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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Special Counsel To Use Trump's Continued Embrace Of January 6 Rioters Against Him At Trial; Speaker Johnson To Blur January 6 Footage To Protect Capitol Rioters From DOJ; One-On-One With Former GOP Congresswoman Liz Cheney; Cheney: "This Group Of Republicans Can't Be Counter On To Defend The Constitution"; U.S. Officials Think Israel Ground Operation Could End By January; Israel: IDF "Now Encircling" City Of Khan Yunis In Southern Gaza; Biden's Struggles With Latino Voters In Battleground Nevada. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired December 05, 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: So Kim Jong-un publicly in tears. The North Korea dictator caught crying as he pleaded with women in his country to have more children, at one point, dabbing his eye with a white handkerchief as he addressed the nation's falling birthrate. As for Kim himself, South Korean intelligence says he has three children, including a reported 10-year-old daughter he found out about from Dennis Rodman.
Thanks for joining us. Anderson starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on "360," new word on how prosecutors plan to use the former president's embrace of January 6th defendants against him in court. We'll talk about that and more with Liz Cheney whose new book has plenty to say about Donald Trump and the threat she believes he poses if reelected.
Also, tonight, exclusive new reporting on how much longer Israel might continue high-intensity ground operations in Gaza, which today saw some of the heaviest fighting in the war.
Plus, what key voters in a key swing state have to say about their choices for 2024. John King finds out on the latest edition of our special series of reports all over the map.
Good evening. Thanks for joining us again. Our guest tonight here with me in studio is Liz Cheney, former Wyoming Republican congresswoman and vice chair of the House January 6th Select Committee. Our conversation comes at the end of a day that saw two potentially significant January 6th-related developments.
The first, involving the evidence the prosecutors in the federal election subversion case want jurors to see. The second on what House Speaker Mike Johnson wants to keep Americans from seeing and soon to be released video of the attack on Congress. And my conversation with the congresswoman -- Congresswoman Cheney is going to start in a moment. First, the latest on both of those stories from CNN Chief Legal
Affairs Correspondent, Paula Reid. So, Paula, what are federal prosecutors in Washington signaling tonight?
PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, they're giving us a preview of their federal election interference case and exactly how they intend to use Trump's own words against him in a court of law.
Now, they're really going to emphasize how Trump's continued support for those who attacked the capitol is evidence of a conspiracy. In this filing, they said, quote, "Trump continues to", quote, "openly and proudly support individuals who criminally participated in obstructing the congressional certification that day, including by suggesting that he will pardon them if re-elected, even as he has conceded that he had the ability to influence their actions during the attack."
They also say they want to show the jury things that Trump said in the lead up to election day, including his refusal to denounce the extremist group, the Proud Boys, and his refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power.
Anderson, they insist that all of this is evidence of his intent to get his supporters, like the Proud Boys, to attack the capitol and undermine the results of the election when it didn't go his way. And interestingly, they're even going to try to take it all the way back to 2012 over a decade ago and show how Trump has repeatedly tried to claim fraud when elections had outcomes that he didn't like. And prosecutors say, look, this laid the foundation for what he tried to do in 2020.
Now, this is their plan, but all of this has to be approved by a judge.
COOPER: What did Speaker Johnson say about the soon-to-be-released January 6th footage?
REID: Yes, this was interesting. The speaker said that he wants to release this footage in the interest of transparency, but is insisting that the faces of the people in the mob be blurred to, quote, "protect them from the Justice Department."
Anderson, that's an odd thing to say because federal investigators have the raw footage. They've used it to prosecute hundreds of people.
Now, the speaker subsequently backtracked in a statement saying, instead, he's trying to prevent all forms of retaliation from non- government actors. But again, online sleuths -- the public, non- government actors -- have identified hundreds of people in that footage, and the Justice Department has even asked for their help in identifying others.
Of course, the speaker was actively involved in efforts to undermine the outcome of the election, but he says he wants to release this footage so that people can, quote, "do their own research on the Capitol attack."
COOPER: Paula Reid, thanks very much.
Joining us now is Liz Cheney, former Wyoming Republican congresswoman, former member of the House Republican leadership, and someone who might easily still hold both titles tonight except that she stood up for democracy in the wake of January 6th up to and including in her role as vice chair of the January 6th Committee, which set her apart from the former president, of course, who's running again, and most of her fellow Republicans (inaudible) but cast her out.
Her new blockbuster book out today is "Oath and Honor: A Memoir and A Warning." The final words in that title, "A Warning," certainly speaks to the moment. Thanks so much for being with us.
LIZ CHENEY, AUTHOR, "OATH AND HONOR: A MEMOIR AND A WARNING": Thank you for having me.
COOPER: This is not only a fascinating, terrifying book, and a warning, as you say, it is also a really well-written, captivating story that just takes you from the fist first pages and it gallops you through the last many years of the dissent of our democracy.
Did -- you write a lot about Mike Johnson in the book. Obviously, when you were writing this, he wasn't the speaker. You didn't know he was going to be the speaker. Talk a little bit about, first of all, this idea that he wants to blur their faces. What does that tell you?
CHENEY: Yes. Well, I think, first of all, with respect to the videotape, the Department of Justice already has these tapes.
CHENEY: And I think that we're experiencing a situation where the speaker -- Speaker Johnson -- is somehow attempting to suggest that there is something in these tapes that would change the facts of what happened. There's nothing in the tapes that can change the facts of what happened that day. It can change the violent assault.
