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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Judge Briefly Clears Courtroom After Tense Exchange with Witness; Funeral Services Begin Tomorrow for Iranian President Killed in Helicopter Crash; Heavy Fighting in Ukraine's Kharkiv Region as Russians Advance, U.S. Aid Arrives; A View From The Frontlines In Ukraine's Fight Against Russia; One-On-One With Bill Maher; Goodbye To A Friend. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 20, 2024 - 20:00   ET


ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Election was valid. We need to accept that. We need to congratulate Joe Biden and the Democrats and all those who won. And we need to stop spreading misinformation. We need to restore the integrity in our election process.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST, "OUTFRONT": Alice had such incredible integrity and she was also personally deeply kind to all of us, always remembering things about everybody's personal lives, an incredibly kind person. And she will be deeply missed by everyone at CNN and, of course, viewers too. We are sending our care to her family tonight.

Thanks for joining us. Anderson starts now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Tonight on 360, disorder in the court as the judge in the former president's hush money trial criticizes a defense witness for breaking the rules of decorum.

Also breaking news on the helicopter crash that killed Iran's president and eight others. We'll have the latest on the investigation and what it means for Iran and the world.

And later, one-on-one with comedian Bill Maher, talking Trump, Biden and what he thinks is wrong with American politics and culture.

Good evening. There was drama today in the Trump hush money trial, the lengths of which we have not seen in the more than five weeks of proceedings. No sooner after the prosecution rested and the defense called another witness, then Judge Merchan cleared the courtroom. A rare act after the judge cited that witness, attorney Robert Costello, for improper courtroom behavior that included rolling his eyes and an audible sigh.

At one point, Merchan said to Costello, quote, "If you try to stare me down one more time, I will remove you from the stand." Not something the defense likely wanted to see or hear as the whole purpose of calling Costello, who had once given legal advice to the prosecution's star witness, Michael Cohen, was for him to undercut Cohen's credibility.

The defense later asked Judge Merchan to dismiss all charges over Cohen's credibility issues. The judge would only say he's reserving his decision. Trump's one-time fixer and attorney spent more than 17 hours over four days on the stand. Today, the defense got Cohen to admit he stole from The Trump Organization for an unrelated expense that was included in the alleged $420,000 Stormy Daniel reimbursement at the heart of the felony charges against the former president.

Now, the prosecution has painstakingly tried to use witness testimony to paint Trump as a micromanager who would know every detail about that payment in order for the jury to find him guilty of falsifying business records. The prosecution also tried to rehabilitate damaging testimony Cohen gave on Thursday when the defense used text messages between him and Trump's bodyguard, Keith Schiller, to suggest that a subsequent call on October 24, 2016 was not, as Cohen had testified, a way to contact Trump about the final details of the Stormy Daniels payment, but as the messages suggest, a conversation with only Schiller about a 14-year-old crank caller who was aggravating Michael Cohen.

Today, prosecutors showed a still photograph from this video of a Trump rally that night in Florida. You can see there Trump waving, and in the spot shadow, Keith Schiller, both sides stipulated the video concludes roughly five minutes before that 8.02 PM phone call.

Now, prosecutors were suggesting that it proves that Schiller could have handed the phone to Trump when Cohen called, that he was that close to him. Now, that's, of course, up to the jury to decide. A jury that the judge today said would hear closing arguments next week, but not before the court is back in session again tomorrow with that lawyer, Robert Costello, back on the stand.

I'm joined now by criminal defense attorney Arthur Aidala, former federal prosecutor, Jeffrey Toobin, CNN Anchor Abby Phillip, who was in the courthouse today, New York Times senior political correspondent Maggie Haberman and our own Kara Scannell, who was in the courtroom. Also with us, John E. Jones, former chief judge of the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania.

Kara, you were there, and I know you just got the transcript. What was that moment like between Judge Merchan and Robert Costello?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was really intense. I mean, I had not seen anything like this, and it came as Costello was on the witness stand being questioned by - excuse me - Trump's lawyers. And the prosecutors had objected a number of times.

I counted there were at least 15 sustained objections, a judge saying Costello couldn't answer the question. Costello's a former prosecutor, and even after the judge sustained some of them, he continued to speak. You could kind of see the judge getting frustrated, but then it snowballed after Costello had, after one of these sustained objections, Costello let out a jeez.

And it was audible enough to be heard in the back of the courtroom, and it was then that the judge excused the jury, and once the jury was out of the room, he turned to Costello and said, "Mr. Costello, I want to - I would like to discuss proper decorum in my courtroom." Costello interrupts him and says, "But - I'm sorry, go ahead." Judge Merchan: "I want to discuss proper decorum in my courtroom." Costello says, "Right."

Judge says, "Okay. So when there is a witness on the stand, if you don't like my ruling, you don't say 'Jeeze,' okay? And then you don't say, 'strike it,' because I'm the only one that can strike testimony in the courtroom. Do you understand that?" Costello says, "I understand." Judge says, "Okay. And then if you don't like my ruling, you don't give me side eye, and you don't roll your eyes. Do you understand that? Do you understand that?" Costello said, "I understand that. I understand what you're saying." Merchan said, "Okay, thank you. Let's get the jury back."


