Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

January 6 Committee Requests Hannity's Cooperation With Investigation; "Alarming Increase" In New COVID-19 Cases In Children; Schumer: Senate Will Vote To Change Filibuster Rules To Advance Voting Rights By Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 04, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. We start with breaking news.

Two days, before the one year anniversary, of the attack on Capitol Hill, to overturn an election, the House Select Committee, charged with investigating that attack, has issued a letter tonight, asking Sean Hannity to cooperate.

Authored by the top Democrat and Republican, on the committee, the letter includes newly-released texts, by Hannity, that were written before and after the riot. They indicate, the Fox News host may have relevant information, for the committee's investigation, about what the former president, and his allies, were doing, as he sought to retain power.

I'm joined now by Congressional Correspondent, Ryan Nobles.

So, what exactly is the committee seeking, from Hannity?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, they think he's a material witness, to what happened on January 6. And they want to know about the conversations that he had, not only with officials that had a very close relationship, with the former President, Donald Trump, but Trump himself.

And, in this letter that they sent to Hannity, they outlined several text messages that he sent to Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, and others, where, he expressed his real concern, about the way the former president was conducting himself, leading up to January 6, and seriously questions, the motivation that they had, to try and convince the former Vice President Mike Pence, to stand in the way, of the certification, of the election results. So, they want to know about those conversations.

They want to know how Trump responded to these pleas, by Sean Hannity. It is, of course, interesting, Anderson, because the posture that we're seeing in these private text messages, very different from the public posture, Sean Hannity had, at that time, and then, of course, in the days and weeks after.

COOPER: Has there been a response from Mr. Hannity's attorneys?

NOBLES: So, Jay Sekulow, who is representing Sean Hannity, at this point, said that he and his client are reviewing the letter, and they're trying to decide how to respond to it.

But earlier, before he had actually seen the letter itself, Sekulow had said that he is very concerned that there are some First Amendment issues, with this request.

But the committee makes it very clear that they're not interested in Hannity's television program, or his work, as a television commentator.

They're much more interested, in his role, as a political adviser, to the former president. And they want to know what role he played, in the decisions that were made, around that time, and if he can offer any insight, into how the President, and those connected to him, conducted themselves, during that period of time.

COOPER: Yes, because I mean, if you read the text messages that were released, it seems like he may have spoken to the White House Counsel. It seems like he was certainly having communications, with other people. Certainly, a lot in in the White House and on Capitol Hill.

I understand you're learning about the committee wanting to speak directly with the former Vice President?

NOBLES: Yes, that's right, Anderson.

I spoke earlier today exclusively with the Chairman of the Committee, Bennie Thompson. And I asked him how interested they are, in learning more, from Mike Pence, and specifically, if they'd be interested in talking to them, to him, I should say.

And Thompson said, yes, that in his mind, he would love it, if Pence came forward, on his own accord, voluntarily, and sat with the committee, and told them what he knows, about the events, leading up to January 6.

At this point, the committee has not even made that formal request for him to come forward voluntarily, or issued a subpoena. But they are very interested in talking to Pence.

And what's interesting about this, Anderson, is that we already know that there are a number of close Pence aides, Marc Short, his former Chief of Staff, Keith Kellogg, who served, as his National Security Adviser, who have already come in, and spoke with the committee, about what they know, about those events. So, the role that Pence played, in all of this, is very central to the investigation.

Thompson told me he he's interested in learning about the pressure campaign that was put on Pence' shoulders, at that time. And also, the security situation that he was under, the situation that forced him to be led out of the Senate chamber. And he wants to know how his security detail handled that situation, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Ryan Nobles, appreciate it. Thank you.

Hundreds of people charged, after the riots, of course. And as our Jessica Schneider, has discovered, almost one year later, and many are not at all ashamed, of what they did, no matter what it's cost them.



JOSHUA PRUITT, ACCUSED CAPITOL RIOTER: So, like, if you'd asked me, if I'd do it again? I want to say, yes. But then, I question it back myself, would I?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former Proud Boy Josh Pruitt describes his past year, as an emotional train wreck.

PRUITT: I don't feel like I did anything wrong. But knowing the consequences that came after it, would be the part to omit in questioning.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Prosecutors have laid out, an array of video, as evidence, against him.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Pruitt can be seen confronting Capitol Police officers, after walking in, through the shattered front doors.

