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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Early Voting Begins In Georgia With State Of Key Races On The Ballot; Russia Kills At Least Four In Kyiv With Iranian-Made Drone Strikes; Concerns About Uptick In Oline Threats Ahead Of Midterms; Conspiracy Theories And Election Lies On Fringe Online Platforms Cause Concern Of More Political Violence; Greene On McCarthy, Should He Become Speaker: "He's Going To Give Me A Lot Of Power And A Lot Of Leeway"; William Shatner On His New Book And Historic Space Flight; Ava Goes To Disney World; Latest MRI Scan Shows No Relapse. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 17, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: The other winning ticket was sold in California. The winners will split $494 million. Lee County where Fort Myers is located recorded the most deaths from the storm, 56 in all. The Florida winner has 180 days to claim their share of the jackpot.

Thanks so much for joining us. AC 360 starts now.



Tonight, what some candidates are saying and what that says about where we are as a functioning reality-based democracy.

First, Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker versus reality starting with what is indisputably true. In his college and pro football career, he accomplished what most can only dream of. He is a three-time all-American running back, three-time Player of the Year with a National Championship and a Heisman Trophy to his name.

He played pro ball for some of the best teams in the league, competed in the 1992 Winter Olympics, and in the last administration, co- chaired the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

All of that, in short to say that Herschel Walker has plenty to be proud of.

Among those accomplishments, though, is not a degree from the University of Georgia as he has claimed, because he never graduated, let alone is he also claimed in the top one percent of his class.

He has claimed he was a high school valedictorian, he was wasn't; and he suggested he was an FBI agent.


HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: I spent time at Quantico at the FBI training school, you ought to know, I was an agent.


COOPER: Yes, he wasn't. He did claim he was obviously joking, which he did not make clear at the time. And this year when the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" reported his comments as a serious claim, Walker's campaign did not tell the newspaper that he was joking.

In any case, claiming non-existent ties to law enforcement is a familiar refrain of his. In a speech in 2017, he said: "I work with the Cobb County Police Department, and I've been in criminal justice all my life." And now, he is standing by this moment from his debate Friday night with the incumbent Democrat, Raphael Warnock.


WALKER: And I have to respond to that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are moving on gentlemen.

WALKER: No, no. I have to respond to that. And you know what, so funny. I am with many police officers, and at the same time --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Walker, Mr. Walker --

WALKER: No, no, no. When he said a problem with the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, Mr. Walker, out of respect, I need to let you know --

WALKER: The truth is in here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need to let you know, Mr. Walker.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are very well aware of the rules tonight.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you have a prop. That is not allowed, sir. I ask you to put that prop away.

WALKER: Well, it is not a prop. This is real. He says I have a problem, I never worked with law enforcement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it is considered a prop. Mr. Walker. Excuse me, sir.

WALKER: Yes --


COOPER: Again, this is familiar territory for Walker claiming ties to law enforcement that do not in fact exist.

Here is what he told NBC's Kristen Welker in a new interview.



WALKER: This is from my hometown. This is from Johnson County, from the Sheriff of Johnson County, which is a legit badge. Everyone can make fun of it, but this badge gives me the right -- and wait, let me finish -- if anything happened in this county, I have the right to work with the police in getting things done.

WELKER: Does that have arresting authority or it's an honorary badge?

WALKER: It is an honorary badge, but they can call me whenever they want me and I have the authority to do things for them, to work with them all the time.


COOPER: Yes. I've got one of those, too, and it's honorary. It has no power actually. He added: "I work in law enforcement."

Keeping Them Honest, he does not. Herschel Walker has never had a job in law enforcement. I can't believe we're even talking about this. His titles are honorary.

His badge or badges are no different from the wings airlines used to give kids on their first flights. And why don't they do that anymore? They don't make you a pilot any more than the mayor giving you the key to the city, unlocks any real doors. I've got those, too. They don't work.

Kristen Welker also asked him about allegations, the antiabortion candidate paid an ex-girlfriend to terminate her pregnancy.


WELKER: We did show a copy of the check to Walker who said the allegation he paid for an abortion isn't true.

WALKER: This is still a lie because she is the mother of my child. So you're going to see my check or somebody give her a check, so I'm saying it is a lie.

WELKER: Do you know what the $700.00 is for?

WALKER: I have no idea what that can be for?

