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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Anticipation Building For Possible Second Trump Indictment, New Information On Key Witness, Latest Co-Defendant In Documents Case; Who Is Carlos De Oliveira; Republican Candidates Descend On Iowa As Trump Faces New Indictment From Special Counsel; Trump's Polling Lead And Legal Troubles Loom Over GOP Candidates In Iowa For Critical Primary Event; Ukraine Using Armed, Remote-Controlled Sea Drones In Fight Against Russia; Phoenix Temperatures Have Been Above 110 Degrees For 29 Consecutive Days; Phoenix-Area Medical Examiner Adds Refrigerated Containers For Bodies And Unrelenting Heat Wave. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired July 28, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Her lawyer also released a statement that reads in part: "They (meaning the neighbors) deserve to live peacefully. I am pleading with you all to give us space so that we may regain some normalcy in our neighborhood."
Heuermann who was charged with killing three women is expected to appear in court next Tuesday. Thanks so much for joining us. AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
Tonight on 360: New reporting about the identity of a mystery employee and key witness mentioned in those new charges filed by the special counsel against the former president. We'll talk to conservative attorney, George Conway just how worried the former president should be.
Also, new information on another mystery surrounding the former president's new co-defendant in the classified documents case, Carlos De Oliveira, how did a maintenance worker end up in the federal indictment?
And CNN has obtained exclusive access to some never before seen footage of unmanned Ukrainian sea drones they are using against the Russians in the Black Sea.
As we get closer to a decision about whether the former president will face a second indictment from the special counsel regarding the 2020 election, tonight, we have new information about those charges that they added yesterday in the classified documents case, including the identity of a key witness.
More information about that new co-defendant that we talked about, as well as the former president's reaction. First, though it's important to point out the shifting explanations the former president has given about the documents and his handling of them starting last year with his response the August 8th search of Mar-a-Lago by the FBI.
Publicly, the former president expressed surprise and he claimed he had been "working and cooperating" with the relevant government agencies. Well, two days later, he suggested on social media that the FBI may have planted evidence during the search. His exact words were "they wanted to be alone without any witnesses to see what they were doing, taking or hopefully not planting." Of course, he offered no evidence, which as you'll see, he rarely does.
By the next month, he had a new explanation. There were no classified documents at Mar-a-Lago according to him, because he'd already declassified everything.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It doesn't have to be a process, as I understand it. You know, there's different people who say different things. But as I understand it, that doesn't have to be.
If you're the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying "it's declassified," even by thinking about it.
In other words, when they left the White House, they were declassified.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: But the special counsel's office appears to have evidence that undercuts that defense. As CNN exclusively reported a short time later, sources at the National Archive has evidence from the special counsel that the former president knew and perhaps disregarded an established declassification process, one that does not include "just thinking about it," to quote the former president.
And the special counsel has a recording of the former president allegedly showing several unauthorized people an Iran battle plan document that, and admitting on tape that it is classified, and he knows it and admitting he can't declassify it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: See as president, I could have declassified it.
STAFFER: Yes. (Laughter.)
TRUMP: Now, I can't. You know, but this is still a secret.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: As CNN first reported, the transcript of that moment that you just heard back on June 9th. Now, that's a day after he was indicted by special counsel, Jack Smith in the classified documents case, when obviously, the legal jeopardy phase rose exponentially.
Now, initially, we did not have the audio of that discussion, just the transcript, which indicates -- the transcript indicated you could hear him shuffle through papers, and it appears show the people in the room that attack plan on Iran.
Well, the former president sat with Fox News and came up with yet another explanation about that, about why he hadn't returned sensitive military documents, and whether he still had one that pertained to Iran attack plans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF POLITICAL ANCHOR: They did ask for it.
TRUMP: No. And again --
BAIER: And they said, can you give the documents --
TRUMP: And we were talking.
BAIER: And then they said, they went to DOJ to subpoena you to get --
TRUMP: Which they've never done before.
BAIER: Right. And why not just hand them over then?
TRUMP: Because I had boxes, I want to go through the boxes and get all my personal things out. I don't want to hand that over to NARA yet, and I was very busy as you've sort of seen.
BAIER: Yes. But according to the indictment, you then tell this aide to move to other locations, after telling your lawyers to say you'd fully comply with the subpoena when you hadn't.
TRUMP: But before I send boxes over, I have to take all of my things out. These boxes were interspersed with all sorts of things -- golf shirts, clothing, pants, shoes -- there were many things.
I would say more much, much --
BAIER: Iran map --
TRUMP: Not that I know of, but not that I know of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You'll notice there, he is no longer claiming he could and did declassify everything. Then eight days later, CNN obtained the audio of the discussion, and we could all hear him say that these documents were secret.
