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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Supreme Court Protects Access to Abortion Pill; One-On-One With Journalist That Moscow Court Wants Arrested; Helped Expose Plot To Kill Russian Opposition Leader Alexey Navalny; Hunter Biden Lawyers To Meet With Justice Department Officials Next Week As Scrutiny On Investigation Intensifies; Texas Bill Would Require Ten Commandments In Public School Classrooms; Suspect In NC Shooting Appears In Florida Courtroom, Waives Right To Fight Extradition. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 21, 2023 - 20:00   ET


SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now, the root problem here is China's slowing economy and ballooning debt. A lot of the small banks relied on financial products tied to the real estate sector. So when the property bubble burst and China's economy slowed, well funds dried up, and experts say what we're seeing is Beijing willing to oppress people rather than pay the remaining victims to tell the banking system they cannot play fast and loose with money -- Erin.


All right, thank you so much, Selina for that exclusive reporting from China.

And thanks for joining us tonight. AC 360 begins now.



There is breaking news and a big victory for the Biden administration, the FDA and the maker of a widely used abortion medication that's been taken by millions of women for more than two decades, mifepristone.

About an hour ago, we learned that a majority of Justices on the Supreme Court decided in effect that the pill will remain legal, no restrictions on its usage while an appeal of a Lower Court ruling moves forward. That ruling by a Federal Judge in Texas known as an opponent of abortion, put a hold on the Federal approval of the pill by the FDA in 2000, and raised questions about the scientific evidence provided by the FDA supporting its safety.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals then froze parts of that Texas Judge's ruling, but still have significant restrictions on its distribution. It prohibited pills sent by mail, narrowed the window of its availability, and blocked healthcare providers who are not doctors from prescribing the pills.

This new ruling by the Supreme Court requested by the Biden administration removes all restrictions while the appeals process continues.

CNN justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider joins us now with more.

So the Justices had until midnight. The ruling didn't come down until well into the evening. Do we know why?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've been waiting for this a week, Anderson, after that initial kind of extension on Wednesday as well, and it is likely that Justice Alito, who is the one who wrote, he needed time to maybe write this four-page dissent and it is possible even that during their conference this morning, maybe the Justices were also still deciding how to proceed.

But what we do know is that at least five of these Justices did agree to grant the Biden administration's stay, really keeping things like you said status quo for the way that this abortion pill is administered.

But because of the way this order is structured, we actually don't know exactly which Justices voted which way, we only know that Justice Alito and Justice Thomas dissented from that decision -- Anderson.

COOPER: Right. They dissented and Alito wrote several pages to explain his view. What was the crux of his dissent?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, it was all about the stay, and Justice Alito said that the Supreme Court has really been previously criticized for granting these stays in the past or, you know, these Lower Court decisions, putting them on hold.

So he is asking in his four page dissent, why his fellow justices are willing to grant this stay now in these circumstances, because he is arguing that there would not be any harm if they let these restrictions go into effect, especially because as he says, The Appeals Court below is acting so quickly to hear arguments.

What's interesting is he said there would be no harm, but the FDA said exactly the opposite. They said there would be major harm, chaos, confusion if these restrictions went into effect. Women wouldn't be able to fully access the drug.

So, it is interesting that Justice Alito saying in his dissent, they really wouldn't be harmed here.

COOPER: So is it clear when the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case on its merits?

SCHNEIDER: They are fast tracking this. So, the first briefs are due actually next week, then briefs will roll in over the next few weeks, and in less than a month from now on May 17th, the Fifth Circuit will be hearing arguments on this and then presumably in the weeks or maybe even months after that, the Fifth Circuit will come up with a decision.

But this Supreme Court order makes clear that it will remain status quo for mifepristone beyond the Fifth Circuit's ruling until maybe this works its way back up to the Supreme Court and whether they can decide whether or not to take the case as well -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jessica Schneider, thanks.

I'm joined now by CNN senior Supreme Court analyst, Joan Biskupic, author of the new book, "Nine Black Robes: Inside the Supreme Court's Drive to the Right and its Historic Consequences."

So of all the options of the Court that they had, was this always the most likely?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: You know, Anderson, I really think it was. But it's hard to predict the Court on reproductive rights these days given what they did last June in reversing Roe v. Wade.

But this was the sort of the most sensible approach, given the kind of case that the Justice Department made on behalf of the FDA, explaining the chaos that would come if suddenly, there were new regulations out there on this abortion pill that has been available since the year 2000.

