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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Judge Orders Former Trump Election Lawyer To Testify In Georgia Criminal Probe; Republican Voters Choosing Extremists, Election Deniers In Key Election Races; Cheney Fighting To Keep Her Seat After Vote To Impeach Trump; Wyoming Voters To Decide If Rep. Cheney Keep Her Job Tonight; Wash. Post: Trump-Allied Lawyers Sought Voting Machine Data In Key Battleground States; First Lady Jill Biden Tests Positive For Covid; Pres. Biden Signs Landmark Domestic Bill; Polls Closing Soon In Wyoming, Cheney Fights For Political Life. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 16, 2022 - 20:00   ET


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AC 360 with Anderson begins now.



In less than an hour from now, polls will close in Wyoming where Liz Cheney, the Republican Vice Chair of the House January 6 Committee and vocal critic of the former President will be that much closer to knowing her political future. Now, she is expected to have won, win or lose tonight, and today we got some hints about what she thinks that future might be.

We begin though with more headaches for the man Congresswoman Cheney says should never be allowed to hold power again. Late today, a Federal Judge in Colorado ruled that one of his 2020 election lawyers, Jenna Ellis, that person must appear before the Georgia criminal grand jury looking into the attempt to overturn results there.

There are new developments as well on the Mar-a-Lago search with CNN learning that the FBI has already spoken with former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and his former Deputy, Patrick Philbin.

Coming up, on Thursday, the Federal Magistrate Judge who approved that search will hear arguments for and against unsealing the search warrant affidavit.

CNN's Jessica Schneider joint joins us now.

So, what do you know about the FBI's interviews with Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin? JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, Anderson, we

know that the most senior former Trump officials to be interviewed in what we know is really this ongoing criminal investigation into the possible mishandling of classified documents and this revelation that they have, in fact talked to the FBI. It is significant, because you know, they were Trump's designated representatives to the National Archives when Trump left office.

So they would have these details they'd be able to give the FBI about what was taken to Mar-a-Lago, also you know, whether Trump insisted that documents remain with him, what his intent or mindset was, and that could really be crucial for prosecutors if they ended up maybe charging Trump.

And Cipollone and Philbin maybe, they could even shed some light on why 11 sets of classified documents remained at Mar-a-Lago until last Monday when the FBI agents searched his home.

So with both of them, Cipollone and Philbin being interviewed, we know at this point DOJ is really going straight to the top to find out these details and really the question remains here are indictments looming -- Anderson.

COOPER: Do we know when these conversations took place?

SCHNEIDER: We know that they happen at some point in the past year. We don't have a lot of details, but you know, it's significant given that they're willing to talk to the FBI.

You know, we heard from Cipollone with the January 6 Committee, he didn't divulge a lot of details about the conversations he had with Trump. But maybe he was a bit more forthcoming with the FBI about maybe what Trump's mindset was taking these documents.

COOPER: So we mentioned this hearing on Thursday about a probable cause affidavit in the Mar-a-Lago search. We should mention, CNN and other news organizations have sought the release of that document, but what are the former President and the Justice Department saying about it tonight?

SCHNEIDER: All right, so we're still waiting for the Trump team legal response that's actually due tomorrow morning. The DOJ though, they filed yesterday, they're adamantly against releasing anything from the affidavit. They spelled out in the Court filing that they say it would be really damaging for the ongoing investigation. In particular, they say it would reveal specific investigative techniques, it would reveal highly sensitive information about witnesses.

So you can expect at that hearing on Thursday that DOJ will be forcefully arguing against the unsealing of the affidavit.

The Florida Federal Judge has scheduled this hearing from 1:00 PM, so both sides will be arguing Trump's response on paper anyway expected tomorrow morning.

COOPER: And what about this Trump attorney, Jenna Ellis being ordered to appear before the Fulton County grand jury in Georgia?

SCHNEIDER: Yes. This was an interesting proceeding because it actually played out in Colorado. It was a sort of strange situation here where a local prosecutor initiated a proceeding on behalf of Fulton County DA, Fani Willis.

So the light that was shed here is that Georgia prosecutors, they argued that Ellis really needs to appear before the grand jury, which the Judge agreed to, because of how involved she allegedly was in these plots to overturn the election.

They talked about how she helped plan hearings in Georgia that pushed these false claims of mass fraud. She authored memos to Mike Pence saying he didn't have to certify the election. And crucially here, Anderson, you know, she might have some inside information about what people like Rudy Giuliani were doing.

She was at Giuliani's side and just about every fight after the election as we saw her, and of course, we now know that Giuliani is a target of that grand jury investigation.

