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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

I.G. Reviewing New Postmaster's Policy Changes And Potential Ethical Conflicts; Interview With Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D-GA), Atlanta; Source: Controversial WH Coronavirus Adviser Raises Concerns Among Task Force Members; Pres. Trump Celebrates QAnon Follower's Primary Win; GOP Primary Winner And QAnon Follower Doubted Plane Hit Pentagon On 9/11. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 14, 2020 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: For sure. Great to see you, Kyung. Great piece. Thank you very much. And thank you all so much for joining us tonight. I am Kate Bolduan. AC 360 starts now.

[20:00:11]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, breaking news this hour. On a new review by the Inspector General for the U.S. Postal Service of controversial changes ordered by the Postmaster General that have effectively slowed down mail service by eliminating worker hours as well as hundreds of sorting machines.

According to a spokeswoman for the Inspector General and an aide to Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the senators who requested a review, the Inspector General is also reviewing potential ethics complaints against Louis DeJoy, an ally and donor of President Trump.

This news comes a day after President Trump appeared to come out and confirmed his critics suspicions that he was holding up a coronavirus stimulus deal over money to help the Postal Service.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, they need that money in order to have the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots.

Now, in the meantime, they aren't getting there. By the way, those are two items, but if they don't get those two items, that means you can't have universal mail-in voting because they aren't equipped to have it.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, later in a news conference at the White House, the President chose slightly different words basically implying that it was Democrats who were holding up the deal, but the point was the same.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If the Post Office, if they are not going to approve a bill and the Post Office therefore won't have the money, and if they are not going to approve a big bill, a bigger bill and they're not going to have $3.5 billion for the universal mail-in votes, how can you have those votes?

What it would mean is the people have to go to the polls and vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The comments of course, come after the President has spent months attacking vote by mail efforts as susceptible to fraud despite there being no evidence and despite the President's own Intelligence officials in charge of election security testifying two weeks ago that massive vote by mail fraud is not something they are worried about.

But there is evidence of a slowdown in mail less than three months before an election, when it is going to be conducted primarily by mail in at least nine states in part because of concerns about the coronavirus.

A memo sent by the Postmaster General to workers this week and obtained by CNN confirms as much about the slowdown, quote: "Unfortunately, this transformative initiative has had unintended consequences that impacted our overall service levels," said the Postmaster General.

Furthermore, in letters obtained by CNN and sent to at least 14 states which "The Washington Post" has occurred at the end of July, the Postal Service tells state election officials that these lags in delivery may mean some ballots will not reach election offices in time to be counted.

Perhaps the most interesting fact about all of this however, just what if anything the President is telling the Postmaster General. The President told the press on Sunday that he hasn't spoken with the Postmaster General, today, however, CNN has confirmed that six days before he said that, the President did in fact speak with him.

When asked about the discrepancy, the White House said quote: "It was a congratulatory meeting."

A congratulatory meeting, in August for a job he got in May.

I want to start with the latest on that Inspector General review of the Postmaster General, Kristen Holmes helped break the story and joins us now. So tell us more about this investigation. How broad is this?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, here is what we know. This is all based on a letter from Senator Warren as you mentioned, among others that really had six bullet points and we are told by a source that the Inspector General is reviewing all six of these.

Now, the he first five are pretty much the same bulk topic here. They are about those changes you mentioned. These changes that are sounding alarms across the country because of the delay in mail, because of the upcoming election.

The other -- the last one is about his finances. So, let's start with the first deck because it's pretty broad scope particularly about the changes.

They talk about specific operational changes. They want a list of exactly what was done. Was there any rationale given? Was there any analysis on the kind of impact that this could have? What do the delays actually look like?

Remember at this point, we are hearing from Postal Service workers, we are seeing the mail piled up, but they want to know specifics of what these delays actually look like and of course, the big question that all of us have, which is, is this going to impact the 2020 election?

And as we have heard from numerous sources, it's hard at this point to see it not impacting the election. You're talking about millions of Americans voting, some of them for the first time by mail-in ballot at a time that there is this huge change in the Post Office.

Now, that last topic is very interesting. This is all about his finances. Louis DeJoy, who you mentioned, a Trump donor and ally, he is not just a regular donor. He is the kind of donor that is named Finance Chair of the Charlotte Convention before there was no Charlotte Convention. So this is a not small potatoes guy.

We obtained his documents, his financial documents. We went through them and this is what this review is about and we found from ethical experts, they said that there might be some concern here.

He had not divested millions in stock from his former company, which is now a current contractor with the United States Postal Service, and on top of that, we know that he has stock options in Amazon, which is a huge Postal Service customer -- Anderson.

