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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

January 6 Grand Jury Expected To Meet Tomorrow; One-On-One With Presidential Candidate, Asa Hutchinson; Second IRS Whistleblower Goes Public At House Hearing About Hunter Biden Probe; Russia Takes Aim At Odesa For A Third Night; A Video Appears To Show Wagner Leader Prigozhin Greeting His Fighters In Belarus; Texas Sued Over Floating Barrier On Rio Grande River Designed To Deter Illegal Migrants. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 19, 2023 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: The Chinese ambassador to the United States isn't tamping down the intense speculation about Qin Gang's whereabouts either.

When asked earlier if Qin met with the former US secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, here was the answer.


XIE FENG, CHINESE AMBASSADOR TO THE US: Well, let's wait and see.


BURNETT: Thanks for joining us. AC 360 begins now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360: What does the special counsel know and who told him? That's what the Trump team is trying to find out tonight. Kaitlan Collins joins us for her latest reporting.

Also tonight, the Justice Department investigating what it calls "troubling reports" about Texas border authorities allegedly pushing migrants back into the Rio Grande and denying them water. We'll have a live report from the southern border.

And later, new details about what motivated a US Army private to race across the DMZ into North Korea.

Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

A lot to get to tonight. We begin with behind the scenes drama unfolding as the former president faces a possible second federal indictment in as many months.

The grand jury hearing the evidence in this case is expected to meet tomorrow, an indictment if there is one could come any time after that.

Sources tell CNN the 2020 election case appears to be bigger than Trump's legal team may have been expecting in part because of the wide scope of the charges mentioned in the target letter the foreign president received. They are deprivation of rights, conspiracy to commit an offense against or defraud the United States, and tampering with a witness. That's according to unnamed sources we spoke to multiple news outlets including "The Wall Street Journal."

Now we should note that these are titles from the US Criminal Code that can cover a broad range of crimes and we will dig into those charges in a moment, but first anchor of "The Source" at 9:00 PM, Kaitlan Collins joins us.

What more have you learned about how the former president team is responding?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: So I was just told as of a few hours ago that they still have not formally responded to this letter, because obviously, the point of this letter, the intention of it is that it affords Trump the ability to go before the grand jury and kind of make his case.

If someone hasn't gone and testified before, the Justice Department manual basically says you should inform them, you don't have to, but you should inform them.

It is unlikely he is going to do that, basically, that would be a major reversal if he does. They still haven't formally responded. They may never respond. They may just let the clock run out until midnight or whatever, tomorrow night.

I think their team was not expecting to get this letter on Sunday night as they did and it gave them four days, which I've asked several of them, you know why four days? Do you have a sense of why that's the timeline? None of them really have a clear indication of it.

But I do think what we should notice that, you know, when Trump notified the world yesterday that he had gotten this, that was because they had gotten a call that an outlet was going to report it and so they went ahead and essentially made their own news here.

COOPER: Now, yesterday, you were reporting that they were trying to call around to find out if anybody else had received a target letter. No one had according to them at that point, any word on anyone else receiving this?

COLLINS: Still now, I checked with them today. That is something that has kind of mystified them. They thought that it would at least be in conjunction with others, that all of these could happen at the same time.

I mean, they had an indication that Trump might get a target letter in this, but they weren't sure what it would look like or they definitely didn't think he'd be the only one.

Now, they don't think ultimately he will be the only one. They think the others that we've talked about those other names. Some of them at least will also get target letters here.

But so far, I mean, out of the calls that they've made, and out of the calls that we've made, we have not found another person. That doesn't mean it hasn't happened. But it is interesting that the idea that the people that he was speaking with and plotting these fake electors schemes and what was happening with haven't gotten one yet.

COOPER: And they are already fundraising off this, I assume.

COLLINS: Multiple times. I mean, he did it within minutes of alerting the world yesterday that he got this.

I mean, I just was looking though through -- obviously, these fundraising e-mails are always you know, kind of borderline crazy when you look at them, but I was just reading through one that he sent out just a few moments ago, and he was essentially saying to his supporters, and I'm quoting from the fundraising e-mail that Trump sent out, that his critics are waiting like vultures circling the skies, waiting and hoping to use our injustice and misfortune for their own personal gain.

And is essentially trying to argue this is a political prosecution, that is likely going to happen. I mean, he thinks he's going to be indicted in a matter of days here, and they are trying to fundraise off of it.

I should note, of course, this fundraising goes to two PACs. One of them is being used to pay his legal fees and has been for some time now.

So in addition to essentially saying this argument that this is an attack on not just Trump, but his supporters, he's also raising money to pay his attorneys who are going to be fighting these charges.

