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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Former Attorney General Holder Reacts To Trump Audio Tape; Kremlin Calls New York Times Report On Russian General Speculation And Rumors; Putin Rules Through Fear And Money Says Tom Friedman; Trump Sues E. Jean Carroll for Defamation; President Biden Denies He Was Present During Alleged Hunter Biden 2017 Text; Madonna Recovering From Serious Bacterial Infection, Postpones World Tour; U.S. Coast Guard Says Presumed Human Remains And Debris Recovered From The Titan Site. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 28, 2023 - 20:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Roman, thank you so very much. I appreciate your time and I hope that you continue and you quickly feel better

All right, well, that was Roman Trokhymets joining us, of course from near the frontlines and here from Eastern Ukraine in Dnipro. Thanks so much for joining us.

AC 360 begins right now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER: 360": Tonight on 360: Trump's latest excuse, it wasn't a crime, just bravado and they weren't secret documents, just building plans. Legendary reporters Woodward and Bernstein join me live.

Also Vladimir Putin moves to look in control as questions swirl about what really happened with this weekend's rebellion. Author and columnist, Thomas Friedman joins us.

Plus E. Jean Carroll, now a defendant, as the former president already found liable for sexually abusing and defaming her countersues claiming she defamed him.

Good evening.

When we left you last night, the former president had just floated a new explanation for the tape of him two summers ago apparently sharing a classified plan for attacking Iran, which he was not authorized to have with people not authorized to see it.

And that explanation now is, I was just BS-ing people. He didn't say BS, he said it was bravado, a fancier word, same BS.

Before reading you his latest excuse, hear his actual words, July 2021, showing off the documents. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is secret information. Look, look at this.

STAFFER: You did.

TRUMP: 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 -- 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.


COOPER: Well, it sounds pretty clear, doesn't it? These are the papers he says. This, he says, is secret information. I could have declassified it, this is still a secret.

But last night speaking to Semafor and ABC News, he said he wasn't really showing his guests anything secret at all. This is what he said last night: "I would say it was bravado, if you want to know the truth, it was bravado. I was talking and just holding up papers and talking about them, but I had no documents. I didn't have any documents."

As for his use of the word plans during the Fox interview earlier yesterday, he said: "Did I use the word plans? What I'm referring to is magazines, newspapers, plans and buildings. I had plans of buildings, you know, building plans. I had plans of a golf course."

So to believe the former president, he was citing a classified document to bolster his argument about Iran, while pointing to plans for the four or five doglegged seventeen or something. If that were true, why did he say these are the papers, which certainly suggests the people with him were in a position to see the papers in question.

Also, one of the people had every reason to pay close attention, a ghostwriter and a publisher working on the memoir of former chief-of- staff, Mark Meadows, who wrote this apparently about the moment in Mark Meadows' book: "The president recalls a four-page report typed up by Mark Milley himself. It contained the general's own plan to attack Iran, deploying massive numbers of troops, something he urged President Trump to do more than once during his presidency."

If the former president had just been idly waving a stack of papers around, why would the ghost writers specify that it was a four-page report? Or was the ghost writer also just lying? Excuse me, full of bravado himself.

Last night on the program, former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe said he was pretty sure the special counsel would have already spoken to the people in the room. And it's hard not to imagine he asked them what they were shown and whether it had classified markings.

Joining us is Eric Holder who served as attorney general during the Obama administration.

Attorney General Holder, appreciate you being with us. When you heard this recording of the former president at Bedminster, I'm wondering what first went through your mind?

ERIC HOLDER, FORMER US ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I thought as a former prosecutor, this is about as good evidence as you're likely to get and then I thought about it.

You know, I think the tape itself is very significant, but you're going to need a little something more than that. You're going to need somebody to knock down the so-called bravado defense, a witness who can say that they actually saw what the president -- former president had in his hands, some kind of video, maybe a surveillance tape, or some kind of document control so that you know that that is exactly what he had in his hands.

But here's the deal: The fact that it was included in the indictment that was returned in Florida is an indication I think that the Justice Department is confident that it is going to be able to prove that in fact, those documents that he had in his hands were in fact, what he said they were, some kind of classified plan about attacking Iran.

