Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

GOP Lawmakers Rally Around Trump After DC Meetings; Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-NY) Discusses About Former President's Visit And Meeting With Republican Lawmakers; Biden Says He Won't Pardon Son Hunter Or Commute Sentence; Trump, His Supporters And Democracy; Senate Judiciary CMTE. Reveals More Trips Justice Thomas Took On GOP Megadonor's Plane As Supreme Court Faces Mounting Ethics Concerns; Biden Campaign Ad Says Trump "Ready To Burn It All Down" As Trump Visits Capitol Hill; Trump Touts Relationship With Authorizations As Biden Travels Abroad To Meet With World Leaders; CNN Talks With Hamas Spokesperson; Hamas Official Says "No One Has Any Idea" How Many Israeli Hostages Are Still Alive. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 13, 2024 - 20:00   ET



FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Despite Putin's glorification of Russia's naval prowess, many of its warships appear vulnerable to both air and sea attacks and lack the technology to compete with Western navies or even cheap maritime drones made in Ukraine.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And Erin, the Ukrainians say that while the Russians might be gaining ground in other areas, they feel that they have really hurt Moscow's Black Sea fleet and essentially rendered it ineffective. And the Ukrainians say they will continue to develop those sea drones to hurt Vladimir Putin's naval forces even more. Erin?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. Fred, thank you very much tonight. And thanks so much to all of you, it's time now for AC360.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, the former president goes to Washington to formalize his almost total takeover of the Republican Party. What he told lawmakers behind closed doors and what it signals about his plans if reelected.

Also tonight, CNN's Donie O'Sullivan talking with Trump supporters about what they think will happen to the country if he loses and to a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian about what she thinks might happen if he wins.

Also breaking news on Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas, already under scrutiny for accepting millions of dollars in gifts and travel over the years. Now the Senate Judiciary Committee reveals three more trips he took but did not disclose.

Good evening. Thanks for joining us. We begin tonight, keeping them honest, with the former president's day in Washington with his party and that use of the possessive to describe the Republican senators and House members he met with today in separate closed door sessions, each just steps from the Capitol is no accident. Because if he's done nothing else over the last three and a half years of insurrection, and search warrants, and indictments, and trials and felony convictions, it has been to remake the party of Ronald Reagan in his own image.

At the House meeting, he made a point of reminding members that nearly every Republican who voted to impeach him has either been voted out of office or retired. Not that by this point the survivors really needed reminding. Listen to Speaker of the House Mike Johnson almost basking in the afterglow and Majority Whip Tom Emmer, a self-proclaimed tough- on-crime lawmaker, attacking the criminal justice system.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): He said very complimentary things about all of us. We had sustained applause. He said, I'm doing a very good job. I mean, we're grateful for that.

REP. TOM EMMER (R-MN): I'm going to add, anybody who thought that this president was going to be down after the sham trial, after that crooked trial that he - we saw in New York, think again.


COOPER: More than one member of Congress in the House meeting told CNN that the former president spent most of his time airing grievances about his felony conviction. Afterwards, at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Democratic members were all too happy to bring it up.


REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Just a show of hands for anyone in the room who hung out with a felon today. Hey guys, probably want to get your hands up.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I want to begin by quoting the jury in the Manhattan hush money payment trial. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.


COOPER: Now, it's remarkable because whatever you think of congressional decorum or for that matter, ex-presidential criminality, this is where we are - but we are. A convicted felon leads the self- proclaimed party of law and order, and his post-conviction visit just a few blocks away from the place that his supporters attacked and defiled is just another headline.

And so as what one lawmaker in the room says he told House members about former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, after calling one of his daughters a, quote, "wacko," he reportedly claimed that one of her daughters once told him that he and Speaker Pelosi would have had a, quote, "Great romance in another life." Daughter Christine today responded, tweeting, quote, "Speaking for all

four Pelosi daughters, this is a LIE." He also called Milwaukee's side of the Republican National Convention, quote, "horrible," according to a source in the room. Another lawmaker later saying he was only talking about crime, all from a single meeting.

At this other meeting, his Republican - with Republican senators also close to the Capitol. He spoke with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for the first time since December 2020. The photo prompting this reaction from Liz Cheney, the staunchly conservative former Republican congresswoman who was drummed out, well, first out of the party leadership and then out of office for co-chairing the January 6th Committee.

She tweeted and quoted words Mitch McConnell made on the Senate floor on February 13th 2021. Cheney wrote, "Mitch McConnell knows Trump provoked the violent attack on our Capitol and then 'watched television happily' as his mob brutally beat police officers and hunted the Vice President. He knows Trump refused for hours to tell his mob to leave and 'even then with police officers bleeding, he kept repeating his election lies and praising the criminals.'"

