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Trump Ignores CNN Questions Over Classified Documents; Senators Aim to Hold Final Debt Deal Vote Tonight; Former Playboy Model Accuses Bill Cosby of Drugging and Raping Her More Than 50 Years Ago; Sherpas Save Everest Climber in "Very Rare" Rescue. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 01, 2023 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Amazon has agreed to pay more than $30 million to settle a pair of federal lawsuits. The FTC, the Federal Trade Commission, says that Amazon allegedly kept videos and voice data from Alexa and gave employees of Amazon unrestricted access to all consumer video from Ring cameras.
Amazon released a statement that says, quote, while we disagree with the FTC's claims regarding both Alexa and Ring and deny violating the law, these settlements put these matters behind us, end quote. Not really.
Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer. He's in The Situation Room. Actually, he's replaced by Alex Marquardt today. I'll see you soon.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: Happening now, Donald Trump brushes off questions about a report you heard first right here on CNN, that is federal prosecutors now in possession of audiotapes undercutting Trump's defense over retaining classified documents. We're also getting reaction from one of the former president's previous attorneys.
In the Senate the debt ceiling deal could come to a final vote as soon as tonight, even as members of both parties raise serious concerns. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer telling senators they have to stay in session until the bill passes.
And Russia says that regions near the border with Ukraine have suffered dozens of attacks in just the last day. The Kremlin condemning international silence over the recent strikes on Russian territory.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Wolf Blitzer is on assignment. I'm Alex Marquardt, and you're in The Situation Room.
Let's get straight to the latest developments in the special counsel's investigation of Donald Trump. The former president ignoring questions about a CNN report which could undercut a key piece of his legal defense. Our Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid has more.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Donald Trump today campaigning in Iowa refusing to take questions on the bombshell revelation he was recorded discussing classified information.
REPORTER: Mr. President, why did you take classified documents concerning --
REID: But continued to claim he's a victim of federal investigators.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm a victim of it. They've come after me. They've come after me on many things.
REID: This after CNN's exclusive reporting that prosecutors now have an audio recording of Trump talking about a classified plan to invade Iran while he was at his Bedminster Golf Club months after he left the White House.
Among those attending the meeting, several Trump aides and two people working on an autobiography for former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. None of them had security clearances. During this time, Trump had aides record his conversation with journalists and writers.
TRUMP: They become automatically declassified when I took them.
REID: Trump under investigation for his handling of national security secrets has previously insisted that he declassified any sensitive material in his possession.
TRUMP: If you're the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it's declassified, even by thinking about it.
REID: But sources tell CNN, on this recording, Trump claims to still be in possession of a Pentagon documents, suggests he would like to share it and then acknowledges the limits of his ability to declassify it, all of this undercutting his own defense. Asked if he had ever shared any information at CNN's town hall --
TRUMP: Not really. I would have the right to. By the way, they were declassified.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: What do you mean not really?
TRUMP: Not that I can think of. Let me just tell you, I have the absolute right to do whatever I want with them.
REID: This summer 2021 recording comes out of Trump's New Jersey golf club. Now, the second confirmed state where he has had classified information, after the FBI walked out of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida with boxes of top-secret documents. The Trump campaign saying the DOJ's continued interference in the presidential election is shameful and this meritless investigation should cease wasting the American taxpayers' money on Democrat political objectives.
TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: When we searched Bedminster there were no classified documents or marked documents there.
REID: Former Trump Lawyer Tim Parlatore, who left Trump's legal team in recent weeks, says the classification status of the document Trump is heard talking about is irrelevant based on the laws that are cited in the search warrant that was executed in summer 2022.
LAWYER: Really what DOJ is investigating is willful retention of national defense information. Whether it's classified or declassified is not an element of that offense.
REID (on camera): The former president's legal team requested a meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland to express what they describe as their concerns about the special counsel's investigation.
Now, one of Trump's lawyers tells CNN there has been a few conversations, there have been a few conversations between the Justice Department and Trump's lawyers about a possible meeting. But the fact that investigators have this recording really undercuts their primary argument, which is that this is a political hit job. And, Alex, if they do actually get this meeting, there will clearly be much to discuss.
