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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

January 6 Committee Finds Trump Ally, Steve Bannon, In Criminal Contempt; Interview With Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA); COVID Fight; Staying Behind Bars; Kidnapped Missionaries. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 19, 2021 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, thank you all very much. And thanks very much to all of you for joining us for that live vote. AC 360 starts now.



Members of the House Select Committee on January 6th have just decided to recommend that the Full House find former Trump associate, Steve Bannon, in contempt of Congress for defying a committee subpoena to appear.

I want to start off right now with CNN's Ryan Nobles at the Capitol with the very latest. So, walk us through what happened at this vote -- Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was pretty straightforward, Anderson. The Committee Chairman, Bennie Thompson and the Vice Chair, Liz Cheney both read a somewhat lengthy opening statement, kind of outlining the case as to why they believed that this was a necessary step to refer Steve Bannon for criminal contempt.

They talked about how defiant Bannon had been in terms of his lack of cooperation with the committee. They also really took aim at his legal arguments that he somehow was protected by executive privilege, because of the efforts of the former President Donald Trump and saying that just was not enough for him to be so uncooperative with the committee.

And then Liz Cheney, who is of course, the Vice Chair and a Republican, and a big critic of the former President talked specifically about how both Bannon and President Trump's actions have played a direct role in what we saw here on January 6th and that gave an awful lot of insight into what the committee's thinking is at the base of their investigation as they move forward.

After those opening statements, it was pretty cut and dry, Anderson. The Chairman called for a vote of the Committee members. They offered up a roll call vote -- all nine members voted in the affirmative. They reported the report out. It's now going to go to the full House of Representatives. We're told that could happen as early as Thursday. Once the House votes on it, it will then go to the Department of Justice who will determine whether or not they will prosecute Steve Bannon for criminal contempt.

So this is a major step for this committee as they move their investigation forward -- Anderson.

COOPER: And so just talk about a little bit of the process in the House now. The House will vote on this. Will it be discussed much? Do you know what the exact timeline of everything?

NOBLES: Yes. So what we're being told right now, and it hasn't been formally scheduled yet, but a number of people that are familiar with the planning of the House floor calendar have said that this will come to the floor as soon as Thursday. There will be an opportunity for debate on the floor as there always is with any resolution.

And I think, Anderson, the big question that we have here tonight is, you know, there won't be many surprises on the Democratic side. This will pass and it shouldn't have any trouble passing. The question is, how many Republicans will vote in favor of this criminal contempt charge? How many of them will stick by the former President Donald Trump, as opposed to the authority and the rights of the Congress, as outlined in the Constitution?

This is something that the Congress has the right to do: Subpoena someone, and if they do not respond appropriately to that subpoena, find them in criminal contempt.

So you know, we are going to have to keep an eye on some of these Republicans, many of them that voted to impeach the former President when they were given the opportunity. Of course, we know two Republicans on the panel, both Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger voted to do so tonight. But there is, you know, a wider space of Republicans who will now be once again on the record, as it relates to the former President's conduct, Steve Bannon's conduct, and then also just the responsibilities and the authority of the United States Congress in the grand scheme.

So that's one of the big questions we'll have over the next couple of days. But once that vote goes through as soon as Thursday, it is then in the hands of the Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice to begin the process of prosecuting this case. It will likely go before a grand jury, and then the process will begin from a criminal prosecution standpoint, and all of this with the goal of trying to get Steve Bannon to cooperate with this Committee, not just to offer up his testimony, but also to provide the documents and communications and information that he knows about what happened on that day.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, to see how many Republicans in the House actually have the courage of Liz Cheney, of Adam Kinzinger. That is one thing we'll be watching very closely.

Ryan Nobles, thank you.

Joining us is CNN senior political commentator and former senior adviser to President Obama, David Axelrod; and CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash. So Dana, just on a political level, how significant is this move by the Committee tonight? I mean, if the former President's allies are able to stall the investigation, obviously in the months ahead, while they claim, you know, persecution and try to run out the clock to the midterms, does this whole thing then become a huge rallying cry for Republicans in the election year?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, no matter what, it is going to be a rallying cry for Republicans in the election year and you're probably going to see that play out in a very big and robust way on Thursday when the full House, I should say, is expected to bring this up.


