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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Former FBI Deputy Director Responds To Threats Of Retribution From Trump Allies; NY Times: Judge In Trump Documents Case Rejected Fellow Judges' Suggestion She Recuse Herself; Biden, Trump To Face Off In First 2024 Presidential Debate Next Week; Taxpayer Dollars Are Helping Teach Right-Wing Views, One School At A Time; Two Beluga Whales Rescued From Ukraine, Now At Aquarium In Spain; Actor Donald Sutherland Dies At 88. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 20, 2024 - 20:00   ET



DONALD SUTHERLAND, ACTOR: So filled with happiness and joy is because you guys have given me my marker.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: It's so inspiring to see someone who spent more than half a century doing what they loved and also giving you hope to overcome fears. This - he said that he once was always so nervous when a movie began shooting that he actually threw up the night before and yet to think of what he accomplished, incredible. You'd never know that that fear was there, hope overcame.

Thanks so much for joining us. AC360 begins now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, he's been talking plenty about revenge lately, now the former president takes it one step further, amplifying calls for chasing down perceived opponents. And for the first time, one of his most prominent targets is responding tonight on 360.

Also tonight, breaking news on the judge Trump appointed who's now slow walking through his classified documents case, new reporting that her own boss, the chief judge, asked her not to take the case.

And later, the life and remarkable career of Donald Sutherland who died today at 88.

Good evening, thanks for joining us.

We begin tonight, keeping them honest, with the question, why should the Republican candidate for president and very possibly the next president of the United States be concerned even just a little about a former career civil servant. It's unclear why he is, but it should concern all of us that he is.

The former civil servant is Andrew McCabe. Back when Trump was president, McCabe was deputy director of the FBI. He's now a CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst. McCabe earned Trump's ire for his role in the FBI's Russia investigation. He was later fired as deputy director on then-President Trump's public urging just hours short of qualifying for his pension, which he had to sue to get restored. Then he was investigated by the Justice Department, but never charged, raising questions at the time about whether a grand jury had taken the rare step of refusing to bring indictments. Because such proceedings are secret, we may never know.

But now with the former president, his supporters openly calling for revenge and retribution against perceived enemies, McCabe is being targeted again. He's not the only one, we should point out. The former president has spoken of revenge frequently.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, revenge does take time. I will say that.


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

MCGRAW: No ...

TRUMP: Sometimes it can.


COOPER: And Trump's advisors and supporters are talking about purging career civil servants if he's elected, especially at the Justice Department, which he's threatening to turn into an instrument of revenge. And now Trump has also been posting on social media, linking to a story about his former strategist, Steve Bannon, who's reacting to the concern all this revenge talk is causing. Specifically to Andrew McCabe, talking to THE SOURCE's Kaitlan Collins about it.


ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I have a lot of conversations with former colleagues, people who are or were in the intelligence and law enforcement community, and may have worked in the Obama administration in other places. And, you know, people are really trying to assess, like, what is life going to be like if Donald Trump wins a second term?

And on a very personal level, these are torturous discussions with their family members about whether or not they have to leave the country to avoid being unconstitutionally and illegally detained. I mean, people are actually worried about being thrown in jail or grabbed in some sort of extrajudicial detention.

And I think, you know, as crazy as this sounds in the United States of America, I think people should really consider that these are possibilities.


COOPER: So that's what McCabe told Kaitlan Collins a short time ago. Bannon then responded saying this.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: And McCabe, you should be worried. You should be very worried. But also understand this, brother: We have extradition treaties with virtually every country in the world. And you go ahead and run and run as far as you want. We're going to come and get you.


COOPER: So that's a former, and perhaps soon to be, again, senior advisor to Trump who is saying much the same, despite the best efforts of Dr. Phil and Sean Hannity to stop him. And again, they're taking aim with this at perceived political enemies, but also at the day-to- day in - day in and day out career professionals of federal law enforcement.


BANNON: November 5th is judgment day. January 20th 2025 is accountability day. You're going to get every single receipt. And to the fullest extension of the law, you are going to be investigated, prosecuted and incarcerated. Ladies and gentlemen, it's very simple, victory or death.


COOPER: And Andrew McCabe joins us now.

So, I mean, when you hear Steve Bannon saying these things and the president - the former president amplifying comments that you should be worried, what goes through your mind?

MCCABE: Well, Anderson, part of me is not surprised at all. These are things he's been saying forever.


