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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Calls Jan. 6 Rioters "Warriors" And Victims"; Source: Trump Answered All Questions In Pre-Sentencing Interview; Probations Commissioner Was Present; Video Shows Dramatic Rescue Of Israeli Hostages From Gaza Home; Coast Guard Official Resigns Over Sexual Assault Scandal. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 10, 2024 - 20:00   ET



JENSEN HUANG, FOUNDER & CEO NVIDIA: Is the most complex, highest performance computer the world's ever made.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): That's why you have to care.


WATT (on camera): Now, in the next few years the competition is going to heat up in this marketplace for making the chips that train AI. But some analysts say that right now NVIDIA has maybe up to a 95 percent share of that markets. They've got a huge head start on their main competitors Intel and AMD.

AMD just launched a new chip NVIDIA says they're going to launch a new chip every year. That 3 trillion valuation, computer world call them - just said maybe that's an under valuation. Erin?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: That's incredible. All right thank you very much, Nick Watt. And thanks to all of you as always, AC360 starts now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, real warriors and the people Donald Trump is now calling warriors namely the violent mob that stormed the Capitol, we're keeping them honest on the difference.

Also tonight, Hunter Biden's fate now in the hands of a jury, how the defense and prosecution did in making their case?

Plus, the latest in a string of CNN exclusives on decades of sexual abuse at the Coast Guard Academy. Tonight, a Coast Guard official breaks her silence and says she was part of what she now calls a cruel cover-up.

Good evening, thanks for joining us. We begin tonight, keeping them honest, with something the former president has been saying a lot lately and what it says about him.

Sunday as President Biden was visiting the American Military Cemetery outside Paris and fresh from marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day at Normandy, Donald Trump was saying this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's never been people treated more horrifically than J6 hostages. But those J6 warriors, they were warriors, but they were really more than anything else. They're victims of what happened. All they were doing is protesting a rigged election that's what they were doing and then the police say go in, go in, go in, go in, what a setup that was.


COOPER: That's the former president of the United States Sunday in Las Vegas. And just to refresh your memory, these are the people he was honoring specifically the ones in prison for crimes they committed on January 6 or jailed and awaiting trial. And it's certainly not the first time he's called these people hostages.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the horribly and unfairly treated January 6 hostages.


COOPER: It's now part of his routine that recording he's standing and saluting for features him saying The Pledge of Allegiance while these inmates whom he calls hostages sing the Star-Spangled Banner. By the way, the former president began calling them hostages in November after actual hostages were taken by Hamas four of whom were freed in a daring military operation in Gaza after almost eight months of mental and physical torment at the hands of Hamas and we'll have more on that tonight.

But those are actual hostages, Trump would have you believe the January 6 inmates are hostages, and also warriors, and victims, he said that too. Victims, he also claims, were invited in by police. So they're warriors, and they're hostages, and they're victims, and they're also according to him, lovers.


TRUMP: The love in the air, I've never seen anything like it. There was also a love fest between the police, the Capitol Police and the people that walk down to the Capitol.


COOPER: So stir that in with all the rest and here's how the former president is reshaping the attack on the Capitol, peaceful protesters full of love, invited into the Capitol by police who loved them in return, but who somehow tricked them and made them victims who then turned into warriors who are now being held hostage.

Let me introduce you to one of these men who's presumably a warrior in Trump's eye, Daniel Rodriguez. This is his photo as posted on social media by a user named Deep State Dogs. Rodriguez was part of the mob that attacked police with metal poles and bats and stolen riot shields and chemical spray and in his case a stun gun. He attacked Officer Michael Fanone with it who later suffered a heart attack and traumatic brain injury.

Rodriguez pleaded guilty like so many others have and was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison. His is one - he's one of the people the former president is calling a hostage. And it shouldn't come as a surprise that Trump is unfamiliar with what a warrior actually is in case he's watching here's one from D-Day, Technician 5th Grade John Joseph Pinder Jr. He waded through machine gun and artillery fire carrying a vitally important radio ashore at Omaha Beach which he did despite being wounded once, then again making several trips back through enemy fire to get more equipment ashore until he was wounded a third time and died. Technician Pinder was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously.

President Trump refused to visit the same cemetery that President Biden and so many other presidents have over the years and according to his former chief of staff Marine Corps General John Kelly quote in The Atlantic, he said, "Why should I go to that cemetery it's filled with losers?" Had he gone, he might have learned what being a warrior truly means.


