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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Trump Files Lawsuit To Block January 6 Documents; New Excerpts Of What Is Believed To Be Colin Powell's Final Interview; Security Source: Powerful Gang Behind Kidnapping Of 17 U.S. And Canadian Missionaries In Haiti; Gabby's Mom And Step Father Tell "60 Minutes Australia" They Want "Revenge" And "Justice"; Pres. Biden To Take Part In CNN Town Hall Thursday 8PM ET. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 18, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, U.S. officials are quietly trying to help out on the situation involving the American missionaries. But the big pictures that we've seen, yet another serious international incident involving the poorest, most unstable nation in the Western Hemisphere, and it is just not clear how things are going to get better for Haiti until Haiti figures out how to get control of the streets -- Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, Joe Johns, thank you very much, once again on the ground in Port-au-Prince.
And thanks so much to all of you for being with us. AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
A very busy hour ahead as the country mourns the loss of soldier, statesman, and pioneering American, Colin Powell. We will bring you only on CNN what is believed to be the final interview that he did, a 42-minute long conversation with Bob Woodward. He joins us, so does former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
We begin though with Breaking News in the former President's fight to keep documents from his administration out of the hands of the House Select Committee investigating him. Just a day before the Committee meets perhaps to take action against one of his former cronies, Steve Bannon, for defying a subpoena. The man whose expressed contempt for the entire concept of being held accountable by anyone for anything he did, something -- well, he did something else to we've come to know from him.
He went to court to try to get his way. CNN's senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid joins us now with the latest.
So talk about this lawsuit. What is going on?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So here, Anderson, Trump is asking the court for at most, granting his request to block lawmakers from actually obtaining these materials. And at the very least, he is asking them to delay lawmakers from obtaining these materials, arguing that these requests are so broad, his lawyers need more time to review them.
Now, to support these requests, he argues that there is no legislative purpose to these requests. He is saying, look, this has nothing to do with passing a law. His lawyer repeatedly cites a Supreme Court case related to a request for his personal financial records when he was the sitting President, but that case does not deal with a former President and we know that historically, the Supreme Court has really granted broad deference to Congress when it is conducting investigations.
Now, Trump's lawyers also argue that he is entitled to executive privilege, but he believes that he is not sufficiently protected under the current law.
COOPER: Is there consensus in the legal community about the merits of what he is arguing?
REID: Look, Anderson, it appears to be a long shot. Based on the experts I've spoken with. They've said yes, the court might decide to revisit this issue of executive privilege. The former President certainly has a right to try to assert executive privilege, but it is not equal to that of a sitting President.
But I'm told, it is unlikely that the court is going to take up these arguments that these requests are too broad, or that lawmakers here investigating January 6th lack a true legislative purpose, and one asked me what could be more important than investigating an insurrection.
COOPER: The Select Committee is scheduled to meet tomorrow to vote on whether Steve Bannon should be referred to the Justice Department for criminal contempt. What do you know about that?
REID: Really interesting, Anderson. CNN has obtained a letter from the White House Counsel that reveals that the Biden White House Counsel has determined that Steve Bannon has no claim to executive privilege.
Now in reporting on this and speaking to experts, I was told there was a chance that perhaps there would be a carve out for some conversations that Bannon may have had with Trump. But here, the White House Counsel says no. President Biden has determined that based on what the Committee is investigating in the interest of the United States, he has no claim to privilege here and that he must comply with the subpoena.
Now, Bannon has previously told the Committee, he is not going to comply unless ordered by a court. Now, the Committee has rejected that argument, and tomorrow night, they are scheduled to move ahead with a vote to refer him for criminal content.
COOPER: All right. Paula Reid, appreciate it. Thank you.
More on this now from the White House, CNN's Kaitlan Collins is there for us tonight. So what's the rationale of the White House tonight about this lawsuit.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They're standing by their decision to say that they are not going to waive or they're not going to assert privilege over these documents, because they say that President Biden himself has made the decision here. He doesn't think that this is a situation that justifies using it.
And so they're not commenting on the lawsuit, specifically, Anderson, but they are saying that they believe the former President abused the office of the presidency and therefore, given this, what they say was a clear attempt to subvert the election, it doesn't justify waiving that executive privilege that typically a current President would do for a former President with its documents shortly after they've left office.
And so these are documents we know that the White House Counsel has seen, not many people in the White House has actually seen these documents that the former President is trying to keep out of the hands of the Committee.
