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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
"Washington Post:" Prosecutor In Trump Criminal Probe Convenes Grand Jury; Interview With Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI); GOP Donors, House Members Pushed For McCarthy Statement Criticizing Rep. Greene; GOP Arizona Senate President Defends Election "Audit"; Memorials And White House Meeting Mark One Year Since George Floyd's Murder; Floyd's Girlfriend: It's Been The Hardest Year Of My Life. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired May 25, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Thank you so much for joining us tonight. I'm Kate Bolduan.
"AC360" starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. We begin tonight with Breaking News. A headline in "The Washington Post" signaling so much more than just a few more inches of news copy. It reads: "Prosecutor in Trump's criminal probe convenes grand jury to hear evidence." Followed by three more words, "weigh potential charges."
"The Post" citing two people familiar with the development reporting that the grand jury impaneled by Manhattan's District Attorney is expected to decide if prosecutors request it, whether to indict the former President, other executives at his company or the business itself.
Joining us now one of the reporters on the story, "The Post's" Jonathan O'Connell.
Jonathan, so explain exactly what you have learned about the existence and scope of this grand jury?
JONATHAN O'CONNELL, REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, the grand jury exists for more than just hearing about any evidence in the Trump case, obviously, this panel that will be reviewing a number of different cases over the time that they're sitting.
You know, the main thing -- main takeaway, I think, here from the DA's position is, he wouldn't be doing this if he didn't think he had some good evidence. You know, he's been obviously, you know, Cy Vance, the Manhattan DA has been looking at evidence for a number of years now, the same thing with the New York Attorney General, Letitia James, but this is really a sign that he feels like he has something enough that he might be able to convince some jurors to bring some charges.
COOPER: So can you just explain to people that this sort of long term or special grand jury, how long has it been impaneled for? And is it just -- I mean, you said it's looking at a lot of things, not just Trump related.
O'CONNELL: Right. I mean, this is -- the Trump case is a complicated case, obviously. They are asking -- they will be asking jurors to look at financial documents, probably; maybe some tax information and understanding tax laws.
So they are meeting Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. We don't know specifically the date that they started, but recent weeks or months. And you know, the reason you would call a grand jury is to give jurors time to look at, you know, the details of a complex case that they know they've obviously spent a number of years now putting together evidence for.
COOPER: Based on your reporting, do you have a sense of how strong Cy Vance's office thinks their case is?
O'CONNELL: Well, they have brought in a special forensic expert who is an expert on, you know, white collar crime and financial cases and that was a real indicator really earlier this spring, that you know, Vance was taking this seriously and he was sort of getting toward the end of making a decision about whether he had enough evidence or not.
You know, we know some categories of interest for the investigators. We know that there's some interest in whether President Trump's company has properly paid taxes on some of the real estate properties. We know there's some interest from investigators about the Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg, and maybe some of his own personal tax activities.
The question is, you know, there are a lot of questions, but one of them is, are they immediately targeting President Trump himself with potential charges? Are they targeting Mr. Weisselberg? Are they targeting the company? They could charge the company with a crime instead of picking an individual?
COOPER: Jonathan O'Connell, fascinating reporting. I appreciate it. Thank you.
Joining us now is Daniel Goldman. He served as the Democrats' lead counsel in the first House Impeachment proceedings and before that, as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Daniel, what does it say about what the Manhattan District Attorney could have on the former President or his associates or his business that he has now reportedly convened this grand jury?
DANIEL GOLDMAN, SERVED AS DEMOCRATS LEAD COUNSEL IN FIRST HOUSE IMPEACHMENT: Well, it's a significant step, Anderson, in part because violent cases like a homicide where you have a murder, sometimes a DA will just present the evidence to a grand jury and let the grand jury decide whether or not to indict someone, but that's when you know you have a crime.
In a fraud case, you don't necessarily know that you have a crime. And so the decision by the DA to take the evidence to a grand jury carries more weight with it than in other cases. So what this shows is that they have gathered sufficient evidence to believe that potentially, a crime has been committed and they are going to present it to a grand jury, and ultimately likely presenting an indictment as well.
COOPER: So the fact you're saying that unlike in a -- when there is, you know, a violent crime or something, the fact that they're presenting this to grand jury in a fraud case means their case may be stronger than it would otherwise be in evidence that's often presented to grand juries.
GOLDMAN: Right. A lot of times, just you presenting the evidence to a grand jury and let the grand jury decide, but here, and we know a lot about this, right? We know obviously that the DA has gotten the tax returns. We know Michael Cohen has met with the DA's office numerous times to provide evidence. We know they've issued grand jury subpoenas to a host of other entities.
