Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Swears, Sweats, And Issues Dark Warning About 2024; Sources: Western Allies Receiving Increasingly Sobering Updates On Ukraine's Counteroffensive; Awaiting Final Results On Ohio Vote In Major Abortion Fight; Former Coast Guard Leader Failed To Disclose Secret Investigation Into Sexual Assaults At The Coast Guard Academy; Mar-a-Lago Property Manager Carlos De Oliveira Faces Arraignment Thursday In Trump Docs Case. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 08, 2023 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: At this hour, the beach remains closed and the NYPD is scouring the area with drones looking for sharks.

Thanks so much for joining us. We'll see you back here tomorrow night.

AC 360 with Anderson begins right now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360 --

Trump sweating, swearing, and ranting in New Hampshire, issues a darkly familiar warning about what he'll do in 2024.

The future of abortion on the ballot in Ohio tonight, results expected anytime now in a special election that could also signal which way the swing state might go next year for president.

Also, the brutal fight for Ukraine and a tough reality check on the losses Ukraine has suffered in their counteroffensive.

And later tonight, how the US Coast Guard hid a damning investigation on sexual assault from public view. The newest developments in the story CNN was first to bring you.

Good evening. Thanks so much for joining us.

Late today, Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected the former president's attorneys attempts to delay hearing about how evidence should be handled in the January 6th case. She set 10 o'clock Friday morning for both sides to make their arguments.

A short time earlier, the former president was in New Hampshire cursing in front of a crowd, continuing to lie about the 2020 election and seemingly suggesting he'll likely do it again in 2024.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They rigged the presidential election in 2020 and we're not going to allow them to rig the presidential election in 2024, we're not going to allow it to happen. We're not going to allow it to happen, New Hampshire, and you're such an important state.


COOPER: Just to point out, that man is charged with four felonies, which are directly connected to his false statements in 2020 that the election was rigged and the conspiracy he allegedly entered into to overturn it.

Now, he is saying the same about 2024. Though it's hard to imagine that an indicted alleged felon would be repeating anything even remotely similar to his alleged crime, it was also hard in the fall of 2020 to contemplate any president doing what he ultimately did.

Meantime, his closest opponent who is pretty far behind, Ron DeSantis continued his staff shake up today, now replacing his campaign manager.

So there's a lot to get to. We'll show you what else Trump said in New Hampshire, but first quickly, CNN's Paula Reid on the legal maneuvering today.

So, what's expected to happen Friday morning in DC federal court?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this is a significant hearing because this is the first time that Trump's defense attorneys and special counsel prosecutors will appear before Judge Tanya Chutkan.

The last hearing was handled by a magistrate judge and Chutkan is the one who is going to handle all of the hearings up until a likely trial.

Now on Friday, both sides will have the opportunity to make their arguments about what they think the rules should look like in this case for handling and publicly sharing any sensitive information.

Prosecutors want pretty broad protections or defense attorneys are seeking something more narrow, protections only for really sensitive information, which they argue would be more in line with what has happened in other January 6 cases.

Judge Chutkan has overseen dozens of cases related to January 6. She is an experienced judge, been on the bench for about a decade, and it appears, Anderson based on her scheduling order so far, she is looking to move this along pretty quickly.

COOPER: And what did the former president's team say in a court filing late today about how much time they need to prepare for trial?

REID: Well, not surprisingly, they are asking for as much time as they can possibly get. I mean, they're arguing that they have so much work to do. In their filing today, they argue they have to talk to hundreds of witnesses, go through terabytes of electronic information to prepare for this trial. Now, their long game, Anderson, is to try to push this trial until

after the 2024 election. It's the same strategy that they're applying down in Florida. It's unclear, though if they will be successful in either case, but here, they are arguing that this, just like the Mar- a-Lago documents case is complex, and they should be afforded much more time to prepare for trial.

But Judge Chutkan, as I said, she is trying to move this along quickly and she has said that she wants to set a trial date at their next hearing, which is on August 28th.

COOPER: All right, Paula Reid, thanks for the legal update.

More now on what the former president said today, why it matters. CNN's Kristen Holmes is in New Hampshire.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Former President Donald Trump today attacked the special counsel while campaigning in the critical early state of New Hampshire.

TRUMP: They call him deranged Jack Smith.

HOLMES (voice over): Days after being arraigned on allegations he tried to overturn the 2020 election despite knowing he lost.

TRUMP: There was never a second of any day that I didn't believe that that election was rigged. It was a rigged election.

HOLMES (voice over): Trump slammed efforts from prosecutors to limit what evidence could be publicly shared in Trump's case.

