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Search And Rescue Paused In Surfside Ahead Of Planned Demolition; Delta Variant Behind New Surge Of Coronavirus In The U.S.; Police Standoff With Heavily Armed Men Ends In 11 Arrests; GOP Rep. Gosar Doubles Down On False January 6th Conspiracy; Kentucky Student Wins College Scholarship In Vaccine Lottery; Facebook Asks Users If Friends Are Becoming An Extremist; Cosby Accusers Outraged Over His Release From Prison. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 3, 2021 - 19:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: From the Gulf of Mexico off the Yucatan Peninsula. Authorities say an underwater gas leak near an oil platform sparked the fire that burned for more than five hours. Wow.

And your next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. And you are in the CNN NEWSROOM on this holiday weekend. Great to have you along.

Concerns tonight over the spread of the highly-transmissible Delta variant, as the U.S. sees a spike in new COVID cases.

Plus, what started as a traffic stop escalated into a nine-hour standoff between police and heavily armed men in tactical gear.

Also tonight, lifesaving and life changing. I'm going to speak to one of the winners of Kentucky's big vaccine lottery.

And we have breaking news this hour out of Surfside, Florida, where officials say the search effort at that collapsed condo building must stop so that the remainder of the damaged structure can be demolished before a tropical storm hits.

CNN's Brian Todd is in Surfside and just came from the latest press conference.

What more are you learning, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, we have been told that the rescue operations have been on pause now for the last three hours. They started the actual pause at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time so that teams can prepare for the demolition of what remains of the structure of Champlain Towers South. And that structure seems to be getting increasingly dangerous to remain upright by the hour.

Here is Mayor Daniella Levine Cava a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA (D), MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: We're continuing to move forward with due diligence and with setting a specific timeline for the demolition. We don't have that for you yet. Search and rescue does have to pause temporarily while the demolition preparation is underway. And that there is threat to the standing building that is posed to the first responders as we've told you. So preparation includes activities like drilling into columns in the unsafe structure.

So it has been determined by our engineers and our fire department in constant communication with the demolition team, as the process is underway, that we need to put a temporary pause and we are continuing to receive updates about the condition of the standing structure and we will begin the search and rescue once again on any sections of the pile that are safe to access as soon as we are cleared.


TODD: And you heard the mayor say that they are going to be drilling into columns. They -- she called this a rapid controlled demolition. We pressed her on some more information about specific techniques that they're going to use to take the building down. Officials are not really forthcoming about that but it's going to be interesting to see, you know, the physical and technical nature of how they bring this building down.

They are hopeful that they can do this demolition before the tropical storm gets here. We really tried to nail down a timeline. The mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, said they could not give us a specific timeline. They don't really have that yet. But she did say they are hopeful that they can get this done before the storm gets here.

Now that's a key thing because the storm is kind of on a nebulous track right now as we've been reporting. It's tracking toward south Florida. This area could feel tropical storm force winds as early as Sunday night into Monday morning.

But that storm is now tracking a little bit west of here. It's tracking into the Florida Keys and possibly west of here. It may not impact this area so severely. And the mayor said that's good news but she also cited the uncertain nature of that storm.

You know, the storm may not hit in earnest until maybe Monday afternoon. And again where it hits in earnest is still a question. There is a big cone of uncertainty there. It does seem to be tracking west.

Another key piece of information that she -- that she gave after we pressed her on this, she said no other buildings around that building need to be evacuated when they demolish it. Now we were in Champlain Towers East yesterday for a vantage point there. And it's very close to that building, Pamela. You can -- it's -- there's one small hotel building between Champlain Tower East and Champlain Tower South where the collapse was.

It's really a matter of, you know, I would say, a couple hundred feet away. And yet that building, Champlain Towers East, other buildings, will not be evacuated according to the mayor.

BROWN: All right. Important information there, Brian Todd, live for us from Surfside, Florida. Thanks, Brian.