She went on to say, again, quoting McConnell, "He knows Trump committed a 'disgraceful dereliction of duty' and is a danger to our Republic."

Here's some more of what McConnell said on that day.



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): There's no question - none - that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.


COOPER: Those are tough words from Mitch McConnell. But just 12 days later, after he said that, on the 25th, Sen. McConnell ate those words, telling Fox's Bret Baier he would support the man he so recently criticized if he's nominated in 2024. Talk, it seems, is cheap.

Joining us now with more, CNN's Melanie Zanona.

So what else went on behind closed doors today with Trump?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Anderson, heading into these meetings, lawmakers are really hopeful that Trump was going to be talking about a campaign strategy or laying out his vision for a policy agenda. And now there was some of that. One of the more substantive moments was when Trump brought up the topic of abortion and he counseled Republicans about how he thinks they should talk about this issue. He said they shouldn't be afraid of it. They should frame it as a state's issue and he also encouraged Republicans to voice support for exceptions and not come across as too extreme on the issue.

But for the most part, according to all the lawmakers that I spoke to, these meetings were more of an airing of grievances. It was a gripe session, particularly in the House meeting this morning. I'm told that Trump, of course, brought up the legal challenges against him, calling all the charges against him, quote, "bogus." He also referred to the Department of Justice as, quote, "dirty, no good bastards," according to some of the lawmakers that I talked to.

He even, at one point, complained about Taylor Swift for endorsing his rival, President Joe Biden. And he also gloated about how most of the House Republicans who voted to impeach him over the January 6th insurrection are no longer in Congress. So it was a very wide-ranging speech, very freewheeling that members say felt more like a pep rally or even a roast than a serious policy discussion.

COOPER: We should point out, Taylor Swift has not endorsed Joe Biden.


COOPER: Do you have any more details on the Trump-McConnell encounter?

ZANONA: Well, with Trump and McConnell, there was a very serious effort, I'm told, by both parties to really bury the hatchet after years of feuding and years of frostiness. Right before the meeting, Trump and McConnell shook hands, which was captured on a photograph.

During the meeting, Trump credited McConnell with helping to elect more Republican senators. And then after the meeting, McConnell praised Trump and said the meeting was very, very positive. So just a remarkable inflection point.

I think, Anderson, we're going to look back on this moment, similar to Kevin McCarthy trekking down to Mar-a-Lago in the weeks after January 6th. And really just captures how much the party, including some of Trump's former critics like McConnell, have really fallen in line in the years after January 6th and despite these criminal convictions. Anderson?

COOPER: Melanie Zanona, thanks so much.

Joining us now is New York Democratic congressman, Daniel Goldman.

Congressman, any surprises for you today in the visit by Trump?

REP. DANIEL GOLDMAN (D-NY): Not really. He didn't come to the Capitol, which was a good thing, because this is where he fomented a massive riot and insurrection to try to keep him installed in office. He didn't talk much about policy, because he doesn't really care much about policy. What he cares about is himself. And what he cares about is his conviction 34 times for being a felon. And what he cares about are his three other cases and getting revenge. And he wants to do that by tearing down our democracy.

And what he was effectively doing today is greasing the wheels, trying to play nice with the Republicans whose support he needs in order to become president, so that he can take his fascist authoritarian views into office if he were to win.

And it is just very telling, I think, that Mitch McConnell has now bowed down to the ring of Donald Trump, someone who - you quoted what he said on January 25th, where he held Donald Trump responsible for the January 6th riot and has resisted Donald Trump. But now he has clearly demonstrated that Donald Trump owns the Republican Party. There is no other faction of the Republican Party that has any influence other than Donald Trump and his MAGA supporters.

COOPER: Obviously, you know, none of us is privy to the inner thoughts of Mitch McConnell, but why do you think Senator McConnell made this choice? I mean, after, you know, the strong comments he made criticizing Trump, the racist attacks Trump made against McConnell's own wife. I mean, what does Mitch McConnell get out of this?

GOLDMAN: Anderson, what do any of these people who have completely sacrificed.

COOPER: I know, but McConnell's not running again. I mean, it's, you know, he could go out on a, you know, like Liz Cheney, who at least, you know, has taken a very strong stand.

GOLDMAN: Ultimately, you know, Mitch - for the same reasons that Mitch McConnell refused to give Merrick Garland a vote for the Supreme Court and then rammed Amy Coney Barrett through under the same circumstances two weeks before the election. Mitch McConnell has a very focused and narrowly tailored view of what he wants to accomplish.