And inside the Capitol crypt, Pruitt is caught smashing a sign.

All of it, leading to eight federal charges against him, including counts for destruction of government property, and acts of physical violence. But Pruitt defends his actions that day, clinging to the "Big lie" that former President Donald Trump continues to spread, and saying he has no plans, to plead guilty.

PRUITT: I was just a patriot out there, protesting against - what I think is a stolen election. Trying to send me to prison, for a few years, over this, I think is a complete joke.

SCHNEIDER (on camera): Are you concerned that you could be in fact sent to prison?

PRUITT: I am (ph) concerned.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Pruitt is among the more than 700 people, now charged, in connection with the Capitol attack. 70-plus defendants have been sentenced so far, about 30 getting jail time.

JENNA RYAN, CAPITOL RIOTER SENTENCED TO PRISON: The first week in January, I have to report to prison.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Jenna Ryan flew a private jet, to Washington, and notably, boasted that storming the Capitol was one of the best days of her life. Her lack of remorse, in part, prompted a judge, to impose a 60-day sentence, after she pleaded guilty, to a misdemeanor. The judge saying he wanted to make an example of her, after she shamelessly tweeted that she wouldn't get jail time, since she has blonde hair, white skin, and did nothing wrong.

RYAN: All those 600 people that have been arrested, are now wondering what's going to happen to them. And prison is - can happen.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Several of those sentenced are expressing remorse.

Erik Rau got 45 days in jail, after pleading guilty, to just one count of disorderly conduct.

Federal Judge James Boasberg admonished Rau, for trying to undermine the peaceful transfer of presidential power, what he called one of the country's "Bedrock acts."

Rau struggled to speak at sentencing, telling the judge, "There is no excuse for my actions on January 6. I can't tell you how much this has just twisted my stomach every day since it happened."

Another rioter, Robert Reeder, got three months in jail. During his sentencing, he pleaded with a judge, saying he lost his family, his job, and his place, within his church community, after January 6.

"I am embarrassed. I am in shame," Reeder said. "The hurt that I have caused to other people, not just to myself, has left a permanent stain on me, society, the country, and I don't want to be ever remembered for being part of that crowd."

Josh Pruitt though still isn't willing to admit guilt or cooperate with prosecutors.

PRUITT: Show this (ph).

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Video for Pruitt pledging to become a member of the Proud Boys, in November 2020, went viral.

Pruitt says prosecutors are asking him, to help make the case, against other Proud Boys, facing conspiracy charges. But he claims, he no longer associates with the extremist group.

PRUITT: I don't have anybody to throw under the bus, nor would I anyway. And I just - what I'm saying doesn't fit their narrative, because they would like me, to come forward, and say that it was planned. And I'm like, "No, it wasn't."


PRUITT: Everybody thinks that people had all these plans, in going into the building. But, not to my knowledge! I was in touch with some pretty right-wing people, and we never heard anything about that.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): While Pruitt waits out his next court date, he spends most of his days, inside his Nashville apartment, wearing an ankle bracelet, and abiding by a 9 P.M. curfew, except when he's working as a bartender, something that is approved by the court.

Pruitt expects his case to go to trial, and says he still stands by the "Big lie."

PRUITT: I do believe the election was stolen, for sure.

SCHNEIDER (on camera): And do you still believe that?

PRUITT: I still believe it.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Let's get some perspective now, from Barbara Walter, a Professor of Political Science, at the University of California, in San Diego. She's also Author of the forthcoming book, "How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them."

I appreciate you joining us. I want to jump, right to the title of your book, because it's a fascinating subject. How do, in the civil wars you looked at, how do civil wars get started? And how close do you think is the United States?


Anderson, I've been studying civil wars, for the last 30 years, in places like Syria, Iraq, Mozambique, Northern Ireland. And one of the things that we've learned is that certain factors tend to emerge, across cases, no matter where these civil wars breakout.


Over the last five years, I've been watching what's happening here in my own country. And one of the things that I've seen is that these same factors, are emerging here, in the United States. And they're emerging at a surprisingly fast rate. That's the reason why, I wrote this book.

COOPER: So, what factors are you talking about? What specifically do you look at?


COOPER: I mean, Mozambique, you had RENAMO--

F. WALTER: Yes. Before--

COOPER: --which was very violent.


COOPER: I mean, the Mozambique Civil War was incredibly violent. What are the parallels?

