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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

WaPo Reports Trump Lawyer Tells Allies Not To Comply With Subpoenas From January 6 Committee; Authorities Never Spoke To Brian Laundrie Before He Disappeared; Police Were Surveilling Brian Laundrie When He Returned To FL; Fewer Covid Hospitalizations, More Vaccinations Show U.S. May Be Turning Corner In Pandemic; Pfizer Seeks FDA Authorization Of Covid-19 Vaccine For Children Ages 5 To 11; Federal Judge Issues Order Blocking Texas' 6-Week Abortion Ban; South Dakota AG Investigating Allegation Governor Helped Daughter To Get Real Estate Appraiser License; "Diana" Premieres Sunday 9PM ET. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 07, 2021 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: You just can't miss it. And thanks so much for joining us. Anderson starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Tonight, we've learned that the former President is making new efforts to subvert justice and stymie the investigation into his attempt to stay in office by subverting democracy.

He is reportedly doing it by invoking executive privilege in the House investigation of the attack on the Capitol, which he incited. We'll talk to former White House Counsel, John Dean if he can actually do that.

Meantime, his allies are also still trying to undermine democracy and lay the groundwork for overturning the next election. That's the news tonight, which comes after a day that began with the Senate Judiciary Committee publishing its report in the former President's attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

The title is "Subverting Justice."


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): We were a half step away from a constitutional crisis, a full blown constitutional crisis.


COOPER: That's Committee Chairman, Dick Durbin, and he is understating it. The report is the most comprehensive account we have so far of what, if we were talking about it happening anyplace, but here would be described as a coup attempt. A coup attempt as seen through the eyes of some of the people in the room, in the Oval Office, even as key decisions were made in the effort leading up to the attack on the Capitol to overturn the will of the American people.

Now, one of nine attempts to pressure the Justice Department to undermine the election, yet, as horrifying as the details are and the attack was, it may still be tempting to file it away, just another collection of the latest in a series of such horrifying accounts. We've all gotten pretty numb to it, and that's understandable, but it's certainly a mistake.

It is not like reading William Shirer's "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" when it first came out in 1960, safe in the knowledge that the monster had been slain. As we'll discuss tonight, there has been no fall. There is very much alive and real time threat of clear and present danger, and that's because the enablers are still enabling and gaslighting.


SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): So President Trump assembled a bunch of people in his office, and they discussed what they ought to do.


COOPER: That's Senator Chuck Grassley, ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee whose members put out a rebuttal to the majority report. He is misleadingly describing a meeting in the Oval Office on the 3rd of January, a meeting we just learned happened three days before the Capitol attack, more than a month after then Attorney General Barr declared there had been no widespread fraud in the election. Also after dozens and dozens of courtroom losses on election fraud claims.

Now at the meeting, Barr's replacement, acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen also, present Justice official and Trump ally, Jeffrey Clark, whom the former President wanted to replace Rosen with, reading from the report, "According to Rosen, Trump opened the meeting by saying, 'one thing we know is you, Rosen, aren't going to do anything to overturn the election.'"

Again, this, I assume he was saying that in a negative way. Again, this is an election, the courts, Republican state officials, and the President's own handpicked Attorney General had already said was clean. According to the report, Rosen told the former President and the department quote, "Can't and won't just flip a switch and change the election." Incredible.

Then, according to committee testimony from Department of Justice second in command, Richard Donoghue, quote, "Trump asked the D.O.J. (Department of Justice) 'just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest of me and the Republican Congressmen,' and Donoghue understood to be the Republican House members who would be challenging the Electoral College certification on January 6."

He was rebuffed. Thank goodness. The meeting went on for up to three hours. Only at the end after being presented with the prospect of mass resignations at the Justice Department if he replaced Rosen with Clark, did the former President actually relent. And nowhere not found in one bit of testimony about the moment did he say, "We're not doing this because it would be wrong. Of course, we're not doing this because it'd be wrong."

His only complaint according to Richard Donoghue is about not being able to pull it off. Now, look at Senator Grassley's take on the former President's conduct there and throughout the affairs posted on his website, and I'm quoting now, "The available evidence shows that President Trump did what we'd expect the President to do on an issue of this importance. He listened to his senior advisers and followed their advice and recommendations."

That is rewriting history, and if any reminder were needed that today's majority report is more about today and tomorrow than the past, here is some more gaslighting today from Republican Congressman Andy Biggs.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Who won the election in Arizona? Donald Trump.

REP. ANDY BIGGS (R-AZ): We don't know because as the audit -- it demonstrates very clearly, Mr. Raskin, there are a lot of issues with this election that took place.


COOPER: I mean, that's just complete bull. It's amazing that that person is a sitting congressman and that person is just lying. It has become so normal, hasn't it?

