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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

House Ousts GOP Rep. Greene From Committees Over Her Embrace Of Conspiracy Theories, With Only 11 GOP Votes; Trump Rejects Dems' Request To Testify At Impeachment Trial; Johnson & Johnson Asks FDA To Authorize Its Covid-19 Vaccine; Anti-Vaxxers Use Pro-Trump "Stop The Steal" Crusade To Advance Conspiracy Theories; Fox News, Three Anchors, Giuliani, Powell Hit With $2.7 Billion Lawsuit Over Election Claims. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 04, 2021 - 20:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

We begin with a House vote tonight to sanction Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene for her bigoted and delusional views.

Also, the top House Republicans refusal to discipline her along with most members of the party, that, and her own non-apology-apology, which amounted to excuses and rationalizations, blame shifting and lies, instead of any honest show of contrition as a member of that party that once claimed to stand for personal responsibility.

The vote was 230 to 199 to strip her of her seats on the Budget and Education and Labor Committees, 11 Republicans joining the Democratic majority, including Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who was not impressed by what she said at a Republican Party Conference last night.


QUESTION: Kevin McCarthy would have us believe she gave some serious apology. What did you hear?

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Yes, so I don't like to go into a ton of detail from the conference.

QUESTION: How about some?

KINZINGER: But I will tell you this. Yes, I'll give you some, which is I didn't hear -- I didn't hear an apology.


COOPER: So, no apology last night, he says, and certainly from what we heard today of her on the floor, none today. She spoke at the Chamber and she didn't apologize. We'll get to that in just a second.

But first, before we go any further on her excuses and finger pointing, we just want to pause for a second and just let you listen to her words and views that got her and all of us to this point.

These are her words, it is her bigotry, and these are her conspiracy theories, her words her bigotry and her lies.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Many Americans are like blind sheep, just going through life, not paying attention.

There is an Islamic invasion into our government offices right now.

How do you get avid gun owners and people that support the Second Amendment to give up their guns? Maybe you accomplish that by performing a mass shooting into a crowd? You make them scared. You make them victims and you change their mindset.

The so-called plane that crashed into The Pentagon, it is odd there's never any evidence shown for a plane in The Pentagon.

Kennedy getting killed in the plane crash, that's another one of those Clinton murders, right?

Q is a patriot. We know that for sure. Again, I don't have any proof of this, but I'm -- we're talking about who is Q, so I'm going to tell you what he says.

Many in our government are actively worshipping Satan, or they call Moloch. Q is saying that they participate in pedophilia and spirit cooking.

We already saw there was an e-mail that came out of the WikiLeaks e- mails, where Cheryl -- was it Cheryl Moles -- and she told Hillary Clinton in an e-mail that she was going to sacrifice a chicken to Moloch in her backyard.

Saudi Arabia, the Rothschilds and Soros, he says are the puppet masters that fund this global evil.

There's a once in a lifetime opportunity to take this global cable of Satan worshipping pedophiles out.


COOPER: She has also pushed the conspiracy theory that California wildfires were started by space lasers controlled by the Rothschilds, a family name which has been invoked by anti-Semites for generations.

The Congresswoman has also endorsed conspiracy theory that Sandy Hook School shooting was staged or agreeing with a Facebook commentator who posted quote, "None of the school shootings were real or done by the ones who were supposedly arrested for them." By the way, that post is no longer available.

Congresswoman Greene also agreed with a now deleted claim that the Parkland High School shooting was a so-called false flag operation.

Now to her effort to rationalize or explain away some of that on QAnon, here's what she said today.


GREENE: I stumbled across something, and this is at the end of 2017 called QAnon. Well, these posts were mainly about this Russian collusion information. A lot of it was some of what I would see on the news at night, and I got very interested in it.

Later in 2018, when I started finding misinformation and lies, things that were not true in these QAnon posts, I stopped believing it.


COOPER: That appears to be a lie. If in fact she had stopped believing by 2018, then why was she saying this in 2019 when she endorsed the QAnon conspiracy about key officials, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg among them, being replaced by body doubles.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This woman has been drawn over for how many years, and all of a sudden, she is walking straight up, right? Like it's a whole new person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost like a body double like Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you believe that is Ruth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, like the body double for Hillary.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, it is interesting.

GREENE: I do not believe that was Ruth, no. I don't think so.


COOPER: That was in February 2019. She was still endorsing QAnon conspiracy theories. In fact, as recently as December of last year, a month after she was elected, she was still on board praising an article, promoting the cult in a now deleted December 4th tweet.

That same month, she told CNN's Ryan Nobles this about QAnon followers when asked to comment on how Speaker Pelosi's remarks about her ties to the cult.


GREENE: I think it's unfair to criticize regular American people that just are looking things up on the internet.


[20:05:02] COOPER: So any claim by the Congresswoman that her dalliance with

QAnon was incidental, brief and more than two years ago is belied by her own statements and actions. She was a deep believer.

In this statement today, again, on the House floor, at the seat of American democracy, she revealed an earlier explanation of her actions to also be a lie.