And in fact, he is set to appear before the grand jury tomorrow, unknown how much he'll say if anything, but that's set for tomorrow.

COOPER: Yes, Jessica Schneider, appreciate it.

I want to go to CNN national security analyst and former assistant DHS Secretary, Juliette Kayyem; also former Watergate Assistant Special Prosecutor Nick Akerman.

Nick, So Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin interviewed by the FBI about the documents taken to Mar-a-Lago sometime in the last year, would that just be standard procedure, an investigation like that? Given that they were the one's representing the White House to the National Archives?


NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT DHS SECRETARY: Oh absolutely. I think they would play prominently in the affidavit in support of the search warrant. They know what the procedures were. They know what Trump was told. They know what other government employees in the White House were told. They set up the procedures. That is absolutely critical in terms of setting up the probable cause that was needed in that affidavit.

COOPER: But Nick, how free as attorneys would they be to talk to the FBI?

AKERMAN: Well, I guess the question is, whether or not they felt constrained not to reveal their conversations with Donald Trump because of executive privilege.

On the other hand, I don't really think executive privilege applies here. What the government would really be interested in is not so much what Trump said. But what the lawyers said to Donald Trump. That is, what instructions was he given with respect to the documents? What was he told as to where the documents had to go? And what the procedures were and what the law is.

So in a sense, that part of it is as important as any in terms of determining the intent of Donald Trump or anybody else who was dealing with those documents.

COOPER: Juliette, if the FBI had already interviewed, you know, these two White House lawyers about the documents earlier this year, does that support the idea that maybe the DOJ and the FBI just wanted to get these documents back, and that's what the search of Mar-a-Lago was all about, it is not about anything else?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it might be a hint to it. We don't know what documents they talked to the lawyers about: Was it an extensive amount of documents? Was it all the documents? It seems to me, there are a couple questions the lawyers can answer.

The first is, of course, you know, what did they say to Donald Trump? But also, do they know what Donald Trump did? That might not be privileged information. If they say to Donald Trump "Don't take it," and then they later learned through third party that he actually did take this stuff that is relevant to the investigation.

The second is something that not a lot of people are talking about, but it's the transport of these boxes, the classified documents and the manuscripts and the photos and whatever else is there have to travel in a secure manner. SCIFs, what we've come to understand, these facilities -- that secure classified information travel with the documents or the people, how did they get from point A to point B? And that is something that is very relevant, because it probably means there's a bunch of people that helped Donald Trump move stuff that ought not to have been moved.

That's also a relevant question that the lawyers may know, because it wouldn't be privileged under any executive privilege or attorney- client privilege.

COOPER: Well, also Juliette, to that point, I mean, if the movement of classified documents has to be done a certain way, I assume whoever moves them doesn't just leave them on the lawn or ring the doorbell, you know, like Amazon, they would have to put them into some sort of location that they believe was secure, but in this case, it seems like it was just wherever it was in Mar-a-Lago.

KAYYEM: Wherever it was. We don't know. I mean, you know, there would be documents that would go down to Mar-a-Lago that might have been secure. But when these documents travel, so think of a President or a CIA Director, so literally tents travel with them that are, put together, they go into the facility, there's background noise, white noise, you can't bring your phone in, and they're able to read them. That's how secure these particular documents TS-SCI are.

So you don't just put them into a U-Haul, or whatever van is available and drive them down. They have to be protected in the transport. So a particular interest would be there, the lawyers are in DC, they're not down in Mar-a-Lago. What is happening during that transport? And I do think that's one of the reasons when the DOJ, you know, is fighting this release of the affidavit, the probable cause affidavit. One is because they said there's an ongoing investigation, which may include other people who were involved with that transport, even if they weren't involved with the retention of the documents.

COOPER: So Nick, if the former President was told through some sort of official communication from the Federal government that he had to return these documents, and he didn't, what does that do to his possible legal exposure?

AKERMAN: Oh, I think it increases his legal exposure. It means that he knew he had an obligation to return these documents. He knew that he wasn't supposed to maintain them, and that puts him right into the Espionage Act.

I mean, he knew that these were classified documents, or at least documents that could be injurious to the United States national security or of interest to foreign countries. That puts him right into the suit if that's what he was told.

COOPER: Nick Akerman, Juliette Kayyem, appreciate it. Thank you.

One of the more troubling aspects of all this reflected in Republican primaries and we could see an example of it tonight if Congresswoman Liz Cheney is defeated, Republican voters making loyalty to the former President, and the election lie, a litmus test in the voting booth, choosing election deniers, election underminers and people whose beliefs that go far beyond just that.


