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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Select Committee Expected To Focus Tomorrow's Hearing On Extremist Groups And Their Ties To Trump Associates; Interview With Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL); Steve Bannon Says He Is Willing To Testify Before January 6 Committee; New Book Explores Trump's Hold On The Republican Party; Children Who Witnessed Uvalde School Shooting Speak Out; Mourners Gather For Slain Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe's Funeral; First Image From James Webb Space Telescope. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 11, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: We're going to get a few more tomorrow, but what you're looking at right now, is light -- light that is 13 billion years old. Those images are 13 billion light years away and some of these galaxies, these beautiful dots, you can almost feel emotion, right?

They are so massive, they actually bend the light from other galaxies, which you can see in the center of your screen where the light is actually bent.

Now, this image is a speck. Just to give you a perspective, it's a speck of the universe to the naked eye, if you were looking at the universe, this picture would be about the size of a grain of sand, if you held it up to the sky.

Talk about some perspective.

Thanks for joining us. AC 360 starts now.



We begin tonight with new reporting of what the House Select Committee on January 6 plans to reveal during their seventh hearing tomorrow. CNN has confirmed the Committee plans to probe connections between extremist groups and Trump associates, Roger Stone and others.

We are also learning about a specific meeting the Committee asked former White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone about and what he told them. At the last hearing, we saw former White House insider, a top aide to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows testified that the former President knew the mob he was about to incite and send marching to the Capitol was armed.


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the President say something to the effect of, you know, I don't effing care that they have weapons.


COOPER: Cassidy Hutchinson testifying under oath to that. She testified to the former President's eagerness to join the mob at the Capitol. Also to the White House Counsel's horror at that prospect and his fear she said of being charged in his words, according to her, with every crime imaginable. It's hard to imagine after that what comes next.

In a moment, Committee member, Stephanie Murphy who will be handling some of the questioning tomorrow joins us. But first, that new reporting on what to expect tomorrow and also an item just in on what the former White House Counsel was asked about in testimony on Friday.

CNN's Ryan Nobles joins us now with that. So, what have you learned about Pat Cipollone testimony?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, of course, Anderson, everyone wants to know what Pat Cipollone told the Committee last week during his lengthy deposition. He was with the Committee for more than four -- or seven hours I should say, and we're told that one of the things that the Committee asked Cipollone about was a heated meeting that took place in the Trump White House in mid-December.

It was a gathering of many election deniers where theories were thrown about discussing ways for Trump to overturn the election. Cipollone was a part of that meeting and we are told that he described what he viewed as an insane meeting that he did not want to be a part of.

Now the question is, will we see part of that deposition during tomorrow's hearing? Committee members say we should expect to hear from Cipollone as they set the stage for how the role extremist groups played in the attempts to overturn the election and the Capitol riot that took place here on January 6th.


NOBLES (voice over): CNN has learned the January 6 Committee is planning to zero in on a key link: The extremist groups' ties to Trump associates, Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.

The hearing comes as another key Trump ally, Steve Bannon is changing his tune, telling the Committee he would be willing to testify, but only in a live public setting.

It's a move prosecutors believe is a stunt to try and wiggle out from his criminal contempt charges, but a Federal Judge on Monday declined his request to postpone his trial for next week.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): I expect that we will be hearing from him and there are many questions that we have for him.

NOBLES (voice over): The Committee has already revealed a bevy of new information. Among the biggest headlines: That Trump and his allies were made fully aware that there was no evidence the election was stolen.

BILL STEPIEN, TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I didn't think what was happening was necessarily honest or professional.

NOBLES (voice over): Trump knew he lost the election, but kept telling his supporters he won without evidence to back it up.

That the campaign to subvert the will of the voters extended all the way to the States where Trump personally pressured officials to help his effort.

RUSTY BOWERS (R), ARIZONA STATE HOUSE SPEAKER: You're asking me to do something against my oath, and I will not break my oath.

NOBLES (voice over): The Committee also revealing that Trump knew his supporters were armed and planning to be violent, but he directed them to the Capitol anyway.

HUTCHINSON: I overheard the President say something to the effect of, I don't effing care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the effing mags away.

NOBLES (voice over): The Committee also uncovering details about Trump's efforts to prevent Congress' certification of the election, how he ignored his advisers that there was no fraud and instead tried to install an Attorney General who would do his bidding.

JEFFREY CLARK, FORMER DOJ OFFICIAL: I recall toward the end saying what you're proposing is nothing less than the United States Justice Department meddling in the outcome of a presidential election.

