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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

New Book Details Trump Presidency Going Off The Rails In Final Days; Delegation Meets With Democratic Officials, Vice President Harris; Top Immunization Doctor In Tennessee Issues Blistering Statement After Clashing Over Vaccinations; U.S. Connections To Killing Of President; Cuban Government Says One Man Dead After Protests Monday. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 13, 2021 - 20:00   ET


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But they, and in fact, most Lebanese worry that Lebanon's corrupt and incompetent political elite will simply pocket that aid, send it to Switzerland, and Lebanon, be damned -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And thank you very much for that powerful report.

And thanks very much to all of you for joining us. Anderson starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. No President should have to deal with what this President did today when he spoke up in defense of the right to vote and the obligation elected officials have to graciously leave office when the voters say it's time to go.

After nearly two and a half centuries as a functioning democracy, that should obviously be a given. Sadly, it's not, which is what made President Biden's speech state in Philadelphia so significant. The fact it was even necessary, and sadly, it is, whatever else you might think of his specific legislative agenda on voting rights, the filibuster, even who you'd prefer to see in office.

After four years that tested nearly every pillar of American electoral politics and after month and month of lies that have corroded public faith and elections themselves, it has become clear that the institutions and traditions of democracy are in need of defending. Traditions for one, such as not concocting a convoluted conspiracy theory to explain away the simple fact of losing an election.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The big lie is just that -- a big lie.


BIDEN: The 2020 election is not hyperbole to suggest the most examined and the fullest expression of the will of the people in the history of this nation. That should be celebrated.


COOPER: As if that weren't clear enough, the President said this followed by a warning about the wave of state voter restriction laws based on that big lie.


BIDEN: In America, if you lose, you accept the results, you follow the Constitution. You try again. You don't call facts fake, and then try to bring down the American experiment just because you're unhappy. That's not statesmanship.


BIDEN: That's not statesmanship. That's selfishness.

So, hear me clearly. There's an unfolding assault taking place in America today, an attempt to suppress and subvert the right to vote in fair and free elections, an assault on democracy, an assault on liberty, and an assault on who we are -- who we are as Americans.


COOPER: He called restrictive state voting laws enacted this year are in the works in places like Texas quote, "21st century Jim Crow." He renewed his push for the two big pieces of voting rights legislation now stalled in Congress. Most of all, though, he kept returning to the larger theme.


BIDEN: The assault on free and fair elections is just such a threat, literally. I've said it before. We're facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That's not hyperbole -- since the Civil War.

The Confederates back then never breached the Capitol, as insurrectionists did on January the 6th. I'm not saying this to alarm you, I'm saying this because you should be alarmed.


COOPER: We're also learning new details about what the former President was doing on the day the Capitol was attacked. They are contained in our next guest's new book, "Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency," latest from Michael Wolff.

The following passage takes place with the Capitol under siege, quoting from the book, "The President, though was digging in his heels. He remained singularly focused on the electoral challenge and had blinders on to everything else, at least that was how everybody was rationalizing something close to his total failure, willful or not, to understand what was going on." "At the same time, no one in the White House was seeing this as the

full on assault on the Capitol and the nail in the coffin of the Trump administration, that the world would shortly understand it to be. They were for perhaps another 90 minutes or so, still seeing this as an optics issue as Ivanka was putting it."

"It wasn't until later in the three o'clock hour that Trump seemed to begin the transition from seeing the mob as people protesting the election, defending him, so he would defend them, to seeing them as not our people. Therefore, he bore no responsibility for them."

Again, the book is, "Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency."

Michael Wolff joins us now.

Thank you so much for being with us.


COOPER: You spoke to the former President twice for this book on the record.


COOPER: You cover -- it is before the election, it is election night, and through the insurrection and into even really up until now.

Talk about what was going on in the White House while what we were seeing on our TVs on January 6 was playing out?


WOLFF: Well, one of the important things to remember is that there was nobody in the White House. So, from November 3rd on to Election Day, November 3rd to January 6th, one of the themes was that everyone that surrounded the President in the West Wing, in the campaign, even his family, were running for the exits.

So, you had by November 3rd, by Saturday, November 7th, everyone around the President -- and let me state that -- everyone, 100 percent of the people around the President knew he had lost the election, and nothing that he would do -- he could do would change that.

