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Texans Facing Another Night Of Record Cold; Sen. Cruz Faces Fierce Backlash For Flying To Cancun While Disaster Hit Texas; Key Coronavirus Model: Herd Immunity Not Expected Before Next Winter. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 19, 2021 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. At the top of the hour, Chris Cuomo is off tonight.

Topping this hour, what appears to be the last night of brutal cold weather in Texas. But even as temperatures rise, millions of Texans, like these people, lining up for water, are still in dire straits. And for some, the hard times could linger.

According to state officials, nearly 15 million people have seen water service disrupted. Homes have been damaged or destroyed by flooding from ruptured water lines. At least 26 people have died from hypothermia, from carbon monoxide poisoning and weather-related accidents. It has been a punishing week.


JUDGE LINA HIDALGO, HARRIS COUNTY, TX: Supply chains are catching up for grocery stores. But we're still waiting for that to happen.

And more broadly, folks are just exhausted, you know? Folks are shell- shocked from what happened. They've been battered. They are barely beginning to recover. And we are just beginning to learn the extent of the toll.

The latest information I have is 10 hypothermia deaths in Harris County alone. We've got around 600 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning, other deaths as well obviously from carbon monoxide poisoning. Very frustrated and just, exhausted residents, and they've been resilient. They've been - as tough as it gets. But it's a lot.


COOPER: Texas Governor Greg Abbott spoke with the President today, who is expected to sign a federal disaster declaration for the state shortly.

Joining us now is Craig Brown, Mayor of Galveston, Texas.

Mayor Brown, thanks so much for joining us. I'm sorry, it's under these circumstances.

I know there were two distribution sites that were set up today for the delivery of bottled water for citizens. How is - how are things going tonight? How is the recovery going?

MAYOR CRAIG BROWN, GALVESTON, TEXAS: Recovery is going well. We had distribution sites today. We distributed water. We've traded concerns, one concern for another. We had electric concerns, water-into-the- homes concern, and now we have drinking water, food and repair concerns going on.

COOPER: I understand there's still a boil water notice in effect. Is there essentially just when it might be safe to drink the water again?

BROWN: Yes, sir. We're working on that right now. We have guidelines, state guidelines we have to meet, for testing of the water, since it was down. We're working diligently to get that back up, hopefully, in the next couple of days.

COOPER: The folks at Galveston certainly are used to some hardships. I've been there for a number of hurricanes, over the years. There's concern not just about drinking water, water from burst pipes, I understand, that's now thawing and flooding homes in the area. That's got to be tough to deal with.

BROWN: It's very difficult, and that's one of our major problems.

We're a historic city, semi-tropical in nature. These homes here, historic homes, they're built for heat, not cold. We had inside temperatures as subfreezing as the outside, mini-flat type pipes froze. And we then, as it thawed out, had flooding in many of these houses.

COOPER: And in terms of power, I mean, there have been those massive outages around the state, there's been a lot of restorations. Where does that stand in Galveston?

BROWN: Right now, the power is moving back. I was just informed recently we got about 90 percent of our homes back in, businesses back in, power. So that's been good. And that helps with the heat, of course. But we are now struggling, trying to find individuals and materials to start these repairs.

COOPER: What do you - I mean, what's the takeaway from this?

Obviously, Texas, given the climate, a lot of the energy facilities are not weatherized for cold weather. I know El Paso has had experience in bad weather, so they actually had winterized their facilities, and El Paso remained pretty much OK.

Is there anything that needs to change in your view about how power is distributed in Texas, or just how to avoid this in the future?

BROWN: Well, there's no doubt with the concerns that we're having, and around the state, for sure, things need to change. We're a city that we're used to recovery. We're used to catastrophes, as hurricanes go, and we're used to coming back from those.


But when you have something like this, where the power is down, and it's outside of our control, that becomes a main, main concern here. And so, we're looking to the state to do something about this, so we don't have a repeat of this.

COOPER: Yes. Well Mayor Brown, I can't imagine how busy you are. Appreciate you taking the time to speak to us tonight. Thank you.

BROWN: Thank you.

COOPER: I recently spoke with Bill Gates, who, among other concerns, is now focusing heavily on climate change, and the kind of impact we're seeing in places like Houston tonight.

He's the Author of a new book on the subject, "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need."

Here's a portion of our conversation.


COOPER: I want to start with what's going on in Texas. We're watching the authorities dealing with just how unprepared they were for this extreme weather event. And we're seeing the very real human consequences, the suffering going on because of it.

What's your takeaway from what's happening?