COOPER: In terms of the special counsel's investigation related to the 2020 election, we reported last night, Rudy Giuliani met with federal prosecutors in recent weeks and we know the Georgia secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger was set to meet with federal investigators today.

Does that suggest to you where Jack Smith may be headed and when?


HOLDER: I'm not sure about when, but I think it certainly indicates that Jack Smith is doing an appropriately expansive look at what actually happened on January 6th, who was involved in the planning for January 6th?

I know Jack Smith a little bit and he is not the kind of guy who is going to leave any stone unturned. And my guess what he is doing now is overturning some stones.

But you're also talking about people who are relatively close to the president at this point. And in the normal course of a public corruption investigation, you talk to those people who are closest to the subject, closest to the target when you get towards the end of an investigation.

COOPER: I want to ask you about yesterday's Supreme Court ruling that rejected the so-called independent state legislature theory.

Last night, I talked to a retired federal judge, Michael Luttig, who was the person who convinced then Vice President Pence not to go along with Trump's effort to overturn the election. He said he thought the court's decision is, "The most significant case for America's democracy since our founding almost 250 years ago." Do you agree with him? Is it that big?

HOLDER: Well, it was certainly a huge victory for our democracy. The court had to consider what really is a fringe theory, this notion of this independent state legislature doctrine or theory, which would have said in essence that state legislatures operate independently of review by state courts, totally inconsistent with our notion of checks and balances.

It is going to have an impact in making sure that the election in 2024 will have the state legislature appropriately circumscribed with a decision going the other way, I'd be very concerned that state legislators might use the power that they were given by a bad Supreme Court decision to potentially, potentially overturn the will of the voters in a particular state and that is not going to be able to happen now.

COOPER: We are obviously waiting for the Supreme Court to release its much anticipated decision on the fate of affirmative action on college admissions. I'm wondering, given the makeup of the court, what you expect them to rule and what kind of an impact you think this is going to have?

HOLDER: Well, I don't know how they're going to rule. I can tell you what I fear is that they will somehow overturn a vast number of cases that have found a way in which to say that affirmative action is appropriate.

You know, you can't use quotas, race can be a factor, it can't be a sole determinant. And the concern that I have is that it will balkanize -- it will, in some ways, make it more difficult for our institutions, certainly of higher education, potentially business down the road to have the kind of diversity that I think this nation is blessed with, the kind of diversity that makes this nation unique in the world. It makes us stronger and more competitive around the world.

And so I'm worried that that's where the Supreme Court might actually go. My hope is that they will follow precedent. There have been a number of cases that have looked at this issue of affirmative action, a number of Republican appointed justices who have said that it is appropriate as there are certain restrictions.

My hope would be that the court would keep that line of thought -- that line of thought going.

COOPER: Attorney General Holder, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you. HOLDER: Thank you.

COOPER: More perspective now on the documents case on what appears to be a smoking gun tape from two people who certainly know from smoking gun tapes, the legendary investigative journalist and authors, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Bob, you've interviewed the foreign president a lot. We've discussed your own tapes of him. What stands out to you about this latest recording?

BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Well, it really shows that Donald Trump is an alarming, dangerous threat to national security.

In the book "Peril" that I did with Robert Costa, we recount two national security council meetings where Trump, not General Milley or the Defense Department are agitating for a possible attack on Iran and he is pushing it, ad General Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the number one military man in the country is telling Trump, you don't want a war. If you start a war, you're going to get in to a conflict that you can't get out of.

You see him in this reporting that we did from these meetings, from notes that it is the general who say no, no, no and Trump is saying, well, in one of the meetings, the Iranians have enough to make two nuclear bombs and he is worried about that and thinking that maybe they should consider an attack.


And these contingency plans are the most sensitive documents in the government, because what they do is they outline in a crisis, how we might attack Iran, what the casualties would be, how many ships would be sunk, how long it might take and that's something you can't treat casually, as Trump has, and when I read this and connected some of the dots, I've never seen anyone in government, let alone a president handle a situation like this so irresponsibly.

COOPER: Yes. Carl, I want to read you something that Garrett Graff historian wrote. He said: "Speaking as a Watergate historian, there is nowhere on thousands of hours of Nixon tapes, where Nixon makes any comment as clear as clearly illegal and as clearly self-aware as this Trump tape."

