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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

A Tale Of Two Verdicts; Pres. Biden Reiterates Support For Hunter Biden After He's Convicted On All Counts In Felony Gun Case; Former President Reagan's Daughter, Patti Davis, Weighs In On The Hunter Biden Case; Inside The Prisons And Detention Camps Where The Children Of ISIS Suspects Are Coming Of Age; Police: One Dead After Atlanta Bus Shooting, Hijacking & Police Chase; Some Inmates In Closely Divided Nevada Now Able To Vote From Jail. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 11, 2024 - 20:00   ET



MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOGBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Staging exercises with neighboring Belarus near the Ukrainian border. Russian tactical nukes delivered from either ground or air can level entire cities. Although the Kremlin insists it has no plans at this stage to use them.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thanks to Matthew tonight. And thanks to you, of course, as always, for being with us. AC360 with Anderson begins right now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, what happens now that the President's son is a convicted felon and why supporters of the convicted felon who's running for president are still complaining about the criminal justice system, keeping them honest.

Also, a CNN exclusive, Clarissa Ward, goes inside a Syrian detention camp where families of ISIS fighters are being held in some fear the next generation may be being born.

Plus, we have breaking news tonight, a bus hijacking, a chase and the deadly discovery at the end of it. Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

We begin tonight, keeping them honest, with three facts about Hunter Biden's conviction today in Wilmington, Delaware, on federal gun charges. The first is the human impact it must have on a family that has certainly known tragedy, including a car crash that killed Hunter Biden's mom and baby sister, the death to brain cancer of his brother, Beau, and his own descent into self-destruction by crack cocaine.

In a moment, Ronald Reagan's daughter, Patti Davis, joins us to talk about her own struggles with addiction. The second fact is that despite efforts to paint his trial as a counterpart to or even the equivalent of Donald Trump's New York trial, unlike the former president, Hunter Biden is not running for anything. The third fact is the one thing they actually do have in common. In each, the guilty verdict was rendered by 12 men and women who heard the evidence and seemed to have set aside any preconceptions they might have had going in.

As one Biden juror told CNN today, politics played no part in their deliberations, nor did testimony about the degree of Biden's addiction, which he described as heart-wrenching. The verdict was unanimous. And just like in New York, there is every indication the criminal justice system worked and continues to.

Beyond that, nearly everything surrounding the two trials and their aftermath is a study in contrast, starting with how each defendant reacted to the verdict. Quoting now from Hunter Biden's statement, thanking his wife and others, "I'm more grateful today for the love and support I experienced this last week from Melissa, my family, my friends and my community than I am disappointed by the outcome." He goes on to say, "Recovery is possible by the grace of God, and I am blessed to experience that gift one day at a time."

By contrast, here's some of what the former president said after his conviction.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was done by the Biden administration in order to wound or hurt an opponent, a political opponent. And I think it's just a disgrace that this was a rigged decision right from day one with a conflicted judge who should have never been allowed to try this case, never.


COOPER: Well, he said as much over and over, and so have Republican lawmakers before, during and after the trial with a special focus on attacking the Justice Department and the criminal justice system.


SEN. J.D. VANCE (R-OH): Every single person involved in this prosecution is practically a Democratic political operative.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): This was not criminal justice. This was politics.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): The entire thing is political.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's political warfare.


REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): This is a scam. It is a sham.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): Sham of a trial.

GREENE: Sham convictions. SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Joe Biden's two-tier injustice system.


COOPER: Well, keep them honest, they're talking about the Justice Department, which had nothing to do with the Trump trial, which is currently prosecuting a Democratic senator and congressman and just oversaw the conviction of the President's only surviving son. And the President's reaction? Quoting him now, "I will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal. Jill and I will always be there for Hunter and the rest of our family with our love and support. Nothing will ever change that."

He also told ABC News he'd ruled out a pardon for his son.


DAVID MUIR, ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Let me ask you, will you accept the jury's outcome, their verdict, no matter what it is?


MUIR: And have you ruled out a pardon for your son?


MUIR: You have.


COOPER: By contrast, the former president is now talking repeatedly about using the Justice Department, if he's reelected, as a tool of vengeance.


TRUMP: I would have every right to go after them and it's easy because it's Joe Biden and you see all the criminality, all of the money that's going into the family and him, all of this money from China, from Russia, from Ukraine.


As for Republican lawmakers who decried Trump's trial and conviction, consider House Oversight Chair James Comer, who's been holding hearings and investigating the Bidens for months, always claiming to have the goods, but always coming up empty. He is sticking to his story, tweeting today, "Until the Department of Justice investigates everyone involved in the Bidens' corrupt influence peddling schemes, it will be clear department officials continue to cover for the big guy, Joe Biden."


More now on the actual verdict, and the actual trial and what comes next from CNN's Paula Reid.


PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Just 90 minutes after Hunter Biden's guilty verdict, CNN got incredible insight into the case from juror number 10. One big mistake from the defense? Calling Hunter's daughter, Naomi, to testify.


