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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

One-On-One With Green Party Candidate Cornel West; Russia Strikes Odesa, 245 Hours After Ukraine Attacks Key Russian Bridge To Crimea; RFK Jr.'s Latest In Long History Of Conspiracy Beliefs; House Speaker McCarthy Fine With RFK Jr. Testimony; House Dem Leader Demurs On Discipline For Rep. Jayapal; Police: Wife, Daughter Of Gilgo Beach Murders Suspect "Shocked, Disgusted, Embarrassed"; One-On-One With Couple Who Helped Capture Escaped PA Prison Inmate. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 17, 2023 - 20:00   ET


ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Eli Lilly releasing Phase 3 clinical trial results for its drug today. It found patients taking the drug in the early stages of Alzheimer's had 35 percent slower disease progression than those who took the placebo.

Some researchers though, important to point out, that are hesitant about how long that benefit may last, but still important information.

Thanks so much for joining us tonight. I'm Erica Hill in for Erin Burnett. AC 360 starts now.



Tonight on 360: Green Party presidential candidate, Cornell West, why he is running and how he answers concerns that this election could be too close to risk being a spoiler.

Also tonight, Democratic candidate, Robert Kennedy Jr.'s bizarre remarks on COVID saying it was "targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people" which the White House today called "vile."

And later, the couple whose dog and whose quick action led to the capture of an escaped murder suspect, Michael Burham after nine days on the run.

Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

The group, No Labels held a town hall this evening in New Hampshire. Democratic senator, Joe Manchin and former Utah Republican governor, Jon Huntsman were the headliners.

Senator Manchin refusing to rule out a third party campaign saying: "If I get in a race, I'm going to win." As third party runs go, history says otherwise, but it is hard to deny, there is at least some appetite among voters for alternatives for major party frontrunners. The question is, how much of an appetite and to what effect?

No Labels has already drawn fire from Democrats and say all it would do is siphon off moderate voters from President Biden and put Donald Trump back in the White House. And over the years, third party candidates have been blamed for tipping elections.

Ross Perot in 1992, for taking Republican votes from President George H.W. Bush who lost to Bill Clinton; Ralph Nader in 2000, who got nearly 100,000 votes in Florida, a state that delivered the presidency to George W. Bush by fewer than 600 ballots; and in the 2016 Green Party candidate, Jill Stein was accused of being a spoiler in several close states that Hillary Clinton narrowly lost.

And this time, a potential Trump Biden matchup could be even closer. According to RealClearPolitics, polling average right now, there's only 0.2 percentage point margin separating the two.

Jill Stein meantime is currently campaign manager for 2024 Green presidential party candidate, Cornell West, who joins us now.

Dr. West, appreciate you being with us. It's good to see you.

DR. CORNEL WEST, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Always a blessing to see you and I salute your two precious gifts from heaven.

COOPER: Thank you.

WEST: Brother Sebastian and brother Wyatt. Yeas, indeed.

COOPER: They are doing well. Thank you.

I want to ask you, Senator Manchin, up in New Hampshire tonight, he seems to be testing the waters there. He says the parties are too far to the left, and to the right. What do you think of his politics?

WEST: Well, you know, I just read the pamphlet "Common Sense." And my God, they had the audacity to rename that after the great Thomas Payne's revolutionary pamphlet of January 10, 1976, that was critical of all forms of hierarchy in the name of the dignity of those last, don't call everyday people.

I don't think that the No Labels party with their hundred million dollars flowing already, fundamental focus on what I'm concerned about, which is the plight of poor and working people trying to come to terms with the cop cities. Why do the critiques of the cop cities trying to come to terms with striking workers, be there in Hollywood, be there on Amazon, be there at UPS, coming to terms with the eco side, with the fossil fuel companies, steel, corporate greed running out-of-control.

You know, we're at a moment now, my brother, where if we don't come to terms with this massive callousness and indifference to the plight of poor and working people, we're going to lose everything -- the planet, democracy, our qualitative relations with each other. That's how life and death like our situation is, my brother, very much so.

COOPER: You know, the concern, certainly. I mean, you've been asked this question a million times from a lot of Democrats and Republicans against Trump that a third party candidate like yourself could siphon votes away from President Biden. David Axelrod, recently tweeted, saying: "In 2016, the Green Party played an outsized role in the tipping of the election to Donald Trump. Now with Cornel West as their likely nominee, they could easily do it again. Risky Business."

Now, I know you've said you don't believe Jill Stein made that big a difference in the vote count in 2016. In Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, her votes did exceed Trump's margin over Clinton. So how do you answer that critique that you will be siphoning votes away and potentially leading to a Trump victory?

WEST: Well, a part of it is, it is that nearly 40 percent of our precious citizens every two and four years decide not to vote at all, and we know that the so-called spoilers, which is a category you can imagine, I don't accept at all, it was two-thirds of those who voted, it could be a Gary Johnson, assistant Jill Stein, brother Ralph Nader, whoever -- people say they would never vote for the two parties.

