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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Biden And Harris Appear Together For The First Time As Running Mates; Interview With Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA). Aired 8-9p ET
Aired August 12, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Well, all right, thank you very much, Manu. And thanks very much as always to all of you for being here with me. AC 360 with Anderson starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: And good evening. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris appeared together for the first time just a short time ago roughly 24 hours after the campaign announced that Biden had picked her as his vice presidential running mate, and that for the first time in American politics, a black woman, also a South Asian American woman would be on a major party presidential ticket.
And the significance of the event can't be overstated, in part because of the political history being made but also, because this was the first time that American voters in particular Democrats got to see what kind of message and energy these two former opponents for the nomination would bring in their fight against President Trump.
Biden began the event, while he spent a significant amount of time hitting the President on his record on racial justice, the coronavirus and environment, he first spoke about the history that Harris's election would mean for millions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: As a child of immigrants, she knows personally how immigrant families enrich our country, as well as the challenges of what it means to grow up black and Indian American in the United States of America.
Her story is America's story. Different from mine and many particulars, but also, not so different in the essentials.
She has worked hard. She's never backed down from a challenge and she has earned each and every accolades and achievements that she has gained, many of them often in the face of obstacles that others put in her way but never quit.
And this morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up, especially little black and brown girls who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities, but today, today just maybe they're seeing themselves for the first time in a new way as the stuff of President and Vice Presidents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator Harris also spoke to the history of being made with her nomination, but much of her time was devoted to attacking President Trump and his administration's overall poor management of the country promising fundamental change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Everything we care about, our economy, our health, our children, the kind of country we live in, it's all on the line.
We're reeling from the worst public health crisis in a century. The President's mismanagement of the pandemic has plunged us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and we're experiencing a moral reckoning with racism and systemic injustice that has brought a new collision of conscience to the streets of our country demanding change.
America is crying out for leadership. Yet, we have a President who cares more about himself than the people who elected him. A President who is making every challenge we face even more difficult to solve.
But here is the good news, we don't have to accept the failed government of Donald Trump and Mike Pence. In just 83 days, we have a chance to choose a better future for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, it was a preview of what Americans can expect of her as a campaigner and one Mike Pence can expect of her as a debater.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)`
HARRIS: This virus has impacted almost every country, but there's a reason it has hit America worse than any other advanced nation. It's because of Trump's failure to take it seriously from the start.
His refusal to get testing up and running. His flip-flopping on social distancing and wearing masks. His delusional belief that he knows better than the expects.
All of that is reason and the reason that an American dies of COVID-19 every 80 seconds. It why countless businesses have had to shut their doors for good. It's why there is complete chaos over when and how to reopen our schools.
Mothers and fathers are confused and uncertain and angry about child care and the safety of their kids at school, whether they'll be in danger if they go or fall behind if they don't.
Trump is also the reason millions of Americans are now unemployed. He inherited the longest economic expansion in history from Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and then like everything else he inherited, he ran it straight into the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: President Trump has already taken several shots at Kamala Harris, something Biden took note of towards the end of his speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: It's going to be gratifying to see the strong enthusiastic reaction to Senator Harris as our next Vice President.
You know, it comes from people all over the country. It is already occurring. All over the country, all ideological views, all backgrounds.
Events, of course, we are predictable, some of them. It comes from all over except, of course, from Donald Trump's White House and his allies.
We all knew it was coming. You could have set your watches to it. Donald Trump has already started his attacks calling Kamala, quote, "nasty," whining about how she is quote, "mean to his appointees."
It's no surprise because whining is what Donald Trump does best, better than any President in American history.
Is anyone surprised Donald Trump has a problem with a strong woman or strong women across the board?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, shortly after that event, I spoke with the Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congresswoman Karen Bass, a former contender for the vice presidential slot herself.
Bass was excited about the nomination of her fellow Californian and spoke about the attacks on Kamala Harris that you just heard Joe Biden mention from President Trump.
COOPER: Congresswoman Bass, seeing Vice President Biden and Senator Harris together today for the first time since the announcement, I am wondering having been on the short list yourself what your impressions were.
REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Well, I thought it was very exciting. I think it an exciting moment in our history. You know, when she ran for the presidency, that was historic, and so now that she is going to be our next VP because I am positive about that, I am enjoying this moment in history.
COOPER: What do you think, I mean, for -- as a historical moment, what it means for the country and also, for the dynamics of this campaign?
