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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

House Republicans Plan To Investigate President Biden And His Family; Rep. Kinzinger On DOJ Investigation Into Trump: "If He Is Not Guilty Of A Crime, Then I Frankly Fear For The Future Of This Country"; Bills Safety Damar Hamlin Collapses After Hard Hit, Given CPR On The Field. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 02, 2023 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: By this time, tomorrow night, Kevin McCarthy, could be the next Speaker of the House. Or, he could, once again, become a frustrated would-be-Speaker, as he did, in 2015, when he lacked the votes, he needed, to win the job. Or, House Republicans could still be fighting among themselves, over who the next Speaker will be. That's where we could be, tomorrow, because that's where we are tonight.

When it comes to their leadership, nothing is certain, for Republicans, right now. What is certain is what GOP members intend to do, with their majority. Because, they've said so! They intend to investigate the Biden administration.

We have details on that now, from our Randi Kaye.


REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): We would love to talk to people, in the Biden family.

RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR/CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican congressman, James Comer, of Kentucky, as the incoming Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, he's determined to investigate whether Joe Biden and, his son, Hunter are, as he puts it, "Compromised."

COMER: This evidence raises troubling questions about whether President Biden is a national security risk, and about whether he is compromised by foreign governments.

KAYE (voice-over): This all dates back to 2014, when Hunter Biden joined the Board of Burisma, a private Ukrainian gas company. He was paid $50,000 a month. At the time, his father was Vice President, and handling some foreign policy, in Ukraine, for the Obama administration.

At the heart of the planned investigation, are dozens of suspicious activity reports that Republicans claim, banks filed, related to Hunter Biden's financial activities.

COMER: All the countries where the Bidens--

KAYE (voice-over): As the incoming majority, in the House, Republicans can use subpoena power, to get those reports, as well as subpoena foreign entities, and others, who did business, with Hunter Biden.

There is no evidence Joe Biden did anything wrong. And Hunter Biden has denied any wrongdoing.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We went to Afghanistan, because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago. That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021.

KAYE (voice-over): Republicans have also signaled they'll investigate America's withdrawal, from Afghanistan.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): This is going to be a stain on this President, and his presidency. And I think he's going to have blood on his hands for what they did.

KAYE (voice-over): Nearly 20 years, after the U.S. established a presence, in Afghanistan, Biden pulled the last American troops, out of there, in 2021.

The withdrawal was brokered, between the Trump administration, and the Taliban, in February of 2020, and left thousands of Afghan citizens, who had helped the U.S., in limbo. Some made a frantic attempt, to leave the country, by clinging to airplane wings.

In the days, following Biden's withdrawal announcement, 13 U.S. troops were killed, along with more than 170 Afghans, in a bombing, at the airport, in Kabul.

MCCAUL: They totally blew this one. They completely underestimated the strength of the Taliban. They didn't listen to the Intelligence Community.

KAYE (voice-over): House Republicans are threatening to subpoena State Department officials, over the flawed withdrawal.

And there's this.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): We want to find where the origins of COVID began, so it never starts again. How did that happen?

KAYE (voice-over): House Republicans are also planning to investigate how the Pandemic started, despite the fact, two studies, released in July, both, concluded that a seafood market, in Wuhan, was most likely the epicenter for the virus.

COMER: We want to bring in, and interview, all the scientists, who early on told Dr. Fauci that this is obviously a lab leak, this is obviously man-made, but then they changed their story.

KAYE (voice-over): They are also vowing to investigate Dr. Anthony Fauci, the newly retired Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: All I have ever done was to recommend common- sense good CDC-recommended public health policies that have saved millions of lives. If you want to investigate me for that, go ahead.

KAYE (voice-over): Randi Kaye, CNN.


COOPER: More now on what may lie ahead.

Joining us, former Democratic National Committee Chairman, Vermont Governor, Presidential candidate, Howard Dean; also CNN Senior Political Analyst, USA Today Columnist, and former Clinton administration official, Kirsten Powers; CNN Political Commentator, former Pennsylvania Republican congressman, Charlie Dent; and CNN Chief White House Correspondent, Phil Mattingly.

So Phil, Republicans have been telegraphing their intentions, as Randi was just reporting, to investigate the President, his family, for quite some time. Has the Biden administration been preparing for this?


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Intensively, Anderson. Quietly, but intensively, and for months, not just since the election, but really back into the summer, even into the spring, of this past year, where there was a recognition that this was likely coming, because of the politics, and they needed to be prepared.

And that means hiring up lawyers, hiring up communications teams, hiring up legislative experts, as well, all to work on kind of a small team that has been separated, from the day-to-day operations, of the White House. There have been private meetings, between members of this team, and the various agencies that look like they are going to come under scrutiny, from House Republicans.

And when you talk to officials, at the White House, they acknowledge, one, that, they know this is coming. Many of them are Veterans, of the Obama administration, dealt with this, when Republicans took control of the House, back in 2011. But also, a recognition that they need to be prepared, for whatever is coming. And that means trying to do as much work, in advance as possible.

One thing to note though, a number of the lawyers that have been brought in are longtime Veterans, of Oversight investigations, of dealing with Capitol Hill, on investigations. And they appear to already be quite prepared.

