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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Some DOJ Officials Want Public Statement On Mar-a-Lago Search; Magistrate Judge's Details Wiped From Florida Court Website Amid Right-Wing Backlash To Mar-a-Lago Search; Trump Pleads Fifth In NY Probe Amid Growing Legal Woes; One-On-One With Sen. Bernie Sanders; Sandy Hook Parent Neil Heslin In His First Interview Since The $49.3M Verdicts Against Alex Jones; TX & AZ GOP Governors Bus Migrant To NYC & DC In An Attack On Democrats' Immigration Policies. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired August 10, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It tells you what the regime is, it tells you about its character. It wouldn't surprise me, I think there are a substantial number of people who are vulnerable to these Iranian efforts, and unfortunately, I'm afraid we may learn more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: The suspect has not yet been arrested. He is currently wanted by the FBI.
Thanks so much for joining us. AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
Tonight, new reporting, Justice Department officials pushing the department to do the one thing he tries never to do and cause disaster the last time it did, namely, going public about an active investigation of a political figure close to an election, in this case, a former President who ironically benefited the last time the department strayed from that policy back in 2016 with its very public reopening of the FBI's Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation.
Now this latest development, which we'll bring you details on shortly comes only two days after he became the first current or former President ever to be hit with a search warrant. And just hours after becoming the first ever to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, which is a pillar of civil liberties, but which he used to say only mobsters do, until he took the Fifth and saying what only mobsters say whenever they're searched in this case, suggesting without anything at all, to back it up, that Federal agents planted evidence when they searched Mar-a-Lago on Monday, which then quickly became a Republican talking point.
Or in the case of Lindsey Graham -- Senator Graham, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, and who clearly should know better, just another toxic idea to smile and nod along with.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST, "JESSE WATTERS PRIMETIME": We know they doctor evidence. We know they plant evidence.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Jesse -- yes.
WATTERS: We know they hide evidence. We know they lie. We know they leak. I mean, this is not anything new. This has been -- this has been years they've been doing this.
We can't just say "Oh, you know, we're waiting for the guy to come out and give a statement about what is predicated? I mean, what -- these people are out of control, Senator. This country is that like -- we're on the edge of a cliff, man, I'm telling you, this country is at the edge of a cliff here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, again, that's a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a champion like the former President claims to be of law and order, law enforcement.
Just cast your memory back a couple of weeks ago to the former President's first time back in Washington, essentially, since the attack he incited on law enforcement, and it was billed as his law and order speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are living in such a different country for one primary reason, there is no longer respect for the law and there certainly is no order.
These are great people, Border Patrol, ICE and our police, of course, our police, all of our law enforcement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: "All of our law enforcement," he says, "great people" except for FBI agents who applied for the search warrant, whom he is now heaping scorn upon and whom his followers in Congress now threatening to defund and dismantle or drag before Committees if they win control in November. "Great people," except for the Federal Magistrate Judge who is thought to be the person who approved the Mar-a-Lago search warrant, whose identity is now being concealed because of threats on his life.
"Great people," in fact, except for any member of Federal law enforcement who might now be targeted for violence, because people like Steve Bannon are now inviting, if not inciting it with baseless allegations like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE STRATEGIST: I do not think it's
beyond this administrative state and their Deep State apparatus to actually try to work on the assassination of President Trump.
I think -- I think, everything is on the table. I think his security ought to be at the highest it has ever been.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So that's just a hint of the kind of darkness being spread with no evidence, no facts to back it up, all because a man who once swore an oath to uphold the laws of the land doesn't seem to like it too much when they apply to him. Even laws he himself signed, such as the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act, which may cover the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago the other day. That Act, which took effect January 19, 2018, it increased the penalty for unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material for a year in prison to five years.
That was the President who signed that -- President Trump.
We'll talk about that in a moment with conservative Attorney George Conway.
There is also new word tonight in "The Wall Street Journal" on what led up to the search. So, there's that to talk about as well. First, though, we begin with the pressure inside the Justice Department to say something about the search.
CNN's Evan Perez joins us now with more on both. So, what are you hearing from those inside the Justice Department in regards to the search on the former President's home?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, look. I think you can hear a lot of frustration from officials that because the Justice Department is not saying anything, it has left the void to be filled by Donald Trump and some of his allies, which is what he has done. Obviously, he did this during the Mueller investigation and he is doing it right now.
He has called what happened on Monday a siege. He, as you pointed out today, has suggested that the FBI may have been planting evidence while they were at the at the Mar-a-Lago property.
