Return to Transcripts main page
Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Nassau County GOP Calls For NY Rep. Santos To Resign; McCarthy Will Not Call For Santos To Step Down; Sources: Biden's Legal Team Found More Classified Documents At Second Location; GOP Strategist Alleges Powerful Conservative Matt Schlapp Sexually Assaulted Him In October; Missing Mother's Husband Described As A "Sociopath" IN Court Doc Filed During Dispute Over His Father's Estate; Video, Satellite Images Capture Crowding At China's Hospitals, Crematoriums, Funeral Homes. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 11, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: The Bills' tweeting a statement from Hamlin's doctors which says in part and I quote it: "We are confident that Damar can be safely discharged to continue his rehabilitation at home and with the Bills."
It's a remarkable recovery for anyone, including a 24-year-old who just over a week ago, on Monday Night Football was resuscitated on the field after his heart stopped.
Thanks so much for joining us. AC 360 begins now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
We begin tonight, keeping them honest with a Congressman who cannot do the same for himself and a House leadership who so far won't do it for him though leaders now in his own district, in his own party are trying to, they want him out, so does the New York State Party chairman.
We are talking of course about George Santos, the freshman Republican Congressman from New York who lied about nearly all aspects of his life to help get himself elected.
Late today, yet another freshman New York House Republican Brandon Williams joined the call for him to quit. As for Santos, he says he is not going anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Will you resign?
REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): I will not. Can you give me a little bit of space here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, of course, who knows if that's true. Almost nothing he has said about his life and career has been so far. This is the same George Santos who said he worked at Goldman Sachs, which was a lie, who said he worked at Citigroup, which he didn't, meaning that too was a lie. It is the same George Santos who lied about the high school he went to in New York and the college he said he graduated from, he said it was Baruch College and he got a degree in Economics and Finance, he didn't.
Even told a Republican leader in his district, he had been a star athlete at Baruch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH G. CAIRO, JR., CHAIRMAN, NASSAU COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY: He told me I remember specifically I'm into sports a little bit, that he was a star on the volleyball team and that they won the league championship. What can I tell you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Santos can tell you a lot. That's Nassau County Republican Chairman Joseph Cairo who today called on Congressman Santos to resign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAIRO: He deceived the voters of the Third Congressional District. His lies were not mere fibs. He disgraced the House of Representatives. He is not welcome here at Republican headquarters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What George Santos has done is a shonda, which he probably doesn't feel but would understand what it meant if he was Jewish as he pretended to be. He lied about that, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTOS: Shabbat Shalom to everybody, and thank you for being here. Lee has served as an inspiration, as a friend and as a leader for the Jewish folks in Congress and for all of us in this room, by one point being just two members. So, now we're going to be three.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Again, he's not Jewish, and when caught lying about being Jewish, he lied about ever having lied about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTOS: I always joke, I'm Catholic, but I'm also Jew-ish, as in ish. And I've made that joke because growing up I grew up fully aware that my grandparents were Jewish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He also lied about them, too, falsely claiming that they had fled the Holocaust.
Congressman Santos lied as well about having "lost four employees" in the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting. He is also facing check fraud charges from his time in Brazil, and here at home, a Federal investigation in the Eastern District of New York, which a source familiar with matter tells us is focused on his finances. Nassau county authorities are conducting their own investigation.
Yesterday two Democrats filed a formal complaint with the bipartisan House Ethics Committee. Today Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick called for the Committee to conduct an expedited review of the case while saying his GOP colleague did not belong in the House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK (R-PA): His conduct was egregious. I personally think he shouldn't be here. But I think the Ethics Committee has to do their work. It should be done quickly and they should return to the House with their findings and then we act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Just one problem with that so far as Congressman Fitzpatrick's boss, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is disinclined or seems disinclined to do just that to act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): There is a concern. He has to go through the Ethics, we will let him move through that. But right now, the voters have a voice in the decision, not where people pick and choose based upon what somebody is pressing. So he will continue to serve.
REPORTER: He himself has admitted to fabricating parts of his resume.
