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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Facebook Says Trump Suspended Until at least January 2023; F.B.I. Director Compares Threat of Ransomware to Attacks on 9/11; NY Times: Trump Finance Executive Testifies Before Grand Jury; Sources: Pentagon Report Will Offer No Definitive Conclusions About Navy Pilot Encounters with UFOs. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 04, 2021 - 20:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And that fits with the McKinsey study, which found that more than one in four women are considering either downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce entirely post pandemic.

Much more needs to be done to help the women who have been hurt most by this economic downturn.

Thanks for watching. It's time for Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. A hundred and fifty days since the worst single act of political violence since the Civil War, and the man who incited it is crying about being kept off social media.

Now, before we get to that, there was a reminder today why Facebook just told him he is not welcome on the platform until at least January of 2023.

The Justice Department came out with updated figures on cases connected to the insurrection, approximately 465 defendants now from all 50 states, more than 130 defendants charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers or employees, more than 40 charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer.

Again, 40 people charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon. So, keep that in mind as you listen to Senator Ron Johnson say this:


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): It just didn't seem isn't like an armed insurrection to me.


COOPER: Now, he may say he was talking about firearms, but if he was, he also knows he was being too cute by half because he has always known this about a video of an officer being beaten to within inches of his life by a flagpole that was used as a weapon, or the images of people carrying baseball bats.

He also might have heard a Capitol Police Sergeant last night on CNN tell the story of how his hand was sliced open, who was soaked with chemical spray and who endured hand to hand combat so intense he says there were moments he thought he might die.

That Sergeant also drew a straight line between the former President's social media lies to the terror he faced.


SGT. AQUILINO GONELL, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: When the President tweeted this or that, and they continued to say, "Well, he don't mean that. Well, this is not what he meant to say," that, take his word for it or his tweet speak for himself. Well, he was just joking.

Okay. How are these people, who are deranged, that listen to every single thing that he commands? If he tell them the sky is blue and there is a storm outside, they believe that crap?

I mean, when -- when is it going to stop? Is it going to take your own family to be murdered by these people?

This time, it is against this President, next time, it might be you.


COOPER: Well, today with that in mind and stories like his, even now still coming to light, Facebook said it is barring the 45th President from the platform until January 2023 and at that time, the company says, Facebook, quote, " ... will look to experts to assess whether the risks to public safety has receded."

Just think about that for a moment. Facebook's decision on reinstating a former Chief Executive of the most powerful nation the world has ever seen will hinge on whether he is in the company's judgment literally a threat to the public.

And how did the man who was bounced for inciting violence with his election lies respond? Well, with more of the same. He couldn't do it on the blog, which he just shut down for lack of interest, so he sent his reply via e-mail, quoting now, "Facebook's ruling is an insult to the record setting 75 million people plus many others who voted for us in the 2020 rigged presidential election."

The President adding: "Our country can't take this abuse anymore."

Separately, he also attacked Facebook's founder, quote, "Next time I'm in the White House, there will be no more dinners at his request with Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. It will be all business."

I don't know what that means.

Today, White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki was asked for her reaction to Facebook's decision. She said it feels quote, "pretty unlikely that the zebra is going to change his stripes over the next two years," end quote, except of course we are not talking about a zebra, we're talking about the former leader of the free world.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan joins us now along with CNN anchor and chief domestic correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Donie, I mean, the lies, the conspiracies that former President is spreading, now, it is not possible at least not on Facebook, at least not until after the 2022 midterm elections. How damaging is this to his influence, do you think?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the lies -- the big lie -- the conspiracy theory about the 2020 election not possible from Trump on Facebook, but remember, Trump has plenty of proxies on Facebook.

His son is still on there. Marjorie Taylor Greene is still on there. Facebook is not changing its policy when it comes to fact checking politicians, so many people will still be able to lie and run ads with lies about the election.

But how these damages Trump specifically? Well, he does have tens of millions of followers on Facebook, and of course, he is most known for his Twitter account, but really the real engine of his campaign in 2016 and in 2020, which is former campaign manager, Brad Parscale used to boast so much about was their effective use of Facebook for targeting voters with ads and also for fundraising.


O'SULLIVAN: Fundraising is the big part of Facebook and what he will be missing out on here.

