Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Rails Against Jury Selection Rules Even Though Same Procedures Apply To Both Sides; D.A. In Hush Money Case Wants To Ask Trump About His Past Legal Defeats If He Testifies: Trump Trial Resumes Thursday With More Jury Selection; Speaker Johnson Moving Forward With Foreign Aid Bills, Including Ukraine, Despite Pressure From Hardliners; Axios' Barak Ravid: Israel Considered Iran Strike On Monday But Decided To Wait; Netanyahu Says Israel Will Make Own Decisions On Iran Response; Graphic New Video Shows Aftermath Of Strike That Killed Children, Adults In Central Gaza; Author Salman Rushdie's New Book "Knife" Hits The Stands; Arizona Fails To Bring Up Repeal Vote For Civil War-Era, Near-Total Abortion Ban. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 17, 2024 - 20:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Things that you say, I think anybody watching is fearful. You think it's just a small escalation, but none of these things really are. We're in uncharted territory.

Seth, thank you so much.


BURNETT: And thanks so much to all of you for being with us. We'll see you back here tomorrow when jury selection once again resumes in the Trump hush money trial here in New York. In the meantime, now it's time for AC360 with Anderson Cooper.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening from Tel Aviv where the question about Israeli retaliation for Iran's drone and missile strike over the weekend remains not if, but when. Speaking today in Jerusalem, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said, "It is clear the Israelis are making a decision to act." What that might look like, we do not know.

We will, of course, continue to monitor late developments here and bring them to you as they happen.

Back home, the former president's New York criminal trial picks up again tomorrow morning. But today there was a new filing from the prosecution, laying out their intention to use his past legal run-ins to discredit him if he chooses to testify. Jury selection continues tomorrow with seven members already seated and the defendant apparently in the dark about the rules for keeping prospective members off the jury, striking them, as it's called.

He posted to a social network this morning, writing, "I thought STRIKES were supposed to be 'unlimited' when we were picking our jury? I was then told we only had 10, not nearly enough when we were purposely given the 2nd Worst Venue in the Country."

Now, keeping them honest, here is the state law pertaining to the type of felonies he's charged with and I'm quoting now: "Each party must be allowed the following number of peremptory challenges, 10 for the regular jurors in all other cases and two for each alternate juror to be selected."

Now, that's something his legal team is certainly aware of. Their client, apparently not so much. Regardless, the jury selection process has been going quickly enough. We could see opening statements by Monday.

More now from CNN's Kara Scannell, who joins us.

So Kara - so we're going to get to the Trump complaints about jury selection in a moment. But first, talk a little bit about the information that prosecutors want to now introduce.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So prosecutors want to be able to ask Trump if he takes the stand on cross-examination about a lot of the legal issues that he's had, including the verdict in the civil fraud case where the judge found Trump liable for persistent and repeated fraud. They also want to bring up the verdicts in the E. Jean Carroll cases where two different juries found Trump liable for defamation. One found Trump liable for sexual abuse.

And among the other legal run-ins Trump has had, they also want to focus on a judge sanctioning him for filing a frivolous lawsuit against Hillary Clinton. They also want to be able to ask him about a settlement that the Trump Foundation had with the New York Attorney General's Office in which Trump agreed to dissolve his foundation.

And lastly, they want to ask him about the criminal convictions of two Trump entities for tax fraud in 2022. Trump's side has signaled that they're going to challenge this. The judge said he will hold a hearing over this issue before he rules whether any of this will come in. He said that could be as soon as Friday afternoon if they wrap up jury selection in time. So he seems - like he thinks that that is possible.

COOPER: Kara Scannell, stay with us.

Joining us is also bestselling author and former federal prosecutor, Jeffrey Toobin, also jury consultant Jill Huntley Taylor.

Jeff, the former president posted on his social media platform tonight, quoting a Fox host who said, "They are catching undercover liberal activists lying to the Judge in order to get on the 'Trump Jury.'" Is that permissible given the gag order on Trump?


COOPER: And also what do you make of the merits of that claim?

TOOBIN: Well, I think it's false, but it's - but more importantly it's - clearly, I think, an attempt to intimidate jurors and it is clearly barred by the gag order in this case. I mean, Donald Trump doesn't seem to realize that he is now a criminal defendant and criminal defendants have different and lesser rights than ordinary citizens.

They are not allowed to interfere in trial process, especially when there is a gag order that specifically addressed attempts to intimidate jurors. I mean, it was simply not permissible. And I think prosecutors who have already asked to have him found in contempt for other violations where he's talked about witnesses, this in many respects is much more serious because judge take the jury and the integrity of the jury as almost sacrosanct.

And the idea that he's intimidating the jury is something that I think Judge Merchan is going to be very concerned about. He's already scheduled a hearing for the other contempt issue next week, but this may prompt him to move it up.