Separately the former president now convicted felon met by videoconference today for a pre sentencing interview with a New York probation officer.

Joining us tonight, former Republican congressman and House January 6th Committee member Adam Kinzinger. Also CNN's Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst, John Miller, and former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe.

Congressman, first of all, what is your - as somebody who's actually served, what is your reaction to the former president calling the writers warriors, and hostages and victims?

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, it's sick and disgusting, obviously. I think we have to be careful to not allow this outrage to just numb us. Like this really should be - and thank you for putting this at the top of the show - this should be at the top of every news show anywhere in the country at how egregious and terrible this is. They - they're not warriors.

The ones that went into the Capitol most of them if not all of them have been arrested and tried. And interestingly, Anderson, at the beginning when they started to get arrested, they were remorseful. And then this right-wing ecosphere put their arms around them you know singing the national anthem and stuff, and in that process convinced them that they were victims, and have made them martyrs and heroes.

This is not something Americans that, you know, aren't completely sold out to the cult should be - should accept and we should have this be a fresh outrage every day when he does stuff like this. COOPER: It's also interesting, Andrew, I mean, I know some actual warriors, they're not people who usually view themselves as victims or just sort of helpless victims very often. How dangerous do you think it is for law enforcement, Andrew, and the public when you have the former president gaslighting his supporters? Because, I mean, back in 2022 there was a guy upset about federal authorities searching Mar-a- Lago for classified documents he was killed after trying to shoot his way into an FBI field office in Ohio. It feels like, to the Congressman's point, the former president just says this stuff and it - people just kind of ignore it, but it - I mean it has repercussions potentially.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. So let's get the facts out first on this warriors claim. So of - as of January 6, 2024 was most recent numbers I could find. We got 1,265 people who've been charged in - as a part of that January 6 case, 718 of them on that - by that day had already gone into court raised their right- hand, sworn to tell the truth and then said I did it, I'm guilty to it, whether it's trespassing or obstruction of official procedure or assault, you know, on police officers and others.

So the idea that these people are somehow being held against their will for political reasons is absolutely absurd. And Donald Trump knows that's absurd, he knows it because he spent four hours that day watching the videotapes from behind the cloistered walls of the White House in the warm embrace of his Secret Service security team.

So he knows exactly what happened that day. He knows those people were rioters and insurrectionists and many of them have, to their credit, stepped up and taken responsibility for that. The thing that I cannot get past Anderson is how many people give him a pass for saying absurd and sickeningly false things like this. And you're right, these falsehoods that he's - that he throws out in front of his rallies and supporters it is for political advantage but it comes at the cost of driving up risk to people in the system, law enforcement prosecutors and others. And you made the perfect example Ricky Shiffrin (ph) who was outraged by what he undoubtedly heard the president say after the Mar-a-Lago raid and decided to take it out violently on the FBI Cincinnati field office.

That could happen any day anywhere around the country to any FBI agent or other federal officer by somebody similarly misguided.

COOPER: Also Congressman, it's just - I mean, it's kind of - it's just - I mean it's sickening that the former president basically saw this saw this - saw the October 7th hostages being held by Hamas and Islam Jihad and others as a branding opportunity. And I think according to The Washington Post in November is when he started using the term hostages for the - for those who have been found guilty of crimes on January 6 and rebrand - is branding them January 6 hostages. I mean, it's really warped.

KINZINGER: it has really warped and that was very astute of you to notice is that he never used hostages until there were real hostages, some of which are still being held, some have been killed, that are being held against their will. I mean, look,, you know, it probably started with Marjorie Taylor Greene too, she came up with some of that. But I think the biggest thing to take off of what McCabe said is where are all the members of the House and Senate including the ones who after January 6 stood up, Lindsey Graham, I'm done with this guy.


We had a hell of a run, but I'm done.

You think of like Marco Rubio, all these people that know better, that just keep their heads down and don't say a word. This is threatening the very fabric of democracy, because all we have to have for a democracy to survive is a basic compact that your vote, you can vote, your vote will count and the person that wins, wins.

That's what Donald Trump was tearing apart, that basic contact contract that is the only requirement for democracy to survive and he's turned these people that violated the rule of law into martyrs. And by the way, if we don't have rule of law in this country, democracy can't survive either. And he is just an absolute ill-fit, mentally flawed is probably the nicest way I can say it, former president and candidate for future president in America has to reject him.