COOPER: The grand jury is meeting tomorrow. What's next for them? What are we expecting?

COLLINS: We know they are hearing from a personal aide of his, Will Russell.

COOPER: So another witness is testifying.

COLLINS: Who has already testified twice. That's another interesting factor here. We're not sure why he's going back for a third time, but it could potentially signal the end of what's focused on Trump.

I mean everyone is really reading the tea leaves here and included in that is Trump's legal team. I mean, they don't fully know because they haven't spoken to Jack Smith's team about this indictment as of recently.


And so it's just a lot of questions of when that grand jury is going to be done.

I should note that grand jury, though, is still talking to people. Bernie Kerik, the former New York City Police commissioner. I talked to his attorney last night and he said that Jack Smith wants to talk to his client, but they haven't set a date yet. So, he is still going in, we just don't know when.

COOPER: All right, Kaitlan will be back at nine o'clock with "The Source." Thanks so much. A reminder, you can see her then on CNN nine o'clock.

I'm joined now by CNN analyst -- legal analyst, Norm Eisen, who served as special counsel to House Democrats during the former president's first impeachment and George Conway, conservative attorney who is contributing columnist to "The Washington Post."

George, I want to start with the CNN reporting that the Trump team is looking for evidence or witnesses that they are unaware of who may have been cooperating, that the special counsel may have because the potential charges listed in the target letter suggests to them a bigger case against Trump than they were expecting. Does that surprise you?

GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER AND WASHINGTON POST CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST: Well, it doesn't surprise me that there would be a big case brought against Donald Trump. I think that's the way this whole investigation has been pointed in -- that's the direction that it's been pointed at for a very long time, and I think his conduct is critical in any number of ways with regard to the incitement of an insurrection, but more importantly, I think they're going to focus on the electors, the attempt to influence electors and the attempt to influence Mike Pence.

So I don't think that it is surprising that there is such a big case. They may be caught off guard in terms of the timing, they may have thought, oh, well, Fani Willis, they have expected her to go first for a long time and they didn't expect Mr. Smith to go so quickly, particularly after the work he's done in the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation.

But apparently, he is ready to go. It certainly sounds that way when he had gotten the letter.

COOPER: Norm, you co-wrote a memo assessing potential federal charges that the special counsel could bring against the former president. How did your assessment match up with the three statutes that the target letter cites that Trump could potentially be charged with -- deprivation of rights, conspiracy to commit an offense against or defraud the United States and tampering with a witness.

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Anderson, it lines up pretty tightly. You have the fake electoral certificate. That's the conspiracy against the United States because it's a fraud when one candidate wins the presidency and the other candidate tries to stay in power and prevent that person from taking office.

Then you have what's referred to in the letter as threatening a witness, but I think that is a reference to 18 USC 1512. That's the official caption, but Subsection C of that is interfering with an official proceeding.

I think that's what's being targeted there and we wrote about that in our memo, and that, of course, is Act Two, if you will, when Donald Trump took those fake electoral certificates and tried to use them in early January to pressure Mike Pence not to do his duty.

And then finally, you have a conspiracy to affect civil rights or privileges. That's what we talked about as Act Three. We considered should that -- that's the insurrection. That's the violence when all else failed.

We looked at that through the lens of the Insurrection Act, but Section 241 or 242 of 18 USC is also a good fit, Anderson, because when Donald Trump unleashed the violence against Mike Pence, against Congress, he was interfering with their rights and privileges to do their job on January 6th, and in a sense, he was interfering with the right of every American because he was trying to stop the recognition of the rightful president.

So it's not really a surprise the direction that Jack Smith is going.

COOPER: George, there had been some who thought there might be an insurrection charge. I spoke to Elie Honig on the program last night who said he didn't think the special counsel needed the drama of an insurrection charge. That was a bridge perhaps too far for Jack Smith's taste and he doesn't need to prove that Trump was trying to overthrow the government of the United States. Do you agree with that?

CONWAY: Yes. Well, I do think it's not necessary to bring an insurrection case and such, but I think the statutes that Norm and his terrific volume that he and his colleagues prepared on the various statutory possibilities here is absolutely right.

You can defraud the United States by simply -- by submitting false information and false certificates. And you can also obstruct the congressional proceeding through violence or by fraud.

And I think they're just -- I think it's important to take a step back here and just remember, there are just dozens and dozens of possible state and federal crimes at issue here. When you take -- in the private sector or in the public sector, if you engage in lying or violence, but particularly here the lying and encourage people to sign false documents, to make false representations and you know that they're false, there are usually any number of statutes that can be used.


