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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Washington Post: Trump Rejected Lawyers' Efforts To Avoid Classified Documents Indictment; Grand Jury Indicts Marine Veteran Daniel Penny On Manslaughter Charges In NYC Subway Chokehold Death; Ukraine Claims Partial Success In Its Counteroffensive Against Russia; Children Who Went Missing In The Colombian Jungle Found 40 Days After Their Plane Crashed. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 14, 2023 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thanks so much for joining us, you can always find the latest episode of our show on our podcast, that's at, and you could just obviously search on your favorite podcast app as well.

It is time now for AC 360 tonight with John King.


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: John King here in for Anderson tonight. Thanks for your time.

The deal that might have been. Some breaking news: New reporting on the Trump attorney who wanted to try to settle with the Justice Department and keep his client from facing charges -- the catch: His client.

Also tonight, CNN gets frontline access to Ukrainian Special Forces on the hunt for Russian commanders to corner and kill.

And later, a father is speaking out about nearly losing his children and their remarkable, simply remarkable story of surviving 40 days in the Colombian jungle.

But we begin with the new reporting on what you might call the exit ramp not taken by the former president, one that might have kept him off his current road to trial in the documents case.

It just hit "The Washington Post." Quoting from the lead of that story: "One of Donald Trump's new attorneys proposed an idea in the fall of 2022. The former president's team could try to arrange a settlement with the Justice Department."

Josh Dawsey of "The Post" shares the byline on that story. He joins us on the telephone now.

Josh, walk us through this reporting. One of the president's attorney wanted to turn down the temperature, went to the former president of the United States, wanted to make a case with the Justice Department. Tell us more. JOSH DAWSEY, POLITICAL INVESTIGATIONS AND ENTERPRISE REPORTER, "THE

WASHINGTON POST" (via phone): Right. So, John, the goal of his story was to outline all of the ways that former President Trump could have avoided being indicted according to his own advisers and lawyers and people close to him and one of those ways has been in 2022, he hires Chris Kise, who is a former Florida solicitor general. He agrees to pay him $3 million up front, and Chris Kise comes in.

This is right after the raid. They've just raided his property and he says he's going to take the temperature down. We're going to try and find a way out of that, and what he proposes is they go to the Justice Department. This was before special counsel has been appointed, and test the appetite if Merrick Garland and if his team is interested in any sort of settlement, agreement that avoids criminal charges.

And when Kise posited that idea to the former president and to the former president's other lawyers, it was rejected. And then after that, what we report is there were multiple, multiple occasions where Trump lawyers, Trump advisers tried to get him to simply give the documents back to avoid what ended up happening was on the indictment on Friday and then obviously the proceedings yesterday, and he just simply refused to do it.

KING: And use say in the story that you know, Kise had this let's turn down the temperature. Let's see if we can negotiate an agreement here, and more pugilistic forces in Trump world carried the day.

Do we know who they are and what their advice was why, they thought this was a bad idea?

DAWSEY: Well, one of the lawyers who is viewed as more pugilistic is Boris Epshteyn. Some of the folks on Trump's team really see this as a public relations war. They think that going after the Department of Justice in an aggressive way raises his poll numbers, that these people are out to get him and they say, just fight, fight, fight, fight, fight.

And in fact, John, Trump shares that instinct, right? And the more pugilistic approach, he has fought -- his sort of inclinations usually are, it takes a lot to get him to go away from that. So when this idea came from Chris Kise, other lawyers around him really killed it before it could be borne.

KING: It's a great snapshot of the Trump legal team going back to the beginning what led to the special counsel investigation.

What about now? Two of the lawyers quit -- resigned from Trump's legal team just as they got word from the Justice Department that he was about to be indicted. What do we know about the strategy going forward? Kise is still involved, but --

DAWSEY: Right. So he has two lawyers right now who are working for him, Todd Blanche and Chris Kise who are fairly well respected in the legal bar. I mean, Kise has argued cases in front of a Supreme Court, Todd Blanche in New York has had decades of experience at major law firms. I mean, these are not, you know, sidewalk lawyers. These are pretty serious lawyers.

But Trump needs more Florida counsel, like counsel that is local that understand the judge, understands the courthouse, understands how that part of the world works and Chris Kise certainly does, but you know, he doesn't really have anyone else.

And from this indictment team, as you said, two of his lawyers quit, and sort of him and his team spending the weekend scrambling to find new lawyers. They've done multiple interviews of various firms that have had disagreement with them. Some have said no, some of them said they will think about it. Trump can't decide if he likes some of them.

It is really a fluid situation on who will be his counsel the next time he sits at a defendant's table in this case.

KING: Josh Dawsey, fascinating reporting. Appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

DAWSEY: Thank you.


