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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Shooting Witness Heard Loud Explosions And Saw Shooter In Tactical Gear; Biden Demands Gun Law Reforms After Boulder Supermarket Attack; Attorneys For Former Trump Attorney Sidney Powell: Reasonable People Would Not Believe Her Election Claims. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 23, 2021 - 21:00   ET

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


[21:00:00]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes. Sanjay, thanks so much, really appreciate it. If--

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

COOPER: Just in terms of where we are, so far, in the Pandemic is - what are your thoughts right now, just kind of big picture?

GUPTA: Well, this is the - this is the big debate right now. I mean, I think you've heard from the CDC. They're worried about a potential fourth surge. You're hearing from other people, like Scott Gottlieb, who don't think that's going to happen.

I mean, we have vaccinated a significant percentage of the - of the country that was most vulnerable, right, people over the age of 65, people on long-term care facilities. That's good news. So, despite the fact that overall the country is 15 percent, we have, in a good way, disproportionately immunized the people, who needed it the most.

So, I guess, what I would say Anderson, is that I'm worried a bit about these variants, and seeing what we saw in Florida, with spring break, because you could see more spread of the virus.

But at the same time, I think as we've increasingly protected people, who were the most likely to be hospitalized, or die from this, I think, even if cases go up, hopefully we won't see proportional increases in hospitalizations and deaths. Fingers crossed. I mean, you got to be humble.

COOPER: Yes.

GUPTA: We've all learned humility over the last year.

COOPER: Yes, that's for sure. Sanjay, appreciate it. Thank you.

If you're just joining us, Chris Cuomo is off.

GUPTA: Yes.

COOPER: In this hour of 360, what it's like to watch the worst kind of history repeat itself? In the wake of Colorado's third major mass shooting in generation, we'll speak to survivors of the first two, in Columbine and Aurora.

Also man who survived this latest one in Boulder, where tonight we're learning more about the suspect, the weapon and, as always, the question being asked, "Will two mass shootings, in two weeks, do anything on moving the needle on gun legislation?"

Let's go to Kyung Lah, who's standing by with more.

So, Kyung, how's the community in Boulder coping?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm going to try to speak a little softly here, just because you can see where I am, Anderson.

This is just the fence right outside the shooting scene, this neighborhood grocery store. And you can see that something we've been seeing all day, all of these flowers that are being put along this chain-link fence.

And we've been talking to people, as they stop here. A lot of them, I'm just going to walk over here real quick, you know, messages, the various names, people saying, "We hold you in our hearts," and all of the names of the victims being left here, in cardboard boxes, kids cutting their names out in hearts.

And what you also hear, amid all this grief, in this community, is a lot of anger.

And the way one man put it to me was, "You see #BoulderStrong? Well go ahead and take the name "Boulder" out and put in "Vegas." Take "Vegas" out and put in "Your community" or the community next to yours," is that all of this ritual now is something that is so familiar, that it's almost knee-jerk because it keeps happening.

Everyone knows exactly what to do here in Boulder, because they've seen it on television. And there's a lot of fatigue, and amid all of this hurt. So, that's really what we're hearing from people is that they are heartbroken. But they are also incredibly tired, even though this is the first time this is touching Boulder.

COOPER: What's the latest on the investigation?

LAH: Well, the investigation here, you see the fence here, Anderson, they are still in the process of collecting all of this evidence. Remember, we're talking about 10 lives. There is a lot of evidence to gather.

The police say it will take many days, in order to gather all of that, here at the scene. And then, they've got to look at, where did the weapons, come from, track that down, how is it obtained? Where did the artillery come from?

And then the harder question is motive. What caused this? What in this young man's life led him to get those weapons, and then come here to this particular store? And so, that is where the investigation is, taking a look at the semantics of the evidence, but also looking at those harder questions, Anderson.

COOPER: And what more are investigators learning about the alleged shooter?

LAH: We're actually getting quite a portrait painted, from the people who knew this young man. The brother of this gunman says that he had been bullied in high school that he was often upset because he was picked on for being a Muslim.

He also says that he struggled with mental illness that he was becoming increasingly more paranoid that he was upset by cameras around him that he would try to put tape over cameras.