COOPER: Norm, how soon do you think a possible indictment against the former president could come?

EISEN: Well, Anderson, it could be as soon as this week. The grand jury, of course, will have to vote on the charges. They will be under seal initially. If the special counsel follows his prior procedures of giving every courtesy to a former president of the United States, he'll probably give the defendant notice and then go to court to unseal the indictment. It could be this week, it could be next week.

Donald Trump may, as he has done before, rush to put his own spin on it before the indictment is unsealed, before Smith can speak. We know that the former president's lawyers try to take any advantage.

COOPER: George, CNN is reporting also the Trump team has not identified anyone else who received a target letter according to sources. I'm wondering what you read into that?

I mean, does that mean other Trump associates aren't being charged? Or do you think there are other targets who just haven't been revealed yet?

It also raises questions about, is there somebody who is cooperating? I mean, is a Mark Meadows who sort of disappeared from the scene, is he perhaps cooperating?

CONWAY: Yes, I think it's very, very difficult to read that. I think we don't know whether or not target letters went out to people and they are just keeping their mouth shut. We don't know whether or not. It could be that some people could get charged and there may not be a target letter.

There are circumstances where prosecutors do that. I defer to the former federal prosecutors you talk to about that, and I also think that the last possibility to me has always been the most intriguing, which is there are people -- are there people who are cooperating?

I mean, you saw and we saw in the documents case that there's basically only one person who didn't end up cooperating in some ways, which was that was Walt Nauta. And we've seen some very strange quietness from for example, Mark Meadows.

I mean, he -- I just have the feeling something is going on there. I mean, he is someone who ought to be every bit as exposed as Donald Trump, yet he has been so quiet, and there just -- it just like there is something up with him.

COOPER: It would be intriguing to see. George Conway, thank you. Norm Eisen, as well.

I'm joined now for a reaction to these charges by someone who was badly hurt trying to defend the US Capitol and those in it on January 6, Michael Fanone, former Washington, DC Police officer. He is now a CNN law enforcement analyst.

Michael, it's good to have you on the program.

This is obviously deeply personal for you, and for so many of the law enforcement personnel who were there that day, risking their lives, I'm wondering just what you make of what we have seen just in the last day or so, I mean, in terms of these charges or potential charges.

MICHAEL FANONE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Better late than never. I mean, I'm grateful for the commitment of the members of the Department of Justice to pursue justice in this case, and seek what appears to be an indictment against the former president.

COOPER: A lot of congressional Republicans, as you know, are using the line that this is just the weaponization of the Justice Department.

Earlier today, Kevin McCarthy was pressed by CNN if he would respect the results of the special counsel's investigation. I just want to play for our viewers what he said.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): He is not -- I don't see how he could be found criminally responsible. He would not charge it. Well, what criminal activity did he do? He told people to be peaceful.


COOPER: That's the same Kevin McCarthy, who, right after January 6 said that the former president bears responsibility for the attack and then changed his mind weeks later.

FANONE: Yes. I mean, it's become a national disgrace that we have so many elected members of our government that seem incapable of acting in the best interest of our country and Kevin McCarthy is at the forefront of that group.

COOPER: It doesn't surprise you, though. I mean, you've had -- I remember, you going through -- you writing in your book about a meeting you were at with Kevin McCarthy. You're not surprised by the way he's playing this.

FANONE: Yes. I mean, listen, I wasn't naive prior to January 6th like many Americans, but if there is one fact that's been solidified in my mind, it's that our politicians are full of shit. And at this point in time, the Republican Party seems to be winning the race with regard.

COOPER: Would you -- I mean, you're -- I know you're not an attorney. The three charges were mentioned or potential charges were mentioned in this letter that the former president received. Inciting an insurrection was not one of them. It is deprivation of rights, conspiracy to commit an offense or defraud the United States, tampering with a witness, and there are a lot of potential crimes within those descriptions.


Those are just the kind of the headlines for each of the statutes. There's not, in terms of a potential indictment, a charge for inciting an insurrection. Does that matter to you?

FANONE: No, I'm very comfortable with these charges, and I'm somebody who has followed this case very closely. In addition to my participation in the defense of the Capitol on January 6th, I attended every one of the Select Committee's hearings.

But if there is one thing I do know, it is that no one knows this case better than Jack Smith and the prosecutors on his team far better than me. And I want to read from you a 2017 DOJ memorandum, which pretty much sums up I think, why these charges were selected, and what their motivations are.

"It is a core principle that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offenses. This policy affirms our responsibility to enforce the law as moral and just and produces consistency."

