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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Former Trump White House Chief-of-Staff Trying To Move Fulton County Case To Federal Court In New Court Filing; Meadows Trying To Move Fulton County Case To Federal Court; Willis: "Overt Acts Are Not Necessarily Crimes"; Hunter Biden's Top Lawyer Asks To Withdraw From Case, Because He Could Be Called As Witness; Special Counsel Says Hunter Biden's Gun Plea Deal Is "Withdrawn" And Invalid; Awaiting Update From Hawaii Gov. On Wildfires, Death Count; Biden: "Every Asset They Need Will Be There For Them"; Video Shows Ukrainian Sea Drone Striking Key Bridge; New Weapon Targets Russian Military, Infrastructure; Tuohy Family Attorney: Claims Made By Michael Oher Are "Outlandish", "Hurtful" And "Absurd". Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 15, 2023 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Christopher Clark, who is overseeing the case, says he has to leave the team because he could be called as a witness in future proceedings.

Obviously, the legal storm surrounding the president's son is not clearing up anytime soon as a special counsel now -- the special counsel is taking over and has wide, wide purview for any sorts of investigations that arise from the investigation into Hunter Biden.

Thanks so much for joining us. Anderson starts now.



Just hours after being indicted for trying to overturn election results in Georgia, the former president promises that this time years later, he has really got evidence of election fraud. No, really. He's claiming that.

Also tonight, breaking news on his former chief-of-staff and current co-defendant, Mark Meadows, who now wants the trial moved to federal court.

Plus, the latest from Maui where President Biden is pledging every federal asset needed and the need is enormous.

Good evening, thanks for joining us. We begin quickly with the breaking news in the wake of last night's RICO indictment in Georgia of the former president and 18 others. One of them former Trump chief- of-staff, Mark Meadows, filed papers late today asking to move the case to federal court. Rudy Giuliani facing 13 counts said this afternoon he'll seek to do the same.

We'll talk more in a moment about this and the case to be made for it with our legal experts and whether the former president might join in. Right now though, he appears to be rushing headlong into the past, two years and seven months since leaving office for criminal indictments and 91 felony charges later, Donald Trump now says he can finally do it.

Do what all his attorneys and all the Motley cast of characters he had around him were unable to do in dozens of court cases around the country in the days and weeks after the 2020 election, namely prove election fraud.

Posting on his social network this morning, he announced a press conference next Monday at which he'll present a "large, complex detailed, but irrefutable report on the presidential election fraud which took place in Georgia."

And by the way, if you think you have heard this before, you kind of have. Let's go back, the date, January 4, 2021. The place Dalton, Georgia.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Since the election, we have put forth indisputable evidence documenting the rampant fraud which will be announced on Wednesday, as you know.


COOPER: He was making the same empty promises then that he is making now. By the way, just two days before he claimed that in Dalton in 2021, he had made that call with Brad Raffensperger and other Georgia election officials who happened to be Republicans and Trump supporters, and he had offered up a string of claims as if they were indisputable and these officials refuted each and every one.

In apparent frustration and with nothing factual to offer, he then made the now infamous request which is now part of the charges against him.


BIDEN: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more that we have because we won the state.


COOPER: He didn't. It's also worth mentioning that he made that call that claim in Dalton, Georgia after repeatedly being told by his own people, his White House attorneys, his election securities people, law enforcement agencies, even Attorney General Bill Barr that there was nothing to his claims. And after a string of court defeats in Georgia and elsewhere, 61 in all, including the Supreme Court.

So now almost three years after losing, he says, he is going to produce in his words, some irrefutable report that shows he is right. Can't wait.

Today, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican and Trump supporter in 2020 weighed in on it tweeting: "The 2020 election in Georgia was not stolen. For nearly three years now, anyone with evidence of fraud has failed to come forward under oath and prove anything in a court of law."

It doesn't sound like he will be on the edge of his seat either waiting for Monday's mishegoss.

Rudy Giuliani spoke today, not as the famous RICO prosecutor he once was, but as a criminal defendant and he claimed he is still the person people once respected.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER DONALD TRUMP ATTORNEY: I am the same Rudy Giuliani that went after the mafia. I haven't changed one bit.


COOPER: Not one bit.

CNN's Katelyn Polantz has some new reporting on the former mayor. She joins us now. What more are you learning?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE SENIOR REPORTER: Well, Anderson, we have learned through a series of court filings just this week from Rudy Giuliani where he is fighting lawsuits, so totally separately from the criminal indictment that he is now facing in Georgia.

He is fighting these lawsuits and he is having to tell courts that he is out of money, or at least he's out of cash because there are so many things around him in the court of law that are causing him to have a lot of expenses.