And then, we also spoke to a friend of this gunman, who knew him since the fifth grade, who said "Yes, he was absolutely bullied." Here's what he told us.

[21:05:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAMIEN CRUZ, HIGH SCHOOL FRIEND OF ALLEGED SHOOTER: People chose not to mess with him, because of his temper. People chose not to really talk to him because of all how he acted and things like that. So yes, he was very alone, I'd say. But when he was with you, he was approachable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: So, you take all of that Anderson, and put it with guns, that is a dangerous mix, here in Boulder, Anderson.

COOPER: Kyung Lah, thanks very much. I appreciate it.

Joining us now is Brian Kruesi, who lives in the neighborhood, and was just finished his shopping, when the shooting began.

Brian, thanks so much for being with us tonight. So, I understand you just moved to Colorado, across from the King Soopers. What did you see as you were leaving the store yesterday?

BRIAN KRUESI, WITNESSED SHOOTING: I just checked out, very normal day, not that busy.

And as I was walking out the doors, towards my car, I heard three very loud booms. And my immediate reaction was that they were some sort of firework or something along those lines. And it seemed strange for that time of day and this time of year.

And I looked up, and I saw a man with a beard, what I thought was possibly like tactical sort of clothing, and AR-15 style rifle. And he was walking through the parking lot, and just shooting towards the other doorway, from what I was - from where I was.

COOPER: So, he actually was shooting starting outside, when he was already in the parking lot? KRUESI: Absolutely, yes. He started shooting, basically right in front of the door, I was exiting, it - standing in between the rows of cars, just shooting across the parking lot, not into the store, but across the store, to people that were at the other doorway, or in the parking lot area there.

COOPER: And I - what did you do? I mean, that's--

KRUESI: I immediately--

COOPER: --can't imagine walking out of a store and seeing that?

KRUESI: Yes, I immediately realized the severity of the situation. And I just left my cart, with all the groceries, right there, by the entrance of the store, and ran back in.

And people didn't realize what was going on, because they had this, I think, probably the same reaction I did, before I saw him that it was some sort of firework or some sort of backfire of a car, or something along those lines.

And I ran in, and I looked to the people that were working in the Starbucks area, because right in that entrance is kind of the deli side, where there's lots of kiosks for Starbucks sushi, that sort of thing.

And I just I told them, "We need to call the police. And we need to get out of here immediately. There's a man in the parking lot with an AR-15. And he's shooting." And they kind of looked at me strange at first. And I'm wearing my mask, of course. So, it's I don't know if they couldn't tell if I was joking or what.

And then, three more shots were heard by everyone at that point. And they all kind of realized the severity of the situation. And we all started running that pretty much that entire half of the store.

And we just ran towards the back of the store, where like the meat department is, and we went behind the counter, to the back storage area, and went out through the door that's back there. That's basically the door they use, for bringing in like loads, from different semi-trucks. And we jumped down off of the loading docks, and ran behind the store.

And even at that point, some people were in disbelief. And they were looking around, and like "Has anyone seen what's going on? What?" And I said, "Yes, I saw it. There's a gunman. He is shooting in the parking lot. And we need to keep going." And we all just ran into - basically into the surrounding neighborhoods, at that point.

COOPER: And I know, I mean, you live right across, you know, you live across the street.

KRUESI: Oh, yes, right across the street.

COOPER: You were concerned about your wife, who was there, if the gunman left that area and went across the street. KRUESI: Absolutely. That was - by that once I - once I was about two blocks away, that was my biggest concern because from my perspective, I didn't see him enter the store. I just saw him when he was shooting in the parking lot itself.

So, my concern was what if he was shooting in the parking lot, and now he's going to run away? If he didn't go into the store, the next place that he would run would be right into the area I live.

And I knew my wife was at home on a work call, on a Zoom call. So, I was calling her, frantically, multiple times, and not getting an answer, because she was on a work call. So I had to text her. I said, "Emergency, please call."

[21:10:00]

And she called me kind of flustered like "What's going on?" And I said "You need to get inside the bathroom, and you need to lock all the doors, because there's a gunman shooting, in our neighborhood, in the King Soopers parking lot, and I don't - I don't know if you're safe in the house right now."