And I can understand those two parties become too corrupt. Their politicians are too conformist, too many of the policies themselves are just cowardly, will just say anything. What about truth? What about justice?

Truth and justice is bigger than all of us, bigger than every party, every race, every person. If you're concerned about truth and justice, then you can't be cowardly, complacent or conformist.


And especially if you're looking at the world through the lens of those who are incarcerated, those who are in ghettos and hoods and barrios.

Brother David Axelrod, he looks at the world through the lens of the establishment. Well, of course, from the lens of the establishment, he is concerned about reproducing the establishment. My God. My God. There is no doubt about that.

In the 1850s, both parties supported slavery, like he does with the Labor Department.

COOPER: But I think he is probably -- I think he seems more though -- I mean, you know, David Axelrod, he seems more interested in preventing former President Trump from getting re-elected more than I'd say recreating the establishment.

WEST: Yes. No, I'm talking about the Democratic Party establishment though, brother.


WEST: Axelrod, you see what I mean? You would agree. You're very much part of the Democratic Party establishment.

COOPER: I mean, his interest -- and I don't want to speak for him, but you criticize the president.

WEST: Absolutely.

COOPER: You criticize President Biden saying recently that he contributed, in your words, I'm quoting, "contributed to a crime against humanity when he became the architect of the mass incarceration regime in the 1990s." You're referring to the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that then Senator Biden sponsored.

You also said it is: "... very clear that his cognitive powers are in decline." You have had a remarkable career. You've championed those whose voices have been silenced all your life, we've had you on the program a ton of times talking about that.

You've never run a large bureaucracy or had any major governmental leadership role. Isn't that important to actually governing as president?

WEST: Oh, absolutely. I'd have to bring in people who are experienced, but the important thing is your vision and the lens through which you view the world. Policy is something that can be worked out in light of vision. If your vision is one of militarism abroad, then you're going to be preoccupied with wars and militaristic adventures. We've known Biden has got a long history, I don't think he has actually seen a war that he hadn't supported.

I think the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a crime against humanity. How many precious hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed based on a lie? Well, Biden was running interference in that regard.

I think mass incarceration in the United States in the last 40 years is a crime against humanity. I've taught in prison for 41 years. I've stayed in contact with the rich humanity of my brothers and sisters who have been incarcerated and many have done things they didn't and shouldn't have done. Many are there because they're innocent.

But the important thing is, it is sites -- they are sites of barbarity. We ought to be ashamed to live in a country when you look at the conditions of our brothers and sisters who are incarcerated.

It is not just the 1994 crime bill. You can go back to the Biden- Thernstrom (ph). Read the Thernstrom bills of '84 and 86, and '91, and then '94. You see what I mean? So it's just a matter

of trying to be truthful.

I'm not trying to trash brother Biden, I am really not. I'm trying to make him accountable for his actions in light of how the wretched of the earth are treated in this nation and around the world. And that's true for any politician, be it Obama, Biden, Clinton, Bush, Trump -- all of them have to be measured by the same standard of truth and justice.

COOPER: I want to ask you about the war in Ukraine, because I saw you tweeted out, you said NATO is an expanding instrument of US global power that provoked Russia into a criminal invasion and occupation of Ukraine. You said, this proxy war between the American Empire and the Russian Federation could lead to World War Three. We must stop the war and war crimes, including cluster bombs used by all parties and embark on diplomatic talks that should lead to a just peace.

You believe -- I mean, how are you going to bring all sides to the table on Ukraine? And do you really believe that NATO provoked Russia into invading Ukraine?

WEST: Well, when Russia was promised that NATO would not move one inch, and then a few years later, you've got 13 former Soviet --

COOPER: But wait a minute, but wait a minute, but you're talking about 1990. There was an agreement signed that NATO would not move into East Germany.

WEST: That's right.

COOPER: But actually, nothing was said about further east. And it was -- it was at the very least, it was ambiguous. There is an argument to be made.

WEST: With formal and informal talks, but I mean, you know, the great George Kennan, who probably had the finest mind of the established when it comes to foreign affairs. He said he doesn't understand why NATO need to exist any longer because it is defensive. With the collapse of the Soviet empire, made it in fact, you no longer even needed NATO. Europe could come up with its own security, but NATO ...

COOPER: But it certainly -- but it doesn't seem like that because the people of --

WEST: ... has been used as an arm of the American Empire. That's the challenge.

COOPER: You don't believe though that the people in Ukraine right now need NATO to defend against Russian aggression?

WEST: Well, the people of Ukraine right now who are suffering and I'm in deep solidarity with their suffering. They are being caught between this proxy war between the American Empire and the Russian Federation.

Now --


COOPER: But that's not really true, I mean, but Dr. West I mean it wasn't -- early on, I mean, you're far more educated than I am, but early on it was Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, who pressured, who wanted to join NATO. Warsaw Pact countries suddenly free did not want to be under the yoke of former Soviet Union any longer. And they are the ones who applied to join NATO. It wasn't the US pushing these countries in an expansion play.