MCCARTHY: So did a lot of people here in the Senate and others, but the one thing I think, it's the voters who made that decision, he has to answer the voters and the voters to make another decision --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, McCarthy said if there's a concern, which is a little bit like saying about a tidal wave, if there's moisture, there's no if when party officials from his own district say they've already seen enough or in the case of the party chairman lied to enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAIRO: I am calling for his immediate resignation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: McCarthy also seems to be making something of a false equivalency when he says other lawmakers have embellished or outright fabricated parts of their resumes. Thirty-six years ago, then presidential candidate Joe Biden, and yes he ran for president in 1987, borrowed heavily from a British politician's highly acclaimed speech and quite incredibly failed to attribute it to him.
Former Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker of course, you know made up the claim during his campaign that he was a member of law enforcement despite only having an honorary badge.
The former President has often exaggerated his business accomplishments obviously, but none is even playing in the same league as George Santos, who has lied about just about any and every facet of his life. This is all-star team stuff. Yet again, listen to Speaker McCarthy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: Voters made the decision and he has the right to serve them. If there's something that rises to the occasion that he did something wrong, then we'll deal with that at that time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So why is Speaker McCarthy intent on doing nothing for now? One reason may be simple arithmetic. If George Santos resigns, the seat will be vacant until a special election is held, which will cut Speaker McCarthy's narrow legislative majority by one. The price for it being a Congressman, of course, where some fellow Republicans in Washington and back home said they don't trust and should not be serving, if serving is even the right word.
It's like the old joke, a guy tells his friend, my brother thinks he's a chicken. The friend asked, why don't you take him to a psychiatrist. I can't. The guy says we need the eggs.
Congressman Santos appears to be a pathological liar and it is no joke, but McCarthy may need the votes.
Joining us now is Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman. So you and your fellow Nassau County executives, the County GOP officials have said he should resign. What do you think is going to happen?
BRUCE BLAKEMAN (R), NASSAU COUNTY EXECUTIVE OFFICER: Well, I'm the chief executive officer of a county. His congressional district is about one half of the county, we have almost 1.5 million people in Nassau County. His congressional district, 700,000 people roughly live in Nassau County and I just found myself in an untenable situation whereby, as a chief executive officer, I have to deal with Federal officials all the time.
And I felt like I could not deal with him, I could not talk to him, because he's an out and out liar. And I can't have a relationship with somebody who is not going to tell me the truth. And we are now finding ways in which we can go around George Santos and make sure that the people in his district are served without having to deal with him, I will not deal with him. I think he should resign. I think that lying about where you attended
college is audacious, lying about where you work is outrageous, lying about your religion is ridiculous, it is almost funny. But lying about the fact that his parents were survivors of the Holocaust to me, I think is tragic. I think it trivializes the death of six million people, t wo million of which were children. And I think that that shows that he has no concept of the scope of his untruths.
And for me, as an elected official, I had to make that clear to him and to his staff, and to the people in my county that that was unacceptable and I wasn't going to have anything to do with him.
COOPER: I think Santos has said, indicated, well, that it's unfortunate what you and other officials are doing because that will cut off his constituents from services. To that you say?
BLAKEMAN: No, that's not the case. First of all, Congressman Anthony d'Esposito who also called for his resignation today, who has the other half of Nassau County, he will help me with Federal issues. I have very good relationship with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in the Senate, and he has always been very responsive to Nassau County residents. And I'm sure that he will help us with federal issues. And Congressman Andrew Garbarino, I think will chip in and help us.
So we don't need George Santos, but if he wants to do the right thing, I think he should resign and I think he should get professional help, because obviously he has emotional issues.
COOPER: I mean, were you caught completely by surprise by it? I mean, obviously you didn't know anything about this. Had you interacted with him? Did you know him? Did he seem credible in person?
BLAKEMAN: Well, he didn't come from the Nassau County Republican Committee, he came from the Queens County Republican community.
COOPER: And they had vouched for him or --?
BLAKEMAN: They recommended him, but I'm finding out now that it wasn't the strongest of recommendations. And I think that basically, our own chairman, Joe Cairo said that, you know, we should have done a little better job, but when someone comes for an interview and hands you a resume and fills out a questionnaire, we've never had this before.
I mean, and who would have thought that an individual would just lie on top of lie and it's pathological. And basically, I didn't know him that well. I had some interaction with him, but not a lot of interaction. So I think that we were all shocked, not caught by surprise, shocked at the type of lies that he was spinning and obviously, he's lost the public trust.
COOPER: Yes. Bruce Blakeman. I really appreciate your time tonight.
BLAKEMAN: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Thank you so much. Appreciate it. I want to go to CNN's Melanie Zanona at the Capitol.
