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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Interview With Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL); Blinken And Lavrov Meet In Geneva; Extremist Groups And Their Ties To Trump's Orbit; New CDC Studies: Boosters Provide The Best Protection Against Omicron; FBI Gives New Details On Gabby Petito Homicide Investigation. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 21, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thanks so much for joining us. We'll see you on Monday.
AC 360 with Anderson begins right now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
Consider waking up one morning back in December of 2020 to this: The former President ordering the military to seize voting machines, empowering the Defense Department to decide along with the President's own Director of National Intelligence whether the election he just lost was fair or not. Also, directing the Justice Department to name a special counsel to oversee this effort, including the prosecution of potential election-related crimes, which his outgoing Attorney General, as you may remember, had just said we're inconsequential, if not nonexistent.
And the timetable for all this would have kept the former President in the White House for weeks beyond the end of his term in office. Now, those chilling items, all the stuff of coups and autocratic countries are contained in their draft executive order, which was obtained by POLITICO and appears to be part of the massive batch of documents now in the hands of the House Select Committee on January 6.
The Committee says, it now has all the White House records that the former President tried in court to keep secret. According to a court filing by the National Archives, which handed them over last evening, they also include among other items, working papers from then Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, the Press Secretary as well, and a White House lawyer who had notes and memos about the former President's effort to undermine the election.
But it is this draft executive order which POLITICO published, which is so potentially telling, in part because the date which was December 16th fits pretty neatly into a series of related events that we watched play out at the time.
And in addition, it meshes neatly into other reporting about testimony, other testimony as well about what was happening behind the scenes at the time, and it fits into the larger scheme to overturn the election, which as you know, began with false predictions of fraud before the election and false allegations of fraud starting election night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
TRUMP: So our goal now is to ensure the integrity for the good of this nation, this is a very big moment -- this is a major fraud in our nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And so it began, just a few days later, November 9th, we saw him put his words into action. The headline: "Barr clears Justice Department to investigate alleged voting irregularities as Trump makes unfounded fraud claims."
Now, there followed one court challenge after another, all but one on a minor procedural matter the former President lost. Further discrediting the former President's case, on December 1st, Attorney General Barr tells the Associated Press quote, "We have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome of the election."
Now on December 14th, Barr resigns to be replaced by an acting Attorney General, whom the former President ended up scheming to replace because he too would not cooperate with plans to use the Justice Department to question election results.
Now the draft that's obtained by POLITICO is dated December 16th, the title: "Presidential findings to preserve, collect, and analyze National Security information." The document begins by citing and I quote, " ... evidence of international and foreign interference in the November 4, 2020 election, Dominion voting systems and related companies are owned or heavily controlled and influenced by foreign agents, countries, and interests."
Now, that sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it? That's because it echoes the false allegations being made by his Motley team of election lawyers, including this one, Sidney Powell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNEY POWELL, ATTORNEY: So we have mathematical evidence in a number of states of massive quantities of Trump votes being trashed, just simply put in the trash like you would on your computer with any file and Biden votes being injected. That's addition to the flipping.
President Trump won by a landslide. We are going to prove it. And we are going to reclaim the United States of America for the people who vote for freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: She said there was the trashing and then there was the injections, and then there was the flipping. None of that was true when she said it on November 19th. I mean, it seems ridiculous now, but people still believe it, nor was it true when this draft order was dated December 16th.
But the conspiracy theory at the heart of it became the basis for the order that we're seeing for the first time tonight, which concluded with seven directives. The first quote, "Effective immediately, the Secretary of Defense shall seize, collect, retain, and analyze all machines, equipment, electronically stored information and material records required for retention under United States Code Title 42 Sections, 1T74-1T74(e).
Item five says, quote: "The Secretary of Defense may select by name or by unit federalization of appropriate National Guard support." Now again, if the language this time calling for the military seizure of voting machines rings a bell, well listen to this from December 17th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN (RET), U.S. ARMY: He could immediately on his order seize every single one of these machines around the country on his order. He could also order -- he could order the, in within the swing states, if he wanted to, he could take military capabilities and he could place them in those states and basically rerun an election in each of those states.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He was once a respected General, like actually respected. A day later, he met with the former President reportedly to discuss this, which happens to be the gut of the draft order.
Now, with him, Sidney Powell and a businessman named Patrick Byrne who blogged about the meeting. Quoting him now: "I spoke up again, Mr. President, I think you should appoint Sidney Powell, your special counsel on these election matters, and make General Flynn, your Field Marshal over the whole effort."