COOPER: Jim, I mean, we heard some of his reaction to today's news. I'm wondering what your sources are telling you about what's happening behind the scenes. I mean, just last night, we were talking about, you know, his hope of being reinstated to the presidency by August, which is not going to happen.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF DOMESTIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he can't even get reinstated on Facebook. So forget about being reinstated to the presidency.

Donald Trump has big problems. This is one of them. I talked to a close adviser earlier today who said this was not all that surprising. They expected this.

But Anderson, keep in mind, look at what Donald Trump was doing earlier this week. You were just talking about this. He was floating this idea that he could reassume the presidency.

Obviously, if he is allowed back on Facebook, if he is allowed back on these social media platforms, he is going to go right back to lying the way he used to and lying-in dangerous ways.

I recently spoke with a Facebook Oversight Board representative and asked this person, if Donald Trump is allowed back on these platforms and he incites another insurrection, or he incites violence in some way that gets people killed. Will your platform be responsible for that? I could not get a straight answer from this person because that is the issue.

If they let Donald Trump back on these platforms, he will likely lie to the point where people might die.

COOPER: Donie, you know, we talk a lot about the former President's influence, and yet his blog which he called, you know, a platform, which -- I mean, it wasn't a platform, it was like, you know, a little hunting perch. The blog was taken down for lack of interest. What does that say about his influence? That a blog -- he cannot sustain a blog?

O'SULLIVAN: Well, look, I think it points to the importance of these platforms that it underlines, how powerful really Facebook and Twitter is in all of this.

And remember, Anderson, Twitter has just kicked Trump off. They said you're never again coming back. But I will just say, I think the most important thing in all of this is that Trump did not get suspended for all the election lies. He did not get suspended for everything that led up to January 6th.

He got suspended from Facebook, because he was -- essentially Facebook said -- praising what was happening on that day. So, you know, if he is allowed back, Facebook will say, well, he is not allowed to directly incite violence, but they are still going to allow all these election lies all the pieces that will lead to potentially more violence, and I think that is the fundamental flaw in this new Facebook policy.

COOPER: Jim, there's some reporting from AXIOS from Jonathan Swan back in May when Facebook's Oversight Board, you know, then recommended the ban on the former President's account continue.

Swan's reporting was saying that the Trump team were blindsided, that they thought Trump would be reinstated on the platform. In the Trump orbit, I mean, just how critical is Facebook to the former President's messaging and fundraising still, because I mean, does it matter whether he himself is on it? There's plenty of people who support him over on it who will fundraise.

ACOSTA: Yes, I've talked to a close ally to Trump earlier today about this and this person described what Facebook did today as terrible. Terrible because he cannot fundraise moving forward on Facebook.

And if he were to try to run for President again, obviously, his campaign, the people around him would want to start putting that message out on Facebook or other social media platforms between now and 2023.

This is awful for Donald Trump, if he wants to run in 2024. You know, Anderson, getting back to what you were just saying a few moments ago about the President's website being taken down, you know, one of the reasons we were given for why that was not a big deal is, you know, we were told by advisers that well, he is working on these other platforms, these other platforms that may come down the road where he will be back on social media. If that were the case, if this were some big endeavors that was coming

down the pike, why did he respond the way he did to Facebook banning him for another couple of years? Obviously, there's nothing significant coming. It's just another one of these empty Trump promises that never come to fruition.

You know, Donald Trump's idea of free speech in this country, Anderson is setting the world on fire. And what Facebook did today is deny Trump the gasoline and the matches to set the world on fire again, and so the question becomes with the Republican Party, you know, why can't they dump Trump their standard bearer? The leader of their party can't get on Facebook, can't get on Twitter. How is he supposed to lead the Republican Party? I don't think there's a good answer to that question -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jim Acosta and Donie O'Sullivan, appreciate it.

We're joined now by presidential historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin. She is the author of too many wonderful books on too many subjects to count including "Leadership in Turbulent Times." Doris, it's always great to have you on.

I mean, as a presidential historian, what is it like for you to hear a company say a former President of the United States is such a threat, they believe, that he is not allowed to use their platform for two more years and even then, they're so-called experts will assess whether the risk of public safety has receded.

It's stunning.



I mean, even to me who have lived with my guys through the Civil War, through the turn of the 20th Century, through the Great Depression through the early days of World War II, through a whole series of unprecedented events, probably more in the last five years than through all those 50 years that I studied, my guys.

