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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Joe Biden Preparing To Deliver Major Speech On Thursday On His Strategy To Defeat Omicron Variant, First U.S. Confirmed Case In California; Four Students Killed In Michigan School Shooting; Supreme Court Hears Arguments On Mississippi's 15-Week Abortion Ban; Dem Senator Calls Out GOP Colleagues Over "Sanctity Of Life" Hypocrisy In Wake Of New School Shooting; Dr. Oz Running For U.S. Senate Seat In Pennsylvania. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 01, 2021 - 20:00   ET


STEVE SIMON, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, WOMEN'S TENNIS ASSOCIATION: No, nothing, nothing is a surprise. You know, clearly just by her actions and her silence and what she said in her e-mails, by not saying anything about it, and just talking about wanting to keep her privacy, be with friends et cetera, clearly reflects that we feel it is orchestrated and she is being censored in some way with respect to the issue.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, well, Steve, I really appreciate your time.

SIMON: Thank you.

BURNETT: I know you that you're the David in this situation. But it is -- it is incredible to see somebody standing up. Thank you very much.

And thanks to all of you for joining us. AC 360 starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Good evening, we begin with breaking news. There is a lot of activity in the White House tonight. They have been preparing for several days now to deliver a major update to the nation on the President's strategy to defeat omicron, the newest strain of coronavirus.

And tonight, we are learning some of the details of that strategy. It comes less than a week after the omicron variant was first identified in South Africa. And on a day we learned what had been expected that omicron is here.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We knew that it was just a matter of time before the first case of omicron would be detected in the United States. And as you know, we know I've been saying it and my colleagues on the medical team and others have been saying, we know what we need to do to protect people. Get vaccinated if you're not already vaccinated; get boosted.


COOPER: That first patient, a traveler from South Africa, who is now in California is said to be isolated and experiencing mild symptoms. Dr. Fauci joins us in our next hour for a special CNN COVID Town Hall.

Right now, I want to go to CNN's Caitlin Collins with her new reporting from the White House. So, what are the President and his team doing tonight in response to this first known case?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, ever since South African scientists last week told them that they felt that this could be a more concerning variant than some of the other ones that you've seen, the President and his team have basically been meeting nonstop, whether that's within the agencies, people meeting and talking about how they are going to respond to this or the President meeting with his medical team directly.

They've had hours on ends of meetings where he has been peppering them with questions about the data here, the timeline of when they're going to know more to those big questions like how severe disease this could cause or whether or not it evades vaccines, because the President has been clear that he wants to know more.

And, of course, Anderson today, it was the day that his medical team delivered him that grim news that yes, they had found the omicron variant here in the United States, and they had been bracing for that for several days. I think they have been talking so publicly about the expectation that it was already here, so it wouldn't catch people off guard. And of course, now that it is here, they believe they will see more cases of the omicron variant.

And so you see that happening on a bigger level of the President meeting with his team, of course, the C.D.C. also meeting with state labs talking to them every day, because that's how they find these variants. And so that's been happening, of course, all of this leading up to a big speech that President Biden is giving tomorrow to talk about what's ahead in the coming months.

COOPER: I mean, what might they do, do we know?

COLLINS: I think in this speech tomorrow, you will see the President lay out some concrete steps. The White House has been preparing that. I don't think you should expect any more travel restrictions, per se. Of course, that is something that Dr. Fauci even said today was talking about, of course, the criticism that they've gotten, they don't really add much value. That's from health experts who have said that.

But you could see other steps. You know, there are questions about the mask mandate that's in place when you get on a plane, on a train, any of those mass transit -- steps like that could be taken as well. But Fauci said today, he doesn't expect there will be anything like require testing for domestic flights. That's been something that people have raised the question about, not testing vaccinations for domestic flights. He says he does not think that is something that will be helpful.

But overall, you're going to see them also just talking about the message here, because still, though, it will be Thursday and it is several days that we've been talking about this variant. They are still trying to learn a lot more. They don't think it'll be until next week, Anderson that they have a better grasp on that.

COOPER: Is it clear that the White House was learned lessons from the chaos caused by the delta variant over the summer?

COLLINS: I think so. Because the delta, very remember, came at that time that they had that big Fourth of July celebration here at the White House. The President was talking about getting close to this independence from the virus, people were taking off their mask. And of course, delta then swept across the United States in a pretty vicious manner.

