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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Donald Trump Responds To Audio Obtained By CNN, Insists He Did Nothing Wrong; Supreme Court Rejects Controversial Independent State Legislature Theory; Ukraine: 4 Killed, 40 Plus Injured In Russian Strikes; Trump Responds To Audio Obtained By CNN, Insists He Did "Nothing Wrong"; DOJ Issues Scathing Rebuke Of Bureau Of Prisons In Jeffrey Epstein Suicide. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 27, 2023 - 20:00   ET


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Now held in a maximum security prison, Navalny, faces a term extension that could possibly see him behind bars for decades. It's a fate seen many times over when someone crosses Mr. Putin, and not all can escape it, not even living in exile.

Wagner's Yevgeny Prigozhin may have found a haven in Belarus for now, but his safety seems fragile at best.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN Berlin.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thanks so much to Fred and thanks to all of you for joining us.

AC 360 starts now.



Tonight on 360: Former President Trump turns up the gaslight claiming the damning tape of him showing off classified material at his golf club is perfectly normal.

Also tonight, exclusive CNN reporting Rudy Giuliani talking to federal investigators.

And later, Russia strikes again; this time, a crowded restaurant in Ukraine. We'll take you there.

We begin tonight, Keeping Them Honest with the former president running a play from a playbook that he's used time and time again. The former president trying to do damage control today after we played an audio tape last night that CNN exclusively obtained in which he is boasting about and seemingly showing off a classified war plan he was not allowed to have to people not allowed to see it.

The audio was recorded with his knowledge at his Bedminster Golf Club in July of 2021, and is expected to be evidence at his upcoming trial. I want to re-play a portion of it for you now before showing you his

remarks today about it so there is no doubt whatsoever about what he is now trying to gaslight away.




STAFFER: (Laughter.) Yes.

TRUMP: I just found, isn't that amazing? This totally wins my case, you know.


TRUMP: Except it is like, highly confidential.

STAFFER: (Laughter.)

TRUMP: Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this. This was done by the military and given to me. I think we can probably, right?

STAFFER: I don't know, we'll -- we'll have to see. Yes, we'll have to try to --

TRUMP: Declassify it.

STAFFER: Figure out a -- yes.

TRUMP: See as president, I could have declassified it.

STAFFER: Yes. (Laughter).

TRUMP: Now, I can't, you know, but this is still a secret.

STAFFER: Yes. (Laughter). Now, we have a problem.

TRUMP: Isn't that interesting?


COOPER: The former president acknowledging it is classified information, secret, highly confidential, he says and acknowledging he did not declassify it and cannot.

According to the special counsel's indictment, he is speaking with a writer working on Mark Meadows' memoir, the publisher, and two of his own staffers.

In speaking to Fox today in New Hampshire, the former president seems to suggest that what you just heard was not what you just heard.


TRUMP: What did I say wrong in those recordings? I didn't even see the recording. All I know is I did nothing wrong. We had a lot of papers, a lot of papers stacked up.

In fact, you could hear the rustle of the paper and nobody said I did anything wrong other than the fake news, which of course is Fox, too.


COOPER: But first of all, audio is not something you can see, it's a recording, you hear it, but putting that aside, he then goes on to talk in detail about what's on the audio, which he says he has never seen, but his basic argument is one of his favorite go-tos, what you heard is not what you heard.

His campaign spokesman also continuing the gaslighting: "The audio tape provides context proving once again that President Trump did nothing wrong at all." That's from his spokesman Steven Cheung.

It was followed by another statement from the former president speaking about himself in the third person. Quoting now: "As we've been saying from the moment President Trump rode down the golden escalator, the president did nothing wrong."

So not only did the former president say he didn't do what he was caught on tape doing. According to him, he's never done one single thing wrong since the moment he declared his candidacy in 2015, despite being caught on tape this time and indicted, despite being caught on tape asking Georgia officials to find him 11,780 votes, which he was not entitled to in the 2020 election and facing another possible indictment.

And despite having been recorded asking the president of Ukraine for help smearing then candidate Joe Biden in exchange for military aid and being impeached; despite having been found liable for defaming the woman he was also found liable for sexually abusing in the 1990s -- all of that, but to believe the former president and his supporters, there is simply nothing to see here.

