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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Biden Calls Out TX, FL Governors, Says They Are "Doing Everything They Can To Undermine" Mandate Requirements; Medical Doctor At Texas Children's Hospital: "It's Emotionally Hard" To See Kids Alone With COVID In ICU; PA GOP Lawmakers Approve Wide-Ranging Subpoena, Seeking Trove Of Voter Data in 2020 Election "Audit". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 16, 2021 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hey, welcome to the second hour of 360. Chris is off tonight.

We begin this hour just a day before major FDA hearing on Pfizer's COVID vaccine, and whether the current data supports the need for a third booster shot. They've been all over the place on this.

There's a difference of opinion certainly, sometimes a confusing difference of opinion. Now, one reason, according to the Head of the National Institutes of Health, that the advisory committee hearing will be public. That's going to happen tomorrow. So, everyone can actually hear and see what's going on.

Here are the data. Three reports in "The New England Journal of Medicine," support the argument that people may need a booster over time.

But a new article in another journal, "The Lancet," says current evidence does not support the need for a third shot, at this time. That piece was written by a group of vaccine experts, including some, from the FDA, and the World Health Organization.

And, of course, this hearing happens, as President Bush (ph) fights Republican governors, over his push, for businesses, to require vaccines, something he discussed today.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're facing a lot of pushback, especially from some of the Republican governors. The governors of Florida and Texas are doing everything they can to undermine the life-saving requirements that I've proposed.


COOPER: And Phil Mattingly joins us now from the White House. Phil, the administration's got to be feeling a lot of pressure, ahead of tomorrow's FDA meeting, given that the President very publicly said he hope booster dose rollout, would begin on Monday.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, I think there's a recognition inside the administration that the President laid out a timeline. And the things that they've seen, in the weeks, since that timeline, was laid out, has raised questions, about whether that timeline would actually stand.

They will be intently focused on the FDA meeting, tomorrow. They will also be focused on the CDC advisory meeting that's scheduled for next week. That will determine more than anything else, and in fact, instead of anything else, whether or not boosters will actually occur.

And I think that's been something you've heard a lot from White House officials that even when the - a timeline was laid out, even when the President spoke, on that timeline, he always caveated with the fact that it was up to the FDA, and the CDC, for that timeline to actually come into place.

Now, it's interesting. You talk to White House officials. They're frustrated that a lot of the political and turf battles, interagency wars, have spilled out into the public that perhaps this has muddled the general understanding, about the necessity of boosters.

What, they aren't, is regretful about laying out that timeline. They believe the data that they've looked at made clear boosters would be needed, at some point. And they wanted to make sure they were ready to operationalize that actual process, whenever those approvals came.

This has obviously been complicated over the course of the last couple of weeks. But officials maintain that they're glad that they laid out that process, because they believe boosters will be necessary, at one point or another, possibly as soon as next week.

COOPER: So, this is not something I ever really envisioned asking you, or really anyone, in regard to fighting a pandemic. But what is going on with the White House and Nicki Minaj, about COVID?

MATTINGLY: Yes, look, Anderson, I didn't ever envision myself, on your show, talking about Nicki Minaj's cousin's friend's swollen nether regions. But here we are.

Here's what's interesting. This is actually a good window into how the White House has tried to address these issues, maybe not this one specifically, over the course of the last several months.

Nicki Minaj tweeted something that alleged some side effect to a vaccine that every medical professional that we've spoken to that the White House says they've spoken to simply does not backup. It was factually inaccurate. It was not true.

The White House, in the wake of that tweet, reached out, at a staff level, to Nicki Minaj's staff, and offered a conversation, by phone, with a doctor. Nicki Minaj then tweeted that she'd been invited to the White House, and plan to come. That never happened.

The conversation with the doctor, though, is interesting, because what you haven't seen, from the White House, is an attempt, to dunk on Nicki Minaj, or attack Nicki Minaj. They've done the exact opposite.

Instead, they wanted to make clear that there's a lot of confusion out there. There are a lot of concerns out there. You see it in the hesitancy. You see it in those who refuse to get vaccinated. And they wanted to address that fact.

When somebody has 22.7 million Twitter followers, and is tweeting, these things out, the White House wants to see if they can address that with facts, and then perhaps resolve or reconcile the very clear differences.

One thing is clear. There is no meeting, coming anytime soon, at least according to White House officials with Nicki Minaj. And also, the alleged side effects, there's no basis for them.

COOPER: Right.

MATTINGLY: Whatsoever, in case you're wondering, Anderson.


