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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Joe Biden Arrives In Geneva For Putin Showdown After Shoring Up Western Support; "New York Times:" Trump Finance Officer Could Face Charges As Soon As This Summer; Twenty-One GOP House Members Vote Against Honoring Capitol Heroes; E-mails Show Trump Tried To Get DOJ To Back His 2020 Election Lies; CDC Cities Strain First Seen In India As "Variant Of Concern"; Faith Kleppinger 1971-2021. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 15, 2021 - 20:00   ET

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


MAYA WILEY (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: We have to answer to balance, both smart policing and investing in community and creating the relationship.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Maya Wiley, thank you very much. I appreciate your time, of course, heading into this crucial race. We will continue talking to the top candidates in the race. Kathryn Garcia will join me on Thursday.

Thanks for joining us. Anderson starts now.

[20:00:18]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: By this time tomorrow, we'll be talking about President Biden's Summit in Geneva, Switzerland with Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Tonight, a preview. It'll be a lunchtime meeting without lunch and could spill into dinner time without dinner. Afterwards, the President speaks to reporters about what transpired. It will not be with Mr. Putin at his side, meaning no chance for a rerun of Helsinki nearly three years ago when the former President essentially let Russia off the hook entirely for its interference in the election on his behalf, which is not likely to be a problem this time given how carefully this meeting has been built, if not for confrontation, then at least to draw a contrast between the two leaders and two systems of government.

Not communism versus democracy, as it was during the Cold War, but democracy against the kind of autocratic, often kleptocratic populism that the presidency as having taken root abroad and at home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to prove to the world into our own people that democracy can still prevail against the challenges of our time and deliver for the needs of our people. We have to root out corruption that siphons off our strength, guard against those who would stoke hatred and division for political gain is phony populism.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Well, to that note, we have new reporting tonight, as well as

some remarkable congressional testimony on the domestic version of what the President warned against. Yet another example of how thoroughly the former President tried to coopt and recruit the Justice Department to help him overturn the election that he lost.

First, the Summit, CNN's Kaitlan Collins traveling with the President joins us from Geneva. So, what are we hearing about the format of this Summit?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think, Anderson, it's going to be pretty tightly scripted, and if you talk to the White House, they've kind of been running through the actual format of it, but the details really weren't figured out until today. The White House had expected to be negotiating, essentially up until the last minute.

So, one thing that is notable is even the arrival because they say that President Putin is going to be the first one to show up to that villa tomorrow. That's notable given he is always famously late to these kinds of meetings. He even made former President Trump wait in Helsinki in 2018.

And so, once they are actually both on site, we are told that they expect him to meet with just one staffer each in the room for President Biden, that's going to be the Secretary of State for President Putin. It will be the Russian Foreign Minister and only then after they meet and that essentially one-on-one setting with one other in the room, they're going to open it up to a few other staffers in the room, including the Ambassadors, the national security advisers, those kinds of types will be in there.

But I do think given just how tense the White House does expect this to be, this is going to be pretty tightly scripted, which is essentially a 180 from the last time a U.S. President met with President Putin.

COOPER: And what exactly is the White House hoping to get out of the meeting?

COLLINS: It's not really clear, Anderson. I think that they have said there are things where we have mutual areas of agreement. They want to talk about the New START Treaty that of course limits how many missiles each country can have. They want to try to make some ground on that.

But they also have a pretty long list of things that they say Biden is going to confront Putin on. And they say these meetings are only going to last about four to five hours, and I think that's the question that some skeptics have raised, of what are the actual outcomes of this going to be that benefit the United States and not just benefit Putin. Because of course, he's already getting a meeting with the leader of the free world. That's a benefit in and of itself, because it elevates him. I think there are questions about what the concrete commitments will be when they walk out of that room. And the White House is lowering expectations. They are saying, don't

expect any kind of major deliverables when they walk out of there. And one more thing, Anderson, just to note just how much more formal this meeting is going to be than the ones that you've seen in the past, there is not going to be any lunch or dinner or any kind of shared meal between the two delegations, according to the White House as of their planning right now.

COOPER: And what about the President and our President, President Biden, how he has been preparing?

