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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Top Pence Aide Cooperating with January 6 Committee; Authorities Searching Home of Man Accused of Helping School Shooting Suspect's Parents; Biden to Warn Putin of Severe Economic Consequences if Russia Invades Ukraine; WH Confirms No U.S. Delegation Will Attend Winter Olympics; Trump Ally Perdue To Take On Gov. Kemp In Georgia's Republican Primary For Governor; Severe Flooding In South Sudan Causes Food Shortages, Spreads Diseases And Leaves Thousands Displaced; GOP Rep. Nunes Says He's Leaving Congress To Run Trump's New Media Company. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 06, 2021 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Now, a full necropsy will take place to determine the exact cause of sudden death, but Medina Spirit is the latest in what is now a long line of horses to die at Santa Anita racetrack in Southern California. The deaths prompting investigations, in which our Nick Watt has extensively chronicled.

I hope you take a look at his fantastic reporting on that. Thanks for joining us.

AC 360 starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. We begin with breaking news and potentially a big break for the January 6 Committee, the cooperation of someone who could not be closer to the effort to rope then Vice President Pence into the former President's election scheme, a firsthand witness to much of it, the Vice President's former Chief of Staff.

CNN special correspondent Jaime Gangel is part of the team that got this exclusive. She joins us now. So Jamie, we are talking with the former Chief of Staff who is Marc Short. What have you learned?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So we've learned that Marc Short, one of former Vice President Mike Pence's closest advisers, his former Chief of Staff, is cooperating with the January 6 Committee. Along with my colleagues, Ryan Nobles and Mike Warren, we have learned that the Committee subpoenaed Short a few weeks ago, but that unlike some other Trump officials, he is not fighting the subpoena.

And Anderson, Short's cooperation is a significant development because he is, as you say, a firsthand witness to so many critical events. He was with Mike Pence at the Capitol on January 6th. He was also in the Oval Office on January 4th, when former President Trump tried to convince Pence not to certify the election results.

So all of these things are sources say add up to one thing, Short's assistance signals a greater openness among Pence's inner circle, with one source telling me the Committee is getting, quote, "significant cooperation with Team Pence."

Just for context, Short is considered one of Pence's most loyal aides. It is hard to imagine that Marc Short would cooperate with the Committee without Pence's blessing.

COOPER: So I mean, this is kind of a new divide in how the former President's team is dealing with the Committee versus the former Vice President's team, what kind of information or documents would short likely be able to provide?

GANGEL: Absolutely. So Marc Short knows what was going on in the days leading up to January 6th, like what happened in the Oval Office. He knows what happened at the Capitol on January 6th. It's likely that Marc Short who was Chief of Staff to Mike Pence was not calling or texting, maybe someone like Mark Meadows, who is Chief of Staff to Donald Trump, when the riot was going on, asking him what's happening? Why is no one stopping this?

So Short is likely to be able to provide key information about conversations, phone calls, texts, things that happened in real time on January 6th.

Also, perhaps he can answer two of the most important questions the committee has. What was Donald Trump doing when the riot was going on? And why didn't he move more quickly to take action to stop it?

COOPER: And what are your sources telling you about the motivation behind people in Pence's inner circle who are maybe cooperating? I mean, and also obviously held the former President is either reacting are likely to react?

GANGEL: Right. So the Pence team motivation is interesting, because we've seen Pence separate himself from Trump, sort of come back to Trump then say I did the right thing on January 6th. He has indicated he wants to run for President. Maybe he sees this as a way to muddy up Trump to get a different lane in the Republican base.

As for Donald Trump, let's face it, he is not going to be happy with this to say the least, and he has a history with Marc Short. In fact, on January 7th, Trump banned Marc Short from the White House because he was so angry that Pence didn't do his bidding -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jamie, stay with us. I want to bring in "Washington Post's" associate editor and investigative reporting legend, Bob Woodward, who has written along with Robert Costa about the moments and people in question in their new book "Peril."

Also, CNN political director, David Chalian joins us.

