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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Haiti President Assassinated At Home, Hunt Launched For Killers; Interview With Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA); Donald Trump Sues Social Media Companies; Surfside Search Shifts To Recovery Operation; GOP Pennsylvania State Senator Says He's Planning An Arizona-Style "Forensic" Ballot Audit In His State; Texas Lawmakers Set To Act On Voting Rights. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 7, 2021 - 20:00   ET

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


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): ... and as the conflict continues, the numbers of dead will rise to a level when eventually, people may start to lose count.

Sam Kiley, Camp Victoria, Western Myanmar.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thanks so much, Sam.

And thanks to all of you for joining us. "AC360" starts now.

[20:00:21]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, a busy hour ahead. There is the grim, but sadly not unexpected breaking news out of Surfside, Florida.

The search and rescue effort is officially now a recovery operation with the fatality number rising sharply today as the work there now goes on.

Also tonight, the Congresswoman who just can't seem to quit making unwarranted Holocaust comparisons. Marjorie Taylor Greene who visited the Holocaust Museum and claimed to apologize after an earlier incident is at it again.

Also tonight, the former President trying to take social media to court for banning him while uttering the kind of inflammatory things that got him barred in the first place.

We're joined by a First Amendment scholar who will talk about whether he is likely to get thrown out of court or perhaps laughed out.

A lot happening tonight. We begin though with the assassination of Haiti's President. It would be a shattering development to any country at any time. But Haiti, as you know, and as we've reported extensively on this program has had more than its share of misfortune, whether from poverty, natural disaster, and now political violence, and it seems intrigue. We have footage purporting to be from the moment surrounding the

killing. CNN cannot independently confirm its authenticity, you'll not see any images on the clips that we're about to play you, the frame is black. What you'll hear is certainly raising questions. We've edited the same passage together several times with someone claiming to be from the American D.E.A., the Drug Enforcement Agency, so you can hear more clearly what's being said.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

COOPER: So again, we repeated that so you could hear it more clearly. Again, we cannot independently authenticate this and the D.E.A. today denied any involvement. That said, whatever the clip actually is, it does seem to be part of the picture or to be more precise part of the puzzle of what happened in Haiti last night. More now from CNN's Melissa Bell.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): By the time Security Forces responded in the early hours of Wednesday morning, it was too late. Haitian President, Jovenel Moise Louise was dead, assassinated in his private residence. His wife, the First Lady of Haiti, gravely wounded, medivac'ed to the U.S. for potential lifesaving treatment.

As daylight dawned on the aftermath of bullet holes and spent shell casings, the scope of the brazen attack more clear.

CLAUDE JOSEPH, HAITIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The information we have is that the attackers were a groups of English and Spanish-speaking persons. They were carrying huge caliber weapons and killed the President.

BELL (voice over): This audio circulating on social media purported to be of the time of the assassination. CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the video. Men shouting in English, claiming they are U.S. drug enforcement agents, providing clues of how the attackers may have been able to penetrate the security perimeter surrounding the presidential residence seemingly with ease.

The Haitian Ambassador to the U.S. saying at a news conference, Wednesday, those responsible are believed to be highly trained mercenaries posing as U.S. agents.

QUESTION: You said they identified themselves as D.E.A.

BOCCHIT EDMOND, HAITIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE United States: Yes. That's how they presented themselves, as the agents, like they are here for an operation -- D.E.A. operation.

QUESTION: Do you believe they were actually D.E.A.?

EDMOND: No. There was no way. There was no way D.E.A. would have come and going through like this. We will have been informed and everything -- the doors of the U.S. Embassy at Port-au-Prince.

BELL (voice over): The U.S. State Department also dismissing as preposterous that those responsible could be D.E.A. agents.

NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: These reports are absolutely false. The United States condemns this heinous act. These false reports are nothing more than that, as false reports.