Again, you know, this is a search that was done by FBI agents who were plainclothes. They did not wear any of their typical raid jackets. They did this somewhere around 10:00 AM on Monday, not in the pre-dawn hours, as you often do these searches. They were trying to make this less of a spectacle. And instead, what has happened is the former President has taken this opportunity to make it obviously a political scoring point for him.
We hear from folks inside that they understand that the shadow of Comey looms large over the department, but because the former President has already gone out publicly and said everything, they believe it is time for the department to at least get the back of some of its agents who are, as you pointed out, now facing threats, because of the claims that are being made by some of the Republicans and the former President himself -- Anderson.
COOPER: Republicans who should know better, frankly. I mean, there is new reporting from "The Wall Street Journal" regarding the interactions between Department of Justice investigators and those in the former President's orbit in the weeks leading up to the search on Monday.
PEREZ: Yes. Absolutely.
One of the things that is really strange about this is we know that there are multiple -- there are several months of conversations that went back and forth between the Justice Department and the President's legal team, and according to "The Journal," one of the things that seemed to tip, the balance for carrying out this search was the fact that they had a witness or somebody who told the Federal investigators that they believed there were additional national security information documents that were being stored there in Mar-a-Lago against what the rules are.
And so that's the reason why they took this unprecedented action, which is to go in there and retrieve the documents themselves. Again, this is something that "The Journal" says, helped tip the balance to make this -- make the FBI go into Mar-a-Lago on Monday -- Anderson.
COOPER: So essentially, an informant tipped off the Department of Justice, about additional documents and where they were.
PEREZ: Right, exactly. And so --
COOPER: According to "The Journal."
PEREZ: According to "The Journal" right, and keep in mind, I mean, they knew -- we knew that the National Archives had retrieved 15 boxes, but there was disbelief. There were additional documents that were being stored there. We knew that they were having these conversations in June and in the months in between.
What "The Journal" is saying is that there was additional information from a witness that helped tell the agents essentially, "This is where it is. This is the reason why these documents are still there."
COOPER: Evan Perez, appreciate it. Thank you.
More now on the Federal Magistrate Judge in Florida, believed to have signed off on the search warrant and the potential danger he is facing. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan joins us now. He is in Las Vegas covering a cybersecurity conference. So, what are you learning about threats made against this Judge?
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, yes, we are seeing people openly on social media calling for violence against this Judge, calling for him to be killed, and so much so that I want to show you the webpage of the Court down there in the Southern District of Florida.
Up until last night, yesterday evening, that page that you see there, which is blank, it says "Access Denied" now. Up until last night, there was details about that Judge there, about his staff, about the address of the Court, contact details.
Sometime over the past 24 hours or so, it looks like the Court has actually taken those details offline. Why? Because there are so many people on social media, talking about violence against this Judge and looking for his -- where they can find him.
COOPER: How prevalent are these kinds of threats online?
O'SULLIVAN: You know, we've been looking through sites both kind of on the fringe that a lot of Trump users use also, of course, Trump's own platform, Truth Social and we're seeing a lot of these kinds of posts.
One thing that that has stuck out to me, I think is that not only are people posting what was the address of this Courthouse, but people have now started asking for this Judge's home address, and then just over the past hour or two, I was taking a look through even major platforms like Facebook and Twitter and I saw instances on both platforms actually, of where what purports to be this Judge's home address being posted.
Now, I did ask both Facebook and Twitter about those and those posts that we identified have since been taken down, but it just kind of gives you an insight, Anderson and to the degree that this is being shared online.
COOPER: Donie O'Sullivan, appreciate it. Thank you.
I want to get some perspective from conservative Attorney George Conway.
George, do you think the Justice Department should make some sort of a public statement about this search?
GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE ATTORNEY: I really don't think they need to say anything more than what their procedures are and what their processes are generally for the issuance of search warrants and the conduct of investigations generally.
I mean, I think the whole point of the rule of law is that the law applies equally to everyone applies to government officials and to private citizens. It applies to the rich and it applies to the poor. It applies to people who look like you and people who don't look like you.
And I think one of the issues here is that the reason why the government doesn't publicize search warrants is to protect the rights of the accused or the potential accused or the people who are being investigated. It's really for Donald Trump's protection that they went in there
quietly, and they executed a search warrant that's under seal. It really was for the protection of people being investigated in case it is determined that they are in fact, not guilty of any offense that might be potentially described in the search warrant application.
