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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Biden, McCarthy Meet As Debt Default Deadline Looms; NY Times: Federal Prosecutors Issued Subpoena For Information On Trump's Business Dealings In Foreign Countries Since 2017; Senior Russian Official Falls Ill On Plane And Dies; SC Senator Tim Scott Enters GOP Presidential Race; Verified Twitter Accounts Share Fake Image Of Explosion Near Pentagon; Suspect In Idaho Student Murders Stays Silent As Judge Enters Not Guilty Pleas On His Behalf. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 22, 2023 - 20:00   ET


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): She has agreed to speak with the defense. And while indictment documents have been unsealed, investigators are still searching for a motive.

Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, thanks so much, Jean.

And thanks to all of you for being with us. AC 360 begins now.



We begin tonight with breaking news: Signs of cautious optimism in the debt ceiling standoff with as few as 10 days left before the federal government runs out of cash and with House Republicans trying to extract major budget cuts in exchange for allowing new borrowing to pay the bills, President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy had just wrapped up talks at the White House.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I felt we had a productive discussion. I believe we can get it done.


COOPER: And we hear from the White House, earlier today Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen reminded lawmakers at the stakes saying it's "highly likely" the government will default as early as June 1st.

CNN's Melanie Zanona joins us now with more from the Capitol.

So what's the status of negotiations after Speaker McCarthy's meeting?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, the talks are still very much alive, which is a positive sign after a tumultuous weekend of negotiations. Both sides are still very much committed to getting a bipartisan deal.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy as you heard, struck a very positive tone after his one-on-one meeting with President Biden, which lasted for an hour- and-a-half, and the staff is going to continue to meet tonight, all through the night is what Kevin McCarthy said.

In fact, we just saw a bunch of pizzas being wheeled in Speaker Kevin McCarthy's office, which is usually a sign that they are digging in for the long haul here.

But Anderson, I would warn that there is still a long way to go because the two sides are still very far apart on substance and the clock is ticking.

Kevin McCarthy even said they need a deal by this week in order to move this through the House and the Senate and avoid a default by June 1st.

COOPER: What are the major sticking points? Is that clear right now?

ZANONA: So the biggest sticking point we're told is spending levels. Republicans want to cap future spending at fiscal 2022 levels, but they don't want to touch Defense. In fact, they want to plus up Defense. So that would essentially mean a drastic cut on the domestic side of things.

But the White House so far, they are only offering to freeze funding, so sticking to current fiscal 2023 levels. That is something that Republicans have outright rejected. Here's a little bit more about what McCarthy had to say.


MCCARTHY: I simply believe, like any household, like any business, like any state government, when you're this far out of whack, you have to spend less than you spent last year. That's why we talk about that going back to where we spent just five months ago, put a cap in there, grow the economy, pull back money that hasn't been spent, like COVID funds that have sat there for two years. Who thinks we should do that?

Save the taxpayer money, grow the economy by cutting red tape, letting us build things again.

We're only talking about in work requirements, able-bodied people who have no dependents. Should we borrow money from China to pay people who are able-bodied with no dependents to sit on the couch? I don't think so.


ZANONA: And there are a number of other sticking points as well. They still haven't decided whether to impose stricter work requirements for some social safety net programs, they still haven't decided how to achieve permanent reform, even though there is bipartisan agreement generally on that front, and they still haven't even decided the length of the debt ceiling hike. So there are a number of issues still to be finalized, but the

thinking at least right now is that once they agree on spending, everything else will essentially just fall in place.

COOPER: And even if McCarthy and the president do reach some sort of a deal, is there a guarantee that the far-right members of the House Republican Conference will go along with it?

ZANONA: Yes, that's a great point, Anderson. Even and if and when they get a deal, they still have to sell this to their members, and there is no guarantee that the far right is going to be on board with whatever deal they cut.

In fact, they already signaling that they are not willing to support anything that falls short of what the House GOP passed over in the House, and McCarthy knows he has a sales job, that is why he is fighting so hard to get as many Republican priorities in this deal as possible.

But I would point out, he doesn't necessarily need conservatives in order to be able to pass this because presumably, if there is a bipartisan deal, there will also be Democrats who support that, but he does need their support in order to retain their speakership.

So that is certainly driving the dynamic in these negotiations as well -- Anderson.

COOPER: Melanie Zanona, appreciate it.

We should note, we just got a statement from the White House which also called the meeting productive.