COOPER: Take a look at Mark Finchem, the Republican nominee for Arizona's Secretary of State. He is a self-proclaimed member of the so-called Oath Keepers, a far-right extremist group and now CNN's K- File has uncovered previously unreported online postings including a Pinterest account with what he calls a treason watch list featuring photos of Jesse Jackson, former Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, who was on the program last night and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Now in other postings, he compares Democrats and Nazis and in one, now taken down, calls for people to stockpile ammunition.

Again, he is running to be Secretary of State in charge of elections. When asked to comment, he declined. He is part of a larger political and social phenomenon.

My next guest is Tim Alberta who writes about it in "The Atlantic" and I'm quoting now from something he wrote: "This country is tracking toward a scale of political violence not seen since the Civil War. It's evident to anyone who spent significant time dwelling in the physical or virtual spaces of the American right. Go to a gun show, visit a right-wing church, check out a Trump rally. No matter the venue, the doomsday prophesying is ubiquitous, and scary." Tim Alberta joins us now.

Tim, I appreciate you joining. Do you really believe we're tracking toward a scale of political violence not seen since the Civil War? Because I mean, in the early 70s, there were political bombings, there were a lot of bombings in the country, often just against property, and that was something the US hadn't seen in a long time.

You think this -- what we're heading for is potentially far worse than that?

TIM ALBERTA, STAFF WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, Anderson, thanks for having me.

I would say a couple of things, first, in the 1970s, as far as I can recollect, there were not members of militia scaling the walls of the United States Capitol Building. You did not have the sort of technological capacity to organize the way that we have now.

And in fact, when you hear the warnings being issued by the Justice Department this week. Listen, I've talked to people in the FBI, I've talked to people at Justice, they're not issuing these warnings, just for the warning's sake. They're not trying to make themselves feel better. They're not just doing this as an empty gesture.

There is a serious and spreading threat to the stability of the country right now, and it is happening largely in venues that respectfully, most of the mainstream media is completely oblivious to. They're not being covered. And I think we all want to tell ourselves, that actually, this is just a lot of, you know, keyboard cowboys who are talking tough in some of the dark corners of the internet.

But in fact, when we see this guy go try to shoot up an FBI office in Cincinnati, immediately after the Mar-a-Lago search warrant was executed, we see some of this other activity proliferating online and is a reminder that January 6 was not an isolated incident. And in fact, we should have seen it coming, and my fear is that we're going to find ourselves in a spot not too long from now, where we're looking back wondering why we didn't see more of it.

COOPER: You wrote in "The Atlantic" that August 8th, the day they executed an FBI warned at Mar-a-Lago may become a new hinge point in US history. You said, "If America is a powder keg then one overreach by the government, real or perceived, could light the fuse."

Do you think, I mean, at this point, is there anything else the Department of Justice could do to dispel the baseless notion that they did something wrong, which is being propagated by elected politicians, by elected leaders in Congress?

ALBERTA: It's a good question. And of course, you led the program tonight talking about Liz Cheney, and the fact that she's very likely going to lose her primary tonight and probably lose it in lopsided fashion. Why? Because she was willing to tell the truth, because she was willing to tell her constituents something that they didn't want to hear. And so obviously, that doesn't set a great example, for other

Republicans who look around and realize self-preservation being the name of the game that they'd like to hold on to their jobs. They'd like to keep their influence and their proximity to power. So of course, they're not going to want to go down the path that Liz Cheney, or Peter Meijer or other Republicans have gone down.

And when you sort of zoom out from that, you ask yourself: "What is the incentive to push back on any of this craziness?" In the immediate hours after the FBI search warrant at Mar-a-Lago was executed, you had leading Republicans in this country, prominent elected officials going on Twitter and saying that we live in an authoritarian state. This is a banana republic that law enforcement at the federal Level can't be trusted, that they're coming for you next.

What do you expect is going to happen when polling suggests that you already have somewhere around, you know, maybe 30 million Americans, one in 10 Americans according one poll earlier this year from the University of Maryland who believed that political violence is justified right now, that it's already justified. What happens if the President is criminally charged?


ALBERTA: What happens if this goes even further?

I just don't think that we've necessarily spent enough time considering the implications of all of this.

COOPER: Do you think it makes a big difference whether the former President decides to run again in 2024? Are the lies and anger so baked in that this kind of danger will persist for years, regardless?

ALBERTA: You know, I would think so, Anderson. I think it would persist regardless, and of course, I do suspect that he will run. I think anybody who is wired into Trump World, and there are many reporters better wired into Trump World than I, but everybody has the sense that he will, in fact, run again.