They just submitted a letter, to the two lawmakers that are expected to lead the critical committees, in that new House Republican majority, saying they were going to need to resubmit, all of their requests, for investigatory documents, when they take over the majority. It's a little bit of gamesmanship, here. It infuriated Republicans. But it makes very clear, what else they're going to be aggressive, in how they try to fend off these investigations, not just comply, Anderson.

COOPER: Governor Dean, what would your advice be, to the Biden administration, on how to go about dealing with various investigations?


Look, the big risk, for the Republicans, is they're going to look like gasbags. This has been going on for a long time. And this kind of attitude is what allowed us to pick up a seat, in the Senate, and to do much better than expected, in Congress. People are tired of this stuff.

So, it looks to me, based on these segments, you ran, from the Republican Congress people that they're just going to cater to their base. That didn't help them win this election, and it's not going to help them win the next election.

COOPER: Kirsten, I mean, do you do agree with that? Do you think the American people will be interested, outside the Republican base? Because, I mean, that's the same argument that Republicans were using about the January 6 committee investigation, saying, "Oh, look, you know, the American people don't care about this." Do they?

KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST, FORMER CLINTON ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the bottom line is, you don't just do the investigation, because the American people are going to care about it. Whether they cared about it, or not, the January 6 investigation needed to happen.

So, the point is, is it a legitimate investigation? Is there some sort of bipartisanship, like there was, on the January 6 committee? Or is it just a fishing expedition? Is it just a transparently political gambit, which I think most Americans can look at what's going on, with Hunter Biden, and see that that's what they're doing? And, in that sense, yes, I think people will kind of find this repellent.

Except for the base, they're going to look at this, and say, "Look at all of the things that are going on in the world, and this is what you're doing. You're going - trying to use the President's son, to tarnish the President, even though there's really no evidence, to support what you're saying that would even merit an investigation, let alone all of the time that you've expended on it."

COOPER: Congressman Dent, how do you see it? Because, the likely next Chairman of the House Oversight Committee said he's not going to subpoena President Biden, but will subpoena Hunter Biden.

CHARLIE DENT, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE - PENNSYLVANIA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yes, look, Republicans have to be very, very careful with this oversight.

For example, border security, legitimate issue for oversight. But, if they're, going to go down the road, of impeaching Mayorkas - Secretary Mayorkas? Well, that's a loser. Same thing on COVID. There's some legitimate issues of oversight on COVID. But, again, but attacking Dr. Fauci, again, I think, is a loser. A very, I think, a popular figure.

And they have to always worry about overreach, whether it's on Hunter Biden, or any other area of oversight. Because, it's, look, as somebody just said, Republicans just can't play to their base, do these Oversight hearings.

They have to really talk to their more moderate members, because the moderate members are very sensitive, to these independent and swing voters. And those are the folks they really need to be talking to, in these Oversight hearings. And they need to do it in a more understated way, without all the bombast, but just trying to get the facts.

And the Administration, of course, is going to stiff-arm the Republicans as much as they can, on all this stuff. So again, I would just urge Republicans, to be very cautious, less bombast, more seriousness.

COOPER: Phil, I mean, will the Biden administration be treating all of these investigations equally, or they expect to be more cooperative with some than others?

MATTINGLY: No, and yes. And I don't think there's any question about that. When you talk to White House officials, they make clear, they understand there are legitimate inquiries that they not only will have to respond to, but they absolutely should respond to.


And I think when you talk to officials, they point to the Afghanistan withdrawal, is one that they A, know, is coming, and B, know that they're going to have to respond to, in significant and substantive manners. And they believe that they are prepared to do so. Same, to some degree, with the Department of Homeland Security and what they've done, on the border, up to this point.

Though, I think, when you listen to what Congressman Dent, said, is a very savvy operator, formerly, of the Republican Conference, it's not just a possibility, when you talk to White House officials that they think Republicans may overreach. It's an expectation. And I think, politically, they believe that's advantageous to them.

However, they are very keenly aware that that's not going to be every inquiry they get. There are going to be some legitimate aspects, they need to respond to, they need to comply to, and they need to cooperate with. How they determine which is which, though, I think is still very much a strategy that they're not willing to lay out, in public. We're going to have to wait and see, as these inquiries come toward them.

COOPER: It's interesting, Governor Dean, because, I mean, on the face of it, something like an investigation into COVID? I mean, in some regards? That can make a lot of sense.

I mean, was it a wise policy, to close down schools? Did it do more harm, long-term, to children than previously thought, because of their concern about over-flowing hospitals? And a lot wasn't known then.

Sort of understanding things like that would help for the next Pandemic, I'm not sure. I guess it is a fine line about is it, just a political thing, to go after Fauci, because that's politically popular, or is it actually, an actual kind of 9/11 investigation, to kind of understand something to prevent the next pandemic?

DEAN: Well, yes, I think you're - I think you're right. But I think these particular Republicans are incapable of conducting an investigation, like that. I mean, when you start out saying, "No, the investigation was wrong. And this was manufactured in the lab, and let go by the Chinese," you're kind of starting out from the bottom of a hole, you probably should stop.

I mean, there's some things that are worth investigating. I personally was very critical, of the President, during the Afghanistan withdrawal. There's some things and lessons, we could learn there.


DEAN: But they're my - I think it's much more likely these - look, these people are not playing with a full deck.