And Anderson, we should remind people we don't actually know what's in them yet. We know, it is related to what was happening inside the White House on January 6th. We have the former President who has reviewed them and we know of course that the National Archives has told them that if there is no court order, they are set to be released to Congress on November 12th, which of course is a date that is fast approaching.
But the White House is standing by their decision here. So yes, this is going to be a fight between the former White House and this current White House, and of course the National Archives and the January 6th Committee over these documents.
COOPER: Do you expect President Biden to comment on the lawsuit?
COLLINS: It's hard to say, because what we've seen so far is this pattern of where the White House says we're not going to comment on that. That's a decision that is being made by the White House Counsel's Office and the Justice Department and whatnot over these documents, of course. And what's going to happen to Steve Bannon tomorrow with the criminal contempt charge, that is likely coming his way, and the White House, though has said that, but then President Biden has often been really candid about this.
He was on Friday night when I asked if he thought the Justice Department should prosecute those who defy these subpoenas. In the past, he has spoken pretty openly about it. But we haven't heard him, per se exactly on his decision not to waive the privilege, though, the White House has made pretty clear what's behind that thinking.
COOPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. Let's get perspective now on the political, historical, and legal aspects of all this. Joining us for that CNN political analyst, investigative reporter and best-selling author Carl Bernstein, also CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero.
Carl, the lawsuit by the former President, and frankly, you know, the lies that the former President continues to spread about the election and the insurrection. What do you make of this lawsuit?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It is part of a massive cover- up to keep us from knowing what a criminal President of the United States tried to do to subvert the American electoral system. We've not had such an act by an incumbent President of the United States in our history. We have never had a political party, such as today's Republican Party that has supported this kind of President in this cover-up.
And this is really a conspiracy between Donald Trump and his presidency and today's Republican Party to keep us from knowing what the insurrection of January 6th was all about, how the Republicans and Donald Trump tried to subvert the election and continue to try to subvert the electoral process.
You have to go back to 1860 to 1865 to the Civil War, in which a political party, a major political party has engaged in such an attempt to undermine the most basic element of our democracy, and that's where we are today with Trump and his Republican allies.
COOPER: All right, Carrie, I mean, you've read through the lawsuit. Does the former President have much of a case?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think, it is a very weak case. I think that he does not have the ability to prevent a separate branch of government from doing its job. And so while Carl gives the historical reference, what this case really is going to be about is about the future. It's going to be about whether in the future, Congress has a role.
Congress can do its job, whether it can conduct investigations, and the January 6th investigation is a real investigation. It's credible. It is based on an attack on the Capitol to prevent the constitutional transfer of power, and so, the former President's assertion that he doesn't have to have records provided to the committee, I don't think is going to be persuasive. And I certainly don't think that individuals who happened to give him advice in the past, particularly those who were not government officials are going to have any credibility in terms of not complying.
COOPER: Carrie, just in terms of the timing of all this. I mean, how long does this potentially hold things up for?
CORDERO: Well, and so that's probably the strategy here, Anderson, is to delay this as long as possible. And that's really going to be up to the courts. It is very difficult to predict whether a court is going to summarily just dismiss these claims, find them meritless.
You know, for example, the President argues that there is no legislative purpose to the Congress's investigation, but actually there is. There are bills that are being considered now, including one that's called the Protecting Our Democracy Act that even includes provisions about strengthening Congress's ability to enforce its subpoenas.
So there are things that Congress is considering legislatively to rein in a future executive that abuses that office, and so, it really will be on the courts to dismiss this case based on lack of merit.
COOPER: Carl, I mean, do you see this stall tactic by the former President as being successful? Midterms are -- you know, just more than a year away?
BERNSTEIN: It certainly could be successful if the Republicans win the House of Representatives and decide to shut down this investigation. But again, if you look at the abuse of power that goes back to the Watergate example, and Nixon and the Senate Watergate Committee investigation, there was no privilege that extended to the President's attempts to act illegally. There is no such privilege to cover up illegal acts. And so we need to find out the substance of what indeed this President was saying and doing, and that's what the Congress of the United States legitimately exercising its function is trying to do here.
BERNSTEIN: And what we have is one of the two political parties trying to shut down an investigation into the most grievous offensive undermining of our democracy in that insurrection encouraged and ignited by the President of the United States and his party now trying to make sure that we never know what happened in this unprecedented act. You have to go back a hundred years to the Civil War to find an American political party that has thrown in its lot with this kind of abuse of power.
