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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Coroner Says Gabby Petito Died Of Manual Strangulation; Interview With Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA); Authors Of "How Democracies Die" Weigh In On Jan. 6th Investigation; U.S. Task Force Recommends Adults 40-59 With Risk Of Heart Disease Talk To Doctor Before Starting Daily Aspirin; McAuliffe And Youngkin In Tight Race For Governor; Independents May Help Decide Election; Texas Governor Bans Covid-19 Vaccines Mandates. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 12, 2021 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: It's not a shortage. It's clear the American worker wants more, whether it's better pay or more flexibility, some perhaps flat out burned out from the pandemic, or they don't like the COVID policies of their companies, whatever it is, it is a watershed moment, and one that neither side in Washington should assume advances their political agenda.

Thanks for joining us. AC 360 starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. There is a lot to bring you tonight including a conversation with one of the house lawmakers trying to learn more about the former President's role in and around the attack on the Capitol.

The question tonight, what happens if four of his former aides and allies facing a deadline later this week refuse to talk?

We begin though with more breaking news. Autopsy results in the killing of Gabby Petito, the cause of death now known -- strangulation. The manner of death homicide.

The news comes a month and a day after she was reported missing on a road trip with her fiance, Brian Laundrie, who is now at large. Her body was discovered on the 19th of last month in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. We are joined now by Teton County coroner, Dr. Brent Blue.

Dr. Blue, I really appreciate your time tonight. According to your report, Gabby Petito's cause of death was manual strangulation/throttling. Does that mean that -- what exactly does that mean? Does it mean that somebody used their hands or some sort of an object?

DR. BRENT BLUE, TETON COUNTY CORONER: Throttling means that they -- that someone was strangled by human force. There was no mechanical force involved. People can be strangled by other means, like, we have seen people on snowmobiles who run into a wire that would be strangling by a mechanical event. But this was, we believe this is strangling by a human being.

COOPER: How do you determine that it is a human being?

BLUE: Well, mainly because only humans have opposable thumbs. But there was no evidence that this was done by any kind of animal as far as the cause of death.

COOPER: No, I mean, you can tell somebody used their hands as opposed to use, you know, some other object.

BLUE: You can't necessarily tell that, but when we talk about manual strangling, it's as opposed to something as mechanical that has caused it.

COOPER: You said today, and I'm quoting, "This is only one of many deaths around the country, people who are involved in domestic violence, and it's unfortunate that these other deaths do not get as much coverage as this one," unquote. Your point about coverages is absolutely well taken. There is a lot of people who do not receive this kind of coverage or this kind of interest, frankly, from the public.

Your statement though also suggest, and I don't know if that's intentional or not that you determined Gabby Petito's death was the result of domestic violence. Was that -- is that an assumption or is that something you're saying based on something you learned?

BLUE: That's an assumption. That was strictly an assumption.

COOPER: Okay. I also want to bring in our Randi Kaye, who is in North Port, Florida. She has been reporting on this story since the very beginning. She has spent some time in Wyoming, trying to retrace Gabby Petito's last known steps, and I know she has some questions as well -- Randi.

BLUE: Sure.

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, thanks. Dr. Blue, I wanted to ask you about a text that Gabby's mother received from her daughter's phone on August 30th, and if you look at your timeline, her death would have occurred between August 22nd and August 29th.

So if this text on August 30th that said there was no service in Yosemite came from Gabby's phone, can you say definitively that Gabby Petito could not have sent that text on August 30th?

BLUE: No, I can't. When we talk about timeline of death this far out from a death, that timeline can be plus or minus a week at a minimum. And that is because of different weather conditions and different locations. So it's really very, very rough.

It's not like TV, where they say, oh, they died on this date. It's a very rough estimate, and I know that law enforcement is using other methods to try to determine a most -- a more exact date, but from an autopsy point of view, it is a very rough estimate. COOPER: So -- and Randi, just -- can you explain to our viewers why you asked that question, because I mean, if she was not obviously alive on that day, when they received that text, then it would indicate that Brian Laundrie or somebody else theoretically sent that text to them.