And we're following some disturbing new developments in the fight against the deadly coronavirus, specifically that highly transmissible Delta variant, which is seen as the likely driver behind the 10 percent spike in new U.S. cases this week. In California, where the positivity rate has doubled in recent weeks, this variant represents more than one-third of the state's new infections. And despite more than 156 million Americans being fully inoculated, infection experts warn the strain will continue to rage due to rampant vaccine hesitancy.


It's a major threat to Americans' health and to the prospects of reaching herd immunity.

Let's bring in CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Leana Wen.

Good evening, Dr. Wen. Great to see you. So here we are. It is a holiday weekend. I remember what the discussions were like last Fourth of July. Now the discussions are different obviously when it comes to coronavirus. Medical officials are saying that, look, if you're vaccinated, there is almost no risk. But should we be celebrating with family members or friends that are not vaccinated? And do we need to wear a mask?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: It's a great question. And first of all, I do think we have to acknowledge that we are in such a different place from where we were last Fourth of July when the worst was yet to come versus right now. I think the worst is behind us, especially if we are vaccinated.

Here's the thing. If you are fully vaccinated and you are around other people who are also vaccinated, you are very safe. On the other hand, if you are unvaccinated and people around you are unvaccinated, too, that's not safe. If you are vaccinated and your family members are not vaccinated, you are probably safe yourself especially if you are not immunocompromised.

But the problem is if you're at a family gathering, especially one that has indoor components and there are many people there who are unvaccinated, they are a risk to one another.

And so I would really urge that if you are in that circumstance to try to be outdoors as much as possible. Not so much for you but for the other people who are there.

BROWN: So how careful do we need to be to protect our children who are not vaccinated? We both are moms. Our kids are young. They haven't been vaccinated. What should we do?

WEN: Our children are at risk for contracting coronavirus. In particular, this Delta variant that's so much more transmissible. If you have something more transmissible, it means that those activities that we thought were previously relatively safer are actually more dangerous because whatever we could get away with before, now, with something more contagious, you're more likely to get it.

And so I would say for children, if kids are gathering with other kids, they should try to be outdoors as much as possible. If they are indoors, they should be wearing masks.

BROWN: Hmm. I'm curious what you think. Earlier in the show, I interviewed a health official in L.A. County who was saying that the county is now suggesting mask use for even vaccinated people in public indoor places. Just looking at the numbers, looking how the Delta variant is impacting people there, what do you think about that? And do you think that that is a trend that we're going to continue to see in other areas of the country?

WEN: I actually agree with what Dr. Ferrer in L.A. County has done, what St. Louis is recommending. I think that the indoor mask mandates were lifted too soon because the problem is that we're not asking for proof of vaccination. So if you have an area, let's say, where only 50 percent of people have been vaccinated, and no one around you is wearing a mask indoors, you know that you're also surrounded by unvaccinated people.

And so I think in those situations if you're not asking for proof of vaccination, everybody should be wearing a mask because otherwise you've just made that space basically unsafe for children who can't be vaccinated, for immunocompromised people. I do also think that the level of community transmission also really matters. Think of the vaccine as a really good raincoat. If it's drizzling, we're fine.

But if there is a huge hurricane or thunderstorm, you may need better protection. You may need a mask and a vaccine. And so I do think it makes sense to have indoor mandates actually starting to come back especially in places with high community transmission.

BROWN: I'm curious what you think about this and what this reveals that President Biden didn't reach his goal of 70 percent of Americans having at least one of the vaccines by the Fourth of July. Now this was just a goal that the administration set. But they had clearly carefully crafted these milestones all along the way. What do you -- what does it reveal to you that this goal wasn't reached. although it is close to it? And what does it tell you about reaching herd immunity in this country?

WEN: I don't think we're going to get anywhere close to herd immunity unless the Biden administration gets behind vaccine credentialing. I'm not talking about a national vaccine passport that's required. But rather a choice for individuals to show vaccine credentials.