BELL (voice over): The Haitian government says a manhunt is now underway for those responsible. The rest of states acting Prime Minister who has assumed leadership of the country trying to assure a stunned population as well as world leaders that the government of Haiti is still functioning, declaring a "state of siege" which allows for the closing of national borders and temporarily invokes Martial Law.

[20:05:06]

JOSEPH (through translator): We want to assure you that we will bring the killers of the President to justice.

Please stay calm and let the authorities do their work. We don't want the country to plunge into chaos. This is a very sad day for our nation and for our people.

BELL (voice over): In life, Haitian President Jovenel Moise was a polarizing figure, with many protesting his rule and demanding he resign. He presided over a country on the precipice of chaos. The question now, will his death push the nation past its breaking point.

Melissa Bell, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And joining us now from Haiti is a freelance journalist, Harold Isaac. So Harold, what is it first, like in Haiti tonight? What's the scene like?

HAROLD ISAAC, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: Well, Anderson, we're talking about empty streets. Businesses are closing -- they have been closed all day. There is still a massive sense of shock after what happened in the early hours of today. And we're -- you have a nation trying to reel with that new reality.

COOPER: What was the security like at the President's house? He was, according to reports assassinated around 1:30 in the morning today. Can you just talk about what that compound is like and how difficult it would have been to get in?

ISAAC: Well, Anderson, as we've been to Haiti in the past, since 2010, actually, the National Palace has been destroyed and has not been rebuilt. So, presidents have taken a habit of not actually living in the National Palace where they would have normally been.

So the house of Jovenel Moise was his private residence that was heavily secured, heavily protected and that makes the surprise even more stunning to the whole country that such a thing would happen in such a secure location. COOPER: The idea that they were yelling out "D.E.A." claiming that

they were part of the D.E.A. in a country like Haiti, that's actually probably a pretty effective thing for them to have done, isn't it? I mean, obviously, the U.S. has enormous power in Haiti. In some other countries around the world, if somebody yelled at D.E.A. operation, it may not have any impact. But in Haiti, people would probably listen to that, wouldn't they?

ISAAC: Well, this was shocking. And it was a big sense of awe, especially at the time it happened. And for these individuals who look very organized, very structured, very professional, at least from the videos that are going online, could carry that sentiment and could be impressive.

However, you also have the security unit of the President, of the Republic, which is one of the highest trained elite corps in the police, to have been trained in the U.S. and elsewhere, and are the best paid and are trained and they know their drill. It is highly questionable that they would kind of fall for a trap like that.

COOPER: And obviously, the airport was shut down, as far as I understand, as well as the border with Dominican Republic. So, whoever did this, most likely, I assume, would still be in the country. Are you hearing anything about what authorities are doing to try to track them down?

ISAAC: Well, the Prime Minister said it in his presser and also in the steps he has been announcing and the decrees that the investigation is ongoing, and they're trying to find the perpetrators.

But it's unclear, actually. The situation is still very unclear. And that's part of the reason why everybody is hunkering down because we don't know what to expect from this new reality and what was dawning on the country.

COOPER: And the acting Prime Minister has declared a state of siege in Haiti. Are you clear on what that actually means?

ISAAC: Well, Anderson, a lot of people have been asking actually about what that actually means. It's unprecedented in our recent history that such a measure has been taken. But for, I guess, the American public, the way I could explain it, it is akin of martial law. And that means all public liberties are suspended.

Virtually anyone can get arrested for any reason, and a house can be searched without warrants. So this is the kind of measures we're looking at in the coming hours or days in order to respond to this event.

COOPER: Harold Isaac, appreciate the reporting. Thank you very much.

Up next, Marjorie Taylor Greene and her penchant for making Holocaust and Nazi references barely three weeks since supposedly apologizing for her last offensive remark. She's doing it again. We're keeping her honest.

Also, as we mentioned at the top, the latest from Surfside, what is now a search for remains and some measure of comfort for the families.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:14:23]

COOPER: The Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is at it again comparing President Biden's effort to vaccinate more Americans to the Nazis weeks after she has supposedly apologized for comparing COVID restrictions to the Nazis.

