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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
DeSantis To Launch White House Run Tomorrow On Twitter; Special Counsel Wrapping UP Trump Mar-A-Lago Probe; U-Haul Driver Faces Multiple Charges After Crashing Into Security Barrier Near White House; Senior U.S. General Ordered Twitter Announcement Of Drone Strike On Al-Qaeda Leader That May Have Instead Killed Civilian; Authorities Renew Search For Madeleine McCann 16 Years After She Went Missing; Mall Shooting Survivor Shares How His Faith Guided Him. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired May 23, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER: 360": Good evening.
Tomorrow, the man who many expected to give the former president his toughest primary challenge in 2024 makes it official. Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis getting into the race, taking on his fellow Floridian, launching the campaign in a streaming event with Elon Musk on Twitter, his opponent's former favorite megaphone, which he used in 2016, of course to pummel the rest of the Republican field, including Florida senator, Marco Rubio and former governor, Jeb Bush whom he turned first into a verbal punching bag then a campaign punch line, and finally a political footnote.
In a moment, Randi Kaye looks ahead to whether Governor DeSantis will do any better against those kinds of tactics.
First, the kind of political waters he is about to jump in to, in one way they may appear promising for a Republican candidate.
The current president's job approval now stands at 40 percent in new CNN polling out late today. And with the debt ceiling crisis coming to a head that same poll shows just 34 percent approve of the way President Biden is handling the economy.
As for his primary opponents, Governor DeSantis enters a large and likely growing field. He'll be joining six others, the former president included with at least five more known to be weighing a run, including former Vice President Pence; New Hampshire governor, Chris Sununu; former New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, and Virginia governor, Glenn Youngkin.
It is the kind of large field that some experts say will favor the former president.
We did learn today that his New York criminal trial will begin next spring in the middle of the primary, but of course, how that may impact the race is impossible to predict. There is also new reporting tonight from "The Wall Street Journal,"
which we will get to shortly that special counsel, Jack Smith is wrapping up the Mar-a-Lago documents case, meaning a decision on indictment could come soon.
Couple that with the January 6 criminal investigation, E. Jean Carroll's civil lawsuit and her motion this week for additional damages against the former president, the Georgia election probe, and more. Certainly, a lot that will change between tomorrow evening when Governor DeSantis jumps into the race, and the nomination is decided.
We begin tonight with the DeSantis announcement with CNN's Steve Contorno in Miami.
Do we know how this is going to work? He is announcing on Twitter in conversation with Elon Musk.
STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Anderson, this will be essentially a virtual stage that where he will announce that he is running for president alongside Elon Musk.
Musk today told "The Wall Street Journal" that this will be a Q&A and an unscripted event for at least part of it and it will be moderated by David Sacks, who is another wealthy tech entrepreneur, also happens to be a political donor to Ron DeSantis in the past.
This is an opportunity for DeSantis to get an audience with a platform that has increasingly been embraced by Republicans and conservatives under Elon Musk. Of course, it is also a platform as you mentioned that Donald Trump was famously kicked off of.
Elon Musk has since invited him back, but the former President has not tweeted yet -- Anderson.
COOPER: I assume announcing this way is designed to set himself apart, send a message about what his campaign will be like.
CONTORNO: That's right, Anderson.
DeSantis is planning an unconventional campaign that is going to surprise and meet people unexpected at every turn. This is something people close to the planning have emphasized to me, and is what they are laying out for the coming weeks as soon as he gets into this race.
As someone who has covered DeSantis for the past five years in Florida, it is sometimes like drinking from a firehose down there. The media, Democrats, even some Republicans can hardly keep up with his schedule, the speed at which he is announcing new initiatives and thrusting Florida into the spotlight weighing in on new controversies.
And they intend to take that playbook to the presidential race and really unleash him on the campaign trail in a way that they say has never been seen before.
COOPER: Is it clear what his strategy regarding the former president is going to be? In terms of how much he takes him on directly? CONTORNO: Well, privately, he is telling donors and operatives that he
believes that former President Donald Trump only gets one term, and he will be a lame duck the moment he gets in, and we need someone who can be in the office for eight years to get done all the things that the conservative agenda is looking for.
He has also said Trump would be a drag on the ticket, that he would hurt the candidates up and down the ballot, and that he would also struggle in many of the battleground states that he failed in in 2020.
But those conversations are being had in part because donors and operatives are worried that DeSantis is not ready and isn't clear-eyed for the challenge of taking on Trump.