And the other thing I want to stress is, if the Court had done anything different, it would have you know, gone back on the premise of its Dobbs ruling that abortion would be left to the States, and if you undercut the availability of medication abortion, States that make abortion legal right now, it would be diminished -- the right to obtain an abortion would be diminished in those States -- Anderson.

COOPER: So, there were two public dissents, Alito and Thomas, as we were saying. The order actually granting the stay was unsigned. Does that mean the other seven Justices all agreed or could there have been other dissents that were not made public?


BISKUPIC: The latter for sure. You know it takes only five votes to grant the motion, and I think that the Chief Justice probably wanted -- first of all, he wanted a strong a majority vote as he could get because of all the divisions they've had on these kinds of topics.

And I think it was probably in the interest of the majority not to have any other dissenter go public. And you know, we just aren't sure where for example, you know, Justice Neil Gorsuch or Amy Coney Barrett might be because those two were certainly with the majority in the Dobbs opinion, but only two felt it was important to make clear their dissent.

COOPER: In his dissent, Alito said and I want to read part of it. He said: "The government has not dispelled legitimate doubts that it would even obey an unfavorable order, in these cases, much less that it would choose to take enforcement actions to which it has strong objections."

Now, there have been Democrats, including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on this program, and at least one Republican Congresswoman, Nancy Mace who called in the administration to just ignore the District Court's ruling on mifepristone.

For its part, the administration said that disobeying the ruling would set a dangerous precedent.

How remarkable is it that a Supreme Court Justice is publicly saying the executive branch -- I mean, was he saying they can't be trusted to follow a Court order?

BISKUPIC: Yes, and as you just acknowledged, all the signs from the Biden administration were that they were going to follow it. They never -- they never said that they were going to buck this.

In fact, you know, across the board, they were saying we're going to have to follow what they do. They wanted to wait and see what the litigation did. You know, I think Justice Alito is clearly angry that he lost this one, and he lost it big, and you might feel that the Court is going in another direction on abortion.

And I do think the Court is really signaling here that as much as they were ready to roll back Roe v. Wade, they want to step back from the abortion issue for now and truly leave it to the States.

COOPER: We're going to talk a little bit later about how this ruling may give moderate Republicans kind of a sigh of relief in the short term, but part and parcel of that is the reality that this could very well wind up back to the Supreme Court, squeezed in at the end -- I mean, I don't think at the end of this current term, but during the next term in the heat of the presidential campaign.

BISKUPIC: You know, that's absolutely right. We don't know yet what the Fifth Circuit is going to do. And remember, the Fifth Circuit is pretty conservative, maybe even more conservative than this current Supreme Court, which is saying something and a panel, the Fifth already had upheld part of Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk's rejection of the FDA protocols.

So we can see the Fifth Circuit rule again against the FDA, and if it does, I am sure that the Biden administration and FDA will be right back at the Supreme Court, and then they would have to delve more into the actual core merits of this controversy. You're exactly right.

COOPER: Joan Biskupic, I appreciate it. I appreciate it. I look forward to reading your new book. Thanks so much for being with us.


COOPER: After the Supreme Court's decision was announced, President Biden issued a statement. It reads in part: "I continue to stand by FDA's evidence-based approval of mifepristone and my administration will continue to defend FDA's independent and expert authority to review, approve, and regulate a wide range of prescription drugs."

I'm joined now by Dr. Jane Henney, who was the FDA Commissioner when mifepristone was approved back in 2000.

Dr. Henney, what's your reaction, first of all, to the ruling by the Supreme Court tonight?

DR. JANE HENNEY, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: Well, I think there is clearly good news here in that access and availability that FDA has had through its process will still be in place.

I think making this drug not only available for prescription, for those providers, but to patients who need this medication. I think the downside here is that there are elements of this case that will still say in the Court, lots of play out here yet.

And I think that the pharmaceutical industry, providers and patients have expressed concern that what has happened to this product may happen to others.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, in reaction to the ruling, a lawyer for the group of doctors who brought the lawsuit said that the FDA, "must answer for the damage it has caused to the health of countless women and girls and the rule of law by failing to study how dangerous the chemical abortion drug regimen is."

How do you respond to that? Because you were at the FDA, you headed the FDA at the time that this was approved.

HENNEY: Yes, I was, and I must say this approval process was thorough. It was complete. It was rigorous. It was done by the professional experts, the scientists and clinicians who worked day in and day out at the FDA.

The approval was given after every question that was asked was answered.