BASS: Well, you know, after three and a half years of such a divisive President, the President that is clearly has just made racist remarks on a regular basis to see our ticket, to see the unity of Vice President Biden and Senator Harris on that stage together, to me, it was electric.
And I think it going to excite people. We are 80-plus days away and they can't go by fast enough.
So, I just believe that it's going to really energize folks in the way they need to be and we have to turn out and vote early, because there are so many shenanigans going on, on the other side to suppress our vote, and so I am hoping that this will add to the momentum.
COOPER: Do you worry about -- I mean, I know you seem optimistic they are going to win, but people were optimistic in 2016, as well, up until they weren't.
I'm wondering, just in terms of the kind of campaign this now is, it is going to be unlike anything we've seen before. Do you think it plays to the strength of a Biden-Harris ticket?
BASS: Well, you know, that's the difficulty is campaigning where you can't get out and be with people and shake hands and knock on doors, but I know that they will be, just like I will be Zooming day and night because there is so much at stake.
But you know, part of the complacency before was we had just come off of eight years of an incredible presidency, of normalcy in our country.
I think after three and a half years of what we've been through, after 160,000 dead Americans and I know not everybody had to die, I just think the circumstances are so profoundly different that people will be motivated in a way that they haven't before.
I think that's why they're spending so much time trying to suppress the vote.
COOPER: Clearly, one of the reasons Vice President Biden chose Kamala Harris, she has run obviously, a number of campaigns both in San Francisco, California and obviously, the run for President, as well.
She has been in the arena and taken parts in debates and knows generally what this -- what is ahead.
We've already seen sort of the line of attack that the White House seems to be developing, the President called Senator Harris nasty, which is a term he obviously uses for strong women who stand up to him.
I think he said she was just about the most liberal person in the U.S. Senate and I think today, he said that they are socialists essentially.
I'm wondering what you make of the attacks that are going to go after Senator Harris and her ability to deal with them.
[20:10:13] BASS: Well, first of all, she won't have a problem dealing with them
at all. I think that they don't know what to do. They don't know what their message is so they are just throwing spaghetti on a wall.
But what I believe is that Trump is going to resurrect the ghost of Joseph McCarthy and George Wallace. Everybody is going to be a socialist and he is going to be openly racist.
I mean, his messages to the suburbs, it's very clear what he is saying. He is saying black people are coming. That's what the message is. Latinos are coming.
COOPER: And Cory Booker is going to be in charge of it.
BASS: Exactly. And Cory Booker is going to be -- be aware Cory Booker might move in next to you, you should be so honored.
So, this is an old playbook. But the responsibility on us is to communicate, number one, to expose that this is very old. This has been done before, but also to communicate our message and our message of hope, of transformation, of normalcy, of empathy with an administration that -- I mean, the first job of the Commander-in-Chief is to protect his people.
This Commander-in-Chief really doesn't care about us. Otherwise, we wouldn't have 160,000 dead Americans.
COOPER: As someone who has worked closely with Senator Harris when she was the District Attorney of San Francisco. She also worked with others in Washington on police reform, what do you think she brings to some of the defining issues of this race, particularly racial justice?
BASS: Well, first of all, she brings her life experience. That's for sure. But she also brings her history of fighting for racial justice in whatever position that she's been in.
When I was in Sacramento in the legislature serving as Speaker, she was D.A. in San Francisco and we worked on criminal justice reform together.
We were both concerned about young people in the foster care system because we know that they fall between the cracks and wind up on the pathway to incarceration, so we worked on legislation related to that as well as juvenile justice and so I think that she understands the issues.
She has devoted her life to fighting for the same reforms and transformations that I believe are required in our country right now.
COOPER: You yourself have obviously had a really extraordinary career. I've got to ask, I mean, if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris win in November, California Governor Gavin Newsom can appoint somebody to Harris's Senate seat. Is that a job you'd be interested in?
BASS: Well, you know, outside of my singular focus on these next 80 days, I want to keep all the options available. COOPER: Congresswoman Karen Bass, I appreciate your time, thank you.
BASS: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, as we mentioned at the top of the program, President Trump and his allies wasted in time attacking Kamala Harris.
For more, let's go to Kaitlan Collins at the White House.
So, let's talk about the President's attacks on Harris, how they have evolved over the last 24 hours since the announcement?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not really in the way that you thought they would. We talked to some Trump advisers yesterday after the first briefing, you know, just moments after they announced that it was going to be Kamala Harris and they said that they believed he needed to have time to work on his message, what he was going to do, his line of attack.