BASH: But it doesn't mean that the Democrats plus the two Republicans, of course who are on this Committee are going to change course, because they are determined to get to the facts, to get the facts that they believe Steve Bannon has. But more importantly, as we've heard, you know, throughout the last couple of weeks, particularly in the run up to this vote tonight, they want to make it very clear to the other holdouts, to the other former Trump officials who are defying subpoenas, this is what's going to happen to you. They need to start the ball rolling and they need to set the precedent.

COOPER: David, you tweeted something this week, obviously sarcastically, but your point was well-taken. You said that, is this nation coming to if -- what is this nation coming to if, quote, "A President can't even confidentially confer with his co-conspirators while plotting to overturn an election and fomenting an insurrection against the government and the Constitution? I mean, what's executive privilege for?"

Does it surprise you to hear people basically saying, oh, the Department of Justice won't want to get involved in this? Or if the courts get involved, it will take forever and there's no point?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think the Department of Justice should be diligent about how they pursue this because there will be a lot of questions about it and they have to be concerned about doing things properly.

In terms of delaying, look, Donald Trump's whole business model throughout his career and his model in government was to defy, delay, string things out, try and wear down his opponents by litigating everything, and it's not surprising to see him do that here.

My sense, just watching these proceedings, and talking to those I know is that this Committee is determined to move forward and they're getting information. They do not feel that they are going to be flummoxed or deterred by these tactics. There are other people who are talking to the committee. They are gathering quite a bit of information.

And after all, this suspicion about Bannon wasn't fed by some anonymous tip. It was fueled by the things that he said on his own podcast, right?

COOPER: He said, "All hell is going to break tomorrow." I mean, he was very specific.

AXELROD: Exactly.


AXELROD: Exactly.

COOPER: Dana and David, if you would just stay with us. Joining me right now is Congresswoman Elaine Luria, Democrat of Virginia, and a member of the Select Committee. Congresswoman, I appreciate you being with us. What message do you believe the Committee has sent tonight with this vote? And do you think it will pass the full House?

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): Well, thanks also for having me. And as you may have just seen, we voted unanimously to forward this criminal contempt for not complying with the subpoena. I think the message it sends and Chairman Thompson very clearly said, I mean, the law applies to everyone.

And Mr. Bannon should understand that he can't evade a subpoena from Congress and that we're going to act quickly and we're going to use all of the tools that we have in order to enforce the law and to receive his testimony.

And I also thought my colleague, Miss Cheney made some very, very powerful remarks to her Republican fellow colleagues, along the lines of, you know, look into your heart, you understand, you know the truth and you understand why that we have this Committee and why we're doing this investigation, and it's time for you to tell yourself the truth, and essentially, what I inferred from most -- to tell the public the truth because the Dominion voting machines were not tampered with. There was no big lie. The election had no discernible significant fraud. It was a free and fair election and that you, from Miss Cheney, and the way I interpreted it, you my fellow Republicans, need to understand this and face the truth as well.

COOPER: I want to in fact, play something that Liz Cheney said tonight. Let's listen.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): In the words of many who participated in the January 6th attack, the violence that day was in direct response to President Trump's repeated claims from election night through January 6th that he had won the election. The American people are entitled to Mr. Bannon's firsthand testimony about all of these relevant facts that as the Chairman noted, Mr. Bannon is refusing to provide it.


COOPER: You know, I mean, the courage that she and Adam Kinzinger as well, you know, show just by doing this, and I mean, her words tonight, you know, it's -- I mean, plenty of her Republican colleagues know exactly what a farce the President's big lie is, and I assume are secretly horrified about what happened the day of the insurrection.

But it's stunning to me that so few of them have any kind of courage to actually stand up for the truth.

LURIA: Well, you know, what's even more shocking is that some of them were publicly terrified on January 7th, including Leader McCarthy, but he has quickly shifted back to being an enabler along with so many other Republican members in the House of this big lie.


