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Trump Holds Third "Thank You Tour" Rally; Trump to Remain Executive Producer of "Celebrity Apprentice"; Report: Trump Said to Intend to Keep Stake in Company; Trump Taps Third General for His Inner Circle; Sandy Hook Hoaxes Target Victim's Families; Former FL Professor Contends Massacre was a Hoax; John Glenn, Symbol of the Space Age, Dies at 95. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired December 8, 2016 - 21:00   ET



[21:01:18] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to another hour of "360". President-elect Donald Trump is in Des Moines, Iowa, the latest stop in his thank you tour. I want to hear some of what he said so far.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: But to accomplish our goals, we must reject the failed approaches of the past. Government must stop listening to the special interests and start delivering for the national interests.

We're going to undertake one of the great tax reforms and simplifications in American history. It's got to be simpler. Too much work, too complicated.

At the center of this plan is massive tax relief for the American middle class has been forgotten. Forgotten.

Boy, did they come out and vote, huh? They came out and vote.

You know, I think both parties, to a certain extent, but especially the other side, they forgot about those people. That's why I call them the forgotten men and the forgotten women. They're not forgotten anymore, folks. They're not forgotten. They're not forgotten anymore.

It's time to help Americans get off the welfare and get back into the labor market. And they're going to want to do it. They're going to want to do it.

Rebuilding this country with American hands, by American workers. We're going to do it. We're going to have people that haven't worked for years. They're going to love working. They're going to love it. They're going to be incentivized.

We're not going to be the stupid people anymore, folks. We're not going to be the stupid people. Because from now on, it's going to be America first. It's going to be America first. Very simple.

You know, some of the deals made, and I've been studying them, actually, I like reading deals. Do you believe this? I don't know what that is. But I've been studying some of these deals. They're horrible. They're inconceivable. But we're going to have some great news for you in the very near future.

My administration will follow two simple rules. Buy American and hire American.

Remember, years ago, we used to proudly display made in the USA. You go get a car, right? And we happen to see made in the USA, made -- we don't see it. Have you ever seen it? I don't see it anymore. We're going to start doing that. Any of the manufacturers, and we're doing a lot of -- a lot of talking to a lot of companies that were thinking about leaving.

And I'll tell you, I don't think they're going to be leaving so fast anymore. They're not going to be leaving so fast anymore. Because we love our companies and we love it when they're employing thousands of people. But we don't love our companies when they leave and go to another country and think they can make their product and sell it back into our country like we're a bunch of fools, like they've been getting away with for the last 35 years. Not going to do it.


COOPER: That was Donald Trump a short time ago. Senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, joins me now from Des Moines.

We aired live a bunch of President-elect Trump's speech. Overall, what was his tone tonight?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Donald Trump's tone really is one of a valedictory speech. He is taking a victory lap here in every state that he won, those key battleground states. And of course he took time to remind the voters here in Iowa that they delivered one of the biggest victories for him, some 10 percentage points over Hillary Clinton one month ago tonight.

[21:05:04] And Anderson, he also talked about a sort of behind the scenes of what he's been doing over the last month. He's been talking about his Cabinet secretaries, he's been talking about calling CEOs individually who are threatening to move some jobs and some business out of the country. He is clearly enjoying and reveling in this moment.

It feels like a campaign rally more backward looking than forward looking. Still making a lot of promises here, again, longer on showmanship than actual specifics here. But no doubt about it, this crowd loves it. These are his hard-core supporters. So happy to see him here again.

The question, Anderson, will he go reach out to others who didn't vote for him in states that did not, perhaps, go his way. So far, none of those states are scheduled on his victory tour. Anderson? COOPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, thanks very much.

Back with our panel, Margaret Hoover, Kirsten Powers, Maggie Haberman, Kayleigh McEnany and Karine Jean-Pierre.

You know, it is interesting. We saw this on the second stop of this so-called "thank you" tour. I mean, Donald Trump continues to raise the bar in terms of expectations. We've seen candidates often who, you know, say one thing on the campaign trail, then as they start to take on the mantle of president, start to try to tamp down expectations. Donald Trump is saying, you know, people are going to get off welfare, they're going to like their jobs, they're going to love to work, they're going to want to work, they're going to be incentivized. You know, the military is going to have the best equipment. It's going to be clean. It's going to be brand-new.

