Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

US Launches New Strikes On Iran-Backed Militia In Iraq; Interview With Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX); Biden Naming And Blaming Trump For Border Bill Fiasco; Supreme Court Hears Trump Case On Ballot Eligibility; U.S. Launches New Strike On Iran-backed Militia In Iraq; Search Continues For Missing Marines After Helicopter Found. Aired 8- 9p ET

Aired February 07, 2024 - 20:00   ET


PRINCE WILLIAM, PRINCE OF WALES: I'd like to take this opportunity to say thank you also for the kind of messages of support for Catherine and for my father especially in recent days, it means a great deal to us all.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: The prince also acknowledging his wife, Kate's recent abdominal surgery from which she is still recovering. Those comments coming during a charity gala in London, where the prince was with Tom Cruise. He's taking over more -- more duties here.

The future King returning to those Royal duties today after a three- week absence. His schedule is packed with the King and his wife, all absent. He also hosted an award ceremony at Windsor Castle earlier in the day.

Thanks for joining us. Anderson starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, there is breaking news, a drone commander in the terrorist group blamed for killing American troops in Jordan is killed by an American drone strike in Baghdad.

Also tonight, how a tough border deal that Republicans demanded in a conservative Republican negotiated finally died today, and the mess it leaves, Keeping Them Honest.

And later, the high stakes tomorrow especially for Chief Justice John Roberts, as the Supreme Court takes up the question of keeping the former president off the ballot under the 14th Amendment.

Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

We begin with the breaking news. The second on what President Biden has said would be ongoing reprisals for the drone attack on American forces in Jordan, which wounded dozens of troops and killed three -- Sergeant William Rivers, Specialist Kennedy Sanders, and Specialist Breonna Moffett. Tonight's reprisal came in the form of a daring drone strike on a target in Baghdad. CNN's Oren Liebermann is at the Pentagon with the latest.

So what more do we know about the strike?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this drone strike was carried out Wednesday night, Baghdad time, in the city of Baghdad itself. The target, according to three US officials, and here you can see the results of that strike was with Wisam Mohammed Saber al-Saedi, a head of logistics, as well as in charge of drone operations and rocket operations, according to a source familiar with Kata'ib Hezbollah and the Popular Mobilization Unit, which fall under Iraq's military forces there.

Kata'ib Hezbollah is an Iran-backed militant group inside of Iraq, one of the most powerful there, that the US holds responsible for carrying out attacks on US forces in the region. This is part of the US response to not only that drone strike that killed three US servicemembers and wounded scores more in late January, but also approximately 170 other attacks on US forces that have resulted in more than a hundred injuries, many of them minor, but crucially, the one that killed three US servicemembers at the end of last month.

This, of course, looks very different than what we saw on Friday, when the US carried out sweeping strikes across Iraq and Syria, hitting more than 85 targets. There, the US went after facilities, munitions, weapons. Here, and if we can pull up that video again, you can see how precise and accurate this was.

According to US and Iraqi officials, this was targeted at the vehicle that al-Saedi was in, going after him directly, and the US says, this is part of that response. There will be more to come suggesting the US may go after other leaders of militant groups they hold responsible for attacking US forces.

Anderson, US Central Command says according to early indications, there were no civilian casualties or collateral damage as part of this strike. But according to Iraqi Police, there was at least one other person inside that vehicle.

COOPER: It's amazing they were able to track this guy into that vehicle and kill him there. Did the US notify Iraqi officials before the strike, do you know?

LIEBERMANN: Not in this case and this is already leading to some friction, as we've seen before between the Iraqi government and the US government. The Iraqi government called this new US aggression and said it undercuts understandings between Washington and between Baghdad, so you see some of that frustration boiling over.

Some Iraqi politicians have vowed to try to remove US and international forces from the country. And part of it is the anger over the strikes, especially without that prior notification.

Now, it's worth pointing out here, Anderson, that Kata'ib Hezbollah, again, the Iran-backed militant group that the US holds responsible for many of these attacks on US forces is not only part of what's called the Islamic resistance in Iraq, which the US holds directly responsible for the deadly strike, but it's also part of the Popular Mobilization Units and that falls under Iraqi government military forces.

So there you see some of the friction created when the US goes after targets in Baghdad. The US sees these as terrorist targets and part of organizations that have targeted US forces. The Iraqi government sees this differently, and how this friction plays out, well, we're about to find out, as we see how the US and the Iraqi government move forward here despite the anger that we are seeing.

