Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Haley Holds South Carolina Rally As She Vows To Stay In GOP Race; Haley Claims Trump "Should Feel Threatened Without A Doubt"; Biden, Trump Pivoting To General Election Fight After New Hampshire Results; Biden's Top White House Advisers Will Move To Campaign; House Ethics Committee Contacts DOJ And The Woman With Whom Matt Gaetz Allegedly Had Sexual Relations With When She Was 17; Trump Civil Defamation Trial To Resume On Thursday; Russia Accuses Ukraine Of Shooting Down Military Plane, Killing All 74 On Board; Greta Gerwig, Margot Robbie Overlooked For Best Director, Best Actress Oscar Nominations For Barbie; Mama Shu On Turning Loss Into Love In New Podcast Episode. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 24, 2024 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And she says the salt works to make the tea less bitter. Now, this is now a piping hot controversy across the pond. Just listen to how they're talking about it on British TV.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the fact is she's an American making a cup of tea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which, by definition, means she's not an expert.


BURNETT: Wow, the biggest brew-haha between Brits and Americans over tea since, well, you know. Well, the US Embassy in London read the tea leaves and issued an official response, selling out the American professor, saying in a statement, quote, we want to ensure the good people of the UK that the unthinkable notion of adding salt to Britain's national drink is not official United States policy.

Well, thanks for joining us. Anderson starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on "360," Nikki Haley answer moments ago to Republicans, including the former president, pressuring her to drop out of the race after her defeat last night in New Hampshire.

Also, tonight, President Biden's prediction he'll be facing Donald Trump in November, and what the New Hampshire results suggest about the former president's strong and weak points.

And later, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, an exclusively reporting that the House Ethics Committee has reached out to the woman he allegedly had sex with when she was a minor. Good evening, thanks for joining us. We begin tonight with Nikki Haley

speaking for the first time since losing New Hampshire with the case she is now making for staying in the race, at least through her home state primary in South Carolina a month from now. We'll have that for you shortly.

Governor Haley is speaking tonight in the wake of her second-place finish in New Hampshire, or a crushing defeat, as the former president put it last night in social media, where he's also referring to his former UN ambassador as Nikki Birdbrain Haley, which is certainly of a piece with his victory speech last night complete with a fashion critique.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And when I watched her in the fancy dress that probably wasn't so fancy, come up, I said, what's she doing? We won. And she did the same thing last week, but he was much more angry about it than I was.


COOPER: The former president also trotted out a tactic he's used before, won his mentor, the disgraced Attorney Roy Cohn, perfect it, baseless innuendo. While railing against the people prosecuting him, he suggested without any evidence at all that Nikki Haley has something to hide from them.


TRUMP: These are very dishonest people, and you're always fighting them. And just a little note to Nikki, she's not going to win, she's not going to -- but if she did, she would be under investigation by those people in 15 minutes. And I could tell you five reasons why already, not big reasons, a little stuff that she doesn't want to talk about, but she will be under investigation within minutes.


COOPER: So again, offers no evidence, which is par for the course. That's how he treats his enemy. It's also how he treats his friend. Consider the public humiliation he dumped on South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who was smiling behind him, who certainly never attacked Trump when he was running and just endorsed Trump over Nikki Haley, who appointed him to a Senate seat when she was governor. Last night, the former president twisted the knife into Senator Scott just because he can.


TRUMP: Did you ever think that she actually appointed you, Tim? And think of it, appointed, and you're the senator of his state, and she endorsed me. You must really hate her.


No, it's a shame. It's a shame. Uh-oh.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I just love you.


COOPER: Humiliation, that is the price of admission for Senator Scott, who is quite clearly auditioning to be VP pick for the former president.

Joining us now, Haley Supporter and former South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson. Katon, thanks for being with us. I know you support Ambassador Haley's decision to stay in the race. What evidence are you seeing, or do you see any, that she's poised to somehow slow the former president's momentum in South Carolina?

KATON DAWSON, FORMER CHAIRMAN, SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN PARTY: Anderson, a couple of facts and figures, and again, thank you for having me back on. You know how much I admire your show and your professionalism and journalism here. But let's give some numbers here.

We have 62 delegates that have been picked out of 2,367. Okay? Sixty- two, that's all we've got. I don't think Republican Party would be helping itself by saying we've had 420,000 people vote. We're going to go ahead and coronate Donald Trump as our president.

He's not an incumbent president that is due to the fact that you don't have to do these primaries. He lost. He also lost in 2018, 2020, and 2022. So he's got a record of losing.

Nikki's path is -- this thing has just started. We just got rid of the dirty dozen or so that were running. We needed to have a race where it was Nikki Haley and Donald Trump so we can possibly get him into a debate, which he's not going to do, Anderson, but he should. The Republican Party is going to do nothing to force him into a debate, but they should.