JUROR 10, JUROR IN HUNTER BIDEN CASE: I felt bad that they put Naomi as witness. I think that was probably a strategy that should not have been done. No daughter should ever have to testify or - against her dad.


REID (voice over): Despite feeling badly for Hunter and his battles with addiction, the 12 jurors agreed that they had no choice but to convict.


JUROR 10: All 12 jurors did agree that yes, he knowingly bought a gun when he was an addict or he was addicted to drugs.


REID (voice over): Although they all voted guilty, another juror CNN spoke to off camera questioned whether the case should have been brought in the first place, saying, quote, it seemed like a waste of taxpayer dollars. And the jurors interviewed by CNN said politics played no role in their decision.


JUROR 10: President Biden never really even came in to play for me. His name was only brought up once during the trial. And that's when I - that's when it kind of sunk in a little bit, but you kind of put that out of your mind.


REID (voice over): President Biden released a statement after his son's verdict, saying, in part, "I am the President, but I am also a dad. Jill and I love our son and we are so proud of the man he is today and I will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal."

Hunter also issued a statement after court thanking his wife and supporters, saying, "I am more grateful today for the love and support I experienced this last week from Melissa, my family, my friends and my community than I am disappointed by the outcome."

And special counsel David Weiss made a rare statement defending the case. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID WEISS, SPECIAL COUNSEL & U.S. ATTORNEY FOR DISTRICT OF DELAWARE: Ultimately, this case was not just about addiction, a disease that haunts families across the United States, including Hunter Biden's family. This case was about the illegal choices defendant made while in the throes of addiction, his choice to lie on a government form when he bought a gun and the choice to then possess that gun.



COOPER: Paula, what else did you hear from jurors?

REID (on camera): Anderson, I was really interested to hear what they had to say about a possible sentencing for Hunter Biden, because the upper range for conviction on these offenses is potentially decades in prison, hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. It's widely expected Hunter Biden wouldn't get anything anywhere near that. This is, of course, a first time offender.

But juror number 10 told us he doesn't think that Hunter Biden should get any prison time. Another juror said that Hunter needs rehab more than he needs imprisonment or a fine. And while the jury is weighing in on sentencing, it is ultimately actually up to the judge to determine the sentence. And we expect while there is no sentencing date now, we expect it will be roughly 120 days after this verdict, which would fall in late October. So that's before Election Day, but likely after his next federal criminal trial, which is scheduled for early September out in Los Angeles.

COOPER: Paula Reid - thanks so much, Paula.

Let's go next to the White House and CNN's Kayla Tausche with more on how the President and the first family are dealing with this moment. What's the reaction been from the White House or from President Biden?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, President Biden is approaching this situation first and foremost as a father. In the statement released today, President Biden saying, "I am the President, but I'm also a dad. Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today. So many families who have had loved ones battle addiction understand the feeling of pride seeing someone you love come out the other side and be so strong and resilient in recovery."

The family greeted each other on the tarmac in Delaware this evening, Hunter Biden embracing members of White House staff and members of the security detail before the family then retreated to a nearby family home where they're going to be processing together what happens in the next chapter. President Biden has said that he will accept the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal, and the Biden reelection campaign is telling allies that for them, it's going to be business as usual. COOPER: The President gave a speech at a previously scheduled gun safety event after the verdict, which obviously is somewhat ironic. What did he say there? Well, it was a fairly awkward confluence of events today. President Biden finding out about that verdict just before this preplanned event where he was in the situation of heralding a crackdown in gun violence and expected to tout a drop in gun crime all while this verdict had just come in.


We knew that President Biden was expected to announce more than 500 new charges brought by the Department of Justice on gun crimes in the wake of his new bipartisan gun law that was passed and signed into law in 2022. Instead, the President took a broader approach, instead praising the new tools the prosecutors were given by that law. Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Kayla Tausche, thanks.

Joining us now, two people who've worked with and know President Biden well, CNN Political Commentators David Axelrod and Kate Bedingfield. Also with us, retired federal judge John E. Jones III and former federal prosecutor, Jessica Roth.

So Judge, let me start with you. Does the verdict surprise you at all?

JOHN E. JONES III, RETIRED CHIEF JUDGE: No, the verdict didn't surprise me at all, Anderson. I think the evidence was overwhelming. And, you know, what I thought was notable and picking up on your lead, which I thought was spot on, in both of these cases, you had judges, one a state judge and the other a federal judge, saying, among other things, you must follow the law to 24 Americans, in these two cases. You must follow the law, whether you agree with it or not, and you're not to be concerned about the sentence that I may give if the defendant is convicted.

Clearly, it validates our system of justice because they did exactly that.

COOPER: Jessica, how about you? I mean, any surprise and what kind of grounds for appeal may there be?