So Melanie, Speaker McCarthy again today say he won't ask Santos to resign at this point. Is it likely that Santos is going to face any sort of ethics review or scrutiny from his own party in the House?
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, I can tell you that the House Ethics Committee is usually very tight lipped about investigations or even the existence of investigation, but two Democrats did formally file an ethics complaint. They walked it over to Santos' office and they want the House Ethics Committee to look into his financial disclosure forms, which have raised a lot of questions and several other Republicans have also called for an ethics investigation.
Now, we should point out, though, that the House Ethics Committee typically does not like to interfere with ongoing probes either at the Federal level or State level, and also they can only make disciplinary recommendations.
They actually could send it to the full House, but then it would be up to the full House to act on something like censure or expulsion, so it remains to be seen what they come up with if they decide to investigate, but then again, it would be up to the full House to do that.
COOPER: And can you talk about any political calculus that may be involved for McCarthy or others to not want Santos to resign immediately?
ZANONA: Speaker Kevin McCarthy said the reason he doesn't want Santos to resign is because it's up to his voters to decide that, but there is another political reality here and GOP sources told me that GOP leadership is very aware of the fact that if Santos were to step down, there would be a special election. And remember, this is a very blue district, it was a Biden won district and in a special election, you would have a ton of attention on this race.
We have a lot of people who would come out just to vote against George Santos, you know, an anti-George Santos vote and there is a very likelihood that Democrats could win that seat back and so it would make the House GOP's razor thin majority even slimmer and that is something that is certainly weighing on the minds of Republican leaders -- Anderson.
COOPER: So is Santos, while he's in Congress for however long that may be, is he going to get Committee assignments, do we know?
ZANONA: He will get Committee assignments. Kevin McCarthy told us today that he does plan to put Santos on some Committees. He said he really wants to give Santos an opportunity to build some trust. He also is planning to meet with him in the coming days to try to really talk to him and get a handle on this new member of his. But Kevin McCarthy did say that he was not going to be giving him A-
List Committee assignments. So those are top tier committees, and in fact, a source told GOP or my colleague, Manu Raju that he wanted to actually serve on the House Financial Services Committee that is a top tier Committee, but GOP leaders rejected it -- Anderson.
COOPER: Wow. Melanie Zanona, appreciate it. Thank you.
I want to get perspective from CNN chief political correspondent and "State of the Union" co-anchor, Dana Bash; also CNN political commentator and former Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Charlie Dent.
Dana, you heard Speaker McCarthy's comments on Santos that the voters elected him to serve. I'm wondering what you make of McCarthy's position, considering they voted for him based on fraudulent information.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR AND POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. I mean, that's really the bottom line. Speaker McCarthy is saying what he is saying for two reasons. Number one is because of the arithmetic that you talked about at the beginning of the show. He only has a four-vote majority, which we saw on display in a painful way, all last week and it is very possible that if this goes, this district that their district is part of a special election, then it could go blue, especially given what we're seeing with Santos.
And the other is that there is a process. There is a process that is happening now in the courts and there is a process that will happen in the Ethics Committee.
So we have seen leaders in both parties take a beat and let that process continue. That is not stopping his colleagues from calling on him to resign. I talked to a Republican who knows this very well, a sitting Republican member earlier tonight who said that at this point, there is no indication that Santos is going to resign because he clearly has no shame.
COOPER: Congressman Dent, I mean, as a former colleague of McCarthy's in the House, what do you make of the position he is and the handling of it thus far?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I served with Kevin McCarthy, I consider him a friend, but in this case, I think Speaker McCarthy must put the institutional interests ahead of the partisan interests. What he should do is summon George Santos to his office and tell, it appears all these accusations are true, the letter sitting on my conference table is your resignation letter, you should sign it.
If he says he won't sign it, well, then you should tell Mr. Santos at one, you will not be seated on Committees, you will not be welcomed into the House Republican Conference. And you know, you can enjoy your time in Congress. I mean, that's how he should be dealt with.
When Speaker Boehner was serving and I served with him and I was Chair of the Ethics Committee and I served eight years in that Committee, and I dealt with resignations of members, but I can tell you what the Ethics Committee is going to do this guy, they're going to send him a letter asking a hundred questions that he is not going to want to answer. It's going to cost him a pile of money to answer anything they say, we want all these answers within 30 or 45 days. You know, good luck with that.
