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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Trump Team Hire Outside Team To Search Four Properties For Classified Information; Sen. Romney Calls Trump Endorsement Kiss Of Death; Uvalde Sheriff Had Vital Information About School Shooter That Was Not Immediately Shared; Sicknicks Snubbed GOP Leaders, Moscow, Idaho Massacre Update; What Happened To Caylee Anthony? Aired 8-9p ET
Aired December 07, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And it's not long after that, the anniversary of losing my son. I know that feeling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Biden calling again for a ban on assault weapons, but so far, it does not appear that Congress has the votes to pass that in the lame duck session.
Thanks so much for joining us. AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
We begin tonight with new evidence in the Mar-a-Lago documents case, which in turn provide some new evidence showing that no story involving the former President is ever truly over. There always seems to be another shoe to drop. In this case, additional documents with classified markings on top of the ones recovered from the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago in August, which in turn were on top of other documents handed over before that.
Now remember, prior to the FBI's search in August, the former President's legal team had told the government there was nothing more to find, which was not true. And this time, investigators suspected as much.
That said, this time around, neither the FBI nor any official body had a role in finding these documents. CNN's Sara Murray joins us now with the latest.
So, what do we know about these property searches and what was found?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we know is that this was a team commissioned by the Trump lawyers and they searched four properties. They searched Bedminster, they searched Trump Tower, they searched the Florida office, and a Florida storage unit. And through this, they were looking for government documents with classified markings. You know, still getting back to this subpoena that they originally got from the Feds. The Feds have been concerned that Trump had not provided everything.
And what they found in looking through these four properties were two documents with classified markings that were in the storage unit. And sources are telling me, as well as Kaitlan Collins that that was all. That was all they found with classification markings.
But of course, Anderson, as you pointed out, this has been going on for quite some time now.
COOPER: And what do we know -- I mean, do we know anything more about who this team was that conducted the searches? Whether they were just working for a law firm? There's a certain protocol, I would assume they had to follow considering the sensitive material.
MURRAY: Yes. I mean, frankly, we still don't know a lot about the team of two who went through these four properties and conducted the searches. We know that the lawyers commissioned them to do so, this is part of trying to satisfy the Justice Department concerns that not everything had been handed over.
And it does sound like when they came across these documents with classification markings that they did take pains to ensure that they were returned quickly to the FBI.
So even though you know Trump may have handled these things haphazardly when he left the White House, it does sound like now that they are trying to do these subsequent searches, they are trying to handle these documents with care, even though you know, there are certainly plenty on the Trump team who will try to make the argument to at least reporters that they still believe Trump declassified everything.
COOPER: Yes. Sara Murray, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
We're going to turn now to Georgia. Senator Raphael Warnock's defeat last night of Herschel Walker in the one-seat Democratic pickup in the chamber making Senate probes of the former President more likely. It also is raising questions about the degree to which the man from Mar- a-Lago was a drag on Republicans this election cycle.
Within the party, the finger pointing we should point out is already underway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Was Donald Trump a problem this year?
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): Well, I mean, he was very active, of course, in the primaries, and you know, and then even in the General Election, because he was a presence out there.
I mean, the Democrats, in many cases, were able to kind of turn it into a choice election because of Trump's presence out there. So, you know, was he a factor? I don't think there's any question about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator Mitt Romney agreed, calling former President's endorsement -- and these are his words -- "The kiss of death." That said, finger pointing wouldn't be finger pointing if it only pointed in one direction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): No. I think we're losing close elections, not because of Donald Trump. So, if the answer to everything in town is it is Trump's problem, then you're missing the boat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now even allowing that every election is a singular event, Walker, after all, was just one of many candidates, the former President endorsed or he hand-picked who lost across the country and with only a few exceptions across the board.
But if such an endorsement did hurt this time, it likely wasn't just a case of toxicity by proxy. In other words, who he chose might have mattered as much to voters as the mere fact that it was he who chose them because by and large, the candidates who won his endorsement and then lost the election had shortcomings that give certain voters pause, and that too, is a bone of contention within the party, the question of candidate quality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THUNE: It all starts with good quality candidates. There's no substitute for that.
SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): We need better candidates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Two Republican senators today, but this is nothing new. Here is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in mid-August who seemingly saw this coming.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I think there is probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different. They are statewide. Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Florida Senator Rick Scott, Chair of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee did not like that telling POLITICO: "Senator McConnell and I clearly have a strategic disagreement here. We have great candidates." He went on to say.