And, you know, I have called on him to release the tapes. We need to make sure, obviously, that we protected security issues at Capitol. But at this point, what's happening, I don't know why he's dragging his feet after having proclaimed he's going to release them, and he ought to release them.
COOPER: Well, also, this idea of blurring their faces, as you said, the tapes are already -- the law enforcement already has them. And it seems like it's kabuki theatre to ...
COOPER: ... January 6th defendants and their supporters and others that he is standing up to protect them when, in fact, it actually has no purpose. CHENEY: Well, yeah, and it's a perfect example of the lengths to which
he will go. Even in his rhetoric, I mean, he actually said to protect people from the Department of Justice. And at the same time, he proclaims that, you know, we're -- he is representing the, quote, "rule of law party." So it's -- I think the game's ought to stop. And if he's going to release the tapes, he had to just go ahead and release the tapes.
COOPER: You know, he portrays himself -- he's not well-known on the world stage. He certainly portrays himself as this certainly very devout, and very earnest and, you know, thoughtful person. That is not -- he seems like a slippery character in the pages of your book. I mean, the reality of him behind the scenes is very different.
CHENEY: Yes. And I certainly wouldn't question anybody's faith, but I, you know, knew him well. We were friends. We were elected at the same time. I believed him to be somebody who was honorable.
But then sadly, I watched through the whole process first of the amicus brief that he pushed members of the House to sign on which, you know, was constitutionally infirm in the Supreme Court. Very clearly ...
COOPER: Right. Really, let's talk about that. I mean, he sent out a letter to members of congress essentially saying, you know, do this for President Trump.
CHENEY: Right, right.
COOPER: And the arguments he was making according to you were -- I mean, they just didn't -- they weren't sound legally.
CHENEY: Yes. And he was claiming and telling members that the brief itself was just simply an effort to convince the courts to hear this case when, in fact, the brief itself made serious charges alleged, you know, activity that was unconstitutional -- alleged that people in the States had conducted themselves in ways that were unconstitutional and made these allegations even though courts across the country -- in each of these states -- had already heard these facts, had already determined that -- what the brief was asserting was not true.
And I also think there are serious ethical problems, somebody who's a member of the bar asserting in front of the court facts known to them about which they don't have any basis.
COOPER: He was also saying he was a constitutional scholar and that there was an implied threat in his ...
COOPER: ... brief.
CHENEY: Yes. And I heard from a number of our colleagues who said, wait a minute, you know, he's taking down names and making a list for Donald Trump to look at. Is this in fact a threat? He denied that it was, but the activity continued into the objections over the electoral votes as well.
And I wasn't the only one who was raising a red flag about his activities. Kevin McCarthy's own senior counsel was doing the same thing. And she, in fact, said that she had talked to him, and he knew that what he was doing didn't have any basis in the constitution.
COOPER: Yes. You said that -- you write, "Mike Johnson and the Republican leaders have played a destructive role. The amicus brief episode revealed a side of Mike I had not seen before. He appeared especially susceptible to flattery from Trump and aspired to be being anywhere in Trump's orbit. He was telling colleagues he was a constitutional law expert, while advocating positions that were constitutionally infirm."
You -- I mean, do you believe he poses a threat to the integrity of the 2024 presidential election?
CHENEY: I do think that if we come to a place where he's the speaker of the house, where the Republicans are in the majority on January 6th of 2025, there are real questions about whether or not that majority will do what's required under the constitution. For example, if an election would be thrown into the House or even going through the process of counting electoral votes.
COOPER: An election could end up going to the House where the House ...
COOPER: ... can determine. You think the Republicans in the House are not responsible enough to do what is right and what is legal?
CHENEY: Yes. I mean, I think the lesson that we've seen over the course of the last couple of years is that this group of elected Republicans can't be counted on to defend the constitution. And I -- that's a very sad thing for me so to say. It's a very dangerous place for the country to be, but that's what we've seen based on the actions of the last several years.
COOPER: I mean, what will get this fever dream among these Republicans to stop and to go back to being a party that can -- wants to actually govern and get stuff done and be part of the fabric of democracy?
CHENEY: I think we have to have the majority of the American people who are not part of sort of this -- the cult of personality around Donald Trump. There's a portion of the party that absolutely is not going to be convinced to move away from him, but it's a much smaller number than, you know, the vast majority of Republicans, Democrats, and independents combined. And those of us who understand the danger have to be committed to working across party lines to protect against it.
COOPER: Kevin McCarthy, in -- I mean, the details that you have about Kevin McCarthy in this book, you know, we reported last week, you know, that, you know, McCarthy told you that his trip down to Mar-a- Lago where he went to kiss the ring was that Trump was depressed and not eating. The former president has responded the other day saying actually that he was angry and eating too much. You don't buy either of those explanations?
CHENEY: I mean, you know, I certainly didn't buy Kevin's explanation. You know, Trump's -- maybe that's the first truth he's ever spoken, I don't know. But, you know, the bottom line is what McCarthy.
What he was really doing was when big donors cut off donations to the Republicans after the insurrection, he needed money. And he -- the only place he could get money was to go see Trump and get access to his list of donors. But, of course, that meant going down there and helping him to begin to just sort of wipe away the stain of what he'd done.