Now, here's how we got here. With COVID cases up now in 27 states, the Biden ministration is launching a new door to door campaign to try and get more Americans vaccinated. Congresswoman Taylor attack the program on Twitter writing and I quote, "Biden pushing a vaccine that is not F.D.A. approved shows COVID is a political tool used to control people. People have a choice. They don't need your medical brown shirts showing up at their door ordering vaccinations. You can't force people to be part of the human experiment," end quote.

[20:14:07]

COOPER: Now, keeping them honest, the brown shirts also called Storm Troopers were a paramilitary group that played a big role in the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party in the 1930s, as well as the 40s, which of course then led to the Holocaust and the genocide of six million Jews and others.

Greene's tweet comes weeks after she said this about mask wearing rules at the Capitol.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): You know, we can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star and they were definitely treated like second-class citizens so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany and this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Greene came under fire for that from both sides of the aisle, actually. She even got a rare reprimand from G.O.P. House Leader Kevin McCarthy. So, later she decided to take in a bit of history and toured the U.S. Holocaust Museum. And afterwards, she seemed to have -- well, she seemed to have learned a lesson. Here's what she told reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREENE: There is no comparison to the Holocaust, and there are words that I have said and remarks that I've made that I know are offensive, and for that I want to apologize.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: "There is no comparison to the Holocaust," she said there. So, well, so much for that today. Asked about it today, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, quote, "We don't take any of our health and medical advice from Marjorie Taylor Greene, I can assure everyone of that," unquote.

Joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman Elaine Luria, Vice Chair of the House Armed Services Committee and a member of the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection.

Congresswoman Luria, I mean, I appreciate you joining us. Congresswoman Greene's -- I mean, yet again, now comparing something to the Holocaust, brown shirts, the rise of the Nazis. I'm wonder what do you make of that?

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): Well, you know, after visiting the Holocaust Museum after spending time there and coming out to the public and saying, you know, I've learned a lot from this visit, I've reflected on the history, and I'm going to change the words I use, and I'm not going to use these references anymore. It's shocking, but truly not surprising to see that she is back again, using these references.

And, you know, I think it's inexcusable, her type of language.

COOPER: Also, you know, claiming that what the administration is trying to do is force people, you know, go door to door and force people to be vaccinated. I mean, it's just simply, factually not true. And frankly, it's -- you know, it's stirring the pot to get people riled up and angry and fearful.

LURIA: You know, it is, so first of all, I would say that, you know, her apology or, you know, explanation that she had a change of heart and understood better after she went to the Holocaust Museum, that was disingenuous.

Her misinformation -- disinformation that she is spreading about the COVID vaccine, and you know, veiled in these comments, is also her way of saying that people shouldn't take the vaccine, and all we have to do is look to states, a lot of them in the southeast, where the vaccine rates are much lower, and we're seeing a rise now of cases of new variants and it is very, very dangerous as a public official, as an elected official to be spreading this kind of information and using this anti-Semitic rhetoric.

COOPER: It also is, I mean, incredible to me that she so kind of blithely comparing Americans to Nazis. I mean, that these are, you know, canvassers going door to door, people working in the public health system, trying to, you know, help people give them information, you know, increase accessibility for a vaccine. It just seems very strange to me that we live in an age now where Members of Congress are routinely comparing Americans to Nazis.

LURIA: You know, Anderson, I don't have much more to say, than to agree with you. You know, this type of rhetoric is dangerous. It is clearly wrong to indicate that you know, the very in depth efforts of our public health service, our local health officials to reach as many people as possible. You know, I think it's a good thing to go knock on doors, share information to bring the vaccine to people who are homebound and otherwise can't receive it. And I know in my community, they've gone to great efforts to make sure

that everyone can receive the vaccine, and then when some people are hearing words like this from Representative Greene, to indicate that, you know, this is somehow equivalent to the largest genocide in history and that people are trying to do them harm is, you know, completely, you know, not helpful in our effort to try to reach as many people and stop the spread of the virus.