When I talk to people close to his campaign, they say that they believe that they are being underestimated at this point, and they are confident that this race will not begin until he enters this week.
COOPER: Steve Contorno, appreciate it. Thank you.
Joining us CNN senior political commentator, and former Illinois Republican congressman, Adam Kinzinger, who served with DeSantis in the House; also CNN political analyst and Axios managing editor, Margaret Talev.
Hey, Congressman, is it smart for DeSantis to announce this way in this conversation on Twitter with Elon Musk?
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is unique, but you know, what is interesting is I just learned in that report that David Sacks is going to be the one moderating it. He is anti-Ukraine.
He is -- I mean, I've seen a lot of his comments where it's almost sympathetic to Russia. The Ukrainians have provoked Russia, and that was one of the early things that really hit DeSantis that kind of brought him down from being a competitor with Trump is when he came out and he actually was hedging on the Russian war.
So, I don't really understand this kind of who is there to moderate, but certainly he'll probably get a little more attention this way than he would have with just another announcement.
We've had other candidates with their announcements that haven't gotten a ton of attention, because, frankly, Donald Trump takes the oxygen out of all the rooms.
COOPER: I mean, Margaret, it could be very compelling. It could also just be an awkward train wreck.
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: How do I top that?
Anderson, you know, I think Ron DeSantis and Elon Musk have sort of a shared interest in that they both have this brand that is anti- mainstream media or corporate media and they both, for different reasons have something to gain from this event.
It is obviously a way to kind of troll Donald Trump, if you're Ron DeSantis. For Musk, he has really sought to drive this kind of not just free speech and anti-censorship message, but really kind of an anti-woke or a free speech, anti-censorship for the right kind of a message, and that is part of Ron DeSantis' brand also.
So I think they both see it as beneficial to one another, but you're right. While Twitter is increasingly becoming a place that Republicans want to spend time in the latest Axios/Harris Poll rankings, this is reputational rankings for businesses just out this week, we found that Twitter is now ranked number 97 out of a hundred reputationally.
It is actually an increasingly polarizing brand since Elon Musk took over, so this may work for getting the base's attention, but will it capture a large enough momentum to really help DeSantis? I don't know. It is a gamble, but we will all be watching and he wanted to get everyone's attention, and this is doing it.
COOPER: Congressman Kinzinger, I mean, it has been interesting to watch Governor DeSantis' rise and fall in popularity in polls among Republicans all before he has even announced his candidacy.
Steve Contorno is reporting that in his campaign, he plans to try to seize back the narrative, do what he did in Florida, of sort of barnstorming all over the place, trying to capture attention, never kind of knowing where he is going to pop up.
Can he actually do that on a national level?
KINZINGER: Well, I suppose he could. He is not necessarily the best campaigner, I think that's starting to be obvious. That's something that I had said early on.
But if you look back at the history of all these primaries, probably in every Democratic race, too, but at least in the Republican side, whoever is the frontrunner right now never ends up being the nominee and this was the problem that Ron DeSantis had as he was kind of this heir-apparent after Trump and he has collapsed.
Here is I think what can benefit him. If the Republican base is still ready for somebody that like, is out to break the system and be angry and own the libs and all of that, and Donald Trump goes down, particularly with these investigations, I think enough indictments, more and more indictments could actually really damage Donald Trump.
People will look to Ron DeSantis for that same energy that Donald Trump had without the baggage, however, if Trump doesn't collapse, I don't think Ron DeSantis trying to be Donald Trump light is necessarily bad, because there's nobody like Donald Trump and you can make the argument of well, he can only get elected one time and I could get elected, too.
That is not going to break people that are committed to Donald Trump away from Donald Trump.
COOPER: Congressman, you served with him for time. What was he like?
KINZINGER: Look, he is hard to get along with one-on-one. He is pretty awkward in person.
COOPER: What you're saying, he is hard to get along one-on-one, and he is not a great campaigner in groups. I mean, what does that leave? His family?
KINZINGER: Right, exactly. Well, look, I mean, when he goes in front of the press and he kind of owns the press and tries to push back, that is very beneficial in a Republican primary. I'm just saying my experience with him, I got along with him just fine. But I never saw -- I was actually surprised when he won governor of Florida.
He doesn't strike me as somebody that is going to go out and work the rope line. Donald Trump wasn't either, but he was able to bring a different energy that Ron DeSantis can't. Maybe DeSantis will surprise everybody.
COOPER: Margaret, Axios is reporting today that Virginia governor, Glenn Youngkin is seriously reconsidering entering the presidential race. I thought he had ruled that out.