TRUMP: I will talk about it. I will. They are not taking away my First Amendment rights.

HOLMES (voice over): As he faces increasing legal jeopardy, Trump remains the GOP frontrunner, claiming the charges would hinder his bid for the White House.

TRUMP: I'm sorry, I won't be able to go to Iowa today. I won't be able to go to New Hampshire today because I'm sitting in a courtroom on bullshit.


HOLMES (voice over): Some supporters of the former president say they aren't fazed by his legal issues.

JOANE CONNERS, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think, every time he's indicted, he gets stronger and stronger. I feel we have a two-tiered system and we need to go back to a one-tiered system.

HOLMES (voice over): Trump's rivals also hit the trail in the Granite State Tuesday as they seek to gain traction with GOP voters. As his campaign seeks a reboot, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis,

replaced his campaign manager, part of a continued shake up of his team, and with a little more than two weeks until the first GOP debate in Milwaukee, former Vice President Mike Pence has qualified to take the stage.

Trump has still not decided if he'll participate in the debate and has been polling his allies and supporters.

TRUMP: Should I do the debate?

Well, maybe we'll do something else. You know, see, some people say yes, but they hate to say it because it doesn't make sense.


COOPER: Kristen, what did the former president say about potentially being indicted on election interference charges in Fulton County, Georgia?

HOLMES: Well, Anderson, he used the opportunity to attack the district attorney, Fani Willis, saying that she was a racist. She was only doing this, launching this investigation, potentially bringing these charges because she aspired to a higher political office, and of course, he said what he said time and time again, that it was perfect.

His behavior in Georgia was perfect. The phone call asking the secretary of State to find votes was a perfect phone call, but I will note one thing, Anderson, I heard a defense tonight that I hadn't heard from him that directly before when it related to Georgia. It's something that his lawyers have said in the January 6 case.

He said that it was everything within his right to ask questions, to question the results of the 2020 election in Georgia and that's all he was doing. Of course, that's something now we have heard his lawyers saying in the January 6th case, that that's all he was doing was questioning the results of the election.

So clearly some indication that that will be what that defense looks like as well -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Kristen Holmes, thanks very much.

Joining us now, three political commentators for CNN. Democrat, Paul Begala; also Republican, Scott Jennings, and Alice Stewart.

Scott, I mean, how concerned should Republican candidates and voters alike be that the former President seems to be telegraphing what he'll do if he loses again in 2024?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the Republicans should be concerned about the fact that today, he looks like he is the odds on favorite for the Republican nomination and there is a real chance, if you look at the way the calendar is laid out that he could become the de facto nominee of the party, then basically become a convicted felon -- not basically, actually become a convicted felon and then become the actual nominee of the party at the convention in late summer.

I mean, it will put the party in a hell of a bind, because there's a huge cohort of Republicans and Americans who are simply not going to consider voting for a convicted felon.

Now, you know, the Trump team, maybe they beat some of this, I don't know. If I were him, I'd want a chance to try to beat it. His lawyer seemed to want to delay it. For him, though, at this point, Anderson, the campaign is his defense and his defense is the campaign and it ensures that the campaign is going to be about nothing but him and everything related to him, and it is not what voters in suburban areas in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Arizona are going to want to hear next year, I don't think.

COOPER: Paul, how critical do you think this hearing is on Friday? Because I mean, if there are rules set about what evidence can be talked about, you know, intimidating potential witnesses, this could lead to some very strange situations.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it could. It could also lead to a good First Amendment argument from Donald Trump. I'm not a Trump fan, but it is important that politicians have a very wide strike zone to criticize their opponents. I suspect the judge knows that, she is a very well respected judge.

He cannot intimidate -- to me, the line is when you say things like I'm coming after you. Right? If you go after me, I'm coming after you.

COOPER: Which he has already said.

BEGALA: Right. That's a veiled threat. But most of this, I'm sorry, he's allowed to call Jack Smith, the prosecutor deranged. He has to have that First Amendment right. Again, I say this as somebody who is strong Trump disliker.

But what I'm struck by was the whining tone of this. You know, it's maybe one of the more unlovely things Trump has brought to the Republican Party.

When I was a kid, Republicans were tough men. Ronald Reagan got shot and he never complained. John McCain was tortured and he never complained. This guy is powerful, he is privileged, he's wealthy, and all he does is whine and God help them, the Republicans seem to love that.

I don't know why. I prefer Joe Biden, who has experienced more pain than anybody I know and never complains, because he's always saying I'm going to fight for you, don't worry about me.