COLLINS: One thing that's really interesting is obviously, is a meeting with his top national security aides. But another group that he recently met with is a group of Russia experts. And one person in that group is Fiona Hill. People may remember she was Trump's Russia Director on his National Security Council, of course, she was a prominent figure in his first impeachment, testifying about what happened with Ukraine, and she was actually part of this group.

And we're told Anderson, the consensus of that group was that President Biden should not hold a joint press conference with President Putin. And of course, that is a decision that the White House has ultimately made.

COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Joining us now in "New York Times" foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman. The author of a number of bestsellers, probably too many to mention, including "From Beirut to Jerusalem," which has special resonance in the changing of the Israeli government and evolving nature of the U.S.-Israeli relationship right now.

So, Tom, so we're on the eve of this Biden-Putin Summit, both leaders agree relations are at a low point going into it. What are the expectations?

[20:05:20]

THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I think they're pretty appropriately low. You know, I think, Anderson, our problem is that Vladimir Putin has become America's bad ex-boyfriend from hell.

We really would like to date somebody else, China, that we really want to focus on them. But he simply will not sort of give up on trolling us and stalking us because his fight with us elevates him at home, and the more the Russian economy sags, the more his own popularity flags, the more he needs to appear strong by saying, I am the equal of the United States President still, even though the Cold War is over.

And so I don't think there's anything wrong with President Biden meeting him. There's stuff we can discuss. But I have a feeling the most important thing to discuss between Biden and Putin will be done between the two of them with literally four eyes.

And that's for Biden to say, look, if you take a bite out of Estonia or the Baltic countries or something to sort of provoke your neighbors to elevate you in the world, to try to fracture NATO, understand that guy, Trump, that guy, Trump, he's not here anymore, I'm president, and you will pay a serious price for that.

And I would suspect that the other thing that Biden would say and force to him is, here's a -- here are the transcripts of your five last phone calls with your mistress. We have penetrated you, and if you keep up this kind of behavior of cyberattacks on us, that guy Trump, he's not here anymore, and we will come in.

So, I think that's the main business.

COOPER: I do think a lot of people in our country view Russia still through the lens of the Cold War and these kind of Summits, as you know, kind of as you've said, certainly, Vladimir Putin would like it to be a meeting of sort of equals on the world stage, when in truth, the real battle really moving forward in the future is China and the West, as opposed to Russia and the West, isn't it?

FRIEDMAN: I think, Anderson, this has been a hugely successful trip for Biden. But it has nothing to do with Russia. It basically is restoring and repairing the Western Alliance, which Trump fractured and in a way that was very harmful to us.

Because the Cold War, Anderson, it was fought and won in Berlin, and the global struggle with China will be fought and won in Berlin. What do I mean by that? The country that has the European Union on its side is going to be the country that I think will prevail in the U.S.-China struggle. If China is able to woo the Europeans onto his side, we have real trouble.

If America, by contrast, can get the Europeans back on side with us by getting rid of these silly trade disputes, and focusing on the big challenge of building our strengths vis-a-vis China, and confronting China with universal values, not just a particular American interest, we're in a much stronger position.

When you think about it, Anderson, what is our advantage in the world? Our advantage in the world is that we have immigration. We could attract the best and most energetic minds in the world. We have allies, and we have capital markets and a democracy. Those are our advantages.

Trump kicked a lot of those away. Biden on this trip has begun repairing that, particularly that allies point and that is what's really important.

One day meeting with Putin, that's fine. But let's remember, you know, Putin's biggest export is 52 percent oil and gas. The rest is minerals, you know, forest products, fertilizer; computers, two percent, and this is a country that doesn't sell much that we want. It is vodka, caviar and matryoshka dolls, you know, so what we really want is just have not trouble with this guy. Stop hacking us.

All right, stop annoying us. Mind your own business. Develop your own economy and your own people. But there's no huge partnership we have with Russia going forward.

COOPER: It's interesting, President Biden brought up this notion of his term phony populism. He said that now, I believe, at least twice on this trip, basically saying, look, the chaos we're seeing in the U.S. where the former President, you know, essentially bent democracy near the point of breaking, it could happen anywhere.

How concerned, do you think, should Western democracies be about what he calls phony populism?

