Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Mar-A-Lago Pool Flood Raises Suspicious Among Prosecutors In Trump Classified Document; Pence Files Paperwork To Join 2024 Presidential Race; Tim Scott Pushes Back Criticism During Appearance On "The View;" Sources: Ukraine Has Cultivated Sabotage Agents Inside Russia And Is Giving And Is Giving Them Drones To Stage Attacks; FAA Lost Contact With Plane 15 Min. After Takeoff: Four Killed After Private Jet Crashed In Virginia; Peruvian Officials: Suspect In Natalee Holloway Case To Be Transferred To U.S. Custody Thursday. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 05, 2023 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: He was serving a life sentence for providing Moscow with highly classified information for $1.4 million and diamonds as well. Of course, spies died as a result of that.

Classified material included the existence of an eavesdropping tunnel that was built underneath the Soviet Embassy in Washington.

He was arrested in 2001, caught after dropping off classified material at a Virginia Park. He said he did it for the money.

He was 79, and we don't know the cause of death.

Thanks for joining us. Anderson starts now.



Tonight on 360: Exclusive new reporting on a flood at Mar-a-Lago in the room where surveillance video logs were kept, and today, the former president's lawyers meet with the special counsel, an indictment decision could come any day.

Also tonight, Mike Pence enters the race. We'll tell you who else just decided to stay out and who is likely getting in, next.

And an F-16 sonic boom was only the sign of trouble. New details about what fighter pilots did to get the attention of an unresponsive pilot before his private jet crashed in Virginia. New information just in about when the trouble began.

We begin with exclusive new reporting on a previously unreported episode in the Mar-a-Lago documents case. It comes as attorneys for the former president met today with Justice Department officials and signs increasingly indicate that Special Counsel Jack Smith's probe could be in its final stages.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is here with more. So walk us through this exclusive reporting about Mar-a-Lago.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Okay, it is a bit of a bizarre story so bear with me, but it was in last October, we are told that this maintenance worker at Mar-a-Lago drained the pool and when they drained the pool, it caused a flood that flooded this room that we are told has the computer servers which store the surveillance footage on them.

That's important because we know prosecutors have been looking at the surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago. They've subpoenaed it several times. They've requested that they preserve records several times.

What we don't know is whether or not this was an intentional flooding, or if it was genuinely a mistake. But the maintenance worker who was the one who drained the pool in October, which is a busy season at Mar-a-Lago, also I should note is someone who has caught the eye of the prosecutors here.

They've seized his phone. They've talked to him. He is someone who is seen on surveillance footage that they have moving boxes at Mar-a- Lago. We don't know exactly which boxes, but he was moving boxes with another Trump aide.

But when it comes to whether or not the role that he played here, they have a lot of questions about this, because we are told that someone has testified to these prosecutors that nothing was damaged when this flood happened in this room where these servers were stored, they kept the surveillance footage, but they view it as suspicious, and they've been asking witnesses about it and raising questions about it. And of course, they're investigating whether or not there was any obstruction in their investigation.

So, I think it's just an odd instance that has raised a lot of questions.

COOPER: Right. Well, yes, certainly. Has all the video been handed over that was on the servers, do we know?

COLLINS: We're told that -- we certainly know a lot of it has been given over, but they have been raising questions. What we're told -- we learned so much of this on what investigators are asking people.

They've interviewed basically everyone, I'm told, but they have asked about gaps in surveillance footage. We know that they've had questions for the security guys who were running and in charge of the surveillance footage. So there have been questions among that nature of what exactly was turned over.

Trump attorneys have said that everything has been turned over. This was technically up to the Trump Organization that got these subpoenas, but I still think it raises a lot of questions just given of course, what we've seen play out here.

COOPER: What do we know about the meeting between Trump lawyers and the Justice Department today? COLLINS: Yes, so that was today. You saw Trump attorneys going into

the Justice Department. I'm told Jack Smith, the special counsel who is investigating the classified documents and January 6 was in that meeting.

They've requested a meeting from the Trump side with Attorney General Merrick Garland. They wrote him a letter. They allege that there was some prosecutorial misconduct here. They didn't really say what, it was pretty broad strokes.

We know obviously, though, typically, before someone is indicted, their attorneys would like to meet with them. That's not what we're told was the content of this meeting today. I think it was raising questions about the special counsel's investigation.

They certainly had some broad complaints, nothing really specific about how this has been handled, but they were inside the Justice Department for about 90 minutes today. I think what's most telling is what Trump was saying after because he was posting, why should he be charged when no other presidents have been charged?

We don't know that they told him he was going to be charged for anything, but he was certainly referencing it.

COOPER: I know, you're going to be anchoring at nine. You've got the former UN ambassador, John Bolton on the program. He worked also, obviously in the Trump administration, we will watch for that.

Right now, to get a better sense of what goes on in these meetings that attorneys have with prosecutors as well as what goes into the ultimate decision on indictment, I'm joined by CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe.

