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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Nearby Church Hosting Beth Israel Congregation For Healing; Interview With Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY); 2020 Election Deniers, Conspiracy Theorists Seek Secretary Of State Officers In Key Battleground States; 2020 Election Deniers Running To Oversee Voting In Arizona In 20222; Massive Storm Slams East Coast From Florida To Maine; Tennis Star Novak Djokovic Is Back In Serbia After Being Deported From Australia; Tuskegee Airmen Brig. Gen. Charles McGee Dies At 102. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 17, 2022 - 20:00   ET


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In case we could prove our case, we wanted to make sure that we didn't interfere with democracy with this false claim of fraud -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: They are saying, short of saying like the electors is not interfering.

All right, Tom, thank you very much.

And thanks to all of you, AC 360 starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. We begin tonight on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day by first recognizing those who took the moment today to honor Dr. King's life and legacy, also to those who perpetuate that legacy in their day to day lives, whether it's by doing for others, which is still vital now or by doing the difficult work of bending the arc of history, as Dr. King said toward justice.

At the same time, it is hard not to notice the evidence these days that his vision is far from complete. To some, in fact, its fulfillment might seem farther off now than it was just a few years ago, or nearly 39 years ago when Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina used the filibuster -- yes, that filibuster -- in his attempt to scuttle bill making today a National Holiday.

That filibuster was broken with an overwhelming 78 to 22 vote in a Republican controlled Senate. It's hard to imagine such a vote now.

Tomorrow, the Senate will begin debate on legislation combining two bills that are already passed by the House, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

John Lewis who marched with Dr. King and nearly lost his life for the cause on a bridge in a state that on this very day still celebrates a joint holiday honoring Dr. King, yes, but also Robert E. Lee, the Confederate General. The combined voting rights bill is opposed by Republicans and at least two Democrats oppose measures to eliminate a G.O.P. filibuster. Today, in Washington, Martin Luther King, III spoke to the moment.


MARTIN LUTHER KING, III, ACTIVIST: History will be watching what happens tomorrow. Black and brown Americans will be watching what happens tomorrow.

In 50 years, students will read about what happens tomorrow, and know whether our leaders have the integrity to do the right thing.

If you can deliver an infrastructure bill for bridges, you can deliver voting rights for Americans. If you do not, there is no bridge in this nation that can hold the weight of that failure.


COOPER: Now, wherever you might stand on this particular legislation, consider that the last time the original Voting Rights Act came up for renewal, which was in 2006 during the George W. Bush administration, it passed 98 to zero; not a single Republican imposed it.

Today, as you know, Republican lawmakers across the country had been passing laws limiting voting hours, eliminating ballot drop boxes, making it harder to vote. And G.O.P. candidates spreading phony stories about voter fraud and stolen elections are running to themselves become the very officials who will oversee future elections.

What's more, their party's figurehead the former President is back in front of crowds, pushing those phony stories over the weekend refusing to concede the plain fact that he lost we lost. He lost, and he cannot stop whining about it and denying it happened.

In fact, this weekend after months of marinating in Mar-a-Lago, he is now really leaning into racism, spouting a completely false and completely racist idea that white Americans now have to get to the back of the line to receive COVID treatment.

Ivanka Trump stewing in Miami must be really proud of her dad.

The former President was also spinning wild fantasies about the F.B.I. and the insurrection and doing it at the very same time the F.B.I. was helping end a hostage taking just two states away at a synagogue in Dallas, Fort Worth area.

Now, according to the Anti-Defamation League's most recent report, acts of anti-Semitism are the highest level since 1979. So, if the arc of history may feel a little more brittle tonight, there's probably some good reason for it.

At the same time, even now, as you're about to see, there is also reason for hope. Hope in the form of tolerance and compassion, decency in simple human kindness. You can find it right now at a Methodist Church not far from the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue where the hostages were taken.

The church has welcomed members of Beth Israel tonight for a healing service which has just gotten underway. Our Ed Lavandera is there.