It was it was these countries, suddenly free, the people in those countries saying we want to be in the EU. NATO is the fastest way. It is the kind of a stepping stone to the EU, we want that. We want to turn to the West. Now, would you have denied Hungary, Czechoslovakia the choice?

WEST: Well, being one, I would have followed George Kennan. I would have abolished NATO right after the collapse of Soviet Empire, and I would have tried to welcome Russia into the nation -- the community of nations rather than trying to push them against a wall.

We know their system of repression and domination is one in which they're going to feel as if their backs are against the wall, and I think you would probably agree that if Russia or China had missiles in Canada or Mexico targeting Washington, DC, the US government would blow them into smithereens. That's how empires behave.

You've read the history. I know the history. We're critical of Imperial activity, no matter who it is -- American, Russian, and what have you. But America is the most powerful empire in the world, in the history of the world, my brother.

And it seems to me, if we can't dismantle that empire in order to empower poor and working people here and abroad, we are going to lose our democracy. It is almost like Rome.

You know, as Cato the younger and Cicero against Julius Caesar.

COOPER: Right, but there is --

WEST: What happens when your empire begins to take over your democratic possibilities?

COOPER: I just spoke to the Foreign minister of Ukraine, we're going to have that interview later on. I think if you said to him, you're standing with people of Ukraine in solidarity and you're saying that they are just victims in this proxy war, he would say, you're out of your mind.

I mean, they are thankful for NATO. They are thankful for the US. You can call it the American Empire, but I mean, they are thankful for all these countries rallying to their side. I mean, I've been there, you've probably you've probably been there as well.

I mean, it is a horrible -- it is an invasion, I mean, of killing civilians and cities.

WEST: Oh, no. It is a criminal invasion. I'm not denying it is a criminal invasion. But what I'm saying is to go back to the Minsk talks, you go back to March, one month after the war began, my brother, I'm calling for a ceasefire. I don't want to see this suffering --

COOPER: But you can call for a ceasefire, Vladimir Putin isn't really listening to what you say or I say, or anybody says. I mean, he's doing what he wants to do, just like he slaughtered -- I mean, you saw what he did to Grozny in the 90s.

WEST: Well he would actually --

COOPER: I mean, he flattened that city. Civilians were trapped in that city. The world didn't come to the rescue of Grozny. He did exactly what he wanted to do. I mean, unchecked, he will slaughter people.

WEST: Well, I mean, unchecked, he will slaughter folk, unchecked, what we did in Iraq was slaughtering people, unchecked, what we've done in other places were unchecked, bloodier other empires.

COOPER: Sir, Dr. West -- Dr. West, do you really --

WEST: Nations do that and they are wrong. And when they are wrong, you have to point it out.

COOPER: Yes. Look, again, I respect you. You know, I love you, but I do think --

WEST: Oh, and I see --

COOPER: I do think it's inappropriate to compare the Russian bombing of Grozny, and what we witnessed there with the war in Iraq. I mean, to say that innocents were killed. I mean, there's no doubt about it. I mean, the horrible things happen --

WEST: Half a million Iraqis killed, my brother? Half a million.

COOPER: Yes, listen, I was there. I mean, I was there. That is true.

WEST: You saw it.

COOPER: I certainly understand. I also saw a lot of Americans getting killed. And I saw, you know, the horrors of Saddam Hussein. I'm just saying, I don't think it's accurate to compare the pummeling of a city by Russian artillery, with civilians inside, pummeling every single day with the intention of just destroying and flattening a city with actions the US took.

I mean, I don't know -- look, you know, wars -- horrible things happen in wars and it is horrible.

WEST: Absolutely. Absolutely. But I mean you know and I know any comparative analysis of levels of barbarity and cruelty is going to lend itself to this ugly algebra of blood that we don't want to get into. But all I'm saying is you can't just jump into a situation where people are being treated barbarically.

There is no doubt that Ukrainian people are being treated in a barbaric way. That's that murderous way. There's no doubt about that.

But the context is one in which that did not have to be if the expansion of NATO and NATO is an arm of the American global power network. It is just a fact, I bet you can't deny that.


COOPER: What you're saying, though, in Ukraine -- what you're saying, though, in Ukraine is that the Ukrainians, they're just going to have to compromise and give up their land because they are just in the wrong place.

WEST: No, no. No, I'm not saying that.

COOPER: But you said there have to be hard compromises on all sides.

WEST: I want a justice --

COOPER: You said, there have to be hard compromises -- you said there have to be compromises on all sides and you know, compromise for Ukraine means Crimea, it means whole parts of their east. Is that fair?

WEST: Well, I mean -- I don't know. I just -- I want just peace for my Ukrainian brothers and sisters.

COOPER: But you're running for president.

WEST: And I don't want World War Three. I don't want World War Three. The way that we are moving now, we've got 3,000 advisers.

COOPER: I hear you on that.

WEST: Well, we heard that in Vietnam. We're on the way to possible nuclear exchange. How ugly?

Here we've got Trump pushing us towards a second Civil War at home. You've got Biden pushing us toward a Third World War abroad. We need an alternative. That's what this campaign is probably about, my brother.