He is going to have a tough time with this investigation. It's going to be brutal on him and if he -- but if he steps now, that one investigation goes away, but he'll still have several other investigations he has to deal with, Federal, State, local, FEC and elsewhere.
COOPER: Charlie, can he use his campaign funds to pay for lawyers to battle those investigations?
DENT: Well, typically, members will. I think it's a little unclear where they cannot use those funds, but they will typically use campaign funds. Hey, but George Santos has told us, he is worth millions of dollars. I don't know that he needs to use his campaign funds to defend himself. You know, it's just another lie, but he --
COOPER: That's the money he made at Goldman Sachs.
DENT: All of that money he made at Goldman and everywhere else. What a businessman. And of course, he's got -- well, he's got so many problems. I can't imagine he wants to stick around. But the reason why he's not going to resign is because he needs the money.
You know, obviously he's not very wealthy, but he needs this money to survive, in all likelihood, but I wouldn't want to be him because the legal bills are just going to mount for him. And, you know, again, he is in a very lonely position, too.
I mean, which colleague wants to be photographed with him? Nobody wants to be tied to him. No one will work with him. I mean, this has to be just an awful experience for this man. It would be just smart for him to get out of the House.
COOPER: Dana, I mean, also, Dana, who would want to be a staff member in his office dealing with this stuff? Congressman Santos' lies today, I mean, it was revealed he claimed to be a volleyball star at a college he didn't attend. In all your years covering congressional politics, have you ever seen anything like this?
BASH: No, I really thought I've seen at all, especially given what we've seen over the past -- I don't know, five, six years. He's the Anna Delvey of politics. I mean, that's clearly what he appears to be. He has just kind of made things up and not just padded his resume, created things that did not exist on his resume.
And, again, it's not just about okay, I didn't graduate from here. He didn't go to the colleges that he put on his resume and the press conference that the Nassau County Republican Party had today and what you just -- the conversation you just had with the executive, that says it all.
I mean they want this guy out. They want him done. Obviously, they feel very burned by him. But the notion that on a local level, they are saying that they will not deal with him, their Federal representative. I mean, they are trying in every way possible to ice him out. I have never seen anything like that. This is his own party.
COOPER: Dana Bash, Charlie Dent, appreciate it.
Coming up next is breaking news in the Biden classified documents story. In short, there are now more of them found.
Later, a new CNN exclusive reporting of sexual assault claims against one of the most powerful figures in conservative politics.
COOPER: It's breaking news tonight and a bigger headache for the White House. People briefed on the matter tell CNN that President Biden's legal team discovered another batch of classified government records at a second location after 10 such items were found in the President's former private office.
According to these sources, they were found during searches touched off by the initial discovery. Now, it is unclear how many documents were in the second batch or what they pertain to. It's not clear either exactly where they were found. The story broke after White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reporters that she could not provide assurances there weren't any additional classified materials in any other offices. No comment yet from the White House.
Late today, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who sits on the Judiciary Committee called for a special counsel to look into the matter.
Joining us now, CNN political analyst and "New York Times" senior political correspondent, Maggie Haberman and CNN legal and national security analyst, Carrie Cordero.
So Maggie, how big a deal is the second discovery now?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's not insignificant. I don't think we know how big a deal it is. We don't know when it was found where what the documents are. You know, this is -- I know I'm jumping to this.
I think we have to say at the outset, this is not the same as the situation we saw with Donald Trump. It doesn't appear to be either in terms of volume or in terms of the efforts to try to retrieve things that's according to the people who are briefed on this, the Biden folks have made an effort to return material that's very different than what we saw with Trump.
But I do think that the White House, the current White House would benefit from being more explicit about exactly what they found when they found it. I do think transparency would help here, especially given the gravity of the situation with Trump.
COOPER: Carrie, I mean, the Justice Department has already been investigating the first round of classified documents. Now, there are some documents, a second round, how do you think it impacts the investigation -- that investigation does the President's legal exposure increase?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, first of all, it's not entirely clear to me that the Justice Department, how the timeline worked in terms of the Justice Department knowing about this second tranche of documents and where that fit into the timeline of their investigation from the documents found in November.
So I think the timing matters, the location matters, the number of documents and the classification level of the documents, all would factor into how the Justice Department conducts its investigation.