I mean, look how much trouble McCarthy is having getting elected Speaker. And he's - I would not exactly call him a moderate. But he is somebody, who probably understands how to the Speaker. And he's got nine people, in his caucus, who appear, to me, to be completely crazy. And that is going to be the Jim Jordans of the world are going to run this investigation, and they're going to look terrible.

There is fodder here, for a decent investigation, and actually finding out what the facts were. I happen to think Biden's done a very good job, in the last two years. But there have been mistakes. They're worth looking at. And just exactly the point that you made that we should find out what we could have done better, in COVID, in terms of emptying the schools, and so forth, and so on.

I think they're incapable of running an investigation, like that.


DEAN: Because they're incapable of doing anything but being partisan.

COOPER: Yes. Howard Dean, Kirsten Powers, Charlie Dent, Phil Mattingly, really appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up next, newly-released texts, between White House officials, including Hope Hicks, on January 6, what, are reveals about their awareness that they were part of something terribly wrong.

And later, even as the lies keep coming to light, new word, tonight, on a criminal charge, against Congressman-elect George Santos that could be coming back to life, as we speak.



COOPER: "We all look like domestic terrorists now." That is just part of a text message, sent on January 6, 2021, by the then-White House aide, Hope Hicks. It comes from another batch of material, from the, House January 6 committee, including White House call logs. It's new, and potentially revealing of a number of things.

And before we bring you more, on what she, and others, insiders, had to say on that day, first, what committee member, and outgoing Republican congressman, Adam Kinzinger, has to say, about charging the former President, in connection with what he spent months, helping investigate.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): If this is not a crime, I don't know what is. If a President can incite an Insurrection, and not be held accountable, then, really, there's no limit to what a President can do or can't do.

I think the Justice Department will do the right thing. I think he will be charged. And I frankly think he should be.

If he is not guilty of a crime, then I frankly fear for the future of this country.


COOPER: Joining us now, with more, on the new material, from the Select Committee, CNN's Sara Murray.

So, what else did we learn about Hope Hicks?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you really get a sense of how much distress, she, and other aides, former aides, at the White House, were under, when they watched January 6 play out, not just from what they saw, but also from what it meant, for their own personal futures.

So, in these messages, Hope Hicks is texting with Ivanka Trump's Chief of Staff, at the time. And she says, "In one day he ended every future opportunity that doesn't include speaking engagements at the local Proud Boys chapter." Talking about her future employment prospects there, she said, "This made us all unemployable. Like untouchable. God, I'm so effing mad."

And this is really reflective of their text chain, where they're talking about what was unfolding, on January 6, and how angry they were, with what had just played out, Anderson.

COOPER: I mean it is sort of remarkable. They're sitting there, I presume, in the White House, watching the Capitol being attacked, and they're worrying about their future job prospects?


COOPER: I mean, that says kind of a lot about Hope Hicks!

The committee also released White House call logs, from the days, leading up to January 6. What was in them?

MURRAY: Yes. It gives you an idea of where the former President's head was at, at the time, in the run-up to January 6. So, you get a better sense of who he's talking to.

So, among the people, he's calling, he's calling Vice President Mike Pence. We know their relationship had basically soured, in the run-up, to January 6, where Trump is still trying to convince him, to get involved, in blocking the certification of the election results.

He's calling Doug Mastriano, a Pennsylvania state senator, who pushed all of these "Stop the Steal" lies.

He's reaching out to Senator Lindsey Graham, who had been amenable, to potentially, not voting to certify the election, who had been willing to embrace some of Donald Trump's fraud claims, if only he could get evidence.

He was reaching out to Senator Rand Paul.

He was reaching out to House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, someone who, on January 6, would be desperately trying to get in touch, with President Trump, while the Capitol was under attack.

And he was reaching out to John Eastman, an attorney, who we now know was very involved in coming up with this plan, this notion that Mike Pence could somehow get involved, in blocking the certification of the election result.

So, that is what the former President was focused on, just ahead of January 6, Anderson.

COOPER: Wow! Sara Murray, appreciate it. Thank you.

MURRAY: Thank you.

COOPER: Perspective now, from CNN Political Commentator, Alyssa Farah Griffin, who served as White House Director of Communications, in the previous administration; also, CNN Legal and National Security Analyst, Carrie Cordero.

Alyssa, what do you make of these newly-revealed text messages? Hope Hicks, on January 6, texting, "We all look like domestic terrorists now. This made us all unemployable."

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER TRUMP WH DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, she's right, that those who attacked the Capitol that day were domestic terrorists. So, I'm glad she used that language. [21:20:00]

I think what was stark to me, is Hope, like myself, in the White House, was an assistant to the President. So, that's the highest level of ranking that you can have, as a commissioned officer of the President. And it's my belief that anyone that was that senior had a duty to speak out, and to speak out publicly.

COOPER: Right.

FARAH GRIFFIN: And what's kind of remarkable, two years after the fact is to think that some of the most compelling and important testimony that we've gotten, about January 6, was from much more junior people.


FARAH GRIFFIN: People like Cassidy Hutchinson, people like Sarah Matthews, a deputy White House press secretary, who spoke out, even when her boss Kayleigh McEnany, did not speak out.

So, I'm grateful to those people, who spoke out. But also just the wrong priorities, in the moment, should not be thinking about future prospects.

COOPER: Why do you think Hope Hicks didn't speak out?