LURIA: And we hear the former President repeating these lies about the election over and over again and continuing to embolden people who are engaging in political violence. And, you know, this investigation has to get to the bottom of that. We have to hear from the people who were closest to the former President at the time of January 6th then who are familiar with his thinking and can understand, like Miss Cheney said, things that we know very publicly from public statements that the President -- the former President was aware of these things going on around him, and, you know, made comments himself and failed to take action himself to tell people to stop and go home.

COOPER: Can I just you just what it was like tonight to be sitting there, you know, with your colleagues. I mean, obviously it is an important night, and to be in the room as Liz Cheney is saying these things and the political price that she is already paying. I mean, her colleagues are trying to destroy her as they are with Adam Kinzinger. Just what was it like in that room?

LURIA: Well, I have always, since my coming to Congress, had a great relationship with Liz Cheney. We serve on the Armed Services Committee together. And you know, even before taking this huge step of courage against her own party, I have admired her, admired her service, even though our political views and votes are probably quite different many times. I think she's very, very courageous in this moment.

And it is really important that that she and Adam Kinzinger, and I wish there were more, if you ask my sentiment, it is like, I was sad. I was sad that there were only two Republicans there on the dais with us who supported the need to move forward with this committee.

And, you know, we wanted to do an Independent Commission. I mean, the goal was to literally take this out of the hands of the House and to do an Independent Commission, similar to what had been done post 9/11. But the only result that we were left with was to go forward with this Commission that we're -- or a Committee that we're doing now because so many of the Republicans, they just must be afraid of the facts that are going to come out and did not want any investigation at all.

COOPER: Congresswoman Luria, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

Back now with David Axelrod and Danna Bash. Dana. I mean, again, just the courage that Liz Cheney shows. I mean, she is -- they are trying to destroy her, aren't they? BASH: Absolutely. First and foremost to beat her, and the former President has endorsed and is encouraging one of her primary opponents, now, I guess, her main Republican primary opponent in Wyoming, she has got an at-large seat, having the Trump endorsement is a big deal. Donald Trump won Wyoming by more points than -- percentage points than any other state in the union. So that's a huge, huge deal.

The Cheney name is an important one, and it's one with a big legacy in Wyoming, but she understands full well what she is doing here and what she could be doing is ending her political career in the short term, potentially. But she says over and over again, she is owning it, and that she is going to do it for the reasons she described tonight.

COOPER: David, do you think many -- or really are there any other Republicans in the House who will go along with this call on Steve Bannon?

AXELROD: I mean, there may be a handful that will vote on this contempt citation because we did see 10 vote for impeachment. But look, you know, there was a book called "Profiles in Courage" that John F. Kennedy wrote about people who showed political courage and the definition of it was they were willing to risk their political careers for a higher principle, and that is what we're seeing with Liz Cheney. That's what we're seeing with Adam Kinzinger.

But that was a rather slim volume, Anderson, those stories are not legion in American history. And right now, Republicans are running for cover. They're frightened of Donald Trump. Seventy eight percent of Republicans embrace the big lie. They're worried about primary challenges. They're worried about losing their careers and that's what makes what Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger did tonight and what maybe some others will do on Thursday so notable.

COOPER: Yes. And I mean, Chuck Grassley, as we talked about, you know, days ago, is taking the endorsement of President Trump avoiding even the comments he himself had made about the insurrection now.

David Axelrod, Dana Bash, appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up next, a closer look at the next steps from a legal standpoint, if as expected the full House votes to refer criminal contempt charges against Steve Bannon.

And later, one of the best known lawyers in his state now the defendant accused of misappropriating millions asking a judge for bail. How Alex Murdaugh's day in court went and why there is so much more to this bizarre story than just that, ahead.



COOPER: The Breaking News just moments ago, the House Select Committee on January 6th voting to recommend criminal contempt charges against Steve Bannon for defying subpoena to appear and provide documents. Next step, a vote by the full House. The question is then what? What are the legal steps after that?

We turn now to CNN contributor, former Nixon White House Counsel, John Dean, also UC Berkeley law professor and from Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo.

John Dean, I want to read something that Congressman Adam Schiff, a member of the Select Committee just tweeted. He wrote, "Steve Bannon was given every opportunity to comply with a lawful subpoena. He chose instead to make specious claims of executive privilege. Tonight, we voted to hold him in criminal contempt despite what he and Trump may believe, no one is above the law." Unquote.