We know that Donald Trump and his friend are - you know, these are people who are obsessed with personal grievance and settling score. Their entire way of thinking about leading and administering this country is in the context of having been wronged and trying to engender support among their supporters by, you know, throwing this kind of red meat out to people who are - who respond to this sort of language.

So we shouldn't be surprised by it at all. They're both paranoid old men, one of whom is on his way to jail, and the other one, we'll see, that might happen for him as well. So that part doesn't surprise me.

What's really, to me, shocking and disgusting about the rhetoric is what it says about who we are becoming as a nation. And the fact that a person who is, you know, quite possibly the next president of the United States is engaging in this level of absolutely, fundamentally anti-democratic rhetoric and behavior and ideation. Everything he says stands in direct contrast to the nation that we

think we are, the nation that we have always been. But I think people have got to start asking themselves, is this the direction that we want to go? Is this the country that we're becoming, a place where an incoming president takes the levers of power and uses them for his own gratification to pursue enemies?

COOPER: Right. I mean, if - say, if Trump is reelected and Steve Bannon is, you know, in his orbit or still doing his little podcast, and they choose to - I mean, the federal government, the White House chooses to go after you, they could make your life really awful. I mean, you would have to hire attorneys. You would have to - at great expense, I mean, I can't even imagine.

MCCABE: I know all about that. Yes, I know it well, right? This is - this - they've been doing this to me. Donald Trump's been doing this to me for years. A two-year baseless criminal investigation that they ended only because it went nowhere and a federal judge essentially forced them to issue a declination. A invasive IRS audit, the only other person I know who's ever been subjected to the same one is Jim Comey, not coincidentally, I'm sure. The Durham investigation, right? Same basic idea, William Barr and John Durham announced that we were all criminals and then spent years traveling around the globe trying to find proof of that, which of course they couldn't and it came to essentially nothing.

So I know what to expect. It's not about me, I'll be fine. It's about people who will be experiencing this for the first time and more importantly, their families. You know, like I talked to former officials and everyone is in the same place. Like we are still committed to this country and seeing this through. We still have faith in the systems that are built to protect the rights of every American. But that's a hard thing to explain to your family when they're thinking, you know, basically they don't want to have to live in this kind of fear and terror for another four years.

COOPER: It also - I mean, what kind of chilling effect does it have on others who are still in law enforcement, others who are still in the FBI about choices they make or decisions they make now?

MCCABE: Yes, how do you think those agents felt who had the bad luck or misfortune to be assigned to the Mar-a-Lago raid? The Mar-a-Lago - excuse me, search warrant, not a raid - you know, the - what's happened to them, they've been vilified, now falsely accused by the former president of having been out to somehow assassinate him or take him out, all of which is insanely ridiculous and not true.

You know, the - and there are other indicators that people within government are stepping back from aspects of this work that they think might engender the same sort of scrutiny. You know, in the aftermath of the investigation of possible coordination between the Trump campaign in 2016 and the Russian government, the massive investigation that we mounted to get to the bottom of that, the FISA coverage that we had on Carter Page, which was exposed to have been - had contained numerous mistakes, that's all unforgivable, and those wrongs need to be fixed. But in the wake of the nonstop attacks that Donald Trump has levied on

the FBI for things like that, is it coincidence that the FBI's use of FISA and domestic FISA coverage is down about 75 percent from those years? Are the threats facing this nation down 75 percent? I think not.

COOPER: And when Steve Bannon talks about the long arm of American justice, using it to pursue you even if you leave the country. I mean, have you thought about leaving the country?


MCCABE: I know what American justice is. I spent 21 years as a law enforcement officer in this country. Steve Bannon has no idea what he's talking about of that or probably anything else. People who haven't committed crimes in this country have nothing to worry about.

COOPER: It just seems to me - I mean, just people who have dedicated their lives to public service and civil service, I mean, it is the backbone of our democracy. It is essential for the functioning of this country at agencies all over and it's extraordinary that somebody who would be running for president already saying, like, this guy, I'm - we're going to go after this person.

MCCABE: That's right. That's right. Those protections, those safeguards, that's what this country was built around, to protect everyone from the person in charge, right? That's how we - that's why we split off from the Brits so many years ago. That's what we're all about.

Everyone is treated the same under the law. Everybody enjoys the same protection. So to have the person who aspires to the highest seat, the highest role, the highest job in the land to start picking out people like me or anyone else and targeting them for revenge, unleashing the rage of their supporters in however that's played out, it's outrageous and it's just heartbreaking that that's where we are as a nation.