KING: The attorney general, Merrick Garland today taking the rare step a bit earlier today of weighing in not on the case directly, but on the man who is leading it, the special counsel, Jack Smith.


MERRICK GARLAND, US ATTORNEY GENERAL: Mr. Smith is a veteran career prosecutor. He has assembled a group of experienced and talented prosecutors and agents who share his commitment to integrity and the rule of law.


KING: The backdrop there to our conversation tonight with the Republican and former Maryland governor, Larry Hogan.

Governor, nice to see you tonight. You just heard what Josh Dawsey said there. One of the president's lawyer said let's get to the Justice Department, let's turn down the temperature. Let's try to negotiate a settlement, and a more pugilistic force on Trump legal team talked the former president out of it. Surprise you at all?

LARRY HOGAN (R), FORMER MARYLAND GOVERNOR: Well, it doesn't surprise me. It is the first time I actually heard it, but no, it's not a surprise that seems to be kind of par for the course.

But look, I think we heard from the former attorney general, Bill Barr. We heard from really two of my former colleagues, governors, both Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson, federal prosecutors, US attorneys who are taking this case pretty seriously. Some of the few people that are speaking out at this point.

KING: No question, legally quite serious, but on the politics side, Trump campaign saying today, it raked in $7 million since the indictment. It says its support among Republican voters is holding firm, if not increasing.

You saw his campaign. It is bad for the country and bad for the party, even before these federal charges. Why do so many other Republicans appear to disagree?

HOGAN: Well, you know, I think it's unusual that people are trying to make the argument that they should replace Donald Trump, but they're not willing to stand up. So if you think that you want to be an alternative to Donald Trump but you're not willing to criticize President Trump, you know, I think we can't rush the judgment and Republicans who say they don't even care about seeing the facts are making a mistake.

And now we shouldn't prejudge the case, but these are very serious charges. I mean, we're talking about potential national security issues. And I mean, if half of this is true, I agree with Bill Barr, then, you know, it is disqualifying to run for president, but we've got people that are afraid to speak out. You shouldn't prejudge it, but you can't just wipe it away and try to make the argument that it's simply a weaponization of the Justice Department, but it's totally cool to hide the nuclear secrets and attack plans on Iran in a spare bathroom.

KING: You have not been shy at all about saying you would prefer a much smaller field, one or two challengers to get to take on Trump, but the opposite is happening.

Just today, Miami's Mayor Francis Suarez filed candidacy papers, so it is now Trump plus 10. Is there any way to read that the size of the field right now, except good for Trump?

HOGAN: Well, there is no way to read it other than it's really going to help Donald Trump and as we know, I agree with you that this potentially is going to actually strengthen his support, and people are going to rally behind the president because they see this is an unfair prosecution, and now we've got, I think it's 12 people in the race if Suarez gets in.

But, you know, I've got six former gubernatorial colleagues of mine that I served with, you've got three people from Florida, potentially, and Donald Trump is at 50 percent or something like that.

And I had said when I decided not to run that we really should have a more narrow field. We didn't want to have a repeat of the multicar pile up that we had in 2016, where we had 17 candidates and now, it looks like we're getting close. We may be up to 13 already.

KING: You won in a blue state, not always easy for a Republican to do, so what did you make of the president's speech last night. There was no policy. It was all grievances, attacks on the president, attacks on the prosecutor, attacks on the prosecutor's wife.

If you were a Republican on the ballot next year in a competitive district or competitive state listening to the former president last night, thinking that could be coming your way next September or next October, what would you be thinking? HOGAN: Well, I think it's disastrous. You know, we're certainly -- it

is firing up the Trump base, but it is certainly not capturing any swing voters, so purple states and competitive districts, it could be a real serious wipe out if we continue to double down on failure.

One of the things I've been talking about is, you know, the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result and we've kind of had huge losses in the last three elections. We lost the White House, we lost the Senate and the House, and we should have performed better last year.

KING: Governor Hogan, appreciate your time. We'll continue the conversation obviously, in the months ahead. Very much appreciate your time tonight.

HOGAN: Thank you.

KING; Thank you.

Let's get some perspective now. With us is Marc Lotter who served as a special assistant to the former president and director of strategic communication in the Trump 2020 re-election campaign.

Also with us, our CNN legal analyst, Carrie Cordero; our CNN political commentator, Democratic strategist, Paul Begala; and CNN senior political commentator, Kirsten Powers.

Carrie, I want to start with you and with the breaking news in "The Washington Post" from Josh Dawsey.

Chris Kise, a trusted, well-experienced attorney goes to the former president and says I have a way to turn dial here. Give me permission to go talk to the Justice Department to try to fix this, others in the camp say nope, keep up the fight.