COOPER: Alice, what do you make of Trump today in New Hampshire?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Paul hit the nail on the head. You know, Trump is fighting for himself. He is not fighting for Republicans and he's certainly not fighting for Americans across the country and to Scott's point, this is something that should be concerning to Republicans [20:10:10]

While the former president is the titular head right now of the party, that's not a winning message in a general election, and he has made it very clear that his campaign is going to be on the indictments against him while other Republicans out there in Iowa, New Hampshire, they're talking about jobs and the economy and safety and national security. Donald Trump is talking about rigged elections, what he calls BS indictments, and overzealous prosecutors. That is his one trick pony in this campaign, and that's not a good way to win the general election.

My guess is, it is just a matter of time, he will continue to go after Jack Smith and the prosecutors, his new mantra will be knock it off, instead of lock her up. That's what we're going to be hearing from MAGA supporters if he continues this messaging, which he clearly will be.

COOPER: Paul, Ron DeSantis has gotten rid of his campaign manager. Is that where the problem lies?

BEGALA: Yes, it is always -- they always blame the monkey, not the organ grinder.

COOPER: In TV, you know, before the anchor goes, it's the producer who gets fired.

BEGALA: Right. Believe me, as somebody whose show has been canceled, it is the poor producers who got blamed for my failings.

COOPER: And before that, the set gets redone.

BEGALA: Look, here is the problem. Say you were taken out of TV and politics, you're launching a new dog food, and you had the best veterinarians and nutritionists and farmers and butchers and marketers and advertising, and you pour it in the bowl and the dog just don't eat it.

Ron DeSantis has a dog food problem, and it is not going to get better by firing the campaign manager.

COOPER: Scott, I mean, is the candidate the problem?

JENNINGS: Well, I think Donald Trump is the problem, and the second problem is fragmentation. I mean, DeSantis, and the rest of them all have the same issue, half or just slightly more than half of the party want to do Trump again, and the people that don't are fragmented, you know, DeSantis has most of them or the plurality of them, but then there's lots of other candidates out there who are still polling, you know, one to six percent.

And until DeSantis scares or runs everyone else out of the race, Trump benefiting from this fragmentation is not going to go away, particularly if he continues to hover around 50 or above 50.

Now, I think DeSantis is in better shape in the state polls in Iowa, for instance, than he is in some of the national polls right now, but there is no path to victory for DeSantis or anyone else as long as Donald Trump is sitting around 50 percent. I mean, he can win it with 40 percent, and the Trump team will tell you, they feel very comfortable with his position in these states because he's well above the above the floor that they think they need to be to capture the nomination.

He doesn't need a majority of the votes in the Republican primary. He just needs enough votes, and right now, he's well above that line.

COOPER: You know, Alice, Scott mentioned the national polls versus state polls. It's a point Chris Christie made to me last night, Governor Sununu made it on the program the other night, don't look at national polls, look at New Hampshire, look at the Iowa polls. You know, Trump doesn't look as strong there. It's a closer margin. Do you buy that?

STEWART: Well, the problem is we've even seen an Iowa poll where Trump is still 20 points ahead of DeSantis. So the real question is whether we're talking about national polls or statewide polls, are they an accurate reflection of what we're seeing on the ground? And I'm talking with political leaders and evangelicals in Iowa and New Hampshire, and they say what they see and feel and hear from voters, it is not reflected in the polls.

They see more people are looking elsewhere from Donald Trump and looking to candidates, whether it is DeSantis or Tim Scott or Vivek. And look, there's so much headlines and so much palace intrigue, and policy conversations about the shuffling of the deck in the DeSantis campaign.

I can tell you this, if you're ever going to change your staff, now is the time to do so. And I know James, the person that has just been moved as campaign manager, he is a trusted person in the DeSantis world. He also can handle the organizational aspects of this.

David Polyansky, the deputy campaign manager, I've worked with him on two campaigns. He knows how to win an Iowa caucus. He knows how to deal with the policy and the strategy. So in my view, from a reorganization standpoint, he's in good shape.

He's got the people in place and he is really traveling the state of Iowa. So this is a good time to push the reset button and we're seeing more from him as well as these others. We're seeing them inch up in the polls and it's not looking as ideal for Donald Trump as he would like to think.

COOPER: Paul, Chris Christie made the point to me last night that you know, if some other candidate wins in either New Hampshire or Iowa, it's game over for Trump. It's a game changer. You know, the emperor has no clothes. Do you think that's great?

