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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Special Counsel Named To Investigate Biden's Handling Of Docs; Lisa Marie Presley Dies At 54; Opening Statements Begin In Proud Boys Seditious Conspiracy Trial. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 12, 2023 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Our Breaking News, tonight, even as Attorney General, Merrick Garland, today, named his Special Counsel, in the Biden classified documents affair, we're learning tonight, what was in the initial batch of them.

10 Obama-era documents, found in early, November, at his old think tank. CNN's Jamie Gangel, reporting earlier tonight that among those documents, was a memorandum, from then-Vice President Biden, to President Obama, two briefing memos, preparing then-Vice President, for phone calls, one with Britain's Prime Minister, the other with the President of the European Council, from 2014 to 2019.

This news ends a day dominated by the Garland decision.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I am here today to announce the appointment of Robert Hur as a Special Counsel, pursuant to Department of Justice regulations governing such matters.

This appointment underscores for the public the Department's commitment to both independence and accountability, in particularly sensitive matters, and to making decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law.


COOPER: Now, in our last hour, CNN's David Axelrod, a former top White House Adviser, who worked alongside then-Vice President Biden, in the Obama administration, called the White House, handling of this situation, the White House now, to use his word, "Suboptimal."


Others have put it more bluntly, raising more direct questions, about transparency, including CNN's Phil Mattingly. He joins us now.

How is the White House reacting to the appointment of a Special Counsel?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, officially, the White House counsel says they believe that this investigation will A, have full cooperation, from White House officials, and Biden's attorneys. And it will also show that in the end, this was in their words, a mistake, just an inadvertent mistake at that.

However, when the Attorney General made this appointment, today, something White House officials were not aware of, in advance, he also detailed a timeline that none of us were aware of, and underscored the fact that when the President first talked about declassified documents, earlier this week, he omitted a second set of documents, we discovered, last night, and they knew about them.

Take a listen.


MATTINGLY: The review was underway when you guys gave a detailed statement about the first set of documents. The review was underway when the President spoke about the first set of documents.

You're now saying that you didn't talk about the second set of documents, discovered almost a month prior, because the review was underway. I don't understand - it doesn't make any sense.


MATTINGLY: The review was underway, the entire time. The only difference was that reporters had information, on the first set of documents, and therefore you chose to exclude the second set of documents, until reporters got information on the second set of documents.

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, let me unconfuse you for a second, Phil.

Look, we are trying to do this by the book. And I said yesterday this was under review by the Department of Justice.

And the process is as such: When the - when the President's lawyers realized that the documents existed, that they were there, they reached out to the Archives. They reached out to the Department of Justice - rightfully so, may I add. That is what you're supposed to do as lawyers; that's what they did. And they have fully been cooperating with - with the Department of Justice.


MATTINGLY: Anderson, to be clear--

COOPER: She didn't answer your question.

MATTINGLY: Yes, look, there's nothing in that statement that unconfused, to use her words, anything.

And I think the point of the question is because we are told, at least our colleague, Evan Perez, is told, from some officials, inside the Justice Department that the White House messaging, and the fact that Justice Department officials felt that some of the messaging, portrayed a narrative that wasn't necessarily accurate, played a role, in the decision, to appoint a Special Counsel.

And why that matters is this. Part of the reason, I was told, there was so little information, there were such extensive limits, on what could be said, over the course of the days, leading up to this moment, was because White House officials were very concerned, about the possibility of having a Special Counsel appointed. They didn't think one was merited, and they certainly didn't want one to have to deal with.

Now, they very clearly have one. They have made clear they will cooperate throughout. The cooperation was never in question. It was about how things were presented, and what they were willing to acknowledge publicly.

Obviously, there has been some divergence, in those two issues. And that, at least according to our colleague, Evan Perez, played a role, in the decision, by the Attorney General, today, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Phil Mattingly, appreciate it. Thanks.

Joining us is two CNN Legal Analysts, and Justice Department Veterans, Elliot Williams and Elie Honig.

Elie, I mean, just from a messaging standpoint, and just an accuracy standpoint, the White House could have come out, when President - the day, President Biden spoke. They could have acknowledged "Oh, there were more documents found," being upfront about it. And they didn't.


And the specific problem, they had, the biggest problem is this. Here's the timeline.

In November, Joe Biden's lawyers went through and found classified documents, in his office.

In December, they went and found classified documents, in his home.

And, in January, three days ago, they came out and said, "We found classified documents in the office," but they made no mention of the home, and that is utterly inexplicable.

Now, of course, that's a PR problem. But more than that, when you're a prosecutor, and you're looking at a subject, of an investigation, like this, you start by giving them the benefit of the doubt. But when they start giving away their credibility, it is very difficult, for them, to win it back.

And that's why Evan Perez's reporting makes a lot of sense to me that those inconsistent statements had a lot to do with the appointment of Special Counsel.