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You're absolutely right. There has never been a president of the United States that we know of, who in such a reckless irresponsible way has waived the essential battle plan against our most dangerous enemies, and to a of sycophants, showing it around the room, bragging about it and at the same time, the total disregard as this president has shown throughout his years in the Oval Office for the national security of the United States while being focused on his own personal needs, forget the United States of America.

We've never seen a moment in the Oval Office like this, not with Nixon, not with any other president. COOPER: Bob, former President Trump is heard saying things like this

is secret information. And as president, I could have declassified it, but now I can't. I mean, if you were writing a play about this, you wouldn't even say those lines, because there's so on the dots of exactly what somebody should not be saying.

I'm wondering, you know, reading it in the indictment is one thing, but actually hearing his own voice on the recording, how impactful do you think that is?

WOODWARD: Look, it is a cold criminal case. There is no question about that. But I think we have to go to the next level in this: What does this mean in the real world? And you look at through -- you look through this indictment and there are other documents that involve human sources, some of the crown jewels, sources that the CIA has, and the idea that you would be cavalier about this, that meeting that's on tape, he is kind of joking about it.

And if there is something to not joke about, this is it.

And, look, I've spent 50 years reporting on national security. And I've never seen anything like this from anyone, where you would actually kind of, oh, well, you know, this is something, Milley and the Defense Department -- and possibly be showing it around.

What does it show? It shows he does not understand the obligations of the presidency. He is running for that office again and whether you like him or don't like him, people ought to look at the question, what does this mean about our national security?

BERNSTEIN: And it is also the whole problem of the Republican Party. I spent two weeks --

COOPER: Well, I was going to ask you, there is my question, because it's not just the sycophants in the room, who are laughing about this.

BERNSTEIN: Absolutely.

COOPER: I mean, the others aren't necessarily laughing, but they're blowing it off, and they're using it saying, oh, it's a weaponization.

BERNSTEIN: I just spent two weeks talking to people close to Mitch McConnell and trying to find as many people as I could who have an idea of what Mitch McConnell is going to do in this campaign. And they say to me, he is not going to condemn Donald Trump at all.

He is going to keep his silence. How the Republican leader can keep his silence about this kind of conduct? In one fell swoop, McConnell has the power to say this man is unqualified to be president of the United States. I'm a proud Republican. We have to elect and nominate somebody else.

This should disqualify Trump from the presidency in the eyes of people of every party. This is --

[20:15:05] COOPER: I mean, is that a realistic way of thinking? I mean does Mitch

McConnell what -- Mitch McConnell can say, but what if the RNC doesn't follow Mitch McConnell?

BERNSTEIN: How about leadership? How about some leadership in the Republican Party the likes of which moved Richard Nixon out of office? Barry Goldwater, the 1964 nominee of his party to be president in the United States led a delegation of Republican leaders to the Oval Office and sat across from Richard Nixon who asked him how many votes do I have, Senator Goldwater if there is going to be an impeachment trial? And Goldwater turned to him and said, Mr. President, you might have half a dozen, and you're not going to have mine.

Let's see Mitch McConnell, do that.

COOPER: Bob, I mean, do you imagine Mitch McConnell ever doing that or any -- I mean, is that -- that's just not the way politics work anymore, is it?

Bob, do you -- I mean, do you think that's the way -- do you think -- is that a realistic idea? I think we lost him.

BERNSTEIN: We lost his audio.

COOPER: I mean, it just seems I get what you're saying and there is clearly --

BERNSTEIN: Is it a realistic idea?

COOPER: And there is clearly historic precedent, but if you look at the leaders today.

BERNSTEIN: There is historic precedent on January 8th when McConnell and the Speaker, Mr. McCarthy got up and said that Donald Trump is responsible for what happened on January 6th and then they backtracked, shut their mouths because they're craven.

And we have to have leadership, moral leadership, political leadership that goes beyond party. On top of which, there is no reason that Republican leaders can't say this is not who we are. We cannot have another criminal president of the United States. We cannot have the first seditious president of the United States who is Donald Trump.

COOPER: I'm wondering I mean, separate from this, the January 6 component, the special counsel's investigation. Do you think the former president is going to face federal indictment on that?

