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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Appeals Court Lets Biden Administration Enforce Vaccine Rules for Large Employers; Viral Blizzard is About to Hit U.S., Expert Says; Interview with Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO); Sources Confirm "Aggressive [Sic] Strategy" Text Message Sent From Rick Perry's Phone Number; Testimony Ends With Ex-Officer Kim Potter Breaking Down As Prosecutor Grill Her On Daunte Wright Killing; New Details On The Assassination Of Haiti's President. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 17, 2021 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: It is sage. It isn't just sedation, it is something much more significant.

All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you, as always.

And everyone, please don't miss Sanjay's latest report, "Weed 6: Marijuana and Autism." Sunday night at eight.

And thanks for joining us, AC 360 begins now.



Dr. Anthony Fauci today issued a battle cry that speaks loudly to where we are right now against COVID and how frustrating and confusing and exhausting a place it can be.

"We can't give in," he said as New York State reported its highest daily case count of the entire pandemic. He went on to say, "We will win this war, we've just got to hang in there." And if this is a war, there is no shortage of news tonight from the frontline; some of it hopeful, some deeply troubling -- all important to bring you.

We will be joined by the Director of the National Institutes of Health and the Governor of Colorado who is pushing ahead with a policy of treating the pandemic as though the medical emergency is over.

We begin though with exclusive new reporting from CNN's Jamie Gangel and Jake Tapper on the former President's attempt to overturn the election.

It concerns a text message dated November 4th to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and it lays out a rationale for overturning election results before they're even fully known.

Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin read the text Tuesday night during contempt proceedings for Meadows.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): "Here is an aggressive strategy, one day after the election. Why can't the States of Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and other Republican-controlled Statehouses declare this as BS, where conflicts and election not called that night and just send their own electors to vote and have it go to the SCOTUS."


COOPER: Now, when Congressman Raskin read that, he didn't say who the Senator is believed to be. Well, tonight, it seems we know.

CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel joins us now with exclusive reporting. So, what have you learned?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So Anderson, Jake, and I have learned that according to three sources with knowledge, members of the January 6th Committee believe the sender of that text was former Energy Secretary and Governor of Texas, Rick Perry.

We understand that he sent the text to the Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows on November 4th, and just for perspective, this was the day after the election before all the votes were counted and the election was called.

A spokesman for Rick Perry says the former Governor denies sending the text, but when we asked how it came from Perry's phone, the spokesman had no explanation.

Anderson, just for the record. Jake and I confirmed with multiple people who know Rick Perry, who have his number, it is in fact, his phone number.

So just imagine it is after Election Day, but it hasn't been called. This is a message saying don't wait until the votes are counted. Ignore the voters. It was really a strategy to subvert the will of the people.

COOPER: I mean, it is incredible that -- I mean, again, the timing of it, just one day after the election. What is the particular significance of this text? I mean, why would it be so important for the Committee to drill down on?

GANGEL: So first, the Committee may very well have other texts in this exchange that we don't know about yet. Did Mark Meadows respond? How does it fit with other evidence or communications that the Committee is learning?

Our sources say this is just the tip of the iceberg. That it is one of many significant texts the Committee is looking at, and in this case, it appears to show this strategy that Trump World was already discussing -- these are Trump loyalists who apparently believe he is going to lose, and they are coming up with plans to steal the election.

If the Committee can build a timeline using communication like this, it is critical to presenting their case and let us just underscore again, Mark Meadows, handed these over to the Committee with no claim of privilege -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jamie Gangel, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.


COOPER: We're going to come back to the story a bit later in the hour when a member of the Select Committee joins us, but as we mentioned at the top, today's COVID developments, they're significant, including just moments ago a major court victory on the President's vaccine mandate for large companies.

The ruling from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals says that the government can enforce a vaccine or testing rule for companies with more than a hundred employees. It came as a separate Appeals Court today declined a Justice Department request to reinstate the similar mandate on Federal contractors.

Consequential end to a very busy week, more from CNN's Kyung Lah.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): America's COVID time warp. Long testing and vaccination lines in Miami and familiar fears of exposure.

IVONNE JIMENEZ, SON HAS COVID-19: He doesn't live in my house, but I'm so scared so I decided to make an appointment to get tested just -- you know, just in case.