[20:05:10] Adding, "I think it's important that we're all cheerleaders for our candidates." Great candidates like election denier Blake Masters, running for Senate in Arizona and backed by the former President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLAKE MASTERS (R), ARIZONA SENATE CANDIDATE: I think Trump won in 2020. Maybe you disagree, but you've got to admit, this election was really messed up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And actually, the 2020 election was not really messed up, Trump lost fair and square.
Then there was Kari Lake, a former TV anchor, who according to those who knew her reinvented herself and ran for Governor of Arizona is a 2020 election denier who wouldn't commit to accepting the outcome of this election unless she won, which she didn't. She was backed by the former President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR AND POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: My question is, will you accept the results of your election in November?
KARI LAKE (R), FORMER ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to win the election and I will accept that result.
BASH: If you lose, will you accept that?
LAKE: I'm going to win the election, and I will accept that result.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, she lost. She says she'll be fighting. We have some other candidates with candidate quality issues, election denier Doug Mastriano running for Governor of Pennsylvania who called the separation of church and state a myth, adding: "In November, we're going to take our State back. My God, we will make it so." He lost.
Mehmet Oz lost, too, also backed by the former President, and of course, Herschel Walker. Here is what a campaign adviser of one of Walker's Republican primary opponents told "The Atlanta Journal- Constitution" today, quoting now: "Herschel was like a plane crash into a train wreck that rolled into a dumpster fire and an orphanage then an animal shelter. You kind of had to watch it squinting through one eye between your fingers." Candidate quality, in a nutshell.
Some Republicans would say and have said before and after his defeat, and it certainly will be part of the case that next time should be different. This time might have ended differently, have the GOP fielded a better slate.
The argument that a so-called generic Republican might have defeated Raphael Warnock, then again, it is also worth remembering that in 2020 in the runoff, admittedly under far different circumstances, Warnock defeated not just a generic Republican, but a specific one without Herschel Walker's baggage, Kelly Loeffler, a sitting US senator, which raises a whole other set of questions for Republicans and their prospects in Georgia in the next election.
Let's get perspective now from two CNN political commentators Alyssa Farah Griffin, who served as White House Director of Communications in the prior administration; also, former South Carolina Democratic State lawmaker, Bakari Sellers.
What do you make of this? I mean, we've had 24 hours now to digest this. What does this mean moving forward?
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, of course, candidate quality matters. That goes without saying, it has become a cliche at this point, but the kind of circular finger pointing within the Republican Party is going to continue.
Hands down, Donald Trump was the biggest drag on Republicans this cycle like you ran through it, but that's only a fraction of the races. There's House races, there are Secretary of State races, that he also dragged down Republicans in.
But the party is not ready to say that yet. Some people are going to say it, but you know, people are calling for Ronna McDaniel's head, which fine, a fair discussion to have, they're blaming Rick Scott or they're blaming Mitch McConnell.
But there is hands down one person most responsible for Republicans not winning more Senate seats and not performing better in the House and it's Donald Trump.
And I think it's still going to be some time before that course correction takes place.
COOPER: Bakari, are you surprised there are some Senate Republicans openly placing at least some of the blame on the former President here? I mean, you know, John Thune, he has been critical in the past, so it is not perhaps that great a surprise.
BAKAR SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm not surprised. You see the same ones doing the same thing going to their respective corners. You have Thune, you have McConnell, who are decently tepid in their answers. And then you have Lindsey Graham, who is in his own world saying whatever Lindsey Graham believes at the time.
And so when you see these things happen in real time, you realize that there is nobody truly standing up and calling Donald Trump what he is, but I speak for most Democrats when we say Ronna McDaniel and Donald Trump 2024. This has been the most unsuccessful duo of individuals who led a major party in American history.
I don't think you've seen anyone since 2017 not win a singular cycle and that's failure. That's not Donald Trump's brand of winning. That's absolute abject failure, and that's what we see. But this isn't the first time -- candidate quality is not anything new, Anderson. You remember back to 2010 and 2012, where you had Murdock, you had Engel, you had Christine O'Donnell, you had Todd Aiken. You had individuals who just did not meet the character test or the quality of candidate necessary to win these seats, and you see that replicated again 10 years later.
So the question of candidate quality is a lesson that Senate Republicans have not learned and many of them have been there forever.
COOPER: That was 2010. I mean, that seems like -- I think I was a child then. Obviously, I mean, you heard --
SELLERS: I was a child.
COOPER: You were, I know, I was not, sadly.
You heard Scott Jennings last night saying he feels like something fundamentally has shifted in Republican circles. Do you think that's -- regarding the former President.