NOBLES (voice over): That man Jeffrey Clark is now under scrutiny as part of a Federal investigation into the attempts to overturn the election.

And finally, as an angry mob called for the assassination of his Vice President.

(CROWD chanting "Hang Mike Pence.")

NOBLES (voice over): Witnesses say Trump did not seem to be bothered. His response to the violence leading several Cabinet officials to quit and others quietly considering a plan to invoke the 25th Amendment.


HUTCHINSON: There is a large concern of 25th Amendment potentially being invoked, and there are concerns about what would happen in the Senate if it was, the 25th Amendment was invoked.


COOPER: Ryan, what else do you expect to hear from tomorrow in terms of testimony? NOBLES: Well, we do know there will be live witness testimony

tomorrow, Anderson, and we now know the names of two individuals that will appear before the Committee. One of them will be Jason Tatenhove. He is a former spokesperson for the Oath Keepers, that right-wing extremist group that was a part of the activity that took place here on January 6th.

Now, he wasn't a member of the Oath Keepers, but he described himself as kind of a paid propagandist and knows a lot about the history of the organization. And we're learning late tonight of another person that is scheduled to testify and that is Stephen Ayers. He is an individual that described in Court documents as part of a proceeding where he ended up pleading guilty to entering the Capitol illegally as essentially being radicalized on the internet, and came to believe that Donald Trump had the election stolen from him, and that was part of the reason that he came to the Capitol on January 6th.

So this is just part of the effort that the Committee hopes to do as they try and paint a picture as to why the violence took place here on January 6th, and then of course, Anderson, who is ultimately responsible.

COOPER: Ryan Nobles appreciate it. Thanks.

With us now, Florida Democratic Congresswoman House Select Committee member Stephanie Murphy.

Congresswoman Murphy, thanks for being with us.

You heard Ryan Nobles reporting about the December 18, 2020 meeting in the White House. I know you won't, or certainly can't reveal many details tonight. But can you really say whether Trump White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, has advanced the Committee's understanding of that meeting.

REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): Mr. Cipollone, was a critical player within the White House, and he has provided us with a lot of relevant information to the activities that were occurring in the White House in the run up to January 6, and we're really grateful that he came and spoke with our Committee.

COOPER: Do you think we can expect to hear Mr. Cipollone's comments or some of Mr. Cipollone's comments assuming on video tomorrow?

MURPHY: Like we have in so many previous hearings, we really like to tell the story through the voices of the Republican staff members and White House members that had firsthand experience of these situations, and certainly Mr. Cipollone will be one of those voices.

COOPER: In terms of these right-wing extremist groups' alleged ties to Trump associates Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, Ryan Nobles reporting that will be a focus of tomorrow, at least in part, what are they can you say what outstanding questions you have about the roles of those two men in particular?

MURPHY: I think what's really important about tomorrow is that we're going to lay out the evidence that we have already collected about the roles of those two men, as well as the violent extremists.

And then it's really to the American people to decide what kind of connectivity and what culpability people in the White House, including the President had for pulling these folks together and what resulted on January 6th.

COOPER: Do you think people will be surprised, if you're fleshing out the details of Roger Stone and Michael Flynn's role and connections, do you think people will be surprised by what they hear is this new information?

MURPHY: I think that our hearings always have surprises, and so I anticipate tomorrow's hearing will be nothing short of that.

COOPER: So obviously, as you know, Steve Bannon has informed your Committee he is magically now willing to testify, preferably at a public hearing. What is your thoughts -- what are your thoughts on that? I mean, obviously, he likes to create a spectacle. Is it clear to you how the Committee is going to handle Steve Bannon?

MURPHY: Well, I don't comment on the Committee's negotiations with Mr. Brandon's lawyers, nor do I comment on DOJ activities, but what I will say is that, you don't set the terms for how you appear before a congressional committee that has subpoenaed you and also, we do not allow folks to use our Committee as a platform for misinformation.

And so, you know, there is a lot of information that we would like to get from Mr. Bannon and I certainly hope we can find a way to do that.

COOPER: I want to play a clip that CNN obtained, which was not featured in Alex Holder's documentary when former President Trump was talking about trying to overturn the results in Georgia back on December 7, 2020, almost one week after then Attorney General Bill Barr publicly said there was no evidence of election fraud. I just want to play this for our viewers.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They should open it up, verify the signatures. When you do, you'll see that all of those people that signed did didn't have the right to vote. They were forgeries and other things.

