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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Detached From Reality: Attached To A Lie; Interview With Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); GOP Reform Framework To Include Money For Mental Health, School Safety Resources; Police: 31 Men Arrested In Idaho Believed To Have Ties To A White Nationalist Group And Planned To Riot At A Pride Event; Jan. 6 Cmte: Several People In Trump's Inner Circle Told Him Election Fraud Claims Were False. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 13, 2022 - 20:00   ET




ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And Senator Chris Murphy is joining Anderson tonight.

Thanks for joining us, AC 360 begins now.



Any fair-minded person who has followed the life and Presidency of Donald J. Trump knows that he lies and lies a lot. What we learned today from the sworn testimony of those who worked closely with then President Trump is that they knew he lied just as much as we thought he did.

The former President of the United States lied about nonexistent election fraud before, during, and after the 2020 election. He lied despite being told again and again and again, that it was not existent, that there was no widespread election fraud by the people around him.

His supporters in the White House, they were telling him, using many different kinds of words that what he was saying was a lie.

He lied in an effort to stop the counting of ballots on election night and to later cast doubt on their validity. And allegedly, he lied in pursuit of a quarter billion dollars in campaign donations to a fund he lied about the very existence of, an Election Defense Fund that did not exist.

Those are the elements to the case the January 6th Committee is building against Donald Trump. And today, in the second installment of televised hearings, it was testimony from some of the former President's most senior advisers at the time, who actually made that case, including his campaign manager, Bill Stepien and the sitting Attorney General of the United States at the time, Bill Barr.

As you'll hear, this is from the other or this is the other takeaway from today's proceedings, much of what they had to say to the former President at the time and more recently, to the Select Committee would have been useful for the public to know back in the moment.

For instance, the country's top law enforcement official at the time thought this about the Commander-in-Chief's mental state.


WILLIAM BARR, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has, you know, lost contact with -- he has become detached from reality if he really believed this stuff.


COOPER: Now, that would have been important to know at the time. So would this about who the former President was taking advice from on Election Night when he decided to falsely claim he'd won the election.


BILL STEPIEN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: A few of us -- myself, Jason Miller, Justin Clark, and Mark Meadows gathered in a room off the Map Room to listen to whatever Rudy presumably wanted to say to the President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was there anyone in that conversation who in your observation had too much to drink?

STEPIEN: Mayor Giuliani.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me more about that. What was your observation about his potential intoxication during that discussion about what the President should say when he addressed the nation on Election Night?

STEPIEN: The mayor was definitely intoxicated, but I did not know that his level of intoxication when he spoke with the President, for example.


COOPER: The public might have benefit from knowing that as well, that some of the former President's top campaign advisers knew their boss was being encouraged to lie to the country by an allegedly intoxicated, but hey, who knows precisely how intoxicated Rudy Giuliani.

Now, none of the people you just heard went public with any of that at the time, which in no small way is what today's testimony was all about. The former President was pushing a dangerous lie which they were either actively enabling in Rudy Giuliani's case or enabling by their public silence.

With that, here's more of what the Committee presented today: Former top officials of the President talking about the bogus election claims that their boss, the former President and his Confederates were pushing what some of those officials said to him about it.


BARR: The stuff that his people were shoveling out to the public were -- was bullshit.



BARR: Complete nonsense. Completely bogus and silly.

DONOGHUE: Not supported by the evidence.

BARR: Idiotic.

DONOGHUE: They don't pan out.

BARR: Crazy stuff.

HERSCHMANN: I said to him, are you out of your effing mind? Right. He said, "I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth from now on: Orderly transition."


COOPER: We'll be joined shortly by leading conservative attorney, a former adviser to the Committee as well as by the former President's niece, Mary Trump.

But joining us now, California Democratic Congressman Select Committee member and House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Adam Schiff.

Chairman Schiff, I appreciate you joining us. I want to get to today's testimony, but the former President late tonight just released a 12- page response to your Committee accusing you among other things of hiding evidence, cherry picking what testimony to release.

He claims that quote: "MAGA witnesses had 'their very lives turned upside down.'" Do you want to even respond? Just to be clear witnesses knew they were being recorded and knew their testimony might become public. Is that accurate?


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Yes, and look, I only had a chance to skim the former President's latest lengthy diatribe, but what was most notable to me was, it's more of the same big lie. He repeats a lot of the claims that were debunked long ago, and you played a nice montage of all the people talking about how -- you know, how much BS that was, well, the BS goes on and it goes on to great length.