COOPER: What are his options though, I mean, realistically?

TOOBIN: Well, the prosecution has asked for a fine of a thousand dollars per violation of the gag order in terms of the witnesses.


But the way contempt often works is that it accelerates, is that the first violation is a thousand dollars, the next violation is $10,000. The next violation can be a hundred thousand dollars, but ultimately, contempt can include jail time. And I think we are a ways off from that.

But if Trump continues to violate the court's order, it is well within Judge Merchan's ability and his power to order him locked up for contempt. I don't think he's there yet, but - and dollar sanctions will certainly be the first sanction. But if Trump continues to violate these rules, and we are very early in this process, it could happen.

COOPER: Yes. Kara, I mean, you've watched this judge closely, how do you think he's going to deal with potential violations?

SCANNELL: I would expect the prosecutors will bring this up tomorrow morning before they bring in the new pool of jurors. And the judge was pretty firm in the former president yesterday when he was making comments. It was the judge that noticed and identified that Trump was muttering in the courtroom and gesturing in the direction of the juror and he said he wanted to note it for the record. And he said he would not tolerate jury intimidation in this courtroom. He said, "Am I making myself clear?"

So he ordered Trump's lawyer to go over and talk to him about it. So I don't think he's going to like the tweet here and it's going to definitely be an issue that they'll be discussing, I'd imagine.

TOOBIN: And Anderson, judges in general and this judge in particular, they draw a distinction between public figures and people who didn't volunteer to be public figures. I mean, the other contempt issues involve comments about Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen, both of whom are public figures and they've been talked about before. And frankly, I'm not sure what Trump's comments, how much of a

difference they made. The jury is a different story. These people did not volunteer to be public figures. They have no experience with the news media. Everybody knows that Trump supporters mobilize behind their leader.


TOOBIN: This is a scary thing and I think the judge is going to be very concerned about it.

COOPER: Jill, if you look at yesterday's court transcript, the difference in approaches, I mean, the stark - the prosecution told prospective jurors and I'm quoting, "This case has nothing to do with your personal politics. This case is about whether this man broke the law." While the defense really focused on their opinion, saying it's extraordinarily important to President Trump that we know we're going to get a fair shake and urge potential jurors to be candid about their views, saying such candor would not offend the court, the people or even Trump by really talking about your opinion. I'm wondering what you make of those two tactics.

JILL HUNTLEY TAYLOR, JURY CONSULTANT: Yes, I mean, they were both focused on the issue of cause challenges, right? So the prosecution was trying to insulate the jurors and remind the jurors that their job is to make decisions based on the evidence and the facts that they hear in that courtroom and to distinguish that from what maybe their opinions were before they got there or their general opinions of their politics. And on the defense side they were focused on developing cause challenges. They want the jurors to say, you know what, actually I can't be fair, so that they can get a cause challenge.

And so they confronted the jurors with their social media posts. And despite the jurors saying that they could be fair and impartial, they were confronted and challenged on that by seeing their social media posts. And they did - they were successful in getting some of the cause challenges that they wanted. Judge Merchan did grant a couple of those cause challenges and - for the other jurors that they didn't like and they didn't get cause challenges, then they used their peremptory challenges on those jurors.

COOPER: Yeah, Jill Huntley Taylor, thank you. Kara Scannell, Jeff Toobin as well.

We spent some time at the start of the trial on the catch and kill scheme at the center of it all. Tonight, we're focusing on the one woman, one of two who silenced candidate Trump, allegedly tried to buy Stormy Daniels. Her story before that moment and since from our Randi Kaye.



STORMY DANIELS: I am Stormy Daniels for those who don't know who I am, I suggest you don't Google that until you get home from work. (END VIDEO CLIP)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Long before she was Stormy Daniels, she was Stephanie Gregory. Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she reportedly had dreams of becoming a veterinarian or a journalist. She was the editor of the school newspaper and president of the 4-H club. Beneath her 1997 high school yearbook photo, a caption that reads, we will all get along just fine as soon as you realize that I am Queen.

By the time she was 17, she was dancing in strip clubs across the South. Stripping was her entry into porn. Hollywood began to notice her, too. Director Judd Apatow cast her in some of his comedies, including "The 40-Year-Old Virgin."



JUDD APATOW, DIRECTOR: I was ahead of the curve on the whole Stormy Daniels.


APATOW: She's very nice and super smart and great to work with, so we just kept asking her to be in all of our movies.


KAYE (voice over): She also appeared in this music video.

The year 2006 changed the trajectory of Stormy Daniels' life. That's the year she says she had an affair with Donald Trump, after the two met at a golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. A few years later, in 2009, after Louisiana's Republican Senator David Vitter was exposed for hiring prostitutes, Stormy Daniels flirted with a Senate run.


