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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump At Bronx Rally As He Tries To Court Black, Hispanic Voters; Alito Authors Controversial Election Decision As Dems Demand He Recuse From Jan. 6-Related Cases After NY Times Stories On Flags; Russia's Latest Offensive Into Kharkiv Is Stretching Ukrainian Defenses; Retailers Use Police-Like Investigation Centers To Fight Theft; NOAA Issues Its Most Aggressive Storm Forecast Yet Ahead Of Hurricane Season. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 23, 2024 - 20:00   ET



WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These military drills happening right now around Taiwan underscored just how urgent of a project this is for Taiwan, because any of the warships that are sailing around theoretically could cut the internet cables, which would result in an island-wide communications blackout, which could, of course, weaken Taiwan, be a precursor for a blockade or an invasion. I mean, these are the scenarios that they are thinking about and are now potentially playing out or at least the training for which, on the Chinese side, playing out in real time, Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. Will, thank you very much, in Taipei tonight. Thanks to all of you. Anderson starts now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, the former president's rally in the Bronx happening now, trying to make inroads with black and Hispanic voters and perhaps hoping they'll forget his decades-long controversial comments about minorities.

Also tonight, Democrats demand Justice Samuel Alito recuse himself from January 6th-related cases after a second photo emerges of a controversial flag flown over one of his homes.

And later, a heartwarming reunion between retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honore and twin boys he famously helped in the difficult days after Hurricane Katrina.

Good evening.

Right now, the former president is at a rally in the South Bronx, home to 27 world championships, the birthplace of hip-hop and a population much different from the usual crowd of Trump supporters, where black and Latino people vastly outnumber whites. He lost the Bronx to President Biden by about 68 points in 2020.

Days ahead of the closing arguments in his criminal hush money trial, the former president laid into President Biden and touted his New York roots, a far different tone from the man who once took out full-page ads pushing for the death penalty for five black youths known as The Central Park Five, who were falsely accused and convicted in a 1989 attack on a 28-year-old female jogger. They were later exonerated. Trump has never apologized.

He famously made headlines pushing the lie that Barack Obama, America's first African-American president, was not born in the U.S.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why doesn't he show his birth certificate?

If you're going to be the president of the United States, it says very profoundly that you have to be born in this country.


TRUMP: I want him to show his birth certificate. I want him to show his birth certificate. There's something on that birth certificate that he doesn't like.


COOPER: He did show his birth certificate and he was born in Hawaii. More recently, he's come under criticism for saying this about black people liking him because of his indictments and his mugshot.


Trump: And a lot of people said that that's why the black people like me, because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against. And they actually viewed me as I'm being discriminated against.

The mugshot - we've all seen the mugshot. And you know who embraced it more than anybody else? The black population. It's incredible.


COOPER: Kristen Holmes joins us now from the site of the rally.

What's the former president been saying at the rally?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, he just wrapped up seconds ago, it was generally a standard Trump speech campaigning saying that he's going to make the economy better, talking about his plans for mass deportations if he is to win the election in November.

But one thing was very clear, Donald Trump and his team see an opening, particularly with black and Hispanic voters. And he was here in the Bronx tonight to pitch himself as an alternative to Joe Biden.



TRUMP: Hello, New York City, and hello to all of the incredible, tough, strong, hardworking American patriots right here in the Bronx. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES (voice over): As the former president tries to build support with black and Hispanic voters, recent polls showing him making gains with key blocks of President Joe Biden's coalition.


TRUMP: African-Americans are getting slaughtered. Hispanic Americans are getting slaughtered. And these millions and millions of people that are coming into our country, the biggest impact and the biggest negative impact is against our black population and our Hispanic population.


HOLMES (voice over): Four years ago, Biden won Bronx County by nearly 68 points.


REP. RITCHIE TORRES (D-NY): I'm confident that the Bronx is going to overwhelmingly reject Donald Trump. Based on the polling data that I've seen among likely voters in the Bronx, Donald Trump is so unpopular as to be radioactive. You know, he's even less popular than arsenic in the Bronx.


HOLMES (voice over): The Biden campaign launched a pair of ads Thursday slamming Trump for his past comments about black Americans.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump disrespecting black folk is nothing new.


HOLMES (voice over): Despite New York's strong Democratic lean, Trump insists he can put the Empire State in play this November.


TRUMP: I love this state. I love the people of this state. I'm running hard in New York. I think we're going to win New York.


HOLMES (voice over): Something he claimed during his first run in 2016.


TRUMP: I think we're going to win New York.


HOLMES (voice over): And again in 2020.