And all we want is that, and that simple or a special session, let their legislature make the decision because they're already largely on our side because they see what happened in Georgia.



COOPER: Alex Holder told -- the filmmaker told Jake Tapper earlier today that this is of interest the DA's investigation in Fulton County, Georgia. It's my understanding that that clip has also been shared with your Committee. How does it -- does it impact your investigation in any way? Do you find it interesting? MURPHY: I think this is one of many conspiracy theories that the

President continued to press despite the fact that his White House Counsel, as well as the Department of Justice and the state, election officials had debunked, but it didn't matter to the President that nobody had evidence of fraud, and they repeatedly told him again and again and again, there was no fraud. And yet he still pressed these conspiracy theories.

I think what is interesting is as expansive as our investigation has been, we have yet to come up with anybody who has been able to give us evidence of fraud.

COOPER: Congressman Murphy, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

MURPHY: Great to be with you.

COOPER: More now on what the hearing could reveal about the role extremist elements played on January 6th, the ongoing threat they pose. Joining us for that as Kathleen Belew, Associate Professor of History at Northwestern University, author of "Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America."

So the January 6 Committee, Kathleen intends to try to connect the dots between these extremist groups and people within President Trump's orbit who are trying to overturn the election. What kind of dots will you be looking to be connected?

KATHLEEN BELEW, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY: So there are two main functions that I'll be looking for tomorrow, because this is a critical moment for a lot of different reasons. These big Committee hearings or criminal trials or other kinds of moments where we get to see how the underground White Power Movement and kind of militant right is working. These are rare opportunities.

So I'll be looking not only for the ties between extremist groups and the Trump administration, which is very important for holding them accountable, but also for the ties between the extremist groups themselves.

Too often, we get the sense of these groups as disjointed and unorganized and sort of operating without connection with one another, when in fact, we should see them as part of a groundswell that is posing a threat to the nation.

COOPER: As you know, a former spokesman, a self-described propagandist for the so called Oath Keepers is expected testify tomorrow. Have you heard of this guy? Do you think he has the ability to shed light on the pertinent issues at hand here?

BELEW: Well, based on how these hearings have gone so far, I think that the Committee will only bring testimony forward that will have the ability to shed light on what happened that day.

I think that how we tell this story is critically important. Part of the answer might be that some in the Trump administration, perhaps even the former President himself, thought of these extremist groups as sort of paramilitary strike forces, informal security, or possibly even militias that he could use in an informal way for his own purposes, in the style of such units in Latin America, for instance.

But part of the story may be that these groups were never really in control of anyone, and continue to pose a threat whether or not Trump is held accountable.

So one thing that will be very important to find out tomorrow is whether the kind of accountability that many people hoped for in regards to the former President will be sufficient to really get a hold on this problem and the threat that it poses to our country.

COOPER: You know, it's so interesting now looking back, you get a sense of how the former President viewed certainly that group, the so- called Proud Boys in that debate with Biden that Chris Wallace, moderated in which he said, you know, it was just in off the cuff, and when, when pushed on it, he said, you know, "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by," which sort of indicated that he felt they were on his side, and he could command them to, you know, not disband, but just stand by until they're needed.

BELEW: Absolutely. And the thing is that a call to arms like that is very important to -- has historically been very important to groups in the White Power Movement. But I'm not convinced at all that there has ever been enough sort of unity of purpose among that groundswell that they could be called back down again.

I think a stand down command is much harder to give than a standby command and I'm not sure that that these groups really were in anyone's control or have a unified sense of purpose. That means we have to be on the lookout for two kinds of threats posed by these groups.

One is the threat to our political process, which I think is the main focus of the hearings tomorrow that's the threat to our voting, the threat to sort of the idea of America as a democratic society.


The other threat is the threat of guerrilla warfare and people trying to go out and create a White Ethno State, which is also at play here in the underground.

COOPER: Yes, and the fact that the person who planted pipe bombs still has not been identified, given all the prosecutions that have taken place is really startling and kind of speaks to that that underground nature of this.

Kathleen Belew, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, we will have more on what Steve Bannon might be up to with his talk about testifying before the Select Committee even as the faces trial for defying it.

Later, the mothers of children who survived the Robb Elementary School telling us what their kids are telling them about what they saw and what they endured in the 77 minutes it took for police to actually confront a mass killer.