DANIELS: I don't see how I could possibly embarrass him more than he's already embarrassed himself.


KAYE (voice over): Her political dreams hit a snag when Daniels was arrested on domestic violence charges, though the charges were later dropped. In 2010, she dropped out of the race, citing lack of funds. By 2014, Daniels and her then-husband had moved to Forney, Texas, a small city outside Dallas. She reportedly took horseback riding lessons and continued to pursue her lifelong love of horses. For years, she was a competitive equestrian.




KAYE (voice over): Horses were a theme in a 2017 adult film she directed called "Unbridled," in which she also starred.




KAYE (voice over): In her book, "Full Disclosure," published in 2018, Stormy Daniels wrote extensively about her alleged affair with Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever made love to anyone whose name rhymes with Lonald Lump (ph)?

DANIELS: I'll call you whatever you want me to call you, baby.


KAYE (voice over): She also wrote about her turbulent childhood, living in a home infested with rats and insects, also disclosing that when she was nine, she was repeatedly raped by a man who lived next door to a friend. "I was nine. I was a child and then I wasn't," she wrote.

In the documentary "Stormy," released on Peacock this year, she revealed a lot about her childhood and her parents' struggles.


DANIELS: I grew up in this pretty rough neighborhood in Baton Rouge. Lots of drugs, a lot of violence. We used to hear gunshots and stuff all the time. I was basically white trash. This is one of the only pictures I have of me and my mom. My parents split up when I was four. After my dad left, my mother sort of changed. I think it broke her heart.


KAYE (voice over): That little girl from Louisiana, now 45, and going toe-to-toe with Donald Trump in a historic courtroom drama.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach County, Florida.


COOPER: Well, coming up next, breaking news from Capitol Hill on when a House vote could come on aid for Israel and Ukraine. And the political prize Speaker Mike Johnson could pay for from his own party.

Also, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's answer to allies with ideas about how he should respond to Iran.



COOPER: There's breaking news on two fronts in Washington, more than two months after the Senate overwhelmingly passed a foreign aid bill with assistance for Israel and Ukraine, only to see it die in the chaotic Republican-controlled House, House Speaker Mike Johnson says he'll bring a similar package to the floor on Saturday.

In doing so, the Speaker appears to be putting his already shaky grip on the gavel in further jeopardy for the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene, who's leading a revolt against him.

Also today, the Senate rejected what until recently had been House Republicans' notable accomplishment, impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

CNN's Melanie Zanona joins us now with more on both of those stories.

So, Melanie, on the Mayorkas' impeachment effort failing in the Senate, what happened there?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes. Well, the Senate voted in a party-line vote to dismiss the impeachment case against Alejandro Mayorkas. Of course, this outcome was expected all along, but it didn't come without some drama on the Senate floor.

We saw Republicans force a number of procedural votes, trying to delay this as long as possible, and really trying to protest that Democrats refused to hold a full trial. But in the end, ultimately, Mayorkas was not convicted, with just one Republican, that's Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voting present on one of those motions to kill one of those two articles.

But it's important to point out here that the politics were really driving so much of what we saw. Republicans really want some ammunition heading into November, where they're planning to make the border a top-tier campaign issue. But Democrats felt completely comfortable dismissing this trial altogether, saying that a policy dispute does not rise to a level of a high crime and misdemeanor, and also arguing that if Republicans really wanted to secure the border, they could have supported that bipartisan Senate deal that ultimately fell apart at the hands of Donald Trump.

COOPER: And Speaker Johnson in the House is moving forward with his plan to put a series of foreign aid bills on the floor, despite the pressure from Republican hardliners. Where does that stand?

ZANONA: Yes, Johnson had delayed this major decision for months, but he finally committed to holding four individual votes on aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and some other national security priorities. So the House is going to hold a vote on those bills on Saturday evening. Then they're going to merge them all together and send them over to the Senate in one package.

Here's Speaker Mike Johnson talking about his decision. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): Look, we know what the timetable is. We know the urgency in Ukraine and in Israel. And we are going to stand by Israel, our close ally and dear friend, and we are going to stand for freedom and make sure that Vladimir Putin doesn't march through Europe.


ZANONA: But this move has set up a showdown Johnson's right flank, who's threatening to not only oppose this foreign aid package of bills, but also potentially oust him from the speakership. Just listen.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I think some people are becoming more angry than I am, so \this - we'll see what happens today. I don't know how much longer our members are going to tolerate the Republican speaker that we elected to pass our agenda in the House.

REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): I'm well past the point of giving grace here. So we're going to go have some conversations.

REP. ERIC BURLISON (R-MO): I haven't made up my mind yet but I'm not happy about this rule and he's pushing us to the brink here.