F. WALTER: Yes. So, we don't look at individual cases.

For four years, since 2017, I was on a task force, run by the U.S. government, called the Political Instability Task Force.

And one of our jobs was to come up with a predictive model, of where, around the world, not here in the United States, where, across the globe, political instability and political violence, was likely to break out.

And we put in 56 different factors, from poverty, to income inequality, all the things we could possibly think of, that might lead a country, down the path towards war. And, to our surprise, two factors were by far the most important.

The first was what we called anocracy. That's a fancy term for partial democracy. It's governments that are neither fully democratic, nor fully autocratic. There's something in between.

And the second important factor was whether citizens, the population of these countries, broke down along racial, ethnic and political - racial, ethnic and religious lines, formed political parties, along those lines, and then tried to capture power, to exclude everyone else.

So, it was this mix of anocracy, and racial politics, that were the two best predictors, of civil war. And of course, when you hear that, and you think about our country, our democracy has been declining over the last five years. In fact, right after January 6, of last year, our country was classified, for the first time, as an anocracy, since 1800.

The United States is no longer the world's longest-lasting democracy. That honor goes to Switzerland. And, of course, our politics have become increasingly defined, not by political ideology, but by race.

COOPER: So, how does one step back for - how does a place step back, from the brink of this?

F. WALTER: So, we do also understand this. And I guess there's three things that I'd want to tell the American public.

The most important thing is, simply, for citizens to be aware of the dangers, of democratic decline. Don't be complacent about this.

I talked to a lot of people. And many of them don't feel particularly worried, about what's happening, with their democracy, because they're thinking about authoritarian regimes. And they know that it's a very, very long road, before we become, like in Iran. So, they're not threatened by it.

What they don't know is that there's this in-between stage that can be quite unstable and quite violent. And that's the direction, the United States is heading. So, we know the warning signs of civil war. And if we know them, we can do something, to prevent wars, before they happen.

The second thing I would say, is to take partisan politics, out of our elections. It's becoming increasingly easy, for parties, to meddle in the elections.


F. WALTER: And that's deeply undemocratic.

And of course, the last thing is to strengthen our democracy. Our Executive has - our Executive branch has become increasingly more powerful than every other branch. So, we need to reinstate checks and balances, on the Executive.

And we know, of course, that there's been voter suppression. And then, there are real undemocratic elements--


F. WALTER: --of our democracy, like gerrymandering, like the Electoral College, like big money, in politics. All of that needs to be reformed.

COOPER: Barbara, yes.

F. WALTER: Full liberal democracies do not experience civil war.

COOPER: Barbara Walter, I look forward to the book. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

F. WALTER: My pleasure.

COOPER: Still to come tonight, the House Select Committee's desire to speak with Sean Hannity, coming as it's also trying to gain access, to the former president's White House Records.

A former Archivist, at the National Archives, joins us next, to discuss what might be in those records.

And later, the debate over sending kids back to class, as COVID cases surge, and the different approaches taken by the nation's major school districts.



COOPER: Our breaking news tonight that the House Select Committee, investigating the Capitol attack, has asked Sean Hannity, for his cooperation, comes as the committee is also in a fight, with the former president, over his White House Records, about that day. The fight, currently in the hands of the Supreme Court, of course.

Last night, Democratic member of the committee, California's Zoe Lofgren, joined the broadcast, to explain why, these records, now housed at the National Archives, in Washington, are so important. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: You mentioned the National Archives. Why do you think that information, in particular, may be so relevant?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, it has everything. It's got the call logs. Who called in? Who visited? It's got the rough drafts of comments that he made.

We understand that there were several videos made. They have the outtakes. So, we want to see. It will give us some insight, into what the former president thought he was doing, during those 187 minutes, when he failed to intervene.


COOPER: I'm joined now by a former Archivist, at the National Archives, John Carlin, who now teaches at Kansas State University, and previously served as the Governor, of that state.

Governor, appreciate you joining us.


You told "The Daily Beast," referring to the former president's legal battle, quote, "Given how frantic they are, there are things in those records that are going to make real trouble. I'm talking about prison time."

Why do you say that? What makes you believe that there could be, some criminal exposure, in those records?

JOHN W. CARLIN, FORMER ARCHIVIST, NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION (1995 TO 2005), VISITING PROFESSOR, SCHOOL OF LEADERSHIP STUDIES, KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY, FORMER KANSAS GOVERNOR: Well, I base it, quite frankly, on the fact that the President is spending a lot of time, energy, and actual money, lawyers, trying to keep it from happening.

