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Conservative Seek GOP "Unity Ticket" To Stop Trump; Convention Battle Review; Supreme Court Nominee On Capitol Hill; Michigan Governor Grilled On Flint Water Crisis; Flint Mom Outraged Over Capitol Hill Hearing; Flint Mom Confronts EPA Chief Face-To-Face; Inside Rebel-Held Syria; Kerry: ISIS Responsible For Genocide. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 17, 2016 - 21:00   ET



[21:00:25] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good evening from the battle field they call the 2016 Republican Primary. We have breaking news from that battle field, a rear guard effort to keep the party's frontrunner getting the nomination. The story it keeps generating headlines, a lights of which we have not seen in generations.

Today conservative leaders met in Washington to essentially plan ways of stopping Donald Trump. Quin Hillyer is the group's spokesperson, he was there, he joins us now. Quin, thanks for being with us. Your group conservatives against Trump, still believes there is a candidate who can win by a clear majority that's not Trump. How so?

QUIN HILLYER, SPOKESMAN, CONSERVTIVES AGAINST TRUMP: Well if we have a unity ticket, if the other candidates, including ones that have gotten out of the race are ban together and pool their resources, we think that Donald Trump can be held with a substantial lack of a majority. Not just, you know, barely eking out but we think another anti-Trump candidate can get a clear majority, fair and square out in the open, above board. No rules fights just by winning the votes of the public and winning the votes of the delegates.

COOPER: So how does your group hope to make that happen because clearly all the candidates would have to, current candidates would have to agree on that other than Trump, I mean you have Cruz and Kasich who clearly believe they should be the sole candidate.

HILLYER: Well there's still plenty of time for the candidates to pull together for them to do the math, for them to look at the polls and for them to figure out what might be the strongest combination as a ticket or something like that. But it clearly can be done, the arithmetic is still there. Look only something like just over 50 percent of the delegates have already been awarded. And of the ones that have been awarded, Trump has won less than 50percnt.

If he stays under 50 percent, in the upcoming contests, he might get wiped out next week in both Utah and Arizona. Then all of a sudden, he does not look like an inevitable winner and people will start to say, "Hey, we can really do this". COOPER: But you have both candidates, I mean both Cruz and Kasich believe they have a path. And John Kasich, you know, has been fighting hard. He just won in Ohio. He's now saying he has the wind at his back and that the map looks more favorable for him. So why would either of those two drop out?

HILLYER: Well, as I said, they would pool their resources based on upcoming contests.

COOPER: What does that mean, though?

HILLYER: If one of them, well, if, for instance, one of them wins both Utah and Arizona and which are the two that come up next Tuesday, and then another one does worse than expected, all of a sudden, they start to do the arithmetic again and one of them might say, you know, maybe I can't do this, but I can certainly stop Trump and I can get on the ticket and we can really put a good administration together, build a team that the American public will really like.

And so that's what we are suggesting as long time conservative activists, these are not party insiders but these are people who met today who have been in the trenches as Grassroots activists for 10, 20, 30, even 40 years.

COOPER: Quin Hillyer, I appreciate you are being with us thank you very much.

Back with the panel, Bill Press, Bakari Sellers, Gloria Borger, Kayleigh McEnany, Margaret Hoover and Ross Douthat.

Ross I'll start with you. What do you make of look Quin is saying there?

ROSS DOUTHAT, NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: Well, I mean we know what's going to happen. We don't know who is going to win Arizona, but it's likely to be Trump and if isn't Trump, it's going to be Ted Cruz. So basically, you know, Quin is too polite to say it but there isn't going to be a Kasich-Cruz to get the only imaginable scenario is a Cruz-Kasich unity ticket, but frankly nothing we've seen from Kasich's campaign to date suggest he's particularly interested in that.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Then it John Kasich, if I recall correctly told Ms. Gloria Borger that he'd be the worst vice president in history?


DOUTHAT: If people have said a lot of things in this I don't walk back, including pundits.


KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would love Quin just said. I just heard Quin say that he wants to build a ticket the American people will really like. It's not Quin's job to build a ticket. It's the American people to select who they would really like. He's talking about a unity ticket between Kasich and Cruz. Well here is the problem right now if Donald Trump would roughly 670 delegates, Cruz has that 411, you have Kasich at 169.

When you look at the map going forward, when you look at New York, when you look New Jersey, when you look at Connecticut, Kasich is poised to do well in those states Ted Cruz is not. So Kasich may go up in the delegate count a bit. Cruz may go up a little bit but Trump is poise to do exceedingly well on the map going forward.

[21:05:03] So cobbling together a fractured ticket base on two people who are very below Trump ...


