Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Special Counsel Report Released On Origins of Trump-Russia Probe; Fulton County DA Opposes Trump's Efforts To Toss Special Grand Jury Report On 2020 Election Interference; One-On-One with Attorney For Man Charged In Subway Chokehold Death; Rep. Connolly Speaks Out After Two Staffers Injured In Office Attack; NC GOP Lawmakers Will Attempt To Pass Stricter Abortion Law Over Gov.'s Over Tomorrow; Wash Post: "Wagner Chief Offered To Give Russian Troop Locations To Ukraine, Leak Says"; University Of Idaho Awards 4 Murdered Students With Posthumous Degrees And Certificates; World's Oldest Dog Ever Celebrates His Birthday. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 15, 2023 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Martha Stewart though showing that she is still making history in so many ways.

All right, the print of that magazine will be out on May 18th.

And thanks so much for joining us.

AC 360 begins now.



Tonight, after four years and very little to show for in terms of actual prosecutions, John Durham, the special counsel chosen by then- attorney general, William Barr, to investigate the FBI's Russia investigation has reached a conclusion.

In a 306-page report released today, Durham says the FBI should never have opened the investigation known as Crossfire Hurricane at all, concluding that the bureau overly relied on raw and unconfirmed intelligence, writing that they lacked evidence at the outset of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

And this stands at odds with the 2019 Justice Department inspector general's conclusion that there was adequate basis for opening the inquiry.

We'll talk shortly with Andrew McCabe who was at the FBI at the time. He joins us. He has long defended the investigation. He'll give us his first reaction to this report.

The former president has seized on the report as claiming vindication, though it certainly does not, as he once claimed it would reveal, "the crime of the century."

For more on what's actually in today's report, we're joined by CNN's Evan Perez. So what stands out to you in this?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the lack of any new prosecutions, that stands out because we were expecting or certainly we were led to believe by the former president, by the former administration that this investigation was going to find crimes, they were going to find conspiracy by the deep state to go after Donald Trump.

What John Durham concludes here is that there was no necessarily political bias. What he says was there was confirmation bias and there were mistakes by the FBI, some of which were already detailed in an inspector general report back in 2019.

I'll read you just a part of what Durham says. He says, "In short, the FBI discounted or willfully ignored material information that did not support the narrative of a collusive relationship between Trump and Russia." And he also goes on to say, "An objective and honest assessment of these strands of information should have caused the FBI to question not only the predication of Crossfire Hurricane, (which is the name of this investigation), but also to reflect on whether the FBI was being manipulated for political or other purposes."

Anderson, the bottom line from John Durham, though is that, you know, he doesn't recommend any major changes for the FBI in the way they handled politically sensitive investigations.

A. COOPER: In the report, Durham talks about something called the Clinton plan. What is that?

PEREZ: Well, this was something that emerged back in 2020. There was some information that was declassified by John Ratcliffe, then the director of National Intelligence.

It appears that back in 2016, the intelligence community got some intelligence from the Russians that appeared to indicate that there was a plan in the Clinton campaign to tie Trump to Russia and it was never corroborated.

But it is something that John Durham spends a lot of time in his investigation going after. He actually interviews Hillary Clinton back in 2022 about this. It appears that that information is still, Anderson, not corroborated, it may have been falsified. And in the end, what John Durham concludes is that there is no prosecutable criminal offense in the way the government handled that information.

Again, that dates back to 2016, uncorroborated as it was -- Anderson.

A. COOPER: All right, Evan Perez, appreciate it.

I want to get some perspective now from CNN senior law enforcement analyst, Andrew McCabe who was deputy director -- FBI director during Crossfire Hurricane whose name comes up 58 times in the Durham report.

So Andrew in the Durham report, it says the FBI never had evidence of collusion. That's not a legal term we should note, between the Trump campaign in Russia in 2016, it should never have launched a full investigation. What's your response?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, I vehemently disagree with Mr. Durham's characterizations of what we did in the report, and it is very simple. He betrays a deep misunderstanding of not only what we knew at the time, but how we make these decisions.

I think it's incredibly important for people to understand what we were seeing then and it was basically this, Anderson. We had known and we'd known for over a year that the Russians had been attacking us in cyberspace, specifically at political institutions and government institutions.

We knew in the beginning of 2016 that they had turned those attacks on the Democratic National Committee and they had stolen and exfiltrated a large amount of information from the DNC, and we knew that they then went on to use that information to weaponize it, to hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign by releasing it on the eve of her convention.

Then, in July, at the end of July, we learned that months earlier before that information was released, a member of the Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos told a representative of a friendly foreign government, a trusted friendly foreign government, that they had been offered exactly that assistance by the Russians.


So we knew what the Russians took, we knew how the Russians used it, and then we learned that the Russians offered to do exactly what they had done before they did it to the Trump campaign.