Why he would do that, if he wasn't worried about what was in those records? I think it's pretty obvious. He knows there are things there that would cause him serious problems.

And, I would assume, at some point, certainly hopeful that those records are released, so that the committee can have access to them, and in doing their job.

COOPER: Can you--

W. CARLIN: This is really an exercise, in why records are so important.


W. CARLIN: Government cannot be held accountable, unless you have records. COOPER: Can you explain for viewers, what kind of records, the White House is required, by law, to preserve? I mean, how big is the scope, of the things that have to be handed over, to the National Archives?

W. CARLIN: Well, it's broad. Everything is considered a record. It's not like an agency, where you have schedules, where you can - some records, you might just need to keep, for five years, never go to the Archives, some 25, et cetera, et cetera.

Everything, since starting with Watergate, moving forward, presidential records, the tapes, text messages, et cetera, whatever video, whatever system it's on.

COOPER: And how can the Archive - how can an Archivist be sure that, a White House, the Trump White House, actually did preserve, and turn over all the documents, it was required to preserve?

For example, if a White House official wrote an email, or a memo, about the events, what's to stop the sender, or the recipients, from deleting the document, or tossing it in the trash?

W. CARLIN: Well, unfortunately, there is no way to have stopped that. My sense is that, I'm quite sure that Archives got a lot of records. What they don't know is what percent of the actual records that were created, that they have.

Because, we have a serious flaw in our system. The National Archives has this huge responsibility. But they have no authority, no power, to really engage with the president, during the term, similar to agencies.

They can kind of hope, check-in, volunteer, to help. But they're at the mercy of the record-keeping system, in this case, of the president.

And therefore, no one really knows, Anderson, what percent of the records, are actually in the Archives, how much was lost, along the way, literally, because of the way the system has operated, and the failure of Congress, to give the Archives, enough authority, to at least know what's going on, during the term, so that they can report to Congress, and say, "We got a problem here." That just doesn't happen today, because they don't have that authority.

COOPER: Also, I mean, if presidential aides are using their private devices, or using encrypted communications, Telegram, Signal, things like that, those are not things that would necessarily, if it's on someone's private device, be turned over, correct?

W. CARLIN: That's kind of a gray area that quite frankly, I've never dealt with, in my experience. But Watergate made a dramatic change. And I spent all my 10 years, dealing with the Nixon tapes.


W. CARLIN: But in terms of some of the new technologies, of the last 15 years, 20 years-- COOPER: Yes.

W. CARLIN: --I can't say specifically.

COOPER: Yes. That must have been fascinating, dealing with the Nixon tapes. Man!

John Carlin, I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

W. CARLIN: Happy to join you, Anderson.

COOPER: All right.

W. CARLIN: You have a good evening.

COOPER: You too. Thank you.

Coming up next, COVID, specifically how this latest surge, is affecting kids, and how that is reigniting the debate about schools.



COOPER: With new COVID cases, tonight, averaging nearly 550,000, a day, and the CDC out with some confusing guidelines, on testing, wanted to focus on the surge, within the surge.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, childhood COVID cases are now at record levels. And though, kids, on the whole deal, with it, much better than adults do, the latest surge is overwhelming children's hospitals, around the country, not to mention driving, the always-difficult debate, over schools.

New York's new mayor, as you know, standing firm, on keeping the country's biggest school system open, for in-person learning. However, in a number of other major school districts, it's back to online learning, or in the case of Los Angeles, and the other big school systems, on the right of the screen, a delay in reopening classrooms.

Joining us now with more, CNN Senior Data Reporter, Harry Enten.

So hospitalizations, by age, Harry, give a better glimpse, into why some schools, I guess, are delaying return, switching to remote. What do the numbers tell us?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Look, it's about students, but it's also about teachers, right?

We know that hospitalizations, among those, under the age of 18, at their highest point in the Pandemic. But they are still significantly lower than they are among adults.

If you look at this particular point, and right now, under the age of 18, it's about five, per 100,000, of those under the age of 18. 18- plus, it's 43. And remember, obviously, teachers have to come in, and teach, in order for schools to actually function.

But, of course, here's the most important thing. The most important thing here is the way that we can get this pandemic, most under control, is the vaccines work. And they work ridiculously well. They work well for adults, and they work well with children.