Also tonight, two new developments in the former president's many legal challenges. One on the criminal side gives federal prosecutors an apparently up close look at conversations he may have had with one of his attorneys in the classified documents case at a key moment in the investigation. That attorney has said to have kept very careful notes.

The other development concerns the sexual abuse and defamation judgment against him, the disparaging remarks he made after he lost and what plaintiff E. Jean Carroll now wants the judge to do about it.

CNN's Sara Murray has more on both of those stories.

So, first, let's talk about what the allegedly told his attorney.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So this was at a key moment in the Mar-a-Lago documents probe. They had just gotten this subpoena in May of 2022 from the government saying, if you have any records of classified markings, you need to return them and we are hearing from sources familiar with the matter that Trump asked his attorney, Evan Corcoran, is there any way that we could push back on this? And that these conversations and others are memorialized in notes that Evan Corcoran has handed over to Jack Smith's prosecutors.

He has handed over dozens of pages of his notes and that came after this pretty extraordinary court fight that was happening under seal in which a judge said, you guys have put forward the prosecutor substantial evidence that Trump may have used his attorney in furtherance of a crime.

So look, there are people who are close to Trump who say this is a guy who was just weighing his options with his attorney for how to respond to this subpoena, but of course, we know Trump has offered a lot of shifting explanations for why he took those documents, why he kept those documents, and we know the Justice Department is looking at a potential obstruction probe -- Anderson.

COOPER: There is also news on the defamation case brought against him by E. Jean Carroll. What is that?

MURRAY: That's right.

E. Jean Carroll has gone back to court to ask for additional damages, substantial punitive damages from Donald Trump in the wake of Donald Trump's comments during that CNN townhall.

Now remember, earlier this month, she went to trial with a civil jury that awarded her $5 million, found Trump had sexually abused and defamed her, but she also had a separate defamation case that was ongoing. This was sort of caught up in a legal log jam. So this is where she is going back to the judge and asking for a very substantial punitive damages after Trump said this during the CNN townhall. Take a listen.



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: They did not say that --

TRUMP: And I didn't do anything else either. You know what? Because I have no idea who the hell she is.

COLLINS: But Mr. President, can I --

TRUMP: I don't know who this woman is.

COLLINS: Can I ask --

TRUMP: They said, sir, don't do it. This is a fake story and you don't want to give it credibility. That's why I didn't go.


COLLINS: One thing you did do in this --

TRUMP: And I swear, and I've never done that. And I swear to -- I have no idea who the hell. She is a whack job. COLLINS: Mr. President.


MURRAY: Now in their court filing tonight, E. Jean Carroll's team said that Trump's post-verdict statements show the depth of his malice toward Carroll -- Anderson.

COOPER: Has there been any response from the former president or his attorneys to what we've learned tonight?

MURRAY: No, I mean, we've reached out to them on both stories for comment, and we have yet to hear back on either. But as you pointed out, this does sort of give you a small encapsulation right now of Donald Trump's legal problems.

COOPER: Sara Murray, thanks very much.

Joining us, two CNN legal analysts, former deputy assistant attorney general, Elliot Williams; and Norm Eisen, who served as White House ethics czar in the Obama administration, and as counsel to House Democrats in the first Trump impeachment.

So Norm, I want to start with some new reporting from "The New York Times," which says that special counsel, Jack Smith's office has issued a subpoena for information about the former president's business dealings in foreign countries, and what is interesting about it is that the request is for record since 2017, meaning the period after he took office, what does that suggest to you?

NORMAN EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Anderson, it suggests to me that the special counsel is attempting to determine whether there could have been any motivation in Donald Trump hanging on to these classified records connected to his business dealings with China, France, Turkey, and the other countries included in this subpoena.

COOPER: So you do link to that to the classified documents probe?

EISEN: That seems most likely. That's what "The Times" is reporting and it is logical, Anderson, because it doesn't mean that that is the motive for him hanging on to the classified documents, but Jack Smith is known as an intrepid prosecutor and he is exploring every angle. Could Donald Trump have hung on to these classified documents and taken them in order to pay back business favors or to gain a business advantage?

We have to be very careful. It's not necessarily the case that he did, but the prosecutor is trying to find out. A very important, intent question.

COOPER: Right, and Elliot, obviously, I mean, if a former president did that, that would be extraordinary horrific, all sorts of things.