COOPER: Despite what the President himself was saying all the people around him knew --

WOLFF: All of them, they knew he was -- he had taken a step. I mean, they've always known he was a little, you know, not like you and me, but he had taken a step further. So, he was not in the present reality. Everybody knew this.

And everybody was trying to create enormous distance between themselves and the President, and this includes his family. So, by the time you got to January 6, there was literally, the White House, it was crickets. Nobody there.

COOPER: That morning, his kids had come in order to attend the rally.

WOLFF: Exactly.

COOPER: And you write in the book that they sort of arrived with, you know, while celebrating this, you know, crazy four-year experience.

WOLFF: Yes. No, no. I mean, they were -- this was valedictory to them. This was, you know, let's celebrate. We've had this incredible thing that has happened to us. There was none on their part -- there was no grievance, there was no, you know, we're going to take this back. We deserve this.

COOPER: Despite what Don, Jr. was saying at the rally on that day?

WOLFF: Totally, they were just -- you know, you have to go through this thing. You have to say what the President expects you to say. But at the same time, you live in the real world. It is only the President with Rudy Giuliani, who is not living in the real world

COOPER: You also write that it seemed like the President had contempt for, in some ways, the protesters who had come to support him on January 6th?

WOLFF: Yes, he's always looked at these people and saying, you know why -- I mean, they have tattoos, they have piercings, and they dress in these costumes. You know, I mean, you know, Donald Trump is a man who wears a suit. So, he sees them, as, you know, these are fans. They're like, you know rock and roll acts.

COOPER: So despite all of this talk about --

WOLFF: They see the fans and you know, fans are great because they are -- because they do what fans do, and they jump up and down and they are -- they are emotional in a way that that lends legitimacy to the act itself. But Donald Trump is not going to have lunch with these people.

COOPER: Which is, I mean, it makes it all the more obviously hypocritical, but also just kind of sad that all these people have traveled to Washington, D.C. to, you know, support the President and believe that the President sees them and feels them and loves them, and you're saying he is --

WOLFF: Well, I think it's more complicated than that. Just think of the President as a performer. I mean, it is wrong to think of the President as a politician, wrong to think of the President as the President.

COOPER: You think it is -- you think we don't see the former President through the right lens?

WOLFF: Absolutely. We have tried to fit him into this thing as much as we've disliked him, as much as we oppose him. We still see him as a politician trying to accomplish specific goals. He is not doing that, -- or his entire goal is to court the attention of his fan base, which he has successfully done, and he does.

I mean, this is one of the big mysteries, the ongoing mysteries, is how has he so consummately channeled this, an incredibly large group of Americans, and he has done it outside of politics. The language he is speaking is not the language of politics.

COOPER: You write about the outdoor rally speech on January 6. He talked about walking to the Capitol with protesters, which in the book, you say, was something that he adlibbed that it wasn't a planned remark.

You write, "He added that part: the walk. After this, we're going to walk down and I'll be there with you. The walk wasn't in the text, the entourage heard little else. The hundreds upon hundreds of hours of Trump rallies that they had all been subjected to blurred into the usual blah-blah, but they heard that line, the walk."


COOPER: "He did not mean this, of course. Trump didn't walk anywhere. The we was figurative." That was just something he said on the fly, which was obviously incredibly consequential.

WOLFF: Very much so, and very much -- I mean, that was the -- I mean, that old thing about not taking him literally which he in fact, comes off the stage and his Chief of Staff said, "Hey, we can't do this. There is no security for this." And he goes, "What? What are you talking about?"

You said, "Walk." And he said, "Oh, I didn't mean that literally."

And for everyone around him, it was -- I mean, really the big tip off was a walk? Really? Trump walks nowhere.

So again, you know, whenever he speaks, he is always throwing out these things. What gets the response? Again, it's all to play to the audience.

COOPER: Also, I mean, you know, the Vice President, as we know was in a secure location in the Capitol. And I mean, did he even care that Pence was there? Do you know?

WOLFF: Well, he was -- yes, I mean, he was --

COOPER: He didn't call him.

WOLFF: He was actually -- that's sort of the main background to January 6 as he is totally focused on Mike Pence. What is --

COOPER: He cared in a sense that he wanted Pence to overturn the election, not Pence's safety?