COOPER: John, I know you have new reporting on the former president's meeting today or interview with probation officials which is a normal part of this procedure, what happened?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: So today, Donald Trump, with his lawyer Todd Blanche over a Microsoft Teams connection had this virtual meeting to prepare - to assist probation department in New York City with preparing the pre- sentencing report that goes to the judge.

It was an unusual meeting in that present there was the commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation Juanita Holmes. Her general counsel, Bridget Hamblin and the probation officer who would normally be there by himself or with another officer who would do the interview. The interview was led by Commissioner Holmes and a city official who was briefed on the interview afterwards told me that at all times Donald Trump answered the questions which were things about what are your living situation, any health issues, family history where do you spend more time, New York or Florida.

A lot of things that Donald Trump would think everybody already knows, but Commissioner Holmes said these are the normal questions. We're going to put you through these questions and they said he was polite, he was respectful and that at the end of the meeting he wished them well and ended the call with be safe.

COOPER: And we just got speaking of New York City, Mayor Giuliani - former Mayor Giuliani's mugshot from Arizona authorities. He's been - he was hard to get a ...

MILLER: A subpoena to. COOPER: ... a subpoena to until they finally did. This is his mugshot, that's not the mugshot. We'll try to get it. He's pleaded not guilty there to charges of trying to overturn the 2020 Election results, what happened to him? I mean ...

MILLER: Well this has been an amazing rise and fall from a kind of prosecutor built on the image of Thomas Dewey going after the mob and crooked politicians, to a mouthpiece for Donald Trump as president and then the lead counsel ...

COOPER: Sorry. By the way, this is the mugshot. That was a another mugshot of his which clearly he's gotten a lesson from that prior mugshot because this one is he's a smiling at least.

MILLER: That's right. The prior mugshot was from the, I guess, the Georgia cases.


MILLER: So now he's on his second mugshot, but he has hitched himself to the Donald Trump wagon, but he's also been through multiple breakups and divorces. He's lost millions and millions of dollars. He's in bankruptcy. His apartment is up for sale and it was amazing to see someone who was the face and the voice of law and order in New York City for so long. And then the mayor for two terms, a law and order mayor, be someone who's going on his second mugshot and who has been disbarred and barred from the practice of law in multiple places.

COOPER: Andrew, the - in a series of interviews over the past week the former president has talked about, been asked about this whole retribution seeking he talked about running, you know, I am your retribution he had said months ago. I just want to play some of what he said.


TRUMP: Well, revenge does take time, I will say that.


TRUMP: And sometimes revenge can be justified, Phil. I have to be honest.


TRUMP: Sometimes it can.

Look, when this election is over, based on what they've done, I would have every right to go after them and it's easy because it's Joe Biden.

It's a very terrible thing. It's a terrible precedent for our country. Does that mean the next president does it to them, that's really the question.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: So in terms of if he is president using the levers of the Justice Department and the FBI to go after political opponents in his second term, how would that - how would he go about that? I mean, how feasible is that?

MCCABE: Well, I think it's entirely feasible.


I mean, you know, the - it's interesting to me that across those interviews with people who are like Dr. Phil and others who are trying to kind of get him to walk away from those claims. He soft pedals it a little bit, but then he gets out in front of the rally crowds and really hits at home.

It's - it is absolutely clear, he said it many times in front of many different people, he intends to take the levers of power if he is reelected and use them for his own personal retribution goals, which in and of itself is so unbelievably offensive. It should be to any American - that any American president would purport to do such a thing.

Can he do it? Sure he can do it. If he follows through with the plan that he's already laid out this 2025 plan that they've talked about, he'll replace those folks in significant positions, the Department of Justice and the FBI and other law and federal law enforcement entities with flunkies who will do whatever he says.

So the first steps in this process of Trumping up charges against people baselessly and throwing them in jail could actually happen. I think it gets tougher when those cases start to make their way through the courts, you know, but that takes a long time.

And so I think it's reasonable that people who think they might be, you know, on the former president's enemies list start thinking about what does that look like, what could that, you know, how could that actually play out in your lives. And I think people are having those conversations just trying to figure those things out as we speak.

COOPER: Andrew McCabe, Adam Kinzinger, John Miller, thank you.

Coming up next, closing arguments in the Hunter Biden federal gun trial and what jurors are now deliberating.

And later, the rescue of those four Israeli hostages from Gaza, how it went down, who helped and more. We'll be right back.



COOPER: The trial lasted six days. Hunter Biden's guilt or innocence on three federal gun charges is now in the hands of a Delaware jury. More now on the charges, the trial and closing arguments from CNN's Paula Reid.


PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In a major show of support, Hunters family members and pastor taking up three rows in court today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've known the family for years and you don't abandon your friends and family in tough times.


REID (voice over): In closing arguments, prosecutors pointed to the gallery of supporters and said, those people are not evidence and reminded the jury that, quote, "No one is above the law."

The prosecution directly addressed the most difficult element they have to prove that Hunter Biden knowingly lied on a federal background check form when purchasing the gun at the center of this case.

"The defendant knew he used crack and was addicted to crack at the relevant time period," adding that Hunter would have been aware from his time in rehab that he had a problem with drugs.

"Maybe if he had never gone to rehab, he could argue he didn't know he was an addict." At the end of his closing prosecutor Leo Wise circled back to testimony from Hunter's daughter, Naomi, on Friday when she told the jury that when she returned her father's car to him on October 19th 2018, she did not see any evidence of drugs.

But Wise reminded the jury Hunter's former girlfriend, Hallie Biden, his brother Beau Biden's widow, had testified that when she found the gun in the same car days later, she found it alongside drug paraphernalia. Defense attorney Abbe Lowell countered, warning jurors not to convict his client improperly adding, "It's time to end this case."

He compared the trial to a magician's trick trying to dupe the jury saying, "Watch this hand, pay no attention to the other one." He accused prosecutors of cherry-picking evidence to present a more damning timeline of Hunters drug use and said his client was not lying when he marked down that he was not an addict on that federal form. Lowell attacked two of Hunters former girlfriends who both served as prosecution witnesses in this case.

He noted Zoe Keston took pictures of Hunter with drugs but not in the key month of October 2018. He also reminded the jury that Hallie Biden could not remember specific details about when she found the gun in Hunters car and noted Hunter was the one who told Hallie to file a police report for the missing gun after she threw it out.

Hunter did not take the stand to testify in his own defense in this case, a move that would have come with potential rewards and definite risks.

(END VIDEOTAPE) REID (on camera): The jury will be back here at court tomorrow at 9 AM to continue their deliberations. It's impossible to say how long it will take them to reach a decision on these three counts. But I was in court earlier today and they were all so attentive as the judge explained the instructions page by page, line by line. These are of course the rules that they need to follow as they undertake this historic decision, Anderson?

COOPER: Paula Reid, thanks so much.

More now on how President Biden is handling the weight of the verdict and the Biden family presence throughout the trial including the First Lady who went back and forth during the French visit to be in court with her stepson. CNN's MJ Lee is at the White House for us tonight. What are things like in the White House since they await the jury.

Well, you know, the trial of the president's son has been an extraordinarily sensitive issue for this White House and the president and it is not a coincidence that the president himself has barely commented on the ongoing trial. We heard him, of course, make a statement at the beginning of the trial, saying that he loves his son and that he is proud of him for showing resilience as he has fought addiction issues.

And then the other rare exception of course was in a recent ABC interview where the President was asked whether he would pardon his son, whether he would rule that out actually and his answer, a one- word answer was simply, yes, he would rule that out.

The President, Anderson, has been really clear that he is going to accept the outcome of the trial no matter what happens and that he's just not going to comment on his son's case as the jury is deliberating that.


Of course, it's in line with the President's sort of broader view that you just don't comment on a trial or a legal proceeding when it is still making its way through the legal system. And I should just note that that is an important area where the president has sought to draw a contrast between himself and the former president whom he has accused of trying to put his thumb on the legal system on and sort of influence in a political way other sort of areas and other issues that the former president has dealt with. This, of course, the President has made clear he sees as being wholly inappropriate.

COOPER: MJ Lee, thanks so much at the White House tonight.

Joining us now CNN Legal Analyst Norm Eisen and Jennifer Rodgers, also former federal judge, Shira Scheindlin.

Norm, what do you make of closing arguments? Do you think he's going to get convicted?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I thought both sides did an able job in closing arguments. The prosecution hammering the evidence that Hunter Biden was using or addicted to drugs before and after this key October 12th to 23rd period to say ...

COOPER: They don't have actual evidence about the day but they have (INAUDIBLE) ...

EISEN: Yes, and the judge instructed that you don't have to prove the day, you have to show that Hunter Biden was actually engaged in using or was an addict around that time. And they have him checking into rehab before and after the various witnesses. But Anderson, Abbe Lowell is a very capable defense lawyer and he leaned into that critical gap and the state of mind question, this has to be knowing.