And really, the thing is, part of the concern I had during COVID was when you referenced the part of my article earlier mentioning the perceived or real government overreach was when you look at what the sort of baseline hypothetical is for any of these conversations, when you meet people around the country who are stocking up on arms and ammunition and talking about imminent Civil War, they always will talk about some dramatic government overreach, something that the Feds do that sort of lights this fuse, so to speak.

And my concern is whether Trump is in office or whether Trump is not in office, that we are sort of barreling toward a scenario here and the Mar-a-Lago event, it could be in that sense seen as that hinge point where people have been waiting for something like this, looking for a reason to take matters into their own hands, so to speak. And I'm really fearful that we might be closer to that than anyone realizes.

COOPER: Tim Alberta, appreciate you being on tonight. Thank you so much.


COOPER: Next, primary night coverage with a focus on Wyoming where the State's only Congresswoman with one of the State's most storied Republican names is in the fight for her political life because she chose to follow the facts as Vice Chair of the January 6 Committee over following the former President. Liz Cheney's chances with polls closing about 45 minutes from now.

Also later tonight, CNN's Donie O'Sullivan goes to a hacker convention to find out what they consider the biggest threat to election security and finds out it's something other than hardware or software.



COOPER: Polls closing in Wyoming at the top of the hour and later tonight, in Alaska, where one of the Republican congressional hopefuls is none other than the former Governor and GOP vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin. However, Wyoming is the immediate focus tonight. Congresswoman Liz Cheney's job on the line, she is facing a primary challenger backed by the former President in no small part due to her vote to impeach the former president and the job she is doing obviously as the Vice Chair of the January 6 Select Committee.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): There are politicians in this country, beginning with Donald Trump, who have lied to the American people. And people have been betrayed.

He is preying on their patriotism. He is preying on their sense of justice.

He consistently has said that the election was stolen, when it wasn't.

And on January 6th, Donald Trump turned their love of country into a weapon against our Capitol and our Constitution.

In our country, we don't swear an oath to an individual or a political party. We take our oath to defend the United States Constitution.

But we are now embracing a cult of personality and I won't -- I won't be part of that and I will always stand for my oath and stand for the truth.

Because Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution.

Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: We mentioned impeachment, well, take a look. These are the 10

Republican House members who voted for impeachment this time around. Four our retiree including her panel colleague, Adam Kinzinger. Three lost their primary racism, only two have won theirs.

The last of the 10 is Liz Cheney.

For more, I want to turn now to CNN chief national correspondent, John King at the magic wall. So, she is facing a lot of opposition from allies of the former President. What's the map looking like for her tonight?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we fill it in. We get the start to get some votes at the top of the hour. But if you look at this map, you see Liz Cheney, famous name. Her dad was the congressman from Wyoming, then he was Defense Secretary and Vice President. She has been the congresswoman since 2016. Same year Donald Trump was elected.

If you look at her success, you think, why is Liz Cheney in trouble? Forty percent in her first primary, 68 percent in her second, 73 percent two years ago. Many Republicans in Wyoming like Liz Cheney, right? Well, they did, until she decided to choose the truth over Trump.

This is the map she is really running against, Anderson. Donald Trump getting 70 percent of the vote two years ago in Wyoming. So what are we looking for? Liz Cheney needs a lot of Democrats and a lot of Independents to switch parties and vote in the Republican primary.

Her supporters out there say they've seen a lot of that in recent days, but look at all this red, it would be pretty overwhelming. So she is preparing to lose tonight. We'll count the votes later, but she's preparing to lose.

COOPER: As for the primaries in Alaska tonight, what does Sarah Palin need to do to make a successful comeback?

KING: So let's come back to 2022, and let's bring up Sarah Palin essentially gets two bites at the apple, if you will. Let's bring up the State of Alaska here.

Number one, the first election tonight, the first choice is to fill the remaining four months of the late Congressman Don Young's term, someone will win that election. It's going to take several days to count the votes because Alaska for the first time, Anderson, is using that rank choice voting.

So you vote for your first choice, but then you can pick a second, a third and a fourth choice. So this is going to take a while to count. These are the three leading candidates. There are 20-plus candidates in this race.

But these are the three tonight for the special election. One of these three will get to serve the final four months. It's going to take a few days to count, and then you go at it back again. There's a second election for the House, that is to pick candidates for the November ballot to serve the full two-year term, the next term, if you will. That's the one where you have 22 candidates in the race.