And so, I think they're being extra cautious here, and that's why you saw them put those travel restrictions in place. That's why you see them pushing boosters, like they are, because the reality the White House says is there are a hundred million people in the United States right now that have not gotten a booster.

And we should note, this person who tested positive from South Africa, went to San Francisco, they had also not gotten a booster shot yet. And so that's also an avenue that the White House is using this for is to try to push for that as well. Something of course, lessons leftover from the delta variant that are kind of looming over how they are responding to this variant.

COOPER: Kaitlan, I appreciate it. Kaitlan Collins.

Perspective now from Dr. Richard Besser, former Acting C.D.C. Director and currently President and the CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; with us as well, my co-host for tonight's upcoming CNN COVID Town Hall at 9:00 PM, CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Dr. Besser, so in light of this case in the U.S., which was inevitable, how do you think the C.D.C. is handling all this behind the scenes right now?


DR. RICHARD BESSER, PEDIATRICIAN AND FORMER ACTING C.D.C. DIRECTOR: Well, you know, Anderson, I think the steps that are being taken, being aggressive until we know more is the right thing to do. It is -- you only have one chance to get ahead of a newly spreading strain of a disease. And, you know, I'm my hope is that we will take these measures, people will up their game to protect themselves, and when we learn more, hopefully, we'll learn that this is not the dangerous strain that eludes vaccines that we are concerned, it could be.

But you want to take the steps upfront and hope that that's the case. You want the science to prove that the measures that you're taking are appropriate or can be eased up. COOPER: Sanjay, as we reported, the first omicron case in the U.S.

was someone who had recently traveled to South Africa, do you have any sense or estimate of how soon we could see, Sanjay, community spread from that infection?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT Well, so far, I mean, you know, they are doing contact tracing, and all the contacts have tested negative. I think, there will likely be some community spread, because we know that this is obviously a very contagious virus.

But you know, if we show what is happening in South Africa, and if we can show that, show what has happened throughout this pandemic, you see different sort of surges of the virus. You had the original variant, you had beta. You know, beta right in the middle of the screen that became the dominant strain, Anderson, in South Africa for a period of time. It did not become the dominant strain here.

So you know, it doesn't mean by virtue of the fact that it became dominant in one part of the country that for certain, it will become dominant elsewhere. Also, at the time that omicron really started to take off in South Africa, they were in a relatively quiet period. So it wasn't really racing against delta at that point.

So we'll see, you know, if it starts to become more dominant in the States, but I don't think that's a foregone conclusion.

COOPER: Dr. Besser, I mean, whether it's, you know, disinformation, mixed messaging, COVID burnout, do you worry that people aren't listening to the C.D.C. as much as they might have say, last year?

BESSER: Well, you know, I'm worried that people truly do have COVID burnout, COVID fatigue, and I hope that the messaging that's coming from multiple sources from C.D.C., from the White House, from the World Health Organization, from other trusted health advisers will encourage people to do a number of things.

One is pay attention, you know, wear your mask, avoid crowded indoor places where there isn't good ventilation. For people who haven't gotten vaccinated, talk to people you trust, trusted health providers and think about that, because even if the omicron strain doesn't turn out to be any worse, we're losing close to a thousand people every day from the delta variant.

And that in and of itself is a reason for people to get boosted who are due to get boosted. So, if it's been six months since you've had your Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, you should get a booster if you're an adult. If it's been two months since the J&J, you should get a booster. Those things will help against delta. We don't know yet whether they'll work against the omicron, but they definitely will help save lives right now regardless what happens with the new strain.

COOPER: And Dr. Besser, what is your definition of fully vaccinated? I mean, do you still consider someone who has had the two-dose regimen of Pfizer or Moderna to be fully vaccinated? BESSER: Well, you know, I think that we are going to need to consider

changing what we think of as fully vaccinated. And you guys, as a pediatrician, being fully vaccinated varies depending on the age that you are, and when you hit different age thresholds, it is time to get another shot. So you were fully vaccinated, and then after six months, maybe getting a booster means, you know that booster means you're fully vaccinated. That is information that we'll learn more over time.