And then there's this moment where the judge says to him, "Are you staring me down right now? And Costello says, "No. I'm just wondering how --" and the judge says, "Clear the courtroom. Clear the courtroom." Chaos kind of ensues as they're trying to marshal out all of the press and the number of media. People are objecting, saying we have a right to be here. Our lawyer's here. And the officer's saying, everyone has to get out, has to get out. They remove us all.

COOPER: So wait, everyone leaves the courtroom?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They didn't remove everyone, though.

SCANNELL: Well, they didn't remove the politicians that were there supporting Trump.


SCANNELL: But they removed the members of the media and this one row of members of the public in the courtroom.

And then we have the transcripts, so now we know what happened after that. And the judge had said to Costello, "Sir, your conduct is contemptuous right now. I'm putting you on notice that your conduct is contemptuous. If you try to stare me down one more time, I will remove you from the stand." And Costello says, "Can I say something, please?" The judge says, "No, no, this is not a conversation."

COOPER: Wow. Maggie, have you ...


HABERMAN: I don't ...

COOPER: ... seen this before?

HABERMAN: ... A, I've never seen this before. B, in a trial where Donald Trump is the defendant and the witness is the person who is drawing this kind of outrage from the judge is not what I expected, because we had been looking for Trump to be the person acting up in ways the judge would find upsetting. And he has a few times, but not like this.

But it was not entirely surprising because anybody who has dealt with Bob Costello knows that he can be a wild card. And this is why a lot of people in Trump's world thought calling him was a risk. And we got to see what a risk it was because this all took place in front of the - except for that bit at the end. But the objections all took place in front of the jury.

The parts of cross that took place today by the prosecutors were not great for Costello. And so Michael Cohen, who is a key witness in this case, has gotten pretty roughed up by the defense, by Todd Blanche in particular or specifically, I should say. And --

COOPER: I mean, today he said he stole from the organization.

HABERMAN: Yes. And that was a key moment and in some ways was more significant than what happened last week, which was a pretty dramatic moment. But to then go into closing with what Merchan clearly thought was a sideshow, and he made that clear when he was talking about whether he even let Costello testify to certain things, have Costello behave this way and then just sort of have Costello reinforce part of what prosecutors are arguing here, which is that there is a sort of mobby aspect to this case and to a lot of the behavior by the Trump people. It just doesn't seem to help the defense.



TOOBIN: ... please.

PHILLIP: It's like as if Fox News jumped out of the television and into the courthouse today. And that's been the risk all along of bringing in a character like Michael - or of like Bob Costello. He is someone who obviously thrills the right with the way that he attacks Michael Cohen's character. I'm sure he thrilled Donald Trump with his testimony last week in front of the House committee.

But in a courthouse, that is not the tone and the demeanor. I mean, we talk all the time about how Judge Merchan is a very soft-spoken judge. He does not yell at people. He does not raise his voice. And the general conduct of counsel, prosecution and defense is even toned and measured, even when they are making objections.

So for something like that to unfold in this courthouse, it's a sideshow to say the least.

COOPER: Let me ask the judge. Judge, I mean, what do you make of how the judge handled this?

JOHN E. JONES III, FORMER CHIEF JUDGE, U.S. MIDDLE DISTRICT COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA: Well, you know, my first comment would be just another day at the office for Judge Merchan. I mean, I can't even imagine. I would levitate out of my seat if I had a witness who is a lawyer, an officer of the court, and knows better than to talk over me and, you know, give me the eye when he's sitting there. I think he handled it perfectly, to warn him that he was going to hold him in contempt.

You know, the greater question is, from a tactical standpoint, why they called this witness. And jurors tend - and I've said this before - to sort of cleave to the judge. The judge is their protector, the person who greets them, sends them off at the end of the day. They don't like when a judge gets walked on by a lawyer or, in this case, a witness. It leaves a really bad sensation, a bad taste in their mouth.

And, you know, to your point about stealing from Trump, that got washed over by this witness. You know, there was a moment, and they took that moment away by calling this witness.

AIDALA: I - with all due respect, Your Honor, and I don't mean to talk over you.

JONES: No, no, not at all.

AIDALA: You know, I'm the defense attorney. I'm like, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Michael Cohen admitted to grand larceny, grand larceny. He admitted that to the prosecutors in - like the - within the statute of limitations. But do you hear any charges against him? He is so in their pocket, they're so indebted to him, that they didn't even charge him with a very simple crime. He admitted to the crime. He admitted it to them. It's an instant crime.

JONES: Arthur, I don't disagree with you. That's a moment in the case. My question is, why you then - you don't rest?


AIDALA: Because Costello gives a counter-narrative.

JONES: No, I ...