BILL GATES, AUTHOR, "HOW TO AVOID A CLIMATE DISASTER": Well, specifically, Texas was not ready for these cold temperatures.

And they had a nuclear plant go down, because it affected the sensors. They've had natural gas plants that have had freezing problems, and a little bit the wind, but it's not inherent that those things aren't weatherized.

Wind is used in North Dakota. Natural gas plants are run in Alaska. And so, it's just they - this is so unexpected, in terms of extreme weather events.

The general point that as we move to weather-dependent sources, wind and solar, that we have to be very careful about reliability that we will need to build more transmission and have some sources that are constantly there. That's - the general point actually is true. But this specific, is in no way an illustration of that.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, the Republican Governor Abbott, scapegoated, initially, frozen wind turbines, particularly, and the Green New Deal in general.


COOPER: When in reality, I mean, is that - is that to blame? GATES: In this specific case, no. You could imagine, 20 years from now, when the renewable percentage gets very, very high, that you could have reliability issues. But that doesn't explain any of what's going on here. This is not because of renewable dependency.

This is natural gas plants, largely that weren't weatherized. They could have been. It costs money. And the trade-off was made. And it didn't - didn't work out. And it's tragic that it's leading to people dying.

COOPER: In your book, in "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster," you use COVID as a mechanism to kind of help people understand how serious climate change is that by mid-century, it could be just as deadly as COVID. And by 2100, five times as deadly.

What lessons do you think we can learn from COVID that would be applicable to dealing successfully with climate change?

GATES: Well, the Pandemic is a great example, where we count on the government to have expertise, and to prepare us, even from likely events. Certainly, because we have earthquakes, the government has building codes to minimize the damage and the deaths. They've got FEMA that can step in there.

For the Pandemic, despite, myself and others, as far back as 2015, highlighting this, as a huge problem, that we weren't at all ready for, the right steps were not taken. And then, even as the Pandemic came upon us, some of that CDC expertise wasn't used.

So, we'll be looking back at what we should have done differently. And I think, this time, because of the trillions in dollars of cost, and, huge human misery that doesn't even get into that economic figure, that we will make those investments and that will be great.

Climate is very similar, except sadly, with climate, once you get into the problem, the coral reefs dying off, the Arctic ice being gone, you can't reverse those things just by inventing one thing.

With the Pandemic, thank goodness, the pharmaceutical industry, Pfizer on its own, the others with some U.S. help, did come up with the vaccines that now we can see, you know, the end is in sight, even with the Variants slowing things down.

With climate, it won't just be one breakthrough like that. And if you let it start to happen, the instability, the die-off levels, will be way beyond the problems that we've had here with the Pandemic.

COOPER: Where do you think we are in this Pandemic?


I interviewed President Biden just the other day. He was saying he thinks by end of July, there'll be enough vaccines available, for anybody who wants one. Doesn't necessarily mean it'll be in people's arms by then, but they'll be a - they'll be out there. They'll be available. And by December of next year, we'll be back to normal, though I talked

to Fauci after that, who, sort of, said "Depends how you define normal."

How - where do you see it? When do you think normal, you know, a semblance of normal returns? And do you think that end-of-July figure for the vaccines, is right?

GATES: Yes, so the supply side on the vaccines is a very positive picture, because not only do we have Pfizer and Moderna upping their capacity, we have also Johnson, &, Johnson, and Novavax, that have proven to be very effective are coming along.

And there will be U.S. factories. So that'll join in meeting that U.S. demand. So having the supply side in great shape by July, I think that's very likely.

The logistics that have been limiting, you know, that varies state by state. But I think the lessons of the states who did it well, you know, if we had to do it all over again, the CDC should have had the clear website to organize things, but it's too late to start that over.

So the logistics could push things out a month or two. The Variants may mean that even people like myself, who are lucky enough to have been vaccinated, we may get a booster dose that's adapted to those, and they'll - so there'll be some logistics around that.

But the true limiting factor may be the demand, how many people are open-minded as they see that the - there's very, very little, in the way of side effects, and that you're protecting your fellow citizens.


COOPER: You can see our full conversation with Bill Gates, for an hour-long conversation, tomorrow night, 9 P.M. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Next for us tonight, what to make of the Ted Cruz apology tour, after his brief moment in the Mexican sun, while his constituents were freezing. We'll talk with someone who is Executive Editor of Texas Monthly, makes it her business to know how he operates.

And later, new information on how effective just one dose of a two- shot COVID vaccine could be, but a warning as well. That, and more, when we continue.