Ed, what is gone on?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, well, just moments from now, this service for a healing and resilience is expected to get underway, as you mentioned, at this Methodist Church just a few miles away from the synagogue where the hostage ordeal took place over the weekend. That's because the synagogue is still essentially a crime scene and investigators are still combing through that area.

But tonight, the members of this congregation that have been separated because of the COVID pandemic are coming together in large numbers, even as we are hearing from the hostage taker, the hostages, and hearing some dramatic stories of what their ordeal was like.



LAVANDERA (voice over): The final moments capturing three hostages escaping from the Beth Israel Synagogue was captured by a photojournalist with CNN affiliate, WFAA.

The hostages race out a side door. The hostage taker briefly appears pointing his firearm in their direction. The F.B.I. Hostage Rescue Teams surrounding the synagogue moves in.

An explosive device detonates and gunfire rips through the air. The man in the blue shirt escaping from the synagogue is Jeffrey Cohen. Nearly 11 hours earlier, Cohen and Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker had welcomed the stranger who held him hostage through the Sabbath service.

JEFFREY COHEN, VICE PRESIDENT, CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL: Right before the service again, and I got in, Rabbi Charlie pointed this guy out to me and I went over to say hello to welcome him.

LAVANDERA (voice over): Rabbi Cytron-Walker says the hostage ordeal started shortly after the religious service started and was being livestreamed to congregants.

RABBI CHARLIE CYTRON-WALKER (CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL): It was during prayer, while we were praying and my back was turned -- we face towards Jerusalem when we pray -- right before -- right before he revealed himself, but this was plenty of time and I heard a click.

Then it could have been anything, and it turned out that it was his gun.

LAVANDERA (voice over): After the suspect pulled out a gun, Cohen says he was allowed to call his family

COHEN: At one point, the terrorist let us call our families. So I called my wife or my son and basically told them, there is a gunman here. He claims he has a bomb. Things don't look good right now. I love you, and remember me.

LAVANDERA (voice over): Cohen says that after the first hour, the suspect, 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram became much more calm and that is when the hostages started thinking strategically about where they should sit, and to keep their eyes open for an opportunity to escape.

COHEN: His demeanor change not too long after that and he became much calmer, maybe because he thought he was going to get what he wanted and it changed from wartime attack to I'm going to die. I'm going to let these guys go, but I'm going to die here.

LAVANDERA (voice over): But in the last hour, the suspect became agitated and threatening. The men deliberately moved themselves to an area with a direct line to a side exit of the synagogue.

COHEN: Up until that point, we were very willing to wait for law enforcement to do their thing. At that point, we knew we had to get out. At one point, he even said that, I'm going to put a bullet in each of you. Get down on your knees.

At which point, I glared at him. I raised up in my seat kind of like I'm doing now. I may have shaken my head like that, but I glared at him and I mouthed, "No."

LAVANDERA (voice over): Cohen says the suspect then turned to pour himself a soda and that's the opening the Rabbi needed.

RABBI CYTRON-WALKER: When I saw an opportunity where he wasn't in a good position, I had to make sure that the two gentlemen who were still with me, that they were -- that they were ready to go.

The exit wasn't too far away. I told them to go.

I threw a chair at the gunman and I headed for the door, and all three of us were able to get out without even a shot being fired.

COHEN: I want to make it clear, two things. We were not released. We were not rescued. Okay? We escaped and we escaped because we kept presence of mind, because we made plans, because we strategically moved people.


COOPER: And hearing from the two of the men who were held hostage. What are they saying about what the suspect said about his motivations?

LAVANDERA (voice over): Well, you know what they did say especially Jeffrey Cohen, who was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN just a few hours ago, really talked about this idea that at the beginning of the hostage takeover standoff there inside the synagogue, he was ranting and raving about how much he hated Jewish people and that sort of thing. But then after the livestream ended, became kind of much more focused on this idea that he wanted to connect and speak with and try to garner the release of this jihadi woman, Aafia Siddiqui who is being held in a Federal prison here in the North Texas area.