So now we've had about five days where we've got a one-on-one race, pretty close. New Hampshire has 10 counties and 1,400,000. South Carolina has 46 counties and 5,300,000. So we've also increased, Anderson, 400,000 people since 2017 that are pretty solid Republicans.


We've got 32 days and a lot to talk about. Nikki Haley doesn't think Vladimir Putin does beautiful letters or the dictator in North Korea is a good guy. So we've got a lot of work to do, but we're really excited to have him back on our home turf, Anderson.

COOPER: So I know you're ...

DAWSON: South Carolina (inaudible).

COOPER: ... I know you're bothered by comments that the former president made about Ambassador Haley last night, criticizing her dress of all things, basically implying she -- you know, if she were to win, she'd be under investigation. Do you think those remarks rally people in South Carolina to her?

DAWSON: I thought the continued yes, and I thought those were cheap shots and inappropriate. And he enjoyed humiliating Senator Scott. He enjoys humiliating Senator Lindsey Graham. He enjoys this to make himself look bigger, stronger, and better, along with that bleached hair and that orange skin he's got. We're going to do the same thing back. We're going to critique him as he comes to South Carolina, because this is going to be a contest.

And, Anderson, you have been here before. This is going to be -- we're going to test his medal, and we're going to see exactly how it is. He has not won South Carolina yet.

COOPER: Ambassador Haley just said something similar to what you said about delegates moments ago. I just want to play that for our audience.


NIKKI HALEY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, the political elites in the state and around the country have said that we just need to let Donald Trump have this.


Listen, we've only had two states that have voted. We got 48 more that deserve to vote.


A presidential candidate has to get 1,215 delegates. Donald Trump has 32, and I have 17.



COOPER: Does she have, I mean, the money to keep going effectively in South Carolina? I mean, the list of politicians in your state who are lined up against her, I mean, Tim Scott, the Governor Henry McMaster, you know, both senators.

DAWSON: Anderson, you just -- all of my friends, these are all of my friends, everybody I did business with, everybody I helped to live with. I just happened to be with Nikki Haley.

Nikki's never been the couch-hound to the political class. She has always looked out for the taxpayer. So I don't expect a lot of politicians to fall in line like they have with Donald Trump that are looking for something or looking for favors or whatever.

But at the end of the day, Nikki's going to look out after the taxpayer. South Carolinians are going to be reminded of that. And again, we've got -- we have the money, Anderson, because Nikki has done the work. And we've outlasted, outraised, and we have built a campaign that has

made the last. We don't throw our money away. Nikki works hard, and we got a chance. I mean, you know, there's three people in this race -- Joe Biden, Nikki Haley, and Donald Trump. One of those three is going to be present.

COOPER: Ken Dawson, I appreciate it, as always. Thank you.

DAWSON: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: I want to bring in three CNN political commentators, Scott Jennings, who served as special assistant to President George W. Bush, Jamal Simmons, former deputy assistant to President Biden, former Trump White House communications director, Alyssa Farah Griffin.

Obviously, he's going to be optimistic. What do you make of her chances?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, it's a steep road ahead for Nikki Haley. But I want to say this, she has the most political talent of all 14 candidates who are running in the GOP primary, originally including Donald Trump. This is a woman who's a two-term governor, a former UN ambassador. News come up from behind before.

The problem is the RNC put their finger on the scale before any candidate was declared in favor of Donald Trump. The Nevada primary is rigged in his favor. The Super Tuesday states are winner-take-all, meaning even if she comes in striking distance, Donald Trump's going to get her delegates.

It's hard. Nikki Haley's a fundraising juggernaut. She can get enough money to sustain herself through South Carolina.

But here's the problem. This is Donald Trump's Republican Party. She could spend $100 million on the airwaves in South Carolina, and it will marginally move the needle against Donald Trump. It's just a different animal than when she first got into politics.

COOPER: Scott, I mean, does she know any -- does she have a better idea now how to beat Donald Trump than she did 24 hours ago, 48 hours ago?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't see how. I mean, what we learned in New Hampshire is that there aren't that many persuadable Republicans. I mean, if you look at the splits inside the exit polls, Republicans have largely made up their mind.


Now, she did bring out some unaffiliated, some independence people who really don't like Donald Trump. Those populations probably don't exist in the same way that they exist in New Hampshire and other states.

You know, Alyssa, you brought up the number $100 million. That's about how much her SuperPAC spent already, and she's finished third and second.

At the end of the day, it'll be Republicans that decide who the nominee is. And although I fully admit, she is saying things that are objectively true, she's making politically strategic smart statements that I'm sure a lot of people in the country agree with, but the people who vote in Republican primaries have made up their mind on their guy. And it's Donald Trump right now, and I fail to see what argument could be formulated now that hasn't already been thought of.

