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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Blinken Echoes Warning That US Will Respond To Drone Attack; Interview With Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA); Senate Finalizing Border Deal That Trump Aims To Kill; Judge Denies Murdaugh's Request For A New Trial; Murdaugh Attorneys Look To Court Of Appeals As Next Step After Judge Denies Request For A New Trial; New Book Goes Inside Prosecution Of Georgia Election Interference Case; King Charles, Princess Of Wales Discharged From Hospital; Photos May Be First-Ever Sighting Of Live Newborn Great White. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 29, 2024 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Is this Amelia Earhart's long lost plane? So if you look at your screen, you're seeing what an exploratory team from South Carolina believes is the plane Earhart was flying when she went missing over the Pacific Ocean in 1937.
The discovery was made after a high tech unmanned underwater drone surveyed more than 5,200 square miles of the ocean floor. The former US Air Force intelligence officer who funded the $11 million search, telling "The Wall Street Journal" the aircraft shaped object was found less than a hundred miles from Howland Island, which of course is where Earhart was supposed to stop and refuel.
Thanks so much for joining us. AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, as the president weighs retaliation for a deadly drone attack on American troops in Jordan, a closer look at the steps he could take against whom and the risks he could run of deepening what's already a regional conflict.
Also tonight, he calls it an invasion, so why does the former president now say explicitly that Congress should not do anything about the border. We are keeping them honest.
Plus, convicted killer, Alex Murdaugh in court asking for a retrial. What a judge made of his evidence.
We begin tonight with the Biden administration promising a serious response to this weekend's drone attack in Jordan, which killed three American soldiers and wounded more than 40 others.
This afternoon, the Pentagon identified the fallen soldiers: Sergeant William Rivers, 46 years old; 24-year-old Specialist Kennedy Sanders; and specialist Breonna Moffett who was 23.
US officials said the drone that killed them may have come in just behind an American drone that was landing in the American outpost at the time. As for who is responsible, it is still unclear. Here is what a Pentagon spokesman said about possible Iranian involvement earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SABRINA SINGH, DEPUTY PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: I don't have more to share on terms of an intelligence assessment on if leaders in Iran were directing this attack, but what I can tell you is that we know these groups are supported by Iran, and therefore they do have their fingerprints on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: CNN's Clarissa Ward starts us off reporting tonight from Tel Aviv.
Clarissa, I want to show on screen how many nations and terror groups are involved in the Mideast conflict. In fact, Secretary of State Blinken said today, the region is as dangerous as it's ever been since 1973. What's been the reaction to the drone attack from US allies and adversaries.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So it's been a mixed bag. I think the most significant thing is that Iran has come out right away and really tried to distance themselves from this attack. That could be a signal that they don't seek any direct escalation with the US.
It is important for our viewers to keep in mind, Anderson, this is the first deadly attack where enemy fire has killed US troops. But there have been more than 150 attacks on US troops in Iraq, in Syria, in Jordan now as well, since October.
So it's not clear if the intention of this one was to be more damaging or to be more deadly, or if it was simply bad luck, in a sense, as you explained that US drone flying low.
We have also heard from a couple of Iran-backed militias in Iraq, one claiming responsibility for a number of attacks along the Jordanian- Syrian border earlier in those early hours of Sunday morning, another saying that there will continue to be attacks against US forces in Iraq and Syria as long as they remain in the region.
The Jordanians, of course, who are an ally of the US have called it a terrorist attack. And while they have been very vocal in condemning Israel's military campaign in Gaza, they have also been vocal about their desire to try to contain this conflict to try to prevent it from spreading further.
And so the emphasis now from most nations appears to be on trying to limit this and prevent it from becoming a full blown regional conflagration -- Anderson.
COOPER: So what more do we know at this point, and it's still very early about how this drone attack unfolded, and also the status of the Americans wounded?
WARD: So first of all, Tower 22 is a logistics base, if you will. There are about 350 US troops. They sleep in these kinds of housing units. The attack, we are told took place in the very early hours of Sunday morning, so presumably, most of them were sleeping in their beds.
And from what we've gathered from a couple of sources, it was basically very unfortunate timing because a US drone was returning to the base at the same time. That meant that essentially, there was a delay in activating those air defenses.
We don't know yet what the point of origin was of that drone that killed those US troops, and that's the question of course that everybody now is waiting to find out as we try to get some more clarity. Was the intention as well behind this drone attack to deliberately follow this US drone or did it just happen, you know, by random chance?