I think that when there are vaccine mandates that are going to be given by various workplaces, when vaccines become mandated come the fall for students entering college, and ideally for schools going forward, that's really going to drive the increase in numbers.

Until then we're really just tinkering around the edges. We're going to get a few more people vaccinated and that's really important. But I think that for us to reach actually herd immunity or anything close to it, it is going to require some type of vaccine requirement. And I really hope the Biden administration starts getting behind it.

BROWN: All right. Dr. Leana Wen, thanks so much for joining us on this holiday weekend. We really appreciate all of your expertise and insight as always.

WEN: Thank you very much, Pamela.


BROWN: And tonight, 11 people are in custody following a nine-hour standoff between police and a group of heavily armed men on one of the nation's busiest interstates. Overnight, a highway patrol cop found two vehicles in the breakdown lane on Interstate 95. Police say heavily armed men wearing tactical gear were attempting to refuel one of the vehicles. After seeing the then were armed, the trooper called for backup. Some of the men then fled into the nearby woods and the standoff ensued.


COL. CHRISTOPHER MASON, MASSACHUSETTS STATE POLICE: We were able to successfully resolve this situation through a combination of negotiation and some tactical maneuvers.


BROWN: The men in custody belong to the Rise of the Moors which is a muddled ideology, apparently connected to the Moorish Sovereignty Movement which believes, among other things, that an 18th century treaty between the U.S. and Morocco grants them special rights.


MASON: They wanted to be heard. They wanted to be a variety of not demands but requests that they just be allowed to leave the area. Transit the area without any accountability. And at the end of the day, we couldn't accommodate that.


BROWN: So the men eventually surrendered to police without incident. And authorities seized an undisclosed number of guns. Their motive and their intentions are still unclear.

Joining me now is former Homeland Security official under President Obama and current CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem.

So help us make sense of this, Juliette. I mean, as we piece together what happened, how significant is this?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's significant in the sense that this organization, the Moors or the Moors Sovereign Citizens have actually been getting a little bit more aggressive lately. If you look at the last year, they went from what we call paper terrorism which is, they do lawsuits and liens against people's homes and just sort of harass people through paper, to a couple of arrests lately and, of course, this armed event.

As you noted that they are a very small group that most law enforcement have probably never heard of, that believe in some special status for a group of African-Americans that they have special rights and privileges and therefore don't have to abide by the laws.

The problem is they drove into the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which has a no-open-carry law. So the moment that they -- that the police officer, the state trooper, goes up to them and sees all that weaponry, that's -- right there, that's your state criminal violation.

They didn't have to do anything else. And then of course the police officer called for backup. And fortunately no one was harmed.

BROWN: So this doesn't appear to be a well-known group, as you say. Backup was called in. A negotiator was called in. Could all of this be a publicity stunt?

KAYYEM: Yes, I'm so glad you asked. So, apparently, and we have to verify this but apparently this was sort of live streamed by the leadership. And because we are now talking about a group we haven't talked about before.

The problem for them, though, is publicity stunts are now ending up with 11 of their members facing time. Massachusetts may be the home of the revolution but we do not -- we do not take lightly terrorists or whoever. Armed citizens driving on our interstates especially, on July 4th, where, of course, this was a significant backup.

So they will face a penalty and it's not a very large group. So 11 men is significant for them. So we won't -- you know, in other words, this was -- this could have been something that they played. But we do not have to be played by them. They will -- they will face time.

BROWN: I want to ask you about another national security threat. The cyberattacks, which are happening with alarming frequency.

KAYYEM: Right.

BROWN: And tonight, we're learning about this massive ransomware attack that has hit hundreds of businesses. Here is what America's top cyberdefense chief said to me last weekend.



BRANDON WALES, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. CYBERSECURITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE SECURITY AGENCY: Ransomware attacks are happening almost every day someplace in this country. Some ones are big, and they are well known like Colonial and JBS. But most of them are below the radar. The companies don't tell anyone. They may pay or they may just rebuild their networks. And unfortunately that will continue. (END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So how big of a deal is this latest ransomware attack?