FARAH GRIFFIN: Hope wasn't someone with a huge public- or like outward-facing profile. So, I don't put it as much on her, as some of the people, who had public images, people like the former Chief of Staff, the press secretary, and others.

But I would like to hear her speak out. I thought that her testimony was actually extremely helpful. She clearly had insight into what the former President was thinking. And it sounds like she gave him sound counsel, privately. So, that's something the public needs to know.

COOPER: Right.

FARAH GRIFFIN: Especially now that he's a declared candidate again.

COOPER: She also texted that, she said, "Alyssa looks like a genius," which is a reference to the fact that you had had resigned already.

FARAH GRIFFIN: Well, and when I resigned, a few weeks, after the election, it was first and foremost, because I was wildly uncomfortable, with the lies that were being told, about the election being stolen. It wasn't true. I could have put my name and my integrity to that.

I stayed, for a couple of weeks, because I want to help my staff, find some - find jobs, start moving on, and set, frankly, an example, for them to know, there will be a transition of power, and that matters.

But, in these moments, jobs don't matter, at the end of the day. Our integrity is the only thing that we have. And I just I wish that more people were thinking about the good of the country, and the Constitution, as we look at this era, rather than just self- preservation.


FARAH GRIFFIN: But that continues on.

COOPER: Carrie, you hear outgoing Republican congressman, Adam Kinzinger, saying he thinks the former President should be charged, in connection with January 6.

Is there any indication, as far as you can tell, in terms of what direction the DOJ may be moving?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER COUNSEL TO THE U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: Well, the Department of Justice is continuing its ongoing investigations, in particular, into the efforts, to subvert the election, to have fake ballots, to have electors that were not legitimate. And so, that investigation, into electoral interferences conduct - is continuing to conduct.

We don't know for sure how extensive that reaches, to the former President himself. But the January 6 committee obviously feels very strongly that the evidence that they developed, is relevant to the Justice Department's investigation.

COOPER: If they did decide to bring charges, how would that be impacted by the timetable of the election? I mean, is it possible they could, bring charges, and then have a trial, after the election, or - I mean--

CORDERO: So, in terms of the timing--

COOPER: --this is uncharted territory.

CORDERO: In terms of the timing, I think there's two different things.

First of all, we have to recognize that the January 6 committee is on its own timeline, which is that it needed to wrap up its work.

And the Justice Department investigations are on their own timeline, including the election investigation, and the classified documents investigation, related to the former President's residence.

So, those two things are not the same. And the Justice Department is going to consume information, that has been released by the Committee, for example, the transcripts, and whether they will look for exculpatory information, or information from witnesses, that maybe they also interviewed that are inconsistent.

But I don't necessarily see the release of information by the January 6 committee as speeding up the Justice Department's investigation, in any way. I do think that they will take into account, how the presidential election, of the future, transpires, over time. They won't want to influence that election. But they also will be aware of the political consequences, of any major decision they might have. COOPER: Alyssa, do you have any sense from former colleagues, or anyone, how concerned the former President may be about this investigation?

FARAH GRIFFIN: I think he's very concerned. That's what I consistently hear. And it's, frankly, it's the dual-track investigations, Mar-a- Lago documents, January 6 insurrection, and so on.

He's very concerned. And his behavior shows it. When he's lashing out, when he's attacking fellow Republicans, the things he's posting on Truth Social are not that of a sound-minded leader, who's focused on his 2024 re-elect.


FARAH GRIFFIN: I think he's very, very sensitive about his legal exposure.

One thing I do want to say, though, again, on what we've seen in the transcripts that have come out is?


FARAH GRIFFIN: Is keep in mind, the kind of consistent theme that I've seen is that senior officials, who are public servants, who swore an oath to the Constitution, were willing to admit privately, what the American public knew, which is the election was not stolen, January 6 was a shameful day, for democracy. But so few of them have said it publicly. So, I would love to see more of those people say it publicly.


COOPER: It's also, when you see some of those text messages, from Hope Hicks, talking about, "We're unemployable" that on January 6, the day, the Capitol was being attacked? They were concerned about their future employment!

FARAH GRIFFIN: You would think that would be the last thing on someone's mind that day!


FARAH GRIFFIN: I was weeping, with my in-laws, down in Florida, not thinking about future prospects. And it just goes to show, the people we put in senior roles, in public service, do matter.

Had more people gotten to the President sooner, or it didn't - they didn't even need to get to the President, by the way. Any senior staffer could have gone out to the White House steps (ph), and said "Stand down. The election wasn't stolen. You are being lied to."


FARAH GRIFFIN: And chose not to do it.

COOPER: That would have been credible, if somebody had actually?

FARAH GRIFFIN: It would have taken real courage.


FARAH GRIFFIN: Which unfortunately we didn't see a lot of.

COOPER: Yes. Alyssa Farah Griffin, thank you so much.

Carrie Cordero, as well, thank you.

Coming up, tonight, a scary moment, a short time ago. A player went down, after a devastating hit, during an NFL game, between the Bills and Bengals. We'll show you what happened, and speak with a former player, from the Buffalo Bills, next.


COOPER: Others, breaking news, right now, a serious injury, on the field, during the Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game.

What you're about to see is Bills' Defensive Back, Damar Hamlin, collapsing on field. We want to warn you, we're only going to play it once, because it's difficult to watch.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wide open to mid field, and lowers the shoulder, for 13. It's where Joe Burrow is so good.

And now, another Bills player is down.

