embarrassing.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Against law enforcement. This is the crazy thing. The Republican Party -- well, we believe in law and order unless --

GOLDBERG: And federalism.

JONES: And federalism, unless you're saying something mean about our former president. Our former president now, all the rules go out the door, and you're going to try to intimidate a district attorney and insist that politics now be a part of this process. And so I think it's outrageous.

COOPER: Gloria, do you -- I mean, I guess it's not unexpected they did this. Conventional wisdom not long ago was that a lot of the Republican lawmakers were growing tired of the former president. How do you score that with three powerful committee chairs and the speaker of the House going to the mat for him against Bragg?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, of course it's easier for them to go against Alvin Bragg than it is for them to go against Donald Trump. And if you listen to what they're saying, they're not saying, oh, this is completely defamatory. No one could ever imagine this truly happening in the real world. They're not addressing the case itself. They are addressing a prosecutor whom they think is incredibly political. I think it's a dangerous road for them, because when you look what might be coming down the road, which is the Georgia grand jury on trying to overturn the election, and the special counsel, Jack Smith questions of the Mar-a-Lago document case, for example, what are they going to go out and say then?

It's politically motivated. And just take Donald Trump's line on that. They all have elections to win. There's a presidential election coming up, and they have to look for those voters who may be tired of Donald Trump or those independent voters. So are they going to keep on with this same line? I think many of them could peel away.

COOPER: Nobody should be surprised, Jonah, that the former president is fundraising off all of this. He, you know, said, they're going to arrest me on Tuesday, his campaign had said they raised, I think, $1.5 million as of a couple of days ago. Does that help him? I mean, it helps him, obviously, financially, but just if his goal, which I assume should be to expand his base, does that help him do that?

GOLDBERG: No, I think it's a sign that he's not expanding his base. I think 1.5 million is actually shockingly low. I think that there was a time where if this was happening to Trump, the number would be much, much bigger. I think he is squeezing the last bits of juice from his die hard small donors.

And at the same time, that's a sign that he's actually like, he's not adding any voters to his column with any of this. I mean -- and so think that this a -- this in conjunction with what may playout in the future, with future indictments and all this, I think it's all contributing to an atmosphere or an attitude towards Trump that can be boiled down to is it's always something with this guy, right?

It's just a lot of frigging baggage with this guy. And so even among a lot of people who like him and really don't like his enemies, it may be that this could reach a tipping point where, you know, DeSantis, at least, is a fresh start.

COOPER: It's also interesting, you know, the former president calling for protests, and there wasn't, you know, a huge swelling in the streets in cities across the country.

JONES: Yes, not at all. And, yes, I felt badly because, first of all, we got head faked. You know, Donald Trump says, I'm getting arrested on Tuesday, everybody protests. The only people who believed him were reporters.

Like, his crowd was like, nah, we're not going to stay, though. We're not going to New York City with this guy. So it really is, I think, a situation where you're right, I think, he's trying to squeeze this for all it's worth. He's trying to get money. He's trying to get sympathy. He's trying to get support.

You do see some rise in the polls, but, you know, it's probably a sugar high. And at the end of the day, he's looking down the barrel of his own lawyer is now going to have to testify against him. He can try to profile, make it so it's OK. These are very, very tough days with Donald Trump.

COOPER: Gloria, were you surprised that they didn't try to appeal the decision that Evan Corcoran had to testify?

BORGER: Well, they probably didn't have a lot of time, and I also think they probably knew that they were going to lose, given, you know -- I mean, given the fact that this ruling was so quick. There must have been some evidence there, as your legal eagles were talking about before. So I'm not really surprised by that.


What I am surprised by is sort of the Republicans trying to figure out how they dance around this, as Jonah was saying before, because right now, the Republican race for the presidency, such as it is, is all about Donald Trump. And they know full well what's good for Donald Trump is not necessarily good for the Republican Party.