So what likely happens in a meeting like this between Trump's attorneys and DOJ officials?


So Anderson, it is good to also know that avoiding getting your client indicted is every defense attorney's first and biggest goal, and so the last ditch effort to try to avoid an indictment is usually a meeting along these lines.

[20:05:08 ]

The defense attorneys request to come in and basically explain to DOJ why an indictment would be a bad idea. It's a bit of a Hail Mary pass like you would see at the end of a football game, one last ditch effort to avoid disaster.

What happens is the attorneys come in and they say, you know, they'll make an argument that, you know, the case is weak that it shouldn't go forward, they have compelling evidence of innocence, and then they'll usually argue some level of it would be unfair to go forward against their client if justice was were to do so. You typically don't hear anything said on the other side of the table.

DOJ will usually listen to the presentation, give the attorneys all the time they've requested, and at the end of the presentation, say thank you very much for coming. We'll give you a call if we have anything to tell you.

It is a long shot strategy. It's worth the effort if you're a defense attorney, but it's certainly not worth pinning your hopes on.

COOPER: So when we hear that the former president's attorneys are claiming prosecutorial misconduct, it may not be that they have some smoking gun, they have some heretofore unheard of evidence. This may just be a last ditch effort to do whatever they can.

MCCABE: Yes. I think it's highly unlikely that they have significant evidence of misconduct simply because so many elements of this investigation have been ferociously litigated between the two sides.

So you've had a lot of judicial intervention and oversight already in this investigation. We had, of course, a search warrant that took place. Justice went back in front of the judge and requested sanctions against the Trump attorneys. They've gone in and, and pursued an effort to pierce the attorney-client privilege to get evidence from Trump's attorney, Evan Corcoran.

So there's been a lot of judicial intervention, it would seem that if there was actual misconduct that would have come out. But my suspicion here, Anderson, is that Trump's attorneys know the only way to get an attorney general to really weigh in and remove or stop a special counsel has to be on finding of misconduct.

Under the special counsel regulations, that's really the only way you can turn off, an attorney general can turn off the special counsel effort, so if they claim that the special counsel engaged in misconduct, they can essentially fire him, but they have to report that to Congress. So that is a big ask that's literally swinging for the fences.

COOPER: And based on your experience, and what you see publicly, do you believe Jack Smith is near the end of his investigation?

MCCABE: I do. I do. I think it can come very quickly. These meetings with defense attorneys trying to basically plead their case before it is indicted, usually come at the very, very end, right before the prosecutor goes before the grand jury and asks them to indict the case. So I think we can see that happen really anytime now, and certainly within the next few weeks.

We've also seen all the major witnesses that we're aware of -- most of them anyway -- we know have already been in front of the grand jury. We already understand there's a lot of evidence they have to work with here just from the things that have been publicly reported, like we have much more than that.

So I think it's reasonable to expect that this thing is in its final stages in the investigative side. COOPER: What do you make of Kaitlan Collins' reporting about the Mar-

a-Lago pool flood raising suspicions among prosecutors?

MCCABE: Yes. That's a really weird one. I mean, it certainly indicates -- it gives you an indication of the high degree of suspicion that each side has of the other. Certainly, DOJ is investigating obstruction here, we know that from the search warrant application.

So they are going to look at every possible act as a possible you know -- every act is a possible element of obstruction. In this case, with the witnesses already saying that the flood didn't really damage the computers, it is hard to say. Until we hear that the Trump team is actually claiming that they cannot produce the videos requested under the subpoenas because the material was damaged by water, it is hard to say that they're actually using that as some sort of a obstructive method.

COOPER: What does obstruction look like? I mean, from a legal standpoint.

MCCABE: So obstruction -- you know, in order to charge someone with obstruction, you have to be able to prove that they intended to obstruct an official proceeding, right?

So an accident, the accidental flooding of a room with computers in it, without more evidence of actual intent to stop or obstruct the proceeding, in this case the investigation wouldn't probably rise to the level of a chargeable offense.

However, conversations with your lawyer in which you're lying to your lawyer about where the docs are and what's available to be searched as is also allegedly taking place in this case, that could very well end up as a chargeable offense.

COOPER: All right, Andrew McCabe, appreciate it. Thank you.

This is of course not happening in a political vacuum, just the opposite, which why we've got CNN political commentator, David Urban with us. He is both Republican strategist and former Trump campaign adviser.

David, it is good to see you.


Kaitlan Collins touched on a moment ago, the former President put out a statement on Truth Social today saying in part: "How can DOJ possibly charge me who did nothing wrong when no other presidents were charged?" He then wrote about President Biden and President Clinton and invoked Secretary Clinton's e-mails. He ended with "The greatest witch hunt of all time."

Do you think he's worried about this?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. Anderson, I believe the president is worried about it, otherwise he wouldn't be commenting on it, and he is rightfully worried about it.

But I think what you see there and what you've heard, we've heard this in the townhall, when Kaitlan asked about it, the president said, look, I have the right. I can declassify things just by saying they're declassified. I think you're going to hear that repeated over and over again.