GOLDMAN: We know from reporting, and I should say that we've heard from reporting that they have subpoenaed school records of Allen Weisselberg's grandchildren. There's been a widespread investigation, and what this reveals, in conjunction with the New York Attorney General converting its civil investigation into a criminal investigation and teaming up at the DA's office, what that definitely shows is, there is some evidence that a crime was committed.
We don't know by whom. We don't know what the crime is. And we're not certain that a grand jury will indict. But it is a more significant step than you might otherwise have in convening a grand jury.
COOPER: The pushback from defense attorneys is that grand juries are very one-sided, there is only the prosecutor in there, no defense team. And there's of course, the old line about a prosecutor being able to indict a ham sandwich. You're saying -- what about that criticism?
GOLDMAN: Well, it is generally true that because it is one sided, because there's no defense attorney to cross examine the witnesses, that it is very favorable to the prosecution.
I would say, though, that particularly in a state grand jury, which is different from a Federal grand jury, hearsay is not allowed. So what you will see over the course of this long grand jury is a lot of the witnesses will have to go and testify themselves.
What I would do as a Federal prosecutor is I would interview a lot of witnesses, and then I would put the case agent from the F.B.I. or another law enforcement agency into the grand jury and have them summarize what everybody says so it didn't necessarily take that long.
Here, we're going to actually have to see the witnesses presented, the grand jury is going to see the documents. They likely will present evidence from the forensic expert as well as other charts and summaries of documents. So that's why it's going to take a while, but I would not -- so that doesn't necessarily mean that there will be charges. But broadly speaking to your point, usually when -- particularly in
fraud cases, the prosecution brings an indictment to a grand jury to vote on it, the grand jury will usually vote to indict.
COOPER: The grand jury is reportedly going to sit for six months to hear other cases besides the former President, can you expect a certain, you know, in terms of timeline here, I guess there's -- is there any way to know what the timeline on the Trump related or Trump Organization related material may be?
GOLDMAN: No, it's very hard and they can extend the grand jury. I mean, one thing I would caution all of your viewers, though, Anderson, is this doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to indict Donald Trump. And from my perspective, as a former prosecutor, I do think it's a difficult case against Trump.
Fraud cases are hard. He has what would be perceived as an advice of counsel defense to some of the fraud charges, and he doesn't e-mail, so we know that there isn't going to be a lot of documentary evidence that demonstrates Donald Trump's knowledge of any misrepresentations to insurance companies, to banks, to tax authorities.
That's why Allen Weisselberg becomes so important. And if he is indicted, because he would know all of this stuff, then the question is whether or not he will cooperate because I do think that you will need someone who really knows the ins and outs of the Trump Organization finances in order to testify, in order to get Donald Trump and Allen, it's a small company, Allen Weisselberg is the guy who really knew everything.
COOPER: Daniel Goldman, I appreciate it. Thank you. It's fascinating.
I want to get more perspective from someone who knows a thing or two about former President's finances from his extensive reporting over the years Trump biographer and Bloomberg opinion columnist, Timothy O'Brien; also CNN's Jim Acosta and Dana Bash.
So Tim, given your experience with then citizen Trump in a legal setting he once sued you for $5 billion, because he didn't like what you wrote. His net worth was much less than he claimed it was and a Judge later tossed a lawsuit. How do you think this news of grand jury is being received? And how serious do you think it is?
TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, AUTHOR, "TRUMPNATION: THE ART OF BEING THE DONALD": Well, I don't believe he's receiving it well. I don't think anybody with an ounce of commonsense would be happy to be subject to a criminal probe that's now part of a grand jury proceeding.
So I think you're going to start to see him lash out. You can probably set your stopwatch to how soon he'll go after Vance and after the process. He already has gone after this change last week, obviously. And I think this has enormous weight, but as Dan Goldman just pointed out, we really don't know yet where it's going to lead.
[20:10:00] O'BRIEN: There's a lot of evidentiary issues for the DA and the New
York State Attorney General to surmount here to make a case against Trump personally. They may have an easier time against the Trump Organization. Allen Weisselberg is in the crosshairs here. And I think he is going to be key.
There's another former Trump Organization executive, Jason Greenblatt whose name has not come up in any of these proceedings. But he and Weisselberg were the two people who signed off on everything that Trump wanted, and no one in that company did anything without his blessing, including his children. His children were petrified of crossing him or actually completing deals that he hadn't blessed.
So there was no remove from Donald Trump from anything of substance in that company. Anything that the DA finds or the New York State Attorney General finds that is criminal, there are hurdles and is going to have to be did Trump know, and what evidence they have that shows he knows or knew.