MARGARET HOOVER, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Made by Americans in America to sound so much like, if you like your health care, you can keep it. I mean, just be very careful what you promise. These are very big promises and these are very hard things to implement, very difficult thing. You can't just change U.S. trade's policy quickly in four years. You have a Congress, you have deals, you have -- so it does -- that's exactly what I thought when I heard it. I thought, oh, God, it sounds like a promise that is too good to be true to a group of people who desperately need it to be true and voted for you because they expect that you can deliver that.

And, by the way, you also said in your acceptance speech, I am only the one -- I'm the only one who can fix it. That's just setting a bar, as you're saying, incredibly high.

KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: See, I tend to think that he has to deliver on a few key promises. And one of his core points is trade deals, he's going to negotiate better trade deals and he's going to help American workers. And if he doesn't deliver on that promise, he's going to be in trouble. I think some of -- and he needs to deliver on repealing Obamacare, because that is a core Republican issue. And they're going to feel very betrayed if he doesn't ...

COOPER: What about building the wall?

POWERS: And I think building the wall. So I think those are the three things. I think immigration, border security, in particular. I think those are the three things.

After that, I tend to think, you know, he's probably -- people aren't going to be paying as close of attention. But those I think people take very seriously.

And, you know, on the buy American, make American thing, it's interesting, if you look at his labor secretary pick, he's somebody who is very much for expanding visas to bring more workers in to basically, you know, because he wants more workers for -- he runs, you know, a fast food business. This is something That Donald Trump has actually opposed. It kind of works at odds with this idea of we want to keep hiring Americans versus bringing in new people. So, it's just, it's just curious that he would choose this person ...

COOPER: Although Donald Trump as we, you know, reported frequently during the campaign, I mean, has had foreign workers, seasonally in Mar-a-Lago and obviously the products that he, himself, was selling were made overseas.

POWERS: Right.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, this is the issue with, you know, buy American for Americans. His own business does not set that example and has not set that example. This is the constant impulse tension with Donald Trump is that on the one hand, he says -- thinking about something we said in an earlier segment about how you can watch an event that he's doing and two people take two different things. That's because often Donald Trump says two different things that are at odds with each other. And so one thing that he's saying is buy Americans for Americans, on the other hand, it's sort of, do as I say and not as I do, or do as I would, but maybe not as my Labor secretary would do.

Right now, he's still basically -- I think the Labor secretary had it correct, he is -- he's still campaigning, essentially. He's speaking in slogans.

And so, we don't really know what a lot of this is going to look like. I do agree that the most -- he's going to have to keep a few promises and then I think he will probably be in OK shape. I'm not sure that the wall is actually among them because a number of voters I spoke to at his rallies said, well, I don't know if you can really do that but I like the way it sounds, was pretty broad. The economy does have to do better for a lot of people and wages have to go up. Those are the things people are going to look at.

COOPER: It is very possible, you know, that Donald Trump could approach the presidency as an ongoing campaign. I mean other, you know, presidents have talked about that or kind of wished they could have done that. But Donald Trump is in a unique position. I mean, if he leaves a lot of a sort of more details up to his Cabinet picks and his vice president and others, he could sort of keep this bully pulpit, public -- the ability to capture the public and maintain interest, he could keep that going.

[21:09:57] KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: He certainly could. And that's why when we heard the rumors of there maybe being an outside organization led by Kellyanne Conway, that kind of promotes and keeps the grassroots and keeps the excitement for four years from now. It definitely signals that perhaps, if this is in the works, that there is going to be some element of looking forward to the future, keeping this campaign aspect as part of his presidency.

But one of the things I want to point out, I think Kirsten is absolutely right. He's got to deliver on those three main points. And he would be wise to consider the order of them. Because there were inklings that came out of Capitol Hill that said, Republicans do not want to work with Donald Trump outside of the doctrinal conservative issues. And if that is true, if he gives them everything they want and then comes back to them and says now help me because I helped you, they might not be so willing.

However, if he pushes the issues at first, hey, trade was important to me, it might not be on board but this is important to me. I'm renegotiating NAFTA, get on board, they -- then he may get his way.