It's just incredible to me.

Congressman Biggs is one of several lawmakers being looked at by the House Select Committee for his role in the former President's rally, which proceeded the attack on the Capitol. The committee issued more subpoenas today.

Meantime, four of his former top aides and allies are facing a midnight deadline to turn over documents to the committee.


COOPER: So no, none of this is history yet and sadly, it is still current events.

For more on the subpoenas, I want to go to CNN's Ryan Nobles at the Capitol. So, what do we know right now? What's going on?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, today the Select Committee issuing a round of subpoenas to a new group of individuals, and these are people that were connected to the Stop the Steal organization, which planned and organized the Stop the Steal rally, which served as the prelude, of course to the insurrection here at the Capitol on January 6. The two men in particular who they are looking for documents from and

interviewing deposition of is Ali Alexander and Nathan Martin. Now, Alexander in particular is an interesting figure. He was very popular on the conservative far-right internet, and he is someone who also has publicly boasted about his direct and personal connections with three Members of Congress. Among them, Paul Gosar, Mo Brooks, and the man you were just talking about, Andy Biggs, who had been long perpetuators of the big lie, also people that voted to objective the election results and played some role in that Stop the Steal rally ahead of what happened here on January 6.

So this does give us some insight into what the committee is looking for. They are looking for coordination, planning, and organization around that rally, and then how it could have enabled or led to the violence and chaos here at the Capitol on that day.

COOPER: So what exactly is the former President telling his allies to do in regard to these subpoenas?

NOBLES: Well, this is an interesting development today, Anderson, and there is no doubt that the committee felt that it was very unlikely that these four men would comply in the way that they are looking for up to the deposition and subpoena requests that they had put forward.

But the fact that we have the former President of the United States, according to "The Washington Post," in a letter that they reviewed, specifically telling these four men not to comply with the committee's requests, because he plans to defend executive privilege.

Now, it's not exactly clear how he thinks that he is able to do that and then extend that ability to these four men. There is really a lot of ambiguous legal arguments in that regard. But we should also point out Anderson, that it's unlikely that even Trump himself can use executive privilege to shield himself from any information being gleaned from the Select Committee.

Most legal experts believe that it is only the responsibility of the current occupant of the White House to take care of and invoke executive privilege, much less extend that to four people, including one person, Steve Bannon, who wasn't even a White House official on the day of the January 6 insurrection.

So this is more than anything likely to be a delay tactic by Trump and his allies because it's going to be a difficult legal battle. And of course, the Committee just doesn't have that much time to do their work.

COOPER: All right, and the courts take time. Ryan Nobles, appreciate it.

We're joined now by CNN contributor, former Nixon White House Counsel, John Dean. So John, I mean, this strategy is going to work. The former President, you know, I mean, obviously, he can't exert executive privilege as he clearly thinks he can. But it doesn't really matter, doesn't it? I mean, this will just end up in courts and will drag on so long that it other than for history, it may be irrelevant. JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's his goal, it is to just gum it up

so bad and probably to litigate it, and a lot of these issues are not resolved, Anderson. You're right. He cannot, he can -- there's no way he can say to these people, you cannot testify, you cannot produce any documents in your control.

The only sort of range whether it's sort of mechanics that we might get to the documents is the Presidential Records Act. If they've complied with it, their records from the White House are in the National Archives, and the archivist is under an executive order written by Barack Obama that tells him what he can and cannot do.

And with an incumbent President, he has limited impact on a past President's papers. And if Trump does invoke executive privilege, the archivist is the one who will make the decision in consultation with the Attorney General and the White House Counsel, as well as under general instructions from the incumbent President.

But this has never been litigated. We don't know if that executive order is even good. And I think that's what Trump wants to go for. His lawyers have probably told him, you can drag this out for years.

COOPER: Because there's this reporting from "The Washington Post" that the former President's lawyer is telling these former aides not to comply with subpoenas from the January 6 Committee. Obviously, it is one thing to actually fight the subpoena in court, it's another to completely ignore it at the direction of the former President, isn't it?

DEAN: There is no -- he has no authority to do that. Each of those people have to decide what they can do, and they can't say, well, I'm acting under the orders of former President Trump. That's no order. I mean, it is meaningless.

So they can find themselves in contempt. And Anderson, again, this is where the House has failed to get itself in order to prepare for this. There are remedies for this. There are housekeeping things they can do and make these subpoenas through their inherent contempt powers have some meaning.


COOPER: Why wouldn't they do that if that was a possibility? I mean, what is the inherent contempt power there?

DEAN: Boy, I don't know. I cannot figure out. It is a no brainer. Ted Lieu introduced in the last Congress, and again in this Congress, a resolution that would amend their rules that would give a fine power the up to $25,000.00 per incident and up to $100,000.00 per particular material, which can be repeated again and again, it can really add up.

