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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

J&J Vaccine 66 Percent Effective Preventing Moderate and Severe Illness, 85 Percent Effective Preventing Severe Disease; CDC Director Extends Pandemic Order Halting Some Evictions; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I- VT) is Interviewed About the COVID Relief Bill; Manhunt Intensifying For Suspect Who Planted Bombs At DNC, RNC The Night Before Capitol Riot; Dems Call For Expulsion Of GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene; Small-Town Mayor Embraces QAnon; QAnon Movement Growing Quickly Among Far Right Extremists. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired January 29, 2021 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:25]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening.

Barely a day after the top Republican lawmaker in the House made his pilgrimage to kiss the ring of the man who incited the capitol insurrection is video of the attack. It is in many ways the antidote to this grip and grin shot at Mar-a-Lago, and that it serves as a reminder many will never forget. No matter how hard this Republican leader and others tried to change the subject.

First, we want to warn you the footage from a police body cam is graphic, difficult to watch. It's also important to see we think, because it's precisely with so many are trying to push down the memory hole.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

COOPER: The clip is evidence in proceedings against a man named Michael Foy, a former marine from Michigan, as you can see it shows the mob attacking a police officer, then dragging him away to be beaten. Foy is seen on tape wielding a hockey stick. He's one of at least 21 military veterans arrested so far in the capital attack. We are going to have more on the story and that aspect of it in later in the program. Will dig deeper into the troubling fact so many former service members took part in the insurrection.

We begin though tonight with the developments on COVID which like most things on the subject consist of some measures of hope and a lot of measures of dread.

First, the hope. New data showing a third vaccine, this one the -- one from Johnson and Johnson, also very effective. According to the numbers from a global phase three study, the single shot vaccine was 66 percent effective in preventing moderate and severe disease. It was 85 percent effective at preventing hospitalization and death.

Now, its efficacy against moderate and severe disease is varying from 57 percent in South Africa for the new strain is endemic, and 72 percent in the United States. It's lower, you might realize, than the figure for two doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Something Dr. Anthony Fauci today said was less of a real-world concern then you might imagine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Now the important issue because the first thing people do is compare a 72 percent efficacy with the previously reported of 94 to 95 percent. That is true. But when one looks at the potential impact on a very important aspect of what we look at carefully, mainly severe disease, that overall in the United States in South Africa, and in Brazil, the overall efficacy for severe disease was 85 percent. And in fact, in this study including the South African isolate there were essentially no hospitalizations or deaths in the vaccine group whereas in the placebo group there were.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So, Johnson and Johnson is expected now to go for emergency use authorization next week. Because it's one shot you just need one shot with it. It does not require extreme refrigeration. There will be more people getting predicted sooner.

To that in there might soon be active duty troops in addition to National Guard members giving out shots. CNN has got a look at a draft of agreement between the Pentagon and FEMA, calling for the military to provide 10,000 troops to help vaccinate around 450,000 people a day. Meantime, the states are leading the way, giving shots in arms, a shout out today for the president's COVID team.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDY SLAVITT, SENIOR ADVISER TO WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE TEAM: I want to call out 7 states that have already provided first vaccinations to more than 10 percent of their adult populations. Alaska, West Virginia, New Mexico, Connecticut, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Well done!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It's worth noting 5 of those 7 states are so-called red states. It's also hard not to contrast is between this administration's depoliticized approach one compared to the last administration's politically charged message.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As soon as April, the vaccine will be available to the entire general population. With the exception of places like New York state where for political reasons the governor decided to say -- I don't think it's good politically. I think it's very bad for health standpoint. But he wants to take his time on the vaccine.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: The current president toward a vaccination site in a gym at the Walter Reed Medical -- Military Medical Center where he also knows staff and wounded members.

But as we said just a moment ago, any hope today on that or the welcome fact that new infections have finally started dropping is offset by the prospect that even darker days could be just ahead.

[20:05:05]

According to the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the death toll could reach approximately 654,000 people by May 1st in this country.

The IHME is calling a worst-case scenario which assumes widespread transmission of the variant first seen in South Africa, and more troubling is institute new assumption which is building into its modeling from now on that some states will simply not re-impose social distancing measures even when daily deaths are high.

We're going to talk to the IHME's director in our second live our tonight. We are on for two hours. In a moment, a live report on the president's efforts to get COVID relief through Congress, even if it means doing it with 51 Democratic votes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I support passing COVID relief with support from Republicans if we can get it. But the COVID relief has to pass. There is no ifs, ands or buts. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So, there's a lot to get to tonight, starting with our medical team, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN medical analyst, emergency medicine doctor and former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore.

