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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Bannon Indicted On Contempt Of Congress Charges; Rittenhouse Trial Builds To Verdict; Ruling Expected Tomorrow Including Lesser Charges; NYC Voters Elect Former Cop As Mayor; House Committee Releases Evidence Showing CDC Was Pressured By Trump Administration To Alter Scientific Guidance; Former Raiders Coach Jon Gruden Suing NFL And Roger Goodell Over Leaked Emails. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 12, 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 did, of course, fulfill that dream.
Thanks for joining us. AC 360 starts right now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. There is breaking news tonight in the investigation of the worst attack on democracy by Americans since the Civil War. The news may turn out to be so significant that if things hadn't gone the way they just did, the House Select Committee on January 6th might just as well have closed up shop.
For a month and a half, former senior Trump adviser, Steve Bannon had been openly defying the will of Congress. First, a committee subpoena and then a House contempt citation, setting the tone for other acolytes of the former President to do likewise.
Well, today, a Federal grand jury said enough, indicting Bannon on two counts, and finally giving the Select Committee, a measure of clout against those who would thumb their nose at them.
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for one, earlier today, he defied an ultimatum to appear. Later today, after Bannon's indictment, the Committee threatened him with the same. It would be tempting to say, this may now be a different ballgame, but of course, it's not a game at all.
As a reminder, there was new audio that came to light today of the former President, he is talking to ABC's Jonathan Karl defending the Capitol mob who chanted "Hang Mike Pence." Here's the former President talking about his Vice President who, as a reminder, was rushed by the Secret Service out of the House Chamber when the mob attacked.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Were you worried about him during that siege? Were you worried about his safety?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I thought he was well-protected. I had heard that he was in good shape. No, because I had heard he was in very good shape. But, but -- no, I think --
KARL: Because you heard those chants, that was terrible. I mean, you know, those that --
TRUMP: He could have -- well, the people were very angry.
KARL: They were saying "Hang Mike Pence."
TRUMP: Because it's -- it's common sense, Jon, it's commonsense that you're supposed to protect. How can you -- if you know a vote is fraudulent, right -- how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: They were angry, commonsense. This from the guy who once cowered in the White House bunker rather than face protesters.
We start things off with CNN's senior legal affairs correspondent, Paula Reid, who joins us now with more on the Bannon indictment. So, what does this indictment entail? And how critical is it for the Committee?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Incredibly important for the Committee, Anderson, that this Federal grand jury has returned a two-count indictment against Bannon; one count for refusing to appear, and the other for refusing to produce documents.
Now, Bannon is 67 years old, and each of these counts carries a minimum of one month in jail, up to a maximum of a one year. Now, sources tell CNN that Bannon is expected to self-surrender on Monday and appear in court that afternoon.
But this indictment is so critical, because so far, the Committee has not been able to secure meaningful cooperation from the Trump associates they have subpoenaed. And I know in speaking with sources that some prospective witnesses who have been stonewalling, they were watching this case very closely to see if Bannon faced any consequence for his defiance.
And look, this indictment doesn't mean that suddenly all of these witnesses are going to fully cooperate with the Committee. They still have the option to negotiate more narrow interviews, or to show up and potentially plead the fifth questions they don't want to answer. But many of these witnesses, they just don't have the resources to defend themselves in a Federal criminal process. So, it is likely that they will be more engaging with the Committee, but full cooperation is far from a guarantee for any of these folks.
COOPER: I understand there is some new reporting into that kind of the backstory of how the Department of Justice came to their decision to indict.
REID: That's right. Attorney General Merrick Garland has been under enormous political pressure to bring charges. Even President Biden weighed in in favor of prosecution. Now, our colleague, Evan Perez reports that the Justice Department really didn't see this as such a simple clear cut matter, but the decision was made by career prosecutors and supported by the Attorney General.
But Anderson, cases like this, they are rare. The last one dating back to the Reagan administration. And historically, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel has supported and defended current and former administration officials from congressional subpoenas when the President asserted privilege. But here, we have a really unique circumstance because you have a former President asserting privilege, but the current President declining to assert privilege, and we've seen the Biden administration repeatedly note that this is an extraordinary circumstance, and not what privilege was meant to protect.