How concerned would you be if you were his attorney that the special counsel is apparently interested in foreign deals by the Trump Organization? ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I'd be scared on two fronts,

Anderson, because number one, picking up on Norm's point. There is certainly the possibility, the more likely, I guess, perhaps the more readily apparent possibility that there is the suggestion that documents or other information was shown to or shared with foreign governments.

It's also entirely the case that in the course of looking under the hood of Mar-a-Lago or the Trump organization, prosecutors or investigators uncovered other evidence of possible crime or wrongdoing.


If you're investigating one thing and then there's plain evidence of another crime, certainly any investigator would be remiss in not following up on those leads. Now, again, to be clear, that is speculating and not likely.

COOPER: We don't know.

WILLIAMS: But it is certainly troubling, just the fact that there are multiple possibilities for why they can be talking to them, is certainly something, because there could be more crimes than the ones that we are already aware about.

COOPER: Norm, as for the notes from the former president's lawyer, and again, from all the reporting, he kept very, very close and detailed notes. The notes pertaining to the classified documents subpoena, how damning do you think those notes could be?

EISEN: Well, Anderson, there are reported to be 50 pages. CNN has said that Trump insiders were surprised at the level of detail. It's kind of similar to the first issue we were talking about. It goes to Donald Trump's intent.

And as Sara reported, if Trump was indeed, pushing back asking how he can push back on this subpoena, maybe there was an innocent intent, or maybe that is part of the pattern of evidence of obstruction of justice and of hanging on to these documents, allegedly.

All of this is alleged at this point, hanging on to these documents wrongfully, so I think it has got to be very uncomfortable, the most uncomfortable thing for a client to have 50 pages of their lawyer's detailed notes now in the hands of prosecutors.

COOPER: And Elliot, obviously, the devil is literally in the details here, but I mean, there could be an argument that well, wouldn't any client say to his attorney, well, can we push back against this? We don't know what the notes actually say.

WILLIAMS: No, we don't know. Now, to be clear, Anderson, it is remarkable that the notes are even being turned over in the first place. They lost a court fight over these because of how rare it is to turn attorneys notes over. Now look, the devil is in the details and it is frankly responsible

for an attorney to say or for a client to say, you know, let's look at whether we can quash this subpoena or this subpoena might not be valid or lawful and let us look at ways we can challenge it. That's good lawyering.

Now, the problem for the former president is that every time a piece of this evidence comes out, it is more indication that he knew he was in possession of the documents, right? And it speaks to knowledge and intent. And many of the things that he appears to be investigated for is simply knowingly possessing documents, right?

So if you're trying to challenge the subpoena, you know they are in your possession and in your care, and that's just not good for him.

COOPER: Elliot Williams, Norm Eisen, I appreciate it. Thanks.

Coming up next, we go to Ukraine, what it looks like to Ukrainian troops engaged in fierce combat outside Bakhmut as they try to choke off Russian forces who have taken much of the city.

Also what Senator Tim Scott's decision to run for president means for the race and what the growing Republican field means for the frontrunner, the former president.



COOPER: Tonight, we are learning new details about yet another senior Russian official who has died as of now of unknown causes.

Russia's deputy minister of science and higher education died after falling sick on a plane on Saturday. According to a Russian state run broadcaster, his family says his death may have been from a heart condition, but a forensic examination is set for Wednesday.

His death obviously comes in with a string of other deaths among top Russian officials and executives, some of them questionable.

CNN's Matthew Chance joins me now with details.

So what more do we know about this senior Russian official?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can see from the picture there, he is relatively young. Certainly not the age you'd expect somebody to suffer heart disease and die, but of course, that doesn't rule it out.

He was a deputy minister for education and science and he was killed or he died rather on a government trip coming back from Cuba. He died on the airplane. He was on an official delegation in Cuba. He was coming back, he died on the airplane.

You mentioned that his family, they are waiting for the outcome of the forensic report which the Russian authorities say is underway, but there has been this sort of Telegram journalist to who says he knows this minister, who said that he spoke to him before he left the country and he said he wasn't feeling great about the situation in in Russia and expressed reservations about the direction the country was going.

He said he was on antidepressants and sort of feared for his own safety. It's not evidence in itself, of course that there was any sort of untoward sort of maligned activity towards this person. But, as you said, Russia has a very checkered past when it comes to eliminating people who don't necessarily follow the official line.

COOPER: Yes. There was also this incursion into Russia by Russians fighting with Ukrainian Armed Forces. What more do we know about it?

