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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

CNN Projection: Republicans Win Control Of The House; Poland: Deadly Missile Blast Likely An Accident By Ukraine Defending Against Wave Of Russian Strikes; Former Allies And Donors Distance Themselves As Trump Launches Third Campaign; Pence: "Closing The Door" On Testifying Before Jan. 6 Cmte.; Angry Family Members Address Uvalde Police Official And County Commissioner's Empty Chair At Commission Meeting. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 16, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: This is according to his doctor. He says the comedian was working underneath his car Saturday when it burst into flames. And his doctor says some of the burns to the comedian's face are a little deeper and more concerning.

Doctors do say though, that he is expected to make a full recovery and we are all hoping that that full recovery is speedy.

Thanks so much for joining us.

Anderson starts now.



We begin tonight with breaking news. CNN Projections tonight that when all the votes are counted, Republicans will control the House, that along with Democratic control of the Senate means a whole new political world in Washington and new challenges certainly for the Biden administration.

Manu Raju starts us off from the Capitol tonight. So, what happens now?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first order of business for Kevin McCarthy is to secure the votes to become the next House Speaker. Behind the scenes, he has been moving to lock down the votes. He is about 30 votes shy right now.

He needs to earn 218 in the first week of January in order to become Speaker. It is unclear if we can get there as he is confident he ultimately will be, but there are Republican members on the conservative flank demanding some concessions.

And then there is a question about the Republican agenda, which is still being formed. They are expected to have a narrow majority, which will make governing incredibly difficult. Even passing messaging bills that have no chance of passing the Democratic Senate will still require a compromise between the conservative and moderate wings of his conference.

And also major issues like raising the national debt ceiling next year, extending government funding to avoid a potential shutdown. Those are big ticket items that will be on his plate in a Republican majority. And already, Anderson, they are also talking about a very heavy investigative agenda. That is one thing they can do in the Republican majority. They will have subpoena power. They have the Committee chairmanships and the ability to drive those investigations forward.

One of which will be looking into Hunter Biden and the Biden family's overseas business dealings, and tomorrow, Anderson, we expect two Committee chairmen, expected Chairman Jim Jordan and James Comer to announce how they plan to proceed on that front. So, the plans are starting to take shape -- Anderson.

COOPER: What did Congressman McCarthy have to say today about the former President announcing his run?

RAJU: Well, he wouldn't say if he would support Donald Trump. He was asked multiple times whether or not he would get behind Trump 2024. He would not say.

In fact, he was asked about his speech. He said, he said: "I thought he gave a great speech," referring to that last night. And Anderson that is in keeping with a lot of how Republicans are dealing with Donald Trump, a lot of them simply are not saying they are willing to get behind Donald Trump's third presidential bid, as they planned to or hoping to, essentially ignored subject as long as possible until they have to respond.

COOPER: What more you learning about what went on behind closed doors in the secret ballot election for Mitch McConnell?

RAJU: It was pretty tense. This was Rick Scott versus Mitch McConnell. This is the first time that Mitch McConnell has faced a challenger in his 15 years running the Republican conference in the most public dissent that we have seen over his leadership.

There was a push by a number of conservative members to delay today's leadership election, wait until after the December runoff in Georgia. There was that. There were 16 Republican members who were, of the 48 who were present, who voted to delay the election. That was not enough to succeed.

And then there was the vote to replace Mitch McConnell with Rick Scott, the Florida Republican senator as leader of the Senate GOP campaign arm.

He had 10 Republicans vote in his favor, 37 voted for Mitch McConnell, as the two and their allies went back and forth over McConnell's leadership over Scott's leadership of the Republican Senatorial Committee, and ultimately McConnell prevailed in that secret ballot election.

And Anderson, after all of that feud, McConnell now poised to be the longest serving party leader in US history in the United States Senate. But still a lot of dissatisfaction and disappointment after last week's results in the Senate races.

COOPER: All right, Manu Raju, appreciate it.

I want to go to CNN's Jeremy Diamond at the White House. So what is the White House saying tonight about the new House majority?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson for all the chest thumping that we've heard from the White House over the last week about defying historical precedent, this is a White House now very much confronting a reality that will define the second half of Joe Biden's presidency, that is the reality of a Republican majority, of divided government, of power sharing, and of course, critically of that subpoena power that Republicans will now have to conduct a range of investigations into the Biden administration.