Bob, you've heard Jamie's report. Obviously, a big part of your book was devoted to January 6th, in the events that led up to it. How big a deal is it in your view, Marc Short who is cooperating with the Committee? BOB WOODWARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": You couldn't

get a better source. When you do these investigations, you're always looking for somebody who would be labeled the reliable witness and Marc Short joined with the Trump at the hip with Pence. In a very significant way, the Chief of Staff in this political environment is the alter ego, to a certain extent, the conscience of the principal and I think an important element here is that Pence and Short share deep religious conviction.


And on January 7th, after the insurrection, the day after when Pence certified Joe Biden as President and the House and the Senate went through that significant, really pivotal moment of saying, Joe Biden is the President. Short sent -- and this is important -- Pence a quote from the Book of Timothy from the Bible saying, "I have fought the good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith."

So somebody like Short is there at key moments, is always getting reports from Pence. In our book, if you just look under Marc Short and Pence, you see they are together at critical moments. So this opens a big door.

COOPER: And David, I mean, you know, as Bob was saying, Pence -- Short has been an incredibly loyal member of the Pence team for years going back to Congress -- Congressman Pence's days in the House. Is it -- I mean, it's not just, David, potentially, you know, his opinions that we're thinking that he has access to, it is documents?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, there is no doubt about that. And at critical junctures in this timeline that the Committee is putting together. I mean, who more is going to have firsthand knowledge about the pressure campaign from Trump on to Pence than Marc Short, who witnessed it firsthand?

I will just note, I'm glad you raised their history, Anderson, because this gets at Jamie's earlier point. It's not really hard to imagine. I think it's nearly inconceivable that Marc Short would do this without the tacit approval of Mike Pence.

You mentioned he was the Chief of Staff in the House Republican Conference for Pence back in the very early years of the Obama administration. He served with -- he served with him during the 2016 campaign when Trump put Pence on the ticket. And then of course, went into the White House and served as his Chief of Staff there. This is a long time, loyal aide. He is doing this of course, with Pence's approval. It's just inconceivable to think otherwise.

COOPER: And Jamie, I mean, you've reported in the past that there are some members of Pence's team who are more willing to testify than others. If Marc Short does indeed testify in front of the Committee, are there others who would possibly follow suit?

GANGEL: So we know from reporting a couple of weeks ago that there are at least five members of Pence world that the Committee is interested in talking to, and one of those was Greg Jacob, who was Pence's counsel, who was also in the Oval Office when Trump was pressuring Pence.

I think that there are a number of people and my reporting is that the Committee is feeling more and more confident that more people from the Pence inner circle will cooperate.

COOPER: Bob, the fact that Marc Short was physically alongside then Vice President Pence on January 6th, as you know, people were chanting "Hang Mike Pence," which the former President recently described as, you know, commonsense reaction because they were so upset and angry. Are you surprised the Committee needed a subpoena to get Short to cooperate? Or do you think that's part of getting him to cooperate was -- look, I want to do this, but you need to subpoena me?

WOODWARD: Well, you don't know the answer to that very important question, though what you do know is and what we tried to show in our reporting is that Pence, though, the loyal dutiful Vice President to Trump, there was always an independent streak here.

And the group that Jamie is referring to around Pence, a lot of lawyers, political advisers, people always saying to Pence, you need to strike out on your own, preserve the position you have. Sixty-one years old now, I think, and certainly wants to run for President, would like to be President, and so, this is a foot in the door and something, I know if you go back to other investigations, the Chief of Staff is always the key person.


There is no one like it. In fact, it's almost better than the spouse. It really brings you face-to-face with the daily forces. The pressure campaign on Pence was intense and no one would know the details more than Marc Short.

CHALIAN: Anderson, I would just say that Pence this year I think about that preserve Bob is talking about has been all over the map on this. It's not clear that he is positioning himself so independently of Trump. I mean, at one point, just in recent months, he described January 6th as just one day in history that the media is obsessed about.

