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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Kyle Rittenhouse Trial Goes To Jury, Deliberations Start Tuesday Morning; Steve Bannon Turns Himself In; Pres. Biden Signs Infrastructure Bill Into Law At Rare Bipartisan White House Ceremony; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Says He Called Rep. Gosar About Now-Deleted Tweet; Sandy Hook Families Win Legal Victory Against Alex Jones In Defamation Case. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 15, 2021 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: It is unclear, but Aswan is a tourist center located on the banks of the Nile. Rain is so rare that it only averages about one-tenth of an inch a year.

Now, here they are completely flooded out. The fat-tail scorpions are about three to four inches long. Their sting, highly toxic, among the deadliest in the world, killing within minutes. Right now, three people are reported dead. Egyptian officials deny the initial state media reports that the deaths are from the scorpions.

Thanks for joining us. Anderson starts now.



Kyle Rittenhouse's fate is now in the hands of a jury. Jurors got the case just a short time ago having heard closing arguments from both sides, a rebuttal from the prosecution and instructions from the Judge. For more on all of it, I want to go straight to CNN's Omar Jimenez in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

So, what are the takeaways right now?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. Well, for starters, both the prosecution and defense spoke for more than two hours each. At points, jurors were riveted, at other points, they had to turn away because of the graphic images they were being shown. Bottom line, this was the last chance for either side to sway these jurors with their arguments.

The prosecution painted Rittenhouse as an active shooter that night who did not have to kill, but did while the defense painted him as anything but, doing what he needed to do to survive.


THOMAS BINGER, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, KENOSHA COUNTY, WISCONSIN: In this entire sequence of events from the shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday, August 23, 2020, all the way after that, everything this community went through, the only person who shot and killed anyone was the defendant.

JIMENEZ (voice over): After about two weeks, the prosecution and the defense of Kyle Rittenhouse had one last chance to leave an impression on the jury.

BINGER: You cannot claim self-defense against a danger you create.

JIMENEZ (voice over): At one point during closing arguments, the prosecution even demonstrates a moment where they say Rittenhouse pointed his weapon prior to the fateful chase that ended in the killing of Joseph Rosenbaum, even pointing out that in the aftermath, people believed Rittenhouse could have been an active shooter and that the crowd had a right to defend itself that night.

BINGER: How are we supposed to know where he's going next? And I've got to stop here for a moment and highlight the hypocrisy of the defense, because according to the defense, if someone has a gun, they're a threat. If someone points a gun, they're a threat. There's only one exception to that, the defendant, by their logic. He gets to run around with a gun all night, but oh, we're not supposed to take him as a threat. It doesn't work that way. There is no exception in the law for Kyle Rittenhouse.

MARK RICHARDS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Garbage, just like his case --

JIMENEZ (voice over): The defense doubled down on its argument this was self-defense.

RICHARDS: The state wants to call my client an active shooter. Kyle was not an active shooter. That is a buzzword that the state wants to latch on to because it excuses the actions of that mob.

He runs two blocks from 63rd to 61st too without firing his weapon.

JIMENEZ (voice over): Attorney Mark Richards argued Rittenhouse did what he did because he had to, especially in regards to Joseph Rosenbaum, the first of the two killed that night.

RICHARDS: Kyle shot Joseph Rosenbaum to stop a threat to his person, and I'm glad he shot him because if Joseph Rosenbaum had got that gun, I don't for a minute, believe he wouldn't have used it against somebody else. He was irrational and crazy.

My client didn't shoot at anyone until he was chased and cornered.

JIMENEZ (voice over): But during rebuttal, the prosecution argued there were plenty of steps Rittenhouse could have taken before shooting Rosenbaum.

JAMES KRAUS, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, KENOSHA COUNTY, WISCONSIN: No one is saying that Mr. Rosenbaum should have chased Mr. Rittenhouse. No one is saying that Mr. Rittenhouse did not have a right to defend himself.

This case is about the right to use deadly force. "Hit him. Kick him. Knee him." Anything else and Mr. Rosenbaum and Mr. Rittenhouse are alive.

JIMENEZ (voice over): In total, Rittenhouse faced six charges until the misdemeanor of a minor in possession of a weapon was dismissed early in the day, over the gun not being long enough under Wisconsin statutes to be considered illegal in the hands of a minor, but Rittenhouse still faces five felony charges, all of which he pleaded not guilty to, the most serious comes from the shooting and killing of Anthony Huber, the second of two people killed that night.