JESSICA ROTH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes. So I was not surprised by the verdict, as the judge said. The evidence really did seem to be overwhelming and the charges were pretty straightforward in terms of what the jury was being asked to find. And I think the case also highlights the limited role that we give to juries in our system, now they're asked to apply the law, as they're instructed about the law, to the facts and not to render an opinion in the courtroom about whether they think this was a wise prosecution or what they think is an appropriate punishment. I mean, they're really quite limited.

It's not clear to me that there are strong grounds for appeal. I mean, there is a Second Amendment issue on whether or not the law that makes it a crime to possess a gun if you have - are addicted to drugs, whether that survives a Second Amendment challenge under the Supreme Court's current jurisprudence on that, but that would really only go to one of the three charges.

And so it could be that there are some issues with respect to the evidence that was admitted, but that would be subject to harmless error review. Maybe there's an appellate issue about whether or not he was entitled to essentially the benefit of the plea agreement that he had reached with the special counsel that previously fell apart, but I don't see those as being particularly strong.

And, David, I mean, your sense of the verdict, the impact it would have on the Biden family, and the White House and, obviously, on the campaign trail in the days ahead, if any?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yes. Look, I think that's the important question. You know, Anderson, a couple of weeks ago when Trump was convicted, I said that I thought that the really important question was not how it would affect voters directly but how it would affect him and his behavior. And we've seen his behavior become even more pointed and angry since that conviction.

Here, this is such a devastating experience for the Biden family to have gone through this week, to have their, you know, families go through this, people get into trouble, they go - but not under the glare of the spotlight like this. And to have, you know, your dearest relatives on the stand and have to go through this has to be devastating to the President. Kate would know this even more intimately than me, but I know how much this must hurt him.

And there must be some feeling of guilt because he's the reason there's a spotlight on the family and why their travails are so much in the news. So the question is, how does it affect him? He's got a debate in two weeks. He's dealing with, you know, multiple, you know, world issues right now and all the rigors of a campaign. And how will he deal with it, I think, is a big question.

COOPER: Yes, Kate, we mentioned that the President promptly went to Delaware to be with his son. And again, the contrast between how the Trump family approached the Manhattan trial and how the Biden family approached this trial is stark. How do you think this is going to impact the President?

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, it is absolutely hard on him. He is a family man that you really cannot underestimate or underappreciate how close the Biden family is, how much they lean on each other. You know, I think it would be hard for any father to go through not only the experience of this trial, of course, but obviously all that Hunter has dealt with in dealing with addiction and things that happened when he was in the grip of addiction.

So yes, of course, it is personally hard for the President. But I would also note, he's somebody who has shouldered a lot of personal tragedy and difficulty while also juggling being in public office. He lost his son Beau to brain cancer when he was vice president. Obviously, his, as you mentioned at the top, his first wife and baby daughter were killed in a car crash just weeks after he's elected to the Senate. So he has spent his entire life in public service shouldering challenges, difficulty, holding his family close.


But simultaneously executing the duties of the office and being able to put his work first too. So I think his resilience, I think, will really be on display for people over the next few months. I think you saw it a little bit today, frankly, when he was speaking at the gun safety event. He was lively, he was engaged, he was, you know, clearly talking with a lot of passion about the work he's done on gun safety and talking to the crowd.

So I think the American people are going to see a lot of resilience for him. But of course, this is hard for him. It's hard for him and the entire Biden family.

COOPER: Judge Jones, what would you consider for a sentence on - for these convictions? And also with the idea in mind that he's facing a tax charge as well that's potentially more worrisome for him.

JONES: Well, of course, the judge has to follow what are called the sentencing guidelines, which, as my colleague knows, are numbingly complicated. But the sentence needs to be sufficient but not greater than necessary to fulfill the purposes of sentencing.

You know, I think in this case, because he didn't brandish the gun, he didn't commit a crime of violence --

COOPER: There was not another crime associated with the purchase of the gun.

JONES: ... and very frankly, Anderson, over almost 20 years in the federal bench, I never had a stand-alone case like this. This is really --

COOPER: This actual charge is not something that's been brought (INAUDIBLE) ...

JONES: It's tacked on. And this is the kind of zebra case, if you will. But I think in this case, there's a good argument for probation, you know, with some kind of help, remedial help, counseling, you know, addiction treatment and so forth. The real peril comes with the tax charges, because this counts as a conviction, which has the - it will, in fact, enhance any sentence that he gets if he's convicted of the tax charges. So there's a real ...

COOPER: That will - that's mandatory that whatever the charge is in this, it impacts the charge.

JONES: You get certain points for prior convictions and then, of course, that case is driven in part by the amount of the tax fraud as well, which escalates the sentencing exposure. That's where he really is in jeopardy of going to prison. I don't think this case so much.

COOPER: And, David, what do you say to Republicans who are insisting tonight that the justice system is being weaponized against the former president, even though President Biden's own son was just convicted in federal court, and you got the Menendez case and another congressman?

AXELROD: Yes, this is really complicated for them for that reason. And remember, yes, you've got Sen. Menendez on trial right now, Congressman Cuellar awaiting trial right now. It just, you know, puts the lie to the idea that there's this weaponized Justice Department.

