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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
House Democrats Delay Infrastructure Vote Again Amid Party Divisions; Trump Pens Falsehood-Filled Letter To "The Wall Street Journal;" Jan.6 Committee Is Losing Patience With Trump's Former Chief Of Staff Mark Meadows As It Seeks His Testimony; Complaint Alleging Sex Crime Filed Against Former NY Gov. Cuomo; Florida State Senator Receiving Death Threats After Asking Surgeon General To Wear Mask In Her Office; American Airlines CEO: Alleged Assault On Flight Attendant "One Of The Worst Displays Of Unruly Behavior". Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 28, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: Thank you so much for joining us tonight. I'll see you tomorrow.
AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, President Biden is due to arrive in Rome any minute.
As for the centerpiece of his domestic agenda, it has not yet landed, at least, not yet. House Democratic leaders late today pushing back a vote on the already Senate approved infrastructure bill. Progressives refusing to support it until Senate moderates sign off on the President's Build Back Better social and environmental legislation.
This evening, one of those moderates, West Virginia's Joe Manchin put out a statement reading: "President Biden's framework is the product of months of negotiations and input from all members of the Democratic Party who share a common goal to deliver the American people. As we work through the text of the legislation, I would hope all of us will continue to deal in good faith and do what is right for the future of the American people."
In other words, not a sign off, but also not a kiss off.
Just a few minutes ago, I spoke about the state of play with White House Domestic Policy adviser and former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.
COOPER: So Ambassador Rice, you were with the President on Capitol Hill, Congresswoman Jayapal is saying tonight that the House Progressive Caucus won't vote for the infrastructure bill without the Build Back Better Act.
I know you've talked to Members of Congress all day. So you know, where are we right now on some of the key stakeholders? SUSAN RICE, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF DOMESTIC POLICY ADVISER: Where I think
we are interested -- and I was up with the President at the Democratic Caucus in the House today -- is that what was incredibly notable is how broad the support has been for the framework that the President laid out today. From the most progressive wing of our party, including Congresswoman Jayapal and the Progressive Caucus, as you heard them say to the moderate wing of our party. Everybody understands it.
What is in this Build Back Better framework is good for the American people. Child care made affordable for families that are struggling paying, you know, over a quarter of their income for child care can afford it. Universal pre-K. Home care made available and accessible for our parents and loved ones and those who are disabled, who can't otherwise get care. Extraordinary investments in our environment so that our planet can fight and sustain against climate change.
These are extraordinary elements of this package -- housing, investments in equity, higher education --
COOPER: But, I mean, the support clearly is not so widespread, because I mean, Joe Manchin doesn't like a lot of the environmental things.
COOPER: You know, Kyrsten Sinema has had her concerns. Are they -- I mean, I am sorry to interrupt, but Chuck Schumer has not said whether Manchin and Sinema would vote on the Build Back better legislation. Does the White House have a firm commitment from them on that?
RICE: What we have is our knowledge from having spent hours and hours over weeks and months with them, and many others in the Democratic Caucus. And we have a framework that we are confident can pass the Senate as well as the House.
We've not said that before today. We are confident that we have a framework that can pass both Houses, and that is a confidence borne of extensive, extensive engagements with those whose votes we need.
COOPER: So does the White House have a firm commitment from the Progressive Caucus?
RICE: What the progressives -- what I'll say to you, Anderson, whether speaking about the Progressive Caucus, or Senator Manchin or Sinema, I am not going to speak for any Member of Congress. I will speak on behalf of the White House and the President United States, I'll speak on my own behalf, but it is not helpful or appropriate for me to characterize anybody else's view.
CARLSON: Fair enough.
RICE: What I do know is that there is broad support for both the bipartisan infrastructure framework and the Build Back Better package. Nobody is saying they won't vote for it because of the substance of it. Quite the contrary, they're saying that they are very supportive of the substance of the Build Back Better framework from all spectrums of our party. So, that's the important thing.
The procedural stuff is -- I don't want to minimize it, but it will be worked out. This is the sausage making that is Washington politics, and I'm very confident that at the end of the day, we will have a bipartisan infrastructure framework and a Build Back Better framework, which are going to be extraordinarily beneficial for our planet, for American families, for jobs, and for our people in general.
