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100 Senate Jurors Sworn In For Trump Impeachment Trial, 45 Out Of 50 Republicans Vote To Dismiss It; WH To States: Vaccine Shipments To Increase Next Week; Biden Aims To Tackle Nation's Racial Inequity Crisis. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 26, 2021 - 21:00   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Anderson, thank you, my brother.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

We have major news about the vaccine and a way forward on the pandemic. But we need to look at why all efforts maybe sabotaged from the inside.

This is the futility we face. 100 U.S. senators, taking their oaths of impartiality, again, today. And then, just 45 minutes after, 45 of 50 Republicans voted to drop the case against Trump, just minutes after taking their oath.

Why? They say the trial would be unconstitutional. They say this at the urging of Senator Rand Paul who argued "The Senate can't hold a trial of a private citizen now."

Take a look at this. This really captures the sham.

Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, raising their right hands, and signing the Oath Book, to swear they'll be impartial, when they themselves fed the Trump mob the same lies he did, and worse. Then they voted to overturn the election for him, and after the Capitol attack.

Now the people who are all about the Constitution are voting against following it. And they know. They know the consensus of scholars is that this is constitutional. They know.

They know there are examples of officials being tried after leaving office. And most importantly, they know, as originalists, if the Founders wanted to tailor the rule, they would have, and did not. So much for being about the Constitution!

More proof that the chance that Democrats can break Trump's hold on 17 senators from this fallen party is small. And if you want to know why, don't look at the pawns. Look at the head, the leader, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

I told you when he said that Trump provoked the insurrection, and that rioters were fed lies, it wouldn't hold. And today, we saw him be among the 45, saying the trial should be dismissed.

There he is, him signing the Oath Book right before.

McConnell kicked this trial to after the Inauguration, and why? Do you remember? So it could get due consideration. So it could get good due time and we wouldn't rush it. Now he says it's too late, and it was never legitimate?

Remember what Mitch McConnell told us the last time.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I'm not an impartial juror. This is a political process.


CUOMO: This time, he said he is impartial he's got an open mind? And now he says there can't be a trial after he says that Trump provoked it, and said he wanted to give time to the trial? It is all BS.

And the Democrats want a power-sharing deal with this guy? When will you learn not to pet the snake?

The trial will get underway two weeks from today. Now, the case still matters because those senators who choose to just deny their oath must be remembered for doing so, in the face of overwhelming evidence.

We now know prosecutors are considering using some new damning evidence to surface connecting Trump's words to the MAGA mob in real- time.

I want you to watch video put together by "Just Security" that has these Parler videos. And CNN has learned the House Impeachment Managers are looking at it. Here's a sample.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to walk down to the Capitol.


TRUMP: We're going to walk down to the Capitol.


TRUMP: Congressmen and women, and we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Invade the Capitol building!

TRUMP: Do the right thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's take the Capitol!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take the Capitol!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's take the Capitol!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take the Capitol!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take the Capitol!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take the Capitol right now!

TRUMP: And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.

Can't have happened. And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.

Our exciting adventures and boldest endeavors have not yet begun. My fellow Americans, for our movement, for our children.



TRUMP: And Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. And if he doesn't --


TRUMP: --that will be a sad day for our country.



CUOMO: You got to remember how ugly it was when everybody's saying "They want unity and they want to be friends. They don't want to be victimized by the Democrats."

Remember all that, because 45, out of a 100 jurors, and every one of them is just a Re-Trump-lican. And that poison is spreading in their ranks. You have State Republican parties pushing more lies to further put our national security in jeopardy.

Oregon's GOP is trying to brainwash Americans that the insurrection was staged, calling it a "False flag" operation designed to discredit him, to advance the Democrat goal of seizing total power in a "Frightening parallel to the February 1933 burning of the German Reichstag."

The burning of the Reichstag that led to Hitler's rise? Are you serious? A State Republican Party!

And did you hear federal officials stand up and decry it? Are they on my show tonight saying "These people are not us. They're not Americans. They're not Republicans!" Not one, because that is where the GOP is. It's making the ugly OK. And it is so dangerous. And they know it.

More proof. CNN's KFILE just reviewed hundreds of posts and comments from Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene's Facebook page. She is with QAnon. I mean that should tell you everything right there, right?

But she indicated support for executing prominent Democrats, in 2018 and 2019, before running for Congress.

In one post, Taylor Greene liked a comment that called for a bullet to the head to remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In others, she liked comments about executing FBI agents that she viewed as the Deep State.

This is ugly, and it's obvious, and I can't believe the Grand Old Party has made it acceptable. They had a chance to make a break from this malicious mentality, and it would have been with this trial. But after blowing it today, how can it not get worse?

Let's bring in the great minds, David Gregory and Stuart Stevens.

Good to see you both.

What was the play for these guys today, David, in terms of making this vote and making this go away?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, AUTHOR, "HOW'S YOUR FAITH?": Well, I think it was to make a process argument.

Not even those who are sympathetic to Trump or afraid of Trump want to excuse what he's done. They don't want to see a full airing of the evidence that supports what we all saw with our own eyes, and his role.

But they're more comfortable making a process argument, on the one hand, arguing that it's not constitutional.

And then, I think McConnell, this is just a pragmatic play here, you know, put himself out there, hitting the President very, very hard, President Trump, very hard, but nothing came of that, you know?

We were talking about that the day he did it and whether that would cause some other dominoes to fall. They didn't. That's the reality. That's the reality he's living by. So, he doesn't want to take it any farther. And there's enough Republicans. Look, the votes aren't there. That's the bottom line. So, that's the tension right now. He is doing something that's going to end up being symbolic as to mark the record for history of what happened versus not already knowing you're not going to get the outcome you seek.