GRIFFIN: I think that's right. I am talking to Republicans all over the country, it is more the mood of voters and that sentiment that I think is changing. There is still this fear among the ruling class of elected Republicans to not just definitively break with Trump.
But I think that he is in probably the weakest moment he's been since he came down the old escalator in 2015, and to Bakari's point, I would just like to remind folks because we've lived in this sort of like echo chamber of Trumpism for so long, he has not won a presidential race since 2016. Like it may be time for the GOP to ask ourselves, was that, in fact, a fluke? And should we be moving on to look at who the next candidate could be?
COOPER: Bakari, I mean, it's not just Herschel Walker's loss for the former President. You know, in just the last three weeks since he launched his latest bid for the White House, there are the new classified documents that we are learning about today. He wants to terminate the Constitution, in some cases; dining with antisemites in Mar-a-Lago, Trump Organization companies, though not him personally found guilty on all counts of criminal tax fraud.
So, I mean, there's all this noise swirling around the former President, and he's just down in Mar-a-Lago. How does this play out?
SELLERS: You know, I absolutely forgot that he announced that he was running for reelection. I think there is so much swirling around him that most Americans forgot that he is actually running for reelection, but don't count Donald Trump out.
I made that mistake many times over that he was done, this was the last straw, you know, from coming down the stairs and having these kind of xenophobic moments throughout his campaign to the "Access Hollywood" tapes. I mean, we've always counted him out. What's going to make him strong is because he's had the worst six months in American political history, but what's going to make him stronger as soon as he has an opponent, or if he has four or five, six, dare I say, 10 opponents. I call them the cluster of one percent.
When you have Mike Rogers, Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, these individuals who will not necessarily be formidable contenders against him, he is going to be able to then rise again from the ashes because he only needs 25 to 30 percent of the Republican primary vote, and that is what the Republican Party has a problem with.
Donald Trump to this day, still controls a third of their base, a base they need to win elections.
COOPER: And that base isn't going away. I mean, David Urban has said this repeatedly, they're kind of ride or die.
GRIFFIN: Yes, that's the case, and I think the fact that, of course, dining with antisemites just a few weeks ago, and then there is this new reporting, the former President hosted a QAnon official down at Mar-a-Lago.
COOPER: Yes, I sure was missing that as well today.
GRIFFIN: When he feels like the walls are closing in, he caters to that most extreme part of the base that most respectable Republicans won't actually go near.
So my projection of kind of what he is going to do now that he is in such a weakened position, and most people thought that was a poor announcement and he isn't doing well, he is going to cater to the craziest part of his base and he is also going to exercise as much leverage as he can in the House of Representatives in the next couple of weeks as Kevin McCarthy is trying to get the Speakership.
Those are his two avenues for relevance and for power, and to Bakari's point, I would not count him out.
COOPER: Yes. Alyssa Farah Griffin, Bakari Sellers, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Still to come tonight, another exclusive investigative report from our Shimon Prokupecz on the Uvalde, Texas school murders. He has got new reporting on inconsistent statements made by one of the top cops who responded to the mass shooting, when I say responded, went to the scene, didn't actually stop the active shooter, and how that Sheriff responded when Shimon started asking questions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't know everything. There is a lot --
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: What don't we know, sir? Tell us what we don't know.
RUBEN NOLASCO, UVALDE COUNTY SHERIFF: That's just it. PROKUPECZ: Are you going to say that you didn't know that there was a 9-1-1 call of kids inside the classroom?
NOLASCO: Gentleman, you can go ahead and talk all you want, I already told you, I can't speak any more --
PROKUPECZ: But are you going to tell us that you didn't know that there were kids inside that classroom?
NOLASCO: No more responses.
PROKUPECZ: Tell us right now that you didn't know that there were kids inside that classroom?
NOLASCO: There is no -- there is no response.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We have a CNN exclusive now about the actions and apparent inconsistent statements made by one of the top law enforcement officers who responded to the Robb Elementary School shooting in Texas back in May. Twenty-one people were murdered that day including 19 children.
Ruben Nolasco is the Sheriff of Uvalde County. His actions that day have so far avoided the same level of scrutiny of other top officers, one of whom was fired and another who retired before he could be fired.
As you're about to learn, however, Sheriff Nolasco had vital information about the shooter, and since that awful day, the statements he has given appear to contradict body camera evidence, as well as his own comments to CNN's Shimon Prokupecz.