I mean, just think of the 2016 election and the outcome that we never expected, the pandemic that we've all lived through, the economic fallout, the attack on the Capitol. I don't know how historians of the future are going to talk about unprecedented anymore, because it just seems like we're living in those times day after day after day, and this is just another example.

Who could have expected there would be a platform with such power that could take a former President not to be able to be on because he is a risk for public safety? Both sides of that are incredible.

COOPER: Has there been a President or a former President who, I don't even know how to say this, who can't control their words, or who, you know, who their advisers wish they did not speak? Because I mean, it seems like he can't stop doing this. I mean, he can't stop spreading election lies even when he is responding today, you know, in an e-mail about being banned on Facebook. He is spreading -- he is lying about the election.

GOODWIN: You know, it is interesting, we often talk about a President being right for the moment. And in a certain sense, President Trump when he was President was right for social media in some ways, but the very thing you're saying is what has made it so hard for him, and I think for the country.

When Lincoln was a politician and debating Stephen Douglas, he was great at extemporaneous language. He could beat anybody in that.

But once he became President, he knew that he was speaking for the country, and that his words mattered, so he almost never spoke unprepared.

Today, it's much harder to do that given social media, and President Trump has certainly made it harder on himself by never letting himself say other than what he wanted to say, but you've got that combination of immediate response and a President Trump and a former President Trump and here we all are talking about him.

COOPER: Well, I think I know the answer to this question, but has there ever been a former President who so quickly out of the White House has ended up living in a country club, and sort of showing up at people's weddings and random dinners, and re-litigating an election that he lost over and over and over again?

GOODWIN: Well, the last part of what you said is the most important, I mean, what we've really had mostly in our history is Presidents accepting their losses and moving on and telling their supporters that this is democracy, and that's been a real strength of our system that we've been allowed to have somebody lose, the next person comes in, and that person then becomes President.

COOPER: And also, that the former President then engages in some sort of public endeavor that has some value to society. That's usually a tradition.

You're joining us tonight, in part because it's the 56th anniversary of a commencement speech that then President Lyndon B Johnson gave at Howard University. It is June 4th, 1965, it was two months before he signed the Voting Rights Bill and your late husband, Dick Goodwin drafted that speech. I want to play about a minute of it. Let's listen.


LYNDON B. JOHNSON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No act of my entire administration will give me greater satisfaction than the day when my signature makes this bill to the law of this land.


JOHNSON: The voting rights bill will be the latest and among the most important in a long series of victories. But this victory, as Winston Churchill said of another triumph for

freedom is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning. That beginning is freedom and the barriers to that freedom are tumbling down.


COOPER: That line, "the barriers to that freedom are tumbling down." Here we are in 2021 and in many states, barriers to vote are being rebuilt or they are attempting to rebuild them.

GOODWIN: I know, it's heartbreaking in a way. When I think about my emotions, I was a young, 22-year-old. I was in the Capitol the day that he signed that Voting Rights Act. And he signed it in the Capitol itself, as I'm saying and I'm just a lowly intern in the House of Representatives.

But it turns out that I will end up working for Lyndon Johnson, the man who signed that Act and marrying the man, Richard Goodwin, as you said, who helped to draft the speech that was so important to the finding of that Voting Rights Act being secured.

But the incredible thing he does at Howard University is he takes it the next step.


GOODWIN: He goes to my husband, he says, I've got to make another speech now, Civil Rights is there. Voting rights is on its way. We have to talk about economic and social justice. And that speech is where we are today.

He said, when people -- everybody is born with a range of abilities, but those abilities are either stunted or stretched by the house you live in, the family you grow up, in the neighborhood you have, the poverty or richness of your surroundings.

You can't take a person to a starting line and expect them to compete if they have had a history of bondage and racism.

It's the exact climate of what we're talking about today. He was talking about it then, and those are the Presidents we look for, who care about their legacy and the arc of justice and how they are expanding it forward.

COOPER: Doris Kearns Goodwin, I appreciate it. Thank you.

GOODWIN: Thank you for having me.

COOPER: Coming up next, escalating the legal battle against the kind of hacks that have recently dried up gas pumps and shut down the meat supply.

Also ahead tonight, there's breaking news. New reporting of what appears to be the first top Trump Organization executive to go before a New York grand jury. We'll talk about it with our legal analyst and a former top Trump executive who knew the witness in question.

Plus, with all the attention on the upcoming government report on unidentified objects in the sky, we will hear from some of the military pilots who saw them, as well as others who claim they really do know that something is out there and it is not from this world.