What do you make of that?


JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it's very accurate. I'm surprised that Bannon is as blatant as he is, he is working with an attorney who certainly knows what is happening and understands it. But yet, they've decided to make a stance that I don't think is going to withstand the test.

There are very few arguments that can be made. They are highly technical, and if the Department of Justice, which I think will happen proceeds to go forward and take this to a grand jury, there'll be an indictment forthcoming, and he'll be facing misdemeanor charges. He has got -- there is an overwhelming case against him.

COOPER: Professor Yoo, I mean, the legal fight is shaping up as a question of executive privilege, even with the two examples involving President Nixon, is there a clear legal standard for what applies here?

JOHN YOO, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm afraid there is, but it's not in Steve Bennett's favor. The major -- Presidents have always had the right to keep discussions secret with their aides, but it has to give way before legitimate inquiries from the other branch. The problem here for Bannon is that that privilege is between Presidents and government employees. He is not working for the government, he can't claim that privilege.

And so I agree with John, I think he's going to end up losing. The interesting thing is what, as you said, Anderson, what comes next? Bannon doesn't want to testify before Congress. He doesn't want to give evidence out in public that could be used in a prosecution of him for sedition or for insurrection. So I think his next step is he is going to start to consider whether to take the fifth and not show up in Congress because he could end up testifying against himself.

COOPER: But Professor, if this is a misdemeanor, I mean, he can -- he just -- he can do that. He can just plead the fifth, not show up in Congress, and what would happen? He pays a fine for the misdemeanor?

YOO: Well, what would happen is that he would still litigate, and try to claim that there is executive privilege here. The Supreme Court is very leery of these cases. They have asked the lower court judges to try to get Congress and the President in the past to compromise and reach some kind of deal.

There is another interesting question here, Joe Biden has already waived executive privilege. So, it's not clear whether President Trump can even claim the right to secrecy here at all. That is something the Supreme Court really has to weigh and decide, finally, we're really not sure. But I don't think that the courts are going to -- even the lower courts are going to really look favorably on Bannon, because he wasn't working for the government at the time that these statements that the Committee wants to see were made, and so, he really can't claim the privilege at all.

COOPER: John Dean, I mean, how long would this drag out for though? And if in the end, I mean, can he be forced to actually provide documents or forced to testify?

DEAN: Well, obviously, the Committee wants the documents and the testimony. They'd prefer that rather than a lot of litigation and criminal prosecutions. I think what they will do is if the Committee asked them to expedite these proceedings, because of the importance of what they're investigating, I think justice will probably assist them in that rather than just sit on this.

We know the courts don't like these cases. And as Professor Yoo said, they're going to try to get the parties to cooperate. That'll be their first drill. And if that doesn't even work in the context of a criminal prosecution, they will have to go forward. And I don't know if we're talking -- we are not talking weeks, we're clearly talking months, but I don't think we're talking years. So I think this thing is going to be moved pretty quickly.

COOPER: So Professor Yoo, and pardon my repeating this, because I'm just not a legal -- I have no law degree and I don't understand these things exactly how it works.

YOO: That's why everybody likes you.

COOPER: I don't know about that. But -- so, if he pleads the fifth, I mean, can somebody actually be forced to provide documents or force to talk? I mean, yes, you know, it goes through courts. He pleads the fifth. What in the end actually happens? Does it just amount to a fine, or does he actually talk?

YOO: This is really interesting. It's very murky. The last time this kind of happened was with Ollie North and the Iran Contra investigation, and so what happened there is Congress really wanted the information. So they granted North immunity to testify. And so that's what Bannon's lawyers are probably going to be working on right now.

They'll say okay, we'll show up. We will testify. We will fight it out as long as you give us immunity from prosecution. That means the prosecutors have to ignore anything he says in the hearings, while they build a potential case against Bannon for conspiracy of insurrection.

But as John said, that could take months and months to work out. If your Bannon's lawyer, I suspect all they want to do is get to the November elections and maybe the House changes hands and then the whole thing gets dropped.


COOPER: Well, also John Dean to the Professor's point, you know, Bannon has a vested interest in not talking not only because he may incriminate him in some way, but his whole, you know, raison d'etre, his whole podcast, his whole career depends on the continued support of the former President and also all the followers of the former President.