COOPER: Dr. West, I appreciate your time tonight, as always.

WEST: Love indeed. Love you, love you, even when we disagree. Love you, love you, man.

COOPER: You take care.

Joining us now Democratic strategist, James Carville, who helped Bill Clinton win the White House in 1992.

James, I mean, you heard Dr. West. What's your reaction to what he had to say? Do you think he -- I mean, he rejects the term spoiler candidate. Do you think he could be?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, he's obviously an accomplished scholar, academic. He seems to be a very charming man and he is also a menace, the threat of the continued constitutional order in the United States.

And if I say that because look, Ralph Nader was directly responsible for the election of George W. Bush, which brought this horrific Iraq war, this horrific economic downturn we had, among other things. Jill Stein, who is his campaign manager is almost certainly an agent of the Russian government. If you don't believe me, somebody at home Google photo, General Flynn, Vladimir Putin, Jill Stein. She was hosted by the Russians prior to her running in 2016.

So, you know, people are going to have to decide, do we want to continue under our Constitution because Donald Trump is telling us that very clearly, is bragging about the fact that he doesn't want to live under the Constitution anymore, and it is very clear that the only thing that Dr. West's candidacy can do is help elect Donald Trump. It did nothing -- I don't think any of that is inarguable noise, inarguable that Jill Stein had deep relationships with the Russian government.

COOPER: So let me ask you, because, you know, the argument that Ralph Nader put forward, you know, the argument that Jill Stein has put forward. Dr. West mentioned it again tonight that a lot of those people who voted for Jill Stein or Ralph Nader would not have voted for any of the mainstream candidates, and therefore, they did not suck away votes from Hillary Clinton or would not hurt votes from Biden here.

CARVILLE: Well, how could I argue with that? I'm sure that some of it is true, some of it is not true.

COOPER: I mean, there's no way to know whether somebody --

CARVILLE: I think that's just the question.

COOPER: Tell a pollster, oh no, of course, I wouldn't vote for any other candidate, but who knows who actually people vote.

CARVILLE: I can't disprove that nor would I want to, but what I do know, there was Russian help. They were telling Black voters in Detroit to vote at the wrong place or to vote on Wednesday and not Tuesday, that I do know.

I do know that Jill Stein was in Moscow, was sitting with General Michael Flynn with Vladimir Putin, was on Russian TV from Red Square, attacking the United States herself, and I do know, I'm told that is his campaign manager and it is the same outfit that cost us the election in 2000. It could have very well cost us the election in 2016.

And I'm just sitting here with a clear present warning, don't fall for this. Do not fall for this. Only bad can come about this.

COOPER: What about Joe Manchin? Do you think he actually is serious?

CARVILLE: I hope not. And they keep saying that No Labels, if they think it's going to help Trump, he won't run. Well, I can tell you right now it's going to help Trump.

There is not a single that I know that would otherwise -- and plus, their argument is just flatly ridiculous on its face that Trump and Biden represent two extremes.

I mean, Trump is obviously one of the most extreme people in the United States, Biden is certainly not an extreme man. You may say he is more liberal than I would like, but to equate the two of them is absurd.

But I think that when they get closer to this decision, at least I hope that they see that the only thing that they can do is help elect Trump and it is a shame, but Biden and the Democrats are being caught by the left is on one side and I don't know what you'd call the No Labels people.


But kind of caught between them. Somebody better think about the good and the future of the United States because that's literally what's at stake here.

COOPER: James Carville, thank you.

CARVILLE: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: You bet.

Coming up next, breaking news, Odesa now under Russian air attack just 24 hours after Ukraine says it damaged a key Russian bridge to Crimea. Our Alex Marquardt is there seeing it. we will go to him next.

Also what Robert Kennedy, Jr. said about COVID, Black people, Jewish people and Chinese people -- the uproar of his defense, such as it is and what voters can make of it all.



COOPER: That's Odesa just a short time ago, Russia retaliating tonight by air for the naval attack on its bridge to Crimea over the weekend. CNN's Alex Marquardt is there. He joins us now. So what have you seen?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is a city that is under attack by Russian forces tonight. From the air we have heard the Odesa air defenses working quite intensively and a local military official also says that those air defenses are engaged in combat.


Now Anderson, this comes some 24 hours exactly after that Ukrainian attack on the Kerch Bridge, that's that 12-mile long bridge that connects Russian-occupied Crimea with the Russian mainland. And not too long after that, we did hear from Russian President Vladimir Putin who said that Russia would be responding.

He had asked for military options, and that they would respond for that attack. We may be seeing at least part of that response right now.

In terms of what we have seen over the past hour and a little bit, it started just before 2:00 AM local time, loud explosions in the distance, the sounds of what sounds like air defenses, rockets, and missiles, perhaps going up into the sky. We've seen spotlights down in that direction and we are quite close to the port, which of course, would be a natural target for Russia, particularly on a day like today, when just three hours ago, at midnight, Russia did pull out of this Grain Deal that has been in place for the past year.