Clearly, these vaccines continue to provide protection against hospitalization and death for otherwise healthy adults past six months. But as we're seeing more breakthrough cases, those cases are a part of why we're seeing continued transmission in communities. And so, it is important for adults to get their questions answered and consider getting those boosters.

COOPER: Sanjay, "The Guardian" newspaper is reporting that former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, says in an unreleased book that the former President tested positive for COVID just three days before his first debate with then candidate Joe Biden.

I mean, that information was obviously not revealed to the public or to the Biden Campaign at the time. In fact, you know, the former President is still denying that you know, that he tested positive. Was this a dereliction of duty by the White House physician at the very least, Sean Connolly. I mean, is there an obligation -- you know, the President was meeting with Gold Star families. He went to the debate with Vice President Biden?

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, I think if this is true, this was really -- this was really reckless. There is no question and from what I understand, again if this is true, the President was also symptomatic. You know, he was not feeling well, so it wasn't just an incidental sort of finding.


GUPTA: They actually -- he was having symptoms. So, yes, this is a problem. I mean, it's challenging, you know, for a physician to reveal someone's specific health information. With regard to public health, though, you know, there is an obviously a larger obligation. Most people sort of just understand that obligation, the President should have been isolated. The contacts that he had, when he had tested positive should have been traced, and they should have been tested.

So, you know, this was something that was very clear from the C.D.C.'s guidelines, the administration's own guidelines. And, again, if this is true, those guidelines weren't followed. People were put at risk, including the patient, the President, and also a potential future President at that debate.

COOPER: Dr. Besser, I mean, I don't -- I mean, there was this -- this has been discussed for a while, the idea that Mark Meadows is actually saying it happened in his book, according to "The Guardian," does it -- how bad is this?

BESSER: Well, you know, I'll stay out of the politics of it. But anyone who has symptoms of COVID should get tested before they're in a public setting where they could put other people at risk, and anyone who tests positive should follow the C.D.C. guidance, and that means isolating away from others so that you're not putting additional people at risk. And contact tracing is a critical piece of controlling spread.

So viruses don't care about what job you have. Viruses are equal opportunity assailants, and it is very important that everybody do what they can to protect not just themselves, but those around them.

COOPER: Dr. Besser, thanks. Sanjay, I'll see you at the top of the next hour for tonight's Town Hall.

We will have reporting from South Africa where the new very variant obviously was first spotted. Also Dr. Anthony Fauci joins us along with the President of vaccine maker, Moderna; public health expert, Dr. Leana Wen. As always, we'll be taking your questions from here and around the world, that gets underway at 9:00 EASTERN on CNN.

Coming up next, though, in this hour what we're learning in the wake of yesterday's school shooting about red flags that school officials apparently had about the alleged killer's behavior the day before the shooting.

Also, video evidence authorities recovered from his phone and what we're learning about the four young lives that were stolen in a community as you might imagine, that is deeply shaken tonight.

Later, we'll also talk to Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, he has dedicated himself to reducing gun violence. We will talk about the impassioned speech he made last night in the Senate floor directed to his Republican colleagues after this latest tragedy.



COOPER: In Oxford, Michigan, the 15-year-old who authorities say killed four high school classmates made his first court appearance today. He was charged as an adult with four counts of first degree murder in yesterday's mass shooting, as well as assault and weapons charges and a rare count of terrorism causing death. Though he was named by necessity is now in the criminal docket, it will not be part of our reporting.

Instead, for a moment we want to focus attention where it belongs, in the names of the four young men and women whose lives he allegedly took and what we know about those lives, and it saddens and sickens me every time we do this because their stories and honoring their lives, which is the least we can do is also the most it seems that anyone can do.

In addition to excelling academically. Tate Myre was a varsity football star, a friend and teammate telling CNN he was a great person, a great leader, someone who always wanted to make sure that everyone was okay and involved in everything he could.

There's petition online to rename the school football stadium after him. As of this morning, more than 48,000 people have signed it. Tate Myre died in a police car on the way to the hospital. He was just 16 years old.

Seventeen-year-old, Madisyn Baldwin. She was expected to graduate this school year and had already been accepted to several colleges, some with full scholarships. Her family says she was an artist who loved to draw. Writing on social media today, her grandmother said, "This beautiful, smart, sweet, loving girl was tragically taken from us all today leaving a huge hole in all our hearts."