BEGALA: I think Governor Christie is actually setting the bar too high for the Trump opponents. I think even if he gets close, because he does have such a dominant lead, and Christie is moving up in New Hampshire. [20:15:04]

I know he told you that last night, but he is. The polling in New Hampshire shows Chris Christie moving up, Ron DeSantis fading. It seems to me DeSantis only needs three new advisers, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. He ain't got a prayer.

But watch Chris Christie. I actually have very been impressed by him on his town hall. I've been impressed by Tim Scott, who is very, very conservative, but he just doesn't hate me and that's sort of appealing. It's old Reagan to go back to Ronald Reagan --

COOPER: He might hate you, Paul. He is just not saying it.

BEGALA: Well, there is hope. There is hope. I wouldn't blame him.

COOPER: He is just too polite.

BEGALA: He would be in a large crowd if he did.

JENNINGS: He just doesn't know you yet.

COOPER: Paul, you're very likeable. Paul Begala, Scott Jennings, Alice Stewart, thank you so much. Appreciate it, all of you.

Coming up next, new reporting on growing concerns that Western allies have about Ukraine's counteroffensive and the toll it is taking on Ukrainian forces.

Also tonight, a troubling follow up to exclusive CNN reporting on efforts to conceal decades of alleged rape and other sexual assaults at the Coast Guard Academy. Now tonight, another CNN exclusive with the former head of the Coast Guard Academy. The service told us about the investigation he launched and expected would be released and what our investigation revealed about how it may have been covered up instead.

Plus, the latest in the special election in Ohio. Polls closed about 45 minutes ago. We're awaiting results, ahead.


COOPER: Long before Russian forces invaded, it was understood they outnumbered and outgunned Ukrainian forces, so when Ukrainian troops managed early on to roll back a good deal of that invasion force, hopes were initially high they can quickly finish the job.


It's not worked out that way, and now new reporting tonight that there's growing concern among Western allies about Ukraine's counteroffensive and its fate.

In a moment, we'll talk to a retired three-star General for his take, but first, the exclusive reporting from CNN's Jim Sciutto who joins us now. So what are you hearing from your sources about what they believe

Ukraine's prospects are right now?

JIM SCIUTTO CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: A markedly negative term, Anderson, and these are sources I've been speaking to since the start of the counteroffensive, but even going back to the start of the war, and expectations of this counteroffensive were quite high going back just a few weeks ago.

But in recent weeks, as Ukrainian forces have encountered really intense Russian defenses in the east and the south, three lines of defensive lines, defensive belts, as they're known with trenches as you're seeing there, tens of thousands of mines, Ukrainian forces have not proven able to break through those lines. They've encountered staggering losses, I'm told both in terms of killed in action and wounded in action.

And Ukrainian commanders in response to that, understandably have pulled back some of those units to save some of those casualties, and while even a few weeks ago, the hope was that over time, they'd be able to break through, more recently, the assessments both on this side of the Atlantic, but also in Europe had been that they don't quite see the opportunity.

So that hope has faded, not entirely faded, but it has certainly become a much less hopeful outlook for their prospects for success and gaining back significant territory.

COOPER: This also takes into account, I mean, there were a large number of Ukrainian forces trained for a length of time by US forces in sort of combined weapons, tactics, and movement, that still has not been able to deal with the trench system, the mining, the defensive system that Russia had time to set up.

SCIUTTO: No. And what I'm hearing is that the expectations may simply have been too high.

When you look at the training for some of these newly supplied Western weapons, for instance, German Leopard tanks, you're seeing maybe eight weeks of training, that is not a lot of time.

And the thinking is from speaking to military officials, also diplomats is that the idea of turning Ukrainian Armed Forces into a capable, credible, mechanized fighting unit in that short length of time may have been a bridge too far, that even with advanced Western weapons and training from the best in the business, right, that the timeframe was short, and that even for the best US combat brigades, months, years of training, still make it difficult to break through these kinds of lines.

So with weeks of training, it just may have been too high hope.

COOPER: You also mentioned in your reporting that the Western officials fear this slow counteroffensive could cause a gap amongst Ukrainian officials. What is the concern? SCIUTTO: Well, we are already hearing it, right? I was in Aspen, for

the security forum just a couple of weeks ago. The Ukrainian president spoke there, and at the time, he said, listen, we'd like to have proceeded more quickly, but we didn't get the weapons and the training soon enough, pointing some fire as it were at the West for not moving quickly enough to support this counteroffensive -- and you're hearing more of that.

The concern is that the unity of the Alliance, both among Western partners and NATO, but also with their Ukrainian partners, a blame game emerges as one official described it to me, and that's a problem, right? Because unity is important, not just in terms of standing up to Russian aggression in Ukraine, but also means maintaining political support, military support, et cetera.