COOPER: Jim, within Trump world or the former President's inner circle, you know, was there or is there you think a lot of concern about that a New York case might progress to this phase?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF DOMESTIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, I can tell you from talking to my sources that Trump has spoken to associates, people around him about his concerns as to what might happen in these cases up in New York.
But I will tell you, talking to a source who stays in touch with the former President just a short while ago, they don't believe there are people around the former President who don't believe this is a particularly strong case in Vance's office.
Now of course, they may say something like that, because they are trying to spend things in the media. But remember, Donald Trump, and this goes back to what Daniel Goldman was alluding to a few moments ago, Donald Trump is the type who will say, oh, my accountants gave me this advice or my insurance company gave me this advice. My kids gave me this advice. Michael Cohen gave me this advice.
That is the kind of person Donald Trump is. That is what is going to make it so very difficult to prosecute him for just about anything, but make no mistake, if he is indicted, he is going to start squealing like a greased pig at the county fair. There's no question about it.
COOPER: Dana, I mean, do you think anything -- in terms of the politics of this, does any of this really matter to the Republican Party? I mean, despite it used to be sort of, you know, call themselves the rule of law party.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Not when you have a former President who continues to use terms like "witch hunt." And, you know, he does well politically playing the victim card. And I don't expect this to be any different, but probably raise money off of it, and argue that this is exactly why, you know, he is -- more proof that, you know, he has been wronged along the way from the beginning of his campaign to his presidency.
And look, there are a lot of people who believe that. There are a lot of people who believe him and he'll get, you know, a lot of help from the #MeToo caucus and conservative media.
And, you know, not until and unless he actually is indicted, he actually is, you know, if you take this down the road and these are very big ifs, convicted, would it potentially hurt him with the people who adore him? And the people who are on the fence, you know, a lot of them have been disgusted with his behavior since the November election, but that's not who he is trying to appeal to right now.
COOPER: Tim, I mean, you've seen up close how the former President as a citizen dealt with legal matters. I mean, how does he view these things? How does he deal with these things?
O'BRIEN: Well, we've also seen how he has dealt with it as President, Anderson, he skated past two impeachments, and Robert Mueller's intensive Federal probe of wrongdoing by him, and then he lost the election and fomented an insurrection in response to it.
So what he'll do is rely on the fact that he believes he has nine lives. He has demonstrated that he has nine lives. And he will take his case, first and foremost to his supporters, and he will get people to take to the streets, he will get his allies in the media to disparage the process.
And in the same way that he has tried to undermine the rule of law and democracy up to this point, he is also going to go after the judiciary system as being politicized and bias towards people like him.
That will be his playbook, and he won't walk at all about -- I think, you know, burning down any norms he needs to burn down in order to save his own skin.
COOPER: Jim, who advises the former President when it comes to legal matters these days? I mean, obviously, Rudy Giuliani, I wouldn't imagine is in the picture right now.
ACOSTA: No, he is not sending Rudy Giuliani out to Four Seasons landscaping these days, Anderson. He has a pretty high powered group of attorneys working for him.
Remember, Marc Mucasey was working on these tax issues. People like Jay Sekulow, Alan Futerfas, I mean, he has some heavy hitters working on his behalf. And so I mean, they're going to be ready to rumble if this heads into court.
ACOSTA: But keep in mind, as Tim was saying, and Dana was saying, you know, Donald Trump is going to fight this not just in the courthouse, he's going to fight this in the court of public opinion. Nobody plays the victim like Donald Trump does and that's exactly the playbook we're going to see put into action, you know, moving forward. I talked to a Trump adviser earlier this evening, who said, of course,
he is going to be indicted, of course, something is going to happen to him. Look, who's in charge in New York. Look who is in charge in Fulton County, for example, when it comes to that election fraud case that may come to fruition down there, all Democrats.
They believe that Donald Trump will be prosecuted because he is being pursued by Democrats. And of course, you know, nobody would like to play the role of a political prisoner in all of this than Donald Trump.
COOPER: And Dana, and there's a lot of folks who, as you said, will believe that?
BASH: Absolutely. They're very eager to believe that. Now, the question is, if you're just asking about the raw politics, one of the things that I'm hearing from many, many Republicans is, you know, despite the fact that he is going to take this to the court of public opinion, so on and so forth, what this means for a potential run again in 2024.
The former President is very serious about that at this moment according to people around him. You know, he is talking about it not as -- you know, not as an if, but a when. This could very much change that if he becomes embroiled in a real criminal investigation and a court case.
COOPER: Dana Bash, Jim Acosta, Tim O'Brien, appreciate it. Thank you.