COOPER: After months of defying the House Select Committee and facing a contempt trial next week, in connection with that defiance, Steve Bannon has been making noises lately about testifying before the Committee, yet his attorney is now saying he doesn't know if his client will in fact appear even right now what actually happens is anyone's guess.

To offer at least one educated one for us is Joshua Green, national correspondent for Bloomberg Business, author of "Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon and Donald Trump and the Storming of the Presidency."

Josh, how do you interpret these moves from Bannon and his lawyer and clearly he wants to testify, live in person not edited, and I assume create as big a spectacle as possible?

JOSHUA GREEN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG BUSINESS: Yes. Well, Anderson, there are two things going on here.

Bannon really has true two primary motivations. The first one all along has been to demonstrate his loyalty to Donald Trump, because that's where his standing in the conservative world and the MAGA Movement comes from.

And initially, when the January 6 Committee came together, Trump was very upset. He didn't want his people cooperating with it, and so Bannon showed his loyalty by defying that subpoena, you know, to an extent that it has landed him with two criminal contempt charges.

But what's happened over the last few weeks is interesting. The Committee, I think, has done a very effective job of portraying Trump as essentially a traitor to the United States and Trump has become angry that there's nobody out there defending him and so he's changed tack.

He's given Steve Bannon this letter and permission to go testify, and I think what he would like to happen, certainly what Bannon would like to happen, and this is the second motivation is to go in, as you say, and create as big a spectacle as possible in order to undermine the credibility of the Committee, which has really looked very impressive.

It has had, you know, Democrats like Bennie Thompson, Republicans like Liz Cheney, clearly people are watching and paying attention to this. What Bannon is trying to do is essentially be a bomb that can kind of blow this whole thing up, and I think that's why he is so eager to testify live so that he can begin to counteract a lot of the effects that the Committee has had so far on public opinion.

COOPER: A Federal Judge today denied Bannon's requests for his contempt of Congress trial to be delayed, how much in your view is his sudden willingness to testify connected to the outlook for the criminal case? GREEN: I think it's very connected. I mean, you know, Bannon is now

facing the consequences of decisions he made last year when he decided to spurn the subpoena. I mean, back then, I think it was all a lark, it was a way to get attention.

If you remember when he came downtown and get arraigned at the Federal Courthouse, he actually brought a camera crew with him and stopped mid perp walk to give an interview to his podcast viewers and listeners. So this was all a way to get attention.

You know, now with the reality of this trial looming next week, I think he and his lawyers are doing everything they can to try and forestall that, but what the Judge said today, a couple of things, in fact, one, they're not going to delay the trial; two, the Judge denied Bannon's attempt to call Nancy Pelosi as a witness, you can imagine the kind of spectacle that would create. And the Judge also said that Bannon can't say that he defied the subpoena on the advice of his defense counsel.

So he's really running out of options here to avoid running into some consequences for the decision he made, for how he decided to show his loyalty to Donald Trump. Everything is kind of coming to bear now and I think he has woken up and recognizes that.

COOPER: And correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that I read that the Judge is actually a Trump-appointed Judge.

GREEN: Yes, and I think that goes a long way toward showing just how, you know, outlandish or specious a lot of the legal claims Bannon and his team are making are.

He has claimed executive privilege even though Trump had fired from the White House four years before the January 6th attack, not a lot of legal experts put much stock in that.

So at least where things stand today, after the Judge has weighed in Bannon is going to face a reckoning as soon as next week and he'll get to test those claims in Court.

COOPER: If he is convicted, I mean, what kind of time you know, what kind of punishment is he facing and doesn't any kind of punishment just kind of bolster his credential in the convoluted world of Donald Trump?

GREEN: Well, it's an interesting question. He faces a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of a year on each of the charges. You know, as for what that would do to his standing? Sure, I think it might, you know, bolster his standing in that world.

But having said that, and knowing Steve Bannon and having talked to him about this over the months and years, I can say with confidence that he would rather not demonstrate his loyalty by spending time behind bars, eating prison food for a year, he would much rather go in and disrupt the January 6 Committee, do some kind of outrageous media stunt like he's known for and prove his loyalty that way. You know, but he's gotten himself into a situation where whether or

not he really wants to go this route he may wind up paying a fairly steep price.

COOPER: Joshua Green, appreciate it. Thanks.

A quick reminder not to miss a CNN Special Report on the man in question and the impact he's had. The title: "Steve Bannon: Divided We Fall." That's on Sunday night eight Eastern right here on CNN.


