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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Warnock And Walker Campaign In Final Push Ahead Of Tomorrow's Senate Runoff Election; GOP's McCarthy Silent On Trump's Call To Silence The Constitution; FBI Now Involved Investigation Into "Targeted" Attack On NC Power Substations, Tens Of Thousands Without Power; Students At TX School Districts Wear Pink In Honor Of Slain 7- Year-Old Girl, FedEx Driver Charged In Her Kidnapping, Killing; Hawaii National Guard Activates As Volcano Lava Flow Spreads. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 05, 2022 - 20:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: It is absolutely stunning. Scientists with the US Geological Survey say they don't know how long the eruption will last.

Thanks so much for joining us.

AC 360 starts now.



By this time tomorrow night, we'll be counting the votes in Georgia's Senate runoff. The polls close at seven. CNN's coverage begins at four.

At stake, whether Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock holds off challenger, Herschel Walker giving Democrats a 51 to 49 majority and control of Senate Committees next year.

Now the race has already seen a record number of early ballots cast, massive campaign spending especially on the Democratic side. Negative ads from both sides and numerous allegations of personal misconduct by women against Walker, it has been quite a race, it was quite a final day of it. CNN's Jeff Zeleny tonight has details.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): One final day of overtime in Georgia.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): We are on the verge of victory, but I don't want us to do the victory dance before we actually get into the endzone.

ZELENY (voice over): Senator Raphael Warnock exuding confidence, but warning Democrats against being complacent on the eve of his runoff against Republican challenger, Herschel Walker.

HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: You are going to know you've got a champion in Herschel Walker.

ZELENY (voice over): With control of the Senate set to stay in Democratic hands, Walker implored Republicans to send him to Washington as a check on President Biden and his policies.

WALKER: Vote, vote, vote. If you hadn't voted, tell them to get out and vote.

ZELENY (voice over): It's the final big act of the 2022 Midterm Election with Georgia voters once again having a last word. More than 1.8 million have already cast ballots, but both sides know the outcome depends on Election Day turnout on Tuesday.

WARNOCK: If there is anything I'm worried about, it is that people will think that we don't need their voice, we do. We need you to show up.

ZELENY (voice over): Walker faces steep challenges in money and math.

Democrats have more than doubled GOP ad spending over the last month alone, an astonishing $55 million to $26 million in TV spots that have flooded the Georgia airwaves to the total cost of nearly $81 million since November 9th.

The former football great is also scrambling to overcome an extraordinary 200,000-vote shortfall of underperforming Republican Governor Brian Kemp in November, a deficit complicating his path.

Walker supporters are keeping hope alive.

ZELENY (on camera): Do you think more may come out to vote on Tuesday?

JOHN HAYNES, GEORGIA VOTER: I think there will be a lot of Republicans to vote. And I think a lot of them had already gone out and voting. We voted early this time.

MARCIE HAYNES, GEORGIA VOTER: I think we still do. This helps pull it off.

ZELENY (voice over): It is like John and Marcie Haynes (ph) who keep the outcome of the runoff hanging in suspense since they are Republicans who have already voted, a sign that not only Democrats are casting their ballots early.

WARNOCK: I think they're going to get this right. They know this race is about competence and character, and I remain hopeful that I will be able to continue to do this work for the next six years.

ZELENY (voice over): The White House is also watching closely. A Warnock when would give Democrats a 51 to 49 majority in the Senate, not only breathing room, but protection for the President and his agenda from the Republican-controlled House.


COOPER: Jeff Zeleny joins us now from Georgia.

Former President Trump recruited Walker to run for Senate in Georgia, what kind of role has he played in Walker's campaign, particularly in this runoff period? Because he hasn't been visiting obviously during it?

ZELENY: Well, Anderson, that's right. It has been largely an absent role. In fact, diminished to calling in tonight to a tele-rally, well, he is just trying to fire up his base supporters, but he has not been seen in public, not even been heard from in public.

The reality is, it's been very much a double-edged sword. Yes, Herschel Walker needs the support of the Trump base, but it's also being used by Democrats to try and drive out their support. In fact, Senator Raphael Warnock, the Democratic incumbent was calling Herschel Walker, his opponent, the handpicked candidate of Donald Trump today, so trying to use him to fire him up.

But on that phone call tonight with supporters, the former President said that Herschel Walker is the last line of defense against President Biden, so trying to cast this race even though the control of the Senate does not depend on it, as a check against the White House.

He said, if Herschel Walker is elected, it will make Chuck Schumer's life more miserable.

But Anderson, that is the stake, they're not talking about control of the Senate as they certainly hoped they would be.

COOPER: Yes, Jeff Zeleny, appreciate it. Thanks.

We're going to get perspective now from Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, a Republican who recently said on this program that he could not bring himself to vote for either Walker or Warnock.