COOPER: Well, I mean, it would be great, if anybody, who has that big of a following, would be willing to listen to a doctor, and look at facts, and do research.

But she said, I think, or it was somebody, who recently, said that they wanted to do more research. I'm all for research and data and facts. So, let's hope she takes them up on the offer.

Phil Mattingly, appreciate it. Thanks.

Perspective now from our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, also Author of the forthcoming book, "World War C: Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One."

Also with us, CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Leana Wen, Author of "Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health."

So Sanjay, can you just walk us through what the FDA is taking into consideration, during tomorrow's meeting? I mean, what factors are they looking at when making a decision?

Because you've got three studies, in "The New England Journal of Medicine," then you've got this other one in "The Lancet."

You have the WHO not being for boosters, but also, they obviously want vaccines to go to a lot of countries, around the world that are in desperate need of them, and don't even have one shot, or two shots yet, before even thinking about a booster.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I think the equity issue is a big issue. But even aside, from that, just looking at the data, I think, is what they're going to really be doing, at the advisory committee meeting, to try and figure out, really the answers, to four major questions. And I've sort of laid them out here.

And there's going to be a lot of things that they're going to sort of want to address. But the four major questions, how much is immunity really waning? We've talked about this a bit yesterday. And there's some studies that suggest that it wanes, but maybe not in a linear way.

Pfizer had a study saying that the effectiveness wanes about 6 percent, every two months, of their vaccine, but is still very, very steady, 96 percent and 97 percent protection for severe illness.

How severe are the breakthrough infections? I think that's a big one. Breakthrough infection could be somebody, who has no symptoms. They're surprised that their test comes back positive, to all the way to people who have severe infections.

So, what kind of severity are we talking about? And does it break down by age? There's some data out of Israel, saying people who are older, 65 and older, may be having some degradation of the efficacy of the vaccine, more so than younger people.

How long does the booster effect last? That's a big one. Are we basically just like, fortifying the wall, really strong, for a period of time, and then it's going to wane, regardless? That's going to be something, I think, the committee is going to sort of look at.

And then, finally, how much do they really reduce transmission? We're talking about breakthrough cases. Is that really the right metric to be measuring, in terms of deciding whether or not to boost? And the answer to that last question will help dictate that.

COOPER: So Dr. Wen, I mean, it was just about a month ago, when top health officials, from the Biden administration, laid out the September 20th booster plan.

They said they did it in part so that health departments could plan in advance. But since the confusion, since then, I'm not sure what's going on with those health departments.

As the former Baltimore Health Commissioner, can you talk about how much more challenging, planning for boosters has become, for local jurisdictions?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST, FORMER BALTIMORE HEALTH COMMISSIONER, PUBLIC HEALTH PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, it's definitely challenging, especially with mixed messaging, and the confusion that you mentioned, going on, Anderson. But I actually think that it would have been worse, if the White House didn't lay out some type of expectation earlier.

Because we've already had Israel, U.K., Germany, distributing booster shots for months, imagine the outcry, if there really had been no plan, up to this point, even with accumulating evidence that, at least some of the evidence suggesting that booster shots are necessary.

Also, we have some States like, here in Maryland that are actually ahead of the FDA. In Maryland, we are allowing individuals, 65 and older, who are in nursing homes, and other congregate living facilities, to actually get booster doses, even now.

So, what I hope the FDA will really lay out, tomorrow, one, is I hope they'll say, "Yes, it's true that we should get the unvaccinated, vaccinated first. But that doesn't mean that those who are vaccinated should not be getting boosters, if that increases their protection."

And second, I think there's a difference between saying, that, we are allowing for boosters versus recommending boosters. As a maybe, they could say, "We're recommending boosters, for people, 60 and older, who are medically-frail."

But ideally, allowing boosters for others, who want them, and who want that extra layer of protection, I think, would be a really reasonable and welcome step.

COOPER: So Sanjay, obviously, a lot of the data, as it always has, during this pandemic, has come from Israel. Can you just talk about why that is? I think it's because of the deal they made with Pfizer, in order to get vaccines, they would provide a lot of data and access.

But is data from Israel, does that apply automatically to what's going on in the U.S.? I mean, they do have a higher vaccination rate and a smaller population. I don't know if that matters.

GUPTA: No, I think there's - it's valuable. I mean, it's not perfect, you know? It's - but I think they were ahead of us, in terms of vaccinations. About 63 percent of the country is vaccinated. And they started off quite strong.