Can you imagine that? Wow. Sidney Powell, Special Counsel; General Flynn, Field Marshal. He would probably get to wear a uniform that he can design himself or maybe his son.
Back to the draft order, item seven calls for, quote: "The appointment of a special counsel to oversee this operation and institute all criminal and civil proceedings as appropriate based on the evidence collected and provided all resources necessary to carry out her duties consistent with Federal laws and the Constitution."
So they're using legalese language, but this is just -- it's just bat shit -- excuse me, I actually didn't mean to say that it is. It's insane. So, was that a reference to Sidney Powell? We don't know. Nor do we know who wrote the unsigned draft or officially, at least why it was never formally issued. What we do know is the former President's efforts to overturn the election using the Justice Department continued.
And then when that failed to enlist Republican lawmakers, and try to get his Vice President on board potentially using the right to force his hand, which will be for the Select Committee, of course, to determine they'll now have all those documents, including the draft POLITICO obtained.
They've already subpoenaed Powell, Flynn, and Rudy Giuliani. They're also seeking to talk to Ivanka Trump, and that's all on top of all the other legal setback for the former President in what has been a very consequential week.
Joining us now, a member of the Select Committee, Florida Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy.
Congresswoman, thanks for joining us.
So on this document that's been released by POLITICO, I know you can't confirm or deny whether it's a real document. How concerned should Americans be by the idea that something like this could ever even make it into a draft form in a White House in the United States?
REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): Well, it is great to be with you, Anderson. I think that the American people should take heart in the fact that despite the fact that if this document did exist, that you know, our institutions worked as they should have, and despite the fact that there might have been violence and an effort to overturn the outcome of an election, we returned that evening on January 6th and certified the election as the voters intended us to do so.
But what it does underscore is that, you know, now that the Supreme Court has decided that we can have access to this information, we are going to have access to more than 700 pages of records from the National Archives that the former President tried to keep hidden. It helps us advance our inquiry and helps us to determine, you know, what were places where we should bolster them to make it more immune to the type of fraud that we saw in this last election?
So, you know, we made it through this last one okay, but we have more work to do, and a lot of what the Committee is doing is to identify the places where we need to reinforce our Constitution and reinforce the way that our democracy works to ensure that nobody, no matter what their political leanings are, can change the will of the people.
COOPER: You've previously worked at The Pentagon. I mean, if a President, any President signed an executive order that said the U.S. Marshals or the National Guard or any part of the Federal law enforcement system had to go in and seize voting machines or seize ballots, would that order be carried out? What would happen in the chain of command? Or would the chain of command have an authority to say no? MURPHY: When I worked at the Department of Defense, we made a very deliberate effort to keep politics out of the very important work of national security. You know, for U.S. National Security issues, you know, the politics ended at the water's edge.
And we were also very, very careful about DoD involvement in anything at the domestic level. It manifested itself in somewhat of a slower response to Hurricane Katrina, because we have to clear so many hurdles and get the right authorities for DoD to engage domestically.
And so this, if -- you know, if this order were to have been given to the Department of Defense, I think that we have civil servants who understand their constitutional responsibility and understand that they are not required to execute on an illegal order, no matter who it comes from.
And so I have great faith in our institutions, but I think it's important that we understand exactly the amount of pressure that was put on these institutions, and how we can better defend against somebody in the future who tries to do the same.
COOPER: We know that the Committee has heard testimony from people who were inside the White House in January 6th and that Chair Bennie Thompson has asked Ivanka Trump to speak to the committee. Can you say what led to the decision to ask her to testify? And are you optimistic at all that she actually would agree and be forthcoming?
MURPHY: Well, I always hope that any patriot, any American who loves this country will cooperate with our committee, because what we are doing is trying to bolster our democracy and do what is right for our country. And so, I think any patriot should participate with us.
You know, we requested Ivanka Trump to appear before our Committee because based on other interviews and other information that we have received, it's clear that she had a role, if not before January 6th, certainly on the day of January 6th, as there were multiple people who reached out to her pleading and asking her to engage and to weigh in with her father.
So there is not only just the personal relationship of father- daughter, but there is also the government relationship. She was a sworn government official on January 6th, so we're just looking to see what her perspective on that day was.
COOPER: Congresswoman Murphy, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you so much.
MURPHY: Great to be with you.