Of course, the Justice Department has nothing to do with the Manhattan DA's office, but it's also complicated for them because they have become so zealous about the Second Amendment that they don't quite know how to talk about this. So they're all shifting.

And the thing that they're doing, Anderson, is, you know, this whole - the mantra, and they all move as one, is this, you know, Biden crime family thing. Because really what's at play here is their strategy is to try and say everybody is corrupt, that everybody's swimming in the same murky waters, that Donald Trump is no different than Joe Biden, and that voters should discount the fact that Donald Trump is a convicted felon and has, you know, some other major cases pending against him. So I think you're going to see a lot of that.

What Congressman Comer said today, Chairman Comer, was really disgraceful. As you pointed out, he's been rolling out this cannon periodically. He lights the fuse, and every time a flag comes out that says pop, and there's nothing there. And so if they've got evidence of a crime, maybe they should share it with people instead of just talking about it, and I think they don't because they don't.

COOPER: And Kate, President Biden and the former president obviously had their first debate on CNN June 27th. Are you concerned about Trump getting under the President's skin by invoking Hunter Biden? He obviously tried it when they debated it in 2020.

BEDINGFIELD: Yes. He tried it in 2020 and it really backfired on him. I mean, I can tell you that the data that we saw on the Biden campaign after that first debate where, you know, Trump really wound up and tried to, you know, to come at Hunter was that - what people remembered from that debate was Joe Biden defending his son, talking about his love for his son, you know, relating to people all across the country who've had, have dealt with family members and friends who've suffered from addiction.

So it was actually a very relatable moment that really connected Joe Biden to people across the country. So, you know, I think for Joe Biden, he should certainly expect that Donald Trump is going to come at him with this on the debate stage. We know that Trump's going to try to throw everything he can at Biden to get under his skin.

But we've also seen that this is a failing political argument. Trump has tried to make it stick for five years, it hasn't.


And it ultimately winds up being an opportunity for people to see Joe Biden's humanity, and that's very moving and powerful. COOPER: Kate Bedingfield, David Axelrod, thank you, Judge Jones, Jessica Roth as well.

Coming up next, former first daughter, Patti Davis, her own struggle with addiction and her thoughts about the verdict.

And later CNN's Clarissa Ward's exclusive look inside a Syrian detention camp where women and children are being held and the fears of the mothers are maybe raising the next generation of ISIS fighters.



COOPER: Hunter Biden's conviction resonates on a human level in part because addiction of one form or another is part of the human condition, as are all kinds of things that sons and daughters do while struggling through addiction and the pain all of it inflicts on families. Being in the public eye or being the child of public figures adds still more complications.

My next guest, Patti Davis, knows this well. She is, of course, the daughter of former President Reagan and Nancy Reagan. In a New York Times op-ed, she writes this about the Biden case. "It might sound naive in these scathingly partisan times, but it would be nice if the rest of us - or even most of us - could look at how sad this story is. How a man with a loving, supportive family and every advantage and opportunity still fell into the roiling abyss of drug addiction and couldn't stop swimming around in its dark waters."


Patti Davis writes about her own experiences in "Dear Mom and Dad: A Letter About Family, Memory, and the America We Once Knew." Thank you so much for being with us.


COOPER: To - your - this essay was so lovely and to your point in the op-ed, I mean, do you think basic humanity and empathy are possible in this hyper-partisan moment the country is in?

DAVIS: Well, I mean, on some days, I think it's not possible. Some days, I think it's extinct. But I think we have to keep looking for that and we have to keep reaching for it. And I think, you know, even some of the comments from the jurors expressed sympathy and compassion for Hunter - because this is, at its root, this is not - this story about Hunter Biden is not a political story. I don't even think really at its root it's a crime story, even though he was convicted of some crimes. But I think at its root, it is a very sad story about addiction and the disastrous choices that addicts make.

COOPER: And the ripple effects of those choices, you know, in families' lives and over time. I mean, obviously this is something that ... DAVIS: Yes, it doesn't affect - here's the thing about an addict. You know, when you're addicted, your world is very insular. Everything is about you and the substance that you're addicted to. That's kind of it, right? And once you - if you are fortunate enough to let go of that addiction and to stop using whatever substance it is, whether it's drugs or alcohol, you don't immediately change your mode of thinking. You don't immediately like break out of that. That takes a lot of work, you know, and a lot of time.

And I am kind of assuming that Hunter Biden is going through that now. You know, he's sort of starting to realize the extent that his addiction had on everybody else. I think it was very poignant for him, probably seeing his daughter testify in court, which is a really difficult thing to do. You were candid about your own struggles with addiction in your teens and early 20s.

In the piece you wrote for the Times, you said, "As the daughter of first a governor and then a president, I do know what it's like to live under a glaring, unforgiving spotlight that never dims. The choices you make in your life, the mistakes, the stumbles, are preserved forever and sometimes tossed out in front of you like a minefield you have to keep crossing."