What does that tell you? That's going back, that's before the appointment of special counsel.


But if that was the approach, then what does it tell you about the legal strategy now?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, of course, that would have been a better course to go on than where the former president finds himself right now because that was before the special counsel was ever appointed, it was right after the physical search, so the government was still going through the materials that they would have uncovered through that search at Mar-a-Lago.

And it was an opportunity to go in and see if there was anything they could do to keep this indictment from ever happening. It would have -- maybe the Justice Department would have said, no, it's too bad, you obstructed for too long, too many opportunities missed before the search was executed. It's always a possibility. But then, the former president's team would be able to say, look, we

tried. We tried to work this out with the Justice Department, and they rejected our overture, so it would have given them even another point there, even if it wasn't successful.

Now, this indictment has been filed. It has been brought by a grand jury, and he stuck with it. And so yes, they can approach the Justice Department and try to see if he can plead, but there would be no way other than a guilty plea following the revelations of all the information that is contained in that indictment.

KING: You've seen this movie before, haven't you, in the sense that, you know, experienced political people, experienced policy people on either the Trump campaigns or the Trump administration come up with a plan, and they think they have the former president or then president or then candidate even if you want to go back to 2016, sign off, but then others in his circle who have a different approach.

Josh mentions, specifically, Boris Epshteyn. We've seen this before, right?

MARC LOTTER, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes, and the story in "The Washington Post" also highlights the work of Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch, who actually brought the lawsuit against the Clintons, trying to get the famous Clinton sock audio tapes. He lost the case and they are now using that, Tom Fitton, and it is expected that his lawyers will likely use that case to actually defend his use of this because they ruled that those audio recordings, which are apparently kept in a sock drawer, were not presidential documents, and even if they were, the president had the right to keep them. So it'll be very interesting.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But as a legal matter, you maybe respond to this, it wasn't the same legal case, right? Because we're dealing with the Espionage Act here. This isn't a Presidential Records Act, is it?

CORDERO: I don't think that we would ever be in this situation if these weren't classified documents, and importantly, if the former president had not continually rebuffed the Archives and the Justice Department's efforts to retrieve them, even given the sensitivity, and I'm a national security lawyer, even given the sensitivity of the documents, I still think that had the obstructive conduct not occurred, he would not be in this position.

KING; So Democratic strategist on this side of the table, help me out. What would your advice be to President Biden right now? What would your advice be to Democratic super PACs right now? Do you count or spend any money dealing with -- he keeps saying, you know, it's like Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden took documents. I'm not excusing that behavior, but they are tiny misdemeanors compared to felonies if you talk in a criminal way or minor versus major if you just want to use basic words.

Do you just let it go and let Trump play this out? Or do the Democrats have to answer that because Trump is effective, even though it's factually incorrect.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: So far, it is only effective with the core of his base, right? By double digits, Independents think that these charges are merited in the ABC poll this weekend.

So first off, the president of the United States, I know he is a candidate, too, but he needs to shut up. He has shut up. He's very wise.

You know, with age comes wisdom and he knows -- and Joe Biden, twenty, thirty years ago might be popping off about this, not now, man.

So he has got to lock down, because there cannot be any politicization or bias of this from the government. The problem is, not so much for the Democrats, there are 18 members of Congress who represent Republicans, who represent districts that Biden carried.

But today, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was already putting out press releases saying, hey, why aren't you speaking out on this? Where are you on this? I think that's perfectly fair. We need to get folks on the record about this.

But the people in maximum peril are those -- Governor Hogan just said so, a good Republican who won in a very, very blue state. Those are the folks who are really on tenterhooks here and I hope the Democrats make their lives miserable until they take a position.

KING: Go ahead.

POWERS: Well, yes, I think the difference is President Biden has to stay out of it, so that's the thing. I don't think that he -- you know, because he is the president and the Department of Justice is under his control, he has to stay out of it. That doesn't mean Democrats can't talk about it.

And I think that people who are going to believe -- who are going to believe that this is the same as Hillary Clinton or the same as Bill Clinton and the sock drawer are going to believe that, whether you know, that's already with "The Wall Street Journal" that did the opinion piece today, it is being widely circulated. Everybody is trying to say this is the same thing, when it's not the same thing.

But then there are the people that are open to persuasion, open to actually hearing what the case is about that it is not just a Presidential Records Act case, it actually deals with Espionage Act, it actually deals -- there was nothing in Clinton's sock drawer that had the attack plans to Iran, you know or nuclear codes or anything related to our nuclear system.

So, you know, helping people understand the seriousness of this.