ZANONA: Now, it's unclear if and when a motion to vacate the speakership is actually going to come to the floor, but it's looking increasingly likely that Johnson is going to need Democrats to help bail him out. So far, though, Anderson, Democrats not making any commitments.

COOPER: Melanie Zanona, thanks very much.

This next story also concerns the Russian threat in this case to Americans right where they live. Today, experts from a noted cybersecurity firm said they suspect a group of hackers with ties to the Russian government of carrying out a cyber attack on a water facility in rural Texas. It is thought to be the first time that Russia has ever attacked U.S. water systems. Ed Lavandera has the details.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Roughly 5,000 people live in the city of Muleshoe, tucked away in the Texas panhandle, where the most popular attractions are a statue of a mule named Old Pete and the world's largest mule shoe.

The point is, this isn't the kind of place you'd think would be at the heart of an international cyber attack suspected of being carried out by hackers that have cooperated with a sophisticated Russian military intelligence unit. But a new report says this city's water treatment facility computer system was attacked by suspected Russian hackers in January, causing a water tank to overflow. The manager said it overflowed for about 30 to 45 minutes.


LAVANDERA (on camera): The question that comes to mind is why a water treatment facility and why in a place like Muleshoe, Texas?



LAVANDERA (voice over): Gus Serino (ph) is a cybersecurity expert focused on the vulnerability of public water systems.


SERINO: An organization may think we're kind of too small. We're not high enough strategic value for some nation state adversary to come after us. However, victims are finding that they are affected simply because of the technology that they have that's sitting unprotected on the internet and findable and exploitable.


LAVANDERA (voice over): In the report published by the cybersecurity firm Mandiant, cyber experts say that a Russian intelligence unit known as Sandworm is involved in an online persona called the Cyber Army of Russia Reborn that claimed credit for the attack on Muleshoe. There was also suspicious activity targeting public water systems in three other West Texas cities, Abernathy, Hale Center and Lockney, according to officials.


LAVANDERA (on camera): A little West Texas know-how?



LAVANDERA (voice over): Buster Poling is the city manager in Lockney. He says officials noticed unusual activity in the computer system and made security changes to keep the hackers from taking control.


LAVANDERA (on camera): What was your reaction when you found out that it might have been a Russian intelligence group that was behind this hacking attempt?

POLING: Not surprised. A small town water system, unfortunately, is a prime target for a hacker or a terrorist, some sort of terrorist activity. That's been - we've known that for years.


COOPER: The Russian hacking group posted images online claiming to show how it was able to break into the industrial computer systems of Muleshoe and Abernathy and manipulate data entries in the system.


POLING: I think they were probably attempting to take control of the system, including operating, turning on water wells and turning them off.


ANNE NEUBERGER, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR FOR CYBER AND EMERGING TECH: We've got to make - work a lot harder for these attackers.


LAVANDERA (voice over): Deputy National Security Advisor, Anne Neuberger says, it's not clear what message the Russian hackers were trying to send, but that much more needs to be done to beef up cyber security defenses of water systems around the country.


NEUBERGER: Russia has created a permissive environment for hacktivists and cyber criminals, some of whom are affiliated in some way with Russian intelligence. We don't know if they're moonlighting. We don't know if it's direct instructions given. The U.S. intelligence community has really been digging into that.


LAVANDERA (voice over): In the Texas, panhandle, the cyber attacks did not cause any significant damage, but experts fear future attacks could be worse.


LAVANDERA (on camera): What's your biggest fear that could happen?

SERINO: My biggest fear is that there could be health and safety impacts. In addition to that, just the widespread panic that could occur if multiple systems were affected simultaneously and the public confidence is eroded.



LAVANDERA (on camera): Anderson, local officials told us it was FBI investigators that first alerted them that it was Russian hackers suspected of being behind these cyber attacks. The FBI declined to comment to us. We've also reached out to the Russian embassy, but we have not heard back from them either. Anderson?

COOPER: Ed Lavandera, thanks so much.

Coming up, four days after Iran's attack on Israel, still no military response by the Israelis. However, as we mentioned, Britain's David Cameron met with Prime Minister Netanyahu today. He told reporters, "It's clear the Israelis are making a decision to act."

That, plus new reporting on how close Israel was responding days ago, right after the attack and then decided to hold off.



COOPER: During the Israeli cabinet's 6th meeting today, since those weakened attacks by Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a message for Israel's allies about any forthcoming retaliatory strikes. He thanked them for their support, but said that when it comes to responding to Iran, "We will make our own decisions."

The comments came shortly after Iran's president said any attack would be "dealt with fiercely and seriously." And as Axios and CNN Contributor Barak Ravid reported that Israel consider to strike Monday night, but decided to postpone it. Sources say it was the second such postponement, this time for "operational reasons."