In other words, we're back to one of his oldest tropes.

Joining us now, CNN anchor and chief correspondent, Kaitlan Collins; also CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe.

This is just right out of his playbook. I mean, it would be funny if it weren't so serious.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: It is, but also if you listen to it, he is not disputing really what's at the heart of this. He is simply trying to talk about all the paperwork that he had kind of, you know, throwing everything in there. Maybe this is a defense tactic, it is not totally clear to me.

COOPER: Well, he claimed in the past, it was articles and other things that he had on his desk.

COLLINS: Right, but articles, newspaper clippings, newspaper notes are not classified materials and what he says on the audio is, this is like highly classified and then he says it's secret. I mean, he says, look.

So I think you know, he is not saying there that it is some magazine clipping. Yes, he does keep a lot of those. Often, if you would see his desk, they were piled high with this.


But what I was struck by with his defense there of what he was saying and saying that he hadn't seen or heard the audio, but saying that he did nothing wrong is what he is saying and what his campaign is saying is not actually a dispute of what we can hear on the audio because you can't dispute the audio. And I think that is why his attorneys, when they found out about this several months ago, knew that this was going to be such a problem, because it does completely undercut their defense, which is that he declassified things before he left the White House or after he left the White House.

COOPER: And not just him saying that, a lot of his surrogates and the sycophants around him all were on television saying that time and time again, oh, he just automatically declassified these things. He acknowledges he couldn't and he didn't.

COLLINS: And that's the most damning part of this and that is what is going to be the most difficult because they've not only said that in public, but they say that in legal filings, and I think that will be tough for Todd Blanche, and whoever else joins his legal team as they are taking this to trial.

COOPER: Andrew, the former president is claiming those papers, we hear a rustling and him looking for just innocuous articles, not only does that not align with the words he is using to Kaitlan's point on the tape about being secret, classified, highly classified, but there are witnesses in the room. How likely is it that Jack Smith has talked to others in that room?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I guarantee it. I can't guarantee it, but I was about as close as I can come to guarantee, I'm quite sure that they identified and interviewed and possibly even brought to the grand jury any number of those four witnesses and I would expect that you'll see those witnesses at trial as well.

And if any of those witnesses takes the stand, they'll be asked things like, they'll stop the tape at a particular point and say, okay, at that moment when he made that comment, what was in his hand, and they'll describe the document that was in his hand and they'll say, did you actually see what was on the page? Could you see if there were classification markings? Was there a cover sheet with a colored border around it? Any of those things that any of us know as being indicators of classified material. So his defense of it was just a fistful of newspaper articles will fall apart. And I should also say that even if that's his defense, essentially, I

was actually holding something that was not what I said it was, that puts him in the unenviable position of telling the jury essentially, you hear me on that tape lying. That's what I sound like when I'm lying and that is never a good impression that you want to leave with the jury.

COOPER: Kaitlan, former Congresswoman Liz Cheney spoke to NBC News about this. I just want to play a bit of that.


LIZ CHENEY, FORMER US REPRESENTATIVE: We've seen now with the audio tape that is out today as well, you know, that there is just simply no question that he is unfit to be the president of the United States.


COOPER: I mean, obviously, she is not in line with the former president's supporters. How is this being viewed by people around the former president and by his backers?

COLLINS: I think people view it as problematic, but the other way that -- when people are shocked when Republicans don't come out and say things like what Liz Cheney says there or don't even at least criticize the conduct that is underlying at the center here of this is they've seen Trump survive scandal time and time again and has been fine. And I think that is why you hear Republicans be so hesitant to come out.

I mean, there was a Congressman from Tennessee on with Dana earlier today, and he was saying he called it bizarro world that every time something like this happens, for him, his numbers would plummet. But for Trump, you know, his polling, and as we can see the polling, he still does okay. And he was saying just how mystified he is by that, not even in a critical way. But I do think that's how Republicans see this.

And as Trump was flying back from New Hampshire today, he has two reporters on the plane with him. One is from Semafor, Shelby Talcott. And he said to her explaining his comments on the audio saying it was bravado in there as he was talking to the people in the room.