And you and I sat next to each other on that day when the president was taken into custody in New York City and you know, I think the bigger question that you raise, this isn't happening in a political vacuum. What does it all mean?

COOPER: Right.

URBAN: I'm not so sure that it means anything, right, to the core die or ride Trump supporters, I think they're going to see this as more just prosecution and persecution of their candidate during -- you know, he is the leader of the Republican primary right now. They're trying to take them out, and this is the best means they can.

COOPER: The former president's primary opponents, I mean, the Republicans haven't really attacked him for the multiple investigations he is facing. In fact, many as you and I have talked about, many defended him, at least in the Stormy Daniels' hush money case in New York.

Do you think that could change with a possible indictment in the classified documents case? I mean, is there -- if you were advising some of these candidates, does it make sense for them to raise it now?

URBAN: So yes, so I think that we're going to have to wait and see what comes out in the details, right? Obviously, it depends on what is in the indictment? How serious of a nature it is?

Look, you can argue any obstruction is bad, obviously, right? You're going to be charged for it, but I think if it is spelled out, if you find out that, like it has been speculated here, the pool was flooded perhaps in an attempt to damage this, if that's in fact true, right, and there are more details upon details that the president directed certain aides to move boxes, once he knew things.

If those things are flushed out, and their meat put on the bones, then, I think it's going to be much harder to ignore what's going on, and you're going to have to speak out against it.

COOPER: Do you think a Justice Department indictment would change former President Trump, I mean, as a candidate? Do you think he would change tactics? Double down? I mean, obviously, you said a lot more of the witch hunt rhetoric will come back to the fore. But do you think from just a candidate standpoint, it changes him in any way?

URBAN: I honestly don't think it changes anything, Anderson, I think, as you and I said -- as I've said, you and I sat next to each other. He got taken into custody, and then his poll numbers went up.

COOPER: Yes. URBAN: I think that this is the most serious case that he is facing.

This indictment charge is the most serious to date. We'll see what happens. But, you know, I suspect that again, the die-hard Trump base that -- you know, thirty, thirty-five percent of the Trump supporters who love the president, are going to continue to love the president no matter what happens in this case.

COOPER: David Urban, good to have you, thank you.

Next, the state of play in the 2024 Republican presidential campaign as Mike Pence gets in, a Republican critic of the foreign president decides to stay out.

Also what investigators have just revealed in the plane crash that killed four people over the weekend, including a two-year-old child, it may answer the question about what happened on board the plane before the crash.



COOPER: Tonight, some important ins and outs in the 2024 presidential campaign namely New Hampshire Republican governor, Chris Sununu says he is staying out, but former Vice President Mike Pence is officially getting in, filing paperwork with the Federal Election Commission ahead of a formal announcement at Wednesday's CNN townhall.

Also expected to declare this week, former New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, and South Carolina senator, Tim Scott, himself a Republican hopeful, he made headlines for a contentious moment today on "The View."

Here is some of it which comes several weeks after co-hosts Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin, and Whoopi Goldberg made comments suggesting that Scott does not understand or acknowledge systemic racism.

Senator Scott also got booed when talking about candidate, Ron DeSantis and his battle with Disney.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the reasons why I'm on the show is because of the comments that were made, frankly, on this show that the only way for a young African-American kid to be successful in this country is to be the exception and not the rule.

That is a dangerous, offensive, disgusting message to send to our young people today that the only way to succeed is by being the exception.

I think Disney and Ron have been in the combat zone for a number of months over what I thought was the right issue as it relates to our young kids and what they're being indoctrinated with.

I thought he started off on the right foot on that issue.


WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": No. No. Not here. I'm sorry, sir. Do not boo. This is "The View." We accept. We don't have to believe everything people say, but you cannot boo people here, please. You cannot do it.


COOPER: Busy day in the presidential race.

Joining us, CNN political commentator, South Carolinian, Bakari Sellers, also Mark McKinnon. He is a columnist for "The Daily Beast" and served as a campaign media adviser to former President George W. Bush.

Bakari, a little bit of Senator Scott's perspective there. What do you make of it?

BAKAR SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it was actually a good political strategy to kind of go into the belly of the beast. I think that Senator Scott uses -- and I love Senator Scott, we're friends, I would like to believe. I served with him for four years in the South Carolina legislative body.

And as I like to say, I would give Senator Scott a kidney, I just would never vote for him, but I think today was a good day to show you how nimble he is. I think he has a hard time because he has an amazing story. He believes his story to be the story of America.

However, he himself acknowledges that he is here because he is a miracle. That in itself means that there is some basic tenets of systemic racism in the country. He refuses to acknowledge it, and I think that --

COOPER: Is that a political thing, do you think or is it an actual belief?

SELLERS: That's a good question, Anderson. I think it's a combination of both. I think for him, it may be a belief. I think for Nikki Haley, it is probably more of a calculation. Regardless of whatever the foundation for that belief is, I think that is dangerous.