So with that information, not unverified intelligence, actual information, we opened a full investigation and everyone who has looked at what we did, other than John Durham, determined that that decision was absolutely appropriate.

A. COOPER: Well, he says that the FBI used and I'm quoting "raw, unanalyzed and uncorroborated intelligence."

MCCABE: I can only assume that what he's referring to there is the comments that Papadopoulos made to this trusted representative of a foreign government. That information does not in my estimation, qualify as unverified intelligence. That is a direct report from a trusted longtime ally of the United States, and it overlays very clearly, with raw information that we knew, not unverified intelligence, things that we knew the Russians had been doing and were continuing to do.

A. COOPER: The report is very critical of disparaging comments about Donald Trump made privately by two key members of the investigative team, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who anybody who is following this knows those names.

Were you aware of their feelings at the time and looking back, should they have been involved in this investigation?

MCCABE: I was not aware of their comments, their private conversations via text message between each other about their thoughts about Donald Trump and their thoughts about Hillary Clinton and the election writ large.

Had I known about that? No, they wouldn't have been involved in the investigation. But nobody knew about that, at the time. And I think it's important to point out that in the IG's investigation, the DOJ inspector general, they looked very deeply at all of those messages and determined that neither Pete Strzok nor Lisa Page was ever in a position to significantly influenced the decisions that were made by people like myself and Director James Comey during the course of this investigation.

So yes, those comments were objectionable, and they were unfortunate, and they subjected the organization to immense scrutiny. But ultimately, we're not responsible for the investigative decisions that were made.

A. COOPER: The Durham report also says that the FBI handled this investigation differently than to handle allegations of possible attempted foreign election interference plans aimed at the Clinton administration. Do you know what Mr. Durham is referring to? And were those investigations handled differently?

MCCABE: Yes, it is a ridiculous claim. And I think to the best of my understanding, he is referring to a piece of intelligence that was received at the highest levels of the FBI in 2016, about some comments or communications allegedly made by people associated with the Clinton campaign that they were going to essentially manufacture some sort of narrative that Trump had ties to the Russians in order to hurt his campaign.

Look, the fact is, we knew what the Russians were doing, and had done in an effort to help Donald Trump and if we had had any information, any intelligence or information that indicated that the Clinton campaign was colluding with the Russians, we would have investigated that as well.

But that information doesn't exist and to my knowledge was not happening. What you heard in that intelligence that was declassified by John Ratcliffe was a campaign strategy, maybe an underhanded, unethical strategy, I don't know, that's for others to decide. But that is not a violation of federal criminal law or the creation of a threat to national security.

A. COOPER: Did it surprise you that there's no new recommendations really, in this report for the Justice Department about changing procedures? I mean, there have been a lot of changes at Justice based on the inspector general's report back in 2019 and others.

MCCABE: Yes, I'm not surprised at all because John Durham has failed to come up with anything new. Most of the report, the parts that I've been able to read in the last few hours are a regurgitation of findings that were made by the inspector general.

Their attempt to justify two failed prosecutions that he brought against Igor Danchenko and Michael Sussmann. There is nothing new here. And what he does present in the report, though, I will give him credit for this. He is entirely consistent with the pre-judging of this investigation that he communicated, you know, a month or so starting it.

We knew from the very beginning exactly what John Durham was going to conclude and that is what we saw today. We knew from the very beginning, this was never a legitimate investigation. This was a political errand to exact same sort of retribution on Donald Trump's perceived enemies in the FBI. That's what Mr. Durham has done.

A. COOPER: And you stand by the original Russia investigation.

MCCABE: Absolutely, absolutely. Listen, the mistakes with the Carter Page FISA were regrettable, should never have happened and had I known about those mistakes in the packages, I never would have signed those applications.


And shame on us for not knowing. But that's all business that the IG presented to America in what -- 2019, I think that came out.

A. COOPER: Yes, it was.

MCCABE: There is absolutely nothing new in this report. And I stand by the investigative decisions that we made to open the investigation first on the Trump campaign and the possibility that the Russians were trying to influence it, and then later on Donald Trump himself.

And what did we find out from Special Counsel Mueller's investigation? The Russians did, in fact, influence the campaign. They wanted to, they tried repeated times. They had many, many contacts with the Trump campaign and several of those people were indicted.

So I guess what we were worried about all along, actually happened.

A. COOPER: Andrew McCabe, appreciate it. Thank you.

MCCABE: Thanks.

A. COOPER: New details tonight or developments, I should say in the former President's effort to stop Georgia's election interference investigation of him. He recently asked a court to toss a special grand jury's final report.