Later that day came his next shifting line of defense that there was no classified document on his desk when he was talking to that group of people, that it wasn't real. Quoting the president: "I would say it was bravado, if you want to know the truth. It was bravado. I was talking and just holding up papers and talking about them, but I had no documents. I didn't have any documents."
Then today, we heard him swing back to one of his first excuses saying this to Breitbart shortly after learning of the new charges against him,.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm protected by the Presidential Records Act. Totally. It shouldn't even be a case. It's not a criminal case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So there's that, and now, CNN has learned that very real Iran battle plan document was returned to the National Archives in January of last year.
So we start tonight off with Paula Reid and that new information about those latest charges from the special counsel. What have you learned, Paula?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's really interesting in our reporting over the past several days, only the extent to which the former president went to, to get around his own lawyers really relying on lower level employees at Mar-a-Lago.
For example, Anderson, we've learned that one of the employees who is referenced in a critical moment in this indictment is Yuscil Taveras. He's an information technology worker. He was in charge of the surveillance footage and how it was stored.
And now, he has found himself at the center of this case because of a conversation he had with a property manager at Mar-a-Lago who has now been added as a co-defendant here, Carlos De Oliveira.
De Oliveira asked Taveras to have a private conversation in an audio booth, where he inquired about exactly how long the footage was stored and if it could be deleted.
Now, Now Taveras said he wasn't sure he even had the authority to do that. But he was told that "the boss," aka Trump wanted it deleted. And now Taveras's attorney declined to comment to CNN, but Anderson is just another example of how relatively low-level employees at Mar-a- Lago have been caught up in this because the former president has relied on them, right, in an effort to get around his lawyers who may have steered him another way.
COOPER: Do we know if he could be charged? I mean, he is clearly already -- I assume he has already talked to the special counsel, which is why he has been mentioned as that eyewitness in the superseding indictment. REID: Yes. Pretty much everyone who's worked at Mar-a-Lago again, from the groundskeeper all the way up to the head of security for the Trump Organization has spoken with the special counsel, but so far it doesn't appear that Taveras has exposed himself criminally in any way. Though his colleague, Carlos De Oliveira, he opened himself up to criminal liability by allegedly being dishonest with the FBI.
And Anderson, we know very smart, very accomplished people from Martha Stewart to General Petraeus have opened themselves up to this kind of criminal vulnerability, but just not being honest. And once you are not honest with the FBI, it's easy for the government to try to press you into pleading guilty and that's what the special counsel thought they could do with Walt Nauta, it is what they thought they could do with Carlos De Oliveira, but so far, they have been unsuccessful, but no indication that Taveras will be added as another co-defendant.
COOPER: All right, Paula Reid, thank you.
I'm joined now by conservative attorney, George Conway, contributing columnist at "The Washington Post." George, the, the superseding indictment, it is incredibly detailed. It's got detailed timeline, it clearly seems many people in Mar-a-Lago, I mean, to Paula Reid's point and the former president's orbit have been giving useful evidence to the special prosecutor. What stood out to you?
GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER AND WASHINGTON POST CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST: I mean, everything stands out to me and they have him dead to rights. They had him dead to rights back when they executed the search warrant, and they came up with those documents.
I mean, there is literally a smoking arsenal here. I mean, people are making a big deal about what we saw in the superseding indictment yesterday, but the fact of the matter is, it's just icing on a very, very large cake of mind bogglingly inculpatory evidence against Donald Trump. I mean, he's like a never ending bottomless pit of illegality.
I mean, here, he is basically, by asking his workers to destroy the videotape. I mean, he was obstructing justice, but maybe he wasn't just obstructing justice, he was obstructing justice about his prior efforts to obstruct justice, because those videotapes showed how he and Walt Nauta moving these boxes around and it was just like in the Mueller report, the Mueller report explains how Trump tried to get his White House counsel to get the special counsel, then Bob Mueller to resign.
And then when it hits the newspapers that he did that, Trump asked the White House counsel to write a false memo saying that it didn't happen. And again, he's obstructing justice about obstructing justice.
He's like, a Matryoshka doll of criminality, this man, and it's just -- he is not making it any easier for himself anything. It's sort of he's being unfair himself, because he's making it so easy for prosecutors. One-tenth of the evidence that they have could put him away for the rest of his life.
COOPER: I mean, I guess it shouldn't surprise anybody but it is still, to me disturbing the degree to which he had no compunction about involving, you know, a guy who works in the property management and this guy, Nauta, who you know, is clearly are loyal to him, but you know, low-level employees who can't afford attorneys of their own.