COOPER: I never expected to be in the sausage business, but I do find myself sort of in the sausage business. So, I do have to ask, I mean, is the White House in support of both of these bills being voted on back-to-back? Again, I know that is sausage making, but it certainly the important things that seem to be holding things up.
RICE: We are in support of both of these bills. The President could not have been clearer. He wants them voted and voted as soon as possible. So, that's the bottom line.
You know, we will leave it to the leaders in Congress to figure out the appropriate sequencing. We want them done as soon as possible. They're both vital to our economy, to our -- the wellbeing of our people and to our global competitiveness.
COOPER: Can you say if the paid leave for -- paid child leave is in fact no longer in this? Because it had been 12 weeks, and now, it is down to four weeks. I know it was very important to the President. He talked about at the Town Hall last week. Is that out?
RICE: Anderson, I think, very sadly, there were not the votes in the Senate to include paid lead. The President believes deeply in the vital importance of paid leave for mothers, fathers, and American families, and he's going to continue to fight for it, as well as other provisions that did not make it into this framework agreement.
You know, this is not the last year of the Biden presidency. It's the first year of the Biden presidency. And already, we've had extraordinary success with the American Rescue Plan, and we will continue to have success as these two important pieces of legislation pass, but that doesn't mean we're done.
COOPER: You know, from your work in the international community, do you worry the lack of a deal right now undermines the President's message on the global stage, especially, you know, there are countries -- Russia and China -- who, you know are perpetuating the idea that democracy is dysfunctional?
RICE: Well, those countries are trying to perpetuate the idea that democracy is dysfunctional, but they're not even showing up at the G20, so I don't know what that says about them.
We will be there. America will lead under President Joe Biden and we will ensure that our interest and those of our partners and allies are advanced in the context of both the G20 and the Glasgow Climate Summit. COOPER: Ambassador Susan Rice, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
RICE: Thank you.
COOPER: So joining us now is CNN Chief political analyst, Gloria Borger and CNN senior White House correspondent, Phil Mattingly who is in Rome traveling with the President. So, Gloria, you hear Ambassador Rice describing how the White House views all this. Does it seem like Democrats, at least in some ways, missed their moment here?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. This was a second time President Biden went to Capitol Hill to make the case for his package. He told Democrats that it was an existential moment effectively for his administration. He gave a speech about these two bills, and then the Democrats in the House said, you know what, we don't really trust those two folks in the Senate to do what we really want them to do, so we're going to hold off on this.
So it was a real moment that was missed. This is not to say that they won't get it in the end. They probably will, as Susan Rice is saying, but the President made a big show of it, and it flopped.
COOPER: Phil, how big of a setback is it for the President? Both, you know, on this overseas trip, but just back here at home?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think the interesting thing, Anderson is White House officials have been so weary of setting deadlines for the last several weeks. It was the President who told Members of Congress in the Oval Office that he wanted this done before he took off for Europe and specifically before he reached the Glasgow Climate Conference or Climate Summit. And White House officials then kind of followed suit and agreed with that.
It was the President that laid that out and made very clear very explicit the stakes saying the prestige of the United States was at stake, and they needed to deliver. He did not get that, and it is unquestionably a disappointment.
Now, it's also fair to say the Democrats right now are closer to an agreement than they ever have been, and in large part because of what the President and Speaker Pelosi pushed forward today. But when you lay out a deadline, when you send the President to Capitol Hill, when the Speaker says behind closed doors, it would be an embarrassment not to deliver for the President and then you don't deliver for the President shortly before he arrives at two international summits. It's not ideal.
COOPER: So Gloria, I mean, this is -- you know, Ambassador Rice, called it kind of sausage making and it is procedural and, you know, kind of your eyes can glaze over. What exactly does this mean? I mean, what is the next step here? It's easy to lose track.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it is easy to lose track. Look, they're going to try at some point, sooner rather than later to get together on what they can agree on, and you know, they're in this kind of Alphonse and Gaston routine, right? The progressives want to make sure that they don't get double crossed by the Senate. They want to make sure that Manchin and Sinema are going to be with them.