HENNEY: The safety profile was good. We did put some restrictions in place around the drug, but over time, we expected that the usage, either in clinical trials or in general use would either confirm how safe this product was, or cause us to pull back.

And what has happened is that the safety profile of mifepristone is even better than we thought at the time we approved it. It's been used by millions of women safely, and it has also been studied extensively, and the process that we use was even reviewed by the GAO.


HENNEY: And found in every aspect to be absolutely correct.

COOPER: Dr. Jane Henney, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

HENNEY: Thank you.

COOPER: I want to get perspective now from two former Federal prosecutors, CNN anchor and senior legal analyst, Laura Coates; and CNN legal analyst, Jennifer Rodgers.

Laura, what message do you think the Supreme Court sent with his ruling tonight?

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: That this is more than just about abortion and an abortion-related medication. This is a broader discussion about the FDA and authorization. They're not making any showing of the hand or the cards of how they will ultimately rule. Remember, this is premature to consider how they will ultimately rule if this were to come before the Supreme Court.

But they are essentially saying, we acknowledge in some small part that a decision like this might in fact, create the kinds of chaos that a premature or an out-of-line in terms of the order of how things should go ruling would actually happen.

Let's let this entire thing play out because that is in essence what we should be doing in the long run. But remember, this case is far more than about the one drug of a two-drug regimen. It's about what the FDA authorization can have. It's about all the different drugs that could actually be authorized.

The FDA themselves was sued this week by the generic manufacturer of mifepristone. There are questions about the chilling effect, not just medically, but also what it would mean for drugs and innovation more broadly.

I think the Court recognized that that this is not the time to have a hasty decision, let it go through the Courts and then decide.

COOPER: Jennifer, what stood out to you about this?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, what's interesting to me about this is, you know, we're going back to the Fifth Circuit now. There will be a new panel, it won't be the same panel that heard it before. But at least the Supreme Court is saying, we are willing to let it be where it was for these 23 years. Right?

I mean, the Fifth Circuit, as conservative as it is, did find that the statute of limitations prohibited them going back to 2000, so at least the drug would be available. We don't know what the new panel of the Fifth Circuit will do.

But, you know, while Alito said in his dissent, that he wasn't saying anything about the merits of the case, when he suggested that he would have gone along with what the Fifth Circuit did, it says to me, maybe there's an appetite at the Supreme Court, ultimately, to at least find the right way on the statute of limitations questions, which would leave the drug in place, at least where it was pre 2016.

COOPER: Laura, do you think this really means -- or what do you think it means for how the case will play out back at the Fifth Circuit?

COATES: Well, the Fifth Circuit might be looking at this and saying, hold on. The Supreme Court of the United States did have the option to essentially side with the Lower Court Judge Kacsmaryk. They have the option to essentially say a number of things, and they were a little bit cautious. They were not eager to lean in one way or the other, and are allowing it to go back to the pre Texas Court's decision. You know, I think that bodes for perhaps how the Fifth Circuit might

ultimately read the tea leaves. Now, a Circuit Court of Appeals is not necessarily bound to always anticipate and try to figure out how the Supreme Court Justices will rule, but they will take into consideration the potential to be overruled, or whether to be, you know, essentially validated from the Supreme Court or to be, you know, not have their cases even heard.

So I think it does, in a sense, give them a bit of an understanding what the Supreme Court may do. But again, this is still needing to go through the full course of things. And normally, we don't have this sort of Friday night by midnight self-imposed deadlines by the Supreme Court on a decision of such consequence, but an issue like this did essentially call for it.

COOPER: Jennifer, what do you think the timing of all this will be?

RODGERS: So the Fifth Circuit is moving quickly, but it certainly will take them well into the summer. So even if they rule say in the summer or in the early fall, it will get back up to the Supreme Court then kind of at the start of their term next year, and if recent history is any guide, they've been deciding all the blockbuster cases after a lot of time basically at the end of the term, so I suspect --

COOPER: So, even if the case is heard at the Supreme Court early in the year, it might not be until this time of the year that they actually --


RODGERS: Right. I mean, June even, like the very last minute they've been dropping all these blockbuster opinions in the last few years. So, I would think we probably won't have a decision from them until this time next year even later.

COOPER: And the potential for -- I mean, one of the concerns that people who support or against what the Texas Judge did is the potential of other medications that the FDA has already approved and had been on the market that if random Federal Judges and Courts, you know, in Amarillo, or anywhere else can decide to revoke the FDA -- what the scientists have certified as being safe, that has a huge ripple effect.