Today the Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis had her say in court. CNN's Sara Murray joins us now with more than that. So what did we learn today?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, as you might expect, the district attorney does not want to see the special grand jury's evidence investigation and final report thrown out. She's told the judge that he should dismiss Donald Trump's motion, that he should not hold a hearing on this matter and he should not allow another judge to hear the Trump team's arguments which is something that Trump team had asked for. You know, she basically said there is no evidence that the

investigative special grand jury process during this was tainted. She said there was no evidence of misconduct on her behalf because they also wanted her removed as a prosecutor.

And she also took issue with the fact that the Trump team is now coming at this at this point so late in the game. She says, "By his own estimation, Mr. Trump has been at the center of an investigation which has progressed for over two years, but only now is he moving for the prosecutor's disqualification."

So a very sharp rebuttal from Fani Willis today against the Trump team's arguments there.

A. COOPER: So what happens now? And what's the timeline for when the Fulton County DA is going to announce whether she brings charges against the president -- former president or not?

MURRAY: Well, look, they have to get this matter settled. Obviously, we expect the Trump team will respond in court. We'll see if the judge decides to actually hold a hearing on this matter.

But Willis has said, she intends to make her announcement about whether anyone will face charges in this case between July 11th and September 1st. So she has, you know a little bit more time to sort of sort out this legal issue, get her indictments squared away to the extent she plans to do them and then move ahead with those in court -- Anderson.

A. COOPER: All right, Sara Murray, appreciate it. Thank you.

CNN's senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Elie Honig joins us now.

So what do you make of the DA's response to the former president's motion?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Anderson, this is a staunch defense by the DA of her office and this investigation. She argues first of all that she and her office do not have any political bias, that they've approached this like any other case. She argues that there's no evidence that the grand jury or the judge has been prejudiced or biased against anyone and she makes an important procedural argument.

She says, it is not time yet. Nobody has been charged. If and when anybody gets indicted, then you can challenge the evidence in front of the grand jury. But as of this moment, nobody has been charged. And so she argues essentially, Trump does not have standing and this motion is premature.

A. COOPER: Are there real issues here relating to District Attorney Willis' conduct? I mean, does the former president have a legitimate point in raising these concerns? Or is this just another attempt to stop this? HONIG: He does make substantial arguments in his motion that kicked

this off, Anderson. He points out that the DA has already been thrown off a piece of this case, because she has a political conflict of interest. He notes some of her public commentary, which has been frankly inappropriate.

She has talked about her opinion on Donald Trump's criminal state of mind. She has talked about the fact that she does believe there is a crime here, that's not appropriate for a prosecutor to say, and we all remember, the grand jury foreperson.

The argument here the Trump team is making is that her public commentary has tainted any potential actual grand jurors or trial jury pool that may come down the line. So there are real questions here about the conduct of the DA and of the grand jury.

A. COOPER: What about the allegations relating to this special grand jury and the judge?

HONIG: Yes, so the argument is that the judge improperly talked about the Fifth Amendment. And actually Trump's team is right there. The judge said publicly, if a person gets subpoenaed, why wouldn't they testify if they have nothing to hide? That is the opposite of what the Fifth Amendment says.

The Fifth Amendment says, a person has every right to decline to testify, and it does not suggest that they are guilty. And so, the argument here is this judge made this statement, which is incorrect, which could have harmed this grand jury, which could harm future grand juries, and this is why Trump is asking for a new judge.

Fani Willis has responded that there is no evidence that those comments in any way influenced what the special grand jury has done.

A. COOPER: All right, Elie Honig, appreciate it.

Coming up next, a CNN exclusive. I'll be joined by the attorney for Daniel Penny.

Penny, as you know is charged with manslaughter in connection with the fatal chokehold in a New York subway car of Jordan Neely.

Later six months after their murder shocked the University of Idaho community, a touching tribute to the four students whose lives were stolen, and how the family of one of those students reacted.



A. COOPER: Tonight, a CNN exclusive: The attorney for Daniel Penny, the Marine veteran charged with second-degree manslaughter in connection with restraining Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold on a New York subway car. He is out on bail tonight.

Friday night, I spoke with the attorneys for Jordan Neely. Tonight,. Daniel Penny's attorney, Thomas Kenniff joins us. Thanks so much for being with us.

THOMAS KENNIFF, ATTORNEY FOR DANIEL PENNY: Yes, thanks for having me, Anderson.

A. COOPER: First of all, what have Mr. Penny's reactions been to the charges against him?

KENNIFF: Well, look, I mean, obviously, facing the working end of the criminal justice system is a scary thing for anyone. What I will say is, you know, given everything that has happened in his life over these last couple of weeks, and everything that you know, he's looking at going forward, he seems to be handling it amazingly well -- very stoic, very dignified.