I think when you acknowledge yourself to be I am here because I am an exception. I am here because I am a miracle in this country, then that in and of itself means that there are some issues that hold other people who look like you back.


COOPER: Mark, what's the lane for Tim Scott or Nikki Haley to become president? Is it to try to stay in the good graces of Trump as long as possible or his base while getting established Republicans and Independents? MARK MCKINNON, COLUMNIST, "THE DAILY BEAST": Well, I think the lane is

the lane where you appeal to Republicans who want a normal Republican Party again and want to put Trump in the rearview mirror.

Now, I think, first of all, Nikki Haley is a very deft campaigner, did a great job on your town hall, showed her experience, showed her unflappability and this just shows, she is kind of a normal Republican, a little bit of a throwback.

Now, you know, is that going to appeal to Trump base voters? Probably not. But there's room for others in this race, and Tim Scott, by the way, has a lot of potential appeal for Iowa and Iowa, as we know, can completely shake up this race.

And you know, what people should be focusing on is not the national polls, but what's happening in Iowa, and Tim Scott has got a very sunny Reagan, George Bush, compassionate conservative optimist kind of message.

And by the way, the thing I like about that is an interesting debate on the issue that Bakari was talking about, that we'll talk about during this election, but what I liked that he is doing is that contrary to DeSantis and Trump who wants to claim that they are victims and their voters are victims of everything, Tim Scott is saying, I'm not a victim and I like that, and I think a lot of Americans like that.

They like that kind of Reagan, you know, you can be anything in this country. Now, again, as a debate we can have it, whether or not it is fair to everybody, but it's a good message and it appeals to you know, old-time establishment Republicans, and people out in Iowa like me, is that enough? I don't know. But it could be enough to break through in Iowa, and once that happens, the deck gets reshuffled.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, Bakari, with the exception of Governor DeSantis, the former president has been, I mean, relatively hands off, and even complimentary with Tim Scott, Nikki Haley. Clearly, he sees it as a benefit to him to have as many people as possible in this race.

SELLERS: Well, the problem that most Americans don't realize, or most Republicans don't realize it's a structural problem within the Republican Party. They didn't go back and change the structure of their primaries.

So basically, when somebody wins the primary, even if they win it with 25 or 30 percent of the vote, they get all of those delegates to be the next nominee for president. So the more people were in the race, the more it benefits Donald Trump.

I would also say that there's no benefit to Donald Trump for going after somebody, as Mark said, with the disposition of somebody like Tim Scott.

People like Tim Scott. He is genuinely likable. You feel like although you may disagree with them, he's in it because he believes in what Abraham Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. It's very difficult to go after him.

Now, I think when he has people come in the race, like Mike Pence, who I believe is getting in the race soon, or somebody like Chris Christie, he won't have a choice because they're going to be throwing punches at him.

I also -- David Axelrod said it last night and I agree with him. I don't think that Donald Trump is going to engage much. I don't think he's going to debate much. I think it would be silly for him to because he's just that far ahead.

And if Donald Trump wins, I would love to hear what Mark says, but if Donald Trump wins Iowa, the rest of this is academic. I mean, he will be the nominee.

COOPER: Mark, do you think it makes any sense for Trump to debate or to engage?

MCKINNON: Well, listen, I think it makes sense for him to debate because he dominates every debate that he's in and just crushes everybody. I mean, we saw that in 2016.

I don't think he needs to engage with the other candidates. I mean, it only elevates them when he does. But I think Chris Sununu had the right message today. And you know, what he said, I mean, first of all, he's going to have more impact on this race by getting out than staying in.

New Hampshire now is in play, and like Iowa, you know, this race can be completely rearranged. Just ask the guy who lost to John McCain by 19 points after coming in there in first place with George W. Bush in South Carolina, turning around in like a 30-point change over the course of 24 hours.

But his point is the one that's right, which is, you know, the more people in the race, the more it helps Trump and so people like Sununu are getting out, because the last thing that they want is Trump to emerge as the nominee.

COOPER: And clearly, I mean, Bakari, Chris Christie is gearing up for a confrontation or based on his public comments. DeSantis is increasingly getting into it. Do you think it's necessary -- do you think that's wise so soon?

SELLERS: So I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I do have a conspiracy theory. I think that there were some donors who --

COOPER: By the way, every conspiracy theorist says they are not a conspiracy theorist.

SELLERS: I'm not. I am not. The world is flat, but, no.

So I think people got together and said, look, Chris Christie, go out and do to Donald Trump what you did to Marco Rubio. I mean Kamikaze Christie is coming in with one mission. [20:25:03]

There is no way in hell Chris Christie believes he can be president of the United States. I just do not -- I think he has a better grasp on reality. I think he has one job, one task, and that is to take --

COOPER: By the way, I would just point out, I think grammatically you're wrong, I think he certainly believes he could do the job, it is just a question of whether he could get elected.