At other times, he has said the obvious that he and Trump are never going to see eye-to-eye on that day, I would imagine. So one person was inciting an insurrection, the other guy was hearing "Hang Mike Pence" while he was presiding over ceremonies at the Capitol, of course, they won't see eye-to-eye, but it is not yet clear exactly how Pence is going to try to navigate a path forward if he does run for 2024, that is one independent of Trump.

We all saw his four years as that loyal Vice President. It is going to be so difficult for him to have an identity apart from Trump's in a Republican nominating race in 2024 if that is what comes to be.

WOODWARD: David, you're exactly right and Pence was one way and the other way. He was with Trump, he was defying Trump, but in the end, and you know this is the end of that ballgame. Pence did the right thing. He stood up to Trump. CHALIAN: No doubt about it.

WOODWARD: And in the meetings we report with Trump, it was interesting. Pence was always saying to Trump, "I'm praying for you. I continue to pray for you." And that's a signal of the religious component and it's a signal you know, who do you pray for the most? The sinner.

COOPER: I'd be interested to know what the former President, you know, how much comfort he took in the knowledge that Mike Pence was praying for him, perhaps, I'll write about that one day.

Bob Woodward, Jamie Gangel, David Chalian, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, with funerals plan this week for those killed at Oxford. High, there are new developments in the case against the shooters parents, including a search warrant executed tonight.

Also this evening, as Russian troops build along Ukraine's border, the stakes for tomorrow's Biden-Putin video call cannot be higher, what President Biden may do to try to head off a feared invasion, his options if tanks start to roll and the stakes for the Western alliance -- we will talk to CNN's Fareed Zakaria about all of that.



COOPER: Breaking News tonight. Police are searching the home of a man who they say helped the parents the teenager accused of killing four classmates and injuring several others at his Michigan High School. The Oakland County Sheriff's Office tells CNN the 65-year-old man is cooperating with police and has not been charged with the crime.

Adrienne Broaddus is in Oxford, Michigan with the latest. So what more do we know about this search warrant?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we know that search warrant was executed for any and all electronic devices found in the home. That 65-year-old voluntarily showed up at the Oakland County Sheriff's Department with his attorney. His attorney releasing a statement just moments ago saying his client, this 65-year-old had no idea there was a warrant out for the arrest of the parents. He also said he did not help those parents evade police and he didn't know they were arrested at his art studio.




BROADDUS (voice over): Today, Jennifer and James Crumbley now sit in the same jail as their son, all under close observation. The parents were arrested early Saturday morning, found in a warehouse in nearby Detroit hours after they were charged with four counts each of involuntary manslaughter.

DANA NESSEL (D), MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: They are fugitives of justice. Charges that could be additionally added if they're convicted, there are actually additional points that are scored for the obstruction of justice. And so, they are likely to get higher sentences.

BROADDUS (voice over): Prosecutor saying the Crumbley's we're making preparations to flee during the time they evaded capture.

KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR: They withdrew $4,000.00 from an ATM in Rochester Hills. They fled and they sought multiple attempts to hide their location and were eventually tracked down, and these two individuals were found in a lot somewhere in a room hiding.

BROADDUS (voice over): A third person, the man who allowed the couple to get into the warehouse was interviewed by the Oakland Sheriff's Department. A search warrant was issued for electronic evidence at his home, but still no word on whether he will face potential charges.

SHERIFF MICHAEL BOUCHARD, OAKLAND COUNTY, MICHIGAN: Clearly, somebody helped them into that location and made it available to them and it was after was publicly announced that there were warrants for them.

BROADDUS (voice over): Both Jennifer and James Crumbley have pleaded not guilty to the charges, and their attorney took issue with the timeline of events laid out during their arraignment.

MARIELL LEHMAN, ATTORNEY FOR JAMES AND JENNIFER CRUMBLEY: The facts that are that have been presented by Miss McDonald and her office have been cherry picked to further her narrative of making an example of Mr. and Mrs. Crumbley.

MCDONALD: None of this should have happened. A 15-and-a-half-year-old should not be sitting in jail facing life in prison and it could have been prevented.