GREENE: Because if it weren't for the Facebook post and comments that I liked in 2018, I wouldn't be standing here today, and you couldn't point a finger and accuse me of anything wrong.


COOPER: She is saying she liked a series of posts and comments on hateful topics, not by the way that she is sorry for liking them, only that her liking them got her in trouble.

At any rate, she says she liked them, except just last week, she was trying to suggest she didn't really like them and that she wasn't really responsible. Listen to how much work the passive voice is doing in this tweet.

"Over the years, I've had teams of people manage my pages, many posts have been liked. Many posts have been shared, some did not represent my views, especially the ones that CNN is about to spread across the internet."

That was last week. Her saying many posts have been liked. Many posts have been shared. By whom? By her? By her teams of people?

I mean, she isn't exactly a head of state, how many teams of people have been tweeting for her? Why would she have anyone do that for her?

In any case, her hiding from accountability behind the passive voice and blame shifting, it didn't reach its apex there, it was just a warmup for this masterpiece today.


GREENE: Because I was upset about things and didn't trust the government really, because the people here weren't doing the things that I thought they should be doing for us. The things that I just told you I cared about, and I want you to know, a lot of Americans don't trust our government and that is sad.

The problem with that is though, is I was allowed to believe things that weren't true and I would ask questions about them and talk about them. And that is absolutely what I regret.


COOPER: I mean, didn't Republicans used to say they were the party of personal responsibility? Did you get what she just said? She is saying she didn't trust the government like a lot of people and the problem with that is she was allowed to believe things that weren't true and talked about them.

So, it is the government's fault that she was allowed to believe things that weren't true.

I mean, she could have just said, you know what, I fell for a hoax. I believed all this stuff that was anti-Semitic, and it wasn't true and I'm sorry, and I changed my mind.

But she didn't say that. She says she is blaming -- she was allowed to do this. Like, as if, you know, if someone didn't step in and stop us, we would all drink up hateful, anti-Semitic paranoid conspiracy theories like mother's milk.

The Congresswoman might not know it, but most people have more decency than that and most people own up to their mistakes, but she didn't. And you know why? Because she is making money hand over fist right now from people who believe all the things that she believed and seems like still believes: the anti-Semitism, the QAnon conspiracy hoaxers, the 9/11 deniers. She won't renounce the specific thing she has claimed in the past, because she wants the support of those people still.

Even when she was afraid of being taken off for committees, which is what ultimately has now happened, she said, okay, fine. In an interview with "The Examiner" yesterday, she said, okay, fine. It will give me more time to do what -- you know, the things that are important to me, fundraise, and she has been fundraising off this for weeks now.

She could have clearly spelled out all the absurd beliefs of QAnon today, but she didn't it. She could have pointed out the anti-Semitism at the heart of some of her past statements and apologize for that, she didn't.

She could have said today, of course, a plane full of our fellow citizens was flown into The Pentagon, and that was a horror. But did she say that? No. She spoke about 9/11 broadly.


GREENE: I also want to tell you 9/11 absolutely happened. I remember that day crying all day long watching it on the news.

And that's a tragedy for anyone to say it didn't happen. And so that I definitely want to tell you, I do not believe that it's fake.


COOPER: Okay, she is saying 9/11 happened, and she cried all day. She doesn't believe that 9/11 is fake. But even 9/11 deniers admit 9/11 happened. They just believe it was an inside job, that there weren't planes blown, that these things were blown up from inside. It was a plot, a conspiracy, and whatever crazy notion they have. They believe an explosion occurred at The Pentagon, but claiming it

wasn't a plane hijacked by terrorists, a plane full of men, women and children. That's what Marjorie Taylor Greene herself has said.


GREENE: The so-called plane that crashed into The Pentagon. It's odd, there's never any evidence shown for a plane in the Pentagon.


COOPER: So despite saying 9/11 absolutely happened, she hasn't taken that plane conspiracy hoax back.

And you know what else we didn't hear from her today? Remorse. At all. She expressed no remorse for the anguish that she inflicted in perpetuating such an ugly lie about a trauma that she herself claims to have cried all day over.

She felt remorse that she had been allowed to believe things that weren't true.

Instead, in her very next breath, she lashed out of the media, at so- called cancel culture then having not accepted any responsibility for anything she said, the Congresswoman from Georgia tried to shove it all down the memory hole.


GREENE: These were words of the past, and these things do not represent me. They do not represent my district, and they do not represent my values.


COOPER: These are words of the past. These things do not represent me. These aren't the droids you're looking for.

I mean, think of this, think of the possibilities. Your Honor, when I told that bank clerk to hand over the money, those were words in my past, these things do not represent me.

Or maybe gee, Mr. Smithers when I endorsed that racist post by the local KKK, that was before. I even thought of applying for a job here. They were words to the past, and these things do not represent me.

You might not buy it, the Judge might not buy it. But Colorado Congressman Ken Buck seems to.


REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): I think a number of these statements that she made, and liked on social media were inappropriate. She has apologized over and over again for those, and I think it's clear that she is a freshman and those statements were made before she came into Congress.