And so far, one Federal Judge agreed, but we know this question is currently on appeal. There is ongoing litigation between former President Trump and the Committee, and the D.C. Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on this very question on November 30th.
COOPER: All right, Paula, stay with us. I want to bring in our senior CNN political analyst, author and Watergate legend, Carl Bernstein; also his Watergate counterpart, former Nixon White House Counsel and CNN contributor, John Dean.
Carl, in the overall scheme of this investigation, how big a deal is this?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It is a very big deal, first because, the Attorney General of the United States has decided to go forth with these prosecutions, and there was grave doubt about whether he would do that or not.
So he and his department are committed to going after not just Bannon, but others who might defy this Committee, and that sends a message down the line. And we know that there are a fair number of people, particularly around former Vice President Pence who are not at all happy with what Donald Trump did in his absolutely grievous, horrendous cover up first of all, of the gravest offense by a President of the United States in our electoral history.
Absolutely, he tried to shut down the free and fair election of the President of the United States, and these people around Pence know that it happened, and they know how it happened. Whether they are the ones who are going to talk or aides to themselves, we don't know yet. But there are a good number of people who have heard that there are people who are willing and want to talk about what happened, including in the so-called War Room on January 5th, the day before the "insurrection" in quotes, "insurrection" and Bannon was among them, as were these aides to Pence who know some things.
COOPER: John, to you, what's the importance of this?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it sends a real message to all the others who have been subpoenaed or likely to be subpoenaed. They know this is now a different game, it's real. They might have been toying with the idea, doing what Bannon had done, and just defy the Committee, there's been a lot of that throughout the Trump administration.
But I think they have to be braced by this because this statute has two parts. One says, if you don't show a willful default and that's what Bannon did, you're going to get indicted. Or two, if you go before the committee and refuse to answer pertinent questions, you can also be indicted.
So they've got to be considering whether they're going to take the fifth, and I think we might see some of that, or how they're going to figure out whether to come true or tell the truth or not and that's the only option here, Anderson, they've got to come and tell the truth.
COOPER: But John, this doesn't necessarily mean that Bannon will suddenly be compelled to testify, right? I mean, what reason is there to believe that this will push Bannon and of all people to do that?
DEAN: No. I don't -- he is so defiant. In fact, I suspect Bannon is quietly celebrating tonight, that this new attention has been given to him, because he has declared outright that he wants to destroy the administrative state. In other words, he wants to attack democracy, and all these kinds of democratic operations. So, this plays right into that kind of mentality. I am not sure he is upset by this at all.
COOPER: Right, for guy with a podcast, it also bolsters, you know, his podcast, I guess --
COOPER: So that is what he has going on.
Paula, at the January 6th Committee pointed out in their statement today that Mark Meadows failed to answer even the most basic questions, including whether he was using a private cell phone that day.
REID: That's right, and what they were arguing there is, look, you were only even able to possibly claim privilege to some of the matters that we were asking you about. We've asked you about a lot of things to which even if you had privileged protections, you couldn't assert them.
So his blanket claim of privilege and total defiance of the Committee is why they are now considering criminal contempt, and specifically, and they've pointed to the fact that they're asking him about his personal cell phone and e-mail use, also raising questions about what happened to some communications from that time period.
Now, I remember being in Meadows' office a few times, he did have multiple cell phones that appears to be something the Committee is interested in, and they are arguing, look, if you had privilege, it's not going to protect you from these questions. COOPER: Carl, I mean, this all comes on the heels of the revelation
from what President Trump told ABC's Jonathan Karl, that it was quote, "commonsense" for January 6th rioters, you know, chanting, you know, "Hang Mike Pence" because they were angry and upset about, you know, where the lie that -- believing a lie that the President has spread.
How critical do you think -- I mean, does that impact what the Committee work is? The way Committee views this?
BERNSTEIN: I doubt it in the sense that the Committee knows Donald Trump and they know the outrageous statements that he makes, they know that he has no respect for the Constitution, or the law through a lifetime of undermining the law.