RODGERS: Yes, I mean, this is in some ways a reproductive rights case. It is in other ways an administrative law case. The notion of where the expertise lies and how much authority these Federal Agencies who are the experts on the issue of drug safety have to approve drugs.

I mean, this is the first time in history that a Judge has overturned approval of a drug over the objection of the FDA. So, these drug companies are saying, why are we going to spend millions of dollars developing all of these drugs if someone can just kind of willy-nilly say, oh, you know, what, we don't like your drug. We think it's dangerous, even though the science and the FDA say otherwise, it's off the market. COOPER: All right, and Laura, if that was the case, I mean, if

suddenly, drugs were able to be taken off the market, it could cause havoc in not just the sale of the access to drugs, but also, as Jennifer was saying the actual R&D, the research and development.

COATES: Of course. I mean, if you are a manufacturer, or a researcher investing millions of dollars, and that's a conservative estimate, at the frontend trying to get FDA approval, and then the millions and millions likely spent to become a profitable company on that drug alone, what incentive do you have to know that there is security in that particular drug, particularly if it is one that has sort of the social or cultural significance in the sense of the political debate?

And again, there are states that are looking right now, you see reports about States that are stockpiling certain medication. You have other global entities who are looking at this and saying, hold on a second, if perhaps an American manufacturer can't do this, maybe there is a vehicle for me to do so on the outside and to provide the drugs in some other form or fashion.

So now, you've got international competition at play and one hoping to capitalize in a way. And then of course, ultimately, you've got the patient who even beyond the abortion medication scenarios, it is being used for other things as well, and this is just one of about 300 drugs that went through that more rigorous process to figure out the easing of restrictions, if it was appropriate to do so.

There are thousands and thousands and thousands of drugs on the market right now, and there are manufacturers saying hold on , are we next if some Judge says you shouldn't have authorized it in the first place.

COOPER: Yes, Laura Coates, Jennifer Rodgers, appreciate it. Thank you.

More on the Supreme Court decision next, including a deeper dive into the political ramifications. Harry Enten joins us with what polling shows about how American voters think about abortion.

Also tonight, some incredible video of an apparently accidental bombing, according to Russian authorities inside Russia that was carried out by the Russians.

Plus, my conversation with a well-known investigative journalist that Russia now wants arrested.



COOPER: Breaking News tonight: The Supreme Court has removed all restrictions on the widely used abortion pill, mifepristone while an appeal of a Lower Court ruling moves forward.

In addition to the legal implications, there are obvious political considerations as well. Our senior data reporter, Harry Enten joins us now. So what does the data show about where Americans are on abortion?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: They are more prochoice and they have been in over 25 years. You know, one of the interesting ramifications of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade was on the question of whether you're prochoice or prolife?

Before 2022, it was a fairly, you know, hard fought question, right? Prochoice was slightly ahead of prolife, but look what happened in 2022. Prochoice is now up 20 points on the prolife question, and this to me is important because this was one of the antiabortion activist best questions. Right?

It was one of the questions that tended to suggest we were a 50/50 nation. But on this question now, we are no longer a 50/50 nation. We are firmly a prochoice nation, a proabortion rights nation.

COOPER: What about -- I mean, other Supreme Court rulings, how has that affected the view?

ENTEN: Yes. So you know, last year, obviously, Roe v. Wade was overturned. And I think you know, something that goes through the Supreme Court's mind, right, is essentially, how legitimate are we in the minds of the American public, right?

And what we saw was that following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, we saw that the confidence in the Supreme Court had dropped to its lowest level ever, over 50 years, lowest level.

Gallup has been measuring it. You know, it used to be in the 60s, the 70s, you know, in 1972. And then we've seen this sort of steady decline over the last decade, especially over the last few years. And now less than 50 percent of Americans have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the Supreme Court, the judicial branch, and I think that's something that certainly factors into the Supreme Court's decision, because at the end of the day, even though they like to claim they're not political, they're in some ways a political body.

COOPER: Governor DeSantis signed this six-week ban late at night and there are the medications like mifepristone. Where are Americans on restrictions?

ENTEN: Yes. So, you know, I think that's part of the reason why Donald Trump is, you know, when he's running his campaign, saying what is Ron DeSantis doing? You know, I want to get away from the abortion question. And why? Because Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to banning the abortion pill, right? Seventy percent of Americans.

You look on a six-week abortion ban, Americans overwhelmingly opposed, about 60 percent. But more than that, it divides the Republican Party. In fact, an Ipsos Poll last month found that a slight majority of Republicans oppose, basically restricting the abortion pill.