And if we look over the time, from basically June to November? Look at that. Among those aged 12 to 17, the unvaccinated COVID hospitalization rate, is 12 times higher, among the unvaccinated, than the vaccinated. And among adults, it's 13 times higher.

So, get those vaccines. That's a big way, to keep our schools open, and our children safe.

COOPER: And just in short, I mean, the downsides of kids, not learning, in a normal school setting, are pretty clear?

ENTEN: They're very clear. They're very clear. There was a study that came out. This is just one particular study. But it looked at third to eighth graders. And they essentially said, "OK, we're going to take a look at their achievement assessment."


And look at this. In math, down 10 percentile points. In reading, down 5 percentile points. And more than that, it's the hardest-hit, among minorities, and among the youngest minorities.

Because look at third graders, look at third graders on math, look at that. Among Hispanics, down 17 percentile points. Among Blacks, down 15 percentile points. Among Whites and Asians, who still, they're not down nearly as much, but still 9 percentile points, and 9 percentile points, in math, among third graders.

So, clearly, there's been a real decline, because of COVID, when you compare 2021 to 2019, which was obviously a much more normal school year.

COOPER: I assume there's an income element too, behind the numbers.

ENTEN: There's absolutely an income element. So, if you look at the low poverty areas versus the high poverty areas? Look at this. Median student math third grade achievement assessment, look at that.


ENTEN: In the low poverty areas, it's down, but just 6 percentile points. In the high poverty areas, down 17 percentile points, when you compare the 2021 spring, to the 2019 spring data. Obviously, 2019 was before COVID. And here's the reason why, it's down so much, in lower income areas, or at least one of the reasons why.

If you ask basically the parents, of those students, who had to stay home, because the schools were closed, "Did your children have trouble completing your schoolwork because of tech problems?" In the lower income areas? Look at that. 46 percent of lower income adults said that their children had problems, tech problems, versus in the upper income areas, it was just 18 percent. So, lower income and minority groups were hit the hardest.


ENTEN: Because of the Pandemic, at least when it comes to children learning.

COOPER: Yes. Harry Enten, I appreciate it. Thanks.

ENTEN: Thank you, sir.

COOPER: Fascinating to look at the numbers!

Perspective now from Dr. Danny Benjamin, Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics, at Duke University, and Co-chair, of the ABC Science Collaborative.

Dr. Benjamin, appreciate you joining us.

So, some schools, in multiple states, around the country, are shifting to online learning, or pausing the return, to in-person learning, for a few days to a few weeks. Do you think that will protect students, from becoming infected, with COVID? Or is keeping the schools open better?


There's four reasons for that. In the masked environment, we know that there's no data that closing schools, systematically helps prevent transmission, between children.

We also know that transmission at school is one of the lowest places for transmission to occur. In fact, transmission is so low there that it's comparable to perhaps the safest place for children to be.

If you look at non-COVID outcomes, it's not just about learning, Anderson. It's about any other non-COVID health outcome, is worse, when you close schools. Mental health, nutrition, suicide, self-harm, violence, child abuse, the list goes on and on.

And finally, closure of public schools, was the biggest public health failure, for children, in our lifetime.


BENJAMIN: And so, why do we want to do that again?

COOPER: It really - that's - it was the biggest public health failure, in our lifetime, for kids?

BENJAMIN: Correct. COOPER: Wow! What about, if there's not masking, in a school environment? Still, you argue it better to keep the schools - the schools are still safer?

BENJAMIN: Yes, I think it's a little more of a closer call there. Because you're going to have more transmission.

We have an ongoing study, of 60 school districts, 1.3 million children nationally, involved in that study. And masking reduces transmission, by about 80 percent.

So, you're going to have more cases, and more transmission, in these unmasked districts. But there, you're making the ethically-challenged argument that we should punish children, for the failure of adults, to uptake a free, safe and effective vaccine.

And, for the children, who are in those schools, the parents, who are worried about their children, in those schools, if they will vaccinate their children, they make it, so that COVID is less of a threat, to their children, than influenza, in a typical influenza year.

COOPER: Wow! Dr. Danny Benjamin, I really appreciate it. Thank you. It's fascinating.

BENJAMIN: Of course. Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, the Democratic effort, to pass voting rights legislation, in the Senate, resistance it's facing from Republicans, but also, complication from Democrats, who don't want to do, what it takes to overcome that resistance.