TALEV: Well, it is one of those sort of soft rule-outs where yes, he wasn't going to be running in 2023 and he want currently in Iowa at the moment that he said that, but I think -- I do think it was sort of his calculation earlier in the spring, that it didn't make a lot of sense that Trump seemed impossible to catch it.
And now, there are a couple of things. One is that DeSantis doesn't necessarily present the same dominant number two choice that people thought he might in the beginning, and the other is that Trump really could be compromised by late fall or by early next spring by all of the legal action.
You mentioned, the timing of the trial date in this case out of New York. So I think what you are seeing is both Ron DeSantis and Glenn Youngkin kind of lining up their own different timetables for waiting in the wings, if opportunity strikes. They are going to be months apart.
I just want to also say this, while DeSantis -- Governor DeSantis is looking at Twitter to make a news flash, he really is also continuing to rely on other media platforms.
The religious broadcasters, "The Wall Street Journal," and Fox. Twitter is going to be what drives the news conversation, but he is going to be on a lot of other news platforms, conservative friendly ones, but other news platforms other than Twitter.
COOPER: Right. So, he is doing an interview, I think with Trey Gowdy on Twitter right after.
Margaret Talev, thank you so much. Adam Kinzinger, as well, appreciate it.
There is word tonight the former president intends to turn up the heat on Governor DeSantis tomorrow. It isn't exactly surprising given his tone toward the governor already. He has been on the offensive now for a couple of weeks.
It is easy to see why he might expect it to work or in this case, work again.
Let's take a look from our Randi Kaye.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The poll just came out and I'm tied with Jeb Bush and I said, oh, that's too bad. How could I be tied with this guy? He's terrible. He's terrible.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): That was Donald Trump in 2015. This was Donald Trump more recently.
TRUMP: The problem with Ron DeSanctimonious is that he needs a personality transplant, and those are not yet available.
KAYE (voice over): Familiar tactics, but two very different opponents.
DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Jeb Bush and Ron DeSantis are light years apart from each other, even though they had the same job.
KAYE (voice over): That same job now means Donald Trump would have to dismiss yet another Florida governor, if he wants to make it back to the White House, but what worked on Jeb Bush --
TRUMP: Jeb Bush is a low-energy person.
Very, very low energy. So low energy that every time you watch him, you fall asleep.
Jeb is a nice person. He's very low energy. I'm not used to that kind of a person.
HEYE: We know that Low Energy Jeb is something that really stuck with Republican primary voters.
KAYE (voice over): May or may not work on Ron DeSantis.
TRUMP: RINO Ron DeSanctimonious --
I'm leading DeSanctimonious by a lot.
Didn't anybody hear of DeSantis, DeSanctimonious?
HEYE: Once Donald Trump had Jeb Bush in his sights, you could see just the slow death march of the campaign.
JEB BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Please clap.
HEYE: Ron DeSantis has that attitude that's very, very Trumpian. He is not going to not just back down from a fight, he picks fights.
KAYE (voice over): DeSantis is 44 and still governing, while Bush was 62 when he ran against Trump and had been out of office for eight years.
KAYE (on camera): And Bush was a more traditional candidate, part of a political dynasty. DeSantis is pitching himself as a fresh face and leader on the frontlines of the culture wars.
DeSantis is also still riding high from a 19-point gubernatorial victory here in Florida.
SUSAN MACMANUS, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA: So far, he sees DeSantis as more challenging than he did Bush. Trump is laser focused on DeSantis because he does have DeSantis who has a high name recognition, and has been able to raise big money and get some good endorsements, had major policy accomplishments.
KAYE (voice over): Florida political analyst, Susan MacManus says this time around, Trump does have the advantage of a new angle, taking credit for DeSantis' rise.
MCMANUS: Every single day, Trump reminds whatever audience he is speaking to that he was responsible for DeSantis' election to governor.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Welcome to Florida, Mr. President,
HEYE: It's one of the skills that Donald Trump has is that he is able to find a candidate's weakness, and he's able to exploit it really well.
TRUMP: Ron's foreign trip was a total bomb.
KAYE (voice over): Exploiting DeSantis' weaknesses may be tougher. He doesn't have the family legacy Bush had nor does he come for money. DeSantis grew up middle class in a suburb of Tampa Bay. His father installed TV equipment for Nielsen and his mother was a nurse.
In the end, Republican strategist, Doug Heye says DeSantis will need to take on Trump directly.