And it would be very easy, Anderson, if Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema came out and said, we support the larger framework, as well as the infrastructure bill, then I think you'd have a lot of these progressives on board, but there is such a lack of trust, which is kind of astonishing, actually, between the House members and those more moderate Democrats in the Senate, that it is really hard to predict how and when exactly this is going to happen. Because if the President couldn't effectively knock heads today, and he -- you know, some people said he was a little too reticent today on the Hill.
But if he couldn't convince them to do it today before jetted off to Europe, it's hard to see when that is exactly is going to happen.
COOPER: I mean, so Phil, you know, you had the President going in front of cameras to announce a framework for the deal, I mean, he is using this word "framework" where there is still the actual wording of the deal which can go south in a whole bunch of different, couldn't it?
MATTINGLY: Yes, it's a really great point, drafting of legislation always take me over. In terms of the timeline, to use a sports betting terminology, just because it takes a long time and the words actually matter. And I'm not being kind of flippant when I say that.
Each line, each phrase, each section is extraordinarily important and has wide-ranging implications and repercussions. So, this is going to take time.
I think in terms of what the President did this morning, it was a calculated risk. I think there was an understanding, they didn't have the votes, they didn't have full agreement on the framework from all the parties involved, but they felt like they needed to make a push.
The other thing that felt like they needed to do is wrest back control of what has been very clearly the story of the last several days, what isn't in the package, all of the infighting between Democrats.
The President this morning, set the stage for what will likely be the general shape of the final proposal, what's in it? Why it matters? Why he believes it's transformative? And why Democrats need to get behind it?
The vast majority of Democrats made clear today, they support that framework. That's a net positive for the White House. But in terms of having this right up at the finish line, they've got a lot of work to do still.
COOPER: Gloria --
BORGER: Yes, when --
COOPER: Yes, go ahead.
BORGER: Yes, they've been talking about the cost of this package for months now. And so, the American public is saying, oh, my God, that's so much money. Then they've been talking about, as Phil is saying, what got cut from this package, instead of talking about what's in it.
They are trying to turn the page on that. You saw Susan Rice doing that. You just saw Joe Biden doing that. But they have to kind of move on and say, here is what we're doing for you. Instead, you know, we're hearing okay, this didn't get in it, you know, that didn't get in it, paid family leave didn't get in it.
They need to sort of tell the American public what did get in, and I think we're going to be hearing a lot of that over the next week or so.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, it is kind of bizarre, Phil that for weeks, this was all that was talked about really, it was about the money. It was about how much was being spent, which is obviously incredibly important. But if you are for the Democrats who believe in what the President wants to do, you would think they would be making a smarter effort at trying to at least explain what actually is the benefit of it as they see it?
MATTINGLY: It's been a significant frustration, probably frustration on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue, and if you ask White House officials, what one of the biggest errors or regrets was, it was only talking about the top line number. They did it because they wanted to make the point. It was transformative. It was exactly what the President ran on.
It ended up biting them to some degree over the course of the last several weeks. That's why you've seen the shift. Focus on the details. Focus on what's in the package, focus on what Democrats can deliver. They're on the verge of it, but that top line discussion absolutely took the focus away from what's inside of it.
I would note what's inside of it polls individually quite well, almost across the board. I think that's been a big part of the frustration -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Phil Mattingly and Gloria Borger, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Coming up next, a police officer who faced the mob at the Capitol on the growing wave of disinformation and misinformation about what he went through and others firsthand as FOX News is plugging a documentary spreading yet more lies.
Former FOX chief political reporter, Carl Cameron joins us as well.
And later, more breaking news, criminal charges alleging a sex crime filed against former New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo.
COOPER: I want to read you something a "Wall Street Journal" reporter told CNN's Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy. Quoting the reporter now, "I think it's very disappointing that our opinion section continues to publish misinformation that our news side works so hard to debunk." Now, the Wall Street Journal reporter retweeted this from a "Daily Beast" colleague which reads, quote: "Newspapers don't exist so that powerful people can publish whatever lies they want." That retweet apparently referring to "Wall Street Journal," owner Rupert Murdoch and both reporters are talking about the paper's decision to publish a letter by the former President full of lies about the 2020 election results in Pennsylvania.
