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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Georgia District Attorney Requests Special Grand Jury To Probe Trump Election Interference; Biden Clarifies Stance On Russian Incursion Into Ukraine; White House Cleanup Mode After Biden's Marathon Presser; Trump Campaign Officials, Including Giuliani, Oversaw 2020 Fake Electors' Plan; Biden Must Show That The U.S. Stands Ready To Support Ukraine; FBI Says It's Conducting A "Court- Authorized" Search Of Rep. Henry Cuellar. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 20, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Indeed, the preliminary assertion seemed more designed as a PR move to persuade its workforce to pursue overseas assignments, as many employees were rebelling against doing so in light of the increase in perceived attacks."

And now the investigation goes on.

Thanks for watching. It's time for Anderson.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Tonight, a major development in the State of Georgia that increases the former President's potential exposure, criminal exposure for attempting to overturn the election he lost.

We begin though here in Washington, D.C., we're marking one year since the current President was inaugurated, a year marked with some significant accomplishments, yes, but also some bruising losses and polling reflects that.

So the question tonight is how the President turns things around to the extent that he can, if he can, on inflation, on his legislative priorities and his handling of international crises.

And that is where all eyes are tonight, on Ukraine with Russian troops on the border and Europe on the brink.

Our Clarissa Ward is there. We'll talk with her in a moment.

Tomorrow and perhaps one last chance for diplomacy or at least to send a clear message to Kremlin, Secretary of State Blinken meets in Geneva with his Russian counterpart. The need for unambiguous communication, which is always important at moments like these made even more so by the President's remarks last evening.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think what you're going to see is that Russia will be held accountable if it invades and it depends on what it does.

It is one thing if it is a minor incursion, and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do, et cetera. But if they actually do what they are capable of doing with the force amassed on the border, it is going to be a disaster for Russia if they further invade Ukraine, and that our allies and partners are ready to impose severe cost and significant harm on Russia.


COOPER: Well, today, Ukraine's President tweeted, quote: "We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations." And President Biden said this by way of clarification.


BIDEN: I've been absolutely clear with President Putin. He has no misunderstanding. If any -- any assembled Russian units move across Ukrainian border. That is an invasion. But it will be met with severe and coordinated economic response that I've discussed in detail with our allies, as well as laid out very clearly for President Putin.


COOPER: CNN's chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward is in Kiev for us tonight. So Clarissa, what is the move? I mean, for lack of a better word, right now, like in Ukraine, and about what President Biden said?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is still a lot of consternation here, Anderson about what was said last night, despite the attempts of the White House to kind of roll it back and provide more clarity today. CNN spoke to one Ukrainian official who put it pretty bluntly and said, if Biden wants to stop an invasion, he needs to do more.

And what does doing more look like? In the opinion of this Ukrainian official, doing more means providing more weaponry, sophisticated heavy weaponry, anti-missile defense systems, things of that nature.

This Ukrainian official also said he would like to see the U.S. impose those sanctions right now as opposed to waiting for that Russian aggression to happen.

Now, there is absolutely no sense or feeling that the U.S. is going to go ahead and do that, but I think it speaks to the level of anxiety here that you really saw, again, President Zelensky putting out that tweet saying, "There is no such thing as a minor incursion."

I can't say enough, Anderson, how unusual it is for President Zelensky or any Ukrainian President, certainly for the last decade, to publicly rebuke or speak out of turns with a sitting U.S. President.

So there is definitely a mood here that things are looking increasingly grim, and a lot of anxiety about what the U.S. and NATO's position will be, regardless of whether it's a minor incursion or a full scale invasion.

COOPER: Has Vladimir Putin said anything about President Biden's comments?

WARD: We haven't really heard much from President Vladimir Putin today. You know, we did hear that Russia has announced a new raft of huge sort of naval exercises to take place in the coming months, and there is a sense that he is continuing to ratchet up the pressure to increase the drumbeat.

He wants to see some tangible written statement from the U.S. as a response to the requests or demands that Russia has made.

We also heard today from his spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov who was asked whether there should be a possible meeting, a second meeting between Biden and Putin after the one -- the Putin-Biden Summit in Geneva and he said that such a meeting would be welcomed, but only after Russia has had a chance to review this written statement or response from the U.S.