That being said, if Donald Trump truly believes that this is a witch hunt, and this was a fabrication by the government out to get him, well, he has a copy of the search warrant. He knows what materials were taken. He is by law supposed to be given a document that reflects the materials that were taken by the FBI. Let's see that.
He won't produce that for the very same reason he took the Fifth in this State Court deposition today. He knows it is not helpful to him.
COOPER: A lot of norms in the Republican Party obviously had been upended for a long time now, but the Republican Party traditionally touted its dedication to law and order. So have you been surprised at all to hear, you know, to see Lindsey Graham sort of smiling and nodding and agreeing with, you know, a FOX News host talking about planting evidence, and other Republicans who are sounding as if -- I mean, for obvious very political reasons. I'm not sure they actually believe it, but who are all backing the former President and his outrage?
CONWAY: Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he is a shameful, disgraceful, appalling coward. And he knows as well as anyone that it is ridiculous to assert that the FBI planted evidence here, okay.
And it was just a remarkable display, even for him of cowardice to just sit there and nod and say, "Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes." He knows better, and they all look better.
Today, it has become fashionable in the Republican Party, it is disgraceful and appalling to basically attack law enforcement when it is going after people they like, and to praise it when they go after people they don't like. That's not how the rule of law works.
And Lindsey Graham knows that as well as anybody, but he is too cowardly to admit it in this case.
COOPER: And there's also, you know, threats of Civil War from far right groups, the Republican lawmakers, comparing the FBI to the Gestapo, telling Americans "They're coming for you, too." It certainly seems dangerous for anybody to be using that kind of rhetoric, whether you're on the right or the left for whatever reason given the violence we saw on January 6th.
CONWAY: Right. I mean, we've had in the past Federal Judges killed, not that many, fortunately. And we've had, I remember, a couple of years ago, there was a Federal Judge in New Jersey whose family member was killed. We were starting to see the potential for concerted attacks on the judicial system.
And that kind of language, that kind of threat is one of the most dangerous things you can have in a democracy in a free country. It's one of the things that you see when democracies collapse, and we need to do everything we can to stand up for the Judges.
And remember, a lot of -- you know, on January 6th, the reason why Trump's attempted coup failed, was in part because of the judiciary, State and Federal Judges from coast to coast, Democrats and Republicans, including Trump appointees to the Federal bench, stood up and struck down Donald Trump's meritless claims that he was -- that there was election fraud.
And it's just more important than ever in circumstances that we find ourselves today, through the cowardice and the shamelessness of the Republican Party, that we stand up for the rule of law and stand up for the people who enforce the law and apply the law -- the Judges, and thankfully Congress, on a bipartisan basis added to the protection of the judiciary recently in response to the threat made against Justice Kavanaugh.
We need to do more of that and we need to make sure that anybody that these threats are investigated thoroughly, and the people who make them are prosecuted.
COOPER: Do you think this has really strengthened the former President's standing in the Republican Party?
CONWAY: I think it may have strengthened his standing among certain parts of the party. I think that again, what we're seeing is it provides another opportunity for people in the Republican Party to act like cowards and that's one of the reasons why the Republican Party has reached out the debased levels it has reached today.
That being said, I don't think -- I don't think for most Americans who don't support Donald Trump blindly, which is why Donald Trump lost by seven and a half million votes in the last election, I think for most Americans, they are going to be appalled by these threats to our democracy and to the judiciary and to law enforcement.
COOPER: George Conway, appreciate it. Thank you.
Next, more on the former President's testimony in a New York civil case against him, just a short trip from his Fifth Avenue apartment to his Fifth Amendment performance downtown.
And later, a conversation with Senator Bernie Sanders, his take on the Mar-a-Lago search and the so-called Inflation Reduction Act, ahead.
COOPER: And as we reported at the top, the former President sat for deposition with New York's Attorney General this morning in Lower Manhattan. He sat, but did not say much beyond invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, which is everyone's right, not just his.
That said, you would have thought it would be the last thing he may have done based on what he has said in the past. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The mob takes the Fifth. If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?
When you have your staff taking the Fifth Amendment, taking the Fifth, so they're not prosecuted. When you have the man that set up the illegal server taking the Fifth, I think it's disgraceful.
Have you seen what's going on in front of Congress? Fifth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, Fifth Amendment? Horrible. Horrible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Horrible then, his right now.
Joining us now, someone who has seen, heard, and well, seen it all when it comes to the former President, investigative reporter and Syracuse University law professor, David Cay Johnston, author of "The Big Cheat: How Donald Trump Fleeced America and Enriched Himself and his Family."