The other question mark that remains is whether President Biden had any involvement, knowledge, awareness, possession of any of these documents at any time, and based on the reporting that I've seen so far, that remains a major question.
There are many, many, as Maggie said, there are many, many differences between former President Trump's situation and this situation with President Biden for documents that were discovered from his time as Vice President.
The one thing that I do think is similar amongst both of them is that there are people besides those two individuals who are potentially relevant to the investigation.
So for both investigations, the questions for the Justice Department become well, who were the actual people who moved classified information from one place to another, who had access to those documents, if anyone? And those types of questions are relevant to the FBI and the Justice Department's investigation so that they understand whether there were any national security consequences for the location of these documents in places that they weren't supposed to be?
COOPER: Maggie, CNN has been reporting that the former President's legal team thinks that they will benefit from this, and that was obviously before the second batch was found. This is certainly something which I would assume the former President is pleased about.
HABERMAN: He and his team are very happy about this. We've seen the former President take to his social media website and sort of, you know, spike the football about it. It is not surprising because one of his playbooks is muddying the waters and taking anything that could look similar.
But you know, they do have reason to be happy about anything that might make Republicans likely or to defend Trump on this topic. Republicans have not been so eager to weigh in on this. We've really seen them standing back up, not just since the search, which actually was pretty condemned, but once it was clear what the volume and severity was of the documents that were in, said to be in former President Trump's possession.
So this is something that just allows Republicans to say, you know, hey, look, this happened with Biden, too. Again, as we have stressed here, these are, from what we know so far, these are not, you know, analogous situations, but in this sort of tribal partisan environment, Republicans are going to cling to it.
COOPER: And Carrie, I mean, one glaring difference, obviously, between the situation the fact that the former President is also be investigated for possible obstruction, do you think the investigation to President Biden could impact any decision making from the DOJ as it relates to the former President?
CORDERO: So as to whether or not the existence of this investigation for President Biden's documents impacts the investigation of former President Trump, the answer to that question should be no as a theoretical matter and sort of a from a purist Justice Department perspective. The facts should be analyzed for each case separately.
The facts are very, very different in terms of the timeline, the volume. We still have more to learn about the nature of the documents in the Biden situation. And certainly, the cooperation piece is completely different as far as what we know.
Certainly, former President Trump did not cooperate and as you said, can be alleged to have obstructed that investigation. In this case, according to what we've learned so far, the Biden folks have all cooperated immediately as far as when they discovered the documents.
COOPER: Yes. Carrie Cordero, Maggie Haberman, appreciate it. Thank you.
Just ahead, a CNN exclusive, new texts and evidence related to the accusation of sexual assault against a powerful leader in Republican politics, details and the denial, next.
COOPER: The CNN has obtained new information and text messages that appear to back up the sexual assault claims made last week by male Republican strategist against a powerful and influential conservative. Matt Schlapp has denied the accusation. Strategist says that in the weeks before the election, Schlapp groped and fondled his groin during a car ride back from two area bars in Atlanta. Schlapp runs the organization that stages the Conservative Political Action Conference, a must attend event for most Republicans. Schlapp worked for Presidents George W. Bush, his wife worked as communications director for the previous President.
Jamie Gangel tonight joins us with more. So, what is the staffer alleging happened?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, the Republican strategist is alleging, as you described, that Matt Schlapp made unwanted sexual advances as he drove him back to his hotel. And once they got to the hotel, the strategist says that the Matt Schlapp invited him up to his hotel room. He declined. Just for context, Anderson, the strategist is a male in his late 30s who was at the time working for the Georgia GOP and Herschel Walker Senate campaign. He told CNN he had been assigned that day to drive Schlapp to campaign events and the incident happened on the ride back to the hotel on October 19th.
COOPER: The staffer has made these allegations. How is Schlapp responding?
GANGEL: So, we have a statement from his lawyer. He denies the allegations. And his lawyer gave us this statement, quote, the attack is false and Mr. Schlapp denies any improper behavior. We are evaluating legal options for response. We should say, Anderson also, that the Board of Directors of the ACU, that Schlapp is the chair of, also released a statement saying they stand behind Schlapp and his leadership. I want to also add here that senior campaign officials who CNN interviewed and who spoke to the staffer in real time describe him as being angry and mortified and they immediately instructed him not to drive Schlapp again.
COOPER: Yes, he was supposed to pick him up the next day, take him to the airport. As my understanding. You've obtained text messages. What did they show?
