Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Loses Legal Fight to Keep January 6 Documents Secret; Jussie Smollett Found Guilty on Five of Six Counts of Felony Disorderly Conduct; President Biden Warns Leaders at Summit, Democracy does not Happen by Accident; Pres. Biden: "Around The World, Democracy Needs Champions"; Omicron Cases Found In At Least 25 States; More Than Half Of New Hospitalizations Over The Past Month Have Been In Midwestern States; Daunte Wright's Girlfriend Testifies, New Video Of Shooting Aftermath Played In Court. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 09, 2021 - 20:00   ET


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A bipartisan Federal elections experts tell CNN they are very concerned about what they're seeing here in the State of Wisconsin. It is similar pressure to what they are seeing being applied to Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. What they all have in common, Erin, they are swing states -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Wow. Kyung, thank you very much live from Madison, Wisconsin with that fantastic report.

Anderson starts now.



We begin with breaking news on multiple fronts. There is a verdict in the trial of actor, Jussie Smollett accused of staging a hate crime against himself. The jury in that case has spoken and we will bring details on that.

But first, there is breaking news out of Washington and a major loss in court for the former President. A Federal Appeals Court says he cannot keep his White House record secret and out of the hands of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack at the Capitol.

The next step in the fight is expected to be an appeal to the Supreme Court, but it is unclear if the High Court would take the case. Now of course, this comes as the Select Committee is getting a glimpse into who knew what in real time during the Capitol attack.

A source telling CNN, the context of the text messages and e-mails voluntarily handed over by the former President's former Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, without any claim of executive privilege.

Meadows, as we reported last night is now refusing to talk to the Committee and is suing its members along with the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. So there is a lot to get to, and we'll have more what Meadows shared in a moment.

But first, let's get details on the Appeals Court ruling against the former president from CNN's Jessica Schneider.

So, what more do we know about the decision?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this was 68 pages and a wholesale rejection of Trump's arguments that he should get to block his White House records from going to the Committee.

The Judge writing this opinion for this three-judge panel. She wrote repeatedly that Trump's legal team failed to make any compelling arguments in this case. And instead, she said that they only offered what she called a grab bag of objections.

So in the end for this court, Anderson, it really came down to three things. The fact that the current President Joe Biden carefully reviewed all the documents at issue, that his administration, she said is best suited to determine what should be privileged and that the privilege was waived from Joe Biden, so Congress could investigate what the administration has pointed out was unique and extraordinary, that attack on our democracy.

So this is from the opinion. The opinion says: "The events of January 6th exposed the fragility of those democratic institutions and traditions that we had perhaps come to take for granted. In response, the President of the United States and Congress have each made the judgment that access to this subset of presidential communication records is necessary to address a matter of great constitutional moment for the Republic."

"Former President Trump has given this Court no legal reason to cast aside President Biden's assessment."

So Anderson, the Committee now, one step closer to getting their hands on what is hundreds of pages of documents. That includes call logs, visitor logs from the White House around January 6th, even drafts of speeches, and handwritten notes.

But Trump's team, they do get time to appeal this to the Supreme Court. However, if the Court decides not to take up this case, those documents would then be released to the Committee -- Anderson.

COOPER: What does the former President have to say?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, Trump's team, they were quick to respond on Twitter. They said they will absolutely take this to the Supreme Court, and a spokesperson for Trump said that this case was always destined for the Supreme Court. They continue to say: "President Trump's duty to defend the Constitution and the office of the presidency continues."

But you know, as this Appeals Court pointed out, Trump's team, they really gave no real reasons why these documents shouldn't be released only that it's Trump's prerogative, they argued as the former President to keep them secret. But the Court here rejected that fully saying that the President Biden's waiver of the privilege prevails. So Anderson, we will see if the Supreme Court even decides to take up this case, given that Trump's legal arguments are so weak, according to this Appeals Court -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jessica Schneider, appreciate it. Thank you.

Let's get some more perspective. Joining us, Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman, who was a witness for the prosecution in the first impeachment of the former President. He is also author of "The Broken Constitution: Lincoln, Slavery, and the Re-founding of America."

Also joining us, CNN legal analyst, Carrie Cordero; and CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel who has the new reporting on Mark Meadows's text messages, and e-mails from January 6th.