The filibuster is back. We'll talk to Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, about it.



COOPER: In our last hour, you heard an expert, on tyranny, and how democracies die, talk about our democracy, as the anniversary of the Capitol insurrection approaches.

Timothy Snyder warned that it's neither exceptional, nor self- sustaining that a democracy takes work, to preserve it, especially the right to vote.

But tonight, with Republican state lawmakers, nationwide, passing more restrictive voting laws, congressional Democrats are pushing legislation, they say, to counter it, and also head off something, they say, is potentially even worse, than January 6.

Now, that said, in the Senate, in addition to resistance, from Republicans, Democrats are also facing reluctance of two Democrats, senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, to pass new legislation, even compromise the legislation, without GOP votes.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer set a January 17 deadline, Martin Luther King Day, to vote on changing the rules, to do just that.

Joining us now is Minnesota Democratic Senator, Amy Klobuchar, lead sponsor of the, what's called the Freedom to Vote Act.

Senator, I appreciate you being with us.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Seems without the support, of senators Manchin and Sinema, the effort to change the filibuster, making an exception for voting rights, can't go forward. So, what is the plan?

KLOBUCHAR: We're continuing to speak, to these two senators. And let me make the case to your viewers that I have made to them.

And that is it didn't end on January 6. And the bayonets and the bear spray were simply replaced by bills that, basically, legislation passed in Georgia, that says, in the last month, of voting, in the runoff period, no voting on weekends. That passed, Anderson.


Legislation that says, in Wisconsin, only one drop off ballot box, for the entire city of Milwaukee, vetoed by Governor Evers, fortunately. But we are seeing this, across the country. Things that were in place, in Montana, for 15 years, taken away.

It is an assault on our democracy. And it is part of a plan. And it is our job, as senators, to put aside everything else, right now, in my mind, and protect our democracy.

That's what we are supposed to do, is to defend the Constitution, of the United States of America. That's what's going on. That's what Liz Cheney is doing, by the way, by being willing, to put her entire political career, at risk, by supporting, going forward, with the investigation, over in the House.

And that's what we have to do, with voting rights, in the United States Senate. It is about our democracy. And it is not one bit radical, to change the Senate rules. There are 160 exceptions, to the filibuster, carve-outs, things that have been used through the years. Senator Byrd himself said you change the rules, to fit the circumstances, of your time.

COOPER: You talked about the possible carve-outs. If you make those, do they then move in - from here on, are they in place?

Because, I mean, the argument among that, Manchin, and others, have made is, look, if Democrats changed the filibuster, now, once if the House moves to the Republicans, the next election, those changes, when they take back the Senate, if they take back the Senate, what happens to Democrats then?

KLOBUCHAR: OK. Let's start with the filibuster. I personally would get rid of it. I think that no matter what happens, you have to get to a majority vote. And as you saw, from the recent infrastructure bill, there's a lot of people that will work, in the middle, to try to get things done. And, at this point, we can't move on major legislation, like climate change and immigration reform.

But short of that, given that we have two senators that don't want to make that change, there's also other things we can do that we're discussing with them, to restore the Senate.

The standing filibuster, where you actually force people, who are objecting to a bill, to be there? Big radical change, Anderson. It's the whole idea of - and I'm kidding. That was - that was a joke.

COOPER: Yes, I understood.

KLOBUCHAR: That's what we did. That's what - thank you. That's what "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" was about, right? You have to actually be there, if you're going to object to something.

COOPER: That is sort of the image people have of a filibuster.



COOPER: That is the image one has of a filibuster, you think, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

KLOBUCHAR: Well, you know what the real image is, right now, Anderson? People say, "Oh, I object to that. I'll put a hold on it." And then, they go home, and raise money, OK? That's what's happening right now.

And so, restoring the Senate, would actually require people, to be there, if they're going to hold legislation, and debate it out, and get things done. That's what I believe our constituents, no matter if they're Democrats, or Republicans, want us to do. They want us to stand for something, and get things done. So, that is the concept of changing the Senate rules, especially when it comes to our democracy.

Right now, we have a - we have literally States that are considering taking away, or that are trying to dismantle non-partisan voting boards, and having legislatures, partisan legislatures, instead, pretend that they're counting the votes. This is not a dictatorship. We are proud of our democracy. The world is watching us.

