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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
FBI Says Apparent Human Remains Found In Florida Nature Reserve Along With Backpack, Notebook Belonging To Brian Laundrie; Interview With Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); GOP Conspiracy Theorists Are Candidates In Arizona: Spreading Lies About The 2022 Election, Backed By Trump; GOP Officially Urges House Members To Vote No On Bannon Contempt; Biden Pitches Economic Agenda In Scranton. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 20, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: He will be joined by Anderson right here tomorrow night at eight o'clock Eastern.
Thanks so much for joining us. AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. We begin tonight with breaking news and a major discovery in the manhunt for Gabby Petito's fiancee, Brian Laundrie.
What appears to be human remains and items belonging to him in a nature reserve in North Port, Florida. It comes a month after -- a month and a day, I should say after Petito was found strangled in a Wyoming National Forest.
Our Randi Kaye is near the scene in Florida. She joins us now with some new information that she has been getting. So, what do we know about what the FBI has found?
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, earlier today, the FBI announced that they found what appear to be human remains here at the Carlton Reserve. Alongside those remains, they found a notebook and a backpack which they say do belong to Brian Laundrie.
We have some new information about where exactly this discovery was made. I'm told by a spokesman for the North Port Police Department that all of this was found about a two or three mile walk into the reserve from this entrance here behind me, about a 45-minute walk is how it was described.
And keep in mind, this entrance is where the Laundrie family car, a Mustang, was found by North Port Police on September 14th and tagged as an abandoned vehicle, so if these remains do belong to Brian Laundrie, and if it was him who drove the car here, then he did take a walk fairly deep into the reserve.
And Anderson, we've also been able to confirm that the Laundrie parents, Brian Laundrie's parents were also here at the reserve when these remains were discovered earlier today -- Anderson. COOPER: Sorry, just two quick questions. So, how far from where these items were found to the place where the car was left?
KAYE: About two or three miles is how it was described to me by the spokesman for North Port Police. So in the Carlton Reserve, this park where we are, this entrance serves as an entrance -- one of several entrances into the Carlton Reserve, but the remains were found in the Carlton Reserve about a 45-minute walk from this spot.
COOPER: And you said that Brian Laundrie's parents, are they cooperating?
KAYE: They are now, apparently. They haven't always been cooperating, though. They didn't really want to answer questions. They pointed police to their lawyer early on. But just about a week or so ago, Brian Laundrie's dad did come out with authorities and searched this area, tried to show them where his son's favorite hiking trails are, where he liked to camp.
And then just last night, we're told by the family attorney that Roberta and Chris Laundrie called the FBI called North Port police and said, we want to go search for our son in the morning. We plan to do that. So law enforcement accompanied them on that search as well.
We did interview the spokesperson for the North Port Police Department for this documentary that we did on Gabby Petito, and he said that, you know, early on, they wouldn't answer questions about why Gabby Petito might have been missing. They also waited four days to report their own son had disappeared.
So he said that police described their behavior as odd. Here is a bit more of that conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Why do you think Brian Laundrie's parents would have waited four days to tell police that their son was missing?
JOSH TAYLOR, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, NORTH PORT POLICE DEPARTMENT: Yes. I can only speculate. I can only -- you know, the potential that maybe they thought that he was surviving in the woods. You know, I don't want to speak for them, certainly. But I don't know. You know, that's -- that's something they'll have to answer, too.
KAYE: Is there anything to suggest that you're aware of that Brian Laundrie's parents chose to give their son a head start from police?
TAYLOR: I have no information on that one way or the other. We all want that answer, right, that's one of the answers that we want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: And CNN has reached out to the Laundrie family attorney for comment on the apparent human remains that were discovered here and we were told no comment -- Anderson. COOPER: Randi Kaye, appreciate it. Randi, stay with us. I want to bring in forensic scientist, Lawrence Kobilinsky of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former F.B.I. Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
So Professor Kobilinsky, what are the next steps in trying to identify whatever remains have been found? We know investigators removed evidence from the Laundrie home last month to assist in DNA matching. What happens now?
LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, PROFESSOR, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Well, that is the very first step in this process.
First of all, dental records can be looked at, x-rays of bone fractures, if he had any, that would be looked at. Fingerprints would be helpful if there were fingerprints still on the body. Decomposition can do quite a number on different body parts.
