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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Considering Releasing Surveillance Footage Of FBI Mar-a- Lago Search; Source: Former Chief Financial Officer At Trump Organization Expected To Plead Guilty To Tax Fraud Tomorrow; Cheney's Loss May Be The Second Worst For A House Incumbent In 60 Years; Cheney Weighs Potential 2024 Face-Off With Trump After Primary Defeat; Cheney Summons Lincoln, Gettysburg Address In Plotting Political Future; Water Cutbacks As Colorado River Hits Record Low. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 17, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And finally an update on the 12-year-old who fractured his skull after falling from a bunk bed at the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania. Those close to Easton Oliverson says he is no longer sedated. He is asking for water and have been waving to his parents and mouthing the words "I love you."

Officials of the Little League World Series say the dorms' bunk beds don't have guard rails. They've now removed all the bunks from the rooms.

Thanks so much for joining us.

AC 360 starts now.



After more than a week of threats against FBI agents incited by the former President and his supporters and after one failed attempt on their lives, our top story tonight is anything but academic. The consequences of it could be very real.

Late today, we learned that some of the former President's allies want him to publicly release surveillance cameras video of agents searching at Mar-a-Lago last week.

Now, remember, he has already suggested on several occasions that they might have planted evidence while they were executing the search warrant. There is no evidence of that at all.

And just today, on his social network, he linked to an article describing the FBI as the, "Fascist Bureau of Investigation."

We'll talk more in a moment about the debate within the former President's circle over putting out this surveillance video or not, but according to reporting in "The New York Times" by CNN political analyst, Maggie Haberman, investigators already have at least some surveillance video from earlier, from before the raid, which may have actually triggered the search. Quoting now: "Officials then used a subpoena to obtain surveillance

footage of the hallway outside of storage room at Mar-a-Lago and saw something that alarmed them. They also received information from at least one witness who indicated that more material might remain at the residence, people familiar with the investigation said."

Tonight's lead story comes at the end of the day that saw a string of related developments including Rudy Giuliani going before a grand jury, the outlines of a plea deal involving former Trump organization's Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, and a declaration of political war from Congresswoman Liz Cheney.

We start with the surveillance footage from CNN's Kaitlan Collins.

So what more do we know about this video that the Trump people are considering releasing?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So we expect that it is several hours of footage, Anderson, because of course, this raid went on, this search -- the raid that the former President has referred to it as, but this search warrant that they executed, they were there for several hours.

They got there we were told about nine o'clock in the morning, and they left about 6:00 PM that evening. So it could potentially be several hours' worth of surveillance footage that the former President has in his hands because as we know, when FBI agents arrived on the scene, they asked to turn the cameras off.

We are told that it's pretty standard, not that unusual of an ask by sources inside the Justice Department, but they did make that request, and that is not something that was granted by the officials on the ground at Mar-a-Lago.

And so now, it is in the hands of the former President and his attorneys, this surveillance footage of what happened at Mar-a-Lago that day.

And what we are hearing from sources is that there is basically this internal debate happening over whether or not they should release it, with some people saying that it is not a case of if they release that surveillance footage, but when they release it, but really the debate comes down to two points, which is one, how does it benefit Trump and some have argued that it could to show these FBI agents inside the home of a former President taking these boxes.

Of course, we know they went inside a storage room where a lot of this material was being held, but Trump has also said they went into his office and into his private quarters at Mar-a-Lago as well.

But the other side of the coin, Anderson, is that some people in Trump's orbit don't think it would actually be all that beneficial to show FBI agents in the home of the former President, of course, picking up these boxes that they say had classified information in it that he should have never taken to Mar-a-Lago in the first place.

So whether or not it ultimately gets released remains to be seen, but it is certainly a debate happening inside his orbit right now.

COOPER: They could also -- I mean, the people at Mar-a-Lago, they could edit it, however they want it. They could cut out as much footage as they wanted, if they were going to -- I mean, they have control of it, they can release whatever they want, and keep whatever they want.

COLLINS: Yes, that's true, and also one concern would be that it would potentially put these FBI agents at risk because it would show and reveal the identities of the agents who were there. That was one concern that we saw officials had after you saw the search warrant that was put out that was released, it had the names of FBI agents on there, and so that's been a concern as well.

One other thing that I will note is that, you know, when these FBI agents went in to conduct this search, they likely already knew where these cameras were placed, because, as you correctly noted at the top of the show, "The New York Times" and CNN has confirmed that they did subpoena surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago before this search actually happened.

And we were told, obviously, one of those cameras was placed outside the room where these materials were being held. So, it's not like they don't know exactly where these cameras were, they had a pretty good idea of it, but whether or not it ultimately comes out remains to be seen. But it does show this debate that's playing out over between the Justice Department and Trump and his attorneys over what should come out, what information should become public.