BROADDUS (voice over): The prosecutor is still investigating the school's role in the events leading up to the shooting.

MCDONALD: I just think it's time we stop talking about how terrible it is that we have school shootings and look to see what we can to actually prevent them from happening again.

BROADDUS (voice over): The Michigan Attorney General has also criticized the Oxford School District's hiring of a third-party to investigate the shootings and offer to help conduct a review of the events that day.

Meanwhile, a community is still grieving the death of four teenagers and rallying around those injured in the shootings. The Detroit Lions dedicating its first win of the season to all the victims.

DAN CAMPBELL, HEAD COACH, DETROIT LIONS: This game ball goes to the whole Oxford community. All those who were affected. I want us to not forget these names, Madysin Baldwin, Hana St.

Juliana, Justin Shilling, Tate Myre -- those names will never be forgotten.


COOPER: So Adrienne, what more do we know about the parents facing additional charges of the manhunt required to bring them into custody?

BROADDUS: Anderson, it is possible they could face additional charges for example, obstruction of justice. That is according to the State's Attorney General, but she did underscore she is not handling this case. If those additional charges come, it will be up to the prosecutor.

Keep in mind, this couple is already facing a higher bond rate because of their actions. Meanwhile, less than 10 miles from the high school, a visitation took place earlier today for the 16-year-old who died in a patrol car on the way to the hospital.

We learned a little more about Tate. Today, we learned he loved the Holidays, especially Christmas, decorating the tree, the house, and making cookies with his mom. He enjoyed grilling with his dad and shopping with his brothers -- Anderson.

COOPER: Adrienne Broaddus, appreciate it. Thank you.

Up next, there's new details about what President Biden plans to say to Russia's President Putin when they speak one-on-one tomorrow and how Putin may respond.



COOPER: A senior Biden administration official tell CNN that President Biden will warn Russia's President Vladimir Putin tomorrow during their scheduled video call that the U.S. is prepared to impose what he called, quote, "substantive economic countermeasures" meant to inflict quote "significant and severe economic harm on the Russian economy," end quote, if Russia takes military action against Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is expected to tell President Biden that NATO must not admit Ukraine as a member of NATO, a demand he is not likely to agree to.

Also tonight, the White House confirmed a full diplomatic boycott at the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, which means U.S. athletes can compete, but no one from the administration will attend the Winter Games, which start the first week of February.

Joining us now to talk about it all, Fareed Zakaria, host of "Fareed Zakaria GPS."

So Fareed, tomorrow in that video call between President Biden and Vladimir Putin, how much do you think will be at stake? FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": This is the highest

stakes diplomacy that Joe Biden has conducted since he has become President. There have been big events that have taken place, obviously, the collapse of Kabul, the Iran negotiations, but this one, Biden is doing personally.

And what is at stake here? It is that Putin is testing how far he can go in intimidating Ukraine and intimidating the West.

Biden has to try to push back in a way that is both firm, but not so provocative that it precipitates the crisis that he is trying to avoid. It's a tough balance, and it is certainly as I say, the highest stakes diplomacy that he has conducted personally as President.

COOPER: Do you think he is really planning to invade Ukraine?

ZAKARIA: I think Winston Churchill had a great line about the Russians in the 50s. He said they don't want war, what they want is the fruits of war. What Putin wants is for Ukraine to become much weaker, far more dependent on Russia, and to never become a member of NATO.

So I think this is all a series of intimidations directed at both Ukraine to cripple it, and the West to say, do not cross that line, do not make Ukraine a member of NATO. If you do, you know, I've got 175,000 troops on their border, how many do you have?

COOPER: So essentially, I mean, as much as it is about Ukraine, it's also about NATO's power in Eastern Europe. Is that just because NATO is a real sore spot for Putin? I mean, the idea of this alliance?

ZAKARIA: Absolutely. I remember, one time when I met with him, he had a litany of complaints about Western policy, but they all centrally revolved around this idea that NATO existed to defeat the Soviet Union during the Cold War. We surrender, the Cold War is over.