Lieutenant Governor Duncan, appreciate you being with us. How likely -- How does former President Trump play in this? I mean, do the rewards of a phone call to tele-rally outweigh the use of that by Democrats against Walker?

LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN (R-GA): Yes, I think the token rally is just that, it's a token rally, right? I mean, he went from being a massive tailwind early in Herschel Walker's campaign. It is really the only reason why he became the nominee was because of Donald Trump early on, but fast forward 12 months and reality setting in.


He is now probably the biggest headwind that Herschel Walker has. In fact, he hasn't mentioned him anywhere he really goes, and if he could do it all over again, he probably would never mention his name on the campaign trail. COOPER: The interviews with Politico this weekend, Walker didn't seem to know, I mean, it wasn't clear he knew exactly which House he was running for. He seemed to indicate he was running for a House seat and talked about this breaking the balance of power. At this point, is a vote to Walker, is it a vote for people who are coming out on the Democrat side or coming out to vote for Warnock -- is it purely about the candidates themselves or supporting the Democrat? Or is it against Walker?

DUNCAN: Well, first of all, it's really hard for me to have to do this, right, to call balls and strikes on my own team, but I think it's an important part of the process.

It's not fun to go home at night and talk to your wife about how many folks have discussed this stuff on social media and trashed us and our family, but this is a necessary step in healing.

And so for me to answer the question, this is a proxy on Joe Biden, it is a proxy on Donald Trump. At the end of the day, you've got to be competent on the subject matter. This is a senator, 100 people that represent the US Senate. You've got to be competent on the issues.

And you know, whether you're a person who struggles with the fact that Herschel Walker may be from Texas, if you struggle with the fact that there's all these personal allegations that all he's done is call these women liars and not actually address or distinguish the rumors. If you're worried about any sort of policy positions. There's a lot there.

And I'm one of those Republicans that think that conservative policies matter. Right? Brian Kemp got reelected in Georgia because he ran on his record, he ran on how he governed and that is how we have statewide officers all across our State that are Republicans.

COOPER: But there are certainly a lot of people who will vote for Walker, maybe not because they think he is competent or the best person for the job, but because he will vote conservative, he will vote Republican, and that is what matters at the end of the day for them.

DUNCAN: Well, look, we are unfortunately not talking about the majority in the Senate from the Republican perspective. We are talking about some nuanced stuff around committees and judicial appointments.

You know, we're just trying to break this vicious cycle of addiction to Donald Trump as Republicans, and that's really what it is, right?

COOPER: What are you talking about when you say a healing in these instances?

DUNCAN: Yes, look, this is a vicious cycle of addiction that started when they told us to swallow it and take him as our nominee, then deal with his trashing everybody on Twitter, and then dealing with the postelection fallout and the conspiracy theories and then Herschel Walker. And you know, it is time to break this vicious cycle. It's time to heal up, it's time to go figure out who are the real leaders, and you know, everybody talks about, Geoff, you need to be a team player.

We need team leaders right now as Republicans. We just got trounced when it should have been one of the biggest, easiest layups we've made in years and decades. But unfortunately, we put the wrong candidates in place all over the country. I'm sure the folks in Arizona wish they could have somebody other than Blake Masters and Kari Lake. I'm sure the folks and the Republicans in Pennsylvania wish they had somebody other than Dr. Oz.

Hindsight is 20/20, and I think unfortunately, we're going to wake up on Wednesday and realize that we wish we had somebody other than Herschel Walker representing us.

COOPER: Lieutenant Governor, I want to bring in also CNN political commentator, former South Carolina Democratic State lawmaker Bakari Sellers, also Georgia conservative radio host, Martha Zoller, who worked on the campaign for former Georgia Republican Senator David Perdue and current Governor Brian Kemp.

Bakari, I mean, conventional wisdom is that Warnock has momentum on his side. Do you -- are you optimistic? Is there anything that gives you pause about what may happen tomorrow?

BAKAR SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's going to be very close, and the thing that gives me pause is what everybody on this panel will tell you, which is that Republicans turn out on Election Day. They are going to show up in a lot of big numbers in a lot of small counties tomorrow on the day of the election. The question is, in these larger urban counties like DeKalb County, Fulton County, in Savannah, and Augusta, where people will, particularly Black voters in those areas continue to come out tomorrow, and will we have a large enough early vote advantage?

I say the answer to that is yes, because you've seen a well-oiled machine on behalf of the Warnock campaign showing up early. Now, he will tell you, like anyone else will tell you, you cannot count your chickens before they hatch. As he says you can spike the ball before you actually score the touchdown. And so we'll see what happens tomorrow. We hope the more Democrats come out tomorrow, but our early vote advantage should give us the edge.

COOPER: Martha, I know -- I mean, you hear Herschel Walker in those comments to POLITICO sounding like there is some confusion about his understanding of the workings of Congress. Do you think at this point that cost him support at all? Because previous, I know you've said that you do see a path to victory for Mr. Walker.