And of course, we know the affidavit that led to that search warrant is the next thing that is potentially being considered before that Judge tomorrow.

COOPER: Yes, Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. Stay with us, I want to bring in CNN senior law enforcement analyst, and former FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe, also, CNN didn't contributor, former Nixon White House Counsel, John Dean, who has some experience with tapes.


CARLSON: Andrew, what do you think the reaction within the FBI would be to the release of these surveillance images?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Deep concern. Deep concern for a number of reasons. First and foremost, when you're executing a search warrant for the purpose of recovering potentially highly classified material, the last thing you want to have is a video of that material released to the public. That's the entire purpose of the warrant to recover material, get back into a place that's authorized --

COOPER: So the FBI, you're saying, would actually be concerned about what is -- what the camera might pick up on and the material --

MCCABE: Exactly, exactly. And then of course, second, and a very close second, I might add is

the increased risk that it will pose to these agents. We already know that the Trump camp in Mar-a-Lago released the documents last week that contained the identities of two agents that were on the scene, I'm sure there were many more than two agents on the search warrant, probably a dozen or more folks that were there. Those folks will now all be added to this group that's been targeted by the President's most extreme supporters and be subjected to the same threats and threats of violence and as will their families.

COOPER: It's incredible that we are talking about a former President, potentially endangering FBI agents. I mean, it's remarkable.

MCCABE: It was unthinkable, and with any other former President, but that's where we are.

COOPER: John, from a legal standpoint, is there any way that releasing this footage helps the former President? Or is it more from a public relations standpoint?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Not that I can think of.

Well, I think it's a political effort on their behalf. I can't imagine that it would show the FBI planning or doing anything improper. They know the cameras are operating. So, I think that it is really an effort by Trump to somehow use that material to try to make himself look like a victim.

It's his constant theme of his grievances, so there is just -- the other thing is, you've nailed it, the identification of the agents, or the possible editing of the tape could distort the entire search. So, there's just no good that can come from releasing this.

COOPER: And Kaitlan, I mean, is that the reaction that some of the former President's advisers are hoping? That if they are arguing for the release of the footage that it adds to sort of the indignity, the grievance list that the MAGA world has?

COLLINS: The argument that we've picked up on from sources, Anderson is basically that they think it could energize people to see these agents actually inside the residence of a former President, which, of course, is very unusual and that is something that even Attorney General Garland himself noted last week, when he held that rare moment.

They believe that it could help energize his base further than it already has, as you've seen, a lot of Republicans come out and criticize the FBI, some of them, even the more extreme members saying defund the FBI.

They are arguing that this could show just how rare this is, that it is what Trump has claimed this is, which is a politically motivated search, of course, we know it was a lawful search warrant that was signed off on by a Judge and you even saw Pence today arguing about that saying, you can criticize and question the Attorney General, but don't criticize the rank and file, law enforcement officers for just doing their jobs and carrying it out. And of course, that would be their identities that would be revealed, potentially, if this was released.

But some of the people who are advocating for the release believe it would be good, and it would help energize his base and basically give him another round of support that he has seen from Republicans to show these FBI agents actually inside his home.

COOPER: Andrew, what kind of protections does, I mean, of an agent whose name is not redacted and is released out into the public do they have?

MCCABE: Very little. Very little. FBI agents, unlike some other Intelligence Community agents, FBI agents don't operate under any sort of cover. They are -- they operate under true name in their communities. They are ready to go into Court and take a stand and swear an oath and testify when that is required of them. So, they are very exposed.

I don't know that any of them ever anticipated they would be exposed in this way, and certainly not by a former President. But the idea that he would increase the risk that they face for some sort of political gain is, I'm sure horrifying to these agents.

COOPER: "The New York Times" reporting about the Justice Department, getting a subpoena for earlier before the raid for some of the surveillance images, I guess, of the room where this material was and there being concern about something they saw. How do you interpret that?

MCCABE: Well, Anderson, I would expect that after the meeting in June, the agents were probably aware of the video surveillance until outside the room, so surveillance that would indicate who had access to that room.

I would expect they reviewed that footage very closely to try to determine every person that had been into the room during the course of the surveillance they had access to. They may have been concerned about specific individuals they saw accessing that room and therefore, having access to that material, or it may just have been a simple matter of volume.


MCCABE: An overwhelming number of people going in and out all day is very different than a room that maybe had been described to them, as you know, locked under a special padlock and not accessed by anyone.

COOPER: John, could this open the President or his allies up to any kind of legal liability if an attack happened on FBI agents or other Federal law enforcement after a release of their identities?

