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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Kansas Voters Defeat Measure To Strip Abortion Rights From State Constitution, Trump-Backed Election Lie Supporters Thrive In Other States; Sources: Cipollone, Deputy White House Counsel Subpoenaed By Federal Grand Jury; Interview With Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); Kansas Voters Reject Restrictions In First Test Of Abortion On Ballot Since Roe Overturned; Sandy Hook Family Attorney Exposes Alex Jones' Dishonesty During Brutal Cross-Examination; County Sheriffs Vowing To Stop The Nonexistent Steal. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 03, 2022 - 20:00   ET



CARROLL (on camera): Well, Erin, as you just heard there, the feelings of betrayal are deep and run very deep in these border communities. Many of these people remember when Russian troops marched over the border into their villages. That is why the sense of betrayal is likely to last long after the war is over -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Jason, thanks so much. We were seeing those Belarusian cigarettes in people's houses, those Russians had left. They did indeed come from Belarus.

Thank you so much to Jason.

AC 360 starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening.

Tonight, we have some major new developments in the January 6 criminal investigation. The former administration's top White House attorney, Pat Cipollone, who allegedly warned about dire consequences for key aspects of the former President's election scheme is now facing the prospect of appearing before a Federal grand jury and he is not the only one.

Also potential fallout from those missing Secret Service text messages on and around January 6th, late word that the agency might temporarily disable texting on employee phones while it fixes gaps in how it retains these messages.

First, though, that could be a far reaching -- or what could be far reaching repercussions from primary elections in five States last night. In deep red, Kansas, a ballot measure to strip abortion rights from the State Constitution lost by a wide margin. Here is President Biden today hailing it as a bellwether for November.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In a decisive vote, a decisive victory, voters made it clear that politicians should not interfere with the fundamental rights of women, and the voters of Kansas sent a powerful signal that this fall, the American people will vote to preserve and protect the right and refuse to let them be ripped away by politicians.


COOPER: Well, tonight, we'll look closer at whether that is likely to be the case based in part on who turned out in Kansas and what polling reveals about how potent abortion could be as a voting issue in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

Now, another big takeaway from last night, the former President's clout and the whole 2020 election denialism still has on the Republican Party.

In Michigan, Congressman Peter Meijer, another one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him lost to an election denier named, John Gibbs. Democrats spent hundreds of thousands of dollars boosting Gibbs' ties to the former President in an effort to make him their opponent in the fall. Mr. Gibbs was hardly the only election denier in the ballot last night.

Arizona Republicans nominated a whole slate of them, and truly in keeping with what the man from Mar-a-Lago said on election night, 2020, Kari Lake candidate for governor declared victory last night in a race CNN has yet to call even now.


KARI LAKE (R), ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: There is no path to victory for my opponent, and we won this race. Period.



COOPER: She leads now, she has not won yet. However, election deniers have won the Republican nod for a US Senate seat, Attorney General and Secretary of State Arizona's top election official.

As for conservative Republican Statehouse Speaker, Rusty Bowers, who refused to help overturn 2020 election results, he lost his State Senate nomination bid to a supporter of the former President.

So there is plenty to talk about with our panel, CNN political director David Chalian; former Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock; also CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, David Urban, who served as a campaign adviser to the former President.

David Chalian, what does the result in Kansas tell you?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it tells me that all the polling we saw nationally, Anderson, after Roe v. Wade was overturned, actually that bore out to be true in this first electoral test.

It is widely unpopular what the Supreme Court did and it motivated people to turn out for record numbers in an August primary. I mean, more than 900,000 people voted in this Kansas contest, nearing the kind of turnout almost that the 2018 gubernatorial election had in Kansas in November of that year.

What it does not tell us though is that abortion is somehow going to replace the economy or inflation as the number one driving issue in November, which it is likely to be. But this is a proof point. It's a proof point for Democrats that the overturning of Roe can be a mobilizing factor for their supporters.

And it's also a proof point for why you hear Mitch McConnell and other national Republicans urging their Republican candidates, focus elsewhere. Talk about the economy and inflation. Don't talk about abortion.

COOPER: Congresswoman Comstock, the margin of victory for abortion rights supporters in Kansas actually exceeds the margin of victory the former President had in Kansas in 2020. Again, a very red state to begin with. What does that tell you?

BARBARA COMSTOCK, FORMER US REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I think it tells you that extreme Republicans or extreme positions are not winners. I mean, we know that Donald Trump, when he was in office, he never won the popular vote.