I'm joined now by Ronen Bergman, a staff writer for The New York Times magazine, author of "Rise and Kill," - Mr. Bergman, I'm sorry, author of "Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations," I've been up for a couple of hours, Ronen, excuse me for that.

You have a fascinating article in The Times, you and others. You've learned that the planning for the Iran strike began a long time ago.

RONEN BERGMAN, AUTHOR: Yes. So two months before, they already marked this person, Hassan Mahdavi, the commander of the Quds force in Syria and Lebanon, one of the most senior and experienced, from the Israeli point of view, the most dangerous person. The person they tell collect intelligence about for decades, but refrained from killing him, fearing deterioration.

But October 7th changed everything. It changed the rules of the game, it changed everything and Israel thought that killing him would not deteriorate the area into a regional war.

COOPER: They didn't expect the massive response.


BERGMAN: No. We need to bear in mind that it doesn't lack -- totally lack of logic because they already killed seven Iranian generals in the exact same place in Damascus and it did not.

COOPER: You also reported that the Israel did not inform the U.S. until moments before the attack and at a very low level.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just moments before attack. It took two months to plan, a week before, 23rd of March, they came to the cabinet to approve. All Israeli intelligence thought that it is not going to deteriorate, but they did say, maybe a small-scale attack the militia supporting Iran or from Iran itself, few drones maybe. But we reviewed some of the records summarizing everything that happened before the attack by the Israeli defense establishment, there is nothing close to the assessment to the furious Iranian attack.

COOPER: What's your sense of what has been going on inside that war cabinet?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, since the attack that came in the way and the magnitude, closer to the latest assessment, they thought that there is going to be, firstly, thought ten ballistic missiles, then 60, we ended up with 110. So it just accelerated in large as days passed. But in the first two hours, there were people inside the Israeli cabinet that really promote immediate Israel reaction, aggressive reaction. And as we close, as we get far away from that day, the chances are getting slimmer and slimmer.

Basically the -- I would say the dilemma is how from -- the Israeli point of view, how to strike but not (inaudible) to show significance.

COOPER: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that needs to be in Iran, but not too high to ignite Iranian reaction and another Israeli reaction, and may be deterioration to a regional war. So that gap is leading, of course, their calculation. And also American pressure, the world pressure.

COOPER: That has had a new an impact on the discussion?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has an impact. But on the other hand, and I think maybe better or more forcefully claimed by the military, Israel says it cannot be that Iran is writing the rules of the game. That Israel strike a building in Damascus, but then Iran strike back from Iran to Israeli territory.

COOPER: They don't want that to become the precedent that it is OK for Iran to strike.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, will (inaudible) strike in Damascus next time, they feel though -- some of them feel that there is a need to show force, react with force on Iranian ground. It could be, what you call, at the low signature. So again, shadow war, (inaudible), explosions, cyber. But some Israeli leaders believe it will not have the same effect.

COOPER: That would lack the sort of public demonstration that they want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That Iranians wanted to have when they strike.

COOPER: Right. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically, Israel killed Hassan Mahdawi in order to recreate, rewrite the rules of the game to tell the Iranians you cannot continue to encourage the Houthis or Hezbollah.

COOPER: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they ended up with Iran now writing those rules in their favor. I'm not sure that they will end up winning this round. And there was some Israeli officials who told my colleague, (inaudible), that if they would know that this would be the Iranian reaction, they would not recommend it.

COOPER: It's a fascinating article with a lot of details in "The New York Times" now running (inaudible). Thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you so much.

COOPER: Appreciate it.


COOPER: A warning now, if you have children in the room, you might consider asking them to leave given the graphic nature of this next report. It is about the IDF's continued operations in Gaza. And in particular an airstrike they conducted yesterday afternoon that according to (inaudible) hospital there, killed 14 people, eight of whom are children. One little girl whose name is Shahid. She was ten- years-old. CNN obtained video of the aftermath of the strike from her family who gave us permission to show her face, Shahid. Jeremy Diamond has the story.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A moment frozen in time. The bodies of at least four children splayed around the foosball table. Laughter and shrieks of joy silenced in an instant. Blood now marking where they stood only minutes earlier. Shahid, no way. Shahid, my beloved here, cousin screams from behind the camera. Ten-year-old Shahid is one of those children. Her bright pink pants unmistakable in the arms of the man carrying her away. With her family's consent, CNN has decided to show Shahid in life and death, in order to give a face to this war's deadly impact on children.

At Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, those who can still be saved arrive alongside those who cannot. Amid the chaos, Shahid's pink pants dangling as a doctor confirms what is tragically obvious. But Shahid is not alone. She's one of eight children who died on that crowded street in Al-Maghazi. The hospital says they were killed in an Israeli airstrike.


