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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Interview with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); Failed Coup Anniversary; "Peril" Authors Woodward And Costa On The State Of The Jan. 6 Investigation; Trump Cancels Press Conference On January 6 Anniversary At Urging Of Advisers; Battle Between Chicago City Leader, Teachers Union Closes Schools For 340,000+ Students Due To Covid Concerns; QAnon's Lies Continues Long After Its Role In Capitol Insurrection. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 05, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST; Breaking News. The CEO of Chicago Public Schools just announcing classes are cancelled tomorrow for a second day. It comes after the teachers union voted against returning to in- person learning.

Of course, in the district, too, canceled school for the day yesterday.

They say notices have now gone out to the parents of the more than 340,000 students in the district who now will be home tomorrow.

Thanks for joining us. AC 360 starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening from Washington.

We are here to mark tomorrow's anniversary of the January 6th attack on the Capitol, which we now know was only part of a larger scheme to overturn the outcome of a free and fair presidential election. It was in every way an assault on democracy.

Looking at the building behind me in all its magnificence and all that it signifies about our democracy should make us all stop and reflect in what we almost lost a year ago tomorrow.

And then in the best of all worlds, it would also remind us of all we've done since then to honestly reckon with what happened, to bind up our wounds, and in a bipartisan way strengthen the underpinnings of our democracy. That's how the past year might have played out. It might have, but it didn't.

And because it didn't, we come to you tonight at a moment that feels no less pregnant with dark possibilities than January 5th did a year ago tonight.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. Just understand this, all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.

It's going to be moving. It's going to be quick. It's all converging. And now we're on as they say, the point of attack. Right? The point of attack tomorrow.


COOPER: Now, when Steve Bannon said that, he was knee deep in the planning for what would come the next day, the fact that only nine Republican House members could bring themselves to cite him for contempt after he openly defied a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating January 6th speaks to why we are at what feels like such a dark moment for democracy.

So to the fact that only two Republicans voted to cite former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for also defying the Committee or only 10 voted to impeach the former President -- that all speaks volumes.

So does the fact that until cooler heads prevail and it was canceled today, Cobb County's Republican Party had been planning to mark tomorrow's anniversary in part with a candlelight vigil for members of the violent mob now in jail awaiting trial.

That's right. They were going to hail as heroes the alleged worst of the worst people who attacked the Capitol. Take a look at the agenda uncovered by a political reporter for the "Atlanta Journal Constitution." 6:00 to 7:00 PM. It reads, "Candlelight vigil for J6 patriots held in Washington." It speaks loudly to where we are tonight. So does the notion of the Republican Party so deeply cowed by their leader, they can't even bring themselves to condemn his new line that this was not the real insurrection; that the real insurrection by his lights happened on Election Day 2020.

Today, former President Jimmy Carter in a "New York Times" essay titled "I fear for our democracy" did not identify the G.O.P. by name. He did, however, clearly identify the party's role over the past year he believes in taking us all to the brink.

"One year on," former President Carter writes, " ... promoters of a lie that the election was stolen have taken over one political party and stoke distrust in our electoral systems. These forces exert power and influence through relentless disinformation which continues to turn Americans against Americans."

And Mr. Carter concludes with a warning: "Our great nation," he writes, " ... now teeters on the brink of a widening abyss. Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy."

That's what a year has brought us. What makes it so sad is this did not have to happen. It didn't have to be this way. Republicans, many of them at least initially saw the insurrection for what it was. You heard them say it, they understood clearly what happened in who was responsible.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The mob was fed lies.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The President bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress.

McConnell: They were provoked by the President and other powerful people.

MCCARTHY: He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): We've had a hell of a journey. I hate it to end this way. Oh, my God, I hate it.

MCCARTHY: The violence, destruction, and chaos we saw earlier was unacceptable, undemocratic, and un-American.

It was the saddest day I've ever had serving as a member of this institution.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To those who wreaked havoc in our capitol today, you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): This has been a truly tragic day for America, and we all join together in fully condemning the dangerous violence and destruction that occurred today in our Nation's Capitol.

REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): Today, The People's House was attacked which is an attack on the Republic itself. There is no excuse for it. A woman died and people need to go to jail.

And the President should never have spun up certain Americans to believe something that simply cannot be.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Chaos, anarchy -- the violence today was wrong and un-American.