LAH (voice over): In New York City, the positivity rate has doubled in just four days. The City Health Adviser tweeted: "We've never seen this before in NYC."

A return to Holiday tradition is halted once again. Radio City Music Hall announced its Christmas Spectacular shows are canceled for the rest of the season due to increasing challenges from the pandemic. In pharmacies, store shelves for rapid tests empty, all echoes of the past, people here waiting more than an hour to be tested as omicron reveals its rapid spread.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is after coming yesterday, twice and then not being able to get tested here.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: This is a whole new animal, and we've got to be honest about the fact that it's moving very fast and we have to move faster.

LAH (voice over): The past is prologue as New York Mayor redoubles restrictions and consider scaling back the Time Square New Year's Eve celebration.

A visible return of sports restrictions. Hockey in Montreal played to empty stands. The NHL shut down two teams because of COVID spread and the NFL postponed three games this weekend. Overall, deaths are increasing nearly half of U.S. states, up sharply in seven. That is an increase of eight percent from just last week.

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: I think we're really just about to experience a viral blizzard. If you look at what's happened in South Africa, you look at what's happening in Europe, I think in the next three to eight weeks, we're going to see millions of Americans are going to be infected with this virus.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are looking at a winter of severe illness and death of the unvaccinated.

LAH (voice over): As with previous surges, the unvaccinated are filling hospitals as weary doctors warn they are exhausted and losing staff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The reality is you can't -- you can't just create humans in order to provide that care and you know, staffing is a challenge everywhere.

LAH (voice over): What makes this winter different? While omicron may be highly, highly transmissible, vaccinations, especially boosters can protect you from serious illness.

But in a setback to parents of two to five-year-olds, Pfizer said two doses of its vaccine did not produce enough immunity, saying they are now testing out three child sized doses -- a delay until the second quarter of next year.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You want to really get the right dose and the right regimen for the children. So, although you don't like there to be a delay, you want to get it right and that is what they are talking about.


COOPER: And Kyung Lah joins us now.

There is obviously been, look, a lot of frustration with school quarantines moving to virtual classes, what options are the C.D.C. looking at to keep kids in school?

LAH: Well, the C.D.C. presented something and it's a pilot program called Test to Stay. One of the places where they did that test is actually here in Los Angeles County.

And basically what this is, is instead of what's currently C.D.C., know, formal guidance, which is if your child is exposed, has some sort of exposure, then you have to quarantine for 14 days. It can be really frustrating for families, because then you've got to scramble and figure out childcare.

But in Test to Stay, what they found in these pilot tests is as long as the kids are tested at least twice during a seven-day period, then there is no higher transmission.

The goal here, Anderson is to keep kids in school even as we have more of this virus. The omicron variant swirling and it'll be swirling in schools -- Anderson.

COOPER: Kyung Lah, appreciate it. Thanks.

With all of that, it is a lot. We are especially glad to be able to turn to Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Collins, so you heard infectious disease expert, Michael Osterholm say that we're about to experience a viral blizzard, he called it. Millions of Americans getting affected in the next three to eight weeks.

Do you agree with that? Is that what we're about to see?

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: It's clear that omicron is an extremely contagious variant, that it doubles every two to four days, and you just have to look at the projections of what that means. And yes, we are in for a lot of cases of people getting infected with this virus.

What we would like to see though, is as many people as possible protecting themselves with vaccines, and especially with boosters in order to limit the consequences. Anderson, we still don't really know and there is some controversy about this, whether omicron causes the same kind of severity of disease or whether it is a somewhat milder form of the illness, we really need to know that. I would not assume right now that it is milder. But wouldn't that be nice if it turned out to be the case?

The problem, of course, is that if this is so infectious, and we might see hundreds of thousands of cases every day, maybe even a million cases in a day from omicron, then even if it's a little less severe, you're going to have a lot of people in the hospital and our hospitals are already really stretched with delta, especially in the northern part of the country.

COOPER: So I mean, there is this new study from the U.K. tonight, which finds that no -- finds no evidence the omicron causes less severe disease than delta. Do you believe that study? Have you seen any evidence to refute it? Because you know, when so many people have been up to this point, obviously is, you know, it's not as severe with limited data.


COLLINS: You know, Anderson, it is interesting. You and I are talking about a paper that was posted about an hour and a half ago. It's not been peer reviewed. And I read it carefully, and they basically say they don't have enough data to say whether it's more severe as far as hospitalizations or not. They can't say that it's milder, but they can't say it's not milder.