You know, perhaps what we'd expect for someone who, you know, as a teenager, right out of high school enlisted in the Marine Corps, one of the people, you know, peers and people he went to school with were enjoying the comforts of college, he took the path less traveled, I think that, you know, says something about him, it says something about his medal.

So I think if anybody is well-equipped to handle something that no one would ever want to have to handle, I think he's that person.

A. COOPER: There's obviously a lot of questions. As I would like to ask you that I'm sure you can answer so I'm going to try to figure out some of the ones that you can, because obviously their case is pending.

First of all, there is going to be a grand jury.


Do you anticipate him actually testify in front of the grand jury?

KENNIFF: Yes, that's obviously a very sensitive decision. In most cases that my firm handles, and most cases that any criminal lawyer handles, defendants usually do not testify in grand juries. But there are exceptions.

And I will say that, you know, that's the sort of decision that needs to be made, not only with our legal team within my firm, myself, my law partner, Steven Raiser, obviously, with the client's input, but it's something that we're going to certainly --

A. COOPER: Can your client convince the grand jury to not go ahead and actually have charges?

KENNIFF: Well, look, I think if there was ever a case where a grand jury could be convinced not to bring charges, whether that's because my client testifies, whether it's because of other defense witnesses we put into the grand jury. I certainly think this is one of them.

A. COOPER: Your law firm released a press release, saying when Mr. Neely began aggressively threatening Daniel Penny and other passengers, Daniel, with the help of others acted to protect themselves until he arrived.

In what way was -- can you say Mr. Neely in Mr. Penny's opinion, aggressively threatening him and other passengers?

KENNIFF: Well, you know, Anderson, look, this is something that as New Yorkers, and really anyone who lives in New York or certainly anyone who rides the subway, can, I think, empathize and relate to the sort of situation that my client was confronted with, because it's the sort of situation that we've all seen on the subway.

And sadly, it's a situation that's become more prolific in recent years. The evidence is really uncontroverted that Jordan Neely had entered the F train. He was acting erratically. He was menacing other passengers, and he was making comments that could only be perceived as threatening.

A. COOPER: One witness said -- the reporting is that one witness said, Mr. Neely said, I don't have food, I don't have anything to drink. I'm fed up. I don't care if I go to jail, and they give me life in prison.

KENNIFF: Yes, I'm actually glad you brought that up. Because anyone who has any familiarity with the criminal justice system in New York or anyone who even has any familiarity with our culture itself here in New York State, knows that there really is only one way that anyone can incur a life sentence in prison, and that's to take another life.

Now, I am not saying that -- I have no basis to say what was going through Jordan Neely's mind when he uttered those words, but certainly when you're in a situation like the New York City subway system, which is really like no other because if you think of a subway car, it's a closed container underground, and it is a place that --

A. COOPER: So, obviously this happens in New York, unfortunately, with some frequency with people having episodes, mental health issues, screaming on the streets or on the subways. Can you say what your client thought was so immediate that he acted?

KENNIFF: What I can say is that someone entering the subway system, again, a closed subterranean container, where you know, the sort of tools that we might use for like de-escalation and avoidance, if you're standing in Times Square, and someone is acting erratically, or menacing people where you say, hey, look, I'll just keep my head down or I'll turn the other way and walk away isn't really an option on the subway if I wanted to, or a subway car I should say.

A. COOPER: But is there more information that you have about what occurred there than is publicly released?

KENNIFF: Yes, absolutely. We've been conducting a very thorough investigation. I think there's a lot more facts that will come out. But what I will say is just the facts that you reiterated, and the other facts that are pretty much in the public domain right now, acting erratically, menacing other individuals by flailing his arms and making comments consistent with threats that could certainly reasonably interpreted as a threat to do imminent harm or violence. A. COOPER: So the interpretation of I don't want to read too much into

what you said, but the -- I don't care if I go to jail and they give me life in prison. Are you saying that your client, Mr. Penny, those specific words, he felt that meant that Mr. Neely was intending violence.

KENNIFF: What I'm saying at this point is that it is certainly a reasonable interpretation. The standard of the law is where a reasonable person would perceive, so if someone enters a subway car, in a confined space of the New York City subway system, and starts making threats that I'm willing to go to life in prison, if others don't concede to my demands, can certainly be interpreted by any reasonable person to be threatening.

And then you look at the response that my client took in in response to that.

A. COOPER: Well, let me ask you, on the chokehold. Is it clear to you how long Mr. Neely was placed in that chokehold for?

KENNIFF: What I would say, look, you know, there has been some video that's out, it's not all out.


There is more to come. There will be a lot of people that will be analyzing the video, commenting on it. I'm not going to get into the specifics of timeframes and so forth at this point because it's not really appropriate. And it's not appropriate when the evidence hasn't been disclosed to the defense.