And I think that we have to watch this playout over the next days and the next coming months, because there's going to be more of this stuff. And right now, no one knows how to react to this anymore in that party.

COOPER: But, Jonah, no Republican can say they didn't know that this is -- this was going to happen. Not necessarily the particular case, but it's been clear that Donald Trump is not good for the Republican Party or the future of the Republican Party, certainly for a long time.

GOLDBERG: Yes, no, it's like this just in. Bears are using our national forests as toilets. I mean, this is a fairly well known thing. At the same time, I think --

COOPER: And to scratch their backs on trees.

GOLDBERG: True, but it's a family show. I should have said that. But look, at the same time, there is this double bind that I think Democrats and a lot of people in the media get into. They want to have it both ways with all these Republicans.

They want to say, look, it's a personality cult. They're all in for Trump, and they're all cowards for not speaking out against them. Well, if they're cowards, that means they know the truth and they're afraid to say it.

And, yes, there were three committee chairs who did this stuff, but there are an enormous number of Republicans who are just keeping their head down, including some are running for president who just don't want to get mud on their shoes one way or the other because of all of this.

COOPER: Yes. Jonah Goldberg --

BORGER: They're going to have to.

COOPER: Yes. BORGER: They're going to have to.

COOPER: Van Jones, Gloria Borger as well. Thanks so much.

Coming up, an extraordinary tale of Ukrainians risking their lives to save orphan kids from what the International Criminal Court is now calling forced deportation to Russia war crime.



COOPER: The arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin issued by the International Criminal Court last week was the culmination of a story we've been following for some time, accusations and evidence of the forced deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children.

The chief prosecutor for the ICC who brought the charges, Karim Khan, told CNN exclusively that these children were treated like spoils of war. What's more, the Russians didn't even try to cover up what they were doing. Quoting the chief prosecutor again, he said, quote, the simple reality said these crimes have not been hidden.

CNN's David McKenzie traveled close to the front lines and spoke to Ukrainians who risked their lives to try and stop what appear to be war crimes.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Approaching the southern front line in Kherson. In the liberated city, many have fled. It's deceptively quiet, until the relentless terror.

The often indiscriminate, almost daily Russian shelling. We've come to investigate a very deliberate horror of the Russian occupation.

(on-camera): So the children who stayed here were under five years old mostly. This orphanage had more than 40 children here.

(voice-over): Elena (ph) was a nurse here for 17 years. Not a single child is left.

I feel emptiness, emptiness. Everything has just stopped, she says. The children had everything. They were so happy. The children were happy. Now it's just silence. And small reminders of them. Their names still on each locker.

The Kherson Children's Home is now a crime scene. They warned us to collect their clothes, says Elena (ph). The Russians and collaborators called in the evening and said to prepare the children for the morning. The buses arrived at 8:00.

The heartbreaking scenes captured for Russian propaganda shared on a Russian MP's telegram channel, the bewildered children taken from their beloved nurses in October, transported to Russian occupied Crimea or Russia itself, say Ukrainian investigators. But instead of hiding this alleged war crime, Russians advertised it. Children will be taken to safe conditions in Crimea, he says. I'll definitely go and visit. Investigators say it was part of a premeditated Russian mission, to take Ukrainian children. They even targeted hospitals.

(on-camera): There was a lot of pressure by the Russians to take these children. Weren't you afraid?

It was scary. Very, very scary. So much pressure, says Olha Pilia'ksa. Twice a day, they demanded. We show them lists of the kids to take to Russia. So Olha and her team came up with an extraordinary deception. They hid orphans in the ICU. And they forged medical assessments, saying healthy children were severely sick.

They even faked an emergency ventilation, she says. We understood that the Russians and collaborators would not forgive us, she says. We knew there would be serious retribution. We understood this. But they took the risks and managed to save children.

And a critical care nurse took it a step further. Tetiana says she fell in love with one of the orphan children. She worked desperately to keep the child off the list.

