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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Judge Denies One Trump Motion To Dismiss Classified Docs Case; Rejects Argument Charges Were Unconstitutionally Vague; Parents Of Michigan School Shooter Both Convicted Of Manslaughter In Separate Trials; Manhattan DA Willing To Delay Trump Trial Until Late April; Manhattan D.A. Willing To Delay Trump Trial Until Late April; Aaron Rodgers Responds To CNN Report That He Shared False Sandy Hook Conspiracies In Private Conversations; How Election Conspiracy Theories Left This County With A $200,000 Headache; Bamboo Ballots?; Armed Men Ransack, Burn Home Of Top Police Official In Haiti; U.N. Says It Is Reducing Its Footprint In The Country; Sean Penn, Co- Founder Of CORE, Discusses Their Relief Efforts As Violence Grips Path. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 14, 2024 - 20:00   ET


HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: But I will say among the American public, it's actually something that's quite popular. The idea of a four-day work week ...


ENTEN: It is quite popular.


ENTEN: It's - but it's not just two-thirds of overall, it's well more than two-thirds of Democrats, but even a majority of Republicans support a four-day work week. So you have those Republicans in the Senate scoffing at them, but their people, their constituents are actually, you know what, this could work out pretty decent for us.

BURNETT: All right. Harry, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And thanks so much to all of you as always. AC360 starts now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, breaking news, the former president loses one bid to end one trial, but learns he might get a month-long delay in another with that trial less than two weeks away.

From the Michigan courtroom, more breaking news, a father convicted of manslaughter for the murders his son committed.

And the latest from Haiti, my conversation with Sean Penn about what his relief organization CORE is facing on the ground there as gangs remain in control of much of the capital.

Good evening. We begin tonight with the breaking news on the former president. It happened just hours after he walked into the federal courtroom with the judge he himself appointed, Aileen Cannon. Sitting opposite her, he watched as his attorneys argued the Jack Smith's classified documents case should be dismissed. The lawyers defended two of their nine motions to dismiss today, including the one arguing that the Presidential Records Act allowed him to designate the classified documents he took as personal, even though his own words suggest he knew otherwise. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: See as president I could have declassified it.


TRUMP: Now I can't, but this is still a secret.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Now we have a problem.

TRUMP: Isn't that interesting?



COOPER: Interesting indeed. Prosecutors today read a transcript of that for Judge Cannon, who did not rule on the issue and related motion this evening. She did, however, reject another. We have details now from CNN's Katelyn Polantz who joins us from outside the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, Florida.

So talk more about the motion that the judge dismissed.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Anderson, that was a motion where Donald Trump wanted Judge Aileen Cannon to dismiss the case because his lawyers were trying to argue that the law around national defense secrets and the handling of classified records, that that was too vague of a law. Judge Aileen Cannon, she didn't buy it. She made that clear in court. And then shortly after the hearing, she issued her order and said, I'm not going to dismiss the case on this argument that you made today.

She said that this could be something that could come up where Trump may want to argue this to a jury or that they could discuss a little bit closer to trial, heading into that trial, setting the parameters for how the trial will go, the presentation to the jury. But that's how that particular argument went.

There was another argument today as well, it didn't go that great either for the former president. Judge Aileen Cannon was quite skeptical about arguments his team was making that these presidential records were personal because Trump said so, because he wanted to take them from the White House and keep them at Mar-a-Lago after the presidency. Judge Cannon made pretty clear that she wasn't really on board with that argument and seemed to articulate herself in the same view as the federal government, the Justice Department in this, saying that presidential records are presidential records. Not everything can be a personal record just because someone says so, but she hasn't ruled on that particularly yet.

COOPER: What was the atmosphere like in the court?

POLANTZ: Well, in the courtroom, everyone is pretty comfortable in this case working together. This is now 10 hours that Judge Cannon has spent with these lawyers and Donald Trump in just the past two weeks doing arguments. And so Trump is getting to the point where he's chatting with these lawyers, he's reacting to the arguments that are being made. Even some of the members of Jack Smith's team, and Jack Smith was in the courtroom today, they react too when people stand up and make different points before the judge.

Now the thing about Judge Cannon, though, is she's very hard to read and she doesn't often tip her hand. This is the one of the first hearings where we have seen her really side or at least indicate that she was going to side one way or another. And she did follow that with an order, at least on one of these motions shortly after the hearing.

COOPER: And is it clear when she's going to decide the Trump team's other arguments for dismissal?

POLANTZ: No. Judges can take however much time they need to make a decision. But every time that there is a delay in Judge Cannon issuing an order on one of these motions Trump is making, that's the longer it goes before everyone can set the table for the trial and to see how that will shape up.