COOPER: Senator Ted Cruz made more regretful noises today about flying down to Cancun with his wife and daughters, while millions of Texans shivered in the dark.

You'll recall, he left on Wednesday, for a long weekend, in the Ritz- Carlton, then came back yesterday, suggesting that was the plan all along. Nor was - it wasn't true, nor was his suggestion the trip was at the behest of his kids. Text messages reported in "The New York Times" showed otherwise.

In any case, he returned, as you might imagine, to some angry Texans, and today offered them this.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): It was a mistake. At the same time, look, I mean, I - I got to admit, I started having second thoughts, really, as I sat down on the plane, as I started leaving.

School had been canceled. It was something that - that we could do. And we were trying to - trying to take care of our families, which is what millions of Texans are doing.

But at the same time, you're right. As a leader, you need to be here. And you need to be here, when - when Texans were hurting. And that's why I didn't feel good about it, even as we were heading out. I knew why we've said "Yes." But I was thinking it was a mistake, almost from the outset.


COOPER: Joining us now is Mimi Swartz, Executive Editor of Texas Monthly.

Mimi thanks for being with us. First of all, how are you holding up? Where? How are things in Houston?

MIMI SWARTZ, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, TEXAS MONTHLY: Well, we have, as you can see, from the lights, we have power. And I had my first shower this morning. We have water. So, normalcy is returning.

It's a little warmer tonight than people thought it would be. But there're broken pipes everywhere. We have no idea what the death toll is really going to be. It's just - it's infuriating. And what he said just made me mad all over again so.

COOPER: Do you think he should not be continuing to explain this?

SWARTZ: No, I'm glad he apologized. I guess, for him, that's a - that's a good first step. But he's been our Senator for a long time. He knows where he's supposed to be.

Sheila Jackson Lee, our Congresswoman, was out, giving out water taking care of her constituents. Beto O'Rourke was out taking care of people. I mean, I just - I think his behavior is reprehensible.

COOPER: What do you - what do you make of him?

I mean, Amanda Carpenter wrote this - this piece, that's, I think, on, that kind of links it to the role he's kind of taken on is not necessarily somebody who's representing particular constituents, but he has a global platform, you know, a national platform. He's clearly interested in being President, at some point. It's all

about being on "Hannity" show and tweeting, and--


COOPER: --you know?


COOPER: Being in the forefront.

SWARTZ: I can't remember if that's the essay, where someone talked about Texas - Texas leaders being more performative than caring about--


SWARTZ: --their actual constituents. But I think - if he thinks - I mean I know he wants to run for president. But I guess my question is, how long are people's memories going to last?

This is a pretty devastating thing that's happened here, on top of Hurricane Harvey, on top of the Pandemic. And I can't believe there's not going to be some payment extracted for this for him.

COOPER: Do you think - do you think he will be forgiven?


SWARTZ: We're a forgiving people, in Texas. I just don't know. That's the question I'm asking. I think, if he were up for reelection - he's up in 2024, I think. If he were up next year, it would be really interesting, you know, if it were sooner rather than later.

COOPER: It is, you know, so many politicians forget that, you know, I don't know why people forget, but that everyone had a camera on their phone. I'm not sure how anybody would have thought--


COOPER: --that they could get away with this. And he's clearly checking his phone, when he's sitting there on the plane, at the gate--


COOPER: --clearly must have--


COOPER: I mean I know he said he started to regret it, then. I can't help but think he started to regret it because he started to see "Oh, wait a minute. People were"--

SWARTZ: He was getting caught.

COOPER: Yes. He was getting--


COOPER: --caught.

SWARTZ: He didn't, you know, I wondered, I thought about Lindsey Graham getting mobbed at the airport. And I thought "Well, didn't Ted Cruz, you know, did he miss that clip? What happened there?"

And I think he probably knew by then he was already sunk. But this is a guy who leaves his own poodle at home, when it's 27 degrees so.

COOPER: Well, that's in a whole other aspect to the story, which I'm not--


COOPER: That, I was trying to figure out like, was there food left out for the poodle?

SWARTZ: I think the security guard had to take care of the poodle.


SWARTZ: There's a security guard outside their house.

COOPER: How long do you think this is going to go? I'm not talking about the Cruz thing.

I'm just talking about for I mean, how long are you expecting this to go on for? And do you think anything is actually going to change based on this? I mean, there's talk obviously of the need to weatherize these--


COOPER: --a lot of these power facilities.