These are the kinds of questions that the Biden administration and the Pentagon will be combing through methodically as they try to choose that sort of perfectly calibrated response that will deal with this forcefully and send a strong signal without escalating this conflict even further -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Clarissa, stay with us.
I want to bring in CNN military analyst, retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.
So General Hertling, first of all, what's your reaction to this attack? Because I think a lot of people have the idea that this is Iran making this decision to attack this base? It may be much more complicated than that, right?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Oh, yes, certainly, Anderson.
First of all, if you don't mind, I'm going to give our condolences to the families of Sergeant Rivers, Specialist Sanders and Specialist Moffett. It's horrible when you lose soldiers like that, and have so many of them wounded at the same time, but it gives you an indication of how this incident may have happened.
Clarissa is exactly right. There are things that happen when drones are returning -- friendly drones are returning to a base. The air defense weapons go on what they call either weapons hold or weapons tight, which means the people who fire those weapons do not fire them, because they know there's an incoming friendly aircraft.
Whether or not an Iranian drone or a proxy drone came into that following the US drone, whoever is suggesting that this early 24 hours after the investigation, doesn't know what they're talking about just yet. You know, first reports are always wrong. I'd say I've done hundreds of investigations on these kinds of things and what we learn in the first 24 hours isn't going to be sustainable throughout the entire investigation.
But the third thing is, as Clarissa said, this is an extremely small base. Those soldiers are living something called CHUs -- containerized housing units. They're like a small mobile trailer. You can get anything through there. They're not armor protected. It's just not impossible to do that.
So having this many soldiers injured or hurt or killed, the three soldiers killed mean that that drone struck in one place and had a blast radius that caused all of these casualties.
You can't avoid these kinds of incidents. you know, a lot of people think the battlefield is perfect. You push a button and everything happens the way you want it to. That's not the way it goes in combat. And unfortunately, as Clarissa said, this is a small base. Those were all Army reservists from the state of Georgia. I'm sure that unit is suffering as well as their families back home, and it is just a horrific incident.
COOPER: And Clarissa, what are the expectations in the region for what a US response would look like? Because obviously, there have been some senators who have called for direct strikes on Iran. There are also all of these proxy militias, terror groups in Iraq and elsewhere, which are Iranian-backed, but which may have decided to do this on their own. Is that right?
WARD: That's right, and that's why it's such a difficult needle to thread, really for the Biden administration. Historically, we've seen them always go for the kind of Goldilocks option, that carefully calibrated, it's forceful, it's significant, it sends a strong message, but it doesn't escalate this conflict further.
I think there's even more pressure in this moment because the entire region is on tenterhooks, but also because if you look at the sort of Biden administration's military campaign against the Houthis, which has been significant, which has been ongoing, but which really hasn't done anything to rein in the attacks that we have seen these Houthi militants carrying out on shipping channels in the Red Sea.
And so there is a lot more pressure, if you will, on the Biden administration to really deliver a significant blow or have a significant impact. But again, do you do that by targeting an Iranian- backed militia in Iraq or Syria? Do you do it by sending a message to Iran and attacking Iranian soil? That hasn't happened, by the way since 1980, so that would be a significant escalation.
Iran has signaled by sort of distancing themselves from this, that they are not seeking that kind of direct escalation. But it remains to be seen what kind of a message the Biden administration will send with this response.
COOPER: General Hertling, what do you -- what are the options? What should they be in your opinion?
HERTLING: Yes, that's the tough part, Anderson. As Clarissa said, there is no one unified group of popular mobilization forces.
When I was in northern Iraq, we had them there. There were dozens of them. None of them are truly controlled by Iran.
COOPER: You called them popular mobilization force, you're talking about militias or Iranian-backed militias in Iraq?
HERTLING: Yes. What are called PMS or Iranian militias, they are all beholden to Iran for weapons, for Quds Force training, for some leadership, but they're also very dispersed.
I could name six that are in Syria right now off the top of my head and there are more. So when you say how do you prevent Iran from supporting them? Or how do you strike back against those specific groups? You have to have kind of a dual approach to these kinds of things, stopping the supporters, the Quds force, the Iranian government, and at the same time striking against the forces in the field.
I predict that we're going to see probably a very heavy strike against the forces in the field with the intelligence we have. And by the way, these forces are everywhere in Syria and in northern Iraq. They're not located in any specific location.