WELKER: Is that your signature?

WALKER: It could be, but it doesn't matter whether it's my signature or not.

WELKER: When pressed Walker said definitively for the first time that check is his.

WALKER: Yes, that's my check.


COOPER: That's the first time he has admitted it. However, his suggestion if that's what it is that the money was to help support their child, it doesn't make sense. You heard him say, "This is still a lie," meaning that it was to pay for an abortion, "Because she is the mother of my child."

At that point, she did not yet have a child of his to support that pregnancy. Their second, which she did not terminate, would come later.

So when asked why voters should believe him, Walker said, "Because I have been very transparent about everything I have ever done."

Now Republican, Kari Lake who is running for Governor in Arizona has been very transparent about not accepting the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. However, when CNN's Dana Bash asked her if she would have similar doubts about her own, her answer suggested only if she loses.



DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR AND POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: My question is will you accept the results of your election in November?

KARI LAKE (R), ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to win the election and I will accept that result.

BASH: If you lose, will you accept that?

LAKE: I'm going to win the election and I will accept that result.


COOPER: Which, of course, is not the same as saying she'll accept actual reality. However, that turns out or that Herschel Walker will ever acknowledge the actual reality that supporting law enforcement doesn't mean you have to pretend you're in law enforcement.

But all of it is tempered by the larger reality, what matters to voters next month. A new polling suggests that sentiment, which had previously been trending Democratic is now shifting to Republicans.

Perspective now from CNN's Dana Bash, who you saw a moment ago; also CNN political commentator, former Special Assistant to President Obama, Van Jones, and Maggie Haberman, CNN political analyst, "New York Times" senior political correspondent, and author of the remarkable and best-selling "Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America."

So, Dana, let me begin with you, Kari Lake. I'm wondering what you made of interviewing her because she clearly does not want to say that she would accept the results, whatever they are of the election.

BASH: She is reserving to do what Donald Trump did on a national level, and especially in the State where she is running, in Arizona, which is to not admit to not accept the reality.

Now she did -- I pressed her one more time after what you played, and she simply said, I'm not even going to entertain that idea, because I'm going to win. That is a more traditional answer that candidates won't even accept the notion of losing, at least, you know, a few weeks before Election Day.

But because she is a very clear election denier when it comes to 2020, calling it corrupt, calling it stolen and all of the words that we've heard from Donald Trump, it is logical to think that she would use that same strategy for her own election, which is why I pressed her on it.

The other question is, if she does become Governor, will she use that same strategy in 2024 for the next presidential election, which would not only impact the people of Arizona, but the people of the nation because we saw how pivotal any State, including Arizona can be in a presidential election.

COOPER: Maggie, Herschel Walker, the politician is essentially a creation of the former President Trump.

In your new book, you write about a conversation you had with Trump about Walker's "complicated personal history," what did he say about it?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So it was interesting, Anderson, he started talking -- and this was a year ago, a little over a year ago -- he started talking about Walker's history on the football field. And he was talking about what a great player he was. And this was at a time when Senate Republicans were still very wary of Walker, you know, before they had sort of thrown in the towel and accepted that he was likely to be the nominee.

And I mentioned his personal history, and Trump said he does, but -- and I'm paraphrasing, because I don't have it in front of me -- that it was, you know, personal history that 10 years ago would have been a big problem, 20 years ago, and it would have been a bigger problem. I don't think it's a problem today.

And when I asked him, why is that? And he said because the world is changing. And he did not acknowledge that part of why it is changing is because he has helped change it. He has changed the matrix. He has changed the standards for how some candidates are able to get by on what previously would have been very, very problematic discoveries in their candidacies.

COOPER: We lost Van Jones. So, we hope to get him back.

Dana, Herschel Walker has these ever changing explanations that really don't make sense. And yet, it doesn't really I mean, I don't know, does it matter in Georgia? I mean, it seems like there's an acceptance, that people are supportive, they are ignoring his problems with the truth as long as it gets them a Senate majority.

BASH: So, there are two ways to answer that question. One is with Herschel Walker in particular. What Maggie is reporting about what Donald Trump said is very true about Herschel Walker in that he is kind of a micro version of Donald Trump himself, and that he is and was well-known, as you mentioned, at the top of the show, well-known football player and also his foibles are well known there.