SELLERS: You're right. That's absolutely correct.

COOPER: Maybe that's what you're saying.

SELLERS: That is exactly what I'm saying. However, I would also say that he's just here for one task and that is to take on Donald Trump. He is going to be a bull in a China shop. He's going to be fun to watch.

And unlike Mike Pence, I mean, even Nikki Haley last night, I think she mentioned Trump's name one time in the town hall, maybe two times. He's going to take a full frontal approach to Donald Trump.

COOPER: Bakari Sellers, Mark McKinnon, great to have you on. Thank you.

Just ahead, a possible turn in the war in Ukraine, an exclusive interview with America's top general, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley.

Also in another CNN exclusive, new information about who may be behind this and perhaps other drone attacks inside Russia, and how these groups of saboteurs had been cultivated by Ukraine as there is evidence tonight that a new counteroffensive may be beginning.

Plus new information on that crash of a private plane in Virginia that sent military jets scrambling to the air so quickly, it produced a sonic boom heard across the nation's capital, next.


COOPER: An exclusive CNN interview tonight with America's top general about the state of the US national security, as well as the war on Ukraine. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley in just a moment, but first the latest on the war in Ukraine.

A top official there said that a new offensive is "taking place in several directions" including around Bakhmut, unclear if that's the counteroffensive they've been planning.

Russian officials earlier claimed they had resisted a large attack. Ukraine pushed back on that assessment. CNN can't verify these battlefield movements.

We do know that Ukraine put out this video urging people to not talk about a counteroffensive, their message according to our Fred Pleitgen "Plans love silence."

However in another CNN exclusive, multiple sources in US intelligence are now saying that Ukraine has cultivated sabotage agents inside Russia and is giving them drones to stage attacks, including these sources believe that attack by two drones that targeted the Kremlin last month.


Natasha Bertrand joins us now with that story. So what do we know about these sabotage cells?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Anderson. So just to take a step back for a second, there has been a steady drumbeat inside Russia of these attacks over the last year targets, on targeting oil depots, railways other facilities that are useful for the Russians for their war effort in Ukraine.

And now we're learning that those mysterious attacks may have been carried out by these sabotage cells that Ukraine has actually cultivated inside Russia over the last several months and even year ever since the war began.

We are learning that U.S. officials and Western officials believe that these are a mix of pro-Ukrainians sympathizers as well as agents who are pretty well trained in this kind of warfare, and that U.S. officials actually believe that that attack, that drone attack on the Kremlin that happened last month with those two drones that hit the Kremlin Senate palace, that was actually carried out. U.S. officials believe by those pro-Ukrainian operators inside Russia.

We are also learning that they're getting drones from the Ukrainians. It is unclear how the Ukrainians are actually getting those drones into Russia, but we do know that they have a pretty well-established drone manufacturing industry inside Russia and they're somehow smuggling them. U.S. officials believe into Russia.

Now, we did as Ukraine for comment, and we got a pretty colorful response from Ukraine Security Services who said, we will comment on instances of cotton only after our victory. Cotton has been burning, is burning and will continue burning. And cotton is a Ukrainian slang term for explosions in Russian territory, Anderson.

COOPER: You -- I just want to make sure, I think you said that they -- that Ukraine has a drone making facility inside Russia. You meant that inside Ukraine.

BERTRAND: Inside Ukraine.

COOPER: And they bring their drones into Russia, you're saying?


COOPER: Right.

BERTRAND: They have a pretty well-established drone manufacturing industry inside Ukraine that has really ramped up over the last several months and year since Russia invaded, and they have been -- the drones have been extremely useful for them, obviously.

COOPER: How much influence over these individuals or groups inside Russia does Ukraine have? Is it known? I mean, is it just that they're giving material and, you know, aid or, I mean, do they have operational control? Do we know?

BERTRAND: Well, the officials we spoke to do believe that elements within Ukraine's intelligence community do have some element of control over these assets and that it is unclear, of course, how much of each operation Ukrainian President Zelenskyy actually knows about because we are told that he doesn't actually require sign off on every one of these operations.

But according to leaked documents that were leaked -- Pentagon documents that were leaked online in that big leak earlier this year, President Zelenskyy himself has suggested to aids striking inside Russia and his military intelligence chief has proposed some of the most brazen plans that the U.S. intelligence community has seen to date for attacks deep inside Russian territory, Anderson.

COOPER: It's fascinating. Natasha Bertrand, I appreciate it. Thank you.

And now to CNN's exclusive interview, General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It's conducted in France, as he joined allies. Celebrate the 79th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Oren Liebermann is following General Milley joins us now from Normandy.

So what did the general tell you about the war in Ukraine and about the security challenges the U.S. is facing?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this is a wide ranging interview on Ukraine, on China, on the challenges facing the Defense Department. But, of course, as we stand here really to celebrate and commemorate the D-Day invasion that liberated Europe through a counteroffensive of its own, we wait here for another counteroffensive. And because of that, a lot of this focused on Ukraine. Take a listen here.