But I think, we need to look at a larger picture here, particularly the idea of a matrix of information that we have one year in this country to find out what happened in this, as you pointed out, the most grievous assault on American democracy since the Civil War, and this by a President, a conspiracy led by the President of the United States himself. Never in our history has this happened.
I mean, there is a year until the Republicans in all likelihood take over the House, try to shut down this investigation, but there is a year in which we, in the press, the Committee, and it ought to be the business of the nation above all else in domestic considerations to find out what happened. It is essential for our future in this country, and we have the means to do it.
If we, in the media, particularly reporters, and some of these people in Congress, there is a lot of information that I'm hearing, among others, other reporters are hearing what happened, and there are Republicans who know what happened, including not just these principals, but what are called satellite witnesses, their aides, aides to the -- principle aides to Trump and to Pence.
BERNSTEIN: We've got a year to do it, and it is what we need to do.
COOPER: John, I mean, you know, the idea that there's only a year to do this. It's not, as if -- I mean, the deadline is because there is concern that the Republicans, if they take the House, will shut this investigation down.
I mean, that's -- it just kind of when you step back from this, it's kind of nuts that this assault on American democracy, the clock is ticking on it because one of two of the major parties in America, the only parties in America want to shut it down.
DEAN: It's exactly right. They want to pretend it didn't even happen. They call it a tourist visiting the Capitol that day. There's a deep denial going on for those who are pushing these lies.
But I think that Carl is right. We have a timeframe here, and I think the Committee is racing against that because everyone knows Donald's modus operandi is to stall, stall, stall. He has done it all of his life, all of his proceedings are not dissimilar, both as a businessman and then as President. So, that's what the Committee is confronting and I think they'll -- I think they'll get to the end of this before the year.
COOPER: John Dean, Carl Bernstein, Paula Reid, appreciate it. Thank you.
Next, more on Steve Bannon, how he sees his role and the threats some believe his vision poses for a functioning democracy. We will talk to, perhaps, the foremost reporter on Bannon and his movement, Josh Green.
Later, new developments in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial as the Judge prepares to rule on letting the jury consider lesser charges, and the governor puts the National Guard on standby.
COOPER: If Steve Bannon surrenders to authorities on Monday, it'll be his second time facing Federal charges. The last time, last year, he was plucked off a Chinese billionaire's yacht on allegations he defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors out of money they thought was going to fund the border wall.
The former President didn't seem to mind, Bannon was charged with fleecing his loyal followers out of money and pardoned Bannon in his final hours in office.
More now on the man who seamlessly has never been far from the former President who always relishes a fight. CNN's Tom Foreman has this.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): He is not ready to speak to Congress about the violence of January 6th, but Steve Bannon is talking plenty on his daily podcast whipping his followers into a frenzy.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER DONALD TRUMP ADVISER: Elections have consequences. Stolen elections have catastrophic consequences, and that's what we're seeing in this country right now.
And we need your blood to boil. We need to be in a situation you're not going to back down, okay.
FOREMAN (voice over): He's done it all along. He appeared to confirm reports the just days before the insurrection, he was on the phone with Donald Trump discussing how to kill the Biden presidency in the crib.
BANNON: Forty two percent of the American people, four-two percent of the American people think that Biden did not win the presidency legitimately. We told you from the very beginning, just expose it. Just expose it,
never back down. Never give up and this thing will implode.
FOREMAN (voice over): Promoting the big lie of election fraud fits Bannon's long standing affection for radical right-wing theories and his apparent appetite for conflict.
BANNON: If you think they're going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken.
FOREMAN (voice over): Take his fascination with the book, "The Fourth Turning," which argues every 80 years or so, cataclysmic upheavals are necessary to political and social realignment.
BANNON: Turnings are like the seasons, every turning is necessary.
FOREMAN (voice over): Bannon was so taken with the idea he made a movie about it, savaging liberals, blasting traditional governments. And as one film critic put it, pushing a clear message.
ANN HORNADAY, FILM CRITIC, "WASHINGTON POST": Bring on the apocalypse. There is an almost fetishistic desire to see everything blow up. It's almost like he's inviting a cleansing fire to just raise the edifice raise the institutions. I think it's that dramatic.