Next, what did take five or five -- excuse me, why did it take five days and not five minutes for House Republican leaders to finally condemn one of their member's repeated anti-Semitic statements? We've got new reporting, keeping them honest.
And later, with memorials underway marking the year since George Floyd's murder, we'll talk with his girlfriend about all she has experienced and what she sees for the future even as the questionable killings of black men by police continue.
COOPER: Well, tonight we know how many anti-Semitic utterances from a conspiracy spouting freshman congresswoman it takes for Republican leaders to say anything about it. As for what it'll take for those same leaders to actually do anything about it, that is anyone's guess, because for now, talk is all they've got.
Some of it is not even unequivocal, not even about Nazis and the Holocaust. What's more, these words come five days after Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene's first try comparing anti-COVID measures to the Holocaust.
This morning she tweeted: "Vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazis forced Jewish people to wear a gold star." As one Jewish colleague put it today, gold stars are what you get for behaving in class, yellow stars of David were what Nazis forced Jews to wear to mark them for everything from public ridicule and attack to official discrimination and extermination.
This is what the Congresswoman has been invoking. Here's how she started five days ago. And it's the last you'll hear from her on the program because as we pointed out last night, this is less about her and her deeply stupid remarks and more about the people leading the Republican Party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): You know, we can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star and they were definitely treated like second class citizens so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany and this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: She later doubled down, then tripled down this morning, but it was all cut from the same cloth. Nothing today was any more ahistorical, offensive or provocative than her first remarks.
So what changed? Why did it take a full five days for leadership to think, you know, maybe invoking gas chambers and Nazis is not a good idea for the Republican Party.
Well, we have some breaking news on that shortly. In a nutshell, Leader McCarthy had to be pushed. But first, here's what he and the rest of the leadership finally said today, not five minutes after Greene's racist remarks, but five days.
House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik tweeted: "Equating mask wearing and vaccines to the Holocaust belittles the most significant human atrocities ever committed." Minority Whip Steve Scalise's office put out a statement, it begins: "Representative Scalise does not agree with these comments and condemns these comparisons to the Holocaust."
And the congressman adds, quote: "We also need to be speaking out strongly against the dangerous anti-Semitism that is growing in our streets and in the Democratic Party, resulting in an alarming number of horrific violent attacks against Jews."
So not even condemning someone for trivializing the murder of six million Jews can be done without bothsidesing it. The same for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. His statement reads: "Marjorie is wrong and her intentional decision to compare the horrors of the Holocaust with wearing mask is appalling. The Holocaust is the greatest atrocity committed in history. The fact that this needs to be stated today is deeply troubling."
That is followed by: "At a time when the Jewish people face increased violence and threats, anti-Semitism is on the rise in the Democratic Party and is completely ignored by Speaker Nancy Pelosi." Now, keeping them honest, Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar did come
under criticism in 2019 for a tweet playing on anti-Semitic tropes suggesting that Israel's political allies in this country were motivated by money rather than principle. She later apologized.
Congresswoman Greene has apologized for nothing, because then she couldn't fundraise off it.
Joining us now Rhode Island Democratic Congressman David Cicilline. Congressman Cicilline, the fact that it took five days for the House Republican leadership to finally address these repulsive comments and according to CNN's reporting, Kevin McCarthy had to be pushed. What does that say to you?
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Well, it's disgraceful. I mean, as you said, it took them five days, it should have taken them five minutes. But the reality is, Kevin McCarthy has lost control of his caucus.
This is a set of leaders in the Republican caucus in the House that are focused on one issue and that is returning to power and so they're willing to put up with a former President who is promoting a big lie about the election being stolen.
CICILLINE: Who led an insurrection against the government of the United States, and they have excused that. And now, they are willing to excuse the conduct of Marjorie Taylor Greene because they see her as an important person in their caucus. They still welcome her. She's a member in good standing of the Republican conference. They haven't expelled her from that. They haven't -- she hasn't been held accountable in any way.
Five days later, after enormous pressure from everyone, including Jewish members on the Democratic side, he finally says something, but it's disgraceful. This is a person who has said the most outrageous anti-Semitic things, comparing the death of six million Jews to following the public health guidance of the attending physician is an outrage.
And unfortunately, I think they think that Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks to the base of their party, and so she is a welcome member of the Republican conference. And they waited a very long time before they had the decency to speak out against what she said and it's an outrage.
COOPER: I mean, amongst many Republicans, she -- or at the least the former President's supporters, she is more popular than Kevin McCarthy. I mean, it seems hard to imagine that there's really going to be any repercussions for her, as long as you know, McCarthy, as you said, and the others are just eager to stay to reclaim power.