I've had many arguments with prosecutors over the course of my 20-year career, but I never questioned their commitment and I never questioned their oath to the Constitution.

And going back to Republican lawmakers, we have a whole host of Republicans running for president, and it seems to escape them the ability to simply comment on the Trump pending indictment, with the statement that our justice system is not perfect, but it is damn near perfect and the best in the world and we should trust the process and trust the career prosecutors at the Department of Justice who serve under a variety of administrations, both Republican and Democrat, and whose oath is to the Constitution and to pursue justice.

COOPER: Michael Fanone, appreciate you being with us tonight. Thank you.

FANONE: Thank you.

COOPER: The Republicans who are condemning these potential charges on Capitol Hill are doing so without knowing what exactly the charges might be. None of us know exactly what the charges might be, if there are going to be charges at all.

We'll speak next to one of the few Republican candidates, to Michael Fanone's point, for president who has directly and repeatedly criticized the former president. We will talk to former governor Asa Hutchinson.

And later, a raucous Republican hearing today tried to prove that the Hunter Biden criminal case was mishandled. Question is, did the testimony move the needle? We have details ahead.



COOPER: Last night, I spoke to Republican candidate for president, Will Hurd, about the possible second indictment facing the former president, a somewhat muted response from many of the candidates in the field who still want the support of his base.

Hurd is a former three-term Republican congressman. He said last night, he said: "Newsflash, if you're afraid of Donald Trump, then you're not ready to be president of the United States."

Another Republican candidate for president joins us now former Arkansas governor, ASA Hutchinson.

Governor appreciate you being with us. We just spoke to former DC police officer Michael Fanone, who was badly injured, almost killed on January 6th defending the Capitol. He questions why so few Republican candidates are standing up for law enforcement and public servants.

I'm wondering why do you think so many who are running for the Republican nomination for president aren't saying, you know, we at least trust the process, we trust the Department of Justice to do their job.

ASA HUTCHINSON (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, I appreciate the officer's service and his sacrifice for our country, and whenever you look at what Republicans are saying, absolutely, we cannot dismiss the seriousness of the allegations.

I've said repeatedly that when it comes to January 6, and the attack on the Capitol, Donald Trump is morally responsible. Now there is another question as to whether he is criminally responsible. And of course, we need to wait until we see exactly the charges.

We need to see this play out, but we should not be dismissed, and we should not undermine the rule of law and that is probably the most troubling thing about the continued comments of Donald Trump, that it serves not just simply to protect himself, but he makes fun of the system of justice in our country, that is the world's greatest.

It's not perfect. It's made up of humans, but at the same time, it served us well and everything he has done has undermined that rule of law and confidence in our law enforcement, in the FBI, and those that carry out really incredibly difficult duties.

And so that's why this week I announced my reform of federal law enforcement, showing support for them, but at the same time, trying to narrow the mission of the FBI to provide more focus and accountability.

This is the right way to approach it when you see an error. Let's fix it, but at the same time, let's make sure we support law enforcement, we support the Department of Justice and our system of laws in this country, and when it needs fixing, let's fix it. But this constant criticism of our system really undermines our democracy in this country.

COOPER: Speaker Kevin McCarthy's initial response yesterday, to the letter that the former president received was essentially saying that this was the weaponization of the DOJ, that President Biden saw the poll numbers of the former president going up and weaponized the DOJ against him. Do you believe the DOJ has been weaponized against the former president?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I've been a federal prosecutor, and I know the independence of the US attorneys in their decision making as to what charges are brought. And then in this case, you have a special prosecutor that he even has a higher level of independence.

And so I don't know of any specific proof that they have been shaped as to the judgments that they make and you know, you criticize Jack Smith that he has made the wrong judgment, but I don't see right now any evidence that it has been improperly influenced.


We've got to look at the facts and follow the facts.

When you think about the decision Jack Smith had to make, whenever you have literally hundreds of participants in that attack being held accountable and criminally prosecuted, and if you see evidence that the former president is responsible for bringing them there and encouraging the attack on the Capitol, then you're in a very difficult position as a prosecutor, when you make the decisions, whether you bring those charges or not.

We should not underestimate the challenge of this. I think this is Kevin McCarthy's point, that you have an element of speech here of a candidate addressing a rally and we've seen from Democrats and Republicans that kind of speech gets fiery sometimes, and through the history of our country.

So this is a challenge that any prosecutor has to meet, but obviously Jack Smith has done his homework. He has the evidence that he feels comfortable with and let's see it as it is laid out in the indictment as to exactly what those charges are.