But what struck Jeffrey Cohen, one of the hostages, he said that he had come to this synagogue because he believed that Jews basically controlled everything, that if he came to a synagogue that he would be able to get this woman released and that he would be able to get President Biden's attention to garner her release and that sort of thing.


Jeffrey Cohen says, you know all of this being fed in by the anti- Semitic tropes that so many people across the country believe that Jews control everything. Jeffrey Cohen says it's because of that that put them in harm's way.

COOPER: Ed Lavandera, I appreciate it. Thank you.

The F.B.I. released a new statement on the incident overnight. It reads in part, "This is a terrorism-related matter in which the Jewish community was targeted and is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force." Chilling enough words to read about any place, let alone a house of worship.

I spoke with Beth Israel President Michael Finfer shortly before air time.


COOPER: Mr. Finfer, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us. Sorry, it is under these circumstances, although obviously it could have ended much worse. First, well, how are you and the other congregants doing?

MICHAEL FINFER, PRESIDENT, CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL: Well, I'm doing better today than I was yesterday and better than Saturday for sure. The congregants seems to be coming together very well.

COOPER: I know you spent Saturday at the F.B.I. and Colleyville Police Command Center. What was that like? And what information were you able to provide them?

FINFER: Well, it's obviously nothing I'd ever experienced, but the professionalism and the interest that they showed in anything, any question that I was asked and I answered their question, and they were really interested in what I did say.

It mostly dealt with the layout of the building and where different items were in the building, likely where people were moving or where people were.

I also was able to provide access to my ring cameras, and also the access to the ADT cameras we have in the facility. COOPER: I understand you also even had the plans to the building in your vehicle that you were able -- I mean, that's -- what a coincidence.

FINFER: It was. I've been working -- we've been working on a grant -- a grant that we have from the F.E.M.A. and the State of Texas, and I was carrying them because the builder and I had just met a couple days before out there on some new lighting we were trying to put into the parking lot for security.

COOPER: You said you had the ring cameras and ADT cameras. What were you able to actually see while the congregants were being held hostage? Were you seeing the room they were in?

FINFER: Yes. Well, partial part of the room they were in. The ADT cameras -- ADT does not have sound, but they are cameras. So you are -- you're mostly -- and we were able to see where the Rabbi was sitting at for example.

And by the way he was looking, we could at probably kind of arrived at where the suspect was. When others moved in the room, we could see when they moved into the camera area of if they went to the foyer, we could see them -- like we could see them there.

COOPER: The Rabbi has said that or has credited training that he and I guess, other members of the congregation have received from the F.B.I. and police departments over the years dealing with a situation very much like this.

FINFER: Absolutely. We've had live shooter training as far as if an active shooter is basically what they call it. We've done stop the bleed training, we've done the run hide fight training for our security teams, our security people in the membership who want to be involved with security. The Rabbi was very much into that.

And Secure Community Network and the government, several government sections, HSIN all helped us create this course that we've given and we helped to establish an emergency action plan of how to deal with a situation.

COOPER: I mean, it's a blessing that the Rabbi and others have had that training, but I mean, you know what it says about where we are at in this country, it is a sad commentary as well.

FINFER: Oh, no doubt about it. We've put up an iron fence across the property. The only reason is just to provide the safety and hardening the facility, I believe is the F.E.M.A. term that we've been working on and that is strictly just out of that potential.

COOPER: I know you're attending a service being held at the nearby Methodist Church tonight. I'm wondering what you want your other members of the congregation to know and what message you want to send to the rest of the world who is watching?

FINFER: Well, I'm hoping they realize that we are doing a healing service. We're beginning what is going to be a long term process to bring the congregation back to the position we were in and that it is an opportunity that is much better than attending a memorial service and that is going to be a very strong focus.

COOPER: Michael Finfer, I really appreciate your time tonight and I wish you the best tonight at the service and also moving forward.

FINFER: Thank you very much for having me.



COOPER: There is breaking news tonight. Top officials with the F.B.I. as well as the Department of Homeland Security have just issued a warning to faith-based communities will likely remain targets for violence in a letter Monday to state and local partners urging them to evaluate their security posture for mass gathering events and at houses of worship.