Now, this includes statements about when he arrived on scene and crucially whether he heard about a 9-1-1 call from a girl trapped inside the school with the shooter, knowledge that should have prompted an immediate direct response according to active shooter training.
Shimon has the details for us tonight. We want to warn you some of what you see or about to see is disturbing and difficult to watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROKUPECZ: Do you think that your response that day was adequate? Your response and the way you handled the scene, do you think that was adequate?
NOLASCO: Yes, I --
PROKUPECZ: You think that your response that day was adequate? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a school shooting --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which building?
PROKUPECZ (voice over): Six months after the police response deemed an abject failure by the top cop in Texas, the Uvalde County Sheriff is defending his actions at Robb Elementary.
NOLASCO: You don't know everything. There's a lot --
PROKUPECZ: What don't we know, sir? Tell us what we don't know.
NOLASCO: That's just it.
PROKUPECZ: Are you going to say that you didn't know that there was a 9-1-1 call of kids inside the classroom?
NOLASCO: Look, you can go ahead and talk all you want. I already told you, I can't speak you more --
PROKUPECZ: But are you going to tell us that you didn't know that there were kids inside that classroom.
NOLASCO: No more responses.
PROKUPECZ: Tell us right now that you didn't know that there were kids inside that classroom.
NOLASCO: There is no -- there is no response.
PROKUPECZ (voice over): Sheriff Ruben Nolasco is the highest ranking law enforcement official in Uvalde County.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't make a break. I can't make a break.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Careful guys. Shots fired.
PROKUPECZ (voice over): He was an integral part of this police failure from its earliest moments, but the elected official has so far avoided scrutiny.
Nolasco claims he was headed to the school when he diverted to a home nearby after being told a woman was shot in the face. He can be heard over the radio --
NOLASCO: Shots fired. Get inside. Go, go, go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... playing on DSP. One female shot in the head.
PROKUPECZ (voice over): He is the first person to learn two key pieces of information. The shooter's name and that he had already attempted to kill his grandmother.
NOLASCO: Okay, who did this to you? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My grandson.
NOLASCO: Who is your grandson?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just keep pressure. Just keep pressure.
PROKUPECZ (voice over): It is information that would have been immediately useful to police at the school where there was confusion over who the gunman was and what his intentions were.
As an ambulance arrived at the grandmother's house, Sheriff Nolasco tried to figure out what was going on. One of his Deputies clued him in.
NOLASCO: Okay, so what's going on? I've got your camera. Okay, so what -- I'm missing on some --
DEPUTY CRUZ: They're right there, sir. Right here, at the funeral home.
NOLASCO: Okay, do they have him surrounded?
PROKUPECZ (voice over): When Nolasco spoke to Texas Rangers investigating the response in June, he said he couldn't recall what time he left the grandmother's house and arrived at Robb.
Speaking to CNN, six months later, Nolasco has a different story.
PROKUPECZ (on camera): You know what truly happened? You were there.
NOLASCO: Thirty-five minutes after it started, okay. So I wasn't there for the first 35 minutes, at least the first 35 minutes.
PROKUPECZ (voice over): But 35 minutes is not accurate. He was there sooner.
NOLASCO: Where is the guy at?
DEPUTY VERA: In a classroom, Sheriff. I don't know which classroom, but he's in a classroom.
PROKUPECZ (voice over): CNN analysis of body camera footage shows Nolasco arrived at Robb at 11:49 AM, just 16 minutes after the shooter first went inside, not 35 -- sixteen.
Once on scene, the 30-year law enforcement veteran can be seen giving orders.
NOLASCO: Okay, what we can do is move everybody --
PROKUPECZ (voice over): He is just outside the school when a dispatch came over the police radio that should have changed everything.
A 10-year-old girl called 9-1-1 and said she was in the room with a shooter surrounded by bodies. Speaking to investigators and to CNN, Nolasco claimed the radios inside the school didn't work, and so he didn't know there were any children trapped in the room.
PROKUPECZ (on camera): You were never told that there were -- that there were 9-1-1 calls. You never heard the radio?
NOLASCO: The radio were not working in that area.
PROKUPECZ: They were working, sir.
PROKUPECZ: You are wrong about that.
The transmission can be heard over several police radios within earshot of Nolasco.
DISPATCH ON RADIO: We have a child on the line --
PROKUPECZ (voice over): And then a Uvalde police officer tells him --
UVALDE POLICE OFFICER MICHAEL WALLY: Okay, we've got a child on the line 9-1-1 right now in the room.
PROKUPECZ (voice over): According to training, Nolasco should have immediately organized the officers to storm the room to try and save the children.