And we've already heard from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who will be meeting with his Russian counterpart tomorrow that there will not be any written statement.

What does that mean exactly? We just don't know.

COOPER: And the talks tomorrow in Geneva, what are the prospects there?

WARD: I think there is a sort of broad consensus that this has to almost be a last ditch effort to really give diplomacy a chance, and there are a lot of people who do believe that there is a chance.

But the question is, what is it that Putin can extract or that Lavrov can extract from his counterpart? What kind of a guarantee would suffice in order to de-escalate the situation? And what does an off ramp look like for President Putin at this stage?

He has essentially painted himself into a corner with more than 100,000 troops, surrounding, you know, the northeast and parts of the south of this country. It's very difficult for him now to simply pull back and change the subject without some meaningful extraction from the U.S. side.

And at this stage, I think it is anyone's guess as to what that could be because nothing gives an indication at this stage of being a sort of optimistic point of potential consensus between the two sides.

COOPER: Clarissa Ward in Ukraine tonight. Clarissa, thank you.

Here at home, the man who tried to shakedown Ukraine's President for help defeating Joe Biden using military assistance as leverage now finds himself in potentially deeper trouble of the criminal and not civil variety for trying to shake down Georgia's Secretary of State. Today we learned that the Atlanta area District Attorney looking into

the matter has asked that a special Grand Jury be convened. Now, at the center is as you know, and the former President's attempt to somehow flip the results in Georgia by leaning on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Part of the effort famously came in a phone call just four days before the insurrection. During that conversation, the former President made a string of false allegations of election-related crimes, then he makes a series of veiled threats about Raffensperger's potential legal exposure if he doesn't do what he is asking, then he just flatly states his bottom line.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And you're going to find that they are -- which is totally illegal. It's more illegal for you than it is for them because you know what they did, and you're not reporting it. That's it.

You know, that's a criminal -- that is a criminal offense. And you know, you can't let that happen. That's -- that's a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. And that's a big risk.

And you can't let it happen and you are letting it happen. You know, I mean, I'm notifying you that you're letting it happen.

So look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more that we have, because we won the state.


COOPER: Well, he didn't. Now, separately, we also learned today that the House Select Committee has requested a meeting with Ivanka Trump.

Their letter to her stating the committee has firsthand testimony that she was in the Oval Office on the morning of January 6, as her father spoke by phone with Vice President Pence, reportedly pressuring him to play his part in overturning the election that day. Now, something the Vice President refused to do.

For more on all of this, we are joined by CNN anchor and CNN chief domestic correspondent, Jim Acosta; also CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeff, let's start with the story out of Georgia. How significant is this about a grand jury?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, just so people can keep track. This is not the criminal investigation in the Manhattan DA's office. It is not the criminal investigation in Washington of January 6th. This is yet another criminal investigation entirely for Georgia State Law. And Georgia has a law that says it is a crime if you solicit, request, command, importune, or otherwise attempt to get someone else to commit election fraud. And that phone call is certainly part of this investigation, and what

we learned today is that this investigation is going to be broader. It is not going to be just about the phone call that the DA is trying to get other witnesses, other documents, and that's why she needs the grand jury to issue subpoenas.

It doesn't mean the President is going to be prosecuted, but he is closer to being prosecuted today than he was yesterday because of that.

COOPER: What specific charges would potentially -- I mean, just that law you're talking about?

TOOBIN: This -- you know, it is election fraud and it is causing someone to commit election fraud. What's particularly significant about this, and it also reflects the January 6th situation is what is the line between the President's right to free speech to say, you know, I think this election was unfair. I think there was fraud involved and coercing someone, attempting to get someone to commit fraud. That's the line that is involved in this case.

I don't know on what line of the -- side of the line the President's behavior falls, but that's what this investigation is about.


COOPER: Jim, the former President is obviously facing potential legal challenges on a number of fronts. How concerned is he about that? And those in his orbit, how concerned are they?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF DOMESTIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, you know, you saw the statement that Trump put out earlier today. You know, he says that the call with the Georgia Secretary of State was perfect, you know, putting those lies to the side.

I talked to a Trump adviser earlier this evening, and I asked, you know, do you think Trump is worried about this grand jury investigation in Georgia? And this adviser replied, "Very much."