COOPER: What does it mean for National Security if skilled members of law enforcement, intelligence officials basically leave the - leave public service because of these concerns?

MCCABE: It's never been more important than right now that law enforcement and intelligence agencies in this country are able to attract the brightest, smartest, most dedicated people. The threats are more complicated than ever. Our challenges with cyber, everything, right?

This is a - hiring is probably the number one priority in every agency. And the idea that their own potential boss would have such an effect on that community has to drive people out in droves because they are unwilling to subject themselves to this sort of treatment. I mean, it's just absolutely contrary to where we need to be as a nation. It's contrary to the mission of protecting this country and the people in it.

COOPER: Do you - so what's the next step? I mean, how do you prepare for something like this?

MCCABE: I'm living my life, right? I have the extraordinary opportunity to speak here to people like you, to draw attention to these issues. I will continue to do that. I'm sure people who are similarly situated to me will do the same. I think it's important to keep drawing attention to these things so we see them for what they are. And ultimately people, of course, will make their own decisions at the end of the election.

But, you know, this is my country, this is our country. I have - there's nothing that Donald Trump or Steve Bannon can possibly do to sway me from that.

COOPER: Andrew McCabe, thank you very much.

MCCABE: Thanks.

COOPER: Appreciate it.

Coming up next, we have breaking news on Judge Aileen Cannon and the request that two federal - fellow judges reportedly made that she not take the classified documents case.

And later, CNN investigates how private religious schools, even those that teach being gay is a sin are getting taxpayer funding. More on that ahead.



COOPER: Breaking news tonight, ahead of a hearing tomorrow on the classified documents case, Judge Aileen Cannon will hear a defense motion to dismiss the classified documents charges against the former president. Now, the thrust of it is that Special Counsel Jack Smith was improperly appointed and funded. It's a legally dubious argument, which courts have rejected.

But as we've been reporting, and as our legal experts have been saying throughout the case, Judge Cannon is making a habit of taking up what other judges might dismiss out of hand. Which brings us to this, New reporting in The New York Times said the judge was asked by two colleagues not to take the case. The reporter citing two people briefed on the matter, write: The judges who approached Judge Cannon, including the chief judge in the Southern District of Florida, Cecilia M. Altonaga, each asked her to consider whether it would be better if she were to decline the high-profile case, allowing it to go to another judge, the two people said.

She refused. CNN asked the chief judge, named in the article to comment, she declined. However, we do have a former chief judge with us tonight, Judge John E. Jones III, who headed up the federal Middle District in Pennsylvania, along with us best-selling author and former federal prosecutor, Jeffrey Toobin.

Judge Jones, what does it say to you that Cannon's colleagues suggested she step aside and what does it say to you that she declined?

JOHN E. JONES III, FORMER CHIEF JUDGE, U.S. MIDDLE DISTRICT COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I think, Anderson, I'm sad to say that she's out of her judicial depth and I think her colleagues know that. They saw that she made a hash out of the matter that she took up before this case where Trump filed suit, and she took a whack from the 11th Circuit.

And I think they were trying to protect her and saying gently to her, maybe it would be better to get some more experience under your belt before you take this case. It's remarkable. It typically doesn't happen that often, and that it got out is incredible as well. But there are a number of different examples, tomorrow being one. That should have been decided on the briefs, and that she is having a hearing on something that really should be easily decided.

Look, if the 11th Circuit or the Supreme Court wants to make new law with respect to the Special Counsel, let them do that, but she shouldn't be making this into such a show tomorrow. It's just not good judging.

COOPER: Jeff, I mean, the two main theories are that she's either inexperienced, in over her head or somehow in the tank for Trump or ...


COOPER: ... where does this news fit into that?

TOOBIN: Well, I mean, it shows that her fellow judges knew this was coming, because at least on the issue of inexperience.


You know, trying these big, complicated cases just as a purely technical matter is difficult. And it takes a certain amount of judicial experience and savvy to be able to do it. And it often is the case that judges talk to each other. I mean, as Judge Jones says, it's very rare that any of this stuff comes out publicly.

But they do say, you know, do you really think this is best for you, best for the judicial system. For whatever reason, Judge Cannon kept the case, and that certainly suggests partisanship may be part of it. But this pretrial proceeding has been a disaster.

I mean, the incompetence and the way this has been conducted is an embarrassment to the judicial system. Not because Jack Smith is losing, which he is, just the way it has unfolded. And his - her colleagues, her senior colleagues, tried to save her and the country from this, but she didn't go for it.