Sanjay, can you break down the Johnson and Johnson numbers and explain the trial results?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, let me just put the numbers up. We can put this up on the screen. But you are saying basically is how effective it was against basically moderate to severe disease. And then on the right side of the screen is severe disease.

I think it's really important point. What the left side of the screen is telling you is there's clearly some difference based on where the trials were conducted. That is really reflecting the effectiveness against some of the variance.

It's really the right side of the screen that is the most important. You sort of alluded to this already. What is the purpose of the vaccine? To prevent severe illness, to prevent people go into the hospitals, hospitals becoming overwhelmed, and to prevent death. That is where it is most effective.

And, interestingly, most effective sort of across the board. Meaning it did not seem to have a lower of effectiveness based on the particular variant, based on where the trial was conducted. It's the right side of the screen that is critically important, 85 percent protective against serious disease everywhere, including the variants.

COOPER: And, Sanjay, as Dr. Fauci said, a lot of people compare Johnson & Johnson trial data to Pfizer and Moderna's. Is it a straight comparison?

GUPTA: No, I think it's not. This is a little bit of a nuanced point, Anderson. I talked to Mathai Mammen, the head for R&D for Johnson and Johnson, about this specific thing. I will explain a little bit about what he's talking about here. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: How does this vaccine stack up to what has already been authorized in the United States, the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines?

DR. MATHAI MAMMEN, GLOBAL HEAD OF R&D, JOHNSON & JOHNSON: The honest answer is they cannot be compared head to head. Because the vaccine program, the mRNA, recruited and accrued cases in a different time, where the incidents were much lower. So, less pressure on the vaccine to protect, and there was no problematic variance everyone is talking about right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: So, what he's saying basically is not just what the vaccine is showing in terms of efficacy, but also with the trial, when it was conducted. It when you think about it is that the Johnson and Johnson trial, the vaccine was actually being trialed against a sicker population. There was more virus out there. There was more pressure from the virus on the vaccines. But also, there were more variance that we're talking about.

So, you know, one way to think about it is how would Moderna and Pfizer do now? What would their trial results show now if it was child now at Johnson and Johnson? Maybe it would be the same. Maybe it wouldn't. We don't know.

But it's hard to compare apples to apples, because the trials were done in such different times.

COOPER: And, Dr. Wen, I understand you are actually a participant in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial? You are going to receive a second dose. Now, if this is a one-dose vaccine, why are you receiving a second dose?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes. So, I decided to participate in the Johnson and Johnson clinical trial because it was a trial that was available to me at the time. I actually would've had no issues with participating in any other trials either. But the time I enrolled in the trial the only arm, there are two arms to the trial, the one is the one dose, and one is the two-dose.

So unlike Pfizer and Moderna which is studied only as a two-dose vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was initially studied as a one- dose vaccine. But then the researchers thought what if we, with the second shot, you might get more protection or even longer lasting protection than windows alone. So, the second shot is actually given 60 days after the first.

I would say that I agree with Sanjay. I actually think the results today are really promising, because if you told us back in October that we might get a single dose vaccine that can be stored, refrigerator temperatures for months, regular doctors' offices can give this out, if you're telling us that this vaccine can prevent severe disease and specifically can prevent basically all cases of hospitalizations and deaths, I think that is really remarkable.

[20:10:14]

So, I'm really excited as a participant in the trial, too.

COOPER: So, the second dose, that's part of the study as well?

WEN: That's right. So, the initial group, and the group they just release the studies from, that is the group we were enrolled in the only one dose trial. Then there are other people, tens of thousands, including me, who are enrolled in a separate trial that look at the two-dose version.

COOPER: OK. So, it's not like you have the one dose and then you say, oh, I don't have confidence in, and so on the, side will get a dose. This is actually part of the study, it's all legit.

Sanjay, as I mentioned, Johnson & Johnson, apply for emergency authorization next week. Is there any reason to think the FDA wouldn't grant it? And how would a third vaccine impact the rollout?

GUPTA: Yeah, no, I don't think there is any reason. We followed, obviously, the whole process of the emergency use authorization for Moderna, and Pfizer. We've seen how that goes. We followed the community meetings very closely on this as well. I don't think there is any reason. I mean, we talked about efficacy, but also the safety data was quite promising as well. They collected two months of safety data, just like you saw with Moderna and Pfizer.