But I will say that everything we've seen so far and I'm confident that everything that will come out will show that my client took reasonable steps to restrain someone. That's what he was doing was trying to --

A. COOPER: Even once he was already on -- because there are some people who have looked at this and said, okay, well, there seems like there's two different junctions here. There's the actual encounter -- the initial encounter, and Mr. Penny's decision to use the chokehold, and then there's the question of how long he held Mr. Neely in that chokehold with others restraining --

KENNIFF: That's always a danger when you have information that's coming out fragmented -- in a fragmented fashion, in a piecemeal fashion. But if you look at the tapes that are available, what you see towards the end of those videos is my client, for one, putting the individual in the recovery position.

I think that we're going to -- what's going to come out as more of the evidence comes out is that my client rendered aid, not only rendered aid, but assisted the police who came as they were conducting the CPR on Mr. Neely, and were doing it improperly, he actually borrowed on his marine training to actually advise the responding police officers until the EMTs arrived as to how to conduct the compressions and the CPR. A. COOPER: And just -- there have been a lot of fundraising online for

your client, is that something -- with a GoFundMe page -- is that something you are in contact with the, you know, Ron DeSantis, or others who are fundraising?

KENNIFF: Absolutely not. Look --

A. COOPER: To your knowledge, is that money actually going though, to the defense?

KENNIFF: Well, absolutely. I mean, look, just to put the fundraising in perspective, because I know it has gotten a lot of attention.

The fundraising page was set up very early in this case. We have done absolutely no promotion of it. We don't have any public relations firm working on it. We hadn't incented to any influencers. That is something that obviously struck a chord on its own.

And when there's going to be a lot of people talking to -- talking about, you know, some of the more high profile people who have retweeted it or have made donations, that has been absolutely, with absolutely zero, no input from Raiser & Kenniff, and I think what is really telling about the fundraiser, while people may focus on celebrities and political figures and so forth, is by that last count, we had about 50,000 donors, a lot from New York, but from all over the country.

Average donation, if you do the math is about $45.00 per person. Some donations as low as a couple of dollars, five, ten. Those have been what really have gotten traction.

You know, it's not the loudest voices in the world -- in the room on both sides that seem to be trying to politicize this. There's nothing political about this case. My client is not a political person. This is not a political cause.

This is about someone who was trying to do the right thing to protect himself and others in a very difficult confined environment, who has really by all optical measures, much of the country rallying around him now.

A. COOPER: Does your client regret -- does he feel bad for Mr. Neely?

KENNIFF: Well, look, I mean, only a sociopath would not feel regret the loss of human life. It's horrible. Especially when you're there and you witness someone dying in front of you. Of course, he feels terrible about that.

A. COOPER: Thomas Kenniff, I appreciate your time tonight.

KENNIFF: Thank you, Anderson.

A. COOPER: Coming up next, an attack at the Virginia office of Democratic congressman, Gerry Connolly has left two injured. Our Manu Raju just spoke with Congressman Connolly. We will tell you what he said. Also over the weekend, the Democratic governor of North Carolina

vetoed legislation that would have banned most abortions after 12 weeks in the State. Governor Roy Cooper joins us next to talk about efforts expected tomorrow to override that veto.



A. COOPER, CNN HOST: Breaking news now, even as we are learning more tonight about the man in custody, accused of attacking a staff or an intern for Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly today with a baseball bat, the Congressman has just spoken with CNN's Manu Raju who joins us now. What do Congressman Connolly have to say?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he said this 49-year-old suspect just came to his office, enraged with a baseball bat on a pair (ph) and didn't have any particular motivation, but he came in, struck two of his aides. The police eventually came after the individual struck and created mass destruction in his office, leaving a scene in chaos.


REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: When told that I was at an event, he proceeded to attack the young intern who was at the front desk on her first day. And then when the noise and commotion became clear, others came running their offices and he attacked my outreach director and hit her badly on the back of her head.

One of my fast thinking staff members offered to find the congressman for him and use that time to bring everyone into a safe space, call the police, and they were there within five minutes.

He was engaged in an altercation, apparently with the police and had to be tasered. And one of the police had a minor injury in the course of trying to subdue it.

RAJU: What was this person's motivation?

CONNOLLY: I don't think there is a motivation. I think we're talking about real mental illness.

RAJU: And he just walked into the office.

CONNOLLY: And enraged in an enraged state.


RAJU: So those two staffers who were attacked were released from the hospital earlier this evening, according to Gerry Connolly. Connolly says, though, that they will have to potentially deal with any long- term consequences and also the consequences on Capitol Hill. Connolly calling for more funding for security for members offices in districts. Oftentimes, they're in commercial buildings, left completely unguarded and vulnerable, as was the case. And Connolly's office, who is now pushing for more money to ensure this doesn't happen again.