Just ahead, the former President's grip on his party. I'll speak with the author of a riveting new book who got Republicans to talk on the record about this relationship and the "joke" at the center of it. We'll explain, ahead.


COOPER: Through the six previous January 6 Committee hearings, there have been no end to the revelations about the former President's conduct leading up to and including the day of the attack. One former Justice Department official testified the former President told him during a phone call to save the election "Just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen."

As we mentioned earlier, another witness, Cassidy Hutchinson, testified the former President knew the protesters were coming to the Capitol. Many of them knew that many of them were armed. He had wanted them there anyway.

Startling revelations no doubt about it, yet Republican reaction to the proceedings has been largely muted. Republicans' relationship to the former president is the subject of a really fascinating new book called, "Thank You for Your Servitude: Donald Trump's Washington and the Price of Submission."

I'm joined now by the author, journalist, Mark Leibovich.

There are so many fascinating details and revelations in this book. One term that keeps coming up over and over is the joke that this Republican was in on the joke. Can you explain what the joke is?


MARK LEIBOVICH, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR, "THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVITUDE: Terrific question. I mean, the joke when I've written about Washington before, the joke has always been this thing that well, so and so gets the joke. We -- they know what we're trying to do here. We just are not going to say it on the record.

When I wrote my last book about Washington about 10 years ago, the joke was OK, Senator, so and so and Republicans and Senator so and so and Democratic are -- they're all in business together, and they're going to get rich. But that's a joke. We don't have to talk about it. It sounds pretty crass. They lobby what have you. The joke now among Republicans that I talked to and still talk to is that Donald Trump is not fit to be president. What they say privately about him is so stunningly different from what they will say, you know, adoringly in public about him. And that's become the joke and unfortunate, we're kind of living it.

COOPER: And you, I mean after anecdote, after anecdote in the book about Republicans, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, who, you know, gave dire warnings about Donald Trump when they were running against him, only to become the most loyal supporters. And it's this endless sort of question of what is it? Fear of your base? You know, fear of the president? What, what's going on? Why?

LEIBOVICH: I mean, they're just fear of losing fear of -- losing, losing the parking space. I don't know what it is. I mean, there's a lot of psychology that I didn't really attempt that deeply in here. But it's fascinating sort of character study. I think, you know, the question is, why are we still here? Why are we still talking about January 6, why does this even exist at all? I mean, if these were a normal world, and Donald Trump lost after a few days, and it was evident, you know, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Lindsey Graham, you know, would just say, OK, Congratulations, President-Elect Biden.

You know, eventually Donald Trump would probably get the message, but you know, they sort of strung it along, and then all of a sudden, you know, cops are getting beaten up and bludgeoned by these rioters.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, they had a moment they could have distanced themselves and, you know, yes, may have been difficult for a while, but he would have gone away.

LEIBOVICH: Oh, yes, I had these conversations right after January 6, and, you know, around McCarthy around Graham's like, all right, he's done. This is it. We are going to move on McConnell said so much publicly. And all of a sudden you have McConnell sort of moving the impeachment hearings back. So there's going to be after the inauguration. Then you have Republicans almost in lockstep, lockstep saying, oh, well, he's a former president, why do we have to impeach him? So they had their easy answer?

Kevin McCarthy, eight days after the inauguration is going down to kiss the ring again, at Mar-a-Lago to a guy that, you know, earlier that month had basically tried to have him and his colleagues killed? And so, you know.

COOPER: I mean, is there any shame? I mean, that's one of the things I -- as I'm reading your book, I'm thinking, like, there is no shame.

LEIBOVICH: That is the Evergreen question. I mean, I think one of the lessons of Donald Trump is that shamelessness to some degree as a superpower. One of the things that makes him so dangerous, and maybe successful is that he doesn't have the fear of embarrassment. He doesn't have the fear of being just, you know, revealed --

COOPER: He's not embarrassed to repeat, lie over and over and over and over again, and he wears people down. LEIBOVICH: Yes, the average person, I remember saying this to a Republican Congress person who supports him still publicly. You know, the average person if the what was revealed about Donald Trump, the tapes that have come out, you know, go down the list, the average person would be cowering under their bed. I mean, like, how humiliating. I mean, in, in another quaint day, they would have retired or resigned.

COOPER: There's fascinating detail about the former Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan watching the riot.