So you have to really get the intelligence to where to strike and who to strike and at the same time, could there be some covert action against the Iranian government to back up the words of don't support these guys anymore. But they are all over, they are in northern Iraq, they are in Syria. They are in -- they are part of Hezbollah, they are in Iran, they're in Yemen.
So you know, where are you going to go? And there have been other governments fighting these forces for a very long time and have not made much progress because they're all small groups with Iran having plausible deniability that they were involved or not.
COOPER: General Hertling, Clarissa Ward, thank you.
Joining us now is Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee and served four tours of duty in Iraq.
Congressman, who do you believe the US should respond to? I mean, what should the response be? And to whom?
REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Well, I mean, look, the General and Clarissa are right that what we are trying to achieve is deterrence. Deterrence is hard, but war is worse, Anderson, and we don't want to get involved in a direct war with Iran. That would play right into our enemy's hands. So what the Biden administration is trying to do is find a way to send a clear and decisive message to these militant groups, that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated. We're not going to stand for it.
But at the same time, we're not going to allow them to instigate a war that will not only play into our enemy's hands in the Middle East, but frankly, it's just what Russia and China want as well.
So the Biden administration has to be smart and strategic here. That's what they're trying to do.
COOPER: I wonder what you say to your Republican colleagues in Congress, Senator Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn who are calling for strike -- to strike targets inside Iran?
MOULTON: Well, look, everything should be on the table. So I'm not going to sit here tonight and say that we should never consider striking inside Iran, if they're calling for a war with Iran then they're not playing on our side.
It's interesting, you started this hour, Anderson, by listing all the nations that are involved in this effort in the Middle East. And you said, none of these nations want a wider war. But these militant groups, these terrorists, they do want a wider war and it sounds like some of these Republicans do as well. That's playing into our enemy's hands. That's not what we need to do.
And let's also not forget that many of these Republicans, some of them actually served in Republican administrations over the last 20 years. Over 20 years, we've had Iranian proxy groups killing US troops in the Middle East.
When I was on the ground in Iraq, we were losing hundreds of US servicemen a year to Iranian proxy groups. And under Democratic and Republican administrations, they all tried to find this balance, sending a message to Iran that you can't keep doing this while not starting a wider war.
It's obviously hard, Anderson, and we wouldn't still be in that situation today.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, you're talking about the numbers there while you were there. I mean, according to US official, there have been roughly 165 attacks on American coalition forces in Iraq and Syria just in the recent months. I mean, should there have been action taken by the Biden administration sooner on this?
MOULTON: I mean, you can certainly make that argument that they could have been more aggressive earlier, but to think that by doing something a few months ago, they would have suddenly solved a problem that the Bush administration, the Obama administration, and the Trump administration could never solve, I think is fanciful.
I mean, there are a lot of people who support Trump right now, who are saying that you know, that Biden needs to be tougher and saying that that's exactly what Trump did. But look, if Trump had been successful over four years, we wouldn't be in the same situation we are today.
COOPER: I'm wondering just as a veteran, what's your message to the families of the servicemembers who were killed and wounded?
MOULTON: Well, there's nothing that this administration or anyone can do to bring back the lives of those three heroes and the loss that their families and their units, that Army Reserve Unit in Georgia are feeling right now is something that we can probably never understand.
But the message I want to send to their families, to the unit, and to everybody who is watching this is that they didn't die in vain, that we have troops stationed around the world and including in places like this in the Middle East, because we have a lot of enemies who want to do us harm and they're out there on the front tonight as these three were this weekend to fundamentally keep us safe at home.
So as we mourn their loss, we're also -- we're also just incredibly grateful for their service.
COOPER: Congressman Seth Moulton, thank you so much for coming on tonight. Appreciate it.
MOULTON: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Still to come, a bipartisan bill that Senate Republicans and Democrats agree would help secure the border, a top priority for the former president obviously so why is he against an actual solution? We're keeping them honest, next.
And later breaking news, a judge today decided whether Alex Murdaugh will get a new trial almost a year after a jury found him guilty of murdering his wife and younger son, we will have the judge's decision ahead.
COOPER: Bipartisan Senate negotiators had been finalizing compromise legislation on immigration and border protection and they we're waiting to see the actual text of it, it is shaping up to be, by all accounts the most conservative in decades.