And it reminded me of "Access Hollywood" when he was saying, you know, it's just locker room talk, and it gave Republicans this defense to use and they came out and used it after being a little bit quiet for a bit.

And it just -- I think that is part of the mentality in how Republicans stand up for him. They see how he is doing in the polls and they see that he has weathered other scandals.

COOPER: And extraordinary that he was trying to impress a ghostwriter for Mark Meadows, a buyer for a book no one will ever read.

Andrew, what is this tape and the other known evidence so far indicate about the strength of the special counsel's case?

MCCABE: I mean, for all indications, Anderson, the case is incredibly strong. We knew that already with the indictment, which is very detailed and it is not detailed with allegations, it is detailed with actual statements of fact, things that can be backed up by pieces of evidence.

This recording just adds a level of reality for those jurors. Imagine you are sitting in the jury box, when that recording is played you are essentially listening to the defendant say in his own words that -- you're actually listening to him commit the offense that he has been accused of.


He is in possession of national defense information. He is in knowing possession of national defense information. By his own description on the recording, it is clearly national defense information. It is, you know, allegedly a memorandum of options to attack another nation.

And then he commits the offense of sharing it either by description or actually by showing a bunch of people in the room who don't have access or don't have lawful access to that material.

So it's just a vivid and unmistakable impression that they'll go away with that they've actually kind of heard at least in one instance the former president doing exactly what has been alleged.

COOPER: Kaitlan, as you know, Walt Nauta, who is the former president's, I guess, closest sort of body person. He was supposed to be in court today. What happened?

COLLINS: He didn't go to court because he never made it there, because I mean, there's been obviously a lot of flight cancellations. He reportedly sat on the tarmac for several hours yesterday, never ultimately made it down to Miami to get arraigned.

Remember, two weeks ago when Trump was arrested and arraigned in Miami, Walt was supposed to be as well. He is now a co-defendant for the former president, but he wasn't because he didn't have a Florida- based attorney, which you need to waive you in, to have your rights read to you, to plead not guilty. He didn't have that.

He still doesn't have that based on what we know. So, it's not even clear --

COOPER: He still doesn't have a Florida-based attorney.

COLLINS: Based on what we know so far, so it is not even clear that this would have gone forward today, or what that would have looked like.

But I do think this is an indication of something we've been talking about, which is the judge here and what the timelines are going to look like. Is it going to get delayed because after that happened today, his flight was delayed or his flight never made it there. He was never in Florida. His attorney was there though. The judge said, okay, well, you have to be here July 6th. That is your next date, and you have to have a Florida attorney here with you.

COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. Andrew McCabe as well.

Kaitlan is going to -- speaking with the former Trump attorney -- Tim Parlatore in the next hour, so we look forward to that.

Joining me now for his reaction to the Trump audiotape is constitutional scholar and Harvard Law professor, Laurence Tribe.

Professor, you hear the former president saying this recording is much ado about nothing, nothing wrong with it, which is what he said about most things. How problematic do you think it is for his defense?

LAURENCE TRIBE, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, I think it essentially destroys any defense he could have had. It makes it clear that he knew that he had no longer any authority to declassify documents, and classified or not, this, for all appearances was not just a document that was top secret, it was operational contingency plans for attacking Iran, and he was just showing it to people.

And I think it's clear that Jack Smith, who always dots his I's and crosses his T's is going to be able to show that it was exactly what Donald Trump claimed it was. His defense, if you want to call it that, that I was just bragging and lying, which may end up being his defense, or maybe he will say it was a planted map, or maybe he will say something else. You never know. He is just greenlighting all over the place.

But there's going to be evidence from the people in the room where it happened that this was what it appeared to be.

COOPER: Do you think it's -- I mean, what Jack Smith have -- is it possible Jack Smith would not have included this if he didn't have people in the room who could back up what was actually on these papers he was rustling about?

TRIBE: Not only possible, it's likely he wouldn't have included if he didn't have that kind of backup. He is essentially -- there are so many ways it can be used. It can be used as a kind of exit ramp if Aileen Cannon slow walks the case or makes some impossible rulings. It means, he can be indicted in New Jersey because this show and tell of very dangerous national security information, defense information occurred at Bedminster. They could also use it to prove Trump's state of mind in a prosecution in Florida.