And so Trump may be crazy, but he is not stupid, and getting back to what Jeffrey Toobin was saying a few moments ago, you know, setting aside everything that took place on January 6th, and all of the atrocious things that Trump did on January 6th, the lead up to January 6th was just as awful.

And Trump's call with the Georgia Secretary of State, to me is an election robbery caught on tape, and I think that is why so many of the people around the President -- the then President at that time, were worried about his mental state.

Remember at the time, talking to advisers who are saying, he has lost it and so on. He was trying to do everything under the sun to hang on to power and this episode that was caught on tape may be his undoing.

COOPER: Jeff, let's turn to Ivanka Trump. The January 6th Committee asking her for her testimony. This is a first. I mean, obviously, they could then try to subpoena her if she refuses.

Do you see any world in which she would voluntarily come to testify?

TOOBIN: Well, Ivanka Trump is like all the Trump's, about herself, and you know, she wants to preserve her position in the world and there is a possibility.

Her lawyer today issued a statement that did not say yes or say no.

COOPER: They didn't want to say anything about this.

TOOBIN: Rig ht. But you know, she is -- you can tell from this letter that the Committee wrote that they are really focused on two things.

As Jim said, there's the pre-January 6th, a lot of the interaction between the President and Vice President Pence. You know, was there coercion to commit some sort of offense there? And then there are the three hours between the beginning of the riot and when the President finally said, We love you, but please stop."

Those three hours, Ivanka Trump is with the President, as far as we know, and they certainly want to hear from her about what went on.

COOPER: Jim, the Committee's letter, Jim cites testimony from General Keith Kellogg, who was Pence's National Security Adviser on January 6th, saying that White House staffers were trying to convince the President to try to stop the violence, but he was quote, "being stubborn."

And Kellogg thought Ivanka might be though -- Ivanka Trump would be one of the only people able to convince her father to do something. I mean, that's extraordinary to hear that detail.

ACOSTA: Oh, it's incredible, and it goes beyond that, Anderson.

I mean, I will tell you, I talked to a former White House official who was there that day, who has testified before the January 6th Committee who says Ivanka Trump was heavily involved in trying to get Trump to call off the mob that day, and it took several attempts.

And according to the letter from the January 6th Committee to Ivanka Trump, it says that the committee has information suggesting that the Trump White House Counsel's Office had concluded that Trump's pressure campaign on the Vice President violated the Constitution and they want to know whether or not Ivanka Trump knew about that.

Apparently, they also want to get their hands on these outtakes of that video that Trump recorded that day when he finally eventually told people to go home. Well, there were outtakes and apparently they're in the possession of the National Archives.

The Supreme Court decision for the records to be turned over from the National Archives over to the Congress, over to the January 6th Committee now is very, very important in that regard. And of course, the letter goes on to talk about these texts from, you know, Sean Hannity to Kayleigh McEnany and so on.

You know, after January 6th where Hannity is saying, you know, keep the crazies away from Trump. You know, crazy was already in the White House at that point, Anderson, and Ivanka was really one of the lone people inside that building at the time, capable of talking Trump off of that ledge.

COOPER: So, Jim, you believe that there are multiple recordings of that message or that they did multiple tapings of it and that those recordings are at the National Archives? Is that -- I mean, do we know that for sure?

ACOSTA: According to the letter from the January 6th Committee to Ivanka Trump, it says that the Committee understands that those outtakes may be at the National Archives and that they are -- it says in the letter that right now, Trump has this case pending before the Supreme Court about the national archives. That of course, has been adjudicated. That has reached its conclusion.


And according to the letter, they want to know what Ivanka Trump knows about those outtakes. Now, she may not know anything when I talked to this former White House official who was there that day, this official was saying there were a limited number of people around Trump dealing with this video, but that appears to be very important.

Anderson, when that video comes out, that has the potential to be very explosive. If the public gets to see Trump stumbling over whether or not to call off the mob and so on, I think that could really shape public opinion very negatively for the former President, even more so than it has already.

TOOBIN: If I can just make one quick point about Ivanka's possible testimony, many people know there is a marital privilege. There is no father-daughter, parent-child privilege. So she can't say I'm not going to testify because he's my father.