KAYE: Right. I mean, it's key because if she didn't send it and the text said that there was -- it no read, "No service in Yosemite," whoever did send it, the question is, were they trying to make her parents or her family or investigators even believe that Gabby Petito, at some point had been in Yosemite and perhaps, they would have started looking for her there.


COOPER: Dr. Blue, can you tell us if Gabby Petito was killed in the location where authorities found her or if she was possibly moved there?

BLUE: That's not for us to determine, that's for law enforcement to determine. But I just want to point out, it's Yellowstone, not Yosemite.

COOPER: I appreciate that. Sorry about that.

BLUE: No problem. It's a mistake a lot of people make.

COOPER: Yes, you can tell I grew up in the city. So, though I have spent a lot of time in Wyoming and I love the state, but I will do better next time.

Randi, I think you have another question.

KAYE: I do. I wanted to ask Dr. Blue, just getting back to the timeline and in terms of when Gabby Petito was last seen. We know that she FaceTimed with her mom on August 24th and then she was in this restaurant with Brian Laundrie. They were spotted in Jackson, Wyoming on August 27th. She left the restaurant in tears. Brian Laundrie, according to witnesses left very angry.

So just getting back to your timeline, I know you said there is some wiggle room there, but that August 22nd to August 29th. If we know she was last seen in public on the 27th, is it possible to just narrow that down a little bit to those last couple of days, perhaps between August 27th and August 29th?

BLUE: I can't narrow that down from our perspective. That has to come from law enforcement. We only can base our findings on the autopsy results, not on those kinds of timelines because we don't really have access to that information. That investigation is all done by law enforcement.

COOPER: And Dr. Blue, are there things that you cannot disclose that, you know, because of an ongoing investigation? I mean, is there more information that you've been able to get? It would certainly be understandable if, you know there was an -- and that's what you're doing, but is that or is this all the information you know?

BLUE: No, there's more information, but because it's an ongoing investigation, that information is not going to be released. Plus, under the state statutes in Wyoming, the only thing that the coroner is responsible for releasing is the identification of the body and the manner and cause of death, and everything else is essentially protected.

But there are reasons why for instance, in our investigation, we call this a homicide first and then the cause of death later and that had a lot to do with certain circumstances and factors that we observed and found in our investigation.

COOPER: Dr. Blue, I really appreciate your time tonight and I appreciate all the work you do. You give voice to those whose voices have been stolen from them and you help tell a story and get justice for families. I really appreciate you being with us tonight.

BLUE: Thank you very much.

COOPER: Randi as well, thank you.

Some additional perspective now in the investigative and forensic aspects of this now that we know what we know.

Joining us for that is CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former F.B.I. Deputy Director Andrew McCabe; also Professor Lawrence Kobilinsky, forensic scientist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Professor Kobilinsky, I'm wondering what was your initial reaction to what you heard from the coroner?

LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, PROFESSOR, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Well, I think we were waiting for the cause of death. And, you know, he did say that this was due to strangulation. I didn't know at first what that meant, because there are three different kinds of strangulation there. There's hanging, there's ligature strangulation, and manual strangulation. And obviously, now we know it is manual strangulation, which is a very close in way of killing somebody. It's not like shooting somebody from a distance. This is very personal, and it does tell a story about anger and hostility and just an attack on another person. So, it tells us a lot.

COOPER: Andrew, when you hear that cause of death -- manual strangulation/throttling -- is that enough to conclude that this was murder, because we already knew this case was a homicide, but homicide doesn't automatically mean murder. Does the autopsy settle that question at this point?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, I think to some degree it does, right? So we know that it is homicide, which means it is death inflicted by another human being. So strangulation -- manual strangulation -- strangulation, as it is described by the coroner here, you know, it's murder unless under some factual circumstance, the person who strangled Gabby Petito was acting in self-defense and so that's, you know, that's a fact that we we've not -- we don't know that yet. And likely we won't until this matter goes to some sort of a trial or hearing.

COOPER: Professor Kobilinsky, putting aside the circumstantial evidence for a second, is there any physical evidence that is typically discovered at the scene of a strangling or discovered during an autopsy of someone who this has happened to that could help authorities identify or build a case against the person who did it?