COOPER: I also want to ask you about these comments that Donald Trump reportedly made back now in 2018, which were just learning from this new book by Michael Benders who is a well-respected journalist for "The Wall Street Journal" that the former President made complimentary remarks about Hitler while in Europe for D-Day commemoration saying reportedly quote, "Hitler did a lot of good things."

[20:20:05]

COOPER: I mean, did you -- again, this is one of those things -- who would have ever thought a U.S. President would say that Hitler did a lot of good things.

LURIA: You know, this type of comment lacks any historical perspective, it lacks respect for the devastation of the Holocaust and the Jewish people and it is truly unconscionable, especially, especially coming from the former President or at that time President of the United States.

COOPER: Congresswoman Luria, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

LURIA: Yes, thank you.

COOPER: I want to dig deeper tonight into the roots of the insurrection. We want to tell you about the troubling link investigators are exploring between some of the attackers and their faith. More on that now from CNN's Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Hot in the middle of the Capitol attack there he was, according to the F.B.I., with a mask and big ideas. Fi Duong, officials say was part of a Bible study group in Virginia, which talked about making Molotov cocktails, combat training for an unspecified future attack, and even secession.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: And I think it just does show that many of the terrorists and insurrectionists of January 6 left January 6 believing that it was a victory.

FOREMAN (voice over): According to court records, undercover officers first encountered Duong during the riots, then the F.B.I. infiltrated his Bible group at a private home in February. Those records say Duong met undercover agents outside a former prison to discuss testing some bombs there, that he had an AK-47 and five boxes of bomb building material and that he said he wrote a manifesto because, "If I get into a gunfight with the Feds and I don't make it, I want to be able to transfer as much wisdom to my son as possible."

Authorities say the so-called Bible group also discussed surveilling the Capitol amid heightened security to find possible weak points. That's particularly alarming for police officers calling for better defenses around the Capitol.

MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: I would hope that they would be taking these threats seriously and paying attention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jesus Christ, we invoke your name. Amen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Amen.

FOREMAN (voice over): Concerns about conspiracy theories and radical right activism taking root in church communities have grown sharply in the past year.

PASTOR JAMES KENDALL, GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH: It's easier for Christians who already have that belief system to make that jump over and to believing that worldview.

FOREMAN (voice over): And these latest developments can only deepen worries about such rogue factions.

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: I think there's probably more of that than we'd like to think around the country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN (on camera): Duong has only been charged so far in connection with the January 6 insurrection and he has not entered a plea. CNN reached out to him for comment on these latest developments. He has not responded yet, and his attorney has also declined to comment -- Anderson.

COOPER: Tom Foreman, appreciate it. Thanks. Troubling.

Next, constitutional scholar, Laurence Tribe on the former President's attempt to sue his way back onto social media on First Amendment grounds and the fresh evidence he just provided that banning him for inciting violence was probably the right call to make.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:26:55]

COOPER: Well, the former President of the United States today announced legal action over being barred from social media platforms after the insurrection, he did it while spreading some of the very same inflammatory lies and distortions that incited it and threatened to provoke more.

In addition, he rolled out some new variations, one of which appears to be making a centerpiece of his current political message that's why really ignoring him tonight, as tempting as it may be, is not an option. He is saying more things that could cause violence. Here he is announcing his class action lawsuits in Florida Federal Court targeting Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the first of numerous other lawsuits I assume that would follow. But this is the lead and I think it's going to be a very, very important game changer for our country.

It will be a pivotal battle in the defensive, the First Amendment and in the end, I am confident that we will achieve a historic victory for American freedom, and at the same time, freedom of speech.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Yes, that's not going to happen. In a moment we'll have a constitutional law expert to discuss this more fully. Just briefly, though, the First Amendment has nothing to do with a private company bouncing the user for violating its Terms of Service. And that's who he is. He is a user who has bounced for violating Terms of Service.