And at the end of the day, I'm sure Mitch McConnell views Donald Trump as the only possibility to get these type of conservative judges who have now overturned Roe v. Wade back into, more into our judiciary and into the Supreme Court and push forward a clearly minority favored agenda that Mitch McConnell has been pushing for decades.

COOPER: It was interesting in Melanie Zanona's reportings that Trump was telling lawmakers, you know, counseling them on how to run about it, talk about abortion and to talk about states' rights and to not seem too extreme. Do you have any belief that that's how he would be if he got into office?

GOLDMAN: Absolutely not. Donald Trump does not care. Donald Trump used to be pro-choice. He used to be a Democrat. Now he's out there promoting and celebrating his own work in getting Roe versus Wade overturned. He will do whatever he needs to do to secure the support for his fascist, anti-Democratic attacks on the rule of law to undermine our Democratic institutions.

And if that means that he'll give over Supreme Court nominations to Mitch McConnell or someone else on the far right who wants to roll back our individual freedoms even more than this Supreme Court has done, he will do that in a minute. And if there's a national abortion ban that the Republicans pass, Donald Trump will sign that in two seconds. Do not believe Donald Trump whenever he says that he will stand up for

abortion rights. He has completely flip-flopped in his career. He will do whatever benefits himself.

COOPER: Speaker Johnson was asked yesterday if the former president would accept the outcome of the election. I just want to play that for our viewers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really for the first time, Republicans are, both the House and Senate meeting with him since the January 6th attack on the Capitol. Are you committed or have you spoken to him about basically not doing anything like that again and committing to respecting the sort of American tradition of a peaceful transfer?

JOHNSON: Of course he respects that and we all do, and we've all talked about it ad nauseam.


COOPER: I mean ...

GOLDMAN: I mean, come on.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, can anyone say with a straight face that Donald Trump respects the peaceful transfer of power?

GOLDMAN: That - I want you to take that clip and run it over and over and over. That is everything you need to know about Mike Johnson and the MAGA Republican Party. They will look you in the eye, and they will lie directly to your face over and over and over. There is no question that Donald Trump does not respect the peaceful transfer of power.

He has made it a litmus test for his vice president that whoever that will be will not accept the results, and that's why you have every single vice presidential candidate so far refusing to concede or acknowledge that they will accept the results. Donald Trump will not accept the peaceful transfer of power. You don't have to ask me or trust me. He already did it.

So for Speaker Johnson to look in the camera and to say that, of course, he respects the peaceful transfer of power, put that on every bulletin board around the country, it is total bogus, and it shows you what knowing liars the Republicans are.

COOPER: Congressman, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

GOLDMAN: Thank you.

COOPER: President Biden met today with Ukraine's President Zelenskyy at the G7 Summit in Italy. The two signing a new 10-year security agreement. At the press conference afterwards, President Biden spoke briefly when asked about his son Hunter.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm extremely proud of my son Hunter. He has overcome an addiction. He is - he's one of the brightest, most decent men I know. And I am satisfied that - I'm not going to do anything. I said I'd abide by the jury decision, and I will do that. And I will not pardon him.


COOPER: The president today also ruled out commuting his son's sentence. CNN's MJ Lee who's traveling with the President joins us now from Bari, Italy.

So MJ, earlier in the week, the White House appeared to leave open the possibility of a commutation or essentially not commenting, and essentially overturning the sentence, not the conviction. What specifically did the President say about that?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. When the President was walking away from that press conference, some reporters yelled out, would you commute your son's sentence? And he answered directly. He said, "No." That was after he had more broadly addressed the conviction of his son, Hunter, as you just played there, standing by his son, standing by the judicial system and also reiterating his previously stated position on pardoning his son. He said, I will not pardon him.

Anderson, White House officials had suspected that it was likely he would get asked about the Hunter issue at this news conference, given that it happened just two days ago.


He had not publicly commented on them yet - on it yet. And they knew that the specific issue of the commutation was one that could come up. If you'll recall, yesterday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean- Pierre was asked by a reporter whether she would rule out that possibility. And she wouldn't say yes or no.

And that exchange, the White House knew, had sort of taken on a life of its own, when in reality, I'm told, the issue was really that some senior aides hadn't had a chance yet to speak to the president about the commutation issue. Karine Jean-Pierre said yesterday to reporters, I haven't talked to him about this yet. I'm not just - I'm not going to have anything more to say on this.

But it certainly was a really remarkable moment, you know, the President speaking on this kind of a stage on the other side of the world about an issue that has been so deeply sensitive for his entire family.

COOPER: MJ Lee, thanks. More on President Biden's trip later in the program.