So, it's been interesting to sort of follow their data. And they also started boosting, as Leana mentioned, they've been boosting really since August, and they're progressively doing younger and younger age groups.


But I want to show you something, to this point. I mean, they're sort of a living lab, so it's worth paying attention to. So, let's look at what's been happening in Israel.

You look, again, very high vaccination rates, higher than the United States. Even after they - even with those vaccination rates, and even after starting to boost, they still have some of the highest seven-day average of new Coronavirus cases.

Now, many of those patients aren't ending up in the hospital. They're not dying. So, that's good. But they are testing positive. They are these breakthrough cases. And I think it's going to be an important piece of data.

If you're trying to say, "Hey, look, we're going to boost, because we want to cut down breakthrough cases, cut down transmission," if you look at the Israel data, I think, from what I'm seeing, you'd have a hard time making the case there.

Now there may be new data, other data that's going to be presented at the meeting tomorrow. But if you say, "Boosting will ultimately bring down cases," that's not what they've seen in Israel, so far. That may change. But at least so far, that's not been the case.

COOPER: But just to be clear, when you see that, you think, "Well, it looks like the boosters aren't having any impact." Those are not hospitalizations, and deaths. Those are just cases.

GUPTA: Correct.

COOPER: And Israel has a lot of data that we don't have. I mean, do we test the population like Israel does? Because I mean, they know about the cases they have. We don't know if we have a similar spike, right?

GUPTA: Right. I mean, we - that has been a problem, throughout this entire pandemic, here in the United States. We simply don't have some of that same data.

They look at these cohort groups. They'll look at these large groups of people, in certain places, around the country, and basically extrapolate that data, to try and get a sense of what the country looks like.

And some of that can be decent data. But when you're looking at Israel, they're doing a much more, wide testing, so they can actually really get deep granular on what this means.

But it's an important point that you're bringing up, Anderson. The vaccines work. So, the hospitalizations and deaths, are still low, proportionally, compared to where their cases are. And that's great.


GUPTA: That's good. That's happening there. And that's happening here as well.

COOPER: Dr. Wen, Sanjay said something, I think, it was last night, that really registered with me, because when I hear about like, "OK, well, the percentage of hospitalizations," it kind of loosens me sometimes.

But he was pointing out that the vaccine, it protects - it gives you great protection for your lungs. You don't want COVID to get into your lungs. Vaccine protects your lungs.

It may not - you may get COVID in your nasal passages, where it's tested, and you're positive. But it's not in your - going into your lungs, because that has better protection, because of the vaccine, the bottom line being, you need to get vaccinated, if you are unvaccinated.

Is that correct? And Sanjay, I'm sorry, if I paraphrased you incorrectly, but?

GUPTA: It's good.

WEN: I mean, I totally agree with you. And I agree with Sanjay there that that is ultimately the reason why we get vaccinated.

We get vaccinated to prevent against severe illness. We get vaccinated to prevent from going to the hospital, ending up in the ICU, ending up in the morgue. That is what it's about, at the end of the day.

There are some other people, who might say, "Hey, if the vaccines can also reduce our likelihood of becoming carriers, of infecting, for example, our unvaccinated children, or other people, or spreading the infection"--

COOPER: Right.

WEN: --that's a secondary, but also potentially important reason for getting vaccinated too.

So, that's why ultimately, this is not just about the science, which is very important. But ultimately, it also comes down to values. And I think this is why we're seeing this lack of clarity that people may be looking at the same set of data--

COOPER: Right.

WEN: --but having two totally different interpretations, because it's about values.

COOPER: Yes. And Sanjay, I got to go. But did I get that right? It protects the lungs. You may have it in your nose.


COOPER: But it protects the lungs. Is that sort of right?

GUPTA: Most of the immunity is in that part of your body. That's why it's so good at protecting against severe illness. Yes.

COOPER: OK, good, thank you, Sanjay.

Thank you, Dr. Leana Wen.

I can visualize that. That makes sense in my mind.

We want to focus on the toll the Delta surge, is taking on children, and their families, something our next guest is keenly aware of.

Dr. Mary Suzanne Whitworth, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, said to this - said to an NBC affiliate, "We've had plenty of children, in the hospital, in the ICU alone, because one of their parents is on a ventilator, somewhere else, and the other one is home, taking care of sick children, or sick herself. It's emotionally hard to think through that." I'm joined now by Dr. Whitworth, Medical Director of Infectious Diseases, at Cook Children's Hospital, in Fort Worth, Texas.