COOPER: Why do you think so many -- I mean, Lindsey Graham who, you know, said he was done with Trump, he's out that night. And then I remember somebody yelled at him in the airport, I think, on his way back down to South Carolina. And then all of a sudden, he's playing golf with the former president.
CHENEY: Yes, I don't understand it. I mean, I think there are -- there's a lot of years are going to be spent on sort of psycho analysis of the number of members in my party. And I think that the danger that we face though is that people are now willing to sort of accept these really extreme things that Donald Trump is claiming he'll do. We're not guessing about what he'll do.
COOPER: Do you think -- do they actually believe these lies?
CHENEY: No, I think the number of people who believe the lies in elected office is very small. I think in the House Republicans, it's probably single-digits. But you have a -- obviously, a far larger group of people, some who have determined that they're, you know, going to be fully on board and aggressively supporting and enabling Trump and a lot of others who said we're just -- you know, we're going to look the other way.
And that's really dangerous because then, you know, people around the country sort of start to say, well, it must not be that bad if you don't have that many Republicans speaking out against it and it's ...
COOPER: Your dad called you just before the joint session of Congress on January 6th. He had been listening to Trump's speech at The Ellipse. What did he say to you?
CHENEY: He called me. I was in the cloak room off the House floor working on remarks I was going to give, and he called me and he asked me if I was watching the speech. And I said I wasn't because of the -- my work on the remarks. And he told me that Trump had said we have to get rid of Liz Cheneys of the world. And he said to me, you're in danger.
And he said we need to talk about whether or not given that that he's just done this, that he's just targeted you specifically, what that means for you going on to the House floor, what that means for you in terms of speaking against the objections.
Through the course of our conversation, it was clear we both knew I could not proceed because of this threat from Donald Trump. But that's a -- you know, you can imagine sort of the emotion of the moment to have my dad calling me to say the president has just, you know, targeted me in a way that put me at risk.
COOPER: Do you understand the -- you know, a Bill Barr, who has -- you know, was very loyal to the president while he was in the office, and then, you know, clearly has had a change of heart, and yet saying -- not saying categorically that he would not vote for the former president.
CHENEY: I guess, I have a couple of views about that. I think there are a number of people, including Bill Barr, who were around the president, who stopped the president from doing far worse. Bill Barr, certainly, is one of the people who told the president repeatedly that what he was saying was untrue about fraud in the election and said it publicly.
But I don't think that you can acknowledge and recognize the facts in the mountain of evidence that points to what Donald Trump did to his direct involvement in attempting to seize power and overturn an election, and then turn around and say that you would vote for him again. I think people really do have to come to grips with the fact that those are inconsistent. And when you say that you will vote for him despite what he's already done, you're helping to make sure that he continues as a force in the politics of this nation, and that's dangerous.
COOPER: You know, we all see historical events, I mean, movies, and think, well, how could they -- how could there be people who would work for that government and do these things?
There was a lot of people saying, well, if -- you know, if Trump ever got in a second -- who would ever work for a second term of Donald Trump? There are actually a lot of people ...
COOPER: ... and some are very smart people who are willing to do that. I mean, that's a real ...
COOPER: ... danger. There -- because they've learned from the mistakes of the first administration and the first of his first term, and they know what to do now.
CHENEY: Right. And you won't have some of the good people to stop him. And, you know, he said, you know, people like Mike Flynn will be the national security adviser, potentially; Jeff Clark, possibly the attorney general.
COOPER: I mean, Mike Flynn is selling t-shirts and making outrageous statements at conventions.
CHENEY: Right. I mean, that -- those are the people who will be around him if he were to be elected again.
The other thing that people have to realize is what it means if a president of United States won't enforce the rulings of our courts. And that is absolutely what he said he will do. He's gone to war with the rule of law. And a president who won't enforce the law creates a situation where things just unravel.
And he will have people around him who, you know, will help him do it. He will, I'm sure, offer pardons to people if they are concerned about their own criminal liability. But it's a risk that we just simply can't take.
COOPER: (Inaudible) would pardon January 6th?
CHENEY: Certainly. I think he's been very clear repeatedly about his glorification of that day. And again, that's a -- you know, the Republicans were almost unanimous in the days just after January 6th recognizing, you know, he bore responsibility and he had to be held accountable. And very quickly though, that began to dissipate, that unanimity. And now we have an effort underway to whitewash it, including what you saw today from the Speaker of the House.
COOPER: According to a pool report, President Biden praised what he called "your powerful voice" at a fundraiser in Boston today. He also said that, "If Trump wasn't running, I'm not sure I'd be running." That was a quote.
You haven't ruled out a third-party run. You've also said that you're not going to do anything that would help Donald Trump. If you were to determine that your candidacy would take more votes away from Trump than it would from Biden, would that be a catalyst to get into the race?
CHENEY: I'm going to look at this over the next couple of months through the lens of how do we stop Donald Trump. And on some level, it's not about me. It's not about what I'm going to do or not do. I look at it very much from the perspective of right now, absolutely, we have to keep our eye on the goal of stopping him.
I think there's a huge amount of work to be done after this election cycle, whether it's rebuilding the Republican Party which, increasingly, looks like, you know, maybe an impossible task or helping to begin a new party that's very focused on what the Republican Party used to stand for before this cult of personality. But right now and in this election cycle, I'll do whatever I have to do to make sure Donald Trump is not elected.