DEAN: It's possible. He is taking some in some jeopardy. I'm thinking he's more likely, while he is seeking a short-term game, the long term is going to be, I think, harsher on him. One for doing it, particularly if anything does happen to any of the agents, if it is a clear distortion of what the raid was about and he tries to play that up and that will have a long-term negative impact.

The base is not the majority, you've got to remember. They are loud and they are an active minority, but they certainly don't control the entire narrative.

So I think it's short-term thinking, where he thinks he can get one day's headline that's positive for him, stir the base up a little bit, they'll like it and he will be happy with that. But then, as I say, in the long term, I think it's going to be harmful to him.

COOPER: John Dean, Andrew McCabe, Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, what we are learning about a plea deal from the man who was for decades the former President's top corporate money man, what Allen Weisselberg is expected to plead guilty to and what he agreed to testify about in the future.

And later, Congresswoman Liz Cheney's vow after losing her primary last night to do anything it takes to keep the former President from being elected again. What she said when asked her that includes running herself and what her chances would be if she actually did, ahead on 360.



COOPER: Big development now in another high profile case we are following involving the former President. This one involves the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and Allen Weisselberg, the former longtime Chief Financial Officer of the former President's namesake company. He is expected to plead guilty tomorrow to a 15-year tax fraud scheme. That's according to a source familiar with the matter.

Now, the terms of the deal, they are still being finalized. Weisselberg may end up testifying against the company. That's despite the fact that he's not entered into a cooperation agreement with prosecutors.

I'm joined now by CNN's Kara Scannell who has been following it.

What exactly is he pleading guilty to? And what does that mean that he is not entering into a cooperating agreement?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. So Allen Weisselberg was indicted last year along with the Trump Organization and it was with a 15-count indictment going back 15 years that he was involved in this off-the-books compensation scheme, basically not paying taxes on some corporate benefits he got, like a company apartment, car leases, and --

COOPER: So the Trump Organization would pay his car lease, would pay school tuition for his grandkids or things like that.

SCANNELL: Exactly, and then he wasn't paying income tax on that. So he is going to admit to all of this tomorrow, according to sources. He will plead guilty to the entire indictment, and he will -- he is agreed to testify at trial. The Trump Organization, the corporate entity, no individual is going to trial in October on these charges.

Now, they have had testimony from other people. They've had an accountant who has worked with the Trump Organization who has testified before the grand jury, but this will be a live witness. It will be Allen Weisselberg, the longtime CFO. He has been with the company for 40 years, going to testify against the company, if it gets to trial.

COOPER: Is it just testifying in this particular scheme against the company or the company and other things they may have been involved with?

SCANNELL: Well, that's the thing here. This is just for his testimony in the tax fraud trial. You know, remember, he got charged with this because prosecutors were trying to put pressure on him to cooperate in their much broader investigation into the Trump Organization's finances and whether they misled lenders and insurers.

But Weisselberg was not willing to cooperate with that investigation. So he -- you know, he was indicted a year ago, July. He is on the cusp of the trial in October. He just lost some motions to dismiss the indictment. He is now come to terms and said he is going to cooperate with this investigation and for him, he gets some certainty here because according to this deal, he would serve five months in prison with time off for good behavior, we're looking at a hundred days.

But these days would be served in Rikers Island, you know, the notorious New York City Jail, but he gets the benefit of not having to go to trial to potentially get convicted to face anywhere from one to three years in prison as much as 15 years in New York State Prison. So that's kind of the calculus for him.

He gets some certainty. He knows he will serve a limited prison term and he will offer this cooperation.

COOPER: And what's next for the criminal investigation in New York? Is that still ongoing?

SCANNELL: Well, it's still ongoing, but as you probably remember, you know, the previous District Attorney, Cy Vance, had authorized his prosecutor's move forward with an indictment or to seek an indictment before the grand jury against the former President.

The new District Attorney, Alvin Bragg came in, reviewed the evidence and said he didn't think there was enough there.

One of the issues is they didn't have a cooperator. They didn't have someone like Weisselberg, who was willing to tell the story behind the numbers. That investigation has slowed down. Sources tell me, it is still ongoing.

But there remains a lot of questions of what could they get that would satisfy the new DA that they have enough to bring an indictment when they didn't after already, more than three years of investigating.

COOPER: Yes. Kara Scannell, appreciate it. Thanks.

Joining me now to talk about it, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General and CNN legal analyst, Elliot Williams.

Why would they do a plea agreement with this guy if he wasn't going to cooperate in any criminal trial?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Now believe it or not, Anderson, going to trial is really just a matter of resources and costs and benefits the prosecutors have to think through and does it make more sense to go to trial and run the risk of losing and spend the resources of your time, your energy, your prosecutors or guarantee that you get a conviction in someone going to jail?