And so just looking at this, it is a pretty dire state of affairs for Rudy Giuliani based on what's in the court record. Right now we know that he has to has at least $181,000.00 in total current bills, that includes bills he has just to he keep his electronic records hosted somewhere on a monthly basis. And that if he wants to do a search of those records, which he's going to be needing to do not just for a lawsuit that is happening right now, but for other potential investigations and lawsuits in the future, he has to pay them additional money to do those searches, money that would amount to something like $15,000.00 or $23,000.00.


And in one of the court filings yesterday, his lawyers essentially said Giuliani doesn't have that money right now. He doesn't have $15,000.00. That's even less than what Giuliani was asking as his day rate when he was working for Donald Trump on the 2020 campaign litigation.

So it's a small, relatively small amount of money for a lawyer, the former mayor of New York City that he is just not able to get together. And he's saying also in court that he can't provide detailed financial information because it would embarrass Giuliani, draw attention to his misfortunes. But there are clearly a lot of things bearing down around him, not just with that.

There also was a very protracted negotiation, apparently that the court filings discuss where he was trying to get someone to donate money to him to pay some of his legal fees, specifically a debt of $320,000.00 that he owed. And that debt was ultimately paid by the Save America PAC, but it took a long time, it took months of him waiting for that money.

And at this point in time, there is no indication that Donald Trump is paying other legal fees for Rudy Giuliani and all of these lawsuits are all moving forward at different stages. One of them is very close to potentially being ruled against him. It is a case that is from the two Georgia election workers and we're just waiting to see what a judge is going to do there with finality -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. He does seem to have some assets. I think I saw that his apartment in New York on Park Avenue on the Upper East Side is for sale for some $6 million. So it seems like he would be able to get some money, I guess, at some point.

Katelyn Polantz, appreciate it. Thanks for the breakdown.

With me now is someone who is certainly well acquainted with Rudy Giuliani and has investigated Donald Trump, for Manhattan district attorney, Cy Vance.

Thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

First of all, what do you make of this attempt by Mark Meadows to move the case to federal court? Why would he do that? What's the benefit for him?

CY VANCE, FORMER MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I think the idea is that the federal court will be a perhaps slightly more manageable court for the defendant's cases to be heard.

When we subpoenaed Donald Trump in 2019 for his tax records, he filed a case in federal court in order to get the case, essentially, the issue moved into the federal judiciary. I think, to me, it's all about the Supreme Court. I think he is looking for the quickest way to go through the federal system and get the issues before the Supreme Court.

My speculation is that he feels that's a court that will help him on these questions of law.

COOPER: One of the arguments that has been made about having this in Georgia is that if he is elected president, and he somehow pardons himself in anything else, that obviously he does not pardon power in the state of Georgia, nor does the governor there.

If it was moved to federal court, if all this was moved to federal court, would that negate that? VANCE: Well, if he ultimately was charged in federal court and convicted in federal court, yes, I think it would negate it because the state case would be presumably dismissed, and then it would become a federal action.

But I think, clearly, the importance of these state prosecutions, our investigation that took us to the Supreme Court twice to get the records from Donald Trump, my successor's case, now DA Willis, these are important backstops, and I'll tell you tell you why as an example, if I may, we started our investigation into the Trump Organization, finances and the like and the US attorney in New York who is a wonderful person asked -- their office asked me to stand down with our case.

I felt I should, because I feel we need comity between these agencies, and I did. But to my surprise, after Michael Cohen pleaded guilty, the case dropped in the Southern District.

COOPER: Right.

VANCE: So we lost a year-and-a-half, and it proves I think, Anderson that you need to approach these issues with the spirit of yes, let's not argue about silly things, let's try to work together.

But at the end of the day, the state needs to look after the state and the state cannot depend on the federal government to look after state's interests.

COOPER: Fani Willis has talked about charging -- about going to trial of all 19 defendants. You've done that. I mean, you've had large trials in New York. How difficult is that? Is that possible with 19 defendants in a case like this?

VANCE: Well 19 defendants is a large number and it's a difficult number for a court to manage, but we, in Manhattan during my tenure had cases, much larger groups of defendants that were particularly gang cases.


The challenge in this case is you have -- to have all 19 defendants, you have, first of all, a complicated, factually complicated set of charges.

You have some folks who are marginal on the error, and then you have some folks like the former president who is at ground zero of the case.

So the judge is going to have to manage defendants different allegations, different kinds of motions. It's a lot for the court to manage on top of managing Donald Trump.