COOPER: I want to play a clip from when you spoke at a Turning Point Action Conference, which a very pro-Trump organization in West Palm Beach, Florida on Sunday. I just want to play this for our viewers.



[PEOPLE chanting "Trump.")


COOPER: How difficult is it for -- I mean, obviously, on that stage, very difficult to get your message to break through in that audience. But I mean, I don't know if that's symbolic.

But when you're out there, how difficult do you think it is right now for you to get your message through when there's that kind of support from the former president's backers and supporters?

HUTCHINSON: Well, it is difficult in that environment, but overall, when I go to Iowa and New Hampshire, a very receptive message to my consistent conservative message and history, as well as my vision for this country as to how we can lead again, how we can have a pro-growth energy policy, how we can control federal spending. These are conservative principles and they are very, very well received.

At this Turning Point conference, I want to emphasize that while it was difficult, I did get my message out and what was wonderful is that the young people who were there were very well behaved. It was the adults that didn't set exactly the right example.

So I want to give hats off to the young people there and really was well-received and glad for that opportunity to speak to them and hopefully inspire them.

COOPER: Governor Hutchinson, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

HUTCHINSON: Thank you. Great to be with you, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up next, a House hearing on the allegations against Hunter Biden descending into, well, a lot of chaos. Details ahead on what set it off?


REP. KWEISI MFUME (D-MD): This is ludicrous. Beam me up, Scotty. There is no intelligent life down here. None.




COOPER: On Capitol Hill, a House Oversight Committee hearing descended into chaos. Two IRS whistleblowers testified before the committee, alleging the Justice Department slow walked the criminal investigation into Hunter Biden, the president's son. The identity of one of those whistleblowers was revealed today for the first time. House Republicans jumped on the allegations the case was mishandled as further proof of a politicized Justice Department. Democrats on the committee pushed back. Melanie Zanona joins me now with more. Was anything new learned today, Melanie?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL FLORES (VOICE-OVER): Well, I wouldn't say anything new necessarily was learned, but this hearing did bring to light testimony that was previously behind closed doors and that have really cause a firestorm among Republicans on Capitol Hill. You have these two IRS whistleblowers who testified publicly today that the DOJ interfered and slow walked the criminal case into Hunter Biden over tax and gun charges, and that they didn't take recommendations for more serious charges.

And at the center of these allegations, really, is this October 2022 meeting involving David Weiss. He is the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney who is overseeing this Hunter Biden case, and one of the IRS whistleblowers, Gary Shapley, was in that meeting. And he claims that, during the meeting, Weiss said he does not have charging authority and that he sought Special Counsel status but was denied. Now, Weiss himself has vigorously denied the account of that meeting. The DOJ has also denied all wrongdoing.

But clearly, there is still a lot of questions around this meeting. And it might not be cleared up until if and when Congress is able to hear from Weiss himself, Anderson.

COOPER: And is that not going to happen?

ZANONA: Well, that's a great question. The DOJ has said that they will make Weiss available at the appropriate time. But it is very unlikely that he would appear while this case is still open and ongoing. But that is certainly something to look out for and something Republicans will certainly be pressing for.

COOPER: And how do Democrats on the Committee respond?

ZANONA: So, Democrats really used this as a high-profile opportunity to poke holes in these whistleblower allegations. And one way that they tried to do that was really question Gary Shapley's understanding of that critical October 2018 meeting. Let's take a listen to Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the Committee.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN, (D) MARYLAND: It seems to me this October 22 meeting, which you've described as a red line is just a misunderstanding. That after the U.S. attorney in D.C. declined a partner on the 14 and 15 charges, Mr. Weiss took a good hard look at those charges himself, and ultimately decided not to charge them, and therefore, not to seek the Special Attorney status. He may have been right about that. He may have been wrong, as you guys make your case for, but it was his decision. Isn't that right, Mr. Shapley?

GARY SHAPLEY, SUPERVISORY IRS SPECIAL AGENT: No, that's not supported by the facts.

RASKIN: Really? Well, what facts is it not supported by?

SHAPLEY: His own admissions in the October 7, 2022 meeting.


ZANONA: And Democrats also point out that disagreements about charging decisions are actually quite common in these types of cases, and that Republicans -- or these two IRS whistleblowers actually only had a small slice of the investigation. They are only privy to a part of it.


And so Democrats, essentially, arguing here that Republicans don't know the full picture and are just trying to cherry-pick a narrative to fit their narrative, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Melanie Zanona, appreciate. Thank you. Next, breaking news from Ukraine. For a third night, Russian rockets are taking aim at the port city of Odesa. We will take you there. Also, he's been in MIA since the failed mutiny in Russia last month. Now, a new grainy video surfaced, appears to show Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin alive and talking with some of his fighters. The details ahead. And a witness shares what she saw when U.S. soldier Travis King ran across the border into North Korea, the demilitarized zone, during a tour.