WILLIAMS: It sounds sort of odd to the lay person --

COOPER: But it sounds like prosecutors kind of blinked, they decided, well, we'd rather get the conviction than go to trial.

WILLIAMS: Than nothing -- and lose and maybe lose, because so much of what would have been on trial here is subjective. Now, some of it, you know, there would be financial statements and records and so on. But this question -- this is what Kara was talking about a little bit earlier -- when we're talking about compensation or tuition being paid, there is a question of, well, maybe this might have actually been part of his compensation package, and a jury could have been tricked by that, or at least been confused enough by it to not get a conviction.

COOPER: Rudy Giuliani testified before a grand jury in Georgia. The fact that he is a target, and has been informed he is a target of this investigation, how does that influence his testimony?

WILLIAMS: Yes. So, here is the thing. Many people think they can just talk their way out of testimony and maybe and we know -- you know, we've seen Rudy Giuliani publicly -- maybe he thought he might have been able to save himself by talking.

If his lawyers were smart, they'd probably advise him to just keep his mouth shut because of the tremendous risk of jeopardizing his own rights if he does ultimately get charged with a crime.

COOPER: So he could have just pled the Fifth during this or --

WILLIAMS: Yes. And oddly enough, that can take five or six hours, because every question other than, you know, what's your name? Rudy Giuliani? Like so for instance, how long have you served as Donald Trump's lawyer? I plead the Fifth, because that could come up in a conspiracy trial, every possible fact.

And so hour after hour, they were probably going through --

COOPER: Can they just do a blanket, "I plead the Fifth?" I mean --

WILLIAMS: I mean, they could, but prosecutors have a tremendous amount of information. They want to get him on the record, at least pleading the Fifth. But again, it seems odd, but and it can take an entire day of doing that, and we saw it with the President quite recently.

COOPER: There is a Federal hearing tomorrow in Florida regarding the unsealing of the affidavit that was used to get the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. We should point out, CNN and other news organizations have been pushing to try to get it actually released. The Justice Department, obviously, does not want it released. What's the likelihood that it would get released?

WILLIAMS: I would say highly, highly, highly unlikely that it ever gets released because of the fact that number one, you want to protect the rights of innocent people who are named in it. Number two, you want to protect your evidence. Number three, you want to protect your agents and the work that they're doing.

Usually Courts defer to the Justice Department or prosecutors, when they say we will jeopardize our case, or our investigation here if this becomes public. Highly unlikely.

COOPER: And the Department of Justice have already said that they've already said, look, this is going to deter any witnesses that maybe --

WILLIAMS: So the Judge would have to supersede that in effect and say, "You know what, Justice Department, you don't know what's best for your own cases, and the fact that there are innocent people here, you know what, there's enough public interest here, let's make it public."

COOPER: Could the Judge rule that they would redact any agent's names, any witness' names?

WILLIAMS: Okay. If they redact this document, Anderson, it is basically going to be search on whatever date August 5th or whatever black box for five pages, 20 pages.

COOPER: Elliot Williams, appreciate it.

WILLIAMS: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up, we're going to explore the future of Liz Cheney, who has teased a possible presidential campaign after her defeat last night in Wyoming.

And later, we'll be joined by historian, Doris Kearns-Goodwin to discuss Cheney's fate and the US democracy's fate as well.



COOPER: As we reported before the votes came in last night, Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney was planning her political future win or lose, the votes certainly came in and she certainly lost badly to a candidate backed by the former President. As you might expect, he managed to get in his share of gloating.

As for Congresswoman and Vice Chair of the January 6 Select Committee, she vowed to be part of a broad coalition to keep the former President away from the Oval Office.

Now, when asked this morning whether that includes actually running for President, here is what she told NBC's Savannah Guthrie.


SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: You didn't say yes or no and that's fine if you're thinking about it, but are you thinking about it? Are you thinking about running for President?

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): That's a decision that I'm going to make in the coming months, Savannah. I'm not going to make any announcements here this morning, but it is something that I am thinking about, and I'll make a decision in the coming months.


COOPER: So that said, the question is who might support her? Also, would it even take votes away from the former President? Which certainly would seem to be her objective.

For insight, we turn as always to CNN senior data reporter, Harry Enten. So put Congresswoman Cheney's loss in perspective.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: You know, the last time we were here with the Trump -- someone who voted to impeach Trump lost in historic way, I went back to the beginning of this century. Now I'm going to go back 60 years, I'm going to go back even further, dug deeper into the data sets. And what do we see?

Liz Cheney lost by the second widest margin of any House incumbent in the last 60 years, losing by 37.4 points. This is just not anything I basically ever heard of, except for one election in 2010. This is like nuts.