Hana St. Juliana, well, she was just 14. She played on the school basketball team. Teammates tweeting today "We'll never forget your kind heart, silly personality, and passion for the game." "This season," they wrote, "We play for you, Hana."

And Justin Schilling who died this morning worked at an area restaurant chain that employed many students from Oxford High. The company put out a statement today. Here's some of it: "Justin was an exemplary employee, devoted friend, and co-worker, co-captain of his bowling team and simply a pleasure to be around." Justin Schilling was 17.

Seven other, six students, and a teacher were shot and wounded yesterday and our thoughts are with all of them and all those families in pain tonight.

You'll not see the suspect's face on the program tonight but you will hear the evidence authorities have as to what the suspect did and said leading up to the shooting and during.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus reports some of it is potentially damning, not to mention horrifying.


ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The suspect appeared virtually in court as police described the shooting and his attorney asked the court to enter a not guilty plea on his behalf.

MARC KEAST, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE: He methodically and deliberately walked down the hallway, aiming the firearm at students and firing. Right outside the bathroom, he began firing, Judge.

This continued on for four, approximately five minutes. The defendant went to another bathroom. As Deputies arrived, he set the firearm down and he surrendered.

BROADDUS (voice over): The suspect's parents also watching the proceedings via video. As police detailed videos, the suspect recorded on his cell phone and his journal writings.

[20:20:08] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The night before the incident wherein he talked

about shooting and killing students the next day at Oxford High School.

Further, a journal was recovered from Ethan's backpack also dealing -- detailing his desire to shoot up the school to include murdering students.

BROADDUS (voice over): The Oxford Michigan School student shot 11 people on Tuesday, killing four, after a meeting with his parents and school authorities earlier that same day. We were with the Pittman family learning about one of the victims, Tate Myre from his friend, JaVon.

JAVON PITTMAN, SENIOR, OXFORD HIGH SCHOOL: Tate is probably the most best person I proudly meet besides my dad and besides God. Tate was always -- he's smart in class. Me and him used to joke around, me and him used to play.

BROADDUS (voice over): And then news, another classmate died.

PITTMAN: Oh, Justin. Justin. No. I knew Justin.

JAMAR PITTMAN, FATHER: That was that boy.

BROADDUS (voice over): JaVon described calling his dad during the shooting.

PITTMAN: I was whispering because I didn't want the shooter to hear me and my classmates, and my dad was just asking me, what's going on? What's happening? And I told him it's a shooting, somebody is here shooting up the school and he told me, he said, okay, I'm on my way.

BROADDUS: Why your dad? Is he your superhero?


JAMAR PITTMAN: You can't save your kids, that's devastating. I would rather been the one that got shot than my kids.

BROADDUS (voice over): Afraid for their lives other students sheltered in their classroom barricading the entry, refusing to open the door for authorities.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not taking that risk right now.

BROADDUS (voice over): And then, escaping through a classroom window, following the training they never wanted to use.

When police took the suspect into custody on Tuesday, he still had 18 rounds of ammunition.

Tonight in Oxford, Michigan, families are now left with a nightmare that for some will never end. VONTYSHA PITTMAN, MOTHER: I'm turning off the light and I have my

kids. Sharon and Todd don't have Tate. I can turn off the light and they'll be in the room, but there are some parents that that room is going to be empty.


COOPER: Adrienne Broaddus joins us now from Oxford. What more are authorities saying about the suspect's parents?

BROADDUS: Anderson, we learned the suspect's father purchased the gun that was used in the shooting four days prior. Earlier today, during a news conference, the prosecuting attorney said the suspect's parents could face charges.

When CNN pressed asking if there was evidence to support those potential charges, she didn't go into detail. But late this evening, she did say it is important for gun owner's to properly secure their weapons and I'm paraphrasing there.

Meanwhile, you saw in that story, the Pittman family was vulnerable with us. They are struggling right now with forgiveness. If you walk into their home, you'll notice they are Christians, Bible verses hanging on the wall. JaVon Pittman said he's going to miss his two friends. It was tradition for him and his varsity teammates, they all play football together, every Thursday, they would meet at Tate's home for dinner ahead of their Friday night football games.