COOPER: It is one thing as we reported at the top of the program to safeguard social media against the man from Mar-a-Lago, it is another to protect the nation's physical infrastructure and vital industries from cyberattacks and ransom demands.

Today, the nation's top cop made it clear those hacks will now be treated by the Justice Department no differently than physical terror attacks.

CNN's Alex Marquardt reports.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The cyber threats against the United States have grown so much, it is like dealing with terrorism after 9/11. That urgent message from the head of the F.B.I., Chris Wray.

Today, adding his voice to the alarm being sounded by the Biden administration over the growing ransomware attacks here and around the world.

"There are a lot of parallels," Wray told "The Wall Street Journal."

"The scale of this problem is one that I think the country has to come to terms with."

JOHN HULTQUIST, VICE PRESIDENT, MANDIANT THREAT INTELLIGENCE AT FIREEYE: Before long, we are worried that some people will get hurt, especially when we consider all these incidents that are affecting healthcare.

MARQUARDT (voice over): Healthcare, schools, and most recently, the Colonial Pipeline and JBS Foods, which is the biggest meat producer in the world. Those two recent attacks caused gas shortages and beef plants to shut down.

MICHAEL LEITER, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER: I think this is going to be an ongoing struggle of increasing threat, increasing defenses, and to the extent again that this counterterrorism analogy works. That's another way in which this will be a long term fight.

MARQUARDT (voice over): The Justice Department announced Thursday, it will implement practices used for terrorism cases, telling prosecutors to share more information and coordinate efforts on ransomware attacks, which is when hackers take control of a network and hold it hostage demanding money.

The attacks and the amounts paid have skyrocketed. The Justice Department says ransom payments often in cryptocurrency last year went up 300 percent.

The White House on Thursday released a rare open letter pleading with companies to strengthen their online defenses saying they can't fight the threat alone. But experts say, the government also needs to find a better way to take down the attackers and deter them from even trying.

SHAWN HENRY, PRESIDENT, CROWDSTRIKE: It really requires the government to take additional actions. They've got to work collaboratively with foreign law enforcement agencies to take these people off the field, to use law enforcement efforts, Intelligence agency efforts, economic sanctions to disrupt and deter these actors.

MARQUARDT (voice over): Most of the recent major attacks have come from Russia. The government hackers in the case of a breach like SolarWinds, and criminal hackers striking the pipeline and food companies.

Today's comparison of cyberattacks to other terrorist threats is one that has been made for years, including in 2018 by the country's head of intelligence.

DAN COATS, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I'm here to say the warning lights are blinking red again. Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.


MARQUARDT (on camera): Those warning lights are now doing more than just blinking, they are on.

I'm told this is going to be a significant part of President Biden's upcoming trip to Europe both at the G-7 and then in that one-on-one summit in Geneva with President Vladimir Putin.

President Biden will make clear to Russia that they have to take action to crack down on these groups and tell Putin that they are fundamentally destabilizing to the U.S.-Russia relationship. Biden has repeatedly said he wants a stable and predictable relationship with Russia -- Anderson.

COOPER: Alex Marquardt, thanks so much.

Perspective now from Christopher Krebs, former Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency of the Department of Homeland Security, also CNN national security analyst, former Director of National Intelligence and retired Air Force Lieutenant General, James Clapper.

Chris, Director Wray is making this parallel likening the challenge posed by these ransomware attacks to 9/11 attacks. Do you agree with that assessment? CHRISTOPHER KREBS, FORMER DIRECTOR, CYBERSECURITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE

SECURITY AGENCY: Well, I certainly think that it's important that the F.B.I. elevate the priority of tackling ransomware gangs, akin to the terrorist threat of 9/11. I think that's in part what you're hearing here.

But at the same time, you're seeing the Deputy National Security Adviser, the Deputy Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland, all making a very clear statement that ransomware is a top priority for this administration.

COOPER: Director Clapper, I mean, the 9/11 Commission Report, there were failures leading up to the attacks, one of the biggest being a failure of imagination. Is our government failing again on that front, are they doing enough?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I don't think there's a failure of imagination here. The Intelligence Community has long identified activists and criminals in the cyber domain as a problem. Dan Coats did when he was D.N.I.