KOBILINSKY: I think this is a very complicated case because they were engaged to be married, they were living together, they were in the van together all the time. Finding Brian Laundrie's DNA or trace evidence on the remains is not going to tell us very much. However, if we now know that she was manually strangled, then finding his DNA or trace evidence where the pressure was exerted by the hands and fingers on the neck that would be very revealing, and that could be used in court to make the case.

I mean, right now, he is not even a suspect. He's still a person of interest.

So there's a lot of loose ends here that need to be hooked up before any kind of trial. That's if Brian Laundrie is ever found.

COOPER: Dr. Kobilinsky, just in layman's terms, and maybe without getting too much into any sort of detail here. How does one determine a timeline of potential time of death? I mean, the timeline that Dr. Blue was talking about, you know, is over the course of several days, but it's specifically, you know, it has an end date, although he said there is some, I believe, he used the term "wiggle room" in that. How do you determine that?

KOBILINSKY: Well, Anderson, you know, what we're talking about is the post mortem interval and if you find the body before three days of post mortem interval, it's pretty straightforward. You've got liver mortise and the body temperature going from normal body temperature down to ambient liver mortise, rigor mortis, you have changes of potassium in the vitreous, the jelly part of the eye, it's straightforward.

But after three days, it becomes very hard. And quite frankly, they need an entomologist to study the succession and colonization of insect life. I know, there is an anthropologist that worked on this, but we don't know about an entomologist.

But giving an estimate of time of death is exactly right. And I think Dr. Blue is correct in giving a very loose kind of estimate between three and four weeks. That sounds about right, given that she did a FaceTime with her mother on August 24th and the body was found on September 19th. That timeframe sounds just right.

I will say that medical examiners and coroners usually do incorporate the information that law enforcement provides when they come around to the point of discussing these issues, cause of death, manner of death, and time of death. They incorporate all that information before they draw any conclusions.

Here, they did not and I think he's right in terms of the estimate of time of death.

COOPER: Andrew, there are certainly, you know a lot of people watching who see what the coroner said today, hear what he said and wonder why Brian Laundrie would only still officially only be wanted in connection with using Gabby Petito's bank card following her death.

MCCABE: Sure. So there are a number of reasons, Anderson, and essentially what it comes down to is the F.B.I. and law enforcement don't need to charge Brian Laundrie with a homicide at this point.

They have an outstanding warrant, which is a very helpful thing because that warrant is lodged with NCIC and Interpol, the two entities that allow the warrants to be communicated to all law enforcement really around the world. So, if he is found somewhere, he can be arrested on that warrant. So that's really the placeholder that you need right now.

Moving forward to charge him with homicide would put the government in the position of having to reveal a lot of facts and details and make a bunch of assertions in their paperwork and in their probable cause argument that is just not advantageous for the government to go on record with those facts at this point.

COOPER: Lawrence Kobilinsky, Andrew McCabe appreciate both your expertise. Thank you so much.

Coming up next, the fast approaching deadline for some top aides and associates of the former President to tell the House Select Committee what they know about his role on January 6th, that and the threat of severe consequences if they refuse.

I'll ask a Committee member how she thinks that might play out.

And later, what could be a major change on who should be taking or talking to their doctor about taking low-dose aspirin to prevent heart disease and stroke. Dr. Sanjay Gupta and I have been talking about this for years, and believe me when I tell you I have a lot of questions, he'll join us to try and make sense of the new proposed guidelines and whether you at home should be taking that 81 milligrams of aspirin or not.

We'll be right back.



COOPER: House lawmakers investigating January's attack on the Capitol and democracy say they will not go easy on the four top aides and allies of the former President if they fail to give depositions this coming Thursday and Friday.

House Select Committee member Adam Schiff spoke about it this morning on CNN. Late today, he spelled it out even more.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We're not messing around. If people don't show up, if people don't provide the documents they're compelled to, we intend to take up criminal contempt and refer to the Justice Department and we expect that it will be prosecuted that unlike the last administration, no one is above the law and so, we intend to move quickly.