COOPER: Jamal, I want to play just something else Nikki Haley just said about Donald Trump.


HALEY: Bring it, Donald. Show me what you got. I voted for Donald Trump twice. I was proud to serve America in his administration. I agree with a lot of his policies. But rightly or wrongly, chaos follows him. And you all know I'm right, chaos follows him.


And we can't have a country in disarray and a world on fire and go through four more years of chaos. We won't survive it.


You don't defeat Democrat chaos with Republican chaos.


COOPER: What do you make of her chances?

JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: She's absolutely right. Chaos does follow Donald Trump.

Listen, I think if you're Nikki Haley, stay in the race. Why get out, right? Four years ago, she's bashing the person you don't want to have. Yes, sure, I'm happy for them. Let that go on.

But four years ago, Joe Biden ran for president. He got beaten in Iowa and in New Hampshire by Bernie Sanders. He came back in one South Carolina and the rest is political history.

If you're her, why get out before you get to South Carolina? Let's mix it up, see what happens. The trick is, can she raise enough money? Can she keep making the arguments? And can she hold everything together to see if something happens?

We've seen a lot of things happen in the last eight years that people thought would never happen, including Donald Trump getting elected president the first time, somebody with 91 counts running this time. Even Joe Biden winning last time, he had run for president twice before and didn't work out. So we keep seeing things that are happening that we didn't expect.

If I'm Nikki Haley, stay in the race. It's like the lottery. You got to be in it to win it.

COOPER: You know, there was a -- Gary Tuchman last night did a focus group with voters in South Carolina. And two people both mentioned something that Nikki Haley had said last night in her speech about the ages of President Biden and Donald Trump. Do you think that was a mistake of her?

GRIFFIN: No, I think she has to address it. It's both of their greatest vulnerability. Erin Burnett pointed out last night that Bill Clinton's been out of office for more than 20 years, and he's still younger than Donald Trump and Joe Biden. When the biggest voting blocks are Gen Z and millennials, people feel disenfranchised by what we're looking at as the two options for president.

But I just want to note one thing, because I feel like the untold story of last night was, yes, Trump won, it was a bad night for Donald Trump. He underperformed his margins of 2016, and he showed that he is radioactive in a general election. He is bleeding moderates and he is bleeding independence.

So to Jamal's point, we live in an unpredictable environment. I think this time, four years ago, COVID was just coming to the country. We don't know what the next year is going to look like. So there's some wisdom to let things play out and see where they go.

COOPER: Let's stick around. A lot more to talk about. Coming up next what a likely Biden-Trump matchup might look like. And what, if anything, the voting last night has to say about where the former president might face difficulties. John King is going to join us for that at the magic wall.

And later Congressman Matt Gaetz, a new indication of the House Ethics Committee is expanding its investigation of him to include sex crimes allegations that he's facing.



COOPER: President Biden picked up a key endorsement today from the United Auto Workers Union. Another sign his campaign is shifting toward the general election. As for who he thinks he's going to face in November, he left no room for doubt in the statement he made last night as the results in New Hampshire came in right up front in the very first line. He says it is now clear that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee.

If, in fact, that comes to pass, the question is what will a Biden- Trump race look like? There's some new information gleaned from the Iowa and New Hampshire results that may show how it could look different from their last match-upstream.

So John King is at the magic wall where he's been for the last 28 hours or so. We're only two states into the nominating process, although Trump and Biden are looking towards the general. Obviously, where do things stand today? JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Right, and things stand, obviously, Governor

Haley is still in the race. We should respect that. We'll see where it goes.

But even if she were the nominee, this is where we ended the last campaign -- 306 to 302. Joe Biden wins. Since the census, they reallocate some electoral votes. If they had that same outcome today, state by state, it would be 303 to 235. But this is the state of play where we start, what could be the longest, forgive me -- let me remove that one off -- the longest general election in our history, too long for most Americans. Forgive me while I stretch this out.

If you look at the polling, Governor Haley is right when she says she's a stronger candidate against Joe Biden right now. She's absolutely right. But Donald Trump and Joe Biden run about tie. No clear leader, slight Trump advantage there, but that's a no clear leader poll.

The problem is Republican voters aren't listening to her because they think he can still win. And, Anderson, here's where we are. If you look at the polling in the states, you talk to smart people in these states, this was the map two years ago. There -- most people would tell you Democrats might argue publicly, not privately, that -- and that are almost definite across the Sun Belt states, Trump would win. And yes, that auto workers endorsement might help.

But I was in Michigan just a couple of weeks ago. Young voters are mad at the president. Arab-American voters, a lot of them in Michigan, they are furious. So for now, do that.

If it were tomorrow and it's not, Trump would win. I don't think there's any question about that.