DOUTHAT: What's you need to do is in when what Cruz needs to do again, because realistically, Kasich is ...

COOPER: That is where started now.

BORGER: Right.

DOUTHAT: That's what we're talking about. Cruz needs to win the west and that means ideally winning Arizona, which will be very difficult but it ultimately means winning California. And you can see a scenario even where Cruz and Kasich separately, Kasich wins the bay area basically and Cruz tries to win the inland empire because California this is crucial it's winner take all by Congressional district, so it's basically dozens of separate primaries.

COOPER: But it's also odd base on the belief that anybody who likes Kasich is going to be willing to vote for a President Cruz, which is, you know, not necessarily the case.

BILL PRESS, LIBERAL COMMENTATOR AND AUTHOR: I think this whole thing is fantasy land, I mean unity ticket, come on, there was sevenths it was once 16 versus 1 and there was talk about, we've got to get together against Trump. Whatever happened? Now we're down to, we only have two left versus Trump and they really think they'll get together, it's not going to happen. It easier to get two together

BORGER: What if they stop Donald Trump? By the way, the art of the deal, et cetera, et cetera, what to stop Donald Trump from going to Ted Cruz, they did had that bromance at one point. Now they seem to hate each other but what's to stop Trump from going to Cruz and saying be my vice president.

DOUTHAT: Please, as a democrat, is there any way Trump can make that happen.

BORGER: Now it could be.

DOUTHAT: I go for that. I vote for that.

BORGER: OK, so it could be Trump and Kasich but you could make the point that Cruz has shown the ability to get more votes than Kasich. It would be the Republican establishment nightmare but the conservatives who met today might be able to live with that because they believe that Cruz is a true conservative where they think Donald Trump is not.

SELLERS: I don't think that fix is the problem that there many in the Republican Party are having. A Trump-Cruz ticket exacerbates the problem because one of the thing, Lindsey Graham is having this issue and the rest of the Republican Party are having this issue we're trying to maintain some semblance of power in the United States Senate.

BORGER: But Trump has things there.

SELLERS: And that's not going to happen with Trump and Cruz.

MCENANY: But no, they represent what is right in this election, Cruz and Trump together, they are taking 60 to 70 percent of the vote. They are the outsiders, Ted Cruz is the man who looks at Mitch McConnell and called him a liar in the Senate.

COOPER: Aren't we ignoring the other thing which is that, I mean if this anti-Trump effort moves forward, doesn't it just make all these Trump voters, and there are a lot of them. I mean there's more of them right now than for any other individual candidate, Republican side, it doesn't that make them feel disenfranchised and very possibly not even come out to vote come the general election?

MARGARET HOOVER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well I mean there's a question about all the people that he's bringing out anyway, Anderson, whether they've come to vote out before in the first place anyway I mean there sort of disenfranchised white voters who haven't traditionally voters.

COOPER: But Republicans have enthusiasm on their side right now at least more than the Democrats, it seems.

HOOVER: But is there that enthusiasm for Donald Trump and against Donald Trump, look, it's talking about like, oh, is there Cruz-Trump, Trump-Kasich, I mean this is like a mind-numbing, mind-boggling like a experiment that is so hypothetical and so unrealistic. And what it does demonstrate is the party is not united. And any time the Republican Party isn't united, we lose national elections.

And so it doesn't mean, I mean, I -- it's very hard to see, look, I mean the conservative movement is not in, the conservative movement has come out. And it is not the leaders, the conservative not come to other, like when Ted Cruz saying, never Trump, never Trump, never Trump.

MCENANY: That's just a few days ago. Just a few days ago.

HOOVER: And the Never Trump movement is more thing into a Ted Cruz movement. And there's no way that Ted Cruz and Donald Trump then pair up. Then a house divided just doesn't.

MCENANY: The Never Trump movement is an invention of the leadership. They are the ones meeting, they are the one trying to stop Trump, a poll came out a few days ago and NBC polls showing 33 percent of Sanders voters said they could not see themselves voting for Hillary. And we're not talking about a never Hillary movement.

PRESS: Don't believe that poll.

MCENANY: This is not being orchestrated from the top.


PRESS: Now there is also, you know, by it's based on nothing.

SELLERS: But there's also nobody to bring the Republican Party together. It's sure not Mitt Romney.

MCENANY: Donald Trump can.

SELLERS: It's not Marco Rubio. It's definitely not Donald Trump.

MCENANY: Why are you saying that? I mean I ...

COOPER: But Bakari's point though I mean we had a lot of elections, were, you know, where there been a tough battle and supporters of one candidate and Hillary Clinton for instance and set of, never vote for Barck Obama.

DOUTHAT: Yes. Correct.