It is also important, quite apart from how it is used legally, it is important in the way that Liz Cheney said, it shows to anybody who cares about this nation or about the constitution, or about preserving the Republic, that this man is a clear and present danger to the security of the United States of America.

He and the people around him think it is cool to show people how we would go about attacking a nation like Iran if push came to shove. Just step back for a minute. What does that say about what it would mean for him to have continued access to top secret materials? About how we would respond to a crisis in the Middle East, to something in the Taiwan Straits.


This man is a clear danger to the country quite apart from how people will react to the trial, and after seeing and hearing this evidence, the only way that the juror could possibly vote to acquit him is by basically saying I don't care if he's guilty, I'm committed from the start to go with this leader, he is my leader. And hopefully, a fair jury will prevent anyone from being on there who either is pre- committed to vote to convict, or pre-committed to vote to acquit.

So this is going to be devastating evidence, but quite apart from that, if the country hears this as it is beginning to on CNN and on other networks, it is going to begin seeping in. This man cares about nothing but himself. He is willing to sacrifice the country to hold power.

I don't think there's going to be a majority in even a very red state that says it's fine to do that.

COOPER: About the venue, is there a scenario or any scenario under which Judge Aileen Cannon could block prosecutors from introducing the tape in court? Or is it admissible, literally, virtually guaranteed?

TRIBE: We've seen in the past that there is no predicting what she will do. She may be, in that sense, really a loose cannon, but there is no legal basis on which she could exclude it, because it certainly bears at least on his state of mind. It doesn't have to have happened in Florida in order to prove that he knew what it meant to have this kind of material and he knew that he had no right to hold it.

He said, you know, I no longer have a right to declassify it. So it's clearly admissible. But if she were to mistakenly exclude it, then they could indict him in New Jersey, because her only ground for excluding it would be this is a New Jersey matter, not a matter of for Florida.

COOPER: You mentioned the jury earlier. The trial likely to be held in the areas relatively favorable, it's believed to the former president. How concerned do you think the special counsel team should be?

TRIBE: Well, I think they should realize that the process of jury selection could be very important, because it only takes one juror to result in a hung jury and a mistrial. So it's really important to realize that the process of jury selection has to be meticulous.

We really have to pick people who take their oath seriously, to follow the law, and to follow the facts, and it turns out in this country, people do take their oath seriously, even if they're part of a politically committed group, committed to a particular person.

So I think that, although it's a concern, I'm also willing to believe that the jury system is going to work, but there is the backup of going to New Jersey, and he could certainly be indicted, and I'm sure he will, in DC for the plot to overturn the election.

So he has it coming from all sides. The main thing is, if a country sees this evidence, we have got to know that this is a dangerous man to put in charge of our most, most important national defense secrets.

COOPER: Laurence Tribe, I appreciate your being on the program. Thank you.

Coming up next, a CNN exclusive: Rudy Giuliani talking to federal prosecutors about attempts to overturn the 2020 election as the investigation appears to be accelerating.

And all we are learning about the missile strike on civilians in the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk.



COOPER: In a moment, conservative and former federal appeals court judge, Michael Luttig, who warned the January 6 Committee that the former president and his allies are "clear and present danger to democracy." His take on today's Supreme Court ruling on the right-wing legal theory that was central to the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election and might that might have a significant impact for 2024.

First, though exclusive new CNN reporting on one of the lawyers who took part in that effort. Rudy Giuliani, who we just learned has recently met with federal investigators.

CNN's Sara Murray joins us now with more on that. So what do we know about this Giuliani interview?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, my colleague, Paula Reid and I know that Rudy Giuliani went in and spoke to federal investigators recently who of course, are still investigating January 6th in efforts to subvert the peaceful transition of power. But what we don't know is what the focus was of this meeting, this discussion with investigators.

You know, there are a number of elements around January 6th that Rudy Giuliani was involved in that could have been the focus. You know, we know for instance, witnesses have been asked recently about the activities of top lawyers surrounding Donald Trump, who are spreading these baseless claims of election fraud. We know Rudy Giuliani is one of those folks.