COOPER: Judge, I mean, given the rebuke that Judge Cannon received from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals for how she handled matters pertaining to Mar-a-Lago search before Trump was even indicted, would there have been any other recourse or mechanism for forcing her off the trial? JONES: Not really. I think, though, she's walking into it now because

if she decides to knock Jack Smith out of the box and, as I said, make new law, it'll go right to the 11th Circuit because it disposes of the case. And I think that they'll unseat her at that point. And then there's some additional matters that she's going to hear next week on the gag order.

You know, Anderson, as Jeff knows, there are U.S. magistrate judges who are appointed by courts and they're there to do a lot of grunt work and to ease the burden on the district judges. She's got one right in the building, Judge Reinhart, who signed off on the warrant for Mar-a-Lago. He should be handling a lot of these motions. And she should have set a trial date and given him a deadline to get rid of him.

It is astonishing to me that she hasn't offloaded some of this stuff and that she's arrogated to herself the responsibility to hear it. You know, that's a tool of the trade, so to speak, and that she's not availing herself of that is very, very telling. And you have to have a trial date. You have to have a firm date for trial.

Nothing focuses attorneys' minds like a date certain for trial and that she has this case adrift the way she does, frankly, is judicial malpractice.

TOOBIN: And let me just give an example, I hope this isn't too inside baseball. But, you know, one of the things - there are all these issues relating to classified information, relating to Jack Smith that need to be decided. One of the things she did first was hear emotions about what jury instructions should be.

As the judge knows, jury instructions are something you - a judge deals with last, right before a trial. And it just shows that she just doesn't know the structure of how federal criminal trials work, which is not surprising since she was appointed in her late 30s. She had almost no experience as an actual trial lawyer. She's only, I believe, had four trials as a judge. She just doesn't know what she's doing. And this case is paying the price.

COOPER: Just separate ...

JONES: You know ...

COOPER: Go ahead, Judge.

JONES: No, I was going to say, Jeff is spot on. I couldn't believe that she was dealing with jury instructions when you don't even have a trial date.

TOOBIN: Right.

JONES: You just don't do that. I mean, you do that when you're on the eve of trial, but that - he's exactly right - that speaks volumes.

COOPER: Judge Jones, thank you, Jeffrey Toobin as well.

Up next, the former president tonight sharing how he expects President Biden to perform in next week's CNN debate.

Plus, new details on how the president is gearing up for the rematch.



COOPER: With just one week to go until the first 2024 presidential debate here on CNN, the former president is switching his tone on what he says he expects from President Biden.


TRUMP: I was never a fan of his. But I will say he beat Paul Ryan, it was still years ago, but he beat Paul Ryan pretty badly and I assume he's going to be somebody that will be a worthy debater. Yes, I would say so. I think ...


TRUMP: ... I don't want to underestimate him.


COOPER: We're also getting new insight tonight into how President Biden is preparing. Sources tell CNN the president's personal attorney, Bob Bauer, will likely reprise the role of Trump in his mock debate sessions. Bauer told me this week that he prepared to play Trump in 2020 by immersing himself in his interviews and speeches.

But this debate is expected to be different. With that, here is Jeff Zeleny.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORREPONDENT (voice over): The historic rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump is anything but a rerun. A vastly different set of issues are driving this race as the president and former president come face to face for their first debate of the 2024 campaign, four years since they shared a stage.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: BIDEN: You're the worst president America has ever had, come on.

TRUMP: Hey, Joe, let me - in 47 months, I've done more than you've done in 47 years, Joe.


ZELENY (voice over): Feels like an upside-down lifetime ago, back when the coronavirus pandemic was raging.


CHRIS WALLACE: ... the efficacy of ...

TRUMP: No. I think that masks are okay.

WALLACE: ... of masks?

TRUMP: You have to understand, if you look - I mean, I have a mask right here. I put a mask on, you know, when I think I need it.

BIDEN: This is his economy. He shut down.


ZELENY (voice over): In the Biden-Trump sequel, an entirely new fight has been brewing on the campaign trail.


BIDEN: You could end up in World War III with this person. He's the worst president ever.

TRUMP: And in TV ads.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This election is between a convicted criminal who's only out for himself and a president who's fighting for your family.

ZELENY (voice over): That offers a window into the new issues and fresh lines of attack. A reminder of just how much the country, the world, and, yes, they have changed. From an insurrection and all its fallout to a new fight on abortion rights.