It's - I mean, first of all, you're, I really think, a lovely writer. What kind of scrutiny to you in terms of - what did that scrutiny do to you in terms of drug use? What was it like living under that kind of scrutiny?

DAVIS: Well, my drug use wasn't made public. I mean, I have made it public because I've talked about it since, but I - basically, I didn't get caught, you know? I mean, I wrote about in this book, how when my father was governor, I used to drive up, I was so bored in Sacramento in the summers, I used to drive up to Folsom prison because they had a gift shop.

How I found out that they had a gift shop at Folsom prison, I have no idea, but it's not like it was the '70s, not like I could have Googled it. But I did, and I used to like smoke a joint on the way. I was going to Folsom Prison, completely stoned, probably with other joints in my purse. Fortunately, they didn't search my purse, but a friend of mine, when she read this story in my book said, well, weren't you worried that like they would smell it on you. I said, no, I never thought about that.

So I never got caught. But, you know, the thing that follows me around is my activism in the '80s when my father was president and my, you know, sort of stridency in the anti-nuclear movement. And whenever I - not whenever, I read something about myself, but a lot of times if I read something about myself, it's, you know, Patti Davis, the rebel daughter of, you know, President Reagan who, you know, protested his policies and everything.

That was 40 years ago and that is the reality of that political spotlight, which is the harshest spotlight imaginable. And unfortunately, Hunter Biden is going to be followed by this for the rest of his days. It's just the way that spotlight has a shelf life of like forever.


DAVIS: You know?

COOPER: Especially now with camera phones and laptops and social media and all of it, which obviously was involved in this trial. I mean, that was not around when, you know, you were ...

DAVIS: Right.

COOPER: ... when you were doing that.

DAVIS: Yes. Yes. Yes, that's true.

COOPER: You referenced in your op-ed, President Biden ruling out a pardon for his son.

You wrote, "I'm quite sure it wasn't the answer that a grieving father wanted to give. But his son's actions, and his son's illness, forced him into a choice between the primal urge to protect a child and the public responsibility to uphold the law. That is a terrible place to be." Did you ever think when when your dad was president that -- did you ever worry about it becoming known, or as governor?




DAVIS: Well, I -- oh well as governor I didn't think about it because I was, you know, just too strung out on drugs. I didn't think about it, frankly. And by the time he was president, I had stopped doing drugs. But I think like I was saying, you know, that that sort of self-consumed mode of thinking, I think that was still very much my mode of thinking in the 80s when my father was elected president.

Because if I'd been thinking more expansively, I think I would have expressed myself differently and not as stridently. I think I probably still would have spoken out about the anti-nuclea, in the anti-nuclear movement because I believed in it very strongly. But I would have done it differently.


DAVIS: But I did -- I, you know, you know what I mean? It was still that sort of, well, I'm going to do what I want to do.


DAVIS: Mentality.

COOPER: Patti Davis, thank you so much for your time.

DAVIS: Thank you. COOPER: Coming up, a CNN exclusive, a rare inside look at detention facilities in Syria, housing not only captured ISIS fighters, but their wives and children, one of whom tells our Clarissa Ward, we don't even know what we've done. More ahead.



COOPER: -- arrested eight nationals from Tajikistan inside the United States over their suspected ties to ISIS. They've been surveilled for more than a month. Officials decided to finally arrest them before a possible plot could develop.

The arrests come as the U.S. also tries to figure out what to do with the tens of thousands of children of suspected ISIS fighters coming of age in detention facilities controlled by allies in Syria, where teenage boys are separated from their mothers. It's produced fears that these facilities could be raising the next generation of ISIS fighters.

CNN's Clarissa Ward was granted extraordinary access inside those camps. Here's her in-depth report.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cell phone videos of ISIS's brutal justice that the world hoped it would never see again. Shared for the first time with CNN, these images weren't captured in Raqqa or Mosul in 2016. They were taken in 2022 in the Al-Hol Camp in northern Syria, a sprawling dumping ground for the women and children captured after ISIS was defeated.

Five years after the fall of the caliphate, ISIS's ideology lives on here. Security officials warn it is a ticking time bomb, ungovernable and hostile to the outside world.

WARD: You can see just how vast this place is. More than 40,000 people are living here. And the most dangerous part of the camp is called the annex. That's where some 6,000 foreign nationals are currently living.

WARD (voice-over): We were granted exceptionally rare access to the annex by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, who control the camp. The women here hail from more than 60 different countries. Several raised their right index fingers for the cameras, a sign of solidarity with the Islamic State.

WARD: Do you regret your decision to join ISIS or?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, why should I regret this?

WARD (voice-over): She complains that the conditions in the camp are awful.

WARD: There are people in the world who will say, you went to join ISIS, you deserve it. You deserve it. What do you say to that? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Normally, even with enemies --

WARD: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- women and children need services.