COOPER: A witness is sharing what she saw when U.S. Army Private Travis King ran across the border into North Korea when on a tour of the demilitarized buffer dividing the north and the south. This is a photo she took during that tour. You can see the back of King's head. He's wearing a black hat, shirt, standing with the tourists. The 23- year-old was supposed to head back to the U.S. this week and face disciplinary action from the U.S. Military for a separate incident. Now, Private King is in the custody of North Korea's regime.

And Will Ripley joins us from near the Unification Bridge, not far from the Korean Demilitarized Zone.


So Will, good to see you. There are new details from a witness, I understand, who is in that tour group that King was traveling with. What have you learned?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. She's a tourist from New Zealand. There were about 40 people who were on that tour group. And they would have had to pass by this Unification Bridge which is where we are standing right now. This is actually the closest that we are allowed to get because all tours have been suspended. But on the day that this happened, King and the other tourists, they were on a bus and they passed by this checkpoint here. This is the Gateway to Unification.

They keep driving past all of this barbwire, the checkpoints, and they get to this Joint Security Area less than five miles down the road there. Now, in order for him to actually be able to get out of the bus and get into this highly sensitive area, he was on a passenger manifest that would have been approved by the United Nations command here. Apparently, that manifest must have been approved. There were no red flags, even though he had -- was supposed to be on a flight out for disciplinary action back in the United States in Texas, after serving almost 50 days in a detention facility here in South Korea. And then, what happened next was pretty fast, according to the tourist from New Zealand who told us what happened.


SARAH LESLIE, WITNESS FROM TRAVIS KING'S TOUR GROUP: Someone ran close to me, very fast. And I thought, what is going on? He -- I didn't think anyone who was sane would want to go to North Korea. So, I assumed it was some kind of stunt to run to the North Korean border fence and have someone film it or something like that. A couple of seconds after, I saw him that's when the shoulders soldiers shouted and started running after him.


RIPLEY: Now, the officers that were there did try to get him but there were no shots fired, which is very different, Anderson, from when people try to cross from the north into the south. In that exact same area, there actually was a soldier from North Korea that successfully made the crossing. But his colleagues in North Korea opened fire on him and he was seriously injured before they successfully retrieved him here in the south. We don't know exactly where Private King is now.

He was whisked away in a North Korean van. And the North Koreans have not had any, at least publicly, any contact with the United States because they don't have any open lines of communication right now.


RIPLEY: But they are going to have a lot of questions for him about his military service here in South Korea. And it could be quite some time analysts say before we even know what his status is, frankly.

COOPER: And what do we know about what may have prompted him to do this?

RIPLEY: Well, he was facing, as I said, disciplinary action in Texas. He was going to be, basically, kicked out of the army after getting into an assault, some sort of assault charge here in South Korea that had him serving almost 50 days in a detention center. It was described as -- he was actually doing labor in South Korea. Whether he felt that the future in the United States was bleak enough that he wanted to book this tour and try his luck in North Korea, there have been other U.S. service members who have been defected to North Korea, but we are talking about more than 40 years ago, the last case.

Most of those other service members did actually stay in North Korea, with the exception of one of them. About half a dozen cases in total, some of them turned up on North Korean movies, others had their sons turn up in North Korean propaganda even in recent years, speaking Korean, talking about the value of the North Korean system. But things are very different and the value of having an American in North Korea for propaganda purposes isn't what it used to be Anderson. So, we really just have to wait and see what happens in this case.

COOPER: Yeah. Well, Ripley, thanks so much. The breaking news now from Ukraine, where for third night Russia is bombarding the port city of Odesa in the southern part of the country. This video just in, you see Ukraine Air Defense repelling the Russian air attack. Alex Marquardt is in Odesa tonight, joins us now. What are you and your teams -- what have you been hearing?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this has been an extremely intense night of attacks on the city. And that is saying something after what we saw last night, just a staggering attack that the Mayor said earlier today was the worst on the city since the beginning of the war. The city is completely blacked out, Anderson. There is not a single light in these buildings. That is likely a preventative measure. I'm also keeping my voice down.

We can see a spotlight up in the sky, presumably searching for drones. It is quiet right now. This is a rare moment of quiet in the past two hours. The attack lasting, if it continues, now, an hour and 45 minutes, and Russia really does appear to have stepped things up, at least in terms of the types of weapons that they use tonight. We know that at least eight long-range supersonic strategic bombers took flight. They are armed with all kinds of cruise missiles, including the biggest cruise missile that Russia has been using, the Kinzhal. It has a one-ton warhead.