COOPER: Now, on that day, and over the days that followed, Republicans were saying virtually the same things that Democrats were saying about the assault and who was responsible.

But the backsliding, it began almost immediately. On the evening of the sixth, 147 Republican lawmakers, including Elise Stefanik, who you saw there, and Kevin McCarthy, whom you just saw, still voted to overturn electoral accounts from the States. And again, all but 10 House Republicans would later go on to vote against impeaching the former President.

Kevin McCarthy, of course, would pave the way then for others to make the pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago to make nice with the man you just heard him say bore responsibility for the attack on Congress. Elise Stefanik, too, she would replace Liz Cheney in the G.O.P. leadership, a reward for her loyalty to the former President, and so we begin the year of gaslighting.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): The President didn't incite anything.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): We have a January 6 Committee that Nancy Pelosi is leading. That is nothing but a political witch hunt on Republicans and Trump supporters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As they proven yet again today, over and over again, they only care about attacking their political enemies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That it really has turned out to be nothing more than a partisan committee, just to investigate the former President.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): We've seen plenty of video of people in the Capitol and they weren't rioting. They don't -- it doesn't look like an armed insurrection when you have people that breach the Capitol -- and I don't condone it -- but they're staying within the rope lines in the rotunda.

That's now what an armed insurrection would look like.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Zero firearms from suspects charged with breaching the Capitol.

REP. JODY HICE (R-GA): In fact, it was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others.

REP. ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): I can tell you, the House floor was never breached. And it was not an insurrection.

You know, if you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.


COOPER: It's pretty shameful. There was that. There was the so-called election audit in Arizona. There has been one Republican controlled State Legislature after another passing new restrictive voting laws based on the fake lie, which the majority of Republicans now believe.

And as we've been reporting recently, a growing percentage of Republicans are saying that political violence is sometimes justified. Forty percent in a recent "Washington Post" poll. That is where the year has taken us. But again, it didn't have to be.

Listen to what might have been a far different party line, but sadly wasn't. Here is Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Some say it's time to move on from

January 6th, but we can't move on without addressing what happened or by pretending it never happened.

We can't move on without taking action to make sure it never happens again, that starts by admitting the facts that the 2020 election was not stolen. Joe Biden won and Donald Trump lost.

We have to admit it, but the leadership of the Republican Party, won't. They lied to the American people and they still are.


COOPER: They still are, presumably in that vein, the former President had planned to hold a press conference tomorrow. He canceled it yesterday in a statement blaming the media and the House Select Committee and yes, lying about the election.

Tonight the Committee heard from Stephanie Grisham, the White House Press Secretary who famously never held a press conference when she actually was in a position where her influence might have mattered.

Joining us now Committee member, Adam Schiff.

Congressman, thanks for joining us. Stephanie Grisham said to reporters as she was leaving that she was fully cooperating with the Committee. Can you give us any insight into what was discussed?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): You know, I really can't go into the substance of it, and I was not part of what was described to me as informal interview, so I can't shed much light on it.

Obviously, we would prefer to have people cooperate at any level than some of the others from the former administration who are fighting tooth and nail. But I don't have the particulars on that.

COOPER: You heard your colleague from the Select Committee, Representative Kinzinger, he is obviously from a party, which, with few exceptions, is still not telling the truth about who won the presidential election. Is it possible to have a functional democracy when one side will not accept when it loses and will try to, I mean, in legislatures across the country change history?

SCHIFF: No, it isn't possible. And Anderson, I have the same exact sentiment that you express tonight, and I was there on the House floor during that attempted coup, and that is the aftermath didn't have to turn out this way.

It certainly appeared in the hours and days that followed that it might lead to a repudiation of the big lie about the election -- a repudiation of all the damage that Donald Trump had done to the country and to his own party.


But instead, there was a quick capitulation by the McCarthy's, McConnell's, the Stefanik's who, you know, sought Liz Cheney's position when Liz Cheney wouldn't go along with that big lie and Elise Stefanik said, well, then, take me.

And tragically, we are now in a more dangerous place than we were a year ago. I think President Carter was exactly right about that. But no, if we don't accept when our party loses and vow to do better next time, if we somehow think any loss is illegitimate, that's the end of our democracy.