COOPER: This morning on CNN, he called this moment, quote, "test of democracy." Details from a fresh account of the day only amplify that notion. It is from a new book by ABC's chief Washington correspondent Jon Karl. Here's how his network is reporting on one especially chilling passage about the moments that we're showing you now.

And I'm quoting from Jon Karl's book: "The former President liked what he saw, boasted about the size of the crowd and argued with aides who wanted him to tell his supporters to stop rioting, according to Karl's sources."


COOPER: So, his aides were watching in horror whilst the President at that time was watching in contentment. The report goes on, "Two hours after the riot started, Trump finally acquiesced to recording a video statement. An aide present for the recording said Trump had to tape the message several times before they thought he got it right. In earlier versions, he neglected to tell his supporters to leave the Capitol, according to Karl."

So just think about that, it was a struggle over several takes just to get the leader of the free world and a self-proclaimed champion of law and order and supposedly a supporter of police to take a half-hearted stand against mob violence because he reportedly liked what he saw. And listening to the video he finally did put out, it's really not so hard to imagine, is it?


DONALD TRUMP, THEN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know your pain, I know you're hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side.

But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don't want anybody hurt.

So go home. We love you. You're very special.


COOPER: "We love you. You're very special." It's pitiful. But now of course, with the exception of Committee members, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, virtually every other Republican including the Vice President or former Vice President whom the mob wanted to lynch, they're now trying to sweep it all down the memory hole, or in the case of former White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows who is facing that Committee deadline, trying last night to make the investigation of an existential threat to democracy seem like nothing more than politics as usual.


MARK MEADOWS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I can tell you what we're seeing here is basically Democrats want to talk about anything other than the economy.


COOPER: We'll see if he wants to talk at all. Joining us now, Committee member, Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California. Congresswoman, thanks for being with us. Do you expect these former Trump aides to show up to the depositions later this week?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, we hope that they do, they have an obligation to do so, and unless they're trying to hide things, they would step forward, but we're prepared to do whatever steps are necessary to compel their appearance.

COOPER: I mean, there are legal experts who say, you know, yes, the Justice Department could very well pursue a criminal contempt case, but it would take a long time. And you know, Steve Bannon's attorneys have said he is not going to show up. The prospect of Bannon would actually be forced to testify or thrown in jail before this Congress goes out of session in a little more than a year, that would seem to be almost impossible or remote, don't you think?

LOFGREN: I don't think that's correct. The process is this, Anderson. If we decide that he is thumbing his nose at the Congress and not complying as he should, we, the Committee would adopt a resolution to refer for criminal contempt, that would not take a long period of time.

In order for the referral to proceed, it would have to be a vote on the House. That would not necessarily take a long time. Under the process, the U.S. Attorney takes to a grand jury, their grand jury is sitting already, so that wouldn't necessarily take a long time.

We expect the Justice Department to uphold the rule of law, to make sure that there's no cover up of misconduct here. And we, in the Congress, will proceed as we must, either to hear the testimony that they are obliged to provide or to take all other steps available to us to get that testimony.

COOPER: Congressman Schiff, as you know, has said he believes your committee will receive documents from the end of the Trump administration related to the insurrection, quote "very soon." But the former President has made a claim of executive privilege over many records in a letter to the National Archives. That claim is obviously dubious, because he's not the sitting President.

But if the National Archives doesn't want to wade into the middle of this, A, do they have that option? And what can you do to actually get those records?

LOFGREN: Well, I don't think they have the option. The statute is pretty clear. The existing President has blessed the deliverance of this material to us. The former President has an opportunity to look at it, but he doesn't really have a say in it.

He is a litigious person, we know that. But there's no real ambiguity in the statute, and I expect that we will get this information.

COOPER: You served with Mark Meadows in the House. I don't know, you know, how well you know him, but I don't really -- I don't know him at all. You hear him on FOX News claiming this is all political. Can you say whether he is actually cooperating with the Committee?


LOFGREN: Well, I'll just say this, that the lawyers are engaging with our lawyers and it wouldn't be useful for me to characterize that further. But yes, I did serve with Mark and I think he must know what he is saying is incorrect.

COOPER: And just lastly, should we expect to see more subpoenas issued in the coming days?