MARQUARDT: Yes, there will. Paula Reid, thank you so much for that report. Please stay with us.
I want to bring in CNN Anchor and Chief Correspondent Kaitlan Collins as well as Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Andrew McCabe.
Kaitlan, to you first. You and our colleague, Abby Phillip, last night interviewed one of Trump's lawyers. How much is the Trump team now struggling to land on an explanation for this recording?
COLLINS: I think they're not just struggling to have an explanation on the recording itself, I think they didn't really know about it until all too recently. But they're also struggling to have an explanation for why their explanation for the last several months of this investigation has been Trump has the power to declassify what he wants when actually he's on this recording acknowledging that his ability to do that now that he's not in office is actually limited. And this was only several months after he left office, before we saw that huge fight ensue between the National Archives and Trump's legal team to get those documents back.
And so I think this actually is very difficult for the Trump legal team to respond to. I mean, Jim Trusty last night in this interview that Abby and I did with him was essentially just criticizing the Justice Department for what he said was a leak, indicating that this story came from them. Obviously, it came from a lot of reporting that Paula, Katelyn and I did put together. And so I do think it is a struggle for them.
And I think it raises a lot of questions about the legal exposure that Trump faces here and what argument his attorneys are going to make given their own client is on this recording that's in the hands of prosecutors saying that, you know, indicating he had this information, indicating that it was not declassified and that he couldn't share it with those who were in the room with him.
And Jim Trusty, I should just note, Alex, he is not saying if the document was returned to the National Archives. He wouldn't say if it's declassified even.
MARQUARDT: Right, quite evasive there. Andrew, thanks to that terrific reporting. We do know that prosecutors do have the audio recording. How important is it, however, for them to actually get their hands on the document itself?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It would be helpful, Alex, but it's not necessary. The recording stands on its own. It can easily be authenticated by anyone who was in the room and heard that conversation when it was taking place. They have likely the witness who made the recording. So, the recording gets in, in front of the jury, very powerful evidence, the president speaking in his own words.
If they can marry the recording up with a document like, let's say they seized during the search warrant, either at -- not the search warrant at Bedminster but the search at Bedminster and the search warrant execution at Mar-a-Lago, that obviously makes -- really connects the two sides of that story in a very compelling way, but it's not necessary.
MARQUARDT: And to that point, Paula, we do know so much about the searches that have taken place at Mar-a-Lago. What more do we know from Trump's legal team and others about what has happened at Bedminster?
REID: Well, in an interview, Tim Parlatore told me that he oversaw a search at Bedminster. Now, we know that no classified documents were found there but, in that interview, he also said that Boris Epshteyn, who is another one of Trump's advisers, sort of made it difficult for him to initially conduct that of search of Bedminster. And now, there are questions about whether this recording and the classified document that the former president said he had there, whether that was part of the reason there were concerns about searching there.
MARQUARDT: And, Kaitlan, in terms of the former president's response, he's been out on the campaign trail today, he did not respond to a shouted question about this from our colleague, Jeff Zeleny, what do you know, however, about what the reaction has been like behind the scenes? COLLINS: I think it's a bit uncomfortable in the sense of what they say publicly about this, because what the former president wants is his attorneys and his spokespeople out there defending him when it comes to this. They're not denying, of course, that this record something true. It's not just now reported by CNN, but it's been confirmed by multiple others.
Trump did respond to a print outlet to the Cedar Rapids Gazette. He didn't respond, just only shouted questions about this. But he did respond to them. He just essentially called it fake news and talked about how long he's been under investigation.
Obviously, he's facing multiple investigation, not just this one with Jack Smith specifically but I do think there is a concern, because the sense among Trump's legal team, even has been that Jack Smith is going to make a decision soon on whether or not there are going to be indictments in this, and I think there are questions that Trump's legal team has about this.
Tim Parlatore, Trump's former attorney, who has now left the team, still said earlier he doesn't think that the former president is going to be charged here. But the fact that this makes it not just about whether or not something is declassified but it's about a military plan that the former president apparently had in his possession, I think, that's what's raising the questions here, Trump himself though not speaking on camera about it today.
MARQUARDT: Yes, major questions about what this means for Special Counsel Jack Smith's case.