So he has to be clever I think in the way he approaches these issues and the order.

COOPER: Karine, I mean, as a Democrat, we -- you and I have talked about this before, have you -- where do you want to see the Democrats standing in the face of a Donald Trump presidency?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, MOVEON.ORG: Look, I think that they should -- I mean, look, if you're looking at his Cabinet picks, there are some troubling picks there, amongst the folks that he's chosen. And I think they have to resist and fight against some of them. And not all of them -- I know that Mattis is probably one them that they're not going to go fight against. But I think Jeffrey Sessions, I think the EPA guy. I think there are a couple of there that they have to stand up and fight.

And so that's where I -- I'm with that. But just to Maggie's point, there is different Trumps here. We have the businessman Trump who is outsourcing his business to Bangladesh, to China and all different types of countries. And then you have the campaign Trump who actually had the populist message that really resonated and talked about jobs. And now, we're trying to see who is President Trump going to be. And that's the part that we just don't know. One thing that we do know is that he likes to delegate.

So a lot of this -- this is why the Cabinets pick are important. A lot of these Cabinet picks are going to be delegated the job. And yes, maybe he'll continue doing this and be the campaigner in chief, but we just don't know.

POWERS: Yeah. I was going to say, one of the issues, too, is that if you look at some of the Cabinet picks, some of the people we're talking about, I think if you look at the Labor secretary EPA, and AG, it's almost like Mike Pence was elected president. You know, and -- which of course, if Mike Pence had run for president, he wouldn't have won, I don't think. I think that Donald Trump won because he did have this populist message that wasn't an ideological message, right?

So I think he has to be careful about. On the one hand, he does need to defer to people who have experience in government, which seems to be what he's doing. But on the other hand, that's not who he was elected to be. He was elected to be somebody that's not, I mean, you know, a down the line conservative.

HABERMAN: I think that's right. I mean, I think -- look, I think also, he's going to get a bunch of goodwill. To Margaret's point earlier about how that phrase, that slogan about "Buy American" sounds like, you know, "If you like your doctor, you can keep it," there is an enormous sense of frustration among conservatives who feel like Trump has gotten criticized for things that President Obama did a version of. Not to the same degree, not to the same way, but that he was able to say things like, look, we won. And that he didn't receive a whole lot of criticism for it.

So I think that there's -- he's going to get some goodwill. But I do think that you are correct that he has put together a surprisingly ideological number of picks, only because this is a guy who has been a Democrat and a Republican and an independent. And I think that people who weren't really sure what he would be like as president were hoping. People who are not conservative were hoping they would see something different. But again, we still don't know what it's going to look like in his governance.

HOOVER: Also, I mean, there are -- each of these -- look, they do sort of look like Mike Pence appointees, but the truth is, look, there is, I think, a hope amongst conservatives that are still in the House of Representatives and on Capitol Hill that that's what would happen, right?

Donald Trump would get elected and then they would get their conservative agenda through Congress, because Mike Pence was going to be their ally in the White House.

And I think any one of those Cabinet secretaries that are very conservative picks would be careful not to go out on their own and act like it's a conservative government, because they are just one step away from annoying or angering Donald Trump, the president, from being sold down the river.

HABERMAN: That's very true. That is very, very true.

COOPER: Up next, President-elect Trump plans to remain the executive producer of NBC's reality show, "Celebrity Apprentice", after he takes office, a decision that's raising some new questions tonight. We'll look at that ahead.


[21:18:11] COOPER: As we have said, President-elect Donald Trump will continue to serve as an executive producer of NBC's reality how "Celebrity Apprentice".

Also tonight, there are signs that Trump may not bow to the growing pressure he's facing to make a clean break with his real estate company before taking office.

"The New York Times" is reporting that Trump is considering turning over operational responsibilities to his two adult sons, while keeping a stake in the business. Now, under that plan, Ivanka Trump would also take a leave of absence from the company. A source tells CNN that both Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, will play roles in Washington, with Ivanka acting along the lines of a surrogate first lady, Washington hostess, and adviser on issues like Paid Family Leave.