CHANCE: Yes. I mean, that's pretty, pretty stunning.

This is a group of individuals that say that they are Russian nationals. They are based in Ukraine and they are using that as a base with which to -- from which to launch attacks against Russia.

Well, today, they carried out an extraordinary armored advance into Russian territory and actually seized land inside Russia from the Russian state. Take a look.


(UNIDENTIFIED MALES speaking in foreign language.)

CHANCE (voice over): Tonight, Russian forces insists they are taking back control from a group of what they call saboteurs infiltrating this leafy border.

These images purporting to show a Russian soldier detaining three of them was broadcast on state media.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

CHANCE (voice over): Meet the anti-Kremlin Russians, now taking the fight back home.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

CHANCE (voice over): "This is how we work," he says. Amid a bold armored raid across the Ukrainian border into Russia itself.

CNN can't independently verify any of the images, but this entire column of vehicles was spotted crossing the frontier. Ukrainian forces insist it's not them, but exiled Russian groups fighting against the Kremlin.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are Russians. Just like you, we want our children to grow up in peace and be free so they can travel, study, and be happy, but this is not possible in Putin's Russia. (UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

CHANCE (voice over): And the raid caught Russian border guards unaware. This one tried to be a hero, the narrator says, amid the scattered passports and a portrait of Vladimir Putin overlooking the carnage below.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALES speaking in foreign language.)

CHANCE (voice over): "The border is now unlocked," says one of the fighters. "Grandpa Putin will soon turn to honey," says the other, in other words, "die."

(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)

CHANCE (voice over): On Kremlin controlled television, the presenters stood like statues as the day's events replay of videos from stunned locals witnessing the fight.

The Kremlin called the attack a diversion, but already, there is sharp criticism from Russian hardliners that this was allowed to occur.

This Russian region right next to Ukraine is no stranger to cross border attacks, but armed incursions like this are rare. And the mood here, according to local Russian officials has shifted.

With empty buses coming in to evacuate residents, while those who can are leaving by themselves.


CHANCE (on camera): Well, Anderson, Russia has now declared a counterterrorism operation in the region saying that it has killed or captured dozens of those people that came across the border from Ukraine to carry out this raid.

But it is still unclear tonight whether Russian government forces have actually recaptured the territory that was sort of taken and seized in this extraordinary raid.

COOPER: Yes. It is incredible.

Matthew Chance, appreciate it.

There is also new developments tonight in the battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Ukraine today said they still control parts of the besieged city after both Russian forces and the mercenary, Wagner Group claimed they've captured Bakhmut.

Ukraine says Bakhmut remains one of the epicenters of fighting and at the G7 Summit over the weekend, President Zelenskyy denied Russia's claims that Russia controls the city and compared the destruction in Bakhmut to that of Hiroshima after it was hit by an atomic bomb in World War Two.

CNN's Nic Robertson joined the Ukrainian unit near Bakhmut where troops appeared exhausted, but determined after months of fighting.

Here is his report.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): Barely out of the armored troop carrier, incoming artillery.

ROBERTSON (on camera): We are just going to wait in this little basement until the shelling is over when they think it will be safe to move forward to the front position.

ROBERTSON (voice over): A few minutes later, safe to come out at this army outpost a few miles from Bakhmut.

"Last night was hard, a lot of shelling."

(GAMBIT speaking in foreign language.)

ROBERTSON: Call sign "Gambit" tells us the soldier is still shell shocked from an anti-tank rocket attack.

ROBERTSON (on camera): We're going to get back in the vehicle and try to get a little closer to the frontlines.

ROBERTSON (voice over) Ten days ago, these troops pushed the Russians back around Bakhmut, but their advance is slowing and harder.

We get to a small HQ callsign Fox, a former farmer is readying his troops for their coming shift on the frontline stopping the Russians in Bakhmut from advancing.

How hard is that?

(FOX speaking in foreign language.)

ROBERTSON (voice over): "It's impossible to describe these feelings," he says. "You can only experience it. No words can express it. They shell a lot."

As we talk, it is clear this war is taking its toll.

ROBERTSON (on camera): You only have to look at the soldiers' faces here to know how tough this battle is. They all look worn. They say morale is high, but their faces are telling a different story.

ROBERTSON (voice over): We move on towards other positions and stop as the shelling increases.

ROBERTSON (on camera): I've just been told the place that we were going to is under heavy shelling, so we're going to pull back from here and go somewhere else.