COOPER: There's, you know, unfortunately, there's a lot of people who have been through something like this, but certainly not everybody. And nobody really knows how they're going to react, when it actually happens.

I'm just, now that you have some 24 hours on this, what is it like to see that, I mean, to go through this, out-of-the-clear blue sky?

KRUESI: It's surreal. You don't really expect to have to be in that sort of situation. You don't really prepare a plan. I know that the modern generation probably does actually.

What I grew up in the 90s, this was slightly before Columbine, but when I was in high school, so we didn't have the lockdown drills or anything they do then. So, yes, you don't really expect that you're going to have to deal with that sort of situation.

But I've seen enough on the news to know that if you see someone that looks like that, with an AR-15 it is "Your life is in danger, and you should probably get out of there immediately."

COOPER: Yes.

KRUESI: Because that's your only option really.

COOPER: Brian, if you could just stay with us, I want to bring two people, who sadly had been, where you are, in the state where you are.

Jansen Young survived the Aurora shooting. Frank DeAngelis was a Principal of Columbine High School. Appreciate both of you being with us.

Frank, after you survived Columbine, you described that you joined a club that no one wants to be a member of. I talked to Sandy Phillips, last night. Her daughter, Jessica Ghawi was killed in Aurora. She's talked about that idea as well.

What thoughts or counsel do you have for someone who's just experienced something like this?

FRANK DEANGELIS, FORMER PRINCIPAL, COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL: Well, Anderson, thanks for allowing me to speak to you tonight.

I think we, everybody in Colorado, when they saw what happened yesterday was re-traumatized.

I remember. It was around 2:30. And I actually was at Columbine High School yesterday, because we were planning the 22-year remembrance. And all of a sudden, I start getting texts saying, "Do you see what's happening in Boulder? My thoughts and prayers," and immediately, it took me back to where I was, almost 22 years ago.

And I think it's a state of disbelief. And, right now, the people in Boulder, it's almost denial, believing that it happened in the decks, it was a blur, and we were just there, and just everything that was happening.

And I think, in Colorado, we've seen things, Columbine, we've seen the Aurora theater shooting, STEM Academy, Platte Canyon, we've seen so many, Planned Parenthood. And now, it's to the point that we're in the state of, I think, disbelief.

But I think the most important thing moving forward, and we were reaching out, to help them because, as I stated, I joined a club in which no one wants to be a member, but we can - when we tell the people, "We know what you're feeling. We really have experienced that. And I think we could help," and we're a phone call away, in helping that community.

COOPER: And Jansen, I know you spoke with your sister today, about what was going through your mind, after surviving something like the Aurora shooting, back in 2012. What do you think helped you the most in those initial days?

JANSEN YOUNG, AURORA SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Well it was speaking to the media, just really having an outlet. You don't know, when you're in this, like big mix up of a tragedy, you don't know how much just talking about it helps. So, I really commend Brian on telling his story today.

And it like touched me so deeply, because he's going to hear it and know, like, the mindset that he was going through at the time, and like even thinking back about the life-changing things that are going to come about now.

COOPER: Yes, Brian, I keep thinking about how strange the situation you were in, where you walk out of the store, and you see this man, and what is about to happen, and what has already happened, but what is about to happen inside the store, and you go into the store, where people, at this point, are unaware.

That must have been such a bizarre juxtaposition to have the knowledge of what's right outside the store about to come in.

KRUESI: Absolutely. That was the string.

I mean, there was a man, who was right behind me, with a cart, who was about to leave, out that exact door. And I had to stop him. And he kind of looked at me, in disbelief, of like, "Why are you - why would you stop me, you know? It's very strange for someone to," and I said "You can't go out that door. We have to - we have to get out of here."

[21:15:00]

And it - I almost feel like I was in a better position than them because I knew what was happening, at that moment. I had seen it, and was lucky enough that he didn't - he didn't look directly at me. He was shooting in the opposite direction, or at least sideways of me.

But the other people just somewhat had to take my word for it, and believe that those noises they were hearing were - was shooting, and that what I was saying was the truth.

And that was, like I said, when they left, the back of the store, I think a lot of people were just like, "Is this real? Like, what?" you know, it kind of is that mob mentality, where people all start running, and then other people start running, because they see people running.