So Carrie, first of all, on the Court ruling. Was this the ruling you expected?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is, Anderson, because as Jessica was describing in her report, the former President really did not have any valid legal arguments here. It was -- the executive privilege has always been President Biden's to assert as the current President, and he made a careful decision in this matter, that it was in the public interest given the historical context, the importance of January -- the events of January 6th and the work that the Committee is doing.

And that is what the Court of Appeals, the D.C. Circuit said in its opinion.


COOPER: Professor Feldman, the Court ruled, in part saying, quote: What Mr. Trump seeks is to nullify those judgments of the President and Congress, delay the Committee's work and derail the negotiations and accommodations that the political branches have made."

I'm wondering how you think how significant you think that is for a Federal Appeals Court to say, look, not only are his claims of executive privilege without merit, or at least without even an argument by him, but what he is really trying to do is delay a congressional investigation.

NOAH FELDMAN, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: That's code that the D.C. Circuit judges are putting in the opinion to speak to the Supreme Court justices to say, don't take this case, just be satisfied with our opinion here.

And you know, what is striking about this is the extent to which Trump's lawyers seem to just be mailing it in. They could have argued that there were specific things, specific parts of the communication between Trump and his advisers that couldn't be disclosed without threatening the privilege of confidentiality, and they didn't do it.

And so, what the D.C. Circuit is saying there is, look, you know, you just look like you're engaging, empty delaying tactics, you're wasting this Court's time, so that the Supreme Court will say, okay, we're not going to take it up, either.

COOPER: Well, so Professor, when it goes to the Supreme Court can -- I mean, can the former President argue bad lawyering in the last round or does it not work that way?

FELDMAN: No, it'll be the same lawyers, and it may be bad lawyering, but they're not going to say that. I think the only chance that the Supreme Court would take this up, and it's pretty slim, is if they took seriously an argument that Trump made that the D.C. Circuit reject it.

And that was the argument that if the current President can just say that the prior President's claim to executive privilege has been overridden, then future Presidents will get in to the habit of just releasing the private records of their predecessors if they are of a different party in order to embarrass them, and that is actually not a crazy thing to say.

The D.C. Circuit said, no. No President is going to do that, because it will create mutually assured destruction. If I release the records of my predecessor, then my successor will release my records. And that might be right, but you could also imagine that in our scorched Earth politics, if Donald Trump becomes President and heaven forbid, and there were a Republican Congress that were subpoenaing records that belonged to Biden, Trump might say, go right ahead.

So if the Justices took that concern seriously, then maybe they would consider the issue afresh, but I think the odds are that they will be satisfied with this opinion.

COOPER: Carrie, the Court also pointed out that it's not just the current President. It's Congress also, which wants this. So it's really two branches of government, to the argument that the Professor was making about the possibility of future Presidents doing that, it would be the future President plus Congress. I mean, that seems to be what at least, it is an added branch of government here.

CORDERO: That's exactly right, Anderson. So, the second part of the court's analysis is that there was an accommodation made between the political branches, between the executive branch and Congress, and that's normally how issues of executive privilege or other privilege between the branches would be worked out, a method of accommodation where they make an agreement about certain things, and that's the process that is worked out, and then the courts don't have to get involved.

And so, what the opinion was saying is that, in this case, President Biden made the decision. And then also, there is this accommodation, this agreement made between the political branches, and that is the way that it is supposed to work.

COOPER: Jamie, I know you've been talking to sources -- your sources in Washington tonight and wonder what you're hearing about the likelihood the Supreme Court would take the former President's case. JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So I am not the legal expert on this panel, but I did reach out to two former Justice official sources, who by the way, for what it is worth, are both conservative Republicans, and they know this Court very well. It was their opinion -- it's just their opinion, that there would be -- if Trump tried to get an en banc, that that would be turned down. And again, this was just their opinion, they did not think the Supreme Court would take the case.

COOPER: Professor Feldman, do you think they would?

FELDMAN: I think the odds are against it. I think the only circumstance where they would be if they wanted to weigh in on the question of the danger of subsequent Presidents systematically alongside Congress, effectively waiving the privilege.

I think the background issue here is how broken are our politics? And what you see here is that the Judges of the Courts like to act as though our politics are not as broken as they sometimes appear to be.