GANGEL: So, according to the text messages and also phone records we reviewed, after the campaign tells the staffer not to drive Schlapp, the staffer texts Schlapp and says, quote, I did want to say I was uncomfortable with what happened last night. The campaign does have a driver who's available to get you to Macon and back to the airport. According to phone records, Schlapp tried to reach the staffer, and then after a couple of hours, Schlapp actually texted the staffer. He used his name, and he said, quote, if you could see it in your heart to call me at the end of the day, I would appreciate it. If not, I wish you luck on the campaign and hope you keep up the good work.
Anderson we also reviewed other text messages from that night in real time. These are being made public for the first time. It includes the staffer texted a friend who's in politics, and he wanted to tell him what happened. He's clearly very upset, and he's looking for guidance about how to tell the campaign what happened. So, the staffer texts the friend, quote, he's pissed, I didn't follow him to his hotel room. Then later, the friend responds, I'm sorry, man. What a effing creep. The staffer later texts again, I just don't know how to say it to my superiors that their surrogate fondled my junk without my consent.
COOPER: And, I mean -- why is he going to poke with this information now?
GANGEL: Right. So, he didn't want to come forward initially because he says he didn't want it to be a distraction during the campaign as election day was approaching. This was just a couple of weeks before. He says he's coming forward now because he wants to prevent someone else from being victimized. And I'm told he's leaving his legal options open, Anderson.
COOPER: And how did the Walker campaign respond to the allegation?
GANGEL: So, it is very interesting. One of the first things the staffer told me was that the Walker campaign was completely supportive and offered to back whatever actions he wanted to take. They got him a lawyer. Did he want to go to the press? They backed him just 100% of this.
COOPER: The thing about that I mean -- this is somebody, I don't know who this person is, but they were a staffer on this campaign. They clearly have an interest in politics on the Republican side for this person to come forward and make allegations against somebody who is as powerful as this in the Republican Party, that is a huge risk to this person's future.
GANGEL: And that's the reason, at least for now, that he's remaining anonymous, because he does understand that there is going to be a backlash. But this is a young man who has worked in lots of statewide races, congressional races. He worked for the Trump victory campaign in a state. But he feels that he has to come forward. For the record, he had never met Matt Schlapp before that night.
COOPER: Wow. Jamie Gangel, I appreciate it. Thank you.
COOPER: The suspicious disappearance of a mother of three has put renewed focus on her husband, who not only has a criminal past, but was once described as a violent sociopath in court documents years ago. New details ahead.
COOPER: After his wife vanished ten days ago, Brian Walshe was charged with misleading police and he remains in custody. He's been in trouble with the law before pleading guilty to fraud in a fake art case. Now we're learning even more about his past. Court documents show he was cut out of his father's will, also allegations he'd swindled money from his father, he's also described as a sociopath, among other things, in a dispute over the estate.
CNN Jason Carroll has more details.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As investigators are now in the process of testing items that could be connected to the disappearance of Ana Walshe, a clearer picture is emerging of her husband Brian and his troubled financial past. Court documents show he was involved in a bitter legal battle over his father, Thomas Walshe's estate friends, as well as Walshe's nephew, alleging in signed affidavits the elder Walshe and his son had been estranged for years after Brian Walshe absconded with almost $1 million from Dr. Thomas Walshe. Court records also say because of the alleged theft, it required Dr. Thomas Walshe to continue working past the age at which he had wished to retire, as a significant amount of his savings were stolen and never returned.
(on-camera): And that's part of the reason why these court documents say Walshe's father cut his only son out of his will in the years before his death in 2018.
(voice-over): Despite that, Walshe took steps to take control of his father's estate while saying in a sworn affidavit he and his father had been estranged several times over the years, but says they mended their relationship.
Ultimately, Walshe's legal efforts were unsuccessful. A judge ruled against him. But those same documents revealed more information about Walshe's past, including that at some point he had checked himself into a mental health facility. His father's friends calling him a sociopath, and court documents dated in 2019 saying, Brian is not only a sociopath, but also a very angry and physically violent person. I want nothing to do with him. These allegations surfaced years before Walshe pleaded guilty to federal charges of selling fake Andy Warhol paintings. The victim of the fake sales, saying Walshe was very convincing.
RON RIVLIN: He was very calculated, almost genius about how he went about things.