And more than that, even on a six-week ban, there is a significant number, a significant minority within the Republican Party who is against a six-week ban. So Ron DeSantis, you know, who's essentially trying to say, hey, Donald Trump might not be the most electable guy in the world. To me, this is not the issue you want to run on.

COOPER: Harry Enten, appreciate it. Thanks.

ENTEN: Thank you.

COOPER: More now with CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist, Paul Begala; CNN senior political analyst, Kirsten Powers, "USA Today" columnist and former Clinton administration official and CNN political commentator, Kristen Soltis Anderson, a Republican strategist and pollster.

Paul, how big of a win is this ruling for the White House and congressional Democrats tonight, at least in the short term?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you saw Harry's polling data. It is a huge win for Joe Biden and for the Democrats. And you can tell who is winning and who's losing by what they're saying, right? It's what, 8:24 Eastern Time on a Friday night. I checked in with the White House Communications Office.


BEGALA: They had a statement from the President, you read part of it, within seconds, I haven't heard anything yet. And they are not like top of their mailing list, but I have not heard anything yet from Mr. Trump, Speaker McCarthy, I was about to say Marjorie Taylor Greene, but it's not -- it's McCarthy, Leader McConnell in the Senate. Republicans aren't talking about this at all.

In fact, Biden's statement concludes with a clear call to arms politically, right? He says, I will continue to fight politically driven attacks on women's health. But let's be clear, the American people must continue to use their votes, their voice and elect a Congress who will pass a law restoring the protections of Roe v. Wade. So he is running on this and I think Democrats are going to do that all over the country.

COOPER: Kristen Soltis Anderson, how do you think Republicans are viewing this? I mean, do you think, at least some of the moderate Republicans are breathing a sigh of relief today?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, this has kicked the can down the road, and as your legal correspondent in the first block talked about, this is something that may not be ultimately resolved until next summer, right on the eve of these presidential nominating conventions. So we've got a long way to go for this to be resolved.

I think right now, what Republicans have been grappling with is the fact that you did have, at least in a number of cases, an argument for prolife advocates to make pre overturning of Roe vs. Wade, around sort of moderate restrictions, things like that. There were places where the prolife movement had some opportunities to make an argument, to try to build a majority coalition.

But getting rid of Roe versus Wade, it has thrown the issue back on the table in the way that you may recall the Supreme Court decisions in the past, things like for instance, Obergefell, in the gay marriage ruling that took a political hot button off the table.

Suddenly, Republicans weren't getting asked about that all the time.

By overturning Roe versus Wade, it has put it back on the table. And I think the prolife movement and Republicans have been really flatfooted in being able to respond to this new political reality. That's why you're seeing them not come out and make statements quite as much.

COOPER: Kirsten, I mean, how concerned should abortion rights advocates be about what's going to happen in the Fifth Circuit, and possibly back the Supreme Court?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think very concerned, because I think what this is showing is exactly how radical that people are, who oppose abortion rights, because this is a situation where, where did these judges get off overturning the FDA? This is -- it is insane, right?

Like in any normal world, we would recognize that this is not normal behavior. How could they possibly know more about a drug that was approved in the year 2000 than the FDA?

So it just shows that they're willing to openly impose their political beliefs and, you know, and just impose their ideas and their ideology on women.

And so I think that this is -- this should be very scary. I find it very scary. And there is no knowing where this is going to head and where this is going to end up.

COOPER: Do you think, Kirsten, if the Judge had ruled that Viagra it was not effective, I mean, longer --

POWERS: That would never happen, Anderson.

COOPER: That wouldn't happen.

Paul, if this case ends up back at the Supreme Court in the height of the presidential campaign, I mean, how does that impact the race? How does that impact the Court?

BEGALA: Well, you saw Harry's polling. The Court's approval rating continues to drop. I think Kristen makes a good point to that -- well, when the Dobb's decision came down, I wish I had said this, but I didn't, I heard it. The most prescient comment on this was from my pal, Cecile Richards, longtime head of Planned Parenthood. She said this will not age well. Right?

The gay rights/gay marriage decision aged very well, because Americans thought okay, that's a good thing. The Obamacare bill was terrible for the Democrats in the near term, but it has aged very well. You can't oppose it now politically and win.