That is just, I mean, it is - when I heard that, I just think it's just devastating. I mean, again, this is what you, and nurses, and hospital professionals, see all the time.

But before this Delta surge, did you see entire families getting sick with COVID?


We didn't have quite as many children in the hospital. And it just didn't seem like the whole family was sick, as much as they are now. We see more, where everyone at home is sick.

COOPER: And how many more sick children are you seeing now? And do you know where they're contracting COVID?


SUZANNE WHITWORTH: We're seeing in the hospital, about twice as many children, as we did per day, during the January/February surge, earlier this year.

And I always ask, when, I talk to them, where, I talk to the parents, usually, because the children are sick, and don't talk. But I ask the parents, "Where do you think it came from?" Or "Where did they get this?"

And they almost always say, from school. Sometimes, they'll say, from the football team. Sometimes, they'll say, from a sibling, who's in school. And so, I think that's probably a pretty big part of it, this time around.

COOPER: And I mean, just the idea of a child, in a hospital, whose parent is on a ventilator, and the other parent's home, and they're alone, I mean, it's devastating. I don't know how you deal with that.

SUZANNE WHITWORTH: We have great people here, who love these children. And everybody's doing their best, like, every health care provider in the nation. But I think it's been hard to just to think through that, and what these families are going through.

COOPER: It seems to me, there's a lot we don't know about COVID, in kids, long-term. I mean, do kids, are they getting long COVID? Might they get long COVID, which would, you know?


COOPER: I mean could that affect the trajectory of their life?

SUZANNE WHITWORTH: I don't think we've had COVID around long enough to know how long, long COVID will last. But we know that children are getting long COVID. And some of them have a cough for months and months, or shortness of breath, for months and months. Some have the brain fog. Some have headaches or abdominal pain.

And we do see the post-acute COVID syndrome, or long COVID, in children. And I think time will tell, where we end up with these children, how long these symptoms last.

COOPER: Our Elle Reeve, a while ago, interviewed a woman, in Arkansas, or in Alabama. I can't remember which. And she said that her 8-year- old son had gotten COVID that he was still sick that he'd been sick, for weeks, a long time, and it had been bad.

She didn't know what the damage was. She was going to maybe take him to a doctor, and see how - what kind of damage it was. She wasn't vaccinated. She didn't plan on getting vaccinated.

Do parents - I mean I'm still stunned by that. And I hope that's an anomaly. I'm wondering what you hear, I mean, from parents, after their children get better, for the kids, who are eligible, do they plan to have them vaccinated?

SUZANNE WHITWORTH: Some definitely do. Some say, "Oh, yes, we're going right away."

But there are still parents, who will say to us, "I'm just not sure, you know? I just feel worried about this." And they're concerned it hasn't been out long enough.

And we do our best to just give them an honest presentation, of risks and benefits, and hope that they'll make the decision, to go get vaccinated. And I do always say, "You just don't want to go through this again."

COOPER: Yes. Dr. Mary Suzanne Whitworth, I appreciate what you and your whole team are doing. Thank you so much.

SUZANNE WHITWORTH: Thank you. Thank you.

COOPER: Still to come tonight, a lot of questions about the actions of General Mark Milley, after that new book, "Peril," by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

Later this month, he testifies on Capitol Hill. One of the senators, who will have a chance, to ask him, about the final months, of the former administration, will join us.

And later, she wouldn't take questions, as the former president's Press Secretary. Now, Stephanie Grisham is pushing a new White House memoir, with her own set of alternative facts, let's call them.

We'll discuss them with another veteran of that administration, when we come back.


COOPER: There's Breaking News, tonight.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is defending actions, taken by General Mark Milley, during the final months, of the previous administration.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is under fire, after new reporting, by Bob Woodward, and Robert Costa, in their book, "Peril," criticism about a phone call, with his Chinese counterpart, as well as a call with Speaker Pelosi, about securing the nation's nuclear weapons, after the Capitol attack.

All of it, according to the book's authors, because he and others feared the former president could launch an attack, as a way to postpone his exit from office, something, Speaker Pelosi appeared to back up, in her comments today, saying she and the General had, what she called, "Serious concerns," about the former president.

Joined now, by Democratic Senator, Mazie Hirono, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, where General Milley is scheduled to testify, later this month.

Senator, thanks for being with us. Some of your Republican colleagues--


COOPER: --like Senator Rubio said the General should resign, Senator Rand Paul, going further, saying, "If the reporting is true, he should be court-martialed."

What do you say to that?