TRUMP: We're going for New York. You know, we're going for New York.


HOLMES (voice over): Losing the state both times by more than 20 points.




HOLMES (voice over): In fact, no Republican nominee has carried New York since Ronald Reagan in 1984.


ALL: Four more years. Four more years.


HOLMES (voice over): The former president's outdoor rally in Crotona Park is the latest in a series of campaign stops Trump has scheduled around his hometown since the start of his criminal hush money trial six weeks ago.


Next week, a jury is set to begin discussing Trump's fate in the case.


COOPER: What was the crowd like and what kind of response did he get?

HOLMES (on camera): Well, certainly a bigger crowd than I think Democrats would like to see, particularly given this is one of the bluest counties in the entire country. Now, one of the things that was interesting to me is that the Trump campaign said that they were going to micro-target to get people from the community to come to this rally. I wasn't sure what to expect. I've gone to a lot of these rallies across the country and there are often people who travel hundreds of miles to see Donald Trump and they're not necessarily part of the community.

However, one of the things that I found was that there were a lot of people here that were actually from the Bronx before we even came into the rallies. That, of course, once we were in, it was all people supporting him. Before we actually even came in, we talked to a number of people outside in the community and the reaction to him being here was really mixed.

You had people saying he doesn't belong here. He should get out. But you also had a number of people voters who told me that they had supported Biden in 2020. They were very unhappy, particularly with the state of the economy, and they were looking for alternatives, namely former President Donald Trump, Anderson.

COOPER: Kristen Holmes, thanks very much.

Joining me now former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Republican Strategist, Shermichael Singleton.

Mayor, what do you make of Donald Trump's outreach?

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE, FORMER MAYOR OF BALTIMORE: I think the Democrats ignore Trump's outreach to minority voters at their peril. Trump knows how to trigger people. He knows what speaks to people, what gets them out. Now, I can't say that all of those people are from the Bronx. I'm very suspicious that the majority of those people were voters in the Bronx. But he is doing something that is speaking to the hearts and minds of minority voters. And I hope that Democrats don't put our heads in the sand.

COOPER: Even if it's not, I mean, chances are he's not going to get a lot of electoral votes, he's not going to win electoral votes in the state of New York. But this message, this idea could be seen in other places, the idea that he's reaching out.

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: He went to the boogie down Bronx, you know, a place that set the entire world, changed the culture for the entire world through hip-hop. He didn't go there by mistake. He went there because he knows if you go to the Bronx, it's a message that - it's a place that resonates with people, particularly African-American people.

COOPER: Right.

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: So if they see that, you know, it's going to weigh more in our community. So, you know, like I said, I hope the Democrats are not turning a blind eye and just dismissing these groups of voters as, you know, as castoffs.

COOPER: Shermichael, do you think it was wise of the president to do - former president to do this? I mean, obviously New York's not considered a swing state. Do you expect this event will help?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I mean, I think it is wise, Anderson. Of course he doesn't expect to win the state. I don't think any Republican presidential candidate would expect to win the state. But from a strategic position, if you could somewhat put the state in play a little bit by making your opponent have to spend more or do more in terms of resources to shore up that base, that key constituency, then I think strategically that's very sound.

I mean, look, I've been involved in Republican politics, Anderson, for a very long time, going all the way back to teenage Republicans, to being the president of my college Republican chapter, to going fast forward to 2012 after working with Mitt Romney. We lost that race, and the RNC at the time published the Growth and Opportunity Project.

I remember my dear friend Elise Stefanik, now congresswoman, reached out and said, hey, I'd love to get your assessment on strategy in terms of what the party should do in regards to outreach. The party wasn't successful, Anderson.

And fast forward, out of all people, Donald Trump appears, at least, to be attempting to make some efforts. And I wouldn't ignore these things. I don't think anyone should be so presumptive to just assume that people, regardless of their race will vote one way or the other.

COOPER: Let me ask you, Mr. Shermichael, because you, in 2016, you were very critical of candidate Trump. You were saying there's no way you would vote for him. You told people not to vote for him. You said his language that he used about inner city communities was completely wrong. You actually got fired from HUD because of that op-ed. They forced - they literally walked you out of the HUD office. Do you now support the former president?

SINGLETON: Well, Anderson, I haven't announced who I'm supporting and who I'm not going to support. What I have tried to do as a strategist is provide objective critiques on both sides. And with that in mind, looking at some of the efforts that the former president is making, I think is strategically wise and smart.

You are seeing sort of a realignment in many ways, Anderson, of hard- working blue-collar workers, not just white, but African-American, Hispanic-Americans who appear to be frustrated with the current reality from President Biden.