Joining me tonight is Jan Baran an ethics attorney and partner at Wiley Ryan in Washington, also biographer, Michael D'Antonio, author of "The Truth about Trump". Michael, first of all, what do you make of this that Donald Trump will remain the executive producer of "Celebrity Apprentice"?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, TRUMP BIOGRAPHER: Well, I was surprised when I dealt with Donald that he was proud of the money that he made there. And he gave me the figure and I was surprised that it was so little. So maybe he needs the money. This is a guy who gave up the president's salary, and he might think, "Well, I'm not going to give up everything. I own a piece of this show, I want to keep it."

COOPER: Jan, I mean, the president of the United States having a role or financial interest in a prime-time network television show, certainly unprecedented, but is there anything wrong with it from a legal perspective?

JAN BARAN, ETHICS ATTORNEY: No, he can continue earning money. Of course, there's a slight precedent. I mean, Ronald Reagan continued to get royalties and residual payments for his appearances in movies that he made when he was in the entertainment business. But what's unprecedented about Donald Trump is that he has such variety and massive investments that he's accumulated over many decades and we've never really had a president this rich with this amount of wealth invested in this type of a business.

[21:20:11] COOPER: And an ongoing businesses. I mean, Michael, now they're reporting from "The New York Times" that Donald Trump basically got his two adult sons may be the ones who are in operational control of the business, not Ivanka Trump, which is certainly an interesting development.

D'ANTONIO: Well, it is. Especially when you consider that Ivanka's probably the most valuable brand ambassador that the whole organization has. So he is giving up something there.

But I think what's important to notice is that Donald Trump has never been governed by what's ethical or what seemly or what appears as a conflict of interest. He's always been concerned about the letter of the law. So, doing the right thing, as you and I might imagine it, which would involve limiting the amount of problems and potential conflicts, isn't in his mind. He's going to do what's legal, and he's going to do what he thinks is best for him. Eventually, maybe, the weight of the presidency will move him to behave differently, but for now, he's true to form.

COOPER: And there's no reason we're still like to believe, Michael, that he will divest ownership of the business?

D'ANTONIO: No, I don't expect that he will. I don't think that he has ever played by the rules that apply to everyone else. He's always wanted to be an exception. And he is exceptional, you know, he is a businessman of the sort we've never elected. He has holdings of the type we've never seen before. So, all of this is new territory and he's going to demand that the rules be written for him specifically.

COOPER: Jan, it's interesting, because on the one hand, if Trump decides not to sell his business, there are questions, you know, if he has the good of the country in mind. But on the other hand, if he divests, who he actually sells to, that could be a thorny issue, as well, I mean, if he's selling to Saudi Arabia, or some other entity.

BARAN: Yeah. I think it's a huge practical problem. People talk about, well, the -- you know, President-elect Trump ought to just sell everything. Well, it's not like waving a magic wand. I mean, he has a great assortment of properties. You know, he's got a slightly used golf course in Scotland that he just opened last year. And he's got a brand-new hotel here in Washington, D.C.

So, let's say that he wanted to sell these things. Who will buy it? What price would they pay? How long would it all take? And he would have to do that, theoretically, dozens, if not hundreds of times. And of course, we're talking about the guy who wrote a book called "The Art of the Deal". I mean he's not going to give away this stuff. He'll want to negotiate it. And that does create problems, so ...

COOPER: And there are tax implications as well, obviously, Jan.

BARAN: There are some tax implications. Although, there is a law that says that if somebody has to sell something, because of a conflict of interest, the taxes, if they're gains, are deferred. As long as they reinvest the process in mutual funds and government bonds, which, of course, presents an interesting question. If you sell everything and put it in a government bond, you're getting paid by the government, for Pete's sake.

So, you know, there is no magic solution here and people are talking about it and he's struggling with this in large part because it's unprecedented. We've never had this type of situation before.

D'ANTONIO: Well, there's a really interesting point to be made about the hotel in Washington. The landlord is the GSA.

COOPER: Right.

D'ANTONIO: And the GSA forbids any person who's employed by the government from receiving -- from being the other side of the contract. So he now is both the landlord and the renter of this property. Under most circumstances, the GSA would have to go some place else.

COOPER: Michael, appreciate you being on again. Jan, thanks so much for being with us.

BARAN: You bet.