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and a war in the Middle East to the very stark question of America's role in the world. Yet the economy, inflation, and immigration are still at the center of it all. Trump's record was at the heart of their last debates, even as he sought to deflect.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If he gets in, you will have a depression the likes of which you've never seen. Your 401(k)s will go to hell, and it'll be a very, very sad day for this country.

ZELENY (voice-over): While those warnings didn't come to pass, Biden's record is now under the microscope, complicating his effort to make it a referendum on Trump.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fact is that everything he's saying so far is simply a lie. I'm not here to call out his lies. Everybody knows he's a liar.

ZELENY (voice-over): And America's oldest presidential candidates are even older. Trump 78, Biden 81. With age and fitness for office now a central issue in the race. Public opinion for presidents can be punishing. Biden's favorability has fallen 11 points since 2020. With nearly 6 in 10 Americans holding an unfavorable view, perceptions of Trump have changed less, with more than half still seeing him in an unfavorable light.

Televised debates have long been a storied part of presidential campaigns, with history making moments for candidates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go again.

ZELENY (voice-over): Yet this showdown is without parallel. The nation's 45th and 46th presidents, still seeking to define one another in the earliest general election debate in memory, an old duel being fought on new ground.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Joining me now is Hillary Clinton's former campaign manager, Robby Mook, CNN Political Commentator Ashley Allison, and Republican strategist Doug Heye.

So, I mean, Doug, clearly, the former president is trying to sort of raise expectations about President Biden's performance after a long time of basically, you know, calling him old and senile. Do you think it's going to work?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We'll have to -- ultimately, we'll have to see. It's been a weird game that both of these campaigns have been playing once the decision was announced that this debate was going to happen and what those specific rules were. By the way, hallelujah CNN for not having an audience and shutting off microphones. That second part may be difficult to actually accomplish in the room, but moving this into a much more serious place.

We saw the candidates try and basically say how these rules were going to benefit them and the campaign saying both of them, these rules are much more in favor for our candidate. I don't know that that's true. A lot of people say that Donald Trump needs an audience. Well, The Apprentice didn't have an audience. That was a studio.

Yes, it was edited, but he didn't have an audience there. And with no audience in there, whether you're Donald Trump or you're Joe Biden, you have no place to hide at this point. And that makes that, I think, raises the stakes for both of these. These are all the marbles, and this is ultimately because it may be the only one of these.

We don't know if ABC is going to have a debate. This is WrestleMania.

COOPER: Robby, I mean, how do you think this debate, in terms of importance in a campaign, compares to the Biden-Trump debates in 2020, or for that matter, the Clinton-Trump debates in 2016?

ROBBY MOOK, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Yes, well, as Jeff Zeleny mentioned, this is a really early debate. So I think the key audience, the first audience here are elites, the media, the donors, the activists, but that matters. I mean, you saw President Biden, I think, outperformed expectations at the State of the Union. That was a real shot in the arm for the campaign, provided a lot of momentum, helps with raising money.

So I think it could really help him press into the summer. And, you know, just got to be honest, the summer months are usually the cruelest particularly for incumbents. They're just tough months. So if he can go into July and August with a little wind behind his back, that could really help the campaign, both process wise in terms of money and volunteers and so on, but also from a message standpoint.

So, you know, there's no kind of spiral, because we don't know, there's a lot going on around the world, a lot of extreme weather events. Who knows what this president, you know, is going to have to face.

COOPER: Actually, I mean, some have talked about this debate as being the, you know, the most important thing that a bad debate performance by Biden would be crushing. Do you agree?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the president has to come out strong and have a great performance, and I'm pretty confident that he will be able to do it. I think he's taking this debate prep serious. And he has a story to tell, and that is what he needs to do. Don't play Trump's game because Trump is going to try and tell his lies.

He's not going to be able to fact check Donald Trump every time he speaks because that would be all he would be spending his time doing. But I do think this president -- I agree with Robby, I'm not sure how many voters are going to really be making their decision based on this debate. But if either candidate has a bad performance, it can work in their -- in the negative for them.

So Biden, come out strong. Tell your story. Be confident, inspire voters, and then the summer gets a little easier leading up into the fall.

COOPER: Doug, do you agree that this is, you know, a debate for, you know, with the elites, that people are really paying attention now? Or do you think this is really --

HEYE: I think this is very important because this may be the only one. And, yes, it's early.