But obviously DNA is the way to go, and the F.B.I. is now using something called rapid DNA. They can literally get a result in a matter of a few hours.
So, it's a great technology. It's usually not used in this kind of a case, but it can be. So I suspect, they will have an identification very quickly.
Of course, we really need to know cause of death, manner of death, and time of death.
KOBILINSKY: Cause of death here is very important. Remember, the body was submerged and that means that the composition would have been slowed down as compared to a body above ground. Now, how he died is a real important issue. Toxicology may shed some light. That takes time. That's not like rapid DNA. It could take a week or two until we find out what the tox report says.
But that's where we have to go, and that time of death is also quite an important factor. It's just very similar to what we were facing with Gabby Petito's body. Yet, this body was exposed for about five weeks. So, I expect advanced decomposition.
COOPER: Andrew, this -- the idea that Brian Laundrie's parents told investigators they wanted to help with the search today. And these articles and human remains were found shortly after certainly seems -- I mean, how do you interpret that?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it seems odd right on its face. It's a remarkable coincidence. And it's one that I'm afraid a lot of people, hopefully not the investigators are kind of jumping to conclusions about.
But when you put it in the context of the rest of the information the F.B.I. told us today, specifically that the articles belong to Laundrie and the suspected human remains were found in an area that was very recently submerged in water, it puts it in a slightly different light.
That could explain why when Brian Laundrie's father went out to search in a very -- you know, in that very area a week or so ago, there weren't any great discoveries. So I would -- you know, I think the Laundrie family has raised a lot of reasonable questions with the way they have conducted themselves throughout this situation, their reluctance in talking to law enforcement, their delay in reporting their son's disappearance, all very curious, and issues that need to be dug down on.
I'd be reluctant to jump to any conclusions based on the coincidence of today's discovery.
COOPER: And Randi, I know you have some reporting on what a source told you.
KAYE: That's right, Anderson. A source close to the investigation, just revealing to me tonight that the remains that were discovered today seem to have been there for a while. That is a direct quote. I am also told by the same source that the condition of the remains proved -- it will be quite some time, he thinks before they are officially identified.
He said that that's why the Medical Examiner was brought in. This is going to be a very thorough process and a painstaking process to identify these remains. But having said that, Anderson, this same source also telling me tonight, that he is not aware of any additional search for Brian Laundrie. So, some interesting information that we're getting tonight.
COOPER: So Professor Kobilinsky, if that pans out to be -- if that turns out to be accurate, and based on what the source is telling Randi, when remain -- when a body or when a body is in water over a long period of time, how does that impact things one way or another in terms of being able to the process for identification?
KOBILINSKY: Well, decomposition slows down. So, that's a good thing. But you know, remember, there is animal life in and around that area. Bodies that are in advanced decomposition, sometimes become disarticulated. Parts become separated from each other and animals can carry parts around to different locations.
That may be why they brought the cadaver dog in because there may have been some parts of the body that were not completely connected to the torso and that might explain that.
Where we go from here? Again, the autopsy is going to be next and we may learn a little bit more about the cause of death here.
COOPER: Does it -- I don't want to get too specific here, but the fact that that remains are outside and you know, bugs and insects -- doesn't that actually help with timing and figuring out the timeline or the time of death based on the gestation period of various insects?
KOBILINSKY: You've got it right, Anderson. You should be an entomologist. After three days -- after three days, it becomes very difficult to determine time of death. And therefore you have to resort to entomology.
Different insect species like blowflies or sarcophagus-type flies will eat the flesh and change -- species change over time, and entomologists understand this time course and that's why you have a broad estimate, a range of possible times. That's what we saw in Gabby's death and we probably are going to see the same thing here.
COOPER: Andrew, the fact that -- I mean, according to source investigators, they are not searching, as Randi reported -- not searching elsewhere for Brian Laundrie this time. Again, does that say the man hunt is over? Or is it just -- you know, could it just be they're not searching right now?
MCCABE: You know, I think it's a clear indicator that their strongest lead is the one they are currently working at this crime scene, right? It also is an indicator of the fact that they are probably condensing the resources on this search at the scene where the body was found. This will likely go on for several days.