FRIEDMAN: I think that's a really important question, because the future, fate, and health of democracy around the world really depends on American democracy, and if we can't have free and fair elections, if we can't have stable and peaceful transfers of power, democracy all over the world will decline and fragment and so what's going on in America right now has importance for the whole fate and future of democracy everywhere.

[20:10:15]

COOPER: I mean, at some point the future of countries around the world having to decide are they on China's side or are they on the West's side? I mean, is that -- is that what the -- ultimately things go down to?

FRIEDMAN: I don't think that should be the battle. I think the battle should be who is going to set the rules of the road? And what we want, the way, I think to deal with China properly is to build a wall to wall alliance, our allies in Asia, particularly Korea, and Japan, and India, our allies in Europe, and then you come to China and you confront them on universal principles.

These are the principles we think of for free and fair trade for human rights, et cetera. When you do it that way, you actually activate a lot of reformers inside China, who actually resonate with those principles. When you do it the way Trump did, which is make it a kind of personal fight, you versus Xi, well, that activates all his nationalists on his side.

And so I don't think -- I don't -- we don't want to create a digital Berlin Wall with China. China has a huge market. We don't want to tell our companies, you know, you can't have access to that market. 1.4 billion people, that's going to be very important.

But you know, the way to do it is by taking advantage of the advantage we have. We have an alliance. Russia and China don't.

COOPER: Yes. Tom Friedman, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

FRIEDMAN: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up next, we have new reporting on the investigation of Allen Weisselberg and how soon the Trump organization's top financial executive may actually face charges.

Later, more breaking news, see who just voted against honoring the heroes who defended the Capitol from attack including each and every lawmaker voting no.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: There's breaking news now from "The New York Times" on one of the investigations out of New York focused on the former President's business empire specifically on the case that the Manhattan District Attorney's Office appears to be building against the former President's longtime Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg.

I'm joined now by one of the reporters of that new story. "The New York Times" William Rashbaum. William, can you just walk us through so far what you have learned?

WILLIAM RASHBAUM, REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Sure, Anderson, thanks for having me on. What we report today is that the DA's Office seems to be in the end stages of a tax investigation of Allen Weisselberg, the Chief Financial Officer and longtime loyal executive to Donald Trump, and they could bring charges against Mr. Weisselberg as soon as this summer, sometime this summer.

COOPER: Are these in his personal -- I mean, these are -- are you talking about his, you know, his personal taxes or his work for the company?

RASHBAUM: Yes, the DA's Office has been trying to pressure Mr. Weisselberg to cooperate with their investigation, and as is standard practice with prosecutors, they are trying to bring leverage against Mr. Weisselberg by examining his own conduct. And so they have dug into his financial history, his tax records, his banking records, they've closely scrutinized what are fringe benefits that the Trump Organization has provided.

And they seem to be looking at whether or not he has declared those benefits as income. And, you know, these are -- they're not a lot of these cases that are made, but they are clearly looking to put some pressure on Mr. Weisselberg to get him to cooperate with their investigation.

COOPER: So, a couple things, because I haven't read your report of this, it is just all happening while I've been on the air. The fringe benefits, do you know what those are? And also, I know, in the past, there had been some reporting about possibly them looking at his -- Weisselberg's son or maybe other members of his family. I'm wondering if this is part of that as well.

RASHBAUM: Well, we don't -- we haven't reported it and we don't believe that they are actually looking at possible criminal conduct by either of Mr. Weisselberg's sons, one of whom works for the Trump Organization, the other works for a financial firm.

But the fringe benefits are, as far as we've been able to determine based on subpoenas that we've learned about outside entities, cars -- a Mercedes Benz or Mercedes Benzes I should say that were provided to Mr. Weisselberg and his wife over the years, an apartment that was provided to them for free on the Upper West Side over a number of years show that they are not insignificant benefits, but they're not -- we are not talking about vast sums of unpaid taxes either.

COOPER: Right? And you said charges could come this summer. I'm wondering what, if you have any more on why that timeline or why it may be this summer. And obviously, as you said, if the idea of this is to get him to come under pressure and therefore provide information about other -- the former President or the organization, how confident are prosecutors in that?