As far as the rollout goes, it's interesting. It's a big company, and Dr. Mammen, who you just saw, he said they'll make a billion doses, potentially, of this particular vaccine in 2021. Obviously, most of that going around the world -- 100 million of those doses have been purchased here in the United States, and they've already been manufacturing, at risk, meaning that they will already have lots of vaccine available to go.

So, he told me that they would start shipping, the next day, after a potential emergency use authorization is given. And then, they roll it out. The expectation is at least, 100 million doses by June. It could go faster than that, and they, could potentially, provide even more to the United States if the United States requests, and purchases more.

COOPER: And just -- Dr. Wen mentioned this, Sanjay, but it doesn't require special refrigeration, right? It requires refrigeration, and just not the deep -- special kind that the other one does, is that right?

GUPTA: Right. Normal refrigeration and keeps for months. I think the official thing is three months, but potentially even longer. It is a lone shelf life at normal temperatures.

COOPER: That's amazing, because it could mean some regular doctor offices in places that don't have the special kinds.

GUPTA: Yeah.

COOPER: Sanjay, Dr. Wen, thank you as always, have a good weekend.

Coming up next, a live update on where things stand on a massive COVID relief bill the president wants to pass, with her without Republican support. Senator Bernie Sanders joins me like to talk about it.

And, later, more on the new up-close scenes from the insurrection. Plus, a closer look at it especially disturbing aspect of it. How many of the insurrectionists once served in the military?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:16:37]

COOPER: Some breaking news for people facing eviction. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky late today extended a pandemic order blocking certain evictions through the end of March. A measure which was set to expire this month, covering people earning $99,000 a year or less, and cannot make payment because of lost income, or extraordinary medical costs.

Measures not comprehensive, and it's not law, which brings us to the president's effort to pass a COVID relief bill, the Republican opposition, and what could be some resistance from two Democratic senators.

Our senior White House correspondent, Phil Mattingly, joins us now with more on the administration's push for their $1.9 trillion bill.

So, how and when does the president think he may get a deal on the stimulus?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, speed is of the essence when you talk to White House advisers. They know that the March deadline, not just for evictions at the end of March, but for the expanded-on employment insurance, is very real. It will start to bite, even before mid-March, when the deadline actually exists.

So, they want something done quickly. How they will get it done? The reality here on the ground, Anderson, both the White House, and Capitol Hill, Democrats saying that they don't believe Republicans will get on board.

Now, they do have slimmest majorities in the House, and in the Senate, they can pass things on a partisan basis, and so well President Biden has made it clear, they will continue outreach to Republican members of Congress. Things, right now, look very much like Democrats will move on, their own, to get the speed, and scale, of the proposal they want in place.

COOPER: And what's Vice President Harris' role on all this?

MATTINGLY: This gets to the point on if Democrats move on their own, they will need everyone they have in the United States Senate. It is a 50/50 split, with Vice President Kamala Harris, to break the tie. They cannot afford to lose a single Democrat. That is why you saw the vice president doing local TV, and local newspaper interviews, in the state of Arizona, and the state of West Virginia yesterday.

West Virginia, home to Democrat Joe Manchin, Arizona, home to Democrat Kirsten Sinema, both moderate Democrats, expressing wariness about the $1.9 trillion price tag. That will be part of the vice president's role.

But also, keep an eye on work on what is being referred to as the outside gain, talking to outside groups, to rally support, not just with the public, but also with crucial groups that can be a voice to the public. They believe, at the White House, that they can win the public battle about this bill, particularly if they are opposed, the vice president will try and rally, push, that and get this through Congress over the course of the next several weeks -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Phil Mattingly, appreciate it.

Joining us right now, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. He's been a vocal of well as some Republicans about putting largest stimulus checks into American pockets.

Senator Sanders, thanks for being with us.

So, to the question of direct payments, there's a group of senators, Democrat, and Republican, who are lobbying the Biden administration saying the current plan gives too much money to wealthy Americans, and the threshold should be lowered. President Biden himself has said he is open to that. Are you?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): All right. All that we're talking about here is trimming off some of the spillover money for wealthy people. Right now, small sums of money might go to families who are earning more than $150,000. I don't have a problem with doing away with that.

The bottom line is, in the midst of this terrible economic crisis, we have got to get checks of $1,400 on top of the $600 that we already allocated out to every working class family in this country, and to their kids as well. People are struggling to put food on the table, to avoid eviction, to go to the doctor, they need help now.

[20:20:05] And we need that total $2,000 package.

COOPER: And you've been vocal that COVID relief has to happen fast, and that means passing the bill for reconciliation, so be it.