This will not age well. Cecile was right, because we keep seeing case after case. Judge Kacsmaryk, by the way K-Files, the Judge who originally outlawed this medication in Amarillo, he gave an interview which he did not release to the Senate when he was up for the Court, in which heap decried not just a portion, but gay rights, contraception, and even divorce, no fault divorce, which I suspected Donald Trump with two failed marriages had seen. even he might not have thought that was a good idea.

COOPER: Kristen Soltis Anderson, I mean, Ron DeSantis clearly wants to be to the right of Donald Trump on this. That's why he did the six- week ban. How do you think other GOP candidates are going to kind of try to handle this issue?

ANDERSON: My sense is that Ron DeSantis, from my conversations with those who know him personally, is that his decision to sign a six-week ban is not something that he was doing because he thinks it's politically savvy. It's because that's where he personally is at.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has always had a little bit of a complicated relationship with the evangelical part of the party around this issue. I mean, he has said he's had a conversion on it but it will be fascinating to see what is the set of issues that Ron DeSantis tries to hit Donald Trump from the right on in the Republican Party.


And to the extent that Ron DeSantis's argument to Republican voters is, hey, Donald Trump had his chance, but I'm the more electable version. This may raise some questions if he becomes very closely associated with --


SOLTIS ANDERSON: -- a position that maybe popular among in some quarters of the GOP, but is more challenging with swing voters.

COOPER: Kirsten, just quickly, do you think this galvanizes Democrats even more?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, absolutely. I mean, this hurts Republicans. It is -- you know, I think Ron DeSantis, like what many Republicans are doing are just trying to get as far right as they can on this issue, because that's the only thing that will help them in a primary.

And so, it's going -- anyone who's associated with this, and that's Republicans, it's not going to be good for them. And we saw it in the midterms. We saw it, you know, we've seen it over and over. And, you know, and there's a reason for it.


POWERS: It's because this is so extreme.

COOPER: Kirsten --

POWERS: And so out of sync -- COOPER: Yes.

POWERS: -- with the electorate.

COOPER: Kirsten, Kristen, Paul, thank you. Appreciate it.

Still ahead, massive explosion overnight in Russia, but it wasn't an attack from Ukrainian forces. Turns out a Russian jet bombed a Russian city. Details on that.

Plus, a Moscow court ordered today the arrest of another journalist. This time, it's a man who helped expose the plot to poison Alexey Navalny, the Kremlin critic. I'll speak with the journalist who's now a wanted man.



COOPER: We learned today that late last night, a Russian warplane dropped a bomb on Belgorod, close the border with Ukraine. Belgorod, however, is not a Russian -- is a Russian city, not a Ukrainian city and authorities are saying the bombing was a mistake. The bomb left a 65-foot crater in a city more than 400,000 people explosion damaged buildings but only two people were reported injured.

In Moscow today, a court ordered the arrest of well-known Investigative Journalist Christo Grozev. Now, Grozev who works with Bellingcat, has an extensive track record of uncovering stories exposing the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin. Grozev was a key figure in investigating the plot to kill Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny and he's been on Russia's most wanted list since December. He joins me for an exclusive interview.

Christo, thank you very much for being with us. To the best of your understanding, why did Russia order your arrest? What reason did they give?

CHRISTO GROZEV, BELLINGCAT INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, the mystery began about four months ago when I was put on the international wanted list by Russia. And they had absolutely no information put out out there, why they're looking for me around the world. They just said for breaking the law.

And today, during the arrest hearings in Moscow, I found out for the first time that's actually the reason why they have been looking for me or want to arrest me and are indicting me is because apparently in their views, I organize the escape from Russia, have prosecuted Russian colleague or Russian journalists, Roman Dobrokhotov, whom they had raided the house of and his parent's house.

And he left Russia in the middle of the night, one Friday about a couple of years ago. So they are saying that I organized all of that. And if that's the charge that I have to live with, then I could be happier.

COOPER: Is that something you were involved with?

GROZEV: Well, let's leave it at that, that I would gladly have any help any Russian journalist get out of the country if there -- if they could prosecuted or persecuted.

COOPER: There had been this report and that Russian investigators had told the court an illegal crossing of the border of the Russian Federation. That's what that was in reference to.

GROZEV: Correct. There was some misunderstanding by colleagues, by media who thought I had crossed the border illegally. I would never dare do that. And then I've been blacklisted by Russia since 2016. Never crossed into it.

But yes, it's a colleague who crossed the border without a passport. And because they had forfeited his passport couple of hours earlier, and I'm kind of the conspirator or the organizer of that event in their eyes.