Joining us, too, CNN national security analysts and former Assistant Homeland Security Secretary, Juliette Kayyem and Peter Bergen, author among many important books of the rise and fall of Osama bin Laden.

Peter, in your piece, you wrote about this Federal prisoner in Texas. She's a Pakistani woman who the hostage taker was believed to be motivated by. He talked about her, he called her his sister according to one of the hostages.

Can you just explain why this person has become an icon for some terrorists?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I mean, I think there's a variety of reasons, especially, Anderson, as you know, when she was arrested, and she tried to kill a U.S. Army officer. That's why she is serving 86 years in prison not far from where the synagogue hostage taking took place.

I think that there are reasons -- there are a couple of reasons why she is sort of an icon amongst terrorists, ISIS demanded her release when they kidnapped Jim Foley and ultimately murdered him. The sent a note to the Foley Family demanding her released when U.S. Army soldier, Bowe Bergdahl was taken by the Taliban. The Taliban also demanded his release. I think it's partly because she's a sister, a woman. She's a mother of three.

COOPER: So you mean, the Taliban demanded her release.

BERGEN: Yes, sorry, yes. They demanded Siddiqui's release. So, you know, I think that it is -- she has just been a cause for these jihadists for a long time. This is not the first time that somebody with really no relationship. He wasn't a brother. He sort saw her as a sister in Islam that he was trying to release.

And it's a common narrative, and I mean, by the way, you know, in native Pakistan, when she was sentenced to 86 years, thousands of people poured into the streets to protest what they see is unjust detention, even though a court of law clearly thought that she was right to be charged with attempted murder.

COOPER: Am I correct that she had been a neuroscientist?

BERGEN: Yes. She has degrees from M.I.T. in Biology and in neuroscience from Brandeis. So she is a smart person, clearly an accomplished person, but also a person with very dangerous ideas.

COOPER: Juliette, I want to get your reaction to the breaking news that we're learning tonight that the F.B.I. and Department Homeland Security warned that faith-based communities will likely remain targets for violence.

Is that a standard thing to put out just to warn -- just to remind houses of worship?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, so it's generally standard, especially after a specific incident against a religious institution, a synagogue in this case, and it's a sort of a trigger to get those, to get state and local authorities to focus on sort of what we call situational awareness.

Do they know what's going on in their communities? Do they have access to a synagogue or church? Are they reaching out to them? And I think that's really important as you -- as we just heard from the congregant.

You know, this was a synagogue that sort of took advantage of every opportunity to make itself more safe and secure -- fencing, video, training, active shooter training, run, hide, fight, I mean, all of them, they understood what's going on that save their lives. But their one vulnerability was the Rabbi let a stranger in.

I mean, that in the end, is not something you can solve because that is intrinsic to this religion, to the Jewish religion and to many other religions. And I think that's the tension that you're feeling right now, not just the hate, but also they lose -- you know, a synagogue loses something, if it becomes harder in that sense. It can't be as welcoming.

COOPER: Peter, the fact this hostage taker, this terrorist did not appear to be on any terror watch list in the U.S. or the U.K. What does that say?

BERGEN: Well, quite a lot. And you know, the other interesting thing, of course, he is British. And, you know, think about all the Muslim travel ban -- so-called Muslim travel ban propaganda of the Trump administration. You know, this was a British citizen who came here completely legally to carry out a terrorist act. Actually, it's a very rare example of a foreigner getting into the United States in the post 9/11 era and successfully or somewhat successfully carrying out their attack.

COOPER: Peter Bergen, Juliette Kayyem, appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up next, voting rights, what the issue means on this day and what's about to happen as the Senate takes up legislation bearing John Lewis's name, Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries joins us.

And later, some answers to the question: How big is the impact of the big lie about the last election? A closer look at candidates across the country running to become top state election officials while at the same time falsely claiming the last election was stolen.