[20:05:20]

COOPER: Vote by mail begins just in a few weeks in states like North Carolina. Is this a full-on investigation? Is the Inspector General just looking -- I mean, what would one actually characterize this as? Just kind of looking into it to see if it warrants further investigation?

HOLMES: Well, that's always the big question with the Inspector General, right? They are very cagey. They do not like to say what the investigation is, if there is an investigation, I mean, the fact that we even got on the record that they were doing the body work in this is pretty extraordinary, and that means that they are reaching out on behalf of all of these documents.

They want to know if there is any sort of paper trail right now on these changes. What led to these changes? Was there some kind of meeting?

And on a separate note here, we have just learned from a service group that looks into FOIAs that the Postal Service rejected a FOIA to look at the Postmaster General's schedule saying that it had personal information on it even though it's on a Postal Service computer.

So, there's a lot going on here in gathering of information. Now, some of these investigations, as you know, can go on for months but the big question is whether or not it can be wrapped up by the election because again, that is what everyone cares about right now.

COOPER: Yes, Kristen Holmes, thanks very much. Joining me is Jena Griswold, the Secretary of State of Colorado. The state official charged with overseeing elections there. The Democrats have called the President's statements about holding of funding for the Postal Service, quote, "voter suppression."

Secretary Griswold, what do you make of this news that the Inspector General is reviewing the new Postmaster's policies? Do you think anything will come of it?

JENA GRISWOLD (D), SECRETARY OF STATE OF COLORADO: Well, Anderson, first, thank you for having me on. It is hard to say, but I do think we need immediate action.

It is alarming that the Postmaster General sent a letter to a lot of states, 49 states basically laying that millions of Americans could be disenfranchised because of their service.

That is undemocratic. It is un-American and it is Donald Trump's fault. The President clearly believes that vote by mail will help Democrats win, which is just untrue, and so he is trying to do everything he can to tote the election into his favor.

I think it is reprehensible and forcing Americans into crowded polling locations instead of doing the responsible thing to do, which is expanding vote by mail. It is just one more way that the President is risking American lives.

COOPER: Can you explain, when you say it is voter suppression, how so?

GRISWOLD: Well, the President is specifically trying to withhold funds to enable vote by mail to work. He is basically trying to undermine the safest way to vote during a pandemic and force Americans to choose between risking their very lives and casting a ballot, and that's not just hyperbole.

We saw in Milwaukee during their primary more than 70 people get sick at crowded polling centers. So that is voter suppression.

Scaring Americans into a choice of risking their health and their lives to cast a ballot, it is 2020. We have a solution, it is vote by mail for all and the President is trying to put in barriers to suppress turnout in November.

COOPER: So Colorado, obviously has a long history with mail-in voting. The President has gone on saying -- and the Vice President saying mail-in voting is susceptible to foreign interference, which there is no evidence of according to election officials -- and fraud. Have you found any evidence of that in your state over the years? Is there widespread voter fraud in Colorado? GRISWOLD: Absolutely not, and it is laughable that the President who

invited foreign interference into our elections would make up some type of story that is more better placed in a spy novel than in reality.

And the nation can look at Colorado. We have a history of extremely clean elections. We have safeguards in place and we're able to have a wonderful election even during the pandemic.

In our June 30th primary, we actually set a state primary turnout record. So, the nation has the tools to have good elections. It is really whether the President wants voters to vote.

COOPER: I mean, is it too late to get the Post Office, you know, getting things done right to make this move smoothly?

GRISWOLD: Absolutely not. We still have time. And I'll tell you, Anderson, I ran for Secretary of State because President Trump had formed that Voter Commission to suppress voters with Kris Kobach.

He is doing the same thing again, and I will not allow him to suppress the voice of Americans. These are our constitutional rights. So we are considering all options including legal options against the President and the Postmaster General.

[20:10:05]

COOPER: I mean, I know it is on your purview, what do you think about the country as a whole? Do you see this being a free and fair election nationwide?

GRISWOLD: Well, I do think that the silver lining is that we have expanded mail ballots in a big way for this election.

But there are a lot of barriers being put up from the administration. Whether that's trying to force Americans to risk their very lives to cast a ballot, to meddling with the Post Office, sabotaging the way that we deliver mail to falsehoods and lies about vote by mail.

So I just think it's so important that every elected official, every elections official and every American citizen start sounding the alarm.

The rhetoric coming out of the White House is something that you hear under dictatorships, not in the United States.

We have to act. We cannot allow him to tilt this election.

COOPER: Jena Griswold, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Here with their perspective, Van Jones, a CNN political commentator and former special adviser to President Obama; David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst and former adviser for Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton.