BILL MAHER, TALK SHOW HOST: Steve Bannon is over here. Steve Bannon --
FOREMAN (voice over): Bannon's turns in the spotlight have not always thrilled his most famous boss, who was reportedly annoyed when Bannon showed up on the cover of "Time," which Trump clearly craves.
He was pushed out of Trump's immediate orbit, but never far away.
MAHER: I would love to know what advice you would give to Donald Trump if he didn't leave, even after he lost because I saw Hillary Clinton.
BANNON: You're obsessed with this.
MAHER: I am obsessed with this.
BANNON: Why do you think he's not going to leave?
MAHER: Wait a second.
BANNON: Just because -- I know he's had the time of his life --
MAHER: Because he is an insane narcissist.
FOREMAN (voice over): And since the uprising, Bannon has been firmly in the losing candidate's corner, trotting out guests to insist the riot was the work of Antifa and undercover Federal agents.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: Two hundred and twenty six Antifa members were tasked with making that -- what should have been a peaceful protest a riot.
FOREMAN (voice over): And insisting prosecutors are dead wrong to say these are Trump's and his people.
BANNON: Either they are totally incompetent or they're lying to you. Right? They're totally incompetent or they're lying to you. They're either totally incompetent or they're lying to you -- pick them.
FOREMAN (on camera): There are no facts to back that up. But listen to Bannon's podcasts. Watch his interviews and you will see that he has very little use for facts unless they back this notion that America as we know it must end. So, America as he would have it can begin -- Anderson.
COOPER: Tom, appreciate it. Tom Foreman.
Joining us now Josh Green, national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek and author of "Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, the Storming of the Presidency."
Josh, what does Steve Bannon get from this? Obviously, he gets, you know, publicity and he gets attention and gets to portray himself, I guess, as a leader of something. Is that the endgame here?
JOSHUA GREEN, BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think for Bannon, at least in the short term, it is. He gets to portray himself as the leader of the loyal Trump opposition, and ever since he was fired from the White House in 2017, he has been trying to work his way back into Trump's inner circle, and the fact that he was such a key figure around January 6th after the election, the fact that he has kind of reemerged over the last year as the chief shaper of the Trump narrative, I think this indictment gives him an opportunity to publicly flaunt his loyalty to Trump in a way that I think will insinuate over -- that Bannon thinks will insinuate him deeper into Trump's favor, and that's what he's after.
COOPER: You wrote a piece for Bloomberg Businessweek tonight. You say this indictment is the fight that both sides want?
GREEN: That's right. I think, you know, the key from today's news answers a question about the Biden Justice Department. A lot of Democrats who are anxious about, they wondered, would Attorney General Merrick Garland pursue these charges? Or, in some, you know, misty desire to get back to an era of partisan company, would the Biden administration fall back and not prosecute these cases?
And I think the indictment today clearly answers that question. The administration is going to fight and do everything it can to bolster the January 6th investigation in Congress.
So part of that fight entails getting an answer to the question of whether or not Trump can claim executive privilege. He is doing that in his efforts to try and prevent records from being released to the Committee and Bannon's refusal to subpoena in this case, in the fight that he is going to have over his indictment is about whether or not he can claim executive privilege.
So I think, the big news today is that that fight is now going to proceed on two parallel legal tracks -- Trump's and Bannon's.
COOPER: Does he now have to turn over documents? Or, I mean, he can't be forced to testify, I guess?
GREEN: No, and I think part of what Bannon is betting on is that he can essentially run out the clock and that is going to happen in two ways. Number one, he and the people around him don't believe that Democrats are going to maintain control of the House Representatives after next November's election, and that if Republicans take over or when Republicans take over, they are going to shut down this investigation.
On the legal track, I think that he thinks it is very much an open question and won't be decided for a long, long time whether or not Trump can claim executive privilege. And I know, people around Bannon think that this may go as far as the Supreme Court.
So, I think in the short term, he is not going to be compelled to do anything, and what he can do instead is make a big public display of refusing this subpoena, bring more attention to himself. And again, bring all the attention to his podcast to, you know, his admirers in Trump's inner circle.