[20:20:05]

RASHBAUM: Well, I can't say how confident they are. I think that based on what we've learned, it looks like they've had his tax returns for several months. They've had the bank records for several months. They are still looking at the cars and the apartment. So, it looks to be in the final stages of the investigation, which is why one of the reasons why we say it appears that they are at the end of this.

Also the District Attorney in Manhattan, Cyrus Vance, has said that he would make a decision about whether or not to bring charges against Mr. Trump or the Trump Organization before he leaves office at the end of the year. So, you know, there are certain moves that need to be made. And, you know, as we get closer to that deadline, such as it is.

COOPER: It's really fascinating, extraordinary reporting, William Rashbaum, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

RASHBAUM: Thank you. Thanks for having me on.

COOPER: Let's get some more perspective from former U.S. attorney and CNN senior legal analyst, Preet Bharara. Preet, what do you make of this new reporting?

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's significant. I mean, it tells us a few things. One is, a few weeks ago, when the reporting was that a grand jury had been convened in Manhattan by the District Attorney in Manhattan, there was a lot of rapid speculation about whether or not they were prepared to present evidence in connection with an indictment of Donald Trump himself. And the speculation was that that's possible?

Or are they building a case brick by brick by trying to find other people who would have salient evidence against Mr. Trump or others in the Trump Organization, and try to put pressure on them to flip to provide that evidence? Now, it seems that we're in the latter scenario, that, you know, any charge against Donald Trump himself may never be forthcoming at all.

And if it is, it depends on the charging and cooperation, the flipping of, of Allen Weisselberg, and I know that there's some people who have been suggesting that they must be very confident of that. I don't know why they would say that.

The psychology of flipping is very personal to the person and I've overseen cases, you know, significant cases where people will flip upon being approached by an F.B.I. agent, literally in the moment and say, I'll wear a wire for you tonight. And the other end of the spectrum, there are people who have been

approached, investigated, prosecuted, convicted, and still won't flip. I don't know where Allen Weisselberg falls in that spectrum, but it's still a significant step.

COOPER: But the interest, just unclear, I mean, prosecutors aren't -- I mean, would they really be interested in Allen Weisselberg, just if he was some guy who, you know, they believe had committed some tax fraud or whatever it is? Or is it to go after him in any capacity? Would they only be doing that if they felt there was other information they would like to get out of him?

BHARARA: I think what they would probably tell you is that if you have somebody who has been the CFO of a major business organization for a period of time, that's a real target. That's a real person who if they've committed crimes you'd go after.

However, in the really rarefied context that we're in, where a potential subject or target of the investigation is a former President of the United States, and well-known billionaire in America, the kinds of charges according to Willie Rashbaum's and his colleagues reporting, that they are contemplating here to flip him.

If that's all they're thinking about, you know, taxes paid or not paid on fringe benefits, that suggests that they're squeezing him or intend to squeeze him for the purpose of going higher in the future. It doesn't mean that it's a nothing thing with respect to him and any crimes he may have committed.

But it is interesting that the reporting doesn't suggest, at least at this moment, that some of the things they are contemplating against Allen Weisselberg are a conspiracy to commit the kind of fraud that people have been reporting that maybe people are looking at against Donald Trump.

It seems to be personal fringe benefit taxation issues. Maybe there will be further reporting later about the rest of it. But usually, you want to implicate someone and charge them with a conspiracy that you want them to testify about -- you know, testify against the other guy about. It's a little odd in that sense.

COOPER: Right. Preet Bharara, appreciate it. Thank you. More to learn.

Next, see who voted against honoring the men and women who defended them during the insurrection. Plus, new evidence revealed as part of a congressional hearing today of how much further than we could possibly imagine the defeated President went to try and cling to power. White House e-mails, what was in them and why one recipient called the content quote, "pure insanity."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:28:43]

COOPER: There is more breaking news tonight. Twenty-one lawmakers have just made it clear for one reason or another they simply cannot bring themselves to honor the men and women who defended them from the violent mob that overran their workplace on the 6th of January.

And as complicated as though 21 tried to make it, it seems pretty much just that simple. More than 140 members of the Capitol Police and D.C. Metro Police were hurt that day, one subsequently died.