CLAPPER: I think, though, that what has been in the past considered an annoyance or an irritation, has now risen to the level of a genuine national security threat, when we've seen recent demonstrations of the impact this can have in the case of the pipeline seizure, and the seizure of the meat processing plant. So this is a harbinger of what adversaries, such as most notably the Russians can do.

So I think it's quite appropriate for the government to sound a sense -- to generate a sense of urgency about this in the public.

COOPER: The question then, of course, becomes what do you do about it? Chris, you recently tweeted about this, saying: "There's no silver bullet, no single action that will stop this. It is going to take a concerted and coordinated set of actions across governments and industry to slow this down, even then the bad guys will keep looking for openings. Make them not want to play the game anymore." How do you go about that?

KREBS: Well, I think the first thing we have to do is here in the homeland, we have to work with our private sector partners, business leaders to improve their defenses. They need to improve on the basics, but unfortunately, doing the basics still is a little bit on the harder side.

Second, we've got to look at the business model. I mean, ransomware as a business. Business is good. We have to look at what facilitates the transfer of funds from U.S. businesses to these criminals, and in part that is cryptocurrency. And so we have to look at regulatory regimes over crypto.

And then third, we've got to look at what our additional tools are, whether it's law enforcement or Intelligence or military operations to disrupt the ability of these ransomware gangs to use the internet to launch their attacks and make them like I said, not want to play the game anymore. Make it too hard for them to engage in this criminal activity.

COOPER: Director Clapper, I mean, does that all sound right to you?

CLAPPER: Yes, it does. What this -- what I think Chris is saying and suggesting here is not just a whole of government approach, but a whole society approach. And clearly, private concerns need to be able to step it up on defense.

But I think the government needs to go on the offense here more and use more of the tools that are available to it. And to Chris's point, he is exactly right about, you know, if you dry up the funding and make it difficult for ransomware to be exploited, it will go away. And we are just going to have to be a lot more aggressive about that.

COOPER: Chris, I mean, what is the worst case scenario for a future attack? I mean, we've seen, you know, the impact of the Colonial Pipeline and what that did, it seems like there are a lot of other things that could be even much worse.

KREBS: I think that's true. I think we have seen over the last year or more. We've seen ransomware attacks on hospitals, on state and local governments, on water facilities. And I do get the sense, at least from the folks I talk to in the private sector, cyber intelligence world, that perhaps the crew, the Darkside crew with Colonial overstepped, right? They didn't necessarily know that they're going to be knocking out the pipeline and gas supplies to the southeast.

And so, there there's been a bit of a reckoning in that community, but it's a clear indication that we have massive vulnerabilities. And, you know, due to the unregulated nature of our private sector, that, you know, we're going to have to think through a different set of incentives, whether carrots or sticks to improve our defenses here.

COOPER: Director Clapper, I mean, how much of this is state sponsored? I mean, and if there are Russian, you know, cyber groups, they are not -- I assume they are not operating without the knowledge of the Russian government.

CLAPPER: Well, know that in Russia and the way it operates, particularly under Vladimir Putin, it is inconceivable to me that the Russian intelligence services aren't aware of this, and that Putin has certainly at least acquiesced if not directed -- directing it.

It's inconceivable to me that they would permit an attack on these sensitive infrastructure, apparatus or capabilities of ours, without it being at least sanctioned by the state.

Now, Russia wants to be in a position of, perhaps it's attributable, but also deniable. And I think we need to keep that in mind as we consider options to retaliate.

COOPER: Director Clapper and Chris Krebs, I really appreciate your time. Thank you. Coming up next, breaking news on the grand jury that's investigating

the President's company and the senior company executive who has reportedly testified.



COOPER: Breaking news tonight, the Manhattan district attorney's grand jury investigation of the Trump Organization. There's new reporting on what could be the first known company executive to have talked. The New York Times headline reads Senior Trump Organization Official Testifies Before Grand Jury. The Manhattan DA's office subpoena Jeffrey McConney, a long serving financial executive at the company. According to The Times, he's worked at the Trump Organization for nearly 35 years.

Joining us now is CNN's legal analyst Elliot Williams, who served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General during the Obama administration. Also Barbara Res, former executive vice president at the Trump Organization and author of Tower of Lies With My 18 Years Of Working With Donald Trump Reveals About Him.

Elliot, let me start with you. How significant do you think this could be in this legal case against an employer -- that a Trump Organization employee has testified?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's not -- Anderson, I will say it's not just any Trump Organization, employees, the comptroller of the organization. Look, what's being investigated here are financial irregularities both by the Trump Organization and potentially the President himself and Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer.