LEIBOVICH: Yes, I mean, Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, he had a very sort of complicated relationship with Donald Trump. He basically, you know, left the -- left Congress in 2015 -- 2018, after, you know, just dealing with this so much. I interviewed him a few months ago, and he was sort of looking back at what had become and what happened on January 6, and he said, you know, I was watching it, and I just found myself sobbing and just breaking into tears, because, you know, I knew these people, this is my security detail. These are my own Capitol police officers who protected me every day. And I just didn't know what happened. And I said, well, at some point, I said, speaker, Mr. Speaker, did any of that where anything's tears of complicity guilt? I mean, you know, you helped him get his one of probably signature legislative accomplishment, tax reform.

And also, you know, you're still you're sitting on the board of Fox News.

COOPER: Because he's on the board of Fox News.

LEIBOVICH: And that's still true. I mean, I don't doubt your sincerity when you say you're, you're troubled by this as you were and as you are. But I mean, come on, and he didn't want to go there. He just wanted to talk about, you know, how, you know, he obviously reacted very emotionally, and.

COOPER: Of course, I mean, that story. You know, it's one of the stories people tell it when they want to, it makes them look good in some quarters. And then when the important question, which you then follow it up with, which is the opposite the right question.


COOPER: He doesn't want to go there because that's actually, you know, self reflective.

LEIBOVICH: Yes. And he's making a ton of money on it. Presumably, I don't have the exact figure but no, it's I mean, Fox is probably one of the two or three, one of the one or two biggest reasons why Donald Trump remains as viable as he does today.

COOPER: The book is really fascinating. Mark Leibovich, congratulations again for it just out now. Thank You For Your Servititude to Donald Trump's Washington and the Price Of Submission. And what the price is.


Up next, we'll have the latest in the investigations the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas, including what state officials are now saying about the release of preliminary report

Plus, video of that day from inside the school and what more it shows.


COOPER: During the White House event to celebrate the passage of the first significant piece of gun safety legislation about three decades, President Biden was interrupted by one of the attendees Manuel Oliver a father whose son was killed during the 2018 mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Today's many things was proof that despite the naysayers, we can make meaningful progress on dealing with gun violence.


BIDEN: Because make no mistake, sit down you'll hear what I have to say. If you think --

OLIVER: You have to do more than that. You have to open an office in the White House. Name a director (INAUDIBLE). I have been trying to tell you this, for years, (INAUDIBLE) We have to do this.

BIDEN: We have one. Let me finish my comments.


BIDEN: Let him talk. Let him talk. No one -- OK?


COOPER: In his remarks, President Biden said that had this law been in place years ago, quote, lives would have been saved. He also said that more needs to be done.

In Uvalde, Texas today county commissioners unanimously passed a resolution asking the governor to raise the minimum age for purchase of the assault style rifles. Also committee in the town It's just legislature investigating the mass shooting and police response as it hopes to release a preliminary report as well as surveillance footage from inside the school.


CNN's Shimon Prokupecz recently spoke with mothers of several the children who survived plus one of the children. We want to warn you what you're about to hear is graphic and difficult to hear.


KASSANDRA CHAVEZ, MOTHER OF AJ MARTINEZ: He said he just saw that the shooter come to the door and told us teacher goodnight and shot her. And then he then he just announced, are y'all ready to die and just went crazy.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Kassandra Chavez, Azeneth Rodriguez and Jessica Orona, mothers of children who survived the Robb Elementary shooting, life will never be the same.

CHAVEZ: I know what they endured those hell 77 minutes. They shouldn't have.

PROKUPECZ: Teeth scattered on the floor, pools of blood so thick to a child that looked like red Jell-O. These moms see the pain of that day live on through the eyes of their sons.

JESSICA ORONA, MOTHER OF NOAH ORONA: One of the little girls that he was laying by, you know, all he could hear was her gurgling because she was trying to breathe, but she couldn't because you know, she was shot and you could just hear her, you know, choking pretty much.

PROKUPECZ (on-camera): He told you that? And there's nothing.

ORONA: And nothing that they could do.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Witnesses to one of the country's worst school shootings and victims of a failed police response.

For these mothers guilt, regret, frustration now the realization that healing will be a long and difficult process.

ORONA: He could be fine one minute, and then another minute totally, you know, change of moods.

PROKUPECZ (on-camera): It's just differently.

CHAVEZ: It's like, a switch that kicks on in them like --

ORONA: Immediately.