Next though, CNN's Donie O'Sullivan talking to Trump supporters, as well as a historian of dictatorships and autocracies about Donald Trump and democracy.

And later, there's breaking news, turns out there are even more undisclosed trips Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas took paid for by a Republican megadonor.



COOPER: President Biden is billing his reelection campaign as a fight to preserve democracy. Tonight, how that notion is going down with Trump supporters, as well as one noted author who's made describing how democracies fail her specialty. More from CNN's Donie O'Sullivan.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER (voice over): What happens if Trump loses?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't see him losing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think he lost the last election, to be honest.

O'SULLIVAN: Do you think he's going to win?





O'SULLIVAN: What if he doesn't this time? What happens to the country?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're in trouble. We're in big trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're done. If Biden talks about democracy, you know, saving democracy, they're the ones that are killing democracy.

O'SULLIVAN: Obviously, there's a lot of criticisms of Trump that he is bad for democracy, that he's bad for American democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I say something? We are a republic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're a republic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are not a democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're a representative of the republic. We're not a democracy. (END VIDEO CLIP)

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): One thing we've been hearing at Trump rallies like this over the past few months is that America isn't really a democracy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: America's not a democracy as a republic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a democracy. Okay? Democracy is actually not as good as you think it is.


O'SULLIVAN (voice over): But for centuries, America has celebrated its democracy.



GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Democracy remains the definition of political legitimacy.


O'SULLIVAN (voice over): But some Republicans and pro-Trump media are pushing the idea that America is not a democracy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States of America is not a democracy. We are a constitutional republic.

JOHNSON: The United States of America is not a democracy. You don't want to be in a democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not a democracy. We are a republic.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Is America a democracy?

ANNE APPLEBAUM, AUTHOR, "AUTOCRACY, INC.": America is a democracy. It was founded as a democracy.

O'SULLIVAN: I've heard a lot of conspiracy theories. I hear a lot of things out on the road. But to hear Americans, people who would describe themselves as patriots, say that America is not a democracy, that stopped me in my tracks.

APPLEBAUM: You are hearing people say America is not a democracy because there are people around Trump who want them to be saying that, who've been planting that narrative.

O'SULLIVAN: Is America a democracy? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I don't - I think we're a republic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, not right now. But we're - yes, we're a republic.

O'SULLIVAN: What's the difference?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like democracy - I think this is true, that it's government control. I don't see freedom in democracy. I see freedom in the republic.

APPLEBAUM: Honestly, the word democracy and the word republic have often been used interchangeably. There isn't a meaningful difference between them.

O'SULLIVAN: So much of the warnings and criticism about Trump is that he is a threat to democracy, that he is anti-Democratic.

APPLEBAUM: Absolutely. If they can convince people that we don't have a democracy, then it's okay that Trump is attacking democracy, because it doesn't really matter.

O'SULLIVAN: So why - like, why has democracy become a bad word?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it's being used in a way to change the flavor of our country, which is a republic.

APPLEBAUM: These words were used in different ways in the 18th century and it's true the founders didn't want direct democracy, by which they meant people gathering on the town square, they wanted representative democracy.

But I think the reason why this conversation about language has risen now is because there is a part of the Republican Party that would like to rule as a minority, and they need an excuse for why that's okay. And so they have begun to say, we're not a democracy, we're a republic. And it's not a hundred percent clear what that means, but I think they mean, we want Donald Trump to be able to do whatever he wants.

O'SULLIVAN: Some people I've been speaking to at Trump events recently ...


O'SULLIVAN: ... have been saying, America is not a democracy, it's a republic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've always been a democracy, first of all,


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, we have - we used to have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, we used to have that too, now they're picking on the Christians and the Jewish people. I mean, how much more can we take?

O'SULLIVAN: Are you concerned if Trump loses ...


O'SULLIVAN: ... that there will be another January 6th?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I think there will be a civil war. That's what I think will happen.



COOPER: Donie, I mean, this whole democracy-republic thing is fascinating. This is the first I've heard of that kind of new thing that they're now pushing, and it looks like folks on Fox are pushing it. Is there a reason the people you spoke with think the country isn't a democracy now? I mean ...

O'SULLIVAN: Yes. And look - I mean, Anderson, some of those folks, no doubt, genuinely believe that and might have believed it for a long time, right? This isn't necessarily a new talking point. However, we have seen it just revive over the past few months.

And really, the reason we did this piece was over the - you know, over the past few months, just unprompted, as I was speaking to a lot of Trump supporters, they would bring this very specific lineup. And look, this really - it's not a debate, right, about the former government here. It's not a debate about democracy. Really why this is happening and you saw it there in that piece on Fox News and elsewhere on conservative and right-wing media, people are trying to convince Trump supporters and others that America is not a democracy in the first place.