Today, the House overwhelmingly passed legislation awarding both forces the Congressional Gold Medal. The vote was 406 to 21. Now, here are the 21 members, all Republicans who voted no. Several have told CNN why, others have yet to go on record.

But the common thread in what we've heard so far is to downplay what happened, downplay the significance of it, and do it on a day to House heard new testimony on precisely how significant and how bad it truly was.

More now from CNN's Ryan Nobles at the Capitol for us tonight. So what is the -- explain the rationale of these 21 House Republicans?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the ones that we caught up with that voted no basically just didn't like the language that was used in honoring these brave heroes that defended the Capitol on that day. They didn't like things like the Capitol being referred to as a temple.

And most specifically, they didn't like the use of the term insurrection to describe what happened here on January 6th, and you see that list of Republicans. This is a group that represents the far right wing of the Republican Party and consistently across the board every single one of them a very big defender of the former President Donald Trump who has also downplayed the violence on that day.

[20:30:13]

And Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, a noted Trump critic, he tweeted after the vote, he was astounded that so many of his Republican colleagues would vote no. He said, quote, how can you vote -- how you can vote no, on this is beyond me. Then again, denying an insurrection is as well to the brave capital and D.C. metro PD, thank you. And to the 21 they will continue to defend to your right to vote no anyway.

So Anderson, a lot of people scratching their heads seeing these 21 members of Congress vote no on something as simple as awarding those who defended them on that day.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, you know, all that talk from these folks about backing the blue, you know, that goes away when, you know, there are kowtowing to the former president and afraid of his voters and I guess people in their own districts. I mean, the House Oversight Committee held the hearing today, the delved into the insurrection domestic extremism. Can you just talk a little bit about what law enforcement officials said they're most worried about?

NOBLES: Yes, I mean, the biggest thing that worried about Anderson is that this threat is not going anywhere. And there is the ability for these bad actors in the United States to have get funding from a lot of different places through the use of cryptocurrency. Listen to what the FBI Director Christopher Wray had to say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Not only would I not want to rule it out, but certainly the possibility of foreign funding or support for domestic violent extremism is something that's particularly high on our priority list because of the challenges it poses you --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you can't -- you can't rule out.

WRAY: -- (INAUDIBLE) it's part of the concern.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: And that came in response to a question about the use of Bitcoin to perhaps fund some of the insurrectionist that took part in the activity on January 6. The FBI Director not ruling that that out is a possibility going forward and said something that the FBI is keeping a very close eye on, Anderson.

COOPER: That same committee, you spoke of released e-mails today that CNN legal analyst, Elie Honig called and these are his words, stark evidence of an administration gone mad. CNN's Paula Reid has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New e-mails released Monday by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee show how White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows pressured the Justice Department at least five times to investigate conspiracy theories. In one exchange, he wanted Rosen to arrange an FBI meeting with an ally of Rudy Giuliani, who is pushing a conspiracy.

RUDY GIULIANI, PERSONAL ATTORNEY FOR PRES. TRUMP: As a friend of mine says I don't believe in conspiracies. But I also don't believe in coincidences.

REID (voice-over): Rosen would not. E-mailing his deputy, I flatly refused said I would not be giving any special treatment to Giuliani or any of his witnesses. The e-mails also reveal how the President directed other allies to press Rosen to join the legal effort to challenge election results.

On December 29th, Kurt Olsen, a private attorney, e-mailed the Justice Department a draft of a lawsuit to challenge the election, claiming he had been directed by the President to meet with Rosen to bring a similar action. Writing, I have been instructed to report back to the President this afternoon after this meeting.

The e-mails indicate Rosen talked to Mr. Olsen and asked him for more information. The new documents also reveal how on December 31st, and January 3rd, former President Trump met with Rosen and other top justice officials and pressure them to challenge the election results.

On January 1st, Meadow sent him a YouTube clip pushing a theory it will used the satellites to move votes to Biden. Rosen forwarded it to a deputy who replied and called the clip, pure insanity. On the same day, Meadows e-mailed about signature matches in Georgia. Rosen e- mailed a deputy writing, can you believe this? I'm not going to respond.

The pressure campaign ramped up as the President tap Rosen to replace outgoing Attorney General Bill Barr, who stepped down in December 2020. Barr, one of the President's closest allies said publicly in December that he did not see evidence of widespread voter fraud.