COOPER: Oren Liebermann, thank you very much.

Now to the chaos in Congress and what congressional Republicans managed to do in the last 24 hours, Keeping Them Honest.

In that short time, they killed tough border legislation they once demanded with the Senate putting the final nail in the coffin today. Also failed last night and what they tried to do instead, which is impeach the Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): On this vote, the yeas are 214 and the nays are 216. The resolution is not adopted.




COOPER: The Republicans failed because House Speaker Johnson did not count on Democrat Al Green who is recovering from surgery turning up and voting, which prompted fellow Republican Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky to tweet today: "Getting rid of Speaker McCarthy has officially turned into an unmitigated disaster." And that in turn drew this response from Speaker Johnson.


JOHNSON: Well, look, it was a mess what happened here, but we're cleaning it up. And Massie is one of my dear friends and colleagues, and I don't think that this is a reflection on the leader, it is a reflection on the body itself and the place where we've come in this country.


COOPER: That's the leader who calls what happened a mess, presided over the mess, but does not think that presiding over said mess is a reflection of his leadership, which is for his members to decide, certainly not us. As for what he calls the place where we've come in this country, it's worth remembering just what that place looks like even to some Republicans, especially to a conservative Republican who negotiated the tough border legislation his senate colleagues killed today.

Here is Senator James Lankford shortly before the vote. This is the place where we've come in the country.


SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): This is the pen that I was handed at that desk when I was sworn in to the United States Senate, and I signed a book that was at that desk with this pen because I was becoming a United States senator.

Because the people at home sent me here to get stuff done, and to solve problems. There is no reason for me to have this pen if we're just going to do press conferences. I can do press conferences from anywhere, but we can only make law from this room.


COOPER: Except of course when they can't, which also put aid for Ukraine and Israel on ice because House Republicans demand it to be tied to a border deal before doing a 180 when the former president told them to.

They're not the only ones following this Trump -- the Trump line on this. Here is Senator Lankford again, this is the place where we've come in this country.


LANKFORD: I had a popular commentator four weeks ago that I talked to that told me flat out before they knew any of the contents of the bill, any of the content, nothing was out at that point, that told me flat out if you try to move a bill that solves the border crisis during this presidential year, I will do whatever I can to destroy you, because I do not want you to solve this during the presidential election.

By the way they have been faithful to their promise and have done everything they can to destroy me.


COOPER: Well, that's where we are in the country today, a commentator telling the senator they will try and destroy him for negotiating a deal that delivered on many conservative priorities, only to be shivved essentially by people who claim to be conservatives at the behest of their leader who never really was a conservative, Donald Trump.

But for every senator betrayed, there are all the border officers left high and dry, all the asylum seekers stuck in a process that takes years to navigate, all the families losing loved ones to fentanyl, and all the cities struggling to care for migrants bussed in by many Republican governors mostly who said they were doing it because of the need for tougher border security, which is exactly what this deal now dead, would have delivered at least far more than exists currently, courtesy of Republican Senator Lankford, who negotiated it and a handful of other Republicans who did not do the former president's bidding and supported it, including Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who said this about the process: "I've gone through the multiple stages of grief. Today, I'm just pissed off."

Joining us now is Texas Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw. Thanks so much for being with us, Congressman.

You heard Senator Murkowski saying she's pissed off. Are you -- to use her words -- pissed off?

REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): Look, I am going to be pissed off every day that we have almost 300,000 illegal people crossing our border and most of them let loose in the United States.

Look, I'm of the opinion that we need a solution on this. I'm very frustrated by this process. I think the Senate process was destined to fail from the beginning.

You put one senator in the room who is in the minority, with really no leverage over two other senators who are in the majority, who really have no incentive to make a strong deal because they are not worried about the re-election.

I've said from the beginning, this should -- what we should have done as Republicans is follow the playbook we did with the debt ceiling where we have an established set of negotiation baselines, right?

And for us, that's HR 2, right? That's our border bill. We start there. We say that's where we want to go. We go straight to the White House, because Biden is the one who is actually worried about his re- election, and this is a historic moment where we can actually make a deal.

And so what we should be doing is sending that supplemental right back with HR 2 attached to it, we finally enter the conversation.

You know, I'm not part of the Senate. I am part of the House and so that's what I would do to keep this going because in the end, that's what I care about, it is border security.