LOTTER: If you think about it at one point, we often -- and I know it's in the headlines, I know it's in the news. This election, the upcoming one is going to be the same thing that you guys masterminded all way back in the day. It's the economy, stupid.

And if we are talking about this in October of 2024, then that doesn't look good for the former president. If we're talking about the issues that matter to the American people in their homes, that's the strength of their argument.

BEGALA: They should listen to you.

KING: I was just -- I was just going to say.

BEGALA: Because you're exactly right.

KING: Let me borrow your words, if you let me take your words and then say if you watched his speech last night, and it's supposed to be the economy, then that speech was stupid. That's the way we put it there.

Thanks, everybody for the conversation.

Up next for us, whether Republican voters were swayed by the indictment in the state where you might say it matters first. A report from New Hampshire when we come back.

And later, a man's death in the New York subway in a chokehold ignited a national debate over deadly force. Perceived public disorder and what any one might do in that situation? Now, a grand jury has weighed in on the man who use that chokehold, we're bringing the latest, next.


KING: The breaking news tonight, reporting in "The Washington Post" about a deal one of the former president's attorneys wanted to explore with the Justice Department, one aimed at heading off chargers in the documents case.

"The Post's" story citing three people briefed on the matter said the former president was not interested. Fast forward to Miami yesterday and New Hampshire today where CNN's Omar Jimenez spent the day speaking with Republican voters.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not fair. I'm all about being fair.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In this Republican part of New Hampshire, a 37 count indictment doesn't change much for some Trump supporters.

This is from the indictment.


JIMENEZ (on camera): Trump told the individuals that the plan was highly confidential and secret. Trump also said, as president, I could have declassified it, and now I can't, but this is still a secret. What's your reaction to seeing that Trump allegedly did this?

HAYNES: Well, it's right there with Hunter Biden. But that don't mean nothing, because I don't trust the DOJ. I do not trust the FBI. I hate to say it. Y'all might come out with more info.

JIMENEZ: Anything that's in here at this point doesn't matter to you.

HAYNES: I will listen to it. I will not make a decision on any of it until I've heard a lot more.

JIMENEZ (voice over): Lee Haynes isn't alone either. Many of Trump supporters we spoke to pointed to a lengthy investigation into Hunter Biden's finances, which remains ongoing to Hillary Clinton being cleared of acting with criminal intent back in 2016 in what was described as a careless handling of classified information on a private e-mail server.

To these Trump backers, it is all evidence of a double standard being applied now.

DUANE WHITE, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: They give us look here, but don't look over here. I wish they would stop, like it's just too much.

JIMENEZ (on camera): And even in this, there are pictures of the boxes, you know, stacked up and even spilled on the ground. That doesn't bother you.

WHITE: Everything you see -- you can't believe everything you see. I don't know. I'm skeptical.

They told us Russia collusion was real for how many years and it proved through the Mueller report that it wasn't, so how can I believe that at face value, too?

JIMENEZ (voice over): Even as Trump faces legal jeopardy, he remains the clear frontrunner in the GOP primary. The former president's rivals so far offering a range of reaction to the indictment.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is saying, I'm more important than the country. These are my papers.

NIKKI HALEY (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If what it says is actually the case, President Trump was incredibly reckless with our national security.

MIKE PENCE (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This indictment contains its serious charges, and I cannot defend what is alleged.

JIMENEZ (voice over): In Seabrook, New Hampshire, another red part of the state, some Republicans believe the allegations will help Trump politically.

SRINIVASAN "RAVI" RAVIKUMAR, NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICAN VOTER: this is uniting people. People are saying wait a second here, it is not it's not D versus R. It's us against them.

JIMENEZ (voice over): He too doesn't believe what's in the indictment.

RAVIKUMAR: For you to know what is really the charge, you have to believe the charger.

JIMENEZ (on camera): So the contents of this indictment to you are essentially disqualified.

RAVIKUMAR: Completely disqualified because it's all done by a completely tilted Justice Department.

JIMENEZ (voice over): And despite the latest allegations, he doesn't plan to change his vote.

JIMENEZ (on camera): You voted for Trump in 2016.

RAVIKUMAR: I voted for Trump in 2016.

JIMENEZ: And in 2020?

RAVIKUMAR: I voted for Trump in 2020.

JIMENEZ: And you plan to vote for him this cycle coming up.

RAVIKUMAR: If Trump is on the Republican ticket for 2024, I would gladly vote for him again.

WHITE: He was the first person to get me to vote, 56 years old, and I did vote for Trump in 2016, I voted for him again in 2020. At this point, you know, I'll vote for Trump.

JIMENEZ: You haven't seen anything at this point to change your vote from Trump?