COOPER: Carrie, I mean, Steve Bannon, I mean, his continued excuse of executive privilege. He hasn't been a government employee at the White House since 2017. Can it apply to someone like him?
CORDERO: In my view, Anderson, he has no credible basis to make this argument of executive privilege. He was not a government employee. He was not an adviser in the White House on January 6th. The Committee's investigation is about the circumstances surrounding January 6, 2021.
Steve Bannon was not in the White House then. He was not in the government or a presidential adviser. And even if he was, it would be the current President -- President Biden, who is the one who actually has the authority to assert executive privilege.
COOPER: Carl, is there a danger here? I mean, you know, for President Biden not to have backed up his former -- the former President in the executive privilege argument. I mean, don't most Presidents backup the former President normally?
BERNSTEIN: It has to do with whether this is a legitimate exercise of executive privilege, and this is clearly not a legitimate exercise of executive privilege. This is about trying to suppress the truth about a President engaging in illegal acts, anti-constitutional act, trying to learn what indeed he was doing as he tried to thwart the American electoral process. This is not about trying to find out anything about the legitimate functions of the President of the United States and the exercise of his power. This is about a rogue criminal President undermining the Constitution, undermining American democracy.
And again, you go back to the Nixon example, but this is even more grievous, particularly because this President tried forever to keep himself in office after the election, after he had been termed out of office, he tried to subvert the electoral process, and the counting of votes, tried to keep the Electoral College from casting its vote and electing the next President of the United States, knowing full well that he had been defeated in a fair, honest, and open election.
And he continues to perpetuate the lie and the lies that have allowed this process to go forward in such a way, as we now have grave doubts about what the Republican Party is going to do in the next election.
COOPER: Carrie, can the National Archives just go ahead and give over the documents that they have even in the face of this lawsuit and let the courts decide or does everything shut down until a judge decides?
CORDERO: I think at this point that the archives may wait to see how this is considered. I think they will have to consult probably with the Office of Legal Counsel of the Justice Department and with the White House Counsel to determine whether or not there is a path forward for them to just simply go ahead.
It also would depend on how the White House continues to weigh in on it. So, I think there will at least be some pause and then it will be up to the executive branch and the President and the archives to determine, you know, are they going to wait forever? They could ask for the court to expedite this, which would be an appropriate thing to do, I think.
COOPER: Carrie Cordero and Carl Bernstein, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Next, the passing of Colin Powell, as well as the remarkably deep and significant impact he had on the country and some of its most revered institutions. Bob Woodward, who spoke at length with him in what is believed to be his final interview joins us tonight, so does another trailblazing Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, the first woman to have the honor of being this country's chief diplomat.
And later, Gabby Petito's parents speaking out in a new interview talking about why justice is only one of the things they say they want for their daughter's fugitive fiancee. They also want, they say, vengeance.
COOPER: Flags are flying at half-staff across Washington tonight and at State offices across New York including in New York City where Colin Powell was born 84 years ago. He died today at Walter Reed Medical Center just outside Washington. The cause: Complications of COVID-19. He had been twice vaccinated and was about to get a booster, but his age and other illnesses especially the rare blood cancer, multiple myeloma likely left his immune system unable to fight the virus. In what is believed to be the last interview he did, he spoke about it with legendary reporter and author, Bob Woodward, as part of the research for Woodward and Robert Costa's new book "Peril."
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
COLIN POWELL, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, you see, I've got to go to the hospital about two or three times a week. I've got multiple myeloma cancer and I've got Parkinson's disease, but otherwise I'm fine.
BOB WOODWARD, CO-AUTHOR, "PERIL": Oh, no, I'm so sorry.
POWELL: Don't say no, and don't feel sorry for God's sakes. I'm 85 years old. I've got to have something.
And I haven't lost a day of life fighting these two diseases. I'm in good shape.
WOODWARD: Oh well, that's great. Well you have -- you've never lost a day of life. I mean, think of the activist general, former Secretary of State. Now, Oracle, right?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: Secretary Powell also talked about what led him to the last of his first after becoming the first black National Security Adviser and first black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He spoke as well about his reluctance to advocate military action unless success was likely and the end game was planned, what will become known as the Powell Doctrine.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
POWELL: I decided to become Secretary of State, I mean, think about that.
POWELL: Well, it was an opportunity to serve again, because I didn't serve in any other capacity after I left the Army, and I thought I could be a good Secretary of State.