COOPER: Some of those 19, theoretically, could make deals prior to this going to trial. I mean, as you said, some of them are on the fringes of this, others are right at the epicenter. VANCE: Sure. The RICO count, as I understand it, you'll have experts from Georgia Law probably on later has a five to 20-year range of sentencing. So anybody in this defendant group who is looking at five years is going to think long and hard about whether or not they really want to take and wear the Trump flag and go over the cliff carrying it.

I think there will absolutely be defendants who want to cooperate, who will to try to resolve this. I'm not sure that DA Willis needs their cooperation. It's a seems like a very strong straightforward indictment. Obviously, it's quite detailed and there's not a lot left to imagination.

COOPER: Right.

VANCE: It is what it is and she will -- I think she is going to push forward. But 19 is a big number, and particularly dealing with the president as a defendant.

COOPER: You talked --we were talking previously -- we were talking about the importance of a judge in a case like this keeping things moving. What have you learned about the former president in your experiences in court?

VANCE: Chaos agent.

COOPER: He was an agent of chaos.

VANCE: Yes. He is an agent of chaos, and I think his whole career is kind of going from one disaster to another, and distracting attention from the last disaster, moving to another but being happy that he is in attention.

Right now politically, he has completely consumed all the airtime on the Republican nomination for president even while he is being indicted.

COOPER: How does that play out in a courtroom or in a legal battle with him?

VANCE: What play out?

COOPER: The agent of chaos. I mean --

VANCE: Well, I think what it means first and foremost for the judge is in this case, are how do you manage a man like Donald Trump as a defendant?

An average defendant, who has said what he said, who has done what he's done under indictment would be hauled back into court and threatened with contempt, incarceration, or a huge fine. None of those things necessarily are dissuading factors for Donald Trump.

Again, I'm speculating, but were he to be put into jail on contempt for doing something as stupid as his picture with him in a bat and DA Bragg's picture right next to him. Clearly, intimidating. But we're here to be put in Rikers Island, I honestly think, he'd probably use it as a mechanism to excite his crowd and his teams.

COOPER: No judge has really -- I mean, this is unprecedented. So there is no judge who has experience with a character like this.

VANCE: No, I don't think ever with a character like this, but clearly the judges that are involved are experienced, and I think they all, bottom line are going to really need to control their courtroom. They need to be the manager to set expectations of decorum and what is responsible behavior and what is irresponsible behavior and they need to hold the president -- former president to account.

How they're going to do that, because the typical tools that a judge would use may, in fact, not be as effective with the former president.

But I think ultimately, these judges are going to make it work and there is something sobering when you saw President Trump when he was in the Manhattan courtroom, you know, he was not a man in control, nor at his arraignments in Florida or in DC.

I think he understands the weight of power and the momentum that is rolling up against him. Whether that causes him to act like a normal litigant or not, we'll see.


VANCE: I hope so. Because it's not good. We've already had one attempt to overthrow an election, we don't want a continuing effort by the president and his supporters to overthrow the judicial process as well.

COOPER: Yes. Cy Vance, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

VANCE: Appreciate it.

COOPER: Coming up, next more on the breaking news. Mark Meadows' push to move the Georgia trial to federal court and his chances for success.

Also the latest from Hawaii where the death toll is nearing a hundred and could climb higher tonight.



COOPER: The breaking news tonight: Mark Meadows officially asking to make his Georgia indictment a federal case instead. In a moment, I'll talk to the legal team including a former US attorney for the Middle District of Georgia what his chances are and whether the entire case all 19 defendants might end up in federal court.

But first, more on how at one time top Trump aide and confidant who was there in the thick of his final days got to this point. CNN's Jake Tapper has that. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): In Donald Trump's previous federal indictment connected to the 2020 election, Mark Meadows had managed to escape any charges, leading many to wonder if the former White House chief-of-staff may have turned on his former boss.

MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF-OF-STAFF OF VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: I think one name that's obviously not in that indictment is Mark Meadows, who was kind of the ringleader of all of this.

TAPPER (voice over): But Meadows fate changed Monday night when the grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia charged him and 18 other defendants including the former president with racketeering for their efforts to try to overturn the 2020 election.

In the indictment, prosecutors say the defendants "joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump."

Beyond Trump himself, Meadows is the highest ranking official to be charged and the indictment outlines the key role prosecutors say Meadows played to try to keep Trump in power.

REPORTER: Mr. President --

TAPPER (voice over): In the weeks following Trump's election loss, Meadows got involved according, to the indictment, on November 20th, Meadows and Trump met with Michigan legislators in the White House where the former president made false claims of election fraud in that state.