WOLFF: No, no. I mean, he wasn't even thinking that -- I mean, he was still right up until the end, thinking Pence was going to throw out the electoral votes and install him as the President.

COOPER: Because that's what Giuliani was telling him even on that day.

WOLFF: Totally, and they had gone through session after session after session with Mike Pence saying, I am not going to do that. Even that morning, he calls Pence and finds Pence in the middle of the session -- of Pence and his people writing the statement that will come out during the President's speech, saying publicly, we're not going to do this.

But at that moment, he is still saying, "You've got to do this. I know you're going to do this. Do this." And he is saying that as this really mean, mean way and, you know, insulting Pence's manhood and patriotism and yet, still believing this will happen.

COOPER: Rudy Giuliani, I mean, you -- the way he is portrayed in the book. I mean, you've said he is basically drunk all the time.

WOLFF: Drunk all the time. Yes, absolutely.

COOPER: It's incredible that the President of the United States is -- if that's the case that he is relying on this guy who he is now, by your reporting, completely cut himself off from.

WOLFF: Yes, and he -- and the President actually sort of knows this as much as the President is in some, you know, outer space himself. He knows Giuliani is drunk. He knows Giuliani has all kinds of --

COOPER: Because the President doesn't like drinking.

WOLFF: Yes -- all kinds of sort of focus problems. He knows Rudy is a mess. But that doesn't make any difference because what -- the key thing is, is who will say what the President wants to hear? He is always shopping for that.

And at the end of the day, in this situation, when no one would say what the President wanted to hear, except Rudy.

COOPER: Are you surprised that the former President spoke to you? I mean, he obviously -- didn't he threaten to sue you after your first book? I mean, your first book had incredible details in it. They denied, you know, saying that he had talked to you.

WOLFF: Yes, no. He tried to stop the publication of my book. The only time in the history of the Republic that the President of the United States has tried to stop a book from being published.

COOPER: Were you surprised that he agreed to speak? Or was it -- is it in character that he wants to try to control the narrative?

WOLFF: Well, I'll tell you how this -- so, I mean, I had been speaking to people around the President and one of them reported to him that I was doing this book, and what the President said was, "Oh, that guy gets ratings. Let's see him."

So, again, nothing -- there is no content here. It's just about the audience.

COOPER: He knew that people would read it, people would pay attention to what you were saying.

WOLFF: Absolutely. And, he has this belief, it's like with Mike Pence. Mike Pence tells him he is not going to do it. He's not going to do it. But the President is still coming back and saying, "You're going to do it, you're going to do it." He believes in the power of his own voice, the singular power.

COOPER: He also must know that people around him speak and are speaking to you and speaking to other reporters. So, he wants to get in on that.

WOLFF: Absolutely, and --

COOPER: He knows that people are not loyal around him in terms of silence around him.

WOLFF: Yes, and it is almost -- it's really difficult to understand because in addition to that, when I spoke to many people, and they say, Oh, well, you know -- and I said the President. I've spoken to the President and they said, well, okay, maybe I'll speak -- let me let me check with the President. And then the President would say, "Oh, yes, talk to him." And they would say these horrible things about the President.

COOPER: Right.

WOLFF: So, this is a disconnect at so many levels.


COOPER: Some of your sourcing has come under criticism in the past. There was an excerpt of your new book, which appeared in "The Times of London" earlier this month. Liz Harrington, who is a new spokesperson for Donald Trump tweeted, quote: "All these stories from the Michael Wolff book are not true. Wolff never asked President Trump about them. If he had, he would have refuted them. Fake news."

WOLFF: Well, actually, curiously, in this book, knowing that I would have to go through this because this is what the Trump always said. I supplied a list of virtually hundreds of the details in this book, just listed them. Sent this to the President's Office and they sent back.

They were very diligent. They went accurate, accurate, accurate, accurate, and in some cases, they added new details; in some cases, they disputed them, and then I was very careful. Do I have two sources on this?

Now, this spokeswoman who is a new spokesman, she doesn't -- you know, I mean, is just literally the President who will say anything, that is to say, you know, the election was stolen. Speaking of the big lie, he will give the little lie to this poor woman who then has to go out and say this stuff.