In a hearing Tuesday about the January 6 Capitol attack, Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney noted how the President was pushing false claims about the election as he was elevating Rosen to become his acting Attorney General.

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D) OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: President Trump repeatedly pressured the Department of Justice to overturn the election he had lost. President Trump sent bogus election fraud claims to Jeffrey Rosen just minutes before he announced on Twitter that he was appointing Mr. Rosen as acting Attorney General.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[20:35:02]

COOPER: Paula Reid joins us now from Washington. Is there any indication the pressure campaign was at any point successful?

REID: Well, Anderson if the goal was to get the Justice Department to do the former president's bidding, then no, there's nothing in these e-mails to indicate that Rosen actually opened the investigations. Meadows was trying to push on him.

But it's yet another example of how the former president thought the Justice Department worked for him. And we know that after this pressure campaign essentially failed. The President continued to push these baseless claims, which eventually helped inspire the January 6 insurrection.

COOPER: Wasn't Mark Meadows supposed to be kind of the adult in the room? Wasn't he supposed to be the guy who had had, you know, Capitol Hill experience and was coming to the White House to kind of, you know, I mean, have respect for institutions. I mean, it's kind of amazing that he was pushing this stuff.

REID: Absolutely. And having been at the White House at this time, Anderson, I can also tell you that look, Meadows had a lot of experience up on the Hill, right. But there's no demonstrated record of any sort of legislative accomplishments. And here absolutely, he's breaking all kinds of norms.

This is completely unprecedented, to be engaging in his pressure campaign encouraging an acting Attorney General to effectively weaponize the Justice Department to help his boss, now completely unprecedented. And yes, if he was supposed to be the adult in the room, he failed. COOPER: Yes. Paula Reid. Appreciate it. Thanks.

Perspective now from CNN political analyst and New York Times Washington correspondent Maggie Haberman.

So, Maggie, what do you make of all this? I mean it, you know, shocking, not surprising. What is it?

Apparently, that didn't work. Computer problems, will try to get Maggie back.

Up next, California dropped its COVID regulation stage. I like live television. Just as the CDC warns about the coronavirus and a cold variant of concern their words. U.S. Surgeon General joins us to talk about the dangers of what's known as the Delta variant, when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:40:36]

COOPER: We're talking with Maggie Haberman or trying to before the break, we got a technical glitch. Let's -- I think we're joined back. Hey, Maggie, you're back. Yes, thank you.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sorry about that.

COOPER: No, nobody's no fault. So, what do you make of all this? I mean, does it? I I'm not surprised that obviously the administrator that, you know, the former president was trying to do this. I don't know why I would be surprised that, you know, that his -- this his some of the henchmen around him, were also trying to do it.

But it just seems particularly hypocritical for someone like Mark Meadows who always like trying to portray himself as this sort of Washington straight shooter.

HABERMAN: Right. I think there's a couple of things to take from this Anderson. Number one, this affirms reporting from the Wall Street Journal, shortly after the former president left office on January 20th. And then the president, President Biden was sworn in. It shows, you know, very clearly that there were these efforts ongoing.

We know that Bill Barr, the Attorney General did say there was no proof of election fraud. We know that he left on not great terms with former President Trump. And we know that former President Trump continued to cast around in this lead up to January 6, looking for anything that could try to keep him in office.

To your point about Meadows, one of the things that has confused some of Meadows former colleagues in the White House is that sometimes they found him to be helpful in terms of trying to slow down some of the President's more outlandish requests, particularly in those days after the November 3rd election.

But then you see things like this, where he was breaching own norms about separation between the White House and the Department of Justice that had been in place really since Watergate, and trying to force the DOJ to do something that the person who had just left the helm of DOJ Bill Barr had said he wouldn't do. It is remarkable how Jeff Rosen memorialized in memos in writing, making clear what he was asked to do, and that he would not do it.

And you see again, how much the former president was picking up on external channels, Rudy Giuliani, other people he was in contact with and trying to sort of meld them with the DOJ, as if the DOJ was the Trump Organization. We -- I can't think of apparel for it. And this is just what we know of now. We don't know what else might emerge going forward.