And you know, in the past, the Courts have sometimes made mistakes in that regard, for example, with respect to the Independent Counsel Law. So, it's not impossible that the Supreme Court might want to go further, but my guess is they are going to want to say this is normal politics. The President and Congress agree, we're going to allow the D.C. Circuit opinion to stand.

COOPER: Carrie, what happens if the Supreme Court doesn't take it up?


CORDERO: If they do not take it up, then then the documents will finally be provided to the Select Committee. So this Court, the D.C. Circuit Court has enabled there to be 14 days for President Trump to decide to appeal, and then, if the Supreme Court decides that they are not going to take it, then the Committee finally receives its documents on the basis of their having been two really definitive clear opinions, one from the District Court, and then now, this 68- page opinion from the D.C. Circuit.

COOPER: Jamie, as we mentioned, you've got reporting on the text and e-mails Mark Meadows shared with the January 6 Committee before he stopped cooperating and sued it. What have you learned?

GANGEL: So, what is striking here is just for context, I want to repeat, he handed these over voluntarily with no claim of privilege. And as we know, he has given them more than 6,000 pages of documents included in those documents, I'm told are text messages, e-mails, phone calls -- the substance.

This isn't just who called who at what time, the actual text messages and e-mails, and this is all in real time on January 6th that this has to do with Meadows communicating with, quote, "a wide range of individuals." This could be Members of Congress, White House officials, reporters, rally organizers -- we don't know yet. But what was most interesting about what I was told was that the text messages and e-mails will reveal not only what Donald Trump was doing on January 6th when the riot was happening, but what he wasn't doing during that time and that is key because, as we've heard from members, they believe that Trump is guilty of dereliction of duty.

So what he didn't do may be very important.

COOPER: But there were a bunch of texts and e-mails and stuff that he didn't hand over, right?

GANGEL: That's correct. So, they divided it out, and there were some things that he has claimed are privileged, but the point that I would make is that the source said to me, this was on Meadows personal phone. This was his personal e-mail.

So obviously, things can be fought out in Court, but I think there is an argument about privilege here, since it was his personal phone and personal e-mail.

COOPER: Interesting. All right, Jamie Gangel, I appreciate the reporting. Carrie Cordero and Noah Feldman, thanks so much.

Up next, a verdict reached in the Jussie Smollett trial after he took the stand in his own defense.

Plus, President Biden warns world leaders, democracy is under threat at his virtual Summit. The question of course is, what about the threats here at home?



COOPER: Moments ago, "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett was found guilty on five out of six counts of felony disorderly conduct by a Chicago jury. Smollett was accused of staging an attack against himself back in January of 2019.

According to Chicago Police, he paid two brothers to help him orchestrate the attack for media attention. He was initially indicted in March 2019 on 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct, but Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx's office dropped all charges weeks later.

Then in February 2020, a special prosecutor looked at the case after a debate on whether Smollett got special treatment, and that is when he was indicted on new charges.

CNN senior national correspondent, Sara Sidner joins us now with more on the verdict.

So, what was the reaction from Smollett in court?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, he sat stoic. He was almost like a statue. He had no expression on his face. He didn't make any movements. Very, very solemn, didn't say anything.

Then when he walked out of Court, there were questions yelled at him. He did not respond. He walked as quickly as we have seen him walk out of this courthouse after the verdict was read.

We should also mention that those six counts actually have to do with three false reports of a battery against him, and two false reports of a hate crime against him. Those reports were to two different detectives and so for each time he told them that he was hurt, hit, or that a hate crime had been perpetrated on him, he was convicted.

The only one that he was not convicted was actually two weeks later, according to the special prosecutor, when he went back in to talk to police and talked about the people being masked who attacked him, and that was the aggravated battery. The jury found him not guilty for that one -- Anderson.

COOPER: I mean, it's really stunning not only, you know, is he now found guilty of lying to police. I mean, he got on the stand, you know, which a lot of witnesses don't do, and if the jury is correct, lied to the jury, lied to the Judge, I'm wondering if that's going to be taken to account when sentencing comes around.

SIDNER: You hit the nail on the head, it absolutely is expected to be taken into account by the Judge when he starts to look at whether or not to sentence him to any jail time at all. And as you know, he faces up to three years in prison and a $25,000.00 fine.