CICILLINE: Yes, and she raises money for them. She is, you know, she is more popular and he isn't. And remember, they moved quickly to remove Liz Cheney from a leadership position in their conference because she had the audacity to tell the truth, to call out the big lie. And yet they are fully embracing Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Kevin McCarthy has showed a complete failure of leadership, and the fact that she is more popular among Republican voters, and maybe even among the Republican Members of Congress tells you something.
So they did nothing to impose any consequence, any sanction on her for her conduct, and this is one of many things she has done to demonstrate deep anti-Semitism, and it's outrageous that she is an important member of their conference.
COOPER: You, along with other Jewish Members of Congress wrote a letter to Kevin McCarthy today asking him to make it clear that he doesn't support Green's anti-Semitic remarks. How do you respond to McCarthy's accusation in his statement that, quote, anti-Semitism is on the rise in the Democratic Party.
CICILLINE: Well, it's just not true. And again, there's never any responsibility, you know, the people who refuse to certify the election, despite the fact that they were in fact the valid results. They've never apologized for that. The people who have excused the conduct of Marjorie Taylor Greene, and she herself has not apologized.
But it's always about trying to assign responsibility to somebody else, something they privately learned from the former President. You know, deny it and then attribute it to someone else. And that's what Mr. McCarthy did, rather than taking responsibility for his failure to respond immediately to these comments, to strongly condemn them, and then to impose some sanction.
You know, there's no reason that she has to remain a member of the Republican conference. She should be expelled, but they welcome her with open arms. They've imposed no consequence to her for this conduct, and in fact, waited a good long time before they finally spoke out.
So I think it speaks to a failed leadership on behalf of the Republican conference, and her popularity within the Republican caucus.
COOPER: Are you concerned about any Democrats and their own issues or past comments like Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from Minnesota playing on anti-Semitic trope?
CICILLINE: Look, I think Congresswoman Omar apologize for that almost immediately. But you know, I see no evidence whatsoever in the Democratic Caucus or in the Democratic Party of anti-Semitism at all.
In fact, the strongest voices that have condemned acts of anti- Semitism and this rise in anti-Semitic violence have been members of the Democratic Caucus, but everyone should be condemning it.
This is unacceptable in America that American-Jews face any kind of discrimination or violence or, you know, harassment. And we -- you know, we're the party that is speaking out against hate and division and bigotry and racism, and anti-Semitism. We don't get the same from our Republican colleagues, sadly. And Marjorie Taylor Greene is one of the most recent and I think most
despicable examples of that. And it should have been easy for the Republican leaders in the Congress to condemn what she said to immediately call upon her to apologize, and they didn't do any of that, because she is welcome in their caucus.
COOPER: Congressman Cicilline, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
CICILLINE: My pleasure.
COOPER: Joining us now, CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel. Jamie, some new reporting about what made Kevin McCarthy finally speak out on this.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: The key word there is "finally" and a lot of my sources are saying it's too little too late.
My Republican sources are saying that both Republican donors, very important and Republican members pushed McCarthy to do this. That they were embarrassed and that they were frustrated and that they would like him to go further. That members really would like her expelled from the conference, but they don't expect McCarthy to do that.
One said to me, quote, Kevin should do it, but I doubt he will. A second source says, Donald Trump likes her, Marjorie Taylor Greene, he supports her. And Kevin doesn't want to upset Trump.
COOPER: So he's not weighing any actual consequences for Greene at this point, as far as we know.
GANGEL: You know, we're hearing some talk about a censure maybe. But I think the real question is, how much more pressure there is, does she keep doubling down? And what does Donald Trump have to say? I'm told by a source familiar with their relationship that the two men are talking regularly, and that it is very likely that before Kevin McCarthy even did the statement today, five days later, that he checked in with Donald Trump.
COOPER: And the President has not said anything about these comments. The former president has not said anything about these comments. How much of all this is about McCarthy's ambition to be House speakers, Congressman Cicilline was saying.
GANGEL: All of it. It's a -- it's 100%. But here's the question. He wants Donald Trump support because he thinks that's how they get control of the House into -- in '22. The problem is that Kevin McCarthy one source said to me, needs to learn to do math. If he is alienating his members by not leaving on something like this. We already know Adam Kinzinger has said he won't support him, Liz Cheney won't support him. What about the 35 members who voted for a January 6 commission that Kevin McCarthy did not want?
So he may be alienating the very votes he needs in the conference, Anderson. COOPER: Jamie Gangel, appreciate it.