And so a lot of Republican strategists are saying that they believe that the latest allegations and all of the ramifications from that are kind of baked in. Having said that, there definitely is a big question that we won't know the answer to until we see real results in Georgia.

There's a big question as to whether the "Access Hollywood" moment for Donald Trump was a marker for a big change in the way American politicians handle these kinds of scandals, particularly Republicans.


BASH: We saw what happened with Andrew Cuomo, he tried to pull a Trump and say, "I'm not going to go anywhere," it didn't work out for him, and a few other candidates since then. But this is another example, as Trump predicted to Maggie, over a year ago, a potential to weather a storm that would not have been weather before because Republican leaders have had had thrown them under the bus.

They tried that with access -- and so there's a lesson learned on a leadership level as well.

COOPER: Yes, Maggie, the House Oversight Committee released documents today saying that Trump's company charged the Secret Service exorbitant hotel rates for agents protecting the First Family at properties that they owned, upward of $1.4 million over four years. I just want to play with Eric Trump said in 2019, about what the government spends at Trump properties.


ERIC TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S SON: If my father travels, they stay at our properties for free. It saves a fortune, because if they were to go to hotel across the street, they'd be charging 500 bucks a night, whereas, you know, we charge them like, you know, 50 bucks.


COOPER: So, that doesn't appear to be true. I'm wondering what you made of the comments from Eric Trump juxtaposed with the White House Oversight Committee report.

HABERMAN: Oh, the House Oversight Committee report appears to be based on actual data from what was being spent by the government. And, you know, it had been clear for a while that Donald Trump was charging the Secret Service.

There have been reports about it in real time that Donald Trump was charging the Secret Service, you know, certain rates to stay at his properties. They did not appear to be below market value and minimum. You know, this current report suggests it was well above that.

You know, Trump always justifies these things to people as, well, you know, we lose the rooms otherwise, or were things he would say privately and again, you know, there is a vast difference between what he and members of his family have said about what they were doing with the business, you know, in terms of Trump's involvement with it on one hand and another with these rooms, and what they were actually doing.

And it is also why it is a reminder that, you know, there's a lot of talk at the moment about Joe Biden and the time that he is spending outside of DC and how notable it is that he goes home most weekends to Delaware and that's true. That said, he does not charge people to stay at his private club and that is a pretty big difference.

COOPER: Maggie Haberman, Dana Bash, appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up next, a live report from Kyiv under attack by Russian launched Iranian-supplied kamikaze drones. Ukrainians are coping what The Pentagon is trying to do to get them advanced anti-aircraft missiles faster.

And later, I'll be joined by William Shatner about the joy of going into space and the sadness that he is now saying followed.



COOPER: There's new reporting tonight, Defense official tells CNN, The Pentagon is trying to accelerate the delivery of two national advanced surface-to-air missile systems to Ukraine. The move comes as Kyiv struggles to deal with Russia launching swarms of Iranian supplied loitering munitions, which are better known as kamikaze drones at the Ukrainian capital. The attack killed four people.

CNN's chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward is back in Ukraine joins us now. What do we know tonight about the targets of these attacks? How specific are they or not and how much damage was done?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there's like sort of two components to these attacks, Anderson. On the one hand, they seem to be targeting civilian infrastructure, energy plants, power plants, electricity plants. The Russians are preparing for winter, which is just around the corner and they want to basically maximize the pain that civilian populations across the country, but particularly here in the capital, in Kyiv are going to be feeling during that winter season.

But the second component then is the fear factor, the morale factor. You hear that sound of those drones overhead and you can feel that fear in your stomach. But interestingly, talking to the Mayor here, he says that fear is actually quickly being replaced by anger. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WARD (voice over): A policeman takes aim at the kamikaze drone as it bears down on Kyiv. Nicknamed mopeds in Ukraine because of their distinctive line, 28 launched toward the city on Monday. The majority are successfully shot out of the sky, but four break through, shattering the early morning calm in the heart of the capital.

(on camera): So you can see that's the railway station down at the end. The air is thick with the smell of explosives.

(voice over): Investigators are already collecting evidence.

(CLARISSA WARD speaking in foreign language.)

WARD (on camera): It's from the drone. Yes? Where did you find it?

(CLARISSA WARD speaking in foreign language.)

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

WARD (on camera): So they are saying that's the tail fin from the drone that hit.