And this is their senior year, a time when those students are supposed to be creating the most memorable moments, but what happened inside of this high school is something they say will haunt them forever -- Anderson.

COOPER: Adrienne Broaddus, I appreciate the interview. Thank you.

Joining us now is Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Madam Attorney General, I appreciate you being with us, sorry, it is under these circumstances.

What more can you tell us about the charges that this shooter is facing? Particularly the terrorism charge. Can you walk us through how Michigan State law defines that in a situation like this?

DANA NESSEL, MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, well, first of all, thank you for having me. I will say this, Anderson. I've watched you for years talk about mass shootings at high schools and other schools around the country, always dreading the day that it would come here to Michigan and now it has. But I feel like it was pretty much inevitable given the fact that we have such lax gun laws here in the state.


NESSEL: And I echo the concerns of prosecutor McDonald who is saying we have to do better by our children, and we have to start caring more about our kids than we do our guns. And unfortunately, that hasn't happened yet. But you know, you have this young man and he's been charged as an

adult. He faces a litany of charges. He faces, obviously, four counts of premeditated murder for the kids that he killed, and then an additional seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and several felony firearm charges where you use a firearm in the course of committing a felony, and then he's got the one charge of terrorism causing death, which is like premeditated first degree murder, a life offense felony, normally, although juveniles are no longer eligible for life without parole, and that's just not in Michigan, but in the whole of the United States. So obviously, he is facing a lot of very serious charges.

COOPER: So a terrorism charge, it has to do with the premeditated nature of a crime.

NESSEL: Yes. That's correct. It is when you knowingly, willfully or in a premeditated manner, commit either a homicide or an assault with intent to murder, or some other violent felony, and that you commit such an act knowing that it's your intent, really to cause fear, and to threaten the civil population or to influence or affect government in some way.

And in a school, of course, is a unit of government. So, you know, it's a charge we don't see very frequently, but it seems very applicable in this instance.

COOPER: Do you have a sense of those of how those who were wounded, how they're doing tonight?

NESSEL: I think that those kids are in varying conditions, some of them are seemingly, you know, starting to be on the mend, and others are in critical condition. So, I'm certainly hopeful that we don't lose any more kids than of course, the last, you know, the child that died this morning, but we really just don't know at this point.

COOPER: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, I really appreciate your time tonight. Thank you so much.

NESSEL: Thanks for having me.

COOPER: The most serious challenge to Roe v. Wade in decades was heard today by the Supreme Court, the future of reproductive rights could be at stake if justices greenlight Mississippi's ban on abortions after just 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The conservative-leaning Court appears to be leaning in one direction already, we'll assess the potential historic implications next.



COOPER: Roe v. Wade has been settled law since 1973. It was reaffirmed in 1992. In the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey and it hasn't faced a test this big until now. A potentially historic day in the Supreme Court today, justices heard arguments on Mississippi's new law that bans abortion 15 weeks into a pregnancy long before the viability line said by prior precedent of around 24 weeks.

The 63 conservative majority, the Supreme Court appears poised to uphold the ban. Chief Justice John Roberts had Mississippi's limit of 15 weeks was not a quote, dramatic departure from viability. Other conservatives on the court like Justice Brett Kavanaugh appear to be leaning that way as well.


BRETT KAVANAUGH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: If we think that the prior precedents are seriously wrong, if that, why then doesn't the history of this Court's practice with respect to those cases tell us that the right answer is actually a return to the position of neutrality?


COOPER: While meanwhile, Texas is banned on abortions after six weeks remains in place until the justices issue a ruling that may not come until next summer.

Want to discuss the high stakes with former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Senator Davis, I'm wondering what your persons are, we're after hearing the arguments today.

WENDY DAVIS (D-TX) FMR STATE SENATOR: You know, Anderson, when the hearing began, I went into it feeling like we probably were going to learn that a majority of the justices were leaning toward upholding that 15 week ban, but otherwise leaving the protections of Roe in place. And I have to say, after listening to the arguments today, I'm much more concerned that Roe is actually going to be completely gutted with a return to state law, directing what will happen for women's reproductive freedom going forward.