The next day, prosecutors say Meadows sent a text to Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry asking : "Can you send me the number for the Speaker and the Leader of Pennsylvania Legislature. POTUS wants to chat with them.

The following week, Meadows and Trump met with Pennsylvania legislators at the White House. The same day co-defendants, Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis also traveled to the Commonwealth and "solicited, requested and importuned the Pennsylvania legislators present at the meeting, to unlawfully appoint presidential electors from Pennsylvania."

Meadows was also allegedly deeply involved in the efforts to overturn election results in Georgia. According to the indictment on December 22nd, Meadows traveled to Cobb County, Georgia, and attempted to watch an election audit that was in progress, but not open to the public. He was turned away.

Meadows then arranged a phone call between Trump and then chief investigator for the Georgia secretary of State, Frances Watson.

TRUMP: The people of Georgia are so angry at what happened to me. They know I won. I won by hundreds of thousands of votes, it wasn't close. When the right answer comes out, you'll be praised.

TAPPER (voice over): But perhaps the most notable, if not the most damning phone call, Meadows arranged for President Trump was with Georgia secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger.

MARK MEADOWS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF-OF-STAFF: Mr. President, everybody is on the line, and just so, this is Mark Meadows, the chief-of-staff, just so we all are aware.

TAPPER (voice over): Where Trump told Raffensperger this --

TRUMP: So look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more that we have because we won the state.

TAPPER (voice over): Meadows' role in that phone call earned him a second charge for solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer.

Jake Tapper, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Joining us now CNN political commentator, Alyssa Farah Griffin who served as communications director in the previous administration, also former US attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, Michael Moore; CNN political commentator, and former Obama special adviser, Van Jones and Georgia Democratic state senator, Jen Jordan, who testified before the Fani Willis grand jury.

Michael, does it make sense legally, that Mark Meadows, because of his position in the federal government at the time, would want to be in federal court?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER US ATTORNEY FOR MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: Yes, it is a good motion to make, and I don't blame him for making that.

I mean, basically, there's a removal statute that allows somebody who is charged with a crime in a state court, if they were a federal official who was involved in their federal duties to ask that this case be transferred. So there's a limited number of defendants, I think you may see with that option.

COOPER: Well, will the former president ask to do -- I mean, if it weren't for Mark Meadows, would the former president --

MOORE: Yes, and I think -- I've expected this from Trump all along. I mean, really, when you look at the indictment there, all of these acts we've talked about these -- there is 161 acts that they're talking about in furtherance of the conspiracy and this type of thing, 154 of those occurred while he was a sitting president of the United States.

That's a pretty strong argument to make, that maybe the case should move to federal court as it relates to the former president, and of course, you know, Mark Meadows was his chief-of-staff, and what more can you -- how much more could you be involved with the federal government than the chief-of-staff of the president, especially during an election, a federal election -- a presidential election at that.

COOPER: Alyssa, I mean, it's stunning just to see Mark Meadows' name in an indictment because in the January 6th indictment, I mean, he is chief-of-staff as mentioned, but he is not charged.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think a lot of us assumed that Mark Meadows was cooperating with the Department of Justice, and I actually think otherwise now. So folks in his camp, the kind of official public line is that he complied with a subpoena, but he has not flipped with the Department of Justice.

I tend to believe that and I tend to read into it that DOJ thought he was such a valuable witness that they'd rather work with him through the channels of a subpoena than try to charge him in this.

Georgia is a different ballgame and it's always been with him. When you look at especially laying this out, you know, as the conspiracy charge, as the RICO charge, he falls very clearly into that and the actions that he took.

So I think that he likely is just doing the bare minimum that his attorney is advising him and I would note, he has got a very sophisticated attorney, George Terwilliger served in the Bush White House. I think that, frankly, Trump is going to be following some of his legal leads.

COOPER: So, how would a change of venue alter the shape of this case if it was in federal court?

JEN JORDAN (D), FORMER GEORGIA STATE SENATOR: I mean, in every single way.

COOPER: You actually think it should be in federal -- or you would like it to be in federal court?

JORDAN: Well, I mean, there's this cost-benefit analysis, right. I think in some ways, it would be good because cameras aren't allowed in federal court. It's a lot more of a structured process.

I know all of the federal court judges take their responsibilities very seriously. I am not saying that Fulton County Superior Court judges don't.

COOPER: You think from given all the publicity, it would be a mess in state court?

JORDAN: I think there's going to be a lot of problems. I think they're going to be a lot of problems with security. I think the fact that cameras are going to be allowed in the courtroom are going to allow the attorneys to really put on a show and let the litigants put on a show, too.