And we actually saw - I happened to notice that this seemed to pick up a bit after President Biden's speech in Philadelphia, where he described Trump as a threat to democracy. This is how they seem to be trying to twist language to try and neutralize describing Trump as a threat to democracy, because if America is not a democracy in the first place, then there's nothing to worry about.

COOPER: Donie O'Sullivan, thank you very much.

One of the pillars of a democracy is the rule of law, and laws, of course, are enforced by courts, and the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court is once again under fire tonight over new ethics concerns, specifically the behavior surrounding Justice Clarence Thomas.

Late this afternoon, Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin released new information from a major Republican donor about more undisclosed trips provided to Justice Thomas. It follows previous reporting about numerous undisclosed gifts from that conservative billionaire, Harlan Crow, which include private school tuition for a relative of Thomas' and decades' worth of luxury vacations.

Last week, after the release of his 2023 disclosures, Thomas said certain disclosures had been, quote, "inadvertently omitted." However, last month in a speech, he railed against the, quote, "nastiness" and, quote, "lies" directed toward him.

I'm joined now by our justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider, also former federal district Judge John E. Jones III, Jones III, and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig.

So Jessica, what more do we know about these additional trips now that Thomas took on Harlan Crow's plane?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So the details just being released tonight from Sen. Dick Durbin. The details are several new trips happened in 2017, 2019 and 2021. So first in May 2017, Justice Thomas took Harlan Crow's jet from St. Louis to Montana and then to Dallas. Then there was a March 2019 flight where he flew roundtrip between Washington, D.C. and Savannah. And then in June 2021, he flew roundtrip between Washington, D.C. and San Jose, California. All of this on Crow's jet.

And really, Anderson, I mean, these newly revealed flights, it only adds to what we know were other luxury trips that Justice Thomas enjoyed bankrolled by Harlan Crow. There was also that 2019 trip to Indonesia, where Justice Thomas stayed on Crow's mega yacht.

So there have been a lot of previously undisclosed travel that's been gifted by Harlan Crow. He's a GOP mega donor. He's active in conservative causes. Justice Thomas, though, I'll note Anderson has always described him as just a dear friend and says they've never had any discussions about cases before the court.

COOPER: They've - wow. I mean, that's - if you're hanging out with the justice Supreme Court, that's kind of amazing to think.


COOPER: Has Justice Thomas explained why he did not disclose these trips? Because he talks about his, like, love of staying in RV parks ...

SCHNEIDER: RV travels, exactly.

COOPER: ... and driving around on a bus.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, so he hasn't directly answered about these recent disclosures, but his attorney just released a statement tonight. It says this. It says, "The information that Harlan Crow provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee fell under the 'personal hospitality exemption' and was not required to be disclosed by Justice Thomas. The Judicial Conference changed this provision last year, and Justice Thomas has fully complied with the new disclosure requirement."

So I'll expand upon this to really explain it. Up until last year, there was in fact this personal hospitality

exemption. So justices, in the way they read it, didn't have to disclose certain benefits, maybe from their wealthy friends, things like when they stayed at their friends' properties or traveled on jets. It was just last year, Anderson, that that exemption was removed. So justices now have to disclose these perks, but there's some question as to whether the disclosures need to be retroactive. There's nothing specifically saying justices have to go back now and disclose the years' worth of trips, but it is still coming out, and it came out tonight from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

COOPER: Judge Jones, I mean, does this make sense to you? Why wouldn't Justice Thomas just come clean about everything Harlan Crow has given him or paid for? Why go through this kind of drip, drip, drip?

JOHN E. JONES III, RETIRED FEDERAL JUDGE: You know, Anderson, I have no idea, but this has all the allure of a slow motion car accident. It doesn't look good. I toiled in the federal judiciary for 20 years, and I love it. I respect it. But this tears at the fabric, you know, the code of ethics that the justices are subject to, which is, by the way, not enforceable, says in the first canon that it is there to basically preserve the integrity and the independence of the judiciary.

Now, you know, under the circumstances to the point that was just made, he amended his 2023 ethics statement, and he added a couple of his trips. When you go to the question of retroactivity, I agree, it's less than clear. So why would you do that and not include the other trips that were just revealed?

COOPER: Right.

JONES: There's no good answer to that.