COOPER: There's a management shakeup at the Biden campaign. What vulnerabilities might they be focused on trying to fail?

KING: This is the challenge. Think of your house. Biden right now, when you look at his coalition and his issues, he's got a leaky roof. The foundation is cracked. He's got a lot of things to work on.

Let's start with the issues. Number one, again, forgive me for stressing this out. His overall approval rating, this is a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll, 33%. Our CNN poll of polls, it's a little higher, about 36%. That's still historically low for an incumbent president at this time in the election year.


Look at this number. Only 31% of Americans approve of the job he's doing on the economy -- seven in 10. That means a lot of Democrats and independents disapprove. And that is the lowest number ABC says it's ever had on this question. How's the president doing on immigration? 18%.

So on the issues, the president has a ton of repair work to do. And I call this, Anderson, the Umbrella issue. It's hard to convince people, I'm doing a good job on the economy. I'm doing a good job on immigration. I'm doing a good job overall if they don't think you're up to the job.

Look at this number. Who's in good enough physical health to serve? Only 28% of Americans think the incumbent president of the United States is in good enough physical health to serve. So to get people to say, maybe I'll think again on the economy, on immigration, the president has to get them to think again on that.

COOPER: So, obviously, Trump has dominated the Republican race so far. In all the early contest numbers, what does it show? Is there any sort of interesting information there?

KING: We are seeing Trump's strengths with the Republican base. We are also seeing in these very same results some of Trump's weaknesses. And they are big weaknesses heading into the general election.

Let's look at one. This is the exit poll from last night in New Hampshire. About 44% of the electorate were independents. Nikki Haley got six in 10 of the votes. Donald Trump 39% of the votes.

Now, again, it's New Hampshire. People will say, well, it's a particularly, you know, peculiar election just to that state still. Fifty-eight percent of independents going to Nikki Haley. That's good news for Joe Biden in November. A lot of independents in these states that are close to 50-50 don't want Donald Trump without a doubt.

Here's another one we saw. And again, factor in, yes, it's New Hampshire, but follow me as we go through here. Is he fit to be president if he's convicted of a crime? This is among people voting in a Republican primary last night. Forty-two percent said no.

Now, again, this roughly matches the Trump-Haley horse race. So it's easy to say these were Haley voters. They're in the fight last night, so they said no. It's probably right to a degree.

Let's assume that number even comes down, though. If it's 5% or 10% of Republicans in a state like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, that's a liability for the president of the United States. If he is convicted, there's evidence, we're seeing it, that even some Republicans would walk away.

COOPER: John, come then and sit with the panel. We'll release you from the wall. While John comes over here. Is -- I mean, in a normal campaign with a normal candidate or a non-Trump candidate, I assume we have somebody who had the lead that Trump has, you would counsel him, don't even pay attention to Nikki Haley. That's probably not possible for Donald Trump.

SIMMONS: Well, he made a mistake last night. He could have walked out there and just said, this race is over. I appreciate all my opponents. I appreciate Ambassador Haley. All Republicans are welcome to join. Let's go beat Joe Biden.

And he just couldn't do it. I mean, I think the Haley people went out and spoke early to try to bait him into that reaction. And he took the bait. And so now we're going to fight it out, you know, where he's going to fight it out for another month. And it was a strategic mistake.

Now, it might not have coaxed her out of the race. But if you're thinking about what John just showed us and all the possibilities that exist for him to change this map and win this election, you know, complaining about Nikki Haley's dress, it's not on the top concern of issues that the American people are worried about right now.

GRIFFIN: Well, certainly the case. I mean, Donald Trump is a deeply undisciplined character. And despite, as we've all mentioned, he does have a professional operation, the most professional, I would argue, that he's ever had, he's going to get in his own way.

And Nikki Haley is clearly staying in this. The words that she spoke tonight, that is not somebody who's like, you know what, I might drop out and be his vice president. That's not what she's looking to do. She's going to stay in the race and she's going to put a hammer to him and really actually come after in a way that she kind of failed to in the final stretch of her campaign.

You're going to see him react to that. He's incapable of not. And that's what the 32 percent of Republicans who said they can't vote for him in a general election, that's the reason they can.

COOPER: Jamal, do you think the argument that Haley makes, which is in a general in these polls, I beat Biden, does that resonate?

SIMMONS: In normal times, it would before times, right, before Donald Trump, those kinds of things would work. In the before times, you would also probably see Donald Trump say, oh, this is my obvious vice president, right? I get all the Republicans. She gets so many of the modest independence. Together, we're peanut butter and chocolate, right? We can make this thing work.

But that's not what the world that we live in now. I think Donald Trump is probably looking more than anything else for somebody who's going to be loyal to him and not do what Mike Pence did. And he can't possibly trust Nikki Haley to stand up for him that way.