Just ask one of the most conservative members of the Senate, James Lankford of Oklahoma who helped craft the deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): This bill focuses on getting us to zero illegal crossings a day. There is no amnesty. It increases the number of Border Patrol agents, it increases asylum officers, it increases detention beds so we can quickly detain and then deport individuals. It ends catch-and-release. It focuses on additional deportation flights out. It changes our asylum process so that people get a fast asylum screening at a higher standard and then get returned back to their home country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So that's the sound of a serious conservative Republican touting an apparently conservative measure full of conservative provisions which the Biden administration appears willing to accept, a measure that the conservative "Wall Street Journal" editorial board recently called the best chance in years to fix asylum law in this country saying: "A GOP Border Reckoning." That's how they headlined it, with a sub headline that tonight appears prophetic it reads: "We will soon know if the party really wants to solve the problem."
Well, keeping them honest, Senator Lankford and some other fellow Republicans notwithstanding, the answer seems to be no, the party doesn't really want to solve the problem, or at least not yet. Not unless there's a Trump victory in November.
The former president posting on social media today: "A border bill is not necessary to stop the millions of people, many from jails and mental institutions located all over the world that are pouring into our country. It is an invasion the likes of which no country has ever had to endure."
It is worth noting this is not the first time the former president has said people from mental institutions are pouring into the country. He said something similar the night he won the New Hampshire primary. Our factchecker, Daniel Dale called the Trump campaign for evidence, they had none.
As for the other language he used in that post that it's an invasion and an existential threat, but that Congress doesn't need to do anything about it. That's what he's saying. It doesn't make much sense unless he clears it up, which he does two postings later.
Quoting again from the former president: "I didn't need a big complex Democrat oriented border bill." And here's the key phrase, "... which will make Republicans look bad."
Now, there's no evidence that it would and there's plenty of evidence it would not, that is if you believe Senator Lankford, "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board, President Biden, and plenty of Democrats unhappy with the harder line pieces of the proposed Senate deal.
What the former president appears to be unhappy with is an actual solution to the broken asylum system and the problems at the border, because it might lessen his ability to use it against President Biden this election year. Now, this is something we and other news outlets have been reporting for several weeks now something Senator Lankford himself is now complaining about out loud. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LANKFORD: Republicans four months ago would not give funding for Ukraine, for Israel, and for our southern border, because we demanded changes in policy. So we actually locked arms together and said, we are not going to give you money for this. We want to change in law.
And now it's interesting a few months later, when we're finally getting to the end, they're like, oh, just kidding. I actually don't want to change in law because it is a presidential election year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He said that a day after the Oklahoma state Republican committee passed a resolution -- listen to this -- condemning him, the senator, for working on a bipartisan deal.
The party vice chairman saying in an e-mail afterwards: "It is our hope that Senator Lankford will acknowledge the direction of the state committee and do all in his power to defend the border from the current invasion," which by all appearances is precisely what he believes he's been doing. He just chose the wrong year to do it, according to Republicans.
Joining us now is Jeh Johnson, who served as secretary of homeland security in the Obama administration.
I mean, it's so cynical for the former president to be saying you don't need a border bill when, when he was president, he continually said, I'm looking for a border bill. I'm looking for a big border bill.
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Yes, it is. And Anderson, this is why people -- Americans should really be disgusted with Washington right now. Let's call them out.
House Republicans following Trump's lead would rather complain about the problem than take the opportunity to solve the problem. This bill that James Lankford and Chris Murphy have negotiated is the most pro border security bill in modern times.
Usually, when we talk about comprehensive immigration reform, there's something in it for everybody -- on the right on the left, opportunity for path to citizenship, take care of the DACA kids on the left. This is all --
COOPER: That's not with this.
JOHNSON: No, it's all pro-border security and the role of the administration has been to fend off the worst of the worst in negotiating this deal. There's a lot of good things in this bill in my judgment, addressing the asylum laws.
I've said multiple times now, they are on the front end of the asylum application process, the bar for establishing credible fear is way too low. Ultimately, it's much higher, but there's years in between. So...
COOPER: That's the insane thing for people who don't follow this and don't -- I mean, people come here believing they can apply for asylum or they will apply for asylum. It will take them, in some cases years.
I've talked to people who waited years to just even get before a judge for a hearing. And oftentimes, their claims are not valid because they are -- while they're escaping economic hardships --
JOHNSON: It is not political oppression.
COOPER: Right. They're not being politically oppressed or religiously oppressed.
JOHNSON: And migrants know that and many come here with the expectation if I only get to stay five, six years, it's while I have a job, I can send money home to Central America.
COOPER: So this bill talks about speeding up the asylum process, basically have those asylum claims heard in a much more timely way.