BERNSTEIN: I don't have a crystal ball, but everything that we know about what the special prosecutor, Jack Smith is doing is preparatory to a likely indictment and once again, the evidence is out there from Trump's own mouth, his criminal words, on January 6th would appear to be as open and shut case as the Mar-a-Lago documents case. This is a real criminal president.

COOPER: Carl Bernstein, appreciate it. Bob Woodward as well. Apologies for the audio problems. Coming up next, a live report from Russia where Vladimir Putin made a

big public appearance that comes amid reporting from "The New York Times" that a top Russian general had advanced knowledge of the rebellion that played out over the weekend.

"New York Times" columnist, Thomas Freeman also joins me on what my come next for Vladimir Putin.

Also tonight, E. Jean Carroll now forced to defend herself in court from the former president. We'll be right back.



COOPER: New development tonight in the wake of the aborted rebellion in Russia. Vladimir Putin made a high profile visit to the country's Dagestan region where he met with Dagestan's president, five days since the Yevgeny Prigozhin sent his Wagner Group mercenaries marching toward Moscow, questions about the entire episode still far outweigh answers, including the one raised by "New York Times" reporting that a senior Russian general had advanced knowledge of the plot.

Joining us now from Moscow, CNN's Matthew Chance.

So Matthew, "The New York Times" reporting that this Russian general knew of Prigozhin's plans, what do we know about that and about him?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: General Surovikin is his name, known as General Armageddon, because he has got a ferocious reputation on the battlefield. He was the person responsible for sort of overseeing Russia's brutal campaign of bombing against civilians and rebels in Syria, and for a brief time, he was brought in to be the Ukrainian commander earlier this year or last year, about overseeing the conflict there as well. And so he's got this ferocious reputation.

In terms of the reports in "The New York Times" that he was aware of, Yevgeny Prigozhin's uprising, well, I mean, we haven't any confirmation of that. Certainly, the Kremlin have been asked about it and they said on their conference call today that it is just speculation and rumor. So they're not particularly commenting on it either.

But certainly, this figure is a trusted or has been a trusted military member of the staff who the Kremlin depends on quite heavily.

COOPER: And how now is Vladimir Putin framing this rebellion now that several days have passed? What is the portrayal of it from him?

CHANCE: It is interesting, because he is kind of portraying this uprising against him as a challenge that was overcome by the people of the country and by the military. They sided with him, and not with the with the rebels, with the Wagner rebels, and so he is trying to cast it as this sort of event, which is promoting national unity. And we're seeing these images here of Vladimir Putin in Dagestan in

the south of Russia, getting a hero's reception, a rockstar reception really, from all of these people that had been gathered there to meet him.

And it's an extraordinary scene, because, well, you know, not least because for the past couple of years, Vladimir Putin because of the pandemic, the COVID pandemic hasn't really been in close contact with people in this way.

You remember the big long table that he sat at with various officials and world leaders? Well, you know, move from that to these up close scenes with people taking selfies and trying to touch him, it is quite extraordinary and it is sort of very reminiscent of the scenes we saw at the weekend with people cheering Wagner and cheering Yevgeny Prigozhin, I think that that scene of Russians cheering those rebels really cut the quick in the Kremlin.

COOPER: Yes, and people wanting to pose for selfies with Yevgeny Prigozhin in the last video images we saw of him as he was driving out of Rostov-on-Don.

You went out to talk with people in Moscow about how secure they felt after this rebellion. I know a lot of people didn't want to talk to you. Those you were able to talk to you, what did they say?


CHANCE: Yes, I mean people are very reluctant to kind of voice their views on camera for understandable reasons. A lot of people don't want to get engaged in politics here, because it's a very, very risky business. And so I think that, you know, the impression I got from speaking to people is that a lot of people are very relieved, for instance, that this military uprising didn't go anywhere. It didn't lead to a large amount of bloodshed although there was some bloodshed.

But there is a concern as well, which is that, you know, what is Putin going to do in order to sure up his authority? Is he going to crack down even more on people he perceives as a threat against them? And also concern as well about what this means for the general stability of the country? Are there going to be more attempts to violently overthrow the government?