NOLASCO: We're going to get kids out that way, so if you gentlemen want to help us --
PROKUPECZ (voice over): Instead, he leads a group in the wrong direction to help clear children from other classrooms who weren't under immediate threat.
In recorded interviews obtained by CNN, Joel Betancourt, a Captain with the Texas Department of Public Safety, who was under internal investigation for his own response to the shooting told investigators Sheriff Nolasco was, "running the show."
JOEL BETANCOURT, DPS CAPTAIN: ... had spoken to the Sheriff on the way up here, Ruben Nolasco, to what he had said that it was student, a male that was in there in the school with the AK-47. He was barricaded.
I know the Sheriff has operational control there at the time, and you know, we're getting with the Sheriff to get information -- firsthand information, you know from -- from the incident as it was occurring.
PROKUPECZ (on camera): You told him it was a barricaded situation, and that it was someone on with an AK-47.
NOLASCO: I never said that.
PROKUPECZ: You never said that? NOLASCO: No.
PROKUPECZ: He said that it was his impression based on his conversations with you that you were the commander on scene.
NOLASCO: Again, it's his impression. And that's on him, okay. He is -- he is a Captain, and if that is what he assumed, then it was an assumption. It was not validated.
PROKUPECZ: Why wouldn't you have ordered your officers inside that room? Your Deputies? Why wouldn't you take a leadership role and say, we need to get inside that classroom.
NOLASCO: The information they got to me when I got there was, it was a barricaded individual. That's it. So when you have a barricaded individual, it changes the dynamics of everything. So, that's what was relayed to me.
PROKUPECZ (voice over): The belief that the gunman was barricaded instead of an active shooter had catastrophic consequences.
In the moments after the room was finally breached and the horrors inside are revealed --
NOLASCO: No -- nothing going on --
PROKUPECZ (voice over): Nolasco speaks with a Texas Ranger who has been suspended pending an investigation into his own actions. He still seems confused about what they should have done differently.
NOLASCO: When you have hostages in there, you really don't want to break down the doors.
PROKUPECZ (voice over): The day after the shooting, Nolasco, a Republican and political ally of Texas Governor Greg Abbott will play a key role in briefing lawmakers where incorrect information was provided.
And in a combative interview with Texas Rangers nine days after the shooting, Nolasco was emotional and belligerent, complaining about leaks, police being called cowards and facing media scrutiny.
NOLASCO: It's been very traumatic for me as well.
INVESTIGATOR: I understand.
NOLASCO: You know, not being able to get -- being called [bleep] pussy, [bleep] cowards.
That's it guy.
PROKUPECZ (on camera): But what about the fact --
And when the Texas House Committee investigating the response asked the Sheriff to appear for testimony? Nolasco initially refused until the Committee was forced to send him formal notice.
Six months later, it's clear he is still unwilling to face difficult questions.
NOLASCO: You all don't care about the families, you're all here for your ratings. That's all this -- you all are here for, okay. So that's it.
PROKUPECZ: Really? Is that what you think?
NOLASCO: I know that's what you're here for, too.
PROKUPECZ: For the ratings?
NOLASCO: What have you done for the families?
COOPER: Shimon Prokupecz joins us now.
I mean, for him to say that is beneath contempt. It's unfortunate. Let's just talk though about what he didn't do.
I mean, this guy is a public elected official. Is there any accountability that he faces?
PROKUPECZ: It's not really clear, Anderson. The thing that's going on, the County Commission, which is kind of oversees him and maybe oversees the county, they have ordered an internal investigation, but it is not clear what that is going to result in, whether or not he can get removed from office, whether or not they can hold him accountable for any of this.
Because when you look at some of the other law enforcement leaders, they've either been removed, they've resigned. There's been accountability, but with him, because he is an elected official and because he's the Sheriff, it's not very clear to really anyone that I've talked to that there can be any accountability.
COOPER: We should also be clear, we've had a number of family members on this program over the last month as we continue to cover this and determined to do it and you're doing extraordinary work on that. You talk to family members often how did they feel about the Sheriff's action?
PROKUPECZ: They have been raising a lot of concerns and a lot of questions about the Sheriff's actions that day and the fact that he has not been open about what he did. He had 13 Deputies. Thirteen of his Deputies were on scene there. Several of them were in the hallway. One of them actually was in a team that breached that classroom and killed the gunman.