COOPER: It is, though. I mean, it's odd to hear, and you've pointed this out that, you know, to hear Republicans in the House saying we don't now need a border bill, who were supporting HR 2, which was a border bill that passed in the House by Republicans, but couldn't pass in the Senate because of Democrats.

But the biggest difference now is the former president has said he doesn't want it. I mean, that seems to be the one thing that has actually changed. CRENSHAW: I don't know. I guess, you need to talk to -- I'm not one of those Republicans. So I do know that we need HR 2. We need changes to our asylum laws. There's too many loopholes.

We need to clarify the parole authority, which is being abused massively by this administration. We need to codify into law remain- in-Mexico. We do need HR 2, right?

The immigration laws have not been updated and far too long, and they've been exploited by the cartels, by people just looking for a job but exploited nonetheless and cutting in front of the line of millions and millions of legal immigrants.

So we absolutely need that. I'm not one of those Republicans saying we don't need changes in law. We have an historic opportunity to get those changes in law now.

COOPER: But isn't that --

CRENSHAW: I am never going to stop saying that.

COOPER: That's what conservatives in the Senate, I mean, Lankford has said, which is HR 2 couldn't pass in the Senate, and sometimes you, you know, in lawmaking, and you know, this better than I do, you need to make compromises in order to get stuff passed and this was the most conservative bill and Democrats, I mean, Biden agreed to it, probably because of the pickle he is in.

It seems like this was a -- I mean, according to Lankford, this was as good as conservatives could possibly get to actually get something done and move the ball down.

CRENSHAW: Well, we have the majority in the House. So we would disagree, we would think that we could get more and we should try to do that.

COOPER: Right, but HR 2 --

CRENSHAW: But late to this process, it was flawed from the start -- on part of the Republicans, it was flawed from the start, because you put one person in there, you make it completely secret, didn't do a communications plan with everybody surrounding them. They didn't tell anybody what was in it.

Immigration law is extremely complicated. So when it comes out, everybody interprets it every which way. You've got to start with HR 2 and then you go from there.

Of course, there's a negotiation. But of course -- and of course, HR 2 by itself is done in the Senate. I acknowledge that, but we're adding the supplemental to it.

We're talking about Ukraine aid, which is extremely unpopular with Republicans, but in a couple of these things, and America wins. America wins in both ways. So, that's still my goal. COOPER: But it does seem like -- I mean, you know, I understand your focus is on what happens in the House. But I mean, as Lankford said, a commentator said to him, I'm going to go after you if you try to do anything that solves any border problem in an election year.

I mean, the elephant in the room is the former president who doesn't want it seems anything. He said it has to be a perfect deal. No deal that can actually get through a democracy, a Senate can be a perfect deal. Isn't it clear that the former president does not want any deal and Republicans are not going to make any deal if the former president doesn't want it?

CRENSHAW: Look, here is what I say to people who think that they need to let illegal immigrants in just to hurt Biden in the polls. My message to Trump is I think you can beat Biden. I think -- I will help you beat Biden. That's my message.

And look, Biden is unpopular in so many ways. People do not trust him on border security, or the economy, or on various other issues. We need to actually solve the border crisis.

It is also true that there are people on both sides and mostly in the activist groups. There have been forever that never want this problem solved. All viewers need to know this, right? On the left and the right, they make money by this -- by perpetuating this problem and I am sure you can never actually solve this.

COOPER: But you were talking about Donald Trump. I mean, I understand you're saying it's activist groups, but that is Donald Trump who makes money.

CRENSHAW: No, I am not. I am not. I know you want me to say that.

COOPER: No, I don't want you, but I mean, you're a very honest guy and a very -- you know, that people on both sides of the aisle applaud you for that. He has put his thumb on the scale on this.

And I understand the activist groups have agendas and make money off this, but he is making money off this and he's running the election. I mean, this is perhaps a winning issue for him and he does not want improvement despite all the talk of fentanyl, despite all the talk of national security issues, he doesn't want a deal.

CRENSHAW: I mean, look, you'd have to ask him. You'd have to -- you'd have to pull a quote from him that I can respond to. I don't --

I don't know Trump's views on the border. I really don't.

COOPER: Right. But a lot of people in the House have said that. There's a lot of Republicans in the House who supported HR 2, who are now saying, well, we don't need any border deal at all and the only reason they're saying that is because --

CRENSHAW: They're wrong. Look, I disagree with them. I disagreed with them in conversations today on the floor, saying -- and I said look, if we didn't need new border laws, why did we pass HR 2? You know Trump needed new border laws when he was president, he needed laws changed. What he ended up doing which was great, he made a deal with Mexico. He did the remain-in-Mexico policy.