And at the end of the day, as much as we talk about this on TV or whatever, it is about laws that were broken and people that need to be held accountable.


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I see it differently because I do think that giving people the opportunity to actually see how this stuff works is good and by the way, this is a different prosecutor than Jack Smith.


It's literally the opposite approach on everything. With Jack Smith, I'm going to focus on Donald Trump. I'll mention a few people, but I'm going to focus on Donald Trump.

She says, I'm coming after everybody. I'm coming after everybody and you're all in trouble and you're all going to get it -- and that's different.

Mark Meadows -- hands off Mark -- uh-uh, I'm grabbing Mark Meadows, too.

COOPER: She also chose to go forward with this long before anybody in the entire government.

JONES: This train has been coming. This train has been coming the whole time. Jack Smith was late to the party. He was like, well, she should wait, no, Jack Smith was late to the party. She has been working on this for a very long time and if people don't like it, if people don't like RICO, well, where have you been all this time?

This same prosecutor was using RICO to put rappers in jail. She was using RICO to put teachers in jail. If you didn't like RICO, then you should have said something about it.

A lot of us on the progressive left have been concerned about over abuse of RICO, but if there is ever a time to use a statute like this, to get everybody who is involved and send a message, you cannot conspire to overthrow an election in the United States and get away with it.

And if Jack Smith wasn't willing to get into go after everybody, she is.

COOPER: What do you guys think about cameras in state court?

MOORE: In Fulton County, it would be nothing new to have a camera in the court. Obviously, you're not going to have the cameras in the federal court. I think there's something almost about the sanctity of the courtroom at the same time where you don't have lawyers and clients putting on a show, and it could become a circus and we're talking about here a case where you've got 19 defendants and you're going to stack them --

COOPER: Although it is likely by the time this goes to trial, there will not be 19 defendants.

MOORE: It is, but sometimes, you know, when you fish with too big a hook, you get stuck yourself and that may be where we're at here. We may be in a place where, you know, you've got to tip your hat to the DA for moving forward on a case.

But at the same time, there are maybe these unintended consequences. There'll be some who fall and I think you can look at the indictment. She's got an A group and a B group and she's going to squeeze the B group and the best way to do that is to list them in an indictment.

GRIFFIN: And by the way, after this motion came down from the Meadows' camp, I think they're starting to see a lot of other folks who may be wrapped up in this that are thinking this is the move to try to move it to federal court.

And the argument is simply going to be whether it's the documents case in Miami or this in Georgia. There are things that affect the presidency that have not been tested in these state courts the way that in a federal court they are prepared to handle.

Someone like Meadows -- listen, he deserves to be charged, but he's got the best case you're going to have about executive privilege and about, you know, conversations he is having, an advising role with the president. That's something a federal court is prepared to handle in a way that I think this could be very complicated in Georgia.

COOPER: Everyone, stay with us. A lot more to discuss including what is an overt act and when can texting someone for a phone number lead to a conspiracy indictment.

Plus, Hunter Biden is down a lawyer. We will explain what happened, plus other new developments in his legal troubles ahead.



COOPER: A breaking news about Mark Meadows wanting to move the Georgia prosecution of Federal Court touches on a point of the case that appears to have confused some of the defenders of those indicted.

How, for instance, can prosecutors call Meadows text messaging? Someone for a state lawmaker's phone number, an overt act of a criminal conspiracy as they do on page 21 in the indictment. And for that matter, wired 12 tweets by the former president and a retweet by Rudy Giuliani, also listed as some of the 161 overt acts that prosecutors say prove the existence of a criminal conspiracy.

Last night, District Attorney Fani Willis explained.


FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: As you examine the indictment, you will see acts that are identified as overt acts. And those that are identified as predicate acts, sometimes called acts of racketeering activity. Overt acts are not necessarily crimes under Georgia Law in isolation, but are alleged to be acts taken in furtherance of the conspiracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: I'm back now with the panel. So Michael, I mean, it's an important point because you hear that a lot today. People say, well, they're charging this guy for sending out some tweets.

MOORE: Yes. I mean, think about an overt act like this. It just moves the conspiracy forward a little bit. So let's take a bank robbery. Driving down the road and looking at the bank, may not -- ain't a crime unless you're speeding. But I mean, driving down the road, looking at the bank, nothing wrong with it.

But if you then robbed the bank and you've got an agreement with a couple other people to do it, that becomes part of that conspiracy because you were casing the bank.


COOPER: Senator, I mean, do you think it was right to make this a RICO?

JORDAN: Absolutely. I think, look, from my perspective, this is broad, wide, right? And we needed to bring in as many people as possible. And in a lot of ways, looking at it from the perspective of Arizona and Michigan and Pennsylvania, and Georgia, you start to see that this was very systematic in what they were doing.