She may try to cite executive privilege because she was a White House adviser. However, the Supreme Court decision earlier this week, really is a shot across the bow at that argument. And I think any Judge is going to have a harder time sustaining that if the Committee decides to press forward with a subpoena and contempt proceedings that could --

COOPER: I hadn't realized that handing stuff over to the National Archives is just kind of voluntary. It's not -- there's no -- like, there is no one from the National Archives who shows up to get everything before the team leaves.

TOOBIN: Right. The National Archives is not the police.

COOPER: Yes, it's really -- Jim Acosta and Jeff Toobin, appreciate it.

Coming up next, new reporting on how the White House is planning to move forward after a difficult year and some clues about how Republicans think they can frame and win the culture wars.

And later, breaking news on Rudy Giuliani's deep involvement in that scheme to put forward fake presidential electors in seven states that the former President lost.



COOPER: Tonight, exactly one year and the Biden administration is hitting reset, a day after unified Republican resistance in the Senate torpedoed major voting reform legislation and two Democratic senators sank efforts to change the filibuster so the bill could pass without Republican help. The administration finds itself looking for ways to dig out.

CNN's Phil Mattingly joins us now. So, what is the latest tonight? Is there a specific plan to get some positive momentum? And are they worried?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think on the latter question, the answer is yes. I don't think that they're overwhelmed at this point in time.

When you talk to White House officials, they make clear that they feel like the building blocks are there for a positive second year. They feel like there were accomplishments in the first year that perhaps they didn't do a good enough job of touting.

But while much of this day, Anderson was spent trying to clarify or explain some of the President's comments at his nearly two-hour press conference last night, officials I've been talking to also pointed to that press conference for subtle indications about how they will be shifting course, over the course of the coming days and weeks.

Whether it is in messaging, the President making very clear that he doesn't want to be stuck in the morass of legislative negotiations or talking solely about what they haven't accomplished, but want to, instead focus on what they have done, focus on the American Rescue Plan, focus on the infrastructure bill, focus on their efforts related to vaccinations, not just talk about the things that they're trying to do in the future.

Also draw a contrast, he said it repeatedly last night. That is something you're going to see in the days and weeks ahead, in a more, I think, determined fashion when the President actually speaks.

But one element here that I think was most interesting that the President said last night is that the American public wants a President, not just a President Senator. That wasn't an offhanded remark, according to officials that I've been talking to, that's something that they've actually been seeing, that they felt like the President was almost being led around by events, was being viewed as a senator because he was stuck inside these negotiations and didn't have time to get outside and act like he was above it, to some degree act like he was leading as opposed to listening to what Senators Manchin or Sinema or the progressives in his party were doing.

And they've made very clear that the President will be stepping back a little bit when it comes to the negotiations, letting his legislative team handle that, letting senators handle that, and instead going out in the country talking about what they're doing and what they've done. It'll be a shift. We'll see if it lands -- Anderson.

COOPER: Phil Mattingly, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Joining us now David Axelrod, CNN senior political commentator and former senior adviser to President Obama; also CNN senior political correspondent, Abby Phillip, anchor of "Inside Politics" Sunday, and CNN political analyst, Scott Jennings, former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush.

I mean, does that make sense to you about the difference between being a President and a Senator-President. I'm a little confused.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It does make a difference, especially because Joe Biden is the type of person who really pines for his time in the Senate. He wants to be in there. He thinks of himself as a dealmaker.

And when things don't go, well, he gets blamed for it. And people start to say things like, Well, President Manchin is the one really making decisions here. And I don't think that that's a good optic for the White House, and they are trying to, you know, take that back a little bit.

I think they also realize that Biden needs to go back to the Biden that he ran on in terms of people felt like he was a decent guy, a guy who understood them, a guy who has empathized with their lives and he has been spending very little time in that place and more time in this horrible morass of nothingness in Washington that is just not good for the Democrats.

COOPER: It's so interesting how the job is actually, you know, I mean, there's a reason it's a really tough job. And you know, you can come into it thinking you're going to do one thing, and you end up in this morass of nothingness, which is my new favorite phrase.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And I think part of the problem is that he built up expectations that he could navigate the morass of nothingness and turn it into something --

COOPER: Because of his experience.

AXELROD: Exactly. And you know, he did. I can see sitting over at the White House and saying, my God, we passed this Infrastructure Bill. This is historic. Other Presidents would have loved to have it. We pass this Rescue Act, it had a big impact. We've got 200 million people vaccinated, we just have to go out and sell that.