And Anderson, I should add, this is two motions where Trump is asking to dismiss the case. By my count, there are seven more of these that could be argued from both he and his two co-defendants. So there are so many things that are stacking up for Judge Aileen Cannon still to do here. Opinions she needs to write, where we really need to watch and see exactly where she's going to go.


She has done very little to get through the pile of paperwork on her desk in this docket to get this towards a trial and, of course, hasn't set the trial date yet. We're still waiting on that schedule.

COOPER: Yes. Katelyn Polantz, thanks so much. Joining us now is former federal Judge Nancy Gertner, two former federal prosecutors, bestselling author Jeffrey Toobin and Jennifer Rodgers, and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Jeff, how much of this is a setback for the former president?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Not much. I mean, there's so many more issues coming and what he's really trying to do is delay the case. The headline for me today is, you know what happened today, nothing much. I mean, there is just so much more that this judge has to deal with to get this case to trial. She's going at a very leisurely pace. She's taking hours and hours.

COOPER: So are they going to have hearings for each of these other possibly seven possible ...

TOOBIN: She hasn't said yet, but at the rate she's going and the way she's letting the lawyers talk on and on about some of these motions are just absurd. I mean, the idea that it's unconstitutional for Jack Smith to be supervising this case. It's - he's a Justice Department employee. I mean, but all of them have to be decided before a trial date takes place. And she hasn't set a trial date. And this case continues to be on a slow boat to nowhere.

COOPER: Judge Gertner, I mean, Judge Cannon only denied one of the former president's motions to dismiss charges. Is that typical?

NANCY GERTNER, FORMER FEDERAL JUDGE: That she would decide only one? Well, nothing about the way she's handling the case is typical. So these are motions that could have been disposed of quickly. These are motions that are not raising issues that are extraordinary and they could have been disposed of quickly. And what she's done is she's allowing lengthy hearings on motions that really could be just taken care of. And if she does that with respect to the others, then we are talking about a delay.

What is interesting about what she said, though, is that she's kicking all of this to the trial itself. And the trial could well be a mess, allowing Trump to raise defenses that really no one else would be allowed to raise and essentially scuttling a trial if she ever gets to one. And that, of course, is an open question.

COOPER: Andrew, in this motion to dismiss, the Trump team argued today that the Presidential Records Act essentially requires the case be thrown out. Do you - I mean, what kind of a precedent would the judge be setting if she agreed with that?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So that's the motion she didn't decide today. There were two that they heard. She heard the one attacking the Espionage Act, 18 U.S.C. 793, as being unconstitutional. She decided that in a two-page ruling. The second one, they argued, she hasn't given us a ruling on that one quite yet and that's his Presidential Records Act, in which he basically says, I, as president, waved a magic wand over these documents and turned them into personal papers, and therefore I can't be charged for them.

COOPER: It seems to run counter to what he said in that audio, which is ...


COOPER: ... there was a time I could have declassified them, but I didn't and ...

MCCABE: He clearly acknowledged on that tape that he knew those things were at that time still classified. So there is that problem. The other problem is there's nothing in the Presidential Records Act that says that it gets in front of or eliminates the applicability of things like the Espionage Act and the fact that you cannot maintain or hold or withhold national defense information or classified records when you don't have the authority to do so. And those are criminal offenses that have nothing to do with the Presidential Records Act.

So I don't think many people give that motion much legal credence. It's another one that probably should have been disposed without even a hearing, but here we are.

COOPER: Let's play that audio of what the president said at the - when he was talking to that group in his room on the recording.


TRUMP: See as president I could have declassified it.


TRUMP: Now I can't, but this is still a secret.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Now we have a problem.

TRUMP: Isn't that interesting?



COOPER: How damaged do you think that recording is for this case, Jennifer?

RODGERS: Well, if we ever do get to trial, I mean, that's obviously a key piece of evidence for the prosecutors there. I mean, they have to prove intent and knowledge and nothing better than a defendant's own words.

COOPER: This still may not go to trial.

RODGERS: It may not go to trial. I mean, she's been slow walking it the whole time. Like Judge Gertner said, there's really no excuse for how long all of these things have been taking. It's frustrating for Jack Smith and his team because you can't really appeal that, right? You can't say to the 11th Circuit, she's slow walking this case. She should be deciding more quickly. That's on a basis for overturning anything or taking her off the case. And yet, if we get beyond the election and Trump wins again, then of course he'll just immediately shut it down and we'll never see trial at all.

TOOBIN: But you know what's most remarkable about this hearing, just like the hearing two weeks ago in New York, it's that Trump is there. He doesn't have to be there. There is no reason for him to be there except that he wants to be there. This is the Trump campaign.

Trump has decided and it may be a good decision, that being a martyr, being someone who was attacked in court is good for his candidacy. And look, he's leading in the polls as far as I can tell, so maybe it's the right decision. [20:10:02]

But this is how he's campaigning, by being a defendant in court.