I mean, that's really it. I don't know any way to say it than this is just not anything that I'm used to.

COOPER: Especially considering how well she had done previously. She won with -- I mean --

ENTEN: Seventy plus percent of the vote. She clearly did something very, very wrong in the voters' minds.

COOPER: Yes. So Cheney said she'll make a decision about 2024 in the coming months. Outside of Wyoming, how do Americans view her?

ENTEN: Yes, I don't really understand this whole idea that she is going through, you know, I guess she has to do something now. Look at her favorable rating nationally among all voters, you know, well, south of 50 percent.

You look among Republicans, where does it? It is 13 percent. Independents, well, south of 50 percent. She does have a base, though, it is Democrats. That's where her favorable rating is above 50 percent, but the idea that you might be able to stop Donald Trump in a Republican primary when your favorable rating is just 13 percent, it doesn't make any sense to me.

COOPER: But I mean, of course, the question is: Does she really think that or does she just want to get on the debate stage and try to tear him down a little?

ENTEN: I mean, to me, if that is her idea, she is basically persona non grata -- persona non grata among Republicans. If anything, I would bet if she took Trump on it might actually make Trump more popular.

COOPER: Why do you think she faces such an uphill battle? What do the numbers show?

ENTEN: I mean, she is basically this unicorn, right? You know, think of how many people you know who --

COOPER: A principled person.

ENTEN: A principled person may be a unicorn in our society these days. Think of people who are both pro-life and also believe that Biden legitimately won the election? What percentage do they total up with the population? They total just 13 percent of all voters.

COOPER: What if she were to run as a third party, your Independent candidate?

ENTEN: Third party candidates just don't really work in this country. I mean you'd have to go all the way back to Ross Perot, right? You just look at the since the beginning of the century in 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020.


Look at the top third party candidates and all those years was 1, 2, 3% at most. And remember back in 2016, Gary Johnson, there was this whole idea. Oh, Gary Johnson is going to do so well, because Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump are the two least like National candidates of all time for major party nominees. He got 3% of the vote. It just doesn't work. I don't understand.

COOPER: Well also, if her goal is to defeat the former president running as an independent might take votes (INAUDIBLE) --

ENTEN: It might take votes away from Biden, that's what it could do. I just -- this equation just doesn't make sense to me when I run on my statistical software, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Well, we got to double check this off.

ENTEN: We're going to run Stata, R and the little Python maybe. COOPER: Oh, wow.


COOPER: You can put that in your wallet.

ENTEN: Yes, I can put in my huge wallet (INAUDIBLE) --

COOPER: This is Rice's Harrington's wallet. This is -- look at this wallet is the biggest wallet in the world. I don't --

ENTEN: You take a bite out of it. There's more cow here than in your burger.

COOPER: Harry, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Joining us CNN political commentator, Alyssa Farah Griffin who served as Director of Strategic Communications in the previous administration. Also David Urban, CNN political commentator, political consultant and campaign strategist for the former president.

So Alyssa, what do you think Congresswoman Cheney's lane would look like in the short term and potentially in 2024?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't disagree with any of Harry's analysis. I just want to be unequivocal about one thing. Liz Cheney last for one reason, and one reason only that she denied the election myth, the lie that the election was stolen, she could have held that congressional seat comfortably for the rest of her life. She'd won in the 70s before. But what relaying is, is this and I do think Harry is right about this. She's not -- if she runs in 2024 she's not running to be president, though she would be a decent general election candidate. She would be running to be a spoiler to Donald Trump to juxtapose on a debate stage while he goes off spreading lies, spreading conspiracies, showing what a principled conservative woman looks like and what our American values should be.

I think it's powerful. I think she resonates with women. I think we'll see more polling in the coming months ahead about well, she's actually a very formidable, inspiring figure. But again, she'd be running to be a spoiler not because she thinks she's going to be the next president, at least right now.

COOPER: David Urban, I mean, obviously, 2024 is a long way off, but not that long way off. Do you think Liz Cheney would be an effective spoiler against the former president?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Anderson, I think today is Liz Cheney's high watermark. You know, when her father left office, he left with 70% favorability. So I noted from Harry's polls that she's slightly more favorable. Look let's just face reality, when you're looking at the running in a presidential primary for let's say, either on the Republican or Democratic ticket, there are major obstacles along the way to get to the end goal. Right. So each state has really tough requirements getting on the ballot, each state, let alone getting on the debate stage. Right. If you remember the last Republican primary, that all the candidates had to sign a pledge saying that they would in fact, support the eventual nominee at the end. I can never see Liz Cheney signing that pledge if her goal is to defeat Donald Trump, she'll never make it to a debate stage with Donald Trump. Ronna McDaniel and the RNC will ensure that Liz Cheney is not even in the same state when there's a presidential debate taking place. So today's her high watermark.