Can't tell exactly who that is. Maybe Hamlin.

Jordan Poyer was able to go tonight. He was iffy. Their only pro- bowler, on this very good defense, Hamlin's taken the place, for the injured Micah Hyde.


COOPER: Joining us now is CNN Sports Anchor, Coy Wire. He played nine seasons, in the NFL, six for the Bills.

Coy, obviously, we don't know what has gone on, exactly. It looked like Hamlin was able to actually stand up, after the hit, and then he collapsed, on the ground. Though, it wasn't seen from that angle. But there's another camera that shows him actually collapsing.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR, FORMER BUFFALO BILLS PLAYER: Yes, never seen a response, from a hit, like that, Anderson. There wouldn't - didn't seem to be any direct hit to the head or neck area. His head didn't even look like it got jostled, all that much. So, I can't assume what type of injury this might be. I'm worked up, right now. I feel a lot of flashbacks. I had multiple concussions, in my nine years, in the NFL, where I didn't remember anything, sometimes, till the next day. I also have a titanium plate, and four screws, in my neck, from my time, with the Buffalo Bills.

But I think more than that, I was on the field, two other times, when other players were seriously hurt.

One time, when I was in college, playing for Stanford, we were playing against the Washington Huskies. And their Safety came up to make a hit, much like Damar. And he got paralyzed from the waist down.

And then when I played for the Buffalo Bills, my teammate, Kevin Everett, we were covering a kickoff, together, and he got paralyzed.

So, seeing those scenes, kind of brings it back.


WIRE: But trying to keep my composure, for you, because I think it's important that we send prayers, think about Damar, and think about his family. I'm so proud that the NFL has suspended the game.

COOPER: And Coy--

WIRE: Because I think maybe 10 years ago that might not have happened, Anderson.


WIRE: But what with what we know, the importance placed on player safety, nowadays? They stopped the game. I think that's progress.

COOPER: Coy, if you can stay with us, I just want to bring in our Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, obviously, you're seeing this as we are seeing this. There's another camera that shows Hamlin, standing up, after the hit, but then suddenly goes limp, and just collapses, you know, just collapses onto the ground.


COOPER: This is this other angle, where you actually see it. And we'll play that one time.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's not what any of us want to see. And everybody's around him. And just hope that he's going to be OK.

So, we'll take another break.



COOPER: I mean?


COOPER: What do you make of this?

ON THE PHONE: GUPTA: Well, it's horrifying to watch, obviously. I mean, I was just at the hospital, and everyone's talking about this. He got up, right after this hit. And, I mean, right away, when you think about somebody, sort of having this sort of outcome, you think about something to the brain, spinal cord, or the heart.

I think brain and spinal cord are less likely, given that he stood up right after this hit, and then quickly went down, which really does point to blunt force trauma, it sounds like, to the chest. Sometimes, it can be a cardiac arrest that can be induced by the blunt force trauma. It can be something to the lungs, as a result of that.

My understanding was that he had CPR that was being performed, on him. So clearly, the cardiac arrest resulted from this. But what initially caused that is just, it's hard to speculate, at this point, Anderson.

It's just horrifying. Obviously, happened very quickly. He's young. He's otherwise fit. So, it's something at that time, from that hit, caused this cardiac arrest that resulted him needing CPR, for several minutes, at least sounds like.

COOPER: Sanjay, you and I, over the years, have spoken, many times, publicly and privately, about heart issues. I've never really considered the idea of blunt force trauma, to the chest, what that does to a heart. What--

ON THE PHONE: GUPTA: There is a - there is a--

COOPER: What is the risk?


ON THE PHONE: GUPTA: Well, there's a condition that's called commotio cordis. It's a rare condition, and it's a very serious condition, where basically as a result of that blunt force trauma, that significant blow to the chest, it can actually disrupt the electrical rhythm, the way that the heart is conducting its electrical rhythm, normally, and result in this destabilization, and cardiac arrest.

It's, again, it's a rare condition. And I am - just want to be really careful here, Anderson. We just don't know--

COOPER: Right.

ON THE PHONE: GUPTA: --the underlying condition, the underlying cause, here. But that is something that has been described, it's even happened, with, in baseball, for example, someone's taking a fast ball, to the chest. There's been instances described, where someone can develop commotio cordis, as a result of that.

Was that the situation here? I don't know. It was a bit unusual. And, again, that this happens, and there's this period of time, where he does stand up, doesn't seem to be a problem. And then clearly, staggers backwards and falls. So, it might be the case. But it's just - it's just very hard to speculate, right now.

COOPER: Yes. Well, and Sanjay, if you can just stand by with us, if Coy's still with us?

Coy, I mean, when you were playing, when you go out on the field, do you - is this kind of stuff in the back of your mind? Or, in order to play the game effectively, is this the last thing you want to be thinking about?

WIRE: I think--

COOPER: The potential of injury?

WIRE: It's always there, Anderson. Before every game, think about the workplace. It's not often that every coworker gets together, and says the Lord's Prayer, before you go perform, for that day.

That's normal in football, every NFL locker room, before every game. And it's because of that, understanding that "We're about to go into a lion's den," so to speak, where every snap is a potential for something bad to happen. You're risking your life, when you go out there. So, it's very much on the minds of everyone. It's not something that you live in fear of, but you're aware of it, at all times.