LOFGREN: We will be issuing requests, as well as subpoenas for documents as we proceed. The Committee is moving quickly. We are well aware that delay is not possible. And so you know, we're willing to engage with witnesses, but not willing to be strung along. And so we are moving as quickly as we can to get to the bottom of this.

The American people deserve that, and it's the obligation we have as members of the Committee and I will say that in contrast to many committees in the Capitol, this Committee, every member of the Committee is working together productively. We're not fighting each other. We're all pulling in the same direction just to get the truth and nothing more.

COOPER: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, I appreciate it. I think, by the way, I apologize, I think I said Zoe, when I introduced you.

LOFGREN: Yes, you did, but I've been called worse, so that's fine.

COOPER: So Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, thank you.

Coming up next, where all this leaves us and where events could soon lead us, we'll be joined by the authors of "How Democracies Die" for their take on the state of errors.


[20:30:17] COOPER: The upcoming testimony for top former Trump insiders and the ongoing resistance to it is only one signpost, what many experts now fear is a not so winding road to a dark place for democracy. The path to tyranny is how former Senior National Security Official Fiona Hill, put it to me recently.

Here to talk more about where we are and how perhaps to change course, are Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, co-authors of How Democracies Die, which I cannot recommend strongly enough.

Steve, I appreciate you being with us. We spoke last I think in the spring seems like since then we've been witnessing kind of a death by thousands cuts to the fabric of this nation's democracies, someone who's studied democracy extensively. How do you see this moment where?

STEVEN LEVITSKY, CO-AUTHOR, HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE: It is pretty dark, I agree with you, Anderson. When we wrote the, when we wrote How Democracies Died four years ago, we were worried about the Republican Party because they allowed Donald Trump to be elected, they sort of dropped the ball and failed to protect our democracy from an authoritarian demagogue. But we did not expect that the entire Republican Party would evolve into an anti-Democratic force. And that's where they are today. The entire Republican Party leadership, with a small handful of exceptions, is now no longer willing to accept electoral defeat and democracy can't survive, cannot survive if one major party can't accept defeat can't lose.

COOPER: Daniel, you know, I spoke with former Trump administration National Security Official Fiona Hill last week, she called January 6, a slow motion coup attempt. Do you see it that way? And how far in are we now given the ongoing efforts by, you know, many in the Capitol to, to rewrite history?

DANIEL ZIBLATT, CO-AUTHOR, HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE: Yes, you know, what's interesting is that there have been other events like this and other countries, France in 1934, there was an attack on the parliament, the police bought the right wing radicals off in that case, but six years later, democracy died in France. And part of it was there was an investigation, there was a committee that investigated that attack, and it was highly politicized. They never really fully came to terms with it. And this was a harbinger of things to come. Spain in 1981, there was an attempted coup where soldiers came into the parliament, as they were counting votes when the transitions of power, always dangerous times. And at that moment, the establishment politicians, the king of Spain stood up and said, this is unacceptable and Spanish democracies survive.

So how, mainstream politicians and establishment figures respond to events like this determine our fate. And right now, looking where we are compared to other countries, it's not looking very promising

COOPER: I mean, that's terrifying, that that it's -- that a lot of it depends at a juncture like this on what our political leaders choose to do. And that's, I mean, that's pretty stunning.

ZIBLATT: Yes, that's right. You know, and so we often think that the threat to democracy is people simply marching in the streets. And that obviously, is a problem, you know, people marching in the streets with guns, not accepting election results, but a major determinant also, when we look throughout history, again, we're not the only country I've ever experienced this is how establishment politicians respond, and do they draw a clear line and separate and condemn this kind of behavior or don't they? And when they don't, then things degenerate.

COOPER: Steve, I mean last time you run, you brought up comparison to the Civil War. And you know, the pushback, a lot of people, you know, scoff and shrug that off and say, by invoking that you're being hyperbolic. Are you?

LEVITSKY: Look, I don't think we're going to fall into a large scale, war equivalent to the Civil War. But look, when we wrote How Democracies Die, a lot of people dismissed it as alarmist. And after January 6, after, after Donald Trump spent two months, incessantly trying to over illegally overturn the election, it's really difficult to deny that we're in a dangerous place.