Paula Reid, Andrew McCabe and Kaitlan Collins, thank you all very much.
And just ahead, the bipartisan debt limit deal could be heading to President Biden's desk very soon. We have new details on a final vote in the Senate, which could come as soon as tonight.
Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.
MARQUARDT: The U.S. Senate is racing to take up the bipartisan debt limit deal despite members from both parties raising major concerns about the deal. A final vote could come as soon as tonight.
CNN's Melanie Zanona is joining us from Capitol Hill with an update. Melanie, where are we on knowing when the Senate will vote and how that final vote tally is shaping up?
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes. Well, Senate leaders are near an agreement to fast-track this bill, because in the Senate, any single senator can slow things down unless they have everyone's cooperation. So, leadership has been trying to get everyone on board and the way they're going to do that is offer some sweeteners for them.
One of the things they're going to do or they expect to do is offer a number of amendment votes, which will fail but will give everyone an opportunity to go on the record over a number of priorities. And then the second thing that they are expected to do is to give some assurances on the spending and appropriations process.
Because a number of defense hawks and appropriators are concerned about this debt limit deal and the impacts it would have on spending. So, they want a commitment from Chuck Schumer that there's going to be a separate vote at some point in the near future on a supplemental spending bill that would boost defense spending and boost funding for Ukraine. And they also want to make sure that all 12 annual spending bills are going to be brought to the floor under regular order.
So, they are still trying to hammer out the final details of that agreement, make sure everyone is, indeed, on board, and they're hoping to actually vote tonight even if it takes some time. It can go late into the tonight or early tomorrow morning trying to get this done here, but not everyone has been thrilled about how this process has gone down. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): I think we're being jammed by Joe Biden. We're backed up here against the X date and this could have happened months ago. So, I'm not happy with him. I'm not happy with the process.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Default is not an option and that means we have to pass this bill. And we'd have to swallow hard on some parts of it. I'm sure other members say the same thing. But the responsible thing to do for America is to pass it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZANONA: But the bottom line here is despite the grumbling on both sides of the aisle, Congress is poised to avert an economic catastrophe and avoid the first ever default with just days to spare, Alex.
MARQUARDT: Discussions continuing right up until the end. Melanie Zanona on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.
Let's get more now from our Chief White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly. Phil, this bill not over the finish line just yet, but is this signaling a turning point in the relationship between the president and the leader of the House, Kevin McCarthy?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDEDNT: You know, Alex, it's interesting. White House officials are very cautious not to overstate how much this means for a relationship that will remain partisan and certainly will involve jabs back and forth and especially heading into an election season. But they do underscore that over the course particularly the last several weeks and several conversations by phone and Oval Office meeting with the president that McCarthy has been an honest broker, that he has been very clear throughout the entire process behind the scenes that there could not be a default and he empowered his negotiators, his top two deputies who are negotiating this with the White House team, to reach an agreement.
And keep in mind, that might seem like a low bar avoiding default for the first time in the history of the country, but particularly after it took 15 votes for McCarthy to lock up the speakership just in the beginning of things, his act to have this moment and start to create a dialogue with the president is one that at least shows they can have it. Whether or not that changes the dynamic, I think it's an open question.
MARQUARDT: And that's important for discussions to come.
Phil, while we have you, can you give us an update on President Biden? We did see him take a fall during the commencement ceremony at the Air Force Academy earlier today.
MATTINGLY: Yes. Alex, look, this is a longstanding tradition of a president attending a service academy commencement. And as part of that, the president sits on stage, shakes hands with every single cadet, every single candidate. The president did that for more than 90 minutes, exchanging salutes, exchanging greetings, shaking hands, handing out diplomas. It was after that was done, which was also after more than 30 minutes of remarks, the president turned around to walk back to his chair and tripped over a sandbag that had been nearby.
He took a pretty sharp tumble. He was helped up by Secret Service agents and an Air Force official but made his way back to his seat on his own volition. His communications director said he's fine. Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said he's totally fine, smiled at reporters as he was boarding Air Force One. Everything seems to be totally fine, just a misplaced sandbag to some degree, Alex.
MARQUARDT: Well, we certainly hope that he's okay. Phil Mattingly, thank you very much for that.