What they were doing in Pennsylvania was what they were doing in Georgia. And the way I looked at the federal case is that really, that's the umbrella of what they wanted to do nationally, and Georgia was the implementation on the ground. So I think with respect to the district attorney, I think that they've done an incredible job.

She's working with a lawyer named John Floyd, who has literally written the book, "RICO State by State". He knows exactly what he's doing and whether you like RICO or not, or you think that it's appropriate, here, it is absolutely appropriate and it's going to bring in everybody who actually was a part of and did something in furtherance of this conspiracy.

COOPER: It is extraordinary, though, for those who, you know, grew up in New York, watching Rudy Giuliani prosecute mob cases with RICO for him now to be at the epicenter of this massive RICO case.

JONES: You know, how far he's fallen.

COOPER: He says he hasn't changed at all.

JONES: Well --

JORDAN: Well, that's a problem, right?

JONES: Well, he was really terrible before and nobody knew.

JORDAN: Right.

JONES: Because he's terrible now. But that is, I think part of the big irony here is that you had an American hero. He was America's mayor. You know, some of us, you know, didn't like everything he was doing when he was mayor of New York, but he was a respected guy and he's somehow now crawling around begging for money.

So he can have a lawyer to help him get out of trouble. He calls for himself when he started lying about an election outcome. And he is a central character in this drama. You cannot tell the story of Donald Trump's scheme to stay in office without having a star of that story, be Rudy Giuliani.

So he cannot run, he cannot hide. He's in the middle of it now. And how far does he fall.

GRIFFIN: Well, in this indictment reads like a cast of characters of people who came into positions of extreme power, of huge power in this nation, and who were ultimately corrupted by it.


Any turn they could have stopped and said, you know, this is enough, this is going too far. Some of these people perhaps didn't know better, but I think most of them did know better, and they were desperately trying to clinging onto power after knowing they had lost the election. Nobody spoke up, no one did the right thing, and that's why they're where they're today.

COOPER: Michael, you know, the -- we talked about this last night. The courthouse put a document online earlier in the day, they'd now come out with another explanation saying it was, some sort of a sample that was kind of being done as a test run. Does that make sense to you?

MOORE: I think there's coordination that happens between a DA's office and a clerk's office. So I wouldn't be surprised if they said, look, this is coming down tonight. We believe if the grand jury votes be ready, you know, this will kind of help you get your fields filled in in the computer, that type of thing.

It was a mistake. I mean, and it was a serious mistake. And the reason was, it was like just turning on the gas pump onto the fires of the people who want to find some reason to think there's a conspiracy. It -- I think it was just human error and it's regrettable that it happened. Doesn't affect the case, but it gives some ammunition for the people who want to poke holes.

COOPER: I want to thank everybody in the panel tonight.

We also have new developments in the prosecution of President Biden's son, Hunter. His lead defense attorney has asked to withdraw from the case. And Special Counsel David Weiss said that contrary to Hunter Biden's attorney's claims, that deal to resolve a felony gun possession charge is no longer binding.

Kara Scannell joins us now with details. So first of all, what more do we know about the attorney withdrawing? Why is he withdrawing?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so this is Hunter Biden's longtime criminal defense attorney, Chris Clark. He's represented him this whole time. And in a court filing today, they said that he is seeking to withdraw from the case because he could be a potential witness since Biden's team intends to challenge these now collapsed plea talk, because Clark was involved in the dealings one-on-one with DOJ throughout this five-year investigation and in negotiating the plea agreements that the judge did not approve.

So now they're saying that they want to take him off the case so he can't advocate for Biden because they might need him as a witness in a future proceeding, Anderson.

COOPER: And what about -- what's the latest in the plea deal negotiations?

SCANNELL: So right now, the one thing that both sides agree on is that the tax plea agreement is moot and that they should dismiss the charges that were filed in court that Hunter Biden did not plead guilty to as initially plan. The reason why prosecutors wanted them out is because they say that they want to bring a potential case in a jurisdiction where these alleged crimes took place, either in California or Washington, D.C.

And it was only because Biden was going to plead guilty that they agreed to do it in Delaware, where the U.S. attorney, David Weiss, who's now been elevated to special counsel had ultimate jurisdiction. And so Biden's team is agreeing with that where they are not on the same page still is on this deal to resolve a felony gun possession charge.

And in that case, Biden's team is saying that they think this deal is valid and binding because it was signed by prosecutors and it was signed by Hunter Biden, even though the judge did not sign off on it. But prosecutors today saying it's missing another important signature and that is the chief of the probation department for the District of Delaware.