WOODWARD: The reluctant warrior is not a bad mantle.
POWELL: I have two expressions that had been nailed to me, both came from the press.
WOODWARD: Yes. POWELL: One, was -- and they both -- I think came in these magazines. The first one is the one you just mentioned, the Reluctant Warrior. Whenever that was asked of me, I say, "True. I am a reluctant warrior."
POWELL: "I don't like wars. I don't want to be a warrior." But remember the other thing that is well known about me, and that is, we go to war, and I will do everything I can to beat the crap out of somebody and win.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: Bob Woodward joins us now. In that portion of your interview, Bob, that we played, Secretary Powell, he had a very optimistic view of his medical diagnosis. I mean, you know, his attitude is, look, I was 85 years old. I've got to have something.
WOODWARD: Yes, but there's a tone of farewell in this discussion three months ago. I knew him for 32 years, interviewed him about 50 times, and what was quite remarkable about Powell, as you well know, senior officials, you may be able to interview them and talk to them and get some information. But generally, at some point, the wall goes up.
Interestingly enough with Powell, the wall did not go up. He was always willing to engage. He felt part of his responsibility as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, or as Secretary of State was to answer questions that the public and the press had. So you see this -- sometimes, he would call me his friend, and I always made the point to him, I'm a reporter. And he said, well, we still can be friends. And he --
What was remarkable, for instance, on the eve of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in August 1991, Powell had my wife, Elsa Walsh, and I to Quarter 6 where the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs resides and it was a dinner. And here just on the -- Saddam Hussein had taken lots of people by surprise and invaded and taken over Kuwait, and he talked about that, and I'll never forget. We asked him, so what did it feel like? And he said, it felt like a wet washcloth in the face.
So there was a level of candor, you never get the whole story. But there was something remarkable about him and you think all he did, where he came from, and let's really look it in the eye. He was a great human being and a great leader.
And I always -- I always found him -- I could call him up. I don't want to belabor this, but I remember he was on the verge of writing his memoirs, and I called him up and I said, "I want to come see you. I have a Christmas present for you." And he said, "Christmas present? What?"
And so I went over to his office in Virginia, and I had a stack of all the interviews I had done with them for my book, "The Commanders: The First Gulf War," and I said, this is the Christmas present. These copies of everything you said.
And he looked at me and he said, "I know what you're doing. I know you want me to know what I said." And I said, "Exactly."
COOPER: I want to play more of the interview that you had with Secretary Powell. At one point during the phone call, his wife call called to him. I just want to play this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
POWELL: Hang on a minute. I'm on the phone, Alma. She never liked me talking to you, but here we are.
WOODWARD: That goes way back. Who was the greatest man, woman, or person you have ever known. Not nec -- a leader, not necessarily, but the inner person. You know, the moral compass, the sense of propriety, the sense of the truth matters. Who is that in all of your life? Who?
POWELL: It's Alma Powell.
WOODWARD: Okay. Good for you. Good for you.
POWELL: She was with me the whole time. We've been married 58 years.
POWELL: Thank you. And she put up with a lot. She took care of the kids when I was running around. And she was always there for me. And she'd tell me, "That's not a good idea." She's usually right.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: I thought about her today. I don't know her, but I've read about her and their relationship over the years. I mean, 58 years to be together. What a loss for her. It was interesting that she -- I liked that he was sort of whispering to you that she got -- she didn't like him talking to you. Very protective of him.
WOODWARD: Yes, that's quite correct. The same time when I asked that question about who, you know, you might expect him to say the first President he worked for as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, George Herbert Walker Bush, the President or somebody else, some world later or Martin Luther King or -- and what was so fascinating is he jumped right at it -- Alma Powell, his wife. This is the relationship that meant the most to me and it is a tribute to that 58 years, and I was quite struck by the sincerity of that.
COOPER: Yes, Bob, just stay with us. I want to bring in former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who preceded Colin Powell and is a pioneer in her own right, the first woman to hold the job. Secretary Albright, I appreciate you being with us. I'm sorry, it's under these circumstances. And I'm sorry for the loss of your friend.
Can you just describe the Colin Powell that you knew personally and professionally?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think as one of the warmest, kindest, smartest, and patriotic people that I met. And I first met him in 1988, when he was National Security Adviser and I was working for Michael Dukakis. And Michael Dukakis was the nominee and he was entitled to a security briefing. So, I arranged that.