And yet, NATO has kept expanding its borders eastward, closer and closer to Russia. Why are you doing this? This is an existential threat to us.

So that is Putin's worldview. He is a Russian nationalist, and he looks at Ukraine becoming part of NATO as kind of the final straw because this would bring NATO right to Russia's border.

COOPER: How -- I mean, what would be the process for Ukraine becoming part of NATO? I mean, is that really even on the table?

ZAKARIA: Well, you know, most people don't realize this, but NATO has given Ukraine, a kind of a roadmap. They haven't said that Ukraine will become a member, but they have outlined a series of steps Ukraine has to take in order to qualify.

So in a sense, it's -- you know, Ukraine is on a road to present itself to NATO for membership, no ultimate decision has been made. But that is what is worrying Vladimir Putin.

So is -- I mean, I guess with the U.S. levying new sanctions would be on the table and then Russia would perhaps retaliate against that. What are the next steps on this?

ZAKARIA: Probably the biggest weapon Biden has is to threaten that he would cut Russia off from the international financial system through a mechanism basically, it's called SWIFT. And you know, if the United States decides such as the power of the dollar, that it will not allow you to bank in dollars, it becomes very hard for you to move money around, it becomes very hard for you to sell your oil and gas.

COOPER: I wanted to ask you about China, you did a documentary that aired last Friday. What do you make of the White House announcement today that there is going to be diplomatic boycott by the U.S. in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing and does that really send any kind of a message at all?


What do you make the White House announcement today that there's going to be a diplomatic boycott by the U.S. and the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing? And does that really send any kind of a message at all?

ZAKARIA: Yes, I think it does. I think that the administration is trying to balance the reality of China as a huge power, the second largest economy in the world, the United States does enormous amount of trade with China, the world has an enormous amount of trade. Now, this is a very different power than Russia. This is a huge player in the international economic space and, you know, great ancient civilization. With the very important objections, the Biden administration has rightly about Chinese policy in Xinjiang towards the weekers.

So, it's not a full boycott, you know, that has that has tended to also not work very well you punish your own athletes. So they've tried to do something where no government official will go to kind of grace the occasion to witness here get the Olympics, but the athletes will be allowed to compromise, to compete.

I think it's a reasonable line. It demonstrates that this is not just words about Xinjiang, that the United States is willing to back with actions but it's also not you know, it recognizes that China is a major power in the world and we're going to have to live with it.

COOPER: Fareed Zakaria, appreciate it. Thanks, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure as always, Anderson.

COOPER: Oh, coming up in a minute, the former president pitting Republican against Republican in Georgia to primary the governor who wouldn't help him overturn the race that he himself lost there.



COOPER: For our lead story, it's an underscore just how much pressure the former president put on Mike Pence to secure his help and overturning the election. This next item details how far he's going on two other fronts. One is to put friendly state officials into office who share his election conspiracy, fantasy, or who will simply be indebted to him if he runs again, the other appears to be just plain revenge against those Republicans who refuse to commit a crime on his behalf of Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who's now facing a primary challenge from former Senator David Perdue, egged on by the former president.

Just before airtime the former President endorsed Perdue, and Perdue and words that kind of defy irony even as they string credulity said this.


DAVID PERDUE (R-GA) GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: The fight back we simply have to be united. Unfortunately, today, we're divided in Brian Kemp and Brad Raffenspergerrapids are to blame.


COOPER: So it's worth noting, Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger, they did their jobs overseeing the election and certifying the outcome. Both are conservative Republicans who campaigned and voted for the former president. What they would not do whoever is conspire with him, which is why the former president has been encouraging Perdue to launch a primary challenge and has been trashing Kemp any chance he gets, including in a statement earlier today, quoting now, I can't imagine that Brian Kemp who's heard election integrity in Georgia so badly can do well at the ballot box unless the election is rigged course.

Joining us now from Macon, Georgia, conservative radio talk show host Erick Erickson. Also Van Jones, CNN political commentator and former special adviser to President Obama.

So Erick is -- I mean, its revenge as a winning issue for Trump loyalists in Georgia? I mean, essentially, David Perdue should be governor because Brian Kemp wouldn't interfere with the process.