She did not sign off on it, so they said, therefore it did not go into effect and it is not binding. Both their points of view are before the judge, and again, as I said, she didn't like this deal. So we're waiting to see what she's going to do next. Anderson?

COOPER: Do you know if it was intentional that the probation -- head of probation hadn't signed it, or was it just a scheduling issue? Do we know why that hadn't been signed?

SCANNELL: So there are no additional details about that in the filing, but they do say that they did continue to try to work out the deal even after the judge adjourned for the day. But prosecutors did not agree with it. I mean, they were pretty close to this deal in court and the judge just had some questions.

So it's not clear if, because she didn't officially stamp it that procedurally stopped it from going to the probation office. That could be one of the issues. They haven't elaborated on that, and it's not clear if it was because the probation department had any particular issue. But I wouldn't be surprised if we learn more about that in the coming days. COOPER: Interesting. Kara Scannell, as always, thank you.

Next, they survived the Hawaii wildfires. Now residents are trying to just get through each day, the scramble for food, water, aid just ahead with our Bill Weir, who's in Maui tonight.



COOPER: We're expecting to hear from Hawaii's governor just over an hour from now about efforts to contain the wildfires as well as any update on a death count that's expected to grow and already confirmed to have reached at least 99 people.

President Biden made his first comments on the fires in days after criticism from Republicans and others that he hasn't been more vocal about the tragedy. Hundreds of federal personnel, including Navy and Coast Guard, are on the ground helping with rescue and aid efforts. The President promised to travel to Maui soon and pledge full assistance.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our thoughts and prayers with the people of Hawaii and not just our prayers. Every asset, every asset they need will be there for them. And we'll be there in Maui as long as it takes.


COOPER: While Hawaii Electric says power has been restored to about 80 percent of customers, many residents said they are still struggling to get by. Our Bill Weir has been on the ground in Maui joins us again tonight. So what's it like today?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is really fascinating. Anderson, a dramatic scene just played out here. We're in the cooling neighborhood. This is miles away from Lahaina, which you know, is on the right on the beach town. This is upcountry, as they call it here, up in the mountains where several hundred homes with burned.

But we just witnessed, I see these bottle of -- bottled water drop offs people are having here. We just witnessed a couple of three guys from Oahu who had flown over here as volunteers who were taking that water and hiking through the brush and putting out actually active hotspots over there that are flaring up right now.

These are -- this fire is only 60 percent contained and there are these little leftover fires from last week up in these canyons just as they were fighting a fire with bottled water of basically a private helicopter came, saw them and dropped a big bucket of water right on that hotspot. So this is the response.

I know we're talking, we are hearing that a week into this, the cavalry is coming, but we got guys putting out fires with bottled water and volunteers in helicopters at -- in this neighborhood, at least at the moment, Anderson.


COOPER: So, I mean, are you seeing federal aid? Are you seeing, I mean, you know, FEMA? Are they on the ground? How many military personnel on the ground? I mean, what sort of -- what kind of a organized response have you seen?

WEIR: Well, I got to tell you, and we've both covered a lot of these things. I spent all weekend with just citizen first responders setting up these relief pods in neighborhoods and didn't see a single person in uniform. The only Maui County officials we saw were the cops work in the checkpoints, as well.

And here we are, I was expecting to see some Humvees, maybe some helicopters today, still haven't. Now that doesn't mean they're not out there. The Pentagon says today there's six new missions launching from the Army command here in the Pacific. All kinds of relief effort that they've got, Coast Guard and military personnel fighting fires.

But honestly, we haven't seen it. The locals here are shocked that they're putting out fires in their backyards while they're cutting down burned trees and are surprised that the road is still open the way it is.

COOPER: The governor says the number of fatalities could rise significantly. I mean, how are people dealing with this, especially, you know, people being asked to give DNA to try to help identify people who have died? And, I mean, you know, the strength of those fires, some people just disappeared.

WEIR: Exactly. It was like a big crematorium. There are about a dozen, only about a dozen actual remains have been identified with -- from the DNA. A couple dozen, three dozen or so families have gone in who have missing relatives, loved ones to give their DNA. I spent some time this afternoon with a woman whose 83-year-old mother-in-law is missing, and they're cycling through with stages of grief.

They think that she's probably gone when they saw what was -- that the house was completely gone. But they're holding out hope until someone can confirm this. So this is being played out family by family across Maui, not just in the Western Lahaina part, but this affects so many people.

And at the same time, many of them are working in resorts, you know, putting on Tiki shows or giving massages to folks who come here. So it is really complicated time for Hawaiians.