So, David, based on your extensive reporting on the foreign President's finances and business dealings and how he has comported himself in previous legal situations, I don't suppose you were surprised he took the Fifth today?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, LAW PROFESSOR, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: No, I think any competent lawyer would have advised Donald not to testify because Donald has a long history with skilled lawyers who get under his skin and then he says things that come back to hurt him. There's a Federal Judge who once found that his extensive testimony under oath was completely not credible.
So there is no lost to Donald by doing this with his followers and he has reduced exposure for whatever is coming down the road from the Justice Department and others.
COOPER: I mean, traditionally one might be embarrassed as a former President to be taking the Fifth, but that is something he is immune from -- embarrassment.
JOHNSTON: It is utterly shameful and tell Donald Trump unimaginable that a former President would rely on his Fifth Amendment rights against incrimination. But Donald is shameless. And that doesn't bother him one bit.
He has no sense of shame. And of course, Donald believes in his own mind. He's the only person who's competent, you know, all the rest of you. We're all idiots. And we should be bowing down to Donald and letting him run the country.
Remember when he was President, he said, when the President is in office, he is all powerful, which, of course, is nonsense.
COOPER: How high are the stakes of this civil case in New York compared to the other probes into the former President? Because there are obviously several investigations swirling around him right now, but this one involves his family business and to some extent, his adult kids.
JOHNSTON: Well, ultimately, Letitia James could petition to close Donald Trump's business, the Trump Organization -- kill the company. At this point, I'm not sure that that's terribly important to Donald given how he has moved on to being America's beggar-in-chief, and very successful at doing that. But more likely, there will be some settlement down the road.
Frankly, Letitia James has been rather feckless about this when the New York Manhattan District Attorney stopped his grand jury and his two top prosecutors -- she could have gone to the Governor and said, I'd like you to transfer the case to me and the Governor has unfettered power in New York to take any criminal case and give it to another prosecutor in the State.
Letitia James won't even answer the question: Did you ask for the case? So, I think she's been feckless in this. She has done a lot for publicity for herself, but her performance, not so much
COOPER: In terms of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. I mean, there is obviously -- look, a lot we don't know about the details of the warrant. To you, what are the outstanding questions about what material the former President might have taken with him? Because what -- I don't understand two things is why anybody -- I mean, obviously, why he would take classified material, if in fact he did. And why, I mean, given that this has been floating out there for a long time, why he would have continued to have held on to it, knowing if he did, that that was not something he was supposed to do. And why would he have that material?
JOHNSTON: Well, from Donald's perspective, in his entire life, he's almost never been held accountable for anything. And the few times he has been, he has paid a financial penalty and gone out about his way.
The other aspect you ask about, these are not insignificant documents. There's much too much classification of documents in Washington, no question about that. But his FBI Director, Christopher Wray, the FBI Director was appointed by Donald Trump. He didn't sign off on this over some mundane insignificant document.
There's something in those boxes that's very important. I'm sure not all of it is, but they've gathered a lot of material today. And this is national security material and let's remember that more than five years ago in May of 2017, Donald Trump, with no announcement invited Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Kislyak, the Ambassador and a TASS News "photographer" into the Oval Office and gave sources and methods -- that's the most closely guarded Intelligence secrets. How did we find this out? And who did we find it out from? Which
prompted governments around the world to put out stories in the newspapers in their countries that we're not going to be so free with giving information to the US because we can't trust that Donald Trump won't expose our spies, our sources, our methods.
COOPER: David Cay Johnston, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
Coming up, we're going to get reactions to the latest developments surrounding the FBI search of the former's President's residence from Senator Bernie Sanders.
We're also going to talk about why he decided to support the Democrats' sweeping healthcare and climate bill in spite of what he says are its flaws. That's ahead.
COOPER: Obviously, between the news details we reported tonight about the FBI's search of the former President's residence in Florida, as well as Democrats' busy legislative schedule ahead of midterm elections, it's been a very busy start to August on Capitol Hill.
I'm joined now by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders an Independent, who caucuses with the Democrats. Senator Sanders, good to see you.
On the Inflation Reduction Act, you gave a speech on the floor of the Senate, where you were very open about the flaws that you saw in this bill, yet you decided in the end to support it, why?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Anderson, this planet faces an unprecedented crisis in terms of climate change. And the scientists tell us that we got a few years to begin to turn around and transform our fossil fuel system, this bill and the best thing about this bill is it puts over $300 billion into sustainable energy and energy efficiency. And as a result of this, my hope and expectation is you'll see an explosion in wind, solar, and other forms of sustainable energy. And at this moment in world history, that is exactly what we've got to do.