We know Giuliani had previously been subpoenaed by the Feds who are looking for documents related to payments he got around the 2020 election. And of course, we've reported that investigators have been looking recently into this fake electors scheme and Giuliani played a role in overseeing these electors across seven battleground states.

So those are all areas investigators could have focused on with Giuliani, but we don't know for certain what the subject of this meeting was -- Anderson.

COOPER: I mean, did he have to answer questions? Could he just plead the fifth?

MURRAY: I mean, certainly no one is forcing him to answer questions, but this is a meeting he goes into with prosecutors. This isn't an appearance before the grand jury from what we understand at this point. So it does seem like there was likely some back and forth.

But again, we don't know exactly what the focus of this meeting was with investigators.

COOPER: Does it indicate anything about what stage the investigation is that?

MURRAY: Well, it's interesting because it's pretty late in the game, right, for investigators to be talking to Rudy Giuliani, someone who is a big figure, was a prominent player around Donald Trump at this time.

We know that there has been a steady stream of witnesses going into the federal grand jury. We know that prosecutors have been trying to tap new witnesses, just to come in for interviews, to sort of check the box, make sure they've covered all the bases, and we've gotten indications from people familiar with this investigation, that we could be nearing a charging decision in this case.

Of course, Special Counsel Jack Smith hasn't actually announced any charges. So we're going to have to still wait and see how Rudy Giuliani could potentially fit into all this -- Anderson.

COOPER: Sara Murray, appreciate it. Thank you.

Perspective now from conservative legal scholar and former federal appeals court judge, Michael Luttig who testified last year before the House January 6 Select Committee.


You'll remember he is the one whose legal argument persuaded former Vice President Pence that there was no basis for him to reject the electoral count as the former president wanted him to do.

In a recent "New York Times" op-ed, Judge Luttig condemn what he calls the Republican Party's spineless support for the former president and predicted more legal troubles ahead for him.

Judge Luttig, I appreciate you joining us.

I want to discuss today's key Supreme Court election ruling in a moment. But first, how big a deal is it in your view that Rudy Giuliani met with federal prosecutors looking into efforts to overturn the 2020 election?

J. MICHAEL LUTTIG, FORMER JUDGE OF THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT: I'm just learning of that tonight, Anderson, and it is obviously significant. It's hard to assess just how significant it is.

For the past few weeks at least, it seemed that Jack Smith and the Department of Justice are nearing charging decisions for January 6. It makes perfectly good sense to me that they would want to talk to Mr. Giuliani before making those decisions.

COOPER: In your recent "New York Times" op-ed, which was a blistering indictment of the Republican Party's support for Donald Trump, you wrote that a criminal indictment of a former president for trying to overturn the 2020 election is almost certain.

I'm wondering why you think a grand jury is so likely to indict him on that.

LUTTIG: We know that the grand jury was impaneled a long time ago. It has been working dutifully for many, many months now, and ever since Jack Smith came on board as special counsel, Anderson, the Department of Justice seems to have picked up the pace in that investigation, and one just has the sense that we're nearing the time when charges will be brought or not brought for that matter.

COOPER: The Supreme Court today rejected the so-called independent state legislature theory. Can you just explain how this theory tracks with the actions then President Trump wanted then Vice President Pence to take on January 6, actions, which we should remind people you personally convinced the vice president not to take.

LUTTIG: Anderson, the Moore versus Harper is the most significant case for America's democracy since our founding almost 250 years ago.

COOPER: Wow. That's saying a lot.

LUTTIG: It is a decision -- it is indeed and we can -- I can explain that to you if we have time. But today's decision was a reverberating, resounding victory for America's democracy, but to your specific question, the independent -- so-called independent state legislature theory of constitutional interpretation was the centerpiece of the former president's effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

And in particular, that aspect of the plan that called for the various legislatures in the swing states to transmit to Congress, for counting fake electoral slates that would vote for Donald Trump over Joe Biden, even though Joe Biden had won the popular vote in those respective states.

The former president and his allies had argued for this independent state legislature theory, even before the 2020 presidential election.