COOPER: Elie, I mean, do you agree with the statement from Thomas's attorney saying that, you know, he -- because the personal hospitality exemption, he didn't need to?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Not at all. The spirit of these rules is disclosure. And these are not just small gifts. These are gifts and -- not donations, but gifts worth tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. And the whole explanation that this is just a friend doing something for me -- I mean, I got to get better friends.

This is something more than just a friend paying for his friend hundreds of thousands of dollars over the year for private school tuition, for flights, for hotels. It violates every canon in this ethics code. And if you remember, Anderson, about a year ago, the Supreme Court for the first time ever adopted an ethics code. The criticism we made was it's toothless. And I think now we're seeing that.

COOPER: Judge Jones, I mean --

JONES: You know -- COOPER: Go ahead, Judge.

JONES: Well, I was going to say, you know, it's interesting to Elie's point about having a friend. Here's the acid test and this is not hard and it's not in the statement of ethics or at all. If you are s making a friend because you're on the Supreme Court of the United States, if that's why this guy is friends with you, then I would suggest to you that if he's providing hospitality, that's just wrong.

You know, it just shouldn't happen. And I don't think that's a hard test, you know, for any justice or judge to observe. If I had done this as a district judge, as a U.S. district judge, I would have been absolutely subject to judicial discipline of the, you know, the most pronounced kind, and I would have deserved it. And so I, you know, to me there's -- there -- if Clarence Thomas was sitting on the circuit court or was the head of the EEOC, do you think that Harlan Crow would afford him this kind of hospitality. Of course, he would.

COOPER: Yes. Judge Jones, thank you. Elie Honig, Jessica Schneider as well.

Just ahead, President Biden promoting democracy on the world stage with Ukraine and making the campaign issue at home. Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice joins us next.



COOPER: Ahead of the former president's visit to Capitol Hill, the Biden reelection team hit the airwaves in battleground states with a new TV commercial reminding voters of his role in the January 6th riot as well as the importance of democracy. The ad claims Trump is, quote, "ready to burn it all down."

In addition, Harry Dunn and Daniel Hodges, on duty police officers attacked in the U.S. Capitol January 6th, stumped for the president today in one of those battleground states, Wisconsin. This, as we mentioned earlier, comes as President Biden at the G7 meeting signed a long term security agreement with Ukraine's president to bolster its fledgling democracy, the one that's not binding on any future president.

I'm joined now by Susan Rice, former adviser to President Biden. She also served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and National Security Adviser under President Obama. Ambassador Rice, thanks for being with us. What is the point of a security agreement if it's not binding on the next administration?

SUSAN RICE, FORMER WH DOMESTIC POLICY ADVISOR TO PRES. BIDEN: Well, Anderson, let's step back a second, and thank you for having me on. And take a look at what President Biden is doing at the G7 in Europe. He is going back to his third G7 with our alliances restored and rebuilt stronger than ever with the United States leadership embraced and respected. And he has rallied the world to defend Ukraine, including with a $50 billion loan that the United States led in negotiating this week, using the interest off of the Russian frozen assets. He's negotiated this bilateral agreement, which is very valuable in that there is always a cost for the United States when it reneges on its commitments, when it walks back its agreements.

And while it's not a legally binding treaty, it's a powerful statement of U.S. support and intentions. In addition, he's just this week led in imposing tough new sanctions on Russia and China. So with Joe Biden, we have strong leadership that has strengthened our alliances not only in Europe, but in Asia and around the world, which makes America more secure. And we have a leader who's trusted and respected.


RICE: Contrast that, as you did in your opening with Donald Trump, who is so profoundly dangerous, he is not committed to democracy at home or abroad, he embraces dictators. He is the president -- former president, whose own vice president, National Security Advisers, Secretary of State, Secretaries of Defense --

COOPER: Yes, pretty much everybody on the cabinet.

RICE: -- and Chief of Staff, all have said are unfit.


RICE: And what does that say? When the people closest to you say you're unfit to lead, that's very, very concerning and dangerous.

COOPER: When you hear Donald Trump say that Vladimir Putin would release, you know, Wall Street Journal reporter, you know, just if he asked, I mean, does that make sense to you? Like, why wouldn't he then just ask now for that to happen?

RICE: Well, that's a good question, Anderson. No, of course it doesn't make sense. It's bluster. It's all dishonest. And every day, we hear something dishonest out of Donald Trump's mouth that is inherently self-serving and not anything we can rely on.

You know, it's -- you don't just get to wave a magic wand and have a dictator who's hell bent on not only taking over Ukraine, but Western Europe and more if we allow him. And what does Donald Trump say? Donald Trump calls Putin a genius. Donald Trump tells Putin that he can do whatever he wants, the hell he wants with our NATO allies.