The FBI will cover every centimeter of that area to make sure they have recovered every single possible piece of evidence. It's a painstaking and kind of grueling process, and they will spare no effort in getting that done.
Let's not forget that despite what happens from this crime scene, they still have the responsibility to determine who killed Gabby Petito, and so the investigation continues. Working the evidence and the leads that they developed from that crime scene in Wyoming as well. So they've got a lot on their hands.
COOPER: Andrew McCabe, Randi Kaye, Lawrence Kobilinsky, appreciate it. Thank you.
Coming up next, profiles in Republican courage and cowardice in the search for truth about January 6th, and answers from the former President's associates. Congressman Adam Schiff from the House Select Committee joins us the night before an expected vote to hold Steve Bannon in contempt.
And later, columnist and bestselling author, Tom Friedman joins us with a lot to say about it and where it is leading us all.
COOPER: Keeping them honest tonight, a demonstration of what accountability looks like and bipartisanship for that matter, courage as well. Also, sadly the opposite, which is perhaps the least surprising thing these days.
Today, the House Rules Committee took the final step needed to send a contempt solution against Steve Bannon to the floor tomorrow. Shortly before airtime, House Republican whip Steve Scalise urged members to vote no on it. Today's committee vote to proceed was nine to four along party lines and follows the House January 6th Select Committee's unanimous vote last night to bring the charge.
Select Committee Chair Bennie Thompson and Republican Vice Chair Liz Cheney both testified today. Here is what she told her fellow Republicans about Steve Bannon, the man who boasted on his January 5th podcast about what would happen the next day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): He said, "All hell would break loose on January 6th," and he was right. Ask the over 140 Capitol Police officers who fought for hours and were injured and there is no doubt that Steve Bannon knows far more than he says on that video.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Bannon, as you know, is defying subpoena from the Select Committee. He was also in more ways than just boasting involved in the planning and promoting of January 6th.
In their new book, "Peril," Bob Woodward and Robert Costa recounted a late December phone call he had with the former President. I'm quoting now from the book, "Bannon told Trump to focus on January 6th. That was the moment for a reckoning. 'People are going to go what the [bleep] is going on here?' Bannon believed. 'We're going to bury Biden on January 6th, [bleep] bury him.'"
Woodward and Costa also report that the former President called Bannon at the Willard Hotel in Washington on January 5th. So you can see why members of the Select Committee including Republicans, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger want to know more.
As for nearly every other Republican on the Rules Committee today and throughout Congress, it's a different story. Congresswoman Cheney closed her remarks today with a challenge to them, which we think bears listening to in its fullness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: I urge you to do what you know is right, to think of the long arc of history. We are told that it bends towards justice, but it does so only because of the actions of men and women in positions of public trust.
In many nations, democracy has failed because those with authority would not act to protect it, because they sat in silence.
History will judge those of us in positions of public trust. Remember that as you cast your votes, as you think about how you will answer when history asks, "What did you do when Congress was attacked? When a mob provoked by a President tried to use violence to stop us from carrying out our constitutional duty to count electoral votes? When a mob provoked by a President tried to overturn the results of an election?" Will you be able to say you did everything possible to ensure Americans got the truth about those events? Or did you look away? Did you make partisan excuses and accept the unacceptable?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the answer was apparent even before she asked the questions. Here is a member of the House Republican leadership this morning making partisan excuses when asked if he believed it was important for Congress, his own institution, not to roll over when someone defies a lawful subpoena?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): I think you're seeing most members get tired of the witch hunts and the games. Let's focus on policies that affect everyday families right now instead of these partisan witch hunts that they want to keep going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He can't even use original words "witch hunt." He has to mirror the former President because that's all they can do now.
Here is ranking rules committee member Tom Cole making more partisan excuses.
REP. TOM COLE (R-OK): It was clear when Speaker Pelosi created the Committee and unilaterally blocked Leader McCarthy's appointments of Republican members, and her goal was to ensure that only her chosen narrative was told. A sad state of affairs, Mr. Chairman, with that, I yield back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, he did more than just that actually, turning the floor over to Republican Congressman Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz. CNN was first to report the Select Committee has asked that their phone records be preserved along with those of the former President in connection with the 6th.