CRENSHAW: He created the asylum cooperation agreements with Northern Triangle countries. That's what he ended up having to do.

So look, I mean, I know you want to be like kind of get into a fight with Trump. I'm not going to do it. I'm just going to say --

COOPER: No, I'm not trying to get you into a fight, but --

CRENSHAW: And what's true is we need a border deal.

COOPER: Right.

Before I let you go, I do. I mean, you're obviously a Navy SEAL. You served in Iraq. What's your reaction to the US strike in Baghdad?

CRENSHAW: It's great. I mean, look, anytime -- anytime you make it more dangerous for someone to be promoted in Kata'ib Hezbollah, I think it's a good day.

I'm glad they're doing it. It sounds like it was a good strike. It sounds like there was no additional casualties. There's obviously some good intel that led up to that and it is a good hit.

I think we need to continue seeing more of it. I think we need to know that the administration meant what they said when they said we're going to keep doing this for a period of time. I think that's important, and deterrence is important.

That part of the world, honestly, the entire world, they only understand strength. And when you say peace through strength, you can't forget about the strength part. So I have no complaints.

COOPER: Congressman Crenshaw, it's good to talk to you. Thank you.


COOPER: Coming up next, what political strategist, James Carville makes of the mess and whether it has traction with voters given how important polling says the border is with them.

Also a preview of tomorrow's Supreme Court oral arguments in a case that could keep a former president off the ballot for what he did to overturn the election he lost.

We will be right back.



COOPER: At a fundraiser here in New York today, President Biden took aim at the man who told Republican lawmakers to sink the border legislation they once demanded. Former President Trump whom he said would "rather weaponize the issue than actually solve it."

This follows remarks yesterday, which seemed to be a new tack for President Biden in a newly explicit part of his campaign.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every day between now and November, the American people are going to know that the only reason the border is not secure is Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican friends.


COOPER: Joining us, Democratic political strategist, James Carville, for our regular Wednesday conversation on the state of the campaign.

James, good to see you. So you hear President Biden, does this GOP chaos, the border bill, the failed Mayorkas impeachment, does it help him? Does it create a political opening for him?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: The president loves historians. I would get historians in the 1948 campaign. This Congress can't pass gas and he needs to run against a do-nothing Congress.

And I think that can give him some traction that he did not have before. But you know, maybe they could get Rudy Giuliani to be speaker. We know he can pass gas for sure. But this is -- this is unlikeable. This is almost comical.

COOPER: It does seem -- I mean, obviously former President Trump does not want a border bill because he doesn't want anything that could be perceived as a win for Biden or he doesn't want the border to go away as a top issue for him.

Is there more that Biden should be doing on the border? I mean, not just for political reasons but for national security?

CARVILLE: Well, from what I know about the bill, I'm not an expert on the border, but there were all kinds of provisions in there that would have made it better. And by the way, Donald Trump is not in the Congress of the United States. He is not in the House of Representatives.

All they needed was, you know, a few senators to go along. All the Democratic senators were going be for it until they tanked it. So the idea that Trump is the fault of all this, I mean, actually, you know if you saw Congressman Crenshaw in the Mardi Gras, he was shucking and jiving. He didn't want to say what he was really thinking.

But I think the president has an opening to run against a do-nothing Congress and I think that's a valid observation and I think it will hold up well over a period of time.

COOPER: You know, I guess -- I mean, some would look at and say, well, why are Republicans thinking that killing a border deal would be beneficial to the Trump campaign? I mean, there's the obvious reason that not giving it any kind of victory to Biden would help Trump, but if voters are aware that the former president is the one saying don't do this, I assume there would be a certain amount of outrage over that. Although I guess, among his core supporters, that doesn't really matter.

CARVILLE: Well, he can't just run among his core supporters, and you have to be constant. You have to talk all the time about a do-nothing Congress. So every time that the Democrats are asked about this, to say, look, we negotiated in good faith. It was a do-nothing Congress.

The public understands that Trump doesn't have a vote. That 49, I think it is Republican senators, there's 220 or 221 Republican House members. The onus should be on them. And if they want to say, well, Donald Trump controls the duly elected representatives, let them say that. But I don't think that's a very satisfactory answer to 55 percent of the American people. I really don't.