COOPER: And Judge Gertner, I mean, if he believes that the judge likes him, is that an incentive to go to the court and be in front of her as often as possible?

GERNER: Well, I think he's reminding her of his presence. But I mean, I think Jeff is right. He doesn't have to be there. Really, it's very interesting about the ways in which his defenses and these arguments are dovetailing with what he wants to say to the - to - on the campaign. Like, he has a motion that this is selective enforcement, that his, what, eight months retention of documents that he was told were classified is somehow the equivalent of, you know, Biden's garage or Pence's garage or Hillary's e-mails. That's the selective enforcement. You've gone after me when nobody else has and these are essentially campaign themes.

But as I said before, really, any other judge would have said, denied. And could have even done denied without a hearing or done denied with the same two-page order that she did. So she's really spending way too much time on all of this, enabling him to make arguments that no one else would have made.

COOPER: Jennifer, what do you make of - I wasn't sure how to interpret what the judge said about the idea that Trump could designate records as personal and take them to Mar-a-Lago. She called it forceful. What does that mean? Is that ...

RODGERS: I have no idea to be honest.

COOPER: Does that mean like that's an aggressive idea or, wow, that's a forceful thing you can do?

RODGERS: I hesitate to try to interpret what this judge is saying. I ...

COOPER: But that's not a legal word that I'm just not privy to because I'm not a lawyer.

RODGERS: No, no. That is - I mean, I honestly don't know what she means more than a little bit of the time. And I don't know what she means here. I don't know if anyone else has any ideas. But it's not a legal term of art.

COOPER: Do you think this argument, Andrew, about selective prosecution is one - I mean, we've seen now the Hur report. You can make the argument that that sort of argues against selective prosecution.

MCCABE: I don't think the selective prosecution argument is going anywhere. It's an incredibly tough defense to mount under any circumstances. And here, if that's the comparison between the - this case and the investigation of Joe Biden's - President Biden's possession of classified documents after his term as vice president, if that's the comparison they want to make, I'd be very confident arguing that one if I was a member of Jack Smith's team.

There are so many massive, massive, fundamental, factual differences between those two investigations. It's not even close.

TOOBIN: And selective prosecution is a defense that almost always fails. Because what the judges say, look, if you're guilty, you're guilty. We're not worried about what other defendants did. So the idea of selective prosecution, if the evidence shows that you're guilty, it's just always a loser.

COOPER: All right. Judge Gertner, thanks for being with us. Everyone else is going to stick around. We've got another Trump trial to talk about.

Before that, though, more breaking news, a guilty verdict in the trial of a man named James Crumbley on manslaughter charges for the mass shooting his son committed at a school in Oxford, Michigan.

Plus, what Aaron Rodgers is now saying about CNN reporting he privately shared false conspiracy theories about the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School.



COOPER: You're looking at live pictures of Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald talking now about our breaking news, a victory for her and a legal first. A mom and dad both convicted of manslaughter in connection with killings that their teenage son carried out. Their son murdered four high school students in Oxford, Michigan, two and a half years ago. Six students and a teacher were also wounded.

Now, last month, a jury said the killer's mother, Jennifer Crumbley, bore responsibility and convicted her on four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Today, it was the father's turn.

More from CNN's Jean Casarez.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guilty of involuntary manslaughter.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Guilty. James Crumbley, the father of the Oxford, Michigan, high school shooter, convicted of four counts of involuntary manslaughter.


KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR: These four were children. What happened that day is about the deaths of these four children and what James Crumbley did and what he didn't do. MARIELL LEHMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Think about everything that James Crumbley did not know. He did not know he had to protect others from his son.


CASAREZ (voice over): Crumbley's son was 15 years old when he opened fire in his school November 30th 2021. Prosecutors say Crumbley bought in the gun, didn't properly secure it and ignored warning signs about his son's mental health.


MCDONALD: James Crumbley had a willful disregard of a known danger caused and it caused the death of four students in Oxford High School.


CASAREZ (voice over): During the trial, jurors watched video of the two of them practicing at a shooting range, the sound of gunfire ringing through the still courtroom.

Jurors also saw journal entries from before the attack where his son appeared to be begging for help. "I want help, but my parents don't listen to me, so I can't get any help."

But the defense argued that James did not know about any of this.



LEHMAN: You heard no testimony and you saw no evidence that James had any knowledge that his son was a danger to anyone. We've heard about the journal. If James knew what was in that journal, the prosecution would have told you that.


CASAREZ (voice over): At the end of November, the shooter wrote he only had one thing on his mind: "All I need is my 9mm pistol, which I am currently begging my dad for."


CAMMY BACK, GUN STORE EMPLOYEE: Mr. Crumbley asked to see the Sig Sauer, said he had had his eye on that for quite some time.