And first and foremost, Trump himself knows and sees what he's doing and see that somebody is, you know, quote-unquote, "fighting back," even if the legal basis for a lot of what Bannon is claiming, I think most lawyers think is fairly specious.
COOPER: It's really interesting, though, because no matter how sleazy somebody is, or betrays Donald Trump and Donald, you know, the former President, in his mind, he takes them back if they continue to be slavishly loyal to him, or at least kowtowing.
GREEN: Absolutely, absolutely. And one of the things I think that we should look at is sort of the antithesis of this is Mike Pence, Mike Pence, actually did stand up on January 6th and did the right thing, and he has been ostracized, criticized. You know, was almost assaulted on January 6th and has been completely written off by Donald Trump for failing to show loyalty regardless of the circumstances.
I think part of what Bannon is doing, in refusing this -- in refusing to testify and kind of courting this indictment is showing that no, above all else, I'm loyal to Donald Trump, whether or not that's the right thing to do, I'm going to do that because that's what Trump wants me to do and that's what's going to enhance my power most in the MAGA world and that's what Bannon cares about.
COOPER: Josh Green, I appreciate it. Thank you.
Coming up next, bracing for the verdict. Wisconsin's Governor puts the National Guard on standby as the Judge considers including lesser charges against Kyle Rittenhouse. We'll talk about that, explain it, ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: A lot happening today in and around the Kyle Rittenhouse trials. It builds to a close next week. Judge Bruce Schroeder meeting with attorneys on jury instructions and getting the defendant's okay on permitting jurors to decide on lesser charges. We can expect a decision tomorrow from him on that.
Also, as if to underscore the tension surrounding a verdict, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers today putting 500 National Guard troops onto standby outside Kenosha to be deployed if called on by local law enforcement.
Joining us now with more, CNN's Kyung Lah who is in Kenosha for us tonight.
So, Kyung, if the Judge allows the jury to consider lesser charges, how does that possibly impact the chances for Rittenhouse?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here is how the Judge explained it to Kyle Rittenhouse and he explained this without the jury being there because the instructions don't start until Monday, but basically he said that it will decrease his chances of a second trial, but increase his chances of a conviction.
Now, why would it increase his chances? Because the jury then instead of having just simply a not guilty or guilty of a serious charge, they'll have this third option of being guilty of a lesser charge. That's what the -- that's what the judge is going to be informing the lawyers this weekend about his decision. And again, Anderson the closing arguments start on Monday.
COOPER: And I understand that that so Kenosha is preparing for a possible verdict next week.
LAH: Absolutely. With the closing arguments on Monday, what we're seeing are the preparations of real world preparations of what the impact of this verdict could be. There are going to be according to Wisconsin's Governor, 500 guardsmen that are going to station outside of Kenosha, they're not going to be utilized unless local law enforcement requested. But Anderson, you know, this is a national flashpoint. This is a collision of the courts with what's happening in politics in this country. And so this city is preparing.
COOPER: Kyung Lah, I appreciate it. Thank you.
Joining us now, CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, who's experienced on both the criminal defense and prosecution sides. Also Harvard Law School Senior Lecturer and former federal judge, Nancy Gertner.
Judge Gertner, what do you make of the jury possibly considering lesser charges? What could that mean? NANCY GERTNER, FMR FEDERAL JUDGE: Well, I mean, it actually it could enhance the possibility of a conviction, because the jury may feel that the higher charge is unlikely, and they don't want to acquit. And so, you give them a third option. A third option, I might add, the more serious charges in our life charges, life imprisonment charges, if he's found guilty of the lesser charges, that would be a term of years, and this judge would be the sentencer. And from what we have seen, not a particularly harsh sentence or when it comes to Rittenhouse, but that's a prediction.
COOPER: Paul, what would the lesser charges possibly be?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you have charges now, which are there several first degree charges first degree reckless homicide, first degree intentional homicide, those can be knocked down one notch to second degree or lower depending upon what the judge decides to do. And that would carry a lesser sentence.
And a lot of times Anderson, the jury gets into a heated discussion about whether he's guilty or not guilty of intentional conduct. And they compromise on a lesser charge when they have one available. If they don't have one available, it's either guilty of one of the higher charges or not guilty. So it gives the jurors more options to consider during jury deliberation.