But Anderson, we didn't really see that change by the time that he came out to the briefing today. He went after Senator Harris on things like fracking. He seemed to continue to be reading from a prepared list, but didn't have this line of attack that some of his aids and his allies were hoping he would have formed by now 24 hours in.
And the question is, is he going to be able to define her in a way that's effective before the election, and that's not only something he clearly is struggling with the vice presidential candidate, but it is something that he has struggled with Joe Biden for the last several months, really finding a way to define him in a way that's as effective with his supporters and his voters like it was with Hillary Clinton in 2016.
COOPER: Kamala Harris managed to go after President Trump today in her speech in a very kind of conversational way that was -- it was very strong in what she said about him, very critical, but done in a way that was almost disarming, I think, for those if somebody believed President Trump when he said yesterday that she is nasty. It certainly didn't come off as nasty, it just came off as sounding cutting.
COLLINS: Well, and he even seemed to kind of struggle to respond to her attacks especially the ones about how he has handled coronavirus. Because he said he only watched a little bit of what she did and what Biden said.
He said he did not watch the full speech by them today, but a reporter in the room today actually summed up for the President her attacks about saying that he did not take COVID-19 seriously at the onset of the pandemic, that he did not trust the experts.
His eyebrows kind of went up when the reporter repeated that comment that she had made and he did not push back on either of those and instead, talked about how many people have been tested in the U.S. so far. He talked about ventilator production, but in any other way, he didn't really substantively address those.
And so we should note, you know, he has been calling her nasty. That's often an attack that he uses on women. But one thing that still has not addressed and that his advisers really haven't effectively addressed are those donations that of course that he made and his daughter, Ivanka Trump made to Kamala Harris's campaigns in the past.
That is not something they really answered questions about so far.
COOPER: Yes, I find it hard to believe he did not watch the entire thing, but for another day. Kaitlan Collins, thank you.
Just ahead, more on how Democrats believe today's Biden-Harris event went today. Also video of the call Biden made Tuesday telling Harris she was his pick.
And later, a believer in a really bizarre conspiracy theory involving President Trump who is -- this theory that he has a record of racist and anti-Semitic tropes, a believer in this conspiracy theory may soon walk the Halls of Congress. We have details on that one when we continue.
COOPER: Joe Biden's appearance with Kamala Harris was a campaign defining event. Hours earlier, the campaign released a video of the call -- the call that Biden made Tuesday informing Harris that she would be the nominee in just short while before his campaign informed the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TEXT: August 11, 2020.
BIDEN: All right.
HARRIS: Hi. Hi, hi. Hi, sorry to keep you.
BIDEN: That's all right. You ready to go to work?
HARRIS: Oh my God. I'm so ready to go to work.
BIDEN: First of all, is the answer yes?
HARRIS: The answer is absolutely yes, Joe, and I'm ready to work. I'm ready to do this with you, for you. I'm just deeply honored and I'm very excited.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I am joined now by Aisha C. Mills, Democratic strategists and CNN political commentator; also Howard Dean, former Chairman of D.N.C. and former Vermont Governor.
Aisha, what was your initial reaction when you saw that today?
AISHA C. MILLS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know how anybody can hear that and just not tear up. I mean, to be myself, just thinking about being like a little black girl, having political hopes and dreams hence the career field that I chose, never ever being able to imagine that you might get a call to be on a vice presidential ticket. I can't imagine how like overwhelmed she must have felt. And I feel so much pride and joy for her just hearing it.
So I think that this is a proud day for so many of us. You know, I keep talking about how Senator Harris is a possibility model. It matters that we have models and reflections of black women doing amazing big things and so I just am so proud of her and I'm really thankful that the campaign decided to share that with us because it is a really huge moment.
COOPER: Governor Dean, you know, obviously, I'm sure a lot of Democrats would have like to see a large campaign today given the limitations of the pandemic.
I'm wondering how you think this first event went. Van Jones, who I talked to just right after Harris stopped speaking was talking about how there is an intimacy to this kind of campaigning through the television screen and also without an audience that allows for sort of a more conversational style that we certainly saw from Kamala Harris.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: Yes, I think that's exactly right. You know, the most gripping part of that for me was the dead silent pause that Kamala Harris gave. She was shocked.