That means Hunter Biden had to say on purpose not by mistake I'm not an addict, I'm not a user and Lowell argues, well, he thought he was not an addict at that time and there's no proof he was using. Prosecution ahead on points not impossible you get a defense verdict or a hung jury.

COOPER: Jen, what do you think?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I agree. I mean I think they'll probably get a conviction here. There's a very narrow path for the defense to win this. They really do have to lean into this knowingly and they can't prove it on these days. But prosecutors always say follow your common sense, right?

Like, the guy's been in rehab, people around that time, there's these text messages about dealing and the Hallie Biden testimony about paraphernalia in the car, and so use your common sense, the guy was an addict.

COOPER: Judge, that argument, does that make sense to you that well I didn't think I was an addict on that day and therefore I signed this documents saying I'm not an addict?

SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, FORMER U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE: I think it's the only argument that the defense has. The question is, can the jury accept it. And I think, contrary to my fellows here, my friends here, maybe, maybe some jury - juror or more jurors who are sympathetic to what he's gone through and may have experienced something like that sometime in their life are going to cut him a little slack and say, well, on that day, maybe he didn't use, so that takes care of the use. And as far as being an addict, well, maybe that day he thought he'd come out of it and was no longer an addict because he was doing better, even he felt - if he fell off two days later. So they might have a basis to draw that distinction if they want to.

COOPER: In your experience on the bench, I mean is it tough for juries to see past you know this is the son of the President or someone to be famous.

SCHEINDLIN: Very tough, very tough. And, and the family ...

COOPER: Does it cut one way or the other? I mean, does that ...

SCHEINDLIN: Oh, I think - well, I think it could cut in his favor, the family's there, it's a high-profile family, somebody might indeed think that he's going through this because of that. And again, as we all know, it only takes one to cause a hung jury so, I'm not as confident as my colleagues that there's going to be a conviction here but I wouldn't put my money on a non-conviction either.

EISEN: You know, the prosecution is aware of this risk, because the first thing the prosecutor said in closing was all those people sitting behind the defendant are not evidence. That's pretty unusual in my experience.

RODGERS: Yeah, I was surprised of that, actually. I thought it was a little aggressive, you know? I mean, here are these people there to support him, lots of people on the jurors, the jury have had addiction in their families and here's his loving family there to support him and they're going to point at them and be like don't pay attention to those people. I thought it was a little overly aggressive actually.

SCHEINDLIN: If anything it could highlight it, it could have been - it can boomerang, because they're going to look over it when he said that look right over at those three rows, think about parents and sisters and children and all the rest of it, they could just override this if they want to.

COOPER: Norm, there's also some breaking news in Trump's classified documents case. Judge Aileen Cannon denied a defense's effort to dismiss the indictment, but she also struck a paragraph from Jack Smith's indictment.

EISEN: Anderson, this was a motion that the defendants had brought attacking this indictment every which way from Sunday.


They lost almost everything. And the question we should ask is, why did Judge Cannon, for these relatively easy unexceptional challenges, take so long dragging it out? She did give one gimme to the defense, it's one paragraph, paragraph 36. It has to do with what happened at Bedminster, that conversation about the Iran documents.

It's there as a -- to give notice that the prosecution is going to introduce prior bad acts, but striking it was virtually impossible.

COOPER: So judge, I mean, Judge to judge, what's going on?

SCHEINDLIN: Well, in my mind, I was pleased that she got this done so fast from May 22nd to June 10th for her is practically speedy. So I was impressed that she didn't sit on this obvious motion for very long.

I have to tell you that motion is made in every case, and it's never granted duplicitousness. Multiplicity never works, but they make it to preserve the record. Nobody expects to win those motions. You do it to preserve. So, it didn't take her all that long to get this one done.

COOPER: But, I mean, given the history of other things she has been doing, and are you surprised by the length this thing is dragging out? SCHEINDLIN: Of course. In general, I am all the motions. But this motion was relatively fast. That's a good sign. Maybe she's hearing us talking about her. And she's getting her work done. Who knows? But this, I thought, was relatively fast.

And as far as that 404B, the similar act, it's very clear that she is saying, but at trial, there may be a basis to tis evidence trusts us and belong in the indictment. It doesn't relate directly to the charge.

COOPER: Jennifer, does this impact the chance of this thing moving forward faster?

RODGERS: I mean, the problem is we have so many outstanding motions that are complicated, time consuming problematic SIPA motions, the Classified Information Protection Act and so on. It's just -- we're not moving forward in a way that is good for going to trial, it's just a question.