And I think people were just in disbelief. And at least I knew, I had seen it with my own eyes, and I knew the danger we were in.

COOPER: Yes. We have to take a short break. If you all can just stay around, I would like to continue this conversation, when we come back, in just a few minutes.

Also tonight, while the President has called for action on gun measures now, before the Senate, plus a Congresswoman, who knows gun trauma, as few others do. She was shot and badly wounded, in the murder/mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:20:00]

COOPER: We're talking with three survivors, the three Colorado mass shootings, Columbine, Aurora and now, Boulder.

Frank, let me ask you, at Columbine, so much has changed since Columbine, and because of Columbine. Every law enforcement person you talk to will say that after was studied what happened at Columbine, police tactics changed.

They now know, you don't just create a perimeter, and wait for SWAT to show up, you have to go in immediately. Most of the death - most of the fatalities take place in the first several minutes. It's not a hostage situation, which is what it traditionally had been thought to be, perhaps pre-Columbine.

Do you see - do you see changes in how these are handled?

DEANGELIS: Most definitely I - what you just touched upon Anderson is so true.

There was a School Resource Officer that day, exchanging gunfire, but the protocol at the time was to secure the perimeter, and waiting for SWAT to arrive.

And unfortunately, and I know, I was there, I got out of the building, probably within 30 minutes of gunshots being fired. And these police officers were ready to break protocol to go in, because they knew this was happening, but they had to wait for SWAT to arrive.

And I truly believe that if the protocol that we have in place today, what you're seeing happening, up in Boulder, where they're engaging, single officers are engaging, that the fatality rate at Columbine would not have been what it was.

So, there have been so many lessons learned, from Columbine, and we keep learning. But we got to stop these senseless shootings from occurring.

COOPER: I mean one of the teachers at Columbine, if my memory serves me correct, and I should know this automatically, as my memory is, bled to - bled to death, after helping other students get to safety.

DEANGELIS: Yes. It was Dave Sanders, who--

COOPER: Dave Sanders, yes.

DEANGELIS: --very, very dear friend of mine. And he saved my life, because when he came up the staircase, just helping kids, getting kids out of the building, as the gunmen was coming after me and some other students, they stopped momentarily, and shot Dave, and, that momentarily got me and the girls into an area that we were able to protect ourselves.

But by the time they got - the paramedics got in, the protocol was about three hours later. And unfortunately, Dave did not make it.

COOPER: It pains me that I couldn't remember his name, because every year I go through a list of people's names, who, have been killed, in incidents that I've covered. And I try to remember the names, and it pains me that I often can't, because there are now so many.

DEANGELIS: Yes.

COOPER: Jansen, do you worry that people forget about these events after they happen?

YOUNG: I mean, yes, and no. I obviously want people to be able to return to as normal of a life as possible, and not constantly be plagued by fear and sadness. But also like, it warms my heart so much to know that you try to remember the victims' names, because that's why I continue doing these interviews.

I never want people to forget Jon's name. He's the most important person in my life. I wouldn't be here without him. And so, I continue to want to remember his heroism like that, you know?

COOPER: Well it was - it was Jessica Ghawi, who was killed in Aurora, her mom, Sandy Phillips, who we talked to last night.

It was her brother, Jordan Ghawi, who I still occasionally keep in touch with who, in the days after Aurora, actually was the first person who said to me, "You know, you shouldn't name the killer. You shouldn't name the shooter. You should focus on the people, whose lives were lost, not encourage others by naming and giving publicity to this - to this killer." And that's something I've really taken to heart.

Frank, what should Brian, what should anybody, who's been through now, this shooting, what should they think about or prepare for, in the days ahead?

DEANGELIS: There are going to be so many different stages to go through. And when I was listening to Brian just give his testimony, I admire you for sharing it, because you're going to help others.

But one of the things that you said to denial (ph) and probably the best piece of advice that I received, 24 hours after, "You're being pulled in so many directions. And if you don't help yourself, you can help others."

[21:25:00]

And I actually had a conversation with a Vietnam veteran, who my mom worked for. And he shared with me he never got the help he needed, when he got back from Vietnam. And he said "Frank, if you're going to be able to, or if you're going to need to help other people, you better need to help - you need to help yourself."