Up next, the elusive lawmaker behind the so-called election audit underway in Phoenix finally talks to our Kyung Lah.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Aren't you raising more questions by giving rise to these conspiracy theories?
KAREN FANN (R) ARIZONA STATE SENATE PRESIDENT: No. I'm answering questions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Tonight, we finally hear from the Arizona State Senate Republican who call for the so-called audit of the 2020 presidential election ballots in Phoenix. She's avoided talking until now, CNN's Kyung Lah caught up with her. Here's her report.
LAH (on-camera): Good morning, Senator Fann.
(voice-over): You may not recognize Arizona Senate President Karen Fann.
FANN: Let's get this thing done --
LAH (voice-over): But she's the elusive leader behind the notorious so-called audit happening in Maricopa County, Arizona.
FANN: I don't know what's legit, what isn't legit. But why wouldn't we want to answer those questions? Do we just --
LAH (on-camera): We're just questioning democracy?
FANN: No, I'm questioning the integrity of the election system.
LAH (on-camera): Which is the backbone of democracy.
FANN: That's right, which means we should have full 100% confidence in our democracy and in our election system.
LAH (on-camera): So, you're talking about trying to disprove conspiracies.
FANN: If I have to, yes, why wouldn't we? If somebody says something is out there, I would love to be able to say, that's not true guys.
LAH (on-camera): Aren't you raising more questions by giving rise to these conspiracy theories?
FANN: No. I'm answering questions --
LAH (voice-over): After declining a dozen requests from CNN to talk, we finally caught up with her in the Senate parking lot, despite two previous audits in Maricopa County that found no widespread fraud. Fann says this third review is needed.
Over the last month we've seen this little known subcontractor the Republican led Senate hired Cyber Ninjas use UV lights hunting for non-existent watermarks on ballots and high tech cameras looking for foreign fibers and photocopied ballots. Here's why says Fann.
FANN: OK, so let me ask you a question. Are you 100% confident that every vote that came in Arizona or any other state, are you -- can you say emphatically 100% that no dead people voted, that ballots weren't filled out by other people, that the chain of custody from the minute peoples voted their ballots that the chain of custody was accurate and an on target the entire time. Can you tell me that?
LAH (on-camera): I can say that what the data shows us --
FANN: No, no, no --
LAH (on-camera): -- that there was no widespread fraud.
FANN: I didn't say there was fraud.
LAH (on-camera): But you just a chain of custody.
FANN: Yes, chain of custody --
LAH (on-camera): Dead people, that's -- these are all fraud?
FANN: Well, I asked you a question. Can you honestly tell me in all the states that no ballots from people that already deceased were not filled out and sent in?
LAH (on-camera): I can tell you that what the data has shown overwhelmingly is that election that's was most the most secure election in American history.
FANN: OK. But you can't answer that question either can you?
LAH (on-camera): I'm answering it. I'm telling you that --
FANN: That you're telling me what the data says I asked.
LAH (on-camera): And you were adding what we should be driven by.
(voice-over): What the facts are, may be the disconnect. Fann defense the pro-Donald Trump media organization, One American News Network, or OAN as being the only outlet given extensive access to the review.
FANN: First of all, when we talk about transparency from day one, the entire process has been live streaming. So anybody --
LAH (on-camera): At OAN with cameras controlled by OAN?
FANN: Are you saying that OAN is not a credible news source?
LAH (on-camera): Yes.
FANN: Are you saying that?
FANN: OK. I'll remember that. CNN is saying that OAN is not a credible one.
LAH (on-camera): Yes.
FANN: OK. Very good.
LAH (voice-over): OAN personalities have fundraised for the Arizona audit and a pro-Trump nonprofit claims that has raised 1.7 million for the audit. Fann says when the audit nears its end, the public will learn who is exactly paying for this. For now, she says taxpayers are covering the first $150,000.
FANN: Well, we are paying the 150,000, we are paying for some of the security, and we were paying for the cost of the Coliseum. Well, we're paying for our fair share anything over and above that is being covered by others. I do not know who they are, but I know from the get go there was a lot of grassroots people. I have been told that there are people sending in $10, $50 checks, $100 because they want to see this audit done.
LAH (voice-over): Fann's decision to continue with this audit is backed by the Republican majority in Arizona Senate.
(on-camera): It looks like they're looking for the chasing conspiracies.
SONNY BORRELLI (R) ARIZONA STATE SENATE: Or debunking conspiracies, that sort of thing. See look at that, she really wants to twist that word around. How about debunking conspiracy?
LAH (on-camera): And how long would you believe that this process should go?
BORRELLI: As long as it takes?
LAH (on-camera): Do you believe this is helping democracy?