Now, "The Journal" did not assign any of its highly talented nonpartisan reporters to fact check the letter. They just printed it and that retweet gets into why.
Rupert Murdoch, though not exactly friendly with the former President is nonetheless happy it seems to enable his lies and on some of his marquee properties to amplify them.
Just to give you some idea where those lies lead. Listen to testimony this week from a Pennsylvania election official.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL SCHMIDT, PHILADELPHIA CITY COMMISSIONER: I am a Republican, and I believe that counting votes in our democracy is a sacred responsibility.
For doing my job, counting votes, I'd like to quickly share with you some of the messages sent to me and my family.
"Tell the truth or your three kids will be fatally shot." It included our address, it included my children's names, it included a picture of our home. "Cops can't help you. Heads on spikes, treasonous Schmidt's." "Perhaps cuts and bullets will soon arrive at ..." it provides my address, names of my children, "RINO stole election, we steal lives."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, again, that's a Republican official whose work might otherwise go unnoticed at best, now living in fear for himself and his family, and his experience is only one of many that would not have been possible without misinformation and disinformation being pumped into the body politic by right-wing media, most notably, by some of the biggest and most highly paid names under the Rupert Murdoch umbrella like Tucker Carlson, who did this on his program last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST, TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT: So tonight, we want to premiere a trailer for a documentary we've been working on for about six months. It's about January 6th. We believe that it answers a lot of the remaining questions from that day.
Our conclusion, the U.S. government has in fact launched a new war on terror, but it's not against al-Qaeda, it is against American citizens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The promo then got more specific.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TEXT: Tucker Carlson Originals presents 1/6: The War on Terror and the Plot against the People.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The domestic war on terror is here. It is coming after --
TEXT: Patriot Purge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Half of the country.
CARLSON: They've begun to fight a new enemy in a new war on terror.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not al-Qaeda, white supremacists.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: False flags have happened in this country, one of which may have been January 6th.
CARLSON: It's called "Patriot Purge," we're proud of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Now the part of the trailer we did not show included a clip from Ali Alexander, one of the organizers of the so-called "Stop the Steal" rally which formed the backbone of the mob that attacked the Capitol, and a speechwriter for the former president named Darren Beattie, who CNN's K-Files revealed attended a conference frequented by white nationalists.
But this isn't really about Tucker Carlson, it is really about the empire that he works for that continues to pump poison into the media ecosystem. Poison that has, at times violent, and even potentially deadly consequences.
Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, of course died in the wake of what he went through on January 6th in the hands of a mob, which had been fed misinformation with the intent to try and overturn an election. And this is what that misinformation got another officer named Michael Fanone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. POLICE OFFICER: At some point during the fighting, I was dragged from the line of officers and into the crowd. I heard someone scream, "I got one." They began to beat me with their fists and with what felt like hard metal objects.
At one point I came face-to-face with an attacker who repeatedly lunged for me and attempted to remove my firearm. I heard chanting from some in the crowd, "Get his gun and kill him with his own gun."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In a moment another officer, Harry Dunn joins us, as well as Carl Cameron, FOX News's former chief political correspondent who left the network because of what he said was the increasing amount of misinformation. And shortly, you'll hear from a Florida lawmaker, a cancer patient with a compromised immune system who is now getting death threats from apparently all over the country after asking Florida's Surgeon General to wear a mask in her office.
He refused and is now being praised for it, of course, nationwide on FOX News and other right-wing media. She is getting out of state death threats, and it is hard not to connect the dots because how else would anyone outside of Florida even know that she existed? Why would something as simple as wearing a mask to be gracious and protect others be controversial enough to threaten to kill over if FOX and others weren't stoking the anger?
And again, Rupert Murdoch chooses to enable this. He profits off it, and he does very well.
Harry Dunn joins us. We should note, he is here in his personal capacity, not speaking for the Capitol Police. Also with his Carl Cameron, formerly chief political correspondent for FOX News.
Officer Dunn, I appreciate you being with us. First of all, I just wanted to get your reaction as someone who puts his life on the line on January 6th to protect lawmakers and the public and your fellow officers and has done so for years. What goes through your mind when you hear that a major media platform that a lot of people take their cues from is now producing, whether you know, calling it, I guess, a documentary about conspiracy theories surrounding the attack on the Capitol?