ROBERTSON (voice over): In the battalion bunker, the commander tells us the Russians have ramped up their shelling on his troops since they advanced. (41st speaking in foreign language.)

ROBERTSON: "Tons of ammo, shrapnel, tanks firing, everything." His unit's drones recorded their recent successes, but now the Russians have regrouped and in a moment of candor following losses the previous night, admits morale is flagging.


(41st speaking in foreign language.)

ROBERTSON: "Let's be honest," he says, "We are fighting heavily for more than a year. My soldiers went through many battles, and two rotations near Bakhmut. Troops are exhausted but we endure."

ROBERTSON (on camera): Bakhmut, which was just over the hill in that direction has become an object lesson in how Russia's wealth and men and ammunition can prevail, and that unless Ukraine gets the modern weaponry support from its allies, it is going to struggle to tip the balance.

Callsign Fox and his unit load up for their hard miles at the front, an end of war getting back to their families is what drives them into the shelling.


COOPER: Nic, what is the status of the fight for Bakhmut tonight?

ROBERTSON: Yes, there is a toehold inside the city that the Ukrainian say they still have. From where we're standing now, we can hear the shelling going on. It was heavy last night. It's heavy again tonight.

The Ukrainians are trying desperately hard to hold the Russians back and not let them get beyond. Everyone knows that Bakhmut was such a long fight. We've been talking about it for such a long time, such high casualties on both sides.

But after the Russians get through Bakhmut, it's more open countryside and small villages. The next towns they want to take, Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, it is a stretch of countryside away. It's much quicker to get through that countryside and take that territory than it was getting through Bakhmut.

So Ukraine is really going all in to hold the Russians back, and around here, you see a lot of military activity, old equipment, new equipment from NATO, equipment on the backs of trucks that's come out for repairs, overspill shelling into local villages, all that sort of thing.

It is a very, very heavy military area around here and the closer you get to the frontline, the more and more military there is, and the more and more deserted the villages are around.

It's a huge effort to hold the Russians back here right now.

COOPER: You can see it. It is just an incredibly tough fight.

Nic Robertson from eastern Ukraine, thank you. Be careful.

Well up next, presidential politics back here at home, Senator Tim Scott announcing he is running for president. We'll take a look at his campaign and what it means for the Republican race. Wil the growing field benefit the former president this time the way it did back in 2016?



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: 2024 Republican race for president became even more like the 2016 edition today with the entry of South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, the Senate's only black Republican. Like 2016, when Lindsey Graham ran there's now a senator from the Palmetto state. There's also a former governor from South Carolina, and there's a Florida governor likely to get into the race as there was in 2016, shaping up to be another big field like before.

Now, in a moment, we'll talk about whether it'll work in the former president's favor as it did in 2016. But first, more on Senator Scott, who is a compelling figure in his own right. CNN's Eva McKend is in South Carolina, covering day one of his campaign.


EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER (voice-over): South Carolina Senator Tim Scott officially jumping into the 2024 presidential race.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We live in the land where it is absolutely possible for a kid raised in poverty, in a single parent household, in a small apartment, to one day serve in the people's house and maybe even the White House.

MCKEND (voice-over): The only black Republican in the Senate, Scott emphasizing his personal story.

SCOTT: I'm a living proof that America is the land of opportunity and not a land of oppression.

MCKEND (voice-over): And his strong faith, which campaign officials say will be a central theme of his candidacy.

SCOTT: I will be the president who stops the far-left's assault on our religious liberty. I will preserve one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

MCKEND (voice-over): Scott pitching himself to Republican voters as a formidable challenger to President Joe Biden.

SCOTT: Our nation, our values, and our people are strong, but our president is weak.

MCKEND (voice-over): And appealing directly to the GOP base on border security.

SCOTT: If our southern border is unsafe and insecure, it's not our country.

MCKEND (voice-over): And over culture wars.

SCOTT: I will be the president who destroys the liberal lie that America is an evil country.

MCKEND (voice-over): Among those introducing Scott, John Thune, the Senate's number two Republican who is backing Scott's bid.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), MINORITY WHIP: Tim Scott is the real deal.

MCKEND (voice-over): Scott joins a growing field of GOP hopefuls.

SCOTT: That's why I'm the candidate the far-left fears the most. I disrupt their narrative. I threaten their control. The truth of my life disrupts their lives.