CHAVEZ: And, you know, we can be something that we miss said to them. Or, you know, something drops or, you know --

ORONA: A smell.

CHAVEZ: -- a smell like this.

ORONA: We were actually barbecuing the other day. And it's like, what did -- what does that smell that burn and I was like, what is wrong? And he just said, I smell that smoky smell and that's the way we were in the classroom. Yes. Because it was, you know, smoky in the room, and that's what it was at the gun all the gunpowder.

AZENETH RODRIGUEZ, MOTHER OF JAYDEN CANAZELAS: I feel like my son's not going to be normal for several years, because he's going to remember what happened that day. And it's going to stick to his head for the rest of his life.

PROKUPECZ: Azeneth Rodriguez's 10-year-old son Jayden hid under a table in room 112.

JAYDEN CANAZELAS, SURVIVOR OF ROBB ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SHOOTING: Me and my friend were scared and we didn't want to talk for nothing. And we have recovered our ears. So we won't hear the gunshots.

PROKUPECZ (on-camera): You cover your ears when you're hearing a lot of gunshots?

CANAZELAS: Me and my friend and I have a lot of space. So we just tried not to move, so he won't see us.

PROKUPECZ (on-camera): And were you wondering what was going on? Why you had to be there for so long?


PROKUPECZ (on-camera): What were you thinking?

CANAZELAS: I was thinking what was going on? And I wanted to see but I didn't want to the gun -- the gunman see me.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Seven weeks after the attack, parents in Uvalde are still begging for clear answers. They want to know why police waited in the hallway outside the classroom, while their children would terrorize for more than an hour by the gunman.

CHAVEZ: He's like mom, I heard him outside mom. They were yelling and telling the shooter to come out. He was talking and laughing to himself walking around. And whenever he heard, I don't know what little girl was called out. Officer, like when an officer called out. She's like, oh man here. He went and shot her.

PROKUPECZ (on-camera): So the police were close enough to the door where your kids can hear them.



PROKUPECZ (on-camera): And the girl answers back, we're in here.


PROKUPECZ (on-camera): And then he kills her.


PROKUPECZ (on-camera): And the police that were going.

CHAVEZ: There were still lives that could have been more saved. They would just gotten there faster, who just gone in. Like you wear a badge, you have a gun.

RODRIGUEZ: They shouldn't be scared.

CANAZELAS: When they got there, they were still outside waiting for a little bit. And I was telling my friend, I was whispering to my friend I was falling asleep.

PROKUPECZ (on-camera): Is there anyone in particular you this?

CANAZELAS: My cousin Rojelio and my best friend Jayce.

PROKUPECZ (on-camera): They die? You miss them. What kinds of things would you guys do together?


CANAZELAS: When we would have recess, we would always play together and play hide and seek or tag.

PROKUPECZ (on-camera): Do you feel comfortable talking about what happened? And is it helping you? Yes.

CANAZELAS: I feel that we're happy because my friends are (INAUDIBLE) my friend and my cousin are in a better place.

PROKUPECZ (on-camera): In a better place, where?

CANAZELAS: In heaven.


COOPER: Shimon Prokupecz joins us now. I mean, I don't even know what to say we've, you've been covering this now for weeks and talking to, you know, so many family members. I just cannot believe the disrespect shown to these family members and the survivors by law enforcement officials, by the district attorney, it is stunning to me that we are watching this cover up in real time and have been, thanks to your reporting and others for you know, for weeks.

PROKUPECZ: Forty eight days, right. It's about 48 days since this happened, I was counting today on the calendar. I can't believe that we still don't know what happened here. And so we have to go to the families of the survivors and the kids to know what happened inside that classroom and get these horrific details, because the law enforcement officials haven't apologized. You know, the politicians out there who are really -- it's becoming a game of politics now. It's really that's what the community feels have not apologized to what happened here to these families.

And so we're forced to go to these poor families who are suffering in so many different ways financially, you know, this has been such a burden on them, just the price of gas, having to take their kids for physical therapy, for therapy, you know, little things that we all kind of take for granted. It's now costing them so much money, and they need help, they need the resources. And that's partially why they're speaking out. But they also feel that it's important that the country understand what happened inside that classroom, of how this gunman was allowed to terrorize their kids for 77 minutes, their kids could hear police officers outside the door, asking you if they need help, and then they heard more gunshots and one of the kids in there killed.