HIRONO: Well this is what I call "Selective outrage," from the Republicans, who show no indications that they want to get to the bottom of, for the Insurrection, on January 6, for example.

So, as you mentioned, we will hear from General Milley, in-person, September 28th. And they will be able to ask him whatever questions they want.

COOPER: House Speaker Pelosi, as we mentioned, was asked about Milley today. She said, "It wasn't a question of cutting him out of the chain of command. It was a question of what the checks and balances were on that - were on that chain of command."

Do you agree with her assessment?

HIRONO: Well, yes, there is a process, before any nuclear attack can occur. And General Milley is very well aware, of that process.

Even though, I'm pretty sure the President did not think that there was such a process, because he's very authoritarian, and he believes that the rule of law doesn't apply to him. And so, but remember, this is in the context of the president - former president, pushing out the big lie, about a rigged election, before, during and after. And I think it was very clear that he was very, very distressed, some could use the word, "Unhinged."

So, here's General Milley making sure that everyone understood there is a process, before anybody can press a button that would send a nuclear attack anybody's way.


I also, want to, mention, Anderson, that these kinds of Mil-to-Mil communications are pretty routine.

I've served on the Armed Services Committee, for eight years. And these, kinds of communications, where, the countries, such as, Russia and China, are very much a part, of what we do. And so, that is a part of General Milley's job.

COOPER: The headline that's sort of has been buried here, from out of the Woodward book, which again, I haven't read, and most people haven't read yet, is that the General, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thought the President of the United States was in, quote, "Serious mental decline."

HIRONO: Well, that's the book. We will be able to ask General Milley what his assessment was.

But the way I look at his actions is that it is part of the Mil-to-Mil communications that are really critical, so that there are no miscalculations, such as a nuclear bomb, hitting through a country, because of a miscalculation.

And this is why, even during the height of the Cold War, we had Military-to-Military communications with Russia.

COOPER: Senator Hirono, I really appreciate your time tonight. Thank you so much.

HIRONO: Thank you.

COOPER: Appreciate it.

Still ahead, is Stephanie Grisham, Press Secretary for the former president, trying to rewrite history? She claims in her new book that she didn't believe the 2020 election was stolen. But her own reported text messages seem to say otherwise. That's next.



COOPER: Stephanie Grisham, the White House Press Secretary, for the former president, who actually never really held press conferences, is trying to rebuild her image. In an upcoming book, she says that she didn't believe the 2020 election was stolen, and that she tried to convince the first lady, to accept the results. Text messages given to "Politico" tell a different story, it seems.

According to "Politico," on November 5th, after Arizona's Attorney General, rebutted claims, from the former president's supporters that voters, who used Sharpies had their ballots improperly disqualified, Grisham forwarded his tweet, to a presidential aide, and wrote, quote, "Told you. Useless."

The following week, according to "Politico," when the same attorney general told Fox News, there was, quote, "No evidence" of fraud that would change the results in Arizona, she texted the same aide, quote, "Such an ass."

Joining us, now, to discuss, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the Author of "Melanie (ph) and Me."

Stephanie, it's great to see you. Thanks for being with us.

I'm wondering, what do you make - excuse me, "Melania and Me." I think I said "Melanie and Me." Melania - it's been a while! "Melania and Me."


COOPER: So Stephanie Grisham, I mean, she had, it seems, a very close relationship with the former first lady, at the time. I mean, she was Chief of her Staff. Wasn't she?

WINSTON WOLKOFF: She was, Anderson. And she actually held many positions in the White House. West Wing, East Wing, Residence, she was all around.

COOPER: It's kind of ironic that the title of the book is "I'll Take Your Questions Now," given, as we mentioned, she's the only modern White House Press Secretary to never hold a press briefing.

And I remarked about this, during the time. And she fired back, I think, something at me, which I don't even remember.

But I don't know, I guess it's a double entendre, because I guess she's acknowledging she never took questions before, but she'll do it now, because she has a book to sell.

It's interesting to me that the administration, or somebody, but it clearly, I guess, it was from the administration, gave "Politico," her tweets, or her texts.

WINSTON WOLKOFF: Look, Anderson, I think unless - sorry. Unless she's had an epiphany, of conscience, I don't think there's going to be anything really new in the book that we don't already know.

There are certain levels of secrecy, within the East Wing, that doesn't tell the West Wing, and the West Wing, the inner - the inner workings, and the dynamics, of the two wings themselves, and have to do with the President, the first lady, their inner circle, which is very tight.

And if as long as you go along with what they want you to say, and do, then you're part of the Trump team. And that's exactly what Stephanie did. It's a little too late.