COOPER: They were made three years ago, two years ago. You know, before she realized she might actually be able to win a seat in Congress, before she hired PR people, consultants who told her, you've got to clean up the crazy, just a bit. You still need money from the crazy, so don't clean up too much but you've got to clean up just a little bit. You just need to be remorseful enough so that your fellow Republicans can welcome you into the fold.

Well, they have. The Congresswoman has apologized over and over again as Mr. Buck said. She didn't last night according to Congressman Kinzinger, and as you've seen, she didn't today. She took no true responsibility for anything, and that's just the way things go now, nobody apologizes for things, not politicians, it seems. Certainly, not the followers of the former President, which seems to be okay with Republican leaders in the House who voted not to discipline her today and said this after declining to discipline her last night.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Just an example, this Republican Party is a very big tent. Everyone is invited in.


COOPER: So big tent for the party or big top? Perspective now from a former ringmaster, Anthony Scaramucci, who served briefly as Communications Director in the Trump White House. Anthony, good to have you here.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, I mean, she may be gone from our House Committees. It just seems like such, you know, giving up of responsibility by the Republican leadership. I don't know if they wanted -- you know, I'm sure a bunch of them wanted the Democrats to vote her out because not only does it get her off those committees, but it also then allows them to just hammer the Democrats for doing an unprecedented move that they can say is just incredibly partisan and totally unprecedented.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR IN THE TRUMP WHITE HOUSE: That's probably the game theory that they're working off of Anderson. But you know, the tragedy for the Republican Party is that they've accepted all of this, and they've accepted this fear basis. This is a remnant, and an afterglow of President Trump, and so they're allowing the Trumpism, if you will, that sort of radioactivity to pervade post Trump, and it's -- you know, it is very bad for them because long term, you've got a very small group of crazy and you have a very large group of normal people.

So what will happen is the normal people will say, no mas to the crazy, they'll develop a center right party, split the party in two pieces, and then the Republicans will be in the minority for a generation.

And so that's where things are going right now, and I'm just surprised that you know, these guys because they know better. Kevin McCarthy knows better. He knows the path that he is on right now.

He is almost subsumed with his own ambition, and so, all of that comes with a lack of morality and a lack of principles. But he actually does know better.

If somebody intervenes on his behalf or throws water on them and will say, hey, what are you doing exactly? Go back to your principles. Go back to the core constituency of the Republican Party and shed this nonsense.

So this is going to end in a tragedy for the Republican Party, but the good news is, this is not a tragedy for the American people because the American people, the majority of them have caught on, Anderson.

COOPER: You tweeted earlier today, I saw you said: "The G.O.P. knows that Trump sold them down a rat hole. Stand up and speak the truth now and move away from the darkness and to something more principled."

I guess, what evidence you have that Republicans are going to do that? I mean, I know you said this is -- you know, this is going to be a long term issue now for a while and for generations. You're talking about divisions in the Republican Party.

Only 11 House Republicans were willing to go on the record against Marjorie Taylor Greene, 61 voted by secret ballot against Liz Cheney as Conference Chair last night because she voted her conscience to impeach Trump.


COOPER: And McCarthy, I mean, what I don't understand, Anthony, is the Republicans had the opportunity here with the impeachment to finally rid themselves of the former President's influence over them for the next four years, and they seem like there was a moment the night of the insurrection where a couple of people were kind of sending up trial balloons. And then they all just kind of decided, you know what, that's not where the base is and we need their support.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, first of all, I just want to say, I don't have any evidence of that. That's a statement that I'm making of what is, I believe, the right thing to do and the morally principled thing to do.

But listen, I don't have any evidence of that, and I think it is actually tragic that we are in a situation right now where you have this level of acuity in terms of the leadership.

So yes, they are following the money, their fear base. They are fearful of President Trump, and the rise of Trumpism primarying them.

You know, and my message to them, if you stood on principle the way Mitt Romney has or a few others, Kinzinger as an example, or Representative Cheney, you're going to be forever known as somebody that was capable of doing that. It's a courageous thing, and it's a brave thing.

But what these guys are doing right now is political expediency. It is personal power preservation, and it's blind ambition.

And so listen, the great news about it is, shows like yours and others are showing this so transparently to the American people. That you know, the majority of the American people know this.

So the Republican Party is going to end up on the current course splitting. There will be a center right party formed by very smart, responsible people that want to restore principle and want to figure out a way to get along and bridge a compromise with the Democrats, and the Republicans will be fighting it out for QAnon supporters and people that are preying on each other on their fear and on the nastiness of all of this mendacious conspiracy.

COOPER: Does the lack of specific contrition by this Congresswoman today surprise you at all? I mean, she said she has regret and is a sinner, but you know, she seemed more interested in fomenting conspiracy theories about the media taking her words out of context, which would be laughable if her comments, you know, weren't so often on tape, and frankly, just, you know, anti-Semitic at times and just sick.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, she's a disciple of President Trump, and so you know, he doubles and triples down on the lies, 33,000 or 34,000 lies. So, of course, it doesn't surprise me that she is doing that.

I have to tell you this, though, I am surprised at certain people in the Republican leadership. You know, Kevin McCarthy once said to me at a lunch that Washington needs more thermostats, Anderson. We have too many thermometers that are just sensing the temperature, and then they're expressing that temperature back to the people.