COOPER: Coming up, President-elect Trump and the generals. He's picked three retired top brass to join his Cabinet and play key roles in his national security team. We'll take a look at who they are and what it may mean about U.S. foreign policy moving forward.


[21:28:11] COOPER: President-elect Trump has picked three retired generals for Cabinet-level jobs. Marine General John Kelly is secretary of Homeland Security, also Marine General James Mattis for Defense secretary and Army General Michael Flynn for National Security adviser. That list could also grow. There are other military brass being considered for key posts. We're going to talk about it all.

CNN counterterrorism analyst, Phil Mudd, a former senior official of the CIA and FBI, also retired Army General Mark Hertling, a CNN military analyst.

General Hertling, you know, I've heard some sort of hand wringing from Liberals, from Democrats to say like this is, you know, an awful lot of former military people in a very close advisory roles to the president. They worry about sort of a more hawkish foreign policy. But isn't sort of the opposite often true, that it's often the military personnel who are sort of counseling restraint more than some civilians who are content to be more hawkish?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, U.S. ARMY (RET.): I would certainly agree with that, Anderson. And I think it's because of the professional military education that every single general officer goes through on his or her rise to the top. You know, every single general officer has graduated from one of the four war colleges in the country where they study national security policy.

So it's not just as probably million American think, it's not just military operations and tactics and strategies that they're studying, but they're actually looking at how all elements of national security come together to defend the people of the country.

So, it would normally be the military folks in the room who are looking for not only the means of power from a military perspective, but also the means of power from diplomacy, information, and economy, to apply to any given situation.

So, yeah, I would suggest that those who were trained in this have a better feel for what kind of advice to give than those who have not been.

COOPER: Phil, what do you make of the selections and that sort of that number of military personnel?

[21:30:04] PHILIP MUDD, FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL, FBI AND CIA: I think the commentary on this, Anderson, has been overdone. The commentary is focused on whether these people come from a military background. I'd offer some different optics. You might almost flip this 180 degrees.

It's not only where they're from, it's the prospective they bring to the job based on their personal experience, number one, which you were just talking about with General Hertling. My experience, less than General Hertling, but nonetheless throwing (ph) hand on the war on terrorism is, if you come face to face with an adversary, and that face to face confrontation involves killing on the battlefield, that doesn't mean you become more aggressive. I think in some ways, that means you become less aggressive. Even if you look at the killing of a terrorist suspect on the battlefield, that suspect loses a child, loses a family, loses a parent. I think that means you become more sober, not less. I think there's also a potential positive on reality checks.

The President-elect has made comments, even this week about Russian involvement in the elections that I think are not realistic. These individuals have been face to face in Latin America, on the immigration problem, against the Russian issue, in places like the Middle East. I think there's a prospect they bring a blunt reality to President-elect Trump that he does not have now. So I think there's advantages here, Anderson, in addition to some of the limitations that Americans have talked about in the past couple of days.

COOPER: You know, General Hertling, to echo something Phil just said -- I mean, you and I have discussed, you know, comments that Donald Trump had made during the campaign about, you know, bombing the hell out of ISIS, surround the oil fuels, take the oil, to the victor go the spoils. Those aren't things which I imagine any of those military personnel who actually have experience on the ground, they would be able to offer their own experience to the president about whether or not that's viable.

HERTLING: Well, we have seen that already and General Mattis suggesting to Mr. Trump that water boarding is not a good idea, torture is not a good idea. That's just the start of things.

But, yeah, Anderson, everything that Phil said is exactly right. These guys, at least two of the three of these guys, who have been combatant commanders and who have had responsibility for a very large portion of the globe, General Mattis in the Middle East with Central Command and General Kelly in South America with SOUTHCOM, they have dealt with not only the armies of other countries, but extensively, with the government, with the economies, and with the diplomats from those countries. Not only our diplomats, the ambassadors, but the diplomats from the other countries.

So they are pretty savvy in the ways of the world, the history, and the culture of countries. They also know military operations. They're patriots, too. They're going to abide by the constitution more than by the whim of someone who throws out what he or she thinks are good ideas.

And then, finally, more than anything, right now, the military are admired by the people of our country. It's a 76 percent approval rate by the military. Congress is at about 11 percent. Mr. Putin has a 13 percent approval rate, so he's in better shape than our Congress. That's going to help Mr. Trump get the right kind of policies across.