CASAREZ (voice over): On Black Friday, James bought his son the Sig Sauer 9mm and the shooter posted online: "Just got my new beauty today." His dad hid the gun but didn't lock it up. A cable lock bought with it found in its packaging. "I will have to find where my dad hid my 9mm before I can shoot the school." Monday, November 29th, the shooter apparently found it writing: "The shooting is tomorrow. I have access to the gun and ammo. I am fully committed this to now."

Hana St. Juliana, Justin Shilling, Madisyn Baldwin and Tate Myre were killed, seven others were wounded. James Crumbley himself did not testify.


JAMES CRUMBLEY: It is my decision to remain silent.


CASAREZ (voice over): James Crumbley's wife, Jennifer, convicted of involuntary manslaughter just last month.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We find the defendant guilty of involuntary manslaughter.


CASAREZ (voice over): She faces up to 15 years in prison.


COOPER: (Inaudible) outside the courthouse in Pontiac, Michigan. This is really just, it's a stunning verdict. What have been some of the reactions you've seen or read since the verdict was read?

CASAREZ (on camera): Anderson, the family members of those four students that were murdered at Oxford High School, they have been a formidable force in the courtroom. The hearings I've attended, the trials that I've attended, the guilty pleas that I've attended. They're there and they talk about amongst each other how they have to re-live this over and over again. Well, they were in that courtroom when that verdict came out. They got justice tonight.

And they were hugging the prosecutors. There is such a bond between them and the prosecutors. This was a very important moment for them.

COOPER: It's so interesting that this guy's - was - essentially his attorneys are arguing, well, he didn't know about any of the trouble his son was having. Obviously, the jury didn't buy that.

CASAREZ: No. It's interesting. They deliberated a long time. We don't know what if they took a poll and they were on different sides, but it appears as though with the length of the deliberations, I mean, they started at nine o'clock this morning and then tonight they had a verdict. So the defense argument was that James Crumbley, the evidence did not show that he knew his son was having mental difficulties. Yes, he lost a friend. Yes, his grandmother died. Yes, his dog died, that he realized that, but didn't know it extended that far. But after that drawing, that math drawing that showed the bullets, the blood everywhere, my life is useless, the world is dead, bullet holes in a person, that's when prosecutors say, and it looks like the jury believed it, that light bulb should have gone off in the head of James Crumbley, that there was a very serious issue with his son.

COOPER: And in terms of sentencing, what's next?

CASAREZ: Well, his sentencing is April 9th at 9 AM right here. That is the very same day and time that Jennifer Crumbley's sentencing is going to take place, so both of them together.

But it makes sense because you're going to have victim impact statements. Here in Michigan, victim impact statements, they're codified in the statute, and they encourage them. They want everyone who is a victim, a family member, immediate surviving victim, to be able to present that victim impact statement. So one day, I think, is appropriate so the families won't have to go through it two separate days and two separate times.

COOPER: Jean Casarez, thank you for covering it. I appreciate it.

Coming up next, back to the former president's legal troubles, this time, it's New York's Stormy Daniels' hush money case and the unexpected move prosecutor Alvin Bragg just made, signaling he's open to delaying the trial less than two weeks before it's set to start.



COOPER: Tonight's breaking news in one Trump trial, which we reported at the top of the broadcast, comes hard on the heels a potentially good breaking news for him in another. We've learned that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is okay with postponing his hush money trial if the judge agrees. And this comes just days after federal prosecutors handed over thousands of pages of documents from their own investigation, after which they decided not to bring charges.

As you know, the New York trial is set to begin on the 25th of this month. Pushing it ahead a month would mean it could begin the same day the Supreme Court has set for oral arguments on presidential immunity in the January 6th case. The former president, of course, does not have to be there for that, but he will have to attend his criminal trial.

Joining us now with more, CNN Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid.

So how did this happen with the trial date less than two weeks away?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I think the judge is going to have the same exact question. This is a surprise twist. Certainly gives a boost to Trump, who has been employing the strategy of just trying to delay all of his criminal cases. And delays ahead of trials, that's not an unusual occurrence. But here, this delay is the result of the fact that both sides now need to review tens of thousands of pages of evidence that was only handed over by federal prosecutors on Wednesday.

Remember, this is a state case. So this is information coming from previous federal investigations. Why is it just coming in now? Well, it depends who you ask.

The Trump team insists that the Manhattan District Attorney that is bringing this case against former President Trump, that they have withheld it. The prosecutors insist that the Trump team just waited until earlier this year to subpoena the evidence as part of an effort to delay. Now, the Trump team wants to push this case back 90 days. Prosecutors say they wouldn't object to a 30-day delay, but ultimately, it'll be up to the judge.


COOPER: And do we know when the judge will make a decision?