COOPER: And things change once a candidate is named, just as if Donald Trump gets the nomination. It's very possible and look, Lindsey Graham who said its being shot in the head and being poisoned. It's like offering to poisoned, so I mean a lot of had been changed.

DOUTHAT: But Trump is different. Trump is not a figure like, I mean the historical comparable is like a Barry Goldwater and George McGovern.

COOPER: George Wallace.

DOUTHAT: Candidates, who lost, who lost, right. Who lost big and had some members, there were Democrats who wouldn't support McGovern, there were Republicans who wouldn't support Goldwater. Trump is beyond that. He is in, yes, more a weird mix of George Wallace, Ross Perot and, you know, these candidates who are so far outside the - not just the party establishment but the world that most conservative voters operate in.

[21:10:04] MCENANY: That's right, do you know what people said in June when Trump got into the race? They said his unfavorabilities were so high, he could never win. In fact they said of all 106 presidential candidates we've had since 1980, no one has had worst unfavorable than Trump. He moved those numbers and he is now the presumptive nominee, that he is defying boundaries.


DOUTHAT: But he is defying boundaries.

MCENANY: It is not.


HOOVER: Go to a very respective Waukee (ph) political party ...

MCENANY: And it is not in active.

HOOVER: It's what's inaccurate is the unfavorable they have moved outside of the Republican Party.

MCENANY: I'm not talking within the Republican Party, we're talking June numbers, that's within the Republican Party.


DOUTHAT: Within the Republican Party, he has decent favorable numbers. But he also has, he also has some of the weakest support and weakest ratings of any potential major party nominee since Walter Mondale. He's in Walter Mondale territory.

MCENANY: How did have the Republican.

DOUTHAT: How did Walter Mondale do in a general election?

MCENANY: Well, Water Mondale didn't move unfavorable, high unfavorable higher than anyone ever before within the Republican Party, too huge positive ratings but he has the ability to defy ratings.


BORGER: He hasn't done that, Kayleigh, he doesn't done that, let's say OK, but if you're going to run in a general election, you don't just run with Republicans?

MCENANY: Exactly.

BORGER: You, what does he have a 60-something for 60.

DOUTHAT: 68 percent.

BORGER: 68 percent unfavorable.


COOPER: But to Kayleigh's argument, I feel since she's the only real Trump supporter here, I want to back up her argument and push back on this a little bit, Donald Trump has defied the obvious the rules of politics.

BORGER: Absolutely.

COOPER: And every step of the way. So aren't you all still applying the old rules of politics? Who knows in a general election what Donald Trump is capable of doing it?


SELLERS: A lot of my friends -- I am not relishing. I'm not like ecstatic or taking Trump lightly by any stretch, in fact it's more pride in being able to beat back on that George Wallace-esque xenophobia in November that I'm excited about doing.

But, you know, you have to understand that Donald Trump has galvanized something in this country on the left and it's not even on the left. I mean it's just with people of color that we haven't seen before and the coalition that it takes to win the presidency is not the same coalition that's required Reagan Democrats in 1980.

BORGER: Right.

SELLERS: Barack Obama has fundamentally changed that and shown us how it did.

COOPER: And it changed even since Barack Obama?

SELLERS: And Barack Obama didn't get 271 electoral votes.

COOPER: Right.

SELLERS: Barack Obama crushed Mitt Romney with 330 that electoral vote.

COOPER: We've got a lot more to talk about including what a convention battle to stop Donald Trump might look like. The history on this is just fascinating the possibility, is this time, it could make history all over again.

And later this.


REP. MATT CARTWRIGHT, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: ... I've had about enough of your false contrition and phony apologies.


COOPER: Michigan's governor and others in the grilling they got in Washington over the toxic waters in Flint.


[21:16:14] COOPER: On tonight's breaking news in an effort to stop Donald Trump raises an actual question. If the battle continues on to the convention floor in Cleveland, just walk with that it would that look like and what does history say about how it might end. Our Tom foreman looks ahead in part by looking back.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's say it happens like this. Trump roars into the Republican convention in the lead but short of the delegates he needs to clinch the nomination. A great fight breaks out among the campaigns yet in vote after vote, no one can seal the deal. Is it possible some new arrival could emerge from nowhere to become the nominee?

Our Mark Preston studies such things for CNN.

MARK PRESTON, CNN EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Sure it absolutely can happen.

FOREMAN: How? Step one, a week before the convention begins in Cleveland in July, a Republican committee will meet and political pundits already expect they will get rid of a rule requiring any candidate to win at least eight states to be nominated. That opens the door wide, not only to current contenders but to others as well.

PRESTON: Anybody can be brought in at that point. Anybody, somebody well certainly a Republican ...