This is the thing that we really want to get across, and that is that Big Lie about our election that began before the election with the President laying the foundation and saying you couldn't trust the election that he lost it and that votes counted after Election Day we're going to be suspect, even though he knew that because of all the absentee votes would have to be counted after Election Day, that Big Lie ultimately led to a violent attack on our Capitol, he continues to push out to this day.

COOPER: And there are people running on that Big Lie, running to be the person who would be in charge of next elections in states. It became clear today that the then President was told over and over and over by the people close to him, his attorney general, his campaign manager, his own family, that he lost the election. How key is that to your Committee's investigation?

SCHIFF: I think it's very important for the public to know that is that the President was told by his own people at the highest levels that there is no merit to this. There is no way that these allegations could be true. And, you know, the President who was saying -- claiming that these are cherry picked statements. I don't know how you could cherry pick when your own Attorney General says you're full of BS, essentially.

But it is important to show the country that this wasn't a President who was merely mistaken or just merely misled. This was willful on his part. He knew he lost, he was told that he lost. He was told that these claims that people maybe were crazy. It didn't matter to him.

And even when the Capitol was attacked, he certainly watched it. He thought that, you know, the Vice President may have had it coming. And so this is who he is, and to those of us that have watched him carefully over the last five years. It's not at all a surprise, but it is quite a dangerous thing.

COOPER: The Select Committee Chairman, Bennie Thompson told reporters tonight the Committee will not be making any criminal referral to the Department of Justice regarding the former President or anyone else in his orbit. Do you agree with that decision even if the Committee uncovers evidence of criminal wrongdoing?

SCHIFF: You know, I haven't seen the Chairman's statements. We haven't had a discussion about that.

So I don't know that the Committee has reached a position on whether we make a referral or what the referrals might be. I thought we would defer that decision until we concluded our investigation, at least that's my understanding.

COOPER: On top of raising a quarter billion dollars for an election integrity fund that didn't actually exist, your colleague, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren told our Jake Tapper that Kimberly Guilfoyle was paid $60,000.00 for her very brief speech at the Ellipse on January 6th. Does the former President control how all that money raised is spent?

SCHIFF: You know, I don't know who has their hands on that money and how it is allocated. The principal point that we want to get across during the hearing today was that the lie -- the Big Lie was not only destructive to the country, it was also used to bilk the President's own supporters, to get money from them and to the claim that it was going to be used to defend their position on the election and it wasn't for that purpose, there was no such fund, and instead, that fund can be used as a kind of slush fund.'

In terms of who controls it, what oversight is anybody's guess, and at this point, I'm not sure I could tell you.

COOPER: You said on the ABC over the weekend that you think there's credible evidence of criminal activity on the part of the former President. That sounds like you would want that referred to the Justice Department, even if Bennie Thompson says that they don't have plans to do that.

SCHIFF: Well, I think that any credible evidence that the President of the United States, the former President was engaged in criminal activity, or anybody else, for that matter, needs to be investigated, and it is not just me that thinks that there is credible evidence, a Federal Judge, David Carter, of course, has said that multiple times on the basis of his view of a far more limited set of evidence than what the Committee possesses.

So my point is that, you know, a President doesn't get a pass, and particularly if the Department of Justice takes the position as it did while he was President, that you can't indict a sitting President to then take the position as a practical or prudential man under that it would be too controversial or perceived as political to investigate criminal activity -- potentially criminal activity -- of a former President confers a kind of immunity on the President, which is a dangerous idea.


COOPER: But we've obviously heard statements like this in the recent past about President Trump, and then he did something criminal. We've seen the former President investigated before. You were obviously involved in some of those cases, and criminally so far, nothing has been proven in a court of law.

SCHIFF: Well, it's certainly true that he hasn't been charged with a crime. Now there are multiple investigations going on. So that might change.

My point is, though, that if there is credible evidence of criminal activity, and here, I believe there, it needs to be investigated. Ultimately, it's up to the Department of Justice, whether they believe they have proved beyond a reasonable doubt such that they feel comfortable moving forward with indictment.

But I don't think you can just not investigate. I think, it has to be looked at. It has to be looked into just as it would for any other U.S. citizen or non-citizen, for that matter. Nobody gets a pass, nobody should get a pass if the rule of law applies equally to everyone.

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

COOPER: I'm going to get perspective now from former Republican Congressman who served as a senior technical adviser to the Select Committee, Denver Riggleman and also conservative attorney, George Conway.