COOPER: It's also, and you saw this firsthand, when you came out with your book, they turn on people, who have been nothing but supportive of them very, very quickly.

WINSTON WOLKOFF: Unfortunately, they turn on people that are not only supportive of them, but want the best for them.

People have dedicated their lives, in the Military. I mean, Vindman, I mean so many people have been prosecuted by them, because they've told the truth.

I told the truth, at a time when nobody else was. And by doing that, Grisham herself, orchestrated the narrative that I gotten fired. And she was very aware that I had said to her, "Look, you can't do this." I went to the Legal Counsel of the White House. It didn't matter.

If you are going to support the Trumps, that means you are going to say exactly what they want you to say, or else you're no longer part of their team.

COOPER: And it's so interesting to me, because that loyalty is not really repaid in kind. It's not as if they are known for going to bat for people, even if it's against their interests. They seem very willing, to kind of cut and run, when it no longer suits their interests.

WINSTON WOLKOFF: I think too many people are listening to the words they say, but not the actions they're taking. And their loyalty only runs one way, and it only runs their way.

And it's really unfortunate, because you can be convinced, you can feel embraced by them. I mean, he's very convincing to millions of people, obviously. And I myself fell for Melania's friendship.

So, I think that there's a narrative that people follow, people want to hear, people want to see. But the reality of it all is this is about the Trumps, and themselves. And they're going to make sure, to keep going, as long as their base is following them, and say and do whatever it takes, to keep them following.

COOPER: Beyond snarky texts about the--


COOPER: Sorry, go ahead.

WINSTON WOLKOFF: Oh no, sorry.

COOPER: No, just beyond the snarky texts, about the Arizona Attorney General, Grisham was also apparently trying to facilitate overturning the election results, in the state.

"Politico" reports that when Grisham was approached by lobbyists, soliciting more than a $100,000, I guess, fee, to try to prove election fraud, in Arizona, Grisham forwarded the request, to a Trump campaign aide, and asked, quote, "Any ideas," I guess any ideas, about making this - making this happen or what to do?


WINSTON WOLKOFF: Anderson, anything goes there. There are no rules. The rules have all been broken.

And our country is in, you know, we're struggling. We're looking for someone to lead. And unfortunately, by breaking all the rules, all the time, people are starting to wonder, our children, especially, who are our leaders of today, and who are the leaders of tomorrow.

And unfortunately, we're not getting that right now, because of people, like Stephanie Grisham, who are willing to break the rules, to stay within the atmosphere, within that inner circle.

COOPER: It's also hard, I think, for Stephanie Grisham, to claim to be a truth-teller now, because she was a propagator of lies, repeatedly, when she held a position of power, in the White House. I mean, nowhere near as consequential, but she had a history of misleading the public.

There was that time, first lady Melania Trump wore the jacket, to visit migrant children, being held on the border, saying, which had the thing on the back, Grisham, said, "It's a jacket. There was no hidden message there."

That wasn't accurate, right?

WINSTON WOLKOFF: No, Anderson. I mean, I remember, I think, I was on your show, and we were speaking about it.

Absolutely, I had spoken to Melania, right after that. I was still in communication with her. And I said, "Why did you wear that jacket? I mean, what was the significance of that?"

And for her to say that she would have gotten the attention, otherwise, I even said to her, "Well, Stephanie should have jumped on you."

And I mean, that - and figuratively, literally, and I said, "I would have jumped on you, and not allowed you to walk out." And Melania said back to me, "I will do what I want to do."

But the reality is, is that Stephanie wasn't there to have Melania's back. Stephanie was there as an Ivanka loyalist. Stephanie started out - Stephanie Grisham started out in the West Wing.

And, again, I have a hunch. I don't know if it's, you know, it's just my hunch that this might be Ivanka's next step, for her bid, for the White House.

COOPER: Really?

WINSTON WOLKOFF: Having Stephanie Grisham do a little dirty work on Melania.

COOPER: Really?

WINSTON WOLKOFF: Look, I don't put anything past them, really.


WINSTON WOLKOFF: We'll see. But it's just a hunch.

COOPER: Wow! Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, thank you so much, great to talk to you.

WINSTON WOLKOFF: Thank you, Anderson. You too.

COOPER: Up next, Republicans in Pennsylvania, where the former president made false claims, of election fraud, of course, approved subpoenas for voters' personal information.

But the State Attorney General says there's no way they're going to get it, without going through him. He'll join us next.