KAYYEM: I think this is a big deal. I think this is something that's going to unfold over the next couple days. This is what we call a downstream attack. So, you hit a company that no one's ever heard of. But it's actually significant company because its sub-contractees, its licensees, are hundreds and hundreds of companies, if not thousands, who will be impacted. This is -- we have seen this before in ransomware.

This is very easy from the attacker's perspective because if you get -- if you get that company, essentially, the attack or the cyber infiltration goes down, sort of downstreams to its clients. So I think we're going to find out a lot more companies that have been impacted and kudos to the company for coming out publicly and saying everyone shut it down.


As you know, it's a holiday weekend. We don't know if the attack was timed to that. But we, also, therefore, don't know what the impact is, probably, until Tuesday when these companies come back online.

BROWN: Yes. It does raise questions. A holiday weekend. I was speaking to one source, government source who were saying, look, you know, it wouldn't surprise me if they were trying to do it during the holiday weekend to cause disruption.


BROWN: That's what they like to do. So there is a lot more to learn on this.

Juliette Kayyem, thanks for helping us put all of this into perspective.

KAYYEM: Thank you. Have a happy Fourth.

BROWN: You, too.

And coming up this hour.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To get away like that and everything he done to myself. The perfect innocent girl.


BROWN: Bill Cosby accusers speak out after a bombshell court ruling sets the comedian free.

Also, ahead tonight. Kentucky celebrates its shot at a million-vaccine drive. And I am going to speak to one of the winners who just scored a full-ride scholarship.

But first, Congressman Paul Gosar descending deeper into dangerous conspiracies. The congressman's sister says no one in Congress is more responsible for the January 6th riot than he is. Jennifer Gosar joins me, next.



BROWN: Whether it's lying about the 2020 election, distorting the events of January 6th, or sharing the stage with a holocaust denier, far-right Congressman Paul Gosar is making a name for himself as one of the most conspiracy addled Republicans in Congress. In a new fundraising e-mail obtained by a "Washington Post" reporter Gosar baselessly says the FBI may have had a hand in planning and carrying out the Capitol attack. Again, that is baseless.

If the Arizona congressman actually believed this inside job nonsense and wanted to get to the bottom of it, then why did he vote against investigating the attack, twice?

Sadly, Gosar's e-mail may not be this week's most stunning headline involving Republicans and the Capitol riot, some Republicans, I should say because on Tuesday several GOP lawmakers toured the U.S.-Mexico border with an admitted-Capitol rioter, Anthony Aguero.

Now maybe they thought he would have some expert insight on breaching security barriers. For the record, these are the House Republicans who were with Aguero. Lauren Boebert, Madison Cawthorne, Chris Jacobs, Michael Cloud, John Rose, Ronnie Jackson, Mary Miller, Randy Weber, and Tom Tiffany. Aguero was a close ally of Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and is a convicted felon.

The group that organized the border trip said his attendance was, quote, "purely incidental." The FBI previously declined to comment on whether he was under investigation for breaching the Capitol.

So let's bring in Congressman Gosar's sister, Jennifer Gosar.

Jennifer, thank you so much for joining us on the show. I mean, first of all, when you hear everything I just laid out, what is your visceral reaction?

JENNIFER GOSAR, GOP REP. PAUL GOSAR'S SISTER: My visceral reaction is disgust. It's nausea and loathing. I do not understand why these people continue to work in Congress. Why they continue to do what they are doing with any -- without any efforts to both consider censure, expulsion, and investigation.

BROWN: You've said that your brother is partly responsible for inciting the January 6th attack. I mean, what do you make of his revisionism and conspiracies about that day?

GOSAR: Again, nausea worthy. It's despicable. And it's really cynical because Paul uses this to fundraise. And I think that's actually probably one of the most sickening qualities is that, not only is this something that is delusional and it's criminal. If his involvement is with whatever reports that I've seen and read that's true then he is absolutely a part of organizing this insurrection and should be held criminally accountable for it. But he uses it beyond that, Pamela, to fundraise and I find that even more despicable and disgusting.