COOPER: What do you think, John, a campaign looks like between Trump and Biden, if that's who it ends up being? I mean, the last time COVID sort of was the specter that dominated how the campaign was waged.

KING: And so, you make a key point there. Joe Biden won the presidency because of the moment, right? The American people said, ingest bleach? No, we need an adult. We need an adult, so he had lost the first three Democratic contests, and then suddenly he was revived because of that moment in the country.

Can he -- is there another moment? Is there something that happens between now and the election where people say we need Joe Biden that adult again? Maybe, but Trump is a movement. Trump is still a movement, you know, Nikki Haley is trying to pull him back to the old Republican Party. That party's dead.


If you want to beat Trump as a Republican, you got to show them the new Republican, a better, a forward-looking, ahead of him Republican Party that takes some of his issues and gets rid of the drama. That's dead. That's the challenge for Biden is that this may be a more traditional campaign. You don't have a pandemic. You don't have Trump with the incumbent, too.

So do you like your car? Do you want a new car? Right now, people don't like their car. And enough people are so disaffected and disillusioned with politics. Even those who don't like the Trump drama think, I'm not getting anything from the traditional politicians. So he'll at least close the border or he'll at least do something on the economy.

Democrats get mad about that. They think, well, you know, the economy collapsed in COVID under Trump. That's how voters think. Voters vote their experience, not what the experts tell them or they think what the elites tell them.

So I think that is the challenge for Biden. Number one, he must -- if he's going to get in a position to win, he must spend the next couple of months repairing all the cracks in his base. There are many of them.

There's plenty of time to do it. And to his credit, Joe Biden has been declared dead before. And the same people who say a lot, their argument in the White House is the same people saying, I can't win now. The people who said I was done after Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada last time.

To a degree, that's true. But he's the incumbent now, and the issues, terrain and the health, the age thing, I don't like to make it about age. It's about vitality.

Well, I've been traveling, black voters in Milwaukee, Democratic voters in Nevada, they want to see him. They want him to be active. They want him to come take your lumps, Mr. President. Let us talk to you because we like you. We respect you. We're so grateful you kicked Donald Trump out of the White House. That's what they tell you, but where are you?

JENNINGS: And how confident would the campaign be putting him on the road for seven or eight events a day? I would suspect not very.

SIMMONS: Well, you know, in this environment, you don't really have to do that anymore. And I think what we're starting to see is the president do things that are a little bit more interesting. We talked to the White House. What they'll tell you is expect to see him doing things that are more evocative images, one-on-one, or him with small groups. He just went to a family's house, right? And he talked to a gentleman who had had his student loans forgiven.

That gentleman's kids put out a TikTok video that's been viral all over kind of the Democratic web, right? So they're figuring out how to talk to people in this new media way that I think is going to be incredibly important.

COOPER: All right. Everybody, thanks. Just ahead, a CNN exclusive on the House of Ethics Committee Investigation, Congressman Matt Gaetz, a new development about who they are hoping to talk to regarding the allegations of sex crimes.

Also, the former president expected to be back in New York courtroom tomorrow. The question is, will he testify in the second defamation trial involving author E. Jean Carroll? And what could he actually say after already being found guilty of sexually abusing her by a civil court jury last year?



COOPER: In a CNN Exclusive resource familiar with the House Ethics Committee investigation into allegations of sex crimes against Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz suggest that probe may now be heating up. You may recall, an investigation that ended with no charges against Gaetz, plus after the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, McCarthy said Gaetz was angry with him because of the Ethics Committee probe.

Joined now by CNN Legal Analyst and former Federal Prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers and by our Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid who helped break this story. So, what more have you learned about the -- what the Ethics Committee is doing?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So, I've learned that the Ethics Committee has done a new round of outreach, and they have reached out to this woman who was just 17 when she allegedly had sex with Congressman Gaetz. They have also reached out to the Justice Department, seeking materials from its years' long investigation into the Congressman.

Now, the investigation into the Congressman actually began under Trump appointed Attorney General Bill Barr. It went on for several years, expanding beyond the allegations of just sex with this underage girl, to also look at possible sex trafficking, possible lobbying violations, as well as obstruction of justice. But last year, we broke the news that he would not be charged. They did not pursue charges. And in response to the fact that the Ethics Committee is looking into what DOJ did as well as reaching out to this woman, the Congressman told us, "Those allegations were not true, have not been true, and the people who spread the lies have been exposed, indicted and imprisoned."

COOPER: And Jennifer, does the DOJ have to comply with the Committee's request for documents?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They do not and they probably will not because nothing was ever charged here. So, materials that are gathered as part of a criminal investigation are deemed confidential. So, I would be surprised if they give them really anything worthwhile. They can do their own investigation, they can go out and interview witnesses as apparently they are trying to do, collect documents via subpoena and all of that but they won't get what DOJ has.