COOPER: Attorney General Merrick Garland said today the quote -- and I'm quoting, "The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators at any level accountable under law." The Select Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney has previously said that the key question before your Committee pursuant to applicable law, quote, "Did Donald Trump through action or inaction corruptly seek to obstruct Congress's official proceedings to count Electoral Votes," end quote.

What if any direct evidence, have you seen that the former President committed a crime on January 6?

SCHIFF: Well, I can't comment on the evidence that we've gathered. I've watched the speech by the Attorney General today. I was heartened that somebody who spent almost six years in the department to see the department once again, led by a person with great integrity, and I think he said the right things about holding people accountable for the violence of January 6, whether they were there on the ground or were elsewhere.

What was left unsaid Anderson, though is, what about the role of those involved, not just on the 6th, but in the days leading up to the 6th and the aftermath of the 6th, who may have broken the law to try to overturn the presidential election? In particular, what comes to mind to me is the efforts of the former President to get the Secretary of State of Georgia to essentially find 11,780 votes that don't exist.

There was no indication from the Attorney General that issues like were under investigation, and I don't believe that can be left to the local District Attorney's Office. So there was a lot unsaid today, maybe it was in excess of discretion or suitable discretion on the Attorney General's part, but I think those issues need to be investigated by the department as well.

COOPER: you would like to see the Department of Justice investigating that?

SCHIFF: Absolutely. I think given that the Department took the position for four years that you could not prosecute a sitting President, it would be very dangerous to take a position either formally or informally, that as a practical matter, you also can't investigate or prosecute a former President. That would make the President above the law and that is a dangerous proposition to begin with, but it is also something that the Founding Fathers never would have contemplated.

COOPER: You said to "The New York Times" recently, and I'm quoting, you said "Some witnesses are far more important than others. And I think that some really important witnesses are attempting to deprive the Committee and the American people of what they know."

Can you say who the witnesses are that you believe are most important to speak to in order to get the full picture of what happened that day? I mean, obviously, Steve Bannon would be important, Mark Meadows would.

SCHIFF: Well, I think both of those witnesses, but in particular, Mark Meadows, you know, given what we've already disclosed publicly in terms of the texts that were coming and going to his office, and to him rather, he would be a key insider who could tell us what was happening in the White House on January 6, what was happening the days leading up to it in terms of the plotting about how to overturn the election. What they knew about the propensity for violence that day, and why the President didn't act for hours, so he is a key witness.

And he's already acknowledged in the production of, you know, 9,000 documents. There is a lot he could testify to that is no way privilege. So, that's who I'm referring to, but there are others who are resisting as well. And of course, the former President is suing to try to prevent us from getting records in the archives. I would hope that the courts recognize he is using the same tactic he used for four years, which was simply to use the courts to deprive the country and the Congress of important information to protect our democracy.

COOPER: Just finally, are you confident that whatever records there are were turned over to the National Archives? Because I was talking to a former archivist last night who said there's really no mechanism that forces people in the White House to turn over if they chose not to, if they have, you know, if they want to delete stuff and not turn it over, are you -- I mean, do you have knowledge that there is information there that's important.


SCHIFF: I don't know and I'm deeply concerned about it. There is certainly indications for example of people using encrypted apps like Signal to make sure that they're confident -- you know, their conversations are confidential. Did that also mean that those text conversations were not turned over to the archives? I don't know.

There were voluminous apparently, records and messages on personal e- mails, you know, notwithstanding the fact that maybe these same people viciously attacked Secretary Clinton for much of the same thing. So that is a very prevalent concern of mine, and I think other Committee members and we're determined to get to the bottom of it.

COOPER: Congressman Schiff, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

COOPER: Joining us now, CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger and we should note here that she and everyone appearing on set has tested negative today for COVID. Also, Robert Costa and Bob Woodward, co-authors of "Peril," the

bestselling and deeply reported account of the former President's final days in office.

Bob, you heard Congressman Schiff, you heard Attorney General Garland today. I'm wondering what your reaction to how all of this is playing out one year after this insurrection?

BOB WOODWARD, CO-AUTHOR, "PERIL": Well, I think this January 6 Committee is being very aggressive and very thorough, but you can't measure it by the number of interviews. The question is how do their firsthand witnesses and participants who are going to explain what happened?