It states, quote, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press." The First Amendment is there to protect us from the government, not from Twitter or Facebook.

Here's part of Twitter's announcement of its ban for a pair of tweets by the defeated President two days after the insurrection he incited with his many lies, quote, "Our determination is that the two tweets above are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021. And that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so."

YouTube and Facebook gave similar reasons for their decisions. He violated their policies against inciting violence. The former President also today trotted out a variation on the election lie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We are the majority side by a lot. I believe we are the majority side by far more than anybody would understand. You just have to take a look at what happened in recent elections and add up the right numbers, you will see a majority like you wouldn't believe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He is both wrong and lying, even allowing for Republican congressional candidates outperforming expectations last fall, what he said is not true, and small detail, the former President lost by more than seven million votes. To suggest otherwise as the former President does and still does is part and parcel of the familiar big lie that fueled the insurrection.

But he added something else today which he has now said several times. It's really no less dangerous. It's a lie about the insurrection. Congressman Paul Gosar, the conspiracy theorists Holocaust denier

adjacent lawmaker who also meets with white supremacists has been pushing it as well, namely that Ashli Babbitt, who was part of a violent mob trying to break into a secured part of the Capitol is some sort of a martyr and the police officer, the law enforcement personnel who shot her some kind of criminal.

[20:30:09]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R) FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: The person that shot Ashli Babbitt, boom, right through the head, just boom, there was no reason for that. And why isn't that person being opened up and why isn't that being studied?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: First, Ashli Babbit was not shot in the head. According to the medical examiner, the bullet struck her left shoulder. So he's wrong about that and lying. Second, there certainly was a reason the mob she was part of was trying to batter their way into the speaker's lobby of the House. On the other side of the door were members of Congress being evacuated. Now, in other words, the mob was -- could be perceived as a direct and immediate threat to their lives and that of the officers who were protecting them.

The third, the matter was studied to use the former president's word and the officer who shot Ashli Babbitt was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. Fourth, his name is being withheld because according to his attorneys, he's received death threats, exposing him the former President ought to know would expose him to violence. But former president probably doesn't care that much about that. And after all, that is what got him banned from social media in the first place.

More now in the former president's legal claims. Joining us Harvard Law School professor and Supreme Court litigator, Laurence Tribe, co- author most recently of To End The Presidency, The Power Of Impeachment.

Professor Tribe, putting aside the fact that the President is -- or the former president is announcing this lawsuit, basically just for publicity, as just has a long career of, you know, threatening lawsuits, announcing lawsuits. And in the end, they just sort of peter out and disappear. Do these lawsuits now that he's announced today have any serious legal merit?

LAURENCE TRIBE, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: They have no merit at all. Just as he's lying above the insurrection. Just as he's lying about the election, he's lying about the Constitution. He's made up his own version of the First Amendment, which as you point out, applies only against the government, not against companies enforcing their own terms of use.

He's lying about the Constitution, he's lying about freedom of speech. He's made up his own version of the Constitution. It's an Alice in Wonderland lawsuit. Its purpose is obviously to get attention to distract attention from investigations into the insurrection and his own responsibility.

I got an e-mail myself today, of all things from what he calls himself, President Donald Trump, asking me for money for the lawsuit and asking me, and I'm sure there's got this thing just as well, to join his class action. But it's a fake class action.

It's a class of one, the only person in the class is the former president, who incited an insurrection. It's -- it would be a joke, if it were not so tragic. But clearly there's no merit in this lawsuit. It won't get anywhere. But predictably, like many of his other scams that will raise a lot of money and distract attention from real problems.

COOPER: So, he's fundraising on the idea that this is a class action lawsuit that anybody can join?

TRIBE: That's apparently he says, get back to me immediately if you want to join the class. Well, I'm not too interested in joining that class. But I certainly am not a member of any class that could bring a lawsuit against Facebook or Twitter, or Google, the whole thing is a scam, just a complete scam. And I'm sure millions of people got similar e-mails, I'm obviously not one of the most likely supporters of this president and of his fake mitigation efforts.