HAYNES: Not really, but I do wait until the end before I do make a decision and if Biden comes through with something stellar, who knows?


JIMENEZ (on camera): Now, one woman we spoke to who didn't want to appear on camera, she was with all of her friends, she told us she's not voting for Trump anymore and that is not just because of this, but that in her words, since the last time she voted for him, he has just done too many things wrong.

But the key thing here is that this is the Trump element that the presidential primary contenders are up against here, that if the supporters were to change their vote, it's not going to come from simply an indictment from the Department of Justice -- John.

KING; Omar Jimenez. I'm jealous, on the ground for us live in New Hampshire. Omar, thank you.

The former president has gotten no support from New Hampshire's governor, Chris Sununu. He will join Kaitlan Collins at the top of the next hour. Tune in for that. Former Vice President Pence today also reiterated, he cannot "defend

what's been alleged in this case." House Republicans on the other hand, most of them out front for their man. Some saying, they'd even support him if Trump is convicted.


REP. BOB GOOD (R-VA): Absolutely, absolutely. Because these are just ridiculous charges here, and I'm very confident that ultimately these charges if he were to be initially convicted that it would ultimately will be overturned on appeal, but I don't think there's any basis for them.



KING: Let's get some perspective now from our CNN senior political commentator, former Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who of course, was a member of the House January 6 Select Committee. Also with us, our CNN political commentator, former special adviser to President Obama, Van Jones.

Congressman Kinzinger, I want to start with you. I assume you're having a little bit of flashbacks when you're listening to those voters in Omar Jimenez's piece. I know back in your district, you would encounter some people who were so loyal to Trump, it just didn't matter if you told them this was not a coffee mug -- you know, this is a coffee mug, they would say no, it isn't. How do you break through to those people?

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, to be honest with you, for me, it's a little heartbreaking to see what's happened to my party and what's happened to the party that you know, back in the day, it was all about truth and law and order and justice.

And to see the brains being broken, frankly, by Donald Trump, yes, but also by a lack of leadership by those in power. I mean, look, you know, you talked about Bob Good saying, well, this is obviously, I will support him no matter what.

You have -- leadership is all about leading. The word leader is in leadership, and it is about telling people what the truth is, trying to persuade people to a certain way, and then they'll follow you, if leaders and members of Congress, the Senate, even local leaders are just simply looking at what the people want them to do, and not take any effort to explain it, there is no doubt everybody's just chasing their tail into traffic.

So for me, it's heartbreaking, but I don't see how this breaks short of five to 10 years going by and people finally waking up.

KING; And so Van, when you listen to the voters in that piece, it's Hunter Biden, it is Hillary, so it is all the same anyway, I'm not going to be mad at Donald Trump until somebody takes care of them. As a Democrat, as a progressive, do you think that Democrats should be

trying to fight that to change those minds or is it just that's what they get, not just from Trump, that's what get in the conservative media silo, too. Leave it alone, focus on Democrats and Independents or try to break through to those people?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think sometimes you talk not to persuade, but just to understand and to be understood. And I think that what I was hearing from those men who were speaking, underneath, there's some real alienation there. There's a sense that hey, nobody is on my side. The government maybe against me or the people who are in the government are against me, and Trump is my guy.

At least I know Trump's for me and I think that there is an opening there for progressives to say, look -- you know, a lot of times we do identity politics, are you like me? Are you Black like me? Do you vote like me?

The question really must be one that was, do you like me? Not are you like me, but do you like me? I think sometimes progressives don't convey to guys like that, we do like you.

A lot of you guys, you are veterans, you're small business owners, some of you are union members, we like it, and we've got a better cost for you to make America great than Donald Trump.

We need you to help these kids who are in trouble. We need to rebuild America. We need you, we like you and we need you. We just don't think that Trump is right for you. We think you are worthy of a better cause and a better leader than Donald Trump.

Often we don't sound like that. Often, we say you're a dumb idiot, you're in a cult, you're stupid, you're not paying attention, which just helps Trump.

Now, whether you say that if they vote for you or not, that doesn't matter. The question is at least you've extended some level of respect, some level of decency. That's all we can do in this situation. My big concern is that progressive seeing this actually help Donald Trump by insulting people who really should be brought into our fold.

KING; You make a fantastic point, I think a critical point about respect that should go both ways.

Congressman Kinzinger, I went through your history on the January 6 Committee serving in Congress. What I didn't note in the introduction was you also wore the uniform and defended your country and risked your life. When you hear a former colleague like Bob Good, saying, even if Trump is convicted, he would support him being back in the Oval Office, back with access to all the nuclear secrets after learning that in bathrooms, in shower stalls, on a stage were boxes that included battle plans and nuclear secrets and things like that.