And let's also deal with the political reality here. It is a divided nation, not just about Trump or the election, but about January 6th. There are lots of people who think, oh, this was fine. In my view, having done this for decades, what happened on January 6, was a crime against the Constitution.

And so are they going to find witnesses or evidence that will get people to look more clearly and understand the nature of that crime? I mean, you know, just trying to overturn an election is, as you point out, an attack on democracy, and its central premise.

COOPER: Gloria, Chairman Bennie Thompson yesterday called on Vice President Pence voluntarily to speak to the Committee. You've been talking to sources, is that really a possibility? I mean, obviously, we've been -- there's been reporting by you and others, Jamie Gangel and others about Marc Short and others around the Vice President.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right -- who are talking to the Committee, who are cooperating with the Committee, members of staff and also people who protected the Vice President, don't forget, were witnesses here.

I would have to say after talking to my sources, that it would be highly unlikely that the former Vice President would just walk in and say, oh, yes, I'm going to voluntarily cooperate here.

I think they'd have to subpoena him and that's kind of iffy, you know that that would be litigated and it would take a long time for that to go through. I think one thing that has been suggested to me and could happen is that perhaps the Committee would give him written questions and he might answer those written questions.

I mean, remember, Donald Trump did that in the Mueller investigation. I don't know that it did them a lot of good. But that is a potential way to kind of work a compromise here. If it were to come to that.

COOPER: Robert, I mean, here we are one year later, based on everything that we know about the investigation so far, how does it square with the reporting of your book and your reporting since then?

ROBERT COSTA, CO-AUTHOR, "PERIL": Congressman Schiff brought up an important point. So much of this story is not only about January 6, 2021. It is about the days prior, and I think back to a year ago, tonight, Anderson, January 5th when I was outside the Willard Hotel, pen and pad in hand, as Proud Boys and Oath Keepers passed me on Pennsylvania Avenue, and inside, Giuliani, Bannon talking to Trump, talking to Trump's lawyers, talking to other Trump allies.

This was a coordinated pressure campaign, in addition to an insurrection and both of those lines of reporting demand more answers.

COOPER: Well, I mean, how much do you think, Robert, has actually been reported from inside there or at least gone -- that the January 6 Committee -- do you think they have access to anything and really what was going on inside the Willard?

COSTA: Bob Woodward and I have talked a lot about this and compared it to Watergate. What helped break Watergate open was a John Dean testimony, someone from the inside, but if they don't have that, this time, an insider who is going to give public dramatic testimony, they are going to have to rely on facts, on documents.

We unearthed as many as we could in our book "Peril," like John Eastman memo, but what's going to be important for this Committee is to find more documentation of that coordinated pressure campaign to show paper, to give people who are skeptical of the Committee, and the fact that this was an insurrection, real evidence of that pressure campaign, and that's how text messages come into part of the equation in addition to phone calls and other memos that might be out there.


COOPER: Bob, former White House Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham, who was remarkably silent when she was actually Press Secretary, she now apparently met with the January 6 Committee tonight. How helpful do you think she could be on this investigation based on what you know from your reporting?

WOODWARD: Well, that she could be very significant. Again, I'm sorry, to go back, almost 50 years to Watergate, but as my co-author Bob Costa said, it was John Dean, a person from the inside saying I met with Nixon, it was a cover up, Nixon said lie, stonewall the grand jury.

But that really didn't break it open until Alexander Butterfield who was in the Nixon White House inner circle disclosed the secret taping system. But the secret taping system and all of that detail about the criminal activity of Nixon didn't turn what was going to happen.

It was the Republican Party then, almost 50 years ago, exemplified by Barry Goldwater saying, going to Nixon and saying, you're going to be impeached. The trial in the Senate, you maybe have five shaky votes, and one of those is not mine.

And then next day, Nixon announced his resignation.

So now, in this situation, the burden and the ball is with the Republican Party. How are they going to respond to this crime against the Constitution? Are they just going to say, well, we love Trump and we love our political base?

BORGER: I mean, you have to wonder even if there were tapes now, whether any Republicans would turn against Donald Trump. I mean, you have to wonder given his hold on the Republican Party.

COOPER: We're going to take a short break. We're going to pick up the conversation. In just a moment, we will talk a bit more about what it felt like here in Washington a year ago tonight.