Even though she knew she was a good possibility, she was shocked. You just get asked to be the Vice President of the United States. So it was -- it was a warm moment that you could feel good about because she was genuinely surprised and that is an advantage.
There are a lot of disadvantages to having to campaign this way. One of the great advantages for somebody who is as genuine as Joe Biden, you get to see him and what Americans are going to really like, there is not a genuine ounce of anything in Donald Trump.
Biden is the exact opposite and I think Harris is going to be a really good addition to the ticket.
COOPER: Aisha, in terms of what you saw from Senator Harris during her speech today, her talk, one of the things she brought up was a new collision of conscience. Do you think that's a preview of something we are going to be hearing more from her about? Sorry, Aisha.
MILLS: Yes, that the introduction of a new messaging line and I think it really brilliant. We talked so much about the Obama collision and rally, that's become a buzz work for diversity, right? For white people feeling hope and supporting the first black President.
This idea of a collision of conscience, I really think that people are going to glam on to because keep in mind that Biden started his campaign as like the anti-racist, right? Donald trump is a bigot. He is a lot of things and he is kind of proud
of that and he started -- Bidebn started this campaign on the backdrop of Charlottesville, saying, look, what we saw with white supremacists marching was really despicable and horrible, and I know that the vast majority of Americans do not agree with that type of vile ideology and behavior.
And so he is continuing that thread and so when Senator Harris said today that they are forming this collision of conscious, they are appealing to our better angels as Americans that are -- you know, it doesn't matter what you believe or where you live, certainly this vile, bigotry and racism is something they are as a ticket symbolizing surely in how they look and the appeal, I'm going to stomp out, but I think that that is really the underpinning of this campaign and it's the outgrowth of the Obama collision.
At that time, let's all remember, President Obama was a little tepid about race for all of the reasons that over a decade ago, he had to be. But now, faced with such a viral racist who is proud of his bigotry, I see this campaign kind of smacking that back by saying no, no, no, we actually have a conscience and we're going to be the anti- racist and I really appreciated that tone.
COOPER: Governor Dean, I'm wondering how you thought this kind of rollout today went? I mean, Vice President Biden also brought out the fact that Senator Harris should challenge him if she disagrees that he wants hers to be the last voice he hears before making a decision, the last person in the room.
DEAN: Well, this is the advantage. I mean, I think Kamala Harris was the safe choice and I knew that Joe, I mean, in my heart, that Joe was going to pick her.
Joe is a creature of the Senate, and clearly, if you're in the Senate all that long you have a great respect for other senators.
This is a good match. There is genuine respect for these people. Some of it was the relationship between Kamala and Beau Biden, but a lot of it is just you respect somebody who is in the similar body you are in and I just think the chemistry is very, very good.
This is -- you know, I think, exactly right. This is a kind of chemistry that's good for the country we're looking forward and Trump is really catering to the worst in people, their fears, their anger, their terror, and Biden and Harris are now saying no, there's hope and we're going to be the example of how great the United States can be.
COOPER: Aisha, there is a disconnect in this kind of a campaign. It not something you can go and volunteer. You know, I mean, I guess you can go and volunteer and maybe make phone calls and stuff, but it's not -- you know, so far it's not the knocking on the doors, all the traditional things that we are used to in a campaign.
I mean, does that play to Senator Harris's strengths? How do you see this campaign kind of playing out?
MILLS: I have to say that one of the things that had been missing at least, you know, for people that I talk to from the campaign trail generally over the course of the last year was a real gravitational pull towards optimism and hope and ideals of who we could be as opposed to the muck that we're currently in.
And we've been in this real depressed state and I think that what they did today is the two of them and their energy and I also want to call out that Senator Harris talked about her relationship with Beau Biden and that to me was just so overwhelming and beautiful because we got a personal connection in sentimentality that gave us a sense of connection and hope.
And that to me is what will drive people to the polls. That will drive people to engage in all of the new digital ways that we are going to have to engage in the wake of COVID. We are not going to knock on doors, we are going to be calling people and texting people.
But to me, it's the inspiration of the emotion that we saw today, the connectedness, the common humanity and certainly, the fight against bigotry that like will rile people up and bring us together and I think we just feel good.
We haven't felt good in a long time and that feeling good is what is really going to mobilize people.
COOPER: Governor Dean, what do you think this campaign looks like? I know, we're almost out of time, but what do you think?