He lost the House, he lost the Senate, then he lost those two Georgia seats and you know, he's continuing, I think to lose. He is going to lose seats for Congress this year, and he's going to lose Governors' seats.

So I think when you look at some of the election deniers that are lost, I mean, that won the races last night that are winning primaries, people like, you know, he bumped off Peter Meijer in Michigan, and now that seat is ranked, a lean Democrat seat.

So I mean, while the Democrats helped Donald Trump with that, I think now we risk losing, not only did we lose and Peter Meijer, a great Congressman, who was independent, a veteran, somebody who was, you know, independent minded, we now have an election denier who, you know, I certainly hope will lose, and we don't need to have him in Congress.

But really, both Democrats and Republicans deserve to lose and then when you look at Arizona, that whole ticket, that whole Republican ticket deserves to lose, and I know, you know, David Urban has got Pennsylvania, but that ticket is a disaster.

Whether it is Mastriano or Oz, I'm a Republican, but my Republican family in Pennsylvania does not want to vote for that ticket. COOPER: David Urban, let me ask you, I mean about, in Kansas, I mean, obviously Democrats --


COOPER: Democrats didn't get the win in Kansas on abortion rights on their own. They obviously had to have help from Republicans who voted to keep abortion protections.

David Urban, how much of a reality check do you think this might be for some in the GOP?

URBAN: Yes, look, Anderson, I think it's a wake-up call, right? As you pointed out, 14 of these counties in Kansas, which went overwhelmingly for Trump, right, by 20 points, they supported this, excuse me, they voted down this complete ban on abortion by 14 points. That's a 34- point swing, right? If you're thinking about it, right.

You're voting for Trump, but you're voting against this complete ban on abortion. So you can be very Trumpy and just not for a complete ban on abortions.

You know, I would be careful not to extrapolate too much, however, because this is a single, you know, bipolar issue, either -- you know, it's either yes or no. And when you're looking at candidates across the United States, whether it's for Governor, Senator or Congress right there, you're voting on a personality and a myriad of issues as well. Right? Not just not just are they going to be pro-choice or pro- life.

And McConnell and others are correct in urging people to speak about things that are the top of the list, right?

YouGov did a poll just recently, and it showed that of all issues that Democrats care about, abortion is not even at the top of that. So inflation, the economy, lots of issues to talk about that people are concerned about this fall that rank far higher than abortion, and I think Republicans would be smart to focus on those.

COOPER: David Chalian, as we mentioned, election deniers in Arizona, a big night. What does that say about former President's grip on the Republican Party? And also, where the Republican Party goes in the safety of elections in Arizona moving forward?

CHALIAN: You know, it says in a place like Arizona, Donald Trump's grip on the Republican Party, the Republican primary electorate is still pretty strong.

You have an entire slate of election deniers who are waiting for that result in the gubernatorial contest to see if Kari Lake does emerge victorious there, but you have a potential full slate of election deniers in a key battleground state, one of whom, Fincham who is the Secretary of State nominee, if he ends up being the Secretary of State, he is going to have oversight over the way elections are conducted in this critical battleground state and he has a total disregard for the truth when it comes to the 2020 election. That goes beyond just Trump's grip on the party and presents a real problem to the democracy overall.

COOPER: Congresswoman Comstock, how concerned are you about the next Governor? And to David's point, the Secretary of State in Arizona?

COMSTOCK: Well, I don't think it will be Kari Lake. I think she will lose, but I think Republicans need to wake up because they should have been in here, people like Mike Pence and Republicans who went in and, you know, supported Lake's opponent, you know, just a few weeks ago, they should have been in there a long time ago and appeasing Donald Trump, and his, you know, conspiracy theories, this has gone on way too long.

And, you know, trying to tiptoe around it, we can't be playing, you know, being Neville Chamberlain to Donald Trump's conspiracies and trying to humor him.

We've got to deal with this cancer that is Donald Trump on the party, and we've got to cut it out. I mean, he is just killing the party. And I think unfortunately, we're having a situation like we had with the Christine O'Donnell's, and with the Todd Akin's and with the Richard Mourdock's, which unfortunately, Republicans are going to have to lose winnable races like in Pennsylvania, like in Arizona, we're going to have these bad candidates and until they hit the wall and lose these races, they're not going to wake up.

And there already are a lot of Republicans who are supporting Democrats because of these disastrous candidates that Donald Trump is forcing down their throats and people are just sitting back and saying "Oh gee, well, you know, we've got to humor the guy." Stop humoring him. He is killing the party.