And this is just amending their rules. They don't have to go to the Senate. They don't have to go to anybody. And I just don't get it why they don't brace themselves to deal with this kind of behavior.

COOPER: How significant are the new subpoenas for this -- you know, the so-called Stop to Steal organizers from the January 6 Select Committee. I mean, it's worth noting, one of the organizers claimed he worked closely with Republican congressmen in planning the rally at the Capitol. Of course, whether or not he was being honest, you know, who can tell these people?

DEAN: I think they're probably -- I think they're important. I think they're being very thoughtful, the subpoenas they issue, and if these people indeed comply, and I don't know why they wouldn't, they will get more information as to how this thing really came down, and that's what they're clearly trying to get ahold of.

COOPER: Yes, John Dean, I appreciate that tonight. Thank you.

Now, his former Watergate counterpart, in a sense, CNN political analyst, author and investigative reporter, Carl Bernstein. Carl, thanks for being with us.

So, the Senate Judiciary Committee report is the most comprehensive look so far at the former President's assault on democracy, asking the Justice Department nine times to undermine the election results. I'm wondering what your takeaway is?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that there has been a coup led by the President of the United States to undermine the Constitution, and possibly and likely a criminal conspiracy as well. And all of these things that are laid out in the report are incontrovertible evidence of the President of the United States trying to overwhelm constitutional responsibility to subvert and evade the laws of the United States, and the Constitution of the United States.

But I think we also need to look at something. We are looking at an ongoing cover up led by the Republican Party to keep the people of the United States from knowing what the hell happened in these terrible moments in which the President of the United States, for the first time in our history, tried to subvert a legal and free election, and now, we are heading toward the next election in which these same forces are planning to subvert the election.

So we are in a constitutional crisis.

COOPER: You know, you have Chairman Durbin saying we were a half step away.

BERNSTEIN: We were in it.

COOPER: You think we were in it.

BERNSTEIN: We were in it because look toward the next election? Look at what has happened already, and look at the country itself. The most significant thing, perhaps is not just the coup attempt and the coup by the President of the United States, and the Republican Party going along with it, but almost half of the adult voters in this country, from all of the polls, and what we saw in the last election are willing to go along with these lies.

COOPER: Yes. BERNSTEIN: So we are in a kind of Civil War in this country ignited

by Donald Trump.

COOPER: Well, not people, you know, voters, the base supporters willing to go along with this lie. If Senator Grassley's, you know, rebuttal from the G.O.P. is saying nothing to see in that meeting, you know, that Trump, oh, he listened to his senior advisors and followed their advice and recommendations.

I mean, that's an insane interpretation of an insane meeting, which took place with the former President.

BERNSTEIN: Chuck Grassley was once a really honorable man with a terrific record, serving his party.

COOPER: That must have been a long time ago.

BERNSTEIN: And it is a long time ago, because what he is doing is a disgrace, as his colleagues are doing. What the Republican Party is doing today is unprecedented in our history, going along with subversion of the Constitution of the United States. This is not about a set of unknown facts. It's very clear to these people in the Republican Party what happened. They want to win and prevail in this Civil War, at any cost.

And the cost to the country is something that we have not seen in this nation since 1860 to 1865. That's the only period in our history we can look at as to when the forces of undemocratic to say the least, but when the forces gathered to undermine our unity as a country, and what we stand for and who we are, we are in a similar period right now, in which -- and that's what we need to be covering as well in the media, what is going on in the country that is allowing this to happen? We need to find out what's on people's minds if they are willing to go along with this.


COOPER: Well, also, you know, look, I mean, who hasn't become somewhat numb to this constant assault? And that's -- I mean, you know, that's how psychopaths are able to, you know, remain free and, you know, succeed in society, because they wear down everybody else around them, and just are shameless and have no -- you know ...

BERNSTEIN: Let me just say, so you just raised a really interesting point.

COOPER: I got that.

BERNSTEIN: You use the word "psychopath." Let's say that perhaps we have a sociopath, or a psychopath who has been the President of the United States and seeks perhaps to be the next President of the United States and has ignited this movement. We have never had a period in our history, when 40 to 45 percent of the people in our country have said, oh, yes, I'll go along with this psychopath. I'll go along with this sociopath. We need to be looking at these facts as well as the coup, and what

this individual did. We need to look at why are people, so many of our people following this sociopathic undermining of our democracy? It's extraordinary.

COOPER: Yes, it is. I mean, you know, there's been a lot of comparisons, obviously to Watergate, but just looking back to the darkest days of the Nixon administration.