FANN: Absolutely. Absolutely.
LAH (on-camera): Will you do this every election? FANN: It will be a lesson in democracy, that we answer people's questions, and I want the people -- I don't care if you're in Arizona, or any state across the nation. If we have those kind of doubts, we owe it to them to answer their questions. This will be the basis of a gold standard.
COOPER: Kyung Lah joins us now from Phoenix. It's interested she's saying essentially that if anybody feels like something wasn't fair, then there will always be audit, because people will always think something's unfair, whoever loses will think it's not fair. And at some point that this will just continue on and on that this is the new normal.
LAH: She quantified it. She said if it's only two percent of voters who think that it's not fair, you can ignore that. But because there are so many she says, who do not believe this election result that they have to chase all of these conspiracies.
But Republicans here in Maricopa County say that that is not being able to tell the difference between fact and fiction. And Karen Fann somebody who the Republicans and Maricopa County really deeply admire, known for many years Anderson, they say she is chasing a fiction. Anderson.
COOPER: OK. Kyung Lah, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.
(voice-over): Up next, the memorials honoring George Floyd on the anniversary of his murder by Minneapolis police officers, his members of his family visit the White House. Details when we continue.
COOPER: There we're storing memorials across the country today to honor George Floyd and mark one year since his murder by a Minneapolis police officer. Crowds gathered at what is now George Floyd Square outside Cup Foods where he took his last breath. There was a moment of silence to honor the nine minutes and 29 seconds when officer -- former officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd's neck.
At the White House, members of the Ford family met with President Biden, Vice President Harris. After the meeting Floyd's brother said that the family had a great meeting and lobbied for the passage of the George Floyd Policing Act. That legislation is now hung up in the Senate by Republican Senator Tim Scott said he was cautiously optimistic that the bill would be eventually passed but not by the end of this week.
Joining me tonight is Courteney Ross, George Floyd's girlfriend.
Courteney, thanks so much for being with us. It's obviously been a year. How are you doing? How are you holding up with all it's -- all that's gone on? COURTENEY ROSS, GEORGE FLOYD'S GIRLFRIEND: It's been a trying year, Anderson is, I would say been, you know, the hardest year of my life. And I feel like I've been through a lot. But today is a day of celebrating Floyd's life. I've been surrounded by wonderful people, friends and family. And we've all just been sharing stories and remembering what a wonderful man he is.
COOPER: I want to play something that you said about George Floyd, you refer to him as Floyd on the day of the verdict. I'm going to play this for our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSS: It's the first step in a long road to recovery. We have a lot of work to do in Minneapolis. But I believe Floyd came here for a reason. This is a sacred, sacred land. And we need to start respecting that again. And I know that that is what he would want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: How confident are you that there will be progress? I mean, we've seen obviously the death of Ronald Greene come to light now in Louisiana, it was the killing of Daunte Wright in Minnesota, which you know a lot about from working in the school that he went to. Are you optimistic, that there'll be changed.
ROSS: I have to remain optimistic. That is exactly what Floyd would want. He would not want any negativity, or doubt on people, no matter what people's false. Floyd was so forgiving, he taught me to be even more forgiving.
I was already a person that was like that. And I believe like, particularly in my city, I believe in Minneapolis, though, I'm ready to see some real change. And it's time now we've waited a year, things need to start having some drastic changes going on.
But, I'm saying that, you know, we have some people that are on the same page as us and I noticed like I'm going to continue this fight. So, there will be real change in this city, in this country, in this world.
COOPER: The George Floyd Justice and Policing Act which passed the House is stalled in the Senate is undergoing intense negotiations. Are you disappointed it hasn't been passed by now? (INAUDIBLE) assuming President Biden had hoped would have been signed into law by today.
ROSS: I'm shocked that it hasn't been signed into law by now. I think it's -- so if anyone's listening to me out there. You know, listen from the woman that loved him, and the person that knew him in Minneapolis and knew how much he loved this city and do something for him, you know. Do something for the people that last lives.
COOPER: It's been a little over a month since the verdict came back guilty for ex-officer Derek Chauvin. I'm wondering what your feelings about, about his trial about him at this point. There's obviously federal case in the works and to some extent, you may have to live through that legal process for a long time to come. What sort of emotions do you have about that?
ROSS: I've expressed before that I tried to look at Derek Chauvin when he was in the courtroom. I want him to know how much pain is caused and I didn't get that moment, I want all the officers to know that they didn't just take Floyd's life, they took away -- my way of life. They took away my children's way of life. They took away our community's way of life. And they took away so much of the security that we had in our city.