A lot of this is bubbling up under the surface and the fear is that it bubbles up above the surface and creates divisions that make it more difficult to provide that support going forward.

COOPER: Jim Sciutto, fascinating reporting. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

COOPER: Very concerning, obviously.

CNN military analyst and retired Army Lieutenant General, Mark Hertling has been following developments closely, tweets extensively about what goes on into a successful military operation, how this one differs from the standard western model. Also with is William Taylor, former ambassador to Ukraine.

General Hertling, the idea that there are staggering losses, and difficulty and inability to break through the multiple defensive lines that Russia has set up, that does not sound good.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It doesn't sound good to the uninitiated, Anderson, but you remember, you and I talked about this multiple times, dating back to the March-April timeframe, where I suspected when you're talking about a force that's going on the offensive for the first time with a very large conventional force, with new weapons, with soldiers who been reconstituted and we're talking about Ukraine now, with tactics they haven't used before, they haven't completely transformed the military against the kinds of things that that Russia has put in place over an eight-month period of time.

Remember, Russia started mining and setting trenches starting back in October of last year. So they had about eight or nine months to set the defensive conditions, and it is just very difficult.


So what you have right now is a Ukrainian unit, an offensive between nine and 12 combat arms brigade over a very large front between 400 and 600 miles equal to the distance between Washington and Boston that they are attacking against, against an enemy who has had eight months to prepare, three extensive obstacle belts. That's tough.

I have tried to do that when the enemy is just setting up obstacles in a day's time, and when I say enemy, I'm talking about the opposing force at our training centers, and any brigade commander will tell you this mission, an offensive against a defending enemy is the toughest one that there is.

I failed multiple times. I watched multiple US brigades fail in this kind of mission, learned tough lessons, and tried and reapply it. So it's just very hard. This is combat.

And truthfully, as much as Ukraine wanted to turn into a Desert Storm like, force from the very beginning, when you're talking about the offense, it is much different than the defense that they had for the first couple months of the conflict.

COOPER: Ambassador Taylor, how concerned are you about this?

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER US AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: So Anderson, we were in in Kyiv last month, and the month before. The Foreign Minister made the point that others have made as well, and that is, this is not the last battle.

The Ukrainians are in this for the long term. They hope they can end it soon. They hope they can do the breakthrough. By the way, General Hertling is exactly right.

The line from Washington to Boston, that's the line. And the Ukrainians only have to find one place along that line to break through. Whereas the Russians have to defend everywhere along that line.

So the Ukrainians know what they need to do, they know it's hard. They also know that there are more weapons coming. They know that aircrafts are coming. They don't have their air right now. And again, if they don't win this battle, they'll win the next one. And if they don't win that one, they'll keep fighting, Anderson. They are not giving up.

COOPER: So General Hertling, I mean, was it a mistake to devote the time to try to retrain forces in new methods? I mean, I read one account that said, you know, if they were able to break through those lines, those kind of combined movement operations, I don't know the exact term for it, but you know, smaller units making decisions, not sort of the huge hierarchy and also moving in conjunction with artillery, with air support and things like that, that if they were able to break through somewhere, those new tactics would be beneficial.

HERTLING: Yes, it's a mix. Anderson, you know, I've said for a long time that the United States can't impart -- the Western forces can't impart their way of war on a Ukrainian force that truthfully has a post-Soviet bias.

They grew up in the Soviet force where artillery was king, so truthfully, they wanted this new equipment, they wanted to transform their ground force. They are taking the first steps, and like Ambassador Taylor, I believe they will eventually get there. They're not there yet.

This is a hard fight. I mean, there's no other way to put it, and all of the Western analysts that Jim was quoting a minute ago, I would bet none of the people he has talked to have been on the battlefield, attempting to do the kinds of things the Ukrainian force is trying to do right now.

I agree with Ambassador Taylor, Ukraine is going to continue to win this fight, but it is not going to be a quick victory, because combat is not a video game.

COOPER: So how does the force evolve in this situation? Is it more training? Is it the new weapons that the ambassador was talking about? Is it going back to tactics that may have worked for them before?

HERTLING: I think it's a little bit of a mix. They will continue to use artillery. We have given them the cluster munitions that will help. They won't be a game changer, but it will be ammunition that they can use against defensive position, but they are also learning as they grow, too, Anderson.

You know, in our training centers we say we learn and grow every day, and even kind of absconds at the fact that we're failing on many times and getting scar tissue. The Ukrainians are learning how to conduct operations against these very intense and dense, complex obstacle belts.