So I'm not sure it changes the dynamic. We just need better data there to figure that part out.

COOPER: So, excuse me, the C.D.C. is urging everyone eligible to get a booster. Dr. Fauci said the definition of fully vaccinated is on the table open to discussion. He has also repeatedly said the question of redefining who is fully vaccinated is a matter of semantics, is it?

COLLINS: I think it is. There are two different ways in which that were -- that those two words are being used. One is, have you fulfilled a mandate for your employer? I'm the Director of N.I.H. for at least two more days and all our Federal employees have to be fully vaccinated, which means they need two doses of Moderna or Pfizer or one of J&J.

But fully vaccinated in another sense in terms of being fully protected against SARS-CoV-2 and especially omicron at this point means a booster. So anybody who is listening, who is in that sort of 60 percent of people who got the original vaccinations and are now eligible for booster but haven't done it, this is the time to do so.

Give yourself a Christmas present. Get that booster, don't wait, because omicron is going to be one of those things you don't want to mess with and your best protection is the booster.

COOPER: But the booster will take no matter -- you know, if anybody gets vaccinated now or gets a boost, it is still going to take two weeks to really have full efficacy, which obviously should be done.

A lot of people were going to the Holiday week about traveling and gathering indoors, what should everyone be doing to celebrate safely?

COLLINS: Well, safely is the absolute watchword here. I mean, people are tired of these recommendations about how to be safe, but they still apply. The virus is still going to be best held at bay if we follow them.

This is after all, a very wily virus, but it still has the same way of being transmitted by people being close together in a closed space. So, if you're in one of those situations, boy, keep your mask on if you're indoors, and maybe even consider whether you want to gather it all in a large group with people who are unvaccinated because that's where a lot of the trouble is going to happen.

And consider if you are going to a gathering where even everybody is vaccinated, not a bad idea to also look into getting tested before you go just to be sure you're not the one who happens to have a breakthrough infection and don't even know it and might be spreading it to other people. Be careful.

COOPER: Would you mask up even if you know the people you're having dinner with or I guess, dinner, you're eating, so you're probably -- you're not wearing a mask, but you're going to have go over their house Even if they're vaccinated, would you mask up?

COLLINS: Absolutely. I'm planning to do that tomorrow night.

COOPER: So Pfizer's two-dose regimen for two to five-year-olds failed to produce expected immunity, and now Pfizer is adding a third dose to the regimen. What's your message to parents who are concerned that a vaccine for younger kids keeps getting delayed further, and they're now saying because of this, needing to do tests with a third that it's going to be delayed, I think to the second quarter of 2022?

COLLINS: Well, let's be honest, that's not the answer anybody was hoping to have, but isn't it a good thing that they are actually checking in this study to see whether the two doses were going to be sufficient. And in that age group, apparently, between age two and age five, two doses of three micrograms was not enough to get you up into the safe zone, hence, the need for a third dose. That is what is now going to be required. But of course, that's going to take a little bit more time.

I wish that was not the answer, but I'm glad the science is driving the decision.

COOPER: Just before talking to you, I got an e-mail from a friend of mine who has got two kids and has been incredibly careful. And it has this feeling of like, should I just give in to the inevitable that I'm going to become positive and just, you know, get into it.

And there is certainly a lot of COVID fatigue, and some people have said, look, the variant is so contagious, omicron is. It is basically inevitable that most people get affected, including people who are vaccinated, and why not just rip the Band-Aid off, so to speak. What do you say to that?

COLLINS: I'd say that's a dangerous approach because omicron maybe is somewhat less severe, although we don't know that and the U.K. study is questioning that, but just letting it rip here and having everybody get infected, there are going to be serious casualties as a result.

I mean, Anderson, we've lost 800,000 Americans to this disease. I'm not going to tell you that omicron is not capable of adding to that. So, we just have to double down on all of those mitigation steps, even though we're all tired of them.

You know, I often think, what was it like -- I was not alive in 1943 -- what was it like in 1943 when World War II was going on and on and people are having to make all these sacrifices?


Were they tempted to just say, "Oh, the heck with it." No, they stuck with it, because they believed in the importance of the mission. We have to believe in the importance also because it is about saving lives. But it's up to all of us. It's not going to work if half the country decides, oh, the heck with it, and then Omicron really goes crazy.