FOREMAN: But it's not campaigning.

PRESTON: I mean it would certainly have to be a Republican.

FOREMAN: But it's not campaigning at all?

PRESTON: Correct, you know one day, one name that keeps coming up is Paul Ryan, although he's said that he has no interest in it. It could be Jeb Bush. It could be Newt Gingrich.

FOREMAN: Step two, convince someone like that to play peacemaker at a convention in chaos. And step three, take another vote. If the new arrival hits the magic number, that person is the nominee. It's just that simple, or maybe not. Franklin Roosevelt emerged from a contested convention in 1932. He led the voting going in but had to fight off a stiff effort to replace him before finally wining the nomination and then the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The motion has carried and from governor Stevens is nominee of this convention by affirmation.

FOREMAN: He's still a Democrat, Adelaide Stevenson won a contested nomination in 1952 but lost the general election. Same with Thomas Dewey in 1948 for the Republicans, so it's rare.

PRESTON: Do I think it's going to happen? Probably not.

FOREMAN: But for all the debating, campaigning and voting, it really could happen. And the fallout from that could be historic indeed.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: And we are back with the panel. Ross, I mean, is there any chance a draft candidate could come to a contested convention in your opinion, and actually as a nominee? DOUTHAT: Any chance in this election cycle? Yes, Anderson, there is some chance because there's some chance of just about anything happening given what we've seen today. It obviously seems very unlikely. I think the most plausible scenario is if Trump falls short, meaning he both fall short of the threshold and can't round up some of the uncommitted delegates beforehand and then he loses on the first ballot, or, you know, has a plurality but not a majority.

Then the delegates start being freed up. But at that point, most of those delegates if the Cruz and Kasich campaigns have been smart will have been pre committed to one them. So on the second ballot and then on the third ballot as more and more get uncommitted you'll see Cruz's numbers and Kasich's but probably most of Cruz's start to rise.

So you would probably bet on and then you do get into the point we were talking about unity ticket fantasy earlier, but then you get to the point where will Cruz-Kasich become sort the likely, the likely scenario. So to get to somebody else coming in you'd have to have something happen to stall that pattern where ...

COOPER: Trump doesn't have a really traditional campaign organization. I mean such a pretty small organization around him, like kind of a handful of people who are kind of with him.

[21:20:05] Does that put him at a disadvantage if it does get to a contested convention that he doesn't have a sort of a deep bench of, you know, people who are going to be growing up to sleeves and in the mix?

HOOVER: Yes. I mean the answer is yes. What you do is what you need is people on the ground who have the political chops, the political know-how and savvy to sort of understand how to corral people and know the process in order to not game it but to put it into your favor, the tip the skills. I mean it is at that point organizational.

COOPER: Can he just fire up those people too? I mean

HOOVER: Sure I mean certainly he is certainly has time to hire up those people before he gets to Cleveland that if he is smart, he will.

BORGER: But he's already doing it.

HOOVER: He has he started?

BORGER: Yes. Their campaign is doing it, as has every other campaign. Sending out e-mails, calling people and saying, here's your delegate convention. You've got to go to this. You've got to represent us.

What they've got to do is not only make sure on the first ballot these people are with them but then if, by chance, there's a second ballot, make sure that these people remain your people. Because once it's open season, it's open season. And a lot of this state of delegates are of the political ilk who might be more establishment.

SELLERS: The question is what happens after you leave this brokered convention? If Donald Trump goes into this brokered convention with 1,000 delegates, and then somehow gets it taken away from him ...

BORGER: Well then maybe he happens as an independent.

SELLERS: ... no what happens ...

HOOVER: Exactly.

SELLERS: What happens to all of those? I mean and you just contrast that.


SELLERS: Let me just -- paint the picture. You have this brokered convention where lets say Cruz or Kasich or Mitt Romney or whomever -- whomever you all choose today comes out on top and it's not Donald Trump whatever. And then the next week you have Bernie Sanders standing from the floor in Philadelphia saying, I, too, support Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama saying, I support Hillary Clinton. And they come out unified. I mean just look at the dynamics.

COOPER: Kayleigh, what's your response to that?

MCENANY: It would ensure Hillary Clinton's presidency is what it would do. Is if you took the nomination from Donald Trump, because I would advocate for him to run third party. I know a lot of Trump supporters would advocate for him to run third party. He would feel like something was taken from him and the American people who voted on him in large number.


BORGER: You would said it would be worth losing the presidency.


PRESS: I think this whole conversation is too little, too late. I mean they had their chance to stop Donald Trump. And they did not. Its good to hear Paul Ryan say, criticize Donald Trump now but he never did anything about the Tea Party which kind of created Donald Trump. John McCain criticizes Donald Trump.