Now, let's get more from Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. Senator, thank you so much for joining us this evening.
Back to the debt ceiling deal, you say that you will be voting for it. But, of course, there was a very strict time constraint. They're right up against the clock. If there were more time, what changes would you have wanted to see the White House push for in this final bill?
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, Alex, I think this is a positive for the American people and a success for the White House. If you look back at the bill that passed the House-controlled body just a few weeks ago and the sharp, steep cuts they were demanding in non-defense domestic spending, I'm comfortable with where we're ending up.
To your question, I would have liked to see a serious conversation about closing some of the tax loopholes, some of the efforts made by the House to make the Trump tax cuts permanent, which puts a real downward limit on future revenue for the federal government. That's something our president put on the table, but the Republicans refused to budge on.
I am very glad that investments in veterans' health care remain untouched. They will be fully implemented, that the incentives for transition to a clean energy economy to help in the fight against climate change, those were untouched, although that was a real priority for Speaker McCarthy.
This is a tough package, but I think one we can all live with and I am relieved we are getting this done before the default deadline.
MARQUARDT: You say it's a tough package. Down the line, are you worried that some of these provisions, student loan payments, work requirements, pipeline in West Virginia, that those could hurt Democrats in 2024?
COONS: Well, I frankly think President Biden and the Democratic Congress has a remarkable record to run on from what we accomplished in the last year. President Biden's first term, he signed into law some amazing pieces of legislation, the biggest investment in mental health in a generation, strengthening gun background check, investing in infrastructure, bringing advanced manufacturing back to this country through the bipartisan chips and science bill, reducing prescription drug prices. There is so much for a Democrat facing election in 2024 to run on that some of the provisions you just referenced in this deal I don't think will be an issue really at all.
MARQUARDT: One of the things that is still being discussed is defense funding. Do you think that the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, should commit to passing more defense funding after this bill gets passed in order to address those concerns about an insufficient, some believe, Pentagon budget?
COONS: Well, we are about to see a counteroffensive begin in Ukraine, and our president has been forceful and strong in his support of Ukraine, so too have Senator Schumer and McConnell. We will face pressure for a supplemental appropriation bill for at least three reasons, one, for defense spending, as you just referenced, two, to continue our support for Ukraine as they continue their fight to expel the Russian invaders, and, three, a number of areas that come in a bill that I'm responsible for, supporting the State Department and our foreign assistance programs to respond to China's expansion of its global diplomatic reach, its development programs, the ways in which it's winning influence in the developing world.
My hope is that we will take up and look at a supplemental appropriation bill later this year that will look at all of those, how we compete with China, how we sustain our support for Ukraine and, if necessary, additional investment this defense.
MARQUARDT: Well, Senator, I know it's busy up there on the Hill this evening. Thank you so much for your time.
COONS: Thank you, Alex.
MARQUARDT: Senator Chris Coons, thank you.
Coming up, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis trade some of their toughest insults yet on the campaign trail. We'll tell you why the Florida governor says that the former president alienated voters and lost the White House.
MARQUARDT: Tonight, the top two contenders for the Republican nomination for president are hitting crucial primary states as the 2024 campaign heats up.
Our Chief National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny is on the trail with former President Trump in Iowa and CNN's Jessica Dean is in New Hampshire, as Governor Ron DeSantis takes his first tour of the state as a presidential candidate.
Jeff Zeleny, I want to go to you first. Trump and DeSantis are sparring, really, over who can actually execute their agenda. What can you tell us?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: They are. I mean, it's clear that former President Donald Trump has several rivals in this race but the one he is clearly fixated on is the Florida governor. And he made that clear today when he was addressing a small group of conservative voters in the town of Urbandale, just west of Des Moines here.
And he was really bringing up Ron DeSantis over and over but he did seize upon one thing in particular. It's actually a central argument the Florida governor has been making, he made it here just yesterday in Iowa. He's urging Republican voters to pick him because he can serve two terms in the White House, not just a single term. So, have a listen to this back and forth between these two candidates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): You have to be mission-focused. You cannot get distracted with any of this.