And especially for those people around us who are vulnerable, who can't develop immunity, because they have cancer, or they have an organ transplant, it's up to all of us to protect them by doing all of these things. Get the vaccine, get the booster and practice the mitigation strategies, including masks. COOPER: And just to be clear, I mean, as somebody who gets sick now and thinks, oh, well, it is omicron, and it may be less harmful. They have no idea if they're getting omicron or delta. I mean, delta is still a big problem. Is this not true?

COLLINS: Absolutely true. I'm glad you brought that up.

Right now, more than a thousand people died today from COVID-19. Almost all of those, probably 99 percent were delta, because omicron is just showing up now.

And by the way, most of those people were unvaccinated, and most of those deaths were not really necessary. That is another serious heartbreak in terms of how our country has dealt with this.

And I'm sorry if we're having yet another disappointing situation, but maybe it could also be a little bit of a wake-up call for people who have still been on the fence to take care of themselves and the people around them.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, there's -- again, I just think there's no excuse at this point, if you want to -- if you claim to be a good citizen, or believe in community or citizenship at all, to not get vaccinated, to not get boosted.

As you know, the C.D.C. advisers voted unanimously to recommend the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines over Johnson & Johnson. So people who decided to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and now they are worried about level of protection. What do they do?

COLLINS: Well, they should get a booster from an mRNA vaccine. N.I.H. did this study of mix and match in terms of what was your initial vaccine, and what did you get boosted with? If you start with J&J and get an mRNA booster, you get a pretty good result from that.

I've watched that closely. I have two grandchildren who got J&J, and they are now boosted and I think they're going to be fine.

COOPER: Dr. Francis Collins, I appreciate your work. Thank you.

COLLINS: It's good to be with you, Anderson.

COOPER: And by the way, your last day at N.I.H. is Sunday. So, thank you for your service and all you've done to help so many people. Appreciate it.

COLLINS: It's been a complete privilege. Thank you.

COOPER: Thank you.

Coming up next, Colorado's Governor on why he doesn't see the need for a mask mandate in his State and why he recently said the COVID emergency is over. We'll talk to Jared Polis ahead.

And later, we'll return to our breaking news and the possible source of the text message pushing to throw out electoral votes before all the votes were even counted.



COOPER: After such a difficult week of COVID developments including one noted public health expert forecasting what he is calling a viral blizzard this winter, the approach our next guest is taking to the pandemic has surprised some people.

Just a week ago, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said this about the pandemic, now that vaccines are widely available. Quoting now, he said, "We see it as the end of the medical emergency." He went on to reiterate his opposition to a statewide mask mandate even in the face of what was known at the time as omicron.

Governor Polis joins us now.

Thanks so much for being with us. So explain why you believe this because it did catch a lot of people by surprise, I guess. You say the emergency is over -- the medical emergency is over. What does that mean?

GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): Look, I hear terms like viral tidal wave and I think what people want at this point that pandemic are facts, not fear, and people should be empowered to make decisions to protect themselves, science-based decisions with the health and safety. We need to live.

We need to operate from doctors and scientists with the individual freedom and local control that we deserve. I think it should be no surprise that Julesburg, Colorado population 1,253 addresses this in a different way than San Francisco or New York City, and even in our own state.

Cities like Denver, Aspen, Colorado Springs, are all taking this seriously and making sure that we have the capacity to serve those in need, but they have different approaches to do it.

COOPER: Ohio's Governor Mike DeWine deployed more than 1,000 members of his State's National Guard to hospitals today to help with staffing shortages. How are your hospitals doing?

POLIS: Our infection rates been going down for over a month now. We're in a much better place than we were a month or two ago. We don't know when that'll turn around. We know it's a matter of when, not if omicron becomes prevalent here. But we've done a few things to prepare ourselves.

One is, for months now, we've made free at-home testing available to every Colorado resident. We've sent out over 1.2 million tests to people right at their doorstep. They take them, it's free to sign up. Sorry for those who live out-of-state, you can't get a Colorado test. They are only for shipping in Colorado to our residents, a very popular program. In addition to that, we've made monoclonal antibody treatment widely available through 10 mobile stations and with our regular hospital system.