COOPER: Right.

SINGLETON: And they are looking for options.

COOPER: Yes. Mayor, what do you mean - I mean, there are a lot of people not happy with President Biden on the Democratic side among black voters, Latino voters.


He could make inroads very possibly.

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: He can make inroads because he's using the language and speaking to people in a way that they received. I think Democrats, we have to do a better job messaging the wins of the Biden administration. And there are many.

COOPER: You don't think the Biden administration has done a good enough job reaching out to voters or do you think they're taking voters for granted?

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I think the Democratic Party, unfortunately, has a track record of taking some voters - some voter blocs for granted and I hope that that doesn't happen now. But, you know, as I said before, Trump has a way of keying into people's - you know, the things that make them angry, the - how they feel like they're being taken advantage of.

And when he speaks to people who feel that they should be doing better in life and scapegoat immigrants, for example, you know, he's giving them, you know, a common enemy. He's speaking to them in a way that says, you know, if Biden would only do something about this group that's taking advantage of you, you'd have that job that you want. Is it true? No, it's not true.

But he doesn't mind spewing falsehoods if it means that it sways voters. And he doesn't have to sway all of them. He just has to get, you know, marginally more than he did before. And he puts Biden in danger.

COOPER: Shermichael, I want to play something the former president said just on Saturday at an NRA conference.


TRUMP: Honestly, there's been no president since Abraham Lincoln, and perhaps in a certain way, including Abraham Lincoln, but there's been no president since Abraham Lincoln that has done more for the black individual in this country than President Donald J. Trump. There's been nobody, not even close.


COOPER: I mean, it's a ridiculous statement. I'm not even going to ask you if it's a ridiculous statement. But does that work, do you think?

SINGLETON: No, Anderson. I think that's frankly hyperbole based on the base. I mean, NRA - I understand the crowd. A lot of Republicans would like to see Republican candidates make more inroads with African- Americans. So I kind of dismiss that. I think most voters would probably dismiss that as well.

I think what's more important, though, where the former president has been somewhat successful, Anderson, is talking about some of those kitchen table issues. The economy has improved. That's a fact. But the reality is the cost of goods are still high. We're approaching the summer months, gas is going to be high. People are wondering whether or not they're going to be able to take care of those necessities.

And if you can articulate the case to make that distinction between the current president and the former president, then some people are saying, well, I'm not very happy over these four years and I am looking for an alternative. Will that alternative be Donald Trump? He certainly has an opportunity to make the case to the American voters.

COOPER: Do you think he will get a larger percentage of black and Latino voters than he did the last time?

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: He'll definitely get a larger percentage than the last time. I don't know if it will be enough to make a difference, but he's doing - you know, whether he - it's disingenuous or not, you know, I don't believe the thing he says, whether it's disingenuous or not, he's making an effort. He's making an effort in communities that sometimes don't see major candidates because they're, you know, in solid blue areas.

COOPER: What do you think of the role for - that Vice President Harris has been playing on the campaign.

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I think the Biden administration and the campaign, the DNC, would be well served to put her out front more. She has a constituency. She has a base. And, you know, I think that she needs to activate that more as well as more high profile advocates or surrogates.

COOPER: Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, thank you so much.

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: My pleasure.

COOPER: Shermichael Singleton, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Still to come tonight ...

SINGLETON: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: ... Democrats calling for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito to recuse himself from January 6th-related cases after The New York Times revealed the second flag affiliated with the so-called Stop the Steal movement was flying over property owned by Alito.

Also, you've seen the organized shoplifting. Tonight, a fascinating look at how some big retailers are now fighting back using their own detectives to build cases against organized criminal gangs.



COOPER: Democrats are demanding Justice Samuel Alito recuse himself from cases related to the January 6th riot after The New York Times reported on a second, more obscure flag flown at one of Alito's homes. It's been used by those who support the so-called Stop the Steal movement, claiming Trump won the 2020 election.

Alito authored one key opinion today related to elections in South Carolina, but the court has not announced its decision about whether to grant the former president immunity in his federal election interference case. Brian Todd has more.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's physical bearing didn't change this morning when the court announced some opinions. His usual rigid, serious expression on display, as is typical. The justice betraying no signs of the controversies surrounding him.

The New York Times has reported that a flag that was on display among rioters at the Capitol on January 6th was flown at Justice Alito's New Jersey vacation residence at least four times last summer. According to the Times, that flag, with a green pine tree and the words an "Appeal to Heaven" on it was flown at Alito's summer home two years after an upside down American flag, a symbol used by Donald Trump's supporters who challenged the results of the 2020 election, was flown at Alito's house in Northern Virginia.