COOPER: I want to talk to you more about the President's -- the former president's current life in Mar-a-Lago and more. We're going to take a quick break.

When we come back, I'll have more with Michael Wolff. He describes the President and his wife in Mar-a-Lago is being looked at, quote, "Somewhat like zoo animals," or perhaps like a quote, "Newly married couple."

Later, President Biden's thoughts on those Texas Democratic lawmakers who fled the state to block voting legislation they do not have the votes to defeat. Beto O'Rourke joins us for that. We'll be right back.



COOPER: I am talking tonight with Michael Wolff about his new book, "Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency," just out. One especially vivid passage focuses on the defeated President's anger at the Supreme Court's rejection of his election challenges specifically directed at Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Michael writes, "There were so many others I could have appointed (that's the President saying). There were so many others I could have appointed and everyone wanted me to. Where would he be without me? (Meaning Kavanaugh). I saved his life. He wouldn't even be in a law firm. Who would have had him? Nobody. Totally disgraced. Only I saved him."

Back with Michael Wolff. I mean, first of all, that he is calling the guy he nominated to be on the Supreme Court totally disgraced. I mean, it's fascinating.

WOLFF: Well, it's just the he lives in a quid pro quo world, and he put him on -- not only did he put him on the court, which would have been enough, if I put you on the court, you should be loyal to me.

COOPER: You're my guy, just like Sessions was supposed to be his Attorney General.

WOLFF: Exactly. But here is a guy who he felt he rescued because he got into trouble. He saved him. And so double, he couldn't believe that at the end of the day, Justice Kavanaugh didn't say he won the election.

COOPER: You write about his life down in in in Mar-a-Lago and I want to read that out. You said, "Trump has his dinner here most evenings. He appears just as the patio has filled, at which point everyone stands and applauds. Often when Melania is here, they eat alone at a roped off table in the center, looked at somewhat like zoo animals. No, no, that's not right. They are like a newly married couple. Every night is a wedding at which they spend their dinner greeting friends and well-wishers."

I am also fascinated, you say that Trump conducts most of his business in the lobby, so he will be seen.

WOLFF: There is a whole set of odd things. The oddest thing is that he lives in the middle of a country club. I mean, he's sort of the only resident of a country club and it is sort of this old-fashioned kind of country hub with poster boards saying, you know, "Prime ribs night" or, "Italian night with accordion player" or my favorite, "Asian Night."

And then in the middle of this, so you go into Mar-a-Lago and there's this big room with sort of hunting lodge, or, you know, Renaissance palazzo. There is a kind of a lot of design themes in violent conflict here, and Trump sits in the middle and at these series of couches, and this is where all day long, Republicans from across the country come to kiss the ring.

COOPER: In the lobby?

WOLFF: Now, if you're a Mar-a-Lago -- yes -- member, you can see this. You can sit in. You can hear this.

COOPER: It's fascinating.

WOLFF: It's all on show.

COOPER: That's really --

WOLFF: The weirdest thing in the whole world. I mean, when I -- so I was sort of brought in there and he is sitting with I think the Senator from Kansas, his name, I can't remember, and I'm at another couch, but obviously, I can hear everything and at one point, one of his young aides is looking over at me and looking over at me and then he gets up and he comes over and he says, you know, I remember when you sat on the couch in the West Wing for "Fire and Fury." I can't believe we're going to do this again.

COOPER: Really?

WOLFF: And then he takes me out to have a drink in the bar.

COOPER: Do you think he'll -- I mean, based on your conversation, do you think he'll run again? Or do you think he'll do -- will he just talk about it and hang it over everyone's head and then make a dramatic decision one way or another?

WOLFF: Yes, I think it is -- it is the thing. You cannot predict what Trump is going to do because there is no plan. There is no strategy. It just will happen in the moment. Is it possible that at some big rally he thinks he's going to get, you know, get a bigger response by saying he's going to run for President again? And that's the decision -- yes, quite perfectly possible.

COOPER: Michael Wolff, the book is "Landslide." Thank you so much.

WOLFF: Thank you.

COOPER: Appreciate it.

[20:25:09] COOPER: With Texas Democratic lawmakers fleeing the state to block

action on restrictive new voting measures, President Biden weighs in, so does former presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, who joins us live, next.