It's important to let people know that we're in a very different place, Anderson, in March of 2020. We now vaccinations, highly effective. Everybody should get vaccinated and boosted. On top of that, monoclonal antibody treatment can reduce the hospitalization risk if you are infected by over 70 percent. So that is where we are today, and we just want to lead with facts.

COOPER: And Colorado has seen lower cases, as you mentioned, and hospitalizations over the past month as opposed to sharp spikes seen in the Northeast. What kind of numbers would you need to see to consider a different response at State level?

POLIS: You know, there's a lot that we don't know about this virus. We talk about what we do know, right? We've learned a lot about how to treat the symptoms, how you can prevent it with a highly effective vaccine and the need for a booster with omicron.


One of the things that scientists don't know at this point, Anderson, is why it peaks at different times in different places. Why it is in the northeast now, why it was the Midwest before? We don't really fully understand that.

We are expecting omicron. It's in Colorado already. We don't see widespread community transmission, but it's only a matter of time and we want to make sure we arm people with the facts to protect themselves, get boosted, even more important for omicron. And of course, the free tests, use them and wear a mask indoors around others. It is a great step to take out additional protection.

COOPER: So, is it that you don't -- I mean, you don't you wouldn't characterize what's happening in Colorado as a medical emergency at this point.

POLIS: I think we had a medical emergency back in 2020. We had no room in hospitals, no treatment. Here's where we are at, Anderson. We have highly effective vaccines.

When you get the booster, it even protects very high level of protection against omicron with everything that we know as long as you're boosted.

Here is what is important and this is why the vaccine is even more important than masks. If you wear a mask, it can reduce your risk of getting the virus, but you know what, if you get it, you get it just as bad as if you weren't wearing that mask; whereas with the vaccine, not only does it reduce your risk of getting the virus, but if you get it, it'll be a much more mild case.

Just right where we are now, we have about 1,200 people hospitalized with COVID in Colorado, only 150 of them are fully vaccinated, Anderson. Almost everybody, 85 percent of the people hospitalized are unvaccinated.

COOPER: What are your vaccination rates like at this stage?

POLIS: What's that?

COOPER: What are your vaccination rates like in the State?

POLIS: We're doing well, better than most, which is why I think our peak was a little bit lower than most. We are at 76 percent of everybody five and up vaccinated. We are well into the 80 percent range for adults, and we are making sure we boosted everybody in our long term care facilities and nursing homes early on, the most vulnerable.

And we're really -- we're at 43 percent of people who are eligible for boosters have gotten them. So we've taken that very seriously and done everything we can to get the word out. Facts first, but we've also done lotteries, $100.00 bonuses, $50.00 bonuses. Free time off for major employers. You name it.

We want to make sure it's available to you and convenient for you.

COOPER: You said recently, if you haven't been vaccinated, that's your choice. I respect that. But it's your fault when you're in the hospital with COVID. It's also a danger to, you know, I mean, children under the age of five who can't get vaccinated.

POLIS: Yes, by the way, I am, as you know, Anderson, a parent of a 10-year-old and a seven-year-old and they got vaccinated the very first week they could. We are so glad to have them protected. They are able to play with their grandparents, my parents and had a great time with them last week.

But look, I think that the patience of most Americans is wearing thin to take additional steps to protect the unvaccinated, who by their own choice have not gotten protection. And you know what, if you're unvaccinated and watching this, you very likely will get COVID. And every bit of data shows in science, you are much better off if you get vaccinated first.

We're not talking a marginal case. You're not twice as -- twice as well off or three times as well off. You are 47 times less likely to be hospitalized if you are fully boosted than if you're not vaccinated with COVID and that is simply the facts of what we're seeing, unembellished in the hospitals today. It's the best decision you can make to protect yourself.

COOPER: Governor Polis, appreciate your time. Thank you.

POLIS: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Just ahead, more on our exclusive reporting tying Rick Perry to that now, well-known text message suggesting a quote, "aggressive strategy," unquote to overturn the 2020 election. This was the day after the election that message was sent.

The January 6th Committee believes he authored it. Perry denies that.

I'll be joined by member of that Committee, next.



COOPER: More now the exclusive CNN reporting. We mentioned at the top of the broadcast that a text message to the former president's chief of staff about a quote, aggressive strategy unquote to throw out electoral votes came from a phone number or phone used by former Energy Secretary and Texas Governor Rick Perry. House investigators believe Perry was the author of the text. Perry denies that. If true, it is a major revelation about the Republican effort to overturn the election, one of many in a week that feels as if it's produced more startling revelations and the rest of the year combined.