Well, the reality is, if 28 percent of the country feel you're on the right track, going out there and saying, hey, we're doing great is not going to land well and you know you're right, his great strength is his empathy, but I was surprised yesterday when he said I just need to get out there.

And you heard some of it from Phil, we just need to get out there and sell better. No, they've got to go out there and listen better and give people a sense that we're going through this national trial together, and he is connected to them in this.


PHILLIP: Every President thinks they need to go out and sell better when sometimes the problem is, what's not happening or not happening.

AXELROD: But you know what, what we learned when I was with President Obama during the Great Recession is even as we were making progress, if we went out there and touted it in the wrong way, people resented it, because they didn't feel it in their lives.

Right now, we're locked in this pandemic. We are facing this inflation problem that people see in their lives. They don't want to be told about all the progress we're making and how well. They'll know when they are -- they will feel the progress, you know, so don't try and sell them what they won't believe.

COOPER: Scott, I read a piece that you just wrote, essentially saying this is Joe Biden doing what Joe Biden does.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, he -- I never imagined how quickly this would all unfold. The person they sold on the campaign, the nice old, you know, moderate grandpa who just wanted to help everybody get along and compromise is not what we got over the last year.

He has no mandate really to do much of anything. It's amazing that he got a couple of things done when the mandate was really pretty clear -- 50/50 Senate, a near 50/50 House and a pretty close presidential election. The mandate was simply replace Donald Trump and don't do anything drastic or stupid.

And everything about this agenda is extremely drastic, and he has been angrier than I think people expected. He's been more divisive. He's been more partisan.

You look at the issues. We built five years of coverage on Trump out of Russia, COVID, and democracy. The President at his press conference invites Russia to invade the Ukraine. We get more deaths under Biden than Trump.

And now, we have the President and Vice President and leading Democrats questioning the legitimacy of the 2022 election? Are we any better off on these three issues that we crucified Trump over? I think he has a lot of political problems and an AP poll came out this morning, only 28 percent of Americans want the sitting President to run for re-election and fewer than half of Democrats. This is a disaster.

COOPER: Are they able to do -- I mean, people talk about a reset. Bret Stephens a piece and we are going to talk to him later about, you know, just Bill Clinton was able to kind of tack after a loss.

AXELROD: Yes. Listen, I think they do have to -- they do have to make some changes, and they need to acknowledge where they are. You know, Scott, he gave you a pretty good summation of what the Republican argument is going to be in November, and he is good at that.

But the reality is, so much of this has been governed by events that are beyond his control. You know, you can't overestimate the impact of these waves of this virus. We think we're through it, and then we're back in it again, and it's just dispiriting to the country, and there are all kinds of economic implications of that.

I think they can make some changes and I think one of them was the one I just mentioned. I don't think it's the sort of he is too liberal. I don't think that's what's driving this. That's what gets the energy going on the Republican side.

But I do think there's just a sense of things are out of control, and he is not in command.

COOPER: He does seem -- I mean, a lot of times now lately, when he has been speaking, he seems to be shouting, which is more than just a communications issue when he his whole thing was empathy.

PHILLIP: Well, yes. I mean, it's probably never a good thing when a President is shouting, let's be honest about that. I do think that Biden needs to take -- the Biden White House on a whole needs to take a step back and refocus on what matters to people, what matters to people's homes, their personal economies, their sense of what the future is going to hold for them and their children.

And he does have an opportunity to take the temperature down on the bickering within the Democratic Party, even on the fighting among Republicans, and say, here is what we're going to do. He did that at the press conference last night, he said, we're going to break this stuff up.

They probably should have decided to do that in December, break these things up into pieces that can pass and put some wins on the table, and that will allow the American people to see progress and not just see more of the same in terms of negativity.

And the fact that he is running on this idea of returning normalcy to Washington, he needs to show what normalcy looks like.

JENNINGS: This idea of breaking up this bill, though. I mean, I saw Speaker Pelosi pour cold water on this today. I mean, she said the legislative process because of the reconciliation issue doesn't really allow for that in the way people are describing, and so I'm not -- I'm not sure what the real path here.