BERNSTEIN: The system worked in Watergate. Richard Nixon left office. He agreed to leave office. He didn't start a coup at the last minute to say, I'm going to stay here, I'm not leaving. Don't let that chopper take off on the lawn. He said, "I have to go."

He acknowledged that he had to go. Whatever he thought of the facts, he knew that there was a constitutional process in place and that he had lost and that the Supreme Court had made him turn over his tapes, and he was no longer -- and he would have been impeached and convicted in the Senate. What made him go was his knowledge that his own party was going to convict him.

Now, Donald Trump's party has not convicted him in the Senate, is not about to convict anybody, but rather is intent on covering up this horrible, horrible coup, and undermining of our democracy led by this person and now endorsed, enabled by one of our two political parties. We've never had anything like it in our history.

COOPER: Yes. Carl Bernstein, appreciate it. Thank you, Carl.

Coming up next, more breaking news. Significant new details. Our Randi Kaye has just learned about what police were doing when Brian Laundrie returned home to Florida without his fiancee, Gabby Petito.

And later, the Surgeon General of the United States joining us to talk about some positive trends in the battle against COVID. Some good news, I will ask whether he thinks the worst of the pandemic is actually behind us.


COOPER: There are some breaking news tonight in the search for Brian Laundrie who disappeared just days after his fiancee, Gabby Petito was reported missing. Randi Kaye just spoke with the police in Florida where Laundrie's family lives and where he was last seen.

So I understand you learned some new details including whether or not police actually spoke with Brian Laundrie when he returned home to Florida without his fiancee.

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We did, Anderson, and the answer is no. I'm told by the spokesperson for the North Port Police Department that authorities did not speak with Brian Laundrie before he disappeared.

We also learned, and this is also new, that police were surveilling Brian Laundrie before he disappeared. Now, they were doing what they could legally do. I'm told there were some limitations because remember, there hadn't been a crime at that time. Gabby Petito's remains had not been found yet. So there were some legal limitations to this.

But this is how the spokesperson for the North Port Police Department explained it to me.


JOSH TAYLOR, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, NORTH PORT POLICE DEPARTMENT: If you talk to a lot of people who have experience in law enforcement, I mean, the guy goes for a walk in the Carlton Reserve, he is not wanted for a crime. I mean, what are we -- what are we supposed to do?

We're going to go from tree to tree -- tree to tree following back through the woods? I mean, you know, it just wasn't there with the information we had in this case.


KAYE: He also added that there was -- there has been plenty of effort, plenty of hustle by the North Port Police Department in trying to solve this crime, but no investigation is a hundred percent perfect.

But Anderson, we also learned from police today that on September 17th, when Brian Laundrie's parents reported him missing, police, as you know, came to this house here behind me. And I'm told from police that the Laundries would only respond to questions about their son missing and they had their attorney on the phone. They would not answer any questions about Gabby Petito missing and the fact that she hadn't been found and I'm told that police thought that behavior Anderson was odd.

COOPER: You've also got some new information about the family's cell phones.

KAYE: Right. Well, as you know, we learned recently that Brian Laundrie had bought a new cell phone after he returned from that trip to Wyoming. He went to a store here in North Port, Florida on September 4th and bought a new phone.

So the question was where was his original phone that was on that trip with him out West? I confirmed today with police that they don't have Brian Laundrie's original phone, authorities don't have Gabby Petito's phone. Neither phone was in the van that Brian Laundrie returned in from Wyoming to here to his family home on September 1st.


KAYE: But we also spoke with a former F.B.I. agent and attorney who said that even if you don't have the physical phone, there is plenty of information that you could get off -- you can still get that information from the records of the phone. You can track the phone, you can check geographic location, so not only would they be able to find out where Gabby Petito was, but also just where her phone was, and where those text messages might have been coming from including these two very bizarre text messages that were sent in late August that her parents don't believe were actually sent by her.

Now, I'm also told that these text messages would only stay for a few days maybe, they would only be stored for a few days. But there's other information that would be stored longer in the Cloud. For example, maybe internet searches that she did, which could possibly prove to be very valuable to investigators -- Anderson.

COOPER: And today, Brian Laundrie's father went into that nature preserve with authorities. Is there any detail on that?

KAYE: He went in early this morning with law enforcement and we understand from the Laundrie family attorney that he was in there to show them maybe areas in there that Brian frequented, also areas that he and his son had hiked and camped in.

But the family attorney released a statement as well later in the day that said there were no discoveries and hopefully Brian will be located soon -- Anderson.

COOPER: And just -- I just wanted to go back, when you said that the police were kind of observing Brian Laundrie, obviously, you said there are limitations. You know, he wasn't accused of a crime or charged with a crime. Do we know anything more about that? Like what kind of observations were they actually surveilling him? What -- do we know?