And later COVID and the showdown between Chicago's mayor and teachers there who are refusing to work under what they are saying are dangerous conditions. Just moments ago, we got the word classes are canceled again tomorrow in Chicago. We will bring you a live update.



COOPER: Welcome back. We're talking tonight with Gloria Borger and Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, authors of "Peril" and before getting back into it, I want to refer back to something that Robert mentioned before the break, namely the night before.

I want to read you a few tweets he sent out today in preparation for this conversation that we're having here tonight. Quote, "I'm going through my own notebooks tonight from the "Peril" project, the January 2021 box of notebooks. Here are some notes. One year ago tonight, I was outside the Willard wandering around with pen and pad passing Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, monitoring the crowd. The city was otherwise empty. Trump was over in the Oval Office with Pence then I saw black cars arriving at the hotel."

Another tweet: "1/5 city empty, freezing cold, trash uncollected, rats everywhere. Willard a hotspot. MAGA clashing with police there. Rowdy. Back of Willard, black cars. Folo."

"Later, we went back and forth on whether to include the detail on rats in the book and decided against it. Extraneous."

So it's nice to have more material than you need unless of course it is all about threats to democracy.

Robert, I can tell you there were plenty of rats on the street in New York City last night and as I was getting a late dinner on the street, so maybe -- I don't know about D.C., but I can tell you the rats are in full force.

Take us back, Robert, though to what was happening on the night of January 5, a year ago when you're outside. I mean the scene -- the whole notion of the city kind of being empty, but this hotbed of activity of the Willard Hotel is fascinating.

COSTA: It is really -- it gives me almost chill to think back to a year ago tonight, because you have these power centers. There is a power center outside with the outsiders, the right-wing militia groups gathering outside of the Willard -- Freedom Plaza, they call it -- inside the Willard, the Trump lawyers, Bannon and Giuliani, setting up so called War Rooms.

And they were arriving sometimes through the front door, but what I noticed was this fleet of black cars and SUVs coming through the back. Their heads ducked down. It was a bitter cold night; another power center steps away.

The Oval Office -- Trump meeting with Pence, meeting with his aides, keeping the door of the Oval Office open so he could hear his supporters outside. The mob gathering in the streets.

And these all were interconnected. I didn't know at all at the time. And I remember calling Woodward around 11 o'clock that night and talking to him about the scene, about the rats, and we were talking about what this all meant and we didn't really know it. It took us months to fully understand that this was coordinated and that this had a coherency to it that wasn't immediately clear in early January.

COOPER: Bob, a year ago on what was -- go ahead, Bob.

WOODWARD: No, what is so important is that Robert Costa's instinct here was that something was going on. He knew the players.


He understands Trump as well as any reporter who has reported on him for years understands the Republican Party and I think in our business, the job is to continue to be aggressive. Find new people who are witnesses and participants.

I always go back to that phrase and when Robert and I talked that night, he was saying, I can't get in. I can't get in the hotel and actually wished he had rented a room so he had access to the hotel.

So, I think lots of people, this committee, reporters are going to keep driving for more evidence and witnesses.

COOPER: Bob, I wonder what you make of where the country is tonight? I mean, did you ever imagine on January 6 late at night, when the attack was finished they came back in to do the people's business and certify the election. You heard -- we heard Lindsey Graham saying, you know, I'm done, the -- you know, you know, I hate that it's ended this way. You heard McConnell, you heard McCarthy. Did you ever imagine that they would fold so quickly, and that we would be in this position one year from now?

WOODWARD: Well, it's a manifestation of Trump's power in the Republican Party. But, and Robert Costa knows more about this than I do. But I sense in talking to some Republicans in the Senate, there's nervousness about what the January 6 committee is doing, how this is all going to end and be defined. And I think a lot of Republican senators and leaders are thinking, wait a minute, this is not a good thing. Let's step back. And, you know, maybe step back a great distance here. This is, this is violent. This is not something I think sensible Republicans, and there are many sensible Republicans want to embrace. COOPER: Robert, I mean, we don't hear from a lot of sensible Republicans. So do you confirm that there are and that they do want to step back?