COOPER: In terms of your reporting, I mean, obviously, you have been in the forefront of some extraordinary work, do you believe there's a particular piece of your reporting that Russian authorities have been singling you out for?

GROZEV: Anderson, take your pick. I mean, I've covered the shoot down by Malaysia -- by Russian Air Forces of Malaysian airliner, MH-7 that covered this crippled poisoning, the explosions around --


GROZEV: -- municipalities in Europe, the Navalny poisoning. I think the Navalny poisoning was one that was particularly painful for the Russian FSB for the security machine, because it not only disclosed that they did it, but put them in a very, very, let's say, unflattering light of bumbling idiot. So I would take that as my pick.

COOPER: Has being on Russia's wanted list, has it affected your life? I mean, obviously, you have to take that kind of thing very seriously.

GROZEV: Well, clearly, I cannot travel to certain countries that previously I would have traveled to for investigations and for journalistic purposes. I have to think twice before leaving the country, I mean, at the moment. But I would say that that's not the scariest thing out there, because being on the wanted list is one thing.

Russia always delves, well, into sort of lanes. They have the judicial sort of pursuit and persecution, and then they have the extrajudicial one. And today, by the way, in addition to me being put on the -- being arrested virtually, which is the crazy Russian invention, arrest in absentia, I was also put on the, what they call the foreign agent list for the first time, which is strange, because I'm a foreigner. So I, obviously, the longer the foreign agent list, because otherwise you should be there as well.

But together with me, a couple of Russian journalists were put on the list, including a very brave young lady who was poisoned in the last few months by the same machine, repressive machine. So that's -- that just gives you an indication that being pursued within the confounds of the law is not the scariest thing.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, obviously, we have seen people poisoned in foreign countries, by Russian agents. That's got to be something, I mean, you are obviously very aware of. It's got to be something that, I mean, does it change the way you operate on a daily basis?


GROZEV: Definitely. I mean, you do have to think twice before touching the door handle and accepting tea from a stranger or water from a stranger. I mean, it does have to become your second nature. And all of my colleagues at Bellingcat have kind of had to learn to live with this new escalated risk, as many Russian colleagues of ours have done for years.

COOPER: Christo Grozev, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

GROZEV: Thank you very much.

COOPER: Very brave man.

Much more ahead, including exclusive reporting on the President's son, Hunter Biden, who his lawyers will be meeting with next week and why.


COOPER: We're going to focus now on a CNN exclusive. CNN has learned new information about the criminal probe to the President's son Hunter Biden. CNN's Paula Reid joins us now. So what can you tell us about what Hunter Biden's legal team is planning for next week?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: We learned, Anderson, that this meeting was arranged at the request of Hunter Biden's legal team. They're seeking an update on to the investigation into Hunter Biden that has been going on since about 2018.

Now this meeting is being described as routine. In attendance is expected to be members of Biden's legal team, but also at least one top career Justice Department official as well as the Trump appointed U.S. attorney who has been overseeing this investigation.


Now it leads to a lot of questions about, what exactly is the status of that federal probe? Well, we don't expect to get any new answers next week but we know from our reporting, Anderson. In fact, CNN was one of the first to report last summer, the investigation had narrowed down to potential tax crime charges and one possible charge of false statements connected to the purchase of a weapon.

But Anderson, there have been no public developments in the case now for nearly a year. And again, we don't necessarily expect to get any more answers next week. But we have seen the Hunter Biden legal team take a much more aggressive approach to his defense, mostly in the court of public opinion, becoming much more litigious, much more forward leaning. But now they have a whole new problem, as there is a whistleblower coming to the Hill, wanting to share his story about how this investigation was handled.

COOPER: Yes, there's an IRS agent has reportedly reached out to Congress claiming to have information regarding the Hunter Biden investigation, is seeking whistleblower protection. Do we know more about that?

REID: Yes, it's interesting. This individual claims to be an IRS agent who worked on this case and says that he has information about how this has been mishandled, claiming that there has been political interference and that this individual also says that they have evidence that would contradict public testimony by the attorney general, vowing that there would be no political interference in this probe.

But Anderson, I just want to emphasize that this individual has not been granted whistleblower protections at this point. They have not presented any evidence to support these claims. And there have, of course, been other promises or suggestions of whistleblowers related to the Biden family and others that have not come to fruition. So we'll certainly be watching that, go for what this person puts forward potentially, what it means for the investigation, and how Hunter Biden's team response.

COOPER: All right. Paula Reid, thanks so much.