COOPER: Last night, we brought you that arrival in Washington by a delegation of Texas House Democrats who left the state trying to prevent Republicans from passing what they say is a broad bill restricting voting the state.

Today, Vice President Harris welcomed those Texas Democrats to Washington declaring they had shown quote, "The courage, the commitment and the patriotism with their actions."

As for the President in that Philadelphia speech, she also took a swipe at Texas Republicans.


BIDEN: In Texas, for example, Republican-led state legislature wants to allow partisan poll watchers to intimidate voters and impartial poll workers. They want voters to dive further and be able to be in a position where they wonder who is watching them and intimidated, to wait longer to vote, to drive a hell of a lot long -- excuse me -- a long way to get to vote.

They want to make it so hard and inconvenient that they hope people don't vote at all.


COOPER: Former Congressman and presidential candidate, Beto O'Rourke has criticized those restrictions joins me now. Congressman, thanks for being with us. You tweeted that President Biden and U.S. Senate Democrats must show the same urgency and courage in fighting the threat to voting rights that Texas Democrats are showing.


You certainly know the pushback, Texas Democrats, they're in the minority at the State House, the voters have spoken in Texas. And, you know, the Republicans are saying they're abusing the legislative process by fleeing the state. Can democracy work if one side just leaves to prevent a vote?

BETO O'ROURKE (D), FORMER TEXAS CONGRESSMAN: It's really extraordinary the courage that they have shown because as you know, Anderson, not only have they left the state that they've left, their families, their kids, their homes, their jobs, their source of income. And we learned today, when they returned to this state, they face arrest for having the courage of their convictions.

And though they're in the political minority, they've been able to galvanize the conscience of this country and get us focused on this issue of voting rights, which the President today put in the most dramatic, starkest terms possible, the greatest attack on American democracy since the Civil War.

And I think it is those Texas State House Democrats and Texas State House senators now who are in D.C. are going to help us focus on this and get the job done at the end of the day, because if we don't, if we don't pass the For The People Act, as the President called for today, then we will lose what Lincoln called the last best hope of earth. And this hope that we have now is coming from Texas. And so, I'm really grateful for what they're doing.

COOPER: I talked to one of the leaders from Texas last night who had just arrived at Dulles Airport. And essentially what he said that they'd hoped to do was to focus the attention of members of Congress to get federal action to get a, you know, a vote in the Senate. But as you know, I mean, there are not enough votes to get a Democratic sponsored voting rights bill passed in the Senate, nor are there enough votes to eliminate the filibuster. So, all of this talk about how Texas legislators, you know, are depending on federal lawmakers to save the day, in what scenario is that actually likely?

O'ROURKE: You know, in 1964, in the beginning of 1965, there were not enough votes to pass the Voting Rights Act. And allegedly, President Johnson told Dr. King and Andrew Young, he just didn't have the power to compel Congress to pass something, especially if he was asking for votes from those members of Congress in the Deep South in Texas, in Georgia, in Mississippi. And yet, because of the courage shown by everyday Americans, including a 24-year-old John Lewis crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in 1965, they were able to find the precedent the power to get the job done.

So, Anderson, I believe we do have the votes, we have 51 votes in the United States Senate. And if those Democratic senators will take a page out of the book of those Democratic State House members from Texas, though they were in the political minority, were able to stop voter suppression legislation, then they will be able to summon the courage and political will necessary to amend the filibuster, not abolish it, but to change it as it has been changed before to allow the passage of election law matters or voting rights matters and past the For The People Act.

So, this is impossible until it gets done. And I think these Texas State House Democrats just made it a little more possible by their display of courage yesterday, and I hope that they will stay the distance in D.C. and continue to make the case to the president who I think has more to do on this, as well as members of the Senate who have the votes necessary to save American democracy at this moment of crisis.

COOPER: If Democrats in the senate somehow are able to eliminate the filibuster of Joe Manchin and others go along. Do you worry about the precedent that sets the next time Republicans are in the majority? I mean, you know, what are you doing, they start to push their agenda through via simple majority.