MARTHA ZOLLER, GEORGIA CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: Yes, I mean, I don't think this cost him this late in the game, and as I pointed out, when we've talked before is that if you look at the counties, basically a little bit of North Atlanta south, the deficit against Governor Kemp was about two points. It wasn't as much to overcome. The problem, and the problem for Herschel Walker is that the big differences were in counties like the county that Geoff lives in and I live in in Cherokee County and other ones and so, that is where the biggest ground to makeup is.


And so I like to look at the data. You know, I think for most Republicans, they're going to vote for Herschel Walker because he is the Republican candidate and going to vote like a Republican, but I'm really looking at the data county by county and that's what I'm going to be looking at tomorrow night.

COOPER: Lieutenant Governor, I mean, you've Governor Kemp now going all in using his ground operation in support of Walker, is that going to help make up that deficit?

DUNCAN: I think it certainly helps. I don't know if he is able to close the gap. I mean, he starts out way behind just because of the 200,000 folks that split the ticket, those folks that openly admitted that they held their nose and went in and voted. So you know, minus all of those numbers. It's a tough hill to climb, and it will be a turnout game.

And certainly it's Georgia, and so anything can happen. We could wake up Wednesday morning and Herschel Walker win by a landslide. I just don't see any data points that show that actually could happen.

But the one thing that just shocks me is, you know, here we are at the closing part, and the best asset that Republicans have is Joe Biden. It's really the kind of the failed record and all those things out there that just are unanswerable. We're not talking about that.

We're talking about Herschel Walker, we're talking about shortcomings. We're talking about whether or not he lived in Texas or not, and why, you know, all these interviews he gave from Texas. I mean, those are the wrong things to be talking about if you're a Republican. It certainly wasn't what Brian Kemp was talking about when he ran away with a race over Stacey Abrams, the most funded and highest name idea of any candidate maybe in the history of the Democratic Party.

COOPER: Bakari, I mean, we saw former President Obama fly to Georgia last week to campaign for Warnock. The closest former President Trump is coming to the Walker campaign, as we talked about is this virtual event tonight, you know, online. Is the race going to prove out what works and what doesn't for each party going forward? I mean, is this a defining moment for the former President?

SELLERS: No, because Republicans won't learn their lesson. I mean, the fact is, and I appreciate Lieutenant Governor Duncan, simply saying this, but you can't nominate Blake Masters. You can't nominate Mastriano. You can't nominate Herschel Walker. You can't nominate these people and expect Georgians or Arizonans or Pennsylvanians to be that naive about the political process.

I mean, people go up and they can see, they can hear. They can hear how inarticulate Herschel Walker is. They know that he doesn't understand the fundamentals of what happens in the United States Congress. And what you're asking them to do is say, look, set aside your intellect, set aside your morals, set aside your ethics, set aside what you see with your own eyes, and go and vote for him anyway, so that we can have one more you United States Senator, and I just feel like that's shallow reasoning.

And I think that when you have two candidates and you're able to draw those contrasts, there's been nothing dramatic that's happened. And I don't think that the Kemp organization is a dramatic addition for Herschel Walker or a huge subtraction for Raphael Warnock. There has been nothing to change the game or the dynamics.

Kemp is definitely a value-add. I'm just not sure he is a value add that can make up the ground that Herschel Walker needs to make up because of his own issues that he brings to the table.

COOPER: Martha?

ZOLLER: Anderson, the point there though, is ground game, okay. The big difference that the Kemp campaign brings is the ground game, as well as Greater Georgia with Kelly Loeffler.

Republicans have not had a ground game like this in a very long time, if ever.

You know, Geoff Duncan is a great Republican. I think he did a terrific job as Lieutenant Governor. I have been proud to work with him on a number of issues, and we don't have that many disagreements about these issues.

But I'm just looking on the ground and I think that we just don't know about a Georgia runoff. Ten years ago, they were three weeks. For the last several cycles, they have been nine weeks. Now, they are four weeks.

It's very difficult to predict, and I think that, you know, it could go either way tomorrow.

COOPER: Lieutenant Governor Duncan? Final word.

DUNCAN: I think we've got our work cut out as Republicans all over the country. We are waiting for a leader to show up that cares as much about this country as I think our Founding Fathers did.

We need a direction, I think, a conservative direction to get this country back on track.

COOPER: Lieutenant Governor Duncan, I appreciate you being with us. Bakari Sellers, Martha Zoller, as well, thanks so much.

Coming up next, the former President's call to terminate parts of the Constitution -- the US Constitution. His lie about what he said and the difficulty many Republicans are still having calling him out on it. We're keeping them honest. And later, the mystery surrounding what is being called a targeted attack on parts of North Carolina's power grid. People still in the dark tonight literally and figuratively and why the FBI is now part of the investigation.