PHILLIP: It is really more just picking the parts of it that can actually get support. Pramila Jayapal of the Progressive Caucus in the House just today said whatever -- she basically said whatever Joe Manchin will say yes to, we will be okay with, and we'll move forward and that's very significant. AXELROD: The problem with reconciliation bills is there are big

dirigibles waiting to be shot down. No one knows what's inside of them and that's been really bedeviling them.


You know, Scott, all this stuff about the, you know, radical left agenda. I think that the Democrats would welcome a debate about, you know, family leave or pre-K for every kid in America and so on. These things land better with the American people than they perhaps do with you. And they'd be very powerful. But it's very hard to do when they're wrapped up in a huge kind of omnibus bill. And that's been a problem from the beginning.

JENNINGS: Yes, I think I think you might be right about the debate. But I still think the key issues are fairly clear inflation, and spending more and more money. I don't think people have concluded that's not going to help. And then there are other issues that the President seems to be just not all that interested in schools, crime, your quality of life kind of stuff.

And I hear what you're saying about the individual parts of the bill, but it's all government spending. And it's all sort of wrapped up in the idea that if we just print more money and spend it, things are going to get better when folks are seeing these massive price increases.

PHILLIP: I do you think Scott is right about that last part of quality of life for Americans is a really important thing that Democrats haven't figured out a message on. They think they can just ignore it.

COOPER: He talks about crime a while ago.

PHILLIP: They think that they can just ignore it because, sure, the President is not the superintendent of schools for most people's kids. And sure, he's not the mayor of most people's towns, but Americans expect the President to set the tone for how to address those problems. And Democrats haven't done that.

COOPER: Abby Phillip, David Axelrod, Scott Jennings, appreciate it. Up next, we're breaking news details on the role that Rudy Giuliani played in the fake electors plot in seven states following the 2020 election.



COOPER: We are breaking news on efforts from the former president's allies to undermine the 2020 election results. Now according to sources with direct knowledge of the scheme, Trump campaign officials led by Rudy Giuliani oversaw efforts to put forward illegitimate electors from seven states that the former president actually lose. CNN senior Washington correspondent Pamela Brown joins us now with this latest. This story is -- this whole idea of these funny like, I mean, it's just nuts. PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It's just when you think it couldn't get any zero, it does.

COOPER: Yes. So what's -- so Giuliani was actually deeply involved with this?

BROWN: Yes, and as one of the sources we spoke, you said it was basically Rudy Giuliani and all these other misfits leading the charge of this plot, intricately involved in these efforts in December of 2020 to put forward fake electors from seven states that Trump lost. There was no doubt that Trump lost the seven states.

This is according to three sources with direct knowledge of this plot that was a major part of this overall plan by Team Trump to overturn the 2020 election results back when Congress counted the electoral votes on January 6, so the point was to have Vice President Pence except these fake Trump electors rather than the valid Biden was which, as we know did not happen. One source said there were several calls between Trump campaign officials and state GOP operatives to round up fake electors on a state by state level. Rudy Giuliani apparently participate in one of those calls.

The Trump campaign organized supporters to fill electric slots. They secured meeting rooms and state houses for these fake electors to meet on December 14. They sit around drafts of the fake certificates that ended up being sent to the National Archives.

So far, this is beyond the public calls from Trump and some of his top advisors pushing for alternate electors in the seven states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Mexico. At a recent event held by a local GOP organization, one fake elector from Michigan boasted that the Trump campaign directed the whole operation in this audio, that is a little tough to make out. Take a listen.


MESHAWN MADDOCK, CO-CHAIR, MI REPUBLICAN PARTY: We fought for investigations into every part of the election we could. He fought for a team of people to come and testify in front of the committee. We fought to seat the electors. The Trump campaign asked us to do that -- under a lot of scrutiny for that today.


COOPER: I mean, again, I just find this incredible, it's like a cart -- it's like a clown car on fire.


COOPER: Did Vice President Mike Pence know about this, because he used very specific language when he actually did his job?

BROWN: Sorry, I was thinking about the clown car on fire. But, so here's the deal. I was told by a source close to Pence and his team that they were very concerned about this very scenario playing out. They knew there were a lot of shenanigans going on behind the scenes. They did not necessarily know about the specifics of what was going on, but they knew this could happen.