CARROLL (voice-over): That troubled pass, only increasing the scrutiny around the disappearance of his wife. A bloody knife found inside the family home. Law enforcement sources telling CNN, a hacksaw and cloth materials with apparent blood stains found at a nearby trash facility. The couple's friends say nothing seemed out of the ordinary during a New Year's Eve celebration, but now coming to terms with what could be the outcome they had feared.
ALISSA KIRBY, FRIEND OF ANA WALSHE: I keep praying that in all these trash facilities, that facility, that she's not found there, so that, you know, we do have somewhere to go to honor her and for her children to have somewhere to go to honor her.
CARROLL (voice-over): If someone did do something to honor Walshe, in Massachusetts, the law does not necessarily require prosecutors to show a motive for a crime.
MARTHA COAKLEY, FMR MA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Prosecutors like to be able to show a motive. Again, I think it makes more sense to people if there is a motive, but as a matter of law, it's not required to prove a motive in most cases.
COOPER: And Jason Carroll joins us now live from Cohasset, Massachusetts. So, the couple has three children together. Who's taking care of them now?
CARROLL: Well, it's a good question, and certainly it's a grave concern for Ana Walshe's friends. I spoke to one of them on the phone who said the children are basically one of their top priorities at this point as you can imagine. The children are in the custody of the state, and that's where they have been throughout all of this. And with last check with the state, there's been no update in terms of their status, and how they're dealing with all of this. Anderson.
COOPER: Jason Carroll, I appreciate it.
For more than the new details emerging about Brian Walshe's past, I'm joined by former FBI profiler, Mary Ellen O'Toole. She currently directs the Forensic science program at George Mason University of Maryland. Thanks for being with us.
So, you heard Jason's report. Brian Walshe's trouble passed, allegedly checked himself into a health facility, his father's friend calling him a sociopath and violent. What is that to tell you?
MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, RETIRED FBI SPECIAL AGENT, PROFILER: Well, if the term sociopath was applied by a trained mental health professional, that would have a lot of significance to me. Sociopath is an old term. It was really thrown out in 1968 by the mental health professionals. The new term is psychopath, and it is a personality disorder. It is not a mental illness. Psychopaths know right from wrong. They know the laws, they know the rules. They just choose to break them. And there's a set of 20 very specific personality traits, but one of them is that these are very grandiose people. They're very glib and charming, but when they do commit crimes, they absolutely have no remorse whatsoever for their victims. And that becomes most of the time, that becomes a very prominent trait when a psychopath does act out violently.
COOPER: We should point out that it was a friend of the fathers who had said that, I'm not sure what the qualifications of that person were, but it was in court documents in 2019. I mean, do -- I mean, or do all social -- I mean, what psychopathy is it's probably more common than people think, isn't it?
O'TOOLE: Well, it's estimated maybe 1% of the population could have these psychopathic traits. And most people that do have psychopathic traits are not violent, but they live on the edge. And you don't want to be in a relationship with them because their rule of life is to take whatever they want whenever they want it. And they don't form good relationships with loved ones, not even their family, not even their children.
COOPER: I also want to ask about Walshe's prior fraud conviction. It was apparently an art -- sort of an art theft or art forgery kind of situation. Is that common? I mean does somebody who's accused of a violent crime, do they usually have a history of other kinds of crimes?
O'TOOLE: They could certainly in their background. But the thing with people that are genuinely classified as psychopathic, their repertoire of being able to handle a situation in their life that they're dissatisfied with is far broader than you or me. So, if they're upset with a spouse, divorce may not be the option because they want a permanent break. So that means murder. So while you may have someone that is primarily a white-collar offender, again, if they're confronted with a life situation that they don't like, they can easily become violent and act out in a way that is very concerning.
COOPER: I mean, the idea that somebody would do Internet searches on, how do you dispose of the 115-pound body of a woman? It seems ludicrous that someone would do that if they have in fact, committed a crime. But people do ludicrous things all the time.
O'TOOLE: They do. And in my experience with people that are psychopathic, they are so grandiose and impressed with themselves. They don't think that anything that they did while committing a crime is stupid. In fact, I've done interviews with many of these people. They're very proud. And even when you point out their mistakes, they don't see their mistakes because again, they think that they're smarter than you are. And they also think that they're not going to get caught, what's really interesting, when you do interact with someone that has those traits, their affect is very off, and affect means emotion. So, they may smirk when they tell you about it, they may laugh when they tell you about it, and yet they're talking about a very cold, heartless crime.