And in December of 2020, the Supreme Court actually declined to take the case, which would have settled the issue prior to January 6, and I always thought that the court had an obligation to take the case at that time, but it did not, and once it did not, I and other people who follow the Supreme Court knew that the court would take the case sooner rather than later and it took Moore versus Harper sooner and decided that case today. COOPER: So do you believe or I guess what impact do you think the

Supreme Court ruling today could have on the special counsel's investigation for instance of the former president?

LUTTIG: As I said, you know, we know that the independent state legislature theory, which was decided today by the Supreme Court was the centerpiece of that effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

And so, Jack Smith and the Department of Justice are scrutinizing that plan, the centerpiece of which was the independent state legislature theory.

As I thought about it, this afternoon after this morning's decision, if I were Jack Smith or the attorney general of the United States, I believe I would have needed today's decision from the Supreme Court of the United States in order to proceed with charges against the former president and his allies and compatriots in connection with the January 6 events.


COOPER: When you testified last year before the January 6th Select Committee, you said, in part, quote, "Donald Trump and his allies and supporters area clear and present danger to American democracy. They would attempt to overturn the 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election, but succeed in 2024 where they failed in 2020". Do you still believe that clear and present danger exists tonight and in the months ahead?

LUTTIG: As of tonight, the danger is neither clear nor present with the decision today, repudiating the independent state legislature theory, Anderson. When you couple today's decision, repudiating that theory with the -- with Congress's reform, if you will, of the Electoral Count Act at the end of its last term, those two accomplishments, if you will, all but ensure that no president, let alone the former president, could attempt to overturn the 2024 presidential election in the same way, using the same template that the former president used in 2020.

COOPER: Judge Luttig, I really appreciate you being with us. Thank you so much.

LUTTIG: Thank you, Anderson. It's a pleasure.

COOPER: Coming up, the former president and Ron DeSantis trading jabs at dueling events in the first Republican primary state today. Our Kristen Holmes is in New Hampshire with details next.



COOPER: Several Republican candidates for president were in New Hampshire today, including, as we mentioned, the former president, along with his top Republican challenger for the White House, Ron DeSantis. DeSantis had led the race there at the beginning of the year. That lead has since flipped. And now the former president is ahead in the first Republican primary state by double digits.

Today at their dueling events, he sharply attacked DeSantis on a number of fronts. Meanwhile, the Florida governor touted his record while criticizing that of the former president until it came to an audience question about January 6.

Kristen Holmes has more.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Donald Trump, the current GOP frontrunner, speaking at a luncheon with the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thanks as well to all of the Republican women of the great state of New Hampshire.


HOLMES (voice-over): And attacking his chief rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

TRUMP: Somebody said, how come you only attack him? I said, because he's in second place. Well, why don't you attack others? Because they're not in second place. But soon I don't think he'll be in second place, so I'll be attacking somebody else.

HOLMES (voice-over): DeSantis taking a less direct approach during his town hall about 40 miles away.

DESANTIS: So the question is -- and I remember these rallies in 2016, there was exciting, drain the swamp. I also remember, lock her up. Lock her up, right? And then two weeks after the election, oh, don't forget about it. Forget I ever said that. No, no, no.

One thing you'll get from me if I tell you I'm going to do something, I'm not just saying that for an election.

HOLMES (voice-over): As he seeks to make inroads in the crucial first GOP primary state, DeSantis urging voters to look forward, not backwards, and declining to criticize the former president when asked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people think that Trump's actions on January 6 and beyond violated the key principles of America and the Constitution set forth by our founding fathers. Do you believe that Trump violated the peaceful transfer of power?

DESANTIS: So here's what I know, if this election is about Biden's failures and our vision for the future, we are going to win. If it's about relitigating things that happened two, three years ago, we're going to lose.

HOLMES (voice-over): DeSantis taking questions from the audience, a tradition of the primary process after not doing so on its first swing through the state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your administration going to do to protect our Second Amendment rights, showing that gun laws really don't seem to keep the guns out of the criminals' hands?

DESANTIS: Great questions. Thank you.

HOLMES (voice-over): The competing event prompting the Republican women's group to criticize DeSantis for drawing attention away from the luncheon with Trump, though some members of the group objected to the statement.