(on-camera): How are you?

(voice-over): Now, she's adopting Kira (ph).

(on-camera): Nice to meet you.

(voice-over): We met them at home. A Ukrainian mom with her treasured Ukrainian child.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): Kira (ph) is almost ready to walk.

(on-camera): What does she mean to you?

(voice-over): She means everything to me, says Tetiana. Oh, I don't even know, to be honest. I can't imagine my life without Kira (ph).

This awful war has given her a precious gift.


COOPER: So sickening to see this. David McKenzie joins us now from Ukraine. From what have you been hearing, how else have kids been taken out of Ukraine and into Russia?

MCKENZIE: Well, Anderson, they've been taken like this in the most egregious way. But if you see how they do it so brazenly, openly, in front of the cameras, in buses like this from an orphanage, the Russians didn't seem to care. They seemed like they were thinking they were doing the right thing.


They also took them from parents, coerced them. Sometimes parents gave them willingly to go to Russian reeducation camps, summer camps, they called it. President Zelenskyy says there are up to 15,000 children taken in those kind of camps. In the most serious cases, like the one we reported on, there are many hundreds, perhaps thousands.

And it's these kind of cases, Anderson, that the prosecutor is looking at very closely. And in Kherson, all those children who have gone, well, they've ended up in occupied Crimea or Russia, some of them already adopted to Russian parents, given Russian citizenship, in a way losing the Ukrainian identity.

The Ukrainians have no idea how they will get them back during this awful war and even post this war when it ever ends. The prosecutor is looking at this to arrest Putin and his chief adviser on these issues. Whether they ever get them to justice, well, that remains to be seen. Anderson?

COOPER: Yes. David McKenzie, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Still to come, how much prison time a Muslim cleric is facing here in New York for recruiting and inspiring followers to pledge allegiance to ISIS, and includes playing matchmaker for would be ISIS brides. He's the first person tried under state terror laws passed after the September 11 attacks. We'll show you what happened in court today.



COOPER: In a New York courtroom this afternoon, a radical clerk convicted of recruiting and providing support to ISIS was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal was found guilty of five terror related charges in January. At his trial, prosecutors described him as one of the most influential English speaking terrorists of our times.

They said he inspired several convicted terrorists and even acted as a marriage broker for ISIS. He'll be the first person to be tried under New York State terror laws passed after the September 11 attacks, even though he never set foot here while spreading ISIS propaganda.

More now from CNN's Brynn Gingras.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I can give you what you want. I can link you to someone there. We will plan together. These are messages that sealed the fate of Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal, a Jamaican born radical Muslim cleric.

SHEIKH ABDULLAH EL-FAISAL: They have to go to the trading camp, learn how to shoot a gun, learn how to make IEDs.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Who terrorism experts say is one of the most influential promoters of violent extremism to date. Those promises made to a woman living in New York City who Faisal was helping to recruit.

UNDERCOVER DETECTIVE, NYPD: I was a single female trying to travel to overseas, to the Islamic State territory.

GINGRAS (voice-over): He was actually corresponding with an undercover NYPD officer whose identity remains concealed for her security. She spoke to CNN exclusively.

UNDERCOVER DETECTIVE: When I found out what this individual was involved in and what he had did in the past, it felt great to be a part of this case.

GINGRAS (voice-over): In part because of her work, Faisal is now a convicted felon, the culmination of a yearslong NYPD investigation and two month trial by the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

(on-camera): He never stepped foot in Manhattan, and yet you guys charged him.

ALVIN BRAGG, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I think it shows the reach of the office. While he may not have stepped foot here, his message, his voice, and his horrific impact did.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Faisal became radicalized in the early 90s. His career as a preacher began in London, where he gave fiery sermons to large crowds.

EL-FAISAL: The way forward is not the bullet. The way forward is the bullet.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Eventually posting his preachings online in English.