So they have felt that the sheriff has not been forthcoming. They feel that he has some culpability. They feel that he has some answers that they need for what happened here. The other thing that is interesting is that with the Sheriff, when the House Committee back in July, when they were doing their -- the Texas House Committee was doing an investigation, they had called the Sheriff to come in and give a deposition. He had initially refused, claiming that, you know, there was this investigation. He couldn't cooperate. He ultimately cooperated.
But people certainly in this community, you know, the mayor who I've talked to several times, all feel that the Sheriff is hiding something, that he has not been forthcoming about information.
So that is the way, certainly, the community and certainly, families feel about the Sheriff.
COOPER: Shimon Prokupecz, appreciate it. Thanks for the reporting.
Coming up, a conversation with the mother and brother of Brian Sicknick who died one day after defending the Capitol from the January 6th riot, and will discuss why they refuse to shake the hands of Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy during the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony Tuesday honoring his sacrifice and others.
COOPER: At a ceremony on Tuesday, lawmakers honored law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol during the January 6 attack with the Congressional Gold Medal. It's the highest honor Congress can bestow. Among those were the family of US Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. He died of multiple strokes and natural causes the day after the attack.
During the ceremony, members of the Sicknick family refused to shake hands with Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy. They say it's because of how Republicans have either defended the former president or they say stood silently by as he assaulted the Constitution. McCarthy in particular one said the former president bears responsibility for the attack earlier this year, though he backtracked saying everybody in the country bears some responsibility.
Joining me now the mother and brother of Officer Brian Sicknick, Gladys and Craig Sicknick.
Ms. Sicknick, what was behind the decision by you and your family to ignore Senator McConnell and Congressman McCarthy at the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony?
GLADYS SICKNICK, MOTHER OF BRIAN SICKNICK: Well, at one point, we were thinking if we said something we would really get in trouble with the powers that big. But then we figured I think the best thing to do is just to ignore them. And we had no idea it was going to go viral like it did. But I think it made a point, it made a point that that everybody all over the world is talking about -- COOPER: Yes.
CRAIG SICKNICK, BROTHER OF BRIAN SICKNICK: The main reason behind that is the hypocrisy on that side, the denounce the actions of everything that happened during the insurrection, and then -- then at about face. Not as much McConnell as McCarthy, McCarthy has embraced everything Trump has said. And he goes up and gives a speech about how great the Capitol Police were and what they did that day but his actions are not matching his words.
COOPER: Back in May, Ms. Sicknick, you went to Capitol Hill to try and convince Republican senators to support the 911 style January 6 commission bill that the House had passed. McConnell dismissed the value of a commission saying he didn't believe it would uncover crucial new facts or promote healing, those were his words. Given all we've learned from the January 6 hearings, what would you say to Senator McConnell now?
G. SICKNICK: Just look back at what you did and what you let happen and still -- you're still in -- still promoting what had gone down that, you know, it just gets me very upset.
C. SICKNICK: In my case, what are they afraid of, of having an investigation of events that literally changed the course of the country, the first insurrection ever in the history of the United States, Americans against Americans. Other than civil war, that's a whole different era. And it's why don't you want to get to the bottom of this, find out what happened, why it happened and make sure it does not happen again.
G. SICKNICK: And why my brother --
C. SICKNICK: What are they afraid of? Yes. And why my kid brother is now lying in Arlington Cemetery?
COOPER: Craig, McCarthy went from saying that the former president bears responsibility for January 6, to flying down to Mar-a-Lago just weeks after the attack to pay homage to him, kiss his ring. This June he publicly declared everybody in the country bears some responsibility for January 6. What is your reaction how McCarthy has changed his position on this?
C. SICKNICK: I think McCarthy is trying to do everything he can to gain as much power as he can. I do not think he cares a whit about the American people quite honestly. I think he cares about himself. I think he's modeling his own actions after Trump's.
G. SICKNICK: When we met with McCarthy, it was an officer (inaudible) Harry Dunn. He kept trying to change the subject, and they would not let him. They kept bringing him back to reality. And we just never got straight answers from him.
COOPER: Ms. Sicknick, how have you gotten through this period since Brian died? I mean, how -- what keeps you on your feet and moving forward?
G. SICKNICK: I don't know. I guess just day to day. You know, some days is worse than others. But I just don't want Brian's death to be, you know, just to go down in history, you know, be forgotten, I should say.
C. SICKNICK: It's definitely day to day. Some days, I honestly don't feel like any add event. I do. I force myself to, I always have. But it's, you know, you start thinking about the magnitude of what happened, and not just what happened to our family, what happened to the country? Why are we at the point we're at now? It makes no sense.