So that is why if you recall, when Mike Pence released that statement before January 6, saying laying out the process and saying I can only accept certificates of electors that were certified by authority, you know, the state by state authorities. That was intentional. And that was intentional, because they were worried about this exact scenario. And they went to make sure they laid out their case, that this is what we have to follow. This is what we have to do.

COOPER: Yes, and more details are going to come out of that.


COOPER: There's a -- I mean a lot of people were involved in this. It sounds like there were meetings as you said, rooms were being booked, phony certificates were being sent out.

BROWN: Electors are bragging about it, you know.

COOPER: Right. What was the Trump campaign's justification for doing this?

BROWN: So it's interesting --

COOPER: Beyond overturning? I mean --

BROWN: Right. I mean, clearly there was this Trump, Trump is really the leading the way and wanting to overturn the election results. They argue I spoke to one source who argued that part of their thinking was, hey, we have all these lawsuits in the States, we should just go ahead and have these electors and just move forward as though Trump won the state just in case we win these lawsuits.

Now, of course, that is -- that is fantasy.

COOPER: They were going to be the foot soldiers of the Kraken.

BROWN: Yes. That was fantasy thinking because at that point, they lost so many cases that their lawsuits as we well know didn't have any merit at all. But that is what they are saying. Clearly though, the overarching reason was they were trying to do everything they could and now we're getting this clear picture to overturn a valid election.

COOPER: Incredible. It's really stunning. Pamela Brown, fascinating. Thank you so much.


COOPER: Good to see you. Coming up more on the growing worry about a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. York Times columnist Thomas Friedman joins me to look at the Biden administration's response, also share where he thinks Vladimir Putin's head is at eight years after the annexation of Crimea. That's next.



COOPER: Returning to one of our top stories this evening in the world watching Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian, President Biden a senior Ukrainian official tonight pleading with U.S. to step up its efforts the -- in terms of weaponry. The official telling CNN that Biden must do more including stopping the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from opening. They add quote, We want patriots, meaning Patriot missiles. He went on to say without them, we don't stand a chance. This afternoon, President Biden reacted with contempt when a reporter challenge the President's approach.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you waiting on Putin to make the first move, sir?

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: What a stupid question.


COOPER: In his latest column for The New York Times, Thomas Friedman argues that Putin's threat to Ukraine can be summed up in a few words, marry me, or I'll kill you. Thomas Friedman joins me now. He's also the author, I should point out of a number of best-selling books "From Beirut to Jerusalem," among them.

So, Tom, I mean, you hear the White House trying to clean up for the President's remarks today. Do you think he did damage with what he said and or does it at least complicate the situation?

THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, NEW YORK TIMES FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST: You know, honestly, Anderson, is a one day story because this always comes down to what is in Vladimir Putin's head right now. And frankly, you know, none of us know. I think the most important story today Anderson is the fact that the U.S. signals the three Baltic countries that they can transfer Javelin anti-tank missiles, our most advanced anti-tank missiles and stare, you know, ground to air missiles to a Ukraine.


I guarantee you Putin paid a lot more attention to that. Then whatever, you know, misstatement that the President made, which they quickly cleaned up. You know, Putin's got to be sitting there thinking, I got 100, 140,000 troops around this country. Ukraine, it's a country of 44 million people, and they do not want to be part of Russia. This could get very bloody very fast.

And, you know, if you think, Anderson, of the stories we've covered, you know, think of Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. You know, at the time, there's whole issue, April Glaspie, did we make all stupid statements before? Did we encourage him? And then Saddam went in, and lo and behold, America got its act together, you know, I mean. You know, we can be slow and messy and knuckleheaded until we're not. And in this case, Putin would be very vulnerable, it would be his Afghanistan, and we'd be one on the outside watching, just sending weapons in and if he gets body bags going back to Moscow, you know, that parade music on Moscow radio may not play so well, back home.

COOPER: Do you think it really could potentially be in Afghanistan for Russia? I mean, Is Ukraine -- I mean Afghanistan was obviously, you know, I mean, very unique for a whole bunch of reasons. Is Ukraine -- You think it could be a long lasting insurgency if or, you know, that already population, which is against Russia, obviously.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, I mean, what you think, you know, the trouble they've had in the eastern part of the country, they haven't been welcomed there the Russians. You know, there's a front there already. And you go into these big populated urban areas in the really in western Ukraine, which is, you know, heart of Ukrainian culture there. Geez, I don't think this would be a smooth sting at all. I can't see the Ukrainians just laying down their arms and saying, Great, now we want to be part of Russia again.