DEAN: Always a referendum on the President. The President is really not doing well at all and just as Aisha said, he is selling fear and Biden and Harris are selling hope. That's always going to win.
It's what did it for Bill Clinton and it's what did it for Barack Obama and I think it is what it is going to do it for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
COOPER: Aisha Mills and former Governor Howard Dean, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
While the world is scrambling to find a coronavirus vaccine, President Trump today compared the pandemic to the flu and heart disease. We'll have more on what he said.
He said people are being forced to stay home not because of health, but because of politics. A former CDC Director and Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the truth of it all, coming up.
COOPER: The White House tonight is releasing new coronavirus safety recommendations for schools, but the guidance offers a little more than normal hygiene tips. In Georgia, the high school that got worldwide attention for this photo of a crowded hallway will switch to a hybrid format next week. Students will alternate days on campus while the rest will be taught online, that's after at least 35 cases coronavirus have been reported since the first day of school. This week, no students are allowed at that school.
While parents deal with that chaos and they should continue seeing double digit unemployment not to mention more than 5 million cases and nearly 166,000 deaths. The President continues to insist that all as well, as long as you don't live in a state led by Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We're doing better than almost everyone with the economy. And I think where, you know, we face a headwind because Democrats, perhaps for political reasons don't want to open up their states. And that's having a huge toll, that's taken a huge toll on people within those states. When you look at North Carolina you have a man doesn't want to open it up. You have -- you look at Michigan, you look at some states. I mean, they just want to keep these people in their, houses, in their prisons, they call them prisons. And I think a lot of it's the political reasons because they want to look as bad as possible on November 3rd, but I don't think it's going to matter because we're doing so well in so many ways.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Just factually, his theory is that Democratic governors want to keep people in prisons in their homes and not send their kids to school because it's going to damage him politically by making all those parents furious and upset and feel like they're in prison and not able to educate their children. And that's somehow going to help Democrats at the polls to have a lot of angry people, who have kids want to go to school.
I want to bring in former CDC director Tom Frieden and our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
The idea that some communities are taking preventative measures Dr. Frieden because of politics? I mean, does that make any sense to you just -- it seems like there's plenty of good reasons to be taking preventative measures.
THOMAS FRIEDEN, FMR CDC DIRECTOR: There's only one enemy here and that's the virus. And what we've seen over the past few days is a neuroradiologist someone with no public health experience, who has advocated for herd immunity now advising the President of the United States. This is a man without a plan, or more specifically, a plan for herd immunity. And you know what herd immunity means? Herd immunity means 1 million dead Americans, that's what it would take to get to herd immunity. That's not a plan. That's a catastrophe.
COOPER: The Sweden which is a country that did try to go for herd immunity, had a much higher death toll, obviously, than the other countries on their borders, didn't have much better economic picture and still didn't get widespread herd immunity.
FRIEDEN: Absolutely. The fact is, we all do want to get our kids back to school. But guess what, we've got some hard choices to make. You can either leave your bars open or you can open your schools and keep them open, but you probably can't do both. Any community can open schools, but only a community that does two things can keep them open. First, control COVID. So it's not spreading if school is not a bubble. And second adapt in the schools. Understand it's going to be hard. There are kids and staff teachers who have underlying conditions, they're at risk, and we need to protect them.
And the idea that some states are doing this for one reason or another, you know, there's a very simple way of looking at it. How widely is COVID spreading? Right now, the Northeast is doing a pretty good job of controlling COVID, and therefore is more likely to be able to restart schools in the fall.
COOPER: Sanjay, the President claimed, again today that the U.S. is doing significantly better than Europe, which is not true. And while overall cases in the U.S. are down, we've had more than 1,000 deaths again yesterday, and the national positivity average has not gone down. Explain why that is significant.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, with regard to how the United States is doing versus Europe, we can show you this graph, first of all, to give you an idea. You know, we've gone from being you know, having seven times roughly as many new infections per day as Europe down to, you know, five and a half times as many new infections per day as the European Union. So, yes, I mean, it's gotten a little bit better, you know, I guess in that regard. But still far worse than how they're doing than the European Union.
The numbers continue to grow Anderson, so that, you know, that's what we're seeing that the death rates usually as you know, are lag behind after people have been diagnosed with this infection. So the death rate that we're seeing now were sort of reflects something, you know, four or five weeks ago, perhaps it's really going to be a question now, where did the -- where does the trend go over the next several days? Does it continue a downward slope, which is hopeful? That's what we want? Or do we continue this roller coaster ride that we've been seeing.