What goes through your mind when you hear that given your experience in national security? KINZINGER: Well, I mean, it's insane, it is crazy, because look, we

take in the military, you take an oath, and that oath well may lead to you giving up your life on behalf of the country.

In Congress, we take an oath and probably you're not going to give your life serving that oath. But you represent 700,000 people and to sit back and say that my oath requires me to defend a man and not to defend the secrets of the United States, not to defend the Constitution of the United States.

Look, I have no doubt that Bob Good has convinced himself that he is fighting a righteous cause, if I could get into his head, he has found a way to convince himself and a lot of people have, but I think it's important for us to remind people over and over that look, imagine this is President Obama that did this, how would you be feeling? Imagine when the next president who's a Democrat does the same thing, how will you feel?

And democracy by the way, John, can only survive if we have a basic level of trust that your vote counts, and that there's basically rules that we're going to play by including things like classified information, and going forward and believing in your oath.


Van made a good point, by the way, about this alienation feeling. That's why it's important for leaders to give voice to people's alienation not in a dark way, but to convince them of a brighter path forward, to convince them that it can be better, we're America, not to feed their darkest anger. And that's what's happening.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST OF 'ANDERSON COOPER 360': We heard a lot of grievances from the former president. Van, the President Trump's -- Former President, his team is in high spirits. I think this helps them in the primary. If you talk to some Democrats privately, they're in high spirits too. Not because -- not that they don't think these charges are very serious. Not that they don't want Donald Trump, these Democrats are progressive, want him in jail eventually, but they think if this helps him win the nomination, that's good for us because he's the guy we can beat. Is that the right way to feel?



I don't think that's the right way to feel at all. Listen, anybody who gets the nomination of a major party has a real shot to become president. So, you really don't -- if we didn't learn anything from 2016, we should have learned don't cheer lead for somebody who you could not tolerate being president to get the nomination. You want the best of both parties to go up against each other because in a 50/50 country, one of these people can win.

And so, I think the idea that 2016 didn't happen, we should just keep hoping for the worst for the Republicans, albeit the best for Democrats, it ain't necessarily so.

COOPER: Van Jones, Congressman Kinzinger, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

JONES: Thank you.

COOPER: Up next for us, what a grand jury decided to do about that Marine veteran who put a homeless man in a deadly chokehold on a New York City subway train.



COOPER: Manhattan grand jury indictment announced today against Marine veteran Daniel Penny, the indictment on second-degree manslaughter charges for the death of a homeless man, a homeless performer on the New York subway. Last month, you'll recall, you see the images there, Penny surrendering to police on the same charges. He is out now on bond. You'll likely remember this incident was caught on cell phone video. Here's some of it on your screen right now.

Penny put Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold after witnesses say Neely made threats and scared subway riders as he yelled that he was thirsty, he was hungry and he didn't care if he died. The witnesses also say Penny came up from behind him and restrained him in that chokehold for several minutes until he stopped breathing. Neely's death led to protests, calling for the arrest of Penny. Penny's attorneys have said, he "risked his own life and safety for the good of his fellow passengers" and they called him a pillar of the community.

Joining me now to discuss, our CNN Legal Analyst, Criminal Defense Attorney Joey Jackson, also CNN Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller, a former NYPD Deputy Commissioner. John, let's start with you. There's a lot of emotion about this case, but what about the process. Now that Daniel Penny has been indicted, second- degree manslaughter, what next?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST AND FORMER NYPD DEPUTY COMMISSIONER: Well, the process has been a bit of a flash point in this case. The family of Jordan Neely wanted to know why wasn't he arrested that night? The answer came from prosecutors who told police to hold off because they said, we need more information. They wanted to hear the 911 calls. They wanted to see if there was any other video. They wanted to talk to the passengers on the train, ask them if they felt threatened. And finally, on May 12, they ordered his arrest, began that grand jury presentation, and obtained this indictment today. It will be announced tomorrow.

COOPER: So, Joey, the sources telling us the indictment is for second- degree manslaughter charges. Walk us through the specifics, why second-degree manslaughter? What's the bar for prosecutors to prove that as opposed to, say, something else?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST AND CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yeah, John, I think there's two. One is the second-degree manslaughter; the other being the negligent homicide. What's the distinction? When you look at the issue of second-degree manslaughter, what you're speaking to is the recklessness of the conduct, the legal term. What does recklessness mean? It means you consciously disregard the risk that your behavior could result in death and in fact, the death did occur.

And so, the issue in the case will be whether or not the defendant acted recklessly. The prosecutors will argue that to the extent that you had your arm around his neck for a prolonged period of time, certainly you can foresee there's a substantial likelihood that he would die. In the event that the jury does not buy that, potentially they buy negligent homicide. What is that? That means that you acted with criminal negligence, you acted with carelessness.