GRIFFIN: (INAUDIBLE) David Urban's right about that, the RNC will definitely rid this coming election against anyone who wants to oppose sort of the direction it's heading in terms of promoting election fraud and election lies. So I don't actually disagree with that. But I would say this, she's got a few things in her favor that matter of time, money, name ID and extraordinary favorability with women. I don't have the polls right in front of me, but I promise you the coming months you're going to see among women on either side of the aisle, they see her as somebody who stood up to work history, stood against the men and did the right thing. And that's incredibly powerful.

URBAN: I disagree. I don't see a lane forward for her. And even the most favorable, favorable of years, Jesus. There's not a lane forward for Liz Cheney. She happens not to be a very good retail campaigner, she's more of a policy walked and then a people person, she doesn't like pressing the flesh. If you know anything about Iowa politics, our caucuses, New Hampshire, it is intensive retail politics.

You know, people in Iowa expect you to meet to two, three, four, five times before they decide on you as a candidate. Liz Cheney is not that person. There is zero path forward for Liz Cheney.

COOPER: So Alyssa, if it's not a presidential run or, you know, even if not a, you know, wholehearted presidential run thinking should actually win, but just wanting to try to, you know, stop the former president. What other lane would there be? I mean, there's really none unless she's running for something, right.

GRIFFIN: Well, listen, I think running for office is something she should consider purely for President, purely for that juxtaposition. But if not that she's going to be a formidable, formidable voice for the country. And I will say this you know this Anderson our politics are cyclical. There is going to be a time in the near future that Donald Trump is not the overwhelming force in our country. And I think our politics are going to course correct where people are tired of conspiracy theories, they're tired of lies, and they're frankly, tired of electing lunatics, like people like the woman Harriet Hageman who beat her.


And I think that's a moment which 56-year-old Liz Cheney, who was the person who did the right thing, and said the right thing could be a formidable force in the future. I don't think she's going anywhere. I find her personally, deeply inspiring. I know many women do. And I think that that's, that's a lane, that's the power that she has behind her.

COOPER: David, the Congresswoman Cheney was asked on the "Today Show" this morning about the ongoing battle in the Republican Party or for the soul of the Republican Party. I just want to play with what she said.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I think the Republican party today is, is in very bad shape. And I think that we have a tremendous amount of work to do, I think it could take several election cycles. But the country has got to have a Republican Party that's actually based on substance, based on principles, you know, based on a belief in limited government and low taxes and a strong national defense. I believe that the -- that the family has got to be the center of our community and of our lives. And those are the principles I believe in. That's what the party used to stand for. And we've got to get the party back to that.


COOPER: David, do you think her vision for the party is realistic?

URBAN: Listen Anderson, I'm not quite sure that it's not there currently, right. Unfortunately, you know, everybody sees the party through the lens of Donald Trump. I believe most Republicans still believe in those core values that that Liz Cheney just articulated. I think that they just see Donald Trump as the best person for them, battling for those values, right. That's what I see. And I project -- as I, you know, talk to people across the United States, Pennsylvania, Florida, other places I travel, they see him as the best standard bearer for fighting for those values, those values, they believe in all those values, Anderson, they just think that Trump is currently best suited to fight for them in those particular -- in these particular instances.

COOPER: Alyssa, the final thought and then we're going to go.

GRIFFIN: Listen, when elected leaders lie to the general public and 60% of Americans think that the election was stolen, that's going to have an effect. Those are the values the Republican Party shouldn't be for, but it's not what they're electing. Harriet Hageman accused Joe Biden of being the biggest human trafficker in America. Is that really the kind of person Republicans want representing them? No, it's become cold like, Liz Cheney was a better more conservative representative.

COOPER: Alyssa Farah Griffin, appreciate it. David Urban as well, thanks so much.

URBAN: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up, Pulitzer Prize winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin joins me to talk about the future of Congresswoman Cheney, her party, and this country.



COOPER: During her speech last night, Congresswoman Cheney drew a comparison between her election loss and those of Abraham Lincoln before he became president and she set out to define the legacy she hopes to create for herself in the country.


CHENEY: The great and original champion of our party, Abraham Lincoln was defeated in elections for the Senate and the House before he won the most important election of all. Lincoln ultimately prevailed. He saved our Union, and he defined our obligation as Americans for all of history.


COOPER: The Congresswoman then quoted a passage from one of Lincoln's in the country's most famous speeches the Gettysburg Address, she spoke of the great task remaining, the government of the people by the people and for the people shall not perish from this earth.