HEYE: Ron DeSantis has really positioned himself to be the heir- apparent to Donald Trump. The challenge for DeSantis is Trump is not ready to leave the stage and until that happens, you're not going to beat Donald Trump by going around him. You've got to confront Donald Trump head on.
TRUMP: Make America great again.
KAYE (on camera): And as GOP strategist Doug Heye put it to me during our interview, Anderson, he said that Ron DeSantis has to be the Luke Skywalker to Donald Trump's Darth Vader. He has to take the fight to him directly and go at him directly.
He can't dance around what Trump did or didn't do. And Doug Heye said that that's the mistake that Jeb Bush made in 2016. He didn't go after Donald Trump directly enough.
Of course, Anderson, there is that famous line from the 2016 campaign when Jeb Bush said to Donald Trump, you can't insult your way to the White House, but in a sense, that's what he did, and Ron DeSantis is trying to make sure that Donald Trump doesn't have the opportunity to do that again -- Anderson.
COOPER: Randi, appreciate it. Thank you.
Coming up next, one of "The Wall Street Journal" correspondents behind the report we mentioned at the top that special counsel, Jack Smith, is wrapping up his probe into whether the former president mishandled classified documents or obstructed investigators.
Later, my conversation with a mass shooting survivor whose stories inspired his doctors and we think will certainly do the same for you.
COOPER: More now on the story we mentioned at the top the broadcast, what appears to be a milestone in the Mar-a-Lago documents probe. "The Wall Street Journal" first reporting tonight that special counsel, Jack Smith, is wrapping it up.
CNN has matched the reporting. Aruna Viswanatha who shares a byline on the story joins us now.
Aruna, thanks so much for being with us.
Can you walk us through your reporting on the special counsel's timetable specifically, what if anything remains to be done in the classified documents investigation?
ARUNA VISWANATHA, SENIOR REPORTER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Right. Thanks for having me.
So what we know is that a few weeks ago, they had brought in a ton of people back to go before the grand jury, press them on very specific questions they had, and gave very tight timeframes for people to come in. And it seems like all of those requests are pretty much wrapped up at this point and there doesn't seem to be that many outstanding requests.
And so what we understand is that they are essentially -- they have everything that they're going to get in this investigation on the table right now and they are moving pretty fast to make a decision here and we expect to see an ultimate decision on whether to bring charges in the coming weeks and months.
COOPER: And what have you learned about this apparent flurry of activity over the past several weeks?
VISWANATHA: So we heard that there was a lot of grand jury activity, people coming in, people described the courthouse to us as Grand Central Station with so many people coming in and trying to traffic cop everybody in and get them in for their 10 to 15 minutes just to press them on very specific questions about sort of the former president's intent when he found out about the subpoena, when he turned over what documents to turn over and things like that.
And so it seems like they are moving forward to determine whether or not they have a case here, and it seems like they think they might.
COOPER: And how does the progress on the classified documents case compare to the separate special counsel inquiry into efforts by the former president's allies to overturn the election?
VISWANATHA: Right. The special counsel is moving ahead on both of these investigations. On the Mar-a-Lago side, it seems very much more pointing in the direction of let's see if there is a case right now.
And on the January 6th side, a lot of the questioning still seems to be pretty open ended and people have described it more like a civil deposition where you're asking very broad questions, and that doesn't speak as much to an imminent case potentially at hand.
COOPER: Aruna Viswanatha, I really appreciate it. Thank you.
VISWANATHA: Thank you.
COOPER: Joining us now is CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Elie Honig.
If the special counsel is indeed on the verge of wrapping up the investigation, what would the next stages be?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So it's a two-stage process, Anderson. First of all, when Jack Smith believes he is ready to make a recommendation, he will have to make a thumbs up or thumbs down recommendation on both of those cases that were mentioned, by the way, the January 6th case and Mar-a-Lago.
Now, it then goes step two to the attorney general, who can overrule the special counsel; however, two important things. First, the regulations say the attorney general has to give great weight to the special counsel's recommendation. So the AG can only overrule him if he feels there is a real error there.
And second, if that happens, the regulations say that has to get reported to Congress, so we will know.
COOPER: We will know about that.
COOPER: And what about the timeline of this if they do decide to pursue indictments? HONIG: That is so interesting. So there is no specific deadline by
which DOJ must indict. However, it is a long standing policy and practice of DOJ that you try to avoid doing things that are going to land close in time to an election.