SWARTZ: Yes. I think we're - I think that's going to be next week's task is, once people start looking at the expense. I read a story today that they think the damage here is going to be worse than Hurricane Harvey, which was $19 billion.

So, I think we just don't know yet. It's going to be massive. And I'm hoping that the electorate will think of this, going forward, because we can change things, and we can make our lives better. But we've got to have leaders who are more responsive.

COOPER: Yes, Mimi Swartz, I really appreciate it. Thank you very much.

SWARTZ: Thank you. Thank you. Take care.

COOPER: You too.

One quick note, Amanda Carpenter's piece can be found at the Bulwark, not I apologize for that. At the Bulwark - Bulwark. In any case, it's well worth reading.

Just ahead, new numbers from a key model that tracks the course of the Coronavirus and what they say about how long before we reach normal?

Also, Dr. Anthony Fauci has pushed back a new research that says one dose of the Pfizer vaccine can be effective against the virus. The implications of the debate on the vaccine shortage, when we continue.



COOPER: A key model used to forecast the course of the Coronavirus has positive news tonight, about declining deaths and cases, but also a sense of caution.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington says it does not expect the U.S. to reach herd immunity prior to next winter, now, the reason, those more transmissible Coronavirus Variants now spreading across the country.

Last hour, I spoke with the Director of the Institute. He said people with immunity from previous infections may not be immune to these new strains, which may prolong our return to normal. Listen.


DR. CHRIS MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: The reason the fall may not be what we're hoping it to be is that there's evidence emerging that there isn't going - necessarily protection from one variant to the next variant.

A lot of people being infected doesn't necessarily mean, in the presence of these new variants, that we'll have protection that we hope for.


COOPER: The news comes on the heels of new research that supports arguments for a one-dose strategy to get more vaccines to people. It's controversial.

A study published in "The Lancet" found one dose of the Pfizer Vaccine, 85 percent effective, in the month after it's administered. Dr. Anthony Fauci has pushed back, questioning the durability of receiving just one dose, and saying the testing just certainly hasn't - just hasn't been done in that way.

Perspective now from Dr. Celine Gounder, a CNN Medical Analyst, and infectious disease specialist, who served as Medical Adviser to President Biden, during the Transition, and William Haseltine, a former professor at Harvard Medical School, also the Author of "My Lifelong Fight Against Disease."

So, Dr. Gounder, the thought, of not achieving herd immunity before next winter, that is certainly daunting. Do you think that's a real possibility?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, SERVED ON BIDEN-HARRIS TRANSITION COVID ADVISORY BOARD, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST AT NYC'S BELLEVUE HOSPITAL, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think number one, we need to understand that herd immunity, through natural infection, is simply not going to happen. We've seen that that's not a realistic option.

So now, we have vaccines. And the real question is whether we can reach herd immunity through the current vaccines, or whether the emergence of these new mutant Variants will get out ahead of us. And that remains to be seen.

We already see that the U.K. variant, this, what we call B.1.1.7. variant is very likely to become the dominant strain by the end of March into April. And then there's also other strains that are coming behind that.

And so, it really depends on whether our vaccines remain effective against these Variants. They are for now. But if we allow them to continue to mutate that may not remain the case.

COOPER: Which argues for getting much vaccine out there into people's arms to stop these mutations, Professor Haseltine, do you agree?


And I've been thinking about the - what's happened over the past year, it's just been about a year since we've taken this seriously. And it seems like we're going into a repetition of what we've done before. The moment it looks like cases are declining, we start to relax.

Fool me once, it's your fault. Fool me twice, it's my fault. We're about to fool ourselves, I think, a third time.


We're hoping we would get some kind of general population immunity. I actually call it seasonal population immunity. That's what we're heading into, seasonal population immunity.

We know it from flu. We know it from these cold viruses. And vaccines can make a difference, but they don't make all the difference. They certainly haven't done it for flu. And I doubt they're going to do it for this.

This virus is changing very fast. And we have very good evidence that the vaccines that we have, even when they're at their maximum efficiency, aren't doing a full job to protect against them. So, we are heading into trouble.

COOPER: So Professor, what does that mean, instead of thinking about it as herd immunity, seasonal immunity, what that - that COVID is just around, it's just here to stay, in an evolving sense, and the vaccines are going to have to evolve, and ultimately, it's just something people are going to get vaccinated for every year?

HASELTINE: That is one possibility. And I think it's a very strong possibility.

And we can't predict whether it'll be this winter or next winter, when we're going to get hit again. But I think we can predict pretty well, we are going to get hit. The vaccines may be partially effective.