A. COOPER: All right, Manu Raju, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

Tomorrow, North Carolina's legislature will try to override their governor's veto on a bill that would restrict abortions after 12 weeks. The current limit mean is 20 weeks. Republican lawmakers enjoy a super majority in the state. Their attempt to override Governor Roy Cooper's veto comes after he traveled the state trying to pressure for Republicans who had previously supported the current law to vote against their party.

I'm joined now by Governor Roy Cooper.


Governor, appreciate you being with us. You only need one Republican to defect in order to prevent an override of your veto. How likely do you think that is?

GOV. ROY COOPER (D), NORTH CAROLINA: We're working really hard. We know that a lot of constituents are trying to hold these Republicans to their promise to protect women's reproductive freedom. We know this legislation was passed in the dark of night. They turned the clock back 50 years in 48 hours. Didn't allow any amendments, didn't allow any public input. So we've been working to educate the public about all of the obstacles that are being placed in the way of women with this legislation.

They advertise it as a 12-week ban. It's really not. It's going to effectively ban most abortions because of all the requirements on women and on clinics. Already, North Carolina has become an access point in the southeast, and they're waiting. List now for people to be able to get care. This is going to make it a lot worse.

Telling women they've got to make three in-person appointments to get medication abortion. And this legislation on top of that limits medication abortion to 10 weeks. So this obstacle course that they have created for women, the burdens they've put on clinics, is really going to operate as an effective ban. And we know that we need to stop this.

We're going to work hard up to the last minute to try and get one Republican. One Republican to keep a promise. One Republican that has some courage. One Republican who's willing to stand up to his or her party and do the right thing here.

A. COOPER: I understand there are two Republican state representatives seen as possibly receptive. One who was absent for the bill's passage and thus didn't vote for it. One who did vote for it, but used to be a Democrat and has a history of supporting abortion access. What's the political incentive at this point for either or both of them to buck their party? What is the way? R. COOPER: To do the right thing. Well the -- to do the right thing and to keep their promise for the next election. Representative Davis down in Wilmington, said he wanted to keep the law as it was, and then he also said that the Speaker of the House couldn't tell him what to do. So he has told his voters that this is what he's going to do.

And to stand up to that, I think this is a strong legacy for him or any other Republican who stands up to the leadership in the general assembly because this is about women's health. It's about saving lives. And I'm -- it's very frustrating to have to deal with a legislature that at the same time, putting in these new restrictions and not supporting public education, not supporting early childhood education for these children, not investing enough to fight infant mortality, not helping these mothers by refusing to fund enough for quality childcare for them to be able to go to work.

These things are frustrating to the people. People in North Carolina do not support abortion bans. This is why they tried to kept -- keep this process so secretive. This is why they're trying to rush to the override vote. I just vetoed it Saturday. They're trying to rush because they know the more time that passes, the more that people learn about how insidious this abortion ban is, the more they will oppose it.

A. COOPER: Governor Cooper, I appreciate your time.

By the way, Mike Cooper's from Mississippi, but I appreciate having a Cooper from North Carolina. Thank you so much. I wish you the best.

R. COOPER: Welcome anytime.

A. COOPER: Thanks.

Next, Ukrainian and a stunning report by the Washington Post citing classified U.S. intelligence documents that says the leader of the Wagner mercenary group has actually been communicating with Ukrainian intelligence and trying to make deals with them, that ahead.



A. COOPER: As Ukrainian officials claim today that the Russians are no longer capable of large scale offensive actions and are mainly on defense, the Washington Post has posted a new article that goes directly to their ability to do even that. It makes a stunning claim about an alleged offer made to the Ukrainians in late January by Yevgeny Prigozhin, close ally of Vladimir Putin, who runs the Paramilitary Wagner Group, which has been recruiting prisoners and others to fight to take Bakhmut.

Quoting now from the article, "Prigozhin said that if Ukraine's commanders withdrew their soldiers from the area around Bakhmut, he would get Kyiv information on Russian troop positions, which Ukraine could use to attack them" unquote. The Post says it's reporting is based on previously unreported U.S. intelligence documents leaked onto social media. Prigozhin denies the report and a Kremlin spokesman said, quote, "It looks like another hoax," end quote. Ukrainians would not comment to CNN about it.

One of the co-authors of the Washington Post report joins me now from Ukraine, Isabelle Khurshudyan. Isabelle, thanks so much for joining us. Is it clear to you how these conversations between Wagner's founder and Ukrainian intelligence allegedly came about and what specifically his offer was?