COOPER: How concerned are you about third-party candidates who are out there already or, I mean, you got, you know ...
CHENEY: Yes. Look, I think that, you know, we're at a moment where the possibility of a third-party run is more something that we have to consider more than we ever have before because of the threat that Trump poses. But I also think we have to ensure that, at some point, we're unified against him.
And it goes back to what we were talking about before that it can't be a partisan issue. It has to be a situation where we say I don't care what your view is on this issue or that issue or, you know, whatever the big policy issue is. If you care about the constitution and you're going the defend it, we have to work and vote together for that.
COOPER: What do you say to the vast number of Republicans who believe Trump's recent messaging that it's Joe Biden who poses the greatest risk to democracy?
CHENEY: I think that the overwhelming majority of Republicans understand that that's disinformation, that that's a lie. That's been sort of Trump's method of operating. He knows that it is a real threat to his political success if people recognize that he, himself, is trying to unravel democracy. And so I think he's projecting. He's trying to turn that threat around, but I don't think it will work.
COOPER: You've also said you don't think that Trump would willingly leave office after a second term. You said if voters return him to the White House, there may not be any more elections to vote in. I mean, the pushback is that that's alarmist, it's hyperbolic. There are institutional guardrails that would prevent that.
CHENEY: Yes. And I think it's naive and a real misreading of what we've lived through to think that we can count on the guardrails that we have in place.
Donald Trump tried to seize power in 2020. He tried very hard. He put in place a multipart plan to ensure that, you know, Joe Biden wasn't going to be certified rightfully as the president of the United States. So he's done it once.
And what we saw, in 2020, was that it was the people. It was the fact that there were Republicans at the state level who stopped him. There were people in his White House, the Justice Department, who stopped him. But he knows now, you know, what to do. He's learned the lessons of 2020 and 2021.
And so I think anybody who says, well, don't worry, you can count on the balance of power and the institutions, that's really wishful thinking that we can't afford.
COOPER: We're six weeks away from the Iowa caucuses. What is your message to voters going into this 2024 election?
CHENEY: That whatever you do, whatever you think about, you know, the possibilities that Donald Trump might present, he's not an acceptable option. He's not an acceptable alternative.
I hope he is defeated in the primary. But if he's not, we have to defeat him in the general. And people need to take seriously and literally what he's saying, which is that he would, in fact, unravel our democracy, potentially terminate the constitution. It's a risk we can't take.
COOPER: Liz Cheney, thank you so much.
CHENEY: Thanks, Anderson.
CHENEY: Good to be with you.
COOPER: Really, really just a -- I mean, I don't want to say a fun read, but it is a fascinating read, and ...
CHENEY: Thank you.
COOPER: ... it's engrossing. So thank you.
CHENEY: Well, appreciate the time.
COOPER: Again, the book is out today. It's already best-selling memoir on Amazon. It's "Oath and Honor: A memoir and a Warning."
Reaction next from the right and the left also after what was an especially heavy day of fighting in Gaza, exclusive CNN reporting on how much longer US officials expect such intensive ground operations to continue. We'll be right back.
COOPER: In just a moment, reaction to what former Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney told me before the break about the existential threat, she says, a second Trump term poses to American democracy. First of all, I want to replay a portion of our conversation about Republican lawmakers and what drives their continuing support for the former president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Do they actually believe these lies?
CHENEY: No, I think the number of people who believe the lies in elected office is very small. I think in the House Republicans, it's probably single-digits. But you have a -- obviously, a far larger group of people, some who have determined that they're, you know, going to be fully on board and aggressively supporting and enabling Trump and a lot of others who said we're just -- you know, we're going to look the other way.
And that's really dangerous because then, you know, people around the country sort of start to say, well, it must not be that bad if you don't have that many Republicans speaking out against it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Part of my conversation with former Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney tonight. Here now to talk about it, CNN Political Commentators David Urban, Alyssa Farah Griffin. David is a former Trump campaign and adviser. Melissa is former Trump White House communications director and is mentioned on page 221 of Congresswoman Cheney's new book. Joining us as well from Washington tonight CNN Political Commentator and Former Obama Special Adviser Van Jones.
First of all, Alyssa, what's your takeaway from what Cheney is saying?
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Remarkable and timely. Listen, Congresswoman Cheney had a front row seat to the lead up to January 6th, the day of on January 6th, and then the aftermath of Congress stonewalling and watching her Republican colleagues, many who are her friends, flip in real-time on what they saw that day with their very eyes and what they said with their very mouths.
She's a profile in courage, and I think she's speaking at a moment where she said, you know, last night that we are sleepwalking into authoritarianism and to dictatorship. And I can't ring those alarm bells louder.
I'm his -- I'm Trump's former White House Communications Director. I'm joined by his former secretary of defense, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, his former national security adviser, all saying he is an existential threat to democracy and folks need to wake up.
COOPER: David, what are you -- what's your takeaway?
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's me against the world here, I think, right? Listen, I -- look, Congresswoman Cheney, obviously, done a great job, good service to her country in her role. And she's out selling books now.
And listen, I don't think it's an existential threat, right? I do think that there are plenty of guardrails that are going to -- that were in place in the first administration, right?
Look at this. We had -- the Republicans held the Senate, the House, and the White House. And if Trump was so omnipotent, we would have had a lot of things done, right? In this instance ...