But what a thermostat does is, you set the coordinates, and then you guide people to that position, because it's morally right, and it's the right thing to do for the country, irrespective of the political expediency. He literally said that to me at lunch.

Where is that Kevin McCarthy now in terms of what he is doing to that party? And somebody should get in his face and ask him that question.

COOPER: Well, I mean, like you said, it's all about power, and it's easy to say that at a lunch when you're feeling confident and you have the majority, when you suddenly start to, you know, sense winds of change, or the floor falling out from under you, you know, people make different decisions about how to stay in power.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, good men and women don't do that, though, Anderson. They get anchored. And they say, okay, we've got to focus on what's right or wrong, not left or right, and if I lose my seat as a result of this, at least my kids will think well of me.

So, you know, we're in a really bad state in that party right now. I mean, we will have to see what happens. I'm pessimistic for them, unless they change course.

COOPER: Anthony Scaramucci, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up next, how voters in Congresswoman Greene's district are taking the news and the question, do some regret now voting for her?

Later breaking news on the big final step today before a third COVID vaccine comes online, but also the politics and conspiracy theories fueling the anti-vaccine movement.



COOPER: Tonight's vote stripping Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments has done more than just put her bigoted beliefs into the spotlight. It also raises questions about what her voters thought they were getting when they sent her to Congress.

Tonight, Gary Tuchman is in her district in Dalton, Georgia. What have you been hearing, Gary?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, here in Marjorie Taylor Greene's district, there are lots of people who voted for her who are going disenchanted with her, and we know that because it's been very easy to find those unhappy Greene voters.

This is in Dalton, Georgia. It is known as the carpet capital of the world. It's also the second largest city in this very Republican district.

Here in downtown Dalton, there is a large billboard that's been put up. The billboard says "Representative Greene, resign. You lied about the election. The Capitol was attacked." It was put up by a national republican group that doesn't much like the Congresswoman.

We can tell you that Donald Trump held a rally here in Dalton two days before the Capitol insurrection. Now, Greene has not publicly apologized for anything. We can tell you that Representative Greene has talked to constituents, she thinks the constituents still all like her.

We could tell you though, that there are many who don't as we've seen throughout our visit here. We want to give you a listen to what they have to say about their Congresswoman and the situation.


TUCHMAN: Do you think she should be taken off these committees in Congress?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it's a bad idea.

TUCHMAN: Do you think she should resign from Congress?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It might be better for her to do that before getting put out.

TUCHMAN: And the final thing I want to ask if you knew these things, you told me you didn't, when you voted, would you have not voted for?


TUCHMAN: You voted for Marjorie Taylor Greene?


TUCHMAN: You know about the hateful and violent things she said or liked or done?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not all of them.

TUCHMAN: But you know some of them, right? And she hasn't apologized for it. Does that bother you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it doesn't. And I'm not going to lose any sleep over it, but it doesn't bother me that much.

TUCHMAN: Even the fact that she has cast doubt on whether a plane crashed in The Pentagon on 9/11. I mean, families are still mourning today.


TUCHMAN: Does that not bother you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That does. Something did happen.

TUCHMAN: So, why didn't she just apologize? Have you ever thought about that?


TUCHMAN: Does it trouble you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not a lot. Not no more than everything else that goes on in Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, man, I believe that -- I mean, I've done stuff that I regret, you know, and I'd hate for people to judge me on that. So --

TUCHMAN: Have you ever talked about eating babies, because that's what QAnon believes in? That's what she supported in the past. It's kind of different than other things, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I mean, yes, I guess so. You're talking about eating babies. I mean ...

TUCHMAN: That's not cool, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I wouldn't say so.

TUCHMAN: Does that trouble you then?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I myself have two babies and so I thought --

TUCHMAN: Do you feel regret for voting for her knowing this now? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

TUCHMAN: You do?


TUCHMAN: So do you think there should be repercussions?


TUCHMAN: So do you think she should be taken off these committees she's on in Congress, which gives her power?


TUCHMAN: You do.


TUCHMAN: Do you think she should quit?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She should think about it.


COOPER: Gary, you know, Republican leaders in Georgia or many of them maybe in the official Republican circles have expressed support for her and say that you know, she was elected and she is representing the people well.

The people you're talking to, are they following what's going on with her closely?


TUCHMAN: A lot of people we've talked to know everything about it, but it is interesting that a number of the people we talked to knew very little or nothing about it or were just glad that a Republican is in the seat. Now, when we talked to them about the details, and I showed them my phone and showed them some of the articles that we've had on about it. Sadly, a lot of them didn't believe me.

But frankly, a lot of this really is quite unbelievable, right, Anderson?

COOPER: Yes. Gary, appreciate it. Thanks.

Joining us now is CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger and former Republican Congressman, Denver Riggleman.