COOPER: Phil, you have raised questions over concerns about General Flynn.

MUDD: I think there's a couple of issues we're dealing with. The first issue you discussed, Anderson, is an issue of where these individuals come from. Military background. That is a different question than what kind of judgment and temperament individuals bring to the table.

My question about General Flynn is not the word "general." My question is about temperament and judgment, for example, that was showed on the political stump when an individual who's a former general officer says "lock her up" about an opposing political candidate. That is not an acceptable statement by someone going into a difficult foreign policy environment, when you've got to deal with North Korean missiles, or the Iranian nuclear program.

My question is not whether he's a general officer, my question is about temperament. And my answer is, the individual you're talking about, General Flynn, does not have the temperament to serve in the White House on judgments about the issues we're dealing with. It's not about where he's from, it's about who he is.

COOPER: Phil Mudd and General Hertling, I appreciate you being with us. Thank you very much.

Up next, how fake news can do real harm. A look at how Sandy Hook hoaxers, people who believe Sandy Hook never actually happened have targeted a victim's family. The family of six-year-old Noah Pozner, one of the 20 kids killed at Connecticut elementary school nearly four years ago. I'm going to talk to Noah's father in a moment.


[21:38:02] COOPER: Tonight, keeping them honest. Another example of how fake news or lies can do real harm. On Monday, we reported on the arrest of a man who allegedly opened fire at a pizza parlor. That's been the target of an online conspiracy theories spread in fake news stories. Now a Florida woman has been charged with making death threats against the father of a child killed in the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

Six-year-old Noah Posner was one of 20 first graders who were gunned down inside their school. Six adults were also killed. Next week is the four-year anniversary of the massacre. The woman who allegedly threatened Noah's father, and this is really sick stuff, believes that the shooting was a hoax orchestrated by the government and media to drum up support for gun control. They believe it never happened. As outrageous as that sounds, this woman is not alone.

We reported on other Sandy Hook hoaxers, including former Florida Atlantic University professor, James Tracy, who shortly after the shooting said this.


COOPER: Now, when a local reporter caught up with Tracy and asked him about these outrageous theories might trigger, here's what he said. Listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You had 20 families that were mourning that buried children. Are you concerned about that at all?

JAMES TRACY, SANDY HOOK HOAXER: Well, I think that the entire country mourned about Sandy Hook. And yet once again, the investigation that journalistic institutions should have actually carried out never took place as far as I'm concerned.

I think that we need to, as a society, look at things more carefully. Perhaps we as a society have been conditioned to be duped.


COOPER: We asked Tracy repeatedly to come on our show. He refused our invitations. His university fired him this year for failing to submit paperwork on his outside activities, including his blogging about conspiracy theories concerning mass shootings.

Now, the lies a lot of these people spread are frankly sickening. Some individuals have harassed grieving Sandy Hook families. They've even claimed an interview I did in Newtown in the days after the shooting with Noah Posner's mom was faked.

[21:40:01] Take a look. This is the interview. They claim it was actually done in front of a green screen in a studio. And as proof, they say my nose disappears briefly from the shot at one point. For the record, that's what we call in T.V. land a hit, when there's interference with the satellite signal and the image is interrupted in a completely random way. Why they think I wouldn't have driven up to Connecticut to cover this from New York City seems odd, given that I've traveled all around the world to report on stories.

Just to put this to bed, let me be clear, their claim is insane. I was there. I talked to the families. I was invited into their homes, in some cases. I saw a grieving family's pain. They were not crisis actors. They were real parents suffering unimaginable loss. It doesn't even need to be said like that.

Recently, I talked by phone to Len Pozner, Noah's dad. He didn't want his face to be shown or his location named. He understandably wants to avoid more harassment.


COOPER: I know you can't give many details about the case since it's obviously ongoing. Is there anything you can say about it, what some of the nature of the threats were or at least how often does this kind of thing happen?

LEN POZNER, FATHER OF SANDY HOOK VICTIM: Well, the voice mails that were left by a -- that this individual, they're available online, so they can be heard. And they're pretty intense. I know that when I got the notification on my phone, I was with my kids and the voice mail started to auto play, and I very quickly had to turn off the phone, because the kids would have, you know, were starting to overhear what was being said. And I had just -- I still remember just the chills running down my body hearing that voice mail. So it's really, you know, it's over the top.