Anderson, perhaps most dramatically, just over my shoulder, at least three times in the past hour, we've seen these bright streaks of flames streaking across the sky. Of course, we don't know exactly what it is. It could be a drone that's being shot down, it could be something else that is being fired.

But again, we are rather close to the port. This is one of the most important cities in Ukraine and it comes on a day when there were two huge stories in Ukraine, the attack on that bridge near Crimea and Russia pulling out of this Grain Deal, arguing that Ukraine had all the benefits of the deal while Russia had none.

So two significant reasons for Russia to be targeting Odesa tonight -- Anderson.

COOPER: And what are Ukrainian military forces saying?

MARQUARDT: Well, we're starting to hear more from them and a lot of this comes in on their individual Telegram channels. So we have heard from a leading local military officer or official rather, who raised the possibility that there could be missile strikes on Odesa tonight, that second official talking about the fact that the air defenses are combating this Russian airstrike.

We have seen over the course of the past few days, and really quite regularly, waves of missiles and drones fired on cities all across the country, including Odesa.

Ukraine these days, in a large part, thanks to this support that they've gotten from the West does have robust air defenses. They do generally manage to shoot down the majority of the missiles, rockets, and drones that are fired at these cities. That's not to say that there isn't destruction and death that follows when these drones or missiles are shot out of the sky.

You've got all kinds of debris that falls to the ground, destroying buildings, killing people, and oftentimes missiles and drones do get through. We just saw a huge missile attack on Lviv about 10 days ago that killed some 10 people.

So this city very much on edge tonight. Officials warning that there could be a significant attack on it by Russia -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Alex Marquardt, thank you.

Shortly before air, I talked about the bridge attack with Ukraine's Foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba.


COOPER: Earlier in the day, you talked about the Kerch Bridge being a legitimate target. You said not every bridge is civilian by definition. What was the importance of the Kerch Bridge to Ukraine, do you think? DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, this is the main

route of supplying Russian army in Crimea and in the south of Ukraine with more troops, more ammunition, more weapons, more fuel and other types of resources and there is one more point that everyone should be mindful about, mindful of.

This bridge was built outside of the body of law. This is an illegal bridge, illegal construction.

COOPER: It was built after the annexation.

KULEBA: Exactly, yes. Without any kind of -- without seeking any permissions from Ukraine, and we should be always aware of that.

COOPER: And when Vladimir Putin says that the attack on the bridge was a terrorist attack, you say?

KULEBA: Listen, if -- I don't have to comment every piece of lie and distortion of reality that President Putin is making. I mean, he keeps saying that I'm not the legitimate government by the so-called Kyiv regime installed by the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries. But you know, I don't have to comment on that.

We should know one thing about President Putin. He is a professional liar. He was taught to lie as KGB officer, and he excelled this practice throughout his political career.

So the less will listen to what he is saying, the more time we will have for more productive thoughts.

COOPER: Is it clear to you from your vantage point what happened with the whole Prigozhin thing?

KULEBA: I am pretty certain it was a mutiny. Prigozhin precaution was absolutely serious.


COOPER: Serious about arresting Russian generals or overthrowing Vladimir Putin?

KULEBA: Serious about creating conditions under which he would be recognized as the source of real power in Russia, let me put it this way because, you know, I'm not a wizard to make a prophecy about all possible scenarios. But it's still unclear what made him change his mind, what kind of arguments made it work.

But I think the main lesson of his rebellion is that the weakness of the regime was exposed to the entire world, but most importantly to the people of Russia. Because throughout his career, President Putin was always crushing his enemies in the most visible way, in the most eloquent way.

This time, he did not crush Prigozhin. He bargained. He made a deal with him. And this is the real turning point.

COOPER: And in terms of the progress of the war, how's it going?

KULEBA: It's definitely moving in the right direction, because we are advancing. It comes at a cost, but we are fighting for our land, for our people, and for our future. So we will be moving forward, whatever it takes.

COOPER: Is -- the fortifications that Russia has been putting up, the trenches, the mining, I mean, there's a lot of reporting about just extensive mining operations that Russia has conducted.

KULEBA: Yes, that's -- we lost a lot of time. And by, we, I mean, both Ukraine and its partners. We lost a lot of time preparing counteroffensive and making decisions on deliveries of weapons and delivering these weapons necessary for the counteroffensive, because it allowed Russia to physically reinforce its defense lines, mine the field.

I'm not complaining here, I'm just stating the reality, because in the end, it's us and our partners who are facing this, who are fighting against this new reality. But you have to understand that in the beginning of the counteroffensive when our forces moved into these minefields, there were days when Ukrainian soldiers would crawl 200 meters per day, crawl just physically demining the path for their comrades following them, and to create corridors for tanks and other armed types of vehicles to advance.

This is how it began. And this is why the pace of this counteroffensive is not as striking as the previous ones. So -- but we reached the first line of defense. We will break through. Then there will be the second line of defense. And behind that second line of defense, there will be a lot of unmind space to get through.