Congressman Riggleman, what does it say that this whole thing was at least partially borne out of an allegedly inebriated Rudy Giuliani on Election Night?

DENVER RIGGLEMAN, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, you're very fortunate to have an expert like myself, not only in data analytics and counterterrorism, but I own distilleries.

So Anderson, I can talk about people that look like they are inebriated, but what's amazing is that you don't need to be inebriated to hear the kind of crazy that was coming out of Rudy Giuliani's mouth, and even today, you know, and I've been, you know, sadly, you know, in a lot of bars, a lot of distillery conversations with people who are inebriated and I still haven't heard anything as crazy as the stuff that I heard today.

Now, I've been on the Committee for some time, and there are things that I'm not going to talk about. When you talks about what happened with Rudy Giuliani, you talk about the people that are actually grifting off of this, I'm going to tell you this, everybody had a money motive here, and I think when you saw the financial individual, a man talked about the $250 million, I think that's the floor.

So when you talk about conspiracy theories, when you talk about Rudy Giuliani, when you talked about Lin Wood and Sidney Powell, and all these individuals, you don't have to be inebriated to make a lot of money off of a lie, and this was really a big grift.

And I know we're talking about the Big Rip Off, but the big lie was really the basis for the Big Rift. And I want to introduce one term to the American public right now and I hope they're ready. It's very technical. And that's the fact that this whole Big Lie was a self- licking ice cream cone.

And what I mean by that, it just self-perpetuates itself, and I think that's the thing we're looking at, Anderson, is all the people that you saw today, what they call Team Normal, really did set aside or put forward facts to say that this was actually just a grift. It was just a money making venture, you know, based on conspiracy theories and hysterical ideas.

COOPER: So you're saying this whole thing was a grift. The Trump orbit of, you know, I guess you're talking the Jason Miller's, the Rudy Giuliani's, I guess, the Sidney Powell's all the people who were -- you know, all the people that you've talked about, you're saying they were all basically in it for the money.

RIGGLEMAN: The most important factor this investigation, and it's just based on my background in counterterrorism is follow the money. $250 million is the floor. That doesn't count the RNC, the NSRC, the NRCC, the 501 (c)'s, C3's, the 501 (c) 4's., any of the campaigns, you know, the campaign managers, consultancies -- all of this was a big money operation.

And you know, all of us have been sort of screaming that for some time that they've really weaponized and monetized ignorance, and that's something that's been very effective for them.

And again, Anderson $250 million as the floor, I think, as the Committee puts, I would say, as the Committee releases more information, and once they get to the final report, I think it's going to be shocking for most people in the United States.

COOPER: George, to that point, I mean, you heard the Committee lay out that the Trump campaign raised approximately $250 million to advertising false claims of election fraud, solicited requests for Official Election Defense Fund that did not exist. Is that legal? Do you think that this was all just about -- this was just a big grift?

GEORGE CONWAY, ATTORNEY: Well, I think it was a big grift. I don't think it was all about a big rift. I think part of it was about Donald Trump's ego. But yes, I think there is a serious question as to whether or not there was mail fraud or wire fraud committed in connection with these solicitations, which were based upon lies -- a lie that this election was stolen, and based upon a lie that they were actually going to use this money for litigation purposes, to litigate an electoral victory out of the claims of fraud, and they were never intending to do that.

And the entity, apparently the entity that they said was going to the campaign didn't go to campaign, it didn't go to go to the election fund.

So I mean, on multiple levels, I mean, the serious question is whether or not you know, this is mail and wire fraud. You know normally political speech even if it's false is protected, but speech that is designed to rip people off is not.


And so I think that there is a very good argument that this falls on the criminal side of the line, but it wasn't just about the grift, it was about Donald Trump wanting to save his ego and wanting to be able to claim that he didn't lose the election.

And you know, that's why, you know, when you see -- we had Barr saying there was never an indication of interest of what the actual facts were. And you had Donoghue, the Assistant Attorney General, the Deputy Assistant Attorney -- acting Attorney General said, there were so many of these allegations when he gave them a very direct answer on one of them, he wouldn't fight this on, he'd move on to the next.

And all this was about him, deciding if he was going to lose, he was going to claim fraud, and he did it for the election. And so that's -- again, it was all -- that was part of his, you know, ego. COOPER: Well, George, what does it say to you that the former

President released tonight, this 12-page statement through Save America PAC basically laying out all the false claims again, clinging to the 2020 election, citing Dinesh D'Souza's documentary, "2000 Mules" that former Attorney General Bill Barr laughed at in testimony shown today, is the President nervous about this?