We've seen all kinds of explosions. We have seen intercepting rockets -- interceptor rockets flying up into the sky. And very notably, Anderson, we know that these drones have been attacking the city over the past three days. But tonight, we could hear them. They sound -- you could hear the warring engine. It sounds like a very large mosquito and that just speaks to how close they came.


In terms of the destruction, that we don't know right now. After last night's attack, there was significant destruction in the port. That presumably is one of the main targets, if not the main target for the Russians. We did hear President Zelenskyy earlier today accusing Russia of going after the grain infrastructure, after Russia pulled out of that deal. Anderson, this city is -- it knows attacks well. It has come under all kinds of attacks since the beginning of the war. But the fact that this has gone on now three nights in a row, Russia is sending a very strong message here, Anderson.

COOPER: Yeah. Alex, thank you. Be careful. Tonight, there is new grainy video with poor lighting that may be a sign of life for Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin. This is the video. It was posted on Telegram today. It appears to show Prigozhin greeting his fighters in Belarus. It may be the first video of him in public since leaving the failed rebellion against the Kremlin last month. That was the last video that we had seen after leaving Rostov on dawn.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joins us now with more. What we know about this video, about his alleged sighting?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it's metadata -- if indeed that metadata is authentic on the Telegram channels that has been released suggest it may have been filmed at right about dusk late Tuesday. So yesterday your time, and it appears to be corroborated to some degree by geolocation work done by CNN against video filmed on the ground from one of the camps, which Belarus put aside for Wagner fighters under this deal which was hatched by Belarus' President Aleksandr Lukashenko, essentially to get Prigozhin to turn his horses around on the way to Moscow and betray him and Putin.

So suggestion from that video that there may be some authenticity behind it, put out the same time as well, satellite images over the last 72 hours appear to show a buildup of vehicles in that same area as well. So, the balance (inaudible) he is perhaps leaning towards this being -- may be the first time we have seen Yevgeny Prigozhin in public for a whole 25 days since the end of that failed mutiny when he appeared in the back of an SUV in Rostov, Anderson.

COOPER: You also spoke with the Head of Britain's Foreign Intelligence Service. What was his take on what happened between Prigozhin and Putin lost month?

PATON WALSH: Yeah, startling to hear the kind of candor really from Sir Richard Moore, the Head of MI6, giving a rare speech in Prague, in which essentially I think he confirmed for the first time that western intelligence believe what we saw in public from the Kremlin was also what was happening behind closed doors in private. Now it's important to point out, because so much of what we hear from the Kremlin is essentially smoke and mirrors and deception. It seems really that the chaos we saw on the surface was the real deal.

But he went also to talk about how Putin really showed pretty strong weakness when it came down to what he referred to as cutting a deal to save his own skin. And he also talked about exactly how Putin had flip-flopped over Prigozhin during that particular weekend at the end of June. Here is what he had to say.


RICHARD MOORE, CHIEF OF MI6, BRITAIN: If you look at Putin's behaviors on that day, Prigozhin started off I think as a traitor at breakfast. He had been pardoned by supper. And then a few days later, he was invited for tea. So, there are some things on that even the Chief of MI6 finds it a little bit difficult to try and interpret in terms of who is in and who is out.


PATON WALSH: And I think in this rare public appearance, speaking on the record about this confidential assessments by western intelligence, there was a sense of, frankly, persistent bewilderment about what had happened around the Kremlin during that period of time. Hard even for them to always analyze given the depth of information they often have available to them. But he used this moment here in Prague, I think, to emphasize the weakness of those around Putin and make an abnormal appeal, essentially to say to those disaffected Russians, part of the elite, bring your secrets to MI6, to British Intelligence, spy for the west.

Now, that is not something you often hear being said in public. But I think it shows that they see this as a very different unprecedented moment for the Kremlin and it was startling I think to see that there was not some complex private explanation of what has been happening inside the Kremlin during that period of time. It really was just as chaotic as it seemed on the surface in their interpretation, Anderson.

COOPER: Yeah, it's so interesting to hear from him. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you. Coming up next, a report from Texas, where a new floating barrier on the Rio Grande is raising concern on both sides of the Southern Border. Governor Abbott says it will deter illegal migrants -- question is, is it legal? More on that ahead.