Rittenhouse faces first degree intentional homicide, but the lesser offenses of second degree intentional homicide or first degree reckless homicide could also be considered. Those offenses could be considered if the jury is not satisfied of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt on the original charge.

In regards to the shooting of Gaige Grosskreutz, who survived after being shot, Rittenhouse is charged with attempted first degree intentional homicide with the use of a dangerous weapon. The Judge said the jury could consider the lesser offenses of attempted second degree intentional homicide and first degree recklessly endangering safety.

On top of those two charges, he also faces two counts of recklessly endangering safety tied to the shootings either at or near to people who are not killed, and first degree reckless homicide for the killing of Joseph Rosenbaum.

The jurors now get to decide the fate of Kyle Rittenhouse over a year after he killed two people and wounded a third.


JUDGE BRUCE SCHROEDER, KENOSHA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: Members of the jury, the time has now come on the great burden of reaching a just, fair, and conscientious decision in this case will be placed solely with you jurors.


COOPER: Omar, in terms of jury instructions and deliberations, will -- when they will actually begin? What's the latest?

JIMENEZ: Yes, Anderson, so they will be following closely these instructions hammered out by the prosecution, the defense, and the Judge, and there are two significant subjects that could make the difference In this case.

One revolves around self-defense which these instructions critically say that Rittenhouse could use deadly force only to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself. But also in terms of provocation, these instructions say that a person who provokes an attack can't use or threaten force and self-defense until he has exhausted every other reasonable means to escape death or bodily harm. Those will be among the two major topics they will be looking at when we reconvene in the morning, and when these 12 final jurors will be selected to be the ones that deliberate and more significantly, decide the fate of Kyle Rittenhouse -- Anderson.

COOPER: Omar Jimenez, appreciate it. Thank you.

Joining us now, Harvard Law School senior lecturer and former Federal Judge, Nancy Gertner. Also CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, and Ron Johnson, former Captain in the Missouri Highway Patrol. He was appointed in the wake of the unrest there to coordinate law enforcement agencies in Ferguson.

Judge Gertner, what do you make of the closing arguments from both the prosecution and defense?

NANCY GERTNER, FORMER FEDERAL JUDGE: Well, I was sort of struck by themes that people haven't sort of identified before.

In the defense, it was explicitly political. At one point, he said literally that the government was just charging the first white supremacists that it could find, only Rittenhouse wasn't a white supremacist. He said that the attack on some of the witnesses for being politically biased, and then he said, their viewpoints are kind of like my viewpoints. He was making this explicitly political, and he was making it personal.

At one point, he talked about the prosecutor being whining, and then there was obviously the call to what I in other settings talked about, vigilantism, which is that to stop them from wreaking havoc in Kenosha, like they had done the night before. Those were the things that I thought was sort of stunning.

And then in addition, his role, the defense's role was to show that in the chaos, Rittenhouse had no choice. The defense -- I mean, the prosecution was saying this kid can't get a pass and wanted to slow down the action, and I thought that was particularly impressive, was -- particularly slowing down the action with respect to Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum was stopped by the first shot, and therefore, there was no need for two, three, and four.

But ultimately, the prosecution has the burden of proof here, and it is hard to know what the themes I've just described, how effective they'll be, and particularly the Judge's affect throughout the trial. It's hard to know.

COOPER: Paul, do you believe prosecution made up any ground today? You know, late tonight, there was reporting from CNN that during the prosecution's rebuttal, some jurors were seeing fidgeting, at least one appeared to be struggling to stay awake. I don't know what, if anything can be read into that.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I didn't think they gained a lot from the rebuttal case that was put in. I thought that earlier in the day, they had presented really a compelling case against the defendant and what struck me throughout the whole day is you had these two starkly different pictures of what happened that night.

From the defense standpoint, it was like "Nightmare in Elm Street." You know, every time he turned a corner, there were people trying to attack him, coming out of the corners, coming out of the darkness, whereas the prosecutor was saying they were all heroes, trying to stop an active shooter.

In the end, I think the jury is going to see the "Nightmare on Elm Street" scenario, and I say that because when they tried to establish provocation, they relied on some pretty shaky evidence. This picture that had been blown up and over pixelated, but in the end, even if you saw him pointing a gun in that picture, there is no proof that Rosenbaum was aware of that and that Rosenbaum because of that provocation started chasing him.