COOPER: Today, Jordan, who was questioned by Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, and who was giving conflicting accounts on this couldn't recall how many times he spoke with the former President that day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I talked to him that day. I've been clear about that. I don't recall the number of times, but it's not about me, I know, you want to make it about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining us now, House Select Committee member and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, author of "Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost our Democracy and Still Could."
Congressman Schiff, what does it say to you that these Republican Members of Congress that we just heard from are basically saying it is okay to ignore a congressional subpoena? Even if you don't think Steve Bannon did anything, even if you don't think this whole thing should go forward, this is a lawful congressional subpoena. There are Members of Congress, for them to not even back up, congressional power is extraordinary.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): It is extraordinary, and it really defies the expectation of the founders, that members of the Congressional branch would defend their own institution. That ambition could be made to check ambition. But here, they are willing to sacrifice the Congress, they're willing to sacrifice our system of checks and balances in the service of this unethical former President.
And it is -- you know, it is really quite shocking. When you listen to Steve Scalise, their number two, the G.O.P. number two member of the House, just a week ago, couldn't admit that the election wasn't stolen. No wonder he doesn't want the contempt to go forward. You know, he feels as evidently the Republican leadership does, it's more important to support the cult of Donald Trump than it is to defend their own democracy.
And it is this abdication of their Oath of Office that has our democracy on such fragile ground.
COOPER: I mean, I just -- I'm just struck by his use of the term "witch hunt," you know, it is just kind of pathetic that he has to kind of even use the language of the former President, I guess, in the hopes that he'll get an "Atta boy" from the President. Maybe he will get, you know, the Holy Grail, an actual call or you know, a special message from the President, the former President saying, you know, "Great." It's just kind of pathetic.
I mean, after the full House vote tomorrow, it'll almost certainly get referred to the Justice Department. What do you think Attorney General Garland is going to do?
SCHIFF: I think he will present it to the grand jury as the statute says. He has a duty to do so. And I think all the signs have been very positive. The Justice Department has made available top former Justice Department officials without asserting any kind of privilege. They have made accessible records from the National Archives belonging to the prior administration without any assertion of executive privilege.
The President himself I think made it very clear that those who violate the law should be prosecuted. And in my view, this will be an early test of our democracy. Is it recovering? Is it still true in America that no one is above the law? Because if that is true, you know, Anderson, that if any one of my constituents back in California were to ignore a subpoena and simply failed to appear, there would be an arrest warrant for them very, very soon thereafter. COOPER: Select Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney said last night, quote, "Based on the Committee's investigation, it appears that Mr. Bannon has substantial advanced knowledge of the plans for January 6th, and likely had an important role in formulating those plans," end quote.
I mean, aside from what Bannon said on his podcast, the day before the insurrection, which, you know, I guess you could interpret it as "all hell is going to break loose," you know, "people are going to be really upset, they're going to, you know, just be upset." And ignoring what's in the Bob Woodward and Robert Costa book, "Peril" about Bannon and being at the Willard Hotel on January 5th with other Trump allies, including Giuliani in a war room type meeting.
Does your Committee have more information beyond that on Bannon?
SCHIFF: You know, I can't comment on what we have that is not a matter of public record. But I think certainly, someone that was as close to the President is as close to the President as Steve Bannon, who was organizing at the Willard Hotel efforts to persuade lawmakers to decertify the election and overturn the results, and who made those comments, which on their surface seem to predict exactly what happened.
The fact that he was telling people also, I think on that radio show or podcast that if they felt that they had missed out on the American Revolution, here was an opportunity for them to participate in one. If there's an innocent explanation, then he should step forward and give it. The fact though that he is fighting this, that the former President is fighting this, I think speaks to his consciousness of guilt.
COOPER: So Congressman Jim Jordan says he can't recall how many times he spoke with the former President on January 6th. He's been kind of all over the map on that one. Does the Committee want to talk to Congressman Jordan?
SCHIFF: Well, I'm not in a position to announce future witnesses, but I can tell you this, on a very nonpartisan basis, I think every member of our Committee is determined to go wherever the evidence lies, to Members of Congress, to the former White House -- anywhere, we need to fill up the public record and expose all of the events that led to January 6th.