COOPER: You know, you famously have the line, it's the economy, stupid. You talked about running against a do-nothing Congress, and obviously, President Biden is focusing a lot on the former president.

Is the economic message not -- I mean, shouldn't that be front and center? I mean, there's certainly some good economic news, I believe.

CARVILLE: Right, but people live in an economy and they feel it and we know from the Clinton years and we know from the Obama years that it takes a lot -- you have to go pretty deep into recovery, where people are feeling it. And I think he should talk about things they've done to help families cope with cost of living increases, like the prescription drugs or releasing the petroleum reserves or other things that they've done to clear up the supply chain.

But it's hard if you tell people they live in a good economy, and they don't think they do, they think that you don't understand their lives. And I think he can talk about things that he's done. He can certainly talk about his infrastructure bill, which is a real magnificent achievement, but I don't agree that they should go out and tell people how great this economy is.

You've got to let people feel the economy and they can talk about measures that they're taken to help people deal which obviously has been cost of living increase for families across this country.


COOPER: Yes. James Carville, thank you so much. Good to talk to you.

CARVILLE: Thank you, Anderson. Happy Mardi Gras to you, man.

COOPER: Yes, I wish I was there.

All right, take care.

CARVILLE: Bye. Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up, the former president once called Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts an absolute disaster, his words. Tomorrow, his legal team appears before the Roberts Court where he'll need the support of the chief justice and whether to remain on ballots in states that want to exclude him under what's known as the Constitution's insurrection ban. We'll take a preview of that case, next.


COOPER: A pivotal moment for the former president's White House aspirations tomorrow. His attorneys argue before the Supreme Court about why the 14th Amendment's insurrection ban does not apply to him and why it would be unconstitutional for states like Colorado and Maine to leave him off any ballot.

It is also a significant moment for Chief Justice John Roberts who has a reputation for trying to take a measured approach when dealing with issues of extreme partisanship.

Paula Reid tonight has more.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): CNN today captured this exclusive footage of former President Donald Trump's legal team wrapping up its final preparations for tomorrow's historic Supreme Court arguments.

Trump's top lawyers and advisers gathered for mock arguments, part of a more disciplined approach they are taking to this pivotal case after turning several recent hearings in other cases in to campaign stops.


I want to watch this witch hunt myself.

REID (voice over): Trump is not expected to attend the Supreme Court arguments. Arguing on Trump's behalf will be Jonathan Mitchell, a former Texas solicitor general. This will be his sixth appearance before the High Court.


JONATHAN MITCHELL, FORMER TEXAS SOLICITOR GENERAL: Supreme Court justices are ultimately political appointments.

REID (voice-over): The Trump team is confident that it will win the case, which started out as a long-shot bid to push Trump off the 2024 ballot.

ERIC OLSON, ATTORNEY FOR COLORADO PLAINTIFFS: Trump engaged in insurrection and therefore, cannot appear on the ballot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frankly, President Trump didn't engage, he didn't carry a pitch fork to the Capitol grounds, he didn't lead a charge.

REID (voice-over): In the year's long lead-up to Thursday's arguments, the anti-Trump opponents looked for states where they believe they could succeed based on a constitutional provision that hasn't been tested since 1919. Their efforts have been met with mixed results, with only Maine and Colorado taking him off the primary ballot. Even California opted to include Trump. Trump's team insists that states should not be able to deprive voters of their choice of candidates.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This whole thing is rigged, election interference.

REID (voice-over): This case is not just a test for Trump, the Justices have also been under intense scrutiny over questions about ethics and partisanship. And for Chief Justice John Roberts, his legacy is on the line, as someone who tries to steer the court clear of the politics that divides Washington.

JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: We do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle. We do not caucus in separate rooms. We do not serve one party or one interest. We serve one nation.

REID (voice-over): Roberts under pressure to build consensus.

NOAH BOOKBINDER, PRESIDENT, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON: This case puts the court in a tough position any way around. I think they would rather not be thinking about these issues. But it's what the democracy requires and what the constitution requires at this moment. We think the court is going to rise to that occasion.


REID: After tomorrow's arguments, Trump's lawyers need to quickly pivot to another case they would like to bring before the justices. They have only until Monday to signal to the High Court that they want to appeal yesterday's decision saying that Trump doesn't have presidential immunity to shield him from the January 6 prosecutions.

Anderson, it's unclear if the justices are going to want to wade in there. But it's just another example of how influential the Supreme Court is going to be throughout this 2024 campaign season.