REID: Well, Anderson, this case was scheduled to start in 10 days, so I would expect a decision quite soon. Open question, though, is whether this judge is going to want to have a hearing or a teleconference just to press the parties on some of these issues, but I would expect this in a matter of days.

COOPER: And does -- so how does that impact the overall calendar of Trump's court case because this was supposed to be the first one?

REID: Yes, and it was the only one that was firmly on the calendar. Now, with the help of our calendar graphic here, I mean, the other three criminal trials right now are in limbo. The January 6th federal prosecution, it's unclear when that's going to go or if it'll go at all, because in April, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether former President Trump has immunity to shield him from that case.

And then we don't expect a decision there until probably mid to late June. Now in May, you see the classified documents trial is there. Look, that's just in pencil. We were in court two weeks ago where the Judge, Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, she heard arguments about when she could push that back.

Based on what we heard while I was down in Florida, Anderson, I think she would probably put that on August at the earliest. Now, you also have the Georgia case that Fani Willis said she wanted to bring in August. Currently, there is, of course, an open question of whether she will still oversee that case. And those efforts to disqualify her certainly will have delayed that case beyond August.

So, Anderson, with this new request for a delay, we'll see what the judge does. But right now, it is not clear if former President Trump will face any criminal prosecution before November.

COOPER: All right, Paul Reid, thanks.

Back with Jeff Toobin, Jennifer Rodgers, and Andrew McCabe. Also joining us, Margaret Hoover, host of Firing Line on PBS. Andrew, does it make sense to you that the Southern District, the federal prosecutors, I mean, why would they just now send this stuff over? I know they were subpoenaed, but couldn't they have sent this stuff to the Manhattan D.A. earlier?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: There's not a good answer for that question. You know, there, I think on the surface, the multiple prosecutor's offices in New York, so you have Manhattan, and then you have the two federal prosecution offices, the Southern District and the Eastern District.

On the surface, we always hear about good cooperation, the law enforcement community, but in the nitty-gritty of individual cases, in my own experience for having been an agent there for a decade or so, these requests for evidence or access to each other's witnesses are often fraught with competition and defensiveness.

Prosecutors want to be very careful before they turn over documents to another prosecutor's offices to ensure that they're not going to use them or need them at some point in the future. I would expect there were some calculations like that involved or basic bureaucratic delay. It takes a lot of approvals and up the chain of command --

COOPER: Well, I mean, Jennifer, in the filing, D.A. Bragg blames the former president's legal team saying that they didn't try to seek the records until January. He wrote, "We note that the timing of the current production of additional materials from the USAO is a function of defendants own delay." But, I mean, if Bragg knew this material was out there, couldn't he have asked for it?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it depends what it is. And we don't have a great idea about that. We may learn more when they file their actual substantive response either tomorrow or Monday. But it sounds like at least some of these materials, a lot of them are bank records and things that probably aren't so critical, but some of them at least are statements of people like Michael Cohen, who's going to be a witness.

That's stuff that they should have, the defense should have. So if there are statements of Michael Cohen that weren't turned over previously, they need to have them. We don't know what Alvin Bragg knew that the feds had is the problem --

COOPER: Jeff, does that make sense to you?

JEFF TOOBIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: This is all so outrageous. You're all being very polite here. I mean, the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan, the southern district, according to the Manhattan D.A., the D.A. asked for these documents last year and the U.S. Attorney's Office, for whatever reason, chose not to turn them over. As a result, they only turned them over just very recently, which the D.A. says is all the southern district's fault.

Why didn't the southern district cooperate with these fellow prosecutors --

COOPER: I mean, if -- obviously Alvin Bragg, I would think, would want to see any interviews that Michael Cohen gave to prosecutors.

TOOBIN: And he asked for them. And he asked for them, and the U.S. attorney said no. And the U.S. attorney apparently has thousands more records that they're going to turn over sometime in the future, which could lead to more delays. And, by the way, once these records are turned over, you can be sure the defense is going to say, well, this raises a whole new set of issues.

So we have to file more motions and ask for more delays. This is a embarrassment to the law enforcement community. And the only beneficiary is Donald Trump.

COOPER: Wow. Margaret?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I kept waiting for you to blame SDNY, but you're just too polite. I mean, I did text to the former SDNY prosecutor earlier, and I said, you guys screwed this up, right? And he said, yes and yes. I mean, it was all on background, of course --

COOPER: But, I mean, how can they screw up a case, which, I mean, it boggles the mind.


HOOVER: Because you understand -- our eyes are wide open here. This is not like, you know, you've got a massive firewall. All of this is playing out in the press. If you have documents that are germane, share them immediately. This is relevant.