Now, if we sort of do the math here, even if they indict soon, even if there is an indictment this summer, realistically, you're not going to get to a trial for a year or so, which puts us in the summer of 2024, which will be A., right in the heat of an election and B., right after the state trial, which we just found out today is scheduled for March 25th.
So we could be in a really unprecedented scenario here.
COOPER: But they wouldn't necessarily wait to move forward on both cases.
HONIG: Right. So there's an interesting strategic decision for Jack Smith. Does he make his recommendation on both of those cases, January 6th and Mar-a-Lago at the same time? Or does he do each one, when it's ready.
The normal prosecutorial practice is, you take them as they come and it sounds like from the reporting there that they're ahead of the game on the Mar-a-Lago case and sort of lagging a little behind on January 6th.
COOPER: Based on what we know how likely do you think it is DOJ is going to seek to charge the former president in the classified documents?
HONIG: Well, I think the classified documents case is much more likely to result in an indictment than January 6th. It's a more discreet sort of more contained fact pattern. And it gets less in to gray areas of intent and First Amendment and political speech that you'd be dealing with in January 6.
So to me, it's about a coin flip, whether they -- I would like to give you a prediction, but to me, it feels like a 50/50 coin flip on Mar-a- Lago and something less than that on January 6th.
COOPER: Elie Honig, appreciate it.
HONIG: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Just ahead, new details on the driver who rammed into barriers near the White House last night and what he told investigators after his arrest, including his praise for Hitler.
Plus, it has been 16 years since three-year-old, Madeleine McCann went missing and now the search for her has been renewed. We have the latest on the case, coming up.
[20:28:48] COOPER: Tonight, we are going to new details on the man accused of
crashing a U-Haul truck into a security barrier near the White House. According to court documents unsealed today, the 19-year-old praised Hitler after his arrest and said he aimed to "kill the president."
According to the Secret Service, he slammed the truck into the barriers just before 10:00 PM last night. He had several items in the truck including the Nazi flag and a roll of duct tape.
He is obviously in custody. He faces multiple charges. His initial court appearance is expected on Wednesday.
Joining me right now is CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, John Miller. He's also the former NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism.
So what's the latest you know in the investigation?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, his interview with Secret Service is starting to fill out some of our questions about motive. He said his goal was to get into the White House, seize power, and be put in charge of the nation. He said he would kill the president, if that's what I have to do, or hurt anyone that would stand in my way.
He told investigators last night from the Secret Service Threat Unit that he'd been playing with for six months.
COOPER: And do we know why is? He has clearly got some issues.
MILLER: He does and the why doesn't really illuminate it that much. He said, you know all of this was going to be in his Green Book and that by doing this, by attacking the White House even if he didn't get outside, that would bring attention to his Green Book where, you know, he had written his --
COOPER: What is his Green Book, like his --
MILLER: This is a place where he says, and we haven't seen it yet, where he puts all of his thoughts and ideas.
MILLER: And then there was the Nazi flag piece, which, you know, he said he stated he admired the Nazi because of their authoritarian nature, their one world order, and that he looks up to their leaders, including Hitler, because he was a strong leader.
So we have a guy who had a plan, but not the wherewithal to carry it out, and certainly someone who's got some mental issues that are going to probably become a part of the defense in this case.
COOPER: So when something like this happens, obviously, there's security stuff -- you know, the White House doesn't want people to know about. But generally, what goes on at the White House? I mean, this is far away from the prison actually is.
MILLER: I mean, this is, you know, red alert threat condition. The Secret Service Uniform Division, the Secret Service, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, you know, a remote mobile investigator or a bomb robot was actually used to open the back of the truck. What they were looking at -- they evacuated The Hay-Adams hotel.
What they were looking at -- and, I mean, we know this. We know this from Oklahoma City. We know this from the World Trade Center bombing was a 26-foot U-Haul truck that they assumed contained something very bad and that they needed to get inside and mitigate right away, only to find that it was largely empty.
COOPER: Yes. John Miller, I appreciate it. Thanks.
COOPER: Now an exclusive CNN report, the U.S. Central Command says they're investigating an American drone strike in Syria that may have resulted in a civilian being killed. Central Command tweeted about the strike afterwards, but now there are questions being raised about what was tweeted and why.
CNN Pentagon Correspondent Oren Liebermann joins us now with details. So, what do we know about the target of the strike and what the -- why CENTCOM sent out this tweet?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: So the strike was carried out on May 3rd in northwest Syria targeting a senior al-Qaeda leader. CENTCOM promised there would be more information when details of the operation itself were sort of confirmed and became available.