Can you just explain, kind of layman's terms, exactly what reconciliation is, and why you think that should be an option?

SANDERS: Well, from a political point of view, most important point, is that it only requires a majority vote. To pass efficient legislation in the Senate, you need 60 votes. And, frankly, we do not have 60 votes from Republicans to address the catastrophes that are impacting working families today.

So, the only way that we are going to deal effectively with the pandemic and get vaccines into the arms of people, increasing vaccine production, the only way we are going to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, so people are not working for starvation, wages, the only way we're going to open up schools in a way that is safe, the only way that we are going to put people back to work in restaurants, and protect small businesses, the only way we're going to do that is through reconciliation.

And we expect that we will have a budget bill on the floor as soon as Monday or Tuesday.

COOPER: COVID is an area where Democrats may get Republicans, in some cases, on board. If President Biden and the Democrats do go it alone without Republican support, you know, I guess the counterargument is that it burns bridges with Republican colleagues. Does that concern you? Or does -- at this point, do the end justify the means?

SANDERS: Let's not look at it quite dramatically. I mean, the way you look at it, is should the Congress respond to the pain that tens of millions of families are hurting? Should we be effective, and aggressive in trying to crush this pandemic? Should we make sure that our kids can get back to school? Should we make sure that workers are earning a living wage?

So, the crises we face are unprecedented. We have got to act and act decisively. Now, this is the reconciliation one package. There will be another package coming along. It is possible we can get more Republican support for that one.

That one will deal with more of the long-term structural problems facing this country in terms of a crumbling infrastructure, in terms of transforming our energy system to deal with climate change. And when we do that, we can create millions of good-paying jobs. There will be some Republicans who want to work with us on that.

But right now, this is an emergency bill. It's the pandemic, it's the economic crisis. It's the health crisis. We have to act and act decisively, and as soon as possible.

COOPER: You know, one of the things you talked about a lot over the years is when Republicans have wanted money for military increases, for whatever it may be, that has not been a problem for Republicans. But when Democrats start talking about money for schools, or in this case COVID relief, all of a sudden, there's deficit concerns.

Is this another example of that?

SANDERS: It absolutely is. The hypocrisy is really quite extraordinary.

You all remember just a few years ago when Trump and my Republican colleagues voted for almost $2 trillion in tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations. Anderson, I didn't hear a whole lot of worry about the deficit there. We are talking about hundreds of billions of dollars going into all kinds of corporate welfare.

We're talking about a military budget with the Pentagon that has never been independently audited. Massive amounts of waste and fraud within the Pentagon budget. Not a problem.

But somehow or another when it comes to feeding children who are hungry, when it comes to making sure that people who are sick in the middle of a pandemic get health care they need, when it comes to reopening our schools in a safe way, expanding the child tax credit, so we deal with a horrendous level of childhood poverty in this country, when it comes to those things, suddenly, my Republican colleagues become very fervent about the deficit.

COOPER: Vice President Harris was doing -- we talked about local television interviews, West Virginia, Arizona, around the COVID bill, something many saw it as putting pressure on Democrats Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, how confident are that you have even enough votes within the Democratic Caucus to get the bill through?

SANDERS: I am very confident.

Look, at the end of the day, you got 50 members of the Democratic Caucus. And we all disagree on something. I have disagreements with this 1.9 project, the $1.9 dollar COVID bill.

[20:25:04]

Other people have different problems with it.

But at the end of the day, I believe that every Democrat is going to go into his or her heart and understand that in America today, there is so much suffering. There is so much pain. There is so much fear, about the pandemic, that now is the time.

So what, we disagree on that issue, on this issue? It doesn't matter. This is a life and death proposal. And it must be passed immediately.

And I will tell you something else, Anderson, from a political point of view. You know, we are in the majority now, barely. It's a 50/50 tie, plus the vice president. We are in the majority because we have two great candidates who won in Georgia. And those candidates promised their constituents in Georgia, it became

a national election. The president was there. Chuck Schumer was there. We said to the American people, you vote for us and we're going to start responding to the long overdue crises facing working families.

Yes, you are going to get 2,000 bucks yourself and your kid. Yes, you're going to get extended unemployment. Yes, you are going to get the kinds of housing help you need so you don't get evicted.

Those are the promises that we made. And it would be unthinkable to me that any Democrat would want to renege on those promises we made. Not just to the people of Georgia but to the people of America.