I mean, it's the height of recklessness, self-interest, and danger. And it's not a future that we can be confident in at all. It would undermine our security profoundly at a time when, you know, the world is a complicated place.

COOPER: When you were U.S. ambassador to the U.N., you obviously dealt with nations whose leaders disregard laws, carry out vendettas against their political opponents. When you hear, you know, Donald Trump talking about getting revenge or retribution, does that seem -- I mean, does that seem realistic to you? Do you believe he would do that?

RICE: I do believe he would do it. I believe we have -- if we have learned anything, we should listen to what he says and what he does is often exactly what he says and sometimes worse. You know, we have -- in Donald Trump a leader who is not running to be the president of the American people. He's running for his own self-interest to try to stay out of jail.

And that is incredibly worrying. And when he says that on day one he intends to be a dictator, that he will come after his political opponents and anybody who has rubbed him the wrong way, I take that very seriously, and I think we all should.

COOPER: Ambassador Susan Rice, thank you for your time.

RICE: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up next, a CNN exclusive. Ben Wedeman talks with the Hamas spokesman in Beirut about the remaining hostages they are holding captive in Gaza. He asks him how many are still alive and why Hamas is yet to agree to a ceasefire. His response is coming up.



COOPER: That is rescued Israeli hostage Noa Argamani, reunited with her father last Saturday. A long awaited hug that she and three other hostages were rescued in Israeli military special operation. All of them kidnapped by Hamas from the Nova music festival eight months ago.

Benny Gantz, who quit Israel's war cabinet last week, said today in an Israel TV interview that Israel knows about how many hostages are still alive in Gaza. He didn't say how many were, but that Israel knew a, quote, "very close number." This comes on the backdrop of ongoing ceasefire negotiations.

And now tonight, a CNN exclusive. A senior Hamas official talked today with CNN's Ben Wedeman in Beirut. They discussed the hostages, though Hamas refuses to use that word, in efforts to reach a ceasefire. Here's Ben's report.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since the 7th of October last year when Hamas militants streamed into Israel, killing hundreds and grabbing hostages, the war in Gaza has been an unrelenting nightmare of death and destruction. Talks to end the war are once again bogged down, as every day the death toll mounts.

In Beirut, we spoke to senior Hamas leader Osama Hamdan, one of the few privy to details of the ceasefire negotiations. But not privy, he claims, to the condition of the 120 hostages still in Gaza.

WEDEMAN: How many of those 120 are still alive?

OSAMA HAMDAN, HAMAS POLITBURO MEMBER: I don't have any idea about that. No one has any idea about this.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): The Wall Street Journal recently reported that messages from Gaza Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar to mediators and other Hamas officials included one in which he allegedly said the deaths of civilians in Gaza is a necessary sacrifice. Hamdan insists the messages were fake.

WEDEMAN: After eight months of this war, more than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed, probably more, more than 80,000 injured. Was it a necessary sacrifice for the people of Gaza?

HAMDAN: You seem that you can't start from the beginning. Let's start from page number one. Why talk about the page of the 7th of October? What about the Israeli occupation?

WEDEMAN: No, I'm talking about what came after the 7th of October.

HAMDAN; Well, the 7th of October was a reaction against the occupation. What came after that? It shows the real face of Israel. It shows how Israel is occupying the Palestinian lands, demolishing the situation of the Palestinians, killing the civilians. It's not the first time they are killing the civilians.

WEDEMAN: I mean, Hamas is an organization. Does it regret what it did on the 7th of October given what happened afterwards?

HAMDAN: We are living with this for the last 75 years as Palestinians.

WEDEMAN: Now, CNN spoke to one of the doctors who treated the four Israelis who were freed on Saturday, and he said that they suffered mental and physical abuse. And what do you say to that?

HAMDAN: Well, he's an Israeli. He has to say what the Israel authorities are asking him to say. If you compare the images of both before and after releasing, you will find that they were better than before. I believe if they have mental problem, this is because of what Israel have done in Gaza.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): But in addition to what has been said about the four recent hostages freed, there have been also claims about the dire conditions others faced while in captivity.

The fate of the remaining hostages hangs in the balance. At the G7 summit in Italy, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was hoping Hamas would agree to the latest U.S.-backed ceasefire proposal.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The response we got was unfortunately not the yes that we were looking for. A yes that virtually the entire world has given.

[20:50:06] WEDEMAN: OK, Mr. Hamdan, simple question. Why hasn't Hamas yet agreed officially to the U.S.-backed proposal for a ceasefire?

HAMDAN: We said it's a positive step but we need to see the facts on the ground. We need to know what exactly the president means by saying a ceasefire, a withdrawal.