LIEBERMANN (voice-over): General Mark Milley in Normandy, marking the beginning of the largest counteroffensive in modern European history as the world waits for another counteroffensive in Ukraine.

GEN. MARK MILLEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: I think the Ukrainians are very well prepared. As you know very well, the United States and other allied countries in Europe and in are really around the world have provided training and ammunition and advice intelligence, et cetera, to the Ukrainians.

We're supporting them. They're in a war that's an existential threat for the very survival of Ukraine. And has greater meaning to the rest of the world.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Milley also spoke about the tension with China just days after a Chinese warship cut off a U.S. Navy vessel in the Taiwan Strait at a distance of 150 yards dangerously close.

MILLEY: Both countries are significant powers, great powers, if you want to call it that. In the world today, both countries have significant amounts of nuclear weapons. They've got large and capable militaries. So a conflict between great powers, arguably we're in, for sure, we're in competition, and arguably we're in confrontation, but we're not yet in conflict.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Milley says communication with Beijing is key to avoid conflict.

MILLEY: And I personally don't think that war between China and the United States is inevitable. I don't think it's imminent. But it needs to stay in a status of competition. In order to do that, countries have to talk to each other. And in times of crisis it's necessary to deescalate.


LIEBERMANN (voice-over): But at a defense conference in Singapore last week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin only shook hands with his Chinese counterpart who refused a formal meeting. Milley hasn't spoken to his counterpart in nearly eight months.

MILLEY: I have not had an opportunity to talk to my counterpart. I talked to my previous counterpart. We've sent out messages and they've sent messages back and forth. So there are some communications going back and forth, but we would like to have an opportunity to talk and I think they would like to have an opportunity to talk.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Back in Washington, Milley says he spoke with Senator Tommy Tuberville over a one-man blockade on the nomination of more than 200 general officers, a number that could triple by the end of summer and effect military readiness.

MILLEY: It's a large number. And then you figure that each one is to replace somebody else and somebody's going to replace them. So you multiply it by three. So you're really looking at potentially somewhere between 1,000, 2,000 officers are impacted, then most of them are married. So now you're looking at about another 4,000 family members.

LIEBERMANN (on-camera): This could be a backup of the whole system it sounds like.

MILLEY: It will be a backup of the whole system. It is becoming a backup of the whole system.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): In congressional hearings, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has repeatedly defended the department against accusations of being too woke. An issue he says is exaggerated. MILLEY: We're about fighting and winning on battlefields. And we're all about readiness. We're all about readiness now and readiness in the future and modernization. I think the accusations of woke are grossly over exaggerated.


COOPER: Oren, Milley has said in the past that that from a military standpoint --


COOPER: -- sorry, it would be a very difficult task to push Russian forces out of all the parts of Ukraine that they currently occupied. Has that assessment changed at all?

LIEBERMANN: No, I don't think so. I think he is well aware of how difficult a counter offensive will be, and that's why he was very careful there in his prediction of how this will play out. We certainly probed a bit on that and we said, are they ready? Are they prepared? He said they are as prepared as they will be and that the U.S. and other countries have provided equipment.

But even as this process has played out, even as this war has worn down the Russian Armed Forces, their armor, their infantry, it has also given Russia time to dig the defensive lines to prepare for their own defense.

We've been talking about the counteroffensive now for months. So that has been time that even as Russia's defending against smaller attacks, they have to prepare for a larger counteroffensive.

So Milley well aware that when this is launched in earnest and in scale, it will be a very difficult operation. And that Anderson, is why he's so cautious, not wanting to make a prediction and fully aware that so much on the battlefield plays that with chances and probabilities --


LIEBERMANN: -- and different possible outcomes. So he wants to be very careful in that.

COOPER: Oren Liebermann, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, new details in what led up to that private plane crash in Virginia that sent military jets scrambling, producing a sonic boom heard across Washington.

Plus, more than 18 years since the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, the prime suspect in her case, Joran van der Sloot may soon be in U.S. custody. Details ahead.


[20:41:41] COOPER: We're learning more about what may have happened to the pilot and passengers on board that private plane, the crash in West Virginia Sunday, including a new report from the FAA that was issued just moments ago that it lost contact with the plane only 15 minutes after it took off.

As you may know, military jets were scrambled after repeated attempts failed to contact those on board. The jet's supersonic speed produced a sonic boom that could be heard across the Washington, D.C. area as they took off this video taken in two places of what it was like. Listen.




COOPER: The National Transportation Safety Board is now investigating the crash. Brian Todd has more.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A source tells CNN the F- 16 pilots who scrambled to intercept the private Cessna observed the pilot as they flew next to him as unresponsive and slumped over in his seat.

The NTSB is now on site in Central Virginia going through what's left of the wreckage with another source saying investigators are now most interested in hypoxia, lack of oxygen as a possible cause of the crash.

The twin engine jet went hundreds of miles off course, including passing over the D.C. area into restricted airspace. Investigators describe highly fragmented wreckage in very mountainous terrain.