ROBERT COSTA, CO-AUTHOR, PERIL: There's anxiety that the more you pull up this rug, the more that's there. And everyone's fingerprints seem to be on this. And there's been recent news about Sean Hannity in his communications with White House officials and President Trump at the time and you see a lot of uneasiness within the Republican Party, that even if they don't like this committee, and they want to move away from January 6. Trump at the end was pulling every lever of power, his own vice president lawmakers, state officials. And the more this committee finds with text messages, it's almost like a cloud that won't go away over the GOP.

COOPER: Gloria, the former president cancelled this. I don't know if it was going to be a press conference, or I mean, you know --


COOPER: -- a state (INAUDIBLE) event like he's had in the past.


COOPER: At Mar-a-Lago on January 6, I guess the reporting had been that there was advice from Lindsey Graham and Laurie Ingraham had been reported, had to convince them to not do that. I don't know if that's the case.

But why do you think he cancelled and why do you think he would want to have a sort of campaign style event?

BORGER: Well, first of all, he loves the attention, but I think he cancelled because he thought he wasn't going to get enough of it, he was going to be embarrassed. Because I was told today by a Republican source with knowledge that the President when he heard that the network's weren't going to take it live, that cable networks weren't going to take it live. Sort of said, wait a minute, I'm not going to get the attention that I want. And this could look bad for me. He had been warned by people who really shouldn't be doing this now, maybe it would be in bad taste. Not that he cares about that. But that he wasn't going to make the splash that he thought it was going to make.

So in the end, and maybe his lawyers, by the way, told him you know, it's probably not a good idea for you to go talk about this publicly right now or though he's going to do it in a rally sometime soon. But I think it wasn't the people that got to him. His supporters who got to him was the fact that he thought you know what, I'm just not I'm just not going to get the lights. I'm not going to get enough.

COOPER: The greatest sin of all in his world.

BORGER: Exactly.

COOPER: Gloria Borger, Robert Costa, Bob Woodward, appreciate it. Thank you. The flight to reopen schools in Chicago is next, we have a live report as the battle between the mayor and teachers union over COVID safety concerns cancels classes for hundreds of thousands of students. We'll be right back.



COOPER: There are breaking news. A short time ago the CDC recommended the Pfizer booster for children as young as 12 and now it only needs final approval from the agency's director who's good news for parents, educators and students across the country eager to keep school doors open. That is not the case in Chicago where a fight between political leaders and the teachers union in the nation's third largest school district has closed the doors to more than 340,000 kids.

CNN's Omar Jimenez joins us now from Chicago with breaking details. So what is the latest from city school officials?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson for starters, for the second day in a row, there will be no in person or virtual classes here in the country's third largest school district. The mayor though just moments ago maintaining that one they're not going to back down and two saying that they believe school in person is safe, especially when you apply universal masking, rising vaccination rates distancing when possible and more.

But further the head of the Department of Public Health easier said the risks outside the school walls are actually greater than inside the school walls. Well, the union may agree with that they don't think its safe enough. One of the major sticking points in this standoff is the union wants more testing because at the moment, they don't feel they have enough of it, which means they don't feel they have a clear enough picture of what the actual COVID situation is at the moment.

However, if there is one good moment I should say a good note of progress, a union official told me a little bit early as the day wrap that there was some movement today and that today was the most productive day at the negotiating table we've seen but clearly not enough to reopen schools, Anderson.


COOPER: I know you've also spoke to some families who've been caught in the middle of this, what they have to say.

JIMENEZ: Well, Anderson, bottom line, they are frustrated, especially since at least here this is the second year in a row parents are going through this parents like Nolberto Casas, who is reminded of his experience with virtual learning and his first grade son.


NOLBERTO CASAS, PARENT: And the teachers talking in the background.

JIMENEZ (on-camera): How did you feel in that moment?

N. CASAS: I felt heartbroken. I felt heartbroken because it was Isaac versus the computer versus mom, basically versus the world. And I felt helpless. We don't know how to plan out the next 24 hours, let alone the next 24 days. They point the finger to the district, then they point the fingers to the teachers, I'm pointing the finger at my child, you know, because he's the one that ends up losing out in this whole argument.

ISAAC CASAS, FIRST GRADE STUDENT: Every time I go (INAUDIBLE) it gets harder than person. I didn't want this to happen. So that's why I want to give my school open.