When you are investigating financial regularities in an organization, there are two people you need to talk to. Number one, the chief financial officer and number two, the controller so what it seemed -- and these are any dollar that the Trump Organization spent whether in the form of inflating or deflating real estate assets, or unlawfully making payments, potentially to Allen Weisselberg, would have gone through these two individuals.


And so, what this all is a sign of is that they're putting pressure on the chief financial officer, Mr. Weisselberg, in an attempt to get him to cooperate in the investigation, and potentially provide testimony against the president. So this is quite significant, just given the nature of the crimes that are being alleged, and the people who they're calling to testify.

COOPER: Yes. And you said alleged, it's important to point out no charges have been filed against anyone in the Trump Organization.

Barbara, you worked in the Trump Organization for 18 years. Who is Jeffrey McConney, what's his role in the company, and his relationship with Allen Weisselberg? BARBARA RES, FMR EXECUTIVE VP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: You know, when I was back there, I was working on a California project. At the (INAUDIBLE) at the end of my tenure. And Jeff was a young then, but we had occasion to talk to him once in a while he would look at all expenses and things like that. It wasn't the control is the first I'm hearing of it. And I'm very happy because I liked them a lot. And I think he's a good man. But he was just doing, you know, pretty much (INAUDIBLE) for the -- for Allen.

COOPER: But do you know about his role now in the organization? I mean, that was -- was that when he was just starting out you said?

RES: It was basically when (INAUDIBLE), he was young, and he very, very bright guy and hard worker. And, you know, I can't imagine that he would have moved up in the (INAUDIBLE) absolutely.

COOPER: Right. Elliot, you point out that in New York, a grand jury witness is granted immunity. So that's obviously significant, potentially here.

WILLIAMS: Yes, New York is in a minority of states that grants was called full transactional immunity to witnesses were compelled to testify before the grand jury. That means that he can't be prosecuted for anything he says, during the course of this testimony, that's a huge -- of huge value to prosecutors, because it allows them to ensure truthful testimony.

Now, if this does, if someone does get charged, and this does go to trial, defense attorneys would likely challenge this witness and say, wait a second, you got a really sweet deal from the government, you've potentially committed unlawful acts, and they've committed to never prosecuting you for anything. So yes, it becomes a credibility thing for the individual who testifies. But at the end of the day, what the policy here is a New York State is to get valuable testimony. And by ensuring that you're not prosecuted people come before you, that's probably the best way to do it.

COOPER: Barbara, how loyal is Allen Weisselberg to the former president?

RES: How what?

COOPER: Loyal is he?

RES: That's a good question. I mean, he was always extremely loyal. And that's I'm just going to say it's in the sun, I can't imagine that Trump puts the same faith and trust in Jeff McConney that he does now in Weisselberg. So although he's been solid, he may not know everything. I'm happy that he's going to testify and we'll see what he knows I'm very nervous a lot, I'm sure.

But Allen Weisselberg was like, besides being a sixth sense, it was a (INAUDIBLE) choppy worship the ground, you walk down. I mean he was a loyalist, probably the single loyalist person he has and the only non- family member. COOPER: And Elliot, you know, if Allen Weisselberg is of is their main interest, who because I mean, according to everybody, he is the person who knows everything there is to know. He knows where everything. I mean, he's been there forever. He worked for Donald Trump's father before he worked for, for the former president is talking to the chief financial officers, somebody underneath Weisselberg, is that a step to getting information on Weisselberg?

WILLIAMS: Right. It's incredibly it's not uncommon to work your way up the chain. And, you know, if there's anyone who's going to know about the financial irregularities of the organization, its Weisselberg deputy.

Now, look, this may never ending charges for the president himself, people need to know that. But it's incredibly significant that the Chief Financial Officer of any organization, let alone one run by the former president of United States is this much the target and subject of a criminal inquiry.

COOPER: It is, it's so fascinating. I appreciate it both of you. Thank you so much.

(voice-over): Just ahead, the White House comments on what may be in that Pentagon analysis if you oppose sightings by some of its Navy pilots. Be right back. I'll have a look at the evidence to date when we continue.