And then I have to describe the first meeting when we were in office. I was ambassador to the U.N. and Colin Powell, we were all new -- and Colin Powell was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and he walks in, the hero of the Western World. And I said, I'm a mere mortal, female civilian, but he really commanded a presence with all the things that he had done and his warmth and his brilliance, frankly, and there are so many wonderful stories about the things that he did in our relationship. We were very, very good friends.
COOPER: Secretary Albright, as I said, you were the first woman to be Secretary of State, Secretary Powell was the first black American to be Secretary of State. What did that mean in terms of how America was seen abroad?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think it made a very large difference because people had been used to having one white male after another as Secretary of State, and I think the combination of both of us being new and both of us, frankly, having an immigrant background in some kind. His family came from Jamaica, I actually came with my family when I was eight years old. I'm not even a first generation I'm it. But we had in common the fact that America had welcomed us and our families.
And by being able to have the job of representing this country, I think we were able to send that message even without saying anything, although we both said quite a lot, but I really do think that it was a remarkable time.
COOPER: Bob, I want to play another portion of your interview where you asked Secretary Powell about the insurrection on January 6. Let's listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST: What did you think of that riot and assault on the Capitol?
COLIN POWELL, FMR CHIEF, JOINT OF STAFF: It was awful. He was going in there to overturn the government.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: What Bob? What, what else did he tell you about that? And did he speak of the former presidents, you know, rolling it all?
WOODWARD: Well, he said it was a revolt not just against the election, but it was against the government. And I think he had a great deal of disdain. I know he had much disdain for Trump, and said so and if you recall in the 2020 election, he made it clear he was supporting Biden and not Trump, though Powell was a nominal Republican, but not a 100% Republican to say the least.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, Secretary Albright in recent years, Secretary Powell supported, present -- Democratic presidential candidate Obama, Clinton and Biden. What was your impression of why he made those choices? Was it difficult for him?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FMR SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think that he wanted the right thing for America, I think he was a genuine patriot. And the country meant more than party to him. He knew that he had been able to move ahead in the various jobs because of what he had done, and the people he knew, and they were Republicans. But on the whole, he really believed that what was most important were our values, and that our country be run by people who believed in those things. And he didn't see himself as a party person. He really did see himself as a loyal American who wanted to solve problems, a grateful person, and he wanted to have people that saw America from the perspective of people that understood what kind of a country we really are, what needs to happen.
And he was, and I really do think he was one of the most honest minded people I knew, he told it like it is it wasn't always pleasant, but he really did do that and, and I admire him for his fortitude in his beliefs.
COOPER: Madam Secretary, Bob Woodward, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you both.
ALBRIGHT: Thank you.
WOODWARD: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up next, Dr. Leana Wen joins us with facts in the face of concerns legitimate and otherwise raised by General Powell's contracting a fetal case of COVID despite being vaccinated. Useful answers, not misinformation when we come back.
COOPER: We talked briefly before the break on Colin Powell struggle with multiple myeloma and the effect it can have on the immune system. He also had Parkinson's and he spoke about both Bob Woodward. Just remind you, here's that portion of the conversation again.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
POWELL: Well, you see, I've got to go to the hospital about two or three times a week. I've got multiple myeloma cancer, and I've got Parkinson's disease, but otherwise I'm fine.
WOODWARD: Oh, no, I'm so sorry.
POWELL: Don't say, no and don't feel sorry for me. For god's sakes I'm 85 years old. I've got to have something (INAUDIBLE).
And I haven't lost a day of life fighting these two diseases. I'm in good shape.
WOODWARD: Oh, well, that's great. Well, you have -- you've never lost a day of life. I mean, think of the activist generals, former Secretary of State now, Oracle, right?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: Well today, despite the obvious fact that this was 85-year-old man with a badly compromised immune system, anti-vaccine forces. He's done this as some sort of I told you so moment that even those who don't find themselves in that camp might still have some legitimate questions tonight. That's why we want to speak with someone who can give this perspective and factual underpinning deserve.
CNN medical analyst and former Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, author of Lifelines A Doctors Journey In The Fight For Public Health.
So Dr. Wen, can you explain what would General Powell's pre existing conditions would have done to his immune system?
LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Of course Anderson, we have to keep in mind that risk is additive and General Powell had a least two major risk factors for severe outcomes to COVID-19. The first is age and analysis of CDC data from August found that even if you're fully vaccinated, people in their 80s have a 15 times higher risk of dying from COVID compared to a 50-year-old. And so, age is an independent risk factor. And then you have multiple myeloma, which is a blood cancer that by itself substantially increases the risk of infection and treatments to multiple myeloma to include chemotherapies, steroids, things that further suppress the immune system.
And so, this is an individual who unfortunately was at very high risk for contracting COVID-19 by virtue of having a suppressed immune system that may not respond as well to vaccines, and then also being medically fragile and be more vulnerable to severe outcomes, sadly.
COOPER: And General Powell was, as we mentioned, fully vaccinated about to get a booster we're told. Can you just give us some perspective on how the vaccine would have reacted in his body given everything he was already dealing with?
WEN: Well, individuals who are who have a moderate or severe immunocompromised are recommended to get a booster dose, because they may not have responded adequately to the vaccines in the first place. There was a study done in July specifically a multiple myeloma patients that found that less than half of them about 45% of them even mounted an adequate response to two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
And so, the takeaway here is that we as a society have to do everything we can to protect these medically vulnerable individuals. This is the reason why we call it herd immunity. We as the herd, as the population, we have to have immune protection through vaccination so that we're able to reduce the level of community transmission and protect those who are medically fragile.
COOPER: To those who are now questioning the efficacy or using this to question the efficacy of vaccines. What do you say?
WEN: I would say, think about the vaccine as a very good raincoat. It protects you when there's a drizzle outside. But then when there is a thunderstorm, if you're in and out of hurricanes all the time, at some point, you could get wet. But that's not because there's something wrong with a raincoat, it's because there's just way too much rain all around you.
And so, in this case, we really have to consider them what we need to do as a society, which is to suppress the level of overall infection and protect individuals. And I would also ask people to look at, unfortunately, again, General Powell's medical conditions that he is someone -- he was someone who is so medically fragile as a result of age and medical conditions. And that's the reason why he tragically succumbed to COVID-19.
COOPER: And just last, I want to ask about the New York Times report that the FDA is planning to allow Americans to receive a different COVID-19 vaccine as a booster than the one that he initially received. I know you and I talked about this in the past. Is this a good idea?
WEN: I think it's a great idea for convenience reasons, some people may not be able to easily access a booster that's the same as what they got before and because of patient preference. And actually, I as someone who is the recipient of the one dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, I plan on getting an mRNA booster as soon as I can.
COOPER: All right, Dr. Wen, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Up next, we have new details about the gang allegedly behind the kidnapping of 17 American and Canadian missionaries in Haiti. Matt Rivers has the latest from Port-au-Prince.
COOPER: A source in Haiti security forces tell CNN that one of the country's most powerful gangs is believed to be behind the kidnapping of 17 missionaries over the weekend. Sixteen of the 17 kidnapping victims are Americans one is Canadian. Authorities believe the 400 Mawozo gang abducted the group after the missionaries visited an orphanage on Saturday in a suburb northeast of Port-au-Prince.
CNN's Matt Rivers is there with the latest.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A desperate call for help as seen in a WhatsApp message obtained by CNN. The message reportedly from one of the 17 missionaries kidnapped in Haiti. It read, please pray for us for being harassed, kidnapped. Currently, they have control of our vehicle with about 15 Americans right now, ladies, men and children.
He then says they're near Ganthier, the place a source in Haiti security forces confirms is where the group was abducted, 12 adults along with five children according to Christian Aid Ministries. And we're learning more about the gang who may be behind the crime, our source saying it's the 400 Mawozo gang, one of if not the most powerful in the country. It's dozens of members with a distinct hallmark kidnapping.
Near nearly a year ago, the gangs alleged leader said, me I work I'm a gangster, I carry weapons, while I'm in a gang I have guns. I don't carry weapons to terrorize. Carrying weapons doesn't make me a gangster or a bandit.
(on-camera): Several miles down that road there is where our source in the Haitian security forces says this kidnapping was carried out and in a more normal situation we would drive several miles down that road and go see exactly where this took place. But following the advice of both our Haitian producer and our security team, we're not going to go any further than this because they say it's not safe down that road is the suburb of Croix-des-Bouquets, which is essentially completely controlled by the 400 Mozawo Gang. The gang that authorities say carried out this kidnapping.