Much of that new information is courtesy of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th riot, joining me now a member of the committee, California's Pete Aguilar. Congressman, thanks for joining us.

So, you hear reporting from Jamie Gangel or Jake Tapper. I know you have to be careful about what you say. But I need to ask, do you believe Rick Perry was the author of that text message?

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): We know who the author was, I'm not in a position to give that at this point. But I think it's more important to understand that the White House Chief of Staff was entertaining text messages, you know, like these about overturning the elections. But for the time being to protect our investigative work, we aren't going to divulge who that text message came from.

COOPER: One of the remarkable things about this text message is that it came the day after the election. I mean, this wasn't on, you know, a month later, two months later, that it sounds like this was already something that had been discussed. This didn't -- this was not the -- I mean, just from the wording of the message. It sounds like this was sort of an ongoing discussion among some people about how to overturn the election results, which were still by the way, the votes were still being counted at that time.

AGUILAR: Yes, and I think it's important that our timeline recognizes that. That's why Chairman Thompson has said, we're not just investigating January -- the rallies of January 5th and January 6th, everything that led up to that, including from the election day to that time, but were there any points before the election, that individuals had conversations about this type of strategy was something that they had been, you know, talking about, while they cast doubt about absentee ballots and other lawfully given ballots to local officials. Was this something that was a little bit deeper? And was this something that was talked about before the election. Those are all things that the committee wants to get to the bottom of.

COOPER: Can you say if the committee is interviewed Rick Perry or sought to interview him? [20:34:59]

AGUILAR: I can't get into the individual meetings that we've had, but we have had a public subpoenas that that we have put out and made public. And then there have been dozens and hundreds of other interviews that we all have also taken. Over 300 witnesses so far, witnesses even today and planned over the next week. Those are things that are going to help our investigative framework and make sure that we're doing everything we can to find out the truth of what happened.

COOPER: It was always a very important week, a lot of information coming, coming from the committee, the criminal contempt referral, Mark Meadows, the Justice Department, as well as appearances by several potentially key witnesses on Capitol Hill. Are you getting many details from witnesses that haven't been shared publicly because Keith Kellogg, the former national security adviser to then president -- Vice President Pence, told reporters this week that there was nothing discussed in his meeting with the committee that hadn't been already reported in the media.

AGUILAR: There are plenty of details that haven't been reported in the media that we continue to gather. That's part of our investigative work. But I will say that the Senate produced a report that served as a good jumping off point to our work, they had a number of interviews that they did, and we continue down that path, but we are using them as building blocks. We're starting at a very high point, and then we're continuing to gather information.

But there are new details, just about daily, that we are learning about the activities that were going on between the election and January 6th, who was having conversations, what levels where people, both in government and out of government, a part of that. Those are some of the things that we continue to get to the bottom of.

COOPER: Yes. Congressman Pete Aguilar, appreciate it. Thank you.

AGUILAR: Thank you.

COOPER: Former police officer Kim Potter testified to her own defense and broke down today as she described the moment she fatally shot Daunte Wright. What she said in court today, next.



COOPER: Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday in the trial a former police officer Kim Potter who's charged in the death of Daunte Wright. Testimony ended this afternoon after Potter took the stand giving an emotional account of the deadly traffic stop last April.

CNN security correspondent Josh Campbell has details.


KIM POTTER, EX-OFFICER: I remember, yelling taser, taser, taser, and nothing happened. He told me I shot him.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former Officer Kim Potter testifying for the first time explaining the moment she shot and killed Daunte Wright last April. Potter describes seeing her fellow officers struggling with Wright during the traffic stop.

POTTER: He had a look a fear in his face. It's nothing I've seen before. We are struggling. We're trying to keep him from driving away. It's just -- it's just one chaotic.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Wright who officers learned had an outstanding warrant for a weapons violation was initially pulled over for minor offenses pointed out by a rookie officer.

POTTER: We discussed a little bit of suspicious activity. He noticed a pine tree or air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror and the tabs (ph) were expired.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Potter revealing they would not have pulled Wright over at all. If she hadn't been training that officer.