JOHNSON: And raising the bar on the front end to establishing credible fear. Establishing credible fear is basically articulating the words. It's a very low standard.
Plus, this negotiated compromise, as I understand it, would give DHS emergency authority to, like Title 42 to quickly send people home if you reach a certain threshold. It limits the Secretary's ability to parole people into this country, which I know the administration is not crazy about. And it's more resources, more judges, more Border Patrol agents.
Why anyone genuinely interested in border security, genuinely interested in security would not embrace this bill is beyond me. And what has happened cynically is Republicans would -- Republicans in the House would rather have the issue going into the election to complain about than actually solve the problem.
COOPER: We've heard time and again from -- I mean, Republicans about fentanyl pouring across the border, most of it comes actually at established border crossing points.
COOPER: But take them for their word as the argument, it is pouring across the border and fentanyl is obviously killing, I mean, it's devastating communities all across this country. If you believe that, which is true, you would want a deal that would slow that down --
JOHNSON: Or even and you're genuinely concerned about this.
COOPER: Right. The lives -- an imperfect deal --
JOHNSON: You want to fix it tomorrow.
COOPER: Would save -- right. And you can adjust the bill. The idea that the former president has said, you know, there has to be a perfect bill. There is no bill that is perfect. JOHNSON: No, of course not. He is moving the goalpost. He and his supporters would rather have this issue as a campaign issue than to actually take the opportunity that Lankford and Murphy have presented them to solve the problem.
And, you know, people on the right, constantly talk about the possibility that National Security threats are crossing our border. If you really believe that's true, and you're really concerned about it, then you ought to jump at the opportunity to fix the problem and fix it yesterday. Don't wait until after November.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, the cynicism -- it is just the hypocrisy is extraordinary. It shouldn't be a surprise to anybody, but it is.
JOHNSON: Hypocrisy in politics. I'm shocked.
COOPER: Yes. Jeh Johnson, thank you so much.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
COOPER: Appreciate it. It was good to have you on.
Coming up, there is breaking news, a new twist and a murder case that gripped grip the nation, Alex Murdaugh, you may remember convicted of killing his wife and younger son. Then after an allegation of jury tampering, he moved to get a new trial, a judge has now ruled on that. We will have that decision next.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Last year's jury verdict that Alex Murdaugh murdered his wife and younger son appeared to be the final chapter in a bizarre murder mystery that began as an attempt by Murdaugh to cover up his financial crimes. Then, a member of that jury alleged that a clerk made inappropriate comments or comments that influenced her vote.
Well today, the breaking news is that a judge decided whether the verdict was tainted, which would force a new trial. Dianne Gallagher joins us with the decision. So, what can you tell us?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Anderson, that bombshell testimony from that one juror certainly added suspense. And look, it was a rough day on the stand for the clerk of court at the center of it all. But in the end, none of it was enough. And a judge decided that Alex Murdaugh will not get a new murder trial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECKY HILL, COLLETON COUNTY CLERK OF COURT I did not pressure the jury.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): But that's exactly what Alex Murdaugh tried to prove happened in his quest for a new murder trial, which a judge swiftly denied.
JUDGE JEAN H. TOAL, RETIRED SC SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE: I find the defendant's motion for a new trial on the factual record before me must be denied.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): At the center of today's hearing, Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Becky Hill, a fixture of the six-week murder trial, and the allegations for Murdaugh's defense team that she tampered with that jury to secure a book deal in media appearances that they say she wouldn't get if there had been a mistrial.
HILL: It didn't matter to me if it was guilty, not guilty, or a mistrial.
TOAL: Well, in your book, you suggest that the guilty verdict was what you wanted.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): Hill repeatedly denying this on the stand Monday.
CREIGHTON WATERS, LEAD PROSECUTOR, ALEX MURDAUGH MURDER TRIAL: Did you interact with any juror in an attempt to influence their view of the facts in the state of the Murdaugh case?
GALLAGHER (voice-over): The judge set a high bar for the defense. They must prove not just that Hill tampered with the jury, but that it had an impact on the jury's verdict, disguising their identities as she questioned juror after juror.
TOAL: Did you hear Ms. Becky Hill make any comment about this case before your verdict?
GALLAGHER (voice-over): Nine out of 12 saying they did not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, ma'am.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, ma'am, I did not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): But others saying they did.
It was the day that Mr. Murdaugh was taking the stand.