KAYE: It sounded to me as if he was very careful about what he was saying because this is an ongoing investigation. He doesn't want to compromise the investigation, but he did confirm that there was surveillance. It sounded like it was a bit of a loose surveillance where they had some eyes on him, but obviously if they had known -- he gave that example of, if he was in the Carlton Reserve, they weren't going to go tree to tree trying to follow right behind him.

COOPER: All right, Randi, appreciate it. Thank you.

If Brian Laundrie is alive, and he is caught and charged with Gabby Petito's killing, of course, there is a question of what his defense would look like.

We're joined now by Mark O'Mara, who famously defended George Zimmerman in the death of the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Mark, appreciate you being with us. We should say that Brian Laundrie is officially only wanted in connection with using Gabby Petito's bank card following her death. That said, as a defense attorney, I'm wondering what you make of this case, and you know, the family's involvement, the family's attorney et cetera?

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, there's so much, but most importantly, there is so much that we really don't know. We know the F.B.I. is being very tight lipped. We don't even know the cause of death or the circumstances surrounding Gabby's passing. So, we have a lot of sort of supposition. Obviously, it's easy to focus blame on Brian, because he came home

without her, and now he has taken off. There may well be good explanations for that, we're going to have to wait and see. But certainly, when you're looking at this case, from the outside, you see Brian come home with the family for several days, and then sort of out and now seemingly in hiding. It's very easy to point a finger at him.

But I would just hope or suggest that we do it all of us in the legal profession are trained to do, which is only follow the evidence that is actually there and keep the suppositions to a minimum.

COOPER: Well, obviously, you know, there's a lot of people who are looking at the parents and blaming the parents as well. Again, we have no idea what knowledge they had or had. It is important to point out, you know, I think that we just don't know. It's very easy from the outside on cable shows for people to be hurling invectives and criticizing and making assumptions.

But again, facts actually, you know, do matter, still in this world. If Laundrie is captured, I mean, what is the conversations between a child -- or an adult child and his parents. Are those things which -- I mean, is there some obligation for families to come forward? Or is it just saying, look, I'm not going to discuss anything in the subject matter to police. Is that okay?

O'MARA: Witnesses actually don't have an affirmative obligation to come forward necessarily. They're not allowed to do the opposite. They're not allowed to actively interfere within an investigation. They are not allowed to harbor a fugitive. They're not allowed to obstruct justice, even accessory after the fact, which is helping somebody to continue to get away with a crime, you know, the getaway car example. So all of those are things that they cannot do.

You know, we also have to look at this, this is never well planned out step by step in the beginning. This is always handled in all of these cases, you know, one small step at a time. Something happened with Gabby, Brian takes off potentially. Then comes home mom and dad say something. So these are all small steps. What the family cannot do is do anything to affirmatively interfere with the investigation. And you mentioned, you know if and when Brian is captured. My hope is for the opposite. My hope is that Brian finds himself good counsel. This needs to be addressed more affirmatively, even with fears that he may have, previous positions against him or concerns with law enforcement, whatever that might be. This is better to be done in the light of day rather than in the shadows.

COOPER: Mark Merth (ph). Appreciate you being with us. Thank you, Mark.

It is the pleasure to say this next sentence which is that nearly all the trends in the U.S. are pointing in the right direction in the fight against COVID right now. We'll talk to the Surgeon General about whether he thinks the worst is behind us and we'll also ask him about when kids five to 11 might be able to get the vaccine after Pfizer they request emergency use authorization.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: There's good news tonight on a number of fronts in the battle against COVID in the United States. Hospitalizations, cases and deaths are all down, vaccine mandates, though still very controversial in some quarters are significantly increasing the number of people vaccinated. And one of the last big groups yet to be eligible for the vaccine is kids aged five to 11. That got closer today when Pfizer applied for emergency use authorization for their vaccine to be available to that age group.

Certainly a lot to get through, I'm very pleased to have the top doctor in the nation joining us Surgeon General of Vivek Murthy. Thanks so much for being with us Dr. Murthy.


So, I think a lot of people watching tonight are wondering if the worst the pandemic is behind us. I always want to like knock on wood and even suggesting such a thing. What is your answer to?

VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well Anderson, I'm certainly cautiously optimistic. And I think whether or not we see another surge of the virus depends in part on what we do to really accelerate vaccination rates. You know, we've seen right now, Anderson that we've got nearly 215 million people in our country who've had at least one dose of the vaccine, that's pretty extraordinary progress. But when you're dealing with an incredibly contagious variant, like the Delta variant, even the people who aren't vaccinating, even though they're a minority of the population, the virus can spread very quickly in that population.