COOPER: Judge Gertner, we've sort of discussed this before. But one of the things that confuses me about this situation is if you go to some place, you have no business being and with a weapon, and you're putting yourself into a situation, which is probably just not a wise idea for this young man to have done. And you end up killing somebody you say in self defense, is the fact that you have put yourself in this situation brought a weapon there, does that matter or does all that matters, what the person feels in the moment that they are feeling threat it?
GERTNER: No, the judge is going to give a provocation instruction, which means it the way it works is a person who engages in unlawful conduct likely to provoke and does provoke cannot claim self defense. There's an exception to that, which is if the attack you've provoked, reasonably puts you in imminent danger of harm or death. So the fact that that the judge is going to give a provocation instruction, certainly means makes the bar higher for the defense because they have to prove more. They don't have to prove anything. But that is to say that there they clearly have to deal with a different kinds of instruction.
If you provoke, you actually can't claim self defense, unless the attack that you provoked, puts your own your own life in danger. And so that's an instruction. I think it's an instruction the judge has to give. But that's essentially going to be the prosecutor's argument, he put himself in a position of danger and then reacted. And that reaction was caused by his actions as opposed to the victims of this.
COOPER: Paul, what do you think of that argument?
CALLAN: Well, I think, Anderson, what complicates this argument is that in I mean, a lot of people say, hey, what was he doing walking around with an AR-15 style gun, and if he wasn't there that night with that gun, nobody would have been killed, all right, because nobody was killed in these demonstrations and protests. But Wisconsin is a state that permits open carry of weapons. And so, the defense of course, is going to be well, everybody there who had a -- an AR-15, or at least most of them were acting in a completely legal way and he wasn't attacked because he was underage and carrying an AR-15.
So and that the provocation law really means if you start an attack for instance in other states, it's called if you're the initial aggressor, you start the attack on somebody else, then you don't have the right to claim self defense. But of course, Rittenhouse here is claiming, I didn't attack anybody I was walking along with the AR-15 style rifle. But Rosenbaum threatened to kill me twice, and then I was jumped. And essentially, I had no choice.
So, the prosecution will be helped by this provocation charge, but I don't know that they're going to win on it. But they do have one ace in the hole, Anderson, and that's he's charged with carrying a dangerous weapon under the age of 18. And I don't know how he's going to get around that. But that's a misdemeanor charge that I think the jury will absolutely have to find him guilty of, regardless of the rest of the charges.
COOPER: Judge Gertner, what do you expect to hear from the prosecution next week?
GERTNER: Well, I mean, I think that they're going to talk about the fact that he was illegally carrying a weapon because he was 17. And the standard is likely to provoke and walking around the streets of Kenosha with an AR-15, where he was walking, when he had no business being there, he was talking about basically, protecting property was likely to provoke.
In addition, the prosecutor, you know, this is for the jury to decide there's a lot of testimony about reaching for Rittenhouse's gun. Very interesting, you could reach for someone's gun in the hopes of disarming this young man or for the hope in, you know, in the possibility of actually shooting him. And the prosecutor is going to argue that these people perhaps not Rosenbaum, but certainly the others were trying to disarm him. And that's what he shot them.
So I mean, I think it's going to be very interesting. And it's also going to be interesting how much in the closing argument, the prosecutor is going to be allowed, you know, to talk about Rittenhouse's proclivities, which the judge has kept him from, you know, what Rittenhouse would thought he was doing when he came to this demonstration. There's been a lot of testimony about what the demonstrators thought they were doing. That's been an unequal aspect of this trial.
COOPER: Judge Nancy Gertner, Paul Callen, appreciate it. Thank you.
Up next, a sort of apology from the attorney who wanted to ban black pastors from the courtroom. Plus, conversation about law and order in America with the New York City mayor-elect Eric Adams.