COOPER: I want to get perspective now from constitutional attorney, George Conway. George, I bleed out an expletive, which I didn't mean to do, because I am really -- I don't know why this particular memo, this particular draft so stuns me after all the mishegas we have seen.
I read your reaction on Twitter to the draft of an executive order, which was quote: "I can't even." I'm going to try to ask you to --
GEORGE CONWAY, ATTORNEY: And words can't.
COOPER: So I mean, what does it say that the idea that the military seizing voting machines was actually being discussed and put into this memo, as if it was a real thing. I mean, it's like the crazies are inside the wire.
CONWAY: I've been struggling all day to think of the words that convey exactly how, and you use the word, I won't repeat it, how bananas this was, and how crazy it was, how insane it was how -- what lunacy it was.
And you have to kind of square all those words or cube them and add them all together and you still don't quite get enough. This was absolute Banana Republic stuff. It was absolutely --
No one writing this document or taking this document and talking it seriously, in my view, could have been of sound mind. I mean, the document is just -- I mean, the notion that you could do this in the United States of America for one thing is just insane.
But when you actually take the document apart into its constituent pieces, it is even more insane.
I mean, they cite these Federal statutes that just have nothing to do with seizing voting machines, we don't remotely allow that. And then they say that the military can do that, which would be a complete violation of the Federal law to use the military for civilian and law enforcement purposes.
It's just crazy all around.
COOPER: And the idea of, you know -- for General Flynn, you know, salivating over the idea of becoming a Field Marshal and getting, you know, to walk around in a uniform and Sidney Powell as Special Counsel in this imaginary universe.
CONWAY: Right, and the notion that these people were, I think, in the Oval Office.
COOPER: That's what makes it so crazy.
CONWAY: And "The New York Times," they were in the Oval Office having these screaming matches with lawyers who were just having probably the same reaction we are having except like they're actually having to deal with Donald Trump.
The notion that someone -- that anybody could take this seriously would raise real questions about their own state of mind. I mean, I think one of the hidden things, and I think I'm going to write a column about it next week, about what the January 6th Committee is doing or has to do is to start talking about the need to reform the 25th Amendment, which deals in part with presidential disability, including mental disability.
The notion that Donald Trump was listening to these people and taking them seriously, and the notion that these people got even within a mile of the West Wing is completely bananas.
And one of the things that they ask about in all of these -- a lot of these document requests by the January 6 Committee is about the 25th Amendment and the mental state of the President.
And I think this all raises those questions.
COOPER: You know --
CONWAY: They took this seriously?
COOPER: What is interesting is, you know, can you imagine him in this meeting, just kind of watching it all play out, and with the idea of, you know, maybe he thinks these people are nuts, but he also thinks, you know what, maybe, let's just see how it all plays out, you know, just as he watched the Capitol being attacked and didn't do anything for so long, probably thinking, let's just see what happens. Let's just watch where this might actually go.
CONWAY: And he is still out there today saying that the real insurrection was on November 3rd. I mean, that's just crazy stuff that he says day in and day out to this day. It's just -- it's just bananas. He was pathologically lying about the election before the election was even conducted.
COOPER: Yes. You wrote an op-ed for "The Washington Post" today about the Supreme Court ruling on executive privilege and the implication for the former President. You don't think his lawyers did him any favors?
CONWAY: No, I mean, look, I mean, you represent a bad client who does bad things, you end up making bad arguments and that's what happened here.
I mean, essentially, they made this argument. Essentially, they lost in record time, because there was no basis at all for the exercise of executive privilege when the President of the United States wasn't really doing anything for the country but was doing something to undermine the Constitution.
And they lost big time in the District Court and in the Court of Appeals, but one of the things that the Court of Appeals relied on was the fact that hey, the current President, President Biden is the President and he sort of has control over this now. And he said, he reviewed President Trump's claims of privilege and thought they were, you know, inadequate.
Well, the Supreme Court actually cut back on that piece because Trump's people made the argument well, what if you had some President who was, you know, who refused to take prior presidential privilege claims seriously, because he wanted to be vindictive, politically. And, you know, what they did there was actually raising the specter of their own guy, their own client, Trump. And I think that's what the Supreme Court was sort of worried about. Well, what if somebody like Trump comes back and, you know, starts ruling -- starts releasing National Security documents to hurt a political rival?
And so the Supreme Court basically just cut back on the ruling and said, essentially, what it was saying was, you know, there was no claim here, even if Trump had been President, which is a remarkably broad ruling.