We've always had problems, but this has, you know, obviously put Minneapolis on edge. We're working to get to where we need to be. But like I said, I'm not sure we're there yet. But we're working on it.
COOPER: Obviously, the -- I mean the whole world knows the name George Floyd, and to many he's a symbol of a movement, you obviously knew him as a person. What do you hope his legacy is?
ROSS: Well, you're right, the world knows him as George Floyd. And I continue to say that George Floyd is a movement and Floyd or big Floyd, like we call him in Minneapolis. He, you know, he was a man that we all loved.
And Floyd, always believed in inclusiveness and togetherness, and taking care of people who are in need. And I remind people that Floyd stood for people that that needed help. And that included the homeless population, the youth, our elderly population, and he really focused his entire life around helping people.
So, I encourage people to take on what his efforts began in this world. So continue to reach out to those in need, continue to put your money in good places where they need it, and your (INAUDIBLE).
And that's what he would have wanted, he hated to see people struggle, he would help anybody passing on a street that needed help. And that's what I think this society needs right now. We need a lot of love, we need a lot of hope. We need a lot of what Floyd stood for.
COOPER: Courteney Ross, I really appreciate you talking to us. Thank you.
ROSS: Thank you Anderson.
COOPER: Want to get some perspective on this day from Van Jones, CNN political commentator, and former special adviser to President Obama.
So Van, we just heard from George Floyd's girlfriend. What stands out to you about this past year, I mean, about where we are a year from his death?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first, I just want to say, you know, these families, you know, they're unbelievable. Nobody signs up for this role. This is not a situation that anybody wants. And yet over and over again, you find the people who history or fate, you know, drags out of their lives and throws in front of these cameras and throws in front of these congressional hearings are just beautiful people.
And it just speaks to the humanity of the folks who are not famous or not rich or not powerful, we don't get a chance to write the laws or make the media happen. There's so much beauty and dignity in this country. And people shouldn't have to go through this.
They shouldn't have to go through this. And people are going to go through this. And they can reach down and find the kind of humanity that she just showed, and stick up for the best and him and the best in our hometown. And the lawmakers need to do the same damn thing.
You know, it doesn't make sense to be a year out. And we still don't have any real progress. It doesn't make sense. I appreciate the leadership of, you know, Tim Scott in the in the Senate along with Cory Booker, I appreciate everything that Karen Bass is trying to do.
But you know, honestly, law enforcement should come forward now. McConnell, all the other people who have as much or more power to say, let's just get this done. There's so much that people already agree on.
You know, the chokehold shouldn't be happening to no-knock warrant shouldn't be having, so much stuff that we can agree on. Honor these families, don't make them go through months and months and months of this. It's just unbelievable to me.
COOPER: You know, it's interesting, I spoke with her mom, actually afterward, I called up her mom's to talk to her and, you know, the ripple effects of one person's death in, you know, immediate family, extended families, other families and then the effect on other people of what's happening in those families because of those ripple effects. I mean, we find this all across the country. I mean, it's --
COOPER: -- sort of this hidden pain that exists that rarely gets recognized.
JONES: And I think that, you know, we need more humanity recognize by law enforcement, you know, (INAUDIBLE) law enforcement families always point out. And, you know, police officers are not. Saints are superheroes, you know, they're city employees, and you have some that are good and some that are bad and you have anybody can, can get off track.
But this is when you see anybody in trouble, maybe they're acting up, maybe they're having a bad day. You know, you've got a lot of people, it's just not that person that you might be arresting, you know. That person has a family, they -- that people who care about them, and they need to be present in the interaction between, you know, law enforcement shows up.
COOPER: All right. Van Jones, I appreciate it. Thank you very much. (voice-over): Up next, the former president just weighed in on our breaking news neither report that a grand jury has been convened to weigh potential charges involving him or his company. We'll be right back.
COOPER: At the top of the program, Tim O'Brien said we should start a stopwatch on how soon the former president erupts in the wake of reporting that he's now got a criminal grand jury to contend with in New York certainly didn't take long for the statement to come.
It's a litany of complaints presumably about that story. Quoting from pieces of the former president's statement, this is a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in American history began the day I came down the escalator in Trump Tower and it's never stopped.
Also this, no other president history has put -- had to put up with what I have had to. He continues this is purely political, and in the front of the on the 75 million voters who supported me in presidential election and it's being driven by highly partisan Democrat prosecutors.
Then comes a false statement about crime in New York followed by this, instead of going after murderers, drug dealers, human traffickers and others they come after Donald Trump. Words of a hero of mine, that's the way it is, Tuesday, May 25th inside a certain former president's head.
The News continues. Let's hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: It was very interesting to note my friend.