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Senators Sworn In For Trump's Second Impeachment Trial; Interview With Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT); Joe Biden Announces Order Of 200 Million More Vaccine Doses; Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Indicated Support For Executing Prominent Dems In 2018 And 2019 Before Running For Congress; At Least 150 People Charged By DOJ In Capitol Riot; Sen. Leahy Home From Brief Hospitalization. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 26, 2021 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thanks so much for joining us. "AC360" starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Once again, a social media company is showing that it's more willing to discipline the former President than Senate Republicans are.

YouTube today telling the technology news site CNET quote, "In light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, the Donald J. Trump channel will remain suspended." As for Senate Republicans, some of whom had to literally run and hide from violent mobs just three weeks ago, they had a chance to go on record for accountability and law and order.

Instead, today, all but five demonstrated the opposite by running from their constitutional duty and hiding behind technicalities, by playing games, even though it becomes clearer every day that the people who stormed the Capitol were playing for keeps.


STEVEN D'ANTUONO, F.B.I. WASHINGTON FIELD OFFICE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR IN CHARGE: What happened at the Capitol on January 6 has not occurred in over 200 years. We owe to the American people to find out how and why it did. We are committed to seeing this through no matter how many people it takes, how many days it takes us, all the resources we'll get to, need to, to get it done. We'll get to the bottom of this. The American people in this country deserve no less.


COOPER: That's the F.B.I. Special Agent running a criminal investigation and now has more than 400 subjects with charges up to and including sedition now on the table.

Meantime, shortly after senators were sworn in as jurors today in the ex-President's impeachment trial, Kentucky Republican Rand Paul forced a vote on whether the trial on constitutional grounds should even be held at all. Just five GOP senators voted against it, signaling their belief that

the trial should go forward. Romney, Collins, Murkowski, Toomey and Sasse. The rest including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sided with Paul.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): No Republican has sought to use the government to hold these Democrats responsible for Antifa and Black Lives Matter violence that has consumed our cities all summer, resulting in over a billion dollars of destruction, looting and property damage.

Not one Republican said, oh, let's impeach the Democrats who are inciting this because it would be ridiculous.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): A trial of a former President is simply vindictive, it will divide. It is like opening up a wound and throwing salt in it.


COOPER: Again, Mitch McConnell signed on to this, the same Mitch McConnell who refused to hold the trial when the former President was in office. He is now voting for a measure that says you can't try him because he's not in office, which is just how kind of odd and transparent the politics have become.

If the cynicism weren't enough. There's also the fact that with this vote, he is now siding with members who don't believe the former President bears any culpability at all, which might come as a surprise to Mitch McConnell, or the Mitch McConnell we saw just a week ago today.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the President and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the Federal government. I wish they did not lie.


COOPER: And five people died in what amounted to an attempt to overthrow a free, fairly certified election.

Three weeks ago, lawmakers saw the consequences and some sounded shock at what several -- including Senator McConnell openly said the President incited. Now, with that shock wearing off, perhaps a reminder is in order of the President's words and how they were received by the mob. According to reporting today, House Democrats are thinking of using them at the trial.

Specifically, they're pointing to a video put together by the publication, "Just Security," which is affiliated with New York University's School of Law. The video is 10 minutes long and shows footage posted on Parler and elsewhere in real time of how the crowd reacted to what the ex-President said and tweeted.

According to "Just Security," the clips along with other public record information provide, quote, "Strong evidence of a causal link between Trump's messages to his supporters and their dangerous illegal conduct.

Again, the video runs 10 minutes. Here is just about a minute of it.


TEXT: @RealDonaldTrump via Twitter.

Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and Constitution, giving states a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. U.S.A. demands the truth.

CROWD: (Changing "Mike Pence is a bitch.")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I speak to Pelosi? Yes, we're coming bitch. Oh, Mike Pence, we are coming for you, too [bleep].

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... go under the gallows. I hope he is put under the firing squad and found guilty of treason because men like Pence are the reason this country is falling apart.

Where is Pence?

CROWD: Bring Pence out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is Pence? Where is Pence?

CROWD: Bring him out.




CROWD: Bring him out.



CROWD: Bring him out.


CROWD: Bring him out.

CROWD: (Chanting "Fight for Trump.")

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Shocking when it happened just three weeks ago, tomorrow, and

chances are it will be no less shocking when historians look back on this three decades from now, but it is still shocking to Mitch McConnell, and all the other Republican senators who had to flee the mob threatening to hang one of their own. That is the question tonight.

Joining us now, one of the Democratic jurors in the trial, 45 Republican senators voted today to not even have is Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Thanks for being with us, Senator. That 45 Republican senators went on the record today saying they think trying a former President is unconstitutional. What signal does that send not just about this trial, but about accountability for future Presidents?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, first of all, it's plainly constitutional. In fact, the Senate in the past has tried a former Cabinet official after he had resigned office in order to try to avoid accountability, so there's precedent for this.