POTTER: An air freshener to me is not just an equipment violation.

GRAY: You did stop the vehicle, right?

POTTER: Yes, part of field training is that my probationer would make numerous contacts with the public throughout the day.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): That contact would turn fatal.

POTTER: I shot him. Oh my god!

CAMPBELL (voice-over): When she pulled her gun, instead of her taser. The prosecutor asked Potter about training on confusing her taser and her gun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are trained on it. Right?

POTTER: Yes, but it was a while back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But your trained in March of this year on that taser, correct?


CAMPBELL (voice-over): The state pointing out you --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You never saw a weapon on Mr. Wright. Did you?



POTTER: No. Oh my god!

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Adding she did not try to save Wright or check on other officers in the aftermath.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You didn't make sure any officers knew what you had just done, right?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You didn't run down the street and try to save Daunte Wright's life. Did you?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're focused on what you had done, because you had just killed somebody. Right?

POTTER: I'm sorry it happened. I'm so sorry.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Prosecutors continuing to push.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You knew that deadly force was unreasonable and unwarranted in any circumstances?

POTTER: I don't want it on anybody.


COOPER: So Josh, with the defense having rested his case today, what's happening next week?

CAMPBELL: Well, all the evidence is in, these jurors have heard testimony from all of the witnesses who will be testifying in this trial on Monday, we're expecting closing arguments. This will be the final opportunity for the prosecution and defense to lay out their respective cases. Of course, Anderson the prosecution has claimed all along that an officer who was a senior as Potter should have known the difference between a firearm and a taser. Potter has pleaded not guilty. Her defenses claimed since the beginning that this was a tragic mistake.

We expect on Monday that after closing arguments, the jurors will be sequestered. And then they'll begin their deliberations. Anderson.

COOPER: Josh Campbell, appreciate it. Thanks.

Joining us now for more perspective, criminal defense attorney Sara Azari.

So Sara, I'm wondering what you made of Kim Potter's testimony today. Did she help her case?

SARA AZARI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, Anderson, you know, her testimony was really a Hail Mary. And I'm not sure that I would have done differently because ultimately, the goal of the defense here was to tug at the heart -- hearts of the jurors here. And but in terms of the meat of her testimony, and the explanations and admissions that she made, I think it really hurt her, it certainly didn't help her, right? They put the weapons next to each other and compare them the shape, the size, the weight, the part of the body that they were holstered.

And then in fact, how much more effort it took to get -- to draw the taser versus the glock. And she confirmed all of those facts and then she went further to say that she never in her 26 years of being an officer had deployed a taser. Well that goes straight to count two and criminal negligence right, the idea that you know you've had all these certifications and recertifications. And you're out in the public to protect and to serve, which is your duty and your oath of office, and you have the, you know, these weapons on your body that you're completely ignorant of using. And by the way, there's a department policy that you're supposed to test, fire your taser each time you sign onto your shift, and you fail to do that.


So it goes to criminal negligence. And I think she really sort of established the prosecution's case through some of these admissions.

COOPER: The defense tried to humanize her talking about her family, how she decided to become a police officer, is I mean, will the jury be tasked with looking at that? Or will they just be looking at first second degree manslaughter charges?

AZARI: Well, you know, Anderson, the jury is not supposed to apply heart to the facts. They're supposed to apply law to the facts, and that that is what they're supposed to do. But remember, it takes one straggling heart out of these 12 hearts, to hang the jury. And I think that's what the defense is going for. And so if the jury goes with sympathy and mercy, that's obviously one outcome. But the really correct outcome is applying the law to the facts.

I mean, that the idea that she was kind of a rookie, even though she had 26 years of experience, she should have had a desk job and not been in the field. But none of that really matters, because manslaughter is an accidental shooting.

COOPER: So closing arguments start Monday, what do you expect?

AZARI: I expect that the prosecution is going to argue that her mistake was not a reasonable officer mistake. You can't compare her to a regular human being she's an officer, she has training, she has duties that she essentially breached. And they're going to say that not only deadly force was not justified, but even her taser was unreasonable to use that's according to their use of force expert to testify towards the end of the prosecution's case.

I think the defense is going to say, you know, good on her that she mistakenly pulled out her glock because she was justified in using deadly force. And that or mistake was a human mistake. And this is not manslaughter. And so, it'll be interesting to see. I think with Christmas coming. There might be some pressure on this jury to come back with a verdict before the end of the week.