But the very fact that someone like me would get a fundraising thing off of, you know, this GoFundMe e-mail off of this fake lawsuit based on a fake version of a non-existent First Amendment is just typical of what this is all about. And I don't think we should give it the time of day really.

COOPER: So, somebody who's watching who thinks, OK, well, the president shouldn't have been removed from Facebook or from Twitter. So he has the right to sue. What is wrong about his argument?

TRIBE: Well, what's right about his argument would be sort of the question to ask there's nothing right about it. The First Amendment is not a provision of law that restricts what private companies can do to people who don't comply with their terms of service. If you don't think Facebook was right to get rid of the President, you know, you can complain about Facebook, that doesn't give the president or anybody else a right to sue Facebook, there is a legal provision that in fact immunizes Facebook and other social media platforms for kicking people off in a way that they don't agree with.

[20:35:09]

The President says that that legal provision ought to be repealed. But he can't repeal it with a magic wand, just saying it's not there. And in fact, he relies simultaneously on the fact that they are immunized. He says, because they are given immunity, they are equivalent to the government. Well, that's a ridiculous argument. The gun industry is given a similar immunity, that doesn't make it the government. And they can't simultaneously say that because they are given this benefit, they are -- the government, therefore, the First Amendment applies to them.

And by the way, let's get rid of the immunity. If he did, he would knock the legs out from under his own lawsuit. But it doesn't have any legs anyway. So that's neither here nor there.

COOPER: Well, I mean, just in terms of the discovery portion of a lawsuit, I mean, given everything you know, about the former president and how he's tried to avoid accountability in any illegal setting, if he actually went through with the lawsuit, wouldn't he actually open himself up to being deposed?

TRIBE: Sure, he wouldn't be deposed under oath, whatever he said, could be then used in lawsuits that are properly being brought against people who fomented the insurrection, some lawsuits against him. We know he doesn't want to sit for a deposition under oath.

That's how we know he doesn't expect to win this lawsuit. It's just, you know, it's just for show and it's just for money. If he thought that it would get past motions to dismiss, and he'd have to sit under oath and be deposed, he would never run the lawsuit in the first place.

So it's a lawsuit, which is bringing, knowing that he can't win it, abusing the legal process, probably in a way that his lawyers ought to be sanctioned for. And so, it has no merit. It's just a way of getting attention and raising money. And we know that he doesn't want to go through with a suit. Because if he did, he would be the loser, he would have to testify under oath to what he knew, leading up to the insurrection. And how come he didn't do anything to stop it.

So, it's clearly a case where he thinks it's heads he wins, tails, we lose. Either way, the lawsuit is going nowhere, except it's going to make them a little bit richer.

COOPER: I mean, it's -- it is classic, like snake, snake oil salesman. I mean, again, this is nothing new from this person. It's just, it's extraordinary that no lessons apparently have been learned by this man.

Professor Laurence Tribe, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

TRIBE: Glad to be with you.

COOPER: Up next, breaking news and grim news from Surfside Florida, the rescue effort they're now shifting to a recovery operation. We'll have a live report from the site when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:41:39]

COOPER: A breaking news from Surfside Florida. As we mentioned earlier, the rescue effort at the condo collapse site is shifted to a recovery operation. This with 86 people still potentially unaccounted for.

Rosa Flores tonight remains on the scene, joins us again. What more can you tell us about this decision to shift to recovery mission?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Anderson officials here said that they looked at the facts, the sound equipment that they were using no longer brought back any sound, the K-9s were not detecting any sounds. We also looked at the physical limits of the human being the amount of time that someone can survive without water, air, food, that sort of thing.

And then they looked at the type of collapse. This is a pancake collapse. And it really looks like exactly what that sounds like layers of concrete on top of each other. One of the Fire Chiefs explained it saying that four floors were down to just several feet. They of course shared all this information with a families Anderson before making the decision to transition to a recovery phase.