You have the leading three here based on the observations of people in Alaska, but again, four candidates will move to the General Election. So can Sarah Palin win tonight? I think as they count the votes in the special election, that person could be her, would serve for four months and then we go back at it again come November for two years.

COOPER: All right, John King, we will keep checking in with you.

In just a moment, more on Liz Cheney's race and what she said today about her future in politics and democracy being under threat and attack.



COOPER: In a moment, we're going to have a live report from a Cheney campaign event in Wyoming where Congresswoman Liz Cheney is expected to deliver a big political speech about what this evening means and her future in American politics, should she lose her primary. This is what she said in Wyoming a few hours ago.


CHENEY: No matter what the outcome is, it is certainly the beginning of a battle that is going to continue, it is going to go on. And as a country, we're facing very challenging and difficult times. We're facing a moment where our democracy really is under attack and under threat.

And those of us across the board, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents who believe deeply in freedom and who care about the Constitution and the future of the country, I think have an obligation to put that above party, and I think that fight is clearly going to continue clearly to go on.


COOPER: I'm bringing in, CNN political director, David Chalian; CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash; CNN senior political analyst, Nia-Malika Henderson; and CNN anchor, Chris Wallace, host of "Who's Talking to Chris Wallace."

David, what are you looking for Wyoming tonight?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Certainly the margin. I'm curious to know -- I know, Liz Cheney most of all expects to lose tonight and she would be the most surprised if she doesn't. But I am curious to see if there's some sort of swell of Republicans moving over -- Democrats moving over changing their registration from Republicans or Independents to participate, but I am also looking for her words tonight, because she's obviously putting forth a path forward for herself. [20:30:17]

And so, I'm very curious to hear how clearly does she define what that role is? She said many times, her professional mission in life right now is to prevent Donald Trump from ever returning to the Oval Office. What does that look like? And does she paint that picture tonight?

COOPER: And -- I mean this idea of Democrats, independents switching over and Wyoming to vote for her, I mean, we've seen some people do it, but it would require a huge number of people doing that. And it's a complicated procedure.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And they don't exist enough in the state of Wyoming. Wyoming is so incredibly red. And so it's not, it's not like a Michigan or another state where Democrats or people who really identify as Democrats or independents can switch over and make an actual difference. But it will be telling in terms of where she could go where her message could take her in the future. And I think that's the point that you were making, David. I mean, yes, there is kind of the big city there and cities where there are some Democrats.

But you heard the tone that she just took, that is very similar to what I'm hearing from people in and around her and what we're probably going to hear for from her in her speech tonight. It's the beginning. It's the beginning. What is it the beginning of? We don't know. But it's beginning. She's already looking past this race.

COOPER: Well, I mean, the beginning of what though?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, that's the big question. Listen, people talk about well, maybe she runs in 2024 against Donald Trump, and carries her message directly to him unlikely that she would really find much of an audience for that, given his strength among the vast majority of Republicans. We see that obviously what's happening in Wyoming, right, maybe she'll get 20, 30, 40%. But that wouldn't be enough likely to beat Donald Trump. How else can she use this platform? You know, she's obviously used her platform in Congress very well. Heading the January 6 committee are sort of being the face of it, certainly the Republican face of it.

So what does she do next? Everyone is trying to figure out what happens after Trump. And some people were trying to figure out how to push him aside. Well, we've never had somebody like Liz Cheney, who has used her platform so well and been so famous at the same time in so determined to do.

COOPER: But Chris, I mean, if she runs against Trump that could take votes away from people who are Republicans who might vote for Biden in order to not have Trump. I mean, there's a whole --

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: Well, I don't see our running as an independent, exactly for that reason, because all you're going to do is take anti-Trump vote away from Biden. As a Republican candidate, there's not a chance and I don't see a world in which she wins the nomination. But having said that, on the margins, could she hurt Trump? Yes, I mean, maybe not enough to lose the nomination, but she could do some serious damage to him, in terms of making the case to people who already have doubts about Trump, suburban women, you know, people who are not rock hard in the MAGA world.

I was described in one paper today that she could be a political Kamikaze, it would be a suicide mission, but maybe she could take him out. On the other hand, I'm not sure that the aircraft carrier Donald Trump couldn't withstand the attack --


WALLACE: -- from the kamikaze pilot, Liz Cheney, (INAUDIBLE) --

COOPER: She's --

WALLACE: -- in terms of the nomination.

COOPER: She's also not going anywhere for the next. I mean, she -- even if she loses, she's going to be there to January and the January 6 Committee continues.