COOPER: And, Jeff, I mean, do you agree with Senator Davis on that?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Boy, I sure do. You know Anderson, I've been to a lot of Supreme Court arguments. I've listened to a lot of Supreme Court arguments. I have never heard one where the stakes were clear and the tension was greater even though I wasn't you know, I could only listen by audio because the courtroom is still closed largely because of COVID.

You know, everyone understood in that courtroom that Roe v. Wade was on the line. And you know, the three liberals talked about the precedent and stare decisis. But I thought you know that that quote you read from Brett Kavanaugh, Justice Kavanaugh suggested that they just want to get rid of the whole thing, they think Roe was wrongly decided. And Chief Justice Roberts actually was trying to look for a way to uphold the law, but not to overrule Roe altogether. And he didn't get any support from any of the five other conservative justice.

COOPER: Well, Jeff, can you just explain that when Justice Kavanaugh was talking about a return to neutrality? I mean, that's some of the language was confusing to me. What does he mean -- what does he (INAUDIBLE)?

TOOBIN: What he means by neutrality, the Mississippi Solicitor General, I thought explained this very well. He basically said, look, abortion is complicated. Abortion is controversial. The way we deal with problems is leave it up to the voters, leave -- let the voters decide whether we should ban abortion or allow abortion so that the Constitution would be neutral. That's what he meant by neutrality.

The problem with that is in our system, the Constitution is not supposed to be up for all election every two years in state legislatures. The Constitution says we have freedom of religion regardless of what the legislature does. And that's the core of the dispute about Roe v. Wade.


COOPER: Senator Davis, what kind of impact do you think the Mississippi law and the arguments today the court would have on the law in your home state of Texas that effectively banned abortions at six weeks?

DAVIS: I mean, the Mississippi, Mississippi law obviously would be a better situation than Texas finds itself in today. But as I said a minute ago, I really don't think that's where we're going to wind up. I think we are going to see an absolute overturning of Roe v. Wade. And we already know what that looks like, essentially, in Texas with the six week ban that's been in place since September, the first. I was surprised, actually, when the Court handed down some rulings a week ago and Texas situation wasn't on their agenda.

And I believe that that is the case, because these justices, the majority of them, aren't concerned about the absolute interruption of abortion rights in our state, because they're headed to an absolute interruption in any state that chooses to do so with the flipping idea that somehow because we have contraception available, that should make everything OK. When we know that that absolutely doesn't.

And you know, what was disappointing to me today was how flippantly almost the court was able to shove aside or cast aside this idea, that this right to personal liberty, and the denial of that liberty that will be occasioned upon women who live in states that are opposed to abortion, that the challenges that they're going to face as a consequence of being denied that liberty that somehow that simply just didn't matter.

TOOBIN: And think about what Amy Coney Barrett said at one point, she said, you know, adoption is getting easier. We have laws to make adoption easier. So you know, women can just take their pregnancies to term and put the kids up for adoption, as if forcing women to take pregnancies that they are -- that they don't want, whether it's rape, incest, or some other reason. Just you know, put them up for adoption. That's the solution.

Imagine telling the women of America that abortion, you can only put children up for adoption. It was an amazing moment to me. COOPER: Whenever there's been a Supreme Court vacancy in recent years, we always end up talking a lot about pro-choice Republican Senator Susan Collins. I want to play what she said back in 2018, when now Justice Kavanaugh was up for confirmation.


REP. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): We talked about whether he considered road to be settled law. He said that he agreed with what Justice Roberts said at his nomination hearing in which he said that it was settled law.


COOPER: Senator Davis, he's sure didn't sound that way today. Did he?

DAVIS: Know he absolutely didn't. And in fact, he's taken great pains to sort of forecast what his feelings about stare decisis are, and whether settled law actually is something that the court should adhere to. And he's written out a number of qualifications or criteria by which he believes that we can overturn settled law, even something as settled as of course, Roe v. Wade has been for the last few decades in this country.

COOPER: Wendy Davis, Jeffrey Toobin. I appreciate it. Thank you.

The fight over reproductive rights is flared again on the Hill. So is the battle over gun control both political obviously lightning rods colliding at one point yesterday. In a passionate speech in the Senate, we're back with a lawmaker who delivered it, next.



