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Erin Burnett Outfront

Ukraine Braces For Russian Revenge As Explosions Go Off In Kyiv; Russia Now Claims U.S. Behind Alleged Drone Attack, U.S.: "Lies"; 4 Proud Boys Convicted Of January 6 Seditious Conspiracy; Sinema Weighs Reelection Bid As She Faces Criticism From All Sides; Report: GOP Megadonor Paid Tuition For Justice Thomas' Grandnephew; NYT: DOJ Has Confidential Cooperation Of A Mar-A-Lago Employee; Biden Warns Of A.I.'s Potential For "Enormous Danger". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 04, 2023 - 19:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, air sirens in Ukraine as Russia vows revenge for what they say was an assassination attempt on Putin. A former Russian lawmaker who says it was Russians, not Ukrainians, behind the attack is OUTFRONT.

Plus, she is bucking the president again, this time on immigration. But have voters had enough of Democrat-turned-independent Kyrsten Sinema? We are OUTFRONT in Arizona.

And new reporting just coming in from CNN's KFILE, an up and coming star in the Republican Party calling survivors of a deadly school shooting spoiled, angry, and stupid. And there is more.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, bracing for revenge. The sound of air raid sirens heard across Ukraine's capital as the city prepares for Russia to retaliate after the Kremlin says it prevented an assassination attempt on Vladimir Putin. On Russian state TV, this right here is the message.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Everyday control centers, the presidential office in Kyiv, and the government building should be turned into dust.


BROWN: Those sorts of threats creating chaos in the streets of Kyiv after a low-flying drone was spotted in the capital. You can see it being hit right there and then going down in this ball of flames.

Shortly after that incident, Ukraine acknowledging the drone was one of its own, shot down because Ukraine lost control of it. Now, this was a sigh of relief, but one that may be short-lived. Meanwhile, Russia ramping up its claims that yesterday's drone strike

on the Kremlin was carried out by Ukraine and the U.S., and tonight, the U.S. is responding.


JOHN KIRBY, NSC COORDINATOR: I know there's lots of questions, but we just don't have conclusive evidence. One thing I can tell you for certain is that the United States was not involved in this incident in any way, contrary to Mr. Peskov's lies. That's what they are. Just lies.


BROWN: And in a moment, I'm going to speak to a former Russian lawmaker who told CNN exclusively that it was Russian partisans and not Ukraine behind these drone attacks on the Kremlin.

Insight he first shared with our Matthew Chance, who has been covering this story extensively.

Matthew, what more are you learning tonight?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, tonight, there's a lot happening in Russia because Russian television is reporting more drone strikes in multiple locations across the country, particularly in areas close to the Ukrainian border. This as the Kremlin vows to press ahead with the victory day celebrations, the military parade that's scheduled in a few days from now, despite those dramatic drone strikes on the Kremlin earlier this week.


CHANCE (voice-over): "60 Minutes," the Kremlin version, with breaking news of three more attempted drone strikes on Russian soil. The anchor, a Kremlin mouthpiece, tells her millions of viewers how two attacks on oil facilities were unsuccessful.

But another, targeting a village near the Ukrainian border, she admits, got through. Increasingly, Russia's war in Ukraine is coming home.

Just hours before, it was the Kremlin itself in the line of fire. A Ukrainian assassination attempt on President Putin, said officials, denied by Ukraine. Now, the Kremlin says it's the United States that's to blame.

DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN PRESS SECRETARY (through translator): We know very well that decisions about such actions, about such terrorist attacks, are made not in Kyiv but in Washington. And Kyiv does what it is told to do.

KIRBY: There's a word that comes to mind that I'm obviously not appropriate to --

CHANCE: But U.S. officials are pushing back. KIRBY: Mr. Peskov is lying. I mean, obviously, it's a ludicrous

claim. The United States had nothing to do with this.

We don't even know exactly what happened here, Kaitlan, but I can assure you the United States had no role in it whatsoever.

CHANCE: But Ukraine is bracing itself for a further Russian response. Earlier, Russian drones with messages for Moscow and for the Kremlin scrawled on them were intercepted.