So, we're thankfully seeing cases and hospitalizations come down. But it's not a reason for us to take our foot off the accelerator or to relax our guards so to speak. We've got to continue getting people vaccinated because that is our surest way to keep them out of the hospital and to save lives.

COOPER: Yes. I actually got my flu shot at CVS today. I'm very, very, very happy to do that.

As the President touted in Chicago today, vaccine mandates, I mean, they appear to be working according to the White House in late July, there were 95 million unvaccinated Americans. Now there are 67 million. That said, according to CDC, more people are actually going in for booster doses than first doses. Is that a good or bad metric in your view?

MURTHY: Well, overall, I think we have made a lot of progress, Anderson. As you mentioned, the numbers of unvaccinated individuals in this country are dropping and the vaccine requirements are working, we're seeing evidence of that, on average, organizations that put vaccine requirements in place, they're seeing a 20% plus increase, and the percentage of people who are vaccinated. Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, for example, went from 68 to 98% of their employees and compliance with their vaccine requirements when they put those requirements in place. So we know that these requirements work.

Here's the other really important thing, Anderson that I think people don't always appreciate enough, which is that vaccine requirements are not new, we actually have a long history in our country of requiring vaccines in various settings. With your President George Washington required inoculation against smallpox with soldiers in the 1800s. We started in schools requiring vaccines, hospitals, like the ones I've worked in, over the years, have long required vaccines, like the flu vaccine that you recently got, in order for people to practice medicine. And this is really about creating a safe environment for people to work for young people to study, and for all of us to engage in commerce.

So, these are a good thing, they're going to continue to help us move forward and they can't come soon enough.

COOPER: What is the likelihood of some other variants emerging like the Delta variant that's, you know, that's worse or easier to transmit to kids or, you know, some variant, I mean, obviously, that's why they call it a variant. Some, you know, with variable different things about it.

MURTHY: So Anderson, I'm glad you brought it up, because we do have to be aware and vigilant to the fact that new variants can develop and the more spread there is of COVID, the more likely those variants will surface. But here's the interestingly what we've already seen is over the past 18, 19 months with all the variants that we've had delta, alpha and others, the vaccines have actually been remarkably effective at preventing the worst outcomes, hospitalization, severe disease and death with all of these variants, which has been actually very, very useful to us.

Now could that change in the future, it's always possible. But that's why we are prepared to modify these vaccines to do what we need to make sure we keep up with COVID-19. But we'd -- but there is no substitute for making sure people actually get the vaccine. You know, the science is working, the production and manufacturing has stepped up. But we need people to actually get that vaccine in order for it to save lives.

COOPER: So Pfizer formerly requested emergency use authorization for its vaccine for kids aged five to 11. Do you think the fact that the vaccine will become one of the immunizations needed for school next year? I mean, should it be required along with measles, mumps and rubella?

MURTHY: Well, I think there's certainly a case that a number of states have already made. You've heard California, you know, indicate that it will support vaccine requirements for kids when the vaccine becomes available. And I think you're going to see more states move in this direction. You know, vaccine requirements have typically been local and state decisions in terms of what which vaccines are required.

But I think part of the reason you're going to see more states likely move in that direction post authorization is because we all want our kids to go back to school, to be able to stay in school, and to be safe and many people out there think that you know, COVID is not a big deal for kids. We shouldn't really worry about it. But --


MURTHY: -- I will tell you we've lost hundreds of children to COVID. Thousands have been hospitalized and we could prevent a lot of this with a safe and effective vaccine.

COOPER: Well also the idea of having -- my child getting long COVID or some simple thing that sticks around for, you know, that's awful. When do you think the five up group will able to start getting shots? And what about the under fiver?

MURTHY: Yes, well, I have a personal interest in this for sure, because I have two kids now who are three and five. I certainly want them to get vaccinated. The fact that Pfizer indicated it is now formally requested authorization is a good sign. The FDA has said that it's going to move in the order of weeks, not months to get this done. It's already scheduled an advisory group meeting to consider vaccines for children, which is also a promising sign.


So I think we're going to see movement very quickly here. But Anderson, one thing the FDA is not going to do is they're not going to cut corners in this process. They want people to know, when they make their decision. And if that ends up being in support of a vaccine for kids, that people know that the vaccine is both safe and highly effective. I think we'll see vaccines for kids under five, come not too long after that, because those trials are slightly behind about another month or so behind it.

So we got to -- wait for the companies to submit that data. But I think that's going to come not too long after.

COOPER: And just finally the Scott Gottlieb former FDA commissioner said on CNBC, that he thinks the combination of a vaccine for children and the new antiviral medication from Merck would quote, bug in the pandemic phase of the virus. Do you agree?