David, let's start with you. The President now walking back his comments or sort of changing the focus essentially saying the Postal Service funding is a negotiating tool to get Democrats to the table, but just yesterday he was saying, he was trying to undermine the election by blocking the funding.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: There are many threats in this story out there, Anderson, most of them bad.

Listen, we are heading for a potential crisis over this question of mail-in ballots and absentee ballots. If we -- the nightmare scenario is on election night, to discover that it was a very, very close election. One person seems to be ahead of the other, but the ballots haven't been counted and then we get into counting ballots and we find a lot of them were either -- you know, they were sent in, but they were not counted for one reason or another.

And you can just see if Donald Trump is losing and he is going to use all of that kind of controversy to try to stay in office, to say, it hasn't been resolved, therefore it must stay here until we get this resolved.

He is trying to delegitimize this election in all sorts of ways, we know that. We don't really keep up with how many different ways the Republicans unfortunately are trying to suppress the vote -- minority votes, votes in urban neighborhoods, votes on absentee ballots from the wrong state.

I mean, think of the hypocrisy of Trump saying, I hate write-in ballots. They are fraudulent. We must not do them.

Well, by the way, we have an exception in Florida because Florida happens to be a state where mail-in ballots will help him. So, no one is going to make it look bad. That's the hypocrisy of it.

COOPER: Van, I mean, it is just blatantly political what the President is doing.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is, and African Americans and our allies died for the right to vote, we shouldn't have to die in, you know, COVID infested voting lines exercising that right. You shouldn't have to die for the chance to vote, and so that's horrific.

The President of the United States should be using his power to make sure that everyone in the country can vote safely. It seems like he is using his power in the opposite direction.

It is worse than that, though. Already, horrible things are happening to people as prescription drugs are arriving late, veterans are getting their checks late.

You have to understand, this is not going to be a problem for Americans just in November. It's a problem right now. It a problem Friday night as people are not getting packages or not getting checks. They're not getting life-saving drugs that they need right now because the backup has already started. Stuff that needs to take two days is taking two weeks right now.

So this is an attack on the American people in addition to the American democratic process and it's completely outrageous.

COOPER: David, I want to play something that President Obama said in a podcast with his former campaign manager. Let let's listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we've seen in a way that is unique to modern political history is a President who is explicit in trying to discourage people from voting, right?

What we've never seen before is a President say, I'm going to try to actively kneecap the Postal Service to encourage voting and I will be explicit about the reason I'm doing it.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

COOPER: I mean, the President continues to sow doubt in the system with false claims of voter fraud. He had that commission with Kobach, which disbanded because the President -- the whole basis of it was just -- it was phony. What kind of impact does it actually have on voter confidence regardless of what happens with the Postal Service funding?

[20:15:02]

GERGEN: I think it's very corrosive, Anderson, over a period of time. Trust in our institutions has plunged over the last 20, 30 years. It started before Donald Trump got to office, but he has accelerated the downward spiral.

And take the Postal Service, maybe, DeJoy, the man who is running this, maybe just because he has $30 million to $75 million apparently invested in competitors to the Postal Service and there are signs that people around Trump want to put the Postal Service out of business.

But maybe they're doing things that are honest, but the level of trust and the cynicism in the country is so much today that when we see suspicious things like the blue boxes being moved around in mysterious ways, the blue boxes you have out on the street where you can go post a letter are being moved around.

When you see the cut back in services and bringing results that Van just mentioned, when you see the sorting machines are being decommissioned, 10 percent of these, there are so many suspicious things going on, you can't help but be cynical. That is what is corrosive to our democracy.

We have reached the point where we don't really trust each other.

COOPER: And Van, I mean, this letter now from Postal Service warning states that it may not be able to deliver ballots in time. David was talking about mail sorting machines being removed. You have the President meeting with the Postmaster General earlier this month and talking with him, said he hadn't spoken with him even though the White House confirmed the meeting.

I mean, we're 81 days away from an election.

JONES: Yes, it's -- I mean, it beyond outrageous. One thing that I will say is that right now because of what's happened this week with regard to the Postal Service, you're seeing an explosion of grassroots activity.

Today, I talked to the people at Black Voters Matter. They realized, hey, there is no such thing as Election Day anymore. It is election month and you've got to start doing this -- everything that would ordinarily happen in the last two weeks of the election is going to start happening right away.

People are going to immediately start trying to get their hands on ballots and help people to do it earlier. Luckily, the news is reporting on this enough that groups like Black Voters Matter and others are standing up.

You also have leaders like Vanita Gupta and others who are ready to go into court. There is going to be a big fight back here. I don't want to only focus on the repressive activities coming from the White House, there is real resistance. People need to get involved now and support organizations that are helping people to vote. This is going to be a big fight.