CONWAY: I guess, he is. He is going to persist in telling the Big Lie for the rest of his life, even if he goes to the slammer. He's just not ever going to let it go, and that's just his psychology. That's just the way he is.

COOPER: Congressman Riggleman, you know, I want to remind our viewers of the, I guess "effusive" is the right word, December 2020 resignation letter that Bill Barr wrote to the former President. He said, quote: "I'm proud to have played a role in the many successes and unprecedented achievements you have delivered for the American people," end quote.

And just a few months ago, on his book tour, when asked if Trump should ever be near the Oval Office, again, Barr said this to NBC.


BARR: Well, I certainly have made it clear, I don't think you should be our nominee, and I'm going to, you know, support somebody else for the nominee.

QUESTION: But if he is the nominee, and you have your choices, Donald Trump or whoever's running on the Democratic side, would you vote for him?

BARR: Because I believe that the greatest threat to the country is the progressive agenda being pushed by the Democratic Party, it is inconceivable to me that I wouldn't vote for the Republican nominee.


COOPER: Congressman Riggleman, when you hear that juxtaposed to Barr's testimony that we heard today, I mean, what do you make of it?

RIGGLEMAN: I think I like the Bill Barr, the testimony better than the Bill Barr saying he would still vote for President Trump, and they're really, really late to this party.

You know, but I'll tell you this, I would rather them you know, it's better late than never. You know, again, I always use the bar fight analogy, even if you're getting beat if somebody finally comes in at the end and helps you out, that's a good thing and I think Bill Barr did that and allowed the Republicans.

And let's be honest, the Republicans up there were not shrinking violets. I think it's better late than ever. But it really is astounding to me that anybody who said the things that Bill Barr said in testimony, and he had said those things and believed those things would still say he would vote for President Trump. I think that's a real issue, and I think that's a problem of tribalism in this country.

I think it's a problem with the propaganda that you see sort of pumped into Republican, you know, into Republican circles. You know, you talked about "2000 Mules," I think, you know, when you look at something like that I am a geofencing expert, right? I do know geolocation. I do know what cell phone pings are. I do know what Nellis is, I do know, all the technical terms for that.

And when you see something like that and you talk about things like that, and I know George has talked about this, you know, "2000 Mules" is pretty produced by about a dozen asses. You know, there, they just don't know what they're talking about. And I think that's the problem you have, is you have a disinformation push, you have tribalism.

And when you put this all together, you have things like you know, Barr on an interview saying he would still vote for somebody that he thought was bat shit and that is really amazing to me.

COOPER: Denver Riggleman and George Conway, appreciate it, both of you. Thank you.

Coming up next, psychologist, author and niece, Mary Trump on the question that looms so much over today's hearing, the conversation tonight, does her uncle actually believe what he's been spreading, the lies he's been spreading.

Later Senator Chris Murphy on the bipartisan gun compromise that he helped broker and where it may go from here.



COOPER: More now in today's testimony by some of the former President's inner circle on his willingness to lie about the election in spite of the facts and his reaction tonight to what he saw.

Joining us, Mary Trump, former President's niece, a psychologist and author most recently, "The Reckoning: Our Nation's Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal."

So Mary, good to see you. What's your initial response to this 12-page response to the January 6th Committee that your uncle released tonight? I mean, is it typical of him to essentially want to get out in front of what everybody's talking about?

MARY TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S NIECE: I think that's part of it. I think he also tips his hand and lets all of us know that he is very much interested in what's happening in these hearings. He cannot stay away from them because they're about him. So that's interesting.

I think that document also has Stephen Miller's fingerprints all over it. It is exactly what one would expect from somebody who is feeling cornered and as is often the case with Donald, needs to convince himself and his enablers that he is absolutely justified in believing that he is victim. It is absolutely full of delusion, lies, and grievance.

COOPER: You know, we heard from Congressman Riggleman talking about the big grift and that for a lot of people in the orbit of the former President, a lot of this he believes was about the money that they could potentially make in a whole bunch of different ways. Do you think it's about that for the former President?


TRUMP: I think everything is about money for him to one degree or another, and I was actually quite pleased to see the Committee going in that direction because the staggering amount of fraud if indeed those allegations are true, is something the American people really need to understand and know about.