COOPER: All right. Paula Reid, thanks so much. Joining me, our Legal Analyst Jennifer Rodgers, a former Federal Prosecutor, and Carrie Cordero, Former Counsel to the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security. What do you expect, Jennifer, to hear tomorrow?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I expect to hear a lot because the court has not been specific about the arguments that it is willing to hear. So, there are a lot of arguments at play, arguments about -- universal arguments about whether this applies to Trump, whether the president is an officer, universal arguments about whether the provision is self-executing or not, arguments about whether Colorado properly handled this case under their own laws, and then the arguments about whether in fact he participated in an insurrection. So, everything is on the table. It's unusual for them not to narrow it down for the litigants, but that's what's happening.

COOPER: How long does it go for, do you think?

RODGERS: They have given each side I think 40 minutes, the main two, and then 20 minutes for a couple of other participants. But I think the clock will just run. They will keep asking questions, probably a couple of hours.

COOPER: And Carrie, what do you think are the former president's strongest and weakest arguments in the case?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think one of the big challenges that I see in this case and one of the big questions that I have in terms of how much the justices will get into this question, is the type of record that has to be established in determining whether or not he engaged in an insurrection. And this is related to the issue that Jennifer mentioned regarding whether or not the Section 3 is self-executing.

So in other words, in Colorado, the basis for the disqualification was based on the facts revealed through a five-day trial. And that established the record that he engaged in the insurrection. In the main case that was mentioned in Paula's piece, that was just a Secretary of State determination. And the law in terms of Section 3 or the Colorado law at issue here doesn't lay out the standards by which the court is able to make that judgment as to whether he engaged in the insurrection.

And so, I think the absence of the guidance on how that decision is made is something that the justices will need to dig into in order to determine whether there is a substantial basis to take the drastic step of disqualifying a candidate.

COOPER: And Jennifer, I mean obviously, the court has a super majority of conservatives. Are there justices you are going to watching closely to or listening to closely?

RODGERS: Well, certainly Roberts, because he is the center of the court, he's the chief but also the most moderate of the Republicans. I think he will want to have as close to unanimous decision here as he can. One person who might go with him is Elena Kagan, who is very much an institutionalist. So, if she's thinking about the reputation of the court and giving guidance to lower courts and all of these officials around the country, she might be someone that Roberts can bring along for a decision that relies on one of these legal bases to say that he can stay on the ballot.


COOPER: Carrie, what do you think the chances are that the Supreme Court actually removes the former president from the ballot? I mean, that seems -- what do you think? CORDERO: I think it's less likely, Anderson. I mean, I think there's so many pieces of this that all would have to go in the same direction. So they would have to find that he is an officer, which is its own esoteric constitutional issue that sounds like it should be straightforward, but it's actually not based on different sections of the constitution.

They would have to find that he engaged, that Colorado was correct to determine that he engaged in the insurrection. They would have to find that it is self-executing. So, we have to keep in mind that Colorado is the outlier in terms of all of the different states that have considered this issue. And so, I think it's less likely that the court upholds the disqualification. But we will see how the court rules.

COOPER: Jennifer, do you agree with that?

RODGERS: I do. I do. I think it's very unlikely that they will uphold the Colorado opinion, and not because that's not the way it should go, if you are really just looking at the law. I just think as a practical matter, they don't want the chaos that ensues when 50 states with 50 different standards applies them in different ways --


RODGERS: -- in the heat of the primary season.

COOPER: Jennifer Rodgers, thank you so much. Carrie Cordero, thank you as well.

A quick programming note. Tomorrow night at 8:00, we'll have a two- hour special on those court -- Supreme Court arguments. I will be joined by Kaitlan Collins, that starts tomorrow 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Coming up tonight, we will go to the White House for more on the strikes against someone the U.S. Military says is responsible for the attack in Jordan last week that killed three U.S. soldiers. Also, we'll go to California for the latest on the U.S. Military helicopter that went missing and was found. Questions, where are the five Marines who were on board?



COOPER: More now on a breaking news tonight that U.S. strike against the commander of an Iranian-backed militia group responsible for attacks on U.S. soldiers, including the one that killed three soldiers in Jordan last week. Again, this is new video of the aftermath of the attack which took place in Baghdad.