But you have to remember, this is not the flu. This is a lot worse than the flu. And so, we can live with 20,000 to 60,000 Americans dying, every flu season. I don't think we want to live with 20,000 to 100,000 to 600,000 Americans dying every winter. And I think we have to do a lot more to control it.

It's not enough to control it. We have to eliminate it from our borders. Unless you think that's not possible, it is possible, because I know six countries, three of which had serious epidemics, which did eliminate this virus from their borders. It can be done, and we need to do it.

COOPER: You're talking about what Taiwan? Where?

HASELTINE: I'm talking about Singapore.

COOPER: Singapore.

HASELTINE: Australia, New Zealand.


HASELTINE: Taiwan, and most of all, China.

They had a huge epidemic, and it's under control, except for infections that come in from the outside. It can be done. But we haven't done anything like what is necessary. And that's why I say, we're about to fool ourselves the third time, and we're likely to get a fourth wave.

COOPER: Dr. Gounder, I mean, the CEO of Pfizer told Kaitlan Collins that he doesn't think taking one dose of the Pfizer vaccine would work, yet the debate about vaccinating more people with a single dose continues. Where do you stand on this issue?

GOUNDER: There's the old saying "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

And the way I think about it is if you get one shot, you have a 10 apples. If you get two shots, you have a 100 apples. And as the virus mutates, it takes more and more apples to keep the virus away.

And so right now, 10, apples with one shot is enough for most of the strains, but not the variant strains. So, we are definitely seeing that even with 10 apples, you might get into trouble.

And the problem with that is then you create what we call immune pressure, natural selection, survival of the fittest, where you're selecting for those variant strains, where one dose would not ward them off.

And so, I really think we need to be thinking about not just what it means in the very short-term, but what it means in the long-term, for what we might be selecting for, what variants, what mutants we might be selecting for that will actually land us in a much worse position in the long run.

COOPER: Professor Haseltine, what do you - you're saying "We're not doing what needs to be done." What needs to be done?

HASELTINE: Well it's always - we've always done what you need to do. You need to find those people, who are contagious, find those people, who they've contacted, and they have to be isolated.

I'll tell you the other thing we've just learned about some of these new Variants, one that's spreading here very rapidly. When you get it, you have it for a lot longer, twice as long as you had it before.

There's a real study just done with the NBA. They took a bunch of people. A number of them were infected.

They tested them every day. They did their sequence every day. They knew exactly what was happening. And those that got the Variant had it for almost two weeks, and they could transmit it for almost two weeks, whereas those that had the regular virus were clear in about a week.

So, these Variants are really serious. You have to take them seriously. And that means isolation, if you are exposed. That's what it means. And we have never done that.

COOPER: Dr. Celine Gounder, Professor William Haseltine, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Still to come, new indictments of alleged far-right extremists, who investigators said, participated in January 6th attack on the Capitol. The cues, the prosecutors say, they believe, they were taking from then-president.

Also report on the money made, peddling hate, anger and racism.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got a gun.




COOPER: Another member of the law enforcement community charged in connection with the January 6th Insurrection at the Capitol.

Prosecutors say a Pennsylvania police officer had posted video of himself, at the rally, fighting with other officers. According to investigators, the footage shows the 55-year-old, at one point, running at a police line, yelling "Charge."

This comes the same day as the Justice Department revealed it has indicted nine people, whom it says were associates of the far-right extremist group, the so called Oath Keepers.

Prosecutors say some of those charged appear to be taking their cues from former president's own comments, in advance to the rally, specifically about how it would be "Wild."

As our Sara Sidner discovered, the hate and vitriol, on the far-right has become fodder not just for far-right leaders, but the people who hope to profit off it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Jews are the terrorists.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some neo-Nazis evading the law are profiting from their hate.

ROBERT WARREN RAY, FUGITIVE: The whole concept of civic nationalism is just ridiculous.


SIDNER (voice-over): Making money from online donations and getting away with it. They've been gaming the system for years. But after the deadly white supremacists' rally in Charlottesville--



SIDNER (voice-over): --mainstream social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and payment systems like PayPal started banning them. Since then, they've been jumping from platform to platform soliciting donations in cryptocurrencies for their racist and anti-Semitic tirades.

JOHN BAMBENEK, CYBER SECURITY EXPERT: Kind of a form of social media influencer gone wrong.

SIDNER (voice-over): Cyber Security expert, John Bambenek, has been following the donations.

SIDNER (on camera): What kind of money are these known neo-Nazis and white supremacists making?