AIDALA: Like, Costello - look, I wasn't in the courtroom, you guys were. But Costello ...

PHILLIP: I don't know what that narrative is.

AIDALA: ... Costello - and I will tell you this, Judge, when I am a defense attorney and I'm calling witnesses, and now after I - the jurors watch the judge go, question, answer, question, answer, question, answer and now I go up and I ask the questions, objection sustained, objection sustained, objection sustained. You know, when I look at the jury, I go, they want this hushed up. They want this hushed up. They don't want you to know this.

PHILLIP: That wasn't how the jury was looking at it in the courtroom, just to make that clear.

TOOBIN: I mean, come on. Let's talk about the substance of Costello's testimony. And let's talk about Costello.

Anybody remember the Mueller report? He's actually a big figure, Maggie and I were just talking about this. He - the exchanges between him and Cohen are, according to Robert Mueller, a dangling of a pardon from Donald Trump. He is ...

COOPER: He was allegedly sort of the emissary from Trump world to Cohen to dangle.

TOOBIN: Exactly, and that's what you're going to hear in the cross- examination tomorrow, to add to this atmosphere of Mafioso, stinking, corrupt relationship between Donald Trump and Michael Cohen. All ...

AIDALA: No, for the record, Costello's Irish. So, you know, I know you're talking around Mafioso and a guy named Costello, for the record, he's Irish.

TOOBIN: Oh, I didn't ...

AIDALA: So let's make that very clear.

TOOBIN: ... I'm ...

AIDALA: I'm a little sensitive to that word.

TOOBIN: I meant ...

AIDALA: (INAUDIBLE) of the Italian-American lawyers.

TOOBIN: ... generic organized crime.

AIDALA: Right.

HABERMAN: Can I just make a point though, to Arthur's point, it is true. I told him because he tells a counter-narrative and he tells a different version of a story than what Michael Cohen does with similar facts. He tells a version, which is actually, it was Michael Cohen reaching out to me and there's a more extensive version.

But that wasn't what - look, and we - the caveat, we don't know what the jury thinks and we need to say that over and over again. At least in the courtroom, that wasn't what came through because he was stepping on himself. It wasn't just the objections.

He, at one point, Susan Hoffinger, the prosecutor who was doing the cross-examination of him, was asking a question and he spat out - speak into the mic. And the jurors, two of them looked at each other when he did that. So I don't know how much of that counter-narrative came through.

I understand what you're saying. I think the client was very happy, but I think what the defendant is happy with and what the rest of his team is happy with is not always the same thing. No, that's all I'm saying.

(CROSSTALK) HABERMAN: And it's all I'm saying.

PHILLIP: That's right.

AIDALA: No, I agree with that.

HABERMAN: And one other point that I would just make in terms of what the judge said about how Judge Merchan handled it, I think that Merchan has actually been bending over backwards to be fair to the defense. The defense cannot stand him, and that's very clear in everything. I think that with a lot of things he has done, he has tried not to be in confrontation with Donald Trump.

How you justify kicking out the press and keeping in Donald Trump supporters when you say clear the courtroom, I don't quite know how that works.

PHILLIP: And, you know, the judge was also - even before Costello took the stand, he expressed some concern for the defense that this was not a wise course of action. He basically was like ...


PHILLIP: ... are you sure you want to go down this cul-de-sac of, you know, this pressure campaign allegedly that Michael Cohen said he was subject to? He tried to warn them, and they didn't listen, and they put him on the stand anyway, and now we will see what the result will be.

JONES: Well, the - And the other moment that I noticed today was with the clip from C-SPAN, you know, that there was a - an inability apparently to stipulate, and then they stipulated later, they thought better of it, you know, which you'd get at sidebar and say, are you kidding me that you won't stipulate to this.

And I understand it's a death cage match, you know, and nobody wants to stipulate to anything at that point, but I'm not sure that that's a good tactic to do, and maybe that's what the former president wants.

COOPER: Well, let's talk about the Michael Cohen stealing from The Trump Organization. I mean, how important is that?

JONES: Well, you know, I think it is, you know, it gives the defense the opportunity to say he's not just a liar, but he's a thief, so you double up. It is important, and it's going to come out in closing arguments, and they'll lean heavily into it. I just don't know whether the jury doesn't have baked into the narrative already, this is a bad guy, and they're not particularly surprised about it.

You know, from my perspective, I don't know that it's as severe as it was made out to be in the moment today.

COOPER: Prosecutors were aware of it.

PHILLIP: I would agree with that, because, I mean, just being in the courtroom, I felt like there was a little bit of a dichotomy between people who were in the room and outside of the room, and I was in overflow, but I was hearing the arguments as they were happening.

The gist of the story was both bad for Michael Cohen and also bad for Trump, because at the end of the day, the story was essentially that Trump - that Michael Cohen got a company to pay for Trump to do better in some stupid poll that no one cared about, and Trump didn't want to pay the company, and that Michael Cohen eventually gave them $20,000 in cash, which - and then took the money that The Trump Organization repaid him, bad for Michael Cohen, but also the sort of between-the- lines part of it is that Trump probably would not have paid them at all.