COOPER: I think, you know, for most Americans, they probably don't have much idea of the kind of vitriol that's out there by a very small number of people, but are directed toward not only you, but other parents of kids who were killed at Sandy Hook, anybody who reported on Sandy Hook. There are all these people who, frankly, don't believe that Sandy Hook happened.

POZNER: Well, a lot of people say that it's a small number that think this way, but my experience tells me that it's not a small number of people. It's a small number of people that are as vocal about it. A lot of people just keep it to themselves. It's an expression of -- there's hate, its online hate. And it's kind of like -- I describe it as a thought virus, because it -- this hoax concept just continues to spread.

So, with every, you know, mass casualty event or with every public incident, it's immediately labeled a hoax by this certain circle of people that are on the web. And there are a lot of forces that drive them. I mean, they have their YouTube channels could be monetized, their blogs could be monetized. I know that with the mass casualty event in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub, there were hoax content coming out while the shooting was still going on.

COOPER: You've created an organization, a foundation, to try to counter this. To try to get these lies, you know, taken off the web. To try to just inform people about what, you know, what they call themselves truthers, you call them hoaxers

POZNER: Right. I don't consider them truthers. When someone says "truthers," that really makes me think 9/11. That's really the term.

And as far as Sandy Hook, we've been calling them hoaxers since, you know, since pretty much the beginning. Because they -- first of all, they don't think anything bad ever happens. They don't think anyone ever gets hurt. So they think that wherever they see something on the web or on television, that is a crime or mass casualty event, that has to be a hoax.

And then if there is debunking evidence that comes out that shows that they made mistakes, like researchers, like normal researchers, they won't correct their mistakes. And oftentimes, they start to fabricate their evidence or fudge their evidence or Photoshop their evidence. So, really they're contributing to the hoax by falsifying the information that they're propagating.

[21:45:03] So they're hoaxers by calling everything a hoax, and then everything that they do after the fact is sort of distributing false information to people.

COOPER: You know, I mean, I know other parents who have been harassed online, who have been harassed in person. You know, I mean, this is not just happening to you and your family.

POZNER: :This happens to anyone, really, online. It's sort of like cyberbullying, but not, you know, within the context of school kids. It's just in the context of anyone. And, it's basically just hate. They're expressing -- they're projecting hate on to people. And if someone is visible, if someone is a victim of a, you know, of crime there -- it's easy to find people these days on the web. So it's easy to gain access to someone.

COOPER: Well, Len Pozner, I'm so sorry for what you're going through and have been going through. Thank you for talking to us.

POZNER: Thank you very much for having me.


COOPER: Well, Len has formed a group called honor raising awareness about hoaxers who target families from high-profile tragedies. You can learn more, that's H-O-R -- excuse me,

Up next, remembering the iconic John Glenn.


[21:50:09] COOPER: The flags have been lowered to half-staff at the U.S. Capitol in honor of John Glenn who died today, he was 95. The label patriot gets toast to under lot sometimes undeservedly but not tonight. John Glenn was the real deal. The right stuff. Here's Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was a military test pilot who in 1962 made history. That's when John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God speed, John Glenn. Five, four ...

KAYE: From his Friendship 7 capsule, Glenn relayed back from space.

JOHN GLENN, FIRST AMERICAN TO ORBIT THE EARTH: Roger. Zero-G and I feel fine. Oh, that view is tremendous.

KAYE: Glenn was one of the Mercury Seven, a group chosen for the United States first attempt to put men in space. Glenn completed three revolutions around the globe in just under five hours, earning him a spot in the history books. He was later awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, and got a ticker tape parade in his honor. At that time, space travel was in its infancy until Glenn's flight, the Russians had led the space race.

GLENN: And this not just a matter of a space race that we beat the Soviets to the moon or did we not. It's the long-term staying power. This is not a sprint. It's a marathon.

KAYE: Glenn had already made history in 1957 when he broke the transcontinental speed record during a flight from Los Angeles to New York. He did it in just three hours and 23 minutes. But it was his journey around the globe that boosted America's spirit.