COOPER: And I understand a group of survivors went back to the site of the collapse today.

FLORES: You know, a lot of focus had been given to the families that were looking for their loved ones and rightfully so. But some of the survivors were feeling left behind. They were feeling forgotten. They were feeling a lot of mixed emotions, some of them feeling guilt.

Today, they were escorted to the site so that they could also grieve, so that they could also see what they had survived.

And so, that was part of the grieving process today according to the mayor, some of these survivors also counting their blessings tonight, Anderson after they were able to see the site firsthand.

COOPER: The State Attorney understanding Miami-Dade County tonight announced that she's formally asked the grand jury to investigate the collapse. Is there any idea how likely authorities believe the charges could be in this tragedy?

FLORES: You know, homicide detectives have been working alongside search and rescue teams from day one. So have prosecutors. The interesting announcement today by the state attorney is that yes, there are of course investigating. They're gathering evidence. But on top of that, she asked a grand jury after to look at this after the long term investigation is completed so that this doesn't happen again, so that a grand jury can produce a report to help make change.

State Attorney, Anderson said that something similar was done after Hurricane Andrew to change building code. And so, that's what they're hoping to do here as well for this grand jury to come together, make recommendations and hopefully make sure that this doesn't happen again, Anderson.

COOPER: And what do we know more about the number of victims who have been recovered and identified.

FLORES: You know, so far 54 people have died. We know that 33 have been identified. The last three to be identified just today is 86- year-old Graciela Cattarossi, 89-year-old Gio Cattarossi, and 80-year- old Simon Segal. And Anderson I can tell you that officials here still say they don't know what the total number of victims will be, Anderson.

[20:45:03]

COOPER: Yes, that's so awful. Rosa Flores, I appreciate you being there for us. Thank you.

Just ahead tonight, in Arizona, that's so-called the audit of votes in last year's presidential election is still proceeding. If Pennsylvania state legislator has his name or I should say state senator has his way that the same thing could be happening in his state. A report on that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A Republican state senator from Pennsylvania says he wants to launch what he calls a forensic investigation into results of last year's presidential election in his state, precisely along the same lines the sham so-called audit now taking place in Arizona. In fact, State Senator Doug Mastriano was one of a group of local Republican officials who went to Phoenix to see for themselves what was going on.

Last month, Gary Tuchman caught up with Mastriano flanked by some of his supporters to ask him why he thinks last year's election count was wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DOUG MASTRIANO (R-PA) STATE SENATOR: All I want to know is what happened.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Let me ask you this, that's one thing you didn't mention, you know, you know --

MASTRIANO: Yes.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): -- that dozens of judges and courts around the country have ruled against Trump's voting claims. And a lot of them are Trump appointed judges and even the U.S. Supreme Court. Is there a higher authority on the courts?

[20:50:01]

MASTRIANO: Well, well it is the people --

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Do you believe the people are above the courts as the country of laws --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MASTRIANO: All I want is a full president (ph). And you know what if there's nothing -- if the let the cards and chips fall where they may? If the results --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's the truth, (INAUDIBLE). MASTRIANO: -- that's right, if they were, if they weren't as good as Governor Wolf and Josh Shapiro says they are, fantastic.

(CROSSTALK)

MASTRIANO: And then the people in the state will say, I have faith, it was probably nothing. If, if -- yes, I hope not. But if the results show that there was extensive fraud, because we don't know, if there was extensive fraud, then it's up to us to make changes and corrections legislative wide, so people can walk in and know that their vote counts. Right now is compromised.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Joining me now is Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. Mr. Attorney General, thanks for joining us.

So, Republicans in Pennsylvania clearly front and make this at least in part of fight with you. I'm wondering what your reaction is the news that they're moving forward with the so-called forensic investigation. What does that term even mean to you in this context?

JOSH SHAPIRO (D), PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, Anderson, just one respectful correction, it's not Republicans in Pennsylvania. And it's not a group of senators. It is one insurrectionist state senator who is demanding the personal private voting information of 997,000 Pennsylvanians. This is a sham, what he's trying to do.