All this as Ukraine's president is on an unannounced European tour. Briefly stopping in The Hague in the Netherlands to condemn his Russian counterpart.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Of course, we all want to see different Vladimir here in The Hague, the one who deserves to be sentenced for these criminal actions.

CHANCE: Back in the capital of the Russian federation, Muscovites seem unfazed, at least publicly, by the extraordinary events unfolding in their city.

The drone strike on the Kremlin was going to happen sooner or later, says this man, Nikita.

We live in an awesome country, says Anastasia, the best protected in the world.

Even more shocking, then, that someone was able to penetrate those defenses and attack.


CHANCE (on camera): Yeah, shocking indeed, but tonight, of course, the Kremlin is lashing out, still at Ukraine, United States as well, but, Pamela, the fact is that drone strikes, political assassinations, arson attacks, they've all, in the past 12 months or so, become a fact of everyday Russian life.

Back to you.

BROWN: Matthew Chance, thank you.

OUTFRONT now, Ilya Ponomarev. He is a former Russian lawmaker who was forced into exile after he became the only Russian lawmaker to vote against the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014.

So, as I mentioned, you told Matthew that you believe the drone attack on the Kremlin was the work of Russian partisans. Why do you believe that?

ILYA PONOMAREV, EX-RUSSIAN LAWMAKER, SAYS RUSSIANS WERE BEHIND DRONE ATTACK: Good evening. I just don't simply believe it. I know it as a fact. I know the people who actually produced those drones. Those drones were self-made. They were not factory manufactured.

We are discussing that they had plans to attack the Red Square on the 9th of May, but since this day is very special for the hearts of Russians, and Russians themselves, they were thinking maybe it would be better to maybe a warning strike make Vladimir Putin to cancel the military parade on the 9th of May altogether.

BROWN: So, you talked to them directly? Is that what you're saying, you discussed this with them?


BROWN: Matthew, as you just heard there, just mentioned other drone strikes in Russia. Do you think Russian partisans are behind those, too?

PONOMAREV: There are different attacks, because there are attacks that have military meaning. And the attacks on the oil refineries or oil storages that were happening next to Ukrainian border, at least most of them, for sure, the attacks that were carried out by Ukrainian security forces who are preparing for the offensive, and they are cutting off the supplies of the military goods and the fuel and everything, really.

By the way, the attack on one of the refineries was done by Russian partisans, and at that time, it was a big scandal, and there was even Washington guys calling the office of the president in Ukraine, complaining that they promised not to attack Russian territory, and that was a year ago. At that time, Ukrainian officials even turned to me and was asking whether it was indeed Russian partisans or not, and I was, like, giving them information about this.

But this time, it's about the offensive. But what's happening in Moscow, for sure, it's not Ukrainians, and it's out of range. The reason why anti-missile defense of Russia did not intercept those drones were because those drones were launched right next to Moscow.

BROWN: What do you think the real impact of this attack on Putin was, if it is, in fact, these Russian partisans as you say? Do you think their objective was achieved here?

PONOMAREV: We'll see on the 9th of May, obviously, the security measures in Moscow would be tightened, and I hope that the Russian authorities would make the right decision to down-size the military parade. At the end of the day, the objective was to demonstrate to Russians that the war indeed as you correctly said is at home, and it's no longer somewhere there, and everybody has to take a side, and to make this decision.

They cannot just sit on the couch and watch the TV, looking whether ours are winning or somebody else's are winning. That's the real war.

BROWN: You know, Russia touts its security often, and its ability to protect Putin. Do you think that this is embarrassing to Putin?

PONOMAREV: No, I don't think there was any immediate threat to Vladimir Putin, because it was indeed a very lightweight attack on the dome of one of Kremlin's buildings that cannot affect Vladimir Putin, even theoretically, even if he were in the particular building. He would not be affected, which right now, his propaganda statements that it was an assassination attempt.

Obviously, it was just a symbolic act that was targeted to show that the parade could be affected and that would be even bigger embarrassment if some drones would land at the red square on the very 9th of May when all this military equipment, glorious military equipment of Russia would be demonstrated there.

BROWN: All right. Ilya Ponomarev, thank you. Interesting to hear your perspective on this. Appreciate it.

PONOMAREV: Thank you.

BROWN: And OUTFRONT now, Evelyn Farkas, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, and now executive director of the McCain Institute.