ISABELLE KHURSHUDYAN, UKRAINE BUREAU CHIEF, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, the documents mentioned some meetings between, you know, Prigozhin and HUR officers in Africa. They also mentioned one moment where Prigozhin actually calls a HUR officer --

A. COOPER: HUR is the Ukrainian intelligence?

KHURSHUDYAN: Correct. And his voice is mass. But the officer is able to recognize his tone of speaking, sort of the way he speaks and identifies him as Prigozhin. So we know these are back channel conversations that, you know, he made that offer, for example, for Ukraine to withdraw from Bakhmut in exchange for Russian positions more than once according to our source.

And, you know, we believe some of these meetings may have happened in person, but also through some sort of phone communications.

A. COOPER: And is it clear to you why, I mean, was it to gain advantage in Bakhmut that he wanted the Ukrainians to withdraw their forces from a particular area? Is it -- was it just to avoid a particular fight? I mean, do you have a sense of why he set up these communications in the first place?

KHURSHUDYAN: Yes, I mean some of it may have started honestly, you know, communications with HUR, which handles also prisoner exchanges might have been along those lines, which is fairly typical. But, you know, the battle for Bakhmut has been incredibly important for Prigozhin and his reputation.


You know, Wagner stated that its goal -- Prigozhin say that his goal was to capture Bakhmut by May 9th. Obviously, he failed to do that. And, you know, he's been the one most critical of Russian military leadership and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

So it's possible he was trying to trade, you know, to try to convince Ukraine to step away from there so he could get a personal victory, and sort of, you know, save face in front of Russian leadership.

A. COOPER: I mean, it's incredible if he was being truthful that he would do that at the cost of, you know, other Russian troops lives. Prigozhin has denied these communications ever took place in an audio message I know, posted to his Telegram channel today. In that message, he suggested either journalists made up the story or it was planted by his political enemies.

How bad is the relationship between Prigozhin, the Wagner founder and the Russian Ministry of Defense right now? Because he's -- it's not just this, he's been making very public attacks against them and specific Russian military leaders.

KHURSHUDYAN: Yes, he's been quite outspoken that, you know, his Wagner fighters aren't getting ammunition, that it's, you know, Russian regular military units that have been dropping positions in the Bakhmut. And he's been very critical of Gerasimov and Shoigu, in particular. Gerasimov being the top Russian military commander.

So, you know, I think the situation is quite tense and obviously this coming out, you know, does not help his standing, I think, in Moscow. And so it makes sense that, you know, obviously, he would deny it's true.

A. COOPER: Is it clear why Prigozhin has been allowed to so openly challenge the authority of the Russian Armed Forces, the leadership of the Russian Armed Forces, and, by extension, the Kremlin? I mean, he's been pretty careful on, you know, what he says or saying anything directly about Vladimir Putin?

KHURSHUDYAN: Yes, I think at the end of the day, Russia needs the Wagner group. You know, as much as the Wagner group has struggled in Bakhmut and has suffered incredible losses, according to U.S., you know, officials. It's still considered the most effective of Russia's military units, you know, at least in the Ukrainian's minds.

Generals are actually quite praiseworthy of how Wagner's tactics brutal as they might be. They do work and they are able to solely gain ground and also inflict losses on the Ukrainians. So, you know, the Russian military leadership as much as, you know, Prigozhin might be a thorn in their side, I don't think they can afford to lose the Wagner group either.

But, you know, within the discord leaked documents, there are also, you know, discussions between Russian military officials about how to deal with him, how to try and shut him up, basically.

A. COOPER: Yes, it's incredible reporting. Isabelle Khurshudyan, thank you so much.


A. COOPER: Still ahead, an emotional weekend at the University of Idaho, six months, the day after four young students were murdered. They were remembered and honored at the school's spring commencement. Our Gary Tuchman was there, his report next.



A. COOPER: This weekend, exactly six months after four University of Idaho students were brutally murdered, the university honored those students with posthumous degrees and certificates. Ethan Chapin was awarded a certificate in Recreation, Sport and Tourism Management. Xana Kernodle received a certificate in Marketing. Kaylee Goncalves received her Bachelor of General Studies degree. And our Gary Tuchman was with the family of Madison Mogen to see how she was honored.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Madison May Mogen was a little, she loved singing, dancing, and animals. Maddie maintained those interests her whole life, but added an interest in the world of business as she got older of someday becoming an entrepreneur. She was majoring in Marketing at the University of Idaho's Business School when she was murdered.

Ben Mogen is her father. Maddie was his only child.

BEN MOGEN, MADDIE'S FATHER: Just so bright and just would go after what she wanted in life. And, yes, I think she could have done anything she put her mind to.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Kim Cheeley is one of Maddie's grandmothers.

KIM CHEELEY, MADDIE'S GRANDMOTHER: She was well loved and she's gone. It's still hard to believe.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): This past weekend with the spring commencement at the University of Idaho, Maddie was a senior and would've been here for the graduation, but in a sense she was here.