COOPER: I want to mention, talking about security in the capital after the insurrection, Speaker Pelosi said yesterday the enemy is within the House of Representatives. Democrats are planning directly to Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon supporter. Are you worried about safety from within?

SANDERS: Look, we are seeing -- we saw it in the horrible day on the 6th, with the rioting, in the insurrection effort in the capital. There is no question that there are right wing extremists who are prepared to use violence. So I think we have got to do it, and I want to think the Capitol police, the National Guard, the FBI, everybody else for the great job they did during Biden's inauguration.

But we have got to be very, very vigilant, and making it clear in this country, we can have differences, different points of view. We all disagree with each other. That is called democracy. But you do not have the right to threaten violence, and you certainly do not have the right to commit violence.

And I hope and expect that the Congress and the Biden administration will be very, very strong in making that clear.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, appreciate your time, thank you.

SANDERS: Thank you.

COOPER: There's a new security camera video tonight of the man authorities say is a suspect in the planning a pipe bombs on Capitol Hill. We'll have more on that disturbing video. It's come to light during the attack. Details up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:31:47]

COOPER: It's been more than three weeks since the insurrection on Capitol Hill and still startling new images and some important new information is emerging tonight. The Washington Post obtained the security camera video of the man the FBI says is a suspect of the planting those two pipe bombs walking to Capitol Hill neighborhood.

CNN's Jessica Schneider joins us now with more in that investigation. And more in the new video that we showed you earlier the violence on Capitol Police body cam and a warning the images are violent potentially disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chaos and violence captured on police body cam. New video tonight is exposing how police officers came under extreme attack. Police moved forward with body shields trying to keep back riders wielding a stick, a hockey stick and even a crotch lunging a police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rosanne. She's dead. She's dead.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): While the frenzy unfolds on the west side Capitol steps one-man can be heard yelling out she's dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need somebody.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): He's talking about 34-year-olds Rosanne Boylan who was crushed by the mob and later pronounced dead at the hospital. That's according to the New York Times. But the madness doesn't subside. A rioter is seen repeatedly striking police, another kicking officers. Eventually one rioter seems to try to rip an officer's baton away pulling at the officer. All the while the rioters rejoice at all of the violence they're affecting. This is the first time we're seeing the riot from a police officers perspective. And prosecutors using it and other video to lay the groundwork for cases against the more than 160 people they've charged federally so far.

But still a major mystery, who planted the two pipe bombs blocks away from the Capitol near the Republican and Democratic National Committee offices. The Washington Post obtaining surveillance video from an alley nearby believed to show the suspect on the way to plant the devices the night of January 5.

PETER LICATA, FMR FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: This was preplanned this was intentional and deliberate.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The FBI has now upped the reward for information on this suspect three times. It now stands at $100,000. The bombs were each eight inches long filled with an explosive powder and rig to egg timers according to a law enforcement official. They were fully functional but never went off. And now law enforcement believes they could have been diversionary devices.

Designed to take crucial support away from the capital just as the rioters were arriving.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Jessica Schneider joins us now. So how difficult is the manhunt going to be for the FBI?

SCHNEIDER: It's been very difficult Anderson. It's been more than three weeks now. And the FBI is still searching for this suspect and it is clear that they need the public's help. They've upped that reward three times to $100,000 and now they're releasing details about what that suspect was wearing in that video. It was a light gray sweatshirt also Nike Air Max speed turf shoes Anderson. But the problem you can see there is that that suspects face is completely obscured, making any positive idea of him exceedingly difficult. Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Jessica Schneider, appreciate it.

Former President George W. Bush's tonight signaling his support for the highest ranking House Republican to vote to impeach then President Donald Trump, Wyoming Congresswoman Louise Cheney, the number three Republican in the House is now facing a coordinated effort by Mr. Trump and his house allies to defeat her in the 2022 elections.

[20:35:07]

Mr. Bush's office tells CNN Jamie Gangal with the 43rd president will tomorrow call Congresswoman Cheney's father former Vice President Dick Cheney to wish him a happy 80th birthday and to quote thank him for his daughter service.

Meanwhile, concerns are growing on the Hill about lawmakers sympathetic to extremist threats. Some representatives are fearful of their own colleagues and are asking to use congressional funds for personal security. One name that keeps resurfacing in a negative light is freshman Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. Conspiracy theorist who chases down school shooting survivors or who has and who and Facebook postings expressed support in 2018 and 2019 for executing prominent Democrats like Speaker Pelosi before she ran for Congress.