COOPER: Yes. Bill Weir, I'm so glad you're there. Thank you.

If you want to help, you can find all information in one place at, or text Hawaii to 70-70-70 to donate.

Next, a CNN exclusive, never before seen footage of the Ukrainian Navy using an unmanned sea drone last month to attack that key bridge linking Russia to occupied Crimea. The Ukrainians are now saying it was them who did it after all. And Nick Paton Walsh -- also this other attack they did on a Russian ship got access to some remarkable video. His report coming up.



COOPER: Now a CNN exclusive. You likely remember last month, Ukraine used an armed sea drone to strike a vital bridge that links Russia to occupied Crimea. The weapons are remote controlled. And tonight for the first time, you're going to see the video feed from that sea drone during the attack.

Nick Paton Walsh got access to the footage. Here's his report.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): It's become the most beleaguered symbol of Russian occupation. This weekend, Moscow saying this incident was just a smokescreen foiling, a Ukrainian attack on the $4 billion Kerch Bridge, the link between Russia and occupied Crimea that Putin seems to dote on.

Now CNN has obtained exclusive footage heralding a new way of warfare of another earlier devastating Ukrainian seaborne drone strike there in July. From the Ukrainian security services, the SBU, who say they did it and more will follow.

This is exactly what the drone pilot saw. Thermal imagery, the water rippling as up to a ton of explosive approaches the bridge. The feed then obviously went dead as it hit the concrete. Russian officials said two civilians died in the attack. Cameras on the bridge captured the first blast on the road section. The cursor shows the drone moving in.

And another on the railway tracks at about the same time. Ukraine has been coy. Some officials saying these huge blasts are from, quote, "unidentified floating objects", but no longer the head of the Ukrainian security services told CNN, this is just the start.

VASYL MALIUK, HEAD OF SBU (through translation): Sea surface drones are unique invention of the security service of Ukraine. None of the private companies are involved. Using these drones, we have recently conducted successful hits of the Crimean Bridge, a big assault ship, Olenegorsky Gornyak and SIG Tanker.

WALSH (voice-over): This another Ukrainian drone attack on the Russian amphibious assault boat, the Olenegorsky Gornyak, on which Ukrainian officials said 100 personnel were on board. It was a remarkable feat carried out by a growing fleet of what they call the sea babies. Hundreds of miles away from Ukrainian bases, and right in Russia's coastal heartland. It put the black seas east, suddenly at risk.

MALIUK (through translation): These drones are produced at an underground production facility in Ukraine. We are working on a number of new, interesting operations, including in the Black Sea waters. I promise you, it'll be exciting, especially for our enemies.

WALSH (voice-over): Ukraine's ingenuity again and again toppling the lumbering Russian Goliath.


COOPER: Nick, I mean, it's fascinating that they're being so public about this now. How have the Russians adjusted their strategies in the Black Sea in response?

WALSH: Yes, I mean, we don't know a huge amount about what Russia can do to stop these drones with the significant payload that they do indeed carry. You saw at the beginning of that report how they're using smoke screens that seemed over the weekend around the Kerch Bridge. But then they were very explicit. They were worried about Ukraine adapted missiles, potentially hitting. So it's unclear what sea water level defenses they may have.


We've also seen them earlier on this week, using overt messaging to try and stop some of the grain shipments going through the Black Sea, taking a helicopter to sort of board a grain ship there as well. So a variety of things. Certainly Moscow, I think, taken aback by the extraordinary reach of these drones and their explosive power.

Remember, as you say, but just because the security services are talking about this publicly now, might perhaps mean they feel comfortable enough in evading, any potential Russian counter maneuvers, Anderson?

COOPER: Yes, Nick Paton Walsh in Ukraine, thanks so much.

Coming up next, controversy surrounding the hit movie, "The Blind Side". The Tennessee couple who say they offered former NFL Player Michael Oher structure and support respond to a lawsuit alleging they earned millions from pushing a false narrative that they adopted him.


COOPER: Tonight the attorney for Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy have released a statement after former NFL Player Michael Oher filed a lawsuit claiming they lied about adopting him and made millions from the story. The attorney for the couple says the false allegations are outlandish and hurtful and absurd, adding that the Tuohys offered him, quote, "structure support, and most of all unconditional love".

The attorney also says they've always been upfront about a conservatorship and they would never oppose canceling it. Oher claims the couple saw him as, quote, a gullible young man whose athletic talent could be exploited for their own benefit. He wants the conservatorship to end and an accounting of the money earned from his name.

As you know, a fictionalized version of his story was the focus of the hit movie, "The Blind Side", and a book by the same name.

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