COOPER: And Elliot, I mean, a Special Counsel typically has a lot of latitude, in how they go about conducting an investigation. What are the parameters and potential stumbling blocks, given that this involves a sitting president?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the big stumbling block, to the extent you want to call it one, is that you can't, based on Justice Department guidelines, you can't charge a sitting president, with a crime, as we all had a crash course in, through the years of the Trump administration that the Justice Department will not charge a sitting president, with a crime.

In terms of stumbling blocks, look, a Special Master - pardon me, a Special Counsel has broad latitude, access to staff, access to resources, and so on. But I want to underscore a really important point here, Anderson. The Justice Department did not need, legally, to appoint a Special Counsel here. This is for the appearance.

Elie used the term, a moment ago, "PR problem," and that's really what it is. This is not at the moment, a legal problem, for the White House. This is purely a function, of how well the White House has characterized the situation that they're in. It's an entirely different scenario than what we saw, over the last several months, with the Trump - with former President Trump.

COOPER: Elie, in order to do a thorough investigation, does this Special Counsel need to interview the President?

HONIG: I think they have to, eventually. Now--


COOPER: And is that why the President said, his attorneys have said to him, "Don't inquire about what the documents are, because the less you know, the better?"

HONIG: That could be. I mean it's standard operating procedure. When you're the subject of an investigation, like this, you don't want to give your client any more information than he already had. You sort of want to put him away, and preserve him as is.

Ultimately, this is going to come down to knowledge and intent. Did Joe Biden know about these documents? What was his intent? And sure, you investigate other people, around Joe Biden. But ultimately, I think, you have to make an effort, if you're DOJ, to speak with Joe Biden.

Now, that could go the easy way. He could agree to it. That could go the really difficult way. There could be a subpoena, and perhaps a fight, in the courts, or we could see some sort of middle ground.

Bill Clinton, for example, when Ken Starr wanted to talk to him, after a very difficult negotiation, they reached this sort of middle compromise, where Bill Clinton testified, on videotape.

So, there's a couple of different ways, this could go.

COOPER: Elliot, the investigation, into former President Trump, is different, in many ways, most notably the fact he's being investigated for obstruction, and that there was a lot of back-and-forth, about these documents, and them - their inability or refusal to turn them over.


COOPER: Do you think the Special Counsel, heading up that investigation, needs to interview the former President? Does that calculation change, if they anticipate recommending an indictment?

WILLIAMS: This is exactly the point, Elie was making, as well. Like, look, they can interview the former President. But they'll get plenty of useful information, I think out of the individuals around him.

And it's not just obstruction. Number one, it's obstruction. It's mutilation of documents, possibly, mishandling of Defense information, and any number of statutes, compounded by the former President's conduct, going back months before that search warrant was executed, in August. So, what I think they would do, is build a case, around the former President, maybe up to and including him.

And look, he has done himself no favors, by speaking out publicly, already, through the Truth Social (ph), if you want to call them that, the statements he's put online, and so on. So, he's already out there, frankly, in a way that current President Biden is not. Now, the question is, would he submit to questioning, from law enforcement? We'll just have to see how that goes.

COOPER: Elie, does, I mean, is it a coincidence, the Attorney General appointed somebody, who was reported, to be a very conservative attorney--


COOPER: --who works for the Department of Justice?

HONIG: That has to have been intentional. Because, I think what Merrick Garland wants here is credibility. He wants to be able to point to this investigation, and say, "This is not somebody, who was sort of in league with Joe Biden."

And I think it was a smart move, I think, to put someone who has conservative credentials, but also is an accomplished established veteran federal prosecutor. Ultimately, both of these appointments of Special Counsel are about independence and credibility.

COOPER: And ultimately, though, whose decision is it to, if whether or not charges are actually brought?

HONIG: So, both Special Counsels are going to go about their investigations. They're both going to come back, to the Attorney General. We don't know when. We don't know who will be first.

But ultimately, the Attorney General has to give, the law says, quote, "Great weight" to what these two Special Counsels recommend. And then, he can overrule them. But if so, under the law, the A.G. then has to report that to Congress, that "I overruled the Special Counsel." So, there's going to be an interesting sort of tactical chess match here.

COOPER: Elie Honig, appreciate it. Elliot Williams, as well, thanks so much.

Joining us now is former Democratic National Committee Chair, and Vermont Governor, Howard Dean; also, CNN Political Commentator, David Urban, who was a campaign adviser, to the former President.

Governor Dean, are you satisfied with how the White House has handled this situation?

HOWARD DEAN, (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN, (D) FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: I think they could have probably done better. I certainly don't think I would have exposed myself to the Press corps, as the way Joe did.

But, yes, I think we're going to find that these are two very different things that it was mostly inadvertent, what Biden did, and what Trump did obviously wasn't.

It's ironic, in some ways that the big rhubarb, about Trump and Mar-a- Lago is now, I think, deflated this as a similar issue. I think a lot of people are just looking at this, and saying, "Well, inflation is down. So, this is just more Washington politics."