And if January 6 stood for anything, it was that in the end, despite the horror of the day, democracy prevailed. People from both parties stood up, 92 - 93 senators stood up, and said, "We support the Electoral College. Some of us voted for Joe Biden. And some of us didn't. But we support our democracy."

And two weeks later, everyone stood on that stage, regardless of party, under that blue sky. And Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were inaugurated.

We walked through that broken glass, with spray paint, on the statues, in the Capitol. And I vowed that day that we're going to carry on our democracy.

And you do that, by figuring out exactly what happened, holding people accountable, no matter who they are, and yes, passing on the torch, to the next generation, of this democracy, by making sure there's strong rules, in place, to protect the right to vote.

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

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up, 50 miles of Interstate, frozen by severe weather. The good news, for drivers tonight, after hundreds of them were trapped for hours - excuse me, and the truck driver among them, who found a path, to generosity, while he waited for help. He shows us how, next.



COOPER: New tonight, Interstate 95, in Virginia, is finally open, and free of abandoned cars and trucks, tonight, after the highway was paralyzed, all day, by severe weather.

When the foot of snow, along with icy roads, turned a 50-mile stretch, into a frozen parking lot, overnight, a truck driver, this morning, hopped out of his cab. He walked over to a family, offering them a heated breakfast, while they all waited for help.

Just a few hours ago, when he was still stuck on the road, I spoke with that trucker, Jean-Carlo Gachet, about the warmth he shared, when they braved the cold.


COOPER: Jean-Carlo, you've been stuck, on that highway, since 1 A.M., last night. I understand you woke up this morning. You saw a car. What made you decide, to head over, with some food?

JEAN-CARLO GACHET, TRUCKER STRANDED ON I-95 FOR HOURS, HELPED FELLOW TRAVELERS STRANDED ON ICY I-95: I just put into perspective. Most cars in that situation were having it 10 times worse than truckers out there, because they were ready for a short two-hour to three-hour commute. And truckers are out for a day, a week, or a month, at a time.

COOPER: And I understand, it was a man and his mom. How did they react, when you came up to them?

GACHET: They were really thankful. They were shocked, at first. They were like, "Oh, well, why are you doing this? That's so nice."


And I went there with an intention of (ph) getting rejected, because I don't know, if I would take a stranger's meal. But they were nice, like how I - how I like prepared myself. They just - they felt good. I'm glad they at it. So, it was a - it was a nice gesture from them.

COOPER: So what was the meal, by the way?

GACHET: It was a - got a Jimmy Dean. I don't know if you can see that case.


GACHET: Jimmy Dean Bacon, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Bowl.

COOPER: I like Jimmy Dean!

GACHET: Oh, yes. I love it. And I got a Styrofoam cup of water, and MiO Fruit Punch with that.

COOPER: Wow! So, where are you now? I know your destination is Georgia. How long do you think it's going to take to get there?

GACHET: Well, as of now, 95 is still shut down. So, I'm stuck in Dale City, Virginia, for now. I was stuck at Woodbridge, Virginia, last night, which is probably five to 10 miles, from here.

COOPER: Wow! I mean, is this - I mean, in all the time that you've - how long you've been driving for, I mean, in your career?

GACHET: I started in September of 2020. And up until this point, the second biggest traffic jam was two hours to three hours, at the most. That was a--


GACHET: --that was a fatal semi-truck multi-vehicle collision. And they cleaned it up fast, as usual.

But, it's what - I can understand, there's winter conditions. 10 miles from the Stanville (ph) location, it was just a blanket of snow with black ice underneath. And people were just zooming by with semi-trucks and cars either way

COOPER: Did you - I mean, in all the time, stuck in the highway, did you see any authorities, or Police vehicles, trying to rescue anyone, or clear cars?

GACHET: So, from the point, I was stopped, at 1 A.M., the first Police fire I saw was around 7:30 A.M.


GACHET: And a snowplow vehicle follow behind that.

COOPER: Wow! Well, I mean you have such an important job, particularly in these times. And, I mean, I appreciate what you do. And gosh, I hope you get to your destination, quicker than you think you're going to. But I hope you have a safe journey.

GACHET: Yes sir. Thank you. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Nice deed, in a difficult time!

Coming up, troops deployed to America's hospitals, how the Military is giving doctors and nurses, a new line of defense, in the COVID battle. That's next.