It will require a daily grind for not just one term but I think for two full presidential terms.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: When he says, eight years, every time I hear it, I wince because I say, if it takes eight years to turn it around, then you don't want him. You don't want him as your president?
DESANTIS: Why didn't he do it his first four years?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So, clearly, that back and forth, the Florida governor saying why didn't he do it in his first four years. And he's been making that argument about building the wall, of course, the wall on the southern border. He's been talking specifically about how the Trump administration policies have contributed to the size of the deficit and he's also been really pointing to himself that he is the true conservative in this race. So, this is just an early sense. We are on the first day of June here. It's already quite -- the acrimony is very high and intense.
Now, voters, when they listen to this back and forth, they aren't necessarily up for it, but that's how candidates define themselves. But it is clear of all the rivals the former president has, there is one who is at the top of his mind, perhaps in his head. That is Ron DeSantis.
MARQUARDT: Yes, so early in the race. We are just getting started. Jeff Zeleny in Des Moines, stay with us. I want to go to CNN's Jessica Dean in New Hampshire. She is with the DeSantis campaign. It looks like the governor is on stage behind her. Jess, what is the governor saying about these latest taunts from the former president?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alex, I'm going to lower my voice because the governor is speaking to a crowd here in Manchester just behind me. But all day, we have noticed a trend with Governor DeSantis, and that's when he's on the stump like he is right now. He is talking about his record, he's talking about his vision for the country, he is laying out what he and his team call the Florida blueprint, really trying to introduce himself to voters and make the case that he's a sitting executive that knows how to get things done, that he doesn't get distracted by any sort of distractions or anything that is palace intrigue, those kind of thing, drama.
He says he doesn't do any of that. He just focuses on the job.
And that's really his central pitch to voters here in New Hampshire and Iowa and tomorrow likely in South Carolina, as well.
But when he's off the stump, that's when we're seeing him going directly after the former president. Listen to this radio interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Why not take any questions from voters, governor? Governor, how come you're not taking questions from voters?
DESANTIS: I've been out to meet, talking to people. What are you talking about? I'm out here with people. Are you blind?
REPORTER: I'm not blind.
DESANTIS: Great. So, people are coming up to me, talking to me whatever they want to talk to me about. I think it's so petty. I think it's so juvenile. I don't think that is what voters want. And, honestly, I think that his conduct, which he's been doing for years now, I think that's one of the reasons he's not in the White House now. Because I think he alienated too many voters for things that really don't matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: So, again, there's that direct attack on the former president. That clip that you saw before that was his interaction in the crowd. He's been talking to voters and he's trying -- had talked to a reporter earlier who had asked why he wasn't asking questions or allowing voters to ask questions. They had a back and forth.
But to him directly attacking the former president, that's where we're seeing him doing it, off the stump. And that is where he's trying to thread this needle, Alex, where he can go after the former president but also not totally offend people who perhaps may have voted for him and supported him in the past. And so that is what we're seeing as the trend right now.
Interestingly, just in the last hour, we heard from a New Hampshire representative who has flipped his endorsement from Trump to DeSantis, of course, a big coup for the DeSantis campaign, and that representative saying it was really the last straw for him was the former president's treatment of his former press secretary, Kaleigh McEnany, who he attacked on Truth Social. This representative said that he doesn't see the former president as loyal and he doesn't think it's good for the country. So, he's now switched his endorsement.
And this has really been kind of a proxy war where that we've seen between these two campaign, Alex, as both of them try to get a leg up, and as Jeff mentioned, it's just June in this primary. We have a long way to go.
MARQUARDT: Just June, and that war is going to grow. Jessica Dean in Manchester, New Hampshire, thank you very much.
Let's bring Jeff Zeleny back into the conversation alongside our Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger. Gloria, I do want to play that sound, that tense exchange that DeSantis had with a reporter earlier today. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Why not taking questions from voters, governor? Governor, how come you're not taking questions from voters?
DESANTIS: I've been out to meet, talking to people. What are you talking about? I'm out here with people. Are you blind?
DESANTIS: Are you blind?