COOPER: Matthew Chance from Moscow. I appreciate it, Matthew. Thank you.

One of the lingering questions about Vladimir Putin's hold on power is whether the 70 -year-old autocrat is still strong enough to thwart a takeover. And if not, what would happen next?

That's a topic, Tom Friedman addresses in his latest "New York Times" column: What Happens to Putin Now?

In it, he writes: "In the near term, though, if Putin is ousted, we could well end up with someone worse." Tom Friedman joins me now. He is the author of a number of best-

selling books, including "The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century."

So, Tom, there are -- I don't even know where to begin with what happened this weekend and there are so many kinds of unanswered questions that we still don't know. I mean, does this make sense to you what we do know? Does it -- I don't understand what Yevgeny Prigozhin was thinking about? What awaited him in Moscow unless he thought he had some sort of inside deal with somebody there who he thought my back him.

THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK POST": Well, Anderson, I think you hit on really the right issue.

You know, between Friday when they set out from their base until Saturday when he turned around, they traveled 400 miles, that Wagner Group. During that travel, they shot down six Russian Air Force planes, including one highly sophisticated command and control plane.

So what we can take from that, I think, Anderson is that some faction of the Russian military was clearly supporting him. What happened after that, we're going to just keep peeling this onion every day, because he may have felt he lost that faction, putting may have turned somebody around. He clearly felt his life -- Prigozhin's life and the life of his men might be in danger and so he took the plea bargain offered by the president of Belarus.

But I think that the central point is, there was a faction in the Russian military, that had to be very high level that was supporting this mutiny and for Putin, that has to be very disturbing.

COOPER: You wrote in "The Times," referring to Putin, you said, if he wins, the Russian people lose, but if he loses and his successor is disordered, the whole world loses.

So where does that leave Russia and the world? I mean, are you more scared of Putin staying in power or losing power?

FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, Anderson, I'm old enough, about to turn 72. I have been on secretary of State, James Baker's plane during the late 80s and early 90s when the Soviet Union collapsed.

And if you remember, the fear that the outside world had about criminality and nuclear weapons, they have some 5,000 warheads spilling out of the Soviet Union, and that was a huge focus that disorder would actually replace the Soviet Union.

And there was a period of disorder, and I think when you look at those pictures of Russians, you know, treating Putin like a rockstar. I think, it does reflect and it could all be contrived, but you know, my sense is Russians deeply remembered that period of disorder. And Putin's main source of popularity is that he brought order to Russia and maintained order.

And I would not underestimate that. I think, he has a lot of, I think authentic support for that. And, you know, if you were replaced, one of three things can happen. You get someone better, but there is no apparent Gorbachev or Yeltsin-like figure waiting in the wings, because Putin wiped them all out.

You can get someone worse. Imagine if Prigozhin today had taken the Kremlin and was in charge of the nuclear weapons, or you get fraction and disorder in a country with 5,000 nuclear weapons spanning 11 time zones.

COOPER: You also write that Putin has long ruled with two instruments, fear and money. Does the prolonged war, the military sent back of the Russian military -- I mean, has it weakened his aura of invincibility? I mean, that was part of his appeal. He was the grand strategist. He was the master chess, you know the chess master.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, chess master. You know he always said or his supporters always said, you Americans play checkers, but Putin plays chess.

Actually, it turns out Putin was playing Russian roulette with a loaded pistol all by himself. That's what he's done. He is a dangerous fool we now know. He launched a big war on the basis of a big lie.

But unfortunately, we're all to some degree writing on the good ship Putin. Because if a country as big as Russia breaks up, it will be felt everywhere. It's why I've argued from the beginning, Anderson that this is the real World War One. Oh that thing we called World War one, 1914-1918, sorry, that wasn't a world war, half the world was colonized. A lot of people were just subsistence farmers.

This is the first war in a flat wired world and everyone can follow it on a smartphone, and everyone will be impacted on it economically or strategically.


COOPER: Tom Friedman, appreciate it as always. Thank you.

FRIEDMAN: Thank you.

Coming up, a new development in another of the many legal issues facing the former president. He's countersuing writer E. Jean Carroll who won a civil trial earlier this year after a federal jury found he sexually abused her in a department store in the 1990s, details ahead.