COOPER: This next story brings together the two stories we've just talked about the mass shooting in Michigan and the abortion arguments heard before the Supreme Court laid yesterday. Democrat Chris Murphy from Connecticut posted this on Twitter, driving home tonight I thought about Republicans floor speeches today on the sanctity of life, and how this concern for life apparently doesn't extend to the kids who were shot today in a school in Michigan. So turn the car around and went to the Senate floor. When the Senator got there, here's part of what he said.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Do not lecture us about the sanctity, the importance of life, when 100 people every single day are losing their lives to guns, when kids go to school fearful that they won't return home because a classmate will turn a gun on them.

You care about life, then get these dangerous military style weapons off the streets, out of our schools.

This is a choice made by the United States Senate to sit on our hands and do nothing while kids die.


COOPER: And Senator Murphy joins us now.

What's the response I wonder have been to your speech? I mean, you know, obviously you have, you know, made impassioned speeches before, you've worked on these issues for a long, long time. Do you ever get the feeling that it doesn't have an impact?

MURPHY: Oh, no, I think it all has an impact because we're building a social change movement, right? Every social change movement over the course of American history has to have the long view it hits obstacles and failures before it achieves success. And that's what the modern anti-gun violence movement is. Not sure that I changed the minds of any of my Republican colleagues with that speech yesterday.

But what I'm most worried about Anderson is that this country, people of goodwill, people of conscience, just start to normalize these shootings start to believe that we have to accept to mass shootings every single day. Many of these high profile school shootings as part of the American landscape, it's just not true. It doesn't happen anywhere else other than the United States. It is a choice. There are policies in place that allow for this to continue.

And my biggest worry is that we will lose this fight eventually, because people decide that it's just part of the admission ticket to being an American. That's just not true.

COOPER: You focus on what you see is the disconnect between -- you and the argument for the sanctity of life when it to abortion rights and then they're not applying in the same way to the killing of kids.


MURPHY: Yes, I mean it certainly appears that Republicans give up on kids once they're born. Because there are 100 people every single day, dying from guns are raised 10 times higher than any other high income nation, but also look at how Cavalier Republicans have been about COVID. I mean, the fact that they're right now, as we speak, threatening to shut down the government, because Joe Biden has vaccinated too many people. Seven hundred thousand people have died, and yet, they don't seem serious about actually getting this thing under control.

So I do get angry when I hear Republicans lecturing us on the sanctity and importance of preserving life, and then they do nothing when these kids are being murdered all over the country every single night. It's totally inconsistent.

COOPER: It's been remarkable, I was watching a demonstration here in New York, of city workers who didn't want to be vaccinated, and a lot of the site was it seemed like a lot of mostly men. And a lot of the signs are about, you know, you can't tell me what to do with my body, which was, you know, it given the context of the debate, we've seen over abortion rights, it's really interesting to see that same argument being used by people who are, you know, talking about vaccinations.

MURPHY: You know, Republicans, you know, hate big government, until it's a question of what a woman can do with her own body, then all of a sudden, the government needs to make decisions for people. I mean, again, these are two issues that stand right next to each other. Republicans say that when it comes to vaccines, every individual should have control over their own body, the government has no business to tell you what to do. But when it comes to abortion, no individual should have a say over what happens to their own body, the government should be able to prescribe what you can do and what you can't do.

None of it makes sense together. But that does not seem to bother the modern Republican Party, the hypocrisy is noted by others, but of no concern to those who seem to bring the arguments to the floor.

COOPER: I want to play another moment from your speech last night on the floor.


MURPHY: It doesn't even involve any political risk. The changes we're talking about in order to make our schools safe places, they're supported by the vast majority of Americans, Republicans and Democrats. And yet, the gun lobby and the gun industry is more important. To half of the members of the Senate than is the safety of our kids. And that is infuriating.


COOPER: Do you think the gun rights issue has become an even bigger rallying cry for Republicans since the former president got into politics?

MURPHY: That's a good question. I think the gun lobby has always been strong inside the Republican Party. Certainly Donald Trump did nothing to break that grip. But this is a symbiotic relationship in which the Republican Party has become a one trick pony. All they talk about is how much they hate government. Well, the best way they can translate how much they hate government is to argue for the ability of the citizenry to arm themselves in order to overthrow the government.