GRIFFIN: You could argue that was incompetence.
URBAN: Well, but -- so all of a sudden now he's going to become this, like, uber -- you know, uber successful guy.
COOPER: He has learned some lessons and ...
GRIFFIN: But we're -- yes.
URBAN: Oh, it ...
GRIFFIN: Because respectfully, he does know how the federal government works now. He's building out a transition team.
URBAN: Nobody knows how the federal government works. GRIFFIN: Right now, he's building out a transition team. He's taking
resumes based on people's loyalty to him. He understands ...
URBAN: So yes ...
GRIFFIN: ... you -- and you know that ...
URBAN: ... so yes, but again, American Foreign Policy Institute, Heritage Foundation, we saw both Susie and Chris put out a statement, saying, look, those groups are doing what they want to do.
Donald Trump, I know firsthand from the 2016 campaign when Chris Christie was running transition, putting together a whole government exile, Donald Trump said to me, call Chris Christie and tell him stop. Go work on the campaign. We'll do that later.
He views it -- he -- in this instance, I think it's the same menu. He put out a statement saying, look, Brooke Rollins, all these great people are working here. Do what you're doing, that's great, but I'm going to put my team together when I get (inaudible).
COOPER: Let me breathe in. Van, first of all, I just want to play a little bit more of what Liz Cheney said about some of her former colleagues in Congress. And I want to ask you about why do you think the guardrails of democracy are so strong?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: I think the lesson that we've seen over the course of the last couple of years is that this group of elected Republicans can't be counted on to defend the constitution. And I -- that's a very sad thing for me so to say. It's a very dangerous place for the country to be, but that's what we've seen based on the actions of the last several years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, Van, it is extraordinary to hear Liz Cheney, a loyal Republican, from a very conservative family, saying the Republicans in the House cannot be trusted if the election was to end up in the House.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think we take it very, very seriously. And I appreciate David's confidence, but also, a couple of things.
I mean, you first start working in the White House, you spend the first week trying to find the bathroom, just trying to find a restroom. It's like when you first get there, it's a hard thing to figure out. The White House is a black box inside a black box inside a black box. But every week you're there, you get a little bit better at your job.
And the reality is the last time Donald Trump ran, nobody thought he was going to win, including Donald Trump. So he didn't had a -- he had a campaign staff. He didn't have a government in exile waiting. This time, he's been there before, he's done it before. He knows how
they blocked him and stopped him. He's going to be a lot more effective if he gets there. And much more frighteningly, last time he had Republicans who are willing to stand up to him at the local level, the elected officials, et cetera.
This party has been beaten and cowed over the past four years, where I don't know if this thing gets to the House. If you're going to have Republicans who've been kowtowing and kowtowing and kowtowing who are suddenly, suddenly going to stop kowtowing and have a spine and stick up for the Constitution on one day when for the past, I don't know, 400 or 500 days, they haven't been doing that. I'm very concerned.
COOPER: Well, also, I mean, Alyssa, the first time around, he was running allegedly on some issues, this time he's running on retribution. And that's -- so if the goal is not to actually get stuff done and pull the levers of government to make it work, it's to like, go after, you know, some morning show host or something. You can do that.
GRIFFIN: I would also add, I think he's running to stay out of jail. I think he's genuinely afraid of a federal conviction, and he wants to be able to pardon himself. But listen, you know, I have so much respect for you and you're a friend, but we disagree so fundamentally on this.
I sat in the Oval Office with Donald Trump when he said that a staffer who he believed leaked something should be executed. He's used that same rhetoric to talk about our friend Mark Milley. This is not a person who I would argue is of sound mind or is restricted by any guardrails around him.
And on day one, his administration has an executive order ready to go that will gut the federal workforce. Now I'm a Conservative. I'd love to get rid of some excessive federal, you know, employees if they're not doing something. He's talking about taking subject matter experts and nonpartisans and replacing them with loyalists who may be incompetent or who may be actually dangerous in what they're trying to do.
URBAN: Well, I just say, let's just all exhale for a second, right? And remember, there's a whole United States Senate. There's an advice and consent role, right, that people get nominated, then they have hearings, and that there'll be a lot of acting people, and then they're gone in 180 days.
COOPER: So you're putting your faith in the U.S. Senate?
URBAN: I'm putting my faith in the U.S. government.
COOPER: That's now the --
URBAN: The U.S. government is the House.
COOPER: How is Kari Lake doing?
URBAN: The House -- she's like (INAUDIBLE). The House -- she'd may not be a senator. The House, right, and the Senate, they have functions of the American people. This is democracy, right? Whether you like it or not, what's what we're witnessing here.
URBAN: So Congresswoman Cheney, she's like, banging on all her elected, duly elected, righ, colleagues in the Congress. They're put there by their constituents. They're put there by Americans. You know, for some reason, Americans like Donald Trump, they like the form of government he's providing.
JONES: Let me just say though --
COOPER: Van, go ahead.
JONES: Look, I hope that you're right, but I don't think that we should be as lackadaisical about you two. Democracies can fail. Democracy is the most fragile form of government known to human beings. How do you know? We are the oldest one and we're barely a couple hundred years old.
What you've seen is time and time again, Democratic Republics have fallen apart. They usually fall apart when there's a lot of stress socially and you get an authoritarian strong man to show up. So when that happens, if you love America, if you love democracy, whether you're Democrat or Republican, you got to say, holy crap, this is the same exact thing that took out every other Democratic Republic over the past 2,000 years. We've got to be careful. We've got to be concerned.