So they're still, you know, Anderson, it's been a rough week, you know, we've been talking to so many family members and they're going through a lot. And, you know, we're just lucky enough to be able to you know, in some ways, you know, sadly they've trusted us right and we are able to tell their stories and these are important stories to tell because change needs to happen and something like this can never ever, ever happen again where law enforcement officials stand outside and do nothing. And we have to fight for information. Still to this day we don't really have a full account Anderson of what happened.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, it's -- yes, as I said, I don't -- I've never seen a situation like this where, you know, usually it takes a few hours for police to come forward and say, OK with accurate you know, relatively accurate information and we know first reports that are you know, and then they correct themselves the next day when things are clear. But I mean 40 -- more than 40 days it's just shocking and I appreciate you still being there working on, you know, working this and trying to get attention on it because we cannot let up on this.

Shimon Prokupecz, really appreciate it.

Up next, mourners gathered from the former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's funeral as investigators revealed new details on the suspect in his assassination.



COOPER: There are new details tonight on the investigation to the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, tied to the suspect as mourners gather for his funeral.

CNN's Kyung Lah reports now from Japan.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At a Buddhist temple in the heart of Tokyo, the body of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived for a two-day funeral ceremony. A line of mourners with flowers, pause and pray. A Japanese public to whom gun violence is almost unheard of struggles to comprehend.

I'm still so shocked, says (INAUDIBLE), why did this happen to Japan? Answering the why begins with alleged assassin Tetsuya Yamagami. Police say the 41-year-old Yamagami plan for weeks ahead of the shooting. Police recovered multiple handmade pistols from Yamagami's home, crude weapons made from iron pipe and adhesive tape. NHK reports, Yamagami told police he built them by watching YouTube videos. Days ahead of the murder, NHK citing police sources say Yamagami practice shooting in the mountains. Officers also recovered wooden boards with bullet holes and the suspect's car. The day before, police say, he practice shooting against a building in Nara. As Abe began his speech on the street, a news camera caught Yamagami standing with the crowd listening. The next time we see Yamagami. Two shots were fired.

Officers tackled Yamagami to the ground armed with his homemade gun. Police say Yamagami held a grudge against a group he believed the former Prime Minister had ties to. The group has not been named to police by CNN. But Japanese local media report that the suspect told police his mother was involved with an unnamed group and made a large donation that messed up his family life. NHK reports, Yamagami also held the belief that Abe's grandfather, a former prime minister himself had expanded this unnamed religious group years ago.

The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification widely known as the Unification Church held a news conference denying those allegations. But told reporters that the suspect's mother was a member of their church. CNN has not been able to reach the suspect's mother directly to confirm this.

We struggled to understand why this suspect killed former Prime Minister Abe due to any resentment towards our organizations, says the church president. He acknowledged that he was aware that the suspect's mother had financial difficulties around 2002, but he didn't know why or the impact on the family. The church pledged to cooperate with police.


Among the mourners gathering in Japan's capital, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We saw in him something rare, a man of vision who has had the ability to realize that vision.

LAH (voice-over): A towering political figure globally and at home, a country begins to bid farewell.


LAH: It is late morning here in Tokyo and the funeral is scheduled to begin in just a couple of hours. It is going to be a private ceremony for family and close dignitaries. But there is an area for the public to pay the respects. And we've seen this Anderson for the last couple of hours, members of the public carrying flowers carrying notes. As I walked the grounds of the temple this morning, I even saw a note that said, Thank you, Prime Minister. I will never forget you. Anderson.

COOPER: Kyung Lah, appreciate it. Thank you.

Up next, the very first public image from the James Webb Space Telescope and what an image it is. Why astronomers and cosmetologists are over the moon about it.


COOPER: Somewhere tonight Albert Einstein is smiling and so were astronomers and cosmologists and cosmetologist, too, which is what I said before the break. And I'm sure that there's a lot of cosmetologist who are very excited about this as well, but I did mess that up in the last segment.


The people at NASA are excited and President Biden certainly was when he unveiled the first image from the James Webb Space Telescope. Those points of light you see are some of the very first galaxies to form in the universe billions of years ago. What you see, by the way, is from a speck of sky as small as a grain of sand held at arm's length, my mind is exploding. And the blurring and stretching you see in some of the galaxies that is actually their light being bent by all the massive galaxies between them and us.

Gravitational lensing, a key prediction of Einstein's theory of general relativity something to make even Einstein smile. And I have to do more research to understand what that all means.

The news continues. Want to hand over Laura Coates in "CNN TONIGHT." Laura.