COOPER: David, what do you make of the appointment, of the Special Counsel, on Biden? And the person, who was picked, do you think that's a smart move, by Merrick Garland?

DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. As Elliot and Elie were saying earlier, he had to do it, for credibility of DOJ, and for the Department of Justice's stand, for anything moving forward. They have to have kind of equal justice under the law here.

And so, having a Special Counsel, appointed, in the former President document mishandling case, and now this, I think it's only what's good for the goose is what's good for the gander.

And, as has been reported, I think that their suboptimal, to use Axe's words, performance of these past few days of leak, drip, drip, drip, not getting out all the information, and quite frankly, the President's indignation about being asked, "Well, they were locked in my garage, you know, these were safe"--

DEAN: Right.

URBAN: --it's kind of laughable.


COOPER: Governor Dean, I mean, you said that you wouldn't have had the President talking about it - I don't want to put words in your mouth, but yes, as he did.

Shouldn't the White House though have just gotten out in front of the fact that more documents were found? They knew that when they were talking about the first batch of documents that were found. Why not just get that out there?

DEAN: I don't - the reason for the big grin was I think Joe probably scored a few points, when he talked about his Corvette. I bet - you're sort of going "What?" But I think he's going to get points, among a fair number of Americans, for having a Corvette. Probably the Trump is, maybe he won't get any votes. But I thought that was interesting.

No, I wouldn't have had - look, you don't have the President go out - and I personally think this is going to end up, not being the same caliber of the Mar-a-Lago situation. And I think Trump comes across, as somebody who's got something to hide, and Biden comes across, as a guy, who made a silly mistake. Now, we don't know that.

And I do think that the notion that they hired a guy, who had been appointed by Trump, was a very smart move. And I do think he had to do that. Because these, this investigation, his credibility, depends on what happens in this investigation.

I know Joe Biden, and I don't think he's capable of having some nefarious reason, for taking these documents. But this is a serious thing. You do not take Intelligence documents, out of the White House, and put them in your house, no matter who you are. And so, I think we just have to let it play out.

COOPER: And, David, we also learned--

URBAN: Anderson?

COOPER: Go ahead, David.

URBAN: Yes. No, I was just going to say, the sitting President didn't do himself any favors. Governor Dean saying, "Oh, it was just mistake. He's being transparent," he didn't do himself any favors, by not getting it all out there, by saying, "Hey, look, we have - there are other documents," whether it's from the podium, or his lawyers, or somebody else, just putting the full information out.


DEAN: Yes, but--

URBAN: If another document shows up someplace tomorrow, it's going to be really bad.

DEAN: Yes. Let me just be frank about this. I think that's a Press problem. I think the Press always gets indignant, if they don't get a full serving of whatever. And this is the issue that the Press always - the hocus and pocus is about.

URBAN: Governor? Governor?

DEAN: And I don't think the public--

URBAN: Governor, I think it's a truthful - it's a truthfulness problem. It's not a Press problem. Don't blame the Press for doing their jobs.

DEAN: That's what you think. But I think the public doesn't--

URBAN: How about blaming the President, for not being truthful?

COOPER: But even just from a--

DEAN: I don't think the public--

COOPER: But Governor Dean, I mean, just besides, indignation from reporters? It does prolong stories.

If one day it's one thing, and then oh, lo and behold, not only are there more documents, but the folks knew there were more documents, when they were talking about the first document. And it does, it's just seems like why not just be upfront?

DEAN: Well, OK, well maybe the reason not to be upfront--

URBAN: It's not the Press' fault.

COOPER: Sorry, go ahead, Governor.

DEAN: Well, the press has its little idiosyncrasies that I've grown to be not so fond of. And that's one of them.

So, let me just make this up, because I have no idea what went on, in the White House. But if I'm arranging a trip, between the two leaders of the by adjacent nations, do I want to have this come out, right? Well, this summit is going on, in between the Canadian Premier and the Mexican President. That could have been one of the reasons.


DEAN: Look, in general, it is better to get everything out first. But I just don't think yet, we're at the level, where this is much more than Press indignation. Now, it could be more, eventually.

COOPER: Right.

DEAN: But I've been in this business a long time. And I know Press indignation that may or may not be justified, when I see it. And this is just, you know, we all have our little ways of doing our jobs, and that's part of the Press's job. They get more indignant about stuff like this than, I think, the average person is going to.

Now, I don't want to whitewash this. This could be a very serious problem.


DEAN: I've known Biden a while.

URBAN: And--

DEAN: And I just don't think he's capable of that much duplicity. But we're going to find out. And that's the--


DEAN: --that's the good thing.

COOPER: I got to leave it there. Governor Dean, appreciate it. David Urban, as always, thank you.

Coming up, we have Breaking News. CNN has just confirmed that the only child of Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie Presley, has died, at the age of 54. We'll have the latest on that next.



COOPER: We have Breaking News. It is sad news to report.

Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter, and only child, of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, once married to Michael Jackson, then Nicolas Cage, has died. She was just 54-years-old. She'd been hospitalized, for cardiac arrest.

CNN Entertainment Reporter, Chloe Melas, joins us now, with what we are learning.

Chloe, what do we know?

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Anderson, just moments ago, a representative for Priscilla Presley, and the Presley family, released this statement to CNN, saying "Priscilla Presley and the Presley family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Lisa Marie. They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time."

Anderson, like you said, earlier this morning, CNN confirmed the EMTs responded to Lisa Marie's residence, in Calabasas, California, and that it was a possible cardiac arrest.

Just a few hours ago, Priscilla Presley, taking to Instagram, asking, for prayers, thanking everyone, for the outpouring of support, with tons of comments being flooded by fans, in just a matter of minutes, and celebrities.

I was at the Golden Globes, earlier this week, in L.A. I saw Priscilla. I saw Lisa Marie. She definitely did not look like her usual glowing self. I didn't have a chance to speak to her, but I passed by her table.

It was a really big night, because Austin Butler, who portrayed her father, in Baz Luhrmann's "Elvis," he won a Golden Globe, and it was a very touching moment. I mean even the audiences, the viewers at home saw her, as she was staring at Austin, as he gave this moving speech, next to her mother. And we knew just how close Priscilla and Lisa Marie were. And it's been a really rough couple of years, Anderson, because Lisa Marie lost her son, to suicide, in 2020. And she opened up about that loss, in a very emotional essay, this past summer, about dealing with grief, and how hard it's been, for her, since the loss of her son, Benjamin.

But our thoughts go out to Priscilla, the entire family, and to Lisa Marie's children, for what can be such an unimaginably difficult night, for them.

COOPER: Yes. Chloe, appreciate that.

Joining us now, by phone, is CNN's Stephanie Elam, who is recently with Lisa Marie Presley, also at the Golden Globes, and Nischelle Turner, Host of Entertainment Tonight, who interviewed Lisa Marie Presley, at the Golden Globes.


Nischelle, how did she seem to you? What did you talk about?

ON THE PHONE: NISCHELLE TURNER, HOST, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT: Anderson, I mean, I just heard Chloe say that she did not seem like her glowing self. She was subdued. We did notice that when speaking to her, at the Golden Globes.

But she was very happy, to be there, supporting the film, supporting the "Elvis" film, also, supporting, Austin Butler. She was a big fan of his portrayal of her father. So, she was happy to be there, with him. Her mother was there as well. And they did sit together.

But again, she did seem a bit subdued. She did not seem, as I have interviewed her, in the past, she didn't seem like that same person, more bubbly, more outgoing.

But she was telling us that she was very happy, to be there, that night. And it was just a couple days after her father's birthday. And so, she reflected on that being having meaning - having it be such a special night, to celebrate her father, that night, and just have celebrated his birthday, a couple days before.


Stephanie Elam is also with us.

Stephanie, you were at the Golden Globes as well.

ON THE PHONE: STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, I was on the Carpet. And I did see Lisa Marie walk just right in front of us.

And I have to agree with Chloe, and with Nischelle. She looked sallow. She seemed sort of curled into herself a little bit. She was walking several feet, in front of her mother. And it just seemed like, she was moving a little differently than what I've seen previously, when I've seen Lisa Marie out. I would agree that she seemed very happy to be there, and supporting this movie, about her father. And you could see when Austin Butler won the award, and he thanked the Presley family, she looked like she had tears in her eyes. She looked very emotional about it.

But definitely, the way she was going down the Carpet, was very reserved, and she did not seem like she felt well. And I actually thought that at the time, and had a quick conversation about it, like just there was something about the way she was moving that just did not look like she was at 100 percent.

And then also, just the distance between her and her mom, as they're making their way down the Carpet, it almost implied that she was just trying to get through the Carpet, and be done. There's some times, you see celebrities, they want to stop and talk. And there's the time, they're just trying to get through it. That's the energy, she was giving, as she was making her way down the Carpet, Anderson.

COOPER: And Nischelle, I mean, you have probably seen her, at many events, talked to her before. She herself had her own music career. She had, I think, three records that she put out.

She was the only child of Elvis Presley. She was the executor of the Presley Estate, as far as I understand. There was certainly a lot of - I mean, this is somebody, who was born into this very famous family, and lived a life, in the public eye, for better or for worse, over the course of her whole life.

ON THE PHONE: TURNER: Absolutely. I mean, she was the apple of her father's eye. In so many ways, we saw that.

But you're right. I mean, she did kind of live out her life, in an eccentric way, in front of us. Married to Michael Jackson, before, married to Nicolas Cage. And she does have a daughter as well, Riley.

Her son did commit suicide, we heard, or had death by suicide, a couple of years ago. So, she was dealing with grief. This family knows about grief, and knows about what it is, to live that out publicly.

She did love music. She did love, you know, she loved her father. She was behind this film, 100 percent. She was behind the portrayal of her father 100 percent.