COOPER: They wouldn't turnover even though it's Congress asking them, a Committee in Congress asking?

RODGERS: Likely not. I mean, if they had charged something and these materials had become public. But they are careful with materials that don't make their way into the public realm because if you don't charge, then it's deemed that it wasn't worthy of charging. So you don't want to smear people's names by turning over evidence.

COOPER: So the Committee now, I mean it's controlled by Republicans. It started under the House Democrats though, didn't it?

REID: Yeah, exactly. It started in 2021. But then when the Justice Department investigation became public, they decided to yield to the federal probe. But then when the federal investigation wrapped up last year without any charges, this was revived. And Gaetz has told people, he blamed then House Speaker Kevin McCarthy for allowing the ethics probe to be resuscitated.

And McCarthy has said that he thinks Gaetz's frustration over this ethics probe is why he led the push, right, to get McCarthy out of the speakership. But you see, even in a post-Speaker McCarthy world, this investigation not only continues, but it appears to be ramping up.

COOPER: I want to ask about the E. Jean Carroll civil defamation trial in New York. The former president is going to be back -- expected to be back in court tomorrow. Is he going to actually testify?

REID: That's a great question. So, my sources tell me that he is still expected to testify. But Anderson, we have seen this before, right? Where they get right up to (ph) last minute and then for one reason or another, he decides not to. But what we have seen so far in this case is he and his legal team, they have been trying to use it to amplify this idea that he is the victim of an unfair system.

And the way they have done that here is sort of manufactured drama over not following the rules of federal court. I mean here, if does testify, there are parameters that he has to say within. His value as a witness in a damages case pretty narrow here. But it is not expected that he would stand within these parameters. The judge would have to try to keep him, right, in line. That's going to set off controversy and that -- that is the goal. They want to get into it with the judge.

COOPER: I mean, Jennifer, is there any reason why he wouldn't get up and start to say things which he -- deny he ever did this, which the judge has already said he can't say, just to get into that? I mean is there any penalty for him?

RODGERS: There could be. Sure, the judge could sanction him. The judge could basically stop his testimony, presumably embarrassing him in front of the jury. He could do a whole series of things

COOPER: But, that would wouldn't embarrass him in the -- I mean the jury cares about, which is the public opinion.


RODGERS: That's right. But if he behaves badly, especially if he is abusive to the judge in front of the jury, juries don't like that. They really like the judge. They kind of follow the judge's instructions as the person who takes care of them. So when you are mean to the judge, juries don't like that. You could end up with a higher damages amount, particularly punitive damages which are meant to punish if he behaves that way.

COOPER: What's the schedule here? How much longer do you probably think this goes on?

REID: Sort of expect (ph) maybe about two days. The reason I say that is E. Jean Carroll, they have to wrap up their case. Trump, if he testifies, would be one of maybe two witnesses. Then you have closing statements, you have jury instructions and then deliberations. If you remember, the trial back in the spring, it was more complicated because they were considering allegations of sexual abuse, defamation and damages.

COOPER: This is just about damages.

REID: Exactly. This is just about damages. Back in the spring, it only took them a few hours. I remember sprinting several blocks to get there to the camera for that verdict. So here, it shouldn't take them that long because this time, they are just focused on damages. So, I wouldn't expect this to go beyond just a few days. But we also have this lingering question of what delayed this? How is that juror doing? Does anyone have COVID? But I would expect this should wrapped up by early next week at the latest.

COOPER: All right. Paula Reid, Jennifer Rodgers, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

Still ahead, what's up with the Oscar and Barbie? Margot Robbie overlooked for "Best Actress;" Greta Gerwig shut out in the "Best Director" category. Ken gets nominated, actor Ryan Gosling is speaking out ahead.



COOPER: Take a look at video taken inside Russia today of a military cargo plane crashing in a region bordering Ukraine. Now, not much is known for certain about who or what was on board when the plane went down. Russia says about 74 people were on board, mostly they claim Ukrainian POWs. Ukraine denies that claim and it has also stopped short of acknowledging that it fired on the plane. Matthew Chance has more.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the moment the Russian military transporter plunged from the skies. An eyewitness gasps as a huge orange fireball bellows from the ground. Russian says the aircraft was shot down. And while Ukraine hasn't confirmed it, this Russian border region is an active war zone.

I was clearing the snow when suddenly there was a loud bang says this Russian eyewitness on local TV. There was an explosion in the sky, he says, and I got scared.

Across the frozen crash site near the Russian city of Belgorod, twisted metal debris strewn across a wide area (inaudible) with human remains. Ukraine says the plane had a cargo of missiles heading to the frontlines. But Russia insists the aircraft was carrying 65 captive Ukrainian soldiers on route to a prisoner exchange. CNN can't independently verify either claim.