On the other hand, I will tell you, given the enormous economic problems facing working families in this country, I was very, very disappointed that we did not go further in addressing the realities facing the average American, you know, we got a health care system, which is dysfunctional. We pay the highest prices in the world, for our health care and our prescription drugs. And we really did not make any significant progress in making healthcare, affordable housing, home health care, expanding Medicare, all the needs of the American people that they wanted us to act on --
SANDERS: -- unfortunately, we weren't able to go forward. COOPER: So, when it comes to provisions that were left out of the bill that eventually, you know, that eventually passed the Senate, what do you feel should be the top priority going forward? And just what was left out for you? Is that healthcare?
SANDERS: Well, there is something fundamentally absurd, when the United States is the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all people. We spend twice as much per capita, as do the people of other countries. And we have some 70 million Americans who are uninsured or underinsured. I mean, that's pretty crazy. The function of health care is not to make the insurance companies tens of billions of dollars a year in profit, the function of healthcare is to provide quality care to all people in a cost effective way.
So the fight in my view continues for a Medicare for all single payer program, guarantee health care to all people save people money. And that's what we should be done.
COOPER: I do want to ask you about this photo that the Los Angeles Times took you on the Capitol steps, is reported to be in the hour 13 of the so-called vote-a-rama that preceded the passage of the bill. Do you have any got a lot of a lot of people have talked about this? Do you have any recollection what you were thinking when this photo was taken?
SANDERS: Yes, I'm asleep. I was tired. That was the major thing. The second thing that I was thinking, you know, I wear a mask when I was on the floor of the Senate. And if you wear a mask for like 10, 12 hours in a row, it becomes a bit of a drag.
SANDERS: So I wanted to go outside with a staffer and breathe some fresh air and get some sunshine. That was the whole purpose as (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: Well I'm glad -- as someone as a shade dweller, I'm glad you're sitting in the shade, because, you know, too much sun is not good.
The midterm elections, obviously 90 days if the Inflation Reduction Act is ultimately signed by President Biden, Democrats, independents, like you caucus with them, will pass legislation on climate, drug pricing, guns, semiconductor, manufacturing and infrastructure. Do you believe making progress on those issues will help Democrats in the midterms?
SANDERS: I think it's a step forward. But I think we've got to be honest with the American people, for example, in terms of the prescription drug provision, and the Inflation Reduction Act, you know, Medicare is not going to be able to negotiate prescription drug prices with the industry for four years, and that it's only 10 drugs. And at the end of that period, if we do not change that legislation, we're going to still be paying by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. So to my mind, you asked me about the coming elections. And I think what Democrats have got to be honest about and go vote is like, look, we are fighting for working families who today are falling further and further behind. We have zero Republican support and taking on the insurance companies, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry, the big money interests, who are doing phenomenally well, why while working people are falling further and further behind. No Republican support. And unfortunately, we have two corporate Democrats who are preventing us from doing what has to be done.
So to my mind, Anderson, what this election is about is the need to get through three or four more progressive Democrats into the United States Senate so we can finally do what the American people want. You know, for years I've been fighting to expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision.
SANDERS: But 80% of the American people think that's a good idea. We got to build affordable housing, we got to do so many things. We need more progressive Democrats in the Senate to do that. So we're not stymied by two corporate Dems.
COOPER: I do want to just ask you before we go, in the last couple days, obviously, in the wake of the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, some of your Republican colleagues, we've seen them calling for investigations, the Department of Justice, calling for the Attorney General to resign or be impeached, just the FBI might have planted evidence. I know, you probably don't want to speak about the substance of the case. And I certainly understand that. But I mean, are you concerned about these attacks on the rule of law coming from Republicans?
SANDERS: Well, look, I have, and I think we should be honest about that. And make it clear that unfortunately, right now, and unbelievably, you have many, many Republicans, who are kind of giving up on democracy and want to move us into an authoritarian form of society. And Trump's big lie, this mythology that he actually won the election is part of that effort. So am I concerned, I am.