COOPER: Keeping Them Honest tonight, the former President is once again asking who you're going to believe? Me or your lying eyes. Once again, he is pretending he didn't say something absurd and absurdly dangerous for a once and possibly future President to say.

As you've likely heard early Saturday morning, he posted a rant of sorts on his social media site responding to the release of internal Twitter e-mails from 2020 about Hunter Biden's laptop and a "New York Post" story at the time.

The relevant part reads: "A massive fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution."

Now a lot of reporters and commentators have substituted the verb suspend for terminate, but he didn't say suspend. He said "allows for the termination."

What pieces of the Constitution he would actually terminate, again the verb that he used, he did not say. It is certainly startling, yes, to hear a former President, any former President or public official for that matter mumbling about terminating the Constitution. You know the document that our entire system is based on, the thing public officials, members the military swear to uphold and defend and the document that people have died to protect.

What's not startling is that today, the former President is pretending he never said what he just said, and we all read. In another social media rant today he wrote: "The fake news is actually trying to convince the American people that I said I wanted to terminate the Constitution. It is simply more disinformation and lies just like the Russia, Russia, Russia and all the other hoaxes and scams."

Keeping him honest though, the old post is still up. You can check it out. It's not been deleted.


And it hasn't been changed. I'm quoting again, because the words are exactly the same as they were on Saturday: "A massive fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations and articles, even those found in the Constitution." So he is lying, of course, the lie is plain to see of course.

And of course, just like last week, when it was him dining with antisemite and a white Nationalist, many, though not all Republican lawmakers and party members are finding it hard to simply condemn what he said straight up without all kinds of hemming and hawing.

Well, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski called it a betrayal of his oath to office and an affront of the Republic. The former Vice President, though put what his old boss said into a kind of a nameless, faceless, timeless vacuum.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I must tell you that I think everyone that serves in public office, everyone that aspires to serve or to serve again, should make it clear that we will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.


COOPER: Okay, yes, everyone should, but what about the actual guy who actually just broke that rule and then lied about it? He doesn't say.

Senator John Kennedy doesn't even go that far. To him, this is a matter of interpretation.


SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): I disagree with the President. The Constitution can be amended. The Constitution can be interpreted, but the Constitution can't be suspended.


COOPER: Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott said nothing when asked today about the former President's statements and now, Roger Marshall tried a new verse of the old song didn't see that tweet.


SEN. ROGER MARSHALL (R-KS): I don't know what President Trump said about the Constitution. I just don't think that's the issue. I don't think that's what you all should be talking about.


COOPER: Yes. Not what we should be talking about.

When told about the comments by CNN, Senator Marshall still did not condemn them saying: "I don't know if that's been taken out of context, or what or where it came from."

Again, just in case you didn't know, it came directly from the mind and social media account of the former President.

Congressman David Joyce of Ohio tried to variation on the theme and then would not rule out voting for the foreign President in 2024.


REP. DAVID JOYCE (R-OH): Well, you know, when President Trump was in office, I didn't make a habit of speaking out of his tweet du jour. I don't know what came out on his whatever his new social platform is, but people are not interested in looking backwards.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Donald Trump was your nominee in 2016 and 2020. You voted for him in 2016 and 2020. Now, he is talking about suspending the Constitution.

Can you support a candidate in 2024 who is for suspending the Constitution?

JOYCE: Well, again, it's early. I think there's going to be a lot of people in the primary. I think at the end of the day, you will -- whether the Republicans end up and fall in behind because that's --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Even if it's Donald Trump, as he has called for suspending the Constitution?

JOYCE: Well, again, I think it's going to be a big field. I don't think Donald Trump is going to clear out the field like he did in '16.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's not what I'm asking. I'm asking you if he is the nominee, will you support him?

JOYCE: I will support whoever the Republican nominee is.


COOPER: By the way, what is a pretty big field in 2016? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has also not ruled out voting for the former President, again, has yet to weigh in on this; the same for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. By the way, the same Kevin McCarthy, who says he plans to have his members read the Constitution out loud when the new Congress convenes.

Joining us now CNN political commentator and one time campaign adviser to the former president, David Urban; also CNN senior political commentator, former senior adviser to President Obama, David Axelrod.

David urban, I mean, how can Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy square having Republicans read the Constitution from the House floor, it being that important, with the former President wanting to terminate the Constitution?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would say that's a bad timing. Right? It's an opportune timing on Kevin McCarthy's part in terms of making that announcement. I don't think he anticipated that the former President would call for spending the Constitution

Look clearly, it's outrageous, right? I mean, so many people you've just articulated, you know, Anderson, you take an oath to uphold and to defend the Constitution, put your hand in the Bible and say, I will fight to defend this document, these principles.