But within hours of the strike happening, multiple defense officials tell CNN that General Erik Kurilla, the head of U.S. Central Command, ordered the tweet to be put out, saying that a senior al-Qaeda leader had been targeted. That is, despite high confidence when the strike itself was taken that they knew who and where they were targeting.
Officials knew it would still take a few days to be able to confirm who was killed in this strike. And that's at least partially because there are no U.S. troops in northwest Syria, especially after the devastating earthquake in that part of the country. And yet, this tweet still went out. And here we are nearly three weeks later, and CENTCOM hasn't put out any more information about who was the target or who was killed in this strike.
Now, CNN has spoken to family members of the casualty who say he was a 56-year-old farmer who lived in northwest Syria with 10 kids and had no affiliation with al-Qaeda. Anderson?
COOPER: So the Tweet didn't say that they had killed an al-Qaeda leader, it just said that they had targeted one and there'd be more information and they just never followed up. And now local civilians are saying that a civilian was killed. LIEBERMANN: Correct. So now there is an assessment on the part of Central Command what's known as a CCAR, a Civilian Casualty Credibility Assessment Report, which tries to figure out if a civilian was killed. If it determines that one was killed, that may, depending on the situation and the circumstances, lead to a more formal 15-6 investigation. And that is a more deeper look at what went wrong here and what was the entire process here.
Part of the issue here, Anderson, is the timeline here. Strike again was on May 3. Central Command officials and other officials tell us that May 8, so five days later, the Washington Post gives information to Central Command that suggests this may have been a civilian casualty killed. And it's still another week before this assessment is launched, and we haven't gotten to a formal investigation yet.
So there's a question here of why has this taken so long, especially, as some officials tell us, the fact that it took so long to try to confirm who was killed here in and of itself was a red flag.
COOPER: So, I mean, obviously, look, this is not the first time something this has happened. There was the Kabul strike in 2021 that killed 10 civilians during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Has the Pentagon commented?
LIEBERMANN: You're exactly right, Anderson. And that is very analogous. In the closing days of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, a U.S. drone strike, killed 10 civilians, including seven children. The numbers, of course, are very different here. We're talking about one person killed in northwest Syria.
But again, there we saw the military initially defending the strike, saying it was a strike against an ISIS-K target. And they stood by that for weeks until the media, including CNN, reported that this wasn't any affiliation to ISIS-K, the target of the strike here. Yet the Pentagon says they still have confidence in the protocols and processes set up to protect civilians in the wake of that strike.
Here is Brigadier General Pat Ryder from earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIG. GEN. PATRICK RYDER, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE PRESS SECRETARY: So, in terms of CENTCOM's strike, as you know, they conducted that strike on the 3rd of May. They are investigating the allegations of civilian casualties. So, you know, I think our record speaks for itself in terms of how seriously we take these.
Very few countries around the world do that. The secretary has complete confidence that we will continue to abide by the policies that we put into place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIEBERMANN: So the question now, how long does this assessment take? Does it lead to an investigation? And Anderson, at what point? And will there be calls for accountability?
COOPER: Oren Liebermann, appreciate it. Thank you.
Quick programming note tonight at CNN Primetime. Progressives are warning President Biden not to budge in negotiations over the debt ceiling. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joins Abby Phillip live tonight, 09:00 p.m. Eastern.
Up next for us, it has been 16 years since three-year-old Madeleine McCann banished while on a family trip in Portugal. Now authorities have renewed their search based on a recent tip. We have details next.
COOPER: Today, the search for Madeleine McCann was renewed. She was three years old at the time she went missing, May 3rd marked 16 years since she disappeared while on a family trip in Portugal. In just a year ago, a suspect was finally named in the case.
According to German authorities, police are carrying out the new search based on a recent tip. Our Randi Kaye has reported extensively on the twists and the turns over the last 16 years. It's a busy night for her. She's back with the latest on the search efforts.
HANS CHRISTIAN WOLTERS, GERMAN PROSECUTOR (through translator): The measures in Portugal are related to the Madeleine McCann case.
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was the scene in Portugal. Police investigators searching for clues in the British toddler's disappearance. This latest search, more than 16 years after Madeleine McCann vanished, taking place near the Arade Dam, about 30 miles from where the British child was last seen.
Madeleine disappeared in 2007 from the apartment where she and her family were vacationing in the small fishing village of Praia Da Luz, Portugal. Madeleine was just days shy of her fourth birthday.
According to German Prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters, the search is being handled by Portuguese investigators at the request of German authorities.