COOPER: How closely are you watching U.S. politics given folks on the far-right, far-left are not as supportive of American aid to Ukraine as the vast center seems to be?

KULEBA: Do you know what Russia has been doing since early 2000s in every country of Europe and also here in North America? It was financing, supporting, and endorsing far-rights and far-left in every single country because their strategy was always to squeeze center, to squeeze political center in every country.

COOPER: Appreciate your time.

KULEBA: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next for us tonight, back to American politics, Robert Kennedy Jr.'s offensive remarks on COVID about Jews, Blacks and Chinese people. And our Harry Enten on the number of Democratic voters who appear to be embracing the conspiracy-minded candidate.



COOPER: Circling back to presidential politics, Robert Kenney, Jr. has been hitting double digits in recent polling, despite being a longstanding and wide ranging conspiracy theorist. This weekend he was pushing another one. This time it was about COVID being, quote, "targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people".

More from our Randi Kaye starting with the candidate's own words.


ROBERT KENNEDY JR., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: COVID-19, there's an argument that it is ethnically targeted. COVID-19 attacks certain races disproportionately.

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. sharing another conspiracy theory at an event in New York City last week, first reported by the New York Post.

KENNEDY: COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.

KAYE (voice-over): To be clear, there is absolutely zero evidence COVID was created to attack certain groups or ethnicities, and Kennedy didn't offer any studies to back up his theory. In response, the American Jewish Committee told CNN in a statement that Kennedy's assertion that COVID was genetically engineered to spare Jewish and Chinese people is deeply offensive and incredibly dangerous.

The director of the Stop Asian Hate Project told the Washington Post, Kennedy's comments were irresponsible and hateful. Kennedy attempted to walk back the comments, posting on Twitter over the weekend. "I have never, ever suggested that the COVID-19 virus was targeted to spare Jews".

And he said his remarks were off the record and were meant to focus attention on, quote, "ethnically targeted bioweapons. I do not believe and never implied that the ethnic effect was deliberately engineered". The response from Democrats? On Twitter, party chairman Jaime Harrison called Kennedy's comments, deeply troubling, saying they do not represent the views of the Democratic Party.

Kennedy's own sister Kerry Kennedy tweeted, "I strongly condemn my brother's deplorable and untruthful remarks about COVID being engineered for ethnic targeting".

This was hardly the first time Kennedy has spouted misinformation. He's pushed the long debunked claim that childhood vaccines are linked to autism. He wrongly claimed the 1918 flu pandemic was vaccine induced, and he's often repeated his conspiracy theory about 5G transmission towers.

KENNEDY: They're putting in 5G to harvest our data and control our behavior. Digital currency that will allow them to punish us from a distance and cut off our food supply.

KAYE (voice-over): CNN's KFile recently reported that Kennedy has repeatedly shared false conspiracies that manmade chemicals in the environment could be making children gay or transgender. [20:40:09]

KENNEDY: The capacity for these chemicals that we are just raining down on our children right now to induce these very profound sexual changes in them is something we need to be thinking about as a society.

KAYE (voice-over): Experts told CNN's KFile that theory is completely unfounded. Kennedy's spokesperson told CNN his remarks are being mischaracterized. On the issue of guns, Kennedy has suggested increased school shootings are due to the use of antidepressants, despite the fact the scientific community has found no such link.

KENNEDY: It really started happening coterminous with the introduction of these drugs --


KENNEDY: -- with Covasc (ph) and the other drugs.

KAYE (voice-over): Randi Kaye, CNN.


COOPER: One other quick note, despite disagreeing with his COVID remarks, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy today rejected calls by Democrats to cancel Kennedy's appearance on Thursday before the House Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.

And for more now in the effect Kennedy has already had on the Democratic race, we're joined by CNN Senior Data Reporter Harry Enten. So where's this polling right now?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes. So here's two things you need to know about the Democratic race right now involving Robert F. Kennedy Jr. One, Joe Biden is still well ahead of him, right? Joe Biden's polling in the 60s, RFK Jr. is polling in the high teens.

Now, some might argue that's a little bit higher than they expected, me included, but here's the other thing to note. He's not gaining support, right? So if we look at the polling back in April, you compare it to the polling last month, what we see is, in fact, his support has actually dipped down a little bit.

It's still a substantial portion of the electorate. But Joe Biden at this point is still well ahead in the Democratic race.

COOPER: What the -- are the numbers show, like, what's behind his basis of support is about him, it's more about Biden? Is it just the random conspiracy theories he's throwing up?

ENTEN: Yes. I think this is basically all about Joe Biden. And the way we can see that is break it down by the Democratic voters who like Joe Biden and then everybody else. Amongst those Democratic voters who like Joe Biden, Biden is well ahead, up over 60 points in the Democratic primary over Robert F. Kennedy Jr. But amongst all other voters, those who either don't hold a favorable view of him or those who don't hold a approve of Joe Biden's job as president, Kennedy's actually ahead. But here's the thing for Kennedy. Most Democratic voters like Joe Biden, and that is why Biden is still well ahead in this race.