O'ROURKE: I think that's a legitimate concern and argument that those who want to preserve the filibuster may. But if we're honest with ourselves, if Mitch McConnell becomes the majority leader in the Senate, at some point in the future, it's hard to believe that if Democrats haven't already changed the rules of filibuster, that he will desist from doing so. He might say, look, Democrats bluffed, they came perilously close to doing this, now that we have power, we must do it before Democrats get power and do it again the next time.

It's going to happen at some point sooner or later. I would rather it be on the watch of those who believe in democracy, and would safeguard the right to vote by using this change that filibuster to pass voting rights legislation. There's nothing more American and nonpartisan than making sure that every eligible one of us has a chance to cast our vote, have that vote counted and our voice heard. And that's really all that Senate Democrats are being asked to do at this point. It's not a lot to ask.


In the context of what the President said today is a greatest attack on our democracy. If this is in fact the greatest attack, and we must meet it with the urgency that it demands.

COOPER: Yes. Beto O'Rourke, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

O'ROURKE: Thank you so much.

COOPER: Next up, the fallout in Tennessee after the state's top immunization officials that she was fired because of vaccine misinformation and politicians who believe it. We'll have a report in the reaction that's coming out.


COOPER: In Tennessee tied to blistering statement from the state's top immunization doctors that she was fired after getting to a dispute with her bosses about whether to vaccinate children against COVID-19. She says she wrote a memo that cited Tennessee Supreme Court laws suggesting some teens could get vaccinated against COVID-19 without their parent's permission.

After her dismissal, Dr. Michelle Fiscus issued a lengthy statement in part she said quote, each of us should be waking up every morning with one question on our minds. What can I do to protect the people Tennessee against COVID-19? Instead, she goes on to say our leaders are putting barriers in place to ensure the people of Tennessee remain at risk, even with the Delta variant bearing down upon us.

Later she added this, I've been terminated for doing my job because some of our politicians have bought into the anti-vaccine misinformation campaign rather than taking the time to speak with the medical experts. They believe what they choose to believe rather than what is factual and evidence based and it is the people of Tennessee who will suffer the consequences of the actions of the very people they put into power.

[20:40:09] CNN's Martin Savidge has been following this. He's joining me now.

So what do you know -- what more have you learned about this? Because I read her statement, she essentially said she was just stating what Tennessee law is. And it's been misrepresented and taken up by a lot of local politicians.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. And this is the amazing thing. This has been medical doctrine in the state of Tennessee, this memo that she reiterates, it been in that state for over 30 years, and it hadn't been upheld by the Tennessee Supreme Court, is referred to as the Mature Minor Doctrine.

And here's essentially what it says. It says that minors ages 14 to 17 are able to receive medical care in the state of Tennessee without parental consent. That includes vaccinations. Again, it had been doctrine in the state for 30 plus years, she was just reminding the medical community in her state with that memo, that this procedure this practice exists.

Well, somebody didn't like that. And they posted her memo on line, and then the backlash for the anti-vaxxers and especially from Republican legislative representatives, and as they began pouring in. And what they were essentially saying was that, look, you're usurping parental authority here when it comes to vaccinations.

She again pointed out this is the way we done thing for 30 years in this day. She was fired but worse than being fired she says, there is now memos that are being circulated within the Tennessee Department of Public Health that is actually pulling back that Department of Health from encouraging or even informing young people about vaccinations. And not just the coronavirus, vaccination, but all vaccinations.

Here's more of what Dr. Fiscus has to say.


MICHELLE FISCUS, TENNESSEE VACCINE OFFICIAL: And what really concerns me is that in order to appease the legislators that were upset about this memo, our leadership of the Department of Health has instructed the Department of Health to no longer do outreach around immunizations for children of any kind.


SAVIDGE: This could have an impact for years to come on the health of the state of Tennessee. And remember, the vaccination rate in the state of Tennessee is already very low 38% and two neighbors next to it, of course are Arkansas and Missouri and they're seeing a huge spike in the Delta variant. This doctor was merely trying to protect the people of her state from that variant and coronavirus.

COOPER: Yes --

SAVIDGE: She says she was fired for it. COOPER: And as you pointed out, it's not like she was going to kindergarten -- outside kindergarten classes screaming, you know, I've got the vaccine kids come and get it. She was a memo she wrote was to doctors and to health officials just reminding them about what you said was the law approved by the state Supreme Court more than 30 years ago. It's a fascinating we'll continue to follow it.