COOPER: The former president is now countersuing writer E. Jean Carroll for defamation months after a federal jury found he sexually abused her in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s and later defamed her. She was awarded $5 million in damages. His suit insists that she defamed him during a CNN interview the day after her court victory, and it comes ahead of a defamation suit by Carroll against the former president scheduled for trial early next year.

Kara Scannell joins us now with details. So, what did she say in the CNN interview that he says is defamatory? [20:35:00]

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. I mean, so this was the interview she gave on "CNN This Morning", the day after the jury had awarded her $5 million and found that he sexually abused her and defamed her when he denied her claim of rape and said he didn't know her and that he had never met her. She appeared on "CNN This Morning" and that's the basis for this. Take a listen to what she said.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR OF 'CNN THIS MORNING': -- rape you. What about that moment?


HARLOW: Sure. And I want you to. But I just wonder, E. Jean, what went through your head when you heard that?

CARROLL: Well, I just immediately say in my own head, "Oh, yes, he did. Oh, yes, he did." See, that's my response.


SCANNELL: "Oh, yes, he did" is the part that he says is defamatory now. Later in the interview, she also talked about how she saw Trump's attorney Joe Tacopina, they had shaken hands and said, you know, kind of after the jury verdict, and that she said to him, "He did it, you know he did it." And so, it's those phrases they are saying was injurious and defamatory toward Trump.

COOPER: And how is E. Jean Carroll responding?

SCANNELL: So, her lawyers are saying this is another attempt by the former president to not take accountability for anything. And part of their statement, they write that Donald Trump again argues contrary to both logic and fact that he was exonerated by a jury that found that he sexually abused E. Jean Carroll. So they're saying this is just another effort to try to prolong his -- to pay her $5 million and just prolong this whole process.

COOPER: So, it is a little bit confusing because she had a trial. The jury found that he had sexually abused her in that department store and had defamed her in comments he made later on about it and awarded her about $5 million. But she has another defamation trial coming up against the former president as well.

SCANNELL: Right. That's the first trial that she initially brought in 2019. She had written her book. Trump had been asked about it while he was president by reporters, saying this woman said that you had raped her. That's when he made those first statements. That has been tied up because he was the president at the time he made those statements. It's now gone through an appeals process. It's back to this judge to weigh in and ultimately decide. But he has tentatively set this January trial date and they're working toward that goal. That other trial was brought under a new New York law that allowed people a look- back period and then also for statements that he made after he was outside the office of the presidency, which is why they didn't have the same legal issues around it.

COOPER: Right. Kara Scannell, appreciate it. Thanks very much. Perspective now from Jessica Roth, a Former Federal Prosecutor who is now Professor at the Cardozo School of Law here in New York. So Jessica, given that a jury already found in favor of Ms. Carroll, what sort of legal standing does the former president have to bring this suit?

JESSICA ROTH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, he has asserted this is a counterclaim to the amended complaint that she has filed in that other lawsuit that Kara mentioned. She added new claims, alleging that he further defamed her when he participated in the CNN Town Hall and in other forums, continued to deny that he had sexually assaulted her and assailed her character.

So when she filed that amended complaint, he had to file an answer to those new allegations. And it also gave an opportunity to assert any counterclaims, and that's what he did. Now, given that a jury credited her testimony that he sexually assaulted her in that Bergdorf Goodman dressing room, there's very little leeway for him to argue that she said something false about that attack.

So, what the counterclaim asserts is it's trying to split hairs between what the jury found he did affirmatively, that he actually sexually assaulted her and penetrated her essentially with his fingers, but rather not his genitals, and her saying -- continuing to assert on CNN after the verdict that he had raped her. That's the very fine needle that his lawyers are asserting is the basis for this counterclaim of defamation.

I don't see it having any merit. I don't see the judge is going to have much patience for it at all. But this may be an attempt to sort of muddy the issues, perhaps delay the trial, appeal to a political base, and perhaps just sort of confuse the issues when and if these new allegations actually go to trial.

COOPER: I mean, is it also possibly a negotiation attempt, I mean basically countersue and then work out something between the attorneys to make both lawsuits go away?