So, I don't see where they are going with that.

It seems to me that that doesn't say he is deprived of his right to self-defense. So, then you're left with analyzing each encounter. And with respect to -- as Judge Gertner was just talking about the shots -- the number of shots that hit Rosenbaum, those shots were all fired, I understand in under a second. So he was literally flying through the air when most of those shots were fired.

So, I don't think the number of shots adds up to much.


COOPER: Captain Johnson, if Rittenhouse is acquitted, do you think law enforcement should be concerned about more armed people showing up to future, you know, events or demonstrations that they think may turn into violence?

RON JOHNSON, FORMER CAPTAIN, MISSOURI HIGHWAY PATROL: I think we'll have to put some rules in place and we will have to talk with our politicians and put some laws in place.

We ran into this in 2014. We had a right-wing group that came out there armed with weapons, and it was unnecessary, and it actually was inflammatory toward bringing peace to the protests.

COOPER: Judge Gertner, I mean, just boiling down between provocation and self-defense, I'm still confused by this.

I mean, just because he is there with a gun and has no business being there. He's not trained. He's just a guy who wanted to be there and clearly enjoyed being there, you know, high fiving the -- or at least waving to the police. And, you know, he certainly seemed to take some encouragement from the other people he was around, but just because he is there, and maybe it is provocative to some people, does that justify shooting three people?

GERTNER: Well, no, I mean, the point of the provocation, I think, it was more than whether Rosenbaum saw the gun. I mean, the notion was that this kid is walking around with an AR-15. The prosecution is still walking a very thin line, because there are a lot of people who thought that well, you know, he has a right to do that. So what's the point?

But certainly, the testimony had been that if he had gone from protecting property to suddenly walking in the middle of the street, and it was inconsistent with what he said he was doing. So, he had put himself in a situation where he was provocative, and the argument at that point is that he then loses his right to self-defense.

I think the more substantial argument will be, whether or not he -- well, you know, with respect to one of the people he shot, he was hit with a skateboard -- a skateboard and AR-15. That's not -- he is not matching the force that he is receiving with the same amount of force.

And with respect to Rosenbaum, there was great -- there was testimony and the prosecutor went on and on about it about Rosenbaum's height, that, you know, he seemed like a crazy person and he was unarmed.

So, I mean, I think, it really depends upon whether the jury walks away with scared kid chaotic night, he did what he had to do, or he walks away with an agile provocateur, who was essentially, you know, inserting himself in a situation in which he didn't belong.

COOPER: Paul, though someone can look at, you know, someone running full force at somebody on the ground with a skateboard and swinging at their head as a potentially -- I mean, that's potentially lethal, isn't it?

CALLAN: Yes, it is potentially lethal, because remember, he is not hitting him with the broad side of the skateboard, he was using the skinny side. It was almost like a knife hitting his neck, and he was on the ground. And there were other members of the crowd sort of coming in close to him at that period of time. And all of that seemed to add up to a very, very serious threat.

The thing that impressed me more than anything else during the defense presentation, the final presentation, when they slowed down the film. Of course, you see how the film, depending upon how you slow it down, depicts very, very different things.

But every time he fired at a person, that person was approaching him and aggressively approaching him. He didn't fire at anybody else who was just standing around or who backed off. So, it looked like he was evaluating a threat before he fired.

So, I think when the jury steps back and looks at those, all of those filmed encounters, that there is adequate ground for not guilty finding.

Now, bear in mind, listen, he is a vigilante and if you come into this case, saying, we have to send a message that we're not going to tolerate this kind of behavior, he loses, and he'll go to jail. But juries aren't supposed to do that. They're supposed to look at each encounter and decide where self-defense occurred and a legitimate self-defense occurred.

So, we'll have to see how the jury reacts to the evidence.

COOPER: Captain Johnson, you know, when you've seen folks show up with an agenda and a weapon to a demonstration, what is the -- what usually happens? I mean, you've said it's caused tensions in the past. JOHNSON: Well, you trying to separate them from the crowd, and I

think that's why it is important when we have these protests that law enforcement embeds himself within the protests, not only to engage with the protesters, but when they see subjects like this who are interjecting themselves inappropriately that they can remove them from the situation.

COOPER: And Captain Johnson, are you concerned about, you know, unrest or demonstrations when this verdict comes down?