And if he is suddenly the guy who, you know, gets a deal and then testifies that certainly doesn't set him up for, you know, whatever his podcasting career may amount to.

DEAN: No, but this is all giving him an awful lot of attention, which is what he does like and what he does want and which will spread his podcast. I think that the easy answer is that if he gets forced, if he's immunized, then there's a likelihood he can be prosecuted. So his lawyer is savvy, he'll probably play for immunity and say, you give me immunity. I'm in front of you and then he will have to testify truthfully.

COOPER: John Dean, John Yoo, I appreciate it. Thank you so much, really interesting.

Up next, new information about mixing and matching COVID boosters. Plus, an exclusive interview with a doctor who is spreading disinformation about COVID-19. Why what he says impacts so many people.



COOPER: Sources tell CNN that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is planning on allowing Americans to receive a different Coronavirus vaccine for their booster shots than their original dose. This comes after the NIH presented research last week showing it was safe to mix boosters and mixing and matching actually revved up immune response.

Also, tonight we have new data about vaccinations. According to the CDC, 57.1 percent of the U.S. population is vaccinated that's about 189 million people. 22.8 percent or about 65 million people of the eligible population are not vaccinated, and 35 states have vaccinated more than one half of their residents.

Meanwhile, all across the country high profile doctors, physicians who went to medical school are persuading people not to get the COVID vaccine to ignore health measures like wearing masks. You're about to hear exclusively from one doctor who makes frightening statements about COVID and the vaccine that are wrong.

But we think it's important for the public to hear his beliefs together with the truth because he and other high profile physicians who deny the facts collectively reach millions of Americans. While the vast majority realize it's BS, a dangerous number of people believe the lies. Here's CNN Senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Rashid Buttar, at one time had more than a million followers and is considered one of the top spreaders of disinformation about COVID-19.

DR. RASHID BUTTAR, SPREADS DISINFORMATION ABOUT COVID-19: More people are dying from the COVID vaccine than from COVID.

GRIFFIN: That is not true. Neither is his tweet that the Red Cross won't accept blood from people who had had the COVID-19 vaccine. He posted most who took COVID vaccines will be dead by 2025. But his biggest whopper is the overarching conspiracy theory that COVID was a planned operation, which was politically motivated as part of a secret global plot to depopulate the earth.

(on camera): You believe the pandemic was planned?




GRIFFIN: But you don't know by all?

BUTTAR: I have no idea.

GRIFFIN: And you don't know why?

BUTTAR: Well, I suspect that there's the research that's coming now that would indicate that it's probably something to reduce the population or minimize reproduction rates.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): It would be laughable if it wasn't so dangerous. Buttar compares COVID and the vaccine to World War II. And Dr. Anthony Fauci to Adolf Hitler.

BUTTAR: Fauci is a criminal. You talk about Hitler. OK. Well,

GRIFFIN (on camera): Whoever Dr. Fauci is in your mind, he is a government bureaucrat, and you're comparing him to Hitler.

BUTTAR: Well --

GRIFFIN: To Nazis.


GRIFFIN: Who killed 6 million Jews?

BUTTAR: I think this number is going to be higher.

GRIFFIN: You think Dr. Fauci is involved in some kind of plot to kill millions of people? I just want to make sure I understand.

BUTTAR: Again, Drew, I'm a reasonable person. You asked me what I think and I said it could be this, but I can tell you the Dr. Fauci is not an innocent bystander. He's very well aware of what he's doing. And the extent of it and his involvement. I don't know I'm not privy to that information.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): As atrocious as Dr. Buttar's fake conclusions and conspiracy theories are. He is just one of the doctors spreading dangerous COVID disinformation to millions of people across social media according to the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

IRMAN AHMED, CENTER FO COUNTERING DIGITAL HATE: Let's be absolutely clear. Lies cost lives in a pandemic. If you're encouraging people not to vaccinate, you will cause people to lose their lives.

GRIFFIN: Buttar is encouraging people to distrust life-saving vaccines, and like other dis informers, he is using false twisted information and unproven conspiracies to do it.