COOPER: Yes. George Conway, good to have you on. Thank you.
CONWAY: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up next, a live report from Ukraine after Russia's Foreign Minister and Secretary of State Blinken met with at least one side trying to head off a possible Russian invasion.
And later, there is breaking news the F.B.I. issuing new information on the sad and tragic saga of Gabby Petito and the boyfriend who murdered her.
COOPER: With everything else happening this week, Europe came close to the brink of a major land war and it's still not out of danger with Russian troops poised on Ukraine's border and Western nations funneling military aid to Kiev.
Tonight, after meeting in Geneva between Secretary of State Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, it appears that Russia has backed away from the brink of action, but only for now and not very reassuringly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Is an invasion likely as President Biden suggested?
SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Unless the United States doesn't go to be with Ukraine, I don't think so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward joins us now from Ukraine's capital.
So obviously no major breakthroughs between the U.S. and Russia. Do we know where things stand tonight?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No major breakthroughs, Anderson, but there is a sense that at least for now, diplomacy is not dead and that is some form of progress. Many in Europe, particularly breathing a sigh of relief, though it is definitely too early to get too excited because there's a lot of work to be done. The next thing that we will see apparently is for the U.S. to supply a written response to Russia's demands.
This is something that Russia has been quite adamant about from the beginning. Blinken did not provide those written statements today, but they will be over the course of the next week, then there will be some kind of a Ministerial Meeting, potentially, again, between Lavrov and Blinken.
And then even the possibility that Blinken mentioned of a potential meeting again between President Biden and President Putin; not clear if that would be in person or if that would be virtual. And of course, all of this is predicated on the fact that there will not be any kind of a military incursion or invasion or any real aggression coming from the Russian side, and that is still a question mark at this stage -- how sincere is Russia about this diplomatic process? A lot of people are not so sure.
COOPER: Is Ukraine's leadership saying anything?
WARD: So it is interesting, there has been a variety of reactions so far. We did hear one Ukrainian official telling CNN that potentially a dragging out this sort of diplomatic process could be a delay tactic that Vladimir Putin is using while he continues to make military preparations.
But then we also heard from the Foreign Ministry that they viewed the talks as a positive step, that the Foreign Minister had a conversation with Secretary of State Blinken, after the talks, really trying to underscore the idea that the U.S. and Ukraine are in lockstep as they respond to this crisis.
We also saw a tweet from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, where he said, you know, a huge thanks to the U.S. and to President Biden for being Ukraine's steadfast ally. Of course, that was really a marked shift in tone from 24 hours ago, where essentially, the Ukrainian President had admonished President Biden saying there is no such thing as minor incursion.
So we're definitely seeing a little bit of an about-face as Ukraine tries to project an image of being very much at one with the U.S. on this.
COOPER: And what sort of anti -- I mean, the U.S. has sent anti- aircraft missiles to Ukrainian forces. Does it change the calculations at all for Russia over the over the -- you know, in the next steps?
WARD: So what the U.S. has done is basically allowed for the Baltic States to provide Ukraine with U.S. stinger missiles, anti- aircraft missiles, and this is a big deal. It's significant. It's something that Ukrainians have wanted for some time, but whether it will be a deal breaker is another question altogether.
And again, one Ukrainian official said to CNN that they would actually like to see even more sophisticated heavy weaponry, that they would like to see patriot missile defense systems, for example. That is pretty much a nonstarter, one would assume.
And certainly, you're talking about a battle between the Ukrainian military and one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world. So, it is unclear what real difference these would make in terms of the outcome if there was to be a full scale invasion.
But it is important symbolically as well for the U.S. to show that it is willing to put its money where its mouth is, and that it takes its obligations and NATO takes its obligations to Ukraine very seriously, indeed.
COOPER: Clarissa Ward, appreciate it. Thank you.
Up next, the extremist with ties to those in the orbit of the former President.
COOPER: The Justice Department is arguing in a court following that Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes should remain in jail as he waits trial for seditious conspiracy related to the January 6th Capitol attack. As you know, he's one of 11 people in the group charged last week. As he awaits his day in court, there are questions about whether roads talk to any lawmakers or those with ties the former president, it's happened with other Oath Keepers but doesn't stop there, with that, here CNN's Randi Kaye.