Our whole goal is to write a set of recommendations to protect the country going forward, and if Jordan has information or anybody else, we won't shy away merely because they are Members of Congress.
COOPER: Just lastly, you said that the big black box in all of this is what the President's role was. You've also echoed Chairman Thompson's comments that no one is off the table for a subpoena. At what point would you subpoena the former President himself?
SCHIFF: You know, I think before you take a step like that, you want to gather as much information and evidence as you can, because you're going to get one crack at it. And so, I think we have a lot of work to do before we make the decision about whether we take that step. And certainly before we would take that step.
So I still consider us, you know, frankly, although we're moving with incredible speed to be early in the investigation, and I would want to know what documents we would present to a key witness. What other testimony we would be aware of before we question the key witness. So, I don't see that happening until later in the investigation, if the Chairman will make the decision to go there.
COOPER: Adam Schiff, appreciate your time. Thank you.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
COOPER: The book again is "Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could."
Next, new signs of how deeply the big lie is now embedded and growing in a state that went for Joe Biden, but has now gone politically off the rails.
COOPER: I showed you in the last segment how most Republicans on Capitol Hill continue to shirk any sense of responsibility or accountability for what happened in January 6. So part of the president and former presidents big lie that's not limited just to Washington, as lawmakers along with former -- the former president of hammer that lie so hard and hammered it so often that it's spread beyond the Capitol than to the rest of the country.
It's now basically the price for entry for statewide Republican candidates running for office in Arizona. On candidate there is even suspected of being Q the leader of QAnon. Our reminder, Arizona is where Republicans spent months conducting a so called audit that found no proof to support the foreign president's false claims of stolen election. These candidates are dug in. And some are talking to CNN's Kyung Lah.
KARI LAKE (R-AZ) GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: No masks in here. Another round of applause. Of the media, the media is all masked up because they want to spread the fear.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is our introduction to Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, a Donald Trump endorsed Republican candidate for 2022. Rising Star of the right wing and proud spreader of lies about the 2020 election results.
LAKE: You could say Biden won the presidency kind of like O.J.'s innocent. It's the same thing --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're amazing. LAH (voice-over): Lake is among the group of 2022 Arizona candidates putting election falsehoods at the heart of their candidacy.
MARK FINCHEM (R-AZ) SECY. OF STATE CANDIDATE: You know what this is?
LAH (voice-over): Secretary of State Candidate Mark Finchem also endorsed by Trump.
DONALD TRUMP (R) FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Great job Mark. You're going to win big Mark.
LAH (voice-over): Is repeating the very lie Trump wants followers to believe.
FINCHEM: By removing the fraud Donald Trump won.
LAH (voice-over): Ignoring facts and reality, Finchem, a four-term state representative wants to be Arizona's chief elections officer. But Lake has gained early attention a presumed front runner in Arizona.
LAKE: I'm Kari Lake with a look at the top stories --
LAH (voice-over): A longtime former Phoenix television anchor who quit her job. Lake has built in name ID and a dedicated following like the students who insisted on gathering around her.
(on-camera): You have a crowd.
LAKE: Hi, everyone.
LAH (voice-over): As she agreed to speak with CNN.
(on-camera): Are you going to win?
LAKE: I believe we will. Yes.
LAH (voice-over): A cornerstone of Lakes campaign, baseless fraud claims raised by the Republican led sham review of Maricopa County's 2020 presidential election,
LAKE: The system is corrupt. Have you not followed what's happening in our election here?
LAH (on-camera): Absolutely. I covered the audit.
(voice-over): Relentlessly repeating misinformation.
LAKE: Do you think that it was the right thing to do to delete a bunch of million files the day before the audit?
LAH (on-camera): That was roundly debunked.
LAH (on-camera): Not by the press, but by the Maricopa county record results.
LAKE: Well, you're buying into everything they say. These are the same people who did not want this forensic audit. I know what you guys are trying to do. You don't give a damn about our elections. You've got a narrative and you're trying to push it.
LAH (on-camera): And what is that narrative?
LAKE: And we -- the narrative is, everything, its fraud, it's fake. I will be damned if when I'm governor, we're going to have another election run this way.
TYLER MONTAGUE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I'm afraid for our future.