QUEST: David, aside from you know, the Inspector General according to this report looking at this, I mean, should Congress be getting to the bottom of this? I mean, we know what happens with the Inspector General. The President either fires them or ignores them.

GERGEN: Yes, absolutely, Anderson. And in fact, Democrats on the House side are starting on this and of course, Nancy Pelosi is pushing it within the confines of the badly run negotiations.

I think what is needed here, Anderson, and I do think there is time to do that, but just as we needed and never got a true czar in Washington, in the White House to oversee the whole pandemic that we had this group that the President picks off people.

We need to centralize on an urgent basis watchdogs to oversee it at the national level this entire unfolding saga about the Post Office and about suppression of votes and I would say what we all have is a bipartisan group headed by a Democrat and a Republican.

You know, maybe somebody out of the military like a four-star out of the military that everybody trusts. If we just find a couple of people that we can all trust in, then I think we can unravel some of these mysteries and these suspicions and get on with the business and get back to doing some serious work on COVID.

COOPER: Yes, David Gergen and Van Jones, thank you.

Still ahead tonight, President Trump says he does not have an issue with strong women of color. We will play back his past comments and talk with Atlanta Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Also, once again, the number of new U.S. coronavirus cases in a single day tops 1,000 and something Dr. Anthony Fauci mentioned today about working on a Plan D for a vaccine. Just what that might entail. And would we actually need a Plan D when 360 returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:23:00]

COOPER: After calling Kamala Harris, quote, "nasty" and fanning the birther commentary raised by his allies, President Trump was asked a very sensible question at today's briefing, do you have an issue with a strong woman of color being in this presidential race?

The President's response, no, none, whatsoever as you know. Well, as you know, that is not the impression that comes across perhaps when watching the President interact with strong women of color.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Do you want them to rein in Robert Mueller?

TRUMP: What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question. But I watch you a lot. You ask a lot of stupid questions.

The same thing with April Ryan. I watch her get up. I mean, you talk about somebody that's a loser.

Maxine Waters is a low IQ individual.

The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico is a horror show.

I watched just this morning, this Tlaib, Tlaib. She's vicious. She's like a crazed lunatic.

QUESTION: Kamala Harris.

TRUMP (via phone): She was probably very nasty.

QUESTION: You might --

TRUMP: Why don't you people act -- let me ask you -- why don't you act in a little more positive. It is always trying to get me. Get you, get you.

QUESTION: My question to you --

TRUMP: Look, let me tell you something. Be nice. Don't interrupt me.

QUESTION: Mr. President, my question is --

TRUMP: Don't be threatening. Be nice. You didn't hear me. That's why you used to work for "The Times" and now you work for somebody else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Joining me now is Democratic Atlanta Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Biden supporter who will speak at the D.N.C. Convention next week.

Mayor Bottoms, you know, when you hear all the stuff the President is now saying about Kamala Harris, not surprising though, you know, sort of regurgitating the birther -- the racist, you know, birther conspiracy. I guess that's not surprising either, but when he says he has no issue with women of color, do you buy that?

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D-GA), ATLANTA: That was hard to watch, Anderson. I felt my blood boiling. Now, you could have added to that Lori Lightfoot and Muriel Bowser to that list and I saw this great quote when you posed that question.

[20:25:07]

BOTTOMS: Strong women don't have attitudes. They have standards and boundaries. That's something we know this President doesn't have.

He doesn't have any standards. He doesn't have any boundaries and he is a drowning man and if we aren't careful, he is going to take us all down to the bottom with him.

And so this is the reason it was so important that the ticket that Joe Biden put together reflected who we are as America, the diversity of America and also, reflecting that there are strong women of color who lead with integrity, and I'm looking forward to speaking at the D.N.C. Convention and casting my vote because this President is a disgrace to our country and it's only getting worse.

COOPER: It's interesting to contrast what the President says about Kamala Harris with what she actually said and how she said it in the first public event with Vice President Biden.

You know, she was, in a way, very sort of disarming, tough, but also conversational. I just thought it was very interesting mix and a very talented mix of, you know, having a conversation with people and making her points, but even, you know, doing things with a smile at times.

I just thought it seemed like it sort of knocked President Trump off -- it seems like the White House at this point is still unsure how to kind of respond to her.

BOTTOMS: Yes, he clearly has been rattled and I know the one thing that he fears is having to go up on a stage and go up against obviously Vice President Biden, but also to have Mike Pence have to debate Kamala Harris.

And what I see when I see President Trump is someone who knows that he is going to lose. He will not stop at anything to make sure that not only is there foreign interference with this election, but there is also domestic interference.