And there's a specific provision in the Constitution that is perspective, impeachment, not only remove someone from office, but disqualifies them from future office. That means there's a relevant consequence even to a former official. So I don't think there's a question as to whether this is constitutional or not.

But you talk about the signal it sends. Well, it sends a signal of impunity. This idea that we can't hold somebody accountable because it's divisive is completely foreign to the American rule of law.

Yes, for the person that we put in jail after they commit a crime, accountability, I guess, is divisive. The people that support them, and like them probably aren't too enamored by the fact that their loved one goes to jail.

But we still enforce the laws of this country, because there has to be consequence for violations of the rule of law and there has to be consequences when the President violates the law. And he did here, he incited a crowd to violence. He violated his Oath of Office and there's got to be a consequence for that or it sends a message to future Presidents that they can get away with it.

COOPER: How many of your Republican colleagues are frankly, just kind of latching on to this constitutionality argument that well, it's just unconstitutional as a way to avoid altogether having to, you know, be on record saying whether or not the President -- what the President did was actually impeachable?

MURPHY: Yes, I think it's a very convenient position for Senate Republicans to occupy. They can say it's an unconstitutional proceeding as a way to avoid talking about the President's conduct.

Listen, I think they are all faced with this reality that Donald Trump isn't going away and that he has developed such a cult of personality inside the Republican Party, that he is going to be the person who decides who wins Senate Republican primaries, at least for the next four years. And so they continue as they did for the last four years to, I think,

live in fear of what the President will say about them and that continues to dictate a lot of their decision making. There were five senators that stood up for the rule of law from what was right today, but many of those that voted to try to shut down this trial before it began are, you know, once again, just trying to curry favor with the former President.

COOPER: It's so interesting to me, though, because it clearly if they cared about the Republican Party, which is the party that they belong to, I mean, this actually was an opportunity to rid themselves of the looming figure of Donald Trump, you know, being down in Mar-a-Lago.

I mean, if he had been impeached, if he had been, if they -- you know, you wouldn't need as big a majority to prevent him from running for office again.

MURPHY: So long as Donald Trump is the head of the Republican Party, they are going to find themselves in the minority. They are going to lose races for the House and the Senate, especially after the insurrection attempt. But it's also important to note that the threat to the country is not over. Right? We still have 5,000 National Guard members surrounding the Capitol Complex. Why? Because there are still existing threats, present threats to the security of the Capitol.

And so, so long as Donald Trump is empowered by Senate Republicans, there is still the chance that he is going to incite another attempt at the Capitol or stir up similar trouble at the state legislative level or in a governor's election when things don't go his way. The threat is still very real to American democracy.

COOPER: And to this point, I want to play something that you said in the Senate floor speech in December.


MURPHY: Republicans have decided -- not all Republicans, but far too many have decided that if democracy can't keep Trump in power, then democracy ceases to have any real purpose.

Because to Republicans who are supporting these continued efforts to invalidate the election, their loyalty is to Donald Trump, not to the nation or our system of government.



COOPER: And they're still contorting themselves in their loyalty to the former President.

MURPHY: Yes, I gave that speech in early December before, you know anybody had marked January 6th on their calendar, because at that point, I saw what was coming down the pike, this idea that Trump supporters were willing to cast aside democracy, if that was the cost to keep their guy in power. And again, I worry that that is the direction the Republican Party is

going in. And maybe they weren't successful in stealing the presidential election. But what about two years from now, when a Republican candidate for Senate loses? Maybe state election officials do decide to overturn that vote, simply because democracy didn't end up with their favorite candidate winning.

When a party decides to make winning more important than the preservation of fair elections, that's when the whole democratic experiment starts to, you know, go down the toilet, and I think that that threat is still out there as well.

COOPER: So Rand Paul today said that the impeachment after today is, quote, "dead on arrival." Under what scenario -- is there any scenario -- I mean, it was always a long shot that Democrats would peel away 17 Republicans to vote to convict?

MURPHY: Today's vote is not a pure proxy vote for conviction. I think there are certainly senators who voted to sustain Senator Paul's constitutional objection, who now may end up voting to convict once the question is settled. But it certainly does look like it's probably going to be difficult to get to the 17 Republican votes that are necessary.

But just like was the case a year ago, that doesn't obviate the United States Senate of its responsibility to have a trial. And listen, once we put on evidence, right, those videotapes showing how the President incited the mob, once we show evidence of, you know, very clear plans, many of these rioters had to kill Mike Pence and Members of Congress, you know, maybe the process of putting on evidence does prompt a few more Republicans to vote to convict. I'm not giving up on that.