GLENN: You know, people have looked up for tens and thousands of years and wondered what was up there in our lifetime we're going up there. What a fortunate time we are in, and what a great time in history to be around. KAYE: Later, Glenn laughed at the risks he took.

GLENN: We used to joke about it in the past when people say, what do you think about on the launch pad and the standard answer was, how do you think you'd feel if you knew you're on top of two million parts build by the lowest bidder on a government contract?

KAYE: Glenn learned to fly during college and joined the Marine Corps in 1943.

GLENN: I've spent 23 years in the United States Marine Corps. I was in two wars. I flew 149 missions.

KAYE: In 1964, Glenn resigned from NASA after President John F. Kennedy deemed him too valuable as a national hero to risk another trip into space. In 1974, politics caught his eye. And the moderate Democrat won a U.S. Senate seat in Ohio. He ran for president in 1984.

GLENN: With the nomination of my party, I firmly believe I can beat Ronald Reagan.

KAYE: Glenn lost the nomination. That didn't stop him, though. At age 77, he was back in space again, flying a nine-day mission on the Shuttle Discovery, the oldest person ever to travel into space.

Despite it all, John Glenn never considered himself a hero saying once, "I figure I'm the same person who grew up in New Conquered, Ohio and went off through the years to participate in a lot of events of importance." Modesty from a man who took hold of space and never let go.


COOPER: Well, John Glenn will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He was a hero to generations for Americans, including the astronauts who followed in his footsteps.

Joining me is retired astronaut Scott Kelly, who has made his own mark on the space program and beyond.

Captain Kelly, how important to you personally was John Glenn?

CAPT. SCOTT KELLY, NASA ASTRAUNAUT: Well, you know, he was a pioneer of space flight and, you know, if you use the analogy, I guess, of a, you know, a kid playing baseball, he was like Babe Ruth. I mean, he was one of the greats, one of the original Mercury Seven and one of the last surviving members of the first astronaut class. So he was, you know, it's really hard to put into words how important he was to us.

COOPER: The life that he led, not only as an astronaut but after and this kind of natural curiosity that pushed him beyond his limit to all in the name of exploration, it is extraordinary. I mean, he really epitomized that space age in a lot of ways. KELLY: Yeah, absolutely extraordinary. In his original career as an astronaut, he only, you know, flew that first flight and then it wasn't until he was in his 70s that he flew a second time. And, you know, he became so important to our country that President Kennedy didn't want to, you know, risk flying him again and -- but then he continued, you know, to push forward and do the hard things and, you know, continued to contribute to our country and our society. I was really amazed that until very recently he was still flying an airplane by himself.

COOPER: It's also now, I mean to sort of, in many ways, people take a space flight for granted now. But when John Glenn was, you know, was doing it early on, I mean, it's obviously an incredibly risky thing even now, but there was so much still to be learned, so much still kind of unknown.

[21:55:13] KELLY: Yeah. At that time, you know, during those early -- those very early days, it wasn't really even clear how the human physiology, you know, if our hearts would beat the right way and if we would actually be able to survive in a microgravity environment. So, you know, in addition to the rocket, you know, the risk of the rocket blowing up, which we had a lot of rockets blowing up, you know, at that time, there was also the risk of -- if our physiology would even function and there were just huge unknowns.

COOPER: I mean, you also look at sort of geopolitically, a nuclear proliferation, the Cold War, the race into space, all loomed large in America's consciousness during in the 1960s and John Glenn had a big part in helping restore the U.S. confidence in a lot of ways against the Russians, the fact that he orbited the Earth three times, and show that the U.S. could keep up. It's almost impossible to explain what a national hero he was. As you said, Kennedy didn't want him to go into space again because he was too valuable.

KELLY: Yeah, absolutely. And his, you know, his flight, his first flight, which was a third of the Mercury flights proved that we could, you know, match what the Russians were doing at the time, which were -- was orbiting the Earth and really gave us the spark to reach for the moon and it's, you know, it's hard to put into words how important that was to our country, to our space program and how important he is.

COOPER: Yeah. An extraordinary life that he led, extraordinary contributions. Captain Kelly, thank you so much.

KELLY: My pleasure.

COOPER: And we'll be right back.