That flag on display in 2021, just after the January 6th attack. Top Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee today openly concerned about the conservative justices displays.



SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): You start to wonder, is this just a chance in discretion or is it a conscious declaration of his MAGA loyalty?

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): I think the question is, how many MAGA battle flags does the Supreme Court justice have to fly until the rest of the court takes it seriously.


TODD (voice over): A prominent Republican senator defends Alito.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): I just think Democrats are determined to harass members of the Supreme Court. Obviously, they don't like Justice Alito or the decisions he makes.


TODD (voice over): Alito so far has not explained the "Appeal to Heaven" flag. He said the upside down flag was raised by his wife in response to a dispute with neighbors. Scholars say the "Appeal to Heaven" flag was first flown during the Revolutionary War as a symbol against British tyranny. But now some believe it means something different.


PROF. LESLIE HAHNER, CO-AUTHOR, " MAKE AMERICA MEME AGAIN: THE RHETORIC OF THE ALT-RIGHT": Now the flag symbolizes both that the nation that we live in should be a Christian nation, but also that the steal of the 2020 election should be stopped.


TODD (voice over): Alito's flags are drawing concern because there are multiple cases before the Supreme Court involving the 2020 election and January 6th, including the pivotal question of whether Trump can claim immunity on election subversion charges. A critic of the Supreme Court says Alito should recuse himself from those cases and ...


GABE ROTH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FIX THE COURT: There should be investigations in both the House and the Senate, not only about the flags, but the extent to which Justice Alito, his family and possibly even his clerks are aligning themselves with these dark movements within American politics.


TODD (voice over): There's no indication that Alito will take himself off the January 6th cases or that fellow conservative Justice Clarence Thomas will, even though Thomas' wife, Ginni, engaged in efforts to reverse the 2020 election results in Trump's favor and attended Trump's Stop the Steal rally on January 6th.


ROTH: I think we are in the middle of an ethics crisis at the Supreme Court.



TODD (on camera): Justice Alito and the Supreme Court did not respond to CNN's request for comment about the flag controversy. Anderson?

COOPER: Brian Todd, thanks so much.

Joining me now, CNN Political Analyst and Literary Journalist, Carl Bernstein, author of "Chasing History: A Kid in the Newsroom," which is a great read. And former federal judge, Nancy Gertner, now a senior lecturer at Harvard Law School.

So, Judge Gertner, I mean, would it be appropriate under any circumstances for January 6th related flags to be flying outside a Supreme Court justice's home, let alone while related cases are before the court?

NANCY GERTNER, FORMER FEDERAL JUDGE: Absolutely not. You know, I was married to the head of the Civil Liberties Union legal director when I was on the bench. And the notion that any of his causes would have been shown in a flag in front of my house was preposterous. And there's another point here, which is these are flags that were flown after the January 6th insurrection.

When we know that the country is so fraught and the integrity of the Supreme Court has been under attack, so what does it show? It's a certain sense of impunity, a certain sense of he does not have to justify what he does, which is really a lawless Supreme Court. I can't think of any circumstances under which this is justified.

COOPER: Carl, you know, even with Alito said, well, it was my wife who put the upside down flag. I mean, the story is that there was a hostile - anti-Trump sign on a neighbor's lawn. And she got, according to him, got into some sort of an argument with the neighbor because it had a curse word on it saying eff Trump. And he called her a bad name during this - the neighbor called her allegedly a bad name. And I guess he's saying that she flew this flag as a statement to support Trump. CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This is the second one. Look, this would appear to be a very provocative act by a justice of the Supreme Court to identify him, his household and his family with Stop the Steal, with a coup to overthrow the duly elected government of the United States.

COOPER: Right. And even by his own story he's telling it's it backs that up.

BERNSTEIN: Let's be clear about what that means.

COOPER: Right.

BERNSTEIN: A justice of the Supreme Court, a coup to overthrow the duly elected government. The same with Justice Thomas, whose wife has been a huge part of the Stop the Steal movement, that both of these justices should recuse themselves from any more cases, especially the January 6th case, having to do with what happened at the Capitol. And Chief Justice Roberts, it seems to me, has a real responsibility to, in private, talk to these two justices and ...

COOPER: There's no mechanism that he can use to ...

BERNSTEIN: There is no code ...


BERNSTEIN: Look, I'm not naive enough to think that Justice Roberts ...

GERTNER: There's no enforceable code.

COOPER: There's no enforceable code.