So again, we're not going to slide into civil war. But the Republican Party is the only mainstream political party among all established Western democracies, that has turned against democracy. You won't find a party, like the Republican Party, a mainstream party anywhere in Europe. We are an entirely new territory, this -- you got to go back to the 1930s to find a mainstream party that is behaving in this way.

COOPER: Daniel, you know, it's so interesting, you know, that we've now gotten a very more definitive account from Congress about, you know, what happened in the White House, some of the things that were going on in the White House, and particularly that meeting in which President Trump is, you know, talking to the acting Attorney General and trying to essentially pressure him repeatedly.


And, you know, contemplating getting rid of him repeatedly over the course of the hours he had to be talked out of it over the course of some three hours. I mean, that's -- it's just extraordinary. It's sort of worse than many people even realized.

ZIBLATT: Yes, because you know, there is always a grassroots movement in any society that doesn't accept democracy, we can think of the Ku Klux Klan throughout American history in other moments in other countries. So again, I mean, I'm repeating myself a bit here, but the critical thing is what do the mainstream parties do? And when they play along with this when they play footsie with this, they kind of winking and nodding at it, and thinking, well, maybe we need to kind of roll with this a little bit in order to get off, get access to office, they end up killing democracy in the process. And so, it's incredibly reckless to do this kind of thing.

And one thing we should say is, at the end of the day, you know, democracy did survive January 6, and there were in a couple of states, you know, Secretaries of State, Republican secretaries of state who stood up for free and fair elections, and that you know, but it's came very close. And so, we our democracy survive, but just barely. And so we shouldn't rest easy. I think we should take this very serious.

COOPER: And Steve now a number of states are trying to pass laws, you know, that would make it more difficult for election officials to be able to stand up the next time around.

LEVITSKY: Yes, in fact, I think that's the greatest danger. I mean, as horrifying as January 6, was, that's probably not how democracies going to die in United States. The way democracy will die, will be a stolen election in 2024. It'll be states either throwing out state legislators even either throwing out the votes in Democratic strongholds like Fulton County in Georgia, or Maricopa County in Arizona. Or state legislators, sending alternate slates of electors to the Electoral College. It will be a quote unquote legal overturning the electoral results. That's how democracy will die.

COOPER: Steven Levitsky, Daniel Ziblatt, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

For years we've heard that taking an aspirin a day can help prevent heart attack and stroke. I've been taking an aspirin today for quite some time based on that. Now there's new advice. Isn't there always new advice that may change the daily routines of many people including me, although actually not. Dr. Sanjay Gupta helps us make sense of it, coming up next.



COOPER: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is considering making several changes to its guidance, I'm taking a daily aspirin to prevent heart disease and stroke. Today, the task force posted a draft statement recommending that adults aged 40 to 59 who are at a higher risk for heart disease but do not have a history of the disease, decide with their doctor whether to start taking aspirin. And there's the first time the task force is recommended that adults in their 40s talk to their doctors about it.

The draft also says that adults 60 and older should not start taking aspirin to prevent heart disease and stroke. Because new evidence shows that potential harms outweigh the benefits. Confusing? Yes, I think so.

Joining us now, CNN chief medical correspondent and author of the new book about COVID-19 pandemic World War C, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

So, Sanjay you and I have talked for years on air and off about the best thing for heart health given our both of our family histories. I was -- I've been taking a daily aspirin, you know, 81 milligrams whatever for I can't even remember how many years 20, 30 years or something. And now I'm not supposed to?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, so confusing is right, Anderson, although that, you know, science evolves a bit, I think the recommendations evolve with that. For you personally, and they're not saying that you should stop it. If you are somebody who's already been taking this, you've had conversations with your doctor about this, don't just stop this. If you're thinking about this conversation with your doctor, talk to them first, before stopping something or if you've had a heart attack or stroke in the past, and now a baby aspirin 81 milligrams, as you point out, is being used to try and prevent a second heart attack or stroke. Don't stop it in those cases as well.

So, there's a lot of people who are -- who've already been taking it, they shouldn't look at these draft recommendations and think they (INAUDIBLE) need to change their behavior.