LAH (voice-over): Tyler Montague is an Arizona Republican strategist who fears the damage of his party's election denying candidates.
MONTAGUE: They have a losing message. They are strongly identified with the conspiracy that that the election was stolen from Trump. And a strong majority of the voting public does not believe this.
RON WATKINS (R-AZ) CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Hey, everybody, I just went behind enemy lines --
LAH (voice-over): Ron Watkins, the man many internet sleuths believe is the Q behind the QAnon conspiracy theory is another denier of the truth.
LAH (voice-over): A long shot Republican hopeful for Arizona's first congressional district. The first time candidate just moved to Arizona to run for office.
(on-camera): What do you think happened in November 2020?
WATKINS: President Trump did win the election, and that the election was certified to resident Biden, and that Biden is currently occupying the White House but the de facto leader is still President Trump.
LAH (on-camera): But President Trump didn't win the election.
(voice-over): Despite overwhelming evidence against it, Watkins believes there was fraud.
WATKINS: While it could potentially be 100,000. It could be a million votes. We don't know --
LAH (voice-over): By what (INAUDIBLE).
WATKINS: -- the databases. The databases were deleted, and --
LAH (on-camera): They're still there.
[20:35:00] WATKINS: -- and (INAUDIBLE). Well Ms. Lah, let me tell you, everybody has a superpower. And I'm a computer programmer and my superpower is abstract math and I'm able to look and see things in patterns that most people are not looking for.
LAH (voice-over): While he denies his rumored role as Q.
WATKINS: And I'm not Q, I've never posted as Q, I don't know who Q is.
LAH (voice-over): Watkins is an influential leader. Trump retweeted him multiple times leading up to the January 6 Capitol Riot telling followers to go to the Capitol. Some waving Q flags led the violent insurrection. To this day Watkins struggles to see the consequences of the conspiracies he spreads. Including what happened on January 6.
WATKINS: They were there because they were upset that there --
LAH (on-camera): Were they wrong (INAUDIBLE)?
WATKINS: I'm not going to go into what was right or wrong, what I will go into is that I --
LAH (on-camera): People who storm the Capitol trying to kill representatives --
WATKINS: I asked people to go there peacefully. And --
LAH (on-camera): You're not going to condemn what they did?
WATKINS: I condemn crazy people doing crazy things.
LAH (on-camera): The Capitol rioters.
WATKINS: Look, Ms. Lah, I condemn crazy people doing crazy things and --
LAH (on-camera): But not the Capitol rioters?
WARTKINS: Are they crazy people doing crazy things?
LAH (on-camera): Storming the U.S. Capitol.
WATKINS: That's a pretty crazy thing. And crazy people did that. And I condemn crazy people doing crazy things.
LAH (voice-over): Once on the fringe, conspiracy theorists and election deniers are now leading candidates fighting to bring their beliefs and their base into the halls of power. This time, not by force, but by vote with one catch.
(on-camera): Do you agree with President Trump when he says that Republicans should not vote unless 2020 is adjudicated again.
LAKE: I think that everyone should vote. I think everyone should vote.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Kyung Lah joins us now. Wow, you spent a lot of time in Arizona recently. Do you get the sense the voters buy into the big lie as much as these candidates do?
LAH: Well, there's a reason that the candidates, at least these particular candidates think it's a winning strategy. Because if you talk to a certain section of voters, especially very conservative, you know, Republicans and in sections of the state, yes, they buy it, they believe in it. But here's the problem. And here's what a lot of moderate Republicans or center right Republicans are telling me that in the general election in a purpling state, it is not a winning formula that if anything, this is hurting the Republican Party's future here in the state of Arizona, because instead of talking about the policies of the Republican Party, that can draw more voters in, what they're talking about are lies and conspiracies. And in a state that has a history of Republicans Anderson, like Barry Goldwater, John McCain, they don't believe that this is the DNA of the state. Anderson.
COOPER: Kyung Lah, I appreciate it. Thank you. Kyung, thanks.
Coming up next, look at where this all may lead and more with New York Times columnist and best selling author Tom Friedman. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Our return to our breaking news, the House Republican leadership is headed support law and order and who say they back the blue urging members to vote no on holding Trump associate Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress because he refuses to testify about his role in the attack on their workplace. Given that along with flavor politics he saw before the break tonight is a good night to step back and maybe take a look at where it might lead.