Speaker just took the extraordinary step of moving Congresswoman Cori Bush's office away from Greene's upon the request of the Missouri Democrat. It follows a heated exchange earlier this month when Bush confronted Greene about not wearing a mask. And the Democrats have called for Greene's expulsion from Congress. Spokesperson for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says McCarthy plans to meet with Greene next week but offered no more.

On turn to a capital insider with concerns of his own, Democratic congressman James McGovern, chair of the House Rules Committee. Chairman McGovern, appreciate your time. You recently tweeted about how the GOP has handled comments and views that have surfaced about Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene you write quote, this is sick. What the hell is wrong with you, GOP Leader McCarthy, you won't even condemn extremists in your own Republican conference, who advocated for the execution of a member of Congress. What a disgrace both of you should resign.

Why do you think that McCarthy isn't doing anything about her? We had Mike Shields on last night who was saying that, what McCarthy said spoke to her privately and she privately disavowed QAnon. I hadn't seen that publicly. And she certainly hasn't seemed to have done that publicly at all and now all this other stuff. I mean, what's going on?

REP. JAMES MCGOVERN (D-MA): Oh, can I think Kevin McCarthy and I say this with great sadness is a coward. He's afraid to take on people like Marjorie Taylor Greene and the most extreme elements of his party, the people who buy into these crazy conspiracy theories, these QAnon theories. And I think he thinks that that's where the energy and excitement in the Republican Party is right now. And it really is sad because the party of Lincoln has become the party of conspiracy theories.

COOPER: And now, I mean Marjorie Taylor Greene, I think donated money to the Republican cause, which apparently, I assume, you know, gives her more influence.

MCGOVERN: Well, look, I mean, what she has said, and the way she has behaved, is appalling. She's not alone in that. I mean, but as you pointed out, I mean, this is a person who has embraced conspiracy theories, questioning the authenticity of the school shootings in Sandy Hook and Parkland. I mean, I met with the parents of both those shootings, it was heartbreaking. And I'm a parent myself and, and to have someone like her question, this terrible tragedy is offensive. It is sick. And you know, she's embraced posts that have threatened my colleagues, including the Speaker of the House, that she has dishonored her office, she has dishonored the institution, she should resign. And Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leadership should urge her to resign.

Certainly, they should be putting her on the Education Committee, you know, a woman who stocks, you know, gun, school shooting, survivors should not be on the Education Committee. But the bottom line is they're afraid to stand up there. Kevin McCarthy needs to grow a spine for the good of the Republican Party for the good of the country.

COOPER: Well, I mean, on that, I mean, there has been talk from your colleagues about trying to remove her from committee assignments. As chair of the Rules Committee, can you walk us through how that might work? And is it -- and I mean, is it possible without Kevin McCarthy on board to do that?

MCGOVERN: Well, I mean, the way it works is that the Republicans pick the Republicans, they want to committees and Democrats pick who they want to committees. I guess we could break precedent and go around that, and we should talk about that if nothing, nothing changes. But as I said, in my tweet, and I've said it many times, I mean, people like --

COOPER: And I'm afraid we lost the link there. Apologize for that. Looking at what can be done, Democrats considering what can be done without Republican support to this Congressman.

(voice-over): We'll continue the conversation next with a story about how the QAnon conspiracy theory has infiltrated other avenues of power, this time on the local level. Story of a mayor of a small town outside of Seattle. When we return.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

[20:43:40]

COOPER: Of the bizarre QAnon conspiracy theory we discussed before the break is not constrained to political figures the national profile. In one town outside Seattle, Washington, it's the mayor who supports these baseless fringe theories. CNN's Kyung Lah spoke with residents about it as well as the mayor himself who had some startling and frankly, dumbfounded conspiratorial thoughts about the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to welcome Mayor Armacost to the program.

WILLIAM ARMACOST, MAYOR OF SEQUIM: Thank you. Good morning.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIONR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The small community of Sequim, Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the next question is for the mayor --

LAH (voice-over): Has a big question for the mayor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why do you publicly support QAnon?

LAH (voice-over): Question after question, QAnon and the mayor or the talk of the town?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Question Mayor, excuse me. We -- you owe it to the citizens of Sequim.

LAH (voice-over): Residents fear that Sequim, population 7,000 may be the first to have a QAnon conspiracy theorist in power. William Armacost is the mayor.

ARMACOST: It does not influence me at the role of a city council member in there.

LAH (on-camera): But you still believe it.

ARMACOST: I am not saying that I believe that.