COOPER: Dr. Frieden, the President announced that his administration is ready to deploy 125 million masks as well as CDC teams to help schools meet safety standards. You know, the idea of there being enough CDC teams to go to the schools in America just seems on the face of it. It's highly improbable I -- when -- I remember when contact tracing was being discussed. I believe, you know the head of the CDC, we're saying oh, well, you know, we'll send CDC teams to help cities with contact tracing. You know, there's not enough people, the CDC to do that.
FRIEDEN: Schools are in a tough position. They do want to educate kids, we all want our kids to get a good education. It's really important. But there's probably Anderson one thing that keeps getting lost in this discussion, which is in so many ways, we are all in this together, for better and for worse. So, if disease is spreading in young adults, particularly people who are essential workers, who have to go to work, who get the infection there, or in kids, it is not going to stay in that group. It's a virus, it spreads widely in society, and ultimately, it will hit more vulnerable people. And the vulnerable people there's not some small group, it's about a third of all adults and everyone over the age of 60.
So, this is not some small group that we have to somehow isolate and protect, we're all one society. And what starts in one group, age group or even place at the country is likely going to spread to other places. And we will see more hospitalizations and more deaths. There are things that are less bad than there -- than they were before. But we're still a global outlier and laggard. And we will be, as long as we don't recognize that there's only one enemy here. And that's the virus and the more we unite, but keep physically apart, the more we can control it.
COOPER: Yes. Dr. Tom Frieden. Sanjay, thank you very much appreciate it.
Whether they want to or not, it looks like the GOP could be welcoming a QAnon follower to Congress. Up next the primary win for a believer in a bizarre conspiracy theory. What their candidate told us when our Gary Tuchman showed up with some questions today.
COOPER: Tonight a supporter of a bizarre conspiracy theory group QAnon is closer than ever to holding actual power in the country for the first time. Marjorie Taylor Greene won the Republican Congressional Primary in Georgia's 14th district last night running against a traditional conservative. She has a track record of racist and anti- Semitic comments along with videos where she fully embraces QAnon. Which is a bizarre conspiracy theory that traffics in age old anti- Semitic tropes and alleges that a cabal of Satan worshipping child molesters is really pulling the strings of the Deep State Hollywood media and just about everything all around the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE, QANON SUPPORTER: He was a patriot. He is someone that is very much loves his country. And he's on the same page as us.
According to him, many of our government are actively worshipping Satan, or they call (INAUDIBLE). I mean, is it going to be true that the child pedophilia and the elites in the Washington D.C., is that what we're really going to see come out? Is it true, is the type of corruption we're going to see come out? Is it going to be satanic worship?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Some of the GOP work to stop Greene's victory including House Minority Steve Scully who maxed out their donation limit for her rival. But today most Republican leaders were silent about her win in the primary and party official tried to deflect. One notable exception President Trump, who today praise Greene as strong on everything and a future Republican star. QAnon believers claim that President Trump is secretly working to break up this satanic worshiping cabal of child molesters. So the Present has a motive for giving these conspiracy theorists some plaudits, because they support him.
QAnon surface from the dark corners of the internet in the first year of the Trump presidency. It began with cryptic messages from an anonymous person in a chat room. Many of the earliest claims and predictions by this anonymous person have or group or country it could be Russia. Who knows? Or could Iran or anybody. Have proven completely wrong, all the original theories. But nevertheless, the conspiracy theory continues, it's impervious to fact checking.
You may recall the man who went heavily armed to a pizza parlor in D.C. believing was a base for child sex trafficking ring run by the Clintons. Well, it was just a pizza parlor and he's now in prison. This group claims -- their claims are as nonsensical and slanderous as they are bogus. But less than a year after its surface, QAnon followers made their way into a Trump rally within the President's view. See the sign there, we are Q. The Secret Service didn't ask them to leave. In fact a year later the White House Welcome to QAnon supporter to its social media summit and the President repeatedly retweet -- has repeatedly retweeted QAnon followers messages.