(on camera): Do you think the COVID vaccine works?

BUTTAR: I think that the COVID vaccine is very effective at what it was designed for perhaps but it's not preventing death. Certainly not.

GRIFFIN: Is not preventing death?


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Even faced with indisputable facts, Buttar doubles down on his belief that life-saving vaccines are more dangerous than the virus itself.

BUTTAR: People don't die from COVID. You've already seen the data. So why are we getting a vaccine that causes more deaths than the problem itself.

GRIFFIN (on camera): 6.3 4 billion doses of this vaccine have been given. If you're right, people be dropping dead all around this hole.

BUTTAR: It's not orchestrated to do that. Each --

GRIFFIN: It's not orchestrated to do that?

BUTTAR: Each vaccine has been geared up so you can look at the ingredients of the vaccines themselves. It's all been published.

GRIFFIN: Complete the sense each vaccine has been geared up for what? There's a time depart?

BUTTAR: Each vaccine is designed. It's appears to be different. I don't know the details because I'm not a vaccine developer. Scientific corruption.

[20:35:03] GRIFFIN (voice-over): Because of his disinformation, Buttar has been removed from Facebook and Instagram but he's still going strong on Twitter, Telegram and his own website all filled with false hoods.

(on camera): On September 5, you retweeted a photo of a AstraZeneca packaging that seems to indicate the vaccine was made in 2018. That picture that you retweeted was a doctored photo, it was fake.

BUTTAR: Perhaps it was fake.

GRIFFIN: But why would you do that?

BUTTAR: So Drew, let me ask you something you saying it's not reasonable to question the same agencies that have resulted in numerous deaths, IEDFA (ph).

GRIFFIN: It's reasonable to ask questions. What I don't understand is how you get from your asking questions to your belief. You had 1.2 million followers at one point.


GRIFFIN: They got false information from you not correct, or challenging medical information. They got a doctored photo.

BUTTAR: If I sent a tweet out of a picture that was doctored, and I didn't know about it, I'm not perfect. Maybe I didn't make that mistake. But I cannot make mistakes on the numbers.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The very latest vaccine studies show they remained 90 percent effective in preventing hospitalization and death. Buttar tells his followers, it is the vaccine that is the danger.

BUTTAR: We already see thousands of people dying. This Delta variant is all vaccine injury. I mean, the CDC's own data, and it's showing that now.

GRIFFIN (on camera): That's just not true.

BUTTAR: I don't want to be part of this mass genocide that I see happening, and I think that what's going on right now will be remembered as a worst time in history. Compared to what World War II happened.

GRIFFIN: I just want to be straight with you. I think you're crazy.

(voice-over): Before COVID, North Carolina's Board of Medicine reprimanded Buttar, twice for the way he was treating autism and cancer patients. The Board accused him of charging exorbitant fees for his ineffectual therapies which he denied, including injecting a patient with hydrogen peroxide.

The FDA also sent him a warning letter over products he made and sold that promise to do everything from treating chronic pain to improving sex drive.

BUTTER: And yet I have an unrestricted license to practice for 30 years.

GRIFFIN: And that is the problem. Dr. Rashid Buttar repeatedly lies and disinforms on matters of public health, yet that doesn't have an impact on his medical license held in North Carolina.

Across the country, COVID-19 has created a subculture of disinformation among medical outcasts, and state medical boards don't know what to do.

DR. HUMAYUN CHAUDHRY, PRESIDENT, FEDERATION OF STATE MEDICAL BOARDS: Those kinds of comments are very troubling to doctors who are on the front lines and managing COVID they're particularly frustrating. In fact, some of my colleagues are livid.

GRIFFIN: CNN contacted medical boards in all 50 states. Half of them responded. Only two Rhode Island and Oregon said they had actually disciplined doctors for Coronavirus misinformation or related violations. That is despite hundreds of complaints.

The Federation of State Medical Boards issued a warning to physicians who generate and spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation that they are risking disciplinary action including the suspension or revocation of their medical license.

CHAUDHRY: Especially in a pandemic, your actions could lead to the deaths of thousands of individuals because people trust what doctors say.

GRIFFIN: Buttar doesn't seem to care.