And so, the gun lobby relies on the Republican Party, Republicans rely on the gun lobby. And at some point that party will recognize that 80% of the American people don't agree with them. They want things like universal background checks. The vast majority of Americans want a ban on assault weapons. But that relationship between the Republican Party in the gun lobby predating Donald Trump is still one that we have yet to break. We will I mean, it's just a question of when not if we just have to get stronger and stronger as a movement.

COOPER: Senator Murphy, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

MURPHY: Thank you.

COOPER: There's a new contender in Pennsylvania's crowded Republican U.S. Senate raid, Dr. Oz, the surgeon and TV show host who's given some questionable medical advice over the years. Why he says he's running, next.



COOPER: After hitting more than a decade ago that he would consider running for office, television personality, surgeon and longtime New Jersey resident Dr. Oz is gearing for career change running for U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania as a Republican. He says the pandemic motivated him to run. Dr. Oz writes in The Washington Examiner op-ed quote, the arrogant closed minded people in charge closed our parks, shuttered our school, shut down our businesses and took away our freedom.

Dr. Oz of course gained popularity is the doctor who made regular appearances on Oprah. Then he landed his own daily daytime TV gig where he came under fire for making controversial and fabricated claims about medical cures.

Tonight's Randi Kaye has the story.


MEHMET OZ, SURGEON: So, I want to challenge you all.

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His audiences watching all as Dr. Mehmet Oz pushes so-called miracle treatments or cures that often lack medical evidence to back them up.

OZ: And now I've got the number one miracle in a bottle to burn your fat. It's raspberry ketone.

We're kicking it off with what I believe is one of the most important discoveries we've made to help you burn fat faster, green coffee bean extract.

KAYE (voice-over): Dr. Oz also once claimed putting a bar of lavender soap in your bed can help prevent Restless Leg Syndrome. But there is nothing like his showmanship for his so-called Rapid Belly Melt demonstration. He used it to promote yet another questionable fat burning product. He called lightning in a bottle.

OZ: This is what force going does to your belly fat. Whoa. And as it burns it away, what's left behind?


OZ: Muscle.

KAYE (voice-over): More recently he made claims during the pandemic that critics called medical misinformation.

OZ: I would take it myself if I was having issues with the virus. KAYE (voice-over): That's Dr. Oz speaking with Larry King last year about using the controversial anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to fight the coronavirus. Remarks that he later walked back.


OZ: Because it's believed to be so safe. It's used widely. And it turns out that it might have an effect against this virus.

KAYE (voice-over): The fact is the CDC has noted the drugs efficacy to either prevent or treat this infection or unknown. It's warranted that unsupervised use of hydroxychloroquine can cause serious health consequences, including death.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: I think we've got to be careful that we don't make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug.

KAYE (voice-over): And last year, Dr. Oz made comments that were interpreted to mean that 3% total mortality due to COVID was worth the cost to some to reopen schools.

OZ: I just saw a nice piece of the lancet arguing that the opening of schools may only cost us 2 to 3% in terms of total mortality.

KAYE (voice-over): The backlash was swift and Oz later said he misspoke. A 2014 study in the peer reviewed British Medical Journal found that of 40 randomly selected episodes from Oz's television show, his health recommendations were based on evidence just 46% of the time.

OZ: We're going to, we're going to go.

KAYE (voice-over): The following year, a group of doctors and professors sent this letter to Columbia University's Dean of Medicine, asking him to remove Dr. Oz, who was a trained heart surgeon from his faculty position, the group cited Oz as quote, egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain. Something Dr. Oz later denied. Columbia stood by him.

But in recent years, Dr. Oz has also had to answer to a Senate committee, which also questioned his advertising of unproven weight loss products.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D) FMR SENATOR: I don't get why you need to say this stuff because you know, it's not true. So why, when you have this amazing megaphone, and this amazing ability to communicate, why would you cheapen your show by saying things like that?

OZ: I recognize that oftentimes, they don't have the scientific muster to present as fact.

KAYE (voice-over): If Dr. Oz has his way, he'll soon trade television for the U.S. Senate, and likely work with some who already question his ethics. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Randi, thanks so much.

Join me and Dr. Sanjay Gupta right after a quick break for CNN Global Townhall Coronavirus, Facts and Fears. Dr. Anthony Fauci is our guests, will be taking your questions. Stay with us.