But of course, it isn't only about money. It is also about protecting himself from the absolute truth that he lost, and he lost very, very badly.

COOPER: When it comes to the former President kind of throwing his own daughter, your cousin, Ivanka, under the bus last week saying she was checked out at the end of his term. This is something that last year you predicted could eventually happen.

Is there anyone who isn't expendable to him? Because until last week, people would probably have said, Ivanka Trump and what you see from the testimony today is you had, you know, respectable people around who were in the President's orbit working in the White House, saying to him, you know, there is no there, there. And he immediately essentially ejects them, stops paying attention to what they're saying, and reaches out and finds, you know, more toadious people who are willing to spread lies to him and that he'll run with.

TRUMP: And, of course, there is always somebody who is more sycophantic than the people he lets go. We knew going into this that Ivanka was going to have to walk a very, very fine line.

She needed to watch out for herself without getting Donald too angry, so I don't think her revelations were that explosive, but she had to come down on the side of what the facts showed, which is that Bill Barr in this particular instance, was right in his assessment, that the 2020 election was not stolen.

I think what's very important to realize is that yes, it was rude to say she checked out, but if you think about it, he actually accused his daughter of perjury.

COOPER: Mary Trump, I appreciate talking to you. Thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you.

COOPER: We've got this just in on Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson statements tonight that the Committee would not be issuing criminal referrals in their probe. I just asked Adam Schiff about that a short time ago. Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney tweeted this quoting now: "The January 6th Select Committee has not issued a conclusion regarding potential criminal referrals. We will announce the decision on that at an appropriate time."

Coming up: We will a look at the other development on Capitol Hill, a major movement on gun safety legislation in the Senate, a framework for a deal that could survive a filibuster attempt, at least 10 Republicans say they're on board, but what would the language of the bill actually looks like. One of the lead negotiators for Democrats will join me, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, next.



COOPER: Senator John Cornyn, who's leading Republican efforts on that bipartisan Senate push for Gun Safety reform, told CNN the text of a bill could be ready by the end of the week. Now comes just a day after group of Democrats, Republicans and one independent announced the framework for a bill with enough votes to pass the Senate even if opponents attempt to filibuster. The agreement includes money for red flag laws to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves or others. It also aims to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs.

Senators also say the legislation will address what's called the Boyfriend Loophole. Right now unmarried partners found guilty of violence against someone they're dating can still keep their guns. The agreement would also create a more thorough review process for people between the ages of 18 and 21, who tried to buy weapons like an AR-15. It also helps clarify when a person must register as a federally licensed firearm dealer and thus, always conducted a federal background check. And lastly, there'll be more money for school security.

Now earlier I spoke with Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, the lead negotiator for the Democrats.


COOPER (on-camera): Senator, thanks for joining us.

You now have this framework that's been agreed upon, in principle, what's it going to take to get to that final stage?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, we've done the heavy lifting here. We have 10 Republicans signed on to this framework, a framework that's going to save lives. These are five important changes in our gun laws plus billions in mental health funding. And my belief is that we're just going to add Republicans from here on out, we've got to get this into legislative text. But we're done with negotiating. And my belief is that by next week, we can have something on the floor that can get more than 60 votes. We're never going to get 100. There's going to be a bunch of senators that will fight this to the end. But I think we can have a really big bipartisan vote, supportive a Common Sense Gun Violence Bill that is going to prevent a lot of homicides and a lot of suicides across this country.

COOPER (on-camera): Senator John Cornyn, a Republican is also leading negotiations told Manu Raju, he expects a legislative text by the end of the week. Do you agree with that?

MURPHY: That's our hope. It's an aggressive timeframe. But we do, you know, have a recess coming up in which we go back to our states for July 4. And I think there's no reason why we can't get this done. I mean, the urgency really comes from the American public. I was just in Connecticut, all throughout the weekend, and parents and kids, they're really desperate. They're fearful about what's going on in our country, how dangerous our schools and our town squares have become, and they are not going to accept inaction as the result, but they also want action now. So, my colleagues are moving fast. That's great. But the pressure is coming, not internally, the pressure is coming externally from moms and dads and kids who want this Congress to step up and do something to make our country safer.

COOPER (on-camera): What do you think the most important measures are that are included in this?