He gave us Sarah Palin. Mitt Romney criticizes Donald Trump. He welcome his endorsement in 2008. They have created Donald Trump. They're going to I think have to live with him as their nominee. And if he has the most delegates going into Cleveland, he deserves the nomination.

MCENANY: We saw in exit polls last week 50, sometimes I think 60 percent of the electorate in these states felt betrayed by the Republican Party. How would they all of a sudden feel unbetrayed by the Republican Party? If the Republican Party ...

PRESS: They've been more betrayed by the Republican Party.

MCENANY: Exactly right.

DOUTHAT: There are no good outcomes ...

BORGER: Right.

DOUTHAT: ... for the Republican Party in this scenario. I mean, I'm a little skeptical that Trump would run a third party bid because he would actually have to pay for it personally on a scale that he hasn't had to pay for things yet. I think the more likely scenario is he just goes around the country hosting, you know, town halls and press conferences for two months, which would be, covered on Cable News, I imagine.

And, you know, trashing the Cruz-Kasich ticket and so on and that would probably help deliver the White House to Hillary Clinton. Absolutely.

COOPER: I want to thank all our panelists.

Coming up, the Supreme Court Justice nominee on Capitol Hill. Merrick Garland met with some Democratic senators today. So the questions is will any Republicans follow suit or they stick by Mitch McConnell's promise to not budge? That's next.


[21:27:41] COOPER: Judge Merrick Garland has been Supreme Court nominee for less than two days but already finds himself in the middle of a bitter Partisan fight. Caroline was on the Capitol Hill today and he met with some Democratic senators. Mitch McConnell has promised that Garland will not get the same courtesy from Republicans. But there could be signs to not all the colleagues agree with that strategy.

Our Justice Correspondent Pamela Brown joins us now. So, he made the first trip to Capitol Hill. What's the latest on more thing stand?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. This is his first day of lobbying for himself on the Hill today, Anderson. He met privately with Democratic Senators Harry Reid and Patrick Leahy. After the meeting, Reid came out and said he believes Garland will ultimately get approval given the public pressure on Republicans who have vowed not to hold hearings. He also scolded Republicans saying they're putting politics above the law to get more people to the polls in November.

But, Anderson this is likely not Merrick Garland the last trip to the Hill considering some Republicans now were saying they'll meet with him.

COOPER: I mean what is the evidence the Republicans are softening their stance or is there any?

BROWN: Well, last night, as since we spoke, there have been seven Republican senators we've counted so far that we know of that said that they are open and meeting with Merrick Garland after the recess. Some of these Republicans are actually changing their tune after initially saying they wouldn't meet with President Obama's nominee no matter who it is. In fact Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley who was initially noncommittal came out today and said he's willing to meet with dictators, so he's happy to meet with a decent person like Garland if he's willing to meet with dictators. And is worth noting some of these Republicans, Anderson are in the midst of a re-election campaign and Democrats hope this public pressure will cause more Republicans to change course.

COOPER: So if, I mean if the next president is a Democrat, would Republicans push for a hearing for Garland in November with the belief that the next president might try to push somebody who is far more liberal?

BROWN: That's been the speculation. But so far two Republican leaders came out today, Chuck Grassley and John Cornyn. And they said that they it would be a mistake to consider Garland during the lame duck session after the elections. In fact Grassley called it intellectually dishonest since the Republican Party line all along has been to let the people decide in the upcoming election. But other Republican sources I've spoken Hill have said Garland has the best chance of getting through in a lame duck if a Democrat is elected president, so we will certainly have to see what happens here. Anderson.

[21:30:04] COOPER: All right, Pamela Brown, we'll be watching. Thanks very much.

And announcing that nomination, President Obama he talked about Garland's work at the Justice Department where he oversaw the federal response the Oklahoma City bombing. Now in the aftermath the devastation that left 168 people dead, including many children, the president noted how Garland worked side by side with first responders and served a community that was in obvious, horrible pain.


BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: Merrick also made a concerted effort to reach out to the victims and their families. Updating them frequently on the case's progress. Everywhere he went, he carried with him in his briefcase, the program from the memorial service with each of the victims' names inside. A constant searing reminder of why he had to succeed.


COOPER: He's called his work on the Oklahoma City case the most important thing he's ever done.

Boris Sanchez has a look back.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN, NEW YORK: With debris still smoldering in the streets and bodies still buried in the rubble of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, colleagues say Federal Prosecutor Merrick Garland saw an opportunity to serve. MERRICK GARLAND, UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS, CHIEF JUDGE: I was given one evening to pack and say goodbye to my 3-year-old and 5-year- old daughters and my wife and we began from there trying to find out who had blown up the building and where the Ryder truck was found.