COOPER: Mary Ellen O'Toole, appreciate you being with us. Thank you.
Coming up, a CNN exclusive new video satellite images of crowded hospitals and crematoriums in China that underscored the severity of the COVID outbreak there. We have a live report from Beijing, next.
COOPER: It's rare anyone in the west gets to see inside the crowded hospitals and funeral homes that have marked the surge of COVID in that country since it ended its lockdown. But CNN has obtained exclusive images of the surge of death and mourners, which is important as Chinese data is believed to be unreliable. As the World Health Organization said today, China is providing more information about the outbreak, but deaths are being, quote, heavily underreported.
CNN Selina Wang has the story and the exclusive images.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): COVID lockdowns may be over in China, but for many, there's misery at the end of zero COVID. The virus is overwhelming hospitals across the country, the sick struggled to get help. Patients crammed into every available space, every hallway and corner of this northern Chinese hospital. Not everyone survives the struggle. Rows of bodies filled this funeral home storage room in Liaoning Province, though we don't know how many died of COVID. In Jiangsu, families in morning clothes flood the gate. And in Sichuan, families line up outside right next to coffins waiting to cremate their loved ones.
China has only officially reported a few dozen COVID-19 deaths since reopening. But satellite images confirm the different reality we see on the ground. These images, taken in late December and early January, show crowds and long lines of cars waiting outside of funeral homes in six Chinese cities. The images from the outskirts of Beijing show that a brand-new parking lot was even constructed.
We visited that funeral home. Rows of cars were already there.
(on-camera): I'm now standing in that new parking lot of this Beijing funeral home, this entire parking lot area did not exist a month ago, and as you can see, the roads are not paved.
(voice-over): One van pulls in, unloads a body and another follows. A man tells me he waited hours for his brother's body to be cremated. But the wait is nothing, he says, compared to the crowds from a few weeks ago. Experts say Beijing's COVID outbreak has already peaked. In December, we filmed these body bags piling up in metal crates at another Beijing crematorium during the height of Omicron's spread in the city.
This video CNN has obtained was filmed by a man who said his father's body was lying in this overflowing Beijing hospital morgue for days. He said his father waited hours for hospital bed space. By the time a bed opened up, it was too late. Cities are now scrambling to set up fever clinics increased ICU capacities. For weeks, it was nearly impossible to buy cold or fever medicine. They were all sold out because of the huge demand.
(on-camera): Drug companies like this major pharmaceutical manufacturer in Beijing, they are going into overdrive to increase supply after there was a shortage of medicine to treat COVID-19 symptoms. I asked the vice president if they had received any advanced warning from the government that they were going to abandon zero of COVID so they could prepare to ramp up production. Well, he did correctly answer my question, but it's clear that now they are doubling down.
(voice-over): The company told us they simply follow government policy. The drug shortage overflowing hospitals and crematoriums, their images of a country unprepared for the sudden end of zero COVID.
So many families in mourning are questioning what their three years of sacrifice during zero COVID was really all for.
COOPER: Selina Wang joins us now. Now, you spoke to some of the people at the funeral home in Beijing. What did they say?
WANG: So, Anderson, there was a really heavy security presence, so all these conversations, they were off camera. I did have one lengthy conversation with the man who told me his brother tested positive for COVID and he believed his brother passed away because of COVID but the hospital categorized his death as a different disease. This man also said that he thinks many people in China know that many more people are dying than the extremely low numbers the government is officially reporting. The country did recently narrow its definition of what they consider to be a COVID death. And the World Health Organization has accused China for under reporting this outbreak.
COOPER: And I mean, is the outbreak still expected to get worse before it gets better?
WANG: So, in major cities like here in Beijing, experts are saying it's likely COVID infections have already peaked. But we are currently in this travel rush period ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday. This is when millions will be headed home to the countryside. So, as you see in that footage were just airing, even in major cities, the medical system has been pushed to the brink. So, in rural areas, this is where there's village clinics, tiny village clinics that have far less resources. And experts are warning there could be devastating consequences. Anderson.
COOPER: Selina Wang, I appreciate it. Thank you.
Coming up next, the battle raging over small town in eastern Ukraine. There's major implications for Russia's war effort there. We're live on the ground there, next.