COOPER: David Urban, I mean, with the successful election deniers in Arizona, again, still some results to come in, do you think there are going to be more Republican candidates running on the lie that the 2020 election was stolen in the midterms? And in the next presidential cycle?

URBAN: Listen to election integrity issues are a concern for everybody, right, Anderson? In terms of -- if people on --

COOPER: Let him answer. Let him answer. Let him answer.

URBAN: Barbara, you haven't even heard what I have to say, so just relax for a second. Okay?

So you know, whether it's on the right -- why are people voting for these people, right? That's a concern. Right?

So if people on the right and left people don't believe that there's a -- listen, I'm just saying, Barbara, that people clearly believe, in the Republican Party, they believe that there's a problem with election integrity, and they're voting for people that you might not support, but they believe wholeheartedly, that they're in the right. So to the extent that those -- that people on both sides of the political spectrum don't trust the election process, it's a real problem. It is a real problem that this country needs to address.

And Barbara, I'm not supporting it, I'm just saying that we need to figure out and be able to talk to those people to get them back to the center, get them back to reality perhaps, right?

COMSTOCK: So he has to stop lying to them.

URBAN: If the people on the left --

COMSTOCK: They have to stop lying.

URBAN: Well, Barbara listen. So Barbara, Barbara. Barbara, listen. So for many years, I've been on this network, right, for the first couple years of the Trump administration where the Democrats pushed forward, you know, a Russia collusion that somehow the 2016 campaign, the campaign of the Republican Party didn't win. You have Stacey Abrams in Georgia never conceding.

So it's not, you know, it's not just the Republican Party, it is not just people on the right.

COMSTOCK: David, it's not the same. It's not the same. Donald Trump was last week in Washington saying he won the election and Republicans were there clapping, a whole group of them.

COOPER: Well, David Urban, because you've been interrupted, I just want you to have the last thought and we've got to go.

URBAN: Listen, Barbara, I am not clapping and I need your folks in Pennsylvania to vote for Mehmet Oz, so please have them turnout.

COOPER: Well, two David's, Thank you. Barbara Comstock, as well. Appreciate it.

Ahead tonight, what Senator Elizabeth Warren makes of the Kansas abortion vote in which she thinks it signals for Democratic chances of holding Congress in November. I will talk to her live ahead.

And next, why the Secret Service, which is already facing tough, legitimate questions about missing text messages from on and around January 6th, could be about to take a drastic step because of those concerns.

And the former President's White House Counsel called before a Federal grand jury, he told the House Select Committee a lot, but wouldn't tell all why he might tell the grand jury more and why a Judge could compel him to if he tries to refuse.



COOPER: More now on those important developments involving the investigations into January 6th that we mentioned at the top of the broadcast.

The first, sources telling CNN that the Secret Service may disable text messaging on employees' phones. Fallout from what has turned into a criminal investigation to how some agents text messages surrounding the period of January 6th were deleted despite being requested by lawmakers investigating the attacks.

Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment, the Secret Service declined to comment. The development comes after a significant escalation of the Federal criminal investigation as well.

CNN has learned that the man who Liz Cheney said tried to do it was right, former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone has been subpoenaed by a Federal grand jury. What is more, sources also tells CNN, the Deputy White House Counsel, Patrick Philbin has also been subpoenaed.

Both men have already testified for the House Select Committee.

I want to talk about it all with CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, a former Federal prosecutor. So what does it signal? Would Pat Cipollone say more to a Federal grand jury than he would to the January 6 Committee?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he'd have to be forced to because he obviously made a certain set of requirements that he would talk about certain things, but not others to the January 6 Committee.

But the Federal prosecutors will want to know more, especially about his conversations with Trump, because after all, remember, Donald Trump is someone who doesn't text, who doesn't use e-mail, so the only way to determine his intent, which is obviously a central issue in this criminal investigation is through the testimony of people who were speaking to him and no one was talking to him about more important subjects than Cipollone.

COOPER: I mean, I know we've endlessly talked about these executive claim privileges, some of them phony, some of them not. How does that get adjudicated? Who decides?

TOOBIN: It will just go -- it will go through the courts, and it is not just executive privilege here. It's also attorney-client privilege, because even though he is a government lawyer, the Courts have held that there are certain aspects of attorney-client privilege that attach when it's a government -- when it's a government lawyer.

So it's actually a serious, complicated legal issue about what he can testify about. There is also the issue of a crime fraud exception, which would allow him to testify, but that's going to have to go to the Courts.