LAH (voice-over): That is QAnon, the ludicrous conspiracy that a cabal of Satan worshipping pedophiles are part of a deep state plotting against Donald Trump and operating a global child sex trafficking ring. QAnon burst into the mainstream during the U.S. Capitol attack, insurrectionists as we're seeing wearing Q symbols inside the Capitol and in the crowd outside.

[20:45:09]

KAREN HOGAN, SEQUIM, WA RESIDENT: Most people think of QAnon as something that is so far off the spectrum. It'll never come to their town.

LAH (on-camera): Do they?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what we thought.

HOGAN: I don't know. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, this is, this has been shocking.

HOGAN: Yes.

LAH (voice-over): It began last August, few in this quiet community two hours from Seattle expected the mayor's monthly radio broadcast to include a message like this.

ARMACOST: QAnon is a truth movement that encourages you to think for yourself. I want to encourage you to search for JoeM on YouTube and watch his videos starting with Q: The Plan to Save the World.

LAH (voice-over): That ominous video --

ARMACOST: Every president after Reagan was one of these deep state criminals --

LAH (voice-over): Full of absurd lies ends by promoting Trump as the Savior. Mayor Armacost has also spread disinformation online, he shared this QAnon rallying cry on his personal Facebook page short for where we go, one we go all posting that nearly 20 times in one month.

HOGAN: Go ahead and have those theories. It doesn't matter. But don't let somebody who has those theories get put in a position of power.

ARMACOST: I never said I believe that. I believe there are. Unfortunately --

LAH (on-camera): You called it a truth movement.

ARMACOST: What I call is the opportunity as a patriot, and as an American citizen to seek truth.

LAH (voice-over): As far as that video he encouraged residents to watch.

(on-camera): Do you believe what the video suggests?

ARMACOST: I'm not committing to that. I think, again, there are many different resources that can influence our thought pattern. Again, I encourage people to seek truth.

LAH (voice-over): For 15 minutes, Armacost returned again and again to his idea of truth.

(on-camera): So, you're not going to categorize what QAnon is? Despite the --

ARMACOST: No (INAUDIBLE) position to do that.

LAH (on-camera): Despite what we saw at the U.S. Capitol despite.

ARMACOST: You know, I've watched a lot of different videos, they showed many different what appeared to be scenarios versus what has continued to run. I have no way of confirming that that was one group versus another.

LAH (on-camera): There is a difference between fact and fiction.

ARMACOST: Again, back to the authenticity of the information that we're seeing, just because one angle of the camera showed this view, they may not have seen the other angle that shows a totally different scenario.

LAH (on-camera): What I'm confused about is you don't think he was involved in what happened.

ARMACOST: You know, I have no way of validating that.

LAH (voice-over): But some say his words aren't enough. They're petitioning to replace them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This isn't just a conspiracy theory. This is serious.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And Kyung Lah joins us now. How's the mayor's entertaining a QAnon and frankly, I mean, he's kind of playing coy with it, but clearly believes in this and is promoting this. How has it impacted the town beyond just alarming people or has it?

LAH: Well, yes, that, you know, there's been some vacancies, unusual vacancies on the city council, the city manager suddenly left there have been some vacancies among the city council though for a variety of different reasons. They've publicly said that they've departed critics of the mayor fear that it may be connected though to the mayor and what he has said about QAnon. And the reason why this particular community Anderson is so sensitive to it is that this politically is a bellwether county, this is in Clallam County. And dating all the way back to 1980, this county has picked the U.S. has voted with the U.S. president who ultimately won. So, this is a bellwether county, very moderate extremes here are just really rare. Anderson.

COOPER: Kyung Lah, appreciate it.

For perspective and new CNN contributor who's done extensive reporting on the subject, Kathleen Belew. She's the author of Bringing The War Home, The White Power Movement And Paramilitary America.

Kathleen, thanks for being with us. You've done extensive research on QAnon, you and I've talked about this before. Does anybody just hear surprise you?

KATHLEEN BELEW, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: So, I should clarify. Actually, I think not anybody has done extensive research on QAnon specifically. But what we're seeing is QAnon is sort of a new version of something that's much older and much more familiar to people who study the history of extremism. As long as we have had conspiracy theories about the endangerment of white women and children by a cabal of wicked elites. We've seen this crop up over and over and over again, in different parts of the militant right. This goes all the way back to something like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the early 20th century, if not before. And it certainly is coherent with things like white power movement, conspiracy theory in the 1980s, militia movement conspiracy theory in the 1990s.

So, what we're seeing is, in some ways, very new and different in its speed of radicalization. And in some ways, it is a threat line that gives us a way to understand what we're looking at.