BROWN: I mean, you would -- you could call that shameless. Is that a quality that you saw in your brother growing up?

GOSAR: No, but I've certainly seen it since he started running for office in 2010. To start your campaign work aligning yourself with Joe Arpaio and SB 1070, that to me was already a sign that something was very wrong. I worked for about 15 years as a Spanish and English medical interpreter and I am very proud of that work. So when I confronted Paul about his ideas regarding immigration, his use of, you know, the words illegal alien to otherize and dehumanize people, I was concerned then.

I didn't know what to do about it then. But when the opportunity came to support Dr. David Brill in 2018, I jumped on it because I felt like that was probably the best platform to draw attention to how hateful and bigoted my brother is.

BROWN: What do you make of the fact that he has constituents that support him? That are donating to his campaign and his, you know, his office and so forth? What do you make of that?

GOSAR: You know, it's a hard thing to understand because I don't know what he's done to actually help his constituents. You know, whether it's water quality, sustainability, you know, problems with, you know, difficulties in the environment. Not only in the environment but working in the environment in the area of Prescott and his district.


I don't understand what he's actually done for people seriously. So that is something that I am still miffed by. But to be honest with you, it's -- there is so much that, you know, he does that is convenient for Paul. So Paul originally ran in a different district.

And when it came time for re-election, he went to that district. He does not live there. He has an apartment there but he doesn't live there. His residence is in Flag Staff. He's never moved there. He went to that district to run because it is the safest -- one of the safest districts I think in the country.

BROWN: So when you look at his political life and everything, and you look at his action since and, you know, how he's responded to different events like the January 6th insurrection, do you think there could be anything, anything that would change his mind or change his ways?

I mean, you know, the House put together the select committee to investigate the attack. Of course, Republicans are already saying it's partisan. They voted against it. But will the findings, will anything, change the minds of people like your brother? GOSAR: Well, it's the very reason I'm here. I think censure,

expulsion, and investigation for criminal activity are the things that actually would wake my brother up. I feel my brother to be addicted to control, domination, and power. So in that respect, holding him accountable is the only way to get this person's attention. And as you've seen and covered, you know, CNN has covered this for some time, you know, his actions are only becoming more and more outrageous, egregious, and disgusting.

BROWN: So I understand that you haven't spoken in a few years. Have -- I mean, what would you say to him if you could talk to him right now? And after you make these appearances, do you ever hear -- does he try to reach out? I'm just curious about what that's like.

GOSAR: No, I wouldn't communicate with him. I don't -- you know, I don't align myself with the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys or any other hate group. Why would I ally with him just because we share DNA? I mean, I don't -- I don't wish to speak with him. And in the past, however, I had tried to communicate or, you know, bring about different ideas to Paul in a way that was -- that would connect.

I gave that a full seven years of try and nothing worked. So at this point, you know, I don't want communication with him. And I want him to be held accountable because to me that's the only way I can actually be honorable with this person.

He is addicted to me. To me, he is a person long past a sense, a reference, for reality and where is healthy, right? So this is the only way I can be honorable and respectful human being to him is to actually look for ways to hold him accountable to stop the madness, to be honest with you.

No, he doesn't try to reach out to me and I think that wouldn't be a good idea if he did.

BROWN: OK. Jennifer Gosar, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your experiences, your views on your brother. We appreciate it.

GOSAR: Thank you. Thank you, Pamela, for giving me a chance to talk about this because I've really -- I care about the people in our country that don't get a chance to voice these kinds of, you know, what is integrity and care for each other. And it's important to me to every time I have given the opportunity to speak up. Thank you.

BROWN: We appreciate it and you're welcome back on the show anytime. Thanks so much.

Well, a young woman from Kentucky gets a full ride to college just for getting a shot. Addison Sullenger and her family join me, next.