And it gets back to the point that I made a moment ago. I think that if Congress does not begin to respond to the pain that so many of our people are feeling, they're going to say, why do I want to believe in democracy? These guys, you know, take money from the rich, they ignore me. And if we're going to preserve American democracy, we're going to gain the respect of the American people, ordinary people, we have got to make it clear that we represent their interests and not just wealthy campaign contributors and the billionaire class. I think all of this is tied together.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
SANDERS: Thank you very much. COOPER: The victory won by two parents against conspiracy spreader Alex Jones. In a moment, I'll talk with Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He testified at the trial against Jones. He joins us here live in his first interview since the verdict to talk about his quest to in his words restore the legacy of his son Jesse.
COOPER: Tonight, I want to spent time with one of the parents of a child killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School who won a major victory against conspiracy spreader Alex Jones last week, Neil Heslin. After a long fight in a defamation lawsuit, a Texas jury awarded, the parents combined $49.3 million for compensatory and punitive damages. Now the $45.2 million in punitive damages could be adjusted down according to Texas State law. But it is a huge victory not just for Mr. Heslin, but also the parents involved in two more upcoming cases against Jones and was certainly a huge victory for the truth.
Heslin's son Jesse died almost 10 years ago on December 14, 2012, one of the worst mass killings in U.S. history and that horrific fact should never have been in contention. But Heslin testified last week, starting in about 2013 that he first heard about the conspiracy theories at Sandy Hook never happened. And that's about the time he says he also first heard the name Alex Jones. Later in 2017, Mr. Heslin appeared in NBC news segment that also included an interview with Jones about the conspiracy theories. Mr. Heslin's comments during the segment about holding his son after he had died with a with a bullet wound through his head were later picked up by Mr. Jones and associated on his broadcast. According to The New York Times, they essentially called Heslin a liar and repeated the lies about their never being a mass shooting. On the witness stand. Mr. Heslin was asked to go into detail about the wounds to his son. At the funeral, he says they were advised not to touch Jesse's head because it was so fragile.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEIL HESLIN, PARENT OF SANDY HOOK VICTIM: When it stated that Jesse's was fake that that is an indication that he didn't exist. And he did. He did. I was blessed with six and a half years. He spent more than one and a half times. My god. But I'm sure it shows days (INAUDIBLE) with Jesse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Mr. Heslin also testified because of Alex Jones. He's had people confront him in public with lies about Sandy Hook even to this day. Some he said have mentioned Jones's name a few years back, he said his home was shot at, somebody drove by his home shouting out the window Alex Jones, and he testified it sounded like gunfire coming from the vehicle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HESLIN: I can't even describe the last night and a half years of the living hell that I and others have had to endure because of the negligence and the recklessness of Alex Jones.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I'm joined now by Neil Heslin in his first interview since that verdict, also with U.S. attorney Mark Bankston. Thank you both so much for being with us.
HESLIN: Thank you.
COOPER: Sitting on that stand being in that courtroom, Alex Jones didn't have the guts to be there that morning, but you saw him in the courtroom in the days you were there. What was it like?
HESLIN: It was a great feeling to be finally be there which for over four-year battle and four-year wait to be there. And it was a good feeling. And it was a good feeling to finally see Alex Jones face to face. And --
COOPER: Does it make sense to you the lies he tells? Is it just about money for this guy?
HESLIN: I shitting in that courtroom for two weeks with Alex Jones, I got to know him just a lot better. I think a lot of it's about making the money, what he can make off of anything that's in the news, a lot of it is I think he just doesn't think about what he says if a thought comes into his head, and he just blurts it out.
COOPER: He doesn't care about the ramifications.
HESLIN: No, no.
COOPER: And know what it means (INAUDIBLE).
HESLIN: Clearly not. And, you know what, that there comes a lot of repercussions. You know, the recklessness for the people that are involved like myself, but then down the road, you know, he's paying the price for negligence and his recklessness now.
COOPER: And for you, this was all about your son, Jesse, and all about --
HESLIN: Yes, it was.
COOPER: -- his legacy. Could you just talk a little bit about him and why you why you wanted to pursue this in the way that you did, and sit on that stand and go through all that.
HESLIN: Well, which I felt it was something I had to do to protect his legacy. And Jesse is not here to do it for himself. If he was here, we wouldn't have been in there in that courtroom in the first place, I guess. But and, you know, protect my reputation and my credibility, which was severely damaged. And, there's just so many levels and so many rippling effects of from that, in the statement said, Jones and his lawyer made.
COOPER: For so many of the parents and Mark, I mean you know this, you've talked to a lot of them for so many of the parents of kids who were killed at Sandy Hook. I mean, their lives have not only been torn apart by the slaughter, the killings, but by the lies that had been told, and the people who believe this.