I mean, these are the people he reached down to, to do his dirty work and they were scurrying around, you know, asking questions about -- you know, they didn't know how to erase the security cameras. And so now they expose themselves to other people, because they're asking, you know, again, because that's what the boss wants.
CONWAY: Yes. I mean, he doesn't think of anyone, but himself. It's all about him. Everyone else, all of us, the American public, the country is expendable to Donald Trump, when it comes to saving his own skin and that's what he did here to these poor people.
I mean, these poor -- they are just being loyal to him. They're really not well -- probably not very sophisticated in the ways of the world and certainly in legal matters, and they wanted to please him, and he abuses it. And then he basically -- he locks them in with him so that they are stuck with him, and he is there represented by lawyers who he pays. I mean, he owns these people and he is just using them and destroying their lives as he destroys his own life.
COOPER: I want to play something that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told CNN's Manu Raju today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): What concerns me is you have a sitting president that has a situation like this, but even worse, that had documents, but nothing's happened.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But they are talking about obstruction versus the actual -- there are two different issues. They are saying the obstruction --
MCCARTHY: It is not two different issues. How does one keep being indicted and another not?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the difference as Manu was trying to explain is that when President Biden's team discovered classified documents, they reported them to the National Archives and cooperated with the investigation while the former president allegedly took action to avoid having to give the documents back even after a subpoena obstructed the investigation according to DOJ.
I mean, it is a disingenuous argument from the House speaker.
CONWAY: Oh, it is beyond disingenuous. It's a disgrace. I mean, these people are treating the voters as idiots and that's -- I mean, that's basically a hallmark of today's Republican Party is that they are willing to defend and probably nominate a lifelong criminal as their standard bearer, as a presidential candidate for 2024, and they have no compunction about it and they will make -- they'll say absolutely anything, they'll make any false analogy, they will make any false comparison of comparing Trump to people who actually didn't intentionally conceal documents and didn't have people try to destroy evidence about their concealment of the documents.
It is absolutely -- a complete disgrace that the Republicans aren't saying, enough, this is enough, and I guess I don't think they ever will.
COOPER: George Conway, thanks very much.
I want to bring in our senior legal analyst and former assistant US attorney, Elie Honig. He is the author of "Untouchable: How Powerful People Get Away With It."
I mean, obviously, the special counsel would like these two co- defendants to cooperate. Would they still be able to get -- to work out some sort of a deal? If I mean, if one -- if De Oliveira suddenly, you know, woke up and realized the trouble he's in and didn't -- and was willing to? Could he get a deal?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely, yes. People can cooperate at any time.
Now, from a prosecutors point of view, the earlier the better, but I've seen people cooperate, not even on the eve of trial, during trial, so that door remains open. But again --
COOPER: Because there was this 24-minute phone call between the former president and the guy who worked at Mar-a-Lago in advance of him going down and trying to erase these tapes,
HONIG: Right, and even if they don't have the content of that phone call, it doesn't appear it was recorded. Just the fact of a 24- minute phone call really tells you something. But I think this is the --
COOPER: But if he would -- I mean, if he would cooperate, he would tell what was on that phone call.
HONIG: Question one, what were you talking about in that phone call?
COOPER: For 24 minutes with the former president of the United States.
HONIG: Well, think how long 24 minutes is, right, to be on the phone with somebody. I mean, Michael Cohen was asked that question the other day, and Michael Cohen said at times, but only if he was strategizing with me and to speak to somebody who was a property manager is remarkable.
But the government does not need these guys to cooperate. They have a strong case based on the text, based on the audio, based on the documents themselves. If they do cooperate, and I'm a prosecutor, I'm ecstatic, but I don't need them. COOPER: The employee number four, Yuscil Taveras as Paula Reid just reported. I mean, is it clear -- does he seem to be a cooperating witness?
HONIG: He seems to be somebody who is cooperating with the government without incriminating himself. It seems like there's an important line here between the new defendant Mr. De Oliveira and this guy, employee number four, one of whom is charged, the other is not.
And the difference according to the government is De Oliveira knew this was criminal and took steps to try to promote it. It looks like employee four essentially was asked to do this crime, to wipe out the surveillance video and either said I can't or I won't.
So employee four will be a crucial government witness, but it looks like he's sort of an ideal witness for the government because he actually separated himself from the criminal conduct and that's why he is not charged.
COOPER: I've heard different attorneys different perspectives on whether or not this delays the start of the trial. Where do you stand?
HONIG: I think it will. When you supersede an indictment as a prosecutor, it's a powerful tool because you get to update your charges. You get to add new people, you get to add new charges.
The downside of that, you have to understand is, you are opening the door for the defense to go into the judge and say, hey, there are new stakes here. There's new charges.