President Biden has authorized strikes on more than 80 targets in the region since that attack. Earlier, Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw was on our broadcast. He said he wanted to see the White House continue ordering strikes. I'm joined now by our MJ Lee who is at the White House, also Retired General Wesley Clark, CNN Military Analyst and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander.

MJ, what is the White House saying about this strike?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the administration is making clear tonight that what we saw tonight is not the end. This is just a part of the retaliation that the U.S. is conducting after the deaths of those three Americans. And you will recall that immediately after that attack in Jordan that took the lives of the three American soldiers, the president was very quickly presented with a range of options.

And it was early last week that he gave the green light on a series of actions that would be taken in the region. And in terms of just the specifics of the strike, we are told that there was a lot of consideration given to the timing and the specific execution of the strike to make sure that they could avoid the loss of innocent life. Of course, central command so far has said no casualties that they know of, no civilian casualties that they know of.

And you can see when you are watching that video just how important that caution would be given that you see this is an area with cars and with people going by. But, Anderson, it's very clear White House officials saying this is a part of the message that the president wants to send clearly. And that message is, we will not hesitate to defend our people and hold responsible any and all who seek to harm Americans. So, all of this has everything to do again with those three American soldiers that were killed.

COOPER: General Clark, it's -- I mean, it's remarkable to me that they can do such a seemingly pinpoint strike on a street, on a vehicle. What's your assessment of how this was carried out?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think we have been watching these groups for some time. We have been collecting information on them. We know the leaders of this group, it's familiar to us. This very group fought against I.S.L. (ph) back in 2014. It has been in the region for a long time. We probably have a lot of technology on them -- radio call signs, phone numbers, maybe even a visual recognition.

There are probably people that are paid informants from these groups. It's a variety of means. But the point is, we track it. We watch it. We wait for the opportunity to emerge. And then we get permission and go through the checklist, before we would launch a strike like this, and have a very high-level approval to do it.

COOPER: And General Clark, I mean, do you also anticipate additional strikes in the region? And what kind of targets would remain on the list at this point?

CLARK: I think that this is a start of a new class of targets. Really, we are going to go after the leadership directly. You know, when the 85 targets that were hit in the seven target areas, there was a delay. And a lot of people said, well, the top people got away. This particular guy may have been in one of the target boxes and got away, but we know who he is. We found out where he lived and how he is moving, and we took him out. And the others who were engaged and working against us could expect the same thing.

COOPER: MJ, we talked to Oren Liebermann about this a little bit earlier in the program. But, talk a little bit about the challenges of U.S. launching attacks on Iraqi soil.

LEE: Yeah, I mean, you are seeing that response pretty immediately from the Iraqi government, saying that this is a new aggression by the U.S. and it really breaks all sort of understandings that stand between the U.S. and Iraq. The reality is that these Iran-backed groups that are based in Iraq have been launching these provocations and attacks against U.S. forces and U.S. bases for a long time now. But we have seen all of that really escalate since the Israel-Hamas war began back in October.

And I think it's important to keep in mind that it is this -- with this as the backdrop that we are starting to see the beginnings of the conversation between the U.S. and Iraqi governments about pulling U.S. forces permanently out of Iraq. We've seen those calls grow as these strikes and U.S. retaliation have also escalated. So, that sort of brings an additional urgency to these conversations that have already been really urgent and sensitive.


COOPER: And General Clark, I mean, how careful does the U.S. need to be not to alienate the Iraqi government?

CLARK: I think the United States has do what it has to do to defend its forces, to maintain its position there, and to try to push deterrence (ph) against Iran. So, look, it's not in the interest of the Iraqi government to force us to leave. There may be pressure, they may go through the motions of this. It's not in our interest to leave.

We have an arraignment with the Iraqi government. We are there at their -- really helping them avoid becoming a complete vassal state of Iran, and them being alienated from the other nations in the Persian Gulf. So, they don't want us to leave. We are working this and there's what you see on the surface and there's what's said underneath.

COOPER: Yeah, understandable. MJ Lee, thank you, retired General Wesley Clark as well.