And so tonight, we're hearing from President Biden in a statement that he congratulates the House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, and he says this: "As I said, last week, the future is too promising to be trapped in political warfare. The American people want us to get things done for them. They want us to focus on the issues that matter to them and on making their lives better and I will work with anyone, Republican or Democrat willing to work with me to deliver results for them."

Now, the President has been a lot clearer about the things where he will not compromise on with Republicans like a national ban on abortion, for example, than he has been on the areas where he is willing to compromise with Republicans, but nonetheless, this is a President trying to set the table for what is to come over the next two years.


Do we have any idea about any preparations they may have made for this new reality?

DIAMOND: Well, part of the preparations is what we're hearing from the President and what we've heard from him over the last week since these midterm elections, which is this notion of Republicans have to work with me as much as I have to work with Republicans, showing strength by touting the fact that they defied historical precedent by losing fewer seats than any Democratic President in decades, trying to get their leverage up.

What they're also -- what they've also been doing, Anderson, for months, even before these Midterm votes were cast is preparing -- preparing for these Republican investigations that are expected to be wide ranging into everything from the Afghanistan withdrawal to the President's son, Hunter Biden and the Biden administration's handling of border security.

So, this is a White House that has been gearing up for a long time preparing for this possibility of a Republican takeover of the House, and is now confronting that reality. Officials say that they're ready for it.

One other thing Anderson is they're also looking to see how this narrow majority affects all of that. And also, perhaps even some White House officials, a little bit giddy, I can tell you about the prospects of watching Kevin McCarthy trying to wrangle this rowdy Republican caucus with as slim a majority, as he has -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jeremy Diamond, appreciate it. I want to turn now to our CNN senior political correspondent, "Inside Politics" anchor, Abby Phillip, also CNN chief national affairs correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.

So Abby, how consequential is the victory by Republicans in the House? And what does it mean for the way things are going to operate for the next two years?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR OF "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY": I think it's really important who holds the gavels in the House especially, it really determines, as Jeremy was saying, what kind of, you know, investigations that President Biden is going to have to contend with. It can determine the nature of bills that get passed into law, I think it's really important.

But the last point that Jeremy brought up, which is the size of the majority matters almost as much. I think that Kevin McCarthy is going to be dealing with a really difficult situation, and in some cases, that might actually mean more problems for President Biden, McCarthy is going to be forced to give the right flank of his party more than he would like to give them, empowering them in ways that can make leading closer to the middle, much more difficult, and will make life a little bit more difficult for the White House as well.

So, I think that both of those dynamics, just the fact that they have power is going to be one thing, but how he has to wield that power, balancing a caucus that is not fully behind him is going to be very, very challenging for him.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, Jeff, it's a majority, a very slim one. How difficult does that make it for Kevin McCarthy?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It makes it very difficult for governing. A. He to win the speakership, but let's just assume that he does in seven weeks from now, he is contending with really a majority that is likely to be only a handful in a divided Congress with Democrats controlling the Senate.

And, you know, despite the fact that the gridlock often seems like the common denominator here in Washington, there are simple things that the Congress must do, like fund the government, for example, to keep the government afloat and to avoid a shutdown. Even simple things like that may be difficult, but there is no question that governing in the next era is going to be difficult unless some people come together and some coalitions come together, just sort of accept the message that voters sent and get something done.

We heard Senator Mitch McConnell say that today. He thought voters send a loud and clear message that they want something to be accomplished.

So all of these House members stand for reelection in 2024. President Biden also stands for reelection in 2024, many senators do as well. So there is an impetus to try and get something done. I'm just not sure how likely that is. But before any of this even happens, Kevin McCarthy has to win the speakership, which of course, the concessions he makes to do that to complicate all of this even more.

COOPER: Yes, Abby, I mean, that certainly does seem to be the message for voters. They just want competency and whether it's compromised, until something get done and things get fixed. But with the former President's candidacy, and what kind of impact do you think that has on the new House majority?

PHILLIP: Well, look, I think Republicans in general have to rewire their brains a little bit in light of a smaller majority, because I think that they thought that they were going to be getting a different lesson from voters than they did, and the one person who is the least likely to take the message that voters sent to heart is former President Trump.

I mean, he's going to be running on the Big Lie. He is going to be running on investigating Biden. He is going to be running on a kind of grievance politics that is actually not that related to passing laws that actually affect people's lives. And how McCarthy is able to balance that, you know, with the needs to actually keep some of his members who are going to be on the frontlines in 2024, comfortable and safe for their reelections is going to be really difficult.