JOHNSON: I think there, I think they're preparing for that. I think depending on what the verdict is, I think we could see some of our protesters take the streets because many of those people were out there for change, their right to protest, and speak your voice. And so I think we will see some. I don't know if we'll see it across our country like we've seen in the past with some other protests.

COOPER: Ron Johnson, I appreciate you being with us. Judge Gertner, thank you so much. Paul Callan, as well.

Coming up next, Steve Bannon's attempt to make his prosecution for defying a congressional subpoena seem more like persecution at the hands of what he is now saying as a politically motivated Justice Department. Author, Josh Green joins us.

And later, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain joins us on today's Infrastructure Bill victory, but also the President's declining poll numbers and rising inflation.


COOPER: Steve Bannon, one of the organizers just connected to the events of January 6th made his first court appearance today on contempt of Congress charges. Prosecutors did not ask to hold him until trial, he agreed to hand over his passport, check in weekly and notify the court of any travel outside the jurisdiction. He will arraigned on Thursday.


COOPER: Bannon's new attorney today said his client defied the subpoena on advice of his attorney at the time. The former President, as you know, has instructed former underlings including Bannon to defy the Committee. As for Bannon today, he spoke outside the court.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP: This is going to be the misdemeanor from hell from Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden.

Joe Biden ordered Merrick Garland to prosecute me from the White House long when he got off Marine One, and we're going to do -- we're going to go on the offense. If the administrative state wants to take me on, bring it.


COOPER: Keeping them honest, President Biden did not order the Attorney General to prosecute Bannon or anyone by name. He made remarks that Bannon seems to be referring to, the President was asked by CNN's Kaitlan Collins about people who defy House Select Committee subpoenas. The President said the committee should quote, "hold them accountable."

When she then asked if they should be prosecuted by the Justice Department, the President replied, "I do. Yes." The President later walked those comments back.

Joining us now CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, also Josh Green, national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek and author of "Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon and Donald Trump, the Storming of the Presidency."

Jeff, I mean, it was inappropriate, as the President has later said to have made those comments at all. It was the kind of thing the former President would have done, and Biden should be criticized for saying that. I'm wondering what you made of what Steve Bannon said.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, he is going to try to turn this into theater, the Chicago 7 of the right, as opposed to the left.

But you know, he had a real break already in this case, which is the Judge in this case. The Judge assigned by random lottery is Judge Nichols, who was not only a Trump appointee, but someone who when he was a lawyer in the George W. Bush Justice Department, argued, a big executive privilege claim, arguing for an expansive consideration of executive privilege when Harriet Miers, the White House counsel was subpoenaed by Congress. That case ultimately settled.

But this is a Judge, who at least, is very much aware of the idea that executive privilege should be expansive. We'll see whether that carries through to this case.

COOPER: So this is not -- I mean, just because he defied this the subpoena, it doesn't necessarily mean -- I mean, he could still win this.

TOOBIN: Absolutely, because the defense in this case is, I was caught between a rock and a hard place. I have an order from one President not to testify, and I have a directive from Congress to testify. Now, the problem with his position is that there are lots to testify about that is not related to executive privilege at all. He was not a government employee.

And frankly, the scope of executive privilege has never been precisely defined in one area, the courts have said is not covered by executive privilege, is discussion of wrongdoing, and if the court finds that discussions of wrongdoing are involved here, he could lose. COOPER: Josh, is this a great day for Bannon? I mean, is this exactly

-- isn't this kind of exactly what he wants? He stopped -- I should -- I'm going to show this to our viewers -- he stopped even to address a camera for his, I guess, podcasting audience for his followers who just want to play what he said -- or not.


BANNON: Is this us? I just want to say and tell everybody, live stream, get it right now. Everybody watching in the "War Room." We're here today. I don't want anybody to take their eye off the ball, but we do every day. Okay. We've got the Hispanics coming our side, African-Americans coming on our side, we're taking down the Biden regime.


COOPER: So, was this like the greatest day of his life?

JOSHUA GREEN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK: Yes, I mean, perversely, this is exactly what Steve Bannon wants, a platform for self-aggrandizement. I mean, he did everything there, but try and sell you a set of steak knives, right?

COOPER: Or have you invest in the border walls.

GREEN: I thought they had shut that one down, but maybe not.

COOPER: Probably.