So, Evelyn, based on what you just heard there, do you think it's likely that Russian partisans are behind the Kremlin drone strike? What's your takeaway from that interview I just did?

EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RUSSIA, UKRAINE & EURASIA: Yeah, Pamela, I think it's a really credible interview. That's quite a scoop that Matthew got there, first of all, because Ilya is a very credible person. He's very much connected to what I call the resistance inside of Russia.

And I have also spoken to Russians who were in exile, if you will, working for human rights organizations here in the U.S., and they have told me that we don't know in the West all the sabotage missions that have been executed on Russian soil, and what they meant when they told me that was they're not being covered by our media, and of course, many times, people don't know they should be attributed to Russian citizens, rather than Ukrainians.

BROWN: That's interesting. Why do you think that is? That the media would selectively cover these there?

FARKAS: I think it's just the access. We are not in Russia, you know? We don't see everything that's happening.

As one example, this particular person was telling me about the Dagestani women blocking the highway so that the Russian officials could not come in and take more of their men for the war-fighting effort, and eventually, "The New York Times" covered that, but I heard about it earlier through these Russian exiles. So, I do think that they're quite active.

They're also -- there's also a lot of partisan or resistance activity in Belarus, so some of the railroad derailments and attacks on the infrastructure there are also orchestrated by Belarusians and perhaps Russians. And so I think this is important, an important point, because of

course, the U.S. government has been very anxious not to have the Ukrainian government escalate the war and make it kind of a Russian people against Ukrainian people kind of war.

I find what's interesting here is that Vladimir Putin didn't try to kind of hush, you know, paper over what happened. He went on television and said -- and told the Russian people that there was this attack on the Kremlin. So, it sounds like he's really trying to drum up nationalistic fervor, trying to get the Russian people to see this war as a war between the United States, you know, United States using Ukraine as a pawn against Russia.

That, he thinks, might get the Russians to be more interested in the war. I doubt it highly, but that is probably part of his ploy in putting this on Russian television and putting it out there so publicly. Because otherwise, I think he would try to cover it up. It is embarrassing.

BROWN: Yeah, well, that's why exactly, I was asking that former lawmaker that, and also, it would make sense that he would want to whip this kind of attention up against Ukraine and the U.S. before that May 9th parade that is expected there in Russia.

So, as you point out, you know, the Russia is accusing the U.S. of being behind this, calling this an assassination attempt. Do you think the people -- the majority of Russians believe this? Do you think listening to Putin say this, that they're -- they're buying what he's trying to sell here?

FARKAS: It's hard to tell, Pamela. I think that there are a lot of Russians who want to believe the Kremlin line, the older Russians, the Russians who watch television, who get their news through television, they want to believe it. And so, they'll kind of go along until it's inconvenient to continue to fool themselves.

This is a lot of the way the Russian mind worked, frankly, under the Soviet times. There are, though, many younger people who get their news from the Internet. You can't block the internet in Russia the way that you can in China, and so they have a better sense of what's going on through Telegram and through other Internet sources. Telegram is sort of like Twitter.

So, I would say that it's hard -- it's hard to fool all of the Russians all of the time, but you know, the Russians, I think, are preferring to be largely in denial.


They're not interested, though, in going to war, and I think Putin has to decide, you know, is he going to try to mobilize more people if this offensive comes and use the excuse of, you know, the West, the entire West ganging up on Russia and see if that works? Or is he going to have to say, well, you know what? All these Western weapons, we're going to have to take a pause and maybe roll back his forces. I think he's looking for a narrative, and there was intelligence that

was leaked recently, you guys probably covered it, indicating that he might be planning to do this.

BROWN: Yeah, and it's interesting, because a top administration official, Avril Haines, head of DNI, had testified that the assessment right now is that Russia is incapable for a large offensive against Ukraine, given so much of their ammunition and weapons have been used in the war to this point.

Evelyn Farkas, thanks for the conversation.

FARKAS: Thanks, Pamela.

BROWN: OUTFRONT next, four members of the Proud Boys today found guilty of seditious conspiracy for trying to overturn the election on January 6th. So, what does this verdict mean for potential charges against Trump? We're going to break it down for you.