WOLTERS (through translator): This means that we are investigating there in Portugal on the basis of certain indications. I cannot disclose the background at the moment, why we are searching there, and what we hope to find. That is to remain our secret for the moment.
KAYE (voice-over): Last year, the German prosecutor officially identified Christian Brueckner as a suspect in Madeleine's disappearance. We interviewed the prosecutor in Germany shortly after that and asked him about Brueckner.
(on-camera): So to be clear, the formal suspect in Madeleine McCann's case is a convicted rapist and a known pedophile?
KAYE (voice-over): Brueckner has still not been officially charged in Madeleine's disappearance and has denied wrongdoing. Brueckner had a motorhome in this search area, and a police source in Germany told CNN Portugal that pictures of the reservoir here were found on Brueckner's computer.
The suspect was also known to have frequented the Ocean Club, where Madeleine's family was staying when she disappeared. Authorities say the suspect's phone also pinged in that area around the time Madeleine was last seen.
(on-camera): Does Christian Brueckner have an alibi for the night that Madeleine McCann disappeared?
WOLTERS: We found no alibi, and he told us no alibi.
KAYE (voice-over): Just hours after Madeleine McCann vanished in 2007, her parents pleaded for her safe return.
GERRY MCCANN, FATHER OF MADELEINE: Please, if you have Madeleine, let her come home to her mommy, daddy, brother and sister.
KATE MCCANN, MOTHER OF MADELEINE: We beg you to let Madeleine come home.
KAYE (voice-over): On the night in question, Kate and Gerry McCann had left Madeleine and their younger twins sleeping alone in the apartment while they had dinner nearby with friends. They were on property just yards away and said they checked on the kids every half hour. Madeleine's face was broadcast around the world.
K. MCCANN: Please give our little girl back.
KAYE (voice-over): Even as tips poured in, investigators zeroed in on Kate and Gerry McCann. Just four months after their daughter disappeared, the McCanns were officially named suspects. Then a year later, the Portuguese Attorney General closed the case and cleared them.
A few years after that, Scotland Yard announced they would reexamine the case. Eventually, that led to German prosecutors identifying Christian Brueckner as a suspect.
KAYE (on-camera): How sure are you that you have named the right man?
WOLTERS: At the moment, we think we have the right person.
KAYE: And Anderson, the McCann still have hope of finding their daughter alive, but when I spoke to that prosecutor in Germany last year, he said that he does believe Madeleine McCann is dead. He wouldn't go into the details of the evidence. He said they don't have any forensic evidence, but they do have evidence that has shown him that.
And as far as why this suspect hasn't been charged yet, Anderson, the law in Germany says that you have to have enough evidence to prove to the court that you can have a conviction. You can find a conviction in this case, and they are still gathering that evidence.
That's, in part, why they're out in Portugal today and again tomorrow searching that area, looking for more evidence. They need to prove to the court that they can get a conviction in order to charge Christian Brueckner with Madeleine McCann's disappearance.
COOPER: Randi, I appreciate it. Thank you.
Up next, a man shot multiple times by a mass killer in the mall in Allen, Texas, is now out of the hospital. His faith and strength has inspired his doctors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I know the trauma director of the hospital said that she saw you with a smile on your face despite what you were going through. I don't know if you recall that, but she said that actually kind of inspired her and gave her kind of a lift to be able to deal with all the things she had to deal with. Do you remember that? Do you remember -- I mean, you had multiple wounds, didn't you?
IRVIN WALKER, TEXAS MALL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Yes, but, you know, that was -- I think, the spirit of God gave me comfort during that time, Anderson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: More of our conversation ahead.
COOPER: In a moment, you'll hear from one of the survivors of the mass shooting at an outlet mall near Dallas earlier this month. Irvin Walker is his name and he's a man of strong faith. He's out of the hospital after two surgeries. He has a long recovery ahead.
He was looking for a parking spot when he was hit by gunfire. Shot twice in the chest with one of the bullets just millimeters from his heart. Also shot once in the right shoulder. Eight people, as you know, were killed in the attack, including two sisters in grade school, two parents and their three-year-old son.
Irvin Walker's spirit, after all he's endured has inspired his doctors. And I spoke with him earlier in his first TV interview since being released from the hospital, along with his attorney, Daryl K. Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Irvin and Daryl, thank you so much for joining me. Irvin, I mean, what you have been through is just extraordinary. I know you have a long road of recovery. How are you doing right now?