No person were qualified to talk about Lincoln historical importance of Cheney's words and Pulitzer Prize winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, in addition to her claim Team of Rivals, she's also the author of Leadership In Turbulent Times About The Moral Purpose That Guided For Great American Presidents, Including Lincoln.

Doris, it is great to have you back on the program. Thanks so much for being here.

What does it say about where we are that a congresswoman standing up on principle, for her beliefs and for truth and facts about the election not being stolen? Is overwhelmingly voted out of office?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, you know, I think she can take solace from Lincoln, because as she pointed out, he was defeated in 1858 in the Senate race, but what he said at the time, I think is really important. He said, don't worry about me to supporters, I'm not disheartened, I've made a hearing on the most durable issue of the day. And that will be remembered long after I'm gone. So there's a sense that, where are the people right now that are willing to take as you suggest a principled stand, even if they're going to lose.

And then the other great example that Lincoln can provide as an 1864, he was told in the summer of 1864, by the Republican bigwigs, there's no way you're going to win that election in November, you're going to lose, unless you're willing to compromise on slavery, not insist on the Emancipation Proclamation, just have the union restored. And he said, I would be damned in time and eternity if I turned my back on the black soldiers. He was willing to lose that election. But then what happens? Everything changes. The mood of this, the North changes when Atlanta falls, there are victories in the fall. And he's able to win that election with both the union and emancipation. So who knows what the future is going to bring? We're just talking about 2024. There's the assumption that it'll be trumped there. Maybe it won't, but at least she's got renowned. She's done something worthy. And I wish more of our politicians would think about their future and how it will be remembered them than winning one stupid election again.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, I spoke to Tim Alberta from the Atlantic last night, who wrote, quote, this country is tracking toward a scale of political violence not seen since the Civil War. It's evident to anyone who's spent significant time dwelling in the physical or virtual spaces of the American right.

I know you've said previously, that as historian you've resisted the idea that the U.S. could be heading toward a civil war. I'm wondering, do you still feel that way?

GOODWIN: Well, you know, people keep asking me, are these the worst of times? And I keep trying to say, no, no, we've been through the Civil War. We've been through the Great Depression. We've been through the early days of World War II. But it prompted me in these recent weeks to just look back at a timetable of the 1850s and it does prove pretty chilling. I mean, you have so many echoes, I think of what we're seeing today, you had a partisan, press people only read the press of the paper that they liked so they got different facts on different sides. You had people who were not speaking the same language, the same event was interpreted in different way. You had people in from different sections who regarded themselves as the other, rather than as common American citizens.


And you know, most importantly, when Lincoln was elected, and after the Civil War started, what he said was that one of the central ideas they were fighting beyond the expansion of slavery was the idea that if you have a democracy, and if you have one party, in that case, the Democratic southern party willing to break up the union simply because they lost an election, and they won't accept that loss, then democracy will prove an absurdity. And then ordinary people can govern themselves.

So that's where we are now. It's still incredible to me, that people can say that the truth is on one side, and we're fighting the truth, the truth is that election was not stolen. And if we fight about the fundamentals of that, then the trust in institutions is gone, and the basis of democracy, but we still have the chance to fight that. The other chapters of our history still can be written. And that's what I got to keep believing, that's where the optimism comes from.

COOPER: Well, it's so infuriating, because we have more information now at our fingertips than they had in the 1850s. And you could understand why people just reading the newspapers that, you know, spoke to them would feel one way, but now there's no excuse for people going down these rabbit holes of fantasy and conspiracy. I spoke to you on January 8th of 2021 or two days after the insurrection. You said that in 100 years from now people will be -- will say that we suffered one of the worst crises we've ever been through and you hope people that will be stunned that it even happened.

Given what we've seen in the year and a half since then. Do you still think that that people looking back in 100 years will be stunned by what happened?

GOODWIN: I surely hope so. But it gets more scary. I mean, in -- on those when I talked to you that last time I was certain that it would be regarded as an aberration. And you there were hope in those early days after the attack on the Capitol. You had Mitch McConnell talk about the fact that President Trump was practically he said and morally responsible for what happened. Kevin McCarthy said that he was responsible for what happened. And then all of a sudden things changed. And you have breaking news and we're forgetting about January 6.

I've taken some sense of comfort in the January 6 hearings, which approved it seems to me beyond unreasonable doubt that there was responsibility, that the election was fair, and that there was a responsibility for what the president did in terms of actually stimulating the mob. And we were beginning to make, I think breakthroughs. The Wall Street Journal editorial against it and the New York Post, the Murdoch papers saying silence is deafening. And now everything's turned around, of course, because of the search warrant. But I think that truth will out in the long run.