MURPHY: I really think the bill is the sum of its parts, you know, don't want to elevate one against the other. Obviously, the red flag provision gets a lot of attention because this bill is going to help states implement laws that take guns away temporarily from people that are threatening to shoot up a school or threatening to kill themselves. In Hartford today, the African-American leadership was maybe most excited about the criminalization of gun trafficking and straw purchasing that first ever statute will make it a lot harder for these gun traffickers to move guns into our cities, the domestic violence loophole is going to take make sure that domestic abusers don't get guns, not just abusers of spouses, but abusers of girlfriends as well. That's a big deal.


So, cumulatively, this is the most important anti-gun violence bill in 30 years. And so, each provision builds upon the other.

COOPER (on-camera): You hear the President said the deal is not everything he wanted. That was better than nothing. I know. It's not certainly everything you wanted, either. That's what, you know, compromise is all about. Do you think any of the other measures are raising the age of 21 for getting an assault type weapon, even a ban on assault type weapons or high capacity magazines? Is that ever a realistic, somebody that has a realistic chance of passing without huge changes at the ballot box?

MURPHY: Well, listen, you're right. First of all, this is an old school compromise. Republicans got things that they care about, Democrats got things that they cared about, we added to the bill to get this done, not stripped it down to only the things that all of us agreed upon. But the answer to your basic question is yes, we will be able to build on this. And my hope is that Republicans who support it, find out that the political sky doesn't fall when you support a common sense gun safety measure. In fact, you get a lot more political support back home. I think the movement will grow because, you know, 10 years of inaction at the federal government makes it hard for people to continue to show back up to rallies and right there members of Congress. The movement now I think will be growing again, because they have tasted success.

So yes, I think this is important in and of itself. And we never passed another gun safety bill. I would tell people that this one is absolutely worthwhile, that it's life saving. But I also believe that it can allow us to do other things down the line.

COOPER (on-camera): Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, as you know, hasn't publicly signed on to the bipartisan framework. Senator Cornyn today says he thinks all 10 Republicans who did are in his words, rock solid even without signing off from leadership. Do you think that's the case as well?

MURPHY: Yes, I think we've got very good commitments from the 10 Republicans that are a part of our announcement. And well, you know, Senator McConnell, and I have plenty of differences. I do acknowledge the fact the space he created for Senator Cornyn to lead these negotiations was very important. His colleagues do, you know, look to the signals he's sending. And he sent a clear one, which was to send John Cornyn in to sit down with me maybe the most vocal advocate of changing our laws in the Senate and find that common ground.

COOPER (on-camera): Yes. Senator Murphy, I really appreciate your time. Thank you.

MURPHY: Thank you.


COOPER: Still to come tonight, a live report from Idaho and the rest of the weekend and dozens of man with a suspected tie to white nationalist group. Police say the men plan to riot at a gay pride event. Now police say they're getting death threats.



COOPER: We have new details tonight about the arrest of 31 men with suspected ties to white nationalist group and who law enforcement officials had said plan to riot at a pride event in northern Idaho over the weekend. Police chief there says he and others in his agency are now receiving death threats.

Sara Sidner is in Idaho with the latest.


SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two witnesses they appeared as a little army, 31 men all dressed in similar outfits all with their faces covered. Police say they were prepared to riot as the city celebrates Pride Month.

LEE WHITE, CHIEF, COEUR D'AELEN POLICE: The information that we had would leave -- lead any reasonable officer to assume that there might be criminal activity afoot based not only on the 911 call but the information contained within the call. SIDNER (voice-over): Police say they were stuffed into a moving van caught with shields weapons and at least one smoke bomb as they headed toward downtown Coeur d'Alene.

WHITE: I have no doubt in my mind that had that van stopped at the park or much near the park that we still would have ended up in a riot situation.

SIDNER (voice-over): One by one police unmasked the men. One of the men police say is their leader Thomas Russo. He along with his group Patriot Front came from out of town and brought with them a nasty racist past. One CNN has reported on over the years.

WHITE: These were members of the hate group Patriot Front. These were not Antifa in disguise, nor were they FBI members in disguise.

SIDNER (voice-over): This group didn't just come out of nowhere they're not new. Researchers that track hates a Patriot Front is an offshoot of a group called Vanguard America, whose alleged leader Thomas Russo attended the white supremacist unite the right rally in Charlottesville.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): Jews will not replace us.

SIDNER (voice-over): The person convicted of this murderous act of hate in Charlottesville. The man behind the wheel of that car had been spotted standing side by side with the racist group holding one of their shields. Though the leadership of Vanguard America said he was not a member and condemned his violence that didn't stop there neo- Nazi ideologies or activities according to several groups that track hate in America, they simply splintered and rebranded themselves after the terrible publicity and legal trouble facing many who took part in the deadly Charlottesville rally.