Plus, new reporting in to CNN about Justices Sotomayor and Gorsuch, raising questions about ethics on the Supreme Court as we learn Justice Thomas failed to disclose thousands of dollars in tuition payments from a Republican billionaire.

And the White House tonight sounding the alarm on artificial intelligence, worried A.I. will be used for evil and not for good like this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never doubted for one second it was her. That's the freaky part.




BROWN: New tonight, Attorney General Merrick Garland vowing to keep prosecuting those who were involved in the January 6th insurrection, and it comes as four members of the far-right group, Proud Boys, were convicted today on seditious conspiracy charges.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Today's verdict makes clear that the Justice Department will do everything in its power to defend the American people and American democracy. Our work will continue.

The Justice Department will never stop working to defend the democracy to which all Americans are entitled.


BROWN: Those convicted of seditious conspiracy, the most serious charge related to January 6, include the long-time chairman of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio. Members of that group were on the front lines at the Capitol grounds and were there when the barriers were breached. A fifth defendant, Dominic Pezzola, was found not guilty of seditious conspiracy.

OUTFRONT now, our legal analyst, Ryan Goodman.

So, Ryan, this is the third time the DOJ has secured convictions for seditious conspiracy related to January 6th. How significant is this verdict?

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: It's hugely significant in the sense that the Proud Boys' evidence was far more compelling in the sense that they explicitly and specifically preplanned the attack on the Capitol. So to have an acquittal in the case would have been a major setback, and this hopefully sets up much stronger deterrent against the both anti-government extremists in the case of the Oath Keepers and the white supremacist paramilitary groups in the case of the Proud Boys, that the Justice Department will be able to bring formidable charges against them, like seditious conspiracy.

BROWN: And they've already brought over 600 cases. Prosecutors in this case described the Proud Boys as Donald Trump's army that was willing to do whatever it took to keep him in power. We also know that the chairman, Enrique Tarrio, had ties to Roger Stone.

What could this mean for possible charges against Trump? What would prosecutors need to show?

GOODMAN: So, there is this big question about whether or not prosecutors will be able to connect Trump to the violent assault on the Capitol. I do think there's a lot of information that they'll be able to connect to other efforts to overturn the election, pressure on Mike Pence, et cetera, but this is the key one, and we should recall that the January 6th Select Committee in the House made a criminal referral to the Justice Department, saying they had sufficient evidence that called for at least an investigation as to whether or not President Trump aided and abetted an insurrection. The fact that we have this verdict is important as a foundation to that kind of a claim.

Once again, if there were an acquittal in the case, that would just go away. It would not really be on the table. It is on the table. So, the question is, in part, what you asked with roger stone. Is there enough connective tissue? Will they be able to connect dots if there are dots to be connected?

Because Roger Stone is deeply involved with the Proud Boys. He even swore an oath to the Proud Boys, according to the January 6th Committee.

There's an important communication between the two leaders of the seditionist conspiracies, the Stewart Rhodes of the Oath Keepers, and Enrique Tarrio, who was just convicted today for seditious conspiracy, on January 6th at 2:28 p.m., how did they communicate on an encrypted channel called Friends of Roger Stone, because Roger Stone set it up, and he's also in that network.

That's the kind of connective tissue, but whether or not they can prove a deeper connection beyond a reasonable doubt, that's the open question.

BROWN: All right. Ryan Goodman, thank you so much.

OUTFRONT next, Democrat-turned-independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema hasn't even announced she is running for re-election, and already, she is taking incoming fire from all political sides.


CROWD: Sinema sold out! Sinema sold out!


BROWN: We're OUTFRONT in Arizona.

Plus, new reporting into OUTFRONT from CNN's KFILE, a rising star in the Republican Party calling a school shooting survivor a communist looking for 15 minutes of fame.



BROWN: Tonight, Democrat-turned-independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is bucking President Biden yet again, introducing a bill to counter the expected surge of migrants at the border when Biden lifts Title 42 next week. That's the pandemic-era rule that border officials used nearly 3 million times to expel migrants from the U.S.

Sinema is also calling out the White House for its claims that the border is secure.


SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (I-AZ): Obviously, the border is not secure. Anyone with eyes can see that. It would be most helpful if the administration would start by actually enforcing the laws that are on the books.