TOAL: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And she made a comment about watch his body language.
TOAL: What did Ms. Hill say?
JUROR Z, MURDAUGH MURDER TRIAL JUROR: To watch his actions.
TOAL: To watch his actions? What else? JUROR Z: To watch him closely.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): That's Juror Z, who shocked the courtroom with her answer to the judge's next question.
TOAL: Was your verdict influenced in any way by the communications of the clerk of court in this case?
JUROR Z: Yes, ma'am.
TOAL: And how was it influenced?
JUROR Z: It felt like she made it seem like he was already guilty.
TOAL: Did that affect your finding of guilty in this case?
JUROR Z: Yes, ma'am.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): The only juror out of the 12 to say that her decision was influenced by Hill. But attorneys quickly pointing out that her testimony differed from her signed affidavit, which the judge then read back to her.
TOAL: I had questions about Mr. Murdaugh's guilt, but voted guilty because I felt pressured by the other jurors. Is that an accurate statement about your verdict?
JUROR Z: Yes, ma'am.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): Despite objections from Murdaugh's attorney --
RICHARD "DICK" HARPOOTLIAN, ALEX MURDAUGH'S DEFENSE ATTY.: This jurist gave two statements under oath, one in an affidavit and one here to you today. It could be both.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): In the end, the judge ruling that while she did not find Hill to be credible --
TOAL: I simply do not believe that the authority of our South Carolina Supreme Court requires a new trial in a very lengthy trial such as this on the strength of some fleeting and foolish comments by publicity influenced clerk of court.
COOPER: What's next for Alex Murdaugh?
GALLAGHER (on-camera): You know, Anderson, he was immediately shackled and taken back to prison. Well, he will continue serving his back to back life sentences for murdering his wife and son. But his attorney said it will take about a month. They do anticipate to revive his appeal.
And they tell me that they think that they can win, especially with what transpired today. If not at the court of appeal, then at the South Carolina State Supreme Court or if necessary, in federal court.
And Anderson, as far as Colleton County Clerk of Court Becky Hill goes, she did issue a statement thanking the judge and the jurors noting that they did determine that her actions didn't influence the jury's decision, but it's far from over for her as well.
The state has two separate investigations opened into her. One, for the jury tampering allegations and the other for using her elected position for personal gain.
COOPER: Dianne Gallagher, thanks very much.
Just ahead, Fulton County Georgia District Attorney, Fani Willis, facing allegations, as you know, of an improper relationship, which raises questions about her handling the RICO case against Donald Trump.
Coming up, the authors of a new book just out. One of the most detailed accounts of the investigation that led to charges against the former president.
COOPER: The Georgia election interference case is unique among the trials facing the former president. There are, of course, the questions about the relationship between the prosecutor, Fani Willis, and the man she appointed to oversee the case. It's also the only trial scheduled to be televised. And even should he be re-elected, the former president can't pardon himself if convicted, as these are state charges.
One reason, some have speculated that this may be the case he fears the most. The case is now the subject of a fascinating, in-depth new book, "Find Me the Votes", about Willis, the plot to overturn Georgia's election results, and the actual RICO case against Trump.
I'm joined now by the book's co-authors, journalists Daniel Klaidman and Michael Isikoff. Congratulations on this. I want to ask you about the controversy over Fani Willis in a moment, but I was struck in the book by the testimony that Senator Lindsey Graham gave when he --
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CO-AUTHOR, "FIND ME THE VOTES": Yes.
COOPER: -- actually finally was forced to go on the stand.
COOPER: He fought it.
ISIKOFF: It's one of those amazing behind the scenes stories you discover in the course of writing a book like this.
COOPER: Because no one had heard what he actually testified. ISIKOFF: Absolutely. So, it was known that she subpoenaed him early on because he had -- he, too, had called Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and there were questions about what he was --
ISIKOFF: -- whether he was just doing Trump's bidding. He fought the subpoena, said no way, challenged it, went all the way up to the court, through the Court of Appeals, I believe, and he got turned out. He had to testify. So he goes to testify before the special grand jury.
And according to one source familiar with his testimony, he throws Trump under the bus. He talks about how, you know, if Martians told Trump that the election had been stolen, he'd believe them. He suggested that Trump cheated at golf. And then, after the testimony, he runs into Fani Willis, the district attorney, as he's walking out of the grand jury room.
And he thanks her for giving him the opportunity to testify. He says that was so cathartic. And then he hugs her.