MOGEN: It's sad and it's happy, and, yes, it's so many different emotions.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): So many different emotions. After Ben and Maddie's mother, Karen, were told by the university that Maddie deserved her diploma and would receive it posthumously at the graduation. So on commencement day, Maddie's family members were honored guests at the university's football stadium in Moscow, Idaho.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how you doing? I'm Sanjay.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm finally able to put a face today.




TUCHMAN (voice-over): The Associate Dean of the Business School, greeting Ben, his father and stepmother and his mother and stepfather. And also arrived in his VIPs, Maddie's mother, Karen, and her husband Scott, and other family members and friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to the 128th commencement of the University of Idaho.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Maddie's parents and other family members were given private boxes to watch the ceremony.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we will present a Bachelor of Science and Business degree to the family of Madison May Mogen.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And then the time came for the parents to accept the honor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the virtue of the authority vested in me by the Board of Regents of the University of Idaho, I hereby confer upon Madison May Mogen the posthumous degree earned in testimony aware of her family will receive the diploma of the University of Idaho.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Her mother and stepfather awarded Maddie's diploma. Her father receiving a duplicate.

Madison May Mogen, a college graduate, a bachelor's degree in Business, graduating Cum Laude, Maddie's grandfather, summing up family members feelings on this afternoon.

MICHAEL MOGEN, MADDIE'S GRANDFATHER: This is just a very grateful day after all we've been through to see Maddie May Mogen recognized for her hard work and I'm just very proud of her and grateful to the university for doing this.


TUCHMAN: Anderson, a week from this Thursday, May 25th is Maddie's birthday. She would've been 22 years old. The family is starting a campaign. They're asking for people to perform random acts of kindness on her birthday. They're calling it Maddie May Day, and they want people to perform these acts of kind and it's kindness and then post it on social media.

There's no money involved, just post it with the hashtag MaddieMayDay, M-A-D-D-I-E-M-A-Y-D-A-Y. A wonderful gesture for her legacy and also the legacy of the three other students who were murdered in that house. Anderson?


A. COOPER: Especially that all the families could be there. Gary, appreciate it. Thank you.

We'll be right back.


A. COOPER: So it's a very special birthday for a very good boy. Meet Bobi, a Portuguese dog who was declared by Guinness World Record as the world's oldest dog ever. Bobi just celebrated his birthday last week, and according to his family, more than 100 guests were invited to his traditional Portuguese party. And, of course, who better talk about this tell us the age of our record setting dog than our favorite Senior Data Reporter, Harry Enten. How long is the longest dog?


A. COOPER: What?

ENTEN: Bluey, who was 29, who was an Australian cattle dog who lived in the 20th century, and then third place is 27 to 28. But dog records aren't exactly clear, but Bobi, the clear winner.

A. COOPER: Is there a difference between life expectancy for, you know, pure breeds or other kinds?

ENTEN: Or mixed breed dogs, you'd rather get a mixed breed dog if you want the dog to live older. There was a great study from the U.K. I dug into the data earlier today as I like to do, and it turns out that on median, the mixed-breed dogs live about a year longer than the pure breeds. And plus, mixed-breeds often are the dogs that are discarded and put up for adoption. And I'm a big fan of adopting dogs. So you win both ways there.

A. COOPER: And you got his data on how many people actually prefer dogs to other animals?

ENTEN: Yes. So there's a great question that CBS News asked about a decade ago, which was essentially, if you were on a deserted island, would you rather be with a dog or a human? It turns out that 74 percent said human, another human, 22 percent said a dog. And let me just say, I am definitely on the dog bandwagon here.

I'd much rather be with a dog, sorry to my girlfriend, although I think she would agree with me. We love dogs.

A. COOPER: Oh, I'm not sure. OK. Would she answer it the same, do you think?

ENTEN: Yes, she would absolutely. We have two little, toy dogs on her bed, Shamrock and Monkey. And so one's a shih tzu, one's a Cal, and we love those dogs even though they're not real. But I love my childhood dog a lot. I actually even have a photo here.


ENTEN: Right here of Cody when I was a five years old.

A. COOPER: All right. I hear you have a question for me.

ENTEN: I do. I hear you love dogs. I guess my question is, why do you love dogs?

A. COOPER: What do you mean? Why do --


A. COOPER: They're just love. They're just sweet and they smell great and they're just lovable.

ENTEN: And they're loyal?


ENTEN: They never betray you.

A. COOPER: That's true.

ENTEN: You can come home and they'll give you -- yes, look at all these dogs we have, isn't that nice?


ENTEN: We both got to share our love of dogs this evening and bring the smile to my face into yours as well.

A. COOPER: Thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

A. COOPER: All right. The news continues. CNN Primetime with Sara Sidner starts now.