Our Gary Tuchman is in Georgia tonight. Gary, she kicked the media out of her victory party last night, but I know you've caught up with Greene a short time ago. How did that happen? What did she have to say?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, following members of the news media getting kicked out of the victory party, I reached out to her press secretary and asked if we could do an interview with her. I did not expect to hear back and indeed I did not hear back. So we decided to travel gear to Rome, Georgia, about 70 miles northwest of Atlanta. I drove by here her headquarters, saw some people hanging out, parked my car, walked up, I was by myself at the time there was a woman sitting in the car. And indeed it was Marjorie Greene, her window was rolled up, I motioned to her could you roll your window down? I had my mask on, she did not recognize me. I told her who I was. She didn't look happy. But I can tell you that she was polite and she was cordial to me.
And for the record, so was I and I asked her what do you think of QAnon and she told me quote, I'm not talking about that. I want to talk about the kind of business person I am. People don't talk about that how successful I am. And indeed, she and her husband are in the construction business. They're very successful. She also said she is not a racist and all their friends know she's not a racist, but then I asked her again, please, what's your business on QAnon and QAnon stands for, just a quote, I don't want to do an interview. She then said goodbye, rolled up her window, I snapped a picture of her encounter. And she then drove off.
So she had a chance to support QAnon, she did not do that. She also had a chance to denounce QAnon, and she did not do that.
Now, I talked with the executive editor of the local paper, a good paper here. It's called the Rome News Tribune. And he told me it was so unusual. His reporter got kicked out. That's never happened since he's been here. And he's been here for many years. We did see the victory speech, however, because it was put on Facebook by Marjorie Greene. And here's what's notable. She said something very profane, and anti-female about the Speaker of the House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREENE: I just want to say to Nancy Pelosi, she's a hypocrite. She's an anti-American, and we're going to kick that bitch out of Congress.
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TUCHMAN: Marjorie Greene had a chance to hold up an Olive (ph) branch during that speech. She did not Anderson.
COOPER: From my understand, this is pretty reliable Republican district. She's one of the primary, how good a chance to actually have a winning the general election?
TUCHMAN: Right. So, this district was created in 2010. After the census, it's always been held by Republican. As a matter of fact by one particular republican Tom Graves. he's retiring this year. In 2018, he received 77% of the vote. This is a very red district. And we anticipate that Marjorie Greene will be the next Congresswoman from this district.
COOPER: Gary Tuchman. Gary, thanks very much.
Adrienne LaFrance is executive editor of The Atlantic. She investigated QAnon for a cover story in June's issue. It's a fascinating article, I urge everybody to read it. Just factually, it's just fascinating.
Adrienne, this group is really fascinating to me. Early claims by these conspiracy theorists, they have been proven wrong over and over and over again. I mean, early on, they were claiming the Robert Mueller was secretly investigating this cabal of child sex traffickers and Satan worshippers. And that his team was actually secretly going to indict the Cabal of Democratic leaders and others for a global child sex trafficking ring. And that President Trump was secretly working with Mueller's team. All of which is just ludicrous and yet, obviously proven wrong. That's not what Mueller's team was doing. And yet this conspiracy theory is impervious to fact checking.
ADRIENNE LAFRANCE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: It facts do not matter to these conspiracy theorists. And it's one of those sort of more mind melting aspects of the QAnon universe as you can present them with evidence, you can demonstrate how the predictions have gone wrong, and they don't seem to care. It's just again and again, that Q is bigger than anything that they can be presented with to the contrary.
COOPER: The idea that all these people are following some person who could be some internet troll or could be, you know, someone in Kim Jong-un's regime, it could be anybody who's just putting out ridiculously cryptic things, and they're just sort of, you know, if I just put it in, put out a cryptic message now you could connect dots and that's what people are doing, you know, and showing up at pizza parlors with, you know, heavy weaponry trying to liberate children. And, you know, I guess some of them are coming from a good place. But it's just, it's insane to me.
LAFRANCE: One of the things that really surprised me in the course of my reporting, is I was really curious who is this person? Or who are these people running this account? But the more I talked to the sort of true believers, the more I found that they don't care who Q is, it's just this sort of blind faith that keeps them drawn to the conspiracy theory.
COOPER: I am -- I mean I get, they reach out to me because I'm roped into this bizarre conspiracy theory. You know, it seems like it's taken after the pizza parlor thing. It kind of seemed to damp down a little bit with the whole Jeffrey Epstein arrest with that sick guy. There is now, they've now wrote that in. There's floating around on the internet, a fake flight log that has, I don't know 100 or so people from, you know, Hollywood actors to allegedly I was on this Jeffrey Epstein plate, you know, flight to his island which obviously I've never been on.