COOPER: Meadows was asked today whether it was appropriate for him to be e-mailing the Justice Department about all this and he said, quote, I'll let you answer that, unquote. I guess one of the rare times he doesn't actually speak to reporters, because he seems to be a, you know, I remember him leaking on camera when the President had COVID. And he was actually caught on camera talking to reporters about going off the record.

I mean, it clearly the President never cared about the firewall that's supposed to exist between the Oval Office and Department of Justice. Mark Meadows served in Congress in theory, should he have known what actions are frowned upon in the federal government? Or I guess, I mean, or just at this point, does he not care in his career?

HABERMAN: I think that if Congressman Mark Meadows had still been Congressman Mark Meadows, and these kinds of activities have been taking place under a Democratic presidency. I think that, you know, that person Congressman Meadows would have had a lot to say about this.

I think that, like everybody else who ends up in the swirl of former President Trump's orbit, many of them end up being pressed to do things that they don't want to do. And then how they handle that, you know, is the question.

There are plenty of things that that our reporting has shown over time that Meadows did try to slow down. So for instance, the former president tried to fire Chris Wray several times, not just once, but several times, including over the course of the last year, Meadows did play a role in slowing that down.

On the other hand -- and Meadows played a role in trying to slow down former President Trump's efforts to hire Sidney Powell in an official capacity in the White House, the lawyer who was probably getting some outlandish conspiracies. But Meadows then did turn toward January 6, as a possible date, where something could be different.

And so, I think that trying to figure out where exactly he came down, and all of these has been an open question and seeing him pressuring the DOJ. You know, seeing that in writing I think is very telling.

COOPER: Yes, Maggie Haberman, appreciate as always. Thanks. Now, to new concerns about the coronavirus just as California becomes the latest and biggest state to drop COVID regulations and reopen. The CDC today has issued a new warning for the entire country calling one strain of the coronavirus, a, quote variant of concern.

What this means essentially is that COVID vaccines and therapies may not be as effective against what's called the Delta variant first identified in India now spreading across the globe, which the CDC serves currently account for about 10 percent of cases in the U.S.

[20:45:02]

So we want to get try to get a better understanding what all this means. We're pleased that the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy could join us now.

So, Doctor, what can you tell us about this Delta variant, a variant of concern? Can you explain what that means? And how concerned are you?

VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Absolutely. It's good to be with you tonight, Anderson. The Delta variant that we've been hearing about in the news is a concerning variant of COVID-19. And it's concerning for a couple of reasons.

One, because it appears to be significantly more transmissible than even the alpha variant or the UK variant, which is now dominant in the United States. And keep in mind, that variant itself was about 50 percent, more transmissible than the version of the virus we were dealing with last year.

But the second reason it's concerning is that there is some data to indicate that it may, in fact, also be more dangerous may cause more severe illness that still needs to be understood more clearly. But these are two important concerns. And they explained in part, Anderson, why this has become the dominant variant in the UK, where over 90 percent of cases are the delta variant.

There is some good news here, though, which is that the vaccines that we had do appear to be effective against a delta variant. But you have to get both doses, the mRNA vaccines and the study that was done two doses of Pfizer 88 percent protection, but one dose keeping only 33 percent.

COOPER: Wow.

MURTHY: So, the key is get vaccinated, get both doses. And I'm worried about those who are unvaccinated because this is rapidly increasing here in the United States, it's almost 10 percent of cases, I expect that that will increase substantially in the weeks ahead.

COOPER: So I mean, that's really important what you just said, and I just want to repeat it. It's now this delta variant, which is what we saw happen in India, it is now the dominant strain in the United Kingdom. And just as what happened in United Kingdom became the dominant strain here in the United States, it's very possible that this could become I assume the dominant strain in the United States, ultimately.

And you're saying that if you have the Pfizer vaccine, which is the one that I got, if you only have one, it's only 30 percent effective against that this delta variant? Because that's way lower than what it is. It's efficacy against the other strains, right?

MURTHY: This is true, Anderson. So here's the important thing, if you are fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, and we would anticipate the Moderna vaccine, which is also an mRNA vaccine would have similar results, your level of protection is still really, really high.

COOPER: Right. Yes, 88 percent. I mean, that's great.