January 6 Committee, obviously, was really running out of time, because they're going to be done by Election Day. Justice Department is a little bit longer, but this could take months. COOPER: What does it say about where the Federal government is on, where the Department of Justice is on this? I mean, it seems like they have been calling people or at least more publicly calling getting people.

TOOBIN: Yes, I mean, this is a really big deal, the change in the Justice Department investigation. Remember, there was criticism for months and months that the Justice Department was simply prosecuting, you know, the people who were trespassing in the Capitol, hundreds of people, but essentially all low level people.

Now, it is a hundred percent clear that this is an investigation inside the Oval Office of Donald Trump. Whether that leads to an indictment, I certainly do not know.

COOPER: Do they have enough personnel for this? I mean, I know Garland said this is like the biggest thing the Department Justice has ever done?


TOOBIN: It's really just an amazing demand on the Justice Department services. They have brought prosecutors in from around the country. I mean, remember, you're talking about almost a thousand cases, just at the Capitol alone. Bringing people in the grand jury when there's a pandemic where people can't sit next to each other in normal circumstances, it is very challenging.

But the Justice Department, I think, it is safe to say has done an amazing job with the Capitol rioters. Let's see what they can do with the Oval Office.

COOPER: The Secret Service text message thing. Now, the Secret Service says they may disable text messaging on employees' phones. I don't know, two sources familiar with the matter are saying that. Does it make any sense to you that -- I mean, this is all under the umbrella of the Homeland Security Department that the Homeland Security Department wouldn't know the importance of text messages from January 6th, I find terrifying.

TOOBIN: The key question on this whole text message investigation is incompetence or malevolence. The Secret Service is trying to make the case, "Please, please, we're incompetent. We can't even allow our agents to text message in 2022 because we don't know how our system works." I mean, that's a pretty appalling thought. But it is not an example of people intentionally trying to destroy evidence.

Someone outside DHS and Secret Service has to do this investigation because they are clearly not capable.

COOPER: Jeffrey Toobin, thank you. Appreciate it.

Coming up, more on last night's surprise out of Kansas. CNN's Harry Enten is going to join us to explain just how a red state like Kansas flipped to give pro-choice forces a major win. And I'll talk with Senator Elizabeth Warren, live, who grew up in neighboring Oklahoma about what this vote could mean for Democrats' chances in the midterms.



COOPER: More now on a red state like Kansas, which hasn't voted for a Democratic President since 1964, could hand pro-choice advocates a major win last night and what it could mean for Democratic and Republican turnout efforts for the upcoming midterm elections.

To do that, we turn to the one and only senior data reporter that we have, Harry Enten.

So how big a surprise was this in Kansas?


You know, I very rarely get shocked by results, but you know, if you look at the polling going back from 2012, and you said, okay, what percentage of Kansans believe that abortion should be mostly or always legal? What did you see? You saw that about 51 percent of them believed that it should be mostly or always legal, right?

Compare that to the vote that came in last night that basically said, we want the constitutional right to abortion in the State of Kansas. It is north of 58 percent right now.

So there's a huge gap between the two of those. You know, we always say 2016 had a massive polling error and Trump was able to win. The polling error last night in the State of Kansas was significantly wider than what we saw in 2016.

COOPER: What do you glean from voter turnout there?

ENTEN: Democrats were very enthused. Look, Republicans and Democrats relative to 2018, right, in the State of Kansas saw their turnout go up.

But in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, the turnout went significantly higher and compared to Republicans where the turnout wasn't nearly as high, right? So basically, we were looking at, I believe, a 76 or so percent turnout increase compared to 2018. On the Republican side, it was just 46 percent.

What's so interesting to me, though, Anderson is in all the other states, right, all those other primaries, Republican turnout was up not nearly as much as in Kansas, but the Democratic turnout had generally been down. So something very clearly changed and Democrats were really enthusiastic to come out and vote.

COOPER: What about, does it portend anything about abortion in other conservative states? ENTEN: You know, the line that I keep saying is if abortion folks can't win in Kansas, where can they win? And, you know, we can see that by the state rankings of people who believe that abortion should be legal.

There are only 17 states that are more anti-abortion, according to an average of polls than the State of Kansas; 33 states that are more pro-abortion rights than the State of Kansas. And given that the ballot measure went down to defeat the pro-abortion right side won by nearly 20 points, the question I have to ask is, if we put this ballot measure on a number of other States, I think outside of perhaps a few States in the deep red south, pro-abortion activists would win.

COOPER: What about abortion debate nationally? Does this affect it?