COOPER: Senator Chris Murphy. I appreciate your time. Thank you.

MURPHY: Thanks.

COOPER: More now on the notion of trying and convicting an ex- President, Rand Paul today cited Law Professor, Jonathan Turley, a defender of the President the last time he was impeached, and imagine that as President on his second impeachment.

Joining us now is Harvard Law Professor and constitutional scholar, Noah Feldman, who was a witness for the prosecution during the last impeachment. Professor Feldman, thanks for being with us. So what do you make of Jonathan Turley's argument that has now been adopted by the majority of Republican senators, you can't impeach a President who is no longer in office.

NOAH FELDMAN, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR: Professor Turley was wrong in his constitutional arguments a year ago, and he is wrong again now. First of all, it's been done, the Senate has tried and after the House impeached, the Secretary of War in 1876, when he was already out of office.

In fact, he hustled to quit in the hopes that they wouldn't be able to try him and they tried him anyway, so it can be done. The Constitution doesn't say anything about not doing it. And more to the point, the founding fathers, if they could hear this argument that you can't impeach once the guy is out of office, I'm not sure if they would be laughing or crying. But it would have to be one of those two, because it was normal to them to impeach people out of office. That was how most impeachments operated.

And one of the big innovations of their era was you could also impeach someone while he was still in office and kick him out. So, you know, it's pretty clear from historical evidence that there's nothing to that argument.

COOPER: I mean, the logic is so flawed when you take a step back, the idea that any President who is corrupt, could commit a crime, then resign and avoid all accountability. I mean, is there any argument just to be devil's advocate that that's what the framers of the Constitution intended?

FELDMAN: Well, if there were, they wouldn't have also included the possibility of blocking somebody from running for office again. You know, that didn't exist, then maybe, maybe you could say, well, it's purely symbolic, and they can't do something symbolic, and I think that would be wrong anyway, because the House and the Senate do symbolic things all the time. There's no reason it shouldn't be symbolic.

But even if you thought that were the case, the reality is there's something alive in this controversy. And what's alive is, if convicted, Donald Trump could be barred from running again for any office, including President and that really matters and it's not at all plausible to think that the framers wouldn't have wanted that possibility to be effectuated in the case of someone who resigned rather than be impeached for who just timed out like Donald Trump.

COOPER: Republican Senator Roy Blunt said today, quote, "No consideration was given to impeach President Nixon when he left office in 1974. The Constitution hasn't changed. The Congress should not set a new destructive precedent." Does that argument make any sense to you?


FELDMAN: Well, it's not a constitutional argument. I mean, it's true that politically once Nixon was out of office, there was a kind of deep breath and everyone thought, okay, let's let it go, and some people thought maybe he should be criminally tried. And if it hadn't been for President Gerald Ford pardoning him, he probably would have been criminally tried. So what was in for Nixon was much worse than impeachment.

The other thing that's relevant is Nixon had already been President twice, so he could not have been excluded from office because you can't run for a third term in any case. So there was literally no live issue there. Where it is for Trump because he has only been President once, he could be excluded. So I don't think they're analogous.

COOPER: He does seem like Professor Turley is kind of an outlier here. I mean, if you look at some members of the Federalist Society and other conservative attorneys, they've essentially debunked the constitutionality argument. Do you think it's more of an issue of political convenience than the law for Republican senators?

FELDMAN: Yes, I mean, the bottom line is all law professors that I know pretty much except Professor Turley are lined up on this side, and what's more, Professor Turley himself in 1999, wrote a Law Review article on the other side of this issue. So it's convenience for him, and it's convenience also, for the vast majority of the senators.

You know, there might be a handful who say that there's a constitutional reason and actually believe it, but for the most part, I think it's pretty obvious that they're just trying to avoid casting a ballot that says Donald Trump didn't, in fact, incite an insurrection, or Donald Trump didn't undermine our democracy for much of the last couple of years. They want to avoid that, so they hide behind the Constitution.

COOPER: Lastly, we played some of this in the intro, I just want to play a little bit more of this video from January 6th from publication, "Just Security."


COOPER: When you hear that, it appears, I think that's Alex Jones, the other video we played. I mean, do you see this compelling evidence and trial because it certainly seems possible that social media could be a big part of the Democrat strategy.

FELDMAN: Okay, it's profoundly disturbing to see that kind of footage and we all know what happened that day and how deeply disturbing it was. It was a fundamental assault on our constitutional process of changing Presidents. And so the horror is there and it's very, very clear.

That said, it would be incoherent for a Republican to say the trial is unconstitutional, but I'm voting to convict anyway. So you know, I think playing that video is a way for the devil to symbolize what's bad here. But it's not going to be enough to move the Republicans realistically unless some new evidence emerges.