MURTHY: (INAUDIBLE) percent. That's right. But the one dose is where you run into some challenges where the protection is significantly less. And this is actually Anderson something that we observe with other variants, which is that, you know, as this viruses has mutated, there are versions of it, which are better able to escape some of the immune protection that we get from the vaccine.

COOPER: Right.

MURTHY: The good news is the vaccine gives us such a high level of antibodies and protection that even though we need, for example, like more soldiers, if you will, in the army that we build in our body, we still have enough soldiers in terms of antibodies and other immune protection to take on that variant.

COOPER: And just --

MURTHY: Like you've got to get (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Right. What about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is one shot only?

MURTHY: So it's a good question. So, we don't yet have data on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. But --

COOPER: OK.

MURTHY: -- what we have seen with other variants is that the J&J vaccine is actually quite effective at protecting against hospitalizations and deaths that consequences we care about most. And even with the Pfizer vaccine, for example, we saw that protection against hospitalizations and deaths was well above 90 percent.

So, you know, we still have Faith that the J&J vaccine is likely a good source of protection. But the bottom line is Anderson if you haven't been vaccinated, the delta variant gives you one more reason to go to vaccines.gov and find a place where you can get vaccinated as soon as possible.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, that's a very big reason to get vaccinated. Dr. Vivek Murthy, thank you so much. Appreciate it as always.

MURTHY: Of course, good to see you, Anderson. COOPER: Up next. We remember a dear friend of this program.

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[20:51:56]

COOPER: A few weeks ago we told you about our friend and colleague Faith Kleppinger who had been diagnosed with a rare appendix cancer. Faith was the brains and the talent behind our "Ridiculist", she wrote them and we wanted her to know how much we loved her and we're rooting for her.

Early this morning Faith lost her battle with cancer. She was surrounded by her family, surrounded by good people who loved her fiercely. Faith became our angel at 1:45 a.m. her mom texted me this morning. But really in so many ways Faith already was.

She had a magic about her, a magic with words with humor. And when she combined the two she can make you laugh so hard that you would cry sometimes it was hard to breathe. She did it to me all the time. But the thing she wrote on the "Ridiculist."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (on-camera): Time now for the Ridiculist. And tonight we're adding Gerard Depardieu, noted French actor Academy Award nominee, public urinator. That's right, I said urinator. Last night on a flight from Paris to Dublin, Depardieu reportedly peed on the floor.

So after Gerard took his little solo flight to urination, the plane had to turn around and go back to the gate and some unlucky cleaning crew had to deal with the Golden Globe winning tinkle.

Now all I can say is they should thank their lucky stars, it wasn't Depardieu. Sorry. It made me giggle every time I read it. He hasn't commented on this incident. Depardieu, I know you got it, but -- all right, sorry. All right. Sorry, this actually never happened to me. But we see this (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That was all Faith Kleppinger. My executive producer Charlie and I visited with Faith and her family a few weeks ago in Pennsylvania, and we sat in the shade outside on a really beautiful summer day. And we laughed and we held her hand.

And it was a good day. Faith said she didn't want anyone to feel sorry for her. Yes, her cancer was inoperable. And yes, she was just about to turn 50 and should have had decades of life ahead of her. But she didn't feel sorry for herself. She wasn't asking, why me? Why not me? She said. Shit happens. That was Faith.

Faith did want to see the beach one last time and so last week on her 50th birthday. That is what she did, with her mom, Barbara and her sister Sue and Jill. She got to feel the sand beneath her feet. She got to gaze out of the always understanding ocean and breathe in that smell and then that sound. Perfect.

Faith loved a lot of places and people and things music especially. She wrote it She played a beautifully. Late last week when she was really struggling she was still texting with Charlie about song lyrics. They always did that. They were texting about a song called Tear Stained Eye by the band Son Volt. Devastating. That's how Faith described the songs lyrics, devastating.

[20:55:16]

Faith's talents, myriad and magical, they were also devastating. And they were delicious. As my mom loved to say, divine. Faith Kleppinger, thank you. Thank you for all the life and laughs and love that you shared with us. And this is for you.

Devastating. We send our thoughts and our love to Faith's family.

The news continues, "CUOMO PRIME TIME" starts in a moment.

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