And as far as the current MAGA supporters, why has it reached the point where study after study, after investigation after investigation finds that there was no mass fraud for voting, there was no everything about the big lie, is just that it's a big lie. Yet, they still believe what hold does Trump-ism have over this group. I don't understand it. It gets me very aggravated that Americans can -- in that number can fall for that type of lie. It's happened in other countries and other times, and it never works out well.
COOPER: Ms. Sicknick top --
G. SICKNICK: It keeps us going too.
COOPER: Go ahead.
G. SICKNICK: No. What keeps us going is the Capitol Police. They're phenomenal group of people. And they -- whenever we need, whatever we want, they take care of us. And it's like a new family that I never knew I would have.
COOPER: Gladys and Craig, I really appreciate your time tonight. And I appreciate you continuing to stand up and speak out. Thank you.
G. SICKNICK: Well, I need people like you and, you know, to keep this going.
C. SICKNICK: Yes. We thank you as well. It's -- if people don't stand up and say what's on their mind, it gets buried. It, you know, as far as certain people are concerned, they would like to sweep everything under the rug. Well, guess what? I don't think they can anymore.
COOPER: I thank you both. And thank you for talking a little bit about Brian and all the other Capitol police officers. Thank you.
G. SICKNICK: OK, thank you
C. SICKNICK: Thank you for your time. Thank you.
COOPER: For many years, it's (inaudible) about giving back but CNN Heroes, an all star tribute salutes 10 extraordinary people who put others first all year long. The gala airs live to Sunday, 8:00 PM Eastern. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sunday, it's the time of year to be inspired and honor some of humanity's best.
CARIE BROECKER, PEACE OF MIND DOG RESCUE: We have found homes for almost 3,000 dogs.
TYRIQUE GLASGOW, YOUNG CHANCES FOUNDATION: Our community's center used to be a community drug house.
BOBBY WILSON, METRO ATLANTA URBAN FARM: I want my grandchildren to have it better than what I have it today.
RICHARD CASPER, CREATIVETS: It has always wanted to serve other people.
TERESA GRAY, MOBILE MEDICS INTERNATIONAL: Human suffering has no borders. People are people and love is love.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Join Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa live as they present the 2022 Hero of the Year join me in honoring CNN Hero of the Year.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Join me --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- in honoring --
COOPER: -- CNN Hero of the Year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN Heroes, an all star tribute Sunday at 8:00.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Breaking news tonight in a story that desperately needs it. It has been more than three weeks when someone stabbed four University of Idaho students to death tonight. Finally, police in Moscow, Idaho are sharing with the public word of what could be a significant development of the case. CNN's Nick Watt in Los Angeles is monitoring the development joins us now.
So, I understand the news involves a search for a vehicle.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. The police put out late this afternoon an appeal for anybody who knows anything about a white Hyundai Elantra, unknown license plate, model between 2011 and 2013. The police say that they want to speak to the occupant or occupants of this car because they believe that car was in and around the area of this student has off campus where these four young people were murdered nearly four weeks ago.
Now, this may not sound like a big development but in the context of this case it really is. Because so far the police have asked for a surveillance video, and they have put out very general requests for tips, they have received about 6,500 tips. But this is the most specific request that they have made to date.
Now, earlier in this week, they made it clear that among other things they're looking into are the last five hours in the lives of Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle, who were believed to be at a fraternity house in the hours before going home where they were murdered.
So as I say, Anderson, you know, in this case, there is no murder weapon, there is no suspect identified, and so far police have said that we're not going to release any information that we don't have to. They made it clear they're playing it very close to the vest. Today, this afternoon, they have put out a request that they want to speak to the occupants of this specific car.
COOPER: We also know that police began returning some personal belongings of their victims to the families today. What does that suggest?
WATT: Well, the police chief made it very clear that this house is still an active crime scene under investigation. He said that really some of the family members had asked for the return of some of these items, items that hold fond memories, items that perhaps these parents had given to their children. So the items were boxed up in this house where these kids lived, where they died, where they were murdered, and they will be given back to their families.
But as I say, the chief adamant that this is still an active crime scene and also adamant, you know, in the face of quite a lot of criticism that at least the public progress of this investigation seems to have been very slow. He is adamant we are making progress in this case. This is still a very active case. And listen, we don't know what they are doing behind closed doors because as I say, they are playing this very close to the vest. And that is why this appeal today for the occupants of that car or anybody who knows them to come forward, that could potentially, Anderson, be a significant move.