WARD (voice-over): The majority of Al-Hol's residents are kids who have ended up here through no fault of their own. The U.N. has called it a blight on the conscience of humanity. It is effectively a prison camp where women and children are arbitrarily and indefinitely detained.

A group stops us with a frantic plea. One of their sons has been arrested trying to escape the camp.

WARD: She's asking if she can get her son back who's in a prison. He's 10 years old.

WARD (voice-over): We wanted to send him out so the SDF wouldn't take him, she tells us. Once boys turn 12 here, they take them.

It is a troubling story we hear over and over again. The SDF says it is their policy to separate adolescent boys because they are being radicalized by their mothers.

An SDF raid earlier this year netted this video of a training session for children inside the camp. The SDF claims young teenage boys are married off to repopulate the next generation of ISIS fighters, which they say may explain the roughly 60 births recorded here every month.

This is where some of those boys end up after they are taken, the Orkesh Rehabilitation Center. Conditions here are much better than the camps, but there are only 150 beds and they are all full.

Shamil Chakar grew up in Cologne, Germany until his parents took the family to the ISIS capital, Raqqa. A shrapnel injury to his head has left Shamil confused.

WARD: How old are you?

SHAMIL CHAKAR: (Speaking Foreign Language)

WARD: You don't know?

CHAKAR: (Speaking Foreign Language).


WARD (voice-over): Shamil was living in Al-Hol Camp with his mother and siblings until a few years ago, when security forces came into their tent in the middle of the night.

A man came and pulled me up and tied my hand behind my back. My mom was screaming. She said, leave him alone, he tells us. I didn't want to go with them. He pushed me saying, put on your shoes, but I didn't. Then he hit me. Islam is from Dagestan, Russia and is one of the youngest boys here.

(Speaking Foreign Language)

WARD: So he's saying that he is just 12 years old. He has been here about three or four months. He was taken from his mother. He doesn't even know what his last name is.

WARD (voice-over): Human rights organizations have said the separations are an appalling violation of international law. But the SDF's top general, Mazloum Abdi, defends the policy.

GEN. MAZLOUM ABDI, COMMANDER, SYRIAN DEMOCRATIC FORCES (through translator): Instead of these organizations condemning what we are doing and calling it a human rights violation, these organizations should give us help when it comes to our program that we have in place for years now to rehabilitate these children.

WARD: But part of the problem seems to be that once these young boys turn 18, there's not anywhere for them to go, particularly if they can't return to their home countries. And so some of them, I believe, are ending up in prison.

ABDI (through translator): This is not a policy that we are following to put them in prison at 18. The reality is the goal is to reintegrate them with society.

WARD (voice-over): But CNN has found that boys as young as 14 have been held here at the notorious Panorama prison. With an estimated 4,000 inmates, it is the largest concentration of ISIS fighters in the world.

No journalist has been allowed inside Panorama since 2021 until now.

WARD: So the head of the prison has asked me to put on a headscarf when we walk through here, because these are some of the most radicalized prisoners they have.

WARD (voice-over): A senior U.S. official told us the number one concern at Panorama is a prison break, a fear that was realized in 2022 when hundreds of inmates managed to escape.

WARD: Can I look inside?

WARD (voice-over): 25 men sit cross-legged in silence. The cell is spotless. The men we see appear to be in decent physical condition. But tuberculosis is rampant in the prison, and we are only allowed to look inside two cells.

WARD: Are you British? You are? Where are you from?

WARD (voice-over): A British man approaches the great, but does not want to show his face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been here for like, five or six years.

WARD: I know.

WARD (voice-over): Advocacy groups call the U.S.-funded Panorama a legal black hole, worse than Guantanamo Bay. In an interrogation room, we meet 19-year-old Stefan Utterloo from Suriname. He tells us he was brought to the prison when he was 14, along with more than 100 other minors.

WARD: Have you had a lawyer ever? You talked to a lawyer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I don't know about the big guys. If you're speaking about the kids, us, if you want to know the truth, we don't know even why we're always like punished. It's like five years in this prison, and we're punished. We don't even know what we've done. Like, we've been in prison because of our parents.

WARD (voice-over): At the SDF Intelligence Headquarters, we meet British-Pakistani doctor Muhammad Saqib (ph). Accused of joining ISIS, he claims he was the victim of an elaborate kidnapping plot, and says Panorama's inmates are abused.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we live in torture. I live in fear.

WARD: When you say you live in torture, do you mean that you are actually physically being tortured?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This happens on and off.

WARD: What kind of torture?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like beating by the stick, by the guards. To be honest, I'm just waiting for my death. There's no getting out of this prison, probably never.

WARD (voice-over): The warden at Panorama called Saqib's (ph) claim of abuse false, saying, quote, "all parts of the prison are monitored by cameras, and no prison guard can act in this way."

The SDF and the U.S. are pushing countries to repatriate their citizens from Syria, saying it is the only solution to this complex and dangerous situation.


But the process has been slow, and many, including Western allies, are dragging their feet. In the Al-Roj Camp, we meet Brits, Canadians, Belgians, Australians, and a couple of Americans. Thirty-year-old Hoda Muthana has been stuck here with her seven-year-old son for more than five years.