Very briefly, the distinction between the two, when you talk about second-degree manslaughter, you're talking about a potential sentence of 5 years to 15 years. When you're speaking to the issue of negligence, criminally negligent homicide, you're talking about 1 year to 4 years. That's an E felony as opposed to a C felony. In New York State, it goes A, B, C, D, E. That's the nature of what he is facing and looking at predicated upon the indictment.

COOPER: Let me stay with you for a second, Joey. Based on the limited evidence you've seen so far, do you think prosecutors have a strong case here?

JACKSON: So, I think the defense has a number of things to overcome. What is that? I think that they will examine, the prosecutors will, really number one, the recklessness that I spoke to. But then, the defense will make arguments as it relates to self-defense. The issue will be two-fold. One is the immediacy of the threat. Did in fact at the time you have a person dead here and was he and should he be dead? What threat did he pose? Was that threat one of life or death? That would be an issue and a problem.

The other issue, John, would be the proportionality of the force. Did it take the prolonged hold on the neck to achieve the objective of ultimately subduing him? The answer to that is no, the defense has a further problem. And then New York State, remember, it's not stand your ground, now to introduce that here it doesn't apply. New York doesn't have that. You have a duty to retreat. And so whenever you proffer self-defense in New York State, it's a very high bar in as much as there are a number of alternatives if you can take to avoid death or having to kill someone, that is what indeed prosecutors will argue he should have done.

COOPER: John, you have lived this from the inside of the NYPD, an incident recorded on video, the country has seen it. People in New York, of course, have seen it over and over and over again. How much of the case relies on that video, even though as you know, parts of the encounter weren't even captured on video. So it's not a complete video. But then, there's a medical examiner, there are all the witness statements, there is so much more to it. And yet in the public domain, so far, it has been that video.

MILLER: Well, I think the video is the thing that you always wish you had as a prosecutor. If we had this on tape, we could prove exactly what happened. But, the tape starts halfway through the incident. So, what it does not capture was the pacing around by Mr. Neely that witnesses described of him balling his fist up, throwing his jacket down, talking about not being afraid to go to -- back to jail or to go away for life.


They're wondering, what is he about to do that he could go away for life for? It suggests he was about to hurt somebody in the mind of Daniel Penny. So, this case may boil down in large part to that video, but also in large part to the decision that his lawyers will make about, do you put Daniel Penny on the stand? Because they're going to have to have some show of proof of what was in his mind when he decided to use that level of force that he can articulate he thought was about to happen that justified it?

COOPER: John Miller and Joey Jackson, appreciate your time tonight, gentlemen. Thank you.

Still ahead for us, a CNN exclusive, a Ukrainian special ops team on a mission to target Russian officers and weaken their opponent. We will take you to the frontlines, next.


COOPER: To Ukraine now, where the government in Kyiv is claiming "partial success in its counteroffensive against Russia." According to the Deputy Defense Minister, Ukrainian troops have made advances on two fronts. That includes toward the besieged city of Bakhmut.


CNN's Sam Kiley spoke exclusively with the Ukrainian special ops team in Bakhmut on their efforts to detain (ph) Russian troops. Watch this, it's fascinating.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A special forces night operation. The objective, to bring a special kind of misery to Russian troops. As they arrived alongside Ukrainian regulars, the Russians attacked. A night vision recording of a routine assault that the special forces needed to shrug off.

KILEY (on camera): How long did you spend under fire like this before you could move?

BRABUS, UKRAINIAN INTELLIGENCE SPECIAL OPS (through translator): The attack lasted about half an hour.

KILEY (on camera): And then what did you do?

BRABUS (through translator): After that, we took an observation position and we watch them. We got to work. KILEY (voice-over): Electronic surveillance pinpointed their victims. First, they killed two paratroopers approaching on their left flank to get to group's main targets, Russian commanders near Bakhmut. A sterile record of an all too gritty event in March. First, one officer is shot. Then another down. He says radio intercepts revealed that the Russians lost two officers and five others to their sniper team that night.

BRABUS (through translator): The result of our operation was the demoralization of the Russian airborne unit because they lost their top leader.

KILEY (voice-over): Formed when Russia invaded Ukraine last year, this team of experienced veterans works in a secret realm under the intelligence services. Their task, with tactical work seeking strategic effect, as Ukraine's counteroffensive takes shape. Here, using a modified heavy machine gun, in a hidden bunker last month close to Bakhmut.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): You are spot on.

KILEY (voice-over): Drone operators more than a mile away are directing Brabus on to Russian troops.