Joining us is New York Times foreign affairs columnist, Tom Friedman. He's the best selling author of more books than we can list including this one, Thank You For Being Late An Optimist Guide To Thriving In The Age Of Accelerations.
I got to say I you know, just watching Kyung Lah talk to some of the candidates in Arizona. It was super depressing. I just want to play one thing that one of them said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAKE: The system is corrupt. Have you not following what's happening in our election here.
LAH (on-camera): Absolutely. I covered the audit.
LAKE: Do you think that it was the right thing to do to delete a bunch of million files the day before the audit?
LAH (on-camera): That was roundly debunked?
LAH (on-camera): Not by the press, but by the Maricopa county recorders office.
LAKE: Well, you're buying into everything they say. These are the same people who did not want this forensic audit. I know what you guys are trying to do. You don't give a damn about our elections. You've got a narrative, and you're trying to push it.
LAH (on-camera): And what is that narrative?
LAKE: And we -- the narrative is, everything, its fraud. It's fake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, first of all, she did she was allegedly, you know, an anchor or newscast or something which I, you know, I don't know what, how to even wrap my mind around that. This is super depressing. I mean, I don't know if she believes that or it just is she knows this will get heard that bunch, you know, helper in the primary and she's willing to be a shiny, happy liar.
TOM FRIEDMAN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: You know, Anderson, a couple of things come to mind. One is something that I said you in our conversation before the election, country, not right. Country, not right. Our country's not right. But given that, what is even more depressing to me is we have one party, who, as we advance into the 21st century, we have so many things to think about. And their candidate, their main position is a big lie that Donald Trump won the last election. There's no diagnosis of the world global trends, needs of education needs of corporations, they are running on a big lie.
Against them is a party running on a big idea. A big idea, but they have not sold that idea. Effectively, the Democratic Party, given where the Republicans are right now, Anderson should be wiping the floor, wiping the floor with him and yet we're watching the Virginia election coming up and wondering if Terry McAuliffe the Democratic gubernatorial candidate will squeak by.
So I think we have to ask a couple of questions. One, how did this party get so crazy, this Republican Party, but what's going on with the Democrats, that they aren't just sweeping the floor when they've got a big idea against the big lie?
COOPER: Well, what do you think? And what is the answer that? What do you think is wrong with them?
FRIEDMAN: I think that the party has gone too far to the left for this country that is still center, right and center left. Think about it. You know, last year, we all watch George Floyd killed by police in my hometown of Minneapolis. And after that, millions of Americans basically woke up and said, you know, I've been hearing this, you know, from African-Americans, now I get it. Now I get it. And they were really open for a both and solution, both better policing, and more policing in neighborhoods that are really suffering from terrible gun violence. And what did the progressives offer first, defund the police and then delegitimize police. What a wasted moment, the country was ready for a both and civil rights movement. And it was squandered, I'm sorry.
And now we've got a similar thing with the economy. Oh, my God, people don't want about Democratic socialism, they don't want just to hear that we're helping people who are hurting, yes, we must help them, they want to hear that you don't have a safety net, you have a launching pad, Joe Biden, you have a launching pad plan, that is infrastructure, hard infrastructure and human infrastructure, that's going to launch a public-private partnership, both our companies and our people to realize their full potential. We have a launching pad here, not some giveaway that got whittled down from 3.5, to three to seven, two to five to wherever the heck it is right now.
This is so exciting what they're trying to sell, and they have so poorly sold it. And that is what really Democrats should be asking themselves, how the hell could we be losing when we have a big plan? And all they have is a big lie.
COOPER: I can't tell if just, you know, we're in, you know, immersed in this stuff every day and watching it every day. And, you know, reading about it and following it. And I can't tell if, you know, it maybe, maybe it is -- is it that bad? I mean, is it? I don't know. I don't know. I mean --
COOPER: (INAUDIBLE) the street all the time and saying, are you depressed? Like what do you think? And I don't know, like is this -- I've seen societies fall apart. I've been to this, you know, Bosnia, I've seen this stuff up close. I'm not saying that's going to happen here. But I don't know. Is it?