ISIKOFF: That he hugs the district attorney that was pursuing the president of the United States.
DANIEL KLAIDMAN, CO-AUTHOR, "FIND ME THE VOTES": I think calling it cathartic was the most revealing thing about it, Anderson. Because, remember, Lindsey Graham, his mentor was John McCain, who was, you know, the maverick who bucked his party based on his own personal convictions.
And then Lindsey Graham ends up, you know, swearing allegiance to Donald Trump for all of these years. And then you have to think that there's an internal struggle going on about that. And then he's in front of a --
COOPER: Lindsey Graham did have that one moment the night of January 6th when he said, you know, I'm done.
COOPER: And then someone yelled at him in the airport the next day as he was scurrying through the airport, and then, lo and behold, he suddenly reversed himself.
KLAIDMAN: Yes. Yes, yes, yes, but you get in front of a grand jury where you're sworn to tell the truth, and that must have been, for at least that period of time, a weight off of his shoulders. So it is cathartic in that sense.
COOPER: What is Fani Willis like? I mean, because obviously there are huge questions now about her judgment, given all that's come out and there's a lot of things we don't know and -- KLAIDMAN: Well, we spent a lot of time with her. We interviewed her
half a dozen times, many hours over the two years that we were reporting on this book and she's, you know, complicated very human. She's -- the phrase that people use to describe her is a force of nature.
And, you know, sometimes people who are larger than life like that, their flaws can sometimes seem as large as their weak, their strengths, and her strengths are prodigious. But she is confident, and she's got that quality that some trial lawyers have of that sort of, you know, that certitude. And you wonder --
ISIKOFF: (INAUDIBLE) arrogance.
KLAIDMAN: A little bit of -- a little -- a touch of arrogance, and you wonder if, that's partly what led to the sort of blind spot and the situation that she's in now.
COOPER: What -- I mean, it's up to the judge ultimately --
COOPER: -- to decide whether she has to remove herself from this case.
ISIKOFF: Right, and she's going to respond later this week. There are a lot of facts here that are still unknown. And, you know, a lot's going to depend on how she puts it. But at the end of the day, no question that this was a flaw in her judgment. And it was a pretty stupid thing to do.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, given the world attention that when you go up to a former president --
ISIKOFF: But that said, this had absolutely no impact on the case whatsoever.
And it has -- it did not violate any defendant's constitutional rights. There's no evidence of prosecutorial misconduct in the way they handled the prosecution. So I think will be surprised.
COOPER: She had a hard time finding --
COOPER: -- a lead prosecutor.
ISIKOFF: She couldn't get anybody to take the job. I mean, she reached out to the former governor of Georgia, Roy Barnes, who turned her down --
COOPER: Because that was one of the questions.
COOPER: Why did she pick this guy who never handled the case like this?
ISIKOFF: At best, Nathan Wade was her third choice, but she had trouble. And the reason she had trouble getting people to take the job is because of the threats that so many of them were facing. And which she was facing in, you know, the most dramatic ways. I mean, you know, death threats to her, to her family. She had to move out of her house.
COOPER: Everybody remembers the call from the then-president to Brad Raffensperger.
COOPER: You report about an exchange, this is a call from then- President Trump to Frances Watson, the chief investigator for the Georgia Secretary of State. This is on December 23rd. I just want to play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I won Georgia. I know that. By a lot. And the people know it. And, you know, something happened there. I mean, something bad happened. If you can get to Fulton, you're going to find things that are going to be unbelievable, the dishonesty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Of course, that's not true. That was 10 days before --
COOPER: -- the call to Raffensperger. The pushback from Trump allies about all this is, well, he genuinely believed this.
COOPER: What have you found in your report?
ISIKOFF: He genuinely believed it because he was talking to these eccentrics who are promoting the most fantastic conspiracy theories. We've got another tape of Trump talking to Lin Wood, who was a full blown QAnon adherent. Used to be a celebrated trial lawyer. By this time, he was like, totally into the idea that there's a cabal of pedophiles who are, you know, manipulating and running the government.
And, of course, Sidney Powell, who was, you know, promoted the whole idea that there was Venezuelan socialists had secretly planted algorithms in Dominion voting machines.
COOPER: But you believe she -- the former president believed that, or those were the -- just the loony bins who, you know, would take him down --
ISIKOFF: They were loony bins who were telling him what he wanted to hear.