SANCHEZ: As the name Timothy McVeigh made national headlines in April 1995, Garland was getting an up close look at the destruction. Among rescue workers digging a massive crime scene for signs of life. The Harvard graduate took command of an enormous investigation.

GARLAND: There are witnesses that can tie him to the mercury and tie him to Ryder truck.

SANCHEZ: Piecing together evidence to try and bring justice for the 168 victims, including 19 children and their families.

JAMIE S. GORELICK, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Merrick was on the ground at the get-go. And the reason he was there was we needed somebody who would make sure we had a flawless prosecution. Who would relay to the victims. Who would coordinate law enforcement. He brought all of those qualities, and then a great deal of heart to that process.

SANCHEZ: Jamie Gorelick, a friend and colleague, said his hands-on approach had a tremendous impact on those most affected by the bombing.

GORELICK: He is really smart. He is very careful. He is a sweet person. You could see that yesterday in his remarks. There's a sweetness to him.

SANCHEZ: Those closest to the investigation also noticed the father of two's meticulousness, refusing to take in evidence that wasn't obtained via subpoena, even if it was voluntarily handed over.

To be sure McVeigh and his accomplice Terry Nichols wouldn't get off on a technicality. He went by the book, literally. A colleague told "The Washington Post" that Garland carried around a paperback version of the federal rules of criminal procedure. That approach helped secure convictions and help Oklahoma City move forward after the deadliest home-grown terrorist attack on US soil.

GARLAND: Most significant thing I worked on. The thing that I feel like I make the biggest, I was able to make the biggest personal contribution to something. Lots of things lawyers work on they don't feel like in the end you don't know whether makes any difference from that and not other people could have done the same, but I think being there makes you feel like when you had a role to play in the investigation and helping pull people together.

SANCHEZ: Boris Sanchez, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Just ahead, House lawmakers Grill Michigan's Governor about why he waited so long to do anything about lead-tainted drinking water and the struggling City of Flint and how the governor handled that grilling.


GOV. RICK SNYDER, (R) MICHIGAN: I kick myself every single day.



[21:37:56] COOPER: Well, some of the adjectives used to describe today's testimony in the questioning blistering, withering, unrelenting. It's a fair description of the grilling of Michigan's Republican Governor faced today on Capitol Hill. Governor Rick Snyder he was there to testify, of course about the lead contaminated drinking water in Flint, Michigan.

A man-made public health crisis, and that's important to remember this was a man-made crisis. It happened on his watch. A disaster that state officials really ignored for 18 months. Even in the face of growing evidence.

Also testifying before the House Oversight Committee, the head of the environment protection agency. Now from the start we should point out this hearing was incredibly contentious.

Here's Sara Ganim.


SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Governor Rick Snyder desperately trying to hang on to his job.

SNYDER: And I kick myself every single day about what I could have done to do more.

GANIM: But members of Congress were not sympathetic.

CARTWRIGHT: Plausible deniability only works when it's plausible. And I'm not buying that you didn't know about any of this until October 2015. You were not in a medically induced coma for a year. And I've had about enough of your false contrition and your phony apologies?

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D) MASSCHUSETTS: We have no evidence of you traveling to Flint for seven months, Governor. I'm glad you're sorry now. I'm glad you're taking action now. But it's a little bit late for the kids in Flint.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D) MARYLAND: The chief-of-staff told you about these concerns and you did nothing or he didn't tell you and you are an absentee Governor. You need to resign.

GANIM: It wasn't just Governor Snyder who faced blame. Republicans mostly focused their sights on President Obama's EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, CHAIRMAN, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Well, you just don't get it. You just don't get it. You still don't get it.

REP. PAUL GOSAR (R) ARIZONA: Not only am I asking you to be fired. If you're not going to resign, you should be impeach.

GANIM: Snyder and McCarthy face often the contentious hearing often bickering over who is more to blame.

SNYDER: Administrator McCarthy just get on the phone and call me. This is that not technical compliance again. This is that culture that got us in this mess to start with. Where is common sense?

[21:40:08] GINA MCCARTHY, ADMINISTRATOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: I will take responsibility for not pushing hard enough. But I will not take responsibility for causing this problem. It was not EPA at the helm when this happened.

GANIM: McCarthy deflected several questions about whether the EPA did anything wrong.

REP. BUDDY CARTER, (R) GEORGIA: With common sense not have told you, hey, stop drinking the water.

MCCARTHY: Not at that point in time.

CARTER: Not that that point in time, and what point in time?

GANIM: As the questions continued, Flint residents protested in the hallways like they have been for months. E-mail show Governor Snyder's top staff members knew of problems four months before action was taken and the public was warned. Some members of the committee weren't buying Snyder's claim that he wasn't looped in.