MURTHY: Well, I certainly think that moves us in that in that direction. Keep in mind, we haven't given as much attention, you know, is as a country in terms of our news coverage. And, you know, to antivirals is we have given to vaccines, and that's understandable. But we haven't certainly in the federal government side, let up our focus on antivirals and on oral medications. And this recent news, you know, telling us that, you know, from the clinical trials conducted by one of the manufacturers telling us that there is now data that indicates that there may be an oral option that could cut the risk of hospitalization and death in half among people at higher risk of COVID-19. That is incredibly good news. It's got to go through the FDA process, you've got to scrutinize safety and efficacy, but it's certainly a move in the right direction.

If you've got good vaccines, we've got good oral medicines, we can get us preventive measures like mask when we need them. We will be in good shape against COVID-19 COOPER: It's really good, nice, and I appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

MURTHY: Of course. Thanks, Anderson. Take care.

COOPER: All right, Dr. Murthy, thanks.

Coming up next, a leading critic of the Texas abortion law joins us now that a federal judge has put the law on hold and clinics are back providing the procedure, ahead.



COOPER: The day after a federal judge for the Texas abortion law on hold and the Supreme Court on notice with his 113 page opinion at least one clinic operator in the state says it's back to providing abortions for women who have more than six weeks pregnant, which we should point out has been permitted under Roe v. Wade for nearly five decades now. Texas officials indicate they'll appeal the ruling but they haven't formally asked the Fifth Circuit to put it on hold.

I want to get perspective now from former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis.

Senator Davis, thanks for being with us. Can you just kind of walk us through what this ruling is now?

WENDY DAVIS, FMR STATE SENATOR (D-TX): Sure. So, the judge put an injunction in place federal just District Court Judge Robert Pitman in joining the enforcement of this law, and then joining our state courts and state clerks from accepting the filing of petitions under this law. And while it may seem that all as well, at least for now, as a consequence of that, as we've talked about before Anderson, there are many pernicious layers to this law. And one of those is the fact that there is a provision in the law saying that if the Fifth Circuit or the Supreme Court stays and injunction, all abortions that are provided during that injunction procedure -- time period will be considered retroactively to have violated the law.

And so, there are doctors still on the ground in Texas today, many clinics on the ground in Texas today that have continued to keep their doors closed. The ones who have decided to move forward even though they are at risk of retroactive -- active application of the law are doing so very, very courageously. And they know that they are subject to personal financial risk as a consequence of this. This is the reason that we set up a legal fund for them. If your viewers want to help contribute to it, it's fund, the you can go there and find out more information. We want our healthcare workers to know that we have their back and that they shouldn't feel like they need to be cowed as a consequence, the retroactive provision in this law.

COOPER: And then it just from a legal standpoint, what is the next step and what is the next court to hear this? DAVIS: So the Fifth Circuit will hear an appeal, the state of Texas has already indicated that it intends to appeal Judge Pitman's injunctive order. They will make a decision on whether that injunction should stand. And it is very likely that the question that they may consider and overturn this injunction on is standing. This was a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice. And the question will be whether the Department of Justice has the standing to sue in a situation where the state has argued, it is not in any way shape or form in the role of enforcing this law because they've put it in the hands of private individuals. That will be the question before the Fifth Circuit. And it probably will have that appeal before it very quickly. And I would imagine it's going to make a decision fairly quickly as well.

In the meantime, there are people who have been waiting for days and weeks to have abortion care in our state. I am so proud of and impressed by the courage of whole women's health and some of their clinicians who are trying as best they can in this period of time provide the care that people have so desperately waiting for.

COOPER: Senator Wendy Davis, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

DAVIS: Thank you.

COOPER: Up next, South Dakota's Republican governor rising star in the Republican Party is accused of abuse of power in trying to help her daughter with her career. The state's top law enforcement officers launch an investigation. We'll tell you what the governor is saying about all that, when we continue.



COOPER: Tonight, South Dakota Republican Governor Kristi -- Kristi Noem is facing accusations that she abused the power of her office to help her daughter become a state certified real estate appraiser. The State's Attorney General's now investigating the matter so are some in the legislature. Noem has made a name for herself in other ways as a staunch supporter, the former president and opponent of government ordered COVID mask and vaccine mandates. The question is will this accusation of nepotism tarnish her national political ambitions or perhaps even a run for the president in 2024?

CNN's Lucy Kafanov reports.


GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R-SD): Well, it is such an honor to be with all of you here today.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has been basking in the national spotlight.

NOEM: People had no idea who I was six months ago.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Trumpeting her laissez faire approach to the coronavirus pandemic.

NOEM: My people are happy. They're happy because they're free.