Importantly, let's speak some truth. There have already been two legal audits done in counties all across Pennsylvania. We know the truth. And the truth is that Joe Biden won the election here in Pennsylvania, by just over 80,000 votes. Sadly, there are some people that just simply can't accept reality and this state senator is one of them.

COOPER: Just to be clear, I mean, do any counties or election officials have to legally comply with the demand from, as you say, one Republican state senator, who is apparently arguing he's justified in doing this, because he's Chair of the State Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee.

SHAPIRO: Right. Right. No. He issued what seemingly is a demand letter of those three counties. And in fact, I made a very clear statement to those counties today that they should not comply. The governor of the Commonwealth made a similar statement. And obviously, their solicitors will advise them on what to do, but I'm strongly urging them not to comply.

This would cost the taxpayers millions and millions of dollars. This rogue state senator is demanding the election machines, the paper ballots, the technology used to run elections. If he were to receive them play this hypothetical out, and then provided it to a third party like what they're doing in Arizona, the taxpayers on those counties would then be on the hook for millions and millions of dollars to replace all that equipment because it ultimately would be compromised.

So the taxpayers would not only pay for it with their dollars to buy new machines, but they'd also pay for it because their personal security, their personal information would be compromised by this sham audit.

COOPER: Do you think this senator -- state senator actually believes what he's saying? Or is this just cynical and dishonest -- as cynical and dishonest and potentially dangerous ploy as it seems?

SHAPIRO: Look, I get asked that all the time. I mean, you'd have to ask that state senator what he really believes. But I get asked generally, you know, do these Republicans really believe this stuff, Anderson? I mean, that's what that's what folks asked me. And I think they do. I mean, this is the modern day Republican Party, this is who they are.

They have bought into the big lie. And sadly, they keep selling it to the good people of Pennsylvania. They keep telling the good people of Pennsylvania, something that is just simply not true in order to feed their own political ambitions. I don't know what he believes. But I know that the lies they continue to tell, are doing real damage to our democracy.

COOPER: And what -- I mean where does this end? I mean due to losing candidates now with that aligned with the former president, do they just dispute all election results in months and years ahead? I mean, how does this --

SHAPIRO: Yes.

COOPER: -- how does this go on? Or how do we step back?

SHAPIRO: And you're asking me -- you're asking me sort of a political question. I'm not a political pundit. I'm the Attorney General of Pennsylvania. I could tell you where this specific effort will go. And that is absolutely nowhere. You know, we will fight this tooth and nail in court, this attempt to hurt taxpayers, which is what's going on here.

And my track record is strong every single time they've taken us to court to try and undermine the will of the people. They've lost and we've won and we'll continue to do that.

But make no mistake, you know, to the political point of your question. They're doing real damage to our democracy, but this is who they are. I mean, they peddle the big lie. They make no bones about it. And I think it's important that we speak truth right now. Not just to the people of Pennsylvania but people all across United States of America and that's what I try to do every day.

[20:55:07]

COOPER: Yes. Attorney General Shapiro, appreciate your time. Thank you.

SHAPIRO: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Just head along with the possibility of another sham vote count in Pennsylvania, which seems unlikely according to the Attorney General there. The Texas Legislature has been called into special session where sweeping bill that opponents say will curtail some voting rights will be on the docket. We'll take a look at that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well lawmakers in Texas are set to begin a special session tomorrow where a bill that opponents say will restrict voting in the state will be on the agenda. Now you may remember that Democrats in the legislature who are a minority, they staged a last-minute walkout during the final hours the regular session denying Republicans a quorum which is required for final passage of the bill.

Republican Governor Greg Abbott says election integrity, those are his words, will be among the 11 items he wants to consider during the special session. Democrats say the proposed legislation would add, a slew of new restrictions to curtail voting. It's worth pointing out that the former president one Texas handling during last year's presidential election.

[21:00:10]

News continues right now. Let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.