GRIFFIN: Well, when you put it that way, Van, the only thing I would add there is, listen, you make a point about Senate confirmation. So Donald Trump learned his last term that if you want to get somebody as a Cabinet secretary who can't get through Senate confirmation, you can put them as the deputy and then you can install them in an acting capacity and they, to your point, can only be there for 180 days.
But 180 days as a CIA director or as the attorney general, you can do a lot of damage to American democracy, to the rule of law, to our national security. And I don't think that's a gamble. We should --
COOPER: Well, you also -- you know, the Jeffrey Clark example, this -- nobody person in the Department of Justice suddenly is like, oh yes, I would love to be attorney general and I'll do whatever you want to do.
URBAN: Or look at acting Secretary of Defense after Secretary Esper.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, that -- again, I keep coming back to we think -- oh, there's not enough people who would support this, but there are.
JONES: And I wanted to say just one more thing, which is that we talk about, you know, those of us who went to college and stuff like that, we talk about this abstract democracy, democracy. What this means is, your family could be hurt by this.
Somebody could say something that you know, and all of a sudden they get in trouble for just literally having a different point of view. We've never had that in America.
URBAN: Van, it's happening today in schools across America.
JONES: Well, listen, you've never had it from the Department of Justice at the direction of the president going after people. That could happen. In other words, this stuff sounds abstract, but for real people, and you know this as well, when you talk to real people who come from countries who they've lost their democracy, people from Iran, people from Venezuela, they're shocked.
They can't believe because once this ball starts rolling, it gets bigger and faster and faster. It gets very, very hard to stop. So this is the time. If the Republican Party is going to stand up and say, there are some guardrails here, the things we won't do, it'd be good to hear that now.
Because what Liz Cheney is saying having pulled the curtains back, she was there, is very, very frightening. And it's worse now than it was then.
COOPER: Yes. Van Jones, Alyssa Farah Griffin, David Urban, thanks so much.
Just ahead, a CNN exclusive, U.S. officials now have an estimate of just how long they expect Israel's ground invasion and aerial bombardment in Gaza to last. Plus, what the next phase the battle may look like. That's ahead.
COOPER: Israel's military said today of the fighting in Gaza that it was, quote, "the most intense day since the beginning of the ground operation". Spokesmen claim soldiers are going house to house. They say that they're finding, quote, "in nearly every building and house, weapons, and in many houses, terrorists".
CNN cannot independently confirm those claims. With Israel increasing its aerial bombardment after expanding ground operations throughout Gaza, the IDF today said their forces are now, quote, "in the heart of Khan Yunis". That city is in the south. It's Gaza's second largest city.
A top U.N. relief official in Gaza has called the situation apocalyptic. Civilians, he said, had, quote, "little to survive on". We'll have more on the increasing intensity of the fight in a moment. But first, a CNN exclusive on how long the ground operation may last.
MJ Lee helped break this story joins us now. So what is the White House saying about this timeline for the war?
MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, as we are now on the eve of this war entering its third month, senior administration officials tell CNN that they expect the current ground invasion that Israel is conducting in southern Gaza to last several weeks, and that possibly by January, we will get to the next phase of this war.
This is the phase of the war that would be very lower in intensity and it would be hyper localized in its strategy to take out, basically individual Hamas operatives and leaders.
Now, Israel, of course, has said that a part of its major goal is to weaken Hamas to such an extent that it couldn't ever repeat the kind of attack that we saw on October 7. And what U.S. officials are saying is that they don't expect that goal to be achieved by the end of this calendar year, and that what we are about to see is a longer term campaign.
Now, as we have been reporting, we also know that U.S. officials have been warning Israeli counterparts, both in private and in public, that they need to conduct its southern operations differently than what we saw in the north. They have also been warning, Anderson, that the clock is basically ticking on Israel being able to continue its current operations while maintaining a level of support from the international community that makes this current operation remotely tenable.
COOPER: Does the White House think that Israel has listened to its advice?
LEE: You know, what's interesting is that in recent weeks, we have seen White House and U.S. officials increasingly talking about in public this idea that Israel has heeded the U.S.'s warnings about how it should conduct its military operations to limit civilian casualties.
We saw the vice president talking about this on Sunday. We've seen various senior officials using the word receptive, but in reality, in private, this is not necessarily a consensus view here at the White House. One senior administration official told me that they actually wouldn't feel comfortable using the word receptive to describe this back and forth between U.S. and Israeli officials.
But a part of what's going on here, Anderson, is that the U.S. has always believed that it is better to quietly counsel Israel and try to sort of avoid publicly criticizing any of its military operations or decisions.
COOPER: Right. MJ Lee at the White House, thanks very much.
For more on the state of the fighting, which, again, according to the IDF, was the most intense since the beginning of the ground invasion, we're joined by Jeremy Diamond in Ashkelon Israel tonight. So what is the latest that you're hearing?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, artillery and airstrikes are continuing near me in northern Gaza, but the focus right now for the Israeli military appears to be in southern Gaza. The chief of staff of the Israeli military saying that Israeli forces are now encircling Gaza's second largest city, that is the city of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza.