BROWN: This all comes as Sinema's re-election plans remain a mystery, but she's already taking an incoming fire from nearly every direction.

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT in Arizona with more.


CROWD: Sinema sold out! Sinema sold out!

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nearly all of these Arizona Democrats worked to elect Kyrsten Sinema to the U.S. Senate in 2018.

How many of you will do that again?

In her first term, Senator Sinema has bucked her own party, blocking the White House from the debt ceiling to filibuster reform, and late last year, bolted from the Democratic Party to become an independent.

SINEMA: Registering as an independent and showing up to work with the title of independent is a reflection of who I've always been.

LAH: Sinema has yet to announce she's running for re-election, but doing so would be a political gamble. Registered voters in this battleground state are split nearly evenly between Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We call upon your resignation.

LAH: The Democratic base says they feel betrayed, accusing Sinema of listening to donors instead of voters.

CROWD: Sinema sold out! Sinema sold out!

LAH: That anger is offering a political opportunity for Ruben Gallego, Democratic congressman, Latino, and a combat veteran. He's challenging Sinema from the left.

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D-AZ): She broke trust with a lot of the people of Arizona. They don't trust her values anymore, and she's not trying to repair that relationship.

LAH: Do you believe that Arizona is a blue state?

GALLEGO: I think Arizona's a bluer state. It's becoming bluer, but you still have to fight. You still have to win the moderate vote.

LAH: This battle?

JUSTIN WILMETH (R), ARIZONA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: It's what the old pop corn, just kind of watching it, you know?

LAH: Is welcome news for Republican State Representative Justin Wilmeth.

WILMETH: You know, glass stones and all that stuff. It's nice to see.

LAH: It's nice to see you.

WILMETH: Well, sure. I mean, I'm a politician, man. I'm a Republican. Knowing that your opponent is having problems getting to the line of scrimmage and executing their plays is good for me. Of course, it is.

LAH: Still, there is uncertainty on the Republican side with Trump loyalist Kari Lake teasing a possible Senate bid.

Wilmeth says a three-way race with independent incumbent Sinema scrambles the entire swing state again. WILMETH: Man, she's an enigma wrapped in a riddle with a burrito

around it, you know? It's so crazy, and it's a testament to Arizona and what this state is, and I think she's got a legitimate chance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's a very wily and smart politician.

LAH: Sinema's path to victory likely lasts with these types of voters, registered independents. This group meets monthly, trying to find solutions to political extremism in Arizona. Even here, Sinema is divisive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm wondering who's her constituency.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I gave her money, and she is dead to me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she stood firm on the budget, and I agreed with her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But can she win?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think she's not stupid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Running for one party and then turning around right when you're done and switching to independent, that's just wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really want somebody who's going to say, this is what I believe, this is what I'm going to do. I don't care what party I'm affiliated with.

LAH: Clint Smith (ph) is leading this meeting. He ran for Congress in 2022 as an independent candidate, betting his campaign on the high numbers of independents. He lost.

Does she follow the same fate as you did?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's got some major advantages that I did not have. A lot of name recognition and some major bank.

LAH: But do you think she will win?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From my experience, I feel like people retreat to their corners when push comes to shove.


LAH (on camera): We did reach out to Senator Sinema's office to take part in the story. Her office declined to do so, instead sending us this statement, saying, quote, Kyrsten is focused on delivering real solution, not campaign politics -- Pam.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: All right. Kyung Lah, thank you so much for that.

Also tonight, growing questions over the ethics of Supreme Court justices. CNN is learning that Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch both received royalties from their book deals with Penguin Random House but not recuse themselves from cases that came before the court involving the publishing company.

And this comes as "ProPublica" reports yet another undisclosed gift that Justice Clarence Thomas received from Texas billionaire Harlan Crow. This time, thousands of dollars in boarding school tuition for Thomas's grandnephew.

The GOP mega donor giving "ProPublica" a statement about these tuition payments that says, in part, quote: Harlan Crow had long been passionate about the importance of quality education and giving back to those less fortunate, especially at-risk youth.