(on camera): You had an outsized influence over just somebody who's living down the street in terms of people getting their medical advice you have to admit that.

BUTTAR: Absolutely, absolutely.

GRIFFIN: And you are raising doubt about a vaccine --

BUTTAR: I hope I am because I hope more people take heed of the warning that isn't necessary.

GRFFIN: And if you are wrong, and they die because of that.

BUTTAR: I am confident, more than confident in my ability to have looked at the data and observe what's going on. And that if I'm wrong, so be it because I have to look at myself in the mirror every night when I go to bed every morning when I get up and I don't lose any sleep, Drew.


COOPER: Drew Griffin joins us now. I mean I don't even know what to where to begin with this guy but how -- I'm stunned that he still has a license and that, you know, I mean I know medical boards protect doc doctors, you know, like to protect each other and stuff and it's very hard to get a doctor have -- loses license. But I mean this is just incredible the stuff that this guy is saying. And it's just, I mean is he making a lot of money doing this?

GRIFFIN: This is how he makes money. He also has a lot of patients who quite frankly have nowhere else to go so they turn to him. He sells hope, hope that he mostly cannot deliver on. The medical boards are really geared towards the last century. They are not geared up for this kind of disinformation online. They're geared for a patient going to see a doctor who is, you know, treated badly and then there's basically a lawsuit that comes out the other end.


This guy is dismisinforming patients he doesn't even know or meet. And that is the problem. People sitting at home on the internet believing that this guy who very much reminds me Anderson of that pillow guy who's looking at basic facts, and so misinterpreting them that it's hard to believe. But he is doing it in such a way that he's telling these people and convincing them not to get a life-saving vaccine. It is really troubling.

COOPER: You know, I was reading the fine print on what he was accused of before in some of his practice. I actually did a piece along years ago in 60 Minutes about another guy who was doing the same sorts of treatments that show no efficacy. It's stunning that this guy's just still out there and still, you know, saying what he's saying. Drew, I appreciate it. Thank you.

GRIFFIN: Thanks.

COOPER: Ahead tonight, disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh faces a judge on fraud charges linked to millions of missing funds that prosecutors say was meant for his housekeepers a state with the judges today, coming up.



COOPER: Just months ago, Alex Murdaugh was one of South Carolina's most prominent attorneys. But now a judge has denied him bond for allegedly stealing millions of dollars from an insurance settlement. Prosecutors say he embezzled millions of dollars from his deceased housekeeper's state. Murdaugh has also been ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation. This is just the latest scandal to engulf the disgraced lawyer following the unsolved killings of his wife and son. CNN's Amara Walker has the latest from South Carolina.


AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the second time in the past month, Alex Murdaugh appeared in court shackled at the wrist and ankles to face another set of charges. This time he's accused of stealing insurance money following the death of his housekeeper of 25 years, Gloria Satterfield.

ERIC BLAND, ATTORNEY FOR ESTATE OF GLORIA SATTERFIELD: (INAUDIBLE) from the very family of the housekeeper that helped raise these kids, this is a crime that we've never seen before.

WALKER: During his bond hearing in Columbia, South Carolina, the prosecutor and attorneys for Satterfield estate laid out how Murdaugh allegedly used more than $3 million. Most of it was intended for Satterfield sons.

CREIGHTON WATERS, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE ATTORNEY: You had been carrying $100,000 credit card balance for months, that gets paid off. He writes 300 some odd grand to his father, he writes a check for 610 grand to himself, he writes a check for 125 grand to himself. Not a dime goes to this failing back here.

WALKER: Satterfield died in Murdaugh's home in 2018, after what was described as a trip and fall accident. At her funeral, the prosecutor said Murdaugh approached her sons to recommend the hire attorney Corey Fleming in order to sue Murdaugh. You heard that right. The sons on Murdaugh's recommendation would sue him in order to win money for their family. Fleming brokered a $4.3 million settlement from Murdoch's umbrella policy, but they allege the family was not notified of the settlement. Nor were they aware that Fleming was Murdaugh's close friend.

Fleming maintains he was deceived by Murdaugh in a joint statement with his law firm. Instead, authority say the money was deposited into Alex Murdaugh's bank account titled Forge, which sounds very similar to Forge Consulting, LLC, a well-known South Carolina firm that handles insurance settlements.