GREEN: But look, it's exactly what Bannon wants. It is a platform for him to demonstrate, you know, his loyalty to Trump, to enhance his own power in the MAGA circle and to try and continue the stream of misinformation that you get listening to his podcast about how, you know, Biden supposedly stole the 2020 election, and Bannon is being persecuted.

It all plays into this larger story. And if you talk to Bannon and talk to people around him, they really don't think that there's going to be a price to pay for this. Either, he will win an executive privilege case, or this will drag on so long that Republicans if they win back the House of Representative next November, will shut down the investigation.

But at least for now, this is exactly what Bannon is wanting and hoping for, and you saw that in the video you showed.

COOPER: This also a misdemeanor. I mean, this is not --

TOOBIN: Two misdemeanors.

COOPER: Two misdemeanors.


TOOBIN: I mean, they rarely go to trial in Federal Court and just on the subject of timing. I mean, timing is so important here and that's why Thursday's arraignment could actually be very interesting and important, because that's when you'll start to see a schedule be set. If the judge says, look, we'll have motions in January, and maybe we'll have a trial date in April, which under normal circumstances would be a fairly common schedule. That's death for this committee.

Because this Committee is not going to be in existence much past the summer, because that's when the campaign season starts. So whether Judge Nichols sets an aggressive schedule or not, is really going to determine how much this case matters at all, or whether it's just theater.

COOPER: Josh, there's new audio of the former President talking to ABC's Jonathan Karl about a reporting conversation that President Trump had with then Vice President Pence the morning of January 6th, I just want to play that.


JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: There was a report -- and excuse my language --


KARL: Not -- not mine, it was in the report -- that you talked to him that morning, and you said "You can be a patriot or you can be a [bleep]." Did you really say that, or is that - or is that an incorrect --

TRUMP: I wouldn't dispute it.

KARL: Really?

TRUMP: I wouldn't dispute it.


COOPER: Josh, you've made the point that Steve Bannon is essentially casting himself as the anti-Pence and making this very public display of loyalty to the former President. Do you think Bannon is actually willing to go to jail for the former President?

GREEN: You know, I don't. I don't think he is actually willing to go to jail. But I also don't think that he thinks he's going to have to. You know, Bannon's calculus here, which has been borne out, just in the last 24 hours is that he could use this kind of public display of fealty to Trump, which by the way, didn't begin with today's perp walk and it didn't start on January 6th. This has been going on for three years ever since Bannon got fired from the White House three years ago, Trump essentially excommunicated him from Republican circles.

COOPER: Right, didn't he call him Sloppy Steve? Or something --

GREEN: He called him Sloppy Steve. If you want to see just how well Bannon's strategy has worked, Trump put out a statement yesterday praising Steve Bannon saying, quote: "This country has never done to anyone what they've done to Steve Bannon." So Bannon here has an audience of one and that audience is Donald Trump and he clearly likes what he sees from Bannon.

COOPER: Wow, the former President of the United States is saying that this is the greatest injustice that has ever been committed on any American citizen.

TOOBIN: But because it's not just one misdemeanor, it's two misdemeanors.

COOPER: Right. Yes. Wow.

TOOBIN: That's a pretty big deal.

COOPER: Yeah. Josh Green, thank you. Jeff Toobin, as well.

Up next, it is actually infrastructure week for real. A key part of President Biden's agenda getting his signature at the White House. His approval ratings though, as you know, not good. We'll talk about both and more with the White House Chief of Staff.



COOPER: A historic day the White House, President Biden's signing the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill this afternoon into law crucial part of his agenda, also a rare moment with both Democrats and some Republicans at the ceremony. The package includes among other things, money for roads and bridges, trains, climate change and a whole host of other things you see there. At today's ceremony President Biden said the bill will also ease supply chain issues.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: The bipartisan law will modernize our ports, our airports, our freight rail to make it easier for companies to get goods to market. Reduce supply chain bottlenecks as we are experiencing now and lower cost for you and your family.


COOPER: So big day for the President's agenda. I spoke about it just before airtime with White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.


COOPER: (on-camera): Mr. Klain, appreciate you joining us. It was obviously a big day for the President, the bipartisan group of lawmakers who supported the infrastructure bill. But the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, which was conducted after the bill passed, Congress shows only 41% of Americans approved the way the President is doing the job. Only 35% believe he's accomplished much overall. How do you reconcile those numbers?