DIAMOND (voice-over): The Israeli military said the incident is under review. One after another, their small bodies arrive at the hospitals more and into the arms of grieving parents. His eyes swollen and red, the father of nine-year-old Lujain recounts his daughter's last moments, playing foosball with her friends. This is my eldest daughter he says, a drone strike hit them while they were playing. They are all children. Hours earlier, Yusuf (ph) was one of those children, playing alongside Shahid and Lujain when he was suddenly killed in a war he did not choose. His mother still clinging to her son.

Neither does this boy who cannot believe his brother is dead. He is still alive he cries, don't leave him here. Amid the outpourings of grief, there is Shahid, her bloodstained pink pants once again, impossible to miss. Dear God, what did they all do one man cries. What did they all do?


COOPER: Jeremy Diamond joins us now. I mean, just the brutality of this war is just, it's horrific.

DIAMOND: Yeah, Anderson, we don't always -- we rarely make the decision to actually show the faces of the dead. In this case, we got the family's permission and we felt it was important to humanize the victims of this war. Every ten minutes in Gaza, a child is killed or wounded. Nearly 14,000 children have been killed since the beginning of this war. And I've seen a lot of these videos over the course of the last six months covering this and there was something about the image of these children around that foosball table who died, three of whom we were able to identify at the morgue subsequently, that just was an absolute gut punch. And I just think it is important to draw attention to the plight of these children, as well as the children who've been orphaned in this war as well.

COOPER: Yeah. Jeremy Diamond, extraordinary, thank you. Next, as we wait for any Israeli response to Iran's strike over the weekend, one of Iran's best-known targets for years, Author Salman Rushdie on the knife attack two years ago that almost took his life.



COOPER: As we wait here in Tel Aviv for Israel's response to Iran's missile and drone attack, I want to bring you my conversation with one from Tehran's longest-standing and best-known personal targets. Salman Rushdie has been a marked man for nearly half his life. In 1989, Iran's leader Ayatollah Khomeini declared his novel, "The Satanic Verses," blasphemous, an insult to Islam and called for the Indian- born writer's assassination. Rushdie went into hiding with around the clock police protection for ten years, eventually moved to the U.S. and thought he was safe.

But in August 2022, as he was about to speak at a literary festival in Chautauqua, New York, Salman Rushdie was attacked by a Muslim man with a knife. Rushdie, who is now 76, lost his right eye and came close to dying. He has come to terms with the attempt on his life by writing a new book about it called simply "Knife," which went on sale on Tuesday. I talked to him for report I filed for 60 minutes this past weekend. It was his first television interview since the attack.


COOPER: You had had a dream two days, I think it was, before the attack. What was the dream?

SALMAN RUSHDIE, AUTHOR: I kind of had a premonition. I mean, I had a dream of being attacked in an amphitheater, but it was a kind of Roman Empire dream here, as if I was in the Colosseum and it was just somebody with a spear stabbing downwards and I was rolling around on the floor trying to get away from him. And I woke up and was quite shaken by it. And I had to go to a talk. And I said to my wife, Eliza, I said, you know, I don't want to go.

COOPER: Because of the dream?

RUSHDIE: Because of the dream and then I thought, don't be silly, it is a dream.

COOPER (voice-over): Salman Rushdie, one of his generation's most acclaimed writers, had been invited to the town of Chautauqua, close to Lake Erie, to speak about a subject he knows all too well, the importance of protecting writers whose lives are under threat.

COOPER: Did you have any anxiety being in such a public space?

RUSHDIE: Not really because in the more than 20 years that I have been living in America, I have done a lot of these things.

COOPER: You haven't had security around you, a close protection detail for a long time?

RUSHDIE: Long time. But you know, what happens in many places that you go and lecture, is that they are used to having a certain degree of security, venue security. In this case, there wasn't any.

COOPER: The irony, of course, is you were there to talk about writers in danger.

RUSHDIE: Yeah, exactly. And the need for writers from other countries to have safe spaces in America, amongst other places. And then yeah, it just turned out not to be a safe space for me.

COOPER (voice-over): For years, no place was safe for Salman Rushdie, whose sprawling 600-page novel, "The Satanic Verses" offended some Muslims for its depiction of the Prophet Muhammad. Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, a religious decree, calling for Rushdie's death in 1989. There were worldwide protests from London to Lahore. "The Satanic Verses" was burned and 12 people died in clashes with police. The book's Japanese translator was murdered and others associated with it were attacked.

COOPER: Did you have any idea that it would cause violence?


RUSHDIE: No. I had no idea. I thought probably some conservative religious people wouldn't like it. But they didn't like anything I wrote anyway, so I thought, well, they don't have to read it.