Martin Savidge, appreciate it.

Want to get perspective on this now from Dr. Peter Hotez, the co- director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital, and Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Hotez is also the author of "Preventing The Next Pandemic Vaccine Diplomacy In A Time Of Anti- Science."

So Dr. Hotez, I mean, as a pediatrician who works on vaccine development, what do you make of what's happening in Tennessee? Because the state's top vaccine doctor fire, she says for just doing her job, and now other state officials saying, you know, don't -- don't start pre planning for flu inoculations in schools like we normally do, the HPV vaccine don't do anything about that.

PETER HOTEZ, CO-DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR VACCINE DEVELOPMENT, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Yes, basically, what they're trying to do is shut down the whole Tennessee vaccination program. And it's a disaster for the families of Tennessee, especially now for COVID-19.

Anderson right now, Tennessee, ranks near the bottom on terms of vaccinating adolescents 12 to 17-year-olds 20%, as opposed to up to close to 70% in some of the northeastern states. So what we've got and now because of this shutdown, and advocacy and outreach, what that means is that 20% number is going to more or less stall, it's not going to go up appreciably, as Delta accelerates. And as you pointed out, it's already in Missouri and Arkansas, it's just -- it's now coming in merging into Tennessee.

So what you'll now have at the start of the school year are thousands of thousands of adolescents get unnecessarily getting sick with COVID- 19. And now we're learning more and more about the consequences. You know, one of the things the political right does is always point out that the death rate from COVID-19 among adolescents is relatively low.

And that's true. But what they don't -- what they omit is the fact that we'll still see lots of adolescents get hospitalized like we're already seeing in Mississippi, number one. Number two, is the fact that 10 to 30% will get long haul COVID or what's called PASC. And now we're learning about the neurologic consequences of long haul COVID.

A new paper just come out from the group at Oxford University of the Neuroscience Center there and what they've shown is that a high -- a significant percentage will actually develop brain matter brain degeneration as a consequence of long haul COVID with an uncertain recovery time. And that's important for memory for cognitive performance.


And so, what you're doing is you're condemning a whole generation of adolescence to neurologic injury totally unnecessarily.

COOPER: Let me ask you, I just anecdotally heard of a couple people who I know who have tested -- who got vaccinated but have tested positive with the Delta variant. Does that mean that even if their cases are mild, they have a very strong possibility of getting the long haul COVID, of having long haul symptoms?

HOTEZ: You know, that's a that's a great question. I'm asked that quite a bit now. And the answer is I don't think we really understand whether breakthrough COVID, and an vaccinated individual is the same and someone who's not been infected before. But -- and that's something that unfortunately, will start to find out with Delta, accelerating. So the number of breakthrough cases will be modest. But it's something we'll have to follow.

But no question about it that if we could vaccinate, we will not only prevent neurologic injury in those adolescents in Tennessee, but it has an added benefit Anderson, and that is if you can vaccinate all of the adults and all of the adolescents, we know we can slow or halt transmission of COVID-19. And that's what's going to happen in Massachusetts and Vermont and maybe parts of the West Coast and elsewhere in the northeast. It's what's not going to happen in Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, and now it's marching into the Deep South.

So transmission will continue to accelerate. And what we'll see and the ones who will also pay the price other than the unvaccinated adolescents are the little kids who --


HOTEZ: -- who depend on the adults and adolescents to get vaccinated in order to slow or halt transmission. So, it's just absolutely heartbreaking and beyond frustrating for vaccine scientists like myself to see this happen.

COOPER: Would you still wear a mask indoors?

HOTEZ: You know, it depends. It depends on where you are. If you're in the northeast, west coast where you may successfully slow or halt transmission, it may not be necessary. But if I were indoors, in places like Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri right now going into northern Florida. Yes, you might still want to do that if the force of infection because of that high Delta low vaccination rate continues.

COOPER: Dr. Peter Hotez, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Just ahead another --

HOTEZ: Thank you.

COOPER: -- American arrested in connection to the assassination of Haiti's president. We have a live report on the investigation when we come back.