We've seen Israeli airstrikes in Khan Yunis, in Rafah, as well as Deir al-Balah, a city just north of Khan Yunis. And the result of this, of course, is that Israeli forces could be on the brink of one of the most decisive battles of this war as they prepare to enter the city of Khan Yunis.
But, of course, civilians are increasingly being caught in the crossfires once again. We are seeing hundreds of people who have been killed in recent strikes in southern Gaza. And civilians are also facing a very difficult choice. The Israeli military has ordered the evacuation of swaths of southern Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of people live.
But they are being pushed towards Rafah, where the United Nations and other aid agencies are warning that those areas are already overcrowded and underresourced. And so, people are facing a very difficult choice to head to those areas or instead to remain where they are and take a risk. But of course, as you know, Anderson, nowhere in Gaza right now appears to be safe.
COOPER: U.S. authorities have urged Israel on multiple occasions to try to minimize civilian casualties as fighting moves into southern Gaza. What is Israel doing or saying in response?
DIAMOND: Well, they've been focusing on those evacuation warnings. They've been dropping those leaflets urging people to evacuate and also sharing that QR code with a map that divides Gaza up into hundreds of districts. That's what we've been hearing a lot from Israeli military officials.
But the feasibility and the effectiveness of those methods appears to be in serious question. There's not a lot of internet connectivity in Gaza right now, and people, again, are being told to move to areas where there's already overcrowding. 80 percent of Gaza civilian population is already internally displaced. And so people are really just having to face impossible choices right now.
COOPER: Yes. Jeremy Diamond, thank you.
Coming up, a closer look at President Biden's struggles with Latino voters in the battleground state of Nevada. It's an early target, of course, of the president's reelection campaign. John King takes a deep dive into this must win state. Part of his ongoing series for us all over the map.
We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:48:02]
COOPER: President Biden travels to Las Vegas Friday on his way to the West Coast. He'll deliver remarks in a key battleground state that narrowly went for him three years ago and has sided with the winning presidential candidate in 10 out of the last 11 presidential elections.
Winning Nevada's large Latino vote is going to be key. According to a CNN national poll last month, Biden is up on the former president by only four points with Latino voters 50 percent to 46 percent.
John King recently visited with Latino voters in Nevada, part of his ongoing series for 360 all over the map that tracks presidential campaign through the eyes and experiences of voters in battleground states. So what did you find?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We found anecdotally what you saw in our CNN poll, that it's much more competitive now among Latino voters than it was in the last election. Now, there's 11 months until the election. But the president, Anderson, has his work cut out for him.
Still a COVID hangover in the state. A lot of anxiety over the economy. Inflation, gas prices still bothering people. And you also just have an emerging Latino power. And as these voters become more aware of their power, they're shopping.
KING (voice-over): Lunchtime in Vegas, and Antonio Munoz is happy to lay out the choices.
ANTONIO MUNOZ, NEVADA VOTER: (INAUDIBLE)
KING (voice-over): More cautious, though, about a past choice.
(on-camera): What about 2020, Biden, Trump?
MUNOZ: 2020? I'll stay away from that today.
KING (on-camera): You don't want to talk about that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
KING (on-camera): Why?
MUNOZ: Why? Because the nature of society right now. You know, we're a small business, and they will attack you. They will attack you just because you support a certain candidate. And it's sad.
KING (voice-over): Munoz started the 911 taco bar after a decade in the Air Force and 16 years as a Vegas police officer.
MUNOZ: This was a dream of mine through the military, owning my own business. I've always had a love for food and tacos, so I thought I could bring something special to the community.
KING (voice-over): Hispanics were a small slice of Nevada's population when Munoz was a boy who admired Ronald Reagan, more than 30 percent now.
MUNOZ: It's amazing the political power the Hispanics are creating here in the state of Nevada.
KING (on-camera): This is a state that's gone Democrat in the last several presidential elections. But if you look at it today, it's right there.
KING (voice-over): Valeria Gurr is one reason why.
VALERIA GURR, NEVADA VOTER: Our vote has been taken for granted.
KING (voice-over): A former Democrat who worked for the teachers union.
GURR: How'd you do today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good.
KING (voice-over): Now a Republican with one defining issue.
(on-camera): Your son is how old?
GURR: He's six.
KING (on-camera): And you won't send him to the public schools?
GURR: I won't.
KING (on-camera): Why?
GURR: Because I worked with Hispanic families for 15 years here and I've seen it. I've seen it firsthand how, you know, teachers have classrooms that are overcrowded. They can barely get to them. For the candidate that support my views on a school choice.
KING (voice-over): In 2020, that was Donald Trump with reservations.
GURR: I will never condone racist comments towards my community if that's the question.
KING (voice-over): Now Gurr hopes the GOP makes a new choice.
GURR: I like Ron DeSantis simply because what he has done in Florida. I personally would love to see Nikki Haley to have another mom in the White House as a board school choice. KING (voice-over): Inflation and interest rates worries Zoila Sanchez. She's been selling homes in Las Vegas and its suburbs for 26 years. Her voting history tracks Nevada's shift blue, Democrat in the past four presidential elections.
But Sanchez is still a registered Republican. Her first and second votes for president went to George W. Bush. Sanchez liked the idea of lower taxes mixed with compassionate talk about immigrants.
(on-camera): Does that Republican Party exist anymore?
ZOILA SANCHEZ, NEVADA VOTER: It does not exist anymore.
KING (on-camera): Would you like it to?