This is just the latest in a long list of perks Thomas has accepted from Crow without disclosure, according to "ProPublica". Perks including luxury travel on Crow's super yacht, private yet flights, and an undisclosed real estate transaction involving three properties owned by Thomas and his relatives.

OUTFRONT now, Josh Kaplan, one of the reporters who broke this story for "ProPublica".

Wow, Josh, what a story this is. You obtained records of these payments by Harlan Crow. One shown here was $6,200 for one month at a Georgia boarding school. Your report said Crow paid for a full year at that school, and that came after he already paid for a year at another boarding school in Virginia.

So, how much money in total are we talking here?

JOSHUA KAPLAN, REPORTER, PROPUBLICA: Yeah. So, the exact total that crow paid for this child's tuition over the years isn't exactly clear, but you know, if Thomas's friend, actually, after we published this story, came out and released a statement confirming that Crow had paid for tuition at both of these schools, and he said that he paid for one year at each. And if you look at the tuition rates from that time, that would be about $100,000.

BROWN: A hundred thousand dollars, wow. And you note that two possible reasons Justice Thomas would not have to disclose these tuition payments. One is that his grand nephew likely does not qualify as a dependent child under a federal law, which defines that is, quote, a son, daughter, stepson or stepdaughter. Thomas has said, quote, we're raising him as a son, but he is his grand nephew, as we know, although Thomas has said.

Another way is if this is a gift straight from Harlan Crow to the grandnephew, but experts you spoke to say that doesn't fly, right?


KAPLAN: Yeah. So -- and it's important to emphasize here that this is not some distant relative of Thomas's. Thomas was his legal guardian. Thomas took legal custody of him when he was 6 years old and raised him with Ginni Thomas at his home in Virginia as a son, as he said. And you know, experts said that Thomas could make the case that these

gifts were to the child and not to him, and so he didn't have to disclose them because technically, the child is not his son. They said -- also said that's farfetched, that children rarely pay for their own private school tuition, and that it's the legal guardian's responsibility to make those payments, so they believed that he was required by federal law to report these payments to the public.

BROWN: And you actually spoke to Thomas's grandnephew, Mark Martin, for this story. He said he wasn't aware that Harlan Crow helped pay for his tuition, right? But he does say that he spent a lot of time with the Texas billionaire over the 13 years he lived with Justice Thomas and his wife.

What did he tell you?

KAPLAN: Yeah. He said that he had vacationed with Thomas and the Crows at least once a year over the course of his childhood. And that he lived with Thomas from the ages of 6 to 19, and that included trips to Crow's private luxury resort in Adirondacks and two international vacations on Crow's super yacht. One was in the Caribbean. He remembered riding jet skis off the side of the yacht. Another was a trip to Russia and the Baltics where they toured St. Petersburg and rented helicopter, and another guest on that trip was Chris DeMuth, who at the time was president of a major influential conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute.

BROWN: Yeah, and this is happening as we're also learning about two other justices, liberal ones, Justice Sotomayor and a conservative one, Justice Gorsuch, also not recusing from a case involving their book publisher where they were getting a lot of money from.

So, there are a lot of questions tonight, broader questions about ethics within the Supreme Court and whether there should be reform, and this is also largely driven by your excellent reporting, Joshua Kaplan, on Justice Thomas and his friendship with Harlan Crow, the billionaire. Thanks you so much.

KAPLAN: Thanks for having me.

BROWN: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, "The New York Times" reporting federal prosecutors investigating Trump's handling of classified documents have just secured the confidential cooperation of someone who worked with Trump at Mar-a-Lago. We're going to have details on this up next. You won't want to miss that.

Plus, we also have some new reporting into OUTFRONT from CNN's KFILE, a Republican up-and-comer trashing students who survived a mass shooting, saying they rode a, quote, river of blood to 15 minutes of fameville.



BROWN: Breaking news coming in, "The New York Times" is reporting tonight a witness is now cooperating confidentially with the Justice Department in its probe into former President Trump's handling of classified documents. This witness is an employee who has worked for Trump at Mar-a-Lago, according to "The Times," and this reporting also says that the witness provided investigators with a picture of the storage room at Mar-a-Lago where the sensitive material had been held. The identity of this witness has not been disclosed.

Ryan Goodman back with me to help understand what this means.