BERNSTEIN: ... is going to do what I'm recommending.

COOPER: Right.

BERNSTEIN: But it's what ought to happen. And let me say one more thing. This is not just about conservative liberal. Let's look at the former justice. Let's look at Scalia and - who voted with Alito straight down the line, with Thomas straight down the line. Nino Scalia would no more do this than any other member of the court.


This is unheard of. It is behavior and conduct that it undermines the majesty of the Supreme Court and its role and separation of powers in our system.

COOPER: Judge Gertner, does it matter that Alito said that it was his wife who did it?

GERTNER: Oh, I love that. I love that. My wife did it. The fact of the matter is it's his house. I mean, I could no more imagine, you know, a flag flying outside my house that I wouldn't notice. But again, the purpose of the appearance of impartiality, the purpose of the rule is not just for the litigants in the case. It's because it's about integrity of the court, the way the court appears to the public.

The notion that this justice would do this at this time following January 6th, given the fact that the Supreme Court, the opinions of the Supreme Court have plummeted, really is a in-your-face, you can't touch me and I don't care. Yes, there's the - the court has a code of ethics, which was adopted last year, but there is no enforcement mechanism. It's essentially, would you please not do this?

It's very different. I know the Republicans are talking about Sotomayor's book. This was an intentional act after an insurrection, aligning himself with the insurrectionists.

COOPER: What is the - judge, I mean, what code do judges have? I mean, I've read the code that the Supreme Court justices signed off on. It's very vague. It doesn't really apply to - there's nothing specific you can point to on that.

GERTNER: No. I mean, but it talks about not just partiality, right? Do you have an interest in the case? Do you have - you know, money would affect the outcome of your finances, but also the appearance of whether a reasonable person would think there is a - would believe that you are biased.

And how much more clear are these two - this is a symbolic rendering of bias that, again, it shows sort of the impunity. I was on the White House commission on the Supreme Court, and one of the things that we worried about was that this is an enormously powerful court with an unenforceable code of ethics. And we see that an enormously powerful court that it doesn't matter what the public believes.

COOPER: It's - Carl, it's ...

GERTNER: It's a court not constrained by precedent and not constrained by rules.

COOPER: It's so interesting, Carl, to me that, I mean, this wasn't some photo that was taken of something that was on their mantelpiece through the window of their living room.


COOPER: They literally ran this up the flagpole.

BERNSTEIN: This was a provocative ...

GERTNER: (INAUDIBLE) this at the flagpole.

BERNSTEIN: ... proclamation by a family. And presumably the head of that family or the leader of that family had some knowledge of it. But we've got to take a look at this case that is coming before the court and that this court, including Alito, including Thomas, have favored slow walking the January 6th case, so that the people of the United States, it looks like, are not going to have a chance ...


BERNSTEIN: ... to see the trial of Donald Trump ...

COOPER: Judge, do you ...

BERNSTEIN: ... on these charges that they have a right to see.

COOPER: Judge, do you think there's any chance that the January 6th case will go to trial before the election?

GERTNER: Not likely. I keep on repeating this, but the notion that he would have intentionally done either of these things in the face of the January 6th event and in the face of the way the Supreme Court's approval has plummeted is really extraordinary and says something.


GERTNER: This wasn't inadvertent.

COOPER: Yes, Judge Gertner, Carl Bernstein, thank you.

Coming up, a barrage of Russian missiles fired today on Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkiv. One missile strike killing several people, while the latest front line report ahead from Ukraine.

Plus, Nick Paton Walsh with a remarkable look at the fight there in a town near Kharkiv that's on fire after Russian strikes hit.



COOPER: A brutal assault by Russia today firing more than a dozen missiles into Ukraine second largest city Kharkiv, one of them hitting this printing plant for newspapers and books killing at least seven people and wounding at least 40 others. Meanwhile, just outside the city Ukrainian troops are trying to hold back a Russian advance. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is with them on the front lines. We want to warn you some of the images you'll see are graphic. Here's his exclusive report.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): Some towns they can never let Putin take and this Lyptsi is one of them. Destroyed artillery on the streets. Homes a flame from an airstrike. They can only move at night. It's a perilous grip they keep but loose here and Russian artillery will be in range of Ukraine second city, Kharkiv.

WALSH: You can still smell the smoke here from an airstrike that landed just in the last hour or so.

WALSH (voice-over): This is life under the drone, with the first reporters into the heart of the town. Only soldiers left here on the ground, the Khartiia 13th National Guard first tackled Russia's new offensive.

OLEKSANDR, KHARTIIA NATIONAL GUARD BRIDAGE: You saw how it's all burning. It's like that every night.