REPORTER: I'm not blind, no. DESANTIS: Okay. So, people are coming up to me, talking to me whatever they want to talk to me about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: So, Gloria, DeSantis going after that reporter saying, are you blind, are you blind, rather aggressively. To what extent do you think that plays into questions around whether, you know, while DeSantis is trying to introduce himself to voters around the country and really prove himself on the national stage?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, one thing this proves is that you can't really stage manage a campaign, an early campaign where you're interacting with voters, and that's what the DeSantis campaign has been trying to do. They've been trying to orchestrate everything. And what we saw in that clip was a flash of DeSantis' temper. That's never a good thing to show to the American public.
And we also saw that he probably doesn't have a great relationship with the mainstream media. I mean, to keep saying to a journalist, are you blind, are you blind, is not exactly a great exchange for him to have this early in the campaign. I think if I'm on DeSantis' staff and I'm watching that, I'm saying to the governor privately, you know, you got to cool it a little bit because you're going to get asked a lot of questions that you don't want to answer. And so far, they've tried to shelter his interactions with the media to kind of friendly media.
MARQUARDT: And we have also seen the governor attacking Trump. Among his attacks are these attacks on Trump for trusting Dr. Fauci. Gloria, why do we -- why does the governor think that his COVID record is going to be a winning issue with voters?
BORGER: Well, first of all, as we know from our own reporting at CNN, Andrew Kaczynski, is that DeSantis liked Fauci at the beginning of the pandemic and then disowned him when he decided to go in a different direction and became less vaccine interested.
And so I think what he thinks is that the Trump base, even though Donald Trump promotes the vaccine and promoted it early on and continues to do so to this day, he believes that his stance on the pandemic, anti-lockdown, et cetera, is going to help him with those base voters.
So, he's going to keep saying he should have fired Tony Fauci.
MARQUARDT: All right. Gloria Borger and Jeff Zeleny, thanks, as always, for your perspectives.
And just the mounting attacks inside Russia and its occupied territory while Ukraine's capital is reeling from a daily onslaught of Russian missiles. We'll go live to Kyiv next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MARQUARDT: Tonight, attacks both inside Russia as well as Ukraine and they are ramping up. We're following the aftermath of another brutal onslaught of Russian missiles on Ukraine's capital that killed three people.
Our Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen is there in the capital of Kyiv for us. Fred, what kind of psychological toll are these strikes taking on the people of Kyiv?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Alex. Well, certainly, people are reeling from the strikes and especially because they happen at night all the time.
It really makes it very difficult for people just hearing those sirens, then hearing the missiles come in. And this latest incident really is one that's causing a lot of anger and that is really tragic, as well. You had ten ballistic missiles that were shot overnight. The air defenses actually managed to take all of those down. However, a mother and her nine-year-old daughter and another woman were killed because, apparently, they were trying to get to an air raid shelter and couldn't get in because the shelter door was locked.
Now, apparently, they knocked on the door with a bunch of other people. The door wouldn't open and then debris from a missile that was shot down fell and killed these people.
And, you know, folks here in Kyiv are extremely angry about all this, saying how can it be that this far into the war those doors were locked? President Zelenskyy of Ukraine, he's already said something like this could never happen again. There was one really tragic photo that was released of the grandfather of the nine-year-old girl sitting in front of the body watching over the body. Obviously, this is something causing anger.
At the same time you had cross-border attacks happening in the east of Ukraine into Russian territory, into the Belgorod area. And, of course, the folks who are behind that, they themselves say are those anti-Putin Russian fighters normally fighting on the side of Ukraine. And the Russians are saying that there was huge artillery barrages that came in some of these villages in the Belgorod area. Several people there were injured.
The Russians claim that there was no successful crossing of the border by these groups, however, one of these Russian groups does say that they did manage to cross the border. Unclear really what exactly is the case. The Russians say that of the 70 fighters that took part in all this, 50 were killed. However, this is definitely something that's putting a lot of pressure on the Russians, the Kremlin commenting on this, saying Vladimir Putin is keeping up-to-date about the situation. And you can feel that the Ukrainians continue to put pressure on the Russians in those border areas making it very, very difficult for them, Alex.
MARQUARDT: Just extraordinary images inside Russian territory. Fred Pleitgen in the Ukrainian capital, thank you very much.
Let's discuss all of this with our CNN Contributor on Russian Affairs Jill Dougherty and CNN Military Analyst, retired General Wesley Clark. Thank you both for joining us.