BAMBENEK: Most of them, the prominent ones that - that have made the news, so they're making six figures, over six figures worth of Bitcoin, in terms of U.S. dollar equivalence. SIDNER (voice-over): This streaming and gaming site called DLive became a new favorite with extremists. Users tip in so called Lemons, which can be converted into cryptocurrency or cash.


SIDNER (voice-over): Far-right extremist Tim Gionet, known as "Baked Alaska," used DLive to livestream the deadly Capitol breach.


SIDNER (voice-over): Collecting donations as it happened.

MEGAN SQUIRE, ONLINE EXTREMISM EXPERT, ELON UNIVERSITY: It's a video gaming system platform mixed with cryptocurrency, mixed with video livestreaming, and all of that with this layer of white supremacy and neo-Nazi actors.

SIDNER (voice-over): Take this guy.

ANGLIN: It's a lot easier to just say "The Jews did it!"


SIDNER (voice-over): Andrew Anglin, a Holocaust-denier, who runs one of the most prolific neo-Nazi websites on the internet, and gets donations online.

SQUIRE: He was in the top 10 though, as far as earnings on the platform.

SIDNER (voice-over): Anglin is also in hiding, running from a $14 million civil judgment against him. A judge found him liable for encouraging his online troll army to harass a Jewish mother and her young son.

We first visited Tanya Gersh in 2017, after Anglin published her name and address online, leading to non-stop threats and intimidation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope you die.

You worthless (BLEEP).

You stupid ugly (BLEEP) Ms. Tanya Gersh.

TANYA GERSH, SURVIVOR: I had a lot of phone calls with gunshots. That sound kind of still makes me sick.

SIDNER (voice-over): To this day, Gersh is incensed about what happened.

GERSH: We are not worthy of being hated. We are very loving. And it's so important that the world knows that, Sara.

It's so important, because haters don't know who they're hating. They're making money off of our pain. It's time to set some boundaries. Not all speech, not all writing is free. It is not free, if it terrorizes another human being.

SIDNER (voice-over): Tanya Gersh, and her family haven't seen a dime of the $14 million, the court says Anglin owes them.

Anglin is holding on to about a half million dollars in Bitcoin, according to Bambenek's latest review of his crypto-wallets. And Anglin received Bitcoin valued at nearly $600,000 over the past six years.

Another neo-Nazi getting crypto-donations for hate, Robert Warren Ray, nicknamed "Azzmador." We caught up with him in 2017, as white supremacists gathered in Houston, saying they were there to protect Confederate monuments.

SIDNER (on camera): You said that the Holocaust, you don't believe that the Holocaust happened?

RAY: No. Show me a piece of evidence. Nobody has shown me a single--

SIDNER (on camera): There is evidence everywhere.

RAY: --piece of evidence.

SIDNER (on camera): Why do you hate Blacks and Jews so much?

RAY: Well, I don't hate Blacks. I hate the Jews because they are behind all this.

SIDNER (voice-over): The 54-year-old neo-Nazi is a fugitive. Ray was indicted for illegally using tear gas against counter-protesters during the Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally. He failed to show up for all of his video court appearances.

While evading justice, he did show up here, on DLive, getting donations, while spewing hate.

Megan Squire also studies, online extremists and their earnings, at Elon University.

SIDNER (on camera): How successful have neo-Nazis and white supremacists been in making money on DLive?

SQUIRE: Unfortunately, they've been very successful. I was taken aback by the amount of money that was being donated from this much younger demographic.

SIDNER (voice-over): In a statement, DLive told CNN, after January 6th, the company established a new policy, under which community guideline violations will trigger automatic suspensions. DLive also said it was appalled that a number of rioters in the U.S. Capitol abused the platform to livestream their actions.

Experts say the game-like arena of DLive is introducing young people into a dark world of hate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you teammates. SIDNER (voice-over): And having cash on hand could make extremists even more dangerous.


COOPER: I'm joined now by Sara Sidner.

Fascinating report! Why is it so difficult to hold people accountable, but so easy for them to make money online? I mean, is anything being done to stop this?


SIDNER: There is, sort of, I guess is the best way to say that, which is not very satisfying. There is a whole cottage industry used by law enforcement to try and track those who are using things like cryptocurrency, illegally.

But it is very hard to trace it. And that is because you just kind of think of it this way. It's like finding a thumbprint in a crime scene, but then not having a suspect that matches that thumbprint.

And so, you have to search and try to figure out online, what cryptocurrency belongs to whom. And so that is why it's very, very difficult to find this money, to be able to track this money, and track those who are using it illegally, Anderson.