The Trump campaign had a legitimate point that debates were coming too late. We already quite often have early voting happening before we have a debate, which means that not everybody can make a fully informed decision. So I think that's part of it.

But, you know, I remember being in the airport of Baltimore and then landing in Asheville when the Trump verdict -- when a verdict was announced and then what that verdict was. All the TVs were still on sports. People weren't, you know, scrolling on their phone constantly. Like I was trying to figure out what the verdict might be, but this is different.

People want to see this matchup. Even if they don't want this matchup, you know, that 25 percent of double haters don't want to see this. A lot of these people are going to be tuning in because this may be their only opportunity. So if a candidate has a bad performance, these are much more important than the conventions. A bad performance by either one of these can really have an impact.

COOPER: Robby, based on your experiences in 2016 with the Clinton- Trump debates, I co moderated the second debate, which was extremely tense. Obviously, it was right after the Access Hollywood tape, two days after. Do you think the way this debate is set up, the muting of mics, the lack of an audience, do you think that makes much of a difference?

MOOK: I think it will help for sure. I mean, the muting of mics will at least stop Trump from just talking over President Biden, which, you know, and Trump really has a history of doing that. But I think at the end of the day, it's up to -- I can speak from Biden's standpoint, you know, as a Democrat, it's up to Biden whether this is just a contest of performances or whether he can push it up to be a contest of characters.

You know, he wants the audience coming out of this saying there is a choice in this election. You know, as Ashley was saying, Joe Biden was raised in Pennsylvania working class. He has been fighting for working class people. He has a set of accomplishments to prove that.

And Donald Trump, you know, was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and is going to take care of billionaires. That's what he wants people walking away with. And what's naturally going to happen is a bunch of commentary about their different performances.

And, you know, campaigns are very different than even back in 2016. It's all about the little bites of video going out on TikTok and on YouTube. And so both of these candidates are right now in their debate prep, trying to prep. What are those moments that the media but also just everyday people are going to be able to splice out and push out. And that's really the hard part. And whatever the rules are in the room will have some impact but they're not going to, you know, they're not going to deliver that one way or the other.

COOPER: Actually, how nasty do you think this thing is going to be? I mean, the potential is huge.

ALLISON: I mean we are talking about Donald Trump here, right? So the risk of it being pretty nasty is high. But I think that's Robby's point is that Joe Biden has an opportunity to draw that contrast in character in compassion as well as policy. And so I think it is a trifecta almost that he can land blows in different ways.

And then, you know, the president does have a sense of humor and so I think there will be opportunities when Trump goes on one of his rants whether it's rooted in nasty language or just his belligerent way of being Joe Biden can stick it, give him that scram punch and stick it to him.

So, time will tell, but knowing Donald Trump, it won't be all, you know, PG (ph).

COOPER: Robby Mook, Ashley Allison, Doug Heye, thank you.

MOOK: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, a CNN investigation on how taxpayer dollars are being used to fund private religious schools in Arizona and how some conservative billionaires are trying to put -- push this model across the country. We'll be right back.



COOPER: Tonight a new CNN investigation has found that some religious schools in Arizona, including a school that is partnered with a Trump aligned advocacy group, are being partially funded by taxpayer dollars. Some of those funds are going to unregulated private schools that don't face the same standards as public schools or have the same anti-discrimination protections.

This move has in part contributed to the closure of public schools in the state. CNN's Rene Marsh has more.



RENE MARSH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A phoenix megachurch, the setting for a recent Donald Trump campaign rally.

TRUMP: You have to have a choice also in education. You're going to have choice in education.

MARSH (voice-over): The same megachurch has partnered with the Trump aligned political group, Turning Point USA to educate students at this private school, Dream City Christian.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dream City Christian School, a Turning Point Academy.

MARSH (voice-over): Its website underscores a far-right Christian viewpoint, promising to combat morally bankrupt and liberal ideology, including critical race theory, evolutionism, and gender identification. And it's partially funded by taxpayer dollars.

Like many private schools in the U.S., students at Dream City can use state money to pay for private education. A CNN investigation found Dream City Christian received more taxpayer money than 95 percent of the private schools in the state voucher program. A total $1.3 million last year, according to data CNN obtained.

That's despite anti-LGBTQ mandates in the parent handbook stating faculty must believe and parents must agree to their children being taught that homosexual behavior is sinful and offensive to God,. And rejection of one's biological sex is a rejection of the image of God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a civil rights issue.

MARSH (voice-over): Professor Samuel Abrams studies school privatization.