And then the other thing that can really happen, you know, Finland and Sweden have stayed out of NATO. And that's been very important for Russia. You could see a very quick mover, Finland, Sweden say, and they've intimated, they threatened this.


FRIEDMAN: You do this, and we're going to join NATO. So I just don't think this is one of the stories I always say about the Middle East. But it's true here. That what -- what's really important what happens the morning after the morning after? Yes, the morning after he goes in, you know, they all celebrate, everyone says Biden's an idiot. The morning after the morning after, you know, he's got -- he could have some real problems there. This is in the center of Europe.

COOPER: Yes. And as you said, I mean, Sweden and Finland are watching this very closely, as you write in piece you wrote just the other day, and China is also watching as is Taiwan.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, no question that they're watching how we respond to this. And look, I appreciate what the American people aren't one of them. We have threat fatigue. We're just exhausted. I mean, I've been watching your show for the last 40 minutes. I'm worried about American democracy right now. And then you got to worry about Taiwan, you got to worry about Ukraine. There's only, you know, so much but at the same time, you know, these countries, they're not welcome. Taiwan does not want to be part of China. Ukraine does not want to be part of Russia. It wants to be part of the European Union.

And I just don't see this as a cakewalk for Putin at all. And, you know, he's not going to get killed on a by social media by don't take this the wrong way, TikTok or whatever. But he could be in a situation, Putin where -- when he wants to travel the world outside of Russia, if he is occupying snuffing out democracy of a country in the heart of Europe, he could get some really vicious blowback. So, I think this is incredibly high risk exercise on his part. He's a man who's always looking for dignity in all the wrong places in all the --

COOPER: Tom Freeman, I'll leave it at that. Thanks very much. Appreciate it, Tom.


COOPER: Up next, the mystery as to why the FBI raided the home and office of Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar, next.



COOPER: The FBI says they have conducted a court authorized search Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar Texas home and we've also learned that they've searched a second building housing his campaign office. CNN Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona and joins us now with more. Do we know what this is about?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, the FBI says it cannot comment on ongoing investigation. But we are starting to get a few more clues about the nature and direction of the investigation. We know that the DOJ is Public Integrity Unit is in charge of this case. They handle cases dealing with elected officials, corruption campaign finance. We also know as you mentioned that in addition to raiding Cuellar's home, they also raided the house or the building that houses his campaign office. So those are some potential clues.

But we haven't heard from Cuellar himself. He wasn't in the capitol today. He actually hasn't been there all week. And his office put out a statement saying he's fully cooperating with the probe, but they didn't offer any other details about what this investigation is holding.

So certainly it looks bad because the Feds would have not obtained a search warrant unless they had probable cause that a crime was committed.

COOPER: And this is about what like six weeks before the Texas primary he's facing a stiff challenger.

ZANONA: Right. I mean, he could also be in political trouble in addition to all the legal trouble he's potentially in because he's a centrist. This is the second time he'll be facing a progressive primary challenger. That's Jessica Cisneros. He only barely beat her in 2020. She's an immigration lawyer. She has some powerful endorsements in her corner including Senator Warren, Elizabeth Warren for Massachusetts, Planned Parenthood, justice Democrats --

COOPER: Emily's list.

ZANONA: Emily's list, the list goes on and on. And so this could be a real issue, a last minute issue for him in his campaign.

COOPER: Yes. ZANONA: And he represents a key district for Democrats, it's along the border. He's been in Congress for a very long time so this is going to be a race to watch.


COOPER: Yes, fascinating to watch. Melanie Zanona, thanks very much. Appreciate it. A reminder dome is Full Circle or digital news show that gives us a chance to dig in some important topics, have in depth conversations and catch it streaming live at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in circle or watch it there and on the CNN app anytime on demand.

Up next in our second hour is the Biden administration works to overcome major blows in his first year as president. Could there be staff changes in the White House, we'll look at -- what could be coming when 360 continues.


COOPER: And good evening from Washington. As the Biden administration tries to hit reset after a significant but bruising year heading into what could be a punishing midterm election.