And there's counselors out there, and it's seek help because what you went through, I think, people, have in their minds, they're going to wake up some morning, it's all going to be back to normal. And unfortunately, it's not. And it is - it's a marathon, and not a sprint.

And there's going to be days saying, "Boy, everything's going well," and then something triggers an emotion. And I think, yesterday, for all of us, whether Aurora, Columbine, whatever Mets, tragedy happened here, or around the country, when they saw that, they - took them back to relive it.

So, you need to find that support system for yourself. And if I could offer any encouragement, the Columbine community today is stronger than what it was because we came together.

And I know Colorado, and the people in Colorado, don't come together as one, because we look at this as a family. And you have so many people to help you, Brian, and we're here for you. COOPER: Well Frank, and Jansen, and Brian, I appreciate you - you all being with us, and having this conversation. It's not easy. And I hope it's helpful to people out there.

And Brian, I wish you the best in the days ahead.

Thank you all so much.

DEANGELIS: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up, President Biden demands Congress do something, after the nation's latest mass shooting, but like the tragedy in Boulder, this too sounds familiar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: There's still a great deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The question, what changes with Democrats running Washington? A Congresswoman, a mass shooting survivor, joins us next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: And other critical aspects.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:30:00]

COOPER: As the community grieves in Boulder, President Biden is demanding Congress move on gun control legislation, after the attack, just one of five deadly mass shootings, in America, in the two months since the President took office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I don't need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take commonsense steps that will save the lives in the future, and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act.

We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again. I got that done when I was a senator. It passed. It was law for the longest time, and it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again.

We can close the loopholes in our background check system, including the "Charleston loophole."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, few in Congress know the trauma of gun violence, then battled for change, like Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier, of California.

She was shot five times, at the airport in Jonestown, Guyana in 1978. Her boss at the time, Congressman Leo Ryan, was murdered on the tarmac, along with three journalists, after investigating the Peoples Temple, where a madman would lead more than 900 followers to their deaths.

Congresswoman Speier joins us now.

Thank you so much for being with us. I'm sorry, it's under these circumstances. What you went through was such an extraordinary deal. You had to wait 22 hours, on the airstrip, in Jonestown before help arrived.

When you see a tragedy like this, in Boulder, does it bring you back to that? How do you - how do you deal with seeing these things?

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): Well, Anderson, it creates a churning in my stomach, because I know what we have to do. I know it's not a heavy lift. We're just trying to close the loopholes in existing laws. And we still can't get the Senate to act.

I mean, there are 600 mass shootings a year in the United States. It was 50 percent, higher this year, than - in 2020, than it was in 2019. We have 40 percent of all the guns in the world in the United States. And we have 30 percent of the shooters.

I mean, at some point, we've got to realize people have a right to own guns, and to use them appropriately, but felon imprisoned (ph) persons, who are convicted of misdemeanor, or higher domestic violence, and persons who are adjudicated as having mental illness.

What's interesting about the two shooters, in Atlanta, and then in Boulder, they both bought the guns within days of committing these heinous acts. So, we have - we have got to do more, to make it safe, to go to school, to go to church, to go to the grocery store.

And we just have - I'm so sick of prayers and thoughts. I've walked off the House floor, when we do these moments of silence, because it's so hypocritical.

There's no willingness to do more for all the people that are left with the anguish of not having their loved one, or who have been shot- up and wounded. I mean, every day, 100 people die, and 200 people are wounded in the United States, living with scars for the rest of their lives.

COOPER: You tweeted, in part today, you said "Assault weapons are weapons of war," which is similar to what's been said, in years past, by people like retired General Stanley McChrystal.

But what are the actual chances that a ban could pass both chambers of Congress? I mean, the Senate can't even pass, as you said, expanded background checks.

SPEIER: We've done it before, and we can do it again, as President Biden said. I mean, it was in place for 10 years. And when it was in place, there was a reduction of mass shootings. I mean, he was able to kill 10 people, not anyone was wounded. They were killed. And it's because of the rapid fire of these assault weapons.

And when you have more firepower than the law enforcement officers, there's something fundamentally wrong. We do not need assault weapons to kill Bambi. It is something we have got to come to grips with, in this country.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, the House has passed two gun safety bills. But even with the Democratic majority in the Senate, albeit a narrow one, they can't get an up-and-down vote because of the 60-vote filibuster threshold.