COOPER: We spoke at the top of the broadcast about tomorrow's apparently futile effort in the Senate to pass major legislation on voting. The obstacles as you know involve a united Republican opposition, but also the unwillingness of Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to take a key tool of that opposition off the table, namely the filibuster, a Senate tool that takes on special significance today, as does the underlying issue of the right to vote, which the King family as you saw spoke about today, as did New York Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries during a debate on Thursday.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): The right to vote is sacred. The right to vote is special. The right to vote is sacrosanct and central to the integrity of our democracy. There are people who died, lost their lives, she blood to make sure that black people and everyone in America could vote.

We're not going backward, we're only going to go forward, you better back up off of us.



COOPER: Congressman Jeffries, who also chairs the House Democratic Caucus joins us now.

Congressman, thanks for being with us. Despite all the passion and the concern surrounding this issue is voting rights legislation dead, as it currently stands?

JEFFRIES: It is not dead, and we have to continue to press forward in this spirit, and out of reverence and respect for the life and legacy of Dr. King with the fierce urgency of now, until we can get the John Robert Lewis Voting Rights Act and the freedom to vote act over the finish line.

You know, Anderson, in a democracy, there has to be an equilibrium, a balance between majority rule and minority rights. What we have in the Senate right now is an inversion of this basic principle.

We have minority rule, and the will of the majority of the American people is being subverted and obstructed when it comes to this sacred, special right to vote and we cannot rest until we get this situation resolved. COOPER: But as for right now, it doesn't seem like there are the votes to pass this current iteration, correct?

JEFFRIES: As I understand it, there are ongoing conversations with both Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema with respect to both of these important bills. It's important to note that the Freedom to Vote Act is Joe Manchin's Voting Rights Protection legislation. He is allowing Republicans to filibuster his own bill. That doesn't make a lot of sense to a lot of us, particularly given the stakes that exist right now.

Republicans have decided to adopt voter suppression as an electoral tactic, because they've concluded that the only way that the radical right can consistently win elections is to engage in voter suppression.

I can't think of something that's more unconscionable and more un- American, and we've got to undo it in the United States Senate.

COOPER: We're hearing about a group of lawmakers, bipartisan, who are looking at the idea of reforming the 1887 Electoral Count Act. The law that lays out the process by which Electoral College votes are certified by Congress. Do you support reform of that of that Act? And what would you say to those who argue that that may be all that can be done?

JEFFRIES: I do support reform of the Electoral Count Act, but I don't think it should substitute for voting rights legislation.

We have two challenges right now that we're confronting to our democracy. You got a voter suppression epidemic that we have to crush, and then you also have nullification efforts that are underway by state legislative bodies where they effectively are trying to set up the opportunity to steal elections.

What's ironic here, Anderson, is that Republicans, many of them, not all of them, but many of them want to make it harder to vote and easier to steal an election.

I mean, this is an incredible place that we find ourselves in, but the spirit of Dr. King, who himself confronted enormous obstacles to progress, yet persevered through them will continue to inspire us to make a way out of no way and to eventually, hopefully this week, but if not eventually overcome.

COOPER: We've seen the President and the Vice President both strongly get behind these voting rights bills in recent weeks. At the same time, you know, many voting rights activists are saying it's too little too late and that speeches are clearly insufficient at that point.

There is clearly a lot of frustration for those who, you know, are arguing what you are arguing for? What do you say to those who are frustrated with a lack of results from Democrats?

JEFFRIES: Democrats do consistently deliver for the people and President Biden has delivered in many different ways. The American Rescue Plan was an incredible step forward early on in his presidency in terms of stabilizing the economy and striking a blow against COVID- 19, setting up a strong public health infrastructure to help us get through other variants like delta and omicron.

The bipartisan infrastructure agreement is an example of his leadership and will have created millions of good paying jobs moving forward all across the country, and now President Biden and Vice President Harris are leaning into voting rights legislation, and importantly have indicated that we have to reform, if not dismantle the filibuster.

The filibuster is the obstacle toward this equilibrium between majority rule and minority rights, and that is one of the reasons why it is a perversion of our democracy, an obstacle to progress, and hopefully will be dealt with decisively this week and the senators on the Democratic side can find a way to convince Manchin and Sinema to do just that.