COOPER: You just returned from Normandy, I understand you stood on Omaha and Utah beaches were allied soldiers. I mean, incredible courage charging into the fire against the German forces on D-Day. Those allied soldiers are obviously making sacrifice for something bigger than themselves. What do you think, standing there? What lessons can be applied?

GOODWIN: Oh, I'll tell you, Anderson, when I stood there, and I just thought about those soldiers and what they were willing to sacrifice, for honor, for duty, for freedom, for fighting against a fascist Nazi company, country rather, that was the greatest threat to Western civilization I think that's ever placed. And now that very democracy is at issue. And where are the people willing to sacrifice for that? We've got to hope that this next generation coming along will have those goals in mind, will have a sense of language and words that mean something. I mean, when I was there, when they were quoting Churchill, of course, and Churchill was able to arm the, arm the army with the power of words, you know. And Eisenhower, given the order of the day to those D-Day troopers saying, you're about to embark on a great crusade the eyes of the world are upon you. And FDR talking about the fact that this generation is willing to sacrifice in order to protect democracy.

We've just got to hope that somehow along the line, when you remember those moments in time, it'll give you a sense of pushing ahead to fight that this is our fight that has to be fought. This is absolutely true. It's not an exaggeration, that when an election is not accepted, peaceful transition of power is not accepted that democracy is at issue, but it's our democracy. It's us and we have to fight for it. And I feel more in need of fighting for it now than I did right after January 6. COOPER: Doris Kearns Goodwin, bless you. I'm just so happy to talk to you tonight. And you, yes, it's, you give me hope. Thank you.

GOODWIN: I hope so. Thank you.

COOPER: All right. I wish you the best.

Coming up, Western states facing mandatory water cuts due to the drought stricken Colorado River. We'll have a live report from Bill Weir at Lake Mead, next.



COOPER: Nevada and Arizona are cutting water usage from the shrinking Colorado River. Drought conditions and brought reservoirs along into record low levels. One is Lake Mead about 20 miles, excuse me, 25 miles from the Las Vegas Strip and providing water to millions of people. Right now, it's only 27% capacity.

CNN's Bill Weir is there for us tonight. So just walk us through how low these water levels are.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: It's so staggering. Even if you haven't been out here in a couple of years Anderson to see just how far it's gone back. This was the waterline in 2008. This is where that Marina that's waiting the distance was back then. It's a long walk to the top of the hill up there was where the drought started in the year 2000. And it has fallen down as you said it's a 27% capacity. Lake Powell a little bit upstream, not much better off. And as a result it's just been going down and down and down triggering these agreed upon new cutbacks here.

They got some monsoon rains recently you might have seen the flooding at the Imperial Palace in Vegas. That was enough to raise the wall Water levels here about 19 inches but its still 25 feet lower than it was his point last year and we're getting dangerously close to dead pool here Anderson in which doesn't matter generate power, it can't send any water downstream that would have huge economic implications there.


So the mission in the near term has tried to save the system in the next couple of years, and talk about the infrastructure projects you're going to need to keep people alive in this new world.

COOPER: And how are officials trying to cut water usage?

WEIR: Well, there's some encouragement that you don't water in the middle of the day and maybe think about tearing up your lawn. But that doesn't go nearly far enough. Governor Newsom in California asked him, you know, voluntary cutbacks, they went nowhere near what they needed. That's why there's some frustration among water managers of the states. They were hoping that the Bureau of Reclamation, the Feds would come in and be sort of the tough parents and say, no, we're going to cut this by a couple million acre feet.

You know, California is entitled to over 4 million acre feet a year, they are asking the state's to voluntarily come up with a fair way to cut that much out of the system. And they couldn't agree at all, now they're frustrated. Nobody knows what to do. In the meantime, the water is evaporating, and the lakes just get lower and lower.

COOPER: And they've also discovered human remains. What what's the latest on that?

WEIR: Yes, this week, it was the fifth report of human remains right on the Swim Beach, right in this area here. They're not sure if these were bones from another body that there were they had been found earlier. But this is another gruesome discovery here they found a body in a barrel with a bullet wound in the head that they believe was a mob hit from the late 70s, early '80s. As well they found boats from World War II era that sank here as well. It's just the, you know, this was all desert until we decided to build Hoover Dam and try to control the flow of all that snow pack melting and it's created 40 million, you know, society for 40 million people from Albuquerque and Denver to San Diego.

But the old way of thinking that this is a land of abundance and then you can use as much water as you want forever, those days are sadly over. And actually probably the emergency level is a lot higher than people even realize yet.

COOPER: Yes, it's stunning to see how far down it is. Bill Weir, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

We'll be right back.


The news continues. Let's hand it over to Alisyn Camerota in "CNN TONIGHT." Alisyn.