SPEIER: Well, I think we're seeing more and more evidence of how totally dysfunctional Congress is, if you are going to retain the filibuster.

We are long past the Senate being this entity that is one that's engaged in debate. They don't even debate now, when they engage in a filibuster. They just sit there for a few moments, and then they walk off. So, I think that, unfortunately, things have become so polarized that the benefit of the filibuster has long since passed.

COOPER: Representative Speier, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

SPEIER: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Next, our perspective from our political team. We'll be right back.

[21:35:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, one of the strongest supporters, for getting some sort of gun control, passed in the Senate, told me in the last hour that he realizes it's an uphill struggle. But he believes at least some Republicans are going to listen, especially in the wake of Colorado's latest mass shooting.

Let's get perspective now from Bakari Sellers, former Democratic South Carolina state lawmaker, and former Pennsylvania Republican Congressman, Charlie Dent, both CNN Political Commentators.

So Bakari, then-Vice President Biden led the efforts to try and get gun control legislation passed in the wake of Sandy Hook. It's been said so many times. But if getting gun control passed, after 20 children were slaughtered, in their classrooms, wasn't enough to compel members of Congress to act, why would this?

BAKARI SELLERS, (D) FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA HOUSE MEMBER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, HOST, "THE BAKARI SELLERS PODCAST": I mean, I agree with you, Anderson.

I don't know if it's the cynic in me or not. But if you kill 20, of the smallest of us, and there's still no action in the United States Congress, I have no belief there's going to be action today, no matter what the platitudes are.

I mean, I think back to 1995, I know a lot of times, we go to Columbine, in 1999. But in 1995, in Blackville-Hilda, South Carolina, we had a school shooting, and then you had Columbine in '99.

Just think about millennials, and think about Generation Z in this country. They've grown up, under the under the arm of terror, not only 9/11 but also domestic terror.

They've grown up with these school shootings. We've grown up with these mass shootings. That type of anxiety, having bulletproof bookbags, not able to go to the grocery store, this is the America we live in.

[21:40:00]

And I'm not someone - I mean, hell, we're still waiting, if you listen to Republicans, "We're still waiting on Barack Obama take your guns," 14 years later.

I mean, I'm not someone who's sitting here, saying that we need to confiscate all guns, and have a registry. I got my CWP with Nikki Haley when we were in the General Assembly together.

But what I am saying is that we have bipartisan support in the United States of America right now, for commonsense gun reform. I just wish Republicans, in Washington, D.C., would have the fortitude to get their act together.

COOPER: So Charlie, I mean, President Biden called for a federal assault weapons ban today. I mean, that seems - I mean, even what seems achievable, is that even in the realm of achievable?

CHARLIE DENT, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE - PENNSYLVANIA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think before President Biden goes down that road, what they ought to do is expand universal background checks to all private sales of firearms. That's the first thing they could do.

They could do a red flag law. And they could close the so-called "Charleston loophole." And sure, Bakari knows a lot about that, what happened in South Carolina, several years ago, at the church.

So, I think that's where they should start. That's where there was a consensus that too many - privates, I think would go along - there. The House just passed the bill. There is great support for that, even among gun owners and Republicans.

They all agree that background checks on individuals and these private transactions, not conducted by Federal Firearm Licensees, but private sales should be background checked. That would help, I think, clean up some of the problem. I'm not saying, would have prevented any of these shootings, but it's good policy. COOPER: Yes, I mean, Bakari, the Administration's hurdle isn't just dealing with Republicans. You have Democratic Senator Joe Manchin was vocal about his opposition to the two bills the House passed around gun control.

SELLERS: Yes, I mean, and you had this archaic filibuster. I mean, we can't get out of our own way. I mean, again, I mean, we're sitting here, and you can't go to the grocery store, the movie theater, you can't go to school without having this fear. It strikes all of us. I mean, you never know when it's going to happen.

And we're talking about - and Charlie Dent and I agree. I mean, you have a Democrat and Republican sitting here, on cable news, in middle of the night, and we agree that you have to have - you have to close the "Charleston loophole," you got to have a universal background check.