Gloria, you heard some of Congresswoman Greene's constituents say that they're bothered by some of the things she said and done. Obviously, there's still a lot of support for her. Is there any reason to think not just in her district, but around the country that enough Republicans are bothered by them to force a course correction from where the party seems to be headed? I mean, that vote doesn't seem to indicate that.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, and if you look at the two votes that you were talking about earlier, you had 61 votes to oust Liz Cheney from her leadership position who voted with her conscience, and that was a secret vote, but then only 11 Republicans to remove her from her committee assignments.

So I think you'd have to be Pollyanna to think that the Republican Party would change course. The leader of the Republicans in the House decided that he couldn't make a decision on this, which one would think it might be an easy decision for a leader to make, but it wasn't because he wanted to kind of please Donald Trump and please another wing of the party. So then he let the democrats do it, so he could blame them.

And I think the only way right now that the Republican Party would change course, is if they decided that they're -- they were losing popularity as a result and their funding would dry up.


BORGER: And I think that's a real possibility.

COOPER: Congressman Riggleman, Marjorie Taylor Greene's funding has just increased. I mean, she is certainly -- you know, this is if anything, it made her, I don't know if it's more powerful, even though she has been taken off committees, it's certainly made her more of a name and a rallying point even if people don't even like her personally, she just becomes a rallying point because she is sticking it to Washington.

What did you make of her statements today, which, you know, are being portrayed as sort of an apology? You know, you have Congressman Buck saying she has apologized over and over again. She actually hasn't, but what do you make of it?

DENVER RIGGLEMAN (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Tripe. You know, a lot of it was a lie. I mean, you talk about she said that she, I guess, dabbled in QAnon in 2018 and you went through that list, Anderson.

She was also dabbling in QAnon in 2019, and the fact is, in December of 2020, she deleted a tweet, where she praised QAnon, an article about the Gab CEO.

So, you know, I guess I do have an advantage of being an intelligence in my past and having so many people supporting me around the country with looking at these videos now that I'm a chief strategist at the Network Contagion Research Institute.

But, you know, when I see something like that, I get very angry. And I get angry because, you know, she is still doing this. And by the way, and I'm not trying to, you know, belabor the point, but wasn't she screaming about Stop the Steal after November 3rd?

Stop the Steal is inherently Q. It's inherently conspiracy theory minded.


BORGER: You know, and Anderson, can I add that just this morning before she went on the floor to give her speech about how she was a victim of all of this, she tweeted, "It's not just me they want to cancel. They want to cancel every Republican. Don't let the mob win." She isn't talking about the mob on January 6th, she is talking about the Democrats who are the mob.

COOPER: And Congressman Riggleman, now that Greene has been bounced from her committees by her own admission, according to what she told "The Washington Examiner," this frees her up to what she wants to do, which seems to have nothing to do with actually legislating and everything to do with just becoming -- it's like becoming an Instagram influencer, you know, with fringe politics and fundraising. That seems to be the goal here.

RIGGLEMAN: That's a bizarre influencer. I've got to tell you, talking about space lasers and influencing, you've got a problem, and, you know, it's almost like she's a clickbait congresswoman.

You see people that you know, think Twitter makes them famous in the Twittersphere is what they react to, and, you know, somebody once said, and gosh, it might have been Paul Begala, didn't he say that politics was Hollywood for ugly people. And I think that's what you're looking at right now.

That's what upsets me about this, and I just want to talk about conspiracy theories. You know, it's starting to morph when you look at Dodger Stadium and that's why I get so angry about this.

We're seeing brand new hashtags that have come from Q. COVID-1984. The New World Order, right, NWO? And now we're seeing Great Reset as a hashtag that's exploding, too, and that's because right now, the G.O.P. does not want to face the fact they've got a conspiracy problem.

And if we have a social influencer, you know, that's spreading tripe like that and poppycock all over -- you know all over tarnation -- I can't believe, I just used the word tarnation -- but having that everywhere, you know it's getting crazy out here.


But I just think we're to a point right now that if we can't even -- if we can't have a conversation based on fact, and it's just on fantasy we have issues that are going to take a long time to root out and it's really about deprogramming people have been listening to stuff coming from Marjorie Taylor Greene and other big social influencers. And that includes a President.

COOPER: That whole idea of a clickbait Congresswoman or Congressman, I mean, it's an interesting, I hadn't thought of that title, but I mean, it is, Gloria, what a number of Congress people seem to be aiming for, they just want, you know, they want clicks on their on, you know, that will ultimately go to their website that will ultimately raise the money.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I mean, that's what it's about. But none other than Mitch McConnell said that this was a cancer in the Republican Party. And unless they put a stop to this, they're going to be devoured by it. And that's how they're going to be identified. And it's, you know, it's no coincidence that the Democrats are now starting to call the Republican Party, the Q party. And I think you're going to see that over and over again. And I think the fact that the leader in the House did not take a stand, which could have been pretty easy for him to do actually, has opened a Pandora's box here for the party.

COOPER: Right.

BORGER: And it's moral collapse.

COOPER: And Congressman Riggleman, Kevin McCarthy to claim he doesn't know what Q is. If he doesn't, I mean, that's, that's like malpractice. I mean, that's political. I mean, this is a really serious thing out there that has real world consequences. And they were folks storming the Capitol. He doesn't know about him, he better get an intelligence briefing.