He said as much, and I know that for as many adjectives that he likes to use to describe women of color in particular, the fact remains that this is a strong ticket. This is a strong woman on that ticket and he knows that it is one that will defeat him in November. COOPER: You know better than anybody, Georgia is considered a tossup

state in the General Election given the ongoing concerns about the pandemic, plus the unknowns about funding for the Postal Service, how it might struggle to handle mail-in ballots.

How concerned are you about residents of Atlanta and elsewhere being able to vote safely and have their vote counted?

BOTTOMS: I'm very concerned, because in June, our primary was a complete mess. People waited hours on end. They waited seven and eight hours to early vote and I shared with you before, I requested an absentee ballot that never arrived in the mail, so we know that it is only going to get worse.

It is my hope in Georgia that people who are able and are healthy will go out and early vote if possible so that we can spread the crowds out.

And hopefully with the Atlanta Hawks putting a very large voting precinct at State Farm Arena that will draw more people out into a building that people can spread out and cast their votes safely.

COOPER: You and the Governor of Georgia obviously, Brian Kemp, a Republican continue to be at odds over the response to the pandemic. You rolled your economic reopening plan back. He sued you.

He has since withdrawn the lawsuit saying you made some concession, which I know you dispute. Now, he is going to be issuing an executive order.

At this stage, where do you see Georgia going? Where do you see Atlanta going?

BOTTOMS: You know what really discourages me about this, Anderson, is I reached out to the governor to try and reach some type of agreement because quite frankly, I'm tired of our state looking bad nationally and I don't like the fact that people are being infected and they are dying of COVID in our state at very high rates.

So, I reached out to the governor to try and reach some type of agreement. We were in the middle of mediation and then he issued out a statement saying the mediation was over.

What the governor wanted me to agree to is what he is going to issue in this executive order. He wanted me to agree to not allow enforcement of a mask mandate in businesses and to allow businesses to pick and choose as to whether or not that this mandate could be enforced and who would enforce it?

We don't allow businesses to enforce a fire code. We don't let them pick and choose as it relates to building codes, so that made no sense to me, but that's what he's putting in the executive order.

[20:30:10]

Be that as it may, the mask mandate still stands. The lawsuit has been dropped. And hopefully people will continue to exercise good common sense. And listen to the science when I'm out and about I see people were masking the city of Atlanta, and hopefully they're doing that across the state.

COOPER: Yes, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. I appreciate your time. Thank you.

BOTTOMS: Thank you.

COOPER: Ahead, a controversial new figure in the White House responds to coronavirus is moving out fast. The questions about his views on herd immunity and why suddenly has the President's ear will explain what we're talking about, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:35:11]

COOPER: There's new behind the scenes concerns tonight in President Trump's inner circle on the coronavirus response. Dr. Scott Atlas. A recent addition, who supports many strategies that contradict the guidance from other White House Task Force members. Now has direct access to the Oval Office and President Trump. CNN learned that from a source to the Task Force, the White House insists that the response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx remains a top adviser to the President. Atlas is not on the Task Force but attended one of its meetings this week.

Among other things, Dr. Atlas is a proponent apparently of herd immunity. He's also been a critic of several lockdowns and agreed with the President on many fronts. Herd immunity happens when about 70 to 90% of the population becomes immune to a disease either through infection or vaccination. But public health evidence suggests achieving herd immunity to coronavirus would likely take more than four years and leads more than 1 million deaths in the United States.

Earlier today, Dr. Fauci confirmed to CNN that scientists are working to create a coronavirus strain that could be used in what's called a human -- a challenge trial of a vaccine something that he is calling plan D. But challenge trials are normally used when a virus isn't widely circulating. Dr. Fauci said they may not be needed. His agency is looking to both the technical and ethical considerations. We've talked about (INAUDIBLE) on this program a number of times. Once again today, we learned the U.S. suffered more than 1,000 deaths in a single day at least 1,208 deaths alone reported today.

Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here along with Art Caplan, who leads the division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center here in New York.

Sanjay, I want to talk to you about Scott Atlas, who's a radiologist. He's not an, you know, an epidemiologist, as far as I understand. But first is Sanjay even though Dr. Fauci is calling human challenge vaccine trial plan D. How would that actually work? We've talked about this before. But just let's remind our viewers. DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so typically what happens after you go through the first couple of phases of a trial, and then there's Phase 3, which typically, you get a lots of people, thousands of people, and they either get the vaccine or they get a placebo and you basically follow them and see how they do. The problem is you require a thousands and thousands of people and you know, the people who receive the vaccine, they may also not necessarily get exposed to the virus, so you don't know did they not get the infection because of the vaccine or because they weren't exposed. With the human challenge trial, with the challenge trial. People are also get the vaccine and then they are intentionally expose these are volunteers intentionally exposed to a consistent measurable strain of the virus.