COOPER: CNN is reporting that the nine alleged, you know, the so- called Oath Keepers have been charged in a conspiracy to attack the Capitol. We know the group is, you know, likes to say that they have a lot of former military, law enforcement people.

We've also learned that a Pennsylvania police officer is facing criminal charges for his alleged involvement in the Capitol Insurrection.

It's certainly troubling. I know you've been doing a lot of reporting on this.

SIDNER: Yes. Yes, I mean, when you think about it, just recently, this week, also, Anderson, you had 35 people who are under investigation, police officers, for potentially taking part in this or being complicit in some way in this attack.

And then you look at the extremist groups. And for anyone that is looking at this, when you look at some of these charges against them, it is clear that the government is really honing in on some of these groups, who by the way, the Oath Keepers, they actually go out and recruit.

They try to recruit former or current police officers. They try to recruit former or current members of the military. Why do they do that? Because they have tactical training.

And so, when you look at these indictments, and you look at what they are doing, you're really seeing them hone in on these groups, because they believe that they really did conspire to do this, that they planned it, that they have the tactical training to do it, that they had the equipment as well to do it.

And there's plenty of text messages and things on Zello, for example, an app that works kind of like a CB or a walkie-talkie, that they are tracking all of these different conversations, where there are plans, according to federal prosecutors that had been made before, during and after the attack, Anderson.

COOPER: Sara Sidner, appreciate the reporting. Thank you, as always.

Perspective now from Mia Bloom, with the Evidence-Based Cyber Security Research Group, at Georgia State University.

Mia, thanks for being with us again.

Sara's report about this complex system, relatively large amounts of money being passed, I know, it doesn't surprise you. You've been tracking this kind of thing.

MIA BLOOM, EVIDENCE-BASED CYBER SECURITY RESEARCH GROUP, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY: Absolutely. In fact, the Center that you just mentioned, the Evidence-Based Cyber Security, my colleague, David Maimon is on these platforms.

And he's watching the Proud Boys. He's watching QAnon. He's watching Patriot Front. So, all these groups are also on the Darknet and they're making money that way as well.

COOPER: I've always been interested with QAnon. You see people wearing T-shirts that are clearly produced, not homemade. Former General Flynn is out there hawking QAnon merchandise. You've been looking into - into that kind of money trail. What have you learned?

BLOOM: It's amazing how much money has been made with QAnon.

So there has been different phases. Either people were making money because they would have on their YouTube channel, someone like Tracy Beanz (ph) would show how do you find a "Q drop," and then how do you match it to something that President Trump had said, and then she would have her Patreon number or her PayPal account listed.

But also, with all of the parlay leading up to the Insurrection, at the Capitol, when they talked about Q, there was always a link to General Flynn's defense fund. So part of this was to get people to give money to General Flynn for his defense.

There was a Citi - a Citi Corp, I guess he was an executive, working for Citibank named Jason Gelinas. What he did was he created something called QMap. And he had something like 10 million visitors a month.

And of course, he was raking in thousands of dollars a day by offering the service of collecting all of the "Q drops," naming them. And I guess the last one was that Etsy was selling all of this stuff up until the summer, then Etsy cut it off. COOPER: I think a lot of people in the country had never really heard about QAnon until very recently. You're saying their numbers have actually ticked up since the Insurrection.

Because there was, you know, there was a lot of thought of "Well, now that the former president has gone, and nothing Q or their believers thought was going to happen, has come to pass, that it would kind of disintegrate."

And we've talked to some people who did leave it. But clearly, you're seeing money's being raised off them.

BLOOM: Money is being raised, but also, AEI, which is a conservative think tank in Washington D.C.--

COOPER: American Enterprise Institute, yes.


BLOOM: --American Enterprises Institute. Daniel Cox did a survey, and they actually measured that there's an uptick in support for QAnon. It's 29 percent of Republicans believe in QAnon and even 6 percent Democrats. So the fact is QAnon isn't going away anytime soon.

COOPER: When you look at, you know, like the Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, she's fundraised very successfully off the controversies surrounding her QAnon beliefs.

When QAnon believers become legitimized, as politicians, I imagine that contributes to the Movement's ability to generate more money and, to some extent, just normalize them.

BLOOM: It normalizes them. It basically gives them an entree into legitimate politics.

And so, for example, with Lauren Boebert, or with Marjorie Taylor Greene, as they are Congresswomen, they will make a lot of money from being Congresswomen, and that will actually generate more money for QAnon.