COOPER: Where you?

RUSHDIE: Probably. I mean, it is easy looking back but nothing like this had ever happened to anybody. And of course, almost all the people who attacked the book did so without reading it. I was often told that I had intended to insult, offend people. And my view is, if I need to insult you, I can do it really quickly. I don't need to spend five years of my life trying to write a 600-page book to insult you.

COOPER (voice-over): Rushdie was living in London when he went into hiding, and for the next ten years, the British government provided him with 24-hour police protection.

COOPER: Did people try to kill you?

RUSHDIE: Yes. There were maybe as many as half a dozen serious assassination attempts, which were not random people. They were state- sponsored terrorism professionals.

COOPER (voice-over): After diplomatic negotiations, the Iranian State called off its assassins in 1998. Rushdie finally came out of the shadows. He moved to New York and for the next two decades, lived openly. He was a man about town. He continued writing, became a celebrated advocate for freedom of expression. So when he received the invitation to speak in Chautauqua in August 2022, he gladly accepted.

RUSHDIE: I (inaudible) right.

COOPER (voice-over): In his new book, "Knife," he described what happened next.

RUSHDIE: Then in the corner of my right eye, the last thing my right would ever see, I saw the man in black running toward me down the right-hand side of the seating area. Black clothes, black face mask, he was coming in hard and low, a squat missile. I confess I had sometimes imagined my assassin rising up in some public forum or other, and coming for me in just this way. So my first thought when I saw this murderous shape rushing towards me was, so it is you, here you are.

COOPER: So it's you, here you are?


COOPER: It is like you've been waiting for it.

RUSHDIE: Yeah. That's what it felt like. It felt like something coming out of the distant past and trying to drag me back in time, if you like, back into that distant past in order to kill me. And when he got to me, he basically hit me very hard here. And initially, I thought I have been punched.

COOPER: You didn't actually see a knife?

RUSHDIE: I didn't see the knife and I didn't realize until I saw blood coming out that there would be a knife in his fist.

COOPER: So where was that stab?


COOPER: In your neck?

RUSHDIE: In my neck, yeah. Then there were a lot more. The worst wounds was there was a big slash wound, like this, across my neck and there is a puncture, stab wound here, and then of course, there was an attack on my eye.

COOPER: Do you remember being stabbed in the eye?

RUSHDIE: No, I remember falling. Then I remember not knowing what had happened to my eye.

COOPER (voice-over): He was also stabbed in his hand, chest, abdomen, and thigh, 15 wounds in all.

COOPER: He was both stabbing and also slashing?

RUSHDIE: Stabbing and slashing, I think he was just wildly --

COOPER (voice-over): The attack lasted 27 seconds. To feel just how long that is --

COOPER: This is what 27 seconds is. That's it.

RUSHDIE: It is quite a long time. That is the extraordinary half minutes of intimacy, in which life meets death.

COOPER: What stopped it from being longer?

RUSHDIE: The audience pulling him off me.

COOPER: Strangers to you?

RUSHDIE: Total strangers -- I don't -- to this day, I don't know their names.

COOPER (voice-over): Some of those strangers restrained the attacker, while others desperately tried to stem the flow of Rushdie's blood.

RUSHDIE: There was really a lot of blood.

COOPER: You were actually watching your blood?

RUSHDIE: I was actually watching it spread. And then I remember thinking that I was probably dying. And it was interesting because it was quite matter of fact. It wasn't like I was terrified of it or whatever. And yeah, there was nothing, no heaven choirs, no pearly gates. I mean, I'm not a supernatural person. I believe the death comes as the end. There was nothing that happened that made me change my mind about that.

COOPER: You have not had a revelation?

RUSHDIE: I have not had any revelation except that there is no revelation to be had.

COOPER (voice-over): His attacker, the man in black, was hustled off the stage.

COOPER: In the book, you do not use the attacker's name?

RUSHDIE: Yeah. I thought -- I don't want his name in my book. And I don't use it in conversation either.


COOPER: That is important to you, not to give him space in your brain?

RUSHDIE: Yeah, he and I had 27 seconds together, that's it. I don't need to give him any more of my time.

COOPER (voice-over): Paramedics flu Rushdie to a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania 40 miles away where a team of doctors battle for eight hours to save his life. When he finally came out of surgery, his wife, Eliza, a poet and novelist, was waiting.

RACHEL ELIZA GRIFFITHS, RUSHDIE'S WIFE: I mean, he wasn't moving and he was just laid out.

COOPER: He looked half dead to you?

GRIFFITHS: Yes. He did. He was a different color. He was cold. I mean, his face was stapled. Just staples holding his face together.

COOPER (voice-over): Rushdie was on a ventilator, unable to speak. Eliza and the doctors had no idea whether the knife that had penetrated his eye had damaged his brain.