So, you know, for sure they've been exposed. And you can tell pretty quickly then, is the vaccine working or not? But the whole key there is you challenge them, you knowingly expose them to this to this virus.

COOPER: Art, I remember you were on this program months ago, I mean early on in this talking about the possibility of challenge trials. And some, you know, people were at the time were saying, Well, look, that's, I mean, it's kind of unthinkable that you would have a challenge trial. You were an early, you were sort of early on raising this idea. Explained that the ethics of it.

ARTHUR CAPLAN, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF MEDICAL ETHICS, NYU LANGONE MEDICAL CTR: Yes, that's right. Yes. Anderson and Sanjay said, the regular way to study a vaccine is slow. And if you're lucky, and the virus goes away, you may not get the natural infection, to see whether your vaccine candidate works. Ethically, what you're going to do is expose people deliberately to a weakened pure strain of COVID. You try to make it so it won't hurt them, but generated enough that they give you a response. I think the number one ethical argument for it and I'd make a plan 1A not plan D is that you get a faster response in terms of data, because you're exposing people and you can see them and you track them and you keep them in a location. And then, you're going to be able to use for fewer people because, you know, you don't need to wait for nature to infect some number 7% of 20,000 people, you've got four or 500 people, you'll be able to see what happens.

Some people say, you know, don't do it. You can't deliberately infect someone, but look either way, whether it's nature infecting them to see whether the vaccine works or some research or deliberately giving them a safer lower dose strain. People are going to get infected. I don't find that a big reason to oppose challenge studies.

COOPER: Sanjay I mean, if it were to happen, how many people would be infected?

GUPTA: In the challenge trial, I mean, you would need far fewer people. You know, if you when you talk about these Phase 3 trials, sometimes they talk about, you know, 10,000, tens of thousands of people here would probably be in the hundreds of people. And you'd get a faster sort of idea as well. Because, you know, OK the person was exposed. We make sure they were exposed. You see it, you're actually doing the exposing of this virus to the person.

[20:40:10]

And, you know, much more quickly whether or not the person is actually protected is not actually developing an infection. So, hundreds of people and probably a faster timeline. But again, as our, you know, I mentioned it's, it's this, it's this line in medical science that is being crossed, where in this case, you're now actively exposing someone to the virus as opposed to letting them become naturally infected, as they live in their own community.

COOPER: And Art, I mean, I guess one objection is that, you know, there aren't proper treatments or therapeutics maybe to help people once they get sick.

CAPLAN: That's true. Normally, you hope that you could rescue someone who got ill. But remember, in the standard way of doing the trial Anderson, they're going to get exposed to the nasty virus that we know can cause death and harm. Hopefully in the challenge study, you're giving them a weakened form of the virus that won't have the same risk of damage. I do think it's something you're going to have to get informed consent. I've said since I've been promoting this idea for a while, you have to have volunteers. They have to understand the risks. You have to make sure you take somewhat younger people. They don't seem to be as adversely affected. But look, is the world is suffering so much from this plague, both economically, no school and people dying. I think we've got the volunteers out there who would do this. I do think this is a step that we may find ourselves taking, particularly if those first vaccine candidates don't work out. I hope they do, but --

COOPER: Yes, Sanjay --

CAPLAN: -- if they don't (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Yes. Sanjay, just quickly, this new coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas. He's a radiologist, right?

GUPTA: He's a radiologist. He's apparently got the ear of the President. It's not clear. I've been talking to sources about this, you know, today and he's in the Oval Office. With the President, Ambassador Birx was not there, I guess she's traveling. But it's clear he got the ear of the President. And he's been a advocate of some strategies that I can tell you. Other members of the Coronavirus Task Force have been very vocally against such as this idea of letting the country develop herd immunity just letting the virus go and letting what happens. The problem with that is that, first of all, it takes a long time to get to herd immunity were the 70% of the country is immune because of infection, and a lot of people would die. More than a million people would likely die. So --

COOPER: It's so interesting, because --

GUPTA: -- (INAUDIBLE) he got the ear of the President.

COOPER: Because President Trump months ago, you know, was saying publicly, there are a lot of people saying, you know, we should just let people get infected and herd immunity. But look what happened in Sweden, it would be a terrible idea to be, you know, million -- more than million people dying, that it's interesting that, you know, things are where they are that he's now I guess, talking to this person.

Deborah -- Dr. Birx, is she on? I mean, last week, I think we talked she was being sent to like, go round and sort of encouraged mask wearing in various states. It seems like is that punishment for you know, her speaking to reporters and then he called her pathetic and then she gets sent? Is like in broadcast news when they send the reporter who, you know said something wrong to like cover up something in Alaska for months. It -- just get them out of the way. I mean it just it's sort of a classic. Just see I hope that's not what's happening but I mean, it seems odd that like Dr. Birx is out on the road somewhere.