(voice-over): That gang and others have terrorized Haiti for years with kidnappings exploding since January, according to human rights nonprofit based in Port-au-Prince. Foreigners get the attention, but it's ordinary Haitians that are the vast majority of kidnapping victims data from the organization shows. This man says kidnappings here have been happening for so long. Why didn't no one talk about it, then? Why is the world making such a big deal about foreigners? It's because they're more important.
On Monday, Haitians across the capital region took advantage of the renewed attention by staying home, schools and businesses and transport services shut down. Normally packed, Port-au-Prince streets empty. It was a quiet form of protest people demanding safety and security from a government in turmoil.
Nobody is safe says this man. Even normal people going out to buy food get kidnapped is even worse for someone in the car. There's so much fear in the country, even people living outside the country are afraid to come back.
RIVERS: And so Anderson, the amount of kidnappings here in Haiti has just skyrocketed really going all the way back to the beginning of 2021. But then the President was assassinated in July, there was a few weak low. And then ever since then, according to nonprofit data from a group here in Port-au-Prince that tracks this, kidnappings have risen more than 300%. And this area where this group of missionaries was it is notorious as being one of the worst places for people to be and frankly, it raises questions at the organizational level. Why was this aid -- this missionary group which has worked in Haiti for some time now allowing his people to be in an area that anyone who has spent any time recently in Haiti will tell you it's just an area where things don't go well often?
COOPER: Matt Rivers, appreciate it. Thank you.
Gabby Petito's parents are speaking out now in a new interview. Hear their message for her missing fiancee's parents and why they say they want revenge, next.
COOPER: Petito's parents say they want vengeance and justice against their daughter, daughter and fiancee Brian Laundrie, who is still missing tonight. In a new interview with "60 Minutes Australia," Gabby's mother also said she trusted Laundrie to take care of her daughter when they set out on their trip out west.
Also tonight we're learning more about our recent trip the Petito family trip to Wyoming. Randi Kaye has been following the story from the beginning. She joins us now from Punta Gorda, Florida tonight with the latest.
So, what more do you know about the Petito's trip to Wyoming?
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I spoke with the funeral director at Valley Mortuary in Jackson Wyoming and he confirmed for me today that the Petito family did pick up Gabby's remains over the weekend. And also you mentioned that new interview her family gave to "60 Minutes Australia," in part of that interview her mother and her stepfather get pretty emotional when talking about when they think about Gabby Petito's final moments. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICHOLE SCHMIDT, MOTHER OF GABBY PETITO: I just -- I hope that she didn't suffer and that she wasn't in any pain.
JIM SCHMIDT, STEPFATHER OF GABBY PETITO: Just hoping that at that mo --
N. SCHMIDT: That she was in a place that she wanted to be looking at the beautiful mountains.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: And her mother also talked about the warnings that she gave her daughter before she went on that trip out west and how she thought that she would be in quote, good hands with Brian Laundrie. She also talked about how Brian Laundrie interacted early on with their family. She described him as polite and quiet. And Anderson she said that he seemed like a nice guy.
Now, she also had a bit of a turn in their attitude when they started speaking about the Laundrie parents, she and the rest of the family had some pretty harsh words for the Laundrie parents for allegedly not being forthcoming about what they know about Brian's disappearance and also what happened to their daughter Gabby. And they also had some harsh words for Brian Laundrie as well. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
N. SCHMIDT: I think silence speaks volumes. This -- I believe they know probably if not everything they know most of the information. I would love to just face to face ask why are you doing this. Just tell me the truth. Just want to get him in a cell the rest of his life.
J. SCHMIDT: We want vengeance and --
N. SCHMIDT: And justice.
J. SCHMIDT: -- and justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: And CNN has reached out to the Laundrie family attorney for comment on that. And just one final note Anderson. They did respond to that Moab police body cam video that we've seen over and over with Gabby Petito visibly upset after that police stop after somebody called 911 saying they saw a man slapping a woman and her mother said that it was hard to watch. She wanted to jump through the screen and rescue her daughter, Anderson.
COOPER: Randi Kaye, appreciate it. Thank you.
Up next, a special programming note on the CNN town hall with President Biden.
COOPER: Special programming note, this is a critical time for President Biden as he works behind the scenes to press Democrats on the sweeping infrastructure and social legislation. President Biden's going to talk about that and take questions in a CNN Town Hall this Thursday at 8:00 p.m. from Baltimore. I'll be the moderator. That's Thursday 8:00 p.m. I hope you join us.
The news continues. Want to head over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.