And for the former President to say he is going to suspend it because of a personal grievance about the election is just, you know, it's outrageous. And so, I think that, you know, it's not that hard to say that, but in fact, you know, does it have an impact on the Trump voters in the 2024 primary? I think it's not going to have an impact on the Trump 2024 primary voters. I think that there's those ride or -- as I've been saying, 30 percent of the ride or die Trumpers are still with him. They don't they don't care what he says, and they just chalk it up to oh, you know, it's more hyperbole by the former President.

COOPER: David Axelrod, what does it say that even among those Republicans speaking out against the comments by the former President, few have said that they are disqualifying.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well listen, Anderson, first of all, I feel like you and I and maybe Dave have had this conversation many, many times before.


COOPER: I know, it's hard -- see, I actually was thinking a lot about how to even describe this, because I don't want to get into sort of this. You know, daily -- I don't want to get back into this daily outrage machine of like, you know, this is what he does. I don't know why we're surprised by it. I mean, this has played out multiple times.

AXELROD: The man provoked an insurrection against the US government. The man lied about an election and sold that lie and continues to relentlessly so that like --

COOPER: But rumors of the Tea Party Movement and all the folks dressed up like people from 1776, and they talked about the importance of the Constitution and people on January 6 talking about the Constitution.


COOPER: Now he says we can terminate it.

AXELROD: Yes, and you should go back and read some of the quotes of the Founding Fathers about the demigods they feared because they sound very much like Donald Trump.

You know, Kevin McCarthy, what he ought to do is rather than reading the Constitution on the floor of the House, he ought to go down to Mar-a-Lago and read it in the dining room where he met with President Trump a week after the insurrection, because he is the person who really needs to hear what the Constitution says.

But in terms of your question, it is very clear that that Republicans still fear Donald Trump. And you know what's remarkable about it is, we just went through a Midterm Election where people gave a resounding verdict on this whole election denial nonsense, this dangerous election denial stuff and defeated candidates who are carrying the Trump banner and carrying the election denial banner, and yet here we are again, and still, the party leaders won't denounce Trump, won't take him on friendly because they fear the base, they fear primary voters. In Kevin McCarthy's case, he's still trying to get the votes to become Speaker of the House. So Donald Trump has that party. He is holding that party hostage right now.

COOPER: David Urban, I mean, it is like having, you know, a drunk relative who yells out obscenities or incredibly inappropriate things and you don't know what to do about them and so people just ignore him.

I mean, soon he'll be like wandering around with an onion tied to his belt talking about you know, movies used to cost a nickel. There is no question there, I just felt like I wanted to say that.

URBAN: The current the President did say turn on the Victrola at one point in time, not too distant ago, so we're not too far afield. But Anderson, to David's point, what he raises, it's a good point. Right?

And to your point about the outrage machine. We just got drubbed as a Republican Party. We just got drubbed because Independents told us that they feared Trump and too Trumpy the candidates, and you know, as we looked to '24, the Senate has -- you know, a third of the Senate is up, so 33 Senators are running. Of those 33, twenty-three are Democrats, right, or caucus of the Democrats.

So the Democrats have a very unfavorable map in coming up here in 2024 and I'm very fearful that if we don't try to turn the ship around in the water that we're going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory once again.

COOPER: But, David Axelrod, I mean, it is extraordinary. The former President, he announced he is running for President, I don't know what -- three weeks ago, and since then --

AXELROD: Yes, how do you think the launch is going?

COOPER: Right. I mean, since then, he has dined with, you know, an antisemite and an actual Neo Nazi or, you know, yes, I guess an actual Neo Nazi and now, he's talked about terminating the Constitution, or at least parts of it. I mean, how is that campaign going? As a former -- as somebody who knows about campaigning?

AXELROD: Well, it's an unorthodox strategy, I'll say that. Listen, he is sort of blunder bust into the election. He felt wounded by the results of the election. He didn't want to appear weak and defeated, so he announced his candidacy right away. There was no plan, there was no thought.

And basically, you know, he is operating from his feral instincts here. And, you know, he is repeating behavior that got him in trouble in the first place. So I think the reality remains what David Urban said, which is, he still has a grip on a third or maybe a little more than a third of that Republican primary and that gives him a lot of leverage.

COOPER: David Axelrod and David Urban, I guess we'll leave it there. Thank you. Appreciate it. Coming up: The FBI is now involved in what's been called a targeted attack on two county power substations in Central North Carolina. Tens of thousands without power, many questions about who carried out the attack. We'll have live report from North Carolina.

Plus, a former senior official with the Homeland Security will talk to us next.



COOPER: Now to what's being described as a targeted attack over the weekend the damage two substations with gunfire. Temperatures in Moore County, North Carolina expected to be in the mid-40s tonight, as state and local officials desperately try to restore power to tens of thousands of residents. Outage is expected to last until Wednesday or Thursday for most residents. It was suspects or motives announced the FBI is now involved in the investigation. Prior to the attack, it had warned of an increase in reported threats the nation's power grid from racially motivated violent extremist.