If you're Donald Trump, you say three new charges, found convicted of any of them, I'm going to prison. I'm entitled to more time to prepare.
So I guarantee you, next time they are in front of the judge, that motion will be made and now, there is a basis for the judge to move the trial back more.
COOPER: All right, Elie Honig, thanks very much.
HONIG: Thank you.
COOPER: Up next, new details about how the low-level Mar-a-Lago employee got swept up in this alleged crime and is now charged in the indictment. Who is Carlos De Oliveira? The man in indictment who calls the former president "the boss."
Also an exclusive report on a weapon you've likely never seen used before in Ukraine, unmanned sea drones used to hit Russian ships.
COOPER: The new superseding indictment in the classified documents case against former president included a mystery that we're only beginning to unravel today: Who is this new co-defendant, Carlos De Oliveira?
He faces four charges including obstruction and false statements. The new indictment lists him as a property manager at Mar-a-Lago. He has also worked as a valet, so the question how did a low-level employee at Mar-a-Lago get involved with the former president of the United States in a federal indictment involving the former president?
Randi Kaye has more.
So what have you been able to learn about him?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this guy wasn't even on the radar of anyone who CNN spoke with, and this includes a former and current Trump aides and allies who spent time at Mar-a- Lago. As you said, he was listed in the indictment as a property manager, but the picture that we're getting is of a guy who was this low-level maintenance worker who did these odd jobs around Mar-a-Lago.
He didn't interact with the club members. He wasn't privy to high- level conversations. He wasn't part of Donald Trump's inner circle. He just was basically a maintenance worker, a property manager there. People didn't even know who he was, until this indictment came down.
So what you have is this guy who was relatively unknown who seemed to have been brought in allegedly to do Donald Trump's dirty work and get rid of this security camera footage -- Anderson.
COOPER: Any sign of him? I know you went looking for him today.
KAYE: Yes. we tried to find him at his apartment. It is in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, about 20 minutes north of Mar-a-Lago. We knocked on the door, nobody answered, nobody came to the door, but we did speak to his landlord by phone.
They've known each other for 30 years. The landlord described him as a good friend and a good guy. He said, if he does know anything, he needs to come clean. The landlord didn't want to go on camera. But we did speak to a neighbor who lives just across the way. He has known him a few years, not very well, but on and off.
And I asked him what he thinks of his neighbor being indicted, and this is what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAYMOND BRION, CARLOS DE OLIVEIRA'S NEIGHBOR: I think that it's -- anybody that gets involved with Donald Trump, he is a train wreck, and anybody that gets involved with Donald Trump ends up somewhere in a bad place.
I don't think that guy had any knowledge of what he was doing. None. And you know, he's caught in the net.
KAYE: All right. BRION: Now he's going to walk himself out of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What about Oliveira's lawyer?
KAYE: We reached out to -- CNN reached out to his lawyer, John Irving. He's a DC based lawyer. We did not hear back, but we did confirm that Irving's law firm was paid nearly $200,000.00 by Trump's super PAC, Save America. That was in 2022.
Now, we also know that Carlos De Oliveira will need a Florida-based attorney in order to make his first court appearance on Monday at 10:30 in the morning in Miami. If he doesn't get that, Anderson, that first appearance could be delayed.
COOPER: All right, Randi, appreciate it.
Perspective now from our chief law enforcement intelligence analyst, John Miller, a former New York Police Department Deputy Commissioner.
John, as a young cub hungry reporter, I remember watching you chasing mob guys down the street. I mean, you were covering the New York mob for a long, long time. Reading the details in these indictments, the new charges that came out yesterday, I mean, does it remind you of sort of, like, low rent mob talk?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: So it kind of does, Anderson because if you look for the parallels in there, you know, reading the superseding indictment, it's like, who wants this done?
COOPER: The boss.
MILLER: The boss. It is the boss, right? They don't say the president CEO. They don't say Mr. Trump, it is the boss. And they're saying the boss for a reason. It's like, you know, they're not supposed to speak his name in this regard.
COOPER: There's also I think, it's a signal conversation where, you know, he's sort of checking the loyalty of De Oliveira like, is he good? Is he good?
MILLER: Just need to know if you know, Carlos is good? Meaning, you know, is he still with us? Is he going to talk to the Feds is what's implied there. So I mean --
COOPER: And then when Nauta said he was good, the former President agreed to give him an attorney.
MILLER: Right. And I mean, you know, if you look at the John Gotti case, you know, he was called the Teflon Don, because he had beat three cases before he finally went down in the fourth. But, you know, the defense strategy was, I pick everybody's lawyers. I handle paying everybody's lawyers. I, not the lawyers, figure out the defense strategy and it is interesting listening to the Trump lawyers as they kind of come off the defense team one and two at a time saying, you know, off the record, two people are on background.