ERICK ERICKSON, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: That's largely the argument they're going with. In fact, David Perdue ironically, today, I actually laughed at the statement. It said that Brian Kemp was responsible for the loss of two Senate seats in Georgia. Now, of course, David Perdue was one of those senators who lost probably more blame with him. I will tell you, I was talking to a state legislator right before airtime, who told me that he and other members of the State Legislature getting phone calls from Trump supporters saying if they don't come out and endorse Perdue, they can expect primary challenges and these newly redistributed lines.

So, a lot of pressure coming to bear on Republicans across the state. But a lot of them think maybe it's time to just stand up and not do this.

COOPER: Van, you know, I guess some Democrats might be relishing the idea of kind of a divisive, Republican gubernatorial primacy primary in Georgia. But I -- you know, it seems to me they shouldn't because we need two functioning parties that are law abiding, in fact, based in this country, we need a healthy Republican Party.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree and what saved constitutional democracy, the rule of law were two groups that don't agree on anything. One, you had a bunch of black women, mostly, who led the charge who did unbelievable voter turnout, on the one hand. And then you had conservative white men, who were election officials, most of the Republican Party who upheld the vote. Those two forces, those liberal black women, and those conservative white men are why we have continued functioning democracy in this in this country. And yet, you see now a move to say let's repress the black vote and replace those audits conservatives with kind of pro Trump at all costs, conservatives.

This is a threat that we're facing now to the rule of law in this country. If you are a governor, and you are going to be replaced, because you upheld the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution, that is no longer a partisan issue. That's an American issue. I'd never thought it would be trying to defend somebody like Ken, who I disagree with on everything. But a governor shouldn't be replaced in primary for upholding the rule of law.

COOPER: Well, Erick, it's also -- I mean, I remember the days when then President Trump liked Brian Kemp. I mean, he used to say great things about him about his, you know, he liked the way he was handling COVID, he, you know, he couldn't say enough good stuff about him.

ERICKSON: Yes, and, you know, that's one of the ironies here one of the few times that Donald Trump ever attacked Brian Kemo prior to this was he thought Kemp open the state too soon last year, at the end of April, I think it was when Kemp open the state. Otherwise, yes, he endorsed Kemp last go around and has now been working people for him, largely because Donald Trump is very transactional. He wanted Brian Kemp to do something.

Ironically, though, it just to clarify this whole conversation, which makes it even more ridiculous, is the Georgia constitution actually prohibits the governor of the state of Georgia from doing anything at all in an election. So, they're going after Kemp for not doing something election in the Georgia constitution strictly prohibits him from doing anything whatsoever.

COOPER: But Erick, do you worry about this sustained effort by the former president? Because it seems like now there's going to be in a lot of states folks who believe the big lie running for school boards or not school board, running for election boards for to, you know, be ones who are in a position of certifying the next elections.


ERICKSON: Look, I get hate mail on my radio show nearly every day when I tell people the election wasn't stolen. There -- certainly there were regularities that was election (INAUDIBLE). There always are. But it wasn't stolen. And yes, it does trouble me that the adamancy of the people who believe this. But also, I don't actually think they are the majority. And I think to some degree, when you see President Trump's polling within the Republican Party, after January 6th, it was 90%, when reelected than 80, then 70, now it's at 60%. Time heals all these wounds, and pretty soon Republicans will be flirting with someone else.

COOPER: Van, do you think that's true?

JONES: Well, you know, hope springs eternal. We haven't seen, we haven't seen evidence of that yet. In other words, still, the dominant force in the Republican Party remains Donald Trump. So far, there's no money, it's been able to emerge as a real contender. And this is going to, in some ways, be the war to settle the score this primary.

Do you have Republican voters in Georgia who believe in the rule of law more than they love Donald Trump or not? Because there's no reason to replace a sitting governor. He's as right wing as you can be. There's hard to find a more right wing governor in the country than Kemp. So you can't be mad at him for anything if you're Republican voter than anything except that he didn't break the law to help Donald Trump.