BROWN: This just in to CNN, and it is bad news for travelers this holiday weekend. There is a delay for most flights heading to JFK Airport and New York right now. The airport says a water leak in the main control tower has forced air traffic controllers to move to a secondary tower at that airport.

So, heads up on that for travelers this weekend.

Meantime, many states have implemented some kind of vaccine lottery to boost their overall vaccination rate, and although the jury is still out on whether they've actually been successful in doing so, none of the winners are complaining, that's for sure, and that includes five young people who just scored full ride scholarship scholarships to college in Kentucky's shot at a million lottery.

They and other winners were announced Friday afternoon. You see the reaction right here.

One of them joins me now Adison Sullenger, along with her parents, David and Wendy. Thank you all so much for coming on. You're in my home state of Kentucky, and I just can imagine you're still like trying to understand what just happened

Adison, I'm curious had the plan to get the vaccine all along -- had you planned to get the vaccine all along? Or was this chance to win a scholarship the deciding factor for you?

ADISON SULLENGER, WON COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP IN KENTUCKY'S VACCINE LOTTERY: Actually, I got the vaccine in March before this opportunity was even announced.

BROWN: So what was your reaction when they announced your name?

A. SULLENGER: I was very shocked. I was speechless.

BROWN: So David and Wendy, what did you think of Adison taking part in this lottery? And what kind of relief is it to you to know that her college tuition is now covered?

WENDY SULLENGER, DAUGHTER WON COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP IN KENTUCKY'S VACCINE LOTTERY: Well, to say that we are blessed is an understatement. We are so fortunate to live in a state that our Governor Andy Beshear is actually giving opportunities to people that are doing the right thing, and because of that, our daughter is going to have an opportunity to not have a financial burden when she gets out of college and she can further her career and focus on helping others.

BROWN: So, David, what does it mean to you?

DAVID SULLENGER, DAUGHTER WON COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP IN KENTUCKY'S VACCINE LOTTERY: Well, it means a lot, like I said, the financial burden of it all and just the opportunity that she will get to have and without the stress of worrying about the money and billing and all, it's a great pleasure and experience right now, I'll tell you.

BROWN: I can only imagine, I know, as a parent, it's like one of the first things you think about, right? How am I going to, you know, send them to college and saving money and so forth? So, I can just only imagine the excitement that you will feel.

Adison, do you know where you want to go to school and what you plan to major in?

A. SULLENGER: I'm not sure on a school yet, but I did know what I want to do. I want to go to nursing school and become a flight nurse.

BROWN: Well, that's great. That's a big step to know what you already want to do. That's a big deal. How important is it to you to spread the message about getting vaccinated to your peer group?

A. SULLENGER: I say get vaccinated, it isn't only going to protect people around you and yourself, but you have a great opportunity to look forward to now.

BROWN: All right, Adison, David, and Wendy, thank you so much for joining us and Happy Fourth to you.

A. SULLENGER: Thank you.

W. SULLENGER: Thank you very much.

D. SULLENGER: Thank you.

BROWN: Well, the big lie is showing no sign of going away this weekend as groups like QAnon and others continue to push conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was stolen.

Author, Mike Rothschild joins me next and he has a new book out now on QAnon, and their conspiracy theories.



BROWN: Well, Facebook is now warning users if someone they know is becoming radicalized, and others are being -- that they may have been exposed to extremist content, that's what they're being told. And guess who just got the extremist alert? Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, and it probably shouldn't come as a surprise.

The Georgia Republican is notorious for flirting with right-wing conspiracy theory movements including QAnon, a group the F.B.I. and D.H.S. warn could turn violent soon.

And my next guest is one of the leading reporters covering extremist movements. His latest book is titled "The Storm is Upon Us: How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy Theory of Everything."

Mike Rothschild joins me now. Nice to see you, Mike. Thanks for coming on.