PETER SIMI, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY: Patriot front sprung off of the Vanguard America as a new effort, a new brand. And so they're constantly trying to reinvent themselves to distance themselves from the very violence that they're, you know, routinely promoting.

SIDNER (voice-over): Peter Simi, is an associate professor of sociology at Chapman University. He spent decades studying extremist groups among them, neo-Nazis and white supremacist, even living with some of them. He says Patriot Fronts favorite targets are immigrants, brown and black people.

(on-camera): Why would they, as authorities have said target the LGBTQ segment of society?

SIMI: It's a very common target for these kinds of hate groups. This kind of white supremacist groups tend to be very homophobic, very much seen this either in biblical terms as in terms of homosexuality being a sin against God, or for those that are not religiously oriented. They'll see it in more biological secular terms in terms of seen as unnatural. SIDNER (voice-over): This town has been through an invasion of hate filled men before. The county was home to the leader of the Aryan Nations who had worldwide gatherings here until the town decided to fight back. Their fight to remove racist hate from their town resulted in some of the toughest state hate crime laws in the country.


JIM HAMMOND, MAYOR, COEUR D'ALENE, IDAHO: We're not going back to the days of the Aryan Nations.


COOPER: Sara Sidner joins us now. Is it clear whether this group wanted to cause violence actually hurt people physically or so chaos and disruption? I mean, they were like all loaded into U-Haul with shields and doesn't look good.

SIDNER: Yes, I mean, there were no guns. But there were things that could be used as weapons and police said there was at least one smoke bomb there as well. Those aren't generally things you do when you're protesting peacefully. But the police are pretty clear that what they had with them all dressed in similar outfits that their plan was to create some sort of chaos, whether or not it was going to be violent or not. That remains to be seen, but certainly they are being charged now, all 31 of them with conspiracy to riot. It is a misdemeanor.

We did try to reach out, none of them had attorneys on file, and we tried to reach out to the family of the alleged leader Thomas Russo. And he and his family did not return any of our attempts at getting comments from them. But it certainly has rattled this town. I mean, as we walked around, we went to the hotel where they -- were we -- were there we believe they were standing outside of and people were upset that their town once again after fighting for so long to try and show people that this is a wonderful place to live and to be. They were going to have a pride parade. They were doing all sorts of things for Pride Month, that they are now being in the news again for something that has to do with hatred, something by the way, most of these men were not even from Idaho, only about three of them the rest of them from all over the country.

COOPER: Sara Sidner, appreciate it. Thank you.

Up next, Georgia Democratic senator, Reverend Raphael Warnock on the January 6 committee the big lie in his race against his Republican opponent in November election, former football star Herschel Walker.



COOPER: More now on the January 6 hearing on Capitol Hill. As we mentioned, the focus was on how those around the former president told him he lost the 2020 election but he refused to listen turning instead to his attorney Rudy Giuliani to embrace false claims the election was stolen, and many false claims are still being spread by the former president, some of the candidates he's supporting in midterms -- November midterm elections, including Georgia Republican senator candidate and former football star Herschel Walker who has talked about countrywide election fraud, told a reporter that quote, everyone knows that something happened in the election.

Walker's running against the state's first black senator, Reverend Raphael Warnock, a Democrat who joins us tonight his new book out tomorrow is called A Way Out Of No Way, A Memoir Of Truth, Transformation And The New American Story.

And what a story it is. I just picked on the book and it's really it's such a political memoir. It's really a fascinating story of your life.

You write this. I want to read this, you write in the book about the former president's election lies you say, the racist overtones of Trump's claim that the election was stolen or clear. Former President continued claims of widespread voter fraud or just his way of saying that the votes of certain people don't count can't count, and can't be real, because the election outcome was not consistent with the myth of white supremacy.

Bennie Thompson, the chairman January 6 Select Committee, he's drawn in his parallel, a parallel between his work on the committee and his fight for voting rights in the Jim Crow South. Do you see this as important as those fights?

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Well, thank you so much. It's great to be here with you.