CNN's Miguel Marquez has more on that.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Attacks on to power substations in a central North Carolina County, sending ripples of concern nationwide over the threat of domestic terrorism.

KARIN JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE SECRETARY: The White House is monitoring -- has been monitoring the situation and is in contact with local officials and improving how government communicates and shares threat information with the private sector.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): The attacks, underscoring how fragile components of the nation's electric grid can be.

GOV. ROY COOPER (D-NC): Protecting critical infrastructure like our power system must be a top priority. This kind of attack raises a new level of threat. We will be evaluating ways to work with our utility providers, and our state and federal officials to make sure that we harden our infrastructure where that's necessary, and work to prevent future damage.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Officials in Moore County say they don't know who attacked the substations or why but the sheriff says whoever did it knew exactly what they were doing.

RONNIE FIELDS, SHERIFF, MOORE COUNTY NC: I'm not going to jeopardize anything that would might jeopardize the investigation, but it was multiple shots. MARQUEZ (voice-over): The attacks follow recent Department of Homeland Security and FBI warnings of possible attacks on critical infrastructure. And in 2020, far right plots were disrupted in both Idaho and Las Vegas, both targeting the electric grid.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT & INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Since 2020, we've seen a real uptick in chatter by accelerationist groups, those who want to topple the U.S. government, by eco terrorist groups, but particularly by the right-wing neo-Nazi movement saying power, the power grid is the way to cause chaos. And their theory is that if you identify the key nodes, and you knock out one, and they divert power to the next one, and then you knock out the next one, and the next one.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Shown here, a how to guide any telegram channel by groups seeking to overthrow the U.S. government, featuring instructions on low tech attacks meant to bring chaos, including how to attack a power grid with guns. Rumors on social media blamed right- wing protesters supposedly trying to stop a drag show in the county from taking place Saturday, but the sheriff says there's no evidence so far to make that connection. And the shows organizers told CNN they received no specific threats before the power station attacks.

FIELDS: Nobody's -- no group has stepped up to acknowledge or accept it. They're the ones that done it. So, yes, I call them college (ph).

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Residents and officials now struggling to cope with a lack of power cut off without warning.

DEBORAH TYNER, LIVES IN MOORE COUNTY, NC: Got no way to heat because we don't have a fireplace. And then we don't have no gas grill or anything like that. So, we're just stranded.

CAROL HANEY, MAYOR, SOUTHERN PINES, NC: There's so many people that are hurting, the revenue stream is been stopped. You know, if you have health issues, it is critical. It is just a horrible, horrible terrorist, in my opinion, at cowardly to do that.


COOPER: And Miguel joins us. Now, are authorities any closer identifying any suspects?

MARQUEZ: Yes, well, I answered that one to show you sort of what the work going on behind is that one of these substations here, what is remarkable when you look at this thing, and you show up here is just how big it is. And the number of workers it's an army of workers, when they get this thing back up and going. On whether there is an arrest, imminent or a suspect there is a another army of local, state and federal law enforcement that are looking into this. But keep in mind that 2013 attack in California that the FBI sort of said was mischief and not terrorism. There's never been an arrest in that.

Here in North Carolina, they hope that they can figure out exactly who did this. They believe that whoever did it knew exactly what they were doing. Anderson. COOPER: Miguel Marquez, appreciate it. Thank you.

Want to some perspective now from Chris Krebs, former senior official, the Homeland Security who oversaw security for both infrastructure and cybersecurity.

Chris, you heard the mayor of Southern Pines in Miguel's piece, she believes this was a terrorist act. I mean, how vulnerable are these?

CHRIS KREBS, FMR TOP CYBERSECURITY OFFICIAL, DHS: Well, I think at this point, the investigation as it plays out, it's too early to say to definitively whether it's domestic terrorism or something along those lines, but as you recounted over the last several years, there have been cases of, you know, extremist accelerationist that have gone after the grid or plan to. So, you know, there's plenty of kind of historical build up to take a really hard look at what's happening here.

Now, the threat model the you know, what the, the electricity companies have historically been concerned about from a physical security threat is burglary, it's crime, it's people getting into those facilities and stealing copper and other metals. I think when you want to protect against something like this long range, rifle shots, building walls and you know, putting additional security people in the facility that's simply not the answer.


So, we're going to see a lot more probably coordination between the federal government law enforcement, the FBI and in the private sector in this case Duke Energy.

COOPER: You -- so you're saying building walls is not an answer. I mean, it's not that simple.

KREBS: Well, no, it's absolutely right. You know, when you look at this facility, this was probably a long-range fire of, you know, several 100 meters, yards, whatever you want to use, and a wall would have to be, you know, pretty, pretty high. In these substations are distributed throughout, these are the, you know, down from the transmission to the distribution network. So, they're everywhere, and it's just not feasible. It's not practical to harden the individual site.