COOPER: And what about cross party lines?

ENTEN: Yes. So where is Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s support, right? Perhaps it wouldn't be so surprising that his favorable rating is much higher amongst Republicans than it is amongst Democrats. Amongst Democrats, in fact, Robert F. Kenney Jr.'s unfavorable rating is above his favorable rating. It's the reverse with Republicans.

And that's, in fact, what we see with a lot of the donations he's been getting, it's from Republican donors. He's appearing on conservative programs. That's the people who like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. not really Democrats.

COOPER: Interesting. Harry Enten, appreciate it. Thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

COOPER: House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries tonight won't say if progressive caucus chair Pramila Jayapal will face more disciplinary actions. He and other top Democrats rebuked her Sunday, though not by name, for saying this at a Saturday event in Chicago after being interrupted by pro-Palestinian activists.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D), WASHINGTON: We have been fighting to make it clear that Israel is a racist state, that the Palestinian people deserve self-determination and autonomy.


COOPER: In a statement on Sunday, the congresswoman said, quote, "I attempted to defuse a tense situation during a panel where fellow members of Congress are being protested. I do not believe the idea of Israel as a nation is racist".

Just ahead, new information about what authorities found in the basement of a suspect arrested days ago and a series of murders more than a decade ago in Long Island, New York. He's been charged with three murders. Possibly, he may be charged with more.



COOPER: Last hour, an investigator told CNN he met with the wife and daughter of the Gilgo Beach murder suspect and that, quote, "they were shocked, they were disgusted, they were embarrassed". Suffolk County Commissioner Rodney Harrison said he doesn't believe they knew about his, quote, "double life". He also said that the reason authorities finally made an arrest was not because they believed another life might soon be threatened, but rather that the suspect might hear leaked grand jury proceedings and flee. The 59-year-old architect was arrested last week for three murders. He's the suspect in the fourth.

Source today says he had only one question once he arrived to jail, quote, "Is it in the news?" A source tells CNN that after a search of the suspect's basement, law enforcement found hundreds of firearms, including semiautomatic rifles, at least twice as many guns as authorities were expecting.

The bodies of the four murdered women are among 11 sets of remains found along Long Island's south shore more than a decade ago. And authorities say they've received a flood of information since the arrest and that it's possible the suspect may be connected to more killings.

I'm joined now by our Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller, former NYPD Deputy Commissioner. I mean this is incredible. The -- apparently, so the wife and children are cooperating with investigators which is really a good sign. So they're free to -- I mean they've been able to gather a lot of evidence from his house obviously.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Yes, and they did that pursuant obviously to an extensive search warrant for the home, the property, any outbuildings, garages, attachments, computers, thumb drives, hard drives and so on. It's going to take them a long time to get through what they took and there's going to be a process to figuring out what some of it means.

COOPER: I mean, what do you -- to you, what stands out in this case? I mean it's extraordinary to me how early on the kind of the profiler view of who a theoretical killer might be sounded very accurate.

MILLER: Well he reveals himself even though he doesn't tell us who he is. He tells us very early in the case what he is. And I think the turning point moment there was, you see he is preying on sex workers, you know, strangling them to death after luring them in as a client.

And then in a couple of cases, he uses -- long after they're dead, he uses the victim's phone to call the family and say, you know, you're not going to see her again. Here's why I murdered her, you know, here's how I murdered her.

The extraordinarily cruelty to commit these kinds of murders and then to relive them essentially by torturing the family over the phone is really what is suggestive, Anderson, that they're going to find more in this search because that suggests he's the kind of person who is very attached to these crimes and would have been likely to keep trophies, as the profilers call it, individual possessions of some of his victims.

[20:50:21] COOPER: Also, I understand, I mean, some of his wife's DNA was found on the scene, how -- so he would have somehow had his wife, a hair or something from his wife and transferred it to one of the victims.

MILLER: So that's right. And one of the earliest DNA matches they were able to make was from hairs found within the burlap wrapping that the bodies were buried with. This is the kind of stuff hunters use, you know, who are out deer hunting, which, you know, our subject in this case is a hunter.

But they find these female hairs that do not match the DNA of the victims. And once they identified this subject, they did familial DNA to say here's the DNA from your subject, this isn't his DNA but it's, you know, a family member.

And that would be the kind of thing if those bags were stored in a garage or a closet where, you know, winter coats or something else that the wife had worn hair would transfer just by falling out and unintentionally be included. But it was an important break.

COOPER: You know, you see that map we're showing with 11 sets of remains found along this stretch of beach. I mean it seems impossible to believe that he is not involved in, or seems unlikely that he would not be involved in at least more of those.

MILLER: So it is not common for serial killers to share, you know, a body dump site, on the other hand. You know, we have to realize we're literally in one of the most densely populated suburban counties in the United States, and this particular stretch, offers remoteness, being deserted after dark.

And for someone who's looking for a place where they can work and yet have a long view of anybody approaching from either direction, is it possible? Yes, likely. I kind of fall where you do on that.

COOPER: All right. John Miller, I appreciate it. Thank you.