The Judge has great discretion in this particular, you know, felony, he can decide to give him no jail time at all, and a fine or anything in between. And so, it will play a part, the special prosecutor spoke to that, but he also talked about this case. And in essence, he said, we told you he lied and the jury got it right.


DAN WEBB, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: That verdict was a resounding message by the jury that in fact, Mr. Smollett did exactly what we said he did.


NENYE UCHE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We obviously respectfully disagree with the jury's verdict. The verdict is inconsistent. You cannot say Jussie is lying and Jussie is not lying for the same exact incidents. So, we feel 100 percent confidence that this case will be won on appeal.


SIDNER: So there you have it. That was Jussie Smollett's defense attorney, Mr. Uche, the first person speaking there was the special prosecutor, Dan Webb, two very different versions of how they saw this happening. But you just heard there, we may not be done with this case, because we are hearing as you heard that the defense is planning to appeal -- Anderson.

COOPER: Sara, stay with us. I want to bring in criminal defense attorney and CNN legal analyst Paul Callan.

Paul, I know you've been following this case. I'm wondering what your reaction is to the verdict, and the likelihood actually of them having a successful appeal.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I was not surprised at all by the verdict, Anderson. You have an actor here who took the stand and testified and the jury expected him to tell a compelling, believable story. In fact, the story he told was totally unbelievable. That he was attacked by two people that he knew, his exercise instructor and nutritionist, and another one of them actually is somebody he has been sexually intimate with, but that he could not identify at the time of the initial attack. And the story was just totally implausible from the beginning, and the jury saw right through it.

On the issue of, you know, where it is going to wind up sentence-wise, I think this perjury question that you raised a couple of minutes ago is going to be very, very important. I think the Judge is going to look at this and say, number one, what an enormous waste of resources for the City of Chicago, a city that is haunted by really violent crime and to have those resources used on a nonsense claim like this is such a waste of public resources.

And of course, to stage a hate crime is one of the worst things you can do because, in fact, you're destroying the credibility of other people who may suffer from true hate crimes, and then to perjure yourself on the witness stand tops it all off.

So, I think it will be hard for the Judge not to give jail time in this case, and it's the kind of case that probably would have won with probation had he just pled guilty at the beginning.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, for a gay man to be, you know, faking a hate crime, according to the jury, I mean, it's a slap in the face to everybody who has actually suffered hate crimes, which is a very real problem.

Just in terms of prison time, would they be -- it is one to three years, but is that -- would that be concurrent if there actually was prison time for each of them?

CALLAN: Well, in theory, the Judge, I suppose could say consecutive time, but he won't. In a case like this, it is going to be concurrent time.

So, I really think that you're looking at a jail sentence that probably will be less than one year in jail, but it could be combined with a brief jail sentence and community service and maybe a substantial fine, but I think -- I suspect that any jail sentence will probably be less than a year because these are relatively minor charges.

COOPER: Yes. Sara, to Paul's point, Smollett still faces a civil suit. The City of Chicago is suing him, demanding reimbursement exactly for the cost of investigating his reported attack. SIDNER: That's right. And actually, we just got a statement from the City of Chicago, our Brad Parks sending that out to everyone saying we still plan to continue to pursue that civil suit where they're asking for about $130,000.00 and why are they asking for that much money? They say that is the amount of money that was spent on paying police as they spent thousands of hours looking through thousands of hours of video and trying to investigate this over a couple of weeks' time.

There were some 30 officers on this and there was all sorts of investigations trying to figure out who these two people were, when in fact, police ultimately determined that the two people were someone that Smollett hired to do this to him, so that he could get more media attention -- Anderson.

COOPER: Sara Sidner, Paul Callan, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Up next, President Biden telling world leaders today that protecting democracy is the -- in his words -- defining challenge of our time as our American democracy is teetering on the brink. It's a topic Colonel Ralph Peters and I have talked about numerous times over the past few years, we'll get his reaction with what the President said, coming up.



COOPER: Just days after warning Vladimir Putin that the U.S. will levy unprecedented sanctions if the Russian leader orders an invasion of neighboring Ukraine, President Biden opened his virtual Summit for Democracy with an urgent plea to world leaders.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Democracy doesn't happen by accident. We have to renew it with each generation, and this is an urgent matter on all our parts in my view. Because the data we're seeing is largely pointing in the wrong direction.