MCKEND (voice-over): Including former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who appointed Scott to the Senate in 2012, and former president Donald Trump, who wished Scott luck. Scott telling CNN --

SCOTT: Very kind of him. Appreciate it very much.


MCKEND (voice-over): Trump instead choosing to go after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who's expected to announce his bid in the coming days, writing, "Tim is a big step up from DeSanctimonious, who is totally unelectable.

SCOTT: Our party and our nation are standing at a time for choosing.

MCKEND (voice-over): Scott, striking a more optimistic message, setting up a contrast with Trump and DeSantis.

SCOTT: Victimhood or victory?

ALL: Victory.

SCOTT: Grievance or greatness?

ALL: Greatness.

SCOTT: I choose freedom and hope and opportunity. Will you choose it with me?

ALL: Yes.


MCKEND: And as for Democrats, how they're responding to this, I spoke to Christale Spain today. She is the chair of South Carolina's Democratic Party, and she essentially told me that this is more of the same and said that Scott is just like every other MAGA Republican in the field in terms of where he stands on policy matters like abortion and the social safety net.

That, of course, is going to be a hard argument to make. Scott is a conservative, to be sure, firmly conservative, but Trump he is not. Anderson?

COOPER: Eva McKend, stay with us. I want to bring in CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash. Dana, you've covered Senator Scott for many years. I mean, he certainly has a remarkable personal and political story. What's his lane in this GOP field? Because he seems to go out of his way to not criticize the former president.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: So far, that's going to be it. He is, I'm told, going to be leaning heavily at the beginning of his candidacy into his biography. He's got a lot of money in his war chest already. They've been able to transfer money from his Senate campaign war chest to the presidential $22 million, which is more than anybody else has right now.

And they're going to use that to tell people who he is. He's not that well known on a national level, certainly not that well known compared to the Donald Trump's and Ron DeSantis of the world. And so the fact that he is able to spend that money and explain who he is and what Eva just showed in her piece, the kind of happy warrior that is different, generally speaking, than almost all of the other candidates. Whether there's an appetite for that kind of candidacy, that remains to be seen.

COOPER: Eva, I mean, is it clear how the senator plans to handle the former president in the primaries?

MCKEND: Well, my sense is that in the immediate sense, he has no appetite to take him on immediately. I think that his team really, as Dana alluded to, sees these next months as pivotal in terms of introducing him to voters. You know, as I was speaking to his supporters today, lots of folks in South Carolina know him very well.

He held local office here before ascending to the Senate and now running for president. But maybe folks in Iowa and New Hampshire don't know him as well. And so that is where the focus is on his biography, on a positive message. It seems as though his team at this juncture doesn't see a lot of value in taking on Trump directly.

COOPER: Dana, I mean, conventional wisdom is the more people run against former President Trump, the larger the GOP field is. They essentially split the opposition vote, boos this chances of getting the nomination. Do you think that's the case here?

BASH: Likely. But when it comes to candidates like Tim Scott, candidates who are really not Donald Trump in a lot of ways, the Trump campaign and people around the former president believe that candidates like Tim Scott are more likely to take votes away from Ron DeSantis than from Donald Trump.

Who knows if they're right? But that's what they believe right now. That is definitely one of the reasons why the former president said something nice about Tim Scott today. Another reason, of course, is that Scott has not been criticizing Donald Trump. And we know very much that that is a two-way street when it comes to criticism as much as --

COOPER: Yes. Dana Bash, appreciate it. Eva McKend as well. Thank you so much.

Up next, why did the stock market drop when this fake photo began circulating on Twitter today? More ahead.



COOPER: Some real life panic earlier today when a fake photo of an explosion near the Pentagon circulated on social media. This is a fake photo that we're showing you generated by artificial intelligence. It was shown on an overseas news program and the stock market took a dip when it was being shared by several blue check Twitter accounts.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan joins us now with more. So where did this come from?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So there's two parts of this, Anderson, and both parts kind of signal a lot for the future and how messy the information and misinformation ecosystem is about to get. Firstly, the image itself, which you can see there, it purported to be the Pentagon.

If you look closely, it doesn't actually look anything like the Pentagon, but it was put out there. And experts we've spoken to say that that image was created using artificial intelligence technology. You can type -- you know, there are systems out there where you can just type explosion near a building, and it will generate multiple images within seconds.

The second part of this --


O'SULLIVAN: So that's number one. The second part of this is the blue check fiasco on Twitter. People might remember that a few months ago, Elon Musk took away the blue check marks from a lot of organizations and journalists and basically gave them to anybody who was willing to pay for them.