ENTEN: I think it does affect it, but more than that, you know, to me, the whole thing is we've been seeing in the generic congressional ballot since before there was the leak of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade that Republicans had an advantage, right? They had an advantage about three points on the generic congressional ballot.

What has happened since then? Now that generic ballot average is tie. It is very clear that something's going on because traditionally, Anderson, as a student of history, normally the generic ballot sort of drifts towards where the President's approval rating is and that's still south of 40 percent.

Something has changed, and in my opinion, what has changed is voters are seeing abortion right now and seeing it as one of their top issues. I believe, according to the polling, more people believe that abortion is a top issue for them than at any point in the last 40 years. And that, I think, is why we've been seeing the movement in the generic congressional ballot, and we saw that play out in Kansas last night.

COOPER: CNN's Harry Enten, appreciate it.

ENTEN: Thank you, my friend.

COOPER: I am joined now by a Democratic Senator, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Senator Warren, thanks for being with us.

I want to ask you first about this vote in Kansas. You grew up in neighboring Oklahoma, which now has a strict abortion ban. People from Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, they've traveled to Kansas for abortion services. What does the outcome in Kansas say about where this issue is headed in the midterms and beyond?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Well, I think this is about where we've been for a long, long time. The polls have shown across this country that Americans want to preserve access to abortion, and that they support Roe. And it is sometimes by small majorities and sometimes by big majorities, but that's where America is. The Supreme Court supported by Republicans in Congress, supported by Republicans in State Legislatures has become so extremist that voters are saying, "No, we've got to shut these guys down."

And now the threat on abortion, it is no longer theoretical. It's now real. We're not talking about something that could happen, we're talking about something that is happening, and that people truly across this nation feel threatened by what's happening.

So I think that's going to have a powerful influence. Roe versus Wade will be on the ballot in November.

COOPER: Prison Biden signed, as you know an Executive Order today aimed at safeguarding abortion access. He said ultimately, Congress must codify the protections of Roe as Federal law.

With the filibuster in place, obviously Democrats don't have the votes in the Senate to do that. Where does that leave you?


WARREN: We're at least this is we need to just count him. We just need two more senators, Democratic senators who are willing to get rid of the filibuster, who are willing to turn Roe into law all across this nation. And I just want to say, Pennsylvania, John Fetterman, I'm looking at you, Wisconsin, Mandela Barnes, I'm looking at you. There are two places where the difference between the Democratic candidate and the Republican candidate couldn't be clearer.

You know, this whole notion of contrast between the parties, Roe has just made that as extreme as the Republicans have become. The Republicans are now the party that say at the state level at the national level, if we give them power, they're going to ban abortions for everyone. The Democrats are saying that's not the America we want to be. We are not going to create second class citizens. And we sure as heck are not going to say the government is better at making a medical decision for someone who's pregnant than the person who is herself pregnant.

COOPER: As you know, in Michigan Congressman Peter Meijer lost his primary. He was one of the 10 House Republicans voted to impeach former president Trump last year. Democratic campaign leadership invested hundreds of thousands and propping up his right wing opponent. Is that an idea you like?

WARREN: No. Look, I just think that is extraordinarily dangerous. We should have understood in 2016, that having someone who seems outrageous and extremist is not an advance for our country. And actually, that person could end up winning, Donald Trump. But for me, this is really about, we don't have to do this. The Republicans are making clear who they are. They don't need us to help them. They're the ones out there saying not only no on abortion, they're the ones who are saying they're going to vote against any effort to deal with the climate crisis that's bearing down upon us. They're going to vote against any effort to reduce the cost of prescription drugs for seniors. They're just opposed to this, they're going to vote against negotiation of drug prices, they're going to vote against any effort to say that these billion dollar plus corporations should get away with paying zero in taxes.

This is truly an election where it's not muddled about who stands on what side. The Republicans have gotten so far, in a direction that is all about extremism, while the Democrats are still just trying to make this country work, and work for everybody. And I think that distinction is what we're going to be voting on in November. And, frankly, I feel good about the Democrats chances.

COOPER: Obviously Republicans are painting Democrats as the extremists. But I know you're focused on the major health care and energy bill has been endorsed by Senator Manchin, you're waiting to see whether the other sort of tough to convince Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is going to land on this. CNN is reporting that the bills proposed tax on corporations is one of the things she's questioning. And according to a source, she wants to get rid of the provision in the bill that closes the carried interest tax loophole, which is a loophole that benefits certain wealthy Americans, specifically investment managers.

Have you conveyed a message to Senator Sinema? Do you know where she stands right now? What are your thoughts on this?