HARRY DUNN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER: Yes. Hey, Anderson, thanks for having me on first of all. If that isn't fear mongering, I don't know what really is. That little clip right there, it just makes me -- it made me angry just watching it again. I've seen it a couple times today, but just watching again, this made me angry. That's very irresponsible for that to be released.
He has such a huge following, such a huge people that believe -- amount of people that believe the things that he says, and it's very irresponsible to release something like that because it's not accurate. It's somebody's opinion, but it's not the facts, though.
COOPER: You know, Carl, I mean, to hear in that promo, someone talking about a false, you know, January 6th could have been a false flag operation. And that's -- you know, that's the stuff of -- it used to just be the stuff of, you know, the zaniest of people -- the most, you know, crazed people online. The idea that now FOX seems to be putting out a program under the Tucker Carlson banner, if they are in fact alleging it as a false flag operation, I mean, that's pretty extraordinary.
CARL CAMERON, FORMER FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: There is a whole bunch of extraordinary madness involved in this, not least of which is that they are fighting against the country's government. They're fighting against facts. They're fighting against their neighbors. It really doesn't make any sense.
Tucker's trailer is meant to incite, it's meant to make people angry. It is intended -- and it's just a trailer, so apparently, this is going to be some sort of a streaming series.
But it's already been decided a long time ago, people would say, you know, you can never walk into a movie theater and scream fire if there isn't one and there's a simple reason for that. You could cause a riot and people could get hurt and it's disturbing the peace. There are limits on quote, "free speech," and that's one of them. And sometimes, when you disturb the peace, it can become a misdemeanor, and sometimes it can end up being felonious. And we've already had some of the folks who crashed the Capitol on January 6th plead guilty.
COOPER: You know, Carl, it's interesting, because I don't know Tucker Carlson at all. I mean, you know, he was in the wilderness for a while, sort of trying to find his way, you know, on "Dancing with the Stars." I read an article recently about him, you know, giving a speech and getting booed in front of a conservative audience because he talked about wanting to create, you know, a conservative news organization that was based on facts like "The New York Times," and clearly he -- you know, he was in the wilderness, and then now has found what pays very well.
And he -- I mean, most people I know who know him say what he is saying is unrecognizable to the person that he once was.
CAMERON: Well, he was a colleague of mine. But frankly, the most significant conversation we ever had together was where to get the cheapest Nicorette gum. We didn't talk politics, because I was mostly out on the road and he was a host, he was an opinion guy and that's not what news journalists do.
It's really frightening, and, frankly, it's a betrayal to the audience. It's a betrayal to the public. And some of what is espoused or is meant to espouse just in that trailer suggests that there's more violence to come.
And that's a big, big rock around the author's neck if that trailer and this upcoming thing actually does that. There are clearly huge divides in this country. The media shouldn't be putting more gas on the fire.
COOPER: Yes, Officer Dunn, I mean, you know, again, I can't get over January 6th, people carrying flags saying so you know, "Back the blue," using those flags, whether it was those flags or other -- you know, American flags or other poles as weapons against police officers on that day, and it seems like what Tucker Carlson is trying to do is -- if they're claiming it's all phony, a false flag operation that I guess, I don't know, if the police were supposedly then all in on this false flag operation.
I mean, it's just sort of stunning that this is what a big network that a lot of people listen to and believe, is now -- that's what they're preaching now.
DUNN: Where we are right now as a country, things are very polarized and everything is divided. The people on January 6th, they were there. They felt like they were right. They were emboldened and the things that that network -- things like that trailer that just -- that emboldens them and that's what makes people more dangerous when they feel that they are right.
It is scary when somebody with that much power over that many people has, they think that they're right. And like I said, those people from January 6th, they thought that they were in the right. They don't think that they were wrong. And you could tell that by all the not guilty pleas that's going along with it. They thought that they were right, and they had to get that from somewhere. They were emboldened and it's disheartening when it's based on a lie.
COOPER: I want to pick up this conversation. We're going to take a short break. We'll have more.