SANCHEZ: I would love it to come back. Yes, that's me.
KING (voice-over): Would you like --
KING (voice-over): Count Sanchez as another Haley fan.
SANCHEZ: Because I think she could bring back that real Republican feeling, the conservative everything that it used to be.
KING (on-camera): So if it's Trump-Biden, you're for Biden?
KING (on-camera): If it were Haley-Biden.
SANCHEZ: I would vote for Haley.
KING (voice-over): Never Trump for Sanchez. But she says some friends who voted Biden in 2020 talk of giving Trump a second chance.
SANCHEZ: Some of them say because look at what's happening to the economy. There's no way.
KING (on-camera): And what do you say to them?
SANCHEZ: I say, don't. Don't. He's going to make things worse.
KING (voice-over): The strip has changed a ton since Carlos Padilla started as a Treasure Island pastry chef 30 years ago.
CARLOS PADILLA, NEVADA VOTER: To be in a job that long and actually still love it, it's awesome.
KING (voice-over): Padilla is a loyal Democrat, volunteers every election as a culinary union foot soldier, and knows even a modest Latino shift could tip Nevada Republican in 2024.
PADILLA: I think we can -- we have a good chance of stopping that.
KING (voice-over): Padilla hears complaints Biden is too old or nostalgia for the pre-COVID Trump economy. He tries to reframe the conversation.
PADILLA: Do you want somebody that's going to be for the working class people or do you want somebody that possibly not for the working class people? As we get closer and people start getting more information and correct information, I think it'll be a lot different.
KING (voice-over): Change is a constant here. So in early debates with friends, including two sons split between Biden and Trump, Antonio Munoz says, do your homework and keep an open mind.
MUNOZ: People are confused, you know. I'm not -- there's no perfect candidate out there.
KING (on-camera): So we're in Vegas. Would you put your money on Trump-Biden, or we're going to be surprised?
MUNOZ: I think we're going to be surprised. I think we'll be surprised.
KING (voice-over): Yearly odds, of course, suggest otherwise.
COOPER: Well, John, as you said, the pandemic also continues to impact the state's economy. How might that influence photo?
KING: There's just this hangover effect, Anderson. I want to show you some numbers. It's just stunning. When you go out to Nevada, remember, at the height of COVID, right? So February 20, right? February 20, the unemployment rate in Nevada was 4.4 percent.
In April, two months later, it was over 30 percent. That was twice the national peak. The national peak during COVID was in the 14s. Nevada got more than twice that because of, obviously, the casinos, tourism, hospitality industry wiped out.
So if you take a body blow like that, 30 percent unemployment, guess what? Yes, most of those jobs are back. The unemployment rate is 5.4 percent now, but people still feel it. They took that body blow, and they're looking around. They say, some people are still working part time.
They don't trust things. And then you have inflation, interest rates, and other factors coming in. And some blame Biden. Some just feel economic anxiety. It has them looking around. And several people said, well, remember, the economy was so good under Trump pre-COVID.
So they're a little confused. They're looking around. The Biden campaign says, give us a choice. If Trump's nominated, we'll fix this. But there's no question that COVID hangover, economic anxiety, it's hurting the president.
COOPER: What about other states that have a big Latino voting bloc?
KING: That's why Nevada is such an important library. Look at here. You see how close it was, right? Two points there. But let's look at these other states. Look at these other battleground states where the Latino population matters.
In Arizona, 32 percent of the voters. In Nevada, it's 30. In Georgia, it's only 10. Pennsylvania, eight. Wisconsin, seven. So you say those aren't huge numbers, but remember, Trump improved his standing a little bit from 2016 to 2020.
Let's go through those states really quickly, Anderson. Look at Wisconsin, right, in the decimals, right? It's a point, right? That close. Doesn't take much of a change to shift it.
Look at Pennsylvania again, a one point state, doesn't take much of a shift to move it. Georgia, another state in the decimals right there. So it doesn't take much of a shift. Latino voters, black voters, anyone else either staying home or going to vote for Donald Trump. Same thing.
Not New Mexico, but the population there is big. But look at Arizona, again, a state in the decimal. So all of these battleground states where the Latino vote could be the swing vote, it wouldn't take much. No, Donald Trump doesn't have to win the Latino vote. He just needs to boost his standing a little bit.
COOPER: All right. John King, thanks. Fascinating.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: Just to let you know, second season of my podcast has started, "All There Is" is what it's called. It's about grief and loss, something all of us will experience at some point. If you point your phone's camera at the QR code, you see there on the screen right now, a link will appear for you to click on and listen.
Grief is something that most of us have a hard time talking about. It's certainly been the case for me, but in the podcast, I talk to all sorts of people who are facing grief and trying to learn from them. Learn from grief, and I'm trying to learn from them, how all of us can as well.
Episode 2, which is available starting tomorrow morning, is a deeply personal conversation in the White House about grief with President Biden. In 1972, his first wife Neilia, and their 13-month-old daughter Naomi were killed in a car crash. And then in 2015, the president's oldest son, Beau, died of brain cancer.
Season 1 and episode 1 of the new season are available right now. If you can't access that QR code, you can also find episodes on Apple podcasts or Spotify, or you ever get -- wherever you get your podcast. The President Biden episode starts tomorrow morning. That's when it becomes available.
The news continues right now. The Source with Kaitlan Collins starts now.