You know, I just couldn't stay there because, you know, he's not letting his lawyers be lawyers. So, there are other similarities, but if he beats three indictments and a couple of more coming, he really is the Teflon Don. So we'll have to see.
But if you talk about the mob parallel, the Georgia case, that Fani Willis is bringing, the prosecutor down there, it is built under the state's racketeering laws. So basically, she's charging Donald Trump and others acting in concert as a racketeering enterprise that was engaged in criminal activity on multiple fronts to overturn a fairly done election in violation of the law, so the parallels are there.
COOPER: Also all the sort of the skullduggery of, you know, sending people to try to check to see if the security cameras can be wiped clean, it is all just so sort of poorly handled. I mean, you would think, this is the former president of the United States and the people he's relying on is, you know is this guy.
MILLER: So, there is a reason for that. You know, and I talked to two sources today who know their way very well around the Trump organization and its mechanics.
And, you know, they said, first of all, we don't understand the obstruction of justice charge for attempting to destroy these tapes. I mean, nobody deleted them. The FBI didn't, you know, unearth them from the bottom of the delete files in the servers.
This, you know, was somebody who came into security and said, you know, we want to delete the server, that person called their boss who called their boss and, you know, the answer was, no, we're not doing that. And, you know, the Trump Organization ended up turning over not just the tapes, but the entire servers with the entire 45-day period over.
But the reason for that, I mean, the core of your question is, if Donald Trump had gone to these executives and said, I want to delete the servers, they would have said, we're not doing that. If he had gone to his lawyers and said, I want to delete the servers. We have a draft subpoena sitting there. That is the definition of obstruction of justice.
So he reached down into the organization to people who wouldn't know how to say no to Donald Trump and said get this done.
COOPER: Yes, to their boss. John Miller, thanks very much.
The former president along with the entire field of the 2024 presidential campaign, the Republican field are all speaking at the same event in Iowa tonight.
Kyung Lah is at the Lincoln Dinner, has the key moments. We'll take you there next.
And also, I will talk to a longtime pollster, Frank Luntz about the ways he says he sees Trump could be defeated.
COOPER: For the first time tonight, former President Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis heard the same event in Iowa. In fact, the Lincoln dinners drawing all 13 Republican candidates in the 2024 presidential race.
CNN's Kyung Lah is there, joins us now. So have any of the candidates addressed Trump's latest indictment?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the event is ongoing right now. You have Mike Pence speaking right behind me, Anderson. That's why I'm speaking at a low volume.
But among these major candidates, including the former vice president, they have not taken Trump head on or addressed these new charges head on. What we did hear earlier in the day though, in an interview that Ron DeSantis did, he actually did say that Republicans have to not pay attention to these distractions, have to look beyond the investigations, or they will lose.
I want you to take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If the election becomes a referendum on what document was left by the toilet at Mar-a-Lago, we are not going to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: That's among the most direct that Ron DeSantis has been on taking on these charges and saying that he wants to offer a different path. He has talked about these distractions before, Anderson, but it's a difficult thread because even being here in this room, Anderson, you can feel that this is a largely supportive room of Donald Trump and the people who have basically try to talk about culture wars like Ron DeSantis. They're the ones who have really been largely supported and embraced. Anderson?
COOPER: You've been speaking to Republicans at the dinner tonight about the foreign president's indictment. What have they been saying?
LAH: You know, it's really interesting because you can talk about the specifics of these charges, about the surveillance video, about espionage. And what you hear again and again is they're largely dismissive. They will say that, look, it's too much information.
What are they going to come up with next? And again, almost parrot what Donald Trump has said, that they do believe that this is a two- tiered justice system and there appears to be very little that is breaking through beyond what they're hearing from Trump. Anderson?
COOPER: Kyung Lah, appreciate it. Thanks.
Pollster Frank Luntz joins us now. He has a unique perspective. He's hosted more than two dozen focus groups with Trump voters tracking the former president's rise and continued grip on the party. You are incredibly pessimistic about this race.
FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER AND COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST: I'm pessimistic about the position of our country right now. All I hear is anger. I hear polarization.
COOPER: You see that actually in the focus groups.
LUNTZ: Every time, with the one exception, that's Iowa. Iowans are more gentle. Iowans are more respectful. I think it's because there's a large religious conservative component there --
COOPER: But in focus groups, you actually have like Democrats and Republicans --
LUNTZ: No, I have Republicans and Republicans arguing with each other.
COOPER: To Republicans.