EISEN: She should have saved those pages and all those words to resolve the other lagging motions that she has.

SCHEINDLIN: But it shows she's trying to get one off of her desk, that's good. Judge Scheindlin, thank you. Jennifer Rodgers, Norm Eisen, thanks so much.

Up next, new video, that traumatic rescue of four Israeli hostages over the weekend, plus their condition, and the latest on attempts to secure a ceasefire.



COOPER: The hostages families form in Israel says two of the four Israeli hostages freed in a dramatic daytime rescue Saturday left the hospital today as the mother of a third freed hostage says she wants Israel and Hamas to accept a ceasefire deal that's been publicly supported by President Biden.

Also, tonight we have new video and details of that rescue. Here's CNN's Kylie Atwood.


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the view from the helmets of the Israel Defense Forces as they unleashed heavy gunfire searching for Israeli hostages held by Hamas, a daring daytime raid that freed four of those kidnapped by Hamas on October 7th and held captive ever since. It was an operation that took weeks to plan after receiving intelligence that the hostages were being held in apartment buildings in the Nuseirat camp in central Gaza.

REAR ADM. DANIEL HAGARI, IDF SPOKESPERSON: On the way out from Gaza, our forces rescued our hostages. Israeli forces have been preparing for this rescue mission for weeks. ATWOOD (voice-over): An Israeli Air Force pilot involved in the

mission told the Jerusalem Post that as one of the hostages, Noa Argamani, got into his helicopter, his unit's, quote, mantle of composure melted away. The magnitude of the moment struck. Then, he, quote, immediately reported that the diamond is with us and in good health.

Some of the Special Forces were disguised as displaced Palestinians and members of Hamas's military wing, eyewitnesses told CNN. And there were also reports of large gunfire after the hostages were rescued.

At least 274 Palestinians were killed in the operation and hundreds injured. That's according to the Gazan authorities who do not distinguish between civilian and military casualties. The Israel Defense Forces dispute that number, saying the death toll was under 100.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I want to say thank you, thank God.

ATWOOD (voice-over): In Israel, the families of the hostages expressed their overwhelming joy at having their loved ones returned safely after eight months in captivity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I haven't stopped smiling since my Almog was returned to me.

ATWOOD (voice-over): Now as work continues for a ceasefire and hostage deal, with 120 hostages still held by Hamas, there are some fears that this raid could be a setback.

JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a legitimate question. It's hard for me to put myself in the mindset of a Hamas terrorist. We don't know exactly what it is that they're going to do.

ATWOOD (voice-over): As Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels to the Middle East to continue ratcheting up pressure on Hamas to take the deal, he also isn't sure what Hamas will do.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I can't put myself, none of us can put ourselves in the minds of Hamas or its leaders. So we don't know what the answer will be.

ATWOOD (voice-over): But while in Egypt, Blinken also said that his Egyptian counterparts had been in touch with Hamas quite recently.

BLINKEN: I can't go into the details of our conversations today except to say that our Egyptian counterparts were in communication with Hamas as early, as recently as a few hours ago.

ATWOOD: Now during his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated that the United States and other world leaders stand by that comprehensive proposal that President Biden laid out 10 days ago, and they say that Israel has put on the table for Hamas to accept. But so long as this period of uncertainty is extended, as the U.S. and other countries are waiting for Hamas to respond to that proposal, the United States is concerned about the possibility of Netanyahu changing his mind and deciding to reject that proposal, even though he signed off on it before it initially went to Hamas. Anderson.



COOPER: Kylie Atwood. Thanks. Coming up, CNN exclusive, a U.S. Coast Guard Academy official resigns and breaks her silence about sexual assault allegations and a decades long cover up at the Academy.


COOPER: Ahead of what could be an intense congressional hearing tomorrow involving testimony from the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, an official there has resigned and spoken exclusively with CNN about what she says was her unwitting role in a decades long cover up of sexual assault allegations at the academy.

One so per say, persuade, excuse me, pervasive, it prompted a detailed report that was eventually kept confidential even from Congress tell CNN reported its disturbing findings last year.

This former official tells CNN she believes top officials used her to convince victims not to tell their stories to members of Congress, and says she has proof.


Sunlen Serfaty has the exclusive interview.