I mean, you can --

MCCABE: Yes. I get that. But my point is --

HOOVER: I understand your --

MCCABE: -- this is not uncommon. Prosecutors approaching each other with answering requests for documents. It usually comes at an arm's length. Well, I'll think about it. And when I get around to it, I'll calculate as to whether or not there's a one in a million chance I might need these documents for my own case. And if there is, you're never getting them.

So that's the sort of reluctance that goes into these requests. It should never have happened in this case. I absolutely agree with you, but here we are.

TOOBIN: But there's a word for that policy. It's bad.

MCCABE: Absolutely.

TOOBIN: It's bad policy --

MCCABE: Absolutely.

TOOBIN: -- to have, you know, prosecutors fighting with each other and not cooperating with each other when that helps the defendant.

COOPER: I mean, was there an attitude at the southern district of New York where they thought, oh, this Bragg case is kind of thin gruel and we don't have to pay attention to it?

RODGERS: I cannot imagine that. But they wouldn't weigh in on somebody else's case. What they would do maybe is say, maybe we still have a strand of this investigation that's open. You know, we're not going to turn this over for some reason --

MCCABE: You can't.

RODGERS: -- that they have, as Andy was saying.

MCCABE: The current footing of this case embarrasses them to some degree, right? Here's Alvin Bragg basically making a case that they walked away from. So that does not shroud them in prosecutorial aggression and glory, which is where they prefer to be.

COOPER: So the response to that is to not give over evidence, which makes them look even worse. I mean, that's --

RODGERS: And that's why I don't think that that was the reason. I mean, it -- you know, you're going to turn it over now in response to a subpoena, it's just going to look worse. I can't imagine they made that deliberate decision not to turn it over beforehand. But we'll -- maybe we'll know more when they --

COOPER: So, Margaret, I mean, for -- I mean, for the former president, this is a huge political win. I mean if --

HOOVER: Delay, delay, delay. Win, win, win.

COOPER: And it also points to --

HOOVER: And that's the Trump strategy --

COOPER: -- dysfunction and, you know, it feeds into all the conspiracy theories.

HOOVER: All the fake news and conspiracy theories that he's winding up anyway. I mean, the truth is though, this isn't the case which, I mean, we know. This isn't the case when it went to trial that it was going to be the case that is, at least from a political perspective, the one that is going to help, you know, the opposition or people who are concerned about Trump returning to the presidency really make the political argument that like, this is -- he shouldn't go back to the presidency because of a business misdemeanor that was worth about $130,000.

I mean, that's not the case. It's the case where he took secret documents and top secret documents and hidden them in a shower in Mar- a-Lago illegally. That's the case you want to litigate politically, nationally, in the months before and weeks before the national election, the presidential election. TOOBIN: I think that's a little unfair to the Manhattan D.A.'s case. I mean, the Manhattan D.A.'s case, at least the way they're putting it, is that the reason all of this money went to Stormy Daniels was to hide stuff from the voters on the eve of the 2016 election.

COOPER: They're saying it's an election interference.

TOOBIN: It's an election interference case and, you know --

HOOVER: Which makes it not a misdemeanor as a normal business fraud case would be. I understand that. There's just no precedent for that.

TOOBIN: Well there's no precedent for a lot of things Donald Trump did.

HOOVER: Sure (ph).

TOOBIN: But it is also true that if he's convicted, he will be a convicted felon. And in America, that's usually considered not a good qualification to be president of the United States.

COOPER: Do you think this is going to go to trial before the election?

TOOBIN: I do. I think this one, I think, will somehow stagger to trial in, you know, sometime in the spring.

HOOVER: And to your political point, actually, the polling bears out that if he is convicted, in any trial, or in any case, in all of the seven tipping point jurisdictions, states that are close that will decide the election, this dramatically changes --

COOPER: That's what people say to pollsters. But who know if that's true.

HOOVER: I mean, they said that to pollsters when they also said they would vote for him over Biden, at the same time.

COOPER: We'll see. Margaret Hoover, thank you, Jeff Toobin, Jennifer Rodgers, Andrew McCabe.

A follow up now to last night's reporting on sort of presidential politics, and New York Jets quarterback and potential RFK Jr. running mate Aaron Rodgers, namely that he has privately shared false conspiracy theories about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 with two people that we know of.

CNN's Pamela Brown who says that Rodgers told her at a party in 2013 that the shooting was a government inside job. And another who CNN gave anonymity so as to prevent harassment, who says that Rodgers said, quote, "Sandy Hook never happened" and quote, "all those children never existed. They were actors."

Today on social media, Rodgers said, quote, "As I'm on the record saying in the past, what happened in Sandy Hook was an absolute tragedy. I am not and have never been of the opinion that the events did not take place," end quote. Coming up, a report on how a conspiracy theory in Arizona left one county with five tons of ballot paper that cost taxpayers there hundreds of thousands of dollars and it's useless. The question is, how did it all start? Well, it was fear of bamboo-laced ballots. Details next.