RIGGLEMAN: Listen, I know, Kevin, but not remembering QAnon if you said it so many times, it'd be like me forgetting my wife's name after 31 years. It -- you know, it was everywhere. Right. I mean, you can't you can't forget that. And, you know, I think part of this comes to the fact that he's trying to sort of push it back and said, short memory syndrome that you have with politicians that they think somebody's just going to forget, or you can stumble over something or sort of, you know, diminish the importance of this or how awful this is. And again, I think you said at the beginning, Anderson, this theory is anti-Semitic, it's racist, and it's bigoted.


RIGGLEMAN: You have a Congresswoman who said that MSF -- MS13 was hired by Barack Obama to kill was it Seth Rich. That's tough to get.


RIGGLEMAN: You know, and that's why I think we have to move on.

COOPER: Yes, Congressman Riggleman, appreciate it. Gloria Borger, thanks.

More breaking news, just ahead. House impeachment managers today as the former President to testify at his second Senate trial, how his legal team replied when we continue.



COOPER: There's more breaking news. House managers have invited the former President to testify at his second impeachment trial which starts next week. The answer on behalf the former President came from his legal team swiftly he saying he will not. One of his advisors calling the request publicity relations stunt.

Perspective now from Harvard Law School Professor and know to constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, author of To End The Presidency, The Power Of Impeachment.

Professor Tribe, appreciate you coming back. What do you make of the former President declined to testify in the impeachment trial? I mean he's never cooperate with Congress before you surprised?

LAURENCE TRIBE, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: I'm not surprised, although I wouldn't be surprised if he weren't at least asked to testify because his lawyers made an enormous blunder not the blunder of misspelling United States. But the blunder of denying facts that were obviously true. For example, they said that when the President said, if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore. What he meant was that he was in favor of election reform. Well, obviously, that doesn't make sense. They claimed in their answer, that he wasn't trying to interfere with what Congress was doing on January 6, when we know that he was threatening the Vice President directly in saying that the Vice President had better do something about the electoral count. But when you put those facts and issue, you're basically opening the door. And you're creating a situation in which if you're unwilling to testify, you're supporting a negative inference, an inference that you are as guilty as it appears you are.

So, they didn't just stick with their weak constitutional theory that the Senate has no business trying him. Instead, they wandered out into the world of fact, and then they expect us to believe that the President is what too busy being ex-president, too busy on the golf course. Why can't he testify? It's -- no, it's there's no basis for it. But he's now given an ample opportunity. And he certainly can't complain that we're rushing to judgment without hearing his side of the story.

COOPER: You know, that that quote you use from the President about, you know, if I fight like hell, you can't get your country back. It's easy to forget that the entire rally that the President spoke to there's a reason it was in Washington on that day during those hours, it wasn't a coincidence that it just happened to be on the same day that the results, you know, that the electoral votes were being were being, you know, brought into Congress on that day, and the election would finally be decided, if you ever had to fight it, that was the only day left to fight.

TRIBE: That's right. I mean, that was the climax of an effort that has been carefully documented and will be dramatically laid out by the House impeachment managers, an effort that included a taped conversation with Raffensperger, the Secretary of State of Georgia, asking him to just find some extra votes so that he could flip the result in Georgia, and effort that led to one lawsuit after another 60 of them that he lost. That was fine. But when he couldn't do it legally, he gathered people in Washington, organize them, and then he's the one who told them to march on the Capitol. There's direct evidence that that wasn't their original plan.

So as the House impeachment managers put it, he aim to cannon directly at the Capitol, and then watched gleefully, while the mob took over and killed people and did what nobody had succeeded in doing since the Brits sacked the Capitol in 1814. That's serious. And when he says, oh, no, I wasn't trying to change anything, it just happened to be January 6, and I was in favor of election reform. Come on, what? We're not stupid.

COOPER: They're --

TRIBE: (INAUDIBLE) claim he's really got to testify or every one will draw a negative inference from his refusing to testify.

COOPER: They're also making the claim that there's just not enough evidence to contradict what the President is saying about election fraud, they the President believes that there's election fraud and there's insufficient evidence to prove otherwise. I mean, that that's just not true.


TRIBE: Well, not only is it not true, but they're actually repeating the big lie. They are putting in issue in this trial, the question of whether Biden won the election. Well, that's not what the trial was originally going to be about. It was going to be about whether since Donald Trump lost the election, it was OK for him to launch an insurrection, basically commit what looks like treason in the sense of engaging in war against the United States. That's what it was about. But now he is basically using the forum of the Senate to relitigate the question of who is the actual President of the United States, there are still people out there who believe in some magic way that March 4 is going to be the date that their champion Donald Trump takes over. And when he says, I'm not going to show up, because it's a publicity stunt. He's obviously just shooting himself in the foot.

He's the one who could possibly explain and I don't know that he could say anything that would explain what if anyone could he could, what it was that he was doing that was innocent. I mean, what legitimate purpose can there have been for getting hundreds of armed people aroused and angry and furious and then aiming them at the Capitol? Was that part of an effort to reform our election system? Obviously not.