AIDALA: Yes, but how about this part of it, their whole theory ...

PHILLIP: So that doesn't make Trump look good on either.

AIDALA: ... but their whole theory has been and we've covered it for four weeks, Trump is so careful for this money.


He knows where every dollar goes. He signs every check, that Tiffany frame, $650. All of a sudden, 30 grand went - disappeared and he didn't know that.

PHILLIP: And I actually agree with you on that, and I think that I was surprised that the defense didn't actually double down on that because you're totally right that it's not actually clear whether Trump knew Michael Cohen was actually paying that company, and the defense never really went down that road to say, well, if Trump is so careful, why didn't he know about this $50,000 and where it went?


TOOBIN: And just - it is worth remembering, the prosecution did mention this in his direct testimony, so this was not a hidden - a bombshell. The other thing is cooperating witnesses often do terrible things, and they get passes all the time.

AIDALA: I know.

TOOBIN: Isn't that right, Arthur? I mean, that, you know ...

AIDALA: It's true. Listen, I just need to say this for my own peace of mind. If Donald Trump is sitting in that seat, if Barack Obama was sitting in that seat or Joe Schmoe was sitting in that seat, whoever it is, I don't care what party you're a member of, if I am the district attorney, the way I was raised in the law, you do not bring the very first case ever against the president of the United States under these facts and circumstances where your main witness is someone as flawed as Michael Cohen.

If I brought this case to Joe Hynes, the Brooklyn DA, in 1995, he would have said, Artie (ph), we're not calling for it. I'm sorry.

COOPER: Maggie. HABERMAN: I also just do think that - yes, they did - prosecutors

did mention this. They didn't exactly signpost it, so it's still read like something as a surprise, and also the Keith Schiller text last week that got introduced that were Todd Blanche's big sort of pseudo- "Perry Mason" moment. I don't know why the prosecution didn't bring that out in the first place, too. There have been a number of missteps by the prosecution.

TOOBIN: The two - the two ...

COOPER: Well, it seems like the prosecution missed that. I mean, it's (INAUDIBLE) ...

HABERMAN: Well, I don't ...

SCANNELL: They missed that, I think, completely on those text messages.

HABERMAN: They may indeed have missed it, but it's not because they didn't have them.


TOOBIN: Big, big mistake (INAUDIBLE) ...

COOPER: Everyone, thank you.

Still to come tonight, breaking news on the Iranian helicopter that crash Sunday, killing that country's president, and eight others, what the U.S. Defense Secretary is now saying, and we'll have the latest from our Ivan Watson and Fareed Zakaria join us on what it means for Iran and the world.

And later, comedian Bill Maher joins us to discuss his new book, what this comedian said will shock you, and the current state of America and its politics. We'll be right back.



COOPER: More breaking news tonight, funeral services spanning several days begin tomorrow for Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed, along with eight others, when their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions in the mountainous northwest part of the country on Sunday. Raisi's death comes at a precarious moment in Iran's history, both domestically and internationally. CNN's Ivan Watson has more.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Iran in a state of mourning, commemorating the shocking death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. During the frantic hours when rescuers searched for the missing president, the most powerful figure in the Iranian political system, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, declared the government stable and strong. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALI KHAMENEI, SUPREME LEADER OF IRAN (through interpreter): Dear people, whether you are sitting here or will hear my speech later, do not worry. There will be no disruption in the country's work.


WATSON (voice over): Inside Iran, highly polarized reactions to the sudden death of a leader.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ebrahim Raisi has been a face of repression in Iran for a very long time. I'm not surprised that many will celebrate his demise.


WATSON (voice over): Raisi was a regime hardliner, sanctioned by the U.S. government for allegedly overseeing deadly crackdowns on Iranian protest movements and, the U.S. and rights groups say, he took part in an alleged death commission that ordered the execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, which Raisi has never responded to.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see more continuity than change, regardless of what happens next.


WATSON (voice over): According to the Iranian constitution, the little-known vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, has now become interim president, paving the way for elections to be held within 50 days.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a system that has managed this kind of turmoil in the past. So in the short run, it can certainly manage choppy waters, but in the longer run, it's a system that is ideologically bankrupt.


WATSON (voice over): Messages of condolence are pouring in from longtime allies like Syria, as well as Russia, which launches Iranian Shahed drones against cities in Ukraine.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign language).


WATSON (voice over): Also publicly mourning Raisi's loss, Iranian- backed militant groups such as Yemen's Houthis, Hamas and Lebanon's Hezbollah. Meanwhile, few tears likely to be shed by Iran's sworn enemy, Israel. The two countries' long-simmering shadow war exploded into direct tit-for-tat long-range strikes just last month.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it will shift anything in the region or in terms of Iran's relationship with its neighbors or neighboring powers. That's because most of the power in Iran lies with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who is still in power, and he's the one who is calling all the shots.