(voice over): The target according to Ukrainian authorities, Kyiv's energy infrastructure, but one hits a residential building nearby with devastating results.

(on camera): I see at least one person has been killed. They are taking the body away now.

(voice over): Rescue workers comb through the smoldering rubble. There had been reports of voices still alive inside. An extraordinarily lucky older woman is rescued from her balcony next door, bundled away to the hospital.

Up until one week ago, the city had been relatively calm. Now, Kyiv's mayor says the Russians goal is to make life as miserable as possible for civilians as colder weather sets in.


MAYOR VITALI KLITSCHKO, KYIV, UKRAINE: The Russian want to destroy right now the critical infrastructure of our hometown -- water, electricity, heating.

WARD (on camera): What impact does it have on the psyche of the people of Kyiv that there are kamikaze drones now attacking your capital?

KLITSCHKO: Everyone is so angry. Everyone wants to defend the families, want to defend hometown.

WARD (voice over): As we prepare to interview a volunteer medic from Sweden, the air raid sirens start up again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Organization called Swedish Rescuers.

(AIR RAID SIRENS.) WARD (on camera): All right, well, you must be used to hearing that sound by now.

(voice over): We move to take cover. Three cruise missiles have been reported heading in the direction of Kyiv. This time, they are intercepted by Ukraine's air defenses, but Kyiv's residents know that there will be more.


COOPER: Clarissa, you mentioned 28 of these drones were launched in Kyiv just on Monday. We saw some policemen trying to shoot some down. How are -- a lot of them seems like they are being brought down. Do you know how?

WARD: So Anderson, the vast majority of them are being intercepted, which is pretty incredible. The way that they're doing that as a number of ways.

First of all, in the most crude of fashions. As you saw in that social media video, that extraordinary video, very brave policemen are basically taking their rifles and trying to shoot these things down. They are very difficult for radars to detect and they fly low. But you can certainly hear them. So you are seeing ordinary citizens basically trying to shoot these down out of the sky.

Also, of course the air defense systems have been able to also shoot a number of them down, but the real concern there is that that is not really a sustainable situation because the problem is that they are expending so much of their kind of precious reserves of their missile defense systems that they have to, you know, shoot so many of them just to take out one or two drones and they have been flooded with these drones.

The Foreign Ministry is saying, Anderson, in the last week, there have been something like 100 and that they have hit bridges. They have hit sewage treatment plants. They have hit and damaged one-third of Ukraine's energy infrastructure just in the last week.

So, you can imagine how serious this is for the Ukrainians and you can also understand why they are so upset with the Iranians for continuing to supply these drones to the Russians.

COOPER: Yes, Clarissa Ward, appreciate it. Be careful.

Just ahead, the online threats and political violence ahead of midterms. How even some Republicans particularly those who have angered the former President are not safe from fringe elements, CNN's Donie O'Sullivan joins us next.



COOPER: The new information we learned last week from the January 6 Committee about the level of social media threats the Secret Service was receiving ahead of January 6 comes weeks ahead of a midterm election where there are again concerns about the potential for threats of political violence.

After the search of the former President's Mar-a-Lago home in August, there were obvious threats against FBI agents and the Attorney General. That same month, the DOJ said election workers had reported 1,000 interactions with the public they considered hostile or threatening.

This cycle, State election officials are boosting security for staff in polling areas. Donie O'Sullivan has more.



DONIE O' SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When Donald Trump posted that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had a death wish, some of his followers saw it as a message.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): This is an anonymous account on Truth Social responding to a story about Trump mentioning that Mitch McConnell has a death wish and then this person writes, "Let's move him to the front of the line of traitors." I mean, how seriously should we be taking this? How worried if some random person on the internet is posting this? Should we really be that concerned by it?

GREG EHRIE, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: I think we have to. This is speaking to people throughout the United States who are saying, okay, it's acceptable to call for the death of an American official. What kind of country is that?

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): Experts who track extremism online say in recent months, there has been an uptick in violent threats, even talk of Civil War, and Trump is at the center of it. A major flashpoint, the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago.

BENJAMIN T. DECKER, CEO, MEMETICA: Every time he puts out a new statement, it leads to a dramatic uptick in violent rhetoric across fringe platforms.