WARD: I have to ask you, I'm seeing all of the women here are fully covered, a lot of them covering their faces. You're not covered. You're wearing a T-shirt. Is that hard?

HODA MUTHANA: It was hard when I first took it, I would say for the first two, three years, people were not accepting of it, you know, and they harassed us a lot. They stole our stuff, you know, and I had to stay strong and show example for my son, you know.

WARD (voice-over): Born and raised in the U.S., Hoda became radicalized online at the age of 20, and left her family in Alabama to live under ISIS, a decision she quickly regretted.

WARD: If you were to be able to go back to the U.S. and you had to go on trial, potentially serve time in prison, have you reconciled yourself with that possibility?

MUTHANA: I always tell myself that going to prison would be a step forward in my life. If I had any time to serve, I'd serve it, and I'd come out and begin my life with my son.

WARD (voice-over): For now, that is not an option. While the U.S. advocates repatriation, it ruled Hoda's U.S. citizenship invalid on a technicality. Now she lives in fear for her son's future.

WARD: What do you miss most about America?

MUTHANA: I just want to breathe American air and be around people. I love the people of America. They're very open, and they're very forgiving, and they're very -- they're people who give second chances. And I think if they were to sit down with me and listen to my story from the beginning, they would give me a second chance.

WARD (voice-over): But second chances are hard to come by here. For most, repentance is demanded and forgiveness rarely given, as the cost of ignoring this ugly crisis continues to mount.


COOPER: And Clarissa Ward joins us now. I mean, it's extraordinary to think of all these people in this limbo. You said the U.S. government had ruled the citizenship of the American woman you spoke with invalid on a technicality. I mean, what else do you know about her situation, and what -- have U.S. authorities commented at all?

WARD (on-camera): Yes, so we reached out, Anderson, to the State Department about Hoda's case, and they said to us, the department has not changed its position with regards to Ms. Muthana's citizenship status. As the State Department determined and the courts agreed, she is not and never was a U.S. citizen.

We also heard, Anderson, from her lawyer, who responded, if Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen, then she is stateless, and that is a violation of international law that directly contradicts what the U.S. government has stated other countries cannot and should not do.

And I should add, Anderson, that a senior U.S. official told us there are about a dozen Americans who are still in these camps in northeastern Syria. The repatriation process is not straightforward, though, because many of them, unlike Hoda, don't actually want to go back.

We spoke to one woman who asked not to be identified. She said that she has not put her hand up yet, she is a dual national, and that she doesn't feel comfortable returning to the U.S. because she's too afraid that she might have to face time in prison, Anderson.

COOPER: Clarissa Ward, thank you. Incredible report. Thank you.

More breaking news tonight, a bus hijacking in Atlanta and the deadly discovery after the police chased through city streets in the interstate during tonight's rush hour. That and a first in Nevada politics, voting isn't just being done behind curtains today, now it's from behind bars. We'll explain ahead.



COOPER: Some ore breaking news tonight, two shootings in Atlanta. One at a downtown food court this afternoon left three people wounded. And while police were on that scene, they got word of shots fired on a transit bus just a few miles away, which turned into a bus hijacking, then a police chase onto the interstate. Finally, when that ended, police made a grim discovery.

More now on all of it from CNN's Ryan Young.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It began around 4:30 after a 911 call about gunfire and a hostage situation on a bus. When officers arrived to investigate, the bus takes off and the chase begins. From above, you can see the county bus swerving uncontrollably through rush hour traffic in Atlanta, dangerously moving in and out of traffic through city streets and onto the highway, where Atlanta police officers desperately try to get the bus pulled over.

CHIEF DARIN SCHIERBAUM, ATLANTA POLICE: Our initial call was of a gunman on the bus that was holding hostages and possibly there had been a discharge of a weapon. That was the initial 911 call. That call disconnected. And then a short time later, we received another 911 call, also from the bus. And that line remained open for the entire time.

YOUNG (voice-over): Officers try blocking the bus in. They attempt to use stop sticks, but the bus avoids early attempts to stop it, all of it through Atlanta's rush hour traffic. At one point, the bus almost hits this truck. It swerves around the car and then veers into traffic as drivers scramble to get out of the way.

MAYOR ANDRE DICKENS (D), ATLANTA: A gunman with a gun to the head of a bus driver saying, don't stop this bus or else worse will happen. This is the type of thing that obviously no one is, I mean, it seems like the movies.

YOUNG (voice-over): Later, the bus narrowly misses another group of cars as it drives on the left side of the road before coming to a stop on this tree-lined road.

[20:55:00] SCHIERBAUM: There were 17 individuals on the bus, including the bus driver. Unfortunately, as the mayor has stated, one individual has died of injuries, which we believe to be a gunshot wound. This is going to be a joint investigation by the Atlanta Police Department, as well as from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

We currently do have in custody a 39-year-old Joseph Grier.