COOPER: Do you believe Democrats in Congress will have the opportunity to pass other parts of its agenda before the midterm's portion of the Build Back Better plan?

JEFFRIES: It's my view that we will be to move forward with the Build Back Better Act in some substantial way. It is critically important that we continue to create millions of good paying jobs, that we lower cost to every day Americans, that we revive the Child Tax Credit, which was a massive tax cut for working families, middle class families and low income families and put them in a strong economic position and we have to sustain that moving forward.


And I do believe that everybody under the Capitol dome on the House side and on the Senate side, and certainly President Biden understands the significance of delivering the Build Back Better Act, insubstantial measure for the American people. I'm very confident that that is going to happen sooner rather than later.

COOPER: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

JEFFRIES: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Up next, a bigger picture of what Congressman Jeffries just laid out and what's at stake when it comes to voting right, to look at the election deniers and conspiracy spreaders who want to be the top election official in some key battleground states.


COOPER: While there's a slew of people who insist the last election was fraudulent and spread concern -- and are spreading conspiracy theories about it who are themselves actively running to become secretaries of state across the country. Now, the Republican candidates for the top election office in some key swing states still claimed the 2020 election was stolen even though obviously it was not.

More from CNN's Tom Foreman.



TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As rioters raged inside the U.S. Capitol, outside Arizona State Representative Mark Finchem was watching and tweeting. This is what happens when the people feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud.

MARK FINCHEM (R-AZ) STATE REPRESENTATIVE: You begin to think racketeering organized crime.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Now the Republican is running to become Arizona Secretary of State with Donald Trump's endorsement, and he's keeping the big line boiling with claims of fraud coast to coast.

FINCHEM: When you see the same kind of activity going on in multiple states at the exact same time, using the same tactics, that ain't no accident.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Secretaries of State our key election officials in most places, Democratic and Republican secretaries alike played a critical role in defending Joe Biden's legitimate and legal defeat of Trump in 2020.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, Mr. President.

FOREMAN (voice-over): So now in several key states, the defeated president is endorsing individuals running to take those positions, people who have embraced his unproven claim the election was stolen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody understands the disaster of the lack of election integrity like the people of Georgia.

FOREMAN (voice-over): In Georgia, where Biden won by almost 12,000 votes, Trump pushed the Republican Secretary of State to find enough ballots to flip the results. Brad Raffensperger refused. Now Trump is endorsing Congressman Jody Hice for the job.

REP. JODY HICE (R-GA): I guarantee you Georgia is not blue and what happened last election was solely because a horrible Secretary of State and horrible decisions --


HICE: -- that he made.


FOREMAN (voice-over): In Michigan, another state Trump lost, he is throwing his weight behind a community college professor, Kristina Karamo, has never run for office has attacked Republicans said the Democratic Party has been taken over by a satanic agenda. And she's on board with the big law.

KRISTINA KARAMO, COLLEGE PROFESSOR: Not right, there are hundreds of thousands of votes are a lot to consider as lawful, both we know they're illegal.

FOREMAN (on-camera): There is no guarantee Trump's backing can push those three candidates to victory. But if just those three states had gone to Trump in 2020, if the secretaries of states then had been to his will and subverted the legal vote, that would have been enough, and he would be President right now.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Will join me now someone who knows the battle up close, Katie Hobbs, Secretary of State in Arizona, who's a Democratic candidate for the governor in that state.

Secretary Hobbs, appreciate you being here. So, what is the Secretary of State actually do? And I asked this because if someone with bad intent gets the job, what could they possibly do? What's the harm?

KATIE HOBBS (D-AZ) SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, it actually varies state by state. But what I can tell you in Arizona, is that we write the election procedures manual, which requires approval by the Governor and Attorney General. And it's our job to make sure that Federal Voting rights laws are implemented consistently across the state. And we have been providing important guidance outside of the election procedures manual to the counties and local election officials to be able to do their job and ensure that Arizonans have consistent access to the ballot across the state. It's a critical role.