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): "Lock and load" read one response to the FBI's search on a pro Trump forum. Another user replied, "Are we not in a cold Civil War at this point?" That poster, bananaguard62 turned out to be a Washington stateman, who has pleaded guilty to unlawfully entering the Capitol on January 6th. His account identified by the group, Advance Democracy.

Posts like this on right-wing forums, a cause for concern, but it is not just anonymous online trolls beating the Civil War drum.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Democrats want Republicans dead, and they've already started the killings.

CHANEL RION, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, ONE AMERICA NEWS: We are the closest to Civil War Two we've ever been.

ALEX JONES, INFOWARS HOST: We plan on having a Civil War that brings down America.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Take a seat.

(voice over): Greg Ehrie, a former FBI Special Agent read through some of the violent rhetoric that came after the Mar-a-Lago search.

"Every FBI agent who doesn't quit in the next few weeks is an enemy of the Republic."

"The FBI is now and forever known as the Gestapo. Treat them like you would treat a Nazi or a Marxist agent coming for your kids."

EHRIE: This makes me angry, obviously, personally, as a former FBI agent, to compare them to the Gestapo, to call them Nazis and Marxists, to say that they should be treated as such is an offense to everyone who works in law enforcement.

O'SULLIVAN: I think some people watching this will say there has been talk of Civil War in this country since the Civil War ended. What makes this moment different?

EHRIE: It feels different during this period, in this election. It seems like the country is really radicalized to an extent where they are more receptive. They're hearing these messages and we're breaking off into different factions, like we've never seen our citizenry do before.

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): Calls for Civil War intensified around January 6th, and had been simmering ever since. Here is what one couple had to say outside a Trump rally two days before the Capitol attack.

(on camera): Will you accept Joe Biden as President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, he'll never be my President.


But you know, you accept that he's going to be inaugurated?


O'SULLIVAN: I mean, how could that change at this point?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it could be Civil War. You never know.

O'SULLIVAN: You don't actually want a Civil War, do you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't. Show us the voting machines. Show us the ballots. Show us that this was a fair election or we will never accept another vote again -- ever.

O'SULLIVAN: And it is that belief in the lie of a stolen election that helps fuel talk of a second Civil War.


BARBARA WALTER, PROFESSOR, UC SAN DIEGO: They see themselves as true patriots, the defenders of American identity, and they see themselves justified in using whatever means necessary to safeguard America's identity.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Barbara Walter has studied civil conflicts around the world.

(on-camera): Would you say that by even having a conversation about the prospect of a civil war in the United States that we're being alarmist just even talking about this?

WALTER: I wish that were the case, I wish if I stopped talking about this, if everybody else stopped talking about it, this problem would go away. But the reality is, there are violent extremists who want to overturn the current system. When you go and you talk to people who've lived through civil wars, and I've talked to a lot of them places like Sarajevo and Baghdad and Belfast and you ask them, if they start coming. They all say the same thing. They all say, no, we had no idea.


O'SULLIVAN: And Anderson, you know, I think two years ago, we would not have done a story like this about anonymous comments on the internet. But what we have seen since January 6, is that some of those people who are making those comments, go on to commit violent acts. And that is the big challenge for law enforcement figuring out of these commenters who are the keyboard warriors, who will never step out from their basements or from behind their computer screens, and who may pose an actual threat and go on to commit these violent acts. It's a really, really difficult task.

COOPER: Yes. Donie O'Sullivan, appreciate it.

I'm going to perspective now from New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, who has written about this from a different side of the issue. In fact, the title of one of his columns is, quote, Let's Not Invent A Civil War.

Ross certainly seems sensible. It's not invented civil war. There was a thwarted attack on an FBI field office shortly after the Mar-a-Lago search, your own newspaper recently detailed increasing threats to members of Congress, Republican Senator Susan Collins said she, quote wouldn't be surprised if a lawmaker ended up getting killed. I know you say that they're always lone wolves to watch out for, which is certainly true. Do you have any concerns beyond that?

ROSS DOUTHAT, OP-ED COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, I think it's obviously true that America is a deeply polarized country, in which people say terrible things about elected officials on the internet, and that Donald Trump has played a particular role in sort of stirring this pot to a boil. And you saw on January 6, that you can get a translation from the internet into reality. All of that is true. It's also true, though, that in 2021, for the first time since 9/11, there was not a single mass politically motivated terror attack in the United States. That means right wing, it means left wing, it means Islamic radicals. So, this is 2021, the year when Joe Biden was under Trump's narrative illegitimately elected. When, if you believe opinion polls, tens of millions of Americans on the right thought that Biden had stolen the election. This was an unusually politically peaceful year in the U.S.