WALLACE: Absolutely. And she'll play a role in that. And to degree, I don't know that there's much more in our quiver, because she's been pretty strong in terms of how she's going after Trump on the committee, but I suppose she would be even worse.

Look and let me just say this. It's an extraordinary story. I mean, this was a woman who, you know, from the Cheney family in Wyoming, she was anointed, reelected in 2016, becomes the number three Republican in the House caucus, people talking about as the first Republican woman to be the speaker, and then throws it all away to decide on a matter of conscience.


WALLACE: It's pretty dramatic story.

HENDERSON: And she hasn't in many ways been enemy number one of Donald Trump, he has a lot of enemies on his list, he very much wants to see her gone, but she has done tremendous damage to him as part of this January 6 committee.

BASH: And she made herself that foil. She it's not as, you know, sometimes when Trump has a foil, he creates a foil. She was the very open and eager foil because she wants to separate herself and separate the ideals and try it -- from her perspective genuinely, to save the Republican Party never mind the Republic.

You mentioned women, one of you mentioned women. I think that is one of the most interesting questions going forward because talk to people who are looking at least before the Mar-a-Lago thing, I don't know if that's changed. But before that the internal numbers for Donald Trump. They say that he has plummeted when it comes to support among women, all women. And what have you heard from Liz Cheney's so many times in these hearings, how much she is -- how grateful she is for the women, the young women to come out and speak up and how she hears from women across the country.


WALLACE: And even in Wyoming, she's talking and she was not a very gender identity focused --

BASH: No, not at all.

WALLACE: -- politician, a lot more about moms and women and what we can do.

BASH: Absolutely.

WALLACE: So she's playing in our car.

CHALIAN: And remember, in the context of a 2024 race, if indeed she does launch one, she's not likely to have a one-on-one race with Donald Trump, right? That's likely to be a very crowded field, which by the way, is precisely what Donald Trump wants, because his best path is a very crowded field.

COOPER: The other obviously high profile races in is in Alaska with Sarah Palin, she, I mean she was governor of the state, she quit early, with a convoluted I remember her spokesperson explaining what were her justification and it made no sense. I want to play something she said when she resigned the governorship in 2009.


SARAH PALIN (R-AK) FMR GOVERNOR: Life is too short to compromise time and resources. And though it may be tempting, and more comfortable to just kind of keep your head down and trot along and appease those who are demanding, hey, just sit down and shut up. But that's a worthless, easy path out, that that's the quitters way out. And I think a problem in our country today is apathy. It would be apathetic to just kind of hunker down and go with the flow. We're fishermen we know that only dead fish go with the flow.


HENDERSON: Quite a word (INAUDIBLE). Yes.

COOPER: I mean, I remember it's a stunning then now as it was then. I mean.

CHALIAN: That's one of her favorite expressions.


COOPER: But quitting is an act of valor, because the alternative is just hunker down in her job as governor not do anything.

CHALIAN: Tempting some political jujitsu there. I'm not sure that landing (ph).

COOPER: Is she's still got that same person? CHALIAN: Well, she obviously has had a whole host of experience since then, whether reality TV or still being sort --

COOPER: That's a real life experience.


HENDERSON: It's called reality TV.

CHALIAN: I can't call her exactly.


CHALIAN: But here's the thing. She was cut, she captured some of this Trump energy pre-Trump. She ignited and enlivened a piece of the Republican base. And she's now in an attempt for a political comeback. Actually, unlike the she, she has Donald Trump's backing, and she's trying to get back into swimming in those waters and being somebody who can captivate that energy and convert it into her political success.

But you notice she quit the job that's been one of the attack lines on her from her opponents in this race, and we'll see if the Alaska voters care about that tonight.

COOPER: Yes. David Chalian, Dana Bash, Nia-Malika Henderson, Chris Wallace, thank you.

Still to come, CNN's Donie O'Sullivan at a hacker's convention in Las Vegas on the security of America's voting machines.



COOPER: As we're talking about Liz Cheney lost would likely put one more election denier in office. On Monday, the Washington Post reported about a fear among election experts that more official sympathetic to the former president's claims of vote rigging could undermine election security. The reporting discovered that lawyers and allies for the former president were more organized and successful than previously reported in trying to access voting equipment to undermine the 2020 election. Namely, they weren't able to copy sensitive data from election systems in Georgia as a part of a secret of multi state effort.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has been in Las Vegas at a hacker convention examining the conspiracy theories about voting machines.