They will continue to learn and grow. They will find ways to overcome. They have a good morale in their force. They have great leaders, things that the Russians do not have.

COOPER: Ambassador Taylor, there was this Ukraine Peace Summit in Saudi Arabia last week. China opted to send a delegation, and takeaway from that, in your opinion?


TAYLOR: The Chinese showing up for that is amazing, Anderson. That's a demonstration that the Chinese are, I think, starting to edge away, trying to edge away from the Russians. I mean, they know that -- so the Ukrainians, that was Ukrainian idea to have this summit. And the Chinese knew it, and all the other 41 nations knew it.

They knew that the Ukrainians were going to make the presentation that President Zelenskyy has made. And it says once the Russians are out of their country, they'll sit down and negotiate and territorial integrity which means Russians out of the country was agreed by all of those nations apparently according to the discussions.

COOPER: And both of you appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Coming up next, Ohio and the latest on tonight special election where turnout is said to be high. The outcome could have far-reaching effects on the availability of abortion in that state.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: We have breaking news tonight out of Ohio in the special election. They are right now on the question of raising the threshold for amending the state constitution which would make it harder to enshrine abortion rights constitutionally in November.

Now, no is coming in at 67.9 percent. Yes, just 32.1 percent with 26 percent of the vote counted. National Correspondent Jeff Zeleny joins us from a viewing party in the States Capitol Columbus, Ohio with the latest. Jeff, polls closed more than an hour ago. This is a little bit confusing because it's not directly voting on abortion in the state. Can you just explain what the vote is and where it's at right now?


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it's not. And it's effectively a two-step process. The vote today is a simple question asking Ohio voters if they would like to use a simple majority or a supermajority to decide a question in November. And the question in November is, should abortion rights be enshrined in the state's constitution?

The reason that this election is being held today is because Republican leaders here, perhaps fearful of a simple majority being able to support and approve an abortion rights measure, are trying to raise the threshold. They're trying to raise the threshold to make any state amendment of the constitution a 60 percent requirement, which is obviously a much higher hurdle.

So the vote today is simply on that question. Should there be a higher threshold of support needed to change the abortion measure as well as other measures down the line?


ZELENY: But I can tell you, Anderson, we are here at the vote no headquarters, and there is a lot of enthusiasm and excitement because of those early voting numbers that you mentioned at the beginning there. These are early votes that they have banked, essentially. But we are going to wait for more same day votes to come in before giving any type of full picture here --

COOPER: Right.

ZELENY: -- of what the vote is.

COOPER: So as we have those numbers on the screen, just to be clear, voting no means basically somebody is likely a supporter of abortion rights, meaning, they do not want the threshold to amend the state constitution to be raised.

ZELENY: That is largely right. But I can tell you, Anderson, talking to a variety of voters, there were several Republicans and several others who simply did not approve of this process. They did not approve of what they believed were some Republican leaders trying to call a summer special election, in their view, to slip this through. So we saw several former Republican governors who, in fact, are opposed to abortion rights, in most cases campaigning on the no side. So we can draw some inferences that the vote no is made up of a big coalition that includes a lot of abortion rights supporters, but not entirely here. That's why this is so interesting.

COOPER: And a lot of money has been spent.

ZELENY: That's also a reminder that the actual election -- sure, a lot of money has been spent, about $25, $26 million on both sides of this. But this is only the beginning. Regardless of the outcome tonight, there will be a November ballot question on abortion, one of the biggest we've seen, of course, a year after the Supreme Court ruling sending it back to the states. Ohio is certainly going to be one of the biggest. Anderson?

COOPER: Jeff Zeleny, I appreciate it. Thank you. We'll be continuing to monitor it all throughout the evening.

A CNN exclusive, the cover up. An explosive investigation into sexual assault at the Coast Guard Academy. The results of our investigation coming up.



COOPER: Now a CNN exclusive. In late June, our Pamela Brown was first to report on a secret investigation at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy that went unreleased for years, detailing decades of alleged rapes and sexual assaults.

Now until CNN began looking into it, Congress never saw the report. It revealed the dark history of sexual misconduct at the academy. Well, now a former Coast Guard commandant is speaking exclusively to CNN about the failure to reveal the findings in the report. More from Pamela Brown.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: When the head of the Coast Guard was nearing retirement in 2018, he prepared the admiral who was taking his place.

ADMIRAL PAUL ZUKUNFT (RET.), U.S. COAST GUARD COMMANDANT: So I sit down with my successor and say, here are all the things that, you know, budgetarily, but this was a big one.