JIM ARROYO, HEAD OF THE CHINO VALLEY CHAPTER OF OATH KEEPERS: We did a meetings a couple of years ago where our elected representative from Washington, Paul Gosar, came out and we asked him flat out at that time, do you think we're heading into a civil war? And his response to the group was just flat out. We're in it. We just haven't started shooting at each other yet.
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's Jim Arroyo, a member of the Oath Keepers in Arizona talking about meeting with Congressman Paul Gosar. It's a relationship Gosar has never publicly disavowed. His office never responded to CNN about this issue. And he's not the only Trump booster connected to the group. Roger Stone was accompanied by members of the group on his trip to Washington, D.C. on January 6th, Stone says he was not at the Capitol for the attack and has not been charged with any crimes connected to January 6th.
But his ties to another fringe group called the Proud Boys were previously looked into by federal prosecutors on an unrelated investigation. It's no surprise the Proud Boys were part of the insurrection since they've only been encouraged by what Trump has said publicly about them. During a debate in 2020, trump was asked if he would condemn white supremacists and militia groups. This is how he answered.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Proud Boys stand back and stand by.
KAYE (voice-over): This wasn't the first time Trump publicly embraced a fringe group. The conspiracy movement known as QAnon see Trump as their savior, and believe he will rescue the world from a so called cabal of Democrats and celebrities who harvest the blood of children in order to extend their lives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here because you sent me, that's why with that is.
KAYE (voice-over): When ask about the QAnon movement, Trump only had this to say.
TRUMP: I've heard these are people that love our country, so I don't know really anything about it other than they do supposedly like me.
KAYE (voice-over): Two other staunch Trump supporters in Congress have also expressed public support for QAnon, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia.
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Now. He was a patriot. He is someone that is very much loves this country. And he's on the same page as us and he is very pro Trump.
KAYE (voice-over): And Representative Lauren Boebert from Colorado.
REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): Everything that I've heard of Q. I hope that this is real.
KAYE (voice-over): Both have since disavowed the group. Lauren Boebert has also been tied to the Three Percenters, an anti-government militia group. At least six members of this group have been charged in the January 6th attack. She has said she condemns all forms of political violence. Trump has said the same but that hasn't stopped dangerous fringe groups from taking action in his name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We took over the Capitol. Overrun the Capitol.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in it.
KAYE (voice-over): Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach County, Florida.
COOPER: They're taking selfies.
Joining me now is CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. So, Andrew, have you ever seen anything like this where members of Congress and a former president have if not direct ties to these groups, you know, sends them messages which are sometimes I mean, ambivalent, at worst, or, at best, you know, saying that they like him, at one point Trump said about QAnon, you know, they really care about kids. Have you ever seen anything like this at this point?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No, no. And Anderson, we have never seen anything like this, people who have worked domestic extremist groups for 50 years have never seen anything like this. We've never been in a period where prominent politicians of either party or like openly embracing members of extremist groups. And then there's a good reason for that, right? When they do this, you know, when Paul Gosar our goes and meets with the Oath Keepers apparently, or the President refuses to call out the Proud Boys and other groups and the way they should have. They give them implicit authorization. It's a validation that those groups have never had. And it's intoxicating. It gives them the energy and the wherewithal to continue recruiting and conducting their activities. And it's just making an already tough situation a lot worse.
COOPER: If you were investigating insurrection that involve the group like the Proud Boys, obviously, we heard the former president message at the debate, you know, stand down and standby, would you want to talk to him, I mean, can investigation move forward without hearing from the central figure in it?
MCCABE: You know, I mean, it can move forward without talking to him. They're obviously moving forward pretty aggressively now with particularly with respect to the Oath Keepers indictments we saw come down last week. And when you look at the communications of those people, it's clear that to some degree, they're talking about taking direction, it's not directly from the President, they're following the things that he says very quick, you know, very closely. They are waiting for him to declare the great insurrection that's going to allow them to go in and slaughter all their enemies or something.
So there's clearly a connection there that you want to get to the bottom of this, prompts a very relevant questions for the former President like, did you actually talk to these people? Were emissaries of yours interacting with them? It's not going to stop you from investigating the Oath Keepers if you can't do that. But boy, it would certainly help to shed some light on what happened here if you could.
COOPER: Andrew McCabe, appreciate it. Thanks so much.
COOPER: Up next why getting a booster shot seems to be the best protection against COVID, new information on that. And when this Omicron surge ends, could it also be the end of the epidemic, or excuse me, I shouldn't say at the end of the pandemic? What a data cruncher thinks ahead.