COOPER: Sara Azari, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

AZARI: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Tonight, we've got new and exclusive reporting related to the July assassination of Haitian -- of Haiti's president Jovenel Moise. CNN's Matt Rivers has the details on what authorities think could be the motive. That story is next.



COOPER: Just more than five months ago, Haiti's president was gunned down and assassinated during the late night raid in his home. Following his death, Haiti fell into more chaos with a rise in crime, attacks on police and kidnappings, home set on fire more than 10,000 people fleeing to shelters.

Tonight, we have new reporting on what might have been motivation behind the attack. CNN's Matt Rivers is on the ground in Port-au- Prince. He joins us now.

So what have you learned?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, you and I have been talking about this for months now what is the motive behind this attack? And a source close to this investigation tells us recently that the night of the assassination, when the assassins actually entered President Jovenel Moise's home, one of their top priorities was looking for a document that the President himself was allegedly compiling. In that document, a list of the names of the people that the President believed were some of the top drug traffickers in this country. The plan, according to the this invest -- the source in this investigation is that the President was going to take those names, bring them to the United States authorities, in the hope that the authorities would help him basically target some of these traffickers and their illicit activities in this country.

That according to our source, is one of the potential motives that they are investigating behind this assassination. That theory of what the President was going to do with that list. That is one of the top theories that investigators have right now in terms of what was behind this attack.

One thing I should add the source adding that President Moise was not able to turn that list over to U.S. authorities Anderson before he was killed.

COOPER: I know you spoke exclusively with some of the suspects in the case inside of Haitian prison, what did they say?

RIVERS: Yes, this is access that we've been trying to get basically since the beginning of all of this. And it was just this week that Haitian authorities granted us access to the notorious national penitentiary here and we were actually able to speak, although we weren't able to record our conversation. With five of the Colombian suspects that were arrested as a result of this investigation. Remember, 26 Colombians were among those suspects arrested as results of the investigation.

And these suspects basically told us that they think they're victims of a setup. They say they were brought here under false pretenses. They had no idea assassination was about to occur. And from the moment they were arrested, they'd been put under threat. Right after they were arrested, they told us that they were forced to sign testimonies with basically statements that they couldn't even read that the police wrote for them because it was written in a foreign language. They said that they still have no legal representation. They still have not appeared in front of a judge to face any charges. This is more than five months after this assassination. And they're basically rotting in this prison. And they claim that they're the victims of a setup that the real people who are responsible for this, some of them remain outside prison walls.

COOPER: And how are they being treated in the prison, did they say?

RIVERS: Well, they say they've been tortured at various times since they were arrested. Right after they arrest, their arrest, they say police beat all of them. One guy actually lifted up his shirt and on his left shoulder blade he showed us what were definitely recent scars that he said were from stab wounds from the Haitian police. Other people showed us scars on the top of their heads from where they said they got pistol whipped. And they said that that has happened in the beginning. And now they're in this penitentiary.

I went inside. It's one of the worst places I've ever been. There are people who are basically piled up in these prison cells. There are -- their sewage running through exposed pipes that you can see. These prisoners tell us that they are given one plate of rice per day they looked terrible. Many of them were losing hair they had lost at least 30 pounds each according to the five suspects that we spoke to. They basically told us that they don't think their lives are worth anything in that prison.


And we asked Haitian authorities about that, they didn't really deny it. They said, well, we don't treat the Colombians any differently than we treat the Haitians. So that tells you a lot about how they're treating prisoners inside this penitentiary.

COOPER: Matt Rivers, appreciate Matt. Thanks for much.

The latest chapter in Dr. Sanjay Gupta award winning series on marijuana. That's ahead, how some parents of children with autism are seeing big results, life changing results they say, thanks to cannabis.


COOPER: Programming reminder, this Sunday join Dr. Sanjay Gupta for an in-depth look at the possible medical benefits of cannabis for children with autism. Number of parents say they've seen positive changes in their kids. It's the sixth installment of Sanjay's award winning series on marijuana. It airs this Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on CNN.


And if you ever missed "360", you can always listen to our podcast go to or any of the major platforms. Just search for "Anderson Cooper 360."

News continues. Let's hand over Michael Smerconish in "CNN TONIGHT." Michael.