She was actually, on our platform, with Austin Butler, on Golden Globes night. And he - and they both spoke so lovingly about how they all stuck together, through this process, of making this film, and how they all leaned on each other, and relied on each other, and cared so much about each other. He continues to speak about the fact that he couldn't have gotten through it without the support of Lisa Marie, and her mother, Priscilla, in portraying their father.

But just like Chloe, and Stephanie were both saying, Anderson, she did not seem at 100 percent strength that night, Sunday night. And we also had a conversation about it that she just didn't seem herself.

COOPER: And Nischelle, it's certainly a big burden, for an only child, like her, with the Presley Estate, to be the person--


COOPER: --responsible, for continuing the legacy, the remarkable legacy, of Elvis Presley. And I think this film was very so important to her because it is really introducing Elvis Presley to whole new generations of people, around the world, who may not, who didn't grow up with him, who weren't alive, even when he was alive.


And so, the weight of that, the responsibility of that, it's clearly, it's probably why she wanted to be there, even if she wasn't feeling particularly great, at the Golden Globes.

ON THE PHONE: TURNER: Absolutely. She was determined, to continue to celebrate her father's legacy, and to, like you said, introduce him, to more audiences.

And it's interesting, I just had a conversation about that also with Baz Luhrmann, on Sunday, how they went and were celebrating, on Elvis' birthday, showing this film to fans, and how they had such a cross- section of people, there, celebrating Elvis, and this film, and celebrating his legacy. It was, from young to old, and it was really, he said, very special, for them, to see, because they do feel like this film then opened him up to a whole new audience.

And I remember, at the premiere, of this film, speaking to Lisa Marie, about it, and also when they got the Hand and Footprint Ceremony, her and her mother, a few months ago, talking to her about this fact. And she said that's why they were so determined to have a hand, in this, because they wanted it to be right. They needed it to be right.

And they were so happy that this film was so well-received, and that Austin Butler did such an amazing job, portraying her father, because it was her life's mission, to continue his legacy, of good work and good music.

COOPER: Yes. Nischelle Turner, Stephanie Elam, I appreciate both of you being with us.

Again, Lisa Marie Presley has died at the age of 54.

We'll be right back.



COOPER: New York Republican Congressman and falsely self-proclaimed star college athlete, George Santos said again today he's not stepping down, despite complaints to the House Ethics Committee, federal and local investigations, denunciations from fellow members, of the New York delegation, from both parties, as well as top Republicans, from his home district. He told one of them, he was a volleyball star, at Baruch College, which he never attended. But never mind, he certainly meddled, today, in the 200-meter flee, on foot, running away from CNN's Manu Raju, like a man, with his pants on fire.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Santos, why did you lie to your voters, about your qualifications, your past, being Jewish? Why did you lie to them? Don't the voters deserve an explanation about your widespread lies, about your past?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, mate (ph).

RAJU: How can you be trusted with sensitive security information, Mr. Santos?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How can you say--

RAJU: Mr. Santos?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How can you say your voters elected you, if they didn't know who they were electing?

RAJU: Are you going to - have you been contacted by the Brazilians authorities about the fraud charges you're facing, Mr. Santos? Aren't you just staying in Congress because you were concerned about losing the seat, Democrats picking up this seat?

What has the Speaker said to you, Mr. Santos? Has he told you to stay in office? Have you gotten assurances to be on any committee assignments?

Mr. Santos?

Mr. Santos?

Why did you say your family fled the Holocaust? Is that true? How can you be trusted for - if you had classified security hearings (ph), Mr. Santos?

Mr. Santos, why won't you respond to any of these questions about your past?


COOPER: Can you imagine being a staffer for that guy? I mean, your whole job would just be that like, holding your arms up, in front of the elevators, so he can get in, and then you get in? Just wow! It's going to be a long two years!

Joining us now is New York Democratic congressman, Ritchie Torres, one of two New York members, who filed a complaint, against Santos, this week, with the House Ethics Committee.

Congressman, so you introduced the SANTOS Act, today, which is an acronym for Stopping Another Non-Truthful Office Seeker, which would seek to require candidates, for Congress, to file additional information, about their background, and impose a criminal penalty, if they lie.

Congressman Santos' argument seems to be that despite the lies, he's admitted to, the voters elected him. They deserve to have their choice honored.

What is your response?

REP. RITCHIE TORRES (D-NY): Not done (ph) mentioned is the fact that George Santos defrauded the voters. He won under fundamentally false pretenses.

He lied about every aspect of his life, his family heritage, his employment, his education, his business dealings, his philanthropic endeavors, his ties to historical events, like Pulse mass shooting, the Holocaust, 9/11.

So he's, the breadth of his deception, is simply staggering. And for him to speak as if he won fairly is completely disingenuous, and dishonest. But he has no contrition or no shame. He not only lies, but he lies about his lies.