COOPER: Well, the video gathering included more than a hundred participants representing governments, civil society, and private sector leaders. It's part of President Biden's plan to promote democracy against rising autocracies around the world, but with the one year anniversary of the January 6th Capitol insurrection fast approaching, amid virtually no sign from Republican Party leaders that they want to curb extremism and conspiracy theories within their own ranks, the President also acknowledged that, quote, "American democracy is an ongoing struggle to live up to our highest ideals and to heal our divisions."

Joining us now, retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters.

Colonel Peters, it's good to have you back on. You and I have discussed threats to democracy at length in recent years.

LT. COL. RALPH PETERS (RET), U.S. ARMY: Good to see you.

COOPER: When you hear President Biden saying as he did today, the democracy faces what he said were sustained and alarming challenges, and that the data is pointing in the wrong direction. I am wondering, what your reaction to it was?

PETERS: Well, I think that overall, it was good that President Biden did what he did. The problem is, of course, that this is not an auspicious time for us to be preaching because we've got such tragic, deep divisions at home, and such real dangers to this magnificent system that has served us so well for so long. And for which, Anderson, we are often shamefully ungrateful.

We are a wonderfully well-governed people in a great country, a generous country, a good-hearted country, a decent country, a country that yes, has made grave mistakes, has committed shameful acts over the centuries, but on the whole, when you add it up, we have been a great benefit to humanity and we remain so.


And the evidence for it is millions of people that long to come here, that would have risked their lives to come here. And why any Americans, right, left or center would take this cell for granted, or even attack this system. It bewilders me, we're such blessed, lucky people --

COOPER: And --

PETERS: -- and we are ungrateful.

COOPER: What is that? What do you think is the greatest threat to democracy here in the United States sort of that sense of being ungrateful?

PETERS: Well, certainly, pervasively that leads to passivity, inactivity to people not standing up for what's right. Certainly the divisions. And I, for in my own past work in the media, I regret anything I've done to contribute to those divisions, because they become so grave. So, so terribly dangerous to us.

Now, the immediate tactical threat, the immediate practical threat to our democracy, is Republican efforts to tamper with the electoral system, with a machinery of our elections, with the local imposing or arranging for partisanship and local election boards. That's just terribly tragic. But over the longer haul, the polarization, the extremism on right and left, the authoritarian impulses on right and left, the willingness to lie outright to the American people to, or at least the twist, the truth, the inability, it seems to have the least courage to defend this country.

I mean, the cowardice of the Republican Party, the shameful betrayal of our fundamental values are the values the Republicans, whom often whom I often voted for, who have professed that to trash the Constitution, to excuse this monstrous, monstrous buffoon who may run again in the next election, we stand up for what's good and right. And by the way, I don't want to just pick on Republicans, because there is plenty of hatred and divisiveness on the far left, as well. And be where the extremes, the extremes are always a danger.

And by the way, Anderson, my definition of good legislation, is legislative --legislation that makes both extremes unhappy. But meanwhile, cherish this country, it's worth it. People have died for it, don't take it for granted. Be grateful every single day.

COOPER: You know, it's interesting --

PETERS: However your ancestors came here, be grateful. We're here now.

COOPER: You know, it seems like in revolutions, if you look through history, often it's the extremes, the first thing they do is attack the moderates, because the moderates are the most dangerous to the extremes. Anyone preaching moderation, anybody preaching compromise or consensus, or, you know, not vilifying? That doesn't, that doesn't suit the needs of the extremes. And so, it's the moderates who are often the first to go, because the extremes actually kind of play off each other.

PETERS: Yes, you're absolutely right. That's very astute. History is full of instances of a militant minority, enforcing their views on the majority. And I'm still optimistic about this wonderful country. We've been through tough times before. But I am at the very least, dismayed by what I see all around me. I mean, think about it on a very practical human level, families, friends divided over politics, and a holiday season.


PETERS: But that is madness. Inexcusable madness. We're all Americans. We can argue, we can yell at each other sometimes, we can have dramatically different opinions. But at the end of the day, compromise is what makes us system works. Compromise, you get some of this, I get some of that. That's where it's supposed to be.