Jill, I want to go to you first and where Fred left off there with those cross-border attacks inside Russia that are growing. How much are those going to increase the pressure on Putin?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, RUSSIAN AFFAIRS: Well, I think it's a dilemma for Putin because, you know, those cross-border attacks have been happening actually for quite a long time, but they're happening in smaller towns. And now when it's really happening, the people in those towns are saying, hey, you haven't been paying attention to us, but you begin to pay attention when Moscow is hit with drones. In other words, there are disparities in Russia, big ones, between the elite and regular people.
And that, I think, is a problem for Putin. What does he say? Does he come out, you know, really strongly condemning, et cetera. They did say notably that Putin called the mayor of this town that's Shebekino. And even that, Alex, the people in town said people in the media, the state media can't even pronounce the name of our town, so they don't seem to care.
MARQUARDT: And, of course, we are waiting for this counteroffensive by the Ukrainians. General Clark, how much do you think that these strikes inside Russia are playing into how Ukraine is shaping this looming counteroffensive?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think the attacks in the Belgorod region definitely have a military impact. Belgorod is a rail terminus. It was used as a staging area for the invasion in February of 2022. And it is probably still a logistics hub for some of the Russian forces in Luhansk. So, sure, we want to disrupt that. We want to take out as much as we can. We want to discombobulate the civilian leadership in the region as well so that repairs are more difficult with rail lines, bridges, warehouses and so forth. I think it does have a military component to it.
MARQUARDT: With the growing weaponry going to Ukraine, with these attacks inside Russia, Ukraine and the U.S. have really kept prodding and crossing Russia's red lines without much reaction or escalation. Jill, do you think that that is opening the door to more bold action against Russia?
DOUGHERTY: Well, it is incremental, as we know, and that's why Biden often is criticized, but it is true that he's moved forward across what appeared to be these red lines by Putin. You never know what Putin thinks and exactly what those red lines are. So, I do think that they'll probably continue, but, again, with more hesitation sometimes to make sure it really doesn't escalate.
MARQUARDT: Yes. And, of course, looming all this is the fear of tactical nukes possibly being used by the Russians. General Wesley Clark, Jill Dougherty, we have to leave it there. [18:45:00]
Thank you both for your tremendous expertise.
And coming up, a new sexual assault lawsuit dropping today against Bill Cosby. What a former model is alleging that the comedian did her five decades ago and how he's responding.
MARQUARDT: Tonight, Bill Cosby is being sued by a former "Playboy" model for sexual assault and a new civil lawsuit.
CNN's Stephanie Elam has been following all the latest developments for us.
Stephanie, what are you learning?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we're learning, Alex, is that the plaintiff here, this is a woman who is now 80 years old, Victoria Valentino, and she is saying in 1969, she had an encounter with Bill Cosby and she's now suing for sexual battery and sexual assault.
She says that they met and that he said -- she says that he took advantage of her grief at that time. She went on to say that she had dinner with her friend and Bill Cosby and that he put a pill next to her glass of water saying that, quote, here, take this, it will make you feel better, it will make us all feel better.
She said she took it and later started to feel woozy and ended up in the situation that she says suffered severe emotional, physical and psychological distress because of the sexual assault. This lawsuit filed today is because of a new rule in California that's giving adults who say they were assaulted as an adult within this one-year period to go ahead and file a complaint even though the statute of limitations would normally have been -- would have run out by now.
But let me tell you more about what Valentino is saying in her statement per her attorney. She says, in part, the trauma he inflicted upon me affects not only me but my children and grandchildren. By breaking my silence and speaking my truth, I hope this serves as my legacy to my family and shows those survivors who have yet to find their voices that hope and healing are possible.
And she also in an interview with "The Washington Post" today said that it is not about the money but it's about accountability and she was motivated to go ahead with this decision to file this suit because of E. Jean Carroll's win in New York against the former president. She said in part that this gave her affirmation we were doing the right thing.
Now, of course, Cosby coming back with a statement in return saying, Victoria Valentino has skirted from town to town promoting her alleged allegations against Mr. Cosby to anyone who would give her a platform without any proof or facts -- Alex.