I feel pity for everyone says this Russian woman who saw the plane go down. My own grandson is fighting in our special military operation, she says. And all of those on board probably had people waiting for them too.

In recent weeks, Ukraine has been stepping up attacks across the Russian frontier. Hitting an oil terminal near St. Petersburg with a drone strike last week. And earlier, taking out a strategic Russian long-range radar detection aircraft flying near the border. In the Russian controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, local officials say at least 25 people were killed last weekend in a Ukrainian bombardment.

Meanwhile, on Russian state television, commentators have condemned the latest shoot down, saying it was Ukrainians killing their own.

This was yet another premeditated criminal act which does not surprise us, says this former Russian general. It's now routine behavior, he says, by the Kyiv regime. But Kyiv says if Ukrainian prisoners of war were on board, ahead of an exchange as Moscow claims, they were not informed, and that Russia may have deliberately put their lives in danger.


COOPER: And our Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Matthew Chance joins us now. So, what are Russian officials saying tonight about the crash?

CHANCE (on camera): Well, Anderson, Russia is clearly trying to use this incident as a way of painting Ukraine as the aggressor, even though of course, it's Russia that staked (ph) that full-scale invasion of Ukraine about two years ago. One Russian official describing it as a barbaric act, the shoot down of this aircraft as Russia characterizes it. The Russian foreign minister speaking in New York at the U.N. earlier going further, saying it was a terrorist act.

But, I mean the truth is, over the past couple of weeks, as I mentioned in that report, there's been a big upsurge in cross-border strikes by Ukrainian forces inside Russian territory. And even though Ukraine hasn't formerly said that it did this, it does seem like the latest iteration of that strategy.

COOPER: And what is President Zelenskyy saying? CHANCE (on camera): Well, I mean he is in a difficult position because originally, Ukrainian intelligence was saying that this was an aircraft that was carrying munitions, missiles to the frontline. In which case, it would have been a high-profile target and of course, a legitimate target. And they have not quite clawed back on that, but they have said they are looking into the possibility or looking into the whereabouts of the prisoners of war that were meant to be swapped later on in that prisoner exchange and they've called for a full international investigation to find out exactly what cargo, was it human, was it weapons, on board that Ilyushin 76 plane that was -- that crashed near Belgorod in Russian territory, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Matthew Chance, thank you. We will be right back.



COOPER: So "Barbie" has eight Oscar nominations though there is outrage that the film's director Greta Gerwig got snubbed in the "Best Director" category. Also Margot Robbie, Barbie, for "Best Actress." Now, a full disclosure. The movie was distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, part of CNN's parent company. All of this is leading to backlash online as well as from fellow star. America Ferrara, also Ryan Gosling who played Ken, they both got nominations.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Gosling wrote in part, "There is no Ken without Barbie and there is no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie, the two people most responsible for this history-making, globally celebrated film." He added, "To say that I'm disappointed they were not nominated in their respective categories would be an understatement." Joining me with more is CNN Media Analyst Sara Fischer and also Senior Data Reporter Harry Enten.

So, I mean, Sara, it does seem like a bad look for the academy.

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: A really bad look, Anderson. I mean, you will recall, a few years ago, they had an issue with Oscar is so white, them not considering diversity enough.


FISCHER: They brought in a lot of new people to make sure that it would be more diverse and then this snub

COOPER: But also, Greta Gerwig, the director, I mean it was her -- that was her whole vision.

FISCHER: The whole point of the Barbie movie to get rid of the patriarchy. You know how many women are in the "Best Director" category this year? One. It's like the whole vision of the movie is being realized with this snub.

COOPER: And Harry, I know you looked at the numbers. Did they get robbed? HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yeah. Look, in my soul, I believe they got robbed. If you look at the mathematical models, and yes, there are those that try and predict who is going to get nominated and then ultimately win the Oscar. It's interesting enough, put together by someone who is an assistant general manager for the New York Mets. But if you look at them, what you saw was both had a majority chance of getting nominated, right around 75 percent for both "Best Director" and "Best Actress". Of course, 73 percent and 74 percent are not 100 percent. So I'm surprised but I'm not shocked.

COOPER: What about, I mean, the history of women nominated for "Best Director" award? That's been called out time and time again.

ENTEN: Yeah. I mean it's pathetic. It's pathetic, Anderson. I mean that's the only word, right? It's only nine out of 240 times since 1976 -- I say 1976, because before then, there were no women who were nominated for "Best Director." And this I think also goes to the fact that there are a lot of opportunities that have been bypassed for women. That is, they haven't in fact been put up to be directors for a lot of these films. And I think that speaks to a larger problem within the industry where women aren't afforded the opportunities to be directors on these big films. And then the time they actually do

FISCHER: They are snubbed.