GUPTA: Right and this guy is in the Oval Office without anybody sort of, you know, fact checking, you know, making the case for herd immunity --

COOPER: Or what could go wrong.

GUPTA: -- alone. I mean, it did. I think that was -- that was my -- the sources I was talking that was their biggest concern.

COOPER: Yes, you know, well, it sounds like a good idea.

CAPLAN: But that seem to be (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Yes.

CAPLAN: Let's point it out. (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Yes, we skipped over all the other plans now just plan F. Sanjay, Art Caplan, thanks very much.

Up next, President Trump embracing a QAnon follower who which is just a bizarre, nonsensical conspiracy there. I mean, if you look into it, and you're rational, it's startling. This person just won a primary race in her bid for Congress. She's Republican, more of her own conspiracy theories are surfacing. We'll look at why the GOP isn't walking away from the online called built solely on I don't know just insane satanic conspiracy theories. That's coming up.

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[20:48:08]

COOPER: President Trump continues to avoid any criticism of the online bizarre conspiracy theory group QAnon. But as we've reported in the vowed follower the movement Marjorie Taylor Greene surprised some in the GOP with her congressional primary victory in a Georgia district that usually goes Republican. So, she may well be on her way to Congress. Her unapologetic admiration of QAnon makes her a believer in the theory that among other things, there is a cabal of so called the global elites who are running the world and those same people, many of them celebrities, or Democratic politicians are kidnapping and sexually abusing kids, sucking away their blood, and using a pizza parlor as a prison. Oh, and they're also worshipping Satan. That's just the start.

None of that stop the President from congratulating Greene on her primary win this week and today he was asked about that support.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you congratulated Marjorie Taylor Greene in a tweet. You called our future Republican star. Greene has been a proponent of the QAnon conspiracy theory, as she said, it's something that should be would be worth listening to. And do you agree with her on that?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Well, she did very well in the election. She won by a lot. She was very popular. She comes from a great state, and she had a tremendous victory. So absolutely, I did congratulate her. Please, go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Go ahead, please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) do you agree with her on that? That was the question.

TRUMP: Go ahead please?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: See, he doesn't want to actually address QAnon because they actually support him. They believe he is secretly fighting this global, you know, Illuminati group of, you know, Hollywood celebrities and Democratic leaders who are drinking the blood of children and worshipping Satan, that he's secret fighting them. They used to say he was secretly fighting them along with Robert Mueller. But then that got, obviously disproven. So they now ignore that whole Robert Mueller thing, and they just say it's Trump's secretly, you know, leading the fight against the drinking of children's blood.

[20:50:17]

You heard the President ignore the reporters follow up, he doesn't want to criticize them because he wants their support. He has no reason to, he doesn't care about the fact that this is just like slanderous and insane.

Greene herself refused to talk about if you know our own Gary Tuchman tried to interview her this week after her win. She may end up going to Washington, which obviously cities scarred by the 911 attacks when a commercial jetliner slammed into the Pentagon that was hijacked. Greene turns out was the 911 truther as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE, POLITICIAN: We had witnessed 911. The terrorist attack I'm in New York and the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. And the so-called plane that crashed into the Pentagon. It's odd. There's never any evidence shown for a plane in the Pentagon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So-called plane never any evidence. 184 people murdered aboard flight 77. Well, at end while working at the Pentagon. Only yesterday only after winning her primary, did she acknowledge that it wasn't a missile that hit the Pentagon. The people in Georgia's 14th district who voted for her on Tuesday had no reason to think she respected the truth about September 11th. And every reason to think she was more than happy to spread lies about 911 and they voted for her.

Our Gary Tuchman tried for that interview on Wednesday, she refused talkback about QAnon. She still shows no sign of distancing herself from it. With me now CNN global affairs analyst and Washington Post columnist Max Boot also New York Times columnist Kevin Roose, who investigated QAnon story that ran on Thursday.

Max, I know you've written about this, I mean, it is. This is such a just a bizarre and ludicrous on its face conspiracy theory, but it also traffics in age old anti-Semitic tropes about, you know, global cabals of Jewish anchors, the Rothschilds, the Illuminati, it traffics in anti-Catholic conspiracy theories going back a long way. It's interesting. I mean, it's pretty obvious that the President's not -- didn't want to say anything about it because he likes the support of these people.

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Right. And it's easy to dismiss QAnon is kind of a joke Anderson, because what they believe is so ludicrous --

COOPER: Yes, it's not a joke. The guy showed up to the pizza parlor with weapons.

BOOT: No, exactly.

COOPER: Yes.