What do you make of this latest attempt by Facebook to try and root out of some of this extremist content from the platform? Do you think it will be effective? MIKE ROTHSCHILD, AUTHOR, "THE STORM IS UPON US": No, I do not think it

will be effective. Facebook is very talented at doing too little too late. They could have stemmed the tide of disinformation coming from movements like QAnon several years ago, but as we know from various reports, they didn't want to seem too heavy handed in what they believe would be censoring conservatives.

And unfortunately, we ended up with Facebook groups full of conspiracy theories that led straight to QAnon, which led straight to January 6th. So, it's a nice gesture, but I think that this is too little too late.

BROWN: Right. And wouldn't QAnon believers look at any warning like this and say, oh, this is Big Tech trying to censor me and I'm not going to trust anything, they try to warn me of.

ROTHSCHILD: Absolutely. QAnon believers take any kind of confirmation from Big Tech companies or the mainstream media as being proof that they're actually right, that they're over the target and these companies are panicking and doing anything they can to stop them from getting the truth out.

You know, in reality, this is a Band-Aid. This is another Band-Aid from major tech companies who seem to do nothing but put Band-Aids on these gaping wounds.

BROWN: I'm just curious more generally, from your research on QAnon, the followers, are certain people more predisposed to become a QAnon follower than others? Have you seen any sort of pattern?

ROTHSCHILD: I think what predisposes people to believing in QAnon is belief in previous conspiracy theories. You know, I like to say and I say this a lot in the book that QAnon is never somebody's first conspiracy theory.

You know, you don't just wake up one day and think that there's a demonic cabal running the world. People come to QAnon through things like 9/11 trutherism, the Barack Obama birth certificate conspiracy theory, the Trump spygate stuff.

Then during the pandemic, people were coming to it from anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, 5G internet conspiracies, anti-Bill Gates conspiracies. If you are already plugged into that world, QAnon really is just the next natural step in your evolution as a free thinker.

BROWN: These gateway conspiracies, it's so interesting to look at it that way.

So, you have the F.B.I. now warning that QAnon may soon become violent, I should say some QAnon followers, right, not everyone who follows QAnon or believes in it is going to be violent, but basically, this is what they said, writing, "The group may seek to harm perceived members of the cabal such as Democrats and other political opposition instead of continually awaiting Q's promised actions which have not occurred."

Do you agree with their assessment that some QAnon followers could become violent?

ROTHSCHILD: Oh, absolutely. There are QAnon followers who have been violent for years. You know, less than a year after the first Q drops which were in October 2017, there was an incident where a man named Matthew Wright drove a homemade armored truck onto a bridge outside Hoover Dam. He had multiple firearms. He had 900 rounds of ammunition, and he was holding up a sign that said, "Release the OIG report."

This was a QAnon reference to a real Inspector General report that supposedly only Donald Trump could declassify that would blow the lid off of all of the F.B.I.'s corruption and all the deep state's attempt to stop Trump. Since then, you've had multiple murders. You've had child kidnappings, you've had vandalism.

This movement presents itself as peaceful researchers, but they are not. Violent ideation is absolutely baked into QAnon, it has been since the very beginning.


BROWN: And we should note on the insurrection, January 6th, the F.B.I. identified, I think, it was something like 20 followers of QAnon who were there, part of the insurrection.

You have officials now also from the Department of Homeland Security, telling CNN that they are particularly concerned about this lie that Trump is going to be reinstated in August. We know QAnon followers are hoping this audit in Arizona could be the first step. How concerned are you about what's going on there in Arizona?

ROTHSCHILD: I'm very concerned and the results of whatever is going on in Arizona don't mean anything. The only thing that matters is that it will not deliver the prophecy of Trump being restored to office. It will not start the dominoes falling that will invalidate all of the states.

Now, the QAnon believers are very good at taking failures and working them into their prophecy as just more success that hasn't happened yet. So, I think a lot of them will stick with the movement even when Arizona fizzles out.