WALKER: Well, I'm blessed to be speaking with you today, Anderson. You know, it's -- I'm being supported by so many with an abundance of love, so I would have to say I'm doing pretty good at this stage.
COOPER: Can you tell me what you remember about what happened? I know you were in your vehicle in the parking lot. What did you see?
WALKER: I've already dropped off my girlfriend, find the parking spot. And I was driving around and I didn't see the shooter. I felt impacted by something. I couldn't identify immediately. But as soon as I, you know, clutched my chest and saw blood, I looked up to see where it was coming from. And then I saw the shooter shooting, and I then tried to get down and accelerate, passed him.
COOPER: And what happened then?
WALKER: Well, what I do remember from there is exiting the vehicle, ran towards a security officer. And from there, the security officer directed me to have a seat and my understanding that he was following me to the seat to aid me. And then I looked back and the officer was impacted also.
COOPER: Do you remember police arriving?
WALKER: I was in the store, laying down in the store, thinking that, you know, I could hide until the shooter passed me. And then I was like, OK, well, I'm not going to be able to -- I'm going to bleed out. Stay here.
So I went out to the store trying to seek help. As soon as I exited the store, I saw police, and I screamed multiple times. Eventually, an officer came to my aid, stopped the bleeding, and then another officer assisted with helping me into the police car.
COOPER: When you saw the security guard getting shot, was that when you decided to go into a store to try to hide?
WALKER: When I saw the security guard, he asked me to go ahead of him to sit down because I had been running toward him, right? I went ahead of him to sit down, and I looked back for his aid and he was shot. I didn't physically see him being shot, but I looked back and I noticed he was down on the ground. And then I got up from that seat and hid behind a brick column to, you know, to run from the other bullets that were coming.
COOPER: I know that the trauma director of the hospital said that she saw you with a smile on your face despite what you were going through. I don't know if you recall that, but she said that actually kind of inspired her and gave her kind of a lift to be able to deal with all the things she had to deal with. Do you remember that? Do you remember -- I mean, you had multiple wounds, didn't you?
WALKER: Yes, but, you know, that was -- I think the spirit of God gave me comfort during that time, Anderson. A level of poise and comfort during that time where I knew that the only way I would get out of this is to give love, you know, speak life into those that were there to help me.
COOPER: That's an incredible phrase that you used. I've never heard it before, to speak life into those who were there to help you.
WALKER: Yes. It's just a level of faith I knew I had to have to receive God's aid. And I was just -- you know, you have to -- I believe that I was going to come out on the end.
COOPER: When you woke from surgery in your hospital room, you started singing. I'm not sure if you remember that moment, but if you do, can you tell me about it?
WALKER: I would have to say I was possessed with the spirit of God, you know? That's what I did. I do recall singing.
COOPER: Well, I'm glad you weren't alone then in that room, that you had the spirit with you.
Daryl, what do you want people to know about Irvin and what happened?
DARYL K. WASHINGTON, IRVIN WALKER'S ATTORNEY: You know, when you hear Irvin tell the story, there's just so much more to it. Anderson, I was looking at the car that Irvin was in. And when you see the bullet holes that are in that windshield, you really understand the testament that Irvin is giving you today.
COOPER: Irvin, is there anything else you want people know about how you're doing, what you want to see happen in the wake of this?
WALKER: What I'd like to see is those to realize when people come together and pray for one another and uplift and encourage. You know, this all starts with my grandparents, my parents, my cousins, my family, my friends, my daughter praying for me.
And the power of prayer does has -- have positive results. I would like to see us continuously to lift up those that were impacted the city of Allen in Texas, that we continue to pray for them and help those that are in need emotionally and physically.
And I like to give thanks to the hospital, all the medical providers that loved on me continuously. You know, I would like the violence to stop, but, you know, I'll control what I can control. I'm going to exercise the high level of love so that evil will not win.
COOPER: Irvin Walker and Daryl Washington, I really appreciate your time today. Thank you so much.
WASHINGTON: Thank you, Anderson. WALKER: Thanks for having us, Anderson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: More news tonight. A remarkable display of nature's power only from a distance. Up next, the uncertainty that millions of people in Mexico are now living with as they wait to see what the country's most dangerous active volcano does next.
COOPER: Millions in Mexico are on edge as the country's most dangerous active volcano emits ash that's been hitting several nearby towns since last week. But there's some good news tonight. The country's president says that there is less activity now, and that's certainly a welcome sign. Authorities are still urging residents to stay on alert and to wear masks.
The news continues. CNN Primetime with Abby Phillip starts now.