More breaking news, the mystery in southern California surrounding a U.S. Military helicopter and five aboard who were missing late last night -- went missing late last night. The Marine Corps says they have found the helicopter. Stephanie Elam joins us now with the latest. What do we know about this helicopter and where these U.S. troops are?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Unfortunately, Anderson, we don't have information on where those five Marines are. We do know that they were able to find the helicopter just after 9:00 a.m. local time today. We are talking about a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter that took off from Creech Air Force Base, which is just north of Las Vegas, Nevada. And it was flying to just north of San Diego to the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Now, the last ping that they got from this aircraft was at around 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time, and then around 2:20 in the morning, early this morning, that's when Cal Fire was sent to go look for them. They sent out some engines, they sent out an ambulance as well. The conditions were so bad, as I talked to Cal Fire earlier today, they said it was muddy. They said the visibility was really low that because of the snow coming down, they actually got out of their vehicles and started searching on foot, and couldn't do it any further, and then resumed that search this morning when they found the aircraft.

But what is unclear at this point is, what is the condition of the five Marines who were on that aircraft, and that's what we don't know as of this time, right now.

COOPER: When is the next update, or when do you expect an update from the military?

ELAM: Well, interestingly enough, there was a press conference that was scheduled earlier today. We waited around for an hour to get some information. And then they just canceled it and said they would come back to everybody when they had more information. So, we don't have any information considering that this is so much later, going almost 12 hours later. This is odd that we haven't heard anything at this point.

But still a big mystery of what could have happened to this Marine aircraft and those five Marines, whether or not they are dead or alive, we just don't know right now.

COOPER: Stephanie Elam, thanks so much.

Coming up next, we are going to take a few minutes to talk about grief and loss, and a mom's love for her son, Ian Alexander Lahikainen, who bravely faced brain cancer.



COOPER: The final episode of my podcast about grief and loss, "All There Is", became available today. This episode is made up of some of the thousands of voice mails that I received from listeners who called to talk about the people that they've lost and how they walk with grief. To put together this episode, I listened to more than 1,500 deeply moving and emotional calls, more than 50 hours of calls.

Tonight, I want you to hear one of those calls, Mary Lahikainen, who very much wants you to know the name of her beloved son, Ian Alexander Lahikainen.


MARY LAHIKAINEN, MOTHER OF IAN ALEXANDER LAHIKAINEN DIAGNOSED WITH BRAIN CANCER (voice-over): My name is Mary Lahikainen. I'm calling because I want you to know my son's name. Ian Alexander Lahikainen is my only child. He was 25 when diagnosed with brain cancer, the worst glioblastoma. We were told from the beginning, it would take his life. So it went on for a number of years. But he was left with daily seizures. His longtime girlfriend left, too much for her. He planned to marry her.

It was just the three of us -- mom, dad and Ian. The time was full of love and laughter, but also terrifying MRIs to see if the other shoe, as they put it, finally dropped. October of 2019, they offered to try to just keep him alive, no more talk of a cure. This meant constantly at the hospital. Ian wanted to stop. I didn't want to lose him. I talked to them for three weeks. And finally, on Halloween, I asked him to tell me what he really wanted.

I want to stay home, mom. I want to live, not just survive, he said. Even if you know it could happen, I ask. Yes, he said. I said, OK, I'll tell everyone to stop calling, no more appointments, no labs, no MRIs. My heart was breaking. Ian looked at me with a huge smile. Oh mom, I'm so happy.

On February 29th, 2020, I held him in my arms. I could feel his heart pounding in my chest. I said, it's all right, Ian, I've got you. I love you. And I felt his heart stop. I was the first to hold Ian when he was born and I was the last. (Inaudible) he smiled and told me I was his best friend. What a gift that was. All throughout his life, we were goofy pals. Ian knew that he was my favorite human. I'm so lost without him.


COOPER: I called Mary back today and I talked to her for a while, and it meant a lot to her to know that people all over the world would hear her son's name, Ian Alexander Lahikainen.


COOPER: To listen to the other podcasts, you can point your camera on the QR Code that's on the screen and a link will appear on your phone that you can click to download it. You'll find the episode and others on "Grief and Loss" on Apple Podcast or Spotify or wherever you may happen to listen to podcasts.

Grief can feel very lonely, but you are not alone and talking about it and hearing other people's stories, it helps. "The Source" with Kaitlan Collins is next.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Tonight, straight from "The Source," it is being called an epic fail of losses for Republicans as another critical bill goes down. Nikki Haley is calling it total chaos; Donald Trump is celebrating; President Biden is saying it's time for Republicans to decide who they serve.

Also, history in the making at the Supreme Court, nine justices will give their first indication of where they lean in the fight over removing Trump from the ballot ahead of the election, for what he did after the last one.

And we have new updates for you tonight as the U.S. is striking back for the deaths of three Americans in the Middle East, a top militia commander.