He is going to be Speaker, McCarthy in part because Trump is not trying to oust him from that role. There is no one else that is really posing a significant challenge. It might be difficult, but I think it's notable that Trump has basically kept his hands off of that situation

Melanie Zanona has reported that he has been making calls to back up McCarthy, and so McCarthy is going to owe him something and how he balances that is going to be a huge factor in what kind of leader he is going to be for the Republicans.

Jeff, I mean, you mentioned this a little bit, but the concessions that Kevin McCarthy is going to have to make within his own party, no Democrats, but within his own party to get to the 218 votes he needs to win, I mean, there's a lot of folks in the Freedom Caucus, who he is going to have to make concessions to.

ZELENY: He definitely is, and one of the central things is a very arcane Washington phrase called the motion to vacate the Chair, and the big question hanging over this is, is he going to have to restore that, and essentially that means is he would put back a rule in place that allows any House member at any time to call for a vote of no confidence and then a new election of Speaker.

So no person, of course wants this. It is essentially what led to the demise of Speaker Boehner and Speaker Paul Ryan, just the threat of this hanging over the speakership. So, this is something he wants to avoid, but some House Freedom Caucus members want it to be imposed.

That's just one small example of some concessions he has to potentially make as well as Committee assignments and other things.

Abby is right. There is no one who has emerged as a leader. There is no one who has emerged as a credible alternative, but we have seen Speaker elections in years gone by not that far, in recent history here, so we aren't sure actually, if he is going to be the Speaker.

After Newt Gingrich, for example, when he was deposed, Bob Livingston was going to be the next Speaker until he wasn't. There was a scandal there, and then Congressman Hastert from Illinois became Speaker.

Kevin McCarthy thought he would be Speaker seven years ago and he wasn't because of some issues and Paul Ryan became Speaker, so we do not know. But the reality is, the concessions he makes now is likely to make his job even harder, if he gets the job.

COOPER: Abby Phillip, Jeff Zeleny, appreciate it. Thank you.

Next, Ukraine and the missile that landed in Poland putting NATO and the world on edge. We have a live report from the region and The Pentagon tonight.

Also, more of the former President's 2024 run. Now that he is, some of his biggest backers or I should say former backers and donors and even his own daughter are saying they don't want to pardon his third presidential run, the fallout ahead.


COOPER: When we left you last night, tension was rising after a missile landed on the Polish side of its border with Ukraine. Tonight, although there's still a lot we don't yet know and no shortage of finger-pointing surrounding it all, the situation appears to have deescalated when it might easily have gone the other way.

As you know, the incident which killed two people prompted an emergency NATO meeting in Brussels, urgent talks at the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, and a level of concern feeding to what might have led to a confrontation with Russia. So far, it has not, thankfully, and we're learning more tonight about why it hasn't.

As only CNN can, we have correspondents around the globe on this. CNN's Alex Marquardt at The Pentagon, Sam Kiley in Ukraine.

I want to start with Alex, what's the latest from the Department of Defense?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, as this news broke out of Poland, top US national security officials reached out to their Polish counterparts including the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who said today that there is no reason to doubt this preliminary Polish assessment that this was a Ukrainian air defense missile that fell into Poland. The Polish President said that this unfortunately looked like an accident.

US experts are on the ground working with their Polish counterparts to determine exactly what happened. Now, Secretary Austin today held a press conference alongside the top US General, Mark Milley, and the first question they got was what to make of President Zelenskyy of Ukraine's comments that this was in fact, not a Ukrainian missile.

Now, Secretary Austin tried not to disagree with President Zelenskyy saying that there is an investigation going on. He wants to see the end of it and allow it to proceed before he comes to a conclusion.

Take a listen to a bit more of what he had to say.


LLOYD AUSTIN, US SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We won't get ahead of the investigation. But, you know, our information supports what President Duda said earlier in his preliminary assessment. It was that this was most likely -- most likely a result of Ukrainian air defense missile, but we'll let the investigation play out here.


MARQUARDT: And earlier, President Biden in Bali had said that it was unlikely that this missile had originated in Russia.

Now regardless of what actually ends up being determined, Anderson, NATO's leaders from all across NATO are saying that Ukraine is not at fault here, that ultimately Russia bears the responsibility. We saw almost a hundred missiles fired at Ukraine yesterday. And of course, Russia has been waging this war against Ukraine for the past nine months.