WALSH: Do you think they were good enough fortifications here?

OLEKSANDR: Nothing was prepared here. Nothing. Just nothing. All the positions are being built by the hands of the infantry. The Russians are trained professional soldiers. We can see it from their equipment, form their tactics.

WALSH (voice-over): There were eight air strikes just in the last hour, so we leave soon. A buzzing noise near us very close and the only way they know whose drone this is, is if it attacks.


Is it your drone?


WALSH (voice-over): All around Kharkiv if they don't have enough guns, and the Russians have too many drones but 92nd Assault Brigade show us something that isn't even theirs.

WALSH: Russian artillery piece that they captured in the first year of the war in the fighting in Kharkiv region and now they use strangely French mortar rounds to fire from here. It's just a sign of how little appropriate ammunition they have available to them.

This wire is a protection from FPV drones.

WALSH (voice-over): Above you sees a drone with two battery packs, a long range scout.

WALSH: Run basement.

WALSH (voice-over): It is not a friendly. If you can tell it's an attack drone, hide. This seems to be a scout so running is better before it causes shelling.

Another artillery unit wants to show us something not even Russian but Soviet. Made in the 1940s it can still find newer Polish shells. In the autumn it was 100 a day. Now it is 10.

WALSH: Extraordinary to see something here that's three times the age of either these two guys holding back a new Russian offensive in 2024. I said a metal so old that limits the number of times.

WALSH: That sound warns another drone is incoming and back in the bunker. They show us the online bought $30 Gadget but is their best warning mechanism. The team here embody Ukraine's exhaustion and resilience. Older guys wounded infantry man. Arthur (ph) has drone shrapnel in his arm still.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moving towards Lozeva? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes. Orlan. Don't go out at all for now.

WALSH: You just saw an Orlan Russian drone passing overhead, saying better stay inside.

WALSH (voice-over): On the way back into the city, we see what fuels this defense. This was a lakeside resort, football cocktails, a beach.

WALSH: Extraordinary devastation in there to collect the bodies.

WALSH (voice-over): A seven months pregnant woman was among the seven dead here. Another body found later just fragments in the mulch. Russia's advanced looms over whatever life persists here belching out over homes.

The dark is little salvation. This may be a drone being hit, but they kill to when they crash and failure. Flares breached the enforced blackout. Moscow is getting nearer again. And there are always too many blasts before dawn. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Kharkiv, Ukraine.


COOPER: Ukraine's second largest city. Next, CNN investigation. You've seen the images people shoplifting openly sometimes gangs of people striking a store all at once. Tonight how retailers are trying to fight back.



COOPER: But now you're likely familiar with the images shoplifters, sometimes organized gangs that are targeting stores and cities across the country seemingly hard to stop. Now some major retailers are trying to fight back doing their own investigations with their own detectives and then passing their information that they've gained along to police who then arrest suspects. CNN's Kyung Lah has more.


KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A pre-dawn raid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands up.

LAH (voice-over): Dozens of heavily armed deputies and investigators from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department surround a house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forth in the doorway.

LAH (voice-over): Well, people arrested and organized crime networks as law enforcement suspected of links to narcotics dealing and illegal gambling. At another location, Santa Clara County deputies recovered the fuel for this alleged criminal network.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tons of packaged goods some parts of the house looked like it was a store. LAH: Stolen from local businesses, but it is nothing like the

shoplifting you've seen in the past. Brazen thieves recorded racing out with carts full of merchandise, even attacking store workers in the process.

SEAN BROWNE, SENIOR MANAGER OF ASSET PROTECTION, HOME DEPOT: This is not somebody who forgot to scan something at self-checkout or somebody who stole food. This is a large criminal organization with multiple factors.

LAH (voice-over): Sean Browne is not a cop. He works for Home Depot investigating organized retail crime. His job a growing field in store chains as criminal organizations branch out from guns and drugs to stolen goods.

A CNN review of court records and interviews of more than two dozen retail chains and law enforcement officials show that the private sector is not just helping the police, but often delivering the initial evidence that leads to search warrants.

BROWNE: A lot of times local and state resources don't have the capacity to investigate these crimes at that scale.

LAH: And incomes you.

BROWNE: Return to full service the investigations.

LAH (voice-over): Home Depot gave us a glimpse of a model replicated by multiple major retailers across the US. This is their high tech command center with electronic eyes on their stores throughout the country. Retailers have already moved beyond searching for the thieves you see in viral videos to their bosses. They are the real targets known as the fences.