MARK BANKSTON, ATTORNEY REPRESENTING SANDY HOOK FAMILIES: Oh, absolutely. I mean, people have to remember, this is just the first of many, you know, Neil and Scarlett story was just the first story to be told. There are other parents with pending suits. I have two more lawsuits that we're going to be trying against Mr. Jones, there's lawsuit up in Connecticut with a lot of the Sandy Hook parents there and their lives really were turned upside down. Had been in this sense of torment for nine years now. And these cases really are bringing that to a head.
COOPER: This almost you, you almost lost your window of opportunity. I wish I hadn't realized until I was reading more about this. You were representing somebody else who Jones had falsely accused of the shooting. How did you get connected?
BANKSTON: What was interesting was actually a young man named Marcel Fontaine in 2018, was falsely accused of being the perpetrator of the Parkland Shooting by Jones, exactly. And they did it off of a, you know, taking an accusation off of a gutter website known as 4chan, and just ran with it to smear this poor kid around the world. When he first brought suit in March of 2018, that was when Neil called me and he said, look, I've been trying to find somebody who helped me sue Alex Jones, a lot of people tell me it's too much of an uphill fight. We don't want to do it. We just can't, you know, don't want to take it on. He said, I'm looking for a lawyer who helped me do it. And I said, you know, you found one. That was four years ago (INAUDIBLE) --
COOPER: But the window of time had almost closed --
BANKSTON: Almost closed.
COOPER: -- for which you could file.
BANKSTON: We had from the moment that Neil called my office, we had three weeks to get a lawsuit on file or the statute of limitations would have expired for his claims in Texas. At that same time, Lenny Posner and Veronique Dela Rosa (ph) also were brought in by Neil, and we were able to bring those suits in three weeks time have them on file, fully research, which of course required me in about two weeks time to digest about 150 hours of enforced (ph).
COOPER: And also the you got all the text messages sent to you by the attorneys for Alex Jones. And I mean, that's just a stunning -- it was like this Perry Mason moment.
BANKSTON: It's that's the words that came right out of his mouth.
COOPER: Yes, that's (INAUDIBLE) --
BANKSTON: I mean, those were -- those --
COOPER: Use a phrase Alex Jones use.
BANKSTON: But it was.
HESLIN: (INAUDIBLE) moment.
BANKSTON: It was out and it's funny, you now have an entire generation of millennials who are having to Google searching Perry Mason is, but that doesn't happen in civil courts, because that discovery process makes sure all the facts come out. But when you have a guy like Mr. Jones who thumbed his nose at the court and does disobey it's every order, those ticking time bombs are waiting.
So in 12 days before he hit the stand, those materials turned over to me and his attorneys failed to take the correct actions to protect them. We were able to prove on the stand that he was a liar.
COOPER: And I know you've handed them over and you're cooperating with a (INAUDIBLE). What do you want people to know about Jesse? I mean, the pictures are just -- what a beautiful boy.
HESLIN: I really want to want them to remember the six and a half year old little boy he was, he was full of energy. He was a fourth when he entered the room. He was happy-go-lucky. Just --
COOPER: That smile was incredible in this picture.
HESLIN: Yes. And also that he has action centers word saved nine of his classmates lives that day when the gunmen (INAUDIBLE) Jesse yelled to those kids to run and they did run and was his words and his actions that saved the life of those children. And it was brought to my attention year after by three of the parents or the runners, they thanked me for Jesse's actions, and (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: The loss is immeasurable. And I appreciate you, it's an honor to talk to you. And I'm sorry for all that you have been through, not only with the murder of your son, but with this sickening man that you've had to deal with ever since.
HESLIN: Yes, it was hard to do that trial, because I got emotional with it. And I, over the years, I've been able to process it and put so much of it in the back of my mind. And it's, it's in a pretty good place there, I do have you know, trigger points, things that come up and are said that, that bring him to, you know, to the front of your mind again. But that, that trial, it just opened everything back up again. And when I stated about holding Jesse and the gunshot wound, I've never said that publicly before. It was just flashbacks to that moment.
COOPER: Neil, the courage you took to sit there and to be in the same room with that person, it's extraordinary. Neil Heslin, thank you. HESLIN: Thank you. Well, you know, I -- one thing I said when I filed that lawsuit was akin to a knock down drag out fight in the Travis County Courthouse. That was what it was going to be. Alex started to fight and I was going to finish it on. And I did say that I would have -- I would deal with them face to face and --
COOPER: And you didn't.