COOPER: The Department of Justice is assessing reports from the Southern Border where Texas State Troopers are saying there are orders to push back migrants into the Rio Grande as well as deny them water. Sources also telling CNN that the Inspector General for the Texas Department of Public Safety has received additional complaints over the treatment of migrants. Those complaints include some videos, although not clear what exactly those videos may show. Top officials including Texas Governor Greg Abbott are denying any orders that "would compromise the lives of those attempting to cross the border illegally." But there is increased scrutiny on the measures the Governor is taking, including the deployment of a new floating barrier on the Rio Grande. Rosa Flores has more.


JESUS FUENTES, OWNER, EPI'S CANOE AND KAYAK: We're in the middle of the Rio Grande.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jesus Fuentes grew up riding the waters of the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass, Texas.

FUENTES: It's a river that I love.

FLORES (voice-over): And in 2015, he turned his passion into a business, launching Epi's Canoe and Kayak.

FLORES (on camera): What was business like?

FUENTES: It was beautiful.


FLORES (voice-over): Fuentes even organized races on the river, but not anymore.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT, (R) TEXAS: We're securing the border at the border.

FLORES (voice-over): Governor Greg Abbott has deployed concertina wire, shipping containers and most recently, 1,000 feet of floating border barrier and netting on the river. The buoys are four feet in diameter and anchored to the bottom of the waterway.

ABBOTT: A strategy that no state has ever before deployed, to stop people from entering Texas illegally.

FLORES (voice-over): The State of Texas did not exactly follow the law when it started installing the buoys on the Rio Grande. According to the U.S. State Department, a series of treaties between the U.S. and Mexico governed the use of the water on the Rio Grande and Texas not only didn't consult with the U.S. federal government before installing the buoys, it didn't obtain a permit.

FUENTES: It used to be a beautiful pristine island.

FLORES (voice-over): Fuentes points to an island on the river that he says Texas also destroyed. Here's what the island looked like on Google Earth. Here's what it looks like now. The island is gone, the vegetation is dead, a road and concertina wire taking its place.

FUENTES: It made me want to cry. It was sad.

FLORES (voice-over): Fuentes filed the lawsuit claiming the buoys will prevent him from making a living. And Mexico's top diplomat complained to Washington saying the buoys violate two treaties between the countries, including one that prohibits construction that deflects or obstructs the flow of the river. Mexico is also concerned the buoys may be on their territory.


FLORES (voice-over): Magali and Hugo Urbina say they too have complained about Texas but for installing concertina wire on their land and for refusing to remove it.

HUGO URBINA, TEXAS LANDOWNER: Has DPS taken over control of our entire properties? Yes.

Are we in support of it? No, we are not.


FLORES (voice-over): But the most alarming part of it all is what they say they witnessed. Migrants needing help and Texas National Guard members just standing there.

M. URBINA: I asked, "Aren't you all going to help?" And they just sat there and they said, "We can't. We can't get on to your property." They told us not to get on the property. They told us not even to give them water. And I said, "Fine." And then I just turned around and we just kept helping people out.

FLORES (voice-over): Texas National Guard denies the allegations. The Urbinas' account come after Texas DPS released emails showing top brass acknowledging an increase in migrant injuries from concertina wire. And a Texas State Trooper blowing the whistle to superiors about a 19-year-old stuck on the wire while having a miscarriage, a four- year-old passed out due to exhaustion, and about being ordered to push migrants into the river and denying them water, allegations the agency denies.

Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber says he has never witnessed State Troopers mistreat migrants, but he's worried the buoys could mean more migrant deaths.

TOM SCHMERBER, SHERIFF, MAVERICK COUNTY, TEXAS: I hope that I'm wrong. But I think we are going to have some people drawn in (ph) that are here.

FUENTES: I want to be that voice for the river because the river can't speak for itself.

FLORES (on camera): Are you afraid of going against the State of Texas?

FUENTES: Am I afraid? No. Is my business suffering? Yeah. Is my heart suffering? Yes.


COOPER: Rosa joins us now from Eagle Pass where buoys are going in the water. So, is the federal government planning to do anything about the buoys?

FLORES: You know, the federal government says that it is aware of what was going on. Take a look, Anderson. You will see that the buoys here are still on the river. And regarding Jesse Fuentes, the gentleman that you met in our story, he's waiting for his first hearing to be set. And one of the things that he is going to be asking for is for these buoys to be removed. But back to the federal government, the U.S. DOJ says that it is aware. It also says that it knows of the troubling reports of what's going on in the State of Texas.

Now, it's unclear if the Biden Administration will actually do something about it, if they will take legal action. But, as you know, President Joe Biden has been critical of what is going on here in the State of Texas and on the border.

COOPER: Rosa Flores, thanks. We'll be right back.