COOPER: Professor Noah Feldman, I appreciate it. Thank you.

FELDMAN: Thank you.

COOPER: There's breaking news now on the President Pro Tem of the Senate who will preside over the trial. He is Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Tonight, he is in the hospital. CNN's Ryan Nobles is working the story and joins us now with details. So what is his conditions, do you know?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it seems like he's going to be okay. We don't have a ton of information right now. All we know is that Senator Patrick Leahy was taken to the hospital after not feeling well in his Capitol Hill office and the attending physician of the Capitol suggested that he go to the hospital out of an abundance of caution.

Now Senator Dick Durbin, who is the second ranking Democrat in the United States Senate, told us tonight that Leahy is feeling better. He spoke with his wife who happens to be a nurse who said that he could be released from the hospital and even back in the Senate as soon as tomorrow.

So it doesn't appear that this condition is serious. But because of Leahy's age, he is 80 years old. And because of the important role that he is playing here on Capitol Hill, the attending physician suggested that he go to the hospital to at least be checked out.

COOPER: Senator Leahy is third in line to the presidency, as Senate Pro Tem. He is said to obviously play a historic role presiding over this impeachment trial, if he were somehow not well enough to do that. Who would preside, is it known?

NOBLES: Well, at this point, we should say there's no one making that speculation right now because they expect that Senator Leahy is going to be okay. But the President Pro Tem of the Senate is 100 percent based on the seniority of the Majority Party. So in this case, that would mean it would fall the Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is the Senator from California. She is second in line is it in terms of seniority? She of course is 87 years old, she would move into that role if Leahy is unable to perform his duties.

But Anderson, everyone seems hopeful that that won't be the case.

COOPER: All right, Ryan Nobles, appreciate it. Thanks.

Still ahead tonight, two major developments on the coronavirus front. President Biden's big purchase that could speed up vaccinations across the country and a new study that could prove important in determining whether schools should reopen for in-person education.

Also some damning new evidence about the QAnon supporter turned Republican Congresswoman, disturbing comments she once made about some of the very people she now serves alongside of at the Capitol. A new CNN K-Files investigation when we continue.



COOPER: Two major developments tonight in the battle to fight the coronavirus. One, we'll get to in a moment, a new C.D.C. study that lends support for reopening schools for in-person learning. The biggest though, President Biden announcing a sharp increase in vaccine doses available in the coming months about 200 million total.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's 100 million more doses of Pfizer and 100 million more doses of Moderna, 200 million more doses that the Federal government had previously secured, not in hand yet, but ordered. We expect these additional 200 million doses to be delivered this summer.


COOPER: The President also said states should expect to get more vaccine doses starting next week, about 1.4 million extra doses per week, plus a more reliable forecast about vaccine delivery. More now about how we got here from CNN senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This mass vaccination center inside Atlanta's Mercedes Benz stadium could be vaccinating up to 2,000 people a day, but on Monday, it had just 150 appointments.

GRIFFIN (on camera): I am a bit surprised for the lack of business here.

SARAH APATOV, MEDICAL VOLUNTEER: Yes. Well, we're reserving the appointments for how many doses we have available.

GRIFFIN (voice over): There's just not enough vaccine. Fulton County Health Director, Dr. Lynn Paxton says her team alone could handle 50,000 doses a week. She's lucky if they get 10,000.

DR. LYNN PAXTON, FULTON COUNTY HEALTH DIRECTOR: We have to be very judicious in how we schedule our appointments. And the important thing I want everyone to know is that we are in no way hoarding these vaccine doses.

GRIFFIN (voice over): Louisiana's Governor decided not to have mass vaccination sites for now, there's just not enough vaccine.

In Florida, hospitals have canceled appointments because vaccines didn't show up. In parts of Texas, people lined up for hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been in line since five o'clock this morning.


GRIFFIN (voice over): CNN interviewed more than a dozen health officials from across the country and the message is largely unanimous. For many states, local health departments and hospitals, it not just the lack of vaccine doses causing the chaos. For weeks, there was a lack of information from the Federal government.

DR. AMY COMPTON-PHILLIPS, EXECUTIVE VICE President AND CHIEF CLINICAL OFFICER, PROVIDENCE: I think having a Federal plan would absolutely stop the kind of "Hunger Games" approach to every individual state, every individual county, scrambling for their own set of rules.

GRIFFIN (voice over): Without knowing how much vaccine is going to be shipped to them and when, it's nearly impossible to plan and that means crashing websites, appointments impossible to get and a vaccine rollout that is looking a heck of a lot like that botched rollout for coronavirus testing.

GRIFFIN (on camera): This sounds almost like a repeat of where's the testing -- when COVID first happened.

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: It does feel a little too familiar. We're in that exact same position with vaccines right now. We're turning away people that we know are over 65 with heart disease and we're saying, we're sorry, but we can't -- we don't have a vaccine for you today.