As Secretary Austin was making these comments following what's known as the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. That's when Ukrainian allies come together to discuss military aid for Ukraine, Secretary Austin is saying that aid will of course continue in order to allow Ukraine to defend itself and to carry out continued offenses against Russian forces -- Anderson.

COOPER: Alex Marquardt, appreciate it.

I want to go next to Ukraine to CNN's Sam Kiley. What's the response been from Ukrainian authorities?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are sticking at the moment to the President's line that as Alex was saying that he doesn't believe, based on the information that he was given by his military structures beneath him that this was a Ukrainian missile, but there are other elements within the Ukrainian administration that had earlier accepted that there was a possibility that it could have been a Ukrainian missile because, of course, Ukrainian missiles were being fired close to the border with Poland to defend Ukrainian cities like Lviv against the incoming cruise missiles fired by Russia.

[20:20:27] KILEY: There were 13 in and around Lviv, for example, three of them got through, 10 were shot down by these rather old-fashioned S- 300 surface to air missiles, and there is also now an argument being made in Ukraine, essentially, Ukrainian officials saying listen, we need some of the more modern 21st Century NATO-style weapons such as those they recently received from the United States where Secretary Austin said they'd had 100 percent success rate in bringing down missiles and drones being fired at them by Russia.

And I think actually, the Ukrainians will expect that one of the fallouts from this tragedy will be that they actually maybe get more of the sorts of missiles that they need to protect themselves from the air whilst they continue their advance on the ground -- Anderson.

COOPER: Sam Kiley, appreciate it. Be careful.

Perspective now, joining us, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, CNN military analyst and retired Army General Wesley Clark.

Obviously, General Clark, a very difficult situation. We talked about it last night. It appears the system worked as it should have. NATO and the US moved calmly and quickly to investigate, asked everyone to wait for more information. So the escalation was averted for now.

As someone who worked in the NATO structure and is probably trained, for instances like this, I'm wondering what your thoughts are on the response thus far?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think we have to follow through on the investigation. The Russians are using SA-3 missiles in the bombardment. Their SI3 missiles that should be air defense missiles have been used to attack cities as a ground to ground missile.

So, there is a slim chance maybe, there was something far from Belarus. Secretary Austin said we'll get more information. We'll know the trajectory of this, and maybe that's what it was, we don't know.

But, you know, the likely thing is, it was a deflected air defense missile that somehow went off course, those things do happen.

I think, I think the good points on this are NATO came together very quickly. We've got full leadership attention. We are going to have to look at our air defense protection of Poland, as well as air defense protection of Ukraine.

We acknowledge that we don't have a complete envelope of protection. There are additional assets. There are additional reconnaissance assets that can be brought in. NATO AWACS, other area radars can be moved forward into Poland, and maybe some of the air defense assets should be moved forward into Poland, where they could guard against this kind of an accidental or something that's more intentional.

But I think that the real teaching point here is, first reports are sometimes wrong. Don't overreact. Get the information out, and then learn the appropriate lessons. COOPER: I mean, can Russia continue firing barrages of a hundred missiles at Ukraine indefinitely?

CLARK: Not indefinitely, but they still have got a large stockpile. In fact, they still have a third of their Iskander missiles that have been saved, and you know, the report is, they're going to get some Iranian ballistic missiles. The Iranian ballistic missiles, at least according to the Iranians have terminal guidance, which means that they don't follow a pure ballistic trajectory, which means that the mathematics of interception don't necessarily work, which means they are likely to get through, they carry a large warhead.

If those ballistic missiles are shipped to Ukraine, this is going to continue for a long time.

COOPER: General Clark, appreciate your time. Thank you.

Next, the former President declares his candidacy and some of his one- time supporters and big donors declare they are not with him now. What that means for his third presidential run and how it might or might not affect his loyal base.

Also, his daughter Ivanka Trump announcing she is staying away this time. If true, what that means for her dad's campaign?

And at the top of the next hour, former Vice President Mike Pence joining Jake Tapper live for CNN Town Hall.



COOPER: This morning, Rupert Murdoch's "New York Post" did not have the former President's announcement last night in the headline. The story was relegated to Page 26 of the paper with a small banner at the bottom of the front page which simply read "Florida Man Makes Announcement," which was likely a blow to the ego the former President, but Mr. Trump's campaign also took a blow when this man, Wall Street billionaire, Stephen Schwarzman said he won't back another Trump run.