LUNTZ: We're all at war with each other and we all do so to demonize, we do so to own rather than listening and learning. We have to project. We want to speak and we don't want to listen.
COOPER: And that's -- is that new your experience?
LUNTZ: It's never been like this. And it started in 2016 and it got worse in 2020. And I actually stopped doing focus groups for about a year in 2021 because I couldn't take it anymore. All it was was a food fight for two hours and eventually said, this is ridiculous. And now that food fight has a degree of ugliness that I've never seen before.
I did a speech today to elected officials. I was actually yelled at. But one of those officials, because I complimented someone, I said to this gentleman, I empathize with you, and she thought that the compliment or the expression of empathy was undeserved. We can't even complement each other right now without getting criticized.
COOPER: So, do any of these other Republican candidates who are running is there -- what do you hear from the focus groups about the level of support for the former president?
LUNTZ: So the one I'm looking for in Iowa, because that's particularly appropriate. It's the first vote, it's the first time for voters to express themselves and the first time for candidates to be heard. The one that's rising is Tim Scott, and it's interesting because he's the least negative.
In New Hampshire, the one that's rising is Chris Christie, and he's the most likely to challenge Donald Trump. Iowa and New Hampshire are like night and day. And don't assume that you'll get from the whole field what happens in those two states. But they've all met presidential candidates. They've all met a president, so they're more sophisticated than the average Republican.
COOPER: The calculation or the argument, I guess, that the supporters of President Biden has made is that he's the only guy who can beat Donald Trump. That he's proven he can beat Donald Trump.
LUNTZ: I think, I don't buy that at all. It's the same people who say that a third party campaign definitely elects Donald Trump. That's simply not accurate from the polling, from the research that's done.
Joe Biden is the weakest candidate. Donald Trump's the weakest candidate. A majority of their own party voters don't want them to run, and yet, they lead their respective primaries by so much. And it's one of the reasons why I'm unwilling to say that Trump's the nominee, even though he's got a bigger lead than ever in Republican politics.
COOPER: Wait, why do you think he's might not be the nominee?
LUNTZ: Because there is a weakness to him that the other candidates have not figured out how to exploit, and that weakness is he promised a lot, but he delivered a little. How long is the wall? 47, 50 miles. And he said Mexico would pay for it. The last time I checked, no money came to him.
He promised to repeal Obamacare. Did he? I don't want to take an argument of some presidential candidate, but he said he was going to cut wastes for Washington spending, the spending and the debt went up higher. The candidates haven't figured out how to articulate that yet.
COOPER: You think there are other Democrats out there who could beat president -- former President Trump?
LUNTZ: No. Oh, other Democrats who could beat -- Cory Booker could beat him. Mitch Landrieu could beat him. Gretchen Whitmer could beat him. But they're not going to get a chance because Joe Biden doesn't want to step aside. And the thing that I say to people watching right now who endorse Joe Biden, what happens if something should happen to him in those last six months?
It's then too late to replace him. That we've never had a present this old, we've never had a present in this condition. Again, I don't want to take sides. I'm a pollster, but these other candidates would be better candidates against Donald Trump.
COOPER: So what is it you think stops the former President Donald Trump from being the Republican nominee?
LUNTZ: By challenging the fact that what he said is not what he did. It's not yelling at him, it's not these --
COOPER: But are sort of theoretical debates, really what is going to eat into the support that the former president has?
LUNTZ: The reason why it's a smart decision for him not to debate politically is because he -- you can't challenge him that way if he's not there. The reason why --
COOPER: But you don't believe like his 30 percent is just ride or die. Doesn't matter what the prosecutors say. Doesn't matter what the -- that his arguments don't hold up or that he didn't do much. They just like the guy and they're going to go with him.
LUNTZ: I -- your number is actually correct. It is exactly 30 percent, but 30 percent doesn't deliver the election. The one thing that viewers at home should know, is that the Republican primaries are winner take all by congressional district and sometimes by statewide.
So if Donald Trump wins by 2 percent or 3 percent or 5 percent, he still gets the lion's share of delegates. That is in his favor. I just know from all of my research that if his voters learned, then he made these promises and none of them he delivered on, the promises that matter to people, then he becomes weaker.
COOPER: Frank Luntz, really appreciate it.
LUNTZ: Thank you.
COOPER: Good to talk to you.
COOPER: Coming up next, an exclusive report about a secret weapon in Ukraine's arsenal. It is a sea drone packed with explosives. And according to its pilots, Russian ships have a hard time stopping it like this one. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Tonight we have an exclusive report out of Ukraine. CNN got access to a weapon that Ukrainian forces are using in the Black Sea. They're sea drones, remote controlled, extremely effective. That's video of one of them ramming a Russian ship.