JIMENEZ: Now Casas -- Nolberto Casas wants people to go back in person. And while not every parent feels that way, one sentiment they appear to share is that they want consistency and where they're going to be sending their kids every day. Now moving forward, some of the dates that we're keeping an eye on is January 18th is when the teachers union said they intend to continue refusing to go in person until or at least until they reach an agreement on this. The teacher or the school district just said moments ago, they want teachers back in the classroom on Friday.

But of course in the meantime, we are in this standoff where bottom line, the teachers union does not feel the district has provided adequate enough resources for them to return to class safely. The school district disagrees.

COOPER: Omar Jimenez, appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up next, the CDC and Biden administration have left a lot of people confused about which kind of mask you should use whether testing is necessary. We're going to talk to a bioethicist deals and just these kinds of questions, ahead.



COOPER: The fight between Chicago leaders and its teachers union that we discussed before the break is one of many over testing standards. Last night in the on the broadcast, Dr. Peter Hotez co-director of the Texas Children's Hospital said the CDC and administration we're sending a mixed message his words on testing. Administration is acquiring half a billion tests so everybody can get one, yet the new CDC guidance on testing isn't actually advising people that they even need to do it. The agencies also still recommending cloth masks, although some medical experts say those don't protect against the Omicron variant.

All of which leaves people trying to do the right thing with a question, well, what is the right thing?

I'm joined now by Arthur Caplan, Director of the Division of Medical Ethics at the NYU Langone Medical Center.

So Art, you just heard in Chicago, 340,000 students families left in the lurch tonight until the city in the teachers union come to an agreement. From an ethics point of view, what do you make what's happening Chicago?

ARTHUR CAPLAN, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF MEDICAL ETHICS, NYU LANGONE MEDICAL CTR.: Well, I think in Chicago and many other cities, we've got political misconduct. And what I mean is, this Omicron variant was coming here we knew it for weeks, we should have had policies in place about what we were going to do with the schools. But one that I favored was, don't go to school, unless we've got tests in the home, then, you know, not to send your kid to school, if they're infected. We don't have the tests. I don't think we're going to get them anytime soon, which is a different policy failure. But parents deserve consistency.

You know, Anderson, I don't know why we're trying to sail into this Omicron storm and run school, why don't we just say, take off two weeks, take off three weeks, let this thing peak, it looks like it may burn out and give some help to people who need, you know, daycare and babysitting assistance and all that. Have a reasonable period of time and just wait and then extend the school year. To me it looks hopeless, because the teachers, staff, many people are just not going in.

COOPER: There's -- I mean COVID fatigue is obviously affecting a lot of folks. There's rightfully a lot of talk about where the Biden administration has come up short. What about personal responsibility? I mean, does each individual in this country, what does each individual in this country owe to their communities more morally ethically.

I was reading some articles about teachers in Chicago and the union there did support mandates that the governor put in for that all teachers had to get vaccinated. But there were dozens if not more than 100 teachers who were against having vaccine mandates. I mean, what is the ethical responsibility of a teacher to make sure that they do everything to protect their students.

CAPLAN: But look, if you're going to be around people who are vulnerable, and that's many kids who can't be vaccinated haven't been vaccinated, and I mean, fully with boosters, then they're at risk of getting sick, they may not get sick, you know, as others, but we've seen hospitalizations and some deaths among children and not nothing. If you're going to be working around nursing home residents, you got to be working around people that have undergone cancer treatment or transplants, it isn't enough to say, I'm making a choice, I respect your choice, you know want to vaccinate. But you have to, you know, take responsibility, either mask, or don't go to work, or don't visit.

If your employer and I keep coming back to this, a lot of folks say, well, I don't want the government telling me what to do. Your employer says we've got to make the workplace safe. You have to take responsibility for protecting, you know, we don't want people out sick. We don't want people infecting one another and we may have vulnerable employees working here who really would get sick if exposed to you. And I think it's the employers job to make a safe workplace, whether it's the military, a nursing home, or for that matter, a restaurant.

COOPER: For those who argue that, you know, will I just I'm against the idea of mandates. I know the government shouldn't force somebody to do something like this. The comparison to wearing seat belts obviously when seat belts were you know when I was growing up there weren't really seat belts I don't think and now there are seat belts and it's everybody just naturally does that and it makes sense and it saves lives. Is that a fair comparison you think? I mean that some people are willing to accept seatbelts, why not accept mandatory vaccination?