ROTH: Well, very often a counterclaim can provide sort of leverage for settlement discussions. In this particular case, it's pretty hard to imagine that there's really going to be much room for a negotiated settlement here given that the jury already found that he sexually abused Ms. Carroll. And so, as Ms. Carroll's lawyers have said in response to -- or with respect to these new claims that they have filed, really there's very little in dispute other than damages at this point, with respect to his ongoing statements denying that he assaulted her and denigrating her character.

So the real issue, if any, at trial on her additional claims would be to what extent has she further been damaged by these additional statements? So, it's -- I think that this is really more about playing to public opinion than anything else.


COOPER: All right. Jessica Roth, appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up, President Biden breaks his silence about a text message his son, Hunter, allegedly sent to a Chinese businessman. What the president said today and what an IRS whistleblower is saying about his son, next.


COOPER: Responding to reporters' questions today, President Biden denied he was president or involved when his son, Hunter, allegedly texted a Chinese business partner in 2017, claiming that he was sitting with his dad. Republicans in the House Oversight and Accountability Committee released the messages last week, days after the president's son agreed to a plea deal on misdemeanor charges for failing to pay taxes on time, and that would also revolve a federal -- a felony gun charge, if certain steps were taken.

The Committee also released transcripts of their interviews with an IRS Supervisor turned whistleblower, who once oversaw the investigation of Hunter Biden and who testified about the text messages. Now, that whistleblower is saying more in an interview with CBS News. With all of these developments, here is CNN's Jessica Schneider.


GARY SHAPLEY, IRS AGENT WHO INVESTIGATED HUNTER BIDEN: If this was any other person, they likely would have already served their sentence.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gary Shapley is talking about Hunter Biden. The 14-year IRS veteran who once oversaw the investigation into his taxes is now claiming he was blocked from pursuing leads connected to the president.

SHAPLEY: There are certain investigative steps we weren't allowed to take that could have led us to President Biden.



SHAPLEY: We needed to take them.

AXELROD: And you weren't allowed to take them?

SHAPLEY: That's correct.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): President Biden was questioned Wednesday on the White House lawn about whether he was involved or aware of a text Hunter allegedly sent to a Chinese business partner in 2017.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How involved were you in your son's Chinese shakedown text message? Were you sitting there? Were you involved?





SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Shapley told House lawmakers that Hunter Biden tried to use his father as leverage to pressure a Chinese company into paying him. I am sitting here with my father, and we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled. Shapley testifying that Hunter's text continued, "I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction."

But the president insistent he knew nothing about these messages. U.S. Attorney David Weiss was appointed by Donald Trump and has overseen the investigation into Hunter Biden, dating back to 2018. Last week, Hunter reached a deal with prosecutors. He agreed to plead guilty for failure to file his 2017 and 2018 taxes, and he also admitted to a firearm charge that Weiss agreed not to prosecute in exchange for Hunter entering a two-year pre-trial diversion program.


HUNTER BIDEN, AMERICAN ATTORNEY, BUSINESSMAN AND ARTIST: I can say this, I'm cooperating completely.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): If a judge signs off on the deal, Hunter will not serve jail time. But Shapley now claims Weiss was blocked from bringing more robust charges. It is a claim Attorney General Merrick Garland denied at a press conference Friday.


MERRICK GARLAND, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: He was given complete authority to make all decisions on his own.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Shapley says his contemporaneous notes from an October meeting last year show differently, where he says he documented remarks from the U.S. Attorney. Weiss stated that he is not the deciding person on whether charges are filed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHAPLEY: I documented exactly what happened and it doesn't seem to match what the Attorney General or the U.S. Attorney are saying today. It was just shocking to me.



SCHNEIDER: Attorney General Merrick Garland says he would support U.S. Attorney Weiss testifying about these claims of political interference from the whistleblower. And House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is saying they want Weiss to come in as soon as July 6th. In the meantime, our team has obtained a letter from Weiss to House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, where Weiss is insisting he had ultimate authority over the Hunter Biden probe. Anderson?


COOPER: Jessica Schneider, thanks very much.

Coming up, a major health scare for Singer Madonna that put her in the ICU this weekend, what happened and her current condition just ahead.