Now, as a result of that, a lot of folks have set up fake accounts. And in this case, this image was first shared by a fake account that had a blue check mark. So it looked verified, pretending that it was linked to Bloomberg News. It had nothing to do with Bloomberg News.

But it does seem that there has been some coordination here in the pushing of this. A lot of accounts pushed it all at once. It eventually then ended up on television in India. Russian state media also shared this. And as you mentioned, the stock market dipped. COOPER: Which is terrifying that --

O'SULLIVAN: Yes. an AI generated image, a fake image just on a few, you know, phony Twitter accounts can tank this -- cam, you know, have a dip in the stock market. I mean, that's -- you can then -- I mean, this is like opening up the floodgates of --


O'SULLIVAN: 100 percent. Yes. And, I mean, if you look at that image, you know, closely, you can see it's pretty -- it's not a particularly sophisticated one. I mean, folks who are familiar with what the Pentagon looks like, or D.C. would know that that's not the Pentagon or a building near it. But, you know, in that moment when you see it, especially coming from an account that appears to be a genuine --

COOPER: Right.

O'SULLIVAN: -- Bloomberg News account, then of course, that will have realized --

COOPER: Do you think this -- I mean, what do you think kind of this whole AI stuff is going to have -- what impact is going to have in the election this -- like fake photographs?

O'SULLIVAN: I don't think things are looking great in terms of -- you know, it's so easy now to create convincing fake audio. We made fake audio view some time back --


O'SULLIVAN: -- which took seconds to do, and also fake video. I think what we could see in this election cycle and of course this is speculating, but, you know, you think about the role audio tapes play in election campaigns. It's going to be so easy to fake one, but also so easy to deny a real tape.

So imagine if the Access Hollywood tape were to emerge today --

COOPER: Right.

O'SULLIVAN: -- it might be very easy for Trump to say, that wasn't me. That was a deep fake.

COOPER: All right. Donie O'Sullivan, appreciate it. Thanks.

Still ahead, new developments in the murders last year of four University of Idaho students. The suspect was back in court again today for his arraignment. He stayed silent as the judge asked for his plea. We have details next.



COOPER: The suspect in the murders of four university of Idaho students last year appeared in court again today where the judge entered not guilty pleas on his behalf. The suspect was indicted by a grand jury last week on murder and burglary charges. Trial is set to start in early October.

CNN's Veronica Miracle has more.


VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The suspect in the brutal stabbings of four University of Idaho students walking in without handcuffs into an Idaho courtroom Monday.


MIRACLE (voice-over): And in a highly unusual move, remained silent when asked for his plea to one burglary charge and four counts of first-degree murder.


MIRACLE (voice-over): The judge entered not guilty pleas for each charge. Bryan Kohberger looking only at his attorney and the judge during the proceedings, did respond to questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you understand these rights?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any questions about the rights?


MIRACLE (voice-over): Kohberger appeared to read the indictment as the judge in this case read the charges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Count four, murder in the first degree.

MIRACLE (voice-over): He's charged in the November killings of Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen, and Kaylee Goncalves. Kohberger affirming that he understood the charges against him did not appear to react with any emotion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you understand the charge in count five murdering --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- murder in the first degree?

MIRACLE (voice-over): Or appear to look around the courtroom where victims' families like the Goncalves remained fixed on him during the proceedings. Kohberger has been in custody since December after he was arrested at his parents Pennsylvania home more than a month after the murders.

He was tracked down after police zeroed in on a white Hyundai Elantra spotted near the crime scene, and a description of the intruder by a surviving roommate identified as D.M., who said she heard crying and saw a masked man that night clad in black clothing and noting his height, weight and bushy eyebrows, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Investigators say they found Kohberger's father's DNA on trash recovered from his family's home, which was a close match to the DNA on a tan leather knife sheath left behind at the crime scene, according to the affidavit. Now the prosecution has 60 days to decide whether they will pursue the death penalty in this case.


COOPER: And Veronica Miracle joins us now. How unusual is it for a defendant to not enter a plea and remain silent?

MIRACLE: Well, Anderson, I spoke with a University of Idaho law professor who tells me that there are a number of reasons that this could have happened, and it is unusual. He says the first reason is it's possible because this is such a highly scrutinized case, there's so much publicity that Brian Kohberger may not want to have had any kind of characterization about his pleas.