COOPER: A defense attorney for one of the white men on trial for the killing of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery sort of apologize to anyone who may have quote, inadvertently been offended, unquote. After he said yesterday, quote, we don't want any more black pastors coming in here. Those comments were made after the Reverend Al Sharpton attended the proceedings sitting with Arbery's family. That trial in Brunswick, Georgia and the Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin are extreme examples, perhaps of the potential danger of people taking the law into their own hands. There's certainly a lot of very understandable concern about law and order in this country.
Mayor-elect New York City Democrat and former cop ran on a tub on crime platform in one Eric Adams joins us now.
Mr. Mayor-elect, I really appreciate you joining us. Thanks so much for being with us.
ERIC ADAMS (D-NY) MAYOR-ELECT: Thank you Anderson, its great being on with you.
COOPER: So, I want to ask you, first of all about this idea of vigilantism where armed citizens operate under the guise of self appointed security personnel sometimes, as we've seen with violent and deadly consequences as a former captain, the police force soon to be mayor, what do you make of it?
ADAMS: I believe it's unacceptable. And there's a clear difference between a black patrols, security patrol unarmed, carrying out public safety in their communities by really understanding the neighborhood. So we have something like that. In Brooklyn, we have something called the guard squad, a group of pastors that go out and really prevent crime from taking place by interacting with the residents. That's a big difference from those who are carrying weapons to Sandy protecting our borders, or carrying weapons protecting what they believe that community we should leave that up to law enforcement.
COOPER: On Wednesday, I understand you met with some leaders from a New York chapter, the Black Lives Matter movement. I'm not sure if it's actually sort of an official Black Lives Matter organization or an offshoot, but this person threatened quote, riots and bloodshed in the streets if you move forward with your campaign promise to bring back anti-crime units, which were disbanded in 2020. I'm wondering what, what you learned or what came out of that? And how worried are you about that?
ADAMS: Not at all. And keep in mind, number one of this group is not a representation of the Black Lives Matter.
COOPER: This is a very, for my memory is pretty fringe, this particular person is a pretty free person who has made headlines before but doesn't actually have much of an organization. ADAMS: Exactly, 13 of them protested in front of my office and walked across the bridge. And I marched with Black Lives Matter. In fact, my entire life is marching for Black Lives Matter, you notice has been a 35 plus year history of fighting for reforming the police department on March, two years ago with the organizations and those who have righteous of movements. And you know my history Anderson from one of the blacks in law enforcement who care to fight him for reform.
So what happened at the meeting was very interesting. The meeting is on Instagram, Facebook Live. It was not a contentious meeting, there was no arguing and debating. I was very clear that my city is going to be safe. After leaving the meeting, they went out and created just this belief that there was some battle that took place behind closed doors. I really encourage people to look at the Facebook Live and Instagram video to show I'm just clear, we must be safe in our city and in our country. And I ran on that and I'm not going to break my promise.
COOPER: You successfully ran as a law and order Democrat. On that same election day there was a rejection of some of the more left wing Democratic candidates and policies. If Democratic voters are sending a message to Democrats, do you think the Democratic Party leadership is listening?
ADAMS: Well, I hope they are and, you know, when I spoke with the President several months ago, it was clear that he understood we can't live in a city where 70 people are shot over a Fourth of July weekend. We can't live in a city, where guns are just really taken over our neighborhoods. And that's what I heard on the campaign trail. We want justice and fair policing. But we want public safety. I said it over and over again, that's the prerequisite to prosperity, Public Safety and Justice. And we could have both by rebuilding the trust between policing communities.
COOPER: So, you're talking about bringing back that plains clothes unit? Is that still the plan? And how do you -- what do you say to those who are concerned about abuses that may have occurred in the past, or the very reason that it was removed in the first place?
ADAMS: Well, let's think about this for a moment, aren't we tired of elected officials running and breaking their promise? I made a promise to the city. I didn't did not have a secret campaign, I was very clear on every aspect of how I'm going to educate children and protect our city. And one of them was bringing back a plain clothes gun unit. This is totally different from the anti-crime unit or the street crime units that killed Amadou Diallo. This is a totally different concept. Policing is predictable. Those are the blue and white vehicles, the mob vehicles, and then you have to be unpredictable. And those are the plainclothes officers, well-trained video cameras, they're going to keep them on and dealing with conflicts and knowing how to communicate for precision policing, going after gangs and guns.