So, many players, they do not take a single snap, for granted, the opportunity to get to play the game they love. When you see teammates go down, every week, whether it's a knee blown out, or whether it's an elbow dislocated, or a neck or a head injury, I mean, it's, you see it all the time, so you're constantly reminded of it, Anderson. And it's moments like this, where we realize just how violent the game is, just how precious our bodies, our health, are.

So, prayers for Damar Hamlin, and the family. I know they're watching, wondering, trying to get a hold of him, right now. And his teammates, they're probably down on one knee, right now, in the locker room, as well as the Cincinnati Bengals. I think so many people would send their well wishes, for Damar.

COOPER: I just want to play the tackle that was made - not - I don't want to show the video of him collapsing. But we have the video, from the other angle, of just the play that was made. Let's play that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wide open to mid field, and lowers the shoulder, for 13. It's where Joe Burrow is so good.

And now, another Bills player is down. Can't tell exactly who that is. Maybe Hamlin.

Jordan Poyer was able to go tonight. He was iffy. Their only pro- bowler, on this very good defense, Hamlin's taken the place, for the injured Micah Hyde.


COOPER: Coy, when you get - when you're on the field? I mean, we all watch this on television, the games. And obviously, people played, growing up, and little, in school. But, at this level of play, I mean, even with the pads, you're wearing, and the helmet, what is the pain, like? I mean, what are the hits like, that you are getting?

WIRE: Yes, the whole range, Anderson.

COOPER: I mean this is probably a dumb question. But it's hard to--

WIRE: No, no, it's--

COOPER: --it's hard to fathom--

WIRE: Yes.

COOPER: --what it's like.

WIRE: It's a valid question. There's such a wide range, Anderson.

Sometimes, you get hit. Like, in my case, with my spinal cord injury, instantly my arm went numb, and I couldn't feel a thing.

There are other times, where you get hit so hard in the leg that it feels like someone took a baseball bat, and just hit you, in the thigh, with it. And there are other times, where you get hit, and you don't feel a thing, until about three hours later, after the game.

So, there's all different types of injuries, you can get, obviously. And the response of the body is different, for so many of these injuries.


COOPER: And does the adrenaline that you're feeling, in the game? I mean, adrenaline does crazy things to one. It can make you not feel pain, in the moment, or for some time, until it sort of dissipates.

WIRE: Yes.

COOPER: And then, all of a sudden, that's when you really feel things. I mean, does the adrenaline help you through that initially?

WIRE: Yes. I mean, and there's, endorphins, running through your body, cortisol, all these different hormones are surging through your veins.

You've been juiced up on two coffees that morning, a Red Bull, before the game and, at halftime, of the game. And you're so juiced up, Anderson that you don't realize how hurt you are, till the next day, when it feels like, I just feel like I was in two car wrecks, last night.


WIRE: And you feel it the next day.

But, as football players, when things like this happen, I think it's important to note again, that they stopped this game. And I don't think that five years ago, 10 years ago, that this would have happened. I think they would have blew those whistles, and teams would have been forced to go out there, and play. And that's what players have always done.


WIRE: And, as athletes, you're trained to have this neck-snap mentality. You're trained to--

COOPER: It's very rare to stop a game like this, I mean?

WIRE: I can't remember a time that it happened.


WIRE: And so, that's why I think this is a significant moment of all of those injuries that we've seen, in the past, all of the CTE, and the studies that have been done, and the lives, who have been altered forever, because of the violent game that they play. They have not been in vain, right?

COOPER: Right.

WIRE: We're seeing progress. I think this is a big moment, for the high school coaches, who are watching this, who have youth that are under their guidance, and they're seeing how serious, injuries can be. This is not like a "Buckle up, toughen up, get out there kid," like, no.


WIRE: Like, we need to take injuries more seriously. This is a big moment. Hopefully, Damar is OK, and that we can all learn, and be in a better place, in this.


Sanjay, so the fact that CPR was administered, on the field, and then obviously taken away, in an ambulance, Mr. Hamlin, what - I mean, how effective is CPR? What does it actually do in that moment?

ON THE PHONE: GUPTA: Well, what the CPR is really trying to do, is do what the heart should be doing, which is, the heart is basically pumping, oxygenated blood, throughout the body. And it sounds like, from their assessment, on the field that this, he went into cardiac arrest. So, his heart wasn't doing that. So essentially, what you're doing with CPR is you're trying to essentially, there's oxygenated blood, that's on the body, you're trying to pump that blood now, using your hands, and pump that blood through the body.

What the goals really are, are twofold. One is you like to get the heart restarted, in some way. And it'd be curious, and I've been communicating, with Jonathan Reiner, who's a cardiologist, about this.

But one thing, I don't know if this was done, maybe you or Coy know. But if there in fact, was a defibrillator, near the field, or on the field, or if a defibrillator was used? That's something that you're using to basically give electricity, to try and restart the heart. And that is sort of the key, is restarting the heart. In the absence of that, CPR is basically trying to move oxygen, in the blood.

The blood should still be oxygenated, for a period of time, for several minutes, at least. And the goal is to just keep that blood moving, through the body, perfusing the organs, perfusing the heart itself, perfusing the brain, until the heart can be restarted. That's the goal.

COOPER: An ambulance, particularly an ambulance, that's probably stationed, at a stadium, like this, it's likely they would have a defibrillator, inside the ambulance. Wouldn't they?