REBECCA WEINER, ASST. COMMISSIONER, NYPD INTELLIGENCE & COUNTERTERRORISM BUREAU: The English speaking element enables him to reach a crowd of people that hadn't really been focused upon.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Ultimately achieving global influence. Authorities have tied his teachings to notorious terrorists, including one of the 9/11 plotters, the shoe bomber in 2001, the 2009 underwear bomber, and Faisal Shahzad, who planted a car bomb in Times Square in 2010.

CHIEF THOMAS GALATI, NYPD INTELLIGENCE & COUNTERTERRORISM BUREAU: Every time they were interviewed after their attack and/or their, you know, arrest from a plot, it seems that his name kept coming up, that they were a follower of Sheikh Faisal.

WEINER: And then it became very personal to us here in the city as he was trying to not just radicalize individuals, but facilitate their mobilization to join ISIS.

GALATI: So we realized that we really needed to do something to try and arrest this individual. GINGRAS (voice-over): That was in 2016. Faisal was living in Jamaica. The NYPD's intelligence bureau enlisted an undercover officer who gained Faisal's trust through online communications.

UNDERCOVER DETECTIVE: In his lectures, he portrayed himself as strict, you know, sheikh, but when talking to him, everything was totally different. He was just straight, like, flirting and kind of like, acting like a non-believer.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Authorities say Faisal was a master networker. He ultimately connected the officer to an ISIS fighter in Syria.

LUQMANN PATEL: Give me your WhatsApp and your Telegram, inshallah, and somebody from us will contact you.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Both men offering to help her gain entry into ISIS controlled territory, violating New York State terror laws put in place after 9/11. The NYPD arrested Faisal in Jamaica in 2017, later extraditing him to New York. He's the first person to stand trial on charges under the state terrorism laws.

His defense argued Faisal's words and communications, although distasteful, weren't a crime.

BRAGG: Whether the terror is from ISIS or a domestic threat, it's terror, and we want to address it in any and all of its forms.

GINGRAS (voice-over): In a Manhattan courtroom, the undercover officer faced Faisal for the first time.

UNDERCOVER DETECTIVE: I was happy that he was there because of the amount of people that he harmed, and we were able to get him.



COOPER: And Brynn Gingras joins us now. Talk more about how the Bureau was able to gain his trust?

GINGRAS: Yes, I mean, this is an investigation that spanned over a year, and it's pretty fascinating. We're talking about undercover detectives Justin, the NYPD's Counterterrorism and Intelligence Bureau. And gaining their trust, they literally went to different countries.

I mean, there were times Faisal was asking this undercover, show me the, you know, some landmark in Abu Dhabi. And they would have to go there to show him, to just prove that she was who she said she was. In fact, of course, she was talking to this undercover, and, you know, you kind of forget about this, especially when you're talking about a local New York City Police Department.

I mean, this is someone the undercover detective acting kind of like the CIA, I mean, had completely separate life than what she was showing him. And literally, her family didn't even know. Even when we did this interview, we went into a separate room --

COOPER: Is that right? Really?

GINGRAS: Yes. Family doesn't even know the work that she did, putting this, you know, a huge terrorist influencer behind bars.


GINGRAS: We would actually go into a separate room just for her to come in, go into the room to set up for the interview. We'd never met her. We don't know her name.


GINGRAS: So, I mean, these are really unsung heroes that are doing this work. And, of course, we talk about larger picture, right? This is an international terrorist case. Of course, domestic terrorism is a huge threat now --


GINGRAS: -- and that's something, of course, this bureau is monitoring and continues to monitor.

COOPER: Yes. So incredible. Thank you so much for that. Great, Brynn.


COOPER: We'll be right back.


COOPER: 150 million Americans use TikTok. And CEO was on Capitol Hill today being grilled by lawmakers who want the app banned in the U.S. saying it's a national security risk.

CNN's Abby Philip dives into all the pressing questions in the CNN Primetime Special, "Is Time Up For TikTok?" which starts right now.