BROWN (voice-over): The big one was a massive scandal that was only starting to be understood, an explosive investigation into sexual assault at the Coast Guard Academy.

ZUKUNFT: They said, hey, we've got this investigation going on. There was no confusion whatsoever of the priority placed upon this.

BROWN (voice-over): Admiral Paul Zukunft told CNN in this exclusive interview that there was no question the results of the investigation he launched would eventually need to be made public.

ZUKUNFT: It was my intent to be the public face of this event as the senior leader of the Coast Guard, and I regret we were not able to complete it during my watch.

BROWN (voice-over): But once the investigation was completed a couple years later, Zukunft's successor, Admiral Karl Schultz, did not release the results as expected. Instead, a CNN investigation found Schultz, the leader of the Coast Guard at the time, helped cover up the whole thing for years. Schultz would not speak to CNN.

The report dubbed Operation Fouled Anchor, found dozens of cases of sexual abuse and rape at the academy from the late 80s to 2006. That leaders ignored or mishandled. It was kept hidden until CNN reported it in June. By keeping the report secret, the Coast Guard avoided the type of intense scrutiny that could have forced more change in the handling of sexual assaults.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was completely toxic and devastating to my sense of self.

BROWN (voice-over): CNN has talked to more than two dozen women and men who say they were sexually assaulted while at the Coast Guard Academy, including this former cadet who recently graduated.

(on-camera): So you have to wonder, if they had released this report, if they had done more to crack down on sexual assault, how your experience would have been different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I often find myself wondering what my future would have been like. Time and time again, the academy and the institution don't protect their people.

ZUKUNFT: At a bare minimum, we owed it to these victims to provide some sense of emotional closure.

BROWN (voice-over): Exactly why Schultz didn't release the report is still a question. There were plans for a Capitol Hill briefing on Operation Fouled Anchor in late 2018, according to a memo viewed by CNN, but that apparently never happened.

ZUKUNFT: For an investigation of this magnitude and the number of events, this rises to the very top of the organization. You know, this isn't a mid-level staff decision.

BROWN (voice-over): Members of Congress even asked Schultz about sexual assault in the Coast Guard in a remote hearing in 2021, but he still failed to mention the investigation.

ADMIRAL KARL SCHULTZ (RET.), FORMER U.S. COAST GUARD COMMANDANT: We want to bring accountability to all matters. We want to prevent sexual assaults.


BROWN (voice-over): And according to sources, he and his team also kept the report hidden from leaders at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Coast Guard.

ADMIRAL LINDA FAGAN, U.S. COAST GUARD COMMANDANT: I again apologize to each victim, survivor, their loved ones.

BROWN (voice-over): The Coast Guard didn't come clean until just over a month ago, when Schultz's successor, Admiral Linda Fagan, testified at a heated hearing and announced she was launching a 90-day investigation.

FAGAN: We failed the committee when we did not disclose in 2020. When the CNN investigation started asking questions, that was when I first became aware of the totality of the Fouled Anchor.

BROWN (voice-over): Senator said in a letter to the Coast Guard that, "the failure to disclose conflicted with legal requirements for reports on sexual assault at the academy to be shared with Congress".

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: This episode is probably the most shameful and disgraceful incident of cover up of sexual assault that I have seen in the United States military ever.

BROWN (voice-over): Ironically, the final report on Operation Fouled Anchor showed the Coast Guard Academy's reputation took precedence over concern for the victim. And former officials tell CNN that's exactly what happened again when the report was hidden.

ZUKUNFT: If you read through the investigation, there were conscious decisions made by leadership at the Coast Guard Academy. Maybe trying to protect the image of the Coast Guard, you know, loyalty to an institution and not doing what's honorable to a victim of sexual assault.


COOPER: And Pamela joins us now. Pamela, this is such incredible reporting by you and your team here at CNN. It's remarkable to me. We heard the current commandant apologizing and saying to Congress that it wasn't until the CNN reporting, until your report, that she understood the totality of the operation, which I'm not exactly sure what the word totality of it means, but is there any other response from the Coast Guard?

BROWN: Yes. Clearly she chose her words very carefully there, Anderson, saying totality. We should note the Coast Guard officials didn't comment on Schultz's involvement, but they want to make it clear that the current commandant, Admiral Linda Fagan, was not briefed on the investigation when she took office, like her predecessor was, who you just heard from in that piece.

However, CNN's reporting does show that there are other people who currently work at the Coast Guard who were involved in the operation. And you mentioned the team working on this. Melanie Hicken, Blake Ellis, Curt Devine, Scott Bronstein, really a team effort digging into this cover up at the Coast Guard. Anderson?