COOPER: So this is targeting -- this is really addressed to people who are not yet taking a daily aspirin, baby aspirin and are considering it.

GUPTA: That's right. And this is where it gets sort of interesting. And I think some of the evolution again, of what they're finding scientifically, with these patients. Let me show you specifically what they recommend. People over the age of 60. And these are a bit arbitrary cut offs, but over the age of 60, they say you should just not start taking a daily aspirin. The bottom line thinking there is that when you get to be that age or so you shouldn't start taking this because the risk of bleeding is greater than the benefit that you might get from taking a baby aspirin.

You know, in the late '80s, early '90s, when they started making these recommendations, there weren't as many other options in terms of other things to try and control your risk of heart disease. And most of the studies at that point showed the benefit of baby aspirin being greater than the risk. The second part of that graph as you saw 40 to 59, so as young as 40 to 59, talk to your doctor if you are at high risk of having heart disease within the next 10 years.

So, this is a little different in that you know previously just people in their 50s who are at high risk they were given this recommendation now they're saying there could be benefit and people even a decade younger.

COOPER: Your team send me a questionnaire to help determine if I'm at high risk or not. I didn't have all the data available to take the questionnaire. I assure you that I am given my, you know, family history my dad died at 50 of heart disease.


COOPER: I've been treated for this for a long time. Can you walk us through what that usually means and what those people should be aware of?

GUPTA: Yes, so you know, this is a -- it's a risk calculator. And I don't know if we have a an image of it, but you can look it up. It's the ASCVD atherosclerotic coronary vascular disease risk calculator. Just Google it, you'll find it. And basically it talks you through how to figure out if you're high risk. Things like your cholesterol, things like your blood pressure's certain medications that you may or may not be on. And at the end of it, they're basically trying to say, hey, look, what's your risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years. If it is greater than 10% greater than 10% risk. Those are the people who would be considering starting a baby aspirin, even as young as 40.


So it's a bit of a, you know, again an arbitrary tool. But I think overall there's two things that really jumped out at me about this. First is that the benefits of baby aspirin for older people, people 60 and older is just not there. That's what they basically are saying unless you've already had a heart attack or a stroke. But even as young as 40, there may be benefit, even if you haven't had it, if you have a high risk over the next 10 years.

COOPER: The U.S. Preventive Services which I'd never heard of, by the way, who -- I mean just me or anything, I just -- that's new to me, who oversees this guidance. They publish it as a draft statement. They ask for public comments. Why -- what's that about? I mean, does this mean this isn't the final word? They're just ruminates?

GUPTA: This is not the final word. Yes. No, this isn't the final word. I mean, you know, we're seeing more of the process behind a lot of these types of committees over these past couple of years. We see it with the FDA advisory committee, CDC advisory committees, the U.S. Preventive Task Force, they also have this committee that that basically gets together, it's several scientists, more than dozen scientists who specialize in this area. They look at lots of data, and then they make recommendations and all sorts of things, you know, mammograms, PSA testing, and then things like you know, baby aspirin.

So, you know, I get where it's confusing again, but again, for someone like you, Anderson, because you've been taking it for a while, obviously, the recommendation of your doctor, you shouldn't stop and no one is saying based on these draft recommendations that the aspirin should be stopped.

COOPER: All right. Sanjay Gupta, appreciate it. Thank you.

GUPTA: Got up.

COOPER: Up next, we're going to take you to Virginia, where former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin are in a tight race for governor. It's getting a lot of attention, because what it could mean for the rest of the country, but what maybe the most interesting is which voters are deciding to race and why, why they're voting. It may not be what you think. That's next.



COOPER: The race for Virginia Governor is heating up Democrat Terry McAuliffe announced today the former President Obama will join him in a rally next week. Meanwhile, the 45th president has endorsed the Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin. But the race is coming down to a lot more than Democrat versus Republican. A lot more than the loudest voices in the room, it's about the voters in the middle, many to say their top concern is education. These aren't the people who make headlines by screaming at school board meetings.

But as CNN chief national affairs correspondent Jeff Zeleny shows us they're still making their voices heard.