Also next, new reporting on the former president's White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who was subpoenaed to appear before the January 6th Committee weeks ago, and is apparently still dragging his feet. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Before we continue our conversation with the Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn again here in his personal capacity, and Carl Cameron formerly of Fox News, a quick January 6 related item, multiple sources are telling us that members of the House Select Committee are losing patience with the process for getting former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to testify. He was first subpoenaed more than a month ago.
Now, committee members are growing increasingly frustrated but Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson says they are not yet at the point of going to court.
So, Officer Dunn, when you hear that those with knowledge about what happened on January 6, I mean, this guy was a member of Congress himself, the idea that they are not cooperating with a bipartisan investigation after I mean, these are the people who Capitol police officers protect. HARRY DUNN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER: Yes, I just, you know this. I don't want to get too much into it. But a lot of people have a lot of different opinions on including people that have been subpoenaed. Now you have the opportunity to tell your story. Tell the truth if what happened or what the public in the media saying didn't happen. Now it's your turn to go tell what did happen. Tell what you know. That's all I got about that.
COOPER: Carl, I mean, it's as a journalist is, you know, I endlessly debate what role I'm playing in how we cover things and what, you know, tone I am sending out and when I've made mistakes, I tried very quickly, I think to correct them and I feel terrible about them. Do you worry about where things are going just in the media landscape, but just in our country?
CARL CAMERON, FMR FOX NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. In the media landscape, I think it's important that we talk about social media particularly because the combination of a no holds barred cable news and then social media, were in trouble and people are going to deeper and deeper silos and hiding away and it This is not how democracy works this is not how a country functions it's not good for business, it's not good for corporations, it's not good for small businesses, it's not good for corporations, it's not good for small businesses, it's not good for state after state after state that's struggling with countless problems. It makes no sense.
And those who are propagating it, recognize, in many cases, I think so many of the members of Congress, Republicans who are sort of following along with Trump, and an awful lot of folks around the country, they know that what's happening is wrong. They just don't know how to get out of it. And particularly for politicians who often make their living getting elected, it's hard to decide they're going to have a career change in the middle of it and get booted, particularly if they were to switch sides in this type of tenor, neighbor to neighbor, city to city, there is a tremendous amount of anger and an outrageous amount of lying on the right. It's getting perpetuated from all over the world. It's not just the United States, we do have foreign adversaries who are absolutely loving what's going on with our country's lack of unity. The United States ain't and those who continue to lie about our election processes and try to undermine the government.
I mean, it used to be people would call that sedition or treason. And at some point, the Justice Department is going to start taking names and there are some people who are going to be paying some big prices. The laws are the laws and the Supreme Court would have to be bending a hell of a lot of them if they were to allow some of this behavior to continue.
COOPER: Carl Cameron, Harry Dunn, I really appreciate both your time tonight. Thank you so much.
DUNN: Thank you.
COOPER: Breaking news ahead, a new criminal complaint filed against former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Details of that, ahead.
COOPER: Breaking news, a criminal complaint alleging forcible touching a sex crime has been filed against former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in Albany according to a copy of the complaint obtained by CNN. Cuomo, a Democrat who resigned from his post in August after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment is the subject of a misdemeanor charge in connection with an alleged incident at the governor's mansion in December of 2020.
CNN's national correspondent Brynn Gingras joins us along with CNN senior legal analyst and former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Elie Honig.
Brynn, what else do we know about this complaint and how it was filed?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. So this is a misdemeanor complaint that was filed in the Albany City Court. And it as you said, alleges forcible touching by former Governor Andrew Cuomo of an incident that happened in the governor's mansion on December 7, 2020, saying in the complaint that the governor placed his hand under the blouse of the victim and touched her intimately.
Now, remember, this is now coming a few months after that scathing Attorney General's report, as you mentioned, that accused the governor of sexual harassment of 11 women and soon after that, we learned of one of those accusers a former aide going to the Albany County Sheriff's Department and filing allegations against the governor of inappropriate behavior groping and an investigation was open. So that's the interesting part about this, Anderson is that this complaint was filed by the Albany County Sheriff's Department without the knowledge of the Albany County DAs office. And that is extremely unusual, particularly when we're talking about an incident that is involving the former governor of New York. So Ellie, of course can talk more about that.