PETERS: And these militants on both ends don't want compromise, well, I'm sorry. The last thing I can say on this Anderson is cherish the Constitution, don't trash it. And when I see people attacking the Constitution, well, you know, there's a reason our military takes an oath to the Constitution, not to any individual.


PETERS: The Constitution is that -- that's the foundation upon which democracy is built upon which it thrives. And cherish it, defend it. And by God, please, my fellow Americans be grateful for what you have the rest of the world envies us.


COOPER: Yes. Lt. Col. Peters, it's good to have you on always. Thank you PETERS: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up, a reminder that the COVID crisis is far from over sadly a look inside one hospital that is overwhelmed with cases again. Next.


COOPER: The Omicron COVID variant has now been found in at least 25 states but there is some good news from Pfizer and in Israeli studies showing the Pfizer booster shot did well against Omicron. Still, experts are warning to keep an eye on the Delta variant which remains the biggest threat right now.

Take a look, COVID cases are up in 45 states according to Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. is now averaging about 121,000 new COVID cases each day. That's a 62% increase in just one month and hospitalizations are up 40% compared to a month ago.

Michigan is now one of the hardest hit states with COVID hospitalizations. They're at an all time high.

CNN's Miguel Marquez gotten to one hospital in the state where it is deja vu all over again with health care workers desperately trying to save lives. Here's Miguel's report.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Clive Ellis, one of thousands of patients suffering with COVID-19 here stretching Michigan hospitals to the breaking point.

MARQUEZ (on-camera): When did you know you had to come to the hospital? What were you experiencing?


CLIVE ELLIS, COVID PATIENT: I actually did numbers were down in the upper 60s or 70s.

MARQUEZ (on-camera): Oh dear, that's very low.


MARQUEZ (on-camera): What does it feel like?

ELLIS: It feels like a (INAUDIBLE).

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Unvaccinated, this is the 66-year-old second bout of COVID-19. Whatever natural immunity he had.

ELLIS: Suppose second row this way worse.

MARQUEZ (on-camera): And this was worse than the first?

ELLIS: Yes. Well the first one was bad. MARQUEZ (voice-over): Didn't help. His message now?

(on-camera): Would you encourage others to get vaccinated now, though?


MARQUEZ (on-camera): How important is it? I mean, how bad is COVID?

ELLIS: It's terrible. You don't want it.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Still, there are those like 62-year-old Deborah LaRoche in the COVID unit for a week now who says vaccination just isn't for her.


MARQUEZ (on-camera): You did not want to be vaccinated?


MARQUEZ (on-camera): Do you think you'll get vaccinated after this?


MARQUEZ (on-camera): Why?

LAROCHE: I should be OK now.

MARQUEZ (on-camera): You think?


MARQUEZ (voice-over): The sickness, death and seemingly endless suffering taking its toll on those who come to work every day to save lives at Lansing Sparrow Health.

LEAH RASCH, REGISTERED NURSE, COVID UNIT, SPARROW HEALTH SYSTEM: The other day, I had my first panic attack, and I didn't know what it was, like, I'm a nurse, I should know these things. And I drove to work and was just, I couldn't get to the car. And I'm like, what is going on? And it was a full on after I'd sat there for (INAUDIBLE), oh my gosh, I'm having a panic attack. Like I did not want to come into work.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Stress, tension, anxiety on the face and in the lives of every healthcare worker here.

KATIE SEFTON, RN ASST. MANAGER, COVID UNIT, SPARROW HEALTH SYSTEM: I've gone home a few days and had days where I just cry. And as a mom, it's really hard because my kids then are challenged to see that. So, I have to put on a brave front for them to but it's awful.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Though most staff here are vaccinated Sparrow has no vaccine mandate for its workers is still suffering a shortage of staff, worn thin by stress, endless shifts in treating preventable sickness and death. JIM DOVER, PRESIDENT & CEO, SPARROW HEALTH SYSTEM: On the frontline staff, it is so hard. We have seven people die yesterday. They're seeing all this data and they're seeing the families left behind who are crying over the loss of their loved one who was unvaccinated that could have been prevented.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Hospitalizations here higher than ever. In just the last month admissions to hospitals statewide have exploded, rising at 88%.