BROWNE: These ring leaders operate as the fence of this merchandise where they're converting it to cash, drugs and other illicit items.


LAH: It sounds like you're talking about the mob.

BROWNE: It often is conflated with what would be considered mob activities. Bad actors will target specific merchandise usually directed by the ringleader almost like a shopping list.

LAH (voice-over): Store chains have the financial muscle to deploy high tech tracking, like license plate readers and in store monitors capturing the crime as it happens.

BROWNE: We use a lot of different investigative tactics and technologies to ensure that we can build the absolute best case for law enforcement and prosecutors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bad guys have the upper hand with respect to this issue. LAH (voice-over): The sheer scale of organized store theft is so

overwhelming members of Congress met with prosecutors and store chains looking for federal help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The organization and sophistication of these groups has grown exponentially in recent years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think organized retail crime is one of the biggest issues that is facing our local economy.

LAH: This entire aisle on this side is almost completely locked up.

BROWNE: Yes, not the way we would like to envision our rough electrical aisle for our customers, our pro contractors, but this is what your typical Home Depot looks like.

LAH (voice-over): Retail says Browne has already locked down their merchandise impacting the consumer from inconvenience to higher prices.

LAH: How would they get past this?

BROWNE: We've had certain crews that have caught locks and cables and broken into some of the fixtures that we've built inside of our stores.

LAH (voice-over): What you see here is because the explosion of online shopping has made it easier than ever to move stolen merchandise sold to a consumer hunting for a deal.

BROWNE: 20 years ago, I needed a storefront in order to sell laundry detergent. Now I can do it from my phone.

LAH (voice-over): California has now put hundreds of millions of dollars towards combating this problem enabling law enforcement here in Santa Clara County to break up a major crime ring. Recovering $150,000 in stolen merchandise authority, say from six retailers.

LAH: How big of a heist was this?

UNDIENTIFIED MALE: This happens daily across stores. Even with all those measures that you got to see in the store. We're still impacted at this level.


COOPER: And Kyung Lah joins me now from Southern California. I mean, it's fascinating to see what they're doing Home Depot. Why have local law enforcement agencies had such a hard time with this?

LAH: Well, it's really the difficulty of intelligence sharing across these different police agencies. You think about a police agency somewhere in Massachusetts trying to talk to one maybe out here in Arizona, so they have all of these disparate agencies.

And the one thing that is unifying them when it comes to organized retail crime, Anderson, is that they are all backing local state as well as retailers. A federal bill it is proposed at this stage is called the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act. It would essentially create an intelligence sharing hub at the Department of Homeland Security.

But like so much in Congress right now, this proposed bill despite the fact that has bipartisan support is still languishing in Congress.

COOPER: And there are a lot of big box stores taking the kind of measures in Home Depot's?

LAH: That basically, everybody. That's what's really remarkable about this. Just on that one bus, we were at the risk six retailers, all of them, companies that you know, so if you walk into a big box retailer, anywhere in this country, they probably have some type of law enforcement, people, people who have investigative backgrounds trying to combat this very crime across state lines.

COOPER: Kyung Lah, thanks so much. The National Hurricane Center released its official preseason forecast today, and it's not good. They say we could see more storms than ever this year. CNN chief climate correspondent Bill Weir joins me now. How bad is it?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: It's going to be busy. This is the most bullish forecast ever. They put out a list of 21 names to just get folks ready. And here they are from Alberto to William. They're not predicting there could be up to 25 names we could blow through this list this year, just on average is about 14 storms a year.

Anderson, last year, we had 20. Back in 2020 if you remember, we had 30 storms. And so this is just ripe right now. The ocean temperatures everything happening but most alarming is they predict between four and seven of these storms could be major, category three or above. So it could be Gordon or Joyce or Milton could be a category.

COOPER: And they're pointing the finger at what climate change?

WEIR: Yes, it's -- I mean, the look at this line graph of sea surface temperatures around the world. Last year was off the charts compared to recent years. The gray spaghetti at the bottom there, look at where we are right now. And if you look at a map of --

COOPER: Sea temperatures are higher.

WEIR: Sea temperatures much higher and warm water is the fuel of these storms. It makes them bigger, it makes them last longer. It brings rapid intensification. It's kind of hard to look at this map until you realize the blotches there is North and South America and those red bands they are in the Caribbean.


That is where hurricanes are born in the Atlantic, and they are off the charts. Because in part because the Pacific is cooling as La Nina comes as it gets cooler in the Pacific, odds of hurricanes in the Atlantic go up right now. So this is all why they're saying we need to brace for a big one.

COOPER: And so this would be more storms than we've ever seen?