COOPER: It has been two years in a day since the first COVID case was identified in this country which is remarkable to think about. And on this day, there was very welcome news today on a battle against the virus. The CDC released three studies looking at millions of cases. And among the findings, a booster shot is 90 percent effective at preventing and Omicron related hospitalization. But that goes down to 57 percent with no booster and at least six months since the second shot.
Now also getting boosted was 82 percent effective at preventing visits the ER or an urgent care center. In comparison, two shots were only 38 percent effective at preventing those visits if it's been at least six months since the second shot. And no surprise here, all three studies found unvaccinated people face the highest risk of getting COVID. So with all that, as well as indications that the Omicron surge could it peaked, at least in the hard hit northeast, we wanted to know about how much closer are we to finally getting control of the virus once and for all.
Joining us now for his take is Tomas Pueyo, who is by his own mission, not a doctor epidemiologist, but he is a data cruncher who analyzes data and his COVID online posts have had millions of views and have prompted serious discussions all over the course of the entire pandemic. His latest blog posts in the title coronavirus, game over, it's time to start living again.
Tomas you write that after the Omicron surge, it'll be quote, game over because quote, after the Omicron wave, we'll be in a world where most people will have some sort of immunity either through natural infections, vaccines, or both. We now know how to get vaccines fast, we should approve them faster for new variants, and we have treatments too. The value of time for learning has dropped. We know most of what we need to know about it. So the benefits of social measures to stop COVID are much lower. So how are you so sure? Well, I mean, one thing we've learned throughout the past few years is, you know, the virus changes, it can mutate. And there's a lot we may not know.
TOMAS PUEYO, VP OF GROWTH AT COURSE HERO: We cannot know for sure. What do we need to do is incorporate new data. And when it changes, probabilities adapt. And this is what's happening, right? You have four factors that each one of them alone is a game changer, right? After the Omicron wave, 90 to 95 percent of people are going to have some level of immunity. We also have vaccines, right? They reduce deaths by 90 percent.
We have the fact that Omicron today kills between 50 and 90 percent fewer people. And we also have treatments like Baclofit (ph), which might reduce deaths by 90 to 100 percent. Each one of these is a game changer. But all together, they're like the four horsemen of salvation. And so you would need all four of those to not be true for the end of the pandemic to not be something that we can foresee in the next couple of months.
COOPER: So you really believe the end of the pandemic, I mean, it's accurate to say you believe that the end of the pandemic is in the next couple of months?
PUEYO: I think it's possible, right? The -- if you go back to two years ago, March 2020, when everything was exploding, imagine that somebody told you 90 to 95 percent of people are going to have some level of immunity, like that reduces the fatality rate to close to what the flu would have been.
Imagine that instead of that, you said, hey, there's a treatment for this, that's going to reduce this by 90 to 100 percent. Like that's would have prevented the pandemic a year, two years ago. And so if it were prevented the pandemic measures, then it should revert them now. And so the one thing that we're not really sure about is what's going to happen with the new variants. But I believe that a lot of the data that we have suggests that if of the next ones that appear are not going to be as virulent as for example, Delta.
COOPER: You write about post COVID Stress Disorder, on an individual level, how do you suggest people start trying to return to a more normal life? Because I mean, the idea of, you know, for me even sitting in a, you know, in New York, I walked by restaurants that are packed at night with people not wearing masks, the idea of going to a party with a lot of people indoors, I mean, it's not something I would choose to do. How do you was -- how does one get over that?
PUEYO: So that's what happens with humans, right? When you were used to a lifestyle, changing it is very hard. Two years ago, we were used to normal life. And then we needed to react very, very quickly, to make people understand how everything was going to change overnight. And it took some time for people to realize this. Now we need to do the exact opposite, it is very likely that the next two months are going to, what happens in two months, is going to be similar to what happens in a couple of years.
And so we need to start making people realize this. So for example, if you watch a movie, and you see a bunch of people in a restaurant, and you're saying without mask, and you think you, eww, that is a sign that you probably have PTSD, you need to think, OK, all of these things that I've learned to be scared off, now, I shouldn't be scared anymore, because COVID is not as much of a risk. That is not today, right? It has to be after the Omicron wave. And we need to be cautious because there might be things that happen.
But all the details I don't have suggests that what happens in two months is probably going to be -- that COVID is endemic. And that lifestyle is going to be the same as in a couple of years.