FRIEDMAN: I will see you one and raise you one. I lived in one of those societies. In Beirut, I lived there during a civil war. And you know what I saw, I saw politician after politician, think they could hack away at the government, promote conspiracy theories. And it would all be there, we'd all hold together until they took over and then they would do maybe the right thing. And you know what happened? If you do that for three decades, they actually hacked it apart, it fell apart. That's where Beirut is today. And once it's broken, it's gone.
That can happen here. There's nothing granted about this government. It's just people and norms. And when those people start abandoning those norms that support those laws and those institutions, it can go. You can't just tell those lies over and over again to you get in power, and then think the system is going to work for you.
You know, these Republicans, you have people like Ted Cruz, you have people like, you know, Josh Hawley, these are people who are ready to burn down the country, as long as they could be president of the ashes. That's what they're doing. As long as they can be president of the rubble, they're fine.
COOPER: And you know what, I mean, those people, when society starts turning on itself, it turns on them as well. Like they think that they're, you know, they went to Harvard or wherever they went. I mean, the wheel spins pretty quickly when things start to spin out of control.
Tom Friedman, I appreciate you joining us. Thank you.
Coming up next, with new reporting and what could be the final White House push to get a deal on legislation talking about what Tom is talking about it could affect the lives of millions of people and make or break the Biden presidency. We'll be right back.
COOPER: President Biden returned to his roots in Scranton, Pennsylvania this evening to make the case for his economic package as negotiations hit a critical point.
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JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Somewhere along the way, we stopped investing in ourselves. America is still the largest economy in the world. We still have the most productive workers in the world, and most innovative minds, but we risk losing our edge as a nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: There's Biden's hoping Democrats on Capitol Hill soon approve his economic agenda and bipartisan infrastructure plan. Meantime, the social spending package is shrinking from Orleans.
Let's go to CNN's Phil Mattingly at the White House. So Phil, is the President tries to sell this agenda. Can you explain what is still in his proposal?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Anderson, the answer, and I'm not trying to be glib here is however much from the original proposal they can get in and still get 50 votes in the United States Senate. Those have literally been the dynamics over the course of the last several weeks. And because of those dynamics, because of senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, the package has absolutely been scaled back from the top line from $3.5 trillion to roughly $2 trillion, perhaps a shade under to this specific programs as well, the child tax credit, they want to extend it for up to four years now looking like more like one. Medicaid expansions, Medicare expansions, all being scaled back the length of the subsidies for the Affordable Care Act scaled back as well. Certain programs likely to be dropped, free tuition for Community College won't be in the final package, the cornerstone of the President's climate portion of the legislation, a clean energy standard has also fallen out due to Manchin's opposition. What White House officials have stressed is that they are trying to include as many of those original components as possible, perhaps for shorter durations, perhaps for less money, but trying to put as many of those programs into place and then hope to build on them as the years comes underscoring that in the near term they can provide the most help to the most people, Anderson.
COOPER: And what about Senator Sinema, what's the latest on what she wants and what the White House is willing to like?
MATTINGLY: The best description I've gotten of late was from a Democratic Hill source who's referred to as enigma. She just simply Democrats don't have a great sense of where she stands on many things and there's a reason for that. Senator Sinema has been very clear, so it's routine that she's negotiating directly with the White House. And one of the things that has come out of those negotiations is that the critical pay for, the revenue streams that the President has made clear, would result in his pay, or in his sweeping proposal, having no net cost. She's opposed to several of them, including an increase in the corporate tax rate, that is left White House officials to scramble over the course of the last 24 hours trying to find alternative ways to pay for this proposal.
Anderson, the reality is this if tax increases are off the table to any scale, the White House has significant problems. They're trying to address those problems right now. That's not the only issue prescription drugs as well, a couple of others. The reality is there's still work to do. They believe they can get a framework agreement as soon as the end of this week, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Phil Mattingly, thanks.
Just reminder, join us Thursday night, 8:00 Eastern for special CNN Town Hall, President Biden, I'll be the moderator Thursday, eight o'clock Eastern Time. Hope you join us.
More news ahead, we'll be right back.
COOPER: Hope you join us for tomorrow night's town hall with President Biden, 8:00 p.m. Eastern and I'll be the moderator.
The news continues. Want to hand over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.