KILEY (on camera): How many Russian troops have you killed in this war?

BRABUS: A lot of. A lot of.


For example, here's a lot of Russians.

KILEY (on camera): This is when you're on the (inaudible).


KILEY (on camera): How many more or less there?

BRABUS: I don't know. We didn't calculate, understand.


KILEY (voice-over): It's the Russians that want to do the counting because Ukraine's best hope is that Russian troops run rather than fight.


COOPER: And Sam Kiley joins me now. Sam, remarkable access, just a simply fascinating report. What more did you learn about the Ukrainian counteroffensive?

KILEY: Well, I think the important thing about the counteroffensive is, first of all, that it's underway. It's underway not yet in full swing, where it's most intense and the newest front opening up really is in the south between Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk city. So Zaporizhzhia, of course, Ukrainian held, Donetsk held by the Russians.

Where the Ukrainians are saying and claiming that they've had a few limited break-throughs on that very heavily-defended Russian line there. And they're anxious really to break through completely because if they can do that, they can separate the southern front from the eastern front. They can divide Russian forces as they drive south towards the occupied Crimean peninsula. And that would represent a very significant tactical gain for the Ukrainians.

But at this stage, they're only making incremental gains there. But there are also, around Bakhmut, where Brabus and his team have been fighting and carrying out those hits effectively against senior Russian officers. There have also been some Ukrainian advances that would allow them to perhaps even develop something tactically useful and to strategic advantage, John (ph).

COOPER: Sam Kiley, again, remarkable reporting. Grateful for it. Thank you.

And coming up, a simply incredible story as children survive more than a month in the Colombian jungle after a deadly plane crash. What he is saying (ph) about the remarkable search and rescue that captivated the world. That's next.



COOPER: Tonight, four children who were rescued more than a month after their plane crashed in the Colombian jungle are recovering at a hospital. Their incredible story of survival has captured attention around the world. Their father and stepfather calls their survival a miracle, telling CNN they are alive due to their own efforts and "spiritual nourishment." CNN's Gary Tuchman takes us inside the story.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We found the children, the rescuer says. All four siblings alive. The youngest an infant. It was the cries of the baby girl named Cristian, who turned one-year-old in the jungle that made the incredible rescue possible. All four indigenous children, Lesly, Solecni, Tien and Cristian, rescued after a search by more than 150 soldiers and dozens of volunteers.

After the small plane they were flying in with their mother crashed. Their mother, the pilot, and another adult killed; the children the only survivors. The father of the two younger children, who is the stepfather of the two older ones, overjoyed.

MANUEL RONOQUE, FATHER OF RESCUED CHILDREN (through translator): The story is like a legend for us, indigenous story is. For example, that the sun is a God and you can say you have seen it. But this is not a story, this truly happened.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Rescuers working in the effort named Operation Hope, searched feverishly saying they now realize they came within 200 feet of finding them much earlier in the search. This is the children's grandfather talking about 13-year-old Lesly.

NARCISO MUCUTUY, GRANDFATHER OF RESCUED CHILDREN (through translator): When she looked and saw that her mother was dead, she saw the feet of her youngest sister where the three dead were and she pulled her out.


She immediately saw her other two siblings hurt, so she opened her mother's bag, took out clothes, ripped them, and wrapped them.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The grandfather says Lesly did not know where she was going but started leaving clues such as a baby bottle and baby shoes at the places they would sleep. In the jungle, rescuers found fruit and farina, a type of cassava flour that had been on the plane. That food ran out and the family says the children started eating seeds. Rescuers blared a message from the grandmother of the children from a loud speaker, pleading to the children to stay in one place. And then after all that, baby Cristian's cries were heard.

NICOLAS ORDONEZ, MEMBER OF INDIGENOUS GUARD (through translator): The children, the eldest girl was carrying the little girl and holding the second eldest girl's hand. They ran to hug me. After hugging them, giving them human warmth, we approached the boy, who was laying down. He stood up and very consciously said, "My mother died." We instantly changed the narrative into a sweet one. But your grandmother is looking for you. Your dad and your uncle are here.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Authorities are still looking for one of their rescue dogs, a Belgian shepherd named Wilson who found the children earlier but has since gone missing in the jungle. The oldest sibling Lesly drew this picture of Wilson. She, her two sisters, and her brother were all flown to the capital city of Bogota where they are in the hospital with authorities saying they are out of danger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They were on their own. They, themselves, are an example of survival that will go down in history. Today, those children are the children of peace and the children of Colombia.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Gary Tuchman, CNN New York.


COOPER: Wow! Just simply wow! Gary Tuchman, thank you.

The news continues. CNN Primetime with Kaitlan Collins is next after a quick break.