COOPER: Singer Madonna is postponing at least some of her upcoming world tour after a health scare saw her rushed to the hospital this weekend. Her longtime manager shared a post on Instragram this afternoon saying in part, "On Saturday, June 24th, Madonna developed a serious bacterial infection which led to a several-day stay in the ICU. Her health is improving, however she is still under medical care. A full recovery is expected."

We're joined by Dr. Leana Wen, a Former Baltimore Health Commissioner and Public Health Professor at George Washington University. She is also the author of "Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health." What could cause a bacterial infection so severe that a patient would need to be in the ICU?

LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYLST: Well, that's the key question, is what is the source of this infection? So if somebody is coming into the Emergency Department and they are unresponsive, as it sounds like Madonna was when she showed up, and they're expected to have a bacterial infection, you first want to stabilize the individual. You would first want to make sure that they are breathing and supported. If they have low blood pressure from sepsis and overwhelming infection, you want to support their blood pressure.

And you also want to start broad-spectrum antibiotics that would cover a whole range of organisms in case they are what's causing the infection. And then you start looking for the source. The source could be a skin infection, soft tissue infection that then spread to the rest of the body. It could originate from the kidneys. It could originate from the lungs by way of pneumonia. It could be appendicitis or a gallbladder infection or something in the belly. So, there are all kinds of infections that could then spread to the bloodstream and unfortunately, lead to this level of illness.

COOPER: And how do you -- I mean, how common are bacterial infections?

WEN: Very common. Individuals get bacterial infections all the time. And the key is to identify it early, to get it treated. And so, if, for example, somebody has a skin infection, you would want to get antibiotics onboard very quickly before it becomes something that spreads to their bloodstream. Or if somebody has appendicitis, identify that. They might need to have surgery, but do that before their -- the appendix bursts and then you have a bigger problem.

COOPER: And what is recovery like?

WEN: It really depends. It depends on the health of the individual prior to the infection. So somebody who is generally healthy will recover faster compared to somebody with underlying medical conditions that could also be worsened by the infection. It could also depend on the source of the infection and what needed to be done. Does somebody just need to have antibiotics or did they also need to have a surgical procedure? And then it depends on how quickly they respond to treatment. In this case, it sounds like Madonna responded quite quickly. And so, a full recovery is certainly possible, although that recovery might take on the order of weeks to months.

COOPER: And how do people know, I mean, they have a bacterial infection as opposed to something else more benign?

WEN: Yeah, this is one where it's best to seek medical attention as soon as possible because you just don't necessarily know. So if you see something like pain, swelling, redness on your arm, on your leg, on a part of your body, it could be an infection. If you are experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain, it could be pneumonia. If you're having new abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, you might be concerned about gallbladder issues, appendix issues, bowel issues, again, best to get it checked out.

If it turns out to be an infection, you want to diagnose that as soon as possible instead of waiting for it to spread. I know this myself; I'm just getting over pneumonia myself. Last week, I had severe shortness of breath and chest pain, and ended up being hospitalized for pneumonia.


And so, that was a stark reminder to me of how quickly people can become sick, even generally healthy people, and how important it is for us to listen to our bodies and really get treatment as soon as you think that something unusual is happening.

COOPER: Yeah. Dr. Leana Wen, I'm so glad you're out of the hospital. I hope you feel better soon.

WEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Up next, wreckage from the Titan submersible is being brought up from the sea floor, an update on the investigation next.


COOPER: Tonight, the U.S. Coast Guard says they have recovered presumed human remains from the Titan wreckage site on the North Atlantic Ocean floor. They'll be analyzed to determine if they are of the five men killed last week when the submersible imploded on the way down to the Titanic wreckage site, leading to that five-day deepwater search.

Tonight, several large parts of the destroyed Titan are also back on land. The white tarp pieces were unloaded onto piers in St. Johns. Some parts had cords and wires. The Coast Guard says the evidence recovered will be transported to an American port for testing and analysis as part of the U.S.-led investigation into the implosion.

And a quick programming note, we'll be doing a special hour on this underwater tragedy, the recovery effort and the extraordinary and potentially risky world of deep sea exploration, "The Whole Story" here on Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

That's it for us. We'll see you tomorrow. The news continues. "CNN Primetime" with Kaitlan Collins starts now.