COOPER: You also say, it's harder to stop COVID right now than it was two years ago. Given that, do you think people who test positive should still be quarantining? Do you think those people who are quarantining are making a difference in stopping the spread because obviously there a lot of staffing shortages?
PUEYO: Yes, I think there's a few things that matter here. One of them is during the wave, right? This is again, the last wave, we need to be cautious here. And then a second one is more where our habits from now on, two years ago, if you were -- if you had the flu, and you stayed at home because of it, people would have looked at you like, you're lazy, right? But now we know, no, please, if you have the flu, don't come, if you're coughing, please don't come, wear your mask. So there's changes in behavior that we need to have just because we're more intelligent about respiratory viruses. But aside from that, we shouldn't assume that the tools that the government has developed for a pandemic, are still valid for an endemic, right? Lockdowns are valid when you're preventing a wave. But if you have a treatment that can reduce this by 90 percent, do you really need them? I don't think so.
And so governments have learned for over the last two years to use the tools for a pandemic, and they need to learn to give them away once the pandemic is done. And if that's true in a couple of months, they need to get prepared to stop using those tools in a couple of months.
COOPER: Tomas Pueyo, it's fascinating. I hope you're right. Thank you so much for joining us.
PUEYO: I'm glad to be helpful, thank you.
COOPER: Up next the investigation to the tragic death of Gabby Petito is soon coming to a close as the FBI reveals new details on her death, the breaking news next.
COOPER: The FBI has announced the homicide investigation to Gabby Petito's death will close in the near future. A reminder here, Gabby Petito died on a road trip with her fiance Brian Laundrie. Her body was found in Wyoming last September a few weeks after her family last heard from her. And after Laundrie returned to Florida alone driving her van and he also went missing, his body was found in late October in a Reserve. Tonight Randi Kaye is learning more about the case and she joins me now from Florida. So what did the -- we learn from the FBI today?
KAYE: Anderson, the FBI had a big announcement today saying that before Brian Laundrie took his life, he admitted that he was responsible for Gabby Petito's death. He apparently admitted this in a notebook that was found nearby his remains. The FBI Denver releasing a statement today saying a review of the notebook revealed written statements by Mr. Laundrie claiming responsibility for Ms. Petito's death.
The FBI also announcing some new information, Anderson, saying that a revolver was found near Laundrie's remains, we knew that he had taken his life that he had shot himself but this is also new information. But regarding that notebook, we did know that it was in decent condition. Of course, the family was hoping that it would provide some answers, the Petito family of course wanting to know if Brian Laundrie had said anything in that notebook about what happened to their daughter.
But the question is, what are those details? We still don't know. Did he say that it was an accident or that it was intentional? Did he say why or where this happened? We still don't know. And Anderson, you may recall that last fall when the Teton County Coroner investigated her death, he ruled it a homicide. And he said that it was manual strangulation. So he also said that it was likely that somebody use their hands to kill Gabby Petito, Anderson.
COOPER: Where is the notebook now? Who has possession of it?
KAYE: Well, Steve Bertolino, the attorney for the Laundrie family told me today that both families, the Petito's and the Laundrie's have reached an agreement about the possessions that belong to Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie including the notebook. Now he would not say which family though, Anderson, was taking that notebook. But he did say that there was some sort of agreement. We know the Petito's met with the Tampa FBI yesterday, and they did come to an agreement on those possessions, Anderson.
COOPER: And have both families made public reactions?
KAYE: They have. Gabby Petito's family released a statement today through their attorney thanking the FBI but also saying this some pretty strong words saying the quality and quantity of the facts and information collected by the FBI leave no doubt Brian Laundrie murdered Gabby.
Steve Bertolino also releasing a statement today, late today to me saying that this tragedy has caused enormous emotional pain and suffering to all who loved either or both of them. We can only hope that with today's closure of the case, each family can begin to heal and move forward and find peace in and with the memories of their children. May Gabby and Brian both rest in peace, Anderson.
COOPER: Was Brian Laundrie ever officially charged with killing Gabby Petito?
KAYE: No. And that's what's interesting here is that he died, you know, he was on the run for all those weeks and he disappeared and died before they could ever charge him. But while he was a fugitive, he was certainly facing charges for allegedly using Gabby Petito's debit card without her authorization but he was never charged in the end with her homicide, Anderson.
COOPER: Randi, thanks very much. We'll be right back.