COOPER: ?Last night, we told you how in the wake of persistent lies about rigged ballots and phony votes in 2020, election officials in two states have become the victims of swatting. That's when someone makes a fake call to police claiming there's been a crime at some home and then police arrive in full tactical gear scaring whoever is actually in the home.

Arizona is another state where election denialism has been persistent. Our Donie O'Sullivan tonight has -- well he's been reporting on it for years. Tonight he brings us a strange tale involving fears of China and supposed bamboo-laced ballots. Here's Donie.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a story about paper. Lots and lots of paper. Americans have been voting on paper for most of the country's history. But back in 2020, bizarre conspiracy theories about paper started to spread.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's looking for bamboo-laced ballots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fraudulent ballots were unloaded from a South Korean plane --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Into Arizona, and it was stuffed into the box.


O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): All of that led to this. Five tons worth nearly 200,000 of supposedly fraud proof ballot paper. It's currently lying on the floor of this warehouse in Phoenix, and no one is quite sure what to do with this.

O'SULLIVAN: Had there ever been a problem with the paper before?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no one's ever questioned the paper.

O'SULLIVAN: And then what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We get into 2020. There's rumors of bamboo in the paper and paper from China and a lot of different just stories that circulated. And so it just kind of went from there and people started questioning it.

O'SULLIVAN: As you were seeing that play out, what were you thinking?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That it was nuts.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Enter (ph) David Stevens, he ordered the paper.

O'SULLIVAN: Paper itself, ballot paper. People have concerns about that.


O'SULLIVAN: And what were those concerns?

STEVENS: That people were making their own ballots and then interjecting them into the system. They were coming from foreign countries. Maybe we can make our paper more secure, so we would know quicker or easier if it really is a valid Arizona ballot or if it is not.

O'SULLIVAN: Do you personally believe the bamboo paper thing?

STEVENS: I don't know much about it, other than they think it came from wherever.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Stevens is a top election official in Arizona's Cochise County. Cochise is home to Tombstone, but it's a place where election conspiracy theories won't seem to die. In 2022, election skeptics, delayed certification of the midterm elections here. Stevens' opponent in an upcoming election says he is part of the problem in Cochise.

O'SULLIVAN: Cochise has been in the headlines a lot the last few years because of elections, and mostly for bad reasons.

ANNE CARL (D), COCHISE COUNTY RECORDER CANDIDATE: It's an uphill battle because there are people who spread disinformation about our elections. This theory that there's a problem with our paper, so it was a solution in search of a problem because we've never had a problem with our ballot paper.

There are all kinds of safeguards and on top of other safeguards to make sure that the wrong ballot paper doesn't cause any problems.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Runbeck Election Services takes these huge rolls of paper and turn them into millions of ballots that are used across the country. But not these two rolls of special ballot guard paper ordered by David Stevens using a state grant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is a sample of the ballot guard paper. So when you shine on a black light, you get these UV fibers that now become apparent. Additionally, there's what's called an IR tagging, and it's a chemical in there that when you hold a scanner over it, it'll vibrate.


O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): A missed deadline and other bureaucratic snafus has put a halt to the so-called secure paper experiment. O'SULLIVAN: So, I mean, it's essentially $200,000 gone to waste?

STEVENS: A little less than that, but yes.

O'SULLIVAN: So this sounds like a bit of a nightmare.

STEVENS: I -- pretty much, yes. I want it to be over.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): But Adrian Fontes, Arizona's top election official, says Stevens' experiment shouldn't have started in the first place.

ADRIAN FONTES, ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, the economic costs of the conspiracy theories in Arizona are real dollars. Now, the paper that was purchased by this one county based on these conspiracy theories, that is absolutely useless. And we can't even use it. They can't use it. This is taxpayer dollars down the drain based on lies.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Stevens said he is not a conspiracy theorist, but in our conversation he didn't refuse any.

O'SULLIVAN: Do you accept Biden won the last election?

STEVENS: The election in Cochise County was fair and balanced and Trump won Cochise County, so --

O'SULLIVAN: Nationally?

STEVENS: That's where the numbers came out. So there were a lot of issues, but maybe there was an explanation for him. I don't know. To be fair, there's a lot of people who think 2016 was rigged. Hillary Clinton still thinks she won the election. Are they election deniers?

O'SULLIVAN: Democrats would say, well, look, our side didn't go attack the U.S. Capitol.

STEVENS: I wasn't there. I didn't go. We actually had some people here that went. I think they claim it was peaceful.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): But the facts are clear. January 6th was not peaceful. Hillary Clinton formally conceded to Donald Trump the morning after the election, and Arizona is stuck with tons of seemingly useless paper.