WARREN: So look, I'm not going to talk about private conversations --

COOPER: I knew you weren't.

WARREN: But what I -- you knew wouldn't.

COOPER: I had to ask. But, you know.

WARREN: But, exactly. But let me just make clear of what we're talking about here. We're talking about a special tax break for rich people. We're talking about how folks who live in a little tiny very high tax bracket are able to pay taxes on their incomes at a lower rate than you know, the guy who runs the local restaurant. The gal who's the local computer programmer, Americans understand that's just not right. And what I really, really love about the direction we're going in with this bill, which I hope we're going to get through in the next day or two is that it really is a groundbreaker in terms of saying the rich people don't call all the shots on how we write tax laws.

Look, the Republicans back in 2017, what was their one big accomplishment? They cut taxes to the tune of a couple of trillion dollars for rich people and giant corporations. This bill is the inverse of that. It says carried interest, we're going to skinny up that loophole and don't have so much money going just to rich people. It also says these giant corporations, Amazon for example that make billions in profits and then turn around and pay zero or very little in taxes, we're not going to do that anymore. We're going to just leveled the playing field a little bit and think what that means to every small business that doesn't get away with paying zero in taxes, with every employee who doesn't get away with paying zero in taxes. And for every American who says, I just like to see that government works not just for the richest, but actually works for everybody. [20:35:40]

COOPER: And you think you can get this pass?

WARREN: We're going to take a big step in that direction. I think so. It's a good bill. And that's why we should be able. I should be clear, we won't get a single Republican vote, because it says giant corporations are going to have to pay a little more in taxes.


WARREN: It says we're going to cut drug costs for seniors, and it says we're actually going to reduce carbon emissions by about 40%. And the Republican view on that is no, no, no.

COOPER: Senator Elizabeth Warren --

WARREN: Democrats, we're going to get this done.

COOPER: -- I appreciate your time.

Coming up -- thanks so much appreciate it.

Attorneys in a Texas courtroom expose text messages from conspiracy spreader Alex Jones, which indicate he may have lied.



COOPER: In an Austin Texas courtroom today, a brutal cross examination of Infowar host and conspiracy spreader Alex Jones who is back on the stand in the penalty phase of a defamation case for calling the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School a hoax. He was the lone witness for the defense.

Our reminder this week the parents of six year old Jesse Lewis, who was among the 20 students and six adults killed in the attack, testified about the hell that Jones inflicted on them through lies about the shooting. Just these parents are asking the jury to award $150 million in damages. Now there's one of several defamation cases against Jones from Sandy Hook families. And today the parent's attorney grill Jones before the jury got the case.

CNN's Drew Griffin joins us with the latest.

So at the heart of the trial is obviously what Jones had said about what happened at Sandy Hook and what he now claims he believes. What did he testify to about today?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he tried to apologize. He said he does now believe as he has, since this case was filed pretty much that the shooting did happen, but he never can quite finish the sentence without adding a little conspiracy or a lie twist. In this particular case, he said, while I know this was real. I also know that the FBI covered it up, there was some FBI conspiracy, they knew about this in advance. He's been admonished by the judge to just stick to answering the question and reminded this is not your show, Mr. Jones, this is a court and you have to tell the truth. He just can't seem to do it even on the witness stand, Anderson.

COOPER: And I understand key moments they centered around Jones's text messages.

GRIFFIN: Yes. So part of the reason we are here is because Jones never fully cooperated with discovery in this case. And he in fact, said that he didn't have any text messages related to Sandy Hook which set up this moment for Mark Bankston, the attorney for Neil Heslin, the father of Jesse Lewis, who laid this bombshell on the court.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attorneys messed up and sent me an entire digital copy of your entire cell phone with every text message you've sent for the past two years, and when informed, did not take any steps to identify it as privileged or protected in any way. And as of two days ago, it fell free and clear into my possession. And that is how I know you lie to me when you said you didn't have to text messages about Sandy Hook. Did you know that?

ALEX JONES, INFOWARS HOST: I see. I told you the truth. This is your Perry Mason moment.


GRIFFIN: Perry Mason moment, he was caught in yet another lie. There was no explanation for that. And it certainly was mind blowing. We don't know exactly what the texts are yet, Anderson. But it was an eye opener.

COOPER: Drew, I want to bring in Elizabeth Williamson of The New York Times who was once again in the courtroom today. She's the author of a book I've read this wonderful Sandy Hook In American Tragedy In The Battle For Truth.

Elizabeth, can you describe what it was like in the courtroom today?