So, this is someone who, according to "The Times," worked for Trump, is now cooperating confidentially, and it appears that this person could shed light, at least on the obstruction of justice part of its probe, right?

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: That's right. And the "times" identifies the person as an insider with this kind of familiarity of the storage facility itself. So, it seems like an important breakthrough for the prosecutors, both in terms of trying to assemble what they know about the case, but it could be also an important breakthrough for thinking ahead if they want to indict, what the jury might be able to be told by having an insider who's been cooperating, talk to them about what was going on behind the scenes.

That could be very important, and even a reason to bring the case because you have somebody like that in the fold.

BROWN: Yeah, what does this tell you in terms of where this investigation is? Does it give you any further clue?

GOODMAN: It's not from this alone that one can try to figure out where things stand in the investigation. I mean, this does suggest they would have enough evidence to compel somebody to want to cooperate, but I think we already have seen just a mountain of evidence that the Department of Justice has, and the fact that they have somebody like this is one of the, you know, steps that they did -- would like to have before deciding as to whether or not to indict.

So, it's important in that respect, but the reporting alone, I think, is just part of a mountain of evidence already that they're quite far along.

BROWN: And part of that mountain of evidence is what CNN just reported exclusively last night, that Jack Smith, the special counsel, was looking into whether surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago was tampered with. So, what does this say about what the special counsel is focused on, and what does it tell you in terms of what might be ahead in this investigation?

GOODMAN: So, that's another important part of "The New York Times" reporting tonight. It corroborates what CNN reported last night. So, "The New York Times" is saying that the prosecutor is indeed asking multiple witnesses about missing or unavailable surveillance tapes of Mar-a-Lago, which they were subpoenaed and had to turn over to the justice department.

That sounds like the prosecutor is looking squarely at obstruction. That kind of evidence could be very damning if there was actual tampering with the surveillance tape. It both goes to obstruction and it goes to the guilt of the underlying conduct of retaining classified documents. Why would anybody want to be tampering with the tapes, unless they're trying to hide the underlying crime?

I think it's super important, thanks to the CNN reporting from last night that already pointed us in that direction, and if they have something like that that they're looking at, open question whether they find something, but that would be significant and hard for the Justice Department to turn away from indicting a case that would have anything like that kind of obstruction at the center of it.

BROWN: Right, and that reporting from our Katelyn Polantz and Paula Reid from last night helping us have a better picture of where things stand with this investigation.

Thank you so much. Ryan Goodman. Thanks for coming back on to discuss this breaking news.

OUTFRONT next, new reporting from CNN's KFILE into OUTFRONT, a rising Republican star and likely gubernatorial nominee referring to survivors of the Parkland school shooting as, quote, communists.

Plus, President Biden personally telling tech leaders to be careful with artificial intelligence as it gets harder to know what's real and what's not.


BROWN: OUTFRONT next, new reporting from CNN's KFILE into OUTFRONT, a rising Republican star and likely gubernatorial nominee referring to survivors of the Parkland school shooting as, quote, communists.


Plus, President Biden personally telling tech leaders to be careful with artificial intelligence as it gets harder to know what's real and what's not.


BROWN: Tonight, a rising star in the Republican Party calling survivors of school shootings, quote, stupid kids and a, quote, commie stooge. That's new reporting coming into OUTFRONT from CNN's KFILE.

KFILE has unearthed a long history of attacks from North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson, who is widely expected to be the Republican nominee for governor.

One Facebook post Robinson shared just days after the Parkland shooting said the survivors rode, quote, a river of blood to 15 minutes of fameville.

Andrew Kaczynski, senior editor of CNN's KFILE is OUTFRONT.

So, Andrew, there are a lot more comments where those came from. ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN KFILE SENIOR EDITOR: Yeah, that's right. The

lieutenant the governor of North Carolina has a lengthy history of attacking those student activist survivors of that 2018 shooting in parkland, Florida, calling them pros-ti-tots and spoiled little bastards in some of his posts.


Now, you mentioned earlier that post that we just saw, that was just days after the shooting. In one of these posts that we see here, he refers to David Hogg as communists. I want to show this other post he put up here, these two posts about David Hogg where -- this is a meme, I guess, that he made of David Hogg in which he put them in almost a boss Hogg from "The Dukes of Hazzard."