RON KLAIN, CHIEF OF STAFF, WHITE HOUSE: Well, first of all, I think while the poll was taken after the bill was passed, it was obviously before the bill was signed, and shortly before the bill was implemented, which starts tomorrow morning. So, I understand why the American people are in a show me don't tell me mode. The pandemic has gone on for a long time, our economic struggles have gone on for a long time. We've made a lot of progress on both of those problems here at the White House so far. But the public wants more progress they want more quickly. I'm glad that the Congress passed this bill last week. Now it's signed now can go into law, and the President take the case on the road.

You know, we pass this bill not to change polls, but to change the country. And I think as the country sees the improvement, this bill will bring a better roads better bridges, internet for everyone, clean drinking water for everyone, a mass historic investment, mass transit and rail. I think the results will speak for themselves.

COOPER (on-camera): In the same poll, 48% of Americans blame the President for the current inflation rate, which is the highest in 30 years. What does the administration have to try? And is there anything you're planning to try to ease inflation? Does -- and you did seem to downplay the threat of it back in April, the White House was saying would only rise moderately due to what they call temporary factors.

KLAIN: Well, I think the bill we signed is one step on combating inflation. I was pleased to hear Senator Rob Portman, a Republican today at the White House, validate that this bill will help abate inflation. Equally importantly, maybe more importantly, to Build Back Better Bill that the House is supposed to consider this week. Seventeen Nobel Prize winning economists have said it will ease inflationary pressures. And while that's a bunch of economic talk, I can make it even simpler.

That bill when it passes will lower prescription drug prices. It will lower the cost of childcare, it will lower the cost of eldercare, it will cut taxes for middle class families. Those are the kind of bottom line economic issues, about what people pay for their some of their most important and largest expenses, that we have a plan before Congress this week that will help a deal with those high costs.

COOPER (on-camera): Yes. I mean when we spoke this past August, you had said that you'd hope to get the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Bill to the President's desk in September, obviously the infrastructure bill got over the finish line today. You do have the votes though for the Build Back Better Bill? I mean, you control obviously both, you know, the White House in both chambers of Congress. But there seems to be a lot of mistrust within the Democratic Party. Do you have the votes?

KLAIN: Well, we show we had the votes on the infrastructure bill and I think we'll show this week we will have the votes on the Build Back Better Bill. Look, I understand these things always take longer than they should or than you think you should, but America waited 50 years for the road investments we made today, 70 years for the kinds of investments in rail that we made today.

[20:35:10] And so yes, it took a month or two longer than we wanted it.

COOPER (on-camera): What about Senator Manchin?

KLAIN: Well, I let Senator Manchin speak for himself. But --

COOPER (on-camera): Do you know if he's on board?

KLAIN: Well I'll let Senator Manchin speak for himself. I'm not going to speak for him. What I know is he has played a key role in advising us and talking to the President many times about the framework for the Build Back Better Bill. He says his number one concern is inflation. We have a concrete plan in that bill to lower the costs that face most Americans, it's fully paid for without raising the deficit, without raising taxes a penny on people who make less than $400,000 a year.

COOPER (on-camera): Right. But earlier you said --

KLAIN: So I think that is the plan that can sell and get his vote.

COOPER (on-camera): Want to ask you about Steve Bannon, as he left Federal Court today, he claimed the President Biden order Attorney General Garland to prosecute him. That was probably in reference to the President responding to a question of whether those who defy subpoenas should be prosecuted by saying quote, I do. Yes. Was the President then walk back?

How concerned is the White House about Steve Bannon, other allies, the former president, seriously delaying or even derailing the work of the January 6 committee?

KLAIN: Well, I want to be clear, President gave no direction to the Justice Department, and taking its action. President wasn't even informed in advance, the Justice Department had taken this action. This was a decision made independently by the department, by the attorney general in his own judgment. So, let's just make -- be clear about that I was standing with Steve Bannon said today.

I'm going to let the law enforcement matters be handled by the Justice Department. And, you know, that's the way it should be in a well functioning administration and administration that respects the rule of law. And that's what's unfolding here.

COOPER (on-camera): CNN is reporting that some of the West Wing are worn out by what they see as entrenched dysfunction and lack of focus from the Vice President -- from Vice President Harris and her staff, the Vice President, her loyalists say they're frustrated according to reporting as well as feel she's being sidelined.

I'm wondering what you make of that report. Can you say tonight, whether there's total agreement inside the White House about the Vice President's portfolio?