And yet I am inundated by people who believe I was on this flight. And there's no evidence of it. There's no photos, there's nothing other than this fake phony flight list.
LAFRANCE: It's really -- it's sort of like the granddaddy of all conspiracy theories that kind of like eats other conspiracy theories as it goes. And so, if you go looking for any conspiracy theory on the internet, you can find a connection to Q in some regard.
COOPER: And essentially, because they say, well, you haven't said -- you're not a pedophile, or you haven't said you weren't on the flight and therefore, you know, why don't all these people have come out and say, you know, declare their innocence, which is ridiculous that people who are completely innocent have to somehow come out and declare innocence for some insane conspiracy theory, but they take that as a sign of, well, then they're guilty, but if you actually do declare you're innocent and talk to them and try to just rationally discuss it with them. They don't believe you anyway.
LAFRANCE: Well trying to reason with a conspiracy theorist will not get you anywhere as I can tell you experience.
COOPER: It's also interesting is and you reported on this is at the end of the day for a lot of them this is about -- for a lot of the people who are promoting this is about money. I mean, Alex Jones was promoting this, he's you know, selling God knows what, all over the place, seems to be or was making a lot of money. There's, you know, there's merchandising involved in a lot of this and people are making money off it.
LAFRANCE: You can find Q merchandise on Etsy, there are people who develop these huge YouTube followings just as sort of the interpreters of Q because it's so complicated and confusing. And so, absolutely, you see people sort of rushing to fill the space to profit off of this and any number of other conspiracy theories too.
COOPER: I discovered apparently, according to this theory, my mom was in a -- you know, child satanic, you know, ring of traffickers, you know, which would come as great surprise to her obviously.
Do you expect QAnon to continue to get larger? Because, again, it is this kind of perfectly -- perfect organism where no rational thought matters, you know, nothing makes any sense. And yes, of course, there are sex traffickers, and you know, children are abused. And that's a horrible thing. But all these people are not actually doing anything about that. A very real world problem. They have created this entire fantasy.
LAFRANCE: Right, and it'll be interesting. I mean, if Marjorie Taylor Greene gets to Congress and believes in Q, the question is, is she going to then make fighting child abuse her number one priority as a result? And those are the kinds of questions I think that we have to ask people who earnestly believe in this, is what are they actually doing to solve real problems?
COOPER: Right. I mean, have they raised money for, you know, kids coming out of the foster care system, have they raised money for, you know, kids in need or you know, groups which actually work with, you know, kids on the street or anything like that? I don't think they have? I think this is, it seems to me, I'm not even sure some of these people really believe it. It's just, they like it's subversive. And it's a theory. It's like a string theory that allows you to make sense of things which you have no control over.
LAFRANCE: Well, I have to tell you, though, when I went out to find the people who believed it, I sort of expected to find more people who didn't. And I was surprised by how many genuinely really did. And to your question about Q staying power. I mean, I think this is how Trumpism survives even Trump. So if, you know, Biden ends up winning in November, Q is not going anywhere. And this is how the pro-Trump movement and all that it represents, carries on.
COOPER: I've engaged with some of these people occasionally, because, you know, some of them seem normal and they have families and, you know, look at their Instagram page and they seem like, you know, they seem like the hard working decent person. You have found that they really do believe this. Because I -- when I tried to rationally discuss it with them, some of them have been rational and said, oh OK, that makes sense. But it seems like nobody is actually asking for proof like this flight manifest thing. It's taken on a life of its own, you know, involves Tom Hanks and I don't know who else is allegedly, you know, on this planet, the whole thing is ridiculous.
LAFRANCE: Well, and they borrow from the language of journalism and empiricism to say we're just doing our own research. We're just investigating, but they're doing so without actually caring about what's true.
COOPER: Yes. Well, your article is just fascinating, it's in The Atlantic, I really urge everybody to read it. It's definitive and it's just -- it's a fascinating thing. Adrienne LaFrance, appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
LAFRANCE: Thank you.
COOPER: Quick programming note, don't miss Full Circle, our digital new show that gives us the chance to dig into some important topics and have an in-depth conversations. And catch the streaming live Monday, Tuesday, Friday. 6:00 p.m. Eastern, at cnn.com/fullcircle, or watch it there and on the CNN app at anytime On Demand.
Ahead, the Biden-Harris ticket abuse with direct attacks on President Trump in some emotional moments as well. We'll talk about Valerie Jarrett and the widow of a Harris aide as the Senator from California makes history.