AMY DODSON, VIRGINIA VOTER: I'm historically an independent voter. I have voted every which way you could vote.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amy Dodson is not defined by political labels.

DODSON: I was not a fan of President Trump. I didn't vote for him and I didn't vote for Biden, but I did vote.

ZELENY (voice-over): That makes her an important wildcard in Virginia, where she cast her vote early this week for one reason above all.

DODSON: What led me to vote for Glenn Youngkin this time around was education.

ZELENY (voice-over): Education is a central issue in the final stretch of the closely watched Virginia governor's race. For the power of the parent's movement is suddenly front and center.


ZELENY (voice-over): In dueling TV ads --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Terry McAuliffe putting politics over parents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Glenn Youngkin, would bring Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos' education policies to Virginia.

ZELENY (voice-over): Terry McAuliffe, the state's former Democratic governor and Glen Youngkin, a Republican businessman are locked in a bitter fight over the role of government in schools.

DODSON: My name is Amy Dodson. I have two students at James River High School.

ZELENY (voice-over): During the pandemic last year, Dodson became an unlikely activist. Attending school board meetings for the first time. Arguing students should be in the classroom not learning virtually.

DODSON: By myself, I felt very powerless. As a collective group, your voice is stronger and holds more power that we never had before as just an individual parent, lining up to speak at a school board meeting.

ZELENY (voice-over): The power of that collective voice is alarming. Some Democrats like Michael Karabinos.

MICHAEL KARABINOS, VIRGINIA VOTER: I am here again. ZELENY (voice-over): Who's also been attending school board meetings to provide a counterbalance.

KARABINOS: We're doing a very good job of stirring up that anger and emotion. When it comes down to actually walking into the voting booth. There are enough of us who are able to look at the science, look at education with a level head and look at this race of a level head. We don't need somebody as extreme as Youngkin in the governor's mansion.

ZELENY (voice-over): As early voting is well underway, that view is being tested here in Chesterfield County, a sprawling suburban stretch of Central Virginia just below Richmond.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- thank you. Have a great day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you do the same.

ZELENY (voice-over): The longtime GOP stronghold has gone Democratic in recent elections. This race could signal whether Republicans are resurgent with Trump on voter's minds but not on the ballot.

Renae Schumann cast her ballot early today, saying it's still a vote against Trump.

RENAE SCHUMANN, VIRGINIA VOTER: If you are not actively against him, I feel like you're for him. And I -- no way feel that Youngkin showed or has stated that he is firmly against him.

ZELENY (voice-over): But Amy Dodson says many voters also see this contest as a check on full Democratic control.

DODSON: I always like to see a little bit of blend, you know, I don't like any party to roll through without having any sort of challenges.


COOPER: So how important Jeff, a role is -- or the parents movement playing in the final weeks of this race.

ZELENY: Anderson, it is playing a very key role on both sides of course. We talked to so many parents here. And first and foremost, they are concerned about their children's education. But this really has awakened into a growing movement just because of you know, we've seen all these loud school board meetings across the country, but here it is a sense of a real dedication to the concern of curriculum, masking and other matters, but it is bleeding over into this Virginia governor's race. This may be one of the first and biggest tests of this parent's movement.


Now Glenn Youngkin is leaning into this. He's actually holding rallies called the Parents Movement. We've also talked to many Democratic parents and Democratic voters who are concerned about, you know, what they see is extremism here. So, there's no question.

Now the school board meeting actually ending up behind me is going to play a role in this Virginia governor's race, Anderson.

COOPER: Jeff Zeleny, appreciate it.

Up next, the governor of Texas issuing an order banning COVID vaccine mandates. We'll tell you about some major companies saying they won't go along and why.


COOPER: Texas is now banning COVID vaccine mandates for all workers, but some companies are ignoring it. Republican Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order yesterday evening prohibiting those mandates in the state even for private businesses. Abbott released a statement saying quote, the COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective and our best defense against the virus, which should remain voluntary and never forced.


But today Texas based American Airlines and Southwest Airlines say they will continue implementing a federally directed vaccine mandate for their employers since they fall under a White House director for businesses that do federal government contracting.

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