JOE SNEVE, SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER, ARGUS LEADER: I think it's clear that she wants to be president and she intends to run for president in 2024. She spends more time than any governor in recent history has spent out of state. She's inserting herself in issues that don't directly impact the day to day lives of South Dakotans.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Now, controversy over a closed door meeting in the governor's mansion threatens to derail those ambitions. Noem called the meeting on July 27th of 2020 with state officials.

NOEM: These are my kids, Kassidy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How's it going?

NOEM: Married to Kyle.

KAFANOV (voice-over): And her daughter Kassidy Noem Peters.



KAFANOV (voice-over): According to the Associated Press, Peters was facing a denial of her certification as a real estate appraiser when the meeting took place. Four months late, she got her license while the woman who oversaw the appraisal program for decades, Sherry Bren says she was forced to retire. In this age discrimination complaint filed last December, Bren said she was told the reason was her inability to change gears. She settled with a state for $200,000.

REP. STEVE HAUGAARD (R-SD): Privacy is for individuals but transparency is for government.

KAFANOV (voice-over): South Dakota Republican Representative Steve Haugaard says the meeting flaunts Noem's own campaign promise.

NOEM: Being transparent, making sure that all public meetings and agendas are posted.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Haugaard says any issues with the state's appraisal system should have been handled in the legislature out in the open.

HAUGAARD: There's been three years of sessions that that could have taken place. So, that's where it should take place.

KAFANOV (on-camera): Not by some closed door meeting?


NOEM: I never want to ask for special treatment for Kassidy. KAFANOV (voice-over): Noem defending her actions, saying her daughter completed the same requirements as every other applicant, adding that the state's appraisal system needed to be reformed.

NOEM: It was way too difficult. Appraisers weren't getting certified and South Dakotans were having to wait much longer to buy a home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nepotism in South Dakota State House.

KAFANOV (voice-over): It's not the first time Noem has been under the microscope over allegations of nepotism, hiring her other daughter Kennedy Noem in 2018 fresh out of college.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kennedy Noem became a policy analyst and her salary rose nearly $10,000.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Governor Noem's office said her daughter was fairly compensated but government ethicists say Noem's actions in the latest case leave the door open for doubt.

DAVID GOLEMBOSKI, ASST. PROFESSOR, GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS, AUGUSTANA UNIVERSITY: I think we can only hope from the governor that she recognizes that she made missteps in conducting the meeting this way, in involving her daughter in the process and engaging personally in the process while she had a personal stake.

The issue of conflict of interest, the issue of appearance of impropriety remains and those are problems that I don't think there's a retroactive fix for.

KAFANOV (voice-over): A state legislative committee and the Attorney General have announced plans to investigate the July 2020 meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she's done an excellent job.

KAFANOV (voice-over): But is it making a dent with voters?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That meeting I feel like her daughter just shouldn't have been in there at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In South Dakota I think family first type thing, so I think any father or mother would probably try and do something to help her daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most people that are going to support her are going to support her anyway. And I think people that are looking for a reason to not support her are just going to use that as another reason not to support her.


COOPER: Lucy, you mentioned the Attorney General's investigating where does that stand?

KAFANOV: Well, Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who, by the way, is a political rival of Governor Noem she has previously called for his resignation. He announced yesterday that he has referred this matter to the state's Government Accountability Board asking them to investigate the circumstances of that meeting. He's also in a separate matter asked that same board to investigate allegations that she may have violated state law, South Dakota law by using the state plane to fly to events organized by various political organizations. Anderson.

COOPER: Lucy Kafanov, appreciate it thanks.

A quick programming note before we head over to Chris. Princess Diana was a obviously a fashion idol, trailblazing activist and outspoken member of the royal family. There's a new CNN original series called "DIANA" which gives us all some insight into the process and reveals life far more complicated than the world new. Here's a preview.


DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES: I was always different. I had always the thing inside me that I was going somewhere different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was going to marry her dashing Prince. Like all the stories she'd read.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was iconic. She was box office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going to dance with the Princess tonight.

JOHN TRAVOLTA, ACTOR: She'd like me to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pre Diana, there was Zilch interest in the royal family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think anybody has grown up in public like Diana has it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Diana provided a very public model for defiance and truthfulness.

DIANA: Isn't it normal to feel angry and want to change a situation?

I was able to recognize an inner determination to survive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new CNN original series "DIANA," premieres Sunday at 9:00 on CNN.


COOPER: That's it for us. The news continues. Want to hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris,

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Appreciate it Coop. I'll take it a little bit early. Thank you very much.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to "PRIME TIME."

People with nothing to hide, comply with authorities, right? But then you have Trump and co who will do anything to hide. One guy is literally in hiding Dan Scavino. And now, CNN has learned Trump may try to assert executive privilege to block the January 6 committee from getting information from those subpoenaed. Lie, deny and now defy. Remember, we define that as the triple play of trumpery.