So, you know, now we have to get into a prevention sort of situation. And, you know, hopefully we can identify who did this, and then arrest, convict and then put them away. And that's a deterrent measure in and of itself.

COOPER: The fact the local sheriff says the person or people who damaged the substations quote, knew exactly what they were doing. What does that tell you about the perpetrator, the kind of knowledge they had in order to do this? I mean, it seems like the information is pretty much out there.

KREBS: Well, I think, you know, three quick points. First is the 2013. Out in California, the Metcalf substation that was hit with hundreds of rounds, and they got in, the perpetrators got in and cut fiber optic cable to cut off communications and security. That was a very sophisticated attack. This attack was not as sophisticated and that it didn't necessarily have all the hallmarks of additional planning, but the fact that they hit two separate substations shows, they knew what they were doing. They knew what they were going after.

And my hope is that that gives the law enforcement investigators the opportunity to identify who these people are, because they were probably scouting it out. They may have been seen. It's a small, you know, it's 100,000 folks or so, in Moore County. So, it's not a not a large county. It's very rural. And you know, if you see people that don't necessarily belong, those sorts of things kind of stick out for the investigators.

COOPER: As we heard Miguel's report, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre said today the White House has worked closely improving how the government communicates and shares threat information with the private sector. What more needs to be done on that front?

KREBS: Well, I've got to say that the electricity subsector is probably one of the most robust public private partnerships in critical infrastructure security in the United States. It's the finance sector in the electricity sector. Absolutely top notch, you have Lynn Good, who's the CEO of Duke Energy, who is a longtime player heavily, heavily engaged and involved. Tom Fanning from Southern Company just down the road in Atlanta, also very, very engaged involved, we would have regular meetings with the private sector partners and law enforcement and the intelligence community.

So, there's no shortage of coordination and planning. And in fact, I'd say, you know, my assessment is that they probably have local engagements and partnerships as well. So, I think it's just we have to continue to double down we have to update the threat models and accept the fact that yes, domestic extremism is on the rise. We have plenty of historical evidence for that and we need to take it seriously and build it into our security plans.

COOPER: Yes. Chris Krebs, it's good to talk to you again. Thank you.

KREBS: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Just ahead, a story that we want to warn you right now is disturbing particularly for any parent, a seven-year-old girl in Texas kidnapped and killed. An arrest has been made. We'll take you there, next.



COOPER: Students in more than 20 school districts across Texas today were wearing pink in honor of a seven-year-old girl allegedly abducted and brutally murdered last Wednesday. The body of Athena Strand was found on Friday. Same day an arrest was made of a FedEx driver who had made a delivery to the Strand home at the time of the Athena's disappearance. Athena's mom says her daughter's favorite color was pink and said she one day hoped to grow up to be a Viking princess with tattoos just like her dad.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Texas tonight with the latest.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On this driveway outside a town called Paradise Texas. Investigators say seven-year-old Athena Strand was abducted last Wednesday. Authorities say 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, a FedEx delivery driver kidnapped her. She would never be seen alive again. For two days hundreds of community members like Mary Stapleton joined in the search for Athena in this area northwest of Fort Worth.

MARY STAPLETON PRYOR, NEIGHBOR: We all searched every morning, every evening in between, you know, went and searched everything everybody up and down this road thinking that we were going to find a different outcome.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): On Friday investigators said they received a tip that led them to Tanner Horner, a witness captured video of police surrounding a FedEx truck Friday afternoon. Then just hours later, authorities announced the arrest of Tanner Horner.

LANE AKIN, SHERIFF, WISE COUNTY TX: They were able to determine that the driver abducted Athena. We do have a confession.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin says, the suspect did not know Athena or her family and that the abduction was a crime of opportunity. The Sheriff also said Horner told investigators where he had left a child's body.

AKIN: Is one of the toughest investigations that I've been involved in. Because it's a child. And anytime there's a child that dies, it just hits you in your heart.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Athena's mother described in a Facebook post that the seven-year-old loved animals and jewelry. She loved candy and sweets and diving boards and her baby sisters. Her mother also said Athena loved school and drawing and wanted hair as long as Rapunzel's. Athena's favorite color was pink and across Wise County the color popped up everywhere. School districts urge students to wear pink in her honor. Pink ribbons and balloons and teddy bears adorn the streets. But mostly residents like Bobby Dean are struggling to understand how such evil can walk up your driveway.


BOBBY DEAN, PARADISE, TEXAS RESIDENT: Out here you let your kids go outside, you actually encourage it, you know, get off the TV, get off the devices, and go out and play. But your worries are snakes and falling down or maybe flipping ATV over. You never worry about something like this like a monster coming and taking somebody.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Dean spent the day readjusting security cameras on his property. The murder has left him rattled.