COOPER: Multiple sources citing police information tells CNN that a man Haitian authorities arrested in connection to the assassination of the president is now the third American taken into custody. The 63- year-old reportedly has ties in Florida as well as in Haiti. And as authorities they're announcing growing list of suspects 10 just today, we're also learning more about the growing number of Florida connections to this plot. Plus, connections to -- or alleged connections to U.S. law enforcement agencies something that we reported on the broadcast last night.

Matt Rivers has the details on both stories.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This site has been sealed by the Port-au-Prince magistrate reads the note on the door of the medical NGO, the compound where authorities say Christian Emmanuel Sanon, an American citizen helped orchestrate the assassination of Haiti's President Jovenel Moise.

When police cars descended to arrest Sanon over the weekend, they found him at the house just across the street from the NGO, along with lots of ammunition, holsters and shooting targets. Authorities say he helped recruit and organize the 26 Colombians and two Americans they believe carried out the killing.

(on-camera): We've spoken to several neighbors now who were too nervous to go on camera with us but tell us that the amount of activity at this compound over the last month or two really started to increase. And interestingly, they say they saw men going from that compound to this one, which is where Sanon was arrested. They said all of the men were foreigners that were quote, muscular like bodyguards. Sometimes with camouflage pants.

(voice-over): There's no way to know for sure if those same men are among these suspects, suspects that Sanon is claiming to have never met. In police interviews, he is arguing he is innocent according to a source directly involved in the investigation. CNN spoke to that source over the phone and agreed to conceal his identity.

Sanon said he doesn't know anything about the assassination said our source. He said he's a pastor, his wife and children live abroad but he's been in the country for about a month. He says he didn't know the ammunition was in the house. This is what he said since the first day.

Sanon appears to split his time between South Florida and Haiti and has been involved for years in medical charity work. He's also been a longtime critic of the Haitian government saying this in a YouTube video from 2011.

CHRISTIAN EMMANUEL SANON, SUSPECT IN ASSASSINATION OF JOVENEL MOISE: Where is the leadership of Haiti, nowhere to be found. You know why? Because they're corrupt.

RIVERS (voice-over): Sanon not the only American allegedly playing a key role in the assassination, two more Americans seen here, James Solages and Joseph Vincent have been detained in Haiti as suspects. And CNN is also reporting that several other suspects in the assassination have direct ties to U.S. law enforcement as informants. The DEA has confirmed at least one of them worked for them in the past as an informant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: DEA operations. Everybody back up! Stand down!

RIVERS (voice-over): The night of the assassination, you can even hear a suspect shout he was working for the DEA, though U.S. officials have repeatedly said that was a lie. And the U.S. doesn't just have connections to the crime but to its aftermath, Haitians have been showing up at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince asking for visas. Some are desperate to leave an island where poverty, violence and corruption are chronic. The assassination just the final straw.



COOPER: And Matt Rivers joins us now from Haiti. What were are Haitian police saying about other possible suspects as well as this alleged Florida connection?

RIVERS: You know, Anderson, up until this afternoon, no Haitian national had actually been listed as a suspect in this assassination. It was only foreign nationals that changed when we got word from a government source here in Port-au-Prince saying that 10 Haitian nationals, 10 citizens of Haiti are now added to this suspect list.

They are actively searching for these 10 suspects bringing the overall number of suspects now to 39 in this case. Of those 10 suspects, three of them were named publicly by Haitian authorities charged with murder, attempted murder and armed robbery including Anderson, a former senator here in Haiti, the takeaway being this investigation far from over now.

COOPER: Matt Rivers, appreciate it. Thanks.

Next, outpouring of support in the United States for protesters in Cuba even as we're learning the demonstrations now claim alike (ph).



COOPER: Two developments after massive protests in Cuba Sunday. The first the government tonight says one man is dead after clashes with police during more protests occurred on Monday. The other developments today protesters Miami blocked traffic on a big highway showing solidarity for recent protests in Cuba. The Palmetto expressway remains close tonight in the area of South Florida with a heavy population of Cuban-Americans. The protests in Cuba, Sunday were the largest in decades coming as Cuba battles a difficult economic crisis, U.S. sanctions and COVID. Activists say more than 100 people were arrested are now missing, Cuba's government has since enacted an internet blackout.

That's it for us. The news continues. Let's hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.