HARRI HURSTI, ELECTION SYSTEM EXPERT: So the conspiracy claims all the time evolve that wants to one head of the hydra is cut down, that second head pops up.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): We've had two years of nonstop conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. Many of which center around these voting machines that they were in some way hacked, and used to steal votes and to steal the election. We are here at DEFCON in Las Vegas, which some people call Hacker Summer Camp. And hackers are doing their very best this weekend to break into these voting machines.

Isn't what you're doing here by tearing these machines apart and showing that they can be vulnerable? Is that just going to play into more of the fears, more of the conspiracy theories about the election?

CAT TERRANOVA, DEFCON VOTING VILLAGE ORGANIZER: I think a lot of these fears and these conspiracies really thrive in darkness. Here we have like a Clearbox model where we open things up if you're able to look inside, and you're actually able to get your hands on these voting machines yourself. It's not that there are not vulnerabilities within these machines that needs to be addressed. Just because there are vulnerabilities doesn't mean that they were manipulated or exploited in the way that certain parties are saying that they are.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): How have you've spent the weekend tearing apart voting machines. You've talked a lot about vulnerabilities. But have you ever found evidence that vulnerabilities have been used to change the results of an American election?

HURSTI: Never. Same comes with all the auto experts. We have always said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. We have never seen that kind of evidence.

CHRIS KREBS, FMR DIRECTOR, DHS CYBERSECURITY & INFRASTRUCTURE SECURITY AGENCY: Vulnerabilities exist in almost all software. Regardless of where you find it, even in, you know, nuclear power plants, you'll find that there are a system of Defense's and protections to ensure that a bad guy can't get to them. And those exists in voting systems as well.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Chris Krebs oversaw election security at DHS for the 2020 election, before being fired by Trump for speaking out against conspiracy theories.

KREBS: The biggest vulnerability and democracy is the people. It's the brain. It's the perception hack.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Cyber experts here say the big challenge to the 2022 midterms is not the machines, its misinformation.

HURSTI: I'm afraid, even when I know the vulnerabilities of the systems. I'm more afraid about misinformation claiming an attack which actually didn't happen, and which will then get a hold in people's minds.


MICHAEL MOORE, INFORMATION SECURITY OFFICER, MARICOPA COUNTY RECORDER: We You want to focus on pushing security forward and instead we're responding to death threats. O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Nate Young and Michael Moore know all about conspiracy theories. They are part of the election security team for Maricopa County in Arizona, a ground zero of election lies. They're here to work with hackers to make elections more secure by exposing vulnerabilities and getting them fixed.

NATE YOUNG, DIRECTOR OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, MARICOPA COUNTY RECORDER We have not seen a single accusation or conspiracy theory that has produced any actual tangible results.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Conspiracy theories like those being pushed by the likes of the MyPillow guy who basically claims countries like China have hacked American elections and changed votes.

MIKE LINDELL, CEO, MYPILLOW: No -- what, you just forget about the evidence. If I'm right, they're trying to choke our country right now. Do you care? Would that bother you?

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): How does it feel as a voting systems expert, listening to people like Mike Lindell?

HURTSI: It makes me sad. It makes me sad from the fact that all of the resources, all of the energy which could have been used for something beneficial, improving is now misused.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Misused to perpetuate misinformation that undermines American democracy.

KREBS: The further the narrative goes on the firmer, it gets set in stone, you repeat the lie long enough, and many times it becomes kind of that reality, their reality. Ultimately, this comes down to the voters. What do people want? Do we want to be a democracy? And if the answer is yes, better start damn acting like it.


COOPER: Donie O'Sullivan joins us now. Mike Lindell was not there, that video, that video, just make sure that was from last year. Right.

O'SULLIVAN: It's from his cyber symposium. Last summer.

COOPER: Did any of the conspiracy theorists who push election lies to show up to this conference?

O'SULLIVAN: Some. Yes, we spoke to one man who actually some of his research was used in Sydney Powell's lawsuits back in 2020.


O'SULLIVAN: You know, look, the thing is, is that the people there the hackers at that convention, there are people who really want to poke holes in systems. You know, so if even they are saying, you know, even those top experts are saying, look, the vulnerabilities that Mike Lindell and other people say exist, they're not there. And they're -- and the main point they were trying to get to hit at this weekend was, yes, there can be vulnerabilities and voting machines. We know a lot of them are very old. No system is perfect. But there's a big difference from there being a vulnerability and a gap to changing votes and overturning an election.

COOPER: All right. Fascinating. Donie O'Sullivan, appreciate it very much.

Coming up, an update on First Lady Joe Biden, who has tested positive for COVID.