SHANNON NORENBERG, COAST GUARD ACADEMY OFFICIAL: Top officials used her to convince victims not to tell their stories to members of Congress interview. They put me in a terrible position. How dare they do this to me? They had me standing up in front of cadets for 11 years talking about honor, respect, devotion to duty. Where is their respect to any of us? I'm disgusted.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shannon Norenberg spent more than a decade as the sexual assault coordinator at the Coast Guard Academy.

NORENBERG: It felt like an honor to be there and help them with this thing that is so hard and awful and difficult and awkward. The Coast Guard didn't tell me they were taking it seriously. I felt like they meant it.

SERFATY (voice-over): Until she says she recently discovered leaders had used her to lie to victims making her an unwitting accomplice to a massive cover up of decades of sexual assault at the Coast Guard Academy. NORENBERG: I had no idea that what I was telling those victims was not true.

SERFATY (voice-over): It started several years ago, when Norenberg was asked to take part in informing victims about a sensitive investigation code named Operation Fouled Anchor. Coast Guard leaders had discovered that dozens of cases of rape and abuse from the 1980s to the mid-2000s have been ignored and covered up. The attackers usually left unpunished.

NORENBERG: I got a phone call from someone at headquarters saying, hey, we want you to help out. They told me at that time that all of those investigations had already been done. And that at this point, we were going to call everybody up and offer them an in-person meeting so that we could say we were regretful all the things that actually sounded amazing. I took these to every single meeting.

SERFATY (voice-over): The Coast Guard gave Norenberg talking points to go over with the former cadets who have been sexually assaulted an apology tour where they were assured their cases were supposedly being handled properly after all these years.

NORENBERG: Members of Congress and staff and DHS have been briefed on the general outline of the investigation, what was found, and what disposition decisions were made. We assured them, you know, that hey, we're handling this. We've got this. We're taking this seriously. Thanks for coming forward, you know? But it turns out, actually, the Coast Guard hadn't told Congress.

SERFATY (voice-over): Norenberg didn't know it but the investigation was quietly closed. So the decades of assault were kept hidden from Congress and the public until a CNN investigation revealed it all last summer. Victims were never given any recourse.

NORENBERG: I trusted the Coast Guard implicitly and I assumed that the talking point document they handed me was true. I would never have considered that that might be a lie.

SERFATY (voice-over): The CNN reports about Operation Fouled Anchor have led to multiple federal investigations, congressional hearings, and an apology from the head of the Coast Guard.

ADM. LINDA L. FAGAN, COMMANDANT OF THE COAST GUARD: We failed to provide the safe environment that every member of the Coast Guard deserves.

SERFATY (voice-over): Norenberg says after seeing CNN's report, she feared she had been used in the cover up. She found the talking points in her files recently, which confirmed it.

NORENBERG: I started to read it, and I was like, that's not -- actually that's not what happened. They lied to me. They lied to us. They had me lie. Oh my god, they had me lie to them.

And actually, that's when I lost it. Because at first I was like, wow, that's crazy, they lied. And then I was like, wait, they used me to lie. Wow. They planned it as far back as 2018 not to tell anyone about this to protect their precious institution. They betrayed the victims of Fouled Anchor over and over and over.

This is my boot camp photo.

SERFATY (voice-over): Norenberg says she was raped by a supervisor when she was an army recruit in 1988 and says she knows how it feels to be told there's nothing that can be done. She is resigning and going public about what happened.

NORENBERG: The public needs to know this is happening. People sign up to serve their country and this is how they're treated like trash. It's not OK.

SERFATY (voice-over): In response to a CNN request for comment, the Coast Guard says the talking points were created months before the meetings with the cadets and we're not updated. And that another former Coast Guard official who is present at the meeting said no victim was informed that congressional notifications occurred.

NORENBERG: I want to tell the victims of Fouled Anchor how sorry I am to be a part of this terrible scheme. But let me try to make it right now. And I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry.


COOPER: Sunlen Serfaty joins us now. What more can you tell us about this hearing tomorrow?

SERFATY: Yes, Anderson. The head of the Coast Guard, Admiral Linda Fagan, she'll be testifying for the Senate Intelligence Committee tomorrow. She'll be talking about the changes that she promised to make in the wake of CNN's previous reporting. And she has repeatedly said that she wants to learn from the past. She wants to move forward.

But Shannon Norenberg's account here certainly adds the whole string of controversies, showing that this sexual misconduct remains pervasive across the Coast Guard and definitely underscores that this is far bigger issue than she has publicly acknowledged.


And we certainly expect that she will get some questions about Norenberg's accounting of all this tomorrow as well. Anderson.