WATERS: And it appears that this account was nothing more than a -- an illusion, a fabrication in order to create the illusion that these checks that he was getting in various settlements were going to a legitimate settlement consultant.

WALKER: Murdaugh was denied bond and order to undergo a psychiatric evaluation after attorneys pointed out his opioid addiction and alleged suicide for hire scheme.

JUDGE CLIFTON NEWMAN, SOUTH CAROLINA 5TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT: There's no amount of bond that the court consent networks safely provide protection to Mr. Murdaugh to the community.

WALKER: Separately, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division or SLED opened an investigation last month into Satterfield's death. It's just one of a half a dozen investigations connected to the Murdaugh family. In September the 53-year-old was arrested and charged with insurance fraud among others after police say he tried to stage his own killing to collect $10 million of life insurance for his surviving son.

In June, Murdaugh's wife and son were found shot dead outside their family estate.

One of his lawyers last week told CNN affiliate WHNS that Murdaugh is a person of interest in SLED's investigation of their murders. We reached out to SLED and they are not commenting on the matter. That investigation led authorities to reopen a probe into the 2015 unsolved death of 19-year-old Stephen Smith found dead on the road in Hampton County.

DICK HARPOOTLIAN, ATTORNEY FOR ALEX MURDAUGH: There's no evidence that he was involved in any untoward act towards Gloria Satterfield in terms of her falling down the stairs or Stephen Smith, there's no evidence whatsoever. And I mean, I don't -- I just think suede is reacting to sort of the public pressure.


WALKER: Now, Anderson in a strikingly similar case, a law firm that Alex Murdaugh wants to work for announced last month that it is suing Alex Murdaugh to recover money, insurance payment settlements that he allegedly stole from clients of the firm. They say for many years to use on his own personal expenses. Alex Murdaugh's attorney Jim Griffin released a statement saying that this is a sad development that they would cooperate with the law firm's investigation.

And by the way, this is a law firm that Alex Murdaugh's great grandfather founded back in the early 1900s. Another bond hearing is set by the way for next week, Anderson.

COOPER: Incredible. Amara, Thanks very much. Up next with the gang behind the kidnapping of the 16 American, one Canadian missionaries is demanding for the release the latest from Haiti ahead.



COOPER: The kidnapped group of 17 American and a Canadian missionary in Haiti is demanding $17 million, $1 million each for the release. That is according to the Haitian justice minister. The five men, seven women and five children, including an eight-month-old baby were abducted on Saturday. CNN's Matt Rivers joins us now from Port-au- Prince. What do you know about the status of the people kidnapped?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We had a conversation today with our source in the Haitian security forces, Anderson, who tell us that at least at the moment, the kidnapping victims, at least as far as they know appear to be in good health. They didn't suffer too badly in terms of physically from this kidnapping event.

But that's something they're going to be watching very closely. And it's something they're having talks with when the gang members do make phone contact with Christian Aid Ministries. That's the group that these kidnapping victims we're here in Haiti working with.

And of course, it's really concerning when you consider that there are five minors in the group ages-eight months, three years, six years, 13 years and 15 years but again, they seem to be OK at least for the moment. In terms of where they're being held, Anderson, the Justice Minister here in Haiti tells me that he thinks they're probably being held somewhere outside of Croix-des-Bouquets, that is the 400 Mawozo gangs main area of control.

[20:55:11] They don't usually keep kidnapping victims in there, according to the Minister. So it's likely at a location outside of there.

And interestingly in the conversations that law enforcement through the Ministry has had with these gang members and we know there are FBI agents here assisting, the Minister tells us that it has been clearly communicated to this group that they will face severe consequences the gang will, if any harm comes to any of those kidnapping victims, but at least so far that has not swayed these kidnappers. They remain committed to that ransom you talked about just off the top there, although our source in the security forces says that these conversations at least for now are calm. Anderson.

COOPER: Matt Rivers appreciate it. Thanks. Important information about our town hall at President Biden, that's next.


COOPER: President Biden the House and Senate Democrats close or apparently close to agreement on infrastructure and social spending bills.