ELIZABETH WILLIAMSON, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think probably the most notable thing. And this has been sort of true since the beginning of the trial, which has now been going on for nearly two weeks is how uncomfortable Jones was. As the judge pointed out, this is not his show. He's a very mendacious person. He makes assertions that are not backed up by facts. And he tends to opinionate in answer to every question. So the judge repeatedly silenced him. And, you know, he was sweating like sweat running into his eyes going down the color of his shirt. I mean, this was just not a familiar environment for him.

And you know, Mark Bankston, the family's lawyer really underscored that by presenting him with several examples of instances in which he's lied under oath.

COOPER: There were some also awkward moments surrounding the judge I understand, Drew. GRIFFIN: Yes, outside of the courtroom, his show continues. And part of his shtick for this show is to say that this is a show trial, that there's a script that the jury and the judge are following. And he even has connected the judge to pedophilia in a bizarre way. That moment awkwardly was brought up, while Jones was on the witness stand today. And seated right to his left was the very judge that he was talking about on one of his shows.

Take a listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say, Mr. Jones, that you're taking these court proceedings seriously, you're approaching them in good faith. But the truth of the matter is, you've been broadcasting repeatedly a picture of our judge on fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection compound, Your Honor.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The person on the left of this image Sir Judge, correct.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The person on the right is another judge. You don't like Right?




GRIFFIN: I wasn't in the courtroom, but I heard the judge was chuckling about this. But you can see that must have been a very awkward moment for Jones to have his own graphic up there on the screen showing the judges face covered in flames.

COOPER: Well, I mean, Elizabeth, the jury was also able to understand to ask Jones questions today and here's one of the questions read by the judge. I just want to play this for our viewers.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you aware that this jury consists of 16 intelligent fair minded citizens who are not being improperly influenced in any way

JONES: Yes. I don't think that you are operatives, I don't think that you are part of a false flag. I don't think that you are bad people. I think you're good people. And I just am very, very critical about the whole process that I've been through so far. We're given the -- I believe everything over. And then I'm always told we didn't, even though we're seeing it. And so, that's why I'm really concerned. Because a lot has been misrepresented.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. You've wandered off the question.


COOPER: What do you think prompted that question, Elizabeth?

WILLIAMSON: So Anderson, if the judge was chuckling in the courtroom, the jurors definitely weren't, because Mark Bankston, the lawyer for the families presented evidence from his show where he was maligning the jurors saying that they were blue collar people who don't know what planet they're on and that they were deliberately chosen by his political enemies in order to rig the jury.

So, imagine them sitting there a couple feet away and seeing this broadcast on his show. That was why they asked those questions.

COOPER: I see. Drew Griffin, Elizabeth Williamson, I so appreciate talk to you about. Thank you.

GRIFFIN: Thanks.

WILLIAMSON: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Catch Drew special report on "ALEX JONES MEGAPHONE FOR CONSPIRACY," Friday night at 11:00 p.m.

Next, county sheriff who despite all evidence refuses to accept the outcome of the 2020 presidential election why he's not alone among law enforcement, when we come back.



COOPER: Given the number of election deniers who could get elected this fall, it is worth looking to members of law enforcement who might be called on to do their bidding coming elections.

As CNN's Sara Sidner discovered some of those sworn officers already acting on their own, conducting their own investigations despite all evidence on the 2020 vote.


SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside of Kansas City in the state's largest county, that chief law enforcement officer has joined ranks with people who refuse to let the 2020 election lie die.

CALVIN HAYDEN, SHERIFF, JOHNSON COUNTY, KANSAS: How many of you voted last in the 2020 election? Put your hands. And how many of you think your vote counted? See, this exactly why I'm doing what I'm doing. SIDNER (voice-over): That's Sheriff Calvin Hayden of Johnson County, Kansas just last month at a conference in Las Vegas, still questioning the validity of the 2020 election results, even though Donald Trump won his state by 15 points.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Repeat after me.

SIDNER (voice-over): The nearly two-year old certified vote where Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by 74 electoral votes and more than 7 million popular votes.

HAYDEN: There's a lot of stuff going around about what happened in this election. Quite frankly, I don't know. But I'm looking. And what we're looking at is we've got a whole lot of reasonable suspicion. And we're develop -- starting to develop some probable cause.

SIDNER (voice-over): He says he's assigned sheriff's deputies to investigate 2020 election fraud.

HAYDEN: It's a long drawn out investigation. And, frankly, they've got a lot more to do.


SIDNER (voice-over): That the top election official in Kansas during the 2020 election, Secretary of State Scott Schwab, a Republican.