Programming note, coming up at the top of the hour in CNN Primetime public schools in Texas one step closer to displaying the 10 commandments in every classroom. Pamela Brown takes a look at the Republican efforts to inject more religion into schools across the state. That's tonight at 9:00 in about 14 minutes.

Next for us, Bill Weir takes us under water to explain how whales may help in the fight against climate change.



COOPER: According to a recent U.N.-backed report, the world is running out of time to avoid a climate catastrophe and the secretary general of the U.N. warned that humanity is on thin ice. Scientists are now saying cutting back on planet cooking fossil fuels is no longer enough to reverse climate change and that we have to pull billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the air over the next 25 years.

In this Sunday's "The Whole Story", CNN's Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir, is going to take a look at some of the proposed solutions including one focused on whale poop. Take a look.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The plan is called marine biomass regeneration. And it starts by spraying the deep oceans with gigatons of artificial whale poop.

DAVID KING, U.K.'S TOP SCIENCE ADVISER: Now, the question is where does the fishes, the artificial fishes come from?

WEIR (on-camera): Right. I have -- that's one of many questions I have, but let's start with one.

(voice-over): He explains that when people drove baleen whales to near extinction, we lost the oceans biggest fertilizer pumps. One pod can gobble up nutrients from the deep and poop them across hundreds of square miles of ocean surface supercharging the bottom of the food chain.

KING: Within three to four days in that area, you might have the whole area covered with phytoplankton. And then within five days of that, that whole area becomes full of fish.

WEIR (voice-over): And since the biggest can weigh 28 tons, when they die, they take massive amounts of carbon Godzilla to the ocean depths and could be doing millions of dollars worth of carbon removal for free.

KING: We would say whaling has to stop completely. But you can catch as much fish as you like, because we're going to return the oceans to billions of fish in this process.


COOPER: And Bill Weir joins me now. I mean, stunningly beautiful. Can you just like explain a little bit more about what we just saw? Has that been proven to work?

WEIR: Well, it's been tried in a sense. That is Sir David King. He was the U.K.'s top science adviser for almost a decade. And he's now at the Center for Climate Repair at Cambridge. And their big ideas involve artificial whale poop, which is basically volcanic ash. It's been tried with iron filings in the past to sort of see the ocean and created these dead zones.

So even now there's skepticism. He's working with some South Pacific island nations. But others are leery that this could lead to unintended consequences, algae blooms, or those sorts of things as well. But he also has an idea about refreezing the Arctic using these autonomous spritzing yachts that would use just wave power and spray a fine mist into the air and create super white clouds, which would reflect enough sunlight at the top of the world to freeze the Arctic and buy time because we just don't have enough time. And there's this trillion dollar industry of carbon removal machines and natural solutions --

COOPER: Right.

WEIR: -- that's just getting started.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, are there enough resources being put into carbon removal? WEIR: It's just getting going. It's like the early days of Henry Ford in the Model A. There's a million ideas. There's a bunch of companies like Stripe, this big E-commerce giant, they got bunny and billion dollars. They're giving you these companies to kind of get them going hoping that as new laws are passed, the Biden administration wants to crack down on natural gas emissions from power plants that could be a market force that puts more legitimate money.

A lot of environmentalists have opposed carbon capture because they thought it was a fig leaf for big oil to just keep doing business as usual and say, yes, we're kind of catching some of it and burying it. But the scale of the challenge is incredible. A lot of people who get rich doing it, it's a matter of how fast can we do it.


WEIR: And how much it worth.

COOPER: It's a fascinating stuff. Bill Weir, thank you so much.

COOPER: Thanks, man.

COOPER: Be sure to check out the whole story hosted by me this Sunday, 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up, the man accused of shooting six-year-old Kinsley White and her parents when a basketball rolled into his yard made his first court appearance today. And update on that story next.



COOPER: The suspect in the North Carolina shooting that injured a six- year-old and her parents appeared in the Florida courtroom today where he waived his right to fight extradition. The suspect turned himself into Tampa authorities yesterday.

According to several of his neighbors, he started shooting in a group of families after a basketball rolled into his yard. Six-year-old Kinsley White and her parents were wounded in the shooting. Kinsley's mother said doctors had to remove bullet fragments from her daughter's cheek. It's unclear when the suspect will be extradited back to North Carolina.

But a busy night of breaking news, the abortion medication ruling continues through the evening. Have a great weekend. Here's Pamela Brown and CNN Primetime.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Anderson, thank you so much.

Busy Friday night.