COOPER: Republican lawmakers, in Pennsylvania, have approved subpoenas, for a wide range of data, and personal information, on voters, including driver's license numbers, Social Security numbers, and voting history.

It's a latest move to advance the so-called investigation, into the results of the 2020 election. Pennsylvania, of course, is a key battleground state, and a state, where the former president has repeatedly made baseless claims of fraud.

Democrats say they'll fight the subpoenas, so does the State's Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, and he joins us now.

So, Attorney General, what exactly, is your plan, to fight these?

JOSH SHAPIRO, PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: First off, Anderson, let's look at what the subpoenas actually ask for.

Most of the information they're asking for is actually already publicly available, sort of confirming the charade that this really is.

Then second, when you dive into the subpoenas, it's very clear that there is absolutely no legitimate legislative purpose, to snooping on Pennsylvania voters, and demanding their private information, like you said, their Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers, and voter history. Here, in Pennsylvania, we have very strict laws and constitutional interpretation that makes it very clear that people's information here needs to be protected, that their privacy is paramount. And turning that information over is certainly not legal.

And so, we will fight it. We will take all necessary legal steps to protect the privacy of Pennsylvanians.

COOPER: When you saw some legislators, from Pennsylvania, going to Arizona, for the, you know, to kind of tour the phony audit that was going on there, it seems like this is kind of just part and parcel of that.

I mean, they're saying it's necessary to - this personal information is necessary to get to identify voter fraud. But there's no evidence of voter fraud. I mean, no one has presented real evidence of voter fraud. Most counties in your state underwent two audits.

SHAPIRO: Yes, Anderson, I'm the chief law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

We had less than a handful of cases of voter fraud. In each case there, these were individuals trying to cast one extra vote for Donald Trump. We did not have the widespread voter fraud that they are alleging. We had a safe and secure, free and fair election.

And it's important to note that we've already gone through two statutorily-required audits, here in Pennsylvania, which confirmed the results that Joe Biden won by just over 80,000 votes.

I think it's important for people to understand that the person leading this committee, and the person, who was leading it before, went to Arizona, to study the sham audit.

And before they went forward, with these ridiculous hearings, and with these subpoenas, they checked with one person, Donald Trump. They didn't check with the taxpayers, whose money they're spending on this.

They didn't check with the people, who were concerned, and want them focused, on real issues, like COVID, and educating our kids, and public safety. Instead, they went to Donald Trump, and asked his permission, to go forward with this.

It's a sham. It's a charade. And it's something that I am going to stop, here in Pennsylvania. They will not get the personal information that they are asking for, from the good people of Pennsylvania.

COOPER: Yes. But is there any real peril to handing it over to a Senate caucus?

SHAPIRO: Absolutely. We have laws in this Commonwealth that make clear that people's personal private information needs to be protected.


In fact, our Pennsylvania Supreme Court has held time and time again that the right to informational privacy, here in Pennsylvania, is protected under our state constitution. Just the act of handing it over to some of these senators is questionable.

And certainly, handing it over to some third-party organization that these Republicans have yet to name, who probably are going to be folks, associated with the former president, puts, really violates the law, in Pennsylvania, violates our constitution, and something that certainly is not going to happen, on my watch.

COOPER: It certainly seems like, it's an attempt, just to show, to make it seem like they are doing something, some sort of investigation, on so-called--


COOPER: --on election integrity, when in fact, they're not really doing anything, because there's nothing really--


COOPER: --that they can do or to be done.

Because when you push back, and saying, "Well, what is this election integrity?" they come back saying, "Well, what's wrong with more transparency? If there's nothing to hide, why not hand this stuff over?"

SHAPIRO: Right. I guess I'd just respectfully, push-backing a little bit, you used the word, "Seem," twice in the question.


SHAPIRO: That's actually what they're doing. They are actually perpetuating.


SHAPIRO: They're actually perpetuating a charade, on the good people of Pennsylvania, at the behest of Donald Trump.

They are spending taxpayer money on this. They are trying to compromise the privacy of the people of Pennsylvania. That's what they're doing, in order to keep faith, and run an errand, for Donald Trump.

COOPER: In addition to Arizona and Pennsylvania, Wisconsin has already authorized an audit. We've seen state GOP lawmakers, in Michigan, Georgia and Texas, push for reviews there.

Do you worry about, just nationwide, about our democracy, when this seems to be the playbook that they're sticking with, as we head into future elections?