We did not vote for new agenda, on November 3rd, to sit here, and have an agenda that's palatable only Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin.

I mean, there comes a point, when you have to set politics aside, and you have to do what's right for the needs of this country. And right now, inaction means that we're going to have more scenarios, where we just have thoughts and prayers, and I think people are sick and tired of that.

COOPER: Charlie, what is the, I mean, on the Republican side, is there any political upside for Republicans to support President Biden on this?

I had Senator Chris Murphy on, earlier, who said he's had conversation with some Republicans who, at times, have suggested to him that there's they want to get to "Yes," on some reforms.

DENT: Yes, I think there is an upside to Republicans to show that they are - that they're reasonable on firearms legislation. By passing the universal background check, I think that sends a signal to the NRA and other groups that have been resistant to any kind of change.

And Anderson, what's been happening, I think, in the gun rights movement, is that you have the NRA out there that refuses to compromise on some of these issues, because they're worried about losing members to the Gun Owners of America, or other groups further to the Right. It's about maintaining membership.

And we passed universal background checks, to private sales of pistols, in Pennsylvania, in 1995, with Republican - Tom Ridge, I was in the General Assembly, we voted for this, Republicans. And the NRA agreed.

Now, they've taken a different position on this issue. But we were able to get to that point. But what's changed is the politics of these groups, on the outside, where they're fighting with each other, about members, and if you - and compromise is seen as capitulation, therefore, loss of members and money. COOPER: And, I mean, how much political capital then should, Bakari, the Biden Administration spend on this? Particularly is, I mean, you have enthusiasm, in terms of the NRA crowd, on that issue. Is this so much a voting issue for people on the Left?

SELLERS: I mean, no. It's an issue of what's right. Expend every ounce of capital you have, so we don't have another week that goes by where we're running off a list of names, of individuals who've been murdered, in spas, or individuals who've been murdered at grocery stores, etcetera. So, use every ounce of capital you have.

But if we go back to 2018, prior to 2018, Donald Trump actually ran on the premise that he was going to clean up our gun laws, after the Parkland.

And he, after the Parkland shooting, going up into 2018, he said he was going to do this. The Republican Party was on board in doing this. He did not, and they paid a price in the 2018 midterms. So, I think that is politically the right move, but you got to use your capital to bet.

[21:45:00]

COOPER: Yes, Bakari Sellers, Charlie Dent, thanks very much.

Just ahead, we're going to turn to briefly another story. This one has an incalculable impact, on our elections. A deep dive into new claims by Sidney Powell, remember her, once an attorney to the former president?

Why defamation lawsuit has her suddenly admitting what many Republicans will not still admit, about the big lie of a stolen election. Wait till you hear, if you haven't heard what she has said in court filings, it's - I would say unbelievable, but it's completely believable.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: There's a startling new claim, involving the big lie that Republicans are still pushing, or using to push stricter state voting laws, or voter suppression laws, as Democrats see it.

This lie about a stolen election was pushed, as you know, by the former president, and so many of his allies, and continues to be, by those folks. Perhaps, it was pushed most memorably by somebody, who was actually an attorney, for the former president, Sidney Powell.

She is now defending those accusations in a defamation case brought by Dominion Voting Systems. Her attorneys say in a new filing that her claims were nothing that reasonable people would believe. Yes!

[21:50:00]

"Plaintiffs themselves characterize the statements at issue as "wild accusations" and "outlandish claims." They are repeatedly labeled "inherently improbable" and even "impossible."

Such characterizations of the allegedly defamatory statements further support Defendants' position that reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact but view them only as claims that await testing by the courts through the adversary process."

No voter fraud was ever found.

More now from Randi Kaye.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNEY POWELL, LAWYER: President Trump won by a landslide. We are going to prove it.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT & ANCHOR (voice-over): She was part of the self-proclaimed elite task force, the team of lawyers that jumped into action, after the election, making false promises, about rooting out voter fraud, and delivering a win for then-President Donald Trump.

POWELL: We have counterfeit ballots. We have dead people voting and - by the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands.

KAYE (voice-over): Her name is Sidney Powell. And her mission, it seemed, was to spread outlandish conspiracy theories about the election.