CNN's Alex Marquardt got a look at them and here's his exclusive report.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): At a secret makeshift Ukrainian military base, one of the newest pieces of Ukraine's arsenal is lowered into the water. It wars out into the open water under the control of this pilot, who asked we don't show his face, call sign sharp.
This is Ukraine's latest sea or surface drone designed to attack Russia in the Black Sea. They've never been shown to the public before. This model is armed with 300 kilograms or almost 700 pounds of explosive and can hit a target 800 kilometers, 500 miles away. They're very easy to control, Shark (ph) tells us, and they have severely limited the Russian Navy's movements. Ukraine sends its sea drones out hunting, plowing through the waves. If spotted, the Russian ships frantically open fire.
Sometimes the Russians get lucky and manage to take them out. Other times, the drones break through the hail of bullets and reach their targets. Last October, Ukrainian sea drones carried out a stunning attack on the home port of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and Russian occupied Crimea targeting the flagship, the Admiral Makarov.
This drone can attack, carry out surveillance and reconnaissance, among other operations. It is entirely Ukrainian, designed and produced according to its developer, who also asked for anonymity for security reasons.
(on-camera): How effective are the Russian defenses against these drones?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Not effective. The equipment they have on their ships is designed to attack other ships. They can't hit such small drones. These are faster than anything else in the Black Sea.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): A stunning pre-dawn attack last week on Russia's Kerch Bridge shows the havoc they can wreak. The bridge, which is a vital supply line from Russia to Crimea was hit by two drones and left heavily damaged.
In response, Russia said, they launched days of intense strikes on seaside Odesa alleging that the Ukrainian port city houses the sea drones.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Russia's equipment is from the 20th century and ours is from the 21st. There are a hundred years between us.
COOPER: Alex, incredible reporting. Do you know how many of these drones they have? I mean, are they able to make a lot of them?
MARQUARDT: They won't put a number on those, Anderson. They are -- that number's classified, but it's clear that they are putting an emphasis, a real priority on this because this is something where -- somewhere they can take the fight to the Russians in the Black Sea, and in particularly, in the wake of that grain deal falling apart, and Russia threatening Ukrainian ships and other international ships. This is certainly something a program that Ukraine, wants to continue to build up.
COOPER: How is Ukraine progressing overall in their counteroffensive?
MARQUARDT: It's slow going, Anderson. It's modest. What we're seeing now is encouraging for the Ukrainians. The number of forces that are being committed to the fight on both sides appears to be growing. The pace appears to be increasing.
Ukraine is claiming to have just taken, the town of Staromaiors'ke, it's a small place. It's in shambles right now, but it's important because it's -- the first town that they've taken in several weeks. And let's remind our viewers, Anderson. The goal here by the Ukrainians on the southern front is to try to split the Ukrainian -- the Russian forces in the South.
And so, what we're seeing now is some advancement, some success, but it really is, is quite slow going. But that is the priority to try to get those Ukrainian forces down to the Sea of Azov. Now, some 60 miles away from this frontline in the city of Dnipro tonight, Anderson, the fourth biggest city in Ukraine, we have seen a terrifying missile strike.
President Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials saying that missiles struck a high rise residential building, as well as the building that houses the SBU, which is the security services. Two missiles according to eyewitnesses, slammed into those buildings.
We were in that city just two weeks ago. We spoke with an eyewitness tonight who said it was very scary that people were screaming, they were running for the basement. She said that she was staying at her office tonight so that she had access to a basement in case there is another attack.
At the same time, Anderson, Russia is accusing Ukraine of firing missiles into Southern Russia. They say that they were able to take down the missiles with air defenses, but the debris from at least one of the missiles fell onto a city called Taganrog, and a number of people were injured. So here you have both Ukraine and Russia, both sides tonight, Anderson, accusing each other of reigning terror down on their citizens. Anderson?
COOPER: Alex Marquardt, appreciate it. Thank you.
Still ahead, scientists warning the world is experiencing the hottest temperatures ever felt before in history and is starting to take a major toll in everyday life. Next I'll speak with the director of Burn Services at a burn center in Arizona where temperatures on the streets are reaching an excess of 170 degrees, and the pavement is so hot.
People are getting severely injured, even killed. Hospitals are seeing patients with life-threatening burns just from falling down.
COOPER: The scorching summer heat is made July the planet's hottest month on record, and the month hasn't ended yet, that's according to two climate groups. In Arizona, it's been dangerously hot for the last 29 consecutive days. Temperatures in Phoenix have hit above 110 degrees and pavement temperatures have been record in excess of 170 degrees.