He claims that he never lied about his work experience that he only embellished. He claims that he never said that he was Jewish, only that it was Jew-hyphenated-ish. And all of these lies would be laughable, were it not for the fact that this charlatan is now a United States congressman!

COOPER: Yes. Yes, I mean, he lied today. Of course, he's not talking to actual reporters. He went on a radio program, with Matt Gaetz. And he lied, on that radio program, saying he's lived an honest life, and he's never been accused of anything.

You filed an official complaint with the House Ethics Committee, asking them to investigate the congressman.

Do you know if an investigation like that, if he - can Santos use campaign funds, to pay lawyers, to deal with that investigation? Because, I'm wondering, just the pressure alone of that investigation, and the financial burden, it would put on Mr. Santos, would be enough, to maybe drive him out of Congress, because he wants to avoid that financial cost of the investigation.

TORRES: I mean, it seems to me Mr. Santos is intent on clinging on. It seems to me that he would only resign, in the context of a plea bargain, with the U.S. Attorney.


TORRES: But more dangerous than his lying, is his probable lawmaking.

For me, the million-dollar question is where did all the money come from? How did he manage to lend his campaign, over $700,000? As recently as 2020, reported earning a salary of $55,000. And then, he subsequently reported earning somewhere between $3.5 million and $11.5 million.

And he claims that the money comes from the Devolder Organization, which is shrouded in secrecy. It has no public website, no LinkedIn page. He claims to have earned millions of dollars, from all these clients. But he's never disclosed the names of those clients, as required by federal law.


And that's why Congressman Goldman and I filed an Ethics complaint, because Mr. Santos likely falsified his financial disclosure.

COOPER: It is extraordinary that a Republican congressman, also representing the Long Island, New York, has called for full investigation. A number of his fellow Republicans, from the district have said he should resign. A number of Republican officials, in Nassau County, have said he should resign.

Would you support taking this to law enforcement, if the House Ethics Committee refuses to investigate?

TORRES: Mr. Santos is the target of criminal investigations, at the local, state, national and international level. So, I support holding him accountable, by every means.

But notice that there's a glaring disconnect between local Republicans, who have heard directly from the voters, and who have called on him to resign, and House Republican leadership, which has been conspicuously silent, about the fraudulence of George Santos?

I mean, Kevin McCarthy needs every vote he can get, and he needs the vote of George Santos. The new Speaker is at the mercy of not only the most extreme elements of his party, but also the most ethically- compromised, like George Santos.


Congressman Ritchie Torres, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

TORRES: Of course.

COOPER: Coming up, the suspect, in the murders of four college students, in Idaho, was in court, again today. Our Gary Tuchman is in the State, with the latest, on the trial. And a report, on the, online speculation, and sometimes, misinformation, about the suspect.



COOPER: The man, accused of stealing these four lives, returned to court, today. Bryan Kohberger is charged, with first degree murder, in the stabbings, of the University of Idaho students, in November. Police continue to seek any information about him.

Our National Correspondent, Gary Tuchman, is in Moscow, Idaho. He joins us now.

What happened in court today, Gary?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Kohberger remains, in this county jail, here, in Moscow, Idaho. But this is also the courthouse. It's where we saw him, today, in Courtroom number one. And when he walked in, he was wearing orange prison suits, and shackles around his legs. He showed absolutely no emotion.

His public defender told the judge, "We waive the right to a speedy trial." The judge then asked Kohberger, if he agreed with that. He said, yes. And therefore, there will be no preliminary hearing, next week, as expected. Instead, both sides agreed on a date, of June 26th, more than four months from now, or five months from now, for that particular hearing.

All over the world, people are following this case very closely. But some of those people are extremely obsessed, as you'll see.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Police, and prosecutors, are being required, to stay quiet, outside the courtroom, about the University of Idaho murder case.

But, on the internet, there is no such prohibition.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have uncovered what we believe are some old writings of Bryan Kohberger.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And most of it, on TikTok, Facebook, and other places, is speculation and hypothesizing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The evening, following the murders, Kohberger's phone was pinged in Johnson, Idaho, which is three hours away from Moscow, and conveniently next to a national forest.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): How prevalent is internet sleuthing? Consider this. This Facebook group, University of Idaho Murders - Case Discussion, has more than 225,000 followers. And this is just one of many groups discussing and hypothesizing about this case online.

Prior to the arrest of Bryan Kohberger, a user who goes by Pappa Rodger, was a prolific contributor on this site, with many creepy and insensitive posts, and what turned out to be incorrect speculation, such as the white Elantra, is a red herring. But he also declared "Of the evidence released, the murder weapon has been consistent as a fixed blade knife. This leads me to believe they found the sheath."

The fact that he got the detail correct, about the sheath, despite getting so much else wrong, is one of several reasons, many, on social media think Pappa Rodger was Kohberger.

This person, saying "I really think Pappa Rodger was BK!!" Kohberger's initials.

And this person, "OK this Pappa Rodger stuff is wild. How would anyone besides him know some of this?! Very unsettling."