WATSON (voice over): How the Islamic Republic deals with this deadly crash may set the stage for a much bigger future challenge, the question of succession for Ayatollah Khamenei, the country's 85-year- old supreme leader.

Ivan Watson, CNN.


COOPER: We should note The New York Times and The Washington Post are reporting tonight that Iranian state media is saying that the helicopter crash resulted from a technical failure, undercutting a former top Iranian official who earlier said U.S. sanctions were to blame. Earlier today, the White House was quick to undercut any suggestion it had a role in the crash.


LLOYD AUSTIN, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The United States had no part to play in that crash, and so - and that's a fact plain and simple.


COOPER: CNN's Fareed Zakaria joins us now.

How important - I mean, how significant is this?

FAREED ZAKARIA:, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": It is actually pretty significant because there are two things going on. Iran and Israel have been engaging in a fairly dangerous tit-for-tat.


If you remember, April 1st, Israel kills an Iranian general, official of sorts. Two weeks later, Iran launches 300 missiles and drones at Israel. Then Israel does something very moderate in response, just essentially took out one radar in Isfahan.

So that's the international context, and the domestic one, as Ivan mentioned, is the Khamenei - the supreme leader, is 85 years old. Raisi was seen as the odds-on successor, the guy, the president who died. The only other person people are talking about is Khamenei's son, Mojtaba. That would be very, very unusual.

Remember, this is a regime that came into power because it believe - did not believe in the dynastic succession that the Shah of Iran represented. For it to become, in its own way, a dynasty, that would be turmoil, I think.

COOPER: So what would - I mean, what's going to happen?

ZAKARIA: Well, first, Khamenei has to die. He's 85 years old, he's been ruling forever, but there will begin, you know, you're going to start getting the factional politics. His son is going to make a bid for it. His son, Mojtaba, has never held any office in Iran before, so it would be a very unusual move. He's untested. But, you know, it's a black box.

But the only two people who were being discussed were Raisi, the president who just died, and Khamenei's son.

COOPER: How much power does an Iranian president has as a (INAUDIBLE) the supreme leader? I mean, how do you ...

ZAKARIA: The supreme leader sets strategy. The president can execute that strategy. He can't, you know - so he - it's almost like he's the secretary of state to the president. He doesn't - but it's significant. Raisi, both the guys who died, I had them both on my program. They are real hardliners.

COOPER: Mm-hmm.

ZAKARIA: There was a power struggle in Iran between somewhat more moderate and more hardline factions, but when Trump pulled out of the Iran deal, all that happened, the moderates lost out completely. This is now a hardline country verging on a kind of military dictatorship. Everybody - all your options are shades of hardliners.

COOPER: And have the demonstrations largely, I mean, it's been effectively crushed.

ZAKARIA: Right. This regime came to power through revolution. It knows how to stay in power and not have a revolution unseated. It's a very clever mixture of lots of repression, a certain amount of patronage, escape valves here and there, things like these elections - yes.

It seem, you know, that was a heroic movement, but ultimately it's very tough when the regime is willing to use brute force on a massive scale.

COOPER: Yes. Fareed Zakaria, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

We're now to Ukraine where heavy fighting continues as Russia tries to advance in the Eastern Kharkiv region. Russia's trying to change the shape of the battlefield as those billions in new U.S. aid begin to arrive. Last week, the Pentagon said the first installments included air defense, artillery rounds, armored vehicles and anti-tank weapons. Nick Paton Walsh has more on what the battle looks like right now from the front lines.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Dusk begins a race to hide before dark. It's this drone unit's first night in a new location.

The twilight, a tiny window when perhaps you can unpack, set up without the Russian drones that are always, always above, seeing you as clearly. Like so much in this fast-changing war, their task was unimaginable when Moscow invaded. Their target is on the horizon, Russia itself, into which they fly and plant mines on key roads. They wait for dark.


WALSH (on camera): Those lights twinkling over there on the horizon, that's Belgorod, Russia. How close they're operating towards Russian mainland.


WALSH (voice over): Putin's latest offensive towards Kharkiv has made the fight personal for Artyom (ph). His parents live about a five-minute drive away and fighting for his literal home is unsettling.


ARTYOM (through interpreter): It's anxious. For real.

For a year and a half they didn't know that I'm in a combat brigade fighting near Bakhmut. I was telling them I'm guarding checkpoints.


WALSH (voice over): And now, for the first of many times, their only defense is to listen for drones.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back. Back. Back. Orlan (Russian drone) flying.





WALSH (voice over): It passes. Now it is dark. They must hurry.



WALSH (voice over): Russian drones have thermal cameras.


They hear another.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No lights, no lights, no lights.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): Battles raging nearby may help them go unnoticed. They resume.

Any strike could also ignite the two mines they're fitting. But they hear another drone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Come one!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Run!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The (INAUDIBLE) won't let us work.