And another big donor, a hedge fund CEO, Ken Griffin called the former President "three-time loser."

Then there's former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo apparently reacting to last night speech. He tweeted: "We need more seriousness, less noise, and leaders who are looking forward, not staring at the rearview mirror claiming victimhood."

The editors of the conservative, "National Review" meantime had a one word take on the former President. "No."

Here to talk about it, CNN political commentator David Urban, one-time campaign adviser to the former President.

David, so you know the former President well. He has obviously defied conventional political wisdom many, many times before. Do you think these defections will have an impact?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Anderson, they definitely have an impact, whether it's dispositive or not is still to be determined. You know, a lot of people in America, a lot of people attend Trump rallies don't know who Steve Schwarzman is or Ken Griffin or you know, I saw today Ron Lauder also said, you know, Trump's longtime friend, college friend, Ron Lauder, billionaire said he's not going to support Trump either.

So I don't think people who are you know, going to rallies in Latrobe, Pennsylvania much care what those folks think. And I think it's important for a wide variety of reasons in terms of funding and signaling who they are going to support.

But I think the question is one that Senator Lummis asked today or yesterday when she was asked if she was going to support Donald Trump and she said, the correct question is, who is the current leader of the Republican Party? And in her view and in many, currently it is Ron DeSantis of Florida.


And so, I think that's what's up for debate at this current point in time until other folks like, you know, the Vice President, we're going to hear from here shortly or my West Point classmate, Mike Pompeo get into the race. I think that's the question, you know, who's currently leading the party?

COOPER: Is -- I mean, is Ron DeSantis, in your opinion, the leader? I mean, he's not -- is he a national enough figure at this point to be considered the leader of the Republican Party?

URBAN: I can remember that. Remember the opening scene from Patton where George Scott's up there and says, America, Americans love a winner? Right. So, Ron DeSantis, was a big winner last Tuesday night. Right. And in the state of Florida and nationally that resonated and I think, you know, he built a coalition that if replicated, will carry the GOP to victory nationwide. And so, I think he's the current national leader of the party I do right now.

COOPER: DeSantis declined to weigh in on the brewing divide, I guess you could say among Republicans over who represents the future of the party. I just want to play what he said earlier today.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We just finished this election. OK. People just need to chill out a little bit on some of this stuff. I mean, seriously, we just ran an election. We have this Georgia runoff coming, which is very important for Republicans to win that Georgia run off. I mean, I know around the country of Florida was kind of the biggest bright spot, it was not so bright. In many other parts of the country. It was a substandard performance, given the dynamics that are at play.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: It's interesting DeSantis telling people to chill out, focus on Georgia and Trump basically doing the opposite, although Trump mentioned, you know, Herschel Walker, and I think is fundraising off and I'm not sure how much that money will actually go to Herschel Walker, if he is, in fact, raising money for him. But I mean, does it seems like DeSantis certainly, is really, I mean, you got to feel pretty comfortable in order to tell people to chill out.

URBAN: Hey listen, I mean, he is right. I think that the, the kind of the Post, the New York Post article, you mentioned, says, like, 720 days till the next election or whatever, you know, kind of tongue in cheek, but there's a long way to go between here and there. And I think people do need to exhale a little bit here. And let's just see what's going to happen in the coming months. And I think that, you know, Ron DeSantis is right to say that when you're when you're the lead dog, you can kind of say that right. And it's easy for him to do.

COOPER: Yes. Well, I'm wondering what you heard from people about the former president's announcement last night in the wake of it. I mean, were people underwhelmed. Excited?

URBAN: Ye. So interestingly, I was at the Republican Governors Association meeting in Orlando last night with a lot of a lot of governors and a lot of supporters. A lot of Republicans are top donors from around the United States and, and, and kind of the, you know, the chattering class and nobody was particularly paying attention to you know, the nine o'clock hour kind of came and went and people were asking, wow, did Trump actually announced tonight? Did he, do it? What did he say? Right?

So, people would kind of move down at least in that in that organization where they are focusing on you know, the governors that won right so Brian Kemp was there and you know, Governor Sununu was there, a lot a lot of people who kind of stood on their own Mike DeWine. Right people who, who sword without being you know, tagged with the former president or by the former president.