ON THE PHONE: GUPTA: I would imagine so. And I think that, in fact, even outside of the ambulance, big public arenas, including stadiums, and things like that, typically do have defibrillators. So, I don't know, again, if one was used on him, and if so, at what point, it was used.

The sooner the better, as soon as you determine that someone is in fact in cardiac arrest, or has a very abnormal cardiac rhythm, warranting defibrillation, it should be used. As Coy is pointing out, it's, this is an unusual situation, young, healthy people on the field. But a defibrillator should still be very accessible--


ON THE PHONE: GUPTA: --for situations like this.

COOPER: Hey, Sanjay, I want to bring in our friend, Wolf Blitzer, who's obviously a huge Buffalo Bills fan. For anybody, who doesn't know that, he's a major Buffalo Bills fan, having grown up in Buffalo.

I know you were watching the game, Wolf. I'm - you must just be in shock.

ON THE PHONE: WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Total - totally shocked, and so sad. It's really awful, Anderson.

And I've been a Buffalo Bills fan, says the Buffalo Bills were created, back in 1960. When I was a little boy, my dad used to take me to the Buffalo Bills games, and I loved the Buffalo Bills. And I've seen so many Buffalo Bills games, and I can't remember ever seeing anything like this; a player getting hit, and then collapsing, and then an ambulance showing up, on the field, and then CPR being administered.


My heart goes out to Damar Hamlin. And, like millions of other people, right now, I'm praying for his health, and I'm hoping we get a report from the hospital, that he's OK.


ON THE PHONE: BLITZER: I've never seen - I've never seen players, crying, like they are, right now, and just trying to come to grips, with the awful situation that has developed. It's, as anybody, who's a football fan knows, this is not something you see. I've never seen it.

Coy, have you ever seen it before, anything like this?

WIRE: Yes, Wolf, when I was in college. We were playing against the Washington Huskies. And our Running Back hit their Safety, head on, and their Safety was paralyzed from the waist down.

And when I was with the Buffalo Bills, you may remember Kevin Everett. He was a tight end, from us, from the University of Miami. And we were covering a kick together. And he hit the wedge. And he was paralyzed after that.

And I think you mentioned that, you're seeing these tears, and the players' reactions. They're so powerful. And I think you mentioned earlier, Anderson, how we're seeing this on TV, we're seeing it from far away.

When you're a player, on that field, you noticed right away, there were some Cincinnati Bengals players, taking a knee, right away. Teammates started gathering around. And you're seeing things that you don't see, on TV. You sometimes see eyes rolling, into the back of their head, you see their arms shaking and quivering, uncontrollably, things that you don't notice. But, as a player, you, you see, and you feel those things.

And so, to see their response, the way they were reacting, they were seeing some things that even they were probably shocked to be having to witness, in that moment.

COOPER: It's interesting what you say, Coy. I mean, the intimacy you're talking about that exists on the field? I mean, we're all looking at this, from a great distance, whether it's on television, or even in a stadium.

But it's when everybody's on the field, together, huddled together, knocking into each other, standing around, milling around, each other? I mean, there is an intimacy to it. You hear things, you see things.

WIRE: Yes. You're hearing things, from the injured player that you might not want to hear, sounds that they can't control. And then, you also hear prayers. You hear players, actively calling the player's name, and letting them know that "We're here. We're with you. You've got this." All those things are happening.

All the while it's frantic, and it's hectic, for those first responders, who are on the field, the team doctors, they're all rushing, trying to first assess the situation. You're on with a football helmet, and a chin strap, and you have a mouthpiece in. And they're told, "Don't remove that yet because it might be a spinal cord injury," and they're trying to assess and evaluate. And there are shoulder pads on.

And, this guy, if he was hopefully still breathing, his chest is rising up and down, at a rapid rate, because we're in the middle of a football game. And that adrenaline that you mentioned, Anderson, it is, there's so much emotion, and so much physical energy, buzzing, all in this chaotic moment, while you're just trying to figure out, how can we best help this young man?

And so, it's very stressful, it's haunting, when you've experienced it. That's why I was a little worked up, earlier. I just sit there - I have my Bills gear on. I'm enjoying watching our team play. And then, you get this reminder of just how violent the game is, at all levels.


WIRE: And so, again, I hope college and high school coaches, out there, are watching this, and seeing how seriously we need to take our players' health and safety, and care for them.

COOPER: And not just a reminder of how violent the game is, how fragile life is.

WIRE: That's right.

COOPER: And, one minute, somebody is at the height of their performance, at the height of their skills, doing extraordinary things, on a field. And the next moment, collapses and is needing assistance.

WIRE: Yes.

COOPER: Again, I'm not going to show the Damar Hamlin collapsing, again. It's disturbing. We're just, out of respect, don't want to do that.

We're going to show the incident that precipitated that, the tackle that was made. And joining us, as we watch it, is CNN Sports Analyst, and USA Today Sports Columnist, Christine Brennan. Let's just.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wide open to mid field, and lowers the shoulder, for 13.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: And that was it.

Christine, I mean, when you see - it's, seeing that, they cut away to another shot, just because nothing was happening, after the tackle. And it was just seconds later that Damar Hamlin stood up, and then suddenly went limp, and fell.

Your thoughts, right now?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, SPORTS COLUMNIST, USA TODAY, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Yes, Anderson. Coy, I was just listening to Coy. Of course, he knows well, because he played the game.