PROF. SAMUEL E. ABRAMS, NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY CENTER: This is no way for any school system to operate, whereby, public money is funding such discrimination. That's reprehensible.

MARSH (voice-over): Two years ago, Arizona was the first of nearly a dozen states to go to a universal voucher system where families can use public funds regardless of income.


Red states are leading the charge, fueled by a backlash over COVID closures at public schools and a major campaign funded in part by a handful of conservative billionaires pushing for more public dollars for private education.

TOMMY SCHULTZ, CEO, AMERICAN FEDERATION FOR CHILDREN: There's been more gains made in the last few years of the school choice movement than there were in the prior 30 years.

MARSH (voice-over): The American Federation for Children, founded by former Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has led the way by opposing anti-voucher candidates. Tommy Schultz is CEO.

SCHULTZ: We've been involved in more than 2,000 state legislative races, and overall we've got a 75 percent successful win rate. We've utterly changed the narrative, and this issue of school choice has been a deciding factor in so many elections across the country.

MARSH (voice-over): This school year, vouchers cost taxpayers in Arizona hundreds of millions of dollars more than anticipated, funneling public money to unregulated private schools that don't face the same educational standards as public schools.

SCHULTZ: I would submit that school choice is the best government funded anti-poverty program that's out there.

MARSH (voice-over): But although vouchers have long been pitched this way as a means to help disadvantaged students in public schools, a CNN analysis found that Arizona's program is disproportionately benefiting students in richer communities.

As the state's private schools, like Dream City, get a windfall in tax dollars, public schools are seeing declining enrollment and shrinking budgets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It hurts the neighborhood. People bought into this area. You know, with the fact that we have a school, now we don't have a school. MARSH (voice-over): Families and teachers said goodbye at Sunset Canyon Elementary, one of three schools shutting down in its district after hundreds of kids moved to vouchers. Those school officials say lack of affordable housing and lower birth rates are also to blame.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get in the car with us, is that OK?

MARSH (voice-over): Felicia White's 11-year-old daughter Riley attends another area school that's closing.

FELICIA WHITE, PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER: Riley has a really hard time with change. She has a lot of anxiety along with having special needs. So, for her now to start trusting other people and allowing them into her circle at 12 years old is going to be hard. Really hard.

MARSH (voice-over): Advocates are sounding the alarm that the future of public schools is at stake.

BETH LEWIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SAVE OUR SCHOOLS ARIZONA: Our schools have been so underfunded for so long that there really wasn't any cushion in those school budgets. Even the smallest amount of movement is going to destabilize that and our public schools simply cannot hold.


COOPER: Has there been a response to your reporting from the school that received more than $1 million in taxpayer money? And is that school an outlier or are there others?

MARSH (on-camera): Well, Anderson, we reached out to both Dream City Christian School and Turning Point USA. They did not respond to CNN's request for a comment, but it's not just Dream City Christian. Our investigation found other Arizona schools are also receiving a windfall in taxpayer dollars despite extreme right-wing policies and accusations that they discriminate against these LGBTQ students.

Now, using public money for private school is a trend likely to continue. It's a presidential politics issue, and Trump has said as president, he would adopt a form of universal school choice across the country, Anderson.

COOPER: Rene Marsh, thanks so much.

Still to come, a remarkable rescue from the war zone in Ukraine. Two beluga whales made it from Kharkiv to safety and how they're doing in their new home.



COOPER: In Kharkiv, Ukraine, where daily life is dangerous enough, some people went above and beyond in the face of that danger to help their fellow mammal, namely two beluga whales whose aquarium has been uncomfortably close to the bombing there and supplies to care for them were running low.

So in light of that, a multinational team came up with a rescue plan. It involved cranes, a truck, and a plane, all to get the whales across Europe safely to their new home. Salma Abdelaziz has more.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meet Miranda and Plombir, two very playful beluga whales from Ukraine's Nemo Dolphinarium in Kharkiv. Their smiling faces are much needed respite for a country at war, in a city where Putin's troops are fast approaching. The front lines drawing closer and closer to the aquarium and supplies needed to care for the animals becoming scarce.

A multinational team scrambled an extremely complicated and high risk marine mammal rescue operation. Its mission, transport these gentle giants nearly 2,500 miles across Europe to Spain, a trip that would take over 34 hours. It started with a 12-hour drive and a truck through an active war zone. The team comforting Miranda and Plombir on the bumpy ride.