COOPER: And then how important is this race for Stacey Abrams? I mean, she's got, you know, a national profile now. She's going to be running for the governor there. There are no other primary challengers.

JONES: Well, listen, I mean, this is her moment. She -- look, she has gotten where she is through the death of hard work, when the idea that you would have an African-American woman knocking on the door of being a governor in that state would have been preposterous 10 years ago, even five years ago, she has -- she made it within a hair's breadth of winning last time, and it's her turn.

And so, you're going to see a tremendous amount of support behind her, and it's deserved. And then what you're going to see is, though, on the Republican side, that she going up against Kemp again, is that rematch or did she go up against a Republican Party that is more committed to Donald Trump than the rule of law.

COOPER: Van Jones, Erick Erickson -- oh go ahead Erick.

ERICKSON: (INAUDIBLE) real quick. She -- that her announcement last week prompted David Perdue to do this. So she's lining the chess pieces up on board the way she wants and David Perdue took her bait.

COOPER: Interesting. Erick, thank you so much, Van Jones, as well. Appreciate it.

A humanitarian crisis playing the already unstable nation of South Sudan as historic floods threaten hundreds of thousands of people. CNN's Clarissa Ward is on the scene next.


[20:46:59] COOPER: The world's youngest country is battling with some have described as biblical flooding that has displaced hundreds of thousands of people ruin livelihoods. In a nation already battered by conflict and civil war, the United Nations said that South Sudan's northern state of unity has seen more than 700,000 people affected by the worst flooding the region have seen in nearly 60 years. According to government official, the historic flooding has also caused food shortages, malnutrition and children and the spread of diseases.

Our chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward is in South Sudan with the story.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just four months ago, this was a bustling town of 11,000 people. Then the floods came, biblical and scale. Leaving it submerged underwater and largely cut off. As we arrive in Ding Ding there are few signs of life. Just some belonging stashed in the tree tops, the only protection from the waters that have inundated much of South Sudan.

(on-camera): So this entire town has been flooded since August and the waters are still getting higher and higher even though the rainy season is now over.

Hi. A group of women catch sight of us and want to talk. Hi.


WARD (ON-CAMERA): Where are your homes? Have your homes been destroyed?


WARD (voice-over): They survived years of vicious civil war here. But these floods may pose the greatest threat yet. They tell us their crops have been completely destroyed.

(on-camera): So what are you living on right now? What are you surviving on?


WARD (on-camera): The lilies?


WARD (on-camera): The lilies, the water lilies?


WARD (on-camera): Are people getting sick from the dirty water?


WARD (voice-over): Many people have waterborne diseases, Masaru Kozar (ph) explains. The wells were all covered so we have to drink this water.

Well, South Sudan is no stranger to seasonal flooding, Unity State hasn't been hit like this since the early 1960s. Scientists say the floods have become much more intense and unpredictable in recent years, in part because of global warming.

(on-camera): James? Hi, James.

(voice-over): James Goyen (ph) is one of hundreds of thousands who have been displaced. He agrees to show us what's left of his family home.

(on-camera): Oh my god. That's your motorcycle.


WARD (voice-over): Nothing is left except for his children's drawings on the walls.

Since the conflict erupted, we've never had a rest, he tells us. We've been constantly running displaced. Our children have had no relief from the dangers.

Now, he is forced to flee once again. The journey to the promise of dry land is long and arduous. The lucky ones traveled by boat, most swim or weight moving slowly but purposefully through the muddy waters. Some push makeshift floats piled high with family members and possessions.


We come across a group of women whose raft is stuck in the mud. The men of the family have gone to try to save their livestock. Marika (ph) tells us they left their destroyed home four days ago.

(on-camera): Have you been pushing this raft for four days?


WARD (voice-over): Yes, they tell us. Along the way they say their food ran out.

(on-camera): How old is your baby?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five to six months.

WARD (on-camera): Five to six months. Are you worried about your children?