Anderson, I've covered football, for the entirety of my career. And I've always - pro and college, so for decades. And this is that worst fear that worst thought that you have, in the back of your head, really, in at every game, as a journalist.


Obviously, family members, your heart's going out to his family, right now, and, his friends, of course the teammates, and everyone, who watched this, saw this, and is now wondering, of course, this incredible intense horrible moment, of trying to figure out, "What happened? Is he OK?"

But it is such a violent game. And the hits are what people love. And people cheer for that. And yet, we sometimes forget, all the fans, and the stadiums, over the weekend, college games, pro games, you forget that sometimes, as you're screaming, as a fan is screaming that, these are young people. And, they are, as you said, they're fragile. They're human beings. And they're wearing lots of padding. But these hits are brutal.

And I've been on the sideline, many a time, and just to hear the sights and sounds of the game, towards the end of a game, they bring us down, before we go into the locker room, and it is jarring. And you realize how big they are, how fast they are, and how hard they're hitting. And all of that, obviously, is what I'm thinking, right now, most, of course, most of all that he's OK, and that he will be all right.

But it's a brutal game. It's a game that Americans love. But my goodness! What a horrible, horrible turn of events, this evening.


For those, who are just joining us, Bills Safety, Damar Hamlin, collapsed, after being involved in a play. Was administered CPR, on the field. Was taken out, in an ambulance. The game has been called off.

We're here with Coy Wire, and Christine Brennan, Wolf Blitzer, Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, for those, who are just joining, you and I, I don't know, 15 minutes or so ago, were talking about possibilities, of what this is. Again, we don't know what's happened.

But we do know CPR was administered, on the field. And that Damar Hamlin was able to stand up, seemingly OK, after the tackle, after the play, he was involved with, and then suddenly seemed to go, like his body went limp, and he just--


COOPER: --collapsed onto the field.

Can you, again, just talk a little bit about the possibilities of what, immediately that those medics, who ran out to assist him, what would they be looking for? What would they be trying to ascertain?

ON THE PHONE: GUPTA: Well, I think that, given that he stood up, and then collapsed, I mean, there's some information in there. And so, it's hard to sort of speculate. And it's obviously such an emotionally tough situation. I was at the hospital, everyone's talking about this.

But you'd have to sort of assess, is he breathing, does he have a heartbeat. And whatever their assessment sort of led to was that he needed to have CPR. So, it sounds like he was in cardiac arrest, there, on the field.

Heart was either not beating or was in an arrhythmia, where it wasn't beating well, wasn't pumping blood, efficiently, through the body. And that's why it sounds like he, CPR was started, and he had several minutes of CPR, on the field.

Why that happened is, it's certainly hard to know, at this point. There is a condition that we were talking about earlier, known as commotio cordis, which is basically something that is, as a result of blunt force trauma, to the chest, it can result in an arrhythmia, an abnormal rhythm of the heart.

And that has happened. It's rare. I've actually never seen it before. But it's talked about, in sports, in baseball, even. From a fastball, for example, where it hits someone, in the chest, it's just the right time, or just the wrong time, as it maybe, and causes this, say, arrhythmia.

He had this significant blow, to the chest, as part of that play that we saw. And that may have been what, what caused that. But again, we just don't know, at this point.

I think what they're going to want to sort of ascertain is, if he was in abnormal rhythm. Did he require defibrillator? Did his heart need to be shocked back into a rhythm? Did that happen? Did it happen on the field? Did it happen in the ambulance? Has it happened yet?

Those are all important questions. Because that's the goal, is you got to restart the heart, in some way. And that's one of the most effective ways to do it.

COOPER: And what happens, once the heart is restarted? I mean, is any kind of blunt force trauma to the chest, is that something then - I mean, is the - could the heart potentially be permanently damaged? Could it - assuming it restarts, and I mean, is it just something that--


COOPER: --someone can bounce back from?

ON THE PHONE: GUPTA: This is a serious situation, Anderson. I think just given the number of minutes, it sounds like CPR was being performed. I - you may have better knowledge on that than I do.


But I think I heard at least nine minutes. That's a long time. There have been certainly people, who have recovered from that, even longer. But, I mean, at this point, you'd have to consider that to be a very serious situation.

When the heart is not pumping, or not pumping efficiently, obviously, the heart itself is not receiving adequate blood flow. So, the heart pumps blood to itself, as the first thing that it does. That's where the blood goes first. And if it's not getting enough blood flow, you can start to lose heart tissue. It's pumping blood, to the brain, obviously, pumping blood to all the organs.

So, is it possible? Yes, absolutely possible. But I think I would not want to minimize how serious it sounds like the situation was.

COOPER: Yes. Well, Sanjay, Christine Brennan, Wolf, Coy Wire, obviously, first and last, our thoughts, and our prayers, our best wishes, are for Damar Hamlin, for his family, and for his team, and all those who were there, witnessing this.

Obviously, we'll continue to follow the latest details, in what has happened, Bills Safety, Damar Hamlin, collapsing, on the field. They administered CPR, on the field, being taken, off the field, in an ambulance. The game was suspended. We have been following this now, for this occurred just, I think, within the last 30 minutes or so.

Our coverage will continue. The news continues, right now, as "CNN TONIGHT" with Laura Coates is next, right after a short break.