COOPER: Just, I mean, incredible reporting. Pamela Brown, thank you so much.

BROWN: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, the new co-defendant in the Mar-a-Lago documents case, Carlos De Oliveira will appear in federal court this week for arraignment. What we now know about his role at Mar-a-Lago and in the special counsel's investigation coming up.



COOPER: This Thursday, Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira goes before a federal judge for his arraignment on charges he tried to help the former president hide secret documents at Mar-a-Lago. Late last month, a grand jury indicted him on four charges, including conspiracy to obstruct justice.

More in the special prosecutor's case now with Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Page 24 of the allegations laid out in the superseding indictment, we find the first mention of Carlos De Oliveira's name. There, it describes how De Oliveira and Walt Nauta, a Trump aide and co-defendant in the classified documents case, allegedly moved 30 boxes from Trump's residence at Mar-a-Lago to a storage room on June 2 last year.

Weeks later, on June 22, the Department of Justice emailed an attorney for Donald Trump's business a draft grand jury subpoena for certain security camera footage from the Mar-a-Lago club, including footage from the ground floor where a storage room was located.

(on-camera): The next day, June 23, according to the indictment, Trump called Carlos De Oliveira, the club's property manager, at 08:46 p.m. The two spoke for about 24 minutes. The indictment does not offer any details about what was said during that conversation. The day after that, the Justice Department sent the final subpoena.

(voice-over): According to the indictment, on the evening of June 25 last year, De Oliveira and Nauta went to the security guard booth where surveillance video is displayed on monitors. The indictment alleges they walked with a flashlight through the tunnel where the storage room was located and pointed out surveillance cameras.

(on-camera): Two days later, on the morning of June 27,2022, the superseding indictment describes how De Oliveira took someone identified as Trump employee four to a small room known as the audio closet. Two people close to the investigation identify employee four to CNN as IT Director Yuscil Taveras.

According to the indictment, De Oliveira asked Taveras how many days the server retained footage. Taveras responded that he believed it was approximately 45 days. (voice-over): The indictment alleges De Oliveira told the IT worker that the boss wanted the server deleted. Taveras responded that he did not believe that he would have the rights to do that. The indictment says De Oliveira asked, "what are we going to do?"

(on-camera): Later that day, De Oliveira walked through the bushes on the northern edge of the Mar-a-Lago property to meet with Nauta on an adjacent property, the indictment says. De Oliveira then walked back to the IT office he visited that morning and then once again through the bushes to meet Nauta again.

(voice-over): Within hours, the indictment says, Trump called De Oliveira and the two men spoke for approximately 3.5 minutes. Just over two weeks after the FBI discovered classified documents in the storage room and Trump's office at Mar-a-Lago, Nauta called a person identified in the indictment only as Trump employee five. And said words to the effect of, "someone just wants to make sure Carlos is good".

In response, the indictment alleges, "that employee told Nauta that De Oliveira was loyal and that he would not do anything to affect his relationship with Trump". That same day, according to the indictment, Trump called De Oliveira and told De Oliveira that he would get him an attorney.



KAYE: And Anderson, according to the indictment, De Oliveira was interviewed by the FBI earlier this year in January at his home. It was a voluntary interview and it was recorded. And according to the indictment, he was asked about Trump's boxes and the location of them. The indictment says that De Oliveira denied knowing about the boxes of documents and denied moving them.

But here's the problem. According to the indictment, De Oliveira, quote, "personally observed and helped move those boxes when they arrived at Mar-a-Lago in January of 2021". It's also why we're seeing this false statement charge that he's faced with now for allegedly lying to the FBI.

But one other quick note, Anderson, that employee number four, Yuscil Taveras, the IT worker, we did reach out, CNN reached out to his attorney for comment, and that attorney declined comment, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Randi Kaye, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Quick update now on the Ohio special election on whether to raise the threshold for amending the state constitution, which could come into play later this year over abortion. Right now, with 34 percent of the vote, no is still ahead at 63.1 percent. Yes has 36.9 percent of the vote. We're going to continue, obviously, to follow accounting the vote throughout the night.

Just ahead, mourners in Ireland remember Sinead O'Connor who was buried today.


COOPER: Today, Ireland paid final respects to singer and activist Sinead O'Connor, who died almost two weeks ago. Hundreds lined the streets in her hometown in Bray, just south of Dublin to pay their respects. The procession carrying her coffin made its way past her old home, which is in keeping with an old Irish custom.

Sinead O'Connor was 56 when she died.

Time now for The Source with Kaitlan Collins and breaking news from Ohio.