GRIFFIN (voice over): Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips who helps run 51 hospitals in seven states is dealing with another big problem worrying about everyone getting the required second dose.

A clinic in Seattle that was vaccinating more than 2,000 people a day is about to face a massive 90 percent cut.

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: So what about all of those people who got dose one? Now our allocation is cut back by 90 percent. How are we going to get everybody dose two?

GRIFFIN (voice over): That too is playing out across the U.S. Each state gets first doses and earmarks second doses which are required for full immunity.

Last week, Colorado's Governor ordered those second doses be used as first doses, immediately.

GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): I sent a letter to all of our partners that administer the vaccine, directing them to use all the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine they have, including the ones that were designated as second doses.

GRIFFIN (voice over): Most other states like New York are only using second doses on those who've already had a first shot.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The last thing you want on top of this chaos is people get a first dose and then they come back with a second dose and you say we ran out.

GRIFFIN (voice over): It could all be solved with more vaccine, a problem the Biden administration announced it will tackle with more than a million additional doses per week. It can't happen fast enough.


COOPER: Andrew Griffin joins us now. Hopefully, much more vaccine will be available. So it sounds like one of the biggest problems is just knowing how much of it is on the way. Is there any plan to help straighten out the supply chain?

GRIFFIN: Yes, Anderson that is one of the things that the Biden administration announced today. They're going to try to tell states three weeks in advance what you're going to get three weeks from now. And that will hopefully end all this "Hunger Games" type situation that's going on in these states and also for the people at home who are trying to get online and get some of those appointments. It will be able to schedule them three weeks out, instead of having

these mad dashes when appointments open up on websites -- Anderson.

COOPER: Drew Griffin, I appreciate it. Thanks.

Perspective now from our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Michael Osterholm, Director for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He also served on President Biden's COVID Advisory Board during the transition.

Sanjay, how was Biden's COVID coordinator able to tell governors today that their vaccine allocations would increase by around 16 percent starting next week, and why couldn't visit happen last week or even yesterday? Where are the doses coming from?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, they seem to be primarily Moderna doses that are coming that are being released, maybe some streamlining of production overall as well. It's a little bit hard to figure out exactly how they are accounting for that and how they can be so confident that it's going to be that number, but it sounds like they have at least confidence in the next three weeks to be able to release those doses.

This does not seem to include as we were investigating this today the sixth dose in these vials. Remember that, Anderson, that instead of five doses, many of these Pfizer vials contain six doses. And if they had these specialized syringes called low dead volume syringes, they could actually get that six dose out.

But they seem to think that they can get to this 20 percent increase just with more Moderna doses and streamlining some production.

COOPER: And Professor, I was struggling with it, the 200 million more doses the country has purchased, President Biden says 300 million Americans should be able to be fully vaccinated by the end of the summer, early fall. Do you agree with that prediction?

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: I do. I think the one challenge we have is going to be vaccine hesitancy and we're going to hit a point here in some time and not too distant future where we are going to have more than enough vaccine.

The question is, will people take it? And we have a lot of work to do right now to educate the public why these vaccines are so important, why they are safe, why they are effective and why they can save your life and the life of a loved one and unless we do that, we could have a substantial number of people come summer that still aren't vaccinated.


COOPER: Sanjay, researchers say from the CDC published a study that found with the right mitigation strategies, it's possible to reopen schools with minimal COVID transmission. Should schools reopen given this? GUPTA: Yes. I thought this was a very good study. I mean, you know, and I will preface by saying, you know, look, I thought in the beginning, I was very concerned about opening schools, and just the idea that kids would spread germs, especially kids between the -- over the age of 10.

But, you know, I think this was an important study with 17, rural Wisconsin schools, they had enough resources to be able to make sure everyone had masks, they could keep physical distance, but I think we have the results of the study. Basically, lower incidence of COVID in the school versus the surrounding community, and significantly, so 37% lower.

Just to give you some context, 191 cases of code of infection were found among students and staff, that was out of about 5,300 people, and only seven of those 191 actually seem to come from the school itself. So, you can start to make the argument that schools if they have appropriate resources seem to potentially be safer places than surrounding communities. We've seen that here, we've seen that in other places around the country. I think if schools have resources, you can make the argument they should open.

COOPER: Professor Osterholm, do you agree?

OSTERHOLM: I do agree. I think the one challenge we have before us though, is with this B117, the UK variant takes off. We have seen in Europe, that in fact, they had to close schools in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark, to try to bring the transmission down. But otherwise, what we have right now in this country, I think this really does give us reason to look at opening schools and feeling that we can do it safely.

COOPER: Did they have to do that because the British variant is more is more easily passed, then than the other?