COOPER: Yes, interesting. David Urban, good talk to you as always. Thanks, David.

Ivanka Trump --

URBAN: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: -- tenure as senior advisor of the former president was notable in two ways, one for the lack of experience, any lack of experience really whatsoever in government or public policy and two for her absence, along with her husband, Jared Kushner at difficult moments during her father's presidency. This time around, though she says she's taking herself out of the picture right from the start. Our Kate Bennett explains.


KATE BENNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It didn't take long for Ivanka Trump to weigh in on her father's latest run for the White House, but not in the way that was expected. The president's daughter saying in a statement, I do not plan to be involved in politics. While I will always love and support my father, going forward, I will do so outside the political arena.

A big change for the former president's eldest daughter, whose high- profile role in Trump's first administration ranged from workforce development to women owned businesses, space, human trafficking, and lots of foreign travel displayed at Instagram worthy posts. Her all over the place portfolio was a target for critics who questioned Ivanka's qualifications, especially on high stakes foreign trips with actual world leaders.

A self-styled diplomat, the only presidential daughter at a G20 Summit, who was given the cold shoulder by these world leaders.


BENNETT (voice-over): Domestically, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, who sources tell CNN will also not actively participate in Donald Trump's White House redo gatekeepers of the West Wing. Unless of course things weren't rosy the couple often leaving town when bad news occupied headlines.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The amendment is not agreed to.

BENNETT (voice-over): Trump's health care bill floundered. They were on a ski trip in Canada. During the violent white supremacist riots in Charlottesville, vacationing in Vermont. Government shutdown, seaside at Mar a Lago. Ivanka Trump now living in Miami focusing she says on her three young children and the occasional charitable endeavor.

Her father now left with sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. and their significant others in his official children's cheering section.

IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: We must continue to prioritize women's economic empowerment.

BENNETT: Ivanka after inserting herself in just about every part of the Trump administration is bowing out.

Kate Bennett, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, coming up we're less than half an hour away from CNN's town hall with former Vice President Mike Pence. We have a live studio audience will be able to ask questions about his political future whether it'll (INAUDIBLE) without of the former president declared his candidacy last night. Jake Tapper as well.

Plus, we have new news on whether Pence plans to testify before the January 6 Committee.

Be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We're about 20 minutes away from a special CNN town hall with former Vice President Mike Pence. You can see the studio there we're about to take place. The former Vice President will be taking questions from Jake Tapper and members of the live studio audience. Vice President Pence is on a book tour ahead of a possible run for the presidency, we're expecting to hear him answer more questions not about that as well as his relationship with the former president who declared his own candidacy as you know.


Just a short time ago, CBS released its new interview with Pence. He's stating he'll not testify before the January 6 committee. Listen.


MIKE PENCE (R) FMR VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I served for 12 years in the Congress, it's inconceivable to me that one party would appoint every member of a committee in Congress, that's antithetical to the whole idea of the committee system. That being said, I never stood in the way of senior members of my team cooperating with the committee and testifying. The Congress has no right to my testimony. We have a separation of powers under the Constitution of the United States. And I believe would establish a terrible precedent for the Congress to summon a vice president of the United States to speak about deliberations that took place at the White House and --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, you're closing the door on that?

PENCE: I'm closing the door on that. And but I must say again, that the partisan nature of the January 6 committee has been a disappointment to me. It seemed to me in the beginning, there was an opportunity to examine every aspect of what happened on January 6, and, and to do so more in the spirit of the 9/11 Commission, nonpartisan, non-political, and that was an opportunity loss.


COOPER: I'm joined now by conservative commentary, Erick Erickson, host of the Erick Erickson Show on WSP radio and CNN political commentator, Alyssa Farah Griffin, who served as Director of Strategic Communications for the former president.

So, Erick, January 6, obviously the biggest area in which former Vice President Pence is broken from the former president, yet he's criticizing the January 6, select committee, not only there are two very conservative Republicans on it, but as you know, a 9/11 style commission actually did pass the House, it would have had equal numbers of Republicans, Democrats on it, Senate Republicans blocked it. So why is he making this position?

ERICK ERICKSON, HOST, THE ERICK ERICKSON SHOW: You know, it sounds like he's trying to thread a needle to keep conservatives happy with him who are skeptical of it. At the same time, I do think he has a legitimate argument on executive privilege from the White House being the Vice President, it really is a bad precedent to set for the Vice President to testify or the President has testified before congressional committee. But by wording it that way, it sounds like he's trying to split the baby, so to speak with conservatives who were skeptical of the committee, even as he's allowed his team to be cooperative with it.