WARD (voice-over): Yes, I'm worried she says, and that's why we keep moving. They still have several miles to push before they reach this narrow strip of dry land. According to UNICEF, some 6,000 people have now settled here completely dependent on aid to survive.

LUEL DING, UNICEF EDUCATION OFFICER: They didn't have (INAUDIBLE), they don't have enough food for them to eat. So --

WARD (on-camera): They don't have bathrooms. They don't have food.

DING: Nothing.

WARD (on-camera): And there are more people arriving every day?

DING: People are continuing displace and continue coming.

WARD (on-camera): You're obviously doing everything you can, but is it enough?

DING: This is not enough. And that is reason why we are calling for donor communities. We show that, you know children get to school, children get health care. They get nutrition services, were to mention that, you know, we prevent them to die.

WARD (voice-over): As the fattest stagnant waters continue to rise. So do diseases like diarrhea and hepatitis E, malnutrition in children is now at its highest level since 2013. Those who make it all the way to the state capitol (INAUDIBLE) find little sanctuary. Some of the main roads have been turned into waterways, cars replaced by canoes.

Just a mile further, the ghostly remains of what was once a commercial hub.

(on-camera): This used to be the central shopping area in town as you can see, completely destroyed.

(voice-over): According to authorities 90% of Unity State has been impacted by these floods. Here the effects of climate change aren't a hypothetical problem in the future, but rather a real disaster in the present.

LAM TUNGWAR KUEIGWONG, UNITY STATE MINISTER, LAND HOUSING AND PUBLIC UTILITIES: We are fighting to block this water not to reach here.

WARD (voice-over): Minister Lam Tungwar concedes local authorities were completely unprepared and are now unable to cope with the scale of the crisis.

KUEIGWONG: We don't have sufficient for survival.

WARD (on-camera): How much longer can you cope with the situation as it stands?

KUEIGWONG: Realistically, I can tell you the frankly, we don't know. But we are just worried about the next rain because we are told the water behind me will not go now, they will not resist right now or dry up, it going to take a while because it's deep water.

WARD (voice-over): They don't have long. The next rains are expected in May. And at the current waters don't recede, the fear is that this area will be wiped off the map. Dikes are being built to try to hold back the encroaching waters. But the handful of diggers are no match for the vast flooding. Breaches are common, leaving many with no choice but to take matters into their own hands, hastily improvising protection for their endangered homes, as the waters quietly continued to rise.


COOPER: And Clarissa joins us now. I mean, is this expected to be the new norm in this region?

WARD: Well, this is what has everybody so worried Anderson, because if this is the new normal, I can tell you from what we've seen, South Sudan will not be able to cope, they do not have the equipment, the pumps, the infrastructure needed to deal with this kind of a crisis. And so, what you have essentially, is a compound effect where every time another flood hits, the situation gets worse and worse.

What we do know from the UN is that Africa is disproportionately affected across the continent by climate change. And it's important for our viewers to remember that South Sudan as you pointed out, the youngest country in the world. There are roughly 125 miles of paved road in this country, Anderson. South Sudan has not contributed even a fat fraction of global emissions and yet they are paying a very heavy toll for continued global warming. Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Clarissa Ward, I'm so glad you're there. Thank you. Great reporting. Appreciate it.


California Republican Congressman Devin Nunes announced he'll be leaving Congress to pursue a new career path and his new venture will include some very familiar faces. That's next.


COOPER: Republican Congressman Devin Nunes announced today he'll be leaving Congress by the end of the month. He'll become CEO of the new media company founded by the former president and will be aiming to launch their own conservative social media platform that they are calling Truth Social.

Congressman Nunes the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee was foreseen as one of the former president's most loyal defenders during his impeachment proceedings and was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom just two days before the January 6 Capitol insurrection.

Following this social media group statement confirming Nunes' new role, the former President praised him calling him quote, fighter and a leader. His hiring followers reporting earlier today that the company Nunes will lead faces now an investigation from the Security Exchange Commission over a financing deal.


That's it for us. The news continues. Let's hand it over to Michael Smerconish in "CNN TONIGHT."