ADAM GERHARDT, SENIOR AIR SAFETY INVESTIGATOR, NTSB: The engines, the weather conditions, pilot qualifications, the maintenance records, all aspects will be of course, items that we routinely look at.

TODD (voice-over): The flight path shows a takeoff from Tennessee at its destination on New York's Long Island. The plane turns but doesn't land. Instead, it keeps flying at 34,000 feet right into highly restrictive airspace near Washington, D.C. The Capitol briefly placed on an elevated alert and Air National Guard pilots scrambled to intercept, causing a sonic boom heard around the beltway.

But NORAD says the pilot's got no response to flybys, flares, or radio calls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Air National Guard fighter on guard. If you hear this transmission, contact us.

TODD (voice-over): Authorities say the plane was not shot down, but if it appeared to be a threat -- MAJ. GEN. SCOTT CLANCY (RET.), FORMER NORAD DEPUTY COMMANDER: They do

have the ability to shoot down a civilian aircraft if that is required.

TODD (voice-over): The plane was tracked until it crashed into the mountains of Central Virginia. There were four people on board, including the pilot and the plane owner's daughter, granddaughter, and her nanny, according to the New York Times. How might a lack of oxygen cause a crash?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Some sort of depressurization event likely, rapid or maybe slow which caused the pilot to be incapacitated and also render the passenger's unconscious.

TODD (voice-over): First responders telling CNN there were no survivors, just a crater and small debris fragments and signs of human remains.

CHIEF GREG SCHACHT, AUGUSTA COUNTY FIRE AND RESCUE: Very hard to get to. A lot of overgrowth and they had areas where they actually had to get on their hands and knees and crawl to get under the brush to get into it.

PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: It's going to be very difficult to recover. Certainly, any avionics or any important wreckage information. And for the victims on the plane, we won't be able to tell whether they had any signs of oxygen deprivation.


TODD: And we have this just into CNN tonight, the first time we're getting actual names of the people on board that plane.


And the family who owns the Cessna citation that crashed into the mountain has told the Washington Post that their daughter, her name is Adina Azarian, and their granddaughter Aria Azarian were among the three passengers killed.

This family, the Rumpels, John and Barbara Rumpel talked to the Washington Post, and they identified the pilot as his name is being Jeff Hefner. So you've got three of the names of the four people who died in the crash.

Adina Azarian, her daughter, Aria Azarian, and the pilot Jeff Hefner. Those names just coming into CNN with the family talking to the Washington Post tonight, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Brian Todd, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Now to a major development in a case connected to the disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway. According to Peruvian officials, Joran van der Sloot, the prime suspect in her 2005 disappearance is scheduled to be transferred temporarily to the U.S. custody Thursday to face extortion and fraud charges. Now, CNN has obtained exclusive video of van der Sloot in his Peruvian prison. Jean Casarez has the story.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Joran van der Sloot begins his long journey from Peru to the United States in the early morning hours of Saturday. This exclusive video shows van der Sloot taken out of his cell at Peru's maximum security Challapalca Prison, dressed to leave with two shopping bags of personal belongings.

Shackles around his ankles and handcuffs around his wrists did not overshadow his multicolored fleece sweater coat with a lion's face on the front and back. Peru's prison system allows inmates to wear their own clothing.

Van der Sloot is being transferred to the United States under the Extradition Treaty with Peru to face extortion and wire fraud charges in relation to the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway. The Alabama teenager vanished on a school trip in Aruba nearly two decades ago.

Van der Sloot, one of the last people to see her alive, was twice detained in connection with her disappearance.

BETH HOLLOWAY, MOTHER OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY: I want him to tell the truth. He knows exactly what happened. He knows what, where, when, who, why, and how. He knows the answers.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Accompanied by four guards, next stop, prison medical testing before leaving. One cuff taken off so blood pressure can be taken. With a doctor next listening carefully to his heart.

"Everything is ready for him to be handed over. We have him safe, which is what the U.S. authority requested. That he would be in good health. That is how we will keep him until the 8th. We guarantee that."

Now time for departure. Paperwork signed in the prison registration office, his rainbow colored bracelet alongside the cuffs, which were then put behind his back with van der Sloot being loaded in the secured area of a prison van for the first leg of the journey.

"Now almost exactly 18 years later, her perpetrator Joran van der Sloot, has been extradited to Birmingham to answer for his crimes."

Under the cover of darkness, van der Sloot arrives to a Lima prison, one step closer to American Justice.


COOPER: And Jean Casarez joins us now. What are the next steps for him?

CASAREZ: Well, it's all planned out. What we've been told is that Interpol will go to the Lima prison. They will take him in their custody. That's the International Criminal Justice Organization. They will transport him to the Lima Airport, where the FBI will be standing by with a plane and that will transport him to the United States.

COOPER: All right. Jean Casarez, appreciate it. Thank you.