But we can tell you that the DA's office after learning about this complaint being filed by the sheriff's department sent a release out saying, they had no knowledge of this even happening.
COOPER: And has the former governor responded, Brynn?
GINGRAS: Yes. So his personal attorney Rita Glavin, she released a statement to CNN saying, again, Governor Cuomo has never assaulted anyone, and also saying accusing that sheriff who filed this complaint of motives that are quote patently in proper. Important to note the governor now has to make an appearance and that is set for November 17th, Anderson.
COOPER: So Elie, what happens next? I mean, he makes an appearance when in court, but who's the person in front of if there are no if the district attorney's office isn't involved? ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Anderson. So a very important thing has to happen before Andrew Cuomo appears in court and that is, the prosecutor needs to review this case first. Now, one of the lesser known features of our criminal justice system is police officers can and quite often do file initial criminal charges without first talking to a prosecutor. But ultimately, the prosecutor is the gatekeeper. The prosecutor has to review that charge, decide whether it's appropriate and the prosecutor wants to move forward, decide whether different charges are warranted, or in some cases, dismissed the case.
But usually when it plays out that way, what's so unusual here is it's because there's a timing issue, a police officer makes a traffic stop, middle of the night, finds a gun or drugs doesn't have time, or the ability to call up a prosecutor. Here they had all the time in the world and as Brynn said, this is the former governor. So, it's fairly inexplicable why the sheriff would have filed these charges without first talking to the DA. It puts the DA in a really difficult position.
COOPER: Does someone who have had file -- charges filed against them by a sheriff? Do they get arrested? I mean, did they have to go through booking?
HONIG: Yes, so it can go either way eventually, yes, there will have to be arrest, processing, booking, fingerprinting, mugshot, but again, you can put that off, and it appears this -- in this case that that's been put off until the court appearance on November 17th. And the question is, will the DA act, what will the DA do, and will the DA make that decision before November 17th?
COOPER: So it's up to the district attorney as to whether or not these charges actually move forward?
HONIG: Absolutely. A police officer cannot move forward with charges if the district attorney is not on board. And if the district attorney disagrees, the move is to dismiss it. And by the way, this does happen quite frequently, of course not in cases with this higher profile. But yes, that is the way that this works procedurally.
COOPER: Elie Honig, appreciate, Brynn Gingras as well. Thanks so much.
Florida State Senator battling cancer is now facing a new fight with her state Surgeon General nominee who refused to wear a mask in her office which even strangers she's the one now receiving death threats. She'll join us, next.
COOPER: Earlier in the program, we talked about the dangers of spreading misinformation, whether it's about the election or COVID-19 lies can have serious consequences, even deadly consequences and our next guest is an example of some of those consequences. Florida State Senator Tina Polsky is fighting breast cancer for treatment makes her immunocompromised and more vulnerable to COVID-19. Because of that she has a strict masking policy for her office. That did not stop the state's new Surgeon General, a doctor Dr. Joseph Ladapo from walking into her office unmasked last week. Senator Polsky says she asked Dr. Ladapo several times to put on a mask but he refused. And she didn't ask him to leave.
Ladapo tried to explain his behavior on Twitter of course because that's where people would explain that behavior or at least attempt to saying in part, it is important to me to communicate clearly and effectively with people. I can't do that when half of my face is covered. Senator Polsky responded by saying that his excuse was especially insulting because after their canceled meeting, Dr. Ladapo was bragging to staff that he was quote, having fun arguing the point with her.
The Republican president of Florida Senate released a statement supporting Polsky but instead of support from the general public, she now as we noted earlier, is receiving some death threats from across the country.
Senator Polsky joins us now. Senator Polsky, appreciate you being with us. I'm sorry again under the circumstances. First of all, how are you doing? I understand you started radiation yesterday, and I'm sure this is the last thing you need on your plate.
TINA POLSKY (D-FL) STATE SENATE: Thank you for having me Anderson. Yes, I did start yesterday had some reaction. I get a day off in between. So going tomorrow, hopefully, it'll be OK. It's yes, it's been a lot. I certainly was not expecting national publicity. But I couldn't let this opportunity to expose the Surgeon General go. And it's just too important for the top public health official to be treating me this way, the way he treats COVID in general, everything is very cavalier vaccines, masks. And obviously, the way he treated me refusing to wear a mask, even when I told him I the serious medical condition, shows his character and temperament is not appropriate to be a top medical professional.