We also are responsible for certifying the election results that we get from the counties. And you know, Mark Finchem, who you just talked about, has flat out said if he was Secretary of State, Trump would still be president with absolutely no evidence that there's any case to back that up.

COOPER: For the sake of argument that -- say some of these candidates do win their elections. Are there any checks and balances and mechanisms in place to prevent them from sending in fraudulent votes certificates? The National Archives, which actually happened in several states, including yours. Or does it depend on which state and which party is in control there? Because you mentioned I mean, the governor and has to approve some things?

HOBBS: Yes. Well, certainly, what's clear is that democracy is on the ballot up and down the ballot in 2022. All these races are important. It's part of why I'm running for governor and folks can join me there at But, but there do need to be checks and balances, and there are. But if the former president is successful in getting all of his loyalists installed in these positions, and then I don't know what happens to checks and balances.

COOPER: Where do you see things on a broader level or going from here? Obviously, it's been over a year since the insurrection we're heading toward midterms nationally, countless statewide races around the country. Many Republicans clearly are, you know, focused on continuing keeping the big lie going. Do you see any chance of them abandoning the (INAUDIBLE) in the darkness the former presidents continues to spread them? And we heard him this weekend talking about, you know, white people have to get in the back have a line for COVID treatments which is not only just false, it's just blatantly racist.


HOBBS: Right. You know, I, unfortunately don't see an end to the big lie as long as it's continuing to work for these Republicans. What I do know is that, again, democracy is on the ballot. And it's important that we keep the election integrity at the forefront of voters' minds in terms of what we have to protect in the 2022 election. And why all of these key races, governors, secretaries of state attorneys, general legislators are critical to ensuring that we still have a democracy in our country.

COOPER: Katie Hobbs, appreciate it. Thank you.

HOBBS: Thanks.

COOPER: Up next, the massive winter wallet from Florida to Maine that's still causing trouble for a whole lot of people tonight. Details on that, coming up.


COOPER: The massive winter storm is slammed the east coast from Florida to Maine with tornadoes, freezing rain and punishing winds and snow. Many travelers were stranded on this Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday and the troubles not over. An Arctic blast is expected in some areas.

The latest tonight from CNN's Jason Carroll.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Millions of Americans still under winter weather alerts as a massive storm continues its March northward, leaving in its wake treacherous roads and widespread power outages along the East Coast.


Virginia Georgia North and South Carolina all under states of emergency. Drivers in the southeast want to stay off roads on this holiday as freezing temperatures caused by hazardous conditions from Virginia to North Carolina, where a tractor trailers slid off this icy overpass.

Outside of rally, two people die after their cars struck trees in a medium. Meanwhile, snow and high winds pummeling parts of Tennessee and Georgia, where this homeowner was awoken when a tree crashed into her condo in Atlanta. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We heard a loud bang and we went in to assess our bedroom and found the other bedroom had completely collapsed in everything. And then we went outside to find our neighbors and make sure everyone else was OK. It's a nightmare. It's actually really terrifying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are going to go get inside the house.

CARROLL (voice-over): In southwest Florida, tornadoes destroyed dozens of homes. Much of the damage near Fort Myers.

EDWARD MURRAY, FLORIDA HOME DESTROYED BY TORNADO: It was turning the house upside down. I thought I was looking down at the floor and I was actually looking up at the sink that was turned over. I mean, I looked up at the blue sky and I said Satan today ain't the day.

CARROLL (voice-over): Thousands in the southeast still without power. And while New York City and Boston were spared the worst of the storm, Buffalo is buried under more than a foot of snow. Pittsburgh also getting blanketed. Air travels snarled in the region as wintery conditions caused thousands of flight cancellations over the weekend into Monday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I tried to get a few extra flights. I had one for tomorrow morning. That one was cancelled too. So I switched it tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully that one isn't cancelled.


COOPER: Jason, its looking like there could be more severe weather heading to the southeast this week?