CUMMINGS: There's no doubt in my mind that in a corporate CEO did what Governor Snyder's administration has done, he would be hauled up on criminal charges.

GANIM: Sarah Ganim, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Now should point out at the Democratic debate in Flint, both Democratic candidates, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have called for Governor Snyder to step down. Also said that they wanted to see the results of investigations that hearing room today was packed. They needed overflow room to hold everyone who came to watch it, including dozens of people, as you saw in that report, from Flint.

Now among those people was a woman named Leann Walters. Now back in January, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta met Walters' 4-year-old twin sons. And like thousands of children in Flint, they drank the lead-tainted water. One of the twins is much smaller than his brother. His mom says he's barely grown at all over the last year.

Medical experts agree that there's no safe level of lead for children. A local doctor found that lead levels in Flint kids doubled and even tripled in some cases. Is hard to imagine after the city switched its water source to the Flint River to save money.

Leann Walters joins me tonight. Leann, there was obviously a lot of anger and a lot of finger pointing from politicians. Do you feel you got the answers you wanted?

LEANN WALTERS, FLINT, MICHIGAN RESIDENT: No, I really feel like there should have been some more in-depth questions that were asked today. I mean I'm grateful for everything that they did ask, but I really feel like there needed to be more timeline questions that were asked today. Is trying to get us closer to the answer to what happened.

COOPER: Do you think there was enough of a focus on what's going to be done to actually help you and other families?

WALTERS: No, I don't. I don't think we got any really straight answers on that today. One of the things that Snyder had talked about today that really stuck out for me was when he was talking about the water infrastructure money that is put to the side for the whole state of Michigan. That is completely unacceptable.

COOPER: Now you are saying Flint should be the priority? The people of Flint have been poisoned. That should be priority number one?

WALTERS: Oh, absolutely. You know, you didn't change the water source in Michigan for the entire state. You changed it for the city of Flint. Therefore, as, you know, Snyder had final approval on that. The money needs to go to Flint first and foremost, then once our infrastructure is fixed, then the rest of the state.

COOPER: You confronted the EPA Chief Gina McCarthy today after the hearing. What did you want to hear from her or hope to hear from here?

WALTERS: Well I don't agree for the fact she would not take any responsibility on the EPA shoulders today for what has transpired. I mean the MDEQ is primarily at fault for this but EPA plays a part it to and does share blame. And I actually confronted her face-to-face about some of her testimony because what she was saying was a lie.

COOPER: The lie is what, that they knew and they are not really owning up to it?

WALTERS: Well the lie was that when she was talking about -- when Miguel's report came out in June, that the reason why they didn't step up and move faster was because they said it was localized to one specific area. That is a lie. Knowing there was no corrosion control in place at that time, you cannot definitively say it was localized to one area because you're breaking a federal law.

COOPER: Who ultimately is to blame here in your eyes? I mean, who do you feel holds the most responsibility or is frankly there a lot of blame to go around because there were a lot of hands in this?

WALTERS: There is a lot of blame to go around to all levels of this. But essentially, you know, she was making -- Gina McCarthy was making Governor Snyder look good today by the fact of what she was doing. And it's sad because as the leader of the EPA, the good people that work for the EPA, the people in region five that are on the ground in Flint really trying to do good and make a difference are the ones who are going to suffer for it was blow back today from what she said. And the way she presented the EPA today.

COOPER: We heard from the Democratic candidates when they were in Flint. Both now think Governor Snyder should resign. Do you think he should?

[21:45:04] WALTERS: Honestly, I truly believe at this point, you know, we should use his guilt to get what we need in regards to our infrastructure. Why not use it to get the people what they need.

COOPER: That what if somebody came in his place, he might not feel it that same sense of personal failure?

WALTERS: Well, not so much that. It just that with him already being so neck-deep into this, he's got the guilt of what's happened.

And I really feel it would hinder us time wise to, you know, have him resign or to have him be recalled in getting things done. It would make things go even slower than they are already going and they're going slow enough.

COOPER: And just finally how is your family doing?

WALTERS: My family is dealing with some serious health issues. My son is still not growing. My boys have speech issues and hand-eye coordination issues.

COOPER: Can you drink the water in your home now or do you still have to go travel, get bottled water to bathe to drink?

WALTERS: We still do bottled water. We will never trust the water source ever again just because we're told to.

COOPER: Leanne, thank you so much for being with us. And I'm so sorry for what you and your neighbors are going through.

WALTERS: Thank you.

COOPER: Hard to imagine what the people of Flint are going through and still are.