BOOT: Right? I mean, the FBI has classified this as a potential domestic terrorist group, there have been numerous acts of violence or attempted violence committed by --

COOPER: Trust me, I get to live every single day. So -- yes.

BOOT: Right, yes, no, it's absolutely insane. And, you know, in some ways, this is sort of a John Birch Society for the internet age. But remember what happened with the actual John Birch Society in the 1960s. You had responsible voices in the Republican Party People like Richard Nixon and William F. Buckley Jr. and others, basically trying to marginalize them and that is not happening here.

In fact, as you rightly showed the President refuses to denounce them. His son Eric Trump has actually posted a giant Q in the QAnon slogan on his Instagram page. They're actively trying to get the support of these people who are really Kooks (ph). And as somebody pointed out, you know, in today's Republican Party, it's actually easier to be a supporter of QAnon than of Mitt Romney. Think about that for a second that really tells you where we are today.

COOPER: You know, Kevin, your reporting on it, it was really fascinating. You know, the people who -- I've communicated with some of the believers of this. And, you know, some of them seemed like decent people who genuinely seem to believe that there is a global cabal of, you know, celebrities and, you know, who are drinking the blood of children worshipping Satan. But a lot of them also just seem to it plays into whatever, I'm sure a lot of them are 911 truth or is it plays into other, you know, racist, anti-Semitic tropes that have been around for a long time?

KEVIN ROOSE, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: Yes, I refer the QAnon as the Swiss Army Knife of conspiracy theories because it's got a little something for everyone.

COOPER: Right?

ROOSE: You have your anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, your anti Catholic conspiracy theories, your 911 truth, your JFK assassination truth. It's sort of every major conspiracy theory of really the last few decades sort of wrapped together in one. And you do have now the movement is I mean, one thing that the John Birch Society didn't have is Facebook and social media. And so, QAnon is now reaching out to other kinds of conspiracy theory communities and anti vaccine groups, some natural health groups and groups of more maybe science and authority, skeptical people and trying to serve bring them into the fold. And that's what we've been seeing a lot recently.

COOPER: Well, it's also -- and, you know, Kevin because that, you know, when the when the guy showed up at the pizza parlor with weapons to free children who he seemed to believe were being held, I guess in a basement by, you know, the Democratic leadership in torturing children in the basement of a pizza parlor, Washington? You know, it was a pizza parlor, just a pizza parlor. He got arrested. He's doing I think five years in prison.

[20:55:11]

But he said, oh, you know, the I think his quote was something like the, you know, the information wasn't 100%, you know, confirmed or something. It's, I mean, it's not clear if he even no longer believes that he may still very well believe this. They seem immune to facts. I mean, once that's proven wrong, it sort of went away for a while, but then the Jeffrey Epstein thing seemed to really bring it to life again. And now there's this fake, you know, flight list floating around on the internet that has just about, you know, every well-known person allegedly flying on it. And they're receiving now, you know, hate because of it.

ROOSE: Yes, I mean, I think as with any sort of end times movement, and that's sort of what these functions like. It's sort of a doomsday cult almost. There is this sense that there are these predictions that are made Q, this sort of anonymous message board poster makes dozens of predictions, they don't come true. And then instead of sort of doubting the theory, his followers sort of resolve their cognitive dissonance by finding ways to kind of slot it into their worldview. And that happened today, actually.

President Trump mentioned or was asked about QAnon, as you showed. And for the people in this community, they had been predicting for years that the moment that President Trump was asked about QAnon directly, he would confirm that it was true. He would say, yes, you're right. This is all happening. He didn't.

And so immediately, they started trying to rationalize this and saying, well, he, he didn't really want to say at this time, it's too soon. Maybe you'll say next time. I mean, as you said, more people are not going to be convinced just by predictions.

COOPER: Well, I mean, it's like they were saying that that the Mueller -- whole the Mueller team was secretly working, you know, putting out subpoenas against Hillary Clinton, they're all going to be arrested, and Mueller was actually working with Trump on this. And that all the stuff, we were reporting was all just a ruse. It wasn't the Russia investigation, it was actually, you know, child sex trafficking. And then of course, when the Mueller report came out, they all said, oh, well, that was disinformation that we had to put out in order to, you know, protect the work that's actually going on behind the scenes. I mean, it again, just logically it's really extraordinary that so many people believe this.

BOOT: But yes, but I mean, to me Anderson, the real story here is not that there are people with crazy kooky beliefs in America. We know that exists. The real story is that one of them is going to be a member of Congress come November, and that the President United States will not disavow those views, that --

COOPER: And she's a future Republican star according the President. Max Boot, I got to go. For Kevin Roose, thank you very much.

Ahead, a breaking news. Federal review now underway into the Inspector General looking to the Postal Service controversy. We'll have that ahead.

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