COOPER: What about the January 6 attack?

DOUTHAT: (INAUDIBLE). So again, as I said at the outset, Anderson, the January 6, attack was a very serious thing. But if the argument is we're poised to tip into a civil war, you need more than a few 100 people starting a riot outside the Capitol, you need large numbers of Americans who are prepared to actually enact real political violence. And I think everything that we've seen since January 6, indicates that the vast, vast majority of people who say things like, you know, Biden's stole the election, they're taking the country from us and so on, are not enthusiastic about actual armed conflict in a way that could tip America even into a late 1960s style scenario, let alone the actual term Civil War.

I'd also note that, you know, the main what you what you actually need to get something describable as a civil war, are organized forces plant that are capable of disrupting the federal government's monopoly on force. The only organized force or semi organized force that seems to be committing quasi acts of terrorism in the last year are the people vandalizing and committing arson against prolife pregnancy centers, which, again, is not a civil war is not part of the sort of QAnon Trump narrative. But again, even there, you're just not -- there is no evidence that there's a large-scale appetite in the United States, for people to Trent to step from the internet into reality. and take up arms. Does that mean that people can't be inspired to commit acts of violence? No, they -- this could happen tomorrow and it's a terrible thing.


But I am very, very skeptical of the leap from there's dangerous rhetoric on the internet that might inspire someone to commit an act of violence to America is comparable to Lebanon in the 1980s.

COOPER: Right. I hope you write. Ross Douthat, I look --

DOUTHAT: Me too. You can have me on when, you know. (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: No. Let's hope it doesn't go there. Ross Douthat, appreciate it. Thank you.

Just ahead, how Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene sees her growing role in the Republican Party now and if Republicans take the House, which she told the reporter and author about it, who joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Should House Republicans gain the majority in the midterm elections? Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy may have his hands full at least judging by this comment from Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene in a fascinating new profile of her by the New York Times Magazine quote, I think that to be the best speaker of the House and to please the base, he's going to give me a lot of power and a lot of leeway. She predicted in a flat unemotional voice. And if he doesn't, they're going to be very unhappy about it. I think that's the best way to read that and that's not in any way threat at all. I just think that's reality.

Robert Draper is the author of that piece as well as the new book chronicling the changing face of the Republican Party. He titled it Weapons Of Mass Delusion When The Republican Party Lost Its Mind it's out tomorrow. Robert Draper joins me now.


So, Robert thanks for being with us. Here three weeks out for the midterms. The polling suggests Republicans have momentum in their direction. How do you square that with the pervasive misinformation embraced up and down the ballot by many of their candidates, excerpting (ph) chronicle in the book?

ROBERT DRAPER, AUTHOR: Yes, Anderson, as you've likely seen, the New York Times did a survey in which they statistically came to the conclusion that the majority of Republican office seekers for high office have all said that the election was stolen. And so, it's out there. It's pretty plain. But the reality is that as public opinion polls also show, the matter of the fate of our democracy is not uppermost in their minds. Inflation and the economy are numbers two and one I believe.

And so, it's not likely to be effective you can certainly, you know, expect the Democrats will do all they can to make a Marjorie Taylor Greene, for example, to be the poster child of the Republican Party. But it's very, very difficult, particularly in an off year, where the party and power tends to lose seats, and that's what's likely to occur here.

COOPER: We were, yes, we were talking to her in the program about Georgia Republican senator nominee, Herschel Walker, obviously, another controversial Republican in Georgia, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who's spoken extensively with. Based on what you found, what are the next couple of years look like, if the Republicans take control of Congress, especially for you know, Congresswoman Greene?

DRAPER: Right. Well, what Marjorie Taylor Greene wants to do has been clearly laid forth, Anderson, it's an open question as to whether or not the Republicans will be able to govern will actually be able to get past the things that they want past. But certainly, it will be, first and foremost, the party of retribution. They will punish Democrats for having removed Greene and Paul Gosar from their committee assignments, they will almost certainly come up with some rationale to introduce articles of impeachment against President Biden and perhaps some of his Cabinet members as well. Then we'll see what they do, you know, whether or not the use of social issues as tied to, for example, the matter of the debt ceiling, that we only agree to raise the debt ceiling, if you will finish to finish the wall. I know that that's what Greene would like to see, she would like to see a four-year moratorium on immigration.