Up next, some lighter fare. Take a look at these. They look like ski goggles. Harry Enten joins us to explain why they are getting so much attention, next.



COOPER: Apple has unveiled its most ambitious new product in years. A mixed-reality headset.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Anderson, I have to interrupt you. You know, we were talking in break about the virtual reality and I didn't seem to know very much about it.


ENTEN: And the reason I didn't know very much about it is because that was just a fugazi, a cover for what this segment actually was.

COOPER: Oh, wow.

ENTEN: It turns out that this weekend was this very special birthday for a very --

COOPER: This is a segment -- putting a segment on my birthday.

ENTEN: You -- we are in fact --

COOPER: Three days ago.

ENTEN: Well, it's two days ago. It was Saturday.

COOPER: All right.

ENTEN: We don't work on Saturdays.


ENTEN: And I even was able to get a little gift for you that we're going to be bringing out.

COOPER: Oh wow.

ENTEN: Kevin will bring it for us.


ENTEN: But before that cake actually comes out, as Kevin's preparing it, what I want to note is a few things about as you are turning older at this point. So number one, I want to note that some things are going to grow longer on you.

COOPER: Excuse me?

ENTEN: Yes. Your ears are going to become longer.

COOPER: Really?

ENTEN: Your nose is going to become longer.

COOPER: OK. Really?

ENTEN: But what we also know is your height is going to become shorter. So you're going to shrink, but you're also going to have longer ears.

COOPER: Wow. I'm glad we brought out a data scientist to tell me all these great things are going to happen.

ENTEN: But I do have one good piece of news for this --


ENTEN: -- for you. And, you know, there's some question as when is old old?

COOPER: You know, good -- I asked myself that. I'm -- I feel like I've crossed the Rubicon. I I've turned 56 on Saturday.

ENTEN: Yes, you turned 56 on Saturday.


ENTEN: And so I wanted to determine whether or not 56 was old, so I turned to the public.


ENTEN: And they -- there was a poll a few years ago that asked how old is old.


ENTEN: And as it turns out, old does not happen until you reach your seventies.

COOPER: Really?


COOPER: OK. Well, I -- well, OK. That's fine.

ENTEN: 73. So you --

COOPER: Well that's good. That's based on research.

ENTEN: This is based on what America --

COOPER: A public perception. ENTEN: Public perception.


ENTEN: And so that --

COOPER: Look -- thank you. Oh my God. It's a cook -- is that a -- that's a Fudgie the Whale.

ENTEN: It's a Fudgie the Whale.


ENTEN: It's a Fudgie the Whale. And we have been talking about this all day.


COOPER: Well, we've been talking Fudgie the Whale -- for those who don't know, it's a Carvel Fudgie the Whale cake, which is legendary as a kid. Harry and I both grew up in New York, although I'm much older, I should point out.

ENTEN: You're not that much older.

COOPER: The Carvel. You said these commercials, fudgie the whale, fudgie the whale of a cake for whale of a dad.

ENTEN: And what does it say on the cake?

COOPER: A whale of a cake for whale of a dad. Thank you.

ENTEN: There you go.

COOPER: Thank you.

ENTEN: Well, we were going to sing Happy Birthday for you.

COOPER: Oh, no, no.

ENTEN: But we'll get to that in a second. I just want to also note some other celebrities --


ENTEN: -- who, in fact, have turned -- are your age at this particular point.


ENTEN: OK. So we got a few of them. We got -- look at that -- we got Mike Tyson.



ENTEN: -- Mike Tyson --


ENTEN: -- I feel like he could still fight. I feel like you could fight.

COOPER: Yes, I can fight. Yes.

ENTEN: How about Gordon Ramsay?

COOPER: Sure. OK. Yes. I don't -- I'm not familiar with his oeuvre (ph), but he's a chef who yells at people.

ENTEN: That's exactly right. You're not a chef and you don't yell at people.

COOPER: That is correct.

ENTEN: But maybe that's something we can work on for the next year.

COOPER: Adam Sandler, very talented.

ENTEN: Adam Sandler.


ENTEN: A very funny guy.

COOPER: Yes and Andy Cohen from 55 on June 2nd --

ENTEN: That's great.

COOPER: -- of "Gemini Twins".

ENTEN: So, folks, can we all join --

COOPER: No, we don't need some -- no.

ENTEN: We're going to do it.

COOPER: No, we don't need --

ENTEN: We are absolutely doing it.

COOPER: How much time left do we have before -- we don't need to do it.

ENTEN: Two, three. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you.

COOPER: I would rather hear about the virtual reality. God knows from Apple.

ENTEN: Nice try. Happy birthday, Dear Anderson. COOPER: OK, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Happy birthday to you.

COOPER: OK, thank you. All right. Excellent.

Is the segment done? We good?

ENTEN: Sure, I think the segment is done. We got you good enough.

COOPER: All right, thanks. The -- thank you. All right. All right. Thanks very much.

CNN Primetime with Kaitlan Collins is next right after quick break. We'll be right back.