TRIBE: The choice not to testify, but the American people will hear the truth and it will begin coming out very strongly on February 9.

COOPER: Professor Laurence Tribe, appreciate your time. Thank you.

TRIBE: Thanks.

COOPER: Just ahead, a third vaccine maker now seeks an emergency use authorization from the FDA. Well, Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us next with details.



COOPER: Breaking news to report. Johnson & Johnson has asked the FDA for emergency authorization for single shot vaccine. Meaning if the vaccine follows the path of the previous two, we could be weeks away from a third vaccines. That's one very positive development tonight. Another state's taking advantage of declining cases in hospitalization numbers. Today, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that youth sports practices and competitions would be allowed. Unfortunately, these encouraging signs come as health officials warn that new more transmissible variants of the virus could send cases and hospitalization numbers back up. And tonight a key model for coronavirus projects 631,000 total deaths by June. The IHME model which we have cited throughout this entire pandemic also says that vaccines should help death rates decrease even with the spread of the new variants. But with the country opening up it says tens of thousands more could die.

So for status check where we are right now, want to bring in our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. So, Sanjay, Johnson & Johnson asking for the FDA to authorize their vaccine. Novavax has started the rolling out process of getting their vaccine approved, what kind of impact will always have in the U.S. in terms of getting shots?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think this will have a pretty significant impact. I mean, you know, this is pretty extraordinary, you know, to think about the fact that we may have now three authorized vaccines within this time period. And I think, you know, that's it's worth noting that -- if this Johnson & Johnson vaccine gets authorized, it's a single shot vaccine. So 100 million doses, as you point out by June means 100 million people, which is obviously significant. A lot of people pay attention to the numbers in terms of how well this works.

Let me just show you quickly, you know, when you look at the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a lot of people have been asking this question is this as effective as the other vaccines? What are these numbers really mean? I don't know if we have them. But basically, the bottom line is that the number on the right 85% protective against severe disease. You know, Anderson, I think this is really just a fundamental point, the things that we hope that a vaccine will do protect us from getting really sick, no hospitalizations, or deaths in the people who got the vaccine. Those are the sorts of things right now that if people who are concerned, they're worried, they're at risk, if they can look at that, and have some comfort, I think it goes a long way. We obviously got to vaccinate more and more people. But this is significant development.

COOPER: Cases going down across the country. But then the -- we're also been sounding the alarm about these new variants. How effective -- I mean how will they affect the overall numbers? I mean, is that the biggest threat right now?

GUPTA: I think that is. I mean, you know, I think we were running into this position where you know, the vaccines were coming out, we were starting to see the numbers come down, and the variants out there are muddying the waters a bit. You're right, first of all cases are down 15%, as compared to last week, overall hospitalizations down 12%, as compared to last week, these are significant drops. Death rates around 3,000, that's sort of plateaued. But as you know, that's a bit of a lagging indicator, it's going to be the question of these variants in terms of overall numbers.

Anderson, we looked at Denmark, just as an example, because this is a country that sequences, a lot of viruses, you get a positive test, it almost always gets sequenced. If we can show the, the graph there, like in the United States, Denmark sort of started peeking in mid- December, and then they've, you know, they've been coming down. What the red is, is the variants. And you can see it started off as a small sliver of cases, but it roughly doubles every week or so, roughly. And after a while because it's more transmissible, it essentially crowds out the currently circulating coronavirus and it becomes the predominant coronavirus.

But Anderson, what it means is we have to vaccinate and we've got to still use the mitigation measures, mask still really work in terms of protecting you whether it's a variant or not.

COOPER: And taken as a whole. And we've been talking about COVID on this program for a year now. In your mind, are we at a point where the news is more hopeful than not?

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's interesting. You talk to someone like Michael Osterholm. I know you talked to him, and he says, you know, we're still in the second or third inning here. Others I've talked to say we're sort of more in the seventh inning stretch. It's hard to know -- what I would say is, you know, I think we're past the halfway point it seems in so many ways. With the warmer weather with more vaccines, things are going to get better.

It is a little bit of a race with these vaccines against the variants do the variants escape the current vaccination. Because there's too much virus still spreading it mutates more and more and the vaccines don't work as well. So, it's a race. If we end up with a tie game at the end of this. We may go into extra innings I guess. But right now, you know when we get into the fall, late summer, I think we have a good chance of not saying normal because I think that's a whole different term nowadays.

COOPER: Right.

GUPTA: But being in a much, much better position.


COOPER: The key as far as the variants to me the headline is you got to get the vaccine as quickly as you possibly can. That seems to be the only way to stop to really do anything about it.

GUPTA: The vaccine works well against the -- yes and masks.

COOPER: Yes, and mask of course. Absolutely. Sanjay thanks. Despite the best efforts of public health officials, there is still a vocal minority of anti-vaxxers, as our senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin discovered some prominent anti-vaxxers have direct links to the insurrection in Washington last month.


DONALD TRUMP, FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Thank you all for being here. This is incredible.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On January 6, on a separate stage, yet very much part of the election protests this micro rally had a different focus. These are the anti- vaxxers.