ELIZABETH HERTEL, DIRECTOR, MICHIGAN DEPT. OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES: Many of our hospitals who are no longer able to accept emergencies in their emergency departments. We have almost every hospital who has people waiting in their emergency departments to get admitted.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Sparrow Hospital now at triage level code red, the highest no room for patients from other hospitals elective procedures on hold. The wait for a bed once admitted as long as two days. Its emergency department swamped for weeks.

(on-camera): And how often is your emergency department overwhelmed to that level?


MARQUEZ (on-camera): Over a month?


MARQUEZ (on-camera): Right at the end?

KENT-VANGORDER: Perpetually. Perpetually, we have had that many emergency department patients in our emergency department that need to be on the floors and we just can't -- it's that we're stepping on the hose up here. There's nowhere for them to go.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Meanwhile, health care workers from the nurses to the doctors to those who sanitize and ready rooms for the next victim of coronavirus, get up every day and go at it again.

(on-camera): How does the stress manifest itself in your life?

DANIELLE WILLIAMS, REGISTERED NURSE, COVID UNIT, SPARROW HEALTH SYSTEM: I used to just be on the days when I come to work, I'd be stressed out but now it kind of carries over to like knowing I have to come into work and do this. I love my job. I love what I do. And I can't see myself doing anything else. But it's just the heaviness that it is here and working in these situations with these people who before they walked in the door they had a normal life. They're healthy people, they're out celebrating, Thanksgiving and then now they're here with a mask on their face, teary eyed staring at me asking me if they're going to live or not. Desperation and it's heartbreaking.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MARQUEZ: Now, the Health and Hospital Association here in Michigan says that even before the pandemic they had a shortage of health care workers. It has gotten worse now because of the stress of the job mainly because of that, and also that many health care workers are taking traveling jobs with pay more. They're also seeing an uptick in the flu cases this year. That is stressing out the hospital system here.

The chief medical officer for Sparrow Health says that if you get that vaccine for COVID today, it may not protect you completely for Christmas, you won't be completely inoculated. But you would at least have some protection and that's what they're really worried about right now with Christmas and the New Year coming up, they're expecting a lot more suffering ahead. Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Miguel, incredible interviews not only with the nurses and met all the medical team but the patients there really eye opening. Miguel, I appreciate it. Thank you.


Joining us now is CNN chief correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. I mean Sanjay, I don't know as a doctor or nurse how one deals with when you have a patient who has refused to get vaccinated gets COVID and then sits there while she's still in the hospital and says she's not going to get a vaccine in the future. It's -- I mean, it's infuriating.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, you're not sure what else could be more persuasive than that. The fact that you may be sitting in the hospital in the ICU on a ventilator even -- I mean, there's a certain percentage of the country I think I've learned over the last couple of years and even before that, that simply is going to be so distrustful, so reluctant that no matter what, they're not going to get it.

I mean, if you look at what's happening in Michigan, versus the rest of the country, look at what's happening in the Midwest, there's been these waves of the transmission. We've seen this over time, we keep talking about these numbers as a country, but it's always been a bunch of regions. And so, here in the south, where I am, we had a significant sort of uptick, as you see there, that's the orange line. It's come down, and now you see what's happening in the Midwest.

On top of that, as Miguel just mentioned, cooler, drier weather people are indoors, more, more transmission as a result. And then you only got about 55% of the state is vaccinated. So that's a lot of unvaccinated people.

And let me show you quickly, again, to Miguel's point, if you look at what's happening in the hospital of the COVID patients are in the hospital, this is in Michigan, 76% of them are unvaccinated, 87% of the COVID patients in the hospital in the ICU, unvaccinated and 88% of the COVID patients on vaccine on a ventilator.

So, you know, it's significant. I mean, people are looking at this in the rearview mirror, that obviously tells a different story. COOPER: Well, also, I mean, just, you know, these nurses who are having panic attacks and having to hide crying, because they don't want to upset their children and how it impacts their families. I mean, again, I'm sort of, I don't know why the person who said she's not going to get vaccinated now its bothers me so much, but like, what right? Does she have to make these nurses have panic attacks and, you know, effect her nurses' children. I mean, anyway, sorry.