GRIFFITHS: Someone from the staff said that we would use this system of wiggling the toes.

COOPER: To communicate?

GRIFFITHS: To communicate.

COOPER: Do you remember the first question you asked to get a wiggle or --

GRIFFITHS: I think I said, Salman, it is Eliza. Can you hear me? And there was -- there was a wiggle and asked him, I think, can you -- do you know where you are and he wiggled. And it was very basic, simple questions.

RUSHDIE: Because you can't express yourself (inaudible) subtlety with your toes.


GRIFFITHS: Which is your favorite thing.


COOPER (voice-over): After 18 days in the hospital and three weeks in rehab, Rushdie was discharged.

RUSHDIE: One of the surgeons who had saved my life said to me, first, you were really unlucky and then you were really lucky. I said, what's the lucky part? He said, well, the lucky part was that the man who attacked you had no idea how to kill a man with a knife.

COOPER: You're not a believer in miracles. But the fact that you survived, you write in the book, is a miracle.

RUSHDIE: This is a contradiction.


RUSHDIE: How does somebody who doesn't believe in the supernatural account for the fact that something has happened which feels like a miracle? I mean, I certainly don't feel that some hand reach down from the skies and guarded me, but I do think something happened which wasn't supposed to happen. And I have no explanation for it.

COOPER (voice-over): His attacker was at 24-year-old from New Jersey who lived in his mother's basement. He's believed to be a lone wolf. He has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and is awaiting trial. In an interview, he told the "New York Post," he'd only read a couple of pages of "The Satanic Verses" and seen some clips of Rushdie on YouTube. He said he didn't like him very much because Rushdie had attacked Islam.

COOPER: Does it matter to you what his motive was?

RUSHDIE: I mean, it's interesting to me because it's a mystery. If I had written a character who knew so little about his proposed victim and yet was going to commit the crime of murder, my publishers might well say to me that that's under motivated.

COOPER: You need to develop that character.

RUSHDIE: Yeah. Not enough of a reason, you know, not convincing. But yet that's what he did.

COOPER (voice-over): Rushdie's "Knife," his 22nd book is one he initially did not want to write.

RUSHDIE: That was the last thing I wanted to do.

COOPER: Because you didn't want this to yet again define you?

RUSHDIE: Yeah. It was very difficult for me, after "The Satanic Verses" was published, that the only thing anybody knew about me was this death threat. But it became clear to me that I couldn't write anything else.

COOPER: You had to write this first?

RUSHDIE: I had to write this first. I just thought I need to focus on, you know, to use the cliche, the elephant in the room. And the moment I thought that, kind of something changed in my head and it then became a book I really very much wanted to write.

COOPER: You say the language was my knife. If I had unexpectedly been caught in an unwanted knife fight, maybe this was a knife I could use to fight back to take charge of what had happened to me, to own it, make it mine.

RUSHDIE: Yeah. I mean, language is a wave breaking open the world. I don't have any other weapons, but I've been using this particular tool for quite a long time. So, I felt this was my way of dealing with it.

COOPER (voice-over): It's been almost two years since the attack and Rushdie is back home now in New York, slowly getting used to navigating the world with one eye.

COOPER: How much time did it take to kind of readjust?

RUSHDIE: I am still doing it.

COOPER: You still are?


COOPER: Do you feel like you are a different person after the attack?

RUSHDIE: I don't feel I'm very different, but I do feel that it has left a shadow. I think that shadow is just there. And some days, it is dark and some days, it is not.

COOPER: You feel less than you were before?

RUSHDIE: No. I just feel more the presence of death.

COOPER: In an interview almost 25 years ago, you said of the fatwa. I want to find an end to this story. It is the one story I must find an end to. Have you found that ending, and an ending to this story as well?

RUSHDIE: Well, I felt I had and then it turned out I hadn't. I'm hoping this is just a last twitch of that story. I don't know. I'll let you know.



COOPER: My interview with Salman Rushdie for 60 minutes.

Next, a new effort today in Arizona's state legislature to repeal the state's civil war-era, near-total abortion ban. The outcome of that (inaudible).


COOPER: In Arizona's state capital today, the Republican-controlled state legislature twice blocked efforts by Democrats to repeal Arizona's civil war-era, near-total abortion ban. They are defined (ph) calls from Former President Trump in Arizona, U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake to take a more moderate approach ahead of the November election. Just last week, you'll recall, Arizona State Supreme Court ruled in favor of upholding the 1864 law which prohibits abortions except to save the life of a woman.

Abortion rights opponents gathered outside the State House today. A member of the Arizona Chapter of Right to Life said, "This is not a political issue. It's a moral issue." Abortion rights advocates were also on hand.