COOPER: Yes. Nick Watt, appreciate it. Thanks for the update. Another unsolved mystery ahead, Casey Anthony finally speaking publicly, 14 years after the disappearance and death of her daughter, which she now says years after being acquitted of murder next.
COOPER: It's been more than a decade since this big moment in a Florida courtroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, find the defendant not guilty. So say we all, stated at Orlando.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It was Casey Anthony watching as the jury acquitted the then 25-year-old of first degree murder aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter of a child. She had been charged in the death of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee. Anthony never testified during her trial. Now, more than a decade later, Anthony is speaking on camera for the first time publicly in a documentary. Randi Kaye tonight has a look.
CASEY ANTHONY, ACQUITTED OF MURDER CASE: The only person in this world that matters to me still is my daughter, but I'm still defending the fact that I didn't hurt her.
RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER (voice-over): 14 years after her daughter disappeared, Casey Anthony says she still misses her. In the new docu-series on Peacock titled "Casey Anthony" Where The Truth Lies," Anthony shares for the first time on camera her own theory about what happened to her daughter, Caylee. She says she took a nap with her daughter on that last day and woke up to her father holding Caylee in his arms.
ANTHONY: She's soaking wet. I can see him standing there with her in his arms. He hand her to me and telling me that it's my fault.
KAYE (voice-over): Anthony says her father took Caylee after that and she doesn't know what happened next. Five months after Caylee was reported missing, her skeletal remains were found in a wooded area about a half mile from the family's home. She had duct tape over her mouth and was inside a laundry bag and garbage bags. Anthony was charged with first degree murder lying to investigators and other charges.
At her trial in 2011, Anthony's defense team claimed the little girl drowned in the family's pool and the accidental drowning spiraled out of control with Anthony and her dad covering up Caylee's death.
ANTHONY: She was cold.
KAYE (voice-over): But in the new docu-series, Anthony puts the blame squarely on her father, suggesting Caylee died on his watch.
ANTHONY: And I know people are going to question, why didn't I make a phone call? Why didn't I call 911? I have to live with that, knowing that I failed to protect my child.
KAYE (voice-over): For 31 days Anthony kept quiet.
ANTHONY: During the 31 days, I genuinely believe that Caylee was still alive. My father kept telling me she was OK.
KAYE (voice-over): When her mother finally called 911 to report Caylee missing, Anthony said the girl's nanny had taken her. Turns out that nanny never existed, which Anthony admits in the documentary.
In the docu-series, Anthony says she was lying to protect her father as she'd been taught to do following what she claimed were years of sexual abuse by him beginning at age eight. ANTHONY: My father was holding me down and raping me. That happens again and again, and again. It was like I was brainwashed. And it wasn't until much later that I started to really realize why?
KAYE (voice-over): At her trial, her father, George Anthony, denied abusing his daughter or having anything to do with Caylee's death. Peacock says he turned down an offer to appear on their program. CNN has reached out to him for comment.
After more than 100 witnesses at her trial, Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murder but she was convicted of providing false information to police. She was freed shortly afterward due to the time she'd spent in jail awaiting trial. Anthony says she'll always wonder what really happened to Caylee.
ANTHONY: I don't know if it would be better to know or just keep that going, because I don't know what the truth is. Holly knows that -- it's something happened.
COOPER: And Randi joins us now. Where's she been all this time?
KAYE: Well, Anderson, following the trial, she actually moved in with one of the lead investigators in this case and his family here in Palm Beach County. She lived with him for a while. He gave her a home because she had obviously moved out of her parent's home and didn't have anywhere to go after leaving jail. So she did work with him for a little bit, and then she went out on her own.
In terms of why she's speaking out now, though, Anderson, she said it's because she's had some time to cope with the law. She's been through some therapy. She also said that she's speaking out now to honor her daughter and to make her proud. That's what she said in the docu-series.
But, Anderson, the takeaway here is really that we still don't know what happened to Caylee Anthony. There was no DNA found on her skeletal remains, so it's very hard to connect her physically to her killer. And then we also know from investigators that there were some items at the crime scene that they believe have some connection back to the Anthony home. There was duct tape found on her, as I said, and it was a very unique brand and that same brand was found at the Anthony home. And also that laundry bag that Caylee Anthony was found, it was part of a pair investigator set and the other one was actually found at the Anthony home.
But, Anderson, all these years later given all that evidence we still don't know what happened to that little girl or why.
COOPER: Randi Kaye, I appreciate it. Thank you. Coming up next, more on the former president in the criminal charges the House Select Committee is weighing. Committee member Adam Schiff joins us.