CARROLL: It certainly does. And the optimum word here is could because different weather models show this new storm tracking and a few different directions. But if all things line up, Dallas could be looking at temperatures in the 30s by Thursday, North and South Carolina could be -- could see snow by Friday, and Atlanta could start seeing snow by this Saturday. Anderson.

COOPER: Jason Carroll, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

The world's top tennis star is back in Serbia after being deported from Australia. Will he be able to play in the future competitions? We'll take a look at that next.



COOPER: The next steps for tennis star Novak Djokovic are unclear as he returned to Serbia after being deported from Australia. After losing his visa appeal for a second time his decision to not get the COVID vaccine could face opposition in other countries. France, which host the next Grand Slam tournament has already said they won't allow the world number one player to compete without being vaccinated.

CNN correspondent Scott McLean has the details from Belgrade Serbia.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Novak Djokovic arrived back in his home country of Serbia after Australian authorities cancelled his visa on public health and order grounds. The Serbian government outraged by the political intervention.

ANA BRNABIC, SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER (in translation): I think the decision is scandalous. I am disappointed and I think it has shown how the rule of law functions in some other countries, i.e. how it doesn't function. It's incredible.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Australia's Immigration Minister argued that Djokovic, who is unvaccinated but sought a medical exemption to play in the open could incite the country's anti-vaxxers. It was their final volley in a drawn out legal grudge match that saw him detained by immigration authorities twice in a matter of weeks. Djokovic has been widely criticized for remaining unvaccinated and for breaking self-isolation in Serbia. After testing positive in December, he attended a photoshoot in person. But here in Belgrade, the tennis star doesn't appear to have lost any fans, nor has he been labeled an anti- vaxxer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (in translation): Everybody has their own choice. I don't think he's spreading anything, even non-vaccination, no vaccinations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that's his choice, and no one should be forced. To be honest I myself unvaccinated, but I don't think no one should be forced to be.

MCLEAN (voice-over): While Serbian fans welcomed him home with open arms, tennis fans in Melbourne, welcome the end of the visa saga that has overshadowed the actual tennis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was kind of dragged on a little bit too long. But it's great that we've kind of put that behind us.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Djokovic has officially lost the chance to play for his 21st Grand Slam title and maybe barred from Australia for the next three years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, there are some compelling reasons that that may be able to be looked at, but that's all hypothetical. At this point, any application will be reviewed on its merits.

MCLEAN (voice-over): His next Grand Slam may also be in jeopardy. France announced Monday that all professional athletes competing in the country will have to be vaccinated with no exceptions.


COOPER: Is Djokovic is facing similar issues with other tournaments?

MCLEAN: The short answer is yes Anderson. Right now he's on track to miss the French Open, after that there is Wimbledon, but he'll have to show up there plenty early in order to complete the mandatory 10-day quarantine period in England. He could also have real issues with the U.S. Open even getting into the United States.

Right now, the U.S. is not allowing unvaccinated foreign visitors into the country and there's no exemptions for pro athletes even if he could somehow get into the country, he could have problems with the local regulations in New York, which bar unvaccinated people from indoor sports venues. Of course most of the tennis courts are outdoors but if it rained, and they closed the retractable roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium, suddenly Novak Djokovic has a bit of an issue. Anderson.

COOPER: Scott McLean, appreciate it. Thank you.

Up next on this day honoring Martin Luther King Jr. will remember the incredible life and legacy of one of the last ski Airmen Brigadier General Charles McGee.



COOPER: As we honor the legacy and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today, we're also remembering another hero put his life on the line for this country despite battling racism and segregation in the U.S. military. One of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, Brigadier General Charles McGee passed away Sunday, he was 102 years old. General McGee had a historic career serving a total of 30 years and completing 409 air combat missions during three wars, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He's also received numerous honors including the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007. He was enshrined into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2011. But one of his most notable achievements was serving as one of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first all black unit of the World War Two Army Air Forces.

He survived by his three children, 10 grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and one great-great- grandchild.


What a life well lived. Thank you for your service.

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

The news continues here on CNN. So let's hand it over to Brianna Keilar for "DEMOCRACY IN PERIL."