WEDEMAN: What is left? What do you need?

HAMDAN: We need an Israeli -- a clear position from Israel to accept the ceasefire, a complete withdrawal from Gaza and let the Palestinians to determine their future by themselves.

WEDEMAN: Are you optimistic at this point in time that you will reach some sort of agreement?

HAMDAN: Well, I think if the United States administration acted in the positive way, seeing the situation not only in the eyes of Israel, we can reach soon an agreement.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): And in the absence of an agreement, this war goes on with no end in sight.


COOPER: Ben, I mean, this Hamas leader justifies the October 7th attack by Hamas and Islamic Jihad and others, which was a violation of an ongoing ceasefire claims. No one knows how many hostages are still alive. Obviously, there are people who know in Hamas. And he claims that the released, that the hostages who were freed just, you know, recently, the four hostages, that they are actually better off than they were before they were taken into captivity? I mean, that's just absurd.

WEDEMAN (on-camera): Well, that's what he said, but you need to look at it through the lens of how it's being seen in the region. You know, Anderson, there are a lot of pictures circulating -- sort of before and after pictures circulating on social media of Palestinian prisoners who have been freed from Israeli jails.

The pictures show healthy people going in, gone sickly people looking out. Now, Mr. Hamdan, like millions of others in this region, are seeing the pictures of these four Israelis who were recently freed from Gaza, who on the surface, superficially look to be OK. So that seems to be why he's saying this and we're hearing it from many other people as well.

Keep in mind also that Osama Hamdan is a political figure in Hamas. He is involved in the negotiating process, but he's not part of the military wing that holds the hostages in Gaza. So he's probably not completely up on the situation in there. And I think what you're hearing in that interview is more a reflection perhaps of social media than his knowledge of the specifics of the hostages themselves. Anderson?

COOPER: Which he refuses to even call hostages, but Ben Wedeman, thank you. I appreciate it.

We'll be right back.



COOPER: 2002 was my first year at CNN, and it didn't go very well. Not a lot of people saw much value in me here, and it got so bad that I didn't see much value in me here either. But there was this young producer in Atlanta who did see something in me, and I saw something in him. His name is Charlie Moore, and he and I have now worked together for nearly all of the 22 years that I've been at CNN.

For the last 14 years, he's been the executive producer of this broadcast of 360. He's now taking on another role at CNN, and I just want to take a couple moments to say thank you.


COOPER (voice-over): In dozens of countries, in dangerous and difficult times, in high stress moments and mundane ones as well, on dusty roads and forgotten places, from dingy rooms to debate halls, Charlie Moore has always been by my side. Just off camera, usually with a satellite phone pressed to his ear, trying to somehow solve the never ending problems that come with reporting live.

It may be my voice you hear, my face on screen, but whatever stories I've told have been Charlie's as well. I don't know all the things a producer's job entails, but I know what the great ones do, and Charlie is the best I've worked alongside. It's not just the amount of time we've spent together, the miles we've logged, it's the moments that we've bared witness to, the million things we've heard and seen, and the people we've met along the way.

There is a bond you form doing this work. I can't describe it, and it's so special I'm not sure I'd want to even if I could.

We've all found ourselves in positions we're not used to, searching for survivors, taking chances every day. Charlie, my producer, had to hang on to a stop sign to keep our boat from getting swamped.

Katrina, and Haiti, the tsunami, Afghanistan, Iraq. So many places we've been. All those stories we've told. Interviews and live shots and phoners. Endless days and sleepless nights. Boring car rides and bad flights. All those airports we've rushed to, getting there or getting out. How many hours have we waited? How many calls have you made? How much cajoling and talking? How did you come to know me so well?

Time passes and memories fade, but I hope I never forget all that we've shared and all that you've been and will forever be to me.


COOPER: Charlie and I spent more than a month reporting from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in the difficult days after Hurricane Katrina. The last show we did was from a badly damaged street, and it was all deserted. And it was Charlie and me and maybe seven or eight others, cameramen and engineers and satellite truck operators.

We finished around midnight, we broke down the equipment. We wrapped up the cables or other people did. Neil Hallsworth, one of my cameramen, took out some beers from the cooler in his truck and passed them around. We lingered there for a time talking, remembering the things we'd all just lived through, not wanting that feeling we had to end, but it had to. Everything does.

Charlie and I got into our car and we drove through the pitch black streets, and we didn't speak. We didn't need to. I'm very thankful that Charlie is still going to be at CNN, but I'll miss that feeling. Driving in the dark, heading toward a new adventure, side by side with Charlie.

That's it for us. The news continues. The Source with Kaitlan Collins starts now.