YOUNG (voice-over): Officers from several police departments surround the bus. You can see someone coming out with their hands up before he gets on the ground. Police at the ready, guns drawn with a tactical armored vehicle on the scene. Police find one person shot and killed.


YOUNG (on-camera): Yes, Anderson, we're also finding out the man who was arrested is a convicted felon. But I want to tell you something. We were doing a news conference about that earlier shooting, and this started happening.

I got a phone call from a source that was saying they could see several police cars chasing this car through the streets of Atlanta. It was very harrowing. In fact, they saw officers trying to use their car to block that bus. But such a large vehicle moving through the city, it's amazing that no one else got seriously injured, even though, sadly, one person did lose their life on that bus today. Anderson?

COOPER: Yes, it's just terrifying. Ryan Young, thank you.

Now to exclusive new reporting, voting from behind bars, a unique development in the narrowly divided state of Nevada, which could determine who wins the White House and which party controls the Senate. Sara Murray has more.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside the largest jail in Sin City.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my first time voting.

MURRAY: So the first time that you've ever voted in any election is here in the detention center?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, isn't that funny?

MURRAY (voice-over): Inmates escorted to this holding cell, and then a voting booth, the first one ever set up in the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas.

MURRAY: Were you surprised that there was going to be a voting booth here today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I was surprised. Yes, I was -- I didn't expect it. MURRAY (voice-over): Its debut just in time for primary day, the result of a new law requiring improved ballot access for thousands of non-felons detained in Nevada's jails. Soon after the booth opened, the first voter cast her ballot.

MURRAY: How did it feel to be able to cast your vote?


MURRAY (voice-over): For activist Jagada Chambers.

CHAMBERS: You can put that on my epitaph.

MURRAY (voice-over): It's a hard-fought victory.

CHAMBERS: There's a pressure for us to shine brightly on this first run.

MURRAY (voice-over): A felony conviction after a violent altercation during college cost Chambers his freedom and his voting rights for more than five years.

CHAMBERS: I feel that someone who is doing this work needs to be formally incarcerated to engage that population.

MURRAY (voice-over): Now he works for the nonprofit Silver State Voices, running outreach to thousands of potential voters behind bars.

MURRAY: One of the first bullet points on here, it says what? You cannot vote.

CHAMBERS: OK, that's a key. You cannot vote if you are serving a sentence on a felony conviction in a city or county jail.

MURRAY: Then it makes clear if you're pre-trial or serving on a misdemeanor, you're eligible.

CHAMBERS: Jackpot.

MURRAY (voice-over): One of the biggest hurdles, convincing eligible incarcerated voters to cast a ballot amid polarization and misinformation.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: More than 2,500 ballots were cast by individuals whose names and dates of birth match incarcerated felons.

MURRAY: Do you think that has an impact on even people who are eligible to vote?

CHAMBERS: Without question, without question.

MURRAY (voice-over): It took months and the threat of lawsuits for jails to get up to speed.

SADMIRA RAMIC, VOTING RIGHTS STAFF ATTORNEY, ACLU OF NEVADA: We had an election happen, but no jail fully was compliant with the law.

MURRAY (voice-over): Facilities across the state worked with voting rights groups like the ACLU and election workers to finally ensure ballot access ahead of Tuesday's primary.

RAMIC: Their vote should not be any less important than the individuals that are out here. And unfortunately, they face those barriers that we hear like on the outside don't even really think about.

MURRAY (voice-over): Those barriers, the basics for those who aren't behind bars. Postage for change of address forms. Blue and black pens to fill in ballots. And at least in this jail, a polling booth. Something that goes beyond what the law requires.

UNDERSHERIFF ANDREW WALSH, LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE: This is something that is a first for us. And I think we're going to probably do it better than anybody else. We try to pride ourselves on that. There really was no model for us to follow. We've had a couple opportunities to make sure we get it right for the general election in November.

MURRAY (voice-over): Chambers hopes this is one step toward politicians actively campaigning for voters behind bars.

CHAMBERS: In Clark County, you have potential victories lying in those cells.

MURRAY (voice-over): At least for now --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One vote, I guess, makes a huge difference, right?

MURRAY (voice-over): A step toward voters like Elliot Carvajal (ph) having their voices heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It felt a little bit of empowerment, just a little bit, a little tiny bit.


COOPER: Sara Murray joins us now from Las Vegas. So this is the first time these voting booths have been used. How did the process go?

MURRAY (on-camera): It went pretty smoothly, although there were voters who showed up to vote and found out they were actually registered in a different county or in some cases in a different state, which is an indication of sort of the education gap that still exists for those who are behind bars.

There were dozens of folks who wanted to vote from the jail today, and we expected that number is going to be even larger when we get to the general election in November. This was sort of a dry run, you know, for the big event coming up. Anderson?

COOPER: Be interesting to do polling and see who they're voting for. Sara Murray, thanks so much. The news continues. The Source with Kaitlan Collins starts now.