But there will be a point where it will become obvious that Donald Trump is not going to be President again, unless he runs again in 2024 and wins. But unless that happens, he is done. He will not be in the Oval Office anymore.

And at some point, you know, the chickens do come home to roost with movements like this and followers take it upon themselves to right the wrongs. We saw it on January 6th.

BROWN: It's so interesting, in their view, they really think that they are righting the wrongs, and you mentioned earlier in the conversation that when mainstream media, when tech companies as they look at big tech, when they come out with warnings or say certain things that oppose what they've said, they actually look at that as affirmation of what they've been saying. So, how do you get through to them? I mean, how do you pull them out of the delusion?

ROTHSCHILD: Well, it's very difficult, and I write about this extensively in the book and I spoke to a number of experts in cult- like movements and religious violence. And one thing that everybody told me is that it is extraordinarily difficult to get somebody out of a movement like this, particularly when they find something of value in it, and it is answering those difficult questions that they have.

But if you do have a friend or a loved one or a family member who is involved in this, but maybe starting to waver a little bit, maybe it doesn't make sense, present yourself as a safe harbor, someone they can talk to about apolitical things, things that have nothing to do with the conspiracy, shared memories, happy experiences you've had together.

And then, you can work on it together piece by piece, figuring out the contradictions and the things that don't make sense. And you can do that very difficult, very exacting work together.

I also advise, unplug people, get them away from the constant churn of social media. Get out into the outdoors. Play a game together. Do something fun that doesn't involve the internet.

Even just breaking that cycle of social media can -- even just for a few hours -- can help start that person down a path of realizing that they have been had because QAnon believers have been had and most of them just don't want to admit it.

BROWN: They have been had. That's so true. Mike Rothschild, thank you so much. Really fascinating to hear about your research and your book. We appreciate it.

Well, one of Bill Cosby's victims says the she feels quote, "sucker punched" after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out his sexual assault conviction. Hear from her, up next.



BROWN: Bill Cosby's sexual assault conviction was a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement. And this week when the conviction was overturned, that moment was erased. Now, some of his accusers are expressing outrage and frustration over Cosby's release from prison.

CNN's Jean Casarez has more.


HEIDI THOMAS, COSBY ACCUSER: Sucker punched, like the rug was pulled out from underneath us.

VICTORIA VALENTINO, COSBY ACCUSER: Dismayed, enraged, infuriated, and stunned.

PATRICIA LEARY STEUER, COSBY ACCUSER: Well, I'm sad and I'm feeling like this is a loss for me and for the other women who came forward.

CHELAN LASHA, COSBY ACCUSER: It's been hard and to see him to get away like that, and everything he had done to myself, he ruined a perfect innocent girl.

QUESTION: ... got out?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed Bill Cosby's conviction on charges of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004.

The panel of judges said Cosby's due process rights were violated because the former DA, Bruce Castor made the decision to not prosecute Cosby in exchange for his testimony in a civil case. A decade later, another prosecutor used that testimony in a criminal case against him.

Constand released a statement saying the decision is "disappointing."

LISE-LOTTE LUBLIN, COSBY ACCUSER: Honestly, it is of course, devastating.

CASAREZ (voice over): Shortly after being released from prison, Cosby professed his innocence to CNN.

BILL COSBY, ACTOR, COMEDIAN RELEASED FROM PRISON: I'm not guilty. So, when I see what they're trying to put up, and I am saying, this is not right.


LUBLIN: This just sets back victims for wanting to come forward and give their voice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was a plan. This was a pattern.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm terrified that people aren't going to come forward because they won't want to go through this.

GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY FOR COSBY ACCUSERS: I would like to say to all the brave victims, even though his conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, that will always be part of his obituary, and that is due to the courage of all of the brave women who testified against the man.

CASAREZ (voice over): Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.


BROWN: Up next, a gang of cybercriminals is at it again with a new attack aimed at a company that helps countless businesses worldwide.

We have a cybersecurity expert coming up to tell us about how it directly affects you.