There is no indication Facebook, or the Police, believe Pappa Rodger, who is no longer in the group, is Kohberger.

Then there is this video taken, in an Idaho prayer vigil, for the four murder victims, prior to Kohberger's arrest, with many people hypothesizing online.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People think that the Idaho murderer attended his victims' vigil.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): This person commenting, "Bryan Kohberger. SPOTTED. Prayer Vigil, Moscow, Idaho."

And this person, "Sure looks like the psycho."

But a TV crew, from the news magazine "Inside Edition," was at the vigil, and has videotaped the man, close-up. It's definitely not Kohberger. We are not showing his face, to protect his identity.

And then, there is this.

ASHLEY GUILLARD, TIKTOK TAROT READER: A lot of people have been asking who is Rebecca Scofield?

TUCHMAN (voice-over): A woman who calls herself "Ashley Solves Mysteries," has posted scores of videos, on TikTok, accusing a University of Idaho professor, of participating in the killings.

Never mind that Police said the professor was never a suspect, the TikToker, whose real name is Ashley Guillard, posted this video about two weeks before Kohberger's arrest.

GUILLARD: We need to dig deeper, into her personality, so we can understand her beliefs, and who she is, so that we can further understand, her motives, for the murders.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We reached out to Guillard. She did not respond.

But Professor Rebecca Schofield has responded, her attorney filing a defamation lawsuit, against Guillard.

The lawyer, Wendy Olson, saying, "The statements made about Professor Scofield are false, plain and simple. What's even worse is that these untrue statements create safety issues for the Professor and her family. They also further compound the trauma that the families of the victims are experiencing.

Professor Scofield twice sent cease and desist letters to Ms. Guillard. But Ms. Guillard has continued to make false statements, knowing they are false. Thus, this lawsuit became necessary to protect Professor Scofield's safety and her reputation."


COOPER: Gary, what is expected to happen, during the preliminary hearing, in June?

TUCHMAN: Yes, so this preliminary hearing, Anderson, will be very important. It will begin on June 26th. It could last all week. And it's a mini trial of sorts, with a lower standard of proof.

The prosecution will present more evidence, even more than we learned last week. The defense will get a chance to cross-examine. And ultimately, the judge will have to decide, if there's sufficient evidence, for the defendant, to be binded (ph) over, for trial. It's likely that will happen, with the amount of evidence we've seen so far, and the amount we anticipate, we will be learning.


We are wondering, we don't know the answer to this, but one thing we didn't learn, last week, in the affidavit, what is the motive? What do Police and prosecutors think of the motive? We may learn that starting June 26th.


TUCHMAN: Anderson?

COOPER: Gary Tuchman, appreciate it. Thank you.

And ahead, a new phase, in the January 6th aftermath, key members of the so-called Proud Boys go on trial, facing the extraordinary charge of seditious conspiracy. We'll take you inside the case, next.


COOPER: Opening statements began today, in the federal case, against five leaders of the so-called Proud Boys, for the attack on the Capitol. They're the second group the Justice Department has prosecuted, using the rare charge of seditious conspiracy.

Joining now, our Law Enforcement Correspondent, Whitney Wild.

So, Whitney, what case did prosecutors lay out, in opening statements, today?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're making several main arguments. And one of them is that these leaders of the far-right extremist group, the Oath Keepers - the Proud Boys, rather, planned for the January 6th attack. They recruited other people, to join them.

And prosecutors said, ultimately, they were willing to use any means necessary, including force, to stop Joe Biden, from becoming President. Prosecutors said that there was a reason for this. It was because there was a lot of concern within this organization, that if Biden were elected, that would mean the end of the Proud Boys.


And they also made the argument that after former President Trump told them to, quote, "Stand back and stand by," the battle lines were drawn.

COOPER: How much evidence is there, that defendants not only participated, in the attack, but also had been planning, to violently attempt, to stop the transfer of power?

WILD: Well, quite a bit of the evidence that prosecutors had been pointing to, include messages that were sent, within this group.

In addition, they were pointing to just the overwhelming amount of video. I mean, some of that video, Anderson, captures the very moment that one of these defendants, broke through the window, ultimately becoming the first rioter, to actually make way inside.

So, the evidence that they're continuing to point to, is really overwhelming. As we know, this Capitol riot is one of the most documented crimes, of all time. And certainly, that is the case here.

COOPER: And what was the argument from the defense?

WILD: Well, they made a list of arguments as well. Some of those arguments include the fact that they believe that there is no specific evidence, to support the idea that there was a specific plot that was laid out, ahead of January 6th. But instead, the defense attorneys are making the argument that they were just caught up in the mob mentality.

Another argument that they made, Anderson, was that these protests - that protests happened at the Capitol all the time, that protests disrupt congressional proceedings, all the time, and that this was no different. And then, finally, Anderson, they were making the argument that ultimately what this is really about, at its very core, it's just delaying a congressional proceeding.

So, certainly two very different ways, to view the evidence.