TRUMP: It's not really nice, but he's holding an event right now to compete with us.

HOLMES (voice-over): As the Republican primary heats up, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy not saying whether he believes Trump is the strongest candidate for the party to nominate in 2024.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Can Trump beat Biden? Yes, he can beat Biden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It makes it complicated if he's got all these trials and all this stuff overhanging the --

MCCARTHY: It makes it complicated, it also helps him. The question is, is he the strongest to win the election? I don't know that answer.

HOLMES (voice-over): Those comments sparking outrage from Trump allies and advisers, who believe the former president helped McCarthy claim the speakership after lobbying GOP hardliners in the House to back him.


COOPER: Kristen Holmes joins us now from Concord, New Hampshire, cited the former president's event. So has Speaker McCarthy said anything else since he made those remarks?

HOLMES: Well, Anderson, after we reported how angry Trump's allies and advisers were, McCarthy appeared to play cleanup. He talked to a conservative news outlet and said that Trump was stronger today than he was in 2016, and attempted to say that this was the media driving some sort of wedge between the Speaker and the former president.


But, of course, as we just played for you that sound, it is McCarthy himself who says that he does not know if Trump is the strongest candidate in 2024. So hard to see how that was the media playing that out. Anderson?

COOPER: Kristen from Concord, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Up next, we take you to eastern Ukraine, where a Russian missile hit restaurants packed with the customers. What Ukraine's President is saying about the deadly strike coming up.


COOPER: A manifestation of terror, that's what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is saying about a deadly Russian strike in eastern Ukraine tonight. One missile hit a busy restaurant area in Kramatorsk, where officials say at least four people are dead, including a 17- year-old girl. Dozens more were injured.

The second missile hit a nearby village where buildings and cars were left in ruins. The attack follows an attempted arm mutiny in Russia, of course by Yevgeny Prigozhin, his mercenary Wagner group, which revealed potential cracks in Vladimir Putin's grip on power.

Tonight, there are CNN exclusive reporting, two planes linked to Prigozhin are spotted in satellite images at the Belarusian air base near Minsk. Both planes landed there this morning. Belarus's leader claiming the Wagner boss arrived there today. But Prigozhin own plane hasn't been seen since Saturday.

More now from CNN's Ben Wedeman in eastern Ukraine. Ben, what is the latest from Kramatorsk, where you were earlier today?


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, Anderson, they are still digging through the rubble looking for survivors. I mean, the numbers we have now are four dead, including a teenage girl and 47 wounded. Now, among those wounded -- and we must warn you, this is graphic video, and we can't independently verify it, but it's video of an eight-month old baby who was in that restaurant, injured.

We understand the baby was taken to the Kramatorsk hospital, condition isn't too bad, but this gives you an indication of just the terror of what happened in that restaurant. It was full of people. The strike happened at 7:32 in the evening when it was full of people. We understand there might even have been a party in the basement.

So, it was a scene of utter pandemonium, and they're basically working around the clock trying to find more people because they believe there are many more people under the rubble. Anderson?

COOPER: And can you talk a little bit more about the area that was hit? I mean, clearly, from what we're seeing, it's a civilian area, not a military one.

WEDEMAN: Yes, it's just the middle of the city. This is a restaurant called the Ria, very popular. And I'll tell you, we were having lunch there yesterday, full of people. Yes, there were soldiers, there were civilians, there were children. There were all sorts of people. It's a very busy, very popular place.

And in that area, there's a post office. There's a jewelry store around the corner. One of Kramatorsk's biggest supermarket is just a few minutes down the block. So this is a mixture of stores, restaurants, residential buildings. There's nothing military in that area.

It's completely -- it would seem completely random, but the fact that it's popular with soldiers makes you wonder. Now, this evening, President Zelenskyy, in his nightly address, said it was struck by an S-300 missile. Now, that's a Russian missile normally used, it's a surface to air missile. They are using it frequently, however, to target cities and towns near the front line.

It's not particularly precise. So this may have been simply a random missile fired into a very busy center of a civilian city. Anderson?

COOPER: Ben Wedeman, I appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

A footnote to Ben's report, the man we showed on the ground in the video, we don't yet know the extent of his injuries or what happened to him.