ENTEN: They are snubbed.


COOPER: So Sara, the voting -- when does the voting actually take place?

FISCHER: So that's what I'm really excited about. So, the nominations occurred throughout January. And now, there's four weeks between then and the voting which will happen February 22nd. And so what I'm curious to see is whether or not all of this outrage actually impacts the way that they go and vote. Because remember, both Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig have nominations in other categories, including "Best Picture." And so, I wonder if they watch and absorb all of this frustration and that changes the way that they vote in the end.

COOPER: And I know secretary of -- former Senator, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she put out a statement. She said, Greta and Margot, while it can sting to win the Box Office but not take home the gold, your millions of fans love you. You are both so much more than Kenough.

FISCHER: Yes. They are Kenough. I mean, at the end of the day though, the big thing that I think wants to know is how does this impact viewership of the Oscars. People want to watch the Oscars because they want to see their favorite people be redeemed. And so, I think that this is actually going to boost viewership because they are going to want to see whether or not Greta and Barbie -- Margot Robbie say anything when they do awards acceptance speeches for other categories. ENTEN: Yeah. And I know, if you look at the trend line in terms of people who are watching the Oscars, it's been going down, down, down. We saw a little bit of rebound over the last few years coming out of COVID, but this isn't like the NFL, right, where we have see these record ratings, 50 million people watching on Sunday. This has been an awards show that a lot of people haven't been tuning in to. Maybe if something or a (ph) controversy is actually able to boost the viewership, and in that way, I think the Oscars might welcome that.

COOPER: What are the chances of it winning "Best Picture"?

ENTEN: Yeah. So this I think is the other thing to keep in mind that is so important when looking at the Oscars generally speaking. That is, look, "Barbie" was a film that was fairly well reviewed but wasn't the critics' choice necessarily. And this is something that we know when we are looking at "Best Pictures" in years past. Especially more recently, you might think, OK, if a film does really well at the Box Office, right, Barbie, number one domestic Box Office, you would think, OK, that's going to be the film that does best at the Oscars.

That used to be the case, right? We used to see this real sort of correlation between the films that did best at the Box Office and those that did best at the Oscars. But what we see is that, that trend from 1980 to 2008, it was 11th -- 11th in the domestic -- I know, this is confusing.

COOPER: I don't know what you are saying.


ENTEN: OK. (inaudible).

COOPER: I'm totally know what you are saying (ph).

FISCHER: They don't like comedies, Anderson. They are so biased towards dramas

ENTEN: Thank you.

FISCHER: And the things that are so formal that comedies tend to get snubbed by the academy.

COOPER: See, why didn't you say like that?

ENTEN: Hold on. Hold on. Comedies do get snubbed, that's true. And that's I think part of the reason why Robbie had such issues. But it's also the case that they don't like films that necessarily do well, that is the films that have been winning the Oscars most recently are not necessarily the films that have done well in the domestic Box Office. That is, the critics are moving away from -- you are giving me this look. You are giving me this look like you are falling asleep.

COOPER: I'm about to pass out.

ENTEN: You are about to pass out. But what I'm trying to say here is essentially, the critics are disagreeing with what the audiences are saying.

FISCHER: That's true.

COOPER: All right.

ENTEN: (Inaudible) Thank you.

COOPER: I'm glad we can end on that (inaudible).


FISCHER: (Inaudible).

COOPER: All right. Thank you. We'll be right back.



COOPER: A new episode of my podcast about grief, "All There Is" came out today. You can point your camera at the QR Code that's on the screen right now and a link will appear on your phone that you can click to download it. In this latest episode, I talk with a remarkable woman named Shamayim Harris. She is also known as Mama Shu. She has lost two of her four children. Three years ago, her 23-year-old son Chinyelu, who was working as a security guard, was shot to death. And in 2007, her two-year-old son Jakobi Ra was killed in a hit and run.

What is remarkable about Mama Shu, one of the many things, is that she has turned her loss into love and as she says, her grief into glory. She has dedicated her life to transforming a rundown street in Highland Park, Michigan into a vibrant community called Avalon Village. She was one of CNN's top-ten heroes of 2023. And I spoke with her on the podcast about how even though her sons are gone, she still has a relationship with them. She still is their mom.


SHAMAYIM HARRIS, FOUNDER AND CEO, AVALON VILLAGE: I had to understand and detach from the physicalness of them, you know, to learn that peace. And know that I can still deal with those boys on a higher level and that's what I do right now. So, I know that they are gone. I know that they are dead. I know that they're not here. I know that they are ancestors. But I also know that they are still here because they are part of me and I'm still able to work with those boys. And I do. And I feel them. I know when they are around.