KLAIN: There is she's doing a magnificent job. By the way in that report, I'm quoted as saying what I believe, which is that there's no vice president I've seen this gotten off to a faster start than Vice President Harris. She's doing an amazing job for the President. I had the pleasure, honor of being with her. The Friday night we passed this infrastructure bill in the House representative. She was on the phone, working the phones, delivering votes. She's a big part of the reason why we had this bill signing today.

COOPER (on-camera): But her poll numbers seem even lower than the President.

KLAIN: Well, I can Anderson, polls go up, polls go down. What I know is she is delivering for the American people. She helped us deliver on this infrastructure bill. She then got up it a few days later and went across the ocean to France and spent a week over there helping to repair and strengthen our alliances with America's oldest ally. She's delivering for the American people everyday. She's doing a fantastic job, whether it's on domestic matters or international matters. I'm delighted to be her next door neighbor in the West Wing. I have a chance to talk with her almost every day. She's in the White House. And I can tell you she is doing a phenomenal job as Vice President.

COOPER (on-camera): Ron Klain, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

KLAIN: Thanks, Anderson. Appreciate it.


COOPER: More ahead, including the top House Republican after days of silence weighing in on the animated video Congressman Paul Gosar put out, depicting him murdering a colleague, threatening the President. Well, Congressman Kevin McCarthy finally came up with and what it says about the party he leads, next.



COOPER: House minority leader Kevin McCarthy is finally commenting publicly on the video his Republican colleague Congressman Paul Gosar posted last week on Twitter. The video was a photo -- photoshopped anime depicting Gosar killing Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and swinging a sword to President Joe Biden. It may be even more surprising than the video was that McCarthy didn't directly condemn it. Instead, he told CNN today that he spoke to Congressman Gosar last week and Gosar had deleted the tweet after their conversation.

Our chief political correspondent and co-anchor of "STATE OF THE UNION," Dana Bash joins us now.

Do you think this -- I mean is this emblematic of just the whole that the former president still has in the party?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's no question about it that the minority leader did finally say under questioning by our CNN colleague that he spoke to Paul Gosar, but the fact that he didn't condemn it. And Gosar's own family Anderson has done so. They're strange, to be fair, but -- COOPER: I mean they've been -- they've been criticizing him for quite

a while.

BASH: Yes, yes. And they don't like the kind of kind of rhetoric that he uses. And the reality is that we are in a world where that kind of messaging, that kind of video is incredibly dangerous. We know that because of so many tragic examples of that. And in particular, with somebody like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she is obviously beloved by progressives, but already vilified, and has met -- it has had historically a lot of threats against her. So, the fact that this wasn't condemned in a very aggressive way, is quite telling for what -- for the fact that he didn't say it as much as what he did say.

COOPER: It's also interesting that he only said it, because of questioning, as you said, but by, you know --

BASH: Exactly.

COOPER: -- by us. And that, that he remained silent, not even saying last week that he had called him to take it down. You spoke with former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for your special report "BEING CHRIS CHRISTIE," which comes on at 10 tonight. He clearly thinks the Republican Party needs to move past the former president.

BASH: That's right. And we talked about this kind of behavior from and among Republicans, including the leaders here in Washington, vis-a-vis Donald Trump, listen to a clip about that


BASH (on-camera): A lot of your fellow Republicans particularly in Washington, they denounced the interaction after January 6, and they've either changed their tune since then, or they've just clammed up. Is that a mistake?

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ) FMR GOVERNOR: Well sure it is. Everyone's got, but look everybody's accountable for their own statements and their own conduct.


BASH (on-camera): Are they scared of Donald Trump?

CHRISTIE: Oh, I'm confident some of them are. Some of them, look, I think they fall to a number category, some of them believing, they want to believe it. Some of them are scared of them. Some just want to talk about it. They just don't want to talk about it. They want it to just go away.

I think that there are lots of Republicans who believe exactly what I believe. But no one's saying it to them. The only voice they're hearing right now, here are voices that say that the election was stolen. And that's just not true. So you need other voices to speak out. You know, so I'm, I'm doing it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: And Anderson, he's pretty clear that he's trying to give his Republican colleagues particularly here in Washington, some cover in their criticism of the former president on the idea of the election in 2020 being stolen, saying it was not. That is what his book says in a very clear, detailed way really debunking the so-called evidence that the former president has.