SHAPIRO: Every single hour of every single day, I worry about our democracy. Look, the good people of Pennsylvania have been lied to, by their elected leaders, elected Republican leaders, here in Pennsylvania, lied to, by the former president.

Those lies are dangerous. They're not just things that get talked about, around the water cooler, or on television.

They're things that end up being a cancer in our democracy. They're things that don't allow us to agree on then basic sets of facts and data and science that we need, for example, to beat this pandemic.


SHAPIRO: They are tearing us apart. And they are making people feel as though they will not be counted in our democracy. I'm fighting back against that.

And it's important to note Anderson that they sued us, over 40 times, here in Pennsylvania, first, to make it harder for people to vote--


SHAPIRO: And second, to make sure that their votes didn't count. We beat them every single time. And we'll do it again.


SHAPIRO: With this sham audit.

COOPER: Attorney General, appreciate it. Thanks so much, Josh Shapiro.

SHAPIRO: Thank you.

COOPER: Still to come, a way to escape all the political drama, what I discovered, when I did some digging, into my mom's family, for a new book.



COOPER: I wanted to take a few minutes to let you know about a book I've written that's coming out on September 21st.

Now, it wasn't my idea to launch a book on the same day as Bob Woodward. What are you going to do? It's not a book about politics, that's the good news, or the former president.

It's a book about another larger-than-life family, full of flawed, but fascinating characters. It's a very human, intimate, and personal approach, to a history of my mom's family, the Vanderbilts.

It's called "Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty." And really, it's a book I never thought I'd write, because it's in one anyways a family that I really tried to distance myself from, much of my life. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): I didn't know much about the family, my mom, Gloria Vanderbilt, was born into, in 1924. She didn't talk much about her complicated childhood.

And when I was growing up, the Vanderbilt dynasty, with its enormous palaces, and lavish lifestyles, had long since vanished. To me, the Vanderbilts were like ghosts, mysterious people, from a past I wanted nothing to do with.

After my mom died, and my son Wyatt was born, in 2020, I began to wonder what I would tell him, about the Vanderbilts, what did I hope he learns from the lives that they led, and the choices they made.

I began going through boxes, my mom had, in her apartment. They were filled with photos and old newspaper clippings, a 130-year-old schoolbooks, her father, doodled in, as a child, journals and handwritten letters, from her mother, and her Aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.

Reading these notes, and writings, I began to hear the voices, of these people I never knew. They weren't just one-dimensional figures in a history book. They were complex, flushed with emotion and desire, their inner lives, far more compelling than their public persona it would lead us to believe.

There was the cunning and crude Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. His statue still stands outside New York's Grand Central Station, which he found in.

His genius and relentless cunning enabled him to become the richest man in the world, with $100 million in 1877. His mania for money would go on to infect generations, of Vanderbilts, in different ways.

His son Billy, mocked and discounted, by the Commodore, for much of his life, doubled his father's fortune, in just eight short years. But subsequent generations began a spending spree, the likes of which America had never seen.

His sons Cornelius, my great grandfather, and his brother, Willie, their strong-willed and ambitious wives, Alice, and Alva, began building palaces, in New York and Newport.

They threw lavish parties, to show off their wealth, and make the Vanderbilts, the kings and queens of New York society. Their children's lives were shaped for better, and often, for worse, by the money and the privileges that afforded them.

There was my grandfather, Reginald, who inherited millions of dollars, and went through it as quickly, as he drank himself to death.


His brother, my great uncle, Alfred, who died on the Lusitania, sunk by a German U-boat, he gallantly gave his life jacket, to a fellow passenger, and went down with the ship.

His sister, Gertrude, who lived, what was, at the time, a scandalous secret life, embattled my grandmother, for custody, of my then 10- year-old mom, in a trial that captivated the world, and changed their lives forever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And here's the first movie of little Gloria herself. Frightened by the curious crowd, she flees into her aunt's car. Money isn't everything!

COOPER (voice-over): But what I discovered, in writing this book, with historian and novelist, Katherine Howe, is that behind the glare of cameras, the magnificent and temporary mansions they built, the private lives of the Vanderbilts were messy, and insecure, complicated, sometimes irredeemable, but always fascinating.

Vanderbilt is the story of this family, I never knew, my family. It's the story of the extraordinary rise and epic fall of an American dynasty. It's the story of the greatest American fortune ever squandered.


COOPER: Well, the book is, in many ways, a letter to my son. The Vanderbilts may be in his past. But his future is his own to write. And maybe one day, he'll read this book, and understand why.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: News continues. Let's turn things over to Don and "DON LEMON TONIGHT."