COOPER: Oh, Donie, Donie, Donie. Donie joins us now. So, this thing costs taxpayers $200,000. That guy said that there were a lot of issues with the election, there weren't. Actually factually. So what -- can this paper be used in upcoming election? Is there -- are taxpayers just out the $200,000?


O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): It looks like they're out right now. Yes. I mean, look important to state here, there isn't an issue based off all the experts. Other election officials in Arizona told us there's no problem with the paper.

COOPER: There's no bamboo infused paper.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): There's no bamboo in the paper. There's not coming out of planes in South Korea. So there wasn't a need, they say for this in the first place. Now there are talks about what are they going to do with this paper?

There was talk about potentially might put it out in public auction. But that, the experts tell us, might in itself actually create security issues to have this sort of paper just out there in the wild in the first place. So very much, truly the real physical manifestation of conspiracy theories in Arizona.

COOPER: Wow. Donie O'Sullivan, as always, thank you.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Thanks.

COOPER: Appreciate it.

Just ahead, with Haiti on edge, and delivery of food and other essentials disrupted, we'll talk with Sean Penn, the co-founder of the aid organization CORE, about what his teams on the ground are seeing now.



COOPER: Armed men ransacked and burned the home of Haiti's National Police Director General today, just one more example of violence that has been unleashed in recent weeks. Today, the United Nations said it is reducing its number of non-essential personnel.

One of the aid groups working in Haiti is CORE, which stands for Community Organized Relief Effort. Its co-founder is actor Sean Penn, who's been working in Haiti since the earthquake in 2010. They do work in the capital, Port-au-Prince, as well as other locations throughout the country.

Sean Penn joins me now. Sean, what's the situation for your team on the ground in Haiti?

SEAN PENN, CO-FOUNDER OF CORE: Well, since, you know, it got increasingly worse following the assassination of President Moise and the gang violence really rose up and the gangs that, as you know, had long themselves been exploited the opportunity to kind of carry this for themselves rather than being the arm of others.

And then the coalition that was put together by Barbecue, the gang leader. And it got to the point where most of our work in Port-au- Prince was having to beat up. People were working essentially from home. It was -- the threat level was that high. In the South, in particular, and in some of the rural areas, we were able to continue pretty much as normal.

COOPER: I mean, have you -- you've worked in Haiti now for a long time. Have you ever seen it like this before?

PENN: No, I had heard about it being like this back 2003, 2004, when it had really blown up. But then there was that large disarmament and things had been sure. It was still a tricky place, particular areas of the city were to be, you know, taken seriously, let's say.

But this became such mayhem. People who I'd known that had, you know, live their whole lives there and live through a lot of the tough times were reporting to me that they'd never seen anything like what this became.

COOPER: Are you -- you know, there's now this kind of coalition that's supposed to be formed and hopefully that would lead to, you know, elections and some sort of restoration of political process that could actually help Haiti move forward. I mean, are you at all optimistic in the near term?

PENN: Well, I don't know if optimistic is the word that I would use, but I'm certainly not pessimistic about it because I -- you know, without having the perspective of having been born and raised in Haiti as a Haitian, it's very hard to say what they might do with this moment.

Now that the -- that Henri has resigned, which has been one of the big demands of the gangs, if the things have calmed down, we may actually be able to, you know, gear back up into an operating mode. And some of the people, people who, you know, certainly oppose the gangs, are giving credit now to the fact that it was the gangs that were able to do this thing that so many wanted to have done.

Now, if that means that Haiti can look at it as a new beginning, then I would hope that the United States can look at it as a new beginning in Canada and France and all those three in particular so that we, you know -- for the -- maybe for the -- all together for the first time, listen to what the Haitians, how they want to do it and what they need. But I do think it's the kind of culture that can come to some kind of truth and reconciliation.

COOPER: As you mentioned, your organization CORE is still able to operate in other parts of Haiti out in the countryside, and in other cities, just not as much in Port-au-Prince as you were before. What kind of work are you still doing there?

PENN: Well, everything from agricultural products to food security programs, a lot of shelter programs, WASH programs. We diversified based on what the community leaders in the area where we work have partnered with us to do.

And we always stay there with a hand and, you know, disaster relief should, you know, in terms of flooding or storms and that sort of thing. And education is, you know, I think only, you know, now again going to be a principal part of what we do there.

COOPER: In terms of the biggest needs right now, what are some of the biggest concerns, Sean? PENN: Well, certainly security. And that's something that, you know, I've talked to Haitians that -- who are not looking to have foreign troops come in as peacekeepers, let's say, and create another MINUSTAH problem, but are looking for the training of their police, the resourcing of their police.

And then just as significant as the food security issues right now, this is a country, you know, that's threatening famine, threatened with famine if something isn't done aggressively.

COOPER: Sean Penn, thank you so much.

PENN: You bet.

COOPER: The news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.