PATON WALSH: Such an escalation over two years into the war to now see Ukrainians flying drones of explosive straight into Russia.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): Inside Sasha watches it cross the border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Here's the border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Did you bring your passport?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): No visa needed.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): Remarkably, when Russian jamming kicks in, the drone keeps going. And they're able to pick the signal up again, deeper inside Russia.

They spot the target road they will mine, drop both payloads, and head back.

A GPS problem means the drone crash lands but they have a spare. They once, elsewhere, managed 24 sorties in one night. But they have to be spotted only once and these shells may not pass overhead.

We leave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go. PATON WALSH (voice-over): Lights off at first to avoid drones. The road littered with anti-tank defenses not laid out in time to hinder Russia's latest advance. And now they have only courage and ingenuity to hold back the dark.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Nick, how is morale among the soldiers right now as the Russian attacks on Kharkiv have increased?

PATON WALSH: I think it's fair to say a group like that we with were pretty buoyed by the task they're given, feeling they can actually take the fight as it were back into Russia, to Russia, something we didn't even know indeed happened, that they were laying mines to interrupt the ability of Russia to get across its own borders.

But I also think in other units we've been talking to around this area, it isn't particularly great. I think there is a sense of disconcertion that there has not been adequate fortification put in place in the Northern border to hold that Russian offensive that took place about a week ago back. And also that we're going to see a slow arrival potentially of Western aid into people's hands to give them the upper hand.

The staggering thing, Anderson, though, is to see how drones have completely changed daily life on the front line. Pretty much every unit we've been with since we've been here in the last week, at some point we've been told to run for cover, to get away from the visibility of Russian drones flying overhead.

Sometimes they simply don't even know who the drone belongs to when it hovers above them and it's most likely Russians trying to spot targets for the intensive airstrikes, huge half-ton bombs or superior artillery. They've got more ammunition currently than the Ukrainians to bring them to bear on those positions.

So it does appear, yes, in recent days that Russia's advance may have slowed. They're certainly not making huge strides deeper into Ukraine that perhaps they thought they might be able to, but ultimately it is an uphill task certainly and it's one that may get tougher in the weeks ahead because at this stage there are thoughts Russia may start probing in other parts around the front line rather than necessarily focusing on the areas it's already hit here north of Kharkiv.

Anderson, behind me, just -- we've heard explosions over the night but it's desolate here, utterly silent, lights off. Kharkiv bracing frankly for any potential Russian attacks tonight. Anderson?

COOPER: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you. I appreciate you being there. Be careful.

Still ahead, Bill Maher stops by to talk Trump, Biden, and more from his new book. He dives into the commentaries he's made over the last 20 years as host of HBO's Real Time.

We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


COOPER: As we were discussing earlier in the program, we are likely just days away from the completion of the first ever criminal trial of a former president. It's one of many topics that has provided fodder for a comedian and host of HBO's show Real Time with Bill Maher, who's out with a new book titled, "What This Comedian Said Will Shock You" and full disclosure, HBO and CNN share the same parent company.

Bill Maher joins me now. The book is really good. You've described it as being like the Bible. You can pick it up and just read it. I'm not sure a lot of people will agree, but I guess what you mean, because you can --

BILL MAHER, AUTHOR, "WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU": I'm just saying you should put it by your bed, you know, on the nightstand and read a few passages each night because --

COOPER: But especially your commentaries from the last 20 years --


COOPER: -- re-edited and --


COOPER: -- kind of reimagined.

MAHER: Exactly. Yes. I wanted to -- people kept saying to me, you know, these editorials you do at the end of the show, and it is what I worked the hardest on.

COOPER: They're -- I mean, they really hold up.

MAHER: They really do. I appreciate you saying that. But it is true. I went through them -- look, not all of them do or did, and that's why I spent all those months when we were on strike going through all of them, picked the creme de la creme, re-edited --

COOPER: I got to say, I was skeptical when I hear it's like, oh, 20 years of stuff.


COOPER: But it's really --

MAHER: Yes. Well --

COOPER: -- it's all --

MAHER: When you're -- when you have 20 years of stuff, you can be very choosy and just take the real great stuff and put it together. I put it in chapters and made it -- make sense by topic. And, you know, it is kind of like an encyclopedia of every gosh, darn good thing I ever said.


COOPER: Trump seems to hate you.

MAHER: I cannot blame him. I'm --

COOPER: He sued you early on.

MAHER: He sued me in 2013, yes, about the orangutan thing which is a ridiculous lawsuit. People think it was some sort of --

COOPER: You said something like --

MAHER: Well, they think it's a defamation. It was not a defamation lawsuit. It was way stupider than that. And Michael Cohen was the one who delivered the letter. But I had -- I mean, he was offering Obama $5 million --

COOPER: For the --

MAHER: No, no. Actually, to produce his college records. Because he's a racist and he thinks it's suspicious a black man went to college, apparently.

OK, so I offered him $5 million. If he could prove he was not the son of an orangutan. Because we showed the picture of an orange haired orangutan, and the coloring is exactly alike. It does look like they're related. But of course they couldn't be.