OSTERHOLM: You know, at this point, we just don't know. And if you look at what happened in England, for example, they had shut down much of England, but not schools. And the case numbers kept going up. They did shut down schools.

And while we can't say for certain was cause and effect meaning exactly due to schools, closing that's only then did the numbers start to flatten off. So, I think we have a lot to learn from that yet. And we're going to need to apply that possibly here. Should this variant take off here in the United States in the next six to 12 weeks?

COOPER: And Sanjay it's not just the UK Varian, there's a Brazilian one and a South African one. Today Pfizer announced that it's, quote, laying the groundwork for a vaccine booster against variants. How great is the fear that more variants might emerge?

GUPTA: I think, you know, like I say, first of all, Michael Osterholm is the one who sounded the alarm ahead of everyone else, as he so often does, he's right on these things. I mean, I think as you accumulate more and more mutations, the idea that you're going to have more variants is true, which is why, you know, we talk about vaccines, it's not just the number of vaccines that get out there. But the speed at which you vaccinate people to try and, you know, reduce the amount of virus that's transmitting and spreading and accumulating these mutations.

But let me show you something and I can ask Michael Osterholm if I got this, right, but look at what happens in this situation. If you have a 50 percent, more deadly strain variant that would lead to one and a half times more deaths. But what is interesting, I think, to this point is that if it's more contagious, not necessarily more deadly, because it'll spread so much more, and increasingly affect vulnerable populations, and make more casual encounters more likely to result in infection, within a month, six generations, it could lead to a lot more deaths. And so that's the concern.

COOPER: So that seems to be Professor Osterholm even if the technically the variant is not more deadly. If it's more contagious, it will end up being more deadly.

OSTERHOLM: Yes, absolutely. Sanjay really laid it out very nicely, just now.

COOPER: And Professor, you're very good at putting the pandemic into terms that all of us can understand. I'm certainly not a sports expert. But I do know, there are eight, nine innings in a baseball game, what inning is this pandemic in?

OSTERHOLM: Well, I still think we're in the bottom of the third of the top of the fourth. You know, I worry that the next six to 14 weeks could be the darkest weeks of the pandemic. You know, we're down now to 150,000 cases a day, which seems down. Remember, when 70,000 or 32,000 cases a day seemed high.

And if this variant takes off here in North America, like it has, throughout Europe, I think we could be seeing numbers much, much higher than we've had to date. And unfortunately, vaccine really won't save us. And what I mean by that is we just won't have enough out in time.

If we vaccinated everybody that the government has said the vaccine will be available for through April. That's only about 12% of the U.S. population. This variant could do a great deal of harm in that time. So, we'll have to wait and see I sure hope it doesn't happen. But if it does, it's going to be a long few weeks ahead of us.

COOPER: You know, Sanjay one of the things that so just, you know, depleting about this is we've come all this way and you know, there's still a long way to go, now there's these variants. The idea that you can make a mistake, and you know, you let down your guard, you don't wear a mask when you should, or you go to the grocery store, and, you know, you happen to get gets catch it.

I mean, it doesn't matter that, that it's been this long for the virus, it's all brand new, and whether you get infected if you get infected now, it's, I mean, it's I'm not explaining this very well, but it just, it just, it's, it's so easy to mess up. And it's so easy to get tired of all these precautions, and yet, the virus doesn't care about that.


GUPTA: Right. No, I think you're absolutely right. And, you know, I think people with all the talk about vaccines, you know, I've started to look at this more in the rearview mirror. And I do think that two stats sort of struck me, the percentage of people who think the worst is behind us versus the percentage who think the worst is in front of us, it's about half and half there, about half the country thinks the worst of this is behind us. And as you just heard from Professor Osterholm, you know, some of the worst days may still be in front, depending on what happens with these variants.

But the other thing that struck me is such a significant percentage of people still when they get the when they get infected, and you say, where do you think you got this a significant percentage don't know, they simply don't know. They can't pinpoint where exactly they're getting it, that's a problem. That means there's too many potential sort of sources of infection for too many people still.

COOPER: Michael, Professor Osterholm, you should be -- if you get infected, you theoretically, you should be able to kind of be able to narrow it down because one shouldn't have that many exposures.

OSTERHOLM: Well, that again, really gets to the point of what's an exposure, most people who have been going to the grocery store, since the beginning of this would say, well, I've been there so many times I haven't been exposed. And what we're concerned about is this new variant may mean that there's just much more virus in the same setting than there was before because people are exhaling more virus. Suddenly, all those trips you made to the grocery store that weren't in an exposure now becomes one. That's the challenge we're up against. And that's what we saw happening in Europe.

But I think your points are really good. And we're so close to the end. We just got to get through the summer. We've got to get people vaccinated. And you know, beat these variants at their very game.