But again, these are all goals and the Republican Party for a very long time. It has not been very adroit at passing legislation since the Tea Party really. And it remains to be seen whether they'll be able to develop any kind of consensus and hold their own party together, much less pick up Democratic votes.

COOPER: I mean, does Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene really have the power that she sort of indicated in that quote that she gave to you?

DRAPER: Yes, the short answer is yes. I mean, she, you know, she is a representative of the MAGA base, which constitutes a very, very loud minority within the Republican Party and has succeeded in killing the majority of the more establishment wing, to go along for fear that they will be primary. And as they, as my, you know, in my book reporting, I heard time and again, Democrats who would say to establishment Republicans, how can you let Marjorie Taylor Greene cite what she's saying and get away with what she's getting away with? What they say is, well, if you know, if I criticize her, I'll be primary. If I lose my primary, and the person who replaces me is not going to be someone you're going to want to see in Congress, you'd rather be me, even if I'm going to ground on moments like this.

COOPER: She still seems to indicate interest in support of or curiosity of QAnon or certainly gives out, you know, messages to QAnon followers that would seem to imply she backs them.

DRAPER: Yes, I mean, Anderson, you're right, though she has now rejected QAnon says that she ultimately decided that QAnon was fake news too. That the fundamental precepts of QAnon the President Trump is fighting this lonely, heroic battle against radical Democrats and against the deep state, and the Democrats are essentially, if not, you know, pro pedophilia, then then cobblers of saying that they are opening the borders and allowing, you know, there's a great replacement to take place. These are all things that are part and parcel of QAnon and those are undine precepts, not just with Marjorie Taylor Greene, but with a lot of others in the heart, right of the Republican Party.

COOPER: Yes. Robert Draper's book is fascinating, Weapons Of Mass Delusion When The Republican Party Lost Its Mind out tomorrow. Thank you, Robert

Up next, William Shatner joins us from Los Angeles to read his new collection of essays on the life lessons he learned over his nine decades including his thoughts on his journey to the edge of space. Look forward to that. We'll see you in a moment. Right back with us.


[20:48:42] COOPER: Star Trek legend and recent space traveler William Shatner has a new book out with a new collection of essays under the fitting title Boldly Go Reflections On A Life Of Awe And Wonder. In the book he reflects on his remarkable life, including his thoughts after soaring to the edge of space aboard the Blue Origin rocket, Jeff Bezos' rocket. You may remember a year ago, the 90-year-old became the oldest person to travel into space. He says he had a shift in focus after the experience writing the book, quote, we are aware not only of our insignificant but the grandeur around us that makes us insignificant. That allows us perhaps a chance to rededicate ourselves to our planet to each other to life and love all around us if we seize that chance.

And William Shatner joins us now from Los Angeles. I like the hopeful message. Given all that is going on some, you know, it seems overwhelming at times.

WILLIAM SHATNER, AUTHOR: Listening to all your previous guests and there's this drumbeat of dread and annihilation and the point is lost. We are in the midst of the political turmoil and this incredibly stupid war that's going on. But the real point is existential existence that our world is facing that as you and I are talking things that took five and a half billion years to evolved are going extinct.


So, the real war, the real focus with concentration is got to be saving our world, saving our world not only for us and you with your gray hair, you'll be gone by the time. But our children, your children, my grandchildren, they are poised on this existential ladder that could collapse at any moment. So, my book is about the interconnection of everybody and everything. We're made of stardust, but the point of connection in the world itself is so profound, it's so intricate, what the way we belong to the world and the world belongs to us. That connection is there, should the world fail, we fail, should we not fail, we can save what we've done to the world.

So, there's this existential war that's going on. And we are connected to the universe. And in my book, I tried to point out that that happened, it was illustrated not only my trip to space, but in the musical career that was laughed at to begin with. And that ended in, in triumph at the Kennedy Center. And I sang there and it was round, and I taped it and, and it's an album and it's a television show. But one song that Robert Chernow and I wrote was called So Fragile, So Blue, and we're making a music video of it. And in my dream, it becomes the anthem the way we are the world. This becomes the song of what can we do is the question I asked him the song.