Having said that he, Chris Christie is not at all upset about the fact that doesn't regret the fact that he voted not once but twice for the former president and helped him, he said he wouldn't change that. So, it's very complicated when it comes to someone like him but he's trying to walk that fine line that so many, so many Republicans are. His is a little bit different because they've had a 20-year friendship.

COOPER: Yes. Dana Bash, look forward to it. Thanks. Special import tonight 10:00 p.m. --

BASH: Thank you.

COOPER: -- Eastern Time, "BEING CHRIS CHRISTIE," second episode in Dana as being serious tonight at 10:00 p.m. here on CNN.

Up next, big victory for Sandy Hook families and their battle against the lies by conspiracy spreader Alex Jones.



COOPER: Major legal victory for eight Connecticut families who won first responder who sued InfoWars founder and noted conspiracy spreader Alex Jones. For years Jones spread the despicable conspiracy story that the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School were six adults and 20 children were killed, was staged. Here are the faces of the victims young children, teachers and the school's principal, they were very real, they were murdered. You remember them.

Today, a judge ruled that Jones is liable by default in the defamation case, because he repeatedly refused to hand over records the plaintiffs. Now a jury will decide how much he's going to have to pay the families in damages. In September, Jones was defaulted in Texas for failing to turn over documents in a similar case.

Joining us now, attorney, Chris Mattei who represents the plaintiffs in the Connecticut lawsuit.

Chris, appreciate you being with us. Can you explain what liability by default means?

CHRIS MATTEI, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILIES SUING ALEX JONES: Yes, thank you for having me on Anderson. Today, what the Connecticut Superior Court determined was that because Alex Jones had engaged in a long series of misconduct and discovery abuses, he had essentially prevented the plaintiffs from getting a fair hearing, from getting the evidence that they were entitled to. And because of that, he forfeited his right to present evidence in the case, and his behalf and as a result of that, the allegations against him are considered proven. He is liable to the plaintiffs for the claims they have made against him, which include defamation, violations of Connecticut's Unfair Trade Practices Act, intentional infliction of emotional distress. And now the question for the jury will be the extent to which the families that we're honored to represent were harmed by his conduct.

COOPER: How can you actually collect from him? I mean, does he have assets?

MATTEI: Well, you know, this case is not really about money. It's about accountability. And so, our goal and when we get in front of that jury, is to show them just how devastating his conduct has become. Now, we have avenues to investigate his assets and his resources. But what's most important is that we get our day in court, and that we expose Alex Jones for what he is.

COOPER: He -- Jones and his attorneys, I mean, they've had years to turn over documents which are ordered by the court. Do you have any sense of why they just chose not to at all? Was it to drag this out longer in some way? Did he just assume he was going to lose?

MATTEI: Well, I think the court made the point today that the evidence that he deliberately withheld was precisely the evidence that would show that he engages in outrageous inflammatory and dishonest rhetoric in order to drive traffic to his website so that he can profit financially. He withheld data concerning the reach of his defamatory publications about the families, he withheld data about his company's finances, precisely the type of evidence that would expose his business model and why he does the things that he does.

So we think he made a calculated determination, just simply to defy the court's orders. And at for as long as he could, he made false representations to the court and to us about the existence of the evidence. And when the court prevented him from succeeding in those efforts, he simply declined to turn it over, because I think he made the calculated judgment that he would prefer default to having the truth about his business exposed in court.

COOPER: I certainly understand that for the families it's not about money. It's about stopping this person from saying this and showing the world what a fraud he is and what he's been saying. But to stop him for permanent one, certainly, stopping him and getting his finances would obvious it'd be helpful in that regard. I mean is there a law -- I mean someone can't be forced to pay -- I mean what does the law allow you to do?


MATTEI: Well, the first step is to get in front of the jury and to get a judgment. And we expect that a Connecticut jury is going to find Mr. Jones' conduct and find the harm that he's caused to these families to be extensive. And, and we expect that that verdict will reflect that. Now, we will then go about collecting that verdict. And we have legal resources available to us to do that. You know, it's not uncommon for defendants who are exposed in this way to do things to hide their assets. I'm not saying that that's what Mr. Jones is doing. But we have remedies for that as well.

COOPER: Chris Mattei, I really appreciate your time tonight and it's such a big night for so many families who have been going through a nightmare over this. Appreciate it, thank you.

MATTEI: Thank you.

COOPER: And those families our thoughts tonight. We'll be right back.



COOPER: The news continues. Let's hand over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.