COOPER: The White House commented today on a story we've been following for a while about encounters between UFOs and U.S. Navy pilots, specifically on a new development that broke last night -- broke during last night's program I should say that sources are now telling CNN that a highly anticipated Pentagon report which should reach Congress later this month will reach no definitive conclusions on what these pilots saw. Sources say their report concludes there's no evidence these were alien spacecraft. But say three of these sources the report doesn't rule that out, something that may only fuel the debate obviously.

Today the White House was asked about the report and would only say this.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I will say that we take reports of incursions into our airspace by any aircraft identified or unidentified very seriously and investigate each one, safety and security of our personnel of our operations are a paramount concern. There's a requirement to put out this report and certainly our appropriate teams are working on finalizing it.


COOPER: Randi Kaye has more on what sparked such interest in the subject by those in government.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that thing! It's rotating.

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A U.S. Navy aircraft captured images of that rotating thing back in January 2015 off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look on the S.A. My gosh. They're all going against the wind. The wind is 120 knots to the west. Look at that thing, dude.

KAYE (voice-over): Also in 2015, just a few weeks later this happened. Watch as a Navy air crew struggles to lock onto a mysterious fast moving object off the Atlantic coast.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa! Got it! Woo hoo! What the (INAUDIBLE) is that thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my gosh dude.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, what is that man?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at it fly!

KAYE (voice-over): Former Navy fighter pilot Alex Dietrich told Anderson Cooper about spotting a strange flying object in the sky back in November 2004, off the coast of San Diego.

ALEX DIETRICH, FMR U.S. NAVY F/A-18F PILOT: Enter stage left the Tic Tac, and that's what we affectionately refer to it as, because that's what it looked like.

KAYE (voice-over): It was about the size of an aircraft fuselage.

DIETRICH: It was white, it was a matte finish, just like a Tic Tac, and it behaved in a way that we were -- we were surprised, unnerved. It accelerated, or almost didn't accelerate, right. It's sort of jumped from spot to spot and tumbled around in a way that was unpredictable.

KAYE (voice-over): Former Navy Commander David Fraser was on the training mission with Dietrich and remembers how the object quickly maneuvered.

DAVID FRASER, FMR U.S. NAVY F/A-18F PILOT: Like a ping pong ball bouncing off the wall, the ability to hover over the water and then start a vertical climb from basically zero up towards about 12,000 feet and then accelerate in less than two seconds and disappear is something I had never seen in my life.

KAYE (voice-over): So what was it? The government won't say or maybe doesn't know. For decades, the Pentagon's research into these Close Encounters has been kept under wraps, along with the images, and a now defunct $22 million program designed to investigate UFOs.

So what are we to believe about moments like this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's getting close. Splash.



KAYE (voice-over): Members of the U.S. Navy captured that footage of an unidentified flying object spotted off the coast of California in July 2019, just before it vanished into the ocean.

And with so few answers, extraterrestrials have become a favorite subject for conspiracy theorists, with much of the focus on a highly classified U.S. Air Force testing facility in Nevada, known as Area 51. Bob Lazar is the conspiracy theorist and former physicist who says he worked at the secretive government research site Area 51. He says he was hired to reverse engineer a flying saucer buried there.

BOB LAZAR, CONSPIRACY THEORIST: This came from somewhere else. I mean, as bizarre as that is to believe, but I mean, it's there, I saw it.

KAYE (voice-over): Others have bought into his claims that the U.S. government buried Extra Terrestrial technology at Area 51.

LAZAR: It looks like sand, it's made to look like the side of the mountain that attend whether it's to disguise it from satellite photographs.

KAYE (voice-over): So until someone says for sure what's really out there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We found the blinking lights, just this big illuminated form.

KAYE (voice-over): Will be left still to wonder.


KAYE: And it's also mysterious Anderson just to think about those former Navy pilots, that's not a (INAUDIBLE) by the way, that's an airplane. But think about this former Navy pilots who saw that Tic Tac like object who thought that that object was also watching them for the five minutes that they were in that same area, which is just amazing and sort of mysterious to even ponder.

But I should point out that the former head of that $22 million Pentagon program that was designed to study UFOs did tell CNN back in 2017 that there is compelling evidence, Anderson, that we are not alone.

COOPER: Yes, this report is it's going to be fascinating even for what it doesn't say the fact that they, they said they found no evidence that it was alien craft according to these sources, but they also can't say that it's not something from elsewhere. Randi Kaye --

KAYE: Right.

COOPER: -- still to come. Thanks very much. Appreciate it.