Up next, back to our top story, the former president caught on tape talking about the classified document. It's the latest recording of him that is people talking, certainly not the first. The tales of the mini tapes coming up.



COOPER: The audio recording is exclusively obtained by CNN and President Trump boasting about a secret document that he wasn't allowed to keep or share with those without proper security clearance is just one of many recordings of him which have made headlines over the years.

With a look at the tapes, here's our Randi Kaye.


TRUMP: You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet.

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump caught on tape saying crude things about women in 2005 during an interview with Access Hollywood, broadcast just weeks before Election Day in 2016.

TRUMP: Grab them by the (INAUDIBLE). You can do anything.

KAYE (voice-over): Days after the recording surfaced, Trump, then the Republican presidential nominee, apologized. Though the New York Times later reported Trump told a Republican senator that he wanted to investigate the recording because, quote, "We don't think that was my voice".

Also, before the 2016 election, Trump was recorded in his office by his then lawyer, Michael Cohen. The two were discussing how they would buy the rights to former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal's story. She claims she and Trump had an affair which ended in 2007. Trump has denied the affair, but listened to him on tape.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David. I've spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with --

TRUMP: So, what do we got to pay for this? 150?

COHEN: -- funding. Yes.

KAYE (voice-over): Before Election Day, Trump's friend David Pecker, whose company published the National Enquirer, paid McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her story. Then buried it in what's known as a catch and kill scheme. Months before the 2020 election, President Trump was recorded on a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

According to a White House transcript, Trump pressured Zelenskyy by asking him to investigate trump's 2020 opponent, Joe Biden, as well as Biden's son, Hunter, who once had business in Ukraine. Later, Trump repeatedly referred to the call like this.

TRUMP: We had a perfect phone call with the President of Ukraine.

KAYE (voice-over): A whistleblower inside the White House shared details of the call with members of the intelligence community. Congress investigated. In the end, that recording led to Trump's first impeachment. Trump denied any wrongdoing.

In 2020, journalist Bob Woodward recorded interviews with Trump for his book. Those interviews, later made public, revealed that Trump knew for months how dangerous the coronavirus was and how it spread, but intentionally concealed that from the public.

TRUMP: I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down.


TRUMP: Because I don't want to create a panic. It goes through air, Bob. That's always tougher than the touch.

KAYE (voice-over): After the 2020 election, Trump was recorded yet again.

TRUMP: It's just not possible to have lost Georgia. It's not possible. When I heard it was close, I said, there's no way.

KAYE (voice-over): That's Trump on the phone with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Trump called him following his loss in the 2020 election.

TRUMP: It's pretty clear that we won, we won very substantially Georgia.

KAYE (voice-over): That wasn't true. Trump lost Georgia by 11,779 votes. On the recording, he's heard, asking Raffensperger to find enough votes to give Trump a win. [20:55:07]

TRUMP: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.

KAYE (voice-over): Raffensperger didn't play ball. Trump is now under investigation by Georgia's Fulton County district attorney for his actions on the phone call in question.

Randi Kaye, CNN.


COOPER: One late note on this latest tape talking to ABC in Semaphore on the way back from New Hampshire, the former president insisted that he was not showing off classified documents in the clip, quoting him now, I would say it was bravado, if you want to know the truth. It was bravado. He goes on to say, quote, "I was talking and just holding up papers and talking about them, but I had no documents. I didn't have any documents". That's his latest explanation.

Next, a blistering report by the Department of Justice that answers the conspiracy theories about how Jeffrey Epstein died. Details ahead.


COOPER: Nearly four years after Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide in his jail cell, the Justice Department's Inspector General's Office today issued a scathing report about the Bureau of Prisons and the litany of failures it says led to Epstein's death in 2019 after he was arrested on federal charges of sex trafficking of minors.

They include failure to conduct rounds, wrongly giving him extra bedlinens, which he used to hang himself, and failure to assign Epstein a roommate after he was put on suicide watch. Two guards on duty that night later admitted to falsifying records. The report found no evidence to suggest foul play.

The news continues. CNN Primetime with Kaitlan Collins starts now.