COOPER: Yes, Alyssa, Benny Thompson and Liz Cheney released a statement just a moment ago, saying in part I quote, the select committee has proceeded respectfully responsibly in our engagement with Vice President Pence. So, it's disappointing that he's misrepresenting the nature of our investigation while giving interviews to promote his book.

I mean, he is putting a lot of those details in a book to sell, which we've seen other folks do as well, and so testify.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. As Erick said, the Vice President certainly has legitimate claims to privilege and he did greenlight two of his most senior staff to testify Mark Short as well as his chief counsel. If I were advising Mike Pence to which I'm not I would say, turn the page on January 6, and start moving forward on making your case against Donald Trump. Now that he's a declared candidate, he's not winning anytime he's talking about January 6 fundamentally. He did the right thing that day, he really stood in the brink for democracy. I'm not convinced that most elected Republicans had they been in his shoes would have done the right thing.

So, I'm always going to give him credit for that. But to Eric's point, it's a tremendously difficult needle to thread because there are people who see the committee as highly partisan. My experience, I've sat down with the committee a number of times, it was not partisan in the slightest, it was highly professional, they were deferential to people who wanted to cooperate with them, and willing to work on their terms. So, I just disagree with that.

COOPER: He doesn't also, to your point of, you know, setting himself in opposition to President Trump, he doesn't seem willing to do that at this point. I mean, on basic questions of Trump, you know, should he be president? Is he qualified to be? He's sort of leaves it up to says, oh, that's for the American people to decide?

GRIFFIN: Well, I'm really curious to see what he has to say tonight to Jake Tapper and other questions, because I give him credit that he was the first of the potential 2024 challengers to Trump to come out and at least be definitive on January 6, I think he went further than some of the others like Nikki Haley, and Mike Pompeo. And that will serve him well, strategically, because if he does get in the only lane is to run against Donald Trump. You cannot equivocate on something like January 6, but I think the sooner you rip off the band aid and just accept it, the better it is.

COOPER: Yes. Erick, I mean, if former Vice President Pence does run, do you think he would appeal to voters that support the policies of the former president? Because obviously the appeal for many the appeal to the former president is not just about any particular policy, it's about sort of the whole package.

ERICKSON: Right. You know, I had him on my radio show yesterday gave a very robust defense of the things that the administration did his book is replete with a full autobiography from when he was a kid, but there's a whole sections on defending what they did. I think it comes down to a character issue. He's a man of deep faith and I think after January 6 sight he realized he couldn't sustain some sort of lie that the election was stolen in 2020 and that began a pretty strong divergence with Trump on character issues.


COOPER: Erick, I mean, do you think Mike Pence would have a shot?

ERICKSON: You know, I think if people want to if they want to keep the Trump era they go with Trump, if they want to move the Trump era beyond it, I don't think they can go with someone from the Trump administration. So very difficult thing for Mike Pence a thread I use a longtime friend, I really like him. But if voters are ready to move on from the Trump administration, he was part of it.

GRIFFIN: I see this a little differently, I think there's a very narrow lane for Mike Pence. So I still believe that the evangelical base, which for decades has been one of the most powerful elements of the Republican base is larger than the election denier base. So, if he runs on the good policies, he's proud of and the Trump administration, but critiques the lies on the bad policies, which I knew firsthand, he was instrumental in reversing some of the most harmful like family separation, the Muslim ban and others and is able to definitively tell that story. There's kind of a better angel's lane, he can lean into sort of how Joe Biden contrasted himself to Trump. It's way too early to say if that's the direction he's going to go. But if he's going to run, that would be the way he should go about it.

COOPER: Erick, do you think I mean, he is somebody who I interviewed at Bart Barber, a president -- the newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who speaks very well of the former vice president and also is said he would support him in in a primary. Do you think he would get a lot of evangelical support?

ERICKSON: Listen, the whole reason he was picked as vice president for Trump was to block evangelicals. No, this is right. And that that he does have that lane to travel. There may be others competing with him. He started surrounding himself with a team of operators within the GOP who know how to reach out to evangelicals to make that case. They'll probably become more prominent in the next few months. Bart Barbara, head of the SBC, great guy and yes, there's a genuine affection among evangelicals for Mike Pence that goes beyond and before even the Trump administration.