COOPER: Sunlen Serfaty. Thank you so much. Next, independent presidential candidate, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the latest on his effort to get on more state ballots. Also, a fresh look at Kennedy supporters and who he could be taking votes from.



COOPER: Independent 2024 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is trying to get on more state ballots and the CNN debate stage later this month. So far he's officially qualified to be on ballots in six states you see here including Michigan and California.

He says he's on more but that's not yet verified. What is known is Kennedy has doubled digit support in some national polling, better than any third party or independent candidate at this stage since Ross Perot in 1996.

Yesterday on CNN's State of the Union, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Co-Chair of the Biden-Harris campaign, said Kennedy has a lot of quote, wild ideas and noted he does not have the support of his own family, but she also said this.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D) MICHIGAN: Certainly Kennedy or any third party candidate gives me some concern and it's to be taken seriously.


COOPER: We're now from CNN's Eva McKend, who spoke with Kennedy supporters.


EVA MCKEND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a 17 acre tree farm in Saukville, Wisconsin, Dale Stenbroten rides around the land with hope, the 2024 election will bring monumental change in 2020.


MCKEND (voice-over): But now he says the former president sounds like a broken record.

STENBROTEN: It's all about the election was rigged and the court system is rigged.

MCKEND (voice-over): This year, the wedding venue owner, who plans to eventually transform his property into a wellness retreat, is all in for independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

STENBROTEN: Bobby's the first candidate who I've actually felt good about. I think a lot of people are very frustrated with voting for the last year of two evils.

MCKEND: Is that how you view the major party candidates?

STENBROTEN: Yes, absolutely.

MCKEND (voice-over): A self-described conservative independent, Stenbroten shares Kennedy's vaccine skepticism and learned of him through Kennedy's work with the anti-vaccine group Children's Health Defense.

The 62-year old typically votes for Republicans, but he's attracted to Kennedy's anti-establishment message.

STENBROTEN: Ending the foreign wars, the financial corruption within government agencies. And the fact that we can't trust our government agencies to do their jobs because they have been hijacked by corporate interests.

MCKEND: You don't think our government agencies can be trusted?

STENBROTEN: No. I don't.


STENBROTEN: Because they're bought and paid for.


MCKEND (voice-over): Recent college grad Katie Zimmerman voted for President Joe Biden in 2020. But now she spends her Saturday mornings tabling at farmers markets. Like this one in Wauwatosa for the Kennedy campaign.

ZIMMERMAN: He's coming to all voters and saying that if you vote for me, like you'll be able to afford to buy a house versus I haven't necessarily heard Biden say things like that, that appeal to me.

MCKEND: If ultimately Trump gets reelected, how would you feel about that?

ZIMMERMAN: I would not feel really great about that if he was elected into office, but I wouldn't necessarily feel any guilt because I was able to have a choice in who I wanted to vote for.

MCKEND (voice-over): Doug DeNicola is a longtime Democrat who never thought he would find himself lobbying Trump supporters to switch to Kennedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think this guy's going to do for us?

DOUG DENICOLA, LONGTIME DEMOCRAT: Go to 24. Go watch what he's going to do. You haven't even given him a chance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So no, because he doesn't have a chance anyway.

MCKEND: Is it hard to convince Trump supporters to vote for Kennedy?

DENICOLA: You know, I, I actually just appreciate that he was willing to stop and talk to me.

MCKEND (voice-over): Fed up with political polarization, Danicola thinks Kennedy can bring Americans together and isn't worried about him taking votes from Biden or Trump.

DENICOLA: A person like Bobby Kennedy, who is really, has a message of unity, a message for all people. I think that's why he's going to actually pull a lot of voters from both sides.

MCKEND (voice-over): Back on Dale's farm, a shared desire for unity to address a deeply divided country. STENBROTEN: If we don't make some changes and find somebody who has creative solutions and somebody we can trust who wants to bring us together, we're going to be in a world of hurt.


COPPER: Eva, does RFK Jr. seem to be pulling more votes away from Biden or Trump based on who you spoke to?

MCKEND: You know, Anderson, Kennedy's coalition of voters, they really span the political spectrum. Polling data does indicate the largest contingent could actually be those who didn't support either candidate in 2020. A lot of his support comes from these so called double haters. Those holding unfavorable views of both Biden and Trump. Anderson.

COOPER: Eva McKend, thanks so much. The news continues. The Source with Kaitlan Collins starts now. I'll see you tomorrow.