DEL BIGTREE, SPEAKER AT "HEALTH FREEDOM" RALLY: Innocent people are being lined up, walking to their potential death.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Their event part pandemic denial, part stop the steal, part prayer service. For those who are participating in the Capitol storm.

BOLLINGER: We pray for the patriots that are there now inside they're trying to get inside that Capitol. Lord use these people to eradicate this evil, these swamp creatures. This cesspool of felt and waste.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): A CNN review finds the people involved in this micro rally are linking the anti-government stop the steal messaging to their anti-vaccine alternative health industry.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Some are directly connected to the disinformation network of Roger Stone. They name drop stop the steal organizer, Ali Alexander and are peddling the same type of conspiracy linked health products as Alex Jones, essentially turning conspiracy into business.

BOLLINGER: This is war between good and evil.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Anti-vaccine advocates Charlene Bollinger, who planned the rally along with her husband Ty introduced speaker after speaker, stopping occasionally to gleefully report what was happening in the Capitol about a block away. Her husband left the rally to join in.

BOLLINGER: I asked him, are you the Capitol? He said outside it. The Capitol has been stormed by patriots. We're here for this reason, we are winning.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Also speaking, Mickey Willis whose discredited video plandemic was viewed millions of times before being removed from YouTube. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is psychological warfare.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Invited to speak Dr. Simone Gold, the anti- vaxxer who seeks donations to push her conspiracies. She became infamous with a stunt news conference at the Supreme Court last summer, appearing with other doctors, including one who's claimed alien DNA is being put in medicine. This is what Gold said at a mega rally January 5.

SIMONE GOLD, AMERICAN PHYSICIAN: If you don't want to take an experimental biological agent deceptively named a vaccine. You must not allow yourself to be coerced.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The next day, Gold went inside the Capitol and was later arrested. Through her organization Gold tell CNN she didn't participate in any violence or vandalism and rebuked such activity.

Conspiracism is the special sauce that links them all together. According to extremism expert Imran Ahmed, who co-wrote a study about the anti-vaxx movement and says, making money is at the heart of it all.

IMRAN AHMED, CEO, CENTER FOR COUNTERING DIGITAL HATE: These are snake oil salesmen. They're the oldest kind of liar and seller of deceit of misinformation.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): And let's just be very clear for the money, for the profit.

AHMED: A snake oil salesman needs to turn a profit.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): That is apparent in the politics and business empire of rally organizers Ty and Charlene Bollinger.

BOLLINGER: Hello again. It's Ty and Charlene.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): They have their own political action committee and run to businesses centered on conspiracies about cancer and vaccines. Their social media pages all together have more than a million followers.

BOLLINGER: Have you all heard about the truth about cancer or the truth about vaccines? Yes.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The Bollingers live on 13 acres in this 7,600 square foot $1.5 million mansion in rural Tennessee once featured on a realtor website. Their cancer and vaccine websites are businesses marketing their video series that cost up to $500. An air purifier that's more than $300, body cleanses and other unproven health products. Disclaimers warn nothing presented is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease and anything purchased through their sites mean the Bollingers will be paid in some way. While they're not camera shy.

BOLLINGER: This is Franken science, we've got to stop it.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The Bollingers did not respond to multiple requests for comments from CNN.


COOPER: And Drew joins us now. So, I mean, it seems tough to overstate the danger of this conspiracy. What do you know about the impact it's having?

GRIFFIN: Yes, Monmouth University poll just put out said that 24% of Americans are going to avoid the vaccine and Anderson you've got to wonder just how many of those people who'd will not get the vaccine are being affected by these lies and conspiracy hucksters. Anderson.


COOPER: Drew Griffin appreciate it

Still to come tonight, the big lie that could potentially cost Fox News. Several of its anchors Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell billions. The details when we return.


COOPER: Fox News three of its anchors and two attorneys who've worked for President Trump were hit today with a huge $2.7 billion lawsuit in New York State court voting technology companies Smartmatic says the Fox Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, along with pro-Trump attorneys, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell peddle lies about the company trying to help steal the 2020 election. Quoting from the lawsuit, the earth is round two plus two equals four. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the 2020 election for President and Vice President of the United States. The election was not stolen, rigged, or fixed. These are facts they are demonstrable and irrefutable.

Smartmatic actually only provided services in one county during the 2020 election. The company alleges Fox and the hosts were motivated in part by ratings. Once again from the lawsuit, quote, defendants had an obvious problem with their story. They needed a villain, they needed someone to blame they needed someone whom they could get others to hate. The story of good versus evil. The type that would incite an angry mob only works if the storyteller provides the audience with someone who personifies evil. Without any true villain, defendants invented one. Defendants decided to make Smartmatic the villain in their story.

Now in response, Fox says it is proud of its news coverage. Giuliani says he looks forward to the litigation and Powell says the lawsuit has no basis in fact or law. Both attorneys have been hit by a separate billion-dollar suit by second voting technology company.

Reminder don't miss "Full Circle". It's our digital news program. You can catch it streaming live at 6:00 p.m. eastern at or watch it there or on the CNN app at any time On Demand.

The news continues right now. Want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME." Chris?