WEIR: Could be. There's the science on whether it creates more storms is thin. But we definitely know that the storms that do form in the Atlantic are bigger and stronger, lasts longer.

COOPER: How often are these accurate? I mean, I because I feel like I've been some past years, they've made some predictions that turns out the season wasn't that bad.

WEIR: Sure.

COOPER: And then sometimes they say, it's not going to be that bad. And it turns out to be terrible.

WEIR: They say they have an 85 percent certainty that this will be an above average season. So again, average is 14. They're predicting up to 25. And some even say more than that.

COOPER: Yes. Thank you. Appreciate it.

It is hard to believe, but it's been nearly 19 years since Hurricane Katrina hammered New Orleans and parts of Mississippi along the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,000 people. Coming up. I've got a story for you about two of the storms, young survivors. They were babies then, they were twins. You see them there. They're now graduating high school. It's a reunion with a man who had the twins they saved and changed their lives forever. That's next.



COOPER: Nearly 19 years ago, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and parts of Mississippi causing widespread deaths. Catastrophic flooding has numerous levees failed or a New Orleans. Among the survivors were twin boys. They were babies at the time and their mom was with them. She saved them. She got them to the convention center.

Now they're young men who just graduated high school and they're thanking the general who is at that convention center who helped save their lives. With their story, here's Stephanie Elam.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From Hurricane evacuees --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations class of 2024.

ELAM (voice-over): To high school graduates. For twins Jamari and A'Mari Reynolds, this is a moment that seemed improbable at the beginning of their lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now Hurricane Katrina -- ELAM (voice-over): In the summer of 2005, Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, defeating many of the levees surrounding the city, flooding its streets and killing nearly 1,400 people. Survivors fought challenging circumstances to stay alive.


ELAM (voice-over): Alexandria Wheeler knowing she needed to find help for her six and a half month old son's waded through the water, her feet encountering unspeakable horrors in the turbid waters.

WHEELER: It was two bodies collided like this.

ELAM (voice-over): When the trio finally made it to the convention center turned makeshift shelter in the muggy heat, they were starving and dehydrated. The infants nearly limp. That's when Lieutenant General Russel Honore, the decorated commander who led the military response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita came to their aid.

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), U.S. ARMY LEADER OF JOINT TASK FORCE KATRINA: Folks in Washington, they were looking at calendars and we were looking at a clock.

ELAM (voice-over): It was a moment CNN caught on camera.

WHEELER: He was like God's angel. If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't be here today.

ELAM (voice-over): For years, Wheeler says she tried to get in contact with Honore to thank him for his kindness. But it would take another storm Hurricane Harvey, threatening their new home in Houston in 2017 to bring them together again.

HONORE: Is that some who that boy is over here.

ELAM (voice-over): Wheeler sent Honore a message on social media. And he responded.

WHEELER: We don't even have words to put into our mouths to thank you enough. Auto repeat back what you did.

ELAM (voice-over): Now nearly 19 years after their life altering encounter, Honore took time to celebrate the boys' achievement.

HONORE: Well, we affectionately referred you as the Katrina twins because the world got to meet you that day.

ELAM (voice-over): But Jamari and A'Mari after a lifetime made possible by the man in uniform, are honoring Honore each in his own way. First, A'Mari.

A'MARI REYNOLDS, HURRICANE KATRINA SURVIVOR: And things see you I'll be a future addition to the United States Marine Corps.

HONORE: Oorah. You got to know how to say that word Oorah REYNOLDS: I chose to be in the Marines because I watched over the video and I kept watching and inspired me to want to help people a lot more.

ELAM (voice-over): Then Jamari.

JAMARI REYNOLDS, HURRICAN KATRINA SURIVOR: I would like thank you so much for your bravery, your help that I was able to survive. I'm going to college to do automotive engineering.

ELAM: How do you feel hearing that these two young men are pursuing these careers that have been inspired in part by you?

HONORE: I feel so grateful. I mean, there's no greater service than the service to others, the engineer that will change your world and the marine that's going to help protect a freedom in our democracy.

ELAM (voice-over): The twins now thriving after surviving hell and high water thanks to an undeterred mother.

HONORE: Yes, here today because of you and your tenacity.

ELAM (voice-over): And a compassionate commander.

HONORE: That these young men will be game changers. I'm so proud of you.

ELAM: And Anderson, this is the first time that the twins will not be living together but they say they plan to stay in touch. Stay close.


And take those lessons that they've learned from Lieutenant General Honore and hold them close to their heart.


COOPER: That was Stephanie Elam reporting amazing to see.