COOPER: For a moment, I got my hopes up because when you said in my dream, I thought you're going to say, you Anderson Cooper would be in the video. That's what I thought you're going to say, but that's OK.

SHATNER: Sure. You're going to be in the video, you'll be the first person I have.

COOPER: But I thought, when you say about connection is so is so important. I've been doing a podcast about loss and grief. And that is something which feels so isolating, and yet is actually something that connects us to everyone else on the planet. It is something that we all go through loss and grief. You wrote, you write about grief, the feeling of grief that you had coming back from space. And you said --

SHATNER: Anderson, I was up there, and I saw the beauty of the earth, and I saw the deadliness of space. And I suddenly started to weep when I landed, just wondering what am I crying about? And I realized that I was in grief for the world. And it took me awhile to understand that, that we are insignificant, where our little world is insignificant. We're a rock, we're and we are insignificant beings living on the rock. But what we are is we're aware that we're insignificant and that awareness allows us to look at the at the universe in awe and wonder and say this, what are we doing screaming at each other? Surely, we can -- can't we all get along?

COOPER: You wrote, you wrote, it was among the strongest feelings of grief I've ever encountered. The contrast between the vicious coldness of space and the warm nurturing of Earth below me, below filled me with overwhelming sadness. Everyday, we're confronted with a knowledge of further destruction of Earth at our hands, the extinction of animal species of flora and fauna, things that took 5 billion years to evolve and suddenly, we will never see them again, because of the interference of mankind, it filled me with dread. My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration, instead, it felt like a funeral.

So, what is the answer? That I mean, the book is full of much more than just, you know, anecdotes from your life, there is real philosophy that comes across. Is that -- what is the -- what do you hope readers take away?

SHATNER: As a philosophy attempt to say, we are part of the universe, you can tap into that universe by prayer, meditation, Tibetan horns, whatever it is, awareness of that we are part of the universe. And somehow for me, at any rate, the universe seems to have taken care of me, through all the trials and tribulations I've come out at the end and I feel wow, that it's OK. And that we go on to other things that that is taken as a matter of faith. I think it's all there in front of us.

COOPER: I wish -- do you have Tibetan horns? Do you -- because I would love one day to see you with your Tibetan horns if you have them.

SHATNER: No. But I was in the -- in a place where the monks went in in in Tibet, and saw the horns, heard the horns --

COOPER: They're amazing.

SHATNER: -- be -- well, I mean, everything vibrates. And it's the vibration of the earth.



SHATNER: So, they think it's vibration of the earth, and why not. COOPER: Well, you know, I read there there's some monks who can like split their vocal cords or something in some way and create they create this incredible sound when they're chanting. I might be wrong about splitting the vocal cords but that I think I read that, but it sounds is incredible.

Listen, we're out of time, but William Shatner, I love talking to you. The new book is Boldly Go Reflections On A Life Of Awe And Wonder. Thank you so much.

SHATNER: Thank you for having me.

COOPER: All right. Up next, if it hasn't done it already a little more to inspire you and update on our friend five-year-old Ava, the brain cancer warrior.


COOPER: We leave you tonight with some good news on five-year-old Ava the brain cancer warrior. A few weeks ago, during childhood cancer awareness month, you may recall I spoke with Ava and her mom Cassie Thomas. Her mom direct messaged me on Instagram initially about Ava's fight and the struggles that so many families are having here and around the world because there just isn't enough money going to research for new treatments for childhood brain cancers. A lot of the treatments are very old.

Ava underwent chemotherapy and radiation. It was brutal. We're very happy to share the last week, Ava and her family went to Disney World, thanks to Make A Wish Foundation. It's Ava with her family in front of Cinderella's castle. They arrived in Florida, they had a reason to celebrate though she's not out of the woods yet. They were told that Ava's latest MRI showed no evidence of disease, even her family had a great time. They met Mickey Mouse. They gave him a big hug. The family also went to Epcot, road rides there. Her favorite ride I was back at Magic Kingdom Thunder Mountain which Ava rode with her hands up as promised on the program last time we talked to her.


We wish her well and her family well and our thoughts tonight are with so many kids and their families facing adversity at all.

News continues. Let's hand it over to Jake Tapper in "CNN TONIGHT."