(on-camera): Did you find any major voter fraud in Kansas?

SCHWAB: Not in our state. We do post election audits, and we were one of the few states that do the audit before the board of canvassers meet to make sure they have the appropriate data.

SIDNER (on-camera): Have there been any people who have filed reports of voter fraud with the Secretary of State's office?

SCHWAB: Yes, we've had about 12, but they were so nebulous.

SIDNER (on-camera): You had 12 about a dozen, complaints concerning potential voter fraud in the entire state to your office.

SCHWAB: To our office.

SIDNER (voice-over): We tried multiple times to talk to Sheriff Hayden to ask him to explain why he's spending taxpayer dollars looking into an election that has already been audited and certified. He declined. His spokesperson offered this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, we're still investigating that, it's an open investigation. And we're really not going to make any more comments on it.

SIDNER (on-camera): Turns out Sheriff Hayden is one of several elected sheriffs who say they're looking into mass fraud in the 2020 presidential election, something that has been widely debunked by secretaries of state across the country and dozens of courts. But their ideas are applauded, even encouraged by an organization they are all members of. The organization is the Constitutional Sheriffs And Peace Officers Association, run by a former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack.

RICHARD MACK, FOUNDER, CPOA: Our biggest concern now at the CSPOA is election fraud.

SIDNER (voice-over): That was Richard Mack at the conference he puts on in Vegas, he has formed a whole dues paying organization around the idea of constitutional sheriffs who he says should not enforce laws they deem unconstitutional, even if passed by legislatures.

(on-camera): Do you think that the 2020 election was fraudulent?

MACK: No one knows that. No one knows that. And people came out like William Barr, and said, oh, well, there could have been some fraud. But it wouldn't have changed the election. He's a liar.

SIDNER (on-camera): Secretary --

MACK: He is a liar.

SIDNER (on-camera): Secretary of State's from across this country have said we do know that there was not enough fraud to change anything, and --

MACK: They're lying.

SIDNER: -- hold on.

MACK: They're lying.

SIDNER (voice-over): His view on the attack on the Capitol.

MACK: And I said anybody that went broke into the Capitol deserves to be arrested. But what the FBI has done and the way they've been going after people and people are still sitting in prison without charges and without trials, and what they have done, oh my gosh it proves that the FBI will do anything they're told, they're a bunch of Nuremberg officers.


SIDNER (on-camera): You just compared the Federal Bureau of Investigation officers.

MACK: Yes.

SIDNER (on-camera): The rank and file.

MACK: Yes.

SIDNER (on-camera): To Nazis.

MACK: They just do what they're told. SIDNER (on-camera): It is real disturbing to hear someone who was in law enforcement to compare the FBI with the slaughter people, who slaughtered 6 million Jews and many other people.


SIDNER (on-camera): Do you see how that could create a really bad taste in people's mouth to hear a sheriff (INAUDIBLE) to say that.

MACK: No, no, no, no, no, you're taking that way too far, because this is what --

SIDNER (on-camera): (INAUDIBLE) you just compared them to --


SIDNER (on-camera): I mean. You made the comparison not me.

MACK: All right. Fair enough. But I will tell you why. Because the Nuremberg Trial brought up one particular point. And it's, you can't hold me responsible because I was just following orders.

SIDNER (voice-over): He says constitutional sheriffs won't and therefore sees an essential role for them in the electoral process.

MACK: I will tell you one thing, there is overwhelming evidence that cannot be dismissed. And all we're asking for is for sheriff's to conduct honest and fair investigations to determine if there is fraud.


SIDNER: Now, former Sheriff Mack contention that alleged January 6 rioters are in jail and have been sitting there uncharged as patently false. There have been hundreds of charges. Some people have decided to plead guilty, others not guilty, some are awaiting trial. There have also been many investigations into the 2020 election vote, including in his own home state of Arizona, there were official elections and there was also a partisan, a partisan look into this 2020 election. And both of them found one of them done by the alleged Cyber Ninjas or the so-called Cyber Ninjas in Maricopa County. They all found the same thing that Joe Biden won the 2020 election. Sheriff Mack though, not buying it, Anderson.

COOPER: I mean, I can't believe this person was a law enforcement officer. I mean, yes. Sara Sidner --

SIDNER: And he's teaching other law enforcement officers. Yes.

COOPER: Great. Sara Sidner thanks so much.

We'll be right back.



COOPER: That's it for us. Let's hand it over Laura Coates in "CNN TONIGHT." Laura.