So, it's really - it's a really deceptive circle, where we need to break people out of QAnon. But also we need to realize that the people at the top are making a lot of money.

COOPER: I mean, again, these are the - the lies, the conspiracy theories, they're peddling are anti-Semitic tropes, and anti-Catholic tropes that have been around for centuries, in some cases.

The idea that this is just a new form of a very old, racist anti- Semitic game is, and that they're profiting from it, is just sickening.

BLOOM: It boggles the mind, because it also has become very popular among evangelicals. And so, for me, I don't understand why 27 percent of evangelicals support QAnon, because this is kind of a false god. And you have Catholics. You have lots of people, across all different

religions, and even atheists that are supporting QAnon because what they've managed to do is they gained the different kinds of algorithms on Facebook.

And as a result, they've pulled in not just people from the Right, but they've also pulled in people from the Left, people who believe in essential oils, people who are vegans, people who are enthusiasts about yoga.

And so, right now, we have this crazy amalgamation of Q. Q is almost like a sticky ball, and it's rolling down a hill. And as it rolls down the hill, it picks up every adjacent conspiracy next to it. So right now, Q is a meta-conspiracy that has all the other conspiracies in it.

COOPER: Yes, the idea that these - these algorithms, you search for yoga, interest in yoga, and that sort of leads you down this rabbit hole into Q, explains that there's a lot of female support. That's where a lot of that - sort of that's the entry point for a lot of folks.

Mia Bloom, I appreciate it, your - appreciate your research, and talking about it. Thank you.

BLOOM: Thank you.

COOPER: The former president's big lie that he actually won the election was a principle driving force behind the January 6th rioting. Straight ahead, what happened to a conservative North Carolina businessman, who also believed what the former president was selling.



COOPER: Recapping our breaking news, the Justice Department unsealed an indictment trying together nine alleged - tying together, excuse me, nine alleged associates of the far-right wing group, the so-called Oath Keepers, for their suspected role in the January 6th Capitol rioting.

Authorities say the nine defendants from four states coordinated plans that day in Washington. Investigators say the former president's repeated lies about the election inspired the rioters, who breached the Capitol on January 6th.

But his comments also won over a conservative North Carolina businessman, who not only believed the election was stolen, but went further, a lot further, with a lot of cash.

Randi Kaye tonight has the story.


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Joe Biden is on a trajectory to pass the president as soon as more votes come in.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As victory appeared to be slipping away from Donald Trump, post-Election Day, a wealthy conservative donor from North Carolina devised a plan to find out if the election was legitimate.

So, Fred Eshelman reached out to Texas-based "True the Vote," which promises on its website to protect election integrity. After a brief 20-minute phone call, on November 5th, Eshelman decided to donate. According to court documents, Eshelman said by phone, "I'm in for two," as in $2 million.

In the hours after Eshelman's millions were wired to " True the Vote," Catherine Engelbrecht, the Group's Founder issued a press release, promising significant tangible evidence that numerous illegal ballots have been cast, and counted, in the 2020 general election, and announced a fund in excess of $1 million to incentivize whistleblowers, as Mr. Eshelman had wanted.

KAYE (on camera): But as time went on, after Eshelman donated yet another $500,000, he was hardly impressed with the Group's progress.

He's now suing True the Vote and demanding his money back, saying in the lawsuit, that money was donated conditionally, based on promises made by True the Vote that it would investigate, litigate and expose suspected illegal balloting and fraud.

KAYE (voice-over): In a statement, Eshelman told us "True the Vote failed in every way, to make use of my directed donation to investigate and either prove or disprove election fraud, as agreed upon, and failed to respond to my requests for information about how the funds were spent."

But James Bopp, the lawyer representing True the Vote, tells me that Eshelman is playing the "Innocent babe in the woods," adding there is nothing in all the emails, text messages and documents that shows he ever suggested he made this a conditional gift.

In True the Vote's response to the lawsuit, filed in court, the Group also says there was no discussion that Eshelman could claim his gift back.

Still, Eshelman claims in his lawsuit that by November 13th, Bopp, the Group's attorney had only filed cookie-cutter lawsuits, making vague allegations of fraud, unsupported by any evidence in four states.

CATHERINE ENGELBRECHT, "TRUE THE VOTE" FOUNDER: We're doing a variety of things in Georgia. But our focus, at the moment, is a preemptive challenge of just over 364,000 voters, who appear to be ineligible.

KAYE (voice-over): Meanwhile less than a week after suing Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, accusing the states, which Biden won, of counting illegal votes, True the Vote dropped its lawsuits. Court records show by November.