HESLIN: -- I had words with him too. So once that happened, I wish, you know, I saw everything I set out to do was accomplished and we were in the trial and we had the positive outcome of the trial when it I feel really good, feel good to be back home. But it's I'm really good with it (INAUDIBLE). Thank you.
COOPER: Thank you so much, appreciate it.
Coming up, in an aim at Democrats immigration policies, dozens of migrants detained at the border (INAUDIBLE) in New York City on buses sent by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. We'll have more on that, ahead.
COOPER: Early this morning, New York City officials said an additional three buses with around 100 migrants arrived from Texas as the city struggles with a surge and asylum seekers as part of Texas Governor Greg Abbott's campaign to apparently draw attention to the influx of migrants crossing from Mexico. City officials in New York said intake centers already overwhelmed with more than 4,000 people since the surge began in May and New York City isn't the only placing an influx. Migrants from Texas and Arizona have also been bussed the nation's capital.
CNN's Priscilla Alvarez has detail.
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN IMMIGRATION REPORTER (voice-over): This is the scene in Washington D.C. as migrants arrive to the city from the U.S.- Mexico border. Republican governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona, both fierce critics of Biden's immigration policies began sending migrants to the nation's capitol earlier this year, as an affront to the administration. Now, Abbott is also sending them to New York City.
ERIC ADAM, MAYOR (D-NY): It's just a mean and cruel thing that he's doing.
ALVAREZ (voice-over): Migrants are placed on buses without plans for what happens when they arrive in these cities. It's led to a difficult humanitarian situation on the ground that's largely being addressed by shelters and nonprofit groups. Tatiana Laborde is the managing director of SAMU First Response, an international organization with offices in Washington D.C. The group has been trying to shore up resources to keep up with the pace of arrivals.
TATIANA LABORDE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SAMU FIRST RESPONSE: We don't have the capacity to read every bus we try to at least a half or more. We feed them, we give them a warm meal. We give them a hygiene kits. And we give them guidance on how to get to their next destination. We have shelter for up to 50 people, we prioritize women with children, and then we're able to do tickets for a percentage of them.
ALVAREZ (voice-over): Migrants on the buses have already been processed and are released in the United States while they go through their immigration proceedings. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has called in additional resources, including she hoped the deployment of the National Guard.
MURIEL BOWSER, MAYOR (D-WA): We have a growing humanitarian crisis that we expect that the federal government expects is going to only worsen.
ALVAREZ (voice-over): But the Pentagon declined that request, arguing it would negatively impact the readiness of the guard. The day's long journey originates from different points along the U.S.-Mexico border. Thirty seven buses have been sent to Washington D.C. from Arizona, carrying nearly 1,400 passengers and more than 100 buses have arrived to Washington D.C. from Texas. Abbott just began sending migrants to New York City last Friday.
(on-camera): Is the city under strain?
BRIANNE NADEAU, COUNCILMEMBER, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Yes.
ALVAREZ (voice-over): D.C. councilmember Brianne Nadeau says the district has assisted immigrants for years. But Texas and Arizona have overwhelmed the system.
NADEAU: Truly this is a federal issue that's being played out through political gamesmanship by Republican governors on the Border States.
ALVAREZ (voice-over): Abbott maintains his actions are in response to the administration's poor handling of the border. Adams has condemned the Texas governor's actions and recently issued an emergency declaration to procure shelter and other services.
ADAMS: I don't think anything being is more anti-American than shipping people on a bus 45-hour trip without any of the basic needs that they have a direction or coordination.
COOPER: It's not unusual for migrants to arrive in cities across the United States not like this where they're literally dropped off.
ALVAREZ: That's right, Anderson after they're released from custody, migrants often do go to multiple cities across the United States while they go through their immigration proceedings. But the lack of coordination in this case and communication with the cities is what is straining resources. Mayor Adams has said that he's in touch with the administration and the White House called the actions of both Abbott and Ducey both shameful and wrong.
In a statement, the White House spokesperson went on to say, as we have done many times in response to Governor Abbott's repeated attempts to create chaos and confusion at the border, we will work to manage the consequences of this latest political charade to including by continuing to support New York City and Washington D.C. through FEMA grant funding and more as we do in other locations.
But Anderson, Abbott has not shown any indication that he plans to stop the buses anytime soon.
COOPER: Yes, Priscilla, appreciate it. Priscilla Alvarez.
The news continues. Want to hand over Sara Sidner in "CNN TONIGHT." Sara.