COOPER: So is he an actual real doctor, because pretty much every doctor I know can communicate through a mask. I mean, doctors communicate in hospitals all the time through mask, tens of thousands of them nurses, as well, and lab technicians and a lot of very hard working people. They wear masks all day long, and they communicate with each other just fine.
POLSKY: It's absolutely true. And all of us have been managing for the last two years. And it's pretty much a slap in the face to all of us who have been struggling through wearing masks all this time. And he is a real doctor. I'm not sure how what he practiced in, I know he was a professor before. He has an excellent pedigree. But he just chooses to, in my mind, believe in anti-science and to not be looking out for the best interests of Floridians by flouting mask mandates. And he set out a directive that students in schools should not be quarantined, even if they're exposed to COVID-19. So it's really quite dangerous.
COOPER: I get, you know, somebody's trying to boost his public profile, he gets this high profile job because he, you know, could tell the governor, this is the kind of person he is, but just on a personal one to one basis. You know, you hope doctors are decent human beings, although a lot of them obviously have lousy bedside manners, but you would hope just on a personal basis, someone would be a decent human being, if you anybody says to them, look, would you please just put on a mask, we're meeting in an office, this is what I like in my office.
I mean, it just seems like I get trying to raise his profile, you know, and be a household name and go on the speaking circuit one day when, when there's such things again, but it just seems kind of pathetic to me.
POLSKY: I agree with you. And that was really what made me so upset and why I knew I had to tell the story. Here we were in my private office, no one would have known if he wore a mask, it's not going to hurt his credibility with the MAGA folks. And I don't know why he couldn't do it, the compassion is gone. And that's exactly what we were talking about earlier in the show. And our governor today came out and defended him --
COOPER: Of course.
POLSKY: -- say one word about my cancer. And by the way, his wife also has breast cancer, didn't even mentioned my name. He couldn't even call me the Senator. He just said they. And he was talking about how the Surgeon General offered me other options such as going outside or standing in the hallway, instead of the accommodation that I asked for, to just simply wear a little piece of fabric over your mouth for the 10 minutes of the meeting that he requested, because the senators have to confirm him.
COOPER: I mean, do you think that what's happening to you right now, and as we mentioned, your, Senator have been receiving death threats is part and parcel of the larger problem of just a lack of common decency. I mean, I think people are so now in their corners that there's -- of course, the governor would come out and defend this guy, because that's what all people do now is nobody says they're sorry. And nobody, you know, takes a step back and tries to walk into someone else's shoes it seems.
POLSKY: It's been really sad to see. I have gotten tons of support from across the country, for sure. But getting, you know, death threats, some anti-Semitic in nature has been really troubling. And people are just very, very nasty. And they trolled my Facebook to find pictures of me without a mask and thought that that proves something. They're just trying so hard to do this kind of what about-ism, and to get a gotcha moment for me, and now I feel like I'm being watched everywhere I go and they're trying to catch me just because I asked to try to have a -- and I've been very strict in my own office to have a mask policy and no one else I've had dozens of meeting has -- had meetings has ever said no to my request.
But I do think there's just a lack of common decency that's going on. And I had to turn off Twitter notifications because it just became so nasty.
COOPER: Yes, I did that a long time ago. But it's and I'm frankly much happier for it. State Senator Tina Polsky, listen, I appreciate you being on, I wish you the best. And I hope you chemotherapy goes great and I just wish you the best.
POLSKY: Thank you so much, Anderson. Appreciate it.
COOPER: Coming up, the apparent case of air rages and a flight attendant to the hospital.
COOPER: The CEO of American Airlines is speaking out after he says a passenger physically assaulted a flight attendant last night on a flight from New York City to Santa Ana, California. The flight was diverted to Denver where police apprehended the suspect.
According to a source, a passenger went to the back of the plane and punched the flight attendant twice in the face and broke her nose. The airlines CEO calls it one of the worst displays of unruly behavior he's ever seen.
The news continues. Want to hand over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME" live from Rome. Chris.