ICUs are seeing a lot of people with burn injuries after falling on the ground. Joining me from Phoenix United is Dr. Kevin Foster, the director of the Arizona Burn Centered Valleywise Health. He says around 80 percent of their ICU beds are filled with people who have severe and sometimes life-threatening burns from coming in contact with pavement.
Dr. Foster, this sounds just incredible. I mean, can you describe what you're seeing in the burn center and the ICU right now with people who have fallen or have gotten burns from the pavement, from hot surfaces?
DR. KEVIN FOSTER, DIRECTOR, ARIZONA BURN CENTERED AT VALLEYWISE HEALTH: Right. So, Arizona summer times are really hot and they're very sunny and the pavement and rocks and asphalt and sidewalks can get to be, 170 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. That's just a little bit below the boiling point of water. And we're seeing people who are falling down, can't get up and getting really bad burns as a result of that.
COOPER: And who, I mean, have you seen -- how does it compare to other summers?
FOSTER: So, we expect this in the burn center. We expect that summertime's going to be our busy season, and we're going to see people who fall down and get burned like this. However, we are seeing an -- a really, unique spike in the incidence of these types of burns and in their severity.
COOPER: And who are most -- I mean, what populations are most susceptible to these kind of injuries?
FOSTER: So we see a couple of populations of people, first of all, elderly people, who are easily affected by the heat and sunlight and can go down and then sometimes can't get back up again. Children, people with medical problems and unfortunately, we're seeing a spike in people using methamphetamine.
And right now, the methamphetamine in Arizona is contaminated with fentanyl, and that's a really bad combination that makes people go down, pass out, and knock it up for quite a long period of time. And the sidewalks don't cool off. It stays that same temperature.
So as long as you're in contact with it, you are experiencing a burn injury. And then on top of that, the ambient temperature and the bright sunlight oftentimes causes people to go into heat shock or have heat prostration, and they get the systemic manifestations of an elevated temperature. So it's kind of a double whammy.
COOPER: And there's organ -- I mean, if people are exposed to heat and things -- and temperatures like this, I mean the -- you can have organ damage, can't you?
FOSTER: Absolutely. People suffer central nervous system defects, spinal cord injuries, brain damage, liver failure, kidney failure. It can cause just a variety of systemic manifestations. COOPER: In Maricopa County where you're the medical -- where you are the medical examiner's office, I understand has brought in 10 refrigerated containers to handle a possible overflow of heat related deaths. What is the mortality rate of patients with these kind of injuries?
FOSTER: Yes. Unfortunately, these type of injuries have a much higher mortality than burns of equal size from other etiologies. I think that has to do with, number one, the fact that the burns tend to be much, much deeper. Number two, the patients tend to be sicker or have other medical problems or substance abuse problems, and also they suffer heat shock. So all of those things together make these types of injuries really dangerous and actually quite deadly.
COOPER: You said the the burns tend to be deeper. Is that because of what you said earlier, which I hadn't considered, which is if you're on a sidewalk that's, however hot it is, it doesn't cool down because you're on top of it. It maintains that temperature all the while you're on top of it.
FOSTER: Exactly. So as long as you're in contact with it, you are continuing to burn. And it only takes a fraction of, of a second to get a pretty serious burn from 180 degree asphalt. Just imagine if you're in contact with that for 10 minutes or an hour or three hours.
COOPER: So what should people know about preventing these types of burns? And as a doctor, what resources will you need if these types of injuries continue?
FOSTER: OK. So, obviously, we recommend that people stay inside during the afternoons. If you have to go out, wear protective clothing. Make sure you wear protective shoes and socks. Stay well hydrated. If you have to be out, take frequent breaks, get into the shade, get into the air conditioning. Take somebody with you or make sure somebody knows where you're going.
And as far as resources for the future, over the last five years, we've seen a continuous rise in the number of these types of injuries. And right now, our burn center is full. So next year, we're going to need more people, more space, more operating rooms, et cetera.
COOPER: Well, I so appreciate what you and, you know, other doctors and nurses do. Thank you so much, Dr. Foster.
FOSTER: Thank you for having me.
COOPER: We'll be right back.
COOPER: A quick programming note, another possible indictment of the former president could happen as soon as next week, this time in Georgia over efforts to overturn the 2020 election in the state. Authorities in Atlanta have now put up barricades outside the Fulton County Courthouse to enhance security, in their words.
This is where the former president would likely be arraigned if a charging decision is made. This week in "The Whole Story" breaks down the criminal investigation of Donald Trump in Georgia. Hope you'll join me for the new episode airing this Sunday, 8:00 p.m. right here on CNN.
Hope you have a great weekend. The news continues. "THE SOURCE" with Kaitlan Collins starts now.