MARQUARDT: All right. Stephanie Elam in Los Angeles, thank you very much.
And this note to our viewers, coming up on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT", Georgia election official Gabe Sterling joins her to talk about election denier Kari Lake headlining Georgia's upcoming GOP convention. That's coming up at 7:00 Eastern right here on CNN.
And just ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, an incredible daring rescue on Mount Everest. We have new video of the grueling journey to save a stranded climber.
MARQUARDT: A Malaysian mountain climber is lucky to be alive tonight after Sherpas pulled off a rare nearly impossible rescue on Mount Everest.
CNN's Brian Todd has more on this incredible story.
Brian, this climber was in the so-called death zone and almost certainly would not have made it out on his own.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alex, the Sherpa who rescued him says the man could well have died if he had been left there. We have new information tonight on this harrowing rescue from a Mount Everest range that's getting increasingly dangerous.
TODD (voice-over): In a season of horrific casualties on Mount Everest, a dramatic desperate effort to prevent one more. A Nepali Sherpa guide finds a stranded climber shivering and clinging to a rope and hauls him down a treacherous portion of the range, some 1,900 feet in about six hours to save him.
GELJE SHERPA, NEPALI SHERPA WHO RESCUED MALAYSIAN CLIMBER (through translator): In places where it was rockier, we could not drag him. We had to carry him on our backs with difficulty.
TODD: New details of the rescue which occurred on May 18th are just coming to light. The rescuers, 30-year-old Gelje Sherpa says he was ascending Everest toward the summit with a Chinese client when he came upon the stranded climber after midnight. He said he convinced his client to abandon their quest to reach the summit in order to save the man.
SHERPA (through translator): It was important for us to rescue him, even from the summit. Money can be earned any time. Left like that, he could have died. We have saved his life by quitting the summit.
TODD: After Gelje Sherpa hauled the man alone for six hours, another guide joined the rescue, then a helicopter airlifted him down to base camp.
CONRAD ANKER, PROFESSIONAL MOUNTAIN CLIMBER: Pretty extraordinary, the body isn't doing well with that altitude and to carry another person down 2,000 feet of steep and treacherous terrain requires confidence, sure footing and lots of skill.
TODD: The particular area Gelje Sherpa traversed during the rescue is known as the death zone because temperatures can dip to minus 86 degrees Fahrenheit. One Nepali government official said it's almost impossible to rescue climbers at that altitude, even the experienced Sherpa, experts say, was at serious risk.
ANKER: He could have died on that rescue. It's steep enough if he were to fall he would not be able to stop.
TODD: The injured climber has not been identified but he's back home in Malaysia. The climbing season on Mount Everest is short, extending only from March to May. But in this season alone, Nepali officials tells CNN 12 people have died and five are missing, making it one of the deadliest climbing seasons on record.
The Nepali government says a record number of permits to climb were issued this season, 478. Veteran climber Conrad Anker says there needs to be a capacity study done to determine how many people can be on the mountain safely at a given time.
ANKER: Currently, there are too many climbers on Everest. So, they can limit the amount of climbers on -- by experience, by lottery, which could be as random as one can be or they can do it financially.
TODD (on camera): Now, what did Gelje Sherpa and his client give up to conduct this rescue? Climber Conrad Anker says clients pay between $40,000 and $250,000 for a guided climb up Mount Everest. The Sherpas get a bonus of about $4,000, he says, plus possible tips but Anker points out after this rescue, Gelje should do just fine financially because he's going to be in high demand -- Alex.
MARQUARDT: He certainly will. Extraordinary story.
Brian Todd, thank you very much.
And be sure to stay with CNN for more on this amazing story, tonight on "ANDERSON COOPER 360" at 8:00 Eastern, with the Sherpa who carried out the daring rescue.
And finally, tonight, we want to congratulate our very own Wolf Blitzer who received the prestigious grand prize award from the Rias Berlin Commission today. Wolf was honored for his documentary "Never Again", about the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. It includes his own reflections on his family and his four grandparents who are killed in the Holocaust.
Congratulations, Wolf. Our heartfelt congratulations on that well- deserved reward. I'm Alex Marquardt here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thank you so much for
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.