COOPER: Yes. Michael Osterholm, thank you. Sanjay, as always, thanks very much.

OSTERHOLM: Thank you.

COOPER (voice-over): Also reminder, join Sanjay and me for a new CNN Coronavirus Town Hall tomorrow night. Dr. Anthony Fauci along with new CDC director and others will discuss the latest in the virus the vaccine, answer your questions. That's tomorrow night 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Next for us tonight, with a KFiles investigation uncovered about a Congresswoman who's already known for her support of QAnon. Marjorie Taylor Greene, her social media presence in the past and the question of whether she supports -- or supported back then at least political violence.

Also, the search for those who turn the capital into a battleground and a killing ground. There were progress reporting investigations, ahead.



COOPER: It's more breaking news tonight. This time it's a Republican Congresswoman and her Facebook feed in the past. She's Georgia Republican Congresswoman and QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greenee. The KFile's Andrew Kaczynski shares a byline on the story joins us now.

So Andrew, what more did you learn about the Congresswoman's views and comments?

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN KFILE SENIOR EDITOR: So, what we found was that Marjorie Greene in 2018, and 2019. And this is before she ran for Congress, she was a conservative commentator posted on Facebook a lot. She repeatedly indicated that she supported executing Democratic members of Congress, including House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, there was a post when which and, you know, this is really graphic stuff.

Somebody said, a bullet to the head would be an easier way to remove Pelosi and Greene like that comment. She also repeatedly liked these comments about executing members of the FBI who she claimed were part of the Deep State conspiracy against President Trump.

And sort of the backdrop to this was she was leading this petition to impeach Pelosi saying she was guilty of treason. And she gave many speeches in support of this. And in many of those actually, also, you know, suggested that Pelosi could be executed for treason. So, as you just met many, many of these comments.

COOPER: And I think we just put on the screen, but did you get a response from the Congresswoman or anyone in her office?

KACZYNSKI: So, the interesting thing about her response was we asked her comments, and then, you know, almost like two hours before he posted the story, they sent out a tweet. And she didn't deny that she had made any of the comments or liked any of the posts.

But she said, over the years, I've had many people manage my posts, many posts up in liked, many have been shared, some of them did not represent my views, especially the ones CNN is about to spread across the internet. So she was basically, you know, didn't deny liking them, but said, you know, I might not have and, again, at the time, she was a conservative commentator, I think she ran a CrossFit gym. So, it would be a little strange if other people were running her pages.

COOPER: I mean, I was just reading her that response there and said, you know, that, they're coming after me because essentially, they're trying to have socialism in America. And she's standing up again, I'm a threat to their goal of socialism, she says, I mean, the story is about comments, things she actually did. Or at least we're on her Facebook page, in which she seems to be happy about the idea of shooting Nancy Pelosi in the head or, you know, executing members of Congress. That's what this is about. KACZYNSKI: Well, and it's she also sort of suggested that it was us in her whole full comment coming out for her about stuff other people said, but in our story, she's on video suggesting that Pelosi could be executed for treason. So it's not just about a random comment on Facebook or things she liked on Facebook. It's about stuff she also said in video and put on Facebook.

COOPER: Right. Yes, I mean she's you know, said Q is patriot. We know this, you know, it's she's, yes, has an interesting past.

Andrew Kaczynski, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

If that report is not disturbing enough, take a look at what's happening in the official Republican Party's in both Arizona and Oregon. Last night, the Oregon GOP actually said the violence at the U.S. Capitol was quote, a false flag operation designed to discredit the former president and they were serious.

And in Arizona as you may remember the state Republican Party censured its own governor for his COVID restrictions. They also recommended Cindy McCain, widow of the late Senator John McCain and former Senator Jeff Flake, because they weren't devoted enough to the man who held office for four years. For the past four years.


CNN's Kyung Lah has more.


KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the storming of the Capitol you may not have seen. Rioters breached the Oregon State Capitol and assaulted police less than a month before this. The insurrection in Washington D.C.


LAH (voice-over): As former President Donald Trump faces a second impeachment trial charged for his role in inciting the deadly D.C. riots.

BILL CURRIER, OREGON REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIR: It was a sham impeachment just like the first one.

LAH (voice-over): The Oregon Republican Party defiantly defends Trump.

CURRIER: Patriots are not going away. The President's not going away.

LAH (voice-over): The state party passed a resolution condemning 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, calling it a betrayal.

Then dived into this conspiratorial lie about the insurrection that there is growing evidence that the violence at the Capitol was a false flag operation designed to discredit President Trump.

CURRIER: This is a time for choosing, but it's a time for choosing what you really believe and want to stand for and not for just giving lip service to being a Republican.

LAH (voice-over): That's not helping to win over more Republicans says Oregon Republican State Representative David Brock Smith.