Just to unbalance I mean, yes, I mean, I don't -- it's why I couldn't be a nurse or doctor because I would just, I would just be livid. You know, it just seems the height of arrogance that I mean, why is her life so -- why does she get to choose and then continue to be a patient and have negative impacts on the nurses and ruin their family lives? I mean, it just seems ridiculous.

GUPTA: And these nurses and these doctors, they obviously keep keeps showing up. They don't --


GUPTA: -- judge patients any differently based on vaccination status. I don't, you know, it's really flummoxing to me. We see it here as well. I mean, you be in an ICU, and you see patients lying on prone looking at iPads, you know, that nurses bring to them sometimes saying goodbye to their families. And you walk outside and there's, you know, people who look at you strangely if you're wearing a mask. So it's this cognitive dissonance I think like I've never seen before, Anderson and you know, you and I've been doing these this sort of job for a long time.

I mean, there's always again, a certain percentage of the country that is going to be so distrustful of anything, anything institutionalized hospitals, government, you name it, they have this distrust no matter what. But they see themselves as the guardians of the galaxy. They say, hey, you're missing it. We see it. And unfortunately, as you point out, it turns into the story that Miguel just told when an ICU still refuses to get vaccinated.

COOPER: Yes, and we're not all islands. I mean, we are connected whether you want to be or not, you know, you live in a community you live in a society and you get benefits because of that, and there are responsibilities. Anyway, I'll get off my little soapbox.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, I appreciate it always. Thank you.


COOPER: Up next, Daunte Wright's girlfriend describing her desperate attempts to save his life after he was shot by Kimberly Potter. The one time was a police officer now an ex-cop who says she mistakenly used her gun instead of a taser. Hear the testimony, ahead.


[20:53:17] COOPER: With dramatic testimony in the trial the ex-police officer who said she accidentally drew her gun instead of her Taser when she shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright. On the stand Wright's girlfriend who was in his car when he was killed describes trying to help stop rights bleeding with a belt and a piece of clothing after he was shot. Instead she called his name as he gasped for air.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is in Minneapolis with the latest.



ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Painful testimony --

ALBRECHT-PAYTON: I try to scream his name.

BROADDUS (voice-over): -- detailing Daunte Wright's final moments.

ALBRECHT-PAYTON: I just remember like trying to (INAUDIBLE).

BROADDUS (voice-over): Twenty-year-old Alayna Albrecht-Payton was in the car with Wright at the time of this deadly shooting.

KIMBERLY POTTER, EX-COP: I just shot him.

BROADDUS (voice-over): She testified they had only been dating about three weeks.

ALBRECHT-PAYTON: I just try to push out his chest, and call his name. And if he will answer or just gasping. Like just, just take breaths of air.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Officer Kimberly Potter's immediate reaction to the shooting was played for the court Wednesday.

POTTER: Oh my god.



BROADDUS (voice-over): Testimony today focusing on the shooting aftermath further up the road. Wright's car had just crashed when a video call came in from his mother.

ALBRECHT-PAYTON: It was video call (INAUDIBLE) I was so sorry it did that. (INAUDIBLE).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands up!

BROADDUS (voice-over): Moments later new video show police approaching the car. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands up! Put them up!

BROADDUS: Wright was unable to comply.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands up!

POTTER: Hands.

BROADDUS: Albrecht-Payton who suffered a broken jaw, a concussion and facial lacerations in the crash was handcuffed.


BROADDUS (voice-over): Several minutes after Wright was first shot, new body cam video shows unsuccessful attempts to save his life.



COOPER: Adrienne, (INAUDIBLE) the defense actually asked for mistrial today. What did the judge have to say?

BROADDUS: Anderson, outside the presence of the jury the defense attorney Paul Engh did request that mistrial saying quote, he didn't see any evidence directed at the proof of guilt today.

Meanwhile, the prosecution said all evidence was admissible and needed to refute the defense's claim that Wright causes his own death. The judge denied that motion for mistrial. Court resumes tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. an hour later here in Minneapolis, Minnesota because of the expected snowstorm. Anderson.

COOPER: Adrienne Broaddus, appreciate it. Thank you.

We'll be right back.



COOPER: The news continues. Let's hand over to Michael Smerconish in "CNN TONIGHT." Michael?