CAPLAN: Well, I want people to voluntarily accept vaccination, it's safe, it works. The boosters really keep us out of the hospital. I understand that this new variant is still very contagious and can get around the vaccine. But if you look at the numbers, the people who are at the hospital, a huge proportion of the unvaccinated. So the rational thing to do is take a safe vaccine, protect yourself, protect others, protect your grandparents, others that might be around you who are at risk.

We have restrict -- restricted secondhand smoking, if you will, in public places due to secondhand smoke. Drunk driving is something that we penalize pretty ferociously now, you can lose your ability and capacity to drive if you engage in risky behavior. So we don't live in a society that just says freedom means I can do what I want or freedom means you know, I have choice without any accountability or responsibility when you hurt others, our mothers put others at risk, you got to take some responsibility.

COOPER: Art Caplan, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Ahead, QAnon's --

CAPLAN: Thank you.

COOPER: -- future after the Capitol insurrection, none of the conspiracy spreader group, none of their wild claims ever have come true. It's all just made up stuff yet its mission of deceit continues and people continue to believe it. That's next.



COOPER: Tomorrow marks not only a year since one of the darkest chapters in American democracy, the attempted coup. Also gave QAnon its biggest chance to spread its insane deception far beyond the web. The crawled to prominence with relentless misinformation with echoes of anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic bigotry. Well QAnon doesn't get as much attention these days, and the creators identity remains a mystery it's far from God, even with its lies exposed time after time QAnon members still find ways to keep the con going.



COOPER (voice-over): On January 6, QAnon's presence in the mob was unmistakable.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here because Q sent me. You guys know what that is.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): Stop that steal! Stop that steal!

COOPER (voice-over): Q supporters believe then, as they do now that former President Donald Trump won the election, is not only the rightful leader of the U.S., but also a kind of Messiah who will save America. It all started as an online conspiracy more than four years ago, someone who called themselves Q Clearance Patriot, started posting cryptic messages on an online forum called 4han. The posts began soon after Trump said this in October 2017.

DONALD TRUMP (R) FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Could be the calm before the storm.


TRUMP: You'll find out of it.

COOPER (voice-over): The storm is interpreted by Q followers to me in a day of reckoning. They're under the delusion Trump is fighting a holy war against a deep state, which includes Democrats and celebrities who they say worship Satan, molest children and harvest their blood. QAnon followers believe Trump was recruited by the military to bring down this global cabal that he would do it before he left office.

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. do solemnly swear.

COOPER (voice-over): But after Joe Biden was elected president, the messages from the person claiming to be Q dwindled with one last post on December 8, 2020. We still don't know Q's identity.

Other QAnon content became harder to find after the major social media companies began cracking down on Q related postings after the insurrection. QAnon followers whoever had found other forums to spread their lies.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): What you seen as since after the insurrection on Twitter and Facebook, were getting started kicking off a lot of QAnon accounts. We've seen a lot of QAnon followers move to platforms like Gab. Gab has been a social media platform that's been around for a few years. So this one QAnon group on Gab called QAnon and the Great Awakening, it has more than 200,000 members. And if you're in us, you basically live in a parallel universe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, it's your favorite truth seeker, holding the light for everyone out there who's given up hope that Trump is not the President of the United States of America, when in fact, he is.

COOPER (voice-over): But the group has faded into the shadows this past year, their loyalty remains to one person, former President Trump. They predicted he was going to be reinstated on March 4th, and proceed with public executions of pedophiles on March 5th.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Executions will be happening on March 5th. That's a big statement. And I'm really looking forward to it.

COOPER (voice-over): When that didn't happen, Q followers predicted Trump would really be reinstated on August 13th, a day which also came and went.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are Q, we are -- we are QAnons, we are the Anon's, we follow Q.

COOPER (voice-over): In November a new prediction for Trump's return, which would include a surprise announcement by John F. Kennedy Jr. He died in a plane crash in 1999, but Q followers believed he would arise and announce himself as Trump's new vice president. Hundreds even showed up at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, the place where Kennedy's father was assassinated to see it happen.

Some Q followers believe John F. Kennedy Jr. and others are only pretending to be dead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you give me any names? No?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Jackson is coming back?