Right now the bad guys are saying we no longer have to worry about our narcotics unit. We no longer have narcotic officers out there fighting narcotic dealers, we no longer have to worry about gang problems in the city. That's how they feel. And I'm not going to allow my city to continue to see the violence that we have experienced, both perceived and actual, because perception of fear is just as real as fear itself.
COOPER: Mayor-elect Eric Adams, appreciate it. Thank you.
Up next, new emails and documents released by congressional committee investigating the former administration's handling the COVID pandemic which showed the extent to which top officials interfered in the CDCs efforts to warn Americans about the dangerous, ahead.
COOPER: The House Select Subcommittee investigating the coronavirus crisis released new evidence showing how CDC officials were pressured by the former administration to alter scientific guidance and in some cases prevented the communicating directly with the public. One example, a former CDC official said she was told the then president was quote angered by a February 2020 briefing during which she warned the public about the dangers of coronavirus. Other CDC officials describe her request to hold briefings about mask guidance and pediatric COVID-19 cases and deaths were denied.
CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox joins us now from Capitol Hill. So, I understand the CDC officials say they felt muzzled. What did they tell the committee about that?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in a series of transcribed interviews that were released today, we're getting a better image of exactly what was going on behind the scenes as the COVID pandemic was raging across the country. And one of the clearest depictions that we got was CDC officials were desperate to communicate directly with the American public. And one of the ways they wanted to do this was through these tele briefings that were part of what the committee or what these officials were used to doing in terms of a massive pandemic going on across the country.
They wanted to do these briefings on the spread of coronavirus among children. They wanted to do them on masking and what would happen is they would basically run them up the flagpole and hear nothing, crickets essentially, and therefore they were unable to communicate directly with the public about the information that they thought was critical to get out.
There was also an ongoing fight about the weekly morbidity and mortality reports that the CDC typically did and one of the concerns was that these were supposed to be agency reports Anderson, these were supposed to be times where officials and scientists were able to get out to the public directly the latest on the coronavirus, and instead what they were finding was Trump administration officials were trying to have an opinion on what was included or edit what was included in those reports.
One official, Anne Schuchat who was the principal deputy director at the CDC said that there was this ongoing fight every week where CDC officials were essentially trying to keep out administration officials interpretations of the coronavirus from getting into these reports. I mean, these are serious allegations, some of which we knew as the coronavirus was unfolding across the country, but some of which were really illustrated by these transcripts that we got, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. I mean its politicizing science and actual factual scientific information in the midst of a pandemic. It's shocking. Not sure -- well, I don't even know it's shocking, it's still should be but it's perhaps not.
We know COVID testing is still something that the country is struggling with. What did Dr. Birx tell the committee about the guidance on testing that the Trump administration wanted?
FOX: Well, there was kind of this ongoing feud that Birx described in her testimony with a committee where the Trump administration officials largely wanted to reduce testing in part because the more people you had tested in their view, the more coronavirus cases or positive cases were coming out. And Birx was arguing that this all came to a head in August where the CDC guidance on testing changed, were if you were a person who was exposed to someone who you knew was positive for COVID, you weren't supposed to get tested or you weren't given guidance to get tested unless you were symptomatic. Birx said that was ridiculous and in her view she really thought that that may have led to an increase of cases or a surge of cases into the fall. I mean these are very serious allegations, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, people died. Lauren Fox, thank you. Appreciate it.
COOPER: Former Raiders football coach Jon Gruden is suing the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell the lawsuit accuses them of leaking Gruden's private e-mails to carry out a quote, Soviet style character assassination. You'll likely recall last month Gruden resigned after reports emerged of him using homophobic, racist and misogynistic language in e-mails while he worked as an ESPN analyst.
Those e-mails were discovered as part of an investigation into workplace misconduct to the Washington football team. Gruden's lawyers allege the league and Goodell held on the e-mails and leaked them during the Raiders season to destroy the coach's career. Gruden's attorney also questions why the e-mails were the only ones made public of the NFL investigation. The NFL denies the allegation says it'll vigorously defend the claims.
That's it for us. News continues. Let's hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.