But he came into court and demanded the $5 million because he produced his birth certificate proving he was not, in fact.

COOPER: And Michael Cohen is the one who delivered --

MAHER: Well, he wasn't the lawyer on the letter, but I mean the letter is hysterical. I mean that my client is not the son of a like, really --

COOPER: Can you believe that this is the -- it seems like it's going to be the only trial that will go before the election?

MAHER: Well, I've been moaning and railing about that on my show because, I mean, I tore Merrick Garland a new one a couple of weeks ago because I think the Democrats blew it as they always do with this kind of stuff because they've had four years.

What was all the delay about? Why are we coming to the end? Of course they're going to try to run out the clock. And they did. And so if this is the only one, the one that's -- the one they probably shouldn't have brought anyway, or if they did, it was really a election violation, election law violation trial that should have been tried nationally on a federal level, and it wound up to be falsifying business records on the state level.

So it's already in the wrong court. And why didn't Garland bring this earlier, federally, or why aren't any of these being wrapped up in four years? It's just so ridiculous.

COOPER: You write in the book about how you did this documentary, "Religulous," and that you'd say in the book that atheists often come up to you and say that they become atheists after --


COOPER: -- seeing this --

MAHER: Sure.

COOPER: -- but that no one -- no supporter of Trump comes up to you --


COOPER: -- has ever come up to you and said, you know, I'm no longer -- I'm off the Trump train because of what you said.

MAHER: Or vice versa. You -- I cannot change people. This is why, I mean, why I really feel like one of the themes of the book is, and in my show all the time, I'm just saying you can hate Trump. You can't hate everybody who likes him.

It's half the country, OK? And, I mean, look, no one was harder on Trump, or will be harder on Trump, and I think I was out front on predicting he was not going to leave office. But you can't change people's minds like that. They -- sometimes they just like a guy.

And I also concede that there are so much goofiness also on the left --

COOPER: Right.

MAHER: -- that I do understand why people go, yes, Trump is crazy and we don't really like him, but you know what, what you're selling scares me even more.

COOPER: What's --

MAHER: And that's what people, I think, have to understand is to see both those sides.

COOPER: What's interesting to me is you are very much -- and you've talked about this on your show -- you call yourself a normie and you're -- you see yourself as in the middle.

MAHER: I do.

COOPER: But it's interesting because the right quotes you when you say stuff that's anti-woke.

MAHER: Of course.

COOPER: And the left --

MAHER: Yes, yes. COOPER: -- you know, decries, you and then the left likes you when you say something bad about Trump.

MAHER: And this is one of our big problems, is that we're all in our bubbles. We are all in our media bubbles. And so many people just want to hear coming back to them, what they already believe in an echo chamber.

COOPER: Most America is in the center. But you don't see that in the media.

MAHER: Right. I mean, this absolutely pertains to this network. This network is trying to establish now I think again that we are the center where you can be of either side. And, of course, that was very hard to maintain during Trump's presidency because he does things that are so out of the realm, they are not normal.

And so when you criticize him, you sound like you're on the left. It's a very hard thing to find, but that's what I am always trying to find that place. And it's not that we're ever going to be agreeing on things. It's just that we can't hate each other. I am tired of the hate.


MAHER: I don't want to hate half this country and I don't hate half this country.

COOPER: Yes. We're going to take a quick break. We'll have more with Bill Maher in a moment.



COOPER: We're back with Bill Maher, and we left off talking about the polarization currently in America. In his new book, he writes, and I quote, "Would anyone ride the New York City subway wearing a MAGA hat? Would anyone go to NASCAR race in a Biden t-shirt while they chant 'F -- Joe Biden'? That's where we are now, where other parts of the country are seen as scary no-go zones."

Bill went on to say, "America is like a prison now, where the inmates think they need to join one of the gangs to survive, and we dare not walk on the wrong side of the yard."

Bill Maher is back. It is, I mean, the polarization is so real, and very -- how does that change? I mean, has -- you know, you look back like in the seventies, America was very polarized. There was political bombings, you know, so we -- I don't know if it's the same level or just a different form.

MAHER: Well, I think the difference is, well, Fox News came along in the 90s. That changed everything. And then MSNBC obviously became a mirror of that, in a way. I mean, I think they're much more realistic about what they talk about, and I usually agree with them more. But same thing, is that you're only giving one side of the story. What frustrates me the most about the media is that, like, whatever I hear, I don't fully trust. I -- it's not that I don't believe what you're saying, but I don't think you're giving me the whole story.


And before, if we go even further back than that, I think even before social media, people just did not used to talk about politics 24/7 to everyone they ever met. First of all, you weren't in touch with everyone you ever met, but you are on Facebook now.

So, Facebook became a place where you're arguing with your 8th grade lab partner about cover -- about Ivermectin or something, you know, just -- so everybody's ginned up all the time. And so there's this level of hate, I mean, that you were quoting from that last chapter, which is called divorce, and there are lots of people who, like, talk about this, divorce.