DAVID BROCK SMITH (R-OR) STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Extremism on either side, only benefits a small minority. And it's not the majority of the constituents that we represent.

LAH (voice-over): Choosing to side with the far-right fringe or not. That's the battle at the state party level. In Texas, the GOP continues to use a slogan We Are The Storm, the same slogan used by followers of the QAnon conspiracy. The Texas Republicans deny that connection.

In Hawaii, a top GOP official resigned from his post after he tweeted sympathy for QAnon followers from the state party account. He later called it an error in judgment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It'll be the Trump Republican Party.

LAH (voice-over): In Arizona, it's open warfare among Republicans. These women believe the baseless claims peddled by Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE This selection was stole and Trump won, I think by a landslide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will be with him wherever he goes. However he goes.

LAH (voice-over): The state party shows no sign of moving away from Trump, members reelected a fervent Trump follower as their Chairwoman. Despite Democrats flipping the state blue in 2020. Arizona Republican Party members don't seem to care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unification at what cost? OK. Selling out America, I can't do that.

LAH (voice-over): There will be a price war and establishment Republicans.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R-AZ): It really is driving normal, regular, rational people from the Republican Party and we can't afford to lose many more.


LAH: And it's more than just a fear that the former senator is talking about there. There are real numbers behind this. The Arizona Secretary of State's office tells CNN that 9,944 registered Republicans that's almost 10,000 of them have switched their party registration since the U.S. Capitol riot.

Anderson, when we talk to establishment Republicans here they say that is a blaring siren and the concern when they look at it nationally is that it's not just happening here in the swing state. That is probably happening and other swing states across this country. Anderson. COOPER: Kyung Lah, appreciate it. Thanks.

(voice-over): Just ahead. Latest in the arrest of those charged with attacking the Capitol. Also federal investigators plead for tips as they hunt for a person they say planted pipe bombs that day. Details when we return.



COOPER: As the Senate prepares to the impeachment trial, the former president federal investigators are still searching for the criminals he inspired, including at least one person they say planted pipe bombs that day.

Our senior justice correspondent Evan Perez joins us with the latest on the investigation. So, what do you know about arrests and charges for those involved?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is a sprawling investigation. And just to give you a sense, tomorrow marks three weeks since the January 6 insurrection. And they have according to the FBI and the U.S. attorney here in D.C., they have 400 people, subjects who are under investigation, over 150 arrests already.

And according to them, they've had about 200,000 tips of media, digital media tips that have come in to the FBI, a lot of them have come from friends, from family members who are turning in people who they believe were involved or who they know, were involved in the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol.

One of the more interesting things is, obviously is you've had arrest from Hawaii, to Florida. And this is only the beginning. We expect hundreds more to be arrested as a result of this investigation Anderson.

COOPER: The FBI also announced today that the investigation has begun to focus on more complex cases. Do you know that means?

PEREZ: Yes. So, you know, so far they've done what they call the low hanging fruit, the people who you see in social media posts who were boasting about where they were, now comes the harder part, which is to find people who purposely were trying to hide themselves. And as you mentioned, one of the big priorities is to find the people or the group behind the two pipe bombs that were found on the day of the Capitol.

Now, the question that investigators are still trying to answer is whether that was intended to draw police away from the U.S. Capitol before the assault began. Again, that's something that investigators are still trying to figure out. It's interesting Anderson they've raised the reward to $75,000.

It tells us that they are they're still struggling to find who was responsible for this. We know that they've looked at everything from cellphone tracking data to all of the surveillance cameras, and they just have not been able to find a suspect for these cases.

So, that is one of the top priorities. The other one is to figure out who may have been responsible for the killing of that officer, the U.S. Capitol Police officer who died that day.

COOPER: Evan Perez, appreciate it. Thank you.

PEREZ: Sure.


COOPER: Coming up next, the late and welcome update on Senator Patrick Leahy who was hospitalized tonight. Details ahead.


COOPER: To end the program tonight an update and a positive one on a story we reported earlier, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy who was taken to a hospital earlier today out of what officials called an abundance of caution is back at home. Spokesman said quote, after getting test results back and after a thorough examinations Senator Leahy now it's home.

He looks forward to getting back to work sooner. Senator Leahy who is 80 of course is to preside over the coming second impeachment of the former president. He's the Democratic senator with the most seniority and thus is President pro tempore the Senate, third in line to the presidency.

The trials you know scheduled to start February 9. The senators number two Democratic Dick Durbin of Illinois foreshadow the return saying his wife was a nurse and was confident he could return to work as soon as tomorrow.

That's it for us. The news continues. Let's hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME". Chris.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Anderson, thank you my brother. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

We have major news about the vaccine and a way forward on the pandemic.