That was followed by European border control checks into Moldova, a special plane equipped with its own crane to safely lift the precious cargo on board, and finally, a chartered flight. A trauma team was at the ready throughout. The organizations involved in the effort telling CNN about the unprecedented nature of this operation.

DENNIS CHRISTEN, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF ZOOLOGICAL OPERATIONS, MAMMALS AND BIRDS: It took a lot of navigating some unfamiliar territory. It's not a facility we worked out of. It's definitely not an airport that typically handles this sort of situation.


The equipment that they have to be able to load, a dynamic animal load that weighs that much into a large cargo aircraft doesn't exist. So we had to make some pretty, you know, innovative sort of come up with innovative solutions to deal with those things.


ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Their final destination, Valencia, Spain, where their caregivers are set to stay with Miranda and Plombir until they settle into their new home. The Oceanografic de Valencia facility, which is already home to another pair of belugas, even warming the temperature of their water to make it more comfortable for their new arrivals.

CHRISTEN: So anytime you're, you know, moving an animal from a home that it's comfortable, you know, it's been -- it's adapted to -- into a new condition. You know, there's a lot that we have to take into consideration to really acclimate those animals. And we're watching them all day today and through the night. And so it's exciting to see how well they're doing.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): The two celebrating their new waters with a spurt of excitement and a spark of curiosity as they begin to make new friends.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


COOPER: Before we go, I want to take a few moments to remember a remarkable man. Donald Sutherland died today. The legendary actor was 88 years old. Several years ago, a producer of mine at 60 Minutes, Michael Gavshon, suggested that we do a profile of Sutherland, and I happily agreed. He was 82 then, working as hard as ever, and we both felt he was underappreciated.

I'm so glad we did, because Michael and I got to spend time with Sutherland on a film set in Los Angeles and at his home in Quebec. It was a rare treat.


COOPER (voice-over): Donald Sutherland was a gentleman, wickedly smart, funny, deeply sensitive, and complex. He grew up in Canada, and his early years were difficult. He had polio as a child, as well as rheumatic fever. As a teenager, he was awkward and often teased. He told me that when he was 16, he asked his mother a question.

DONALD SUTHERLAND, ACTOR: Am I good looking? And my mother looked at me and went, your face has character, Donald. And I went and hid in my room for at least a day.

COOPER: Did what she say stay with you?

SUTHERLAND: Not really, just for 65, 66 years. It's not easy, Anderson. It's not easy to know that you're an ugly man in a business like I'm in.

COOPER: Do you think of yourself as an ugly man?

SUTHERLAND: Unattractive is a gentler way of putting it.

COOPER (voice-over): Thankfully, his insecurities didn't stop him from acting. He went on to have one of the longest lasting and most unconventional careers in Hollywood. His first film audition, however, more than 50 years ago, didn't turn out as he'd hoped. He read for the part, and the writer, director, and producer of the movie called him afterwards.

SUTHERLAND: The writer said, you did such a terrific job. And the producer said, we thought you were really wonderful, and we all wanted to call you together to explain to you why we weren't casting you.

And they said, no, no, no. I mean, we have to -- the reason why we're not casting you is because we've always thought of this fella as a kind of a guy next door sort of guy. And to be absolutely truthful, we don't think you look like you ever lived next door to anybody. I mean, it's the story of my life, you know.

COOPER: That's the story of your life? SUTHERLAND: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you will find these accommodating.

COOPER (voice-over): Sutherland would go on to appear in more than 150 movies and TV shows. "Ordinary People," "MASH," "Klute," "The Hunger Games," just to name a few. Sometimes he was the leading man or a love interest. Sometimes a creepy character or villain.

SUTHERLAND: I have vertigo, and I'm climbing that goddamn thing.

COOPER (voice-over): He rarely watched his films, but agreed to let us set up a projector. And I got to sit next to him, watching scenes from some of his films. In one, a 1973 movie called "Don't Look Now," his character discovers his daughter's dead body in a pond. Sutherland wept as he watched it.

It was as though the character had once again come alive inside him.

Oh, this is going to be a hard day for me.

COOPER (voice-over): Donald Sutherland was so very, very human and self-deprecating. There was a terribly touching sadness about him, a shyness that made you feel protective of him.

I feel great sadness for his family tonight and his friends, and I'm grateful for the life he lived and what he gave of himself to the rest of us.


COOPER: There was no one else like Donald Sutherland, and there won't ever be again.

The news continues. The Source with Kaitlan Collins starts now.