Listen, January 6, tells us something about the struggle that we're engaged in right now. We saw a violent attack on the United States Capitol. There were racist and anti-Semitic signs traffic through the Capitol. And it was all driven by the big lie that certain people's votes don't count, shouldn't count. And that's the tragedy of January 6, which then came alive and voter suppression bills that were spread on cross country. January 6 has happened, we don't get to pretend like it didn't. But here's the thing, January 5, it also tells us also something about America, I was elected. Georgia sent in one fell swoop its first African-American senator, and its first Jewish Senator to the United States Senate. And I sometimes think that somewhere in glory, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel were shouting and dancing because they marched together.

And so, we got to decide which America we're going to be January 5 of January 6. I think my own improbable story is a kid who grew up in public housing, who now sits in the United States Senate, speaks to the hope and promise of America. And that's what's really at stake.

COOPER: When you're out in your district, when you are out in your state, and you are campaigning, and you meet people who genuinely believe that there was fraud, that this was a stolen election, when you hear the person you're running against make these claims. How do you engage with somebody? And can you convince somebody or can you figure out a way to still connect with him?

WARNOCK: Well, look, I these are very serious times. But I remain hopeful. You know, our democracy goes through these moments when it expands. Sometimes it contracts. But even contractions, you know, give birth to the possibility of a new world. And so, we keep fighting the good fight. And as a result of my election, and are flipping the Senate, we were able to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill. We were able to pass the single largest tax cut for working and American families -- working in middle class families in American history. And now I'm focused on lowering the cost of insulin.

All of these things we get to work on Anderson because we have a democracy.

COOPER: The title of the book is A Way Out Of Way. So many people for so long in the black community in America when told there was no way, have found a way, have found a way out of no way. And what do you say to people who now look at the State of the Union and have lost hope that there is a way for Americans to come together and to move forward to find a way at a no way?


WARNOCK: Well, the title of the book A Way Out Of No Way, I didn't create that.


WARNOCK: It comes out of the black church, it's deep in the culture. If you're in about a black church, Baptist, Methodist, whatever, for an hour or less, you're going to hear somebody say, God makes a way out of no way. It is a kind of faith, born of struggle and oppression. And yet, learning how to keep the faith, hoping against hope, and getting up and pushing forward even when you're not exactly sure how to get there.

And so, that's the story of many Americans. And I think it is it is the reason why I've been able to reach out and do the work that I've tried to do in the United States Senate. And I feel like in a real sense, I'm just getting started. Every Sunday, by the way, I go back to my church, I still preach on the weekends, I don't think of myself as a Senator who used to be a pastor, I'm a pastor in the Senate. I think right now the country needs moral voices, we have no shortage of transactional politicians who are so focused on the next election, that they're not thinking about the next generation. And that's why you get a January 6.

When politicians have focused on their problems, rather than the people's problems, it becomes very, very difficult to get anything done, which is why for years, in my own church, I fought for voting rights. We register voters in our church, when the people of -- the evacuees of Katrina were, were displaced to Atlanta and other places, my church organized something called the Freedom Caravan. And we took voters back to New Orleans, so that they could vote, they had to most of them had to go back physically in order to vote. And it's because I think that a vote is a kind of prayer for the world we desire for ourselves and for our children. I think that democracy is the political enactment of a spiritual idea that all of us have within us, a spark of the divine that we matter, we have value. And so we ought to have a voice in our democracy and our destiny within it.

That's what my life of service has been about. And representing the people of Georgia is the honor of my life.

COOPER: Yes. Just a political question, you know, there's obviously I talked about whether President Biden should run for re election 2024. Do you think he should?

WARNOCK: Well, here again, I think that there'll be plenty of pundits to talk about that. And part of the issue right now is, we're so obsessed with the next election. And it makes it very difficult to get something done even when 90% of the American public agrees with it. On common sense, gun laws, thank God, we're seeing some progress, movement in that direction. But why is it taking so long, politicians focus on short term political gains. And I think that there's something worse than losing an election, you can lose your soul, you can lose your sense of integrity, and why you went in office in the first place.

COOPER: Yes. Well read the book. You -- I've learned a lot about your mom who just sounds like an amazing, amazing person.

WARNOCK: She is.

COOPER: And I appreciate --

WARNOCK: You know, what she said, when I got elected. I said, hey, it's Senator Reverend Warnock on the phone. She said, yes, and I'm still mama.

COOPER: Senator Reverend, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

WARNOCK: Great. Yes.

COOPER: The book A Way Out Of No Way.

WARNOCK: Thank you.

COOPER: A Memoir Of Truth Transformation And The New American Story.

We'll be right back.



COOPER: News continues. Let's head over to Laura Coates in "CNN TONIGHT." Laura.