And then you see these memes where he laughs about people who are saying that you shouldn't be making fun of children who were in that school shooting.

BROWN: And you also found he justified the shooting of protesters?

KACZYNSKI: Yeah, that's right. In one radio show that we went on, we found he actually justified the shooting of student protesters at Kent State in 1970, saying that's something he wanted to see emulated today. Now even the Nixon administration in the 1970s said that shooting was completely unjustified.

Take a listen to his comments.


MARK ROBINSON, NORTH CAROLINA LT. GOVERNOR: Once you cross that line into violence and to disruption of public transportation and public services and start blocking the entrances of federal buildings, you are no longer a protester. You are now a criminal, and you need to be dealt with like a criminal. And we need the politicians in office in some of these cities that's going to let people know from the get-go. You go in the street and block traffic, if you block buildings, if you destroy property, you are going to be dealt with swiftly and harshly.


KACZYNSKI: Now we did reach out to his office about all of these posts that he shared and the comments, and his office did not respond to us.

BROWN: Just for context here, how big is Robinson in North Carolina politics?

KACZYNSKI: Yeah, his rise, he was when we saw those posts earlier, he was essentially just a guy who was posting memes on Facebook. And in just a few short years, he goes from posting these memes on Facebook, Twitter, wherever, to being the lieutenant governor of the state because of a speech of him speaking out against gun control in the aftermath of that shooting goes viral, and now he is widely expected to be the nominee for governor in 2024. BROWN: Andrew Kaczynski, thank you so much.

Coming up on "AC360," Anderson is live from Buckingham Palace with reporting about how the country and the world are preparing for the coronation of King George. That's tonight at 8:00.

And OUTFRONT next, artificial intelligence getting more intelligent, and it's being used by scammers for frightening hoaxes that could impact every single one of us. Just wait until you see this.



BROWN: Tonight, the White House is sounding the alarm on art official intelligence. Meeting with top tech leaders, President Biden personally urged them to keep the technology in check.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A.I. has enormous potential and enormous danger. I know you understand that.


BROWN: The White House is also revealing that President Biden himself has experimented with ChatGPT, the popular A.I. chat bot, and it comes as more examples surface of A.I. being used in deceptive and frightening ways.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): a 15-year-old Arizona girl off at a skiing competition, a desperate phone call home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hear my daughter's voice, and it says "mom?" and she's sobbing. I asked, what happened? Mom, I messed up. Help me, mom, please, help me, help me and bawling.

FOREMAN: Jennifer Gustifano (ph) says a man came on demanding ransom. The girl had never been taken. Gustifano says it was all a scam. Her daughter's voice was apparently generated by artificial intelligence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never doubted for one second it was her. That's the freaky part that really got me to my core.

FOREMAN: Fear of runaway smart technology has dominated sci-fi for decades. But now, real-life concerns about this technology running amok has the White House meeting with Google, Microsoft, Open A.I. and others, and putting $140 million into A.I. research.

The move comes as analysts fear A.I. bots could pour unprecedented amounts of false information into upcoming elections. The Republican National Committee has already rolled out this political ad comprised of doomsday images created by A.I.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Border agents were overrun by a surge of 80,000 illegals yesterday evening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Officials closed the city of San Francisco this morning.

FOREMAN: Again, none of that is real. Neither is this. They're just elaborate computer simulations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're entering an era in which our enemies can look like anyone is saying anything at any point in time.

FOREMAN: Concerns about A.I. go beyond politics to education, crime and privacy issues. But the technology brings promise too.

In the hit film "Top Gun: Maverick," actor Val Kilmer was unable to speak as a result of cancer treatment, so A.I. sampled old recordings and created the voice you heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The navy needs maverick.

FOREMAN: But worries about the downside seem to hover everywhere. One issue in the Hollywood writers strike, will A.I. take away some of their work.


FOREMAN (on camera): This whole technology is moving at such a breakneck pace right now, no one can say where it's going to be, even in the near future. But one study has indicated A.I. worldwide could affect up to 300 million jobs -- Pam.

BROWN: Wow. Tom Foreman, thank you.

And thank you for joining us tonight.

"AC360" starts right now.