POWELL: There was a postal service driver, I think, who was sent from New York, to Pennsylvania, in the middle of the night, with a truckload of ballots that was then used to "Backfill" the vote count.

KAYE (voice-over): One of her favorite targets, a company called Dominion Voting, and its election software. She falsely claimed, among other things, that it used an algorithm to flip votes from then- President Trump to Joe Biden.

POWELL: All the machines are infected with the software code that allows Dominion to shave votes from one candidate and give them to another.

KAYE (voice-over): This is the story Powell liked to tell about how Dominion began.

POWELL: Created in Venezuela, at the direction of Hugo Chavez, to make sure he never lost an election.

KAYE (voice-over): That was a lie. Dominion actually started in Toronto. Powell made lots of promises, like this one, about the Head of Dominion.

POWELL: The Founder of the company admits, he can change a million votes, no problem at all.

I will tweet out the video later, and I'll tag you in it.

KAYE (voice-over): Also, a lie. Powell's conspiracy theories became so wild that her Twitter account was suspended. She even suggested other countries were sending fake votes that favored Biden.

POWELL: We have video of some coming across the border, from Mexico.

KAYE (voice-over): Drinking her own Kool-Aid, she filed voter fraud lawsuits in four key battleground states, including Georgia.

POWELL: We have them destroying evidence right and left, in Georgia, in Cobb County, Gwinnett County, Fulton County. It's everything from shredding ballots to wiping machines and replacing servers.

KAYE (voice-over): And yet, despite her declaration of fraud, in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona--

POWELL: It's really the most massive and historical egregious fraud the world has ever seen.

KAYE (voice-over): --judges didn't buy it, rejecting her claims for various reasons, and dismissing all four lawsuits she filed in the battleground states.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach County, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It's like a fever dream!

Let's get perspective from Norm Eisen, a former counsel to House Democrats for the former president's first impeachment. He's also Chair of the Voter Protection Program and a CNN Legal Analyst.

Norm, lawyers often will, defending a client, will say, "Well, my client believes this occurred. My client believes this occurred." She's making all these allegations that are just not true, no evidence of, and never presented real evidence of.

NORM EISEN, FORMER COUNSEL TO HOUSE DEMOCRATS IN TRUMP'S 1ST IMPEACHMENT, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CHAIR, VOTER PROTECTION PROGRAM, FORMER OBAMA WH ETHICS CZAR: Anderson, it's incredible. The claims at the time were very particularized lies about Hugo Chavez's supposed involvement about votes flipping in, in election machines, about servers in Germany.

And now, she turns around, and she says, in a case about whether or not they're true that nobody could believe them, Anderson, that's the whole point of the case. That's what everyone was saying at the time.

That's why these cases were thrown out. And it's why the Governor, extraordinarily, the Governor, the A.G., and the Secretary of State of Michigan, have called for her to be disbarred. And frankly, she deserves it.

COOPER: Does it - will this defense work?

EISEN: Well, I don't think it'll work, Anderson.

There is a rule in libel cases that mere opinion, puffery, is not enough to establish a libel case that you have to have false statements of facts. But the Dominion complaint itemizes dozens of very particular false statements that she made, and that Randi Kaye reviewed in her report.

[21:55:00]

I mean, the judge is not going to accept this any more than the judges accepted her, four cases during the election, or the 60-plus cases that she and the President's other enablers attempted, the ex- president's other enablers attempted, to bring. It won't wash in court.

COOPER: Norm Eisen, appreciate it.

It's, again, it's surreal to even look at that, and remember that actually happened, and there are still people who believe it, and there are still Republicans, who are making these arguments, and the former president is still making these arguments.

Norm Eisen, thanks very much.

We'll be right back.

EISEN: Thanks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We end tonight, where we began, with flags at half-staff, at the White House and other federal buildings, for the second straight week.

What it signals for the people of Boulder and Atlanta for that matter is hard to say. One can only hope it brings at least some small comfort along with the simple message that they are in our thoughts and our hearts.

The news continues. Let's turn it over to Don Lemon and "CNN TONIGHT."

TEXT: CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us. This is CNN TONIGHT. I am Don Lemon.

And the question really is, let's be honest, when are we going to do something about it? When are we really going to do something about it?