So, obviously, if he entered a guilty plea, he would be admitting guilt. If he entered not guilty pleas, then it's possible that there could have been outrage that he's not taking responsibility for his alleged actions. And so by not saying anything, he didn't have any kind of characterization that the public could assume today, it's also possible, I'm told, that there could be something happening behind closed doors.

The prosecution and the defense could be talking about a possible plea agreement, and this could have been part of that. And lastly, it's possible that he's just being difficult and not wanting to cooperate. So I'm told that while this does happen, it is highly unusual. Anderson?

COOPER: Veronica Miracle, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up, a welcome change of pace. We'll be right back.



COOPER: OK, I'm not convinced about this next one. There's a frozen treat that's being sold in Japan that allegedly will set you back a whopping $6,380 for a single serving. And it's earned the Guinness World Record as the world's most expensive ice cream, which I didn't even know was a category.

A Japanese ice cream company says it took them a year and a half to develop this dessert. Again, I'm just -- I'm just not sure I buy it.

Our CNN Senior Data Reporter ice cream connoisseur Harry Enten joins us now with more. Why is this ice cream so expensive? What makes it so special?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I don't understand this. You know, we were just talking in the break. Shouldn't ice cream be simple right?


ENTEN: Should be like, maybe three flavors, 10 at most.

COOPER: I like, Arethusa ice cream. It's in a farm in Connecticut, and it's just great ice cream.

ENTEN: My favorite ice cream, of course, is Carvel. And if we can get an image of this guys, this is my favorite. I brought you a gift. This is a cake from --

COOPER: I love the commercials as a kid. Tom Carvel "Fudgie the Whale".

ENTEN: Oh, fantastic.

COOPER: Whale of a cake for a whale of a dad.

ENTEN: I love those commercials. And you know how many of those Fudgie the Whale cakes you can buy for one of these fantastic mystery, you know, truffle, gold leaf desserts? You can buy nearly 200 Fudgie the Whales. You can get the flying saucers. You can see nearly 1,600 flying saucers for the price of one of these, you know, ridiculous desserts.

COOPER: Right.

ENTEN: Flying saucers was another.

COOPER: What was the Fudgie the Whale the same cake mold as?

ENTEN: Well, there was --

COOPER: Cookie Puss?

ENTEN: No, Cookie Puss was separate, but I believe Fudgie the Whale, if you flip it upside down --

COOPER: Was there Santa Claus?

ENTEN: -- was Santa Claus.

COOPER: That's right.

ENTEN: Cookie --

COOPER: That blew my mind when I discovered that.

ENTEN: It was a big thing.

COOPER: Yes. ENTEN: Tom Carvel was just picking, you know, this --

COOPER: Those -- if you haven't watched -- for those of you who are too young to know about Tom Carvel, you should look up the old commercials, because his voiceover was just like, Fudgie the Whale. Wonderful game for Wonderful Day.

ENTEN: I think he even did a Letterman appearance where he sang one of the songs. It's one of the best Letterman appearances to say.

COOPER: So how popular is ice cream? I know you're the data guy, so you've got to get-- I know you're going to present some data.

ENTEN: Yes, I do have some data for you. It's the number one dessert among U.S. adults. Fruit came in second at 25 percent. And this is the type of polling data that makes me not believe polls, because the idea that American adults would say that, you know, nearly as many would say fruit as their favorite as ice cream just tends to me that there's social desirability going on here, right?

So, you know --

COOPER: It's aspirational.

ENTEN: Yes, it's aspirational -- oh, yes. I love fruit.

COOPER: Sure. Of course.

ENTEN: Fruit is fantastic, you know?

COOPER: Blueberries.

ENTEN: Blueberries.

COOPER: And I do love blueberries, but yes.

ENTEN: Sure. But they're not as good as ice cream.

COOPER: No, no, no. So what are the most popular flavors?

ENTEN: Yes, this one surprised me. This actually came --

COOPER: Are there actually poles on this? Is there actually --

ENTEN: There are. They're poles on everything, man.

Chocolate, interestingly enough, came in at number one.


ENTEN: I was a little surprised that cookies and cream number two. Vanilla was three, strawberry at four. But chocolate is my favorite, so this is a poll that even I really do believe in.

COOPER: You're men of the people.

ENTEN: I am.

COOPER: Harry Enten, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

COOPER: The news continues. CNN Primetime with Abby Phillips starts now.