Coming up, the Secretary of State, John Kerry says, ISIS is responsible for genocide in Iraq and Syria. An exclusive look inside rebel-held Syria, the damage on the front lines.


[21:50:13] COOPER: Secretary of State, John Kerry said today there's a word for what ISIS is doing to minority groups in Iraq and Syria. That word, he said, is genocide. It's the first time the United States has made that kind of declaration since 2004, referring to (inaudible) 4. ISIS has just won a several forces that have put North Western Syria under siege from the Syrian army to Kurdish forces to Russian air strikes the impacts on civilians. Well, it's hard to overstate.

Our Senior International Correspondent, Clarissa Ward has done extraordinary reporting from inside Syria, at great risk to her own life. Here's her latest exclusive report, which we warn you contains traffic images.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is an all too common site in rebel held parts of Syria.

The moments after an air strike, day survivors stagger from the rubble. Those still trapped call out for help. The target this time, the Courthouse in Idlib City. Activists say the bombs were Russian.

When rebels took the provincial capital of Idlib, they saw it as a crucial opportunity to demonstrate that they could build their own state.

And they believe, that's exactly why the Russians bombed this Courthouse to undermine that effort.

Any civilian infrastructure is a potential target, including hospitals. Last month, four were hit in a single day. One in the City of Marathi Nomin was supported by doctors without borders. This is what remains of it now, at least 25 people were killed.

Doctor Mazen al-Saoud was the General Manager. He told us that Russian and regime forces target hospitals cynically and deliberately.

MAZEN AL-SAOUD, GENERAL MANAGER: They want to kill the maximum number of people. Also they want to forbid the area from having medical service. If there's no doctor, no nurse, no hospital, then there is no health care for the people and people will flee.

WARD: Is it possible that they did not know that this was a hospital?

AL-SAOUD: Everyone knows this is a hospital. There was even a sign that said, "This is a hospital".

But if they didn't know, this is an even bigger disaster, because if you were bombing a building like this without knowing it's a hospital, it means you were hitting totally indiscriminately.

WARD: Against the backdrop of this vicious war, Islamist factions have gained the upper hand here, among them Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. The landscape is peppered with signs shunning western democracy and urging all men to join the Jihad. One encourages women to cover up completely.

Dr. Ferasal Jundi (ph) works at the only hospital still standing in Marathi Nomin. He's no militant but sees this conflict in black and white. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole of the Syrian people is against ISIS and against extremism, but we see that the Russians are bombing far from ISIS. And they're focused on civilian areas.

WARD: I asked him why he doesn't leave Syria.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I did that, I would abandon my conscience. This is our country, we can't desert it. If we left, then we have sold our morals. Who would treat the people? I could very easily leave, but we will remain steadfast.

I am prepared to die rather than to leave. And I will carry on no matter what.

WARD: Carry on in the faint hope that for the next generation of Syrians, it will be better.


COOPER: And Clarissa joins us now. I'm so glad you were able to get in just to show the world what is going on there.

People on the ground blame Russia for these air strikes. Can they tell whether it's Russian or, you know, Assad forces doing the air strikes?

WARD: Well, so, as you said, there's only two players in the skies, in these area, and that's the Russian air force and the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

We reached out to the Russian's Defense Ministry, we ask them if they knew about these attacks, on these Courthouses, on these hospitals. And they categorically denied having any involvement. They denied killing any civilians or targeting civilian infrastructure.

But we went and looked at the report that doctors without borders put out in 2015 where they do a breakdown of how many medical facilities were hit in rebel held areas.

[21:55:09] And they found that 82 medical facilities were hit in 2015. And the vast majority of them happened in October, just after the Russian military intervention begin. And I can tell you as well, Anderson that looking at these buildings and at the intensity of the bombardment and the sophistication of the weaponry and the bombs that were clearly used, all of it would seem to indicate that it does not make sense that Russia had no part in these attacks.

COOPER: And John Kerry has now said what ISIS is doing is genocide. Is that really, I mean, is that more symbolic at this point?

WARD: I think that's exactly what it is. It's symbolic. And there's no question to some of the minorities on the ground and Iraq and Syria who have suffered at the hands of ISIS. There will be some comfort in that.

What many Syrian people will be saying, however, is why does the U.S. prioritized the crimes of ISIS over the crimes of Bashar al-Assad? Because when you look at the numbers of people who have been killed, Assad has actually killed hundreds of thousands more. So, it's an important symbolic gesture, but many people in Syria will feel that it doesn't go far enough.

COOPER: Clarissa, thanks so much. We'll be right back.


[22:00:01] COOPER: And that does it for us. Thanks for watching. We'll see you again at midnight eastern for another edition of "360".

"CNN TONIGH"T with Don Lemon starts now.