ISIKOFF: And he accepted it. And then he took, he took the nonsense that he was hearing from these looney tunes, and he used that to pressure state officials. In his conversation with Raffensperger, he talks about Ruby Freeman and Shaye Ross, those two African American election workers who were falsely accused of stuffing ballots. He brought them up 18 times. He was obsessed with this stuff.
KLAIDMAN: And, by the way, one of the reasons, these stories about Lin Wood and Sidney Powell and all these crazy conspiracies, it's colorful, it's bizarre, it's exotic, it also is dangerous and it had real consequences. They are all over social media --
KLAIDMAN: -- in Georgia and around the country and they are spreading this stuff. And you end up with -- part of the reasons that this was a compelling story to us was because of the human toll --
KLAIDMAN: -- on people like Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss. It was horrible.
COOPER: They've won a judgment now against Rudy Giuliani, who just --
KLAIDMAN: That's right.
COOPER: -- horrifically has defamed them.
ISIKOFF: Just as easily get one against Donald Trump.
COOPER: Daniel Klaidman, thank you so much. Michael Isikoff, thank you so much.
Again, the new book, "Find Me the Vote", it's a fascinating book. "A Hard-Charging Georgia Prosecutor, A Rogue President, And the Plot to Steal an American Election" goes on sale tomorrow.
Coming up, King Charles and the Princess of Wales out of the hospital. What we know about the next steps in their recovery next.
COOPER: Tonight, King Charles and Catherine, Princess of Wales, are both back home and recovering after being hospitalized. The King had corrective surgery for an enlarged prostate, and there's still a mystery surrounding the abdominal surgery that Princess Kate had nearly two weeks ago.
We have more now from CNN's Max Foster.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A royal wave goodbye. King Charles heading home after undergoing a corrective procedure for an enlarged prostate. The message, the crown is still strong. He left the London clinic on Monday afternoon, accompanied by Queen Camilla, to the applause of onlooking crowds.
Just hours earlier, a car full of flowers for the King's daughter-in- law, Kate, who left the same hospital following abdominal surgery and out of the sight of cameras. Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace both releasing statements on Monday, thanking well-wishers for the kind messages towards the Royal pair over recent days and weeks.
King Charles is now set for a time of private recuperation at an undisclosed home. With a spokesperson saying the Princess of Wales is making good progress and is set to continue her recovery in Windsor.
It'll be several more weeks until the world is able to see the princess again with her as well as the Prince of Wales pausing all public duties until at least Easter. It's unclear exactly what her surgery was for. However, a royal source confirmed to CNN that the condition was non-cancerous.
King Charles, on the other hand, making the decision to be open about his diagnosis to prompt men to get checked. His announcement resulting in a surge of people looking into information about prostate cancer. Queen Camilla, who visited Charles daily in hospital, told reporters ahead of the surgery that the King was looking forward to getting back to work.
The recent and unusually candid health updates from the royal family, possibly a sign of a slightly evolving and more transparent monarchy.
COOPER: Max, is it clear why King Charles made a public exit from the hospital in front of news cameras, Princess -- the Princess of Wales did not?
FOSTER (on-camera): Well, there is a long tradition of royals appearing on doorsteps when they leave hospital to remind the world that they are still healthy and the head of state is still well. And that's, I think, why King Charles appeared today in front of the cameras in the way that he did.
Of course, the princess was slipped out a side door and she vanished off towards Windsor. We haven't seen her since Christmas. We're not going to see her for months now. And that has raised some eyebrows. I think the issue here, of course, is we don't know what the procedure was and what the reason might be that she doesn't appear in front of the cameras.
But, you know, in previous visits to hospital, when she had her children, for example, she always appeared on the doorstep. The only suggestion we're getting, because there aren't any leaks on this at all from the hospital or from the palace, in fact, is that it's simply a private matter, it's a private medical issue, and she has a right to privacy, and you'll be able to see her again when she's fit and healthy.
So there are some questions around it, and she has appeared in the public. Before when she's been in hospital. But, I mean, that's all the information we have at this point.
COOPER: All right, Max Foster, thanks so much. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Some incredible photos to show you from off the coast of California. This may be the first ever glimpse of a newborn great white shark in the wild. A scientist and wildlife photographer captured these photos of the 5 foot long pup from drone footage recorded back in July, south of Santa Barbara.
The duo published their findings today in the Science Journal. It's a great mystery where great white sharks give birth to their pups and seeing one swim in the ocean like this is extraordinary. It's extremely rare.
That's it for us. The news continues. The Source with Kaitlan Collins starts now.