COOPER: A busy day the White House of COVID diagnosis for the First Lady Joe Biden who will be quarantining elsewhere and the President signing new majors legislation.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins joins us now with details on both. And so, what do we know first of all about the First Lady's condition?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they were actually vacationing in South Carolina, Anderson. They're so both come back to Washington today, but only President Biden did. Because First Lady Jill Biden did test positive for COVID-19 on a PCR test, so she's now isolating at a private home in South Carolina for the next several days. They say she'll return once she has two consecutive negative COVID test. But In the meantime, she just has mild symptoms, and we are told that she is taking Paxlovid, that antiviral that President Biden, and many others have also taken while she is isolating after testing positive. You know, not too long after President Biden himself was positive with COVID, Anderson.

COOPER: President Biden today and signed what they call the Inflation Reduction Act into law, how much of an actual impact on inflation would have -- will it have?

COLLINS: So, there's no doubt that this is a significant bill. It's a far cry from what Democrats were trying to get passed last summer, but it still has major investments in combating climate change and energy reform and reducing healthcare costs. But the name of it is the Inflation Reduction Act. And Senator Joe Manchin told reporters today that is actually a name that he came up with, when he and Senator Schumer were negotiating this, they had that surprise announcement last month, but there have been big questions about whether or not it's actually going to live up to its name, because there has been a few estimates, including one from the nonpartisan, non-political, congressional budget office that says it's really not going to do much to reduce inflation this year, maybe just a little bit next year.

And so, we asked Senator Manchin, how the bill is going to live up to its name today. This is what he told us.


COLLINS (voice-over): How do you make sure the bill lives up to its name? SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): They haven't always been always right? So I can't tell you. Everything we're doing is reducing the cost of individuals are burdened with and how they say that's not going to help inflation, I have no idea.


COLLINS: So basically, they are making this argument, no, in the near future, it's not going to bring down gas prices tomorrow or the price of chicken and other goods that have been incredibly high at the grocery store. But they argue that by reducing the deficit, it will be anti inflationary that will help bring down inflation. Of course, voters are going to be expecting results from that.

We are told that President Biden, members of his cabinet are going to be on the road selling this bill, touting the benefits of it to Americans over the next several weeks. Obviously Anderson, they're hoping it will help them in the November midterm elections. And so, that is going to be a big effort, in addition to actually implementing this bill.

COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. Thanks.

And just a few minutes, polls close to Wyoming. We'll get a live update from our Jeff Zeleny, who's had an event for Congresswoman Liz Cheney. Next.



COOPER: Polls close in just a couple of minutes in Wyoming's primaries. We mentioned earlier Congresswoman Liz Cheney is fighting to save her House seat. She's up against attorney Harriet Hageman, who has the support of the former President.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny is at the Cheney event in Jackson, Wyoming tonight. So, what is the mood there like given the reality of the situation for her on the ground?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the mood is actually pretty festive. She's invited her supporters here out to a ranch outside Jackson. There's country music playing there. There's food and drinks and people are just waiting for the polls to close which are going to do so in just a couple of moments now.

Of course, Congressman Liz Cheney has been spending most of the day, I'm told preparing the speech that she'll be delivering tonight. This speech is certainly no ordinary election night speech. In fact, it is going to offer a roadmap for her future. And she is going to talk specifically about the battle ahead. She's trying to frame this as the start of something, not the end of something should she fall short here.

But there is no doubt while the mood is festive. There's a sense as well, that she's very likely to fall short in the primary, at least here tonight, Anderson.

COOPER: And what are her supporters hoping she'll do next?

ZELENY: Well, look, a lot of their supporters have been talking to you here and throughout the day, they really hope she will take this as a national message, a national campaign against Donald Trump. Now whether that sort of emerges as a presidential candidate herself, a lot of her supporters would like to see her do that, she has not made those commitments yet. I'm told she's not going to directly say that this evening, but they would like her in some fashion to if not run against Trump, try and keep up her fight against Trump and her fight for democracy.

The question though, is the margin of victory tonight. If it's a blowout, does that diminish her potential as a messenger? If its close, does that show there's more of a market for this type of argument in the Republican Party? So I think the margin will certainly determine the tone of her speech, but win or lose, she is going to look forward and not look backward. Anderson.

COOPER: Jeff, that is probably the greatest backdrop I've seen in a long time. Why don't we all live in Wyoming?

ZELENY: It certainly is great. I've been here several days and I can tell you it's fantastic.

COOPER: Gosh. Wow. Amazing. Jeff Zeleny, appreciate it. Thanks.


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That's it for us. The news continues. Want to hand it over to Alisyn Camerota in "CNN TONIGHT." Alisyn.