COOPER: Ohio continues breaking its own record, for COVID hospitalizations. The numbers, in recent weeks, have soared, from their all-time high, in 2020. Ohio's governor is trying to ease the crushing toll, on the state's health care system, and its workforce. So, he sent in a force of his own.

Tonight, our Gary Tuchman, shows us how boots on the ground, are giving hospitals, some relief.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the overnight hours, at Cleveland's MetroHealth Medical Center, Justin Lightner (ph), goes into a room, to take care of a patient.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): So does Brandon Brown.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): And Jordyn White does the same.



WHITE: Can I take your vitals?

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But none of these three people are employees at the hospital. They are with?

WHITE: The Air National Guard.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And the other two are with the Army National Guard. All three have medical training.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's check out this arm, right over here. Doing OK?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): National Guard member Justin Lightner (ph) is working with one of the hospital's registered nurses. They're taking care of 88-year-old COVID patient, Lois Murray, who just got transferred, out of the intensive care unit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There we go. Give me a second.



TUCHMAN (on camera): You decided to join the National Guard, after seeing what happened on 9/11, when you were in kindergarten?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just wanted to help my community.

TUCHMAN (on camera): There are 28 National Guard members, working at this hospital. And they have their work cut out for them. Not only because the hospital is full. But because about 400 employees, at this hospital, are out of work, because they have COVID.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Air National Guard Captain Lynette Looney is the Officer-in-Charge, of the Guard mission, at this Medical Center, which also consists of Guard members, who do non-medical tasks.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Are you concerned that any of your National Guard members will contract COVID?

CAPT. LANETTE LOONEY, OHIO AIR NATIONAL GUARD: Oh, absolutely. Within two days, of being here, we had four Guard members that were symptomatic, with sore throats, headaches, body aches, fevers, nasal congestion. And they all tested positive for COVID.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The personal risks are an inherent part of the mission. The Chief Nursing Officer, at MetroHealth, is grateful.

MELISSA KLINE, METROHEALTH SYSTEM CHIEF NURSING OFFICER: Just taking out some extra help, I know that others are looking out for us, is greatly appreciated.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Frank Hudson (ph) also ended up in the ICU, after testing positive for COVID.

WHITE: How are you feeling?


WHITE: Good? You need anything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm ready to get out of the hospital.

WHITE: You're ready to get out of hospital? Yes. I bet!

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Guard member Jordyn White is 22. She is an EMT, in her civilian life, and wants to be a nurse practitioner.

WHITE: I'm going to put this on your finger. Perfect. You relax a little bit. TUCHMAN (on camera): Are the patients surprised, when you tell them you're in the Military, and you're taking care of them?

WHITE: Yes. Yes, they're like, "Oh, really?" Yes. They think it's cool. And I think that's nice. I'm glad that they feel that way.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The National Guard members also take care of patients, in the hospital, for other illnesses. Patient Sammy Hunter (ph) is here for a torn aorta, and bleeding in his brain. He's getting an EKG, from a hospital RN, and Guard member, Brandon Brown.

BROWN: I got V4 right now. Switching over for you, V6.


BROWN: And I got V5.

There's a sense of pride that swells up in you, when you know you're helping your community. It's a beautiful feeling, honestly.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Always, on people's minds here, the sense of sadness that so many people don't get COVID vaccines.

DR. BROOK WATTS, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, METROHEALTH: So, in the ICU admission, the vast predominance, up to 90 percent of the patients, are unvaccinated patients.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Did you know that in addition to the nurses, and the doctors, that you have people, from the National Guard, the Military, helping you out?

MURRAY: Oh, yes. Oh, they are so good. They are wonderful.

TUCHMAN (on camera): How does it make you feel that they're taking care of you?

MURRAY: Very safe.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And among these people, who've been so very sick, a feeling of American patriotism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the best country in the world.


TUCHMAN: The National Guard members, Anderson, are scheduled, to be at this hospital, for two weeks. But, if need be, it can be extended. And it's very likely, there will be a need to extend it.


TUCHMAN: I also want to mention to you, Anderson, spending the overnight hours here, watching these hospital workers, and the National Guard members, work together, was inspiring.

COOPER: Yes. TUCHMAN: Their team work was amazing!

COOPER: Yes, Gary, appreciate it. Thanks.

TUCHMAN: Anderson?

COOPER: And appreciate what they're doing.

The news continues. Want to turn over to Don, and "DON LEMON TONIGHT."