COOPER: Erick Erickson, Alyssa Farah Griffin, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Just a reminder, a town hall with former Vice President Mike Pence begins in less than 15 minutes. Afterwards, our team will be back with a complete analysis of what was said. Next, though an update on a remarkable story brought to you Monday. It's important you see this Uvalde man who was the acting chief of the Uvalde police the day of the Robb Elementary School shooting were 21 were murdered including 19 children. Video, which was first put online, put on air by CNN has parents angry about his apparent refusal to act that day. Today they thought they would have the chance to confront him at a public meetings. CNN Shimon Prokupecz has the story of what happened instead, next.



COOPER: Before we get to CNN town hall with Vice President Pence, want to bring you an update on a story CNN first reported Monday about the individual who's the Acting Chief, the Uvalde police the day of the Robb Elementary School shooting. As you know, 21 people were murdered that day, including 19 children. Audio that was aired by CNN showed that the Acting Chief knew from a dispatcher that a child was trapped with the shooter in the classroom had called 911 about those who are still alive yet he did not organize an effort to immediately stop the shooter.

Today, parents hoped to address him at a county commission meeting instead, all they saw of him was an empty chair.

CNN senior crime and justice correspondent Shimon Prokupecz joins us now from San Antonio. You were at the meeting, what happened?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME & JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Frustration Anderson yes, as you said they came there expecting to see him he did not show up and said they got an empty chair. This is a position that he was reelected to last week. For most of the families, they are the parents, grandparents of these kids. What they're so angry about is that it is taking so long to get this information. And in talking to them and hearing them at this hearing today. You can hear and sense that frustration.

Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Pargas by now you realize that I'm talking about you. You have brought shame to the community. You have brought shame to law enforcement, you have tarnished the badge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This video footage exposed and put into sharp focus the true character of Commissioner Pargas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: User walked out on my daughter and the rest of her classmates. Mariano Pargas, you're not worthy of this title. I'm not asking, I am demanding that you stepped down as county commissioner.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PROKUPECZ: And so, he is still Lieutenant Mariano Pargas. remains a lieutenant with the Uvalde Police Department. He's been on leave the mayor place them on leave. But he continues Anderson says still get paid by the county.

COOPER: You interviewed the mayor of Uvalde on Tuesday, how did he respond to the newly released video?

PROKUPECZ: Well, he's frustrated too Anderson, because he doesn't have access to this information. He's never seen the video that we aired. He's never heard that phone call that you mentioned. And so, he's saying I need this information because I can't make decisions about the city, about the police department without this information. And the city is not able to access this information. Because the district attorney and the investigators are not cooperating with him. They're not giving him the information to make critical decisions six months into this. And he's still not getting that information.

As to the Lieutenant Mariano Pargas. The mayor said after watching this video and hearing about this call, he says he wants him gone. He wants an off the police department. We're waiting on word from city officials on what that process is going to entail. I know that the city officials were in meetings today trying to figure out what the next step is. But as far as the mayor is concerned, he told us by the end of this week, he expected that Mariano Pargas would no longer be part of the Uvalde Police Department.

COOPER: It's just I mean it's stunning to me that these families are getting this information from you. I mean from you, you're reporting. You're getting these videos, you're doing this reporting, that the law enforcement is not informing or the district attorney is not informing the families of what is going on it's just so outrageous and yes, it's just stunning to me and this this is just outrage after outrage after outrage. It's sickening.


Shimon, I appreciate all the reporting. Thank you.

Coming up to CNN town hall with former Vice President Mike Pence. He's answering questions from the live audience and Jake Tapper, stay with us.


COOPER: That's it for this hour of "360." We'll be back at 10:00 p.m. Eastern for analysis the town hall with former Vice President Mike Pence. Jake Tapper is moderating. It starts now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Good evening and welcome to CNN town hall with former Vice President Mike Pence. I'm Jake Tapper.

He is the man at the center of one of the most fateful days in American history January 6, 2021. And tonight, the former Vice President will lay out the details of that day along with behind-the- scenes accounts of the Trump presidency, which he writes about in his newly published book which is entitled So Help Me God. Mr. Pence joins us just 24 hours after Donald Trump announced that he is running for president for the third time. Our audience is here to ask the Vice President about issues important to them.