[20:50:04]

COOPER: It's so -- I mean, it's so fascinating, you know, this really is just this theory is a hodgepodge of every conspiracy theory that there has ever been. And as you say, these go back, you know, ages. I mean, these are age old conspiracy theories that are anti-Semitic. There were a lot of anti-Catholic tropes in the early part of the century in the United States. You know, I mean, down going back to the Middle Ages, there were, you know, during the plague, there were conspiracy theories that Jews were responsible for poisoning the water with, you know, with toads and lizards and things.

BELEW: Yes and bringing up the plague is no accident. I think that the coronavirus is an enormous stressor and it's a historical factor that's pushing people towards radicalization. So are things like economic instability, racial justice, protests, masking laws, there's a whole bunch of factors in the media right now that are moving people towards radical political action.

So, one big question that we should have is QAnon really set a lot of importance on January 6, as a date of action, and on January 20, as a foretold date of change. Some people are feeling very intense disappointment and are leaving the movement and trying to sort of go through their own deradicalization process, but others are deepening their involvement in this idea. And they are sort of available right now for recruitment by a group of people who has had a longer trajectory in our recent past the white power movement.

Now that movement, which has included Klansmen, neo-Nazis, white nationalists and others, in recent years, brings with it a whole bunch of infrastructure that should be very alarming to people who are watching this, including paramilitary training camps, military grade weapons and material and a set of strategies that we have only seen the beginning of. I think that January 6, is the beginning of a lot more disturbing and problematic events to come.

COOPER: You know what's so kind of ridiculous about that mayor portraying QAnon, as though it's some sort of rational, clear eyed way of looking at things that it's actually kind of stripping away the artifice and revealing the truth of what's really happening. It's so ludicrous when you look at the history of QAnon, the promises that, you know, this shadowy figure cube posted about what would happen. Pretty much every prediction that QAnon has made about what's going to happen. Hillary Clinton was going to be arrested, or they're all these high-level arrests are going to be made of, of, you know, this cabal of elites who were drinking the blood of Satan and attacking children. None of it happened. And yet, they, it's, you know, they just change the focus, and they just they come up with another explanation for why those things didn't happen.

BELEW: Yes. And I think that it might be useful to think about how the extreme fringe here can tell us something about the political rifts that are present in even more mainstream forms of our politics. Because I think that the version of January 6, told by QAnon is, of course, very, very extreme. But it's not completely distinct from a version of that event that has been taken up in much more mainstream outlets that posits that it was not an insurrection, that it was not a riot, that it was not any of these things, but actually was a patriotic action. I think it's telling that the gentleman in that story referred to himself as a patriot.

Now, that's a word that has really different meaning for people on different sides of our political spectrum. And it's one that has been taken up by other parts of white power activism over quite a long time. And I think it's telling that people are thinking about patriotism and 1776 and other ways that that action at the Capitol to some people was not conceptualized as an illegal action.

Now, I think it's really clear from a historical and legal standpoint that that was an insurrection, that it's part of what many people in this movement have been trying to wage as a race war for decades now, and that it was an antigovernment moment. But that rift is sitting at the heart of our political discourse, and I think it will continue to cause problems until we confront it.

COOPER: It also what's interesting about QAnon is that they've used this fig leaf of protecting children as kind of a smokescreen, and in a way kind of an entry -- a reach out to a lot of people who probably on the face of it said wouldn't have said, oh yes, I'm going to get involved in an organization or in a belief system which claims there are lizard people who are posing as human beings drinking the blood of children, or worshipping Satan, et cetera, et cetera.

[20:55:00]

But the point is, well of course I care about children of children being sex trafficked, which is a legitimate problem, globally and there are legitimate organization working on that. That's an entry point that a lot of people would want to get involved with.

BELEW: Absolutely. I think that processes of radicalization and how people get pulled into this movement is of the utmost pressing concern to all of us.

COOPER: Kathleen Belew, I really appreciate your time and I'm great -- I'm so happy that that we're going to be seeing more of you on CNN.

A quick programming note tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. We've got a special report Inside The QAnon Conspiracy. It explores the origins of this truly bizarre theory and how it became a movement that includes now members of Congress. Again, that's tomorrow night 9:00 pm. Eastern. We've been working on that. I hope you like it.

(voice-over) Up next, more of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a former medical adviser to President Biden and the director of University Institute behind and influential coronavirus model joins me tonight. Will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this third vaccine and whether it can help reverse the thousands of deaths per day COVID is now causing.

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