WILD: And notably, Anderson, the prosecutors, and the defense, both used the same piece of video, in their opening arguments, something that we certainly saw, during the Oath Keepers trial as well. Basically, the, evidence, there, for both parties, to try to use, but putting dramatically different spins on it, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Whitney Wild, appreciate it.

I'm joined now by Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesperson for the paramilitary group, the Oath Keepers. Their leader and one other member were convicted of seditious conspiracy, last year. Jason Van Tatenhove also testified, during a public hearing, of the January 6 committee, in July.

So, your experience with the Oath Keepers, I mean, it's really fascinating. The leader of the Oath Keepers, Randy--

JASON VAN TATENHOVE, FORMER OATH KEEPERS SPOKESMAN: Stewart Elmer Rhodes. COOPER: --Stewart Rhodes, he lived in your basement!

VAN TATENHOVE: He did, for eight months.

COOPER: So what - I mean, first of all, what attracted you, about the Oath Keepers, initially?

VAN TATENHOVE: Originally, it started with just a healthy distrust of the government. It really was - it evolved, over time. It became much more radicalized, and much more open to allowing--

COOPER: You saw that happening from there?

VAN TATENHOVE: Yes, yes, I know. We saw a shift from what I would term kind of a libertarian anarchist book club, to what we saw at Bundy Ranch, and then a progression of armed standoffs.

COOPER: And what was Rhodes like? I mean, he was - he went - this is the guy, who led this group. He went to Yale Law School. I don't know what happened to him in his life that he got to this point. But is he a true believer? Is it--


COOPER: --for membership, I mean?

VAN TATENHOVE: Yes, I don't think he's a true believer. He's a very smart individual. He's actually a very talented artist, as well. He was a sculptor, did some pretty incredible artwork.

But he obviously, I feel like he really didn't have a moral anchor. And the more attention he got, the more camera time he got, the more membership and donations? That just led to him, opening up, and moving this creep that continued to a hard-right direction.

COOPER: Did they - I mean, did you, from the inside that Randy Rhodes had - Stewart Rhodes has talked about all these people, who were Military - who were in the Military, and law enforcement, who belonged to the Oath Keepers. Is that legitimate? Or is that - was that a lot, is it people who actually did have combat experience?

VAN TATENHOVE: Yes, and no. There were a lot of Veterans that are involved. But generally, the combat Veterans, those are pretty sharp squared-away guys. And they would come in and see that this was really more of a cult of personality, and quickly kind of exit stage, left.

But the messaging was there, and he was really good at spinning optics. So, that was what - and he kind of inflated it, you know? He made it seem like it was a lot bigger, with a lot broader membership base. And it really was.

COOPER: And he was supported by this? I mean, this was his sole source of income, the memberships?

VAN TATENHOVE: Yes, yes, I mean, he wasn't as successful, on the financial end of things, like an Alex Jones was. Alex was much, much better, at the financial side.

COOPER: He was - Rhodes was living in your basement?

VAN TATENHOVE: Yes, yes. I mean, his wife had kicked him out. She was working on a restraining order. And he had nowhere else to go.

And that by that time, I was gone, like I had left and, and started new life, as a first responder, and he shows up, on my door, knocking on the front door, "Hey, I've got no place to go." And I'm a sucker. So, I let him come back and stay.

And it was only supposed to be for a couple nights. But then it wound up being eight months.


VAN TATENHOVE: And I had to finally kick him out.


So, how big a threat is a group, like the Oath Keepers?

VAN TATENHOVE: Well, I made a mistake in that I discounted them after I left. I thought there was a certain amount of ineptness involved, and just that I got to see kind of behind the curtain.

COOPER: Right.


VAN TATENHOVE: But that was a mistake because, I mean, I remember, sitting on my couch, on January 6th, watching in high definition, as all this unfolded. And it was like I got punched in the gut, because I had underestimated it, and I had to really come to the realization that I may have had a part to play, in that, in the messaging that I helped produce.

COOPER: Even people, who are inept, or want to be weekend warriors, can still kill people.


COOPER: They can still do damage to people.

VAN TATENHOVE: Yes. And people died that day.


Do - what do you think people need to understand, about whether it's Proud Boys or Oath Keepers? I mean, both groups were there that day.

VAN TATENHOVE: I think what's really important, right now, I think we're in a critical moment in history, that what we do with democracy, and where we go with what happened, on January 6th, with holding these, this leadership to account, is going to echo throughout the world, that the events that happened, in Brazil, this weekend-- COOPER: Yes.

VAN TATENHOVE: --I think are a direct result.

And the world is watching, how we handle our democracy, and how we navigate these issues. And it's very, very important, right now, that we really hold some account, and really get our own house in order, because what we do in America echoes to the world.

COOPER: Jason Van Tatenhove, I appreciate you being with us. Thank you very much.


COOPER: Coming up now, the news continues. "CNN TONIGHT" with Laura Coates, is next, right after a short break.