MILLER: Thanks.

COOPER: Last week we reported on the escaped dangerous inmate in Pennsylvania and the effort to find him. Coming up next, after the man was caught over the weekend, you're going to meet the couple tonight who helped authorities capture him with some help from their dog.



COOPER: A Pennsylvania manhunt for an escaped inmate ended Saturday with Michael Burham's capture, thanks to a married couple, Cindy and Ron Ecklund and their dog, Tucker.

Cindy and Ron, thanks so much for being here. What a weekend you guys had and Tucker as well? It's so nice to see Tucker. I'm not sure who should get the credit, but I guess Tucker started it off and then you guys carried the ball forward. Walk us through what happened. How did you find this guy?

RON ECKLUND, ENCOUNTER WITH BURHAM LEAD TO HIS ARREST: OK, well, Cindy and I, she just got home from work and we're sitting out in our patio and just enjoying the day. It was a Saturday, you know, and she was like -- as I said, she just got home from work and we're sitting there talking. All of a sudden, Tucker jumps up like he just did now and left us.

Tucker jumps up and takes off with a creek, barking like crazy and acting abnormal. But a lot of times, there could be a fisherman or a hiker down there and -- but he'll comeback when we call him, and he did not. So I said to Cindy, we need to go get on the golf cart and drive down there and get Tucker so he doesn't bother somebody. Because normally, like I said, he would come back.

And so, yes, we drove down there in the golf cart, and Cindy gets off the golf cart. She's going to try to, you know, get Tucker to come back to the house, and he's barking over the bank really loud. And all of a sudden, this guy stands up.

COOPER: And --

R. ECKLUND: I looked at him and I said, I knew who he was as soon as he stood up --

COOPER: You did and what, from photos, from video? I mean, from the photos you've seen on TV?

R. ECKLUND: Oh, absolutely. Yes. We've seen -- you know, he spend what? It was nine or 10 days he was on the loose.


R. ECKLUND: And, you know, we've seen plenty of --


R. ECKLUND: --photos and, you know, news coverage and whatnot. And -- so I recognized him. He didn't have a shirt on. They had these pictures of tattoos and whatnot. And I asked him, I said, what are you doing? He said, I'm camping. Well, he wasn't camping.

But anyway, I told Cindy, get on the golf cart. You know, and I didn't, you know, want to alarm him, you know, I didn't know what he'd do.

COOPER: Right.

R. ECKLUND: And I said, have a nice day. Cindy jumps on the golf cart, and she says, was that him? And I said, yes, that's him.

COOPER: Do you think he knew that you recognized him?

C. ECKLUND: I don't know how he could not, but he hasn't had access to the news to know that he's plastered everywhere. So I don't really -- we really don't know that. COOPER: Were you guys afraid at all? I mean, you would have a good reason to be.

R. ECKLUND: Oh, absolutely.


R. ECKLUND: Because, you know, the news and everything were saying he could be armed and dangerous. So I don't know, does he have a gun or, you know, what's going on? So it's like, you know, Cindy, dog and I, we got to get back to the house.

COOPER: You know, it's so interesting because a couple of days ago, I interviewed the person who spotted him the last time he escaped, and that person's dog also alerted him to this guy's presence. So this is the second time a dog has alerted to this guy's presence on somebody's property. How does it feel, Cindy, to know that all three of you helped capture this guy?

C. ECKLUND: It's really surreal. Like, not what I expected to be doing Saturday night in the least, but very glad that we were able to. And dogs know, you know, dogs know people.


C. ECKLUND: They sense things. So, you know, because it could have been a fisherman, and he wouldn't have reacted that way.

COOPER: Yes. How long was it from -- when you called to police? Because I imagine that wait must have been pretty scary.

C. ECKLUND: It felt like forever, but it wasn't very long.

R. ECKLUND: The first officer were here, what, 10, 15 minutes.


R. ECKLUND: It seemed like forever because we're standing out in the porch watching, you know, just to make sure he's not coming up towards the house or anything. And -- but, you know, they were here pretty quick.

COOPER: And at that point, did he try to run at all, do you know? Or did he -- was he just waiting there?

R. ECKLUND: We don't know.

C. ECKLUND: He didn't wait there.

R. ECKLUND: No, he headed up the creek, but we don't know because we left the area. It's probably 300 yards from the house where he was.

COOPER: OK. Well, Cindy and Ron, I'm --

C. ECKLUND: And clear.

COOPER: -- glad there's a happy ending to all of this, and I'm glad you guys are OK. And did Tucker get something -- some special treats?

C. ECKLUND: Oh, my, yes.

R. ECKLUND: He's had plenty and steak dinner tomorrow night.

COOPER: Wow. All right, good. Well, you all deserve steaks. Thanks so much.


C. ECKLUND: It will be a family affair.

COOPER: Good. Cindy and Ron Ecklund, thank you so much.

C. ECKLUND: Thank you.

R. ECKLUND: You have a good day.

COOPER: That's it for us. The news continues. The Source with Kaitlan Collins starts now.