DEAN: We love Athena, where we hate what's happened to her. But she's going to make a difference. Her memory will live on.


COOPER: Ed Lavandera joins us now. I understand you also have more information on some of the visuals plan to remember her.

LAVANDERA: Yes, the outpouring of grief is really dramatic scene there in Wise County tonight, a vigil in the in honor of Athena Strand where people are coming out to professing their love for this young child. A girl that the vast majority of these people had never met and there will be another vigil planned for tomorrow night as well. All of this happening as the suspect remains in jail tonight on a $1.5 million bond. And he's been charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping and could possibly face the death penalty. Anderson.

COOPER: It's so lovely to see all those people coming out and supporting her family and remembering her. Our thoughts are with Athena's family. Ed Lavandera, thank you.

We'll be right back.



COOPER: Tonight, the Hawaii National Guard is being activated as the fury of the Mauna Loa volcano continues. It's now in the second week of erupting on the Big Island.

Our David Culver tonight, takes us on an aerial tour and shows us what while a key highway is still in danger some Hawaiians had been down this road before.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We are on the road before sunrise. Quickly realizing we can already spot our destination some 30 miles out. There you see it that red orange glow Mauna Loa erupting.

To give you a better view though, we go up in the morning dark. Iridized helicopters Darren Hamilton, our pilot and guide giving us rare access.

(on-camera): I assume we'll know when we see the volcano.

DARREN HAMILTON, PILOT, PARADISE HELICOPTERS Yes, it's just off, kind of the eastern side there. At about the one o'clock position that is having plume there.

CULVER (voice-over): Having flown in military hot zones, Darren even admits this is firepower like no other.

(on-camera): What was it like the first time you flew over lava?

HAMILTON: Oh, it was a blast.

CULVER (voice-over): It can also be challenging, especially with heavy fog or volcanic smog.

(on-camera): So, there you can see the gasses from Fissure 3.

(voice-over): Those acidic gases dangerous if the concentration levels are too high. On the ground, officials closely watching the lavas potential impact on Saddle Road, the main highway that connects the east and west of the island. Erupting last Sunday for the first time in 38 years, Mauna Loa, the world's largest active volcano is one of five that make up Hawaii's Big Island. And it's not the only one currently erupting. Neighboring Kilauea also active though no longer shooting lava to the surface like it did in 2018.

DOROTHY THRAIL, LIVES NEAR KILAUEA VOLCANO: We're in (INAUDIBLE) Street, which is where my house was at, and it's that way, on the opposite side of the subdivision.

CULVER (voice-over): Dorothy Thrall invited us to where her home now sits, buried under 60 feet of lava. You can see a metal streetlight fused into the rock. Four years after Kilauea did this to her Leilani estates community, she still walks it as though she's on her old street with her old neighbors.

(on-camera): When you have something like this. I assume you're all dispersed after that.

THRAIL: Yes. We lost that sense of community and it's what we lost. In addition to the homes.

CULVER (voice-over): Mauna Loa's eruption, an emotional trigger for Dorothy and others for seeing the trauma from Kilauea back to the surface. The 2018 lava flow wiped out more than 600 homes here, some untouched but left lava locked an island within the island. Dorothy showed us this video she captured a few weeks back trekking over lava rock helping friends gather the last of their belongings from their home. The reminders of devastation here are dhimmis.

THRAIL: This was a home. They evacuated the second night and I believe it went under the third night.

CULVER (on-camera): And just took their home.

THRAIL: Just took their home.

CULVER (on-camera): And four years later, it's still steaming?

THRAIL: Still steaming. Yes.

CULVER (on-camera): And how long will it stay like that?

THRAIL: Probably 30 to 40 years.

CULVER (on-camera): How is it that you can still see beauty after so much loss?

THRAIL: Because slob is beautiful. OK, it's a curtain. It's Paley's creation. That's how the island was formed. That's how the island was built.

CULVER (voice-over): And appreciation shared by Native Hawaiians leaving offerings on Mauna Loa, and thousands of tourists and locals arriving past sunset just to witness the lava glow. Nighttime traffic backs up for miles to avoid the congestion. Let's get back to the skies.

HAMILTON: That's 2 - to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit or about 1,000 Celsius. That's molten rock, flowing like water.

CULVER (voice-over): Which has already crossed one volcano road, power lines in all a searing slice right through it.

(on-camera): It's incredible the heat you feel, as soon as you get close to it. And look at this, the rushing flow, the river. You can see the current of lave.

(voice-over): Darren estimates it's moving 30 to 40 miles per hour.

(on-camera): But this, the source of it all. I mean there's nothing like this just spewing from the top.


COOPER: Just incredible. David Culver is with us now from Hawaii. So, what more can you tell us about, I mean being in the sky looking down on that, what's it like to be on the ground tonight now?


CULVER: First of all, that was exhilarating.