(voice-over): Dr. Anthony Fauci is pressing China to be more open on the medical conditions of three lab workers in Wuhan at the center of the lab leak theory of the coronavirus. Detailed report and the evidence for that theory, when we continue.



COOPER: Dr. Anthony Fauci now says that China must release the medical records lab workers in Wu Han at the center of the lab leak theory on the origin of the coronavirus. This is what he told The Financial Times, quote, I would like to see the medical records of the three people who are reported to have got sick in 2019. Did they really get sick? And if so, what did they get sick with? The same with the miners who got ill years ago? What are the medical records of those people say? Was there a virus in those people? What was it? It is entirely conceivable that the origins of SARS-COV-2 was in that cave and either started spreading naturally or went through the lab.

Is now repeated support for investigating that possibility of a leak comes after similar comments from the head of the NIH as well as 18 scientists from Europe and North America, who wrote in the Journal Science last month that the theory has not been given enough consideration.

Want to get perspective now from Katherine Eban, contributing editor for Vanity Fair, her latest piece, The Lab Leak Theory Inside The Fight To Uncover COVID-19 Origins.

So Katherine, in your reporting you looked into the miners who fell ill in 2012, as well as researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology who got sick in the fall of 2019 reportedly. What did you find?

KATHERINE EBAN, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, VANITY FAIR: Well, it's really quite remarkable Anderson and thank you for having me on. The miners in 2012 were tasked with shoveling out a thick layer of bat feces from this mineshaft. They became incredibly ill, you know, with symptoms that, as we learned about them looked like COVID-19 in 2012. The oldest one among them died first, the disease was fierce as a master's thesis documented it. It was identified as somehow being linked to a bat virus and the sample from the mine that was taken was initially labeled by Wuhan Institute of Virology researchers as something called 4991.

Later in the wake of COVID-19, when they wrote about it, they labeled it RATG-13. But researchers that I write about in my story realized that actually it was the same thing. And the reason it matters is because it is at the moment the closest progenitor to SARS-COV-2, which is a virus that causes COVID-19. So, there were questions about whether researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology somehow attempted to conceal the links from this cave and I should say, you know, they were doing research to hopefully prepare us for and prevent pandemics but it seems that the case of those miners was not reported to the World Health Organization at the time and was concealed. So now, revelations about this cave and the illnesses is raising a lot of questions.


COOPER: And were those miners sent to shovel out, you know, bat guano without respiratory devices, without protection?

EBAN: Well, we don't really know the details of, you know, what they were wearing or not wearing in the cave. I don't believe that the master's thesis, the documents, this talks about that. But you know, when they cut to the hospital, they pulled in a top pulmonologist who wanted antibody testing, wanted to know what sort of bat was in the cave. And it was, in fact, the same kind of bad that was linked to the initial SARS outbreak in 2002.

You know, so in my story, I was tracking not only what was happening inside that cave, what was happening to the viral strains and how they were documented, and how they were reported. But what was also happening inside our government --


EBAN: -- to people who were asking those very same question.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, you report the multiple State Department officials investigating the origin of COVID-19 were warned repeatedly not to open a can of worms or Pandora's box, one official (INAUDIBLE) went on, on the record to say those warnings, quote, smelled like a cover up. Why wouldn't the U.S. government want to get to the bottom of this?

EBAN: You know, this is a question, I'm not sure that we know the answer. People inside the State Department have said they never tried to conceal any information from the public. What they were simply advising is that the kind of research that was going on in the Wuhan Institute of Virology was not necessarily untoward. But the real issue is the head, the kind of research going on, in the Wuhan Institute of Virology is called Gain of Function Research. It's an effort to try to make pathogens, more infectious, to see whether they will be infectious to humans. There's a lot of controversy surrounding this research.

So, you know, there is real concern that you've got an institute, seven miles away from the epicenter of the outbreak that had these strains, which were taken from this mozang (ph) mine. Those strains were renamed. And they are doing this risky gain of function research. Now, the other piece of this is that the U.S. government, in part was funding some of that research.

COOPER: Yes. EBAN: It was sort of middle organization called EcoHealth Alliance. So yes, go ahead.

COOPER: Yes, no, I mean, it's a fascinating report. It's up in Vanity Fair, Katherine Eban, I really appreciate it. Obviously, more though to be learned exactly on the whole chronology of this. We'll be right back.



COOPER: Hey thanks for watching, have a great weekend. Let's hand over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME." Chris.