You know, America should get a divorce, or maybe we should separate into different states. This, first of all, it's not possible. Second of all, it's not desirable. Our strength was always, I thought, that our diversity that we are different. And I'm always preaching to people that everyone's like you, get over yourself.

People grow up in different parts of the country with very different values and you can't own them or destroy them and they're not going anywhere. They're not self-deporting. You can win every election, half the country. The losers are still going to be here and they can't have them seething. We're always seething about each other.

COOPER: It does seem like the -- many folks -- I don't know if it's many, but certainly the loudest folks who get into Congress run on not necessarily to make deals and to actually get stuff done, it's to own the libs or own the, you know, the Trumpians.

And it's not necessarily about -- I mean, you know, any kind of moderation is a nasty word. Any kind of --

MAHER: Right.

COOPER: -- making an actual deal.

MAHER: I mean, to me, you're presenting more of a false equivalency on this issue than I would. The Democrats in Congress, I certainly don't agree with all of them, and there are some that are way out there, I wouldn't say any names, the squad, that, you know, I don't agree with on a lot of stuff.

But they're generally still a same party of our type of government, our parliament, if you will. The Republican --

COOPER: Republican Party is unrecognizable --

MAHER: -- especially the Congress people. COOPER: Right.

MAHER: They're just there to do performative nonsense. They're there to like, I burnished their credentials to get a show on Fox News or something.

COOPER: The border deal --

MAHER: It's just -- and also -- and just people like Marjorie Taylor Greene and just real mental midgets that who -- I -- they are not interested in legislation. They don't know how it works. They're not really interested in improving the country. They are just interested, as you said, in owning the libs, making the liberals cry their tears and getting revenge and also their cultists, their natural born cultists.

I was saying this on myself Friday night and somebody objected, but it's true. I'm sorry. The old line was always Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line. And they always did. They always, they fall in line before behind their candidate. And now they found a candidate who is a cult leader.

So that quality of falling in line, very dangerous now because it's sort of in their nature.

COOPER: Well, I mean, you pointed this out the other day. I was obsessed with this the other day in court, and I saw it on your show on Friday. You have to dress identical now to Trump. I mean, that's just the weirdest thing to me. It's just the most clear, it's the clearest representation of just the ridiculousness.

They're all wearing these red ties. I mean, there was a shot outside the courtroom, literally they're all wearing the same thing.

MAHER: Always a good sign when the right-wing party starts wearing a uniform, huh? I mean, that's like, I have been using this phrase, slow moving coup. Since before Trump was elected the first time, before he even got elected, I said, this is a slow moving coup.

And this is just -- I watch these dominoes fall one by one, the signs of a country that is moving into a different realm. And it's happened in many other countries, famously Rome was a republic and then it was a dictatorship under Julius Caesar.

And I see this American Caesar slowly taking us down this road. That's the first thing I thought when I saw the red tie and the same -- they're wearing the Trump uniform, that this is a -- another Rubicon we're crossing.

COOPER: Bill Maher, congratulations on the book. The book is --

MAHER: Thank you.

COOPER: -- "What This Comedian Said Will Shock You." It is out now.

Coming up next, remembering a good friend of mine and many others here at CNN and 360. We'll be right back.



COOPER: Finally tonight, a good friend of mine and many others here at CNN, Joey Pintauro, died recently. It was sudden, and it was shocking, and for all of us who knew him and loved him, it is still hard to believe.


COOPER (voice-over): Joey Pintauro was larger than life. Outrageously talented, outrageously funny and frank. He spoke up and spoke out often and often loudly.

JOEY PINTAURO, PRODUCER, FLYGROOVE: Joey? She was a little more low rent than I thought she'd be. Like if she was from New York, she'd be from Queens.

COOPER: What? Joey. What?

PINTAURO: Both have raised in Queens.

COOPER: Joey is the star. What the --


PINTAURO: I'm not going to say --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you name who that low rent --

PINTAURO: She's a lovely lady.

COOPER (voice-over): Joey was my assistant, my right hand for more than a dozen years at CNN, and he was great at it. But working with me, that was just his side hustle. As his friend Monica Lynch said recently, Joey had a lot of hustle in his bustle.

Joey was all about music. That's him in 1982 in the mailroom at Tommy Boy Records. He started there packing LPs and ended up producing them. He played a huge role in the Latin freestyle movement and helped a lot of musicians make hits.

A few years ago, he started his own label, Flygroove, and was making new music right up until the end. Joey got knocked down more than once in his life, but he always got up and always moved forward.

In her poem, "Summer Day," Mary Oliver asks, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Well, Joey Pintauro did a lot with his and he touched a lot of people along the way. He loved his family, his partner, Eddie. He loved his friends and we loved him in return.

We will miss you, Joey. We will not forget you.


COOPER: That's it for us. The news continues. The Source of Kaitlan Collins starts now.