CUOMO: How do you feel about your Party, Stuart?

STUART STEVENS, SENIOR ADVISER TO LINCOLN PROJECT, FORMER ROMNEY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN CHIEF STRATEGIST, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look, it's really not my Party anymore, Chris. I don't recognize this. I was drawn to a Party that said it believed in personal responsibility, a Party that said it believed in rule of law.

This is just an extraordinary moment in our country's history. I think, when you're in the middle of these things, it's even hard to realize how big they are. But we haven't had anything like this since 1860 in this country.

And now, we have a large number of people, in this country, who believe that they have an illegal president, and it's all due to the Republicans. It's a, as you rightly pointed out, it's a tremendous violation of their basic oath of office.

CUOMO: David, and now you have a power-sharing agreement. What does this bode for the path forward?

GREGORY: First, I want to say "Hi!" to my buddy Stuart Stevens. It's great to be on with him.

CUOMO: Please! Make it a party.

GREGORY: Good to see you, Stuart.



GREGORY: I think it's a difficult road. I think that any president understands, you know, the President that Stuart worked to get elected, President George W. Bush understand that you have political capital. You have only so much for only so long.

And President Biden gets that. I mean he is a guy, right now, who wants to put policy ahead of personality, especially as the antidote to Trump. So, he wants to move fast and he wants to move boldly. He's doing it through executive power. He's going to do it through legislation.

But I think it's going to be difficult. I mean I think that that's what McConnell is signaling here. He'll go around the back of Schumer to secure that the filibuster won't be killed yet, and Republicans are going to make it difficult. I don't know what that says about Trump's political power moving forward.

But there's no question that Republicans are lining up fast to go against not so much Biden, but to go against the Left, to go against Democrats, which is where they have always been comfortable, leading the fight. The problem with Trump is that he went way too far and became such an embarrassment.

CUOMO: But Stuart, I take David's point. But this is you guys going after your own. You have at the top, you have, Taylor Greene, what I laid out for people, she's a QAnon person, being OK with executing people.

Then you have all these people in the state level. Hawaii, you got QAnon tweets on Hawaii GOP's official account. You got Texas, the GOP condemned for keeping QAnon slogans up past the riot. You got Arizona GOP censuring Flake, Ducey, and Cindy McCain. Wyoming, Carbon County, going after Cheney.

I mean, is this going to be the way the Party goes, instead of shedding Trump, and letting new green shoots come up for leadership in the Party? You're going to just double down and maybe have him come back?

STEVENS: Yes. The short answer is yes. That's exactly where the Party is going to go. That's where the Party wants to go. This isn't being forced on the Party. This is what the Republican Party, in this moment, wants to be. And I think we just have to quit trying to deny it.

I mean, those of us who worked in the Republican Party, we have to -- who don't believe, in this vision of the Party, we can't pretend. We have to just be honest with ourselves.

I mean, this is why I wrote a book called "It Was All a Lie." And as it turns out, that was a pretty bleak portrait of the Republican Party. But I was still wildly optimistic. I never thought this would happen.

So, we have to live in reality here. And, to a large degree, the Republican Party has taken a stance that it's anti-democratic, small "d" democratic. It's an authoritarian party.

Look back to the platform. What was the Republican Party platform in 2020? Whatever Donald Trump wanted!

CUOMO: Right.

STEVENS: So, Donald Trump invades the Capitol? Fine, that's OK.

CUOMO: I'll tell you what. I know that it looks like this power- sharing deal, was the best way to go forward, and the Democrats really have the leverage, and everybody knows it.

I don't think it's going to work out that way. And I think that they're underestimating Mitch McConnell's knowledge of the system, playing the long game, and a really, really vicious intent within his ranks, right now.

David Gregory, Stuart Stevens, I will be with you all along the ride. New announcements from President Biden and, this is why it matters, OK? We have a new ruler, new administration, and new ways to beat back this pandemic. We have positive vaccine news. Yes, concerns remain. But they're making moves. They're making plans.

We have a member of Biden's COVID Response Team, a familiar face on this program, with an update you need to hear, next.









CUOMO: Every single state is begging for more of the vaccine. Yes, there's work to be done, on getting people to understand it's their best chance of avoiding sickness and worse. But there are plenty of people who want it.

The number of shots distributed and administered, they're going up. It's good. About 53 percent of those available have been administered. That's better, but not good enough.

The President did just two big moves, OK? This is what he did. Big purchases, which should be enough to vaccinate every adult down the road. He also said states will be getting more in just a few days.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I can announce that we will increase overall weekly vaccination distribution to states, tribes, and territories from 8.6 million doses to a minimum of 10 million doses. Starting next week, that's an increase of 1.4 million doses per week.


CUOMO: I know. The numbers make no sense. They get bigger and bigger. We need context. Let's do it right now. Andy Slavitt, now on the inside, used to come from like his closet, now, he's in front of the White House, Senior Adviser for Biden's COVID Response.

Andy, privately, I congratulated you on taking up this service of the country, and I wish you well.


CUOMO: What do you now know that you didn't know when you were in your house?

SLAVITT: Well, now we know -- we all knew that we were having a slow start to the vaccination process. We didn't know why.

And states and governors couldn't quite figure out how they were getting vaccines, when they were getting vaccines, how many they've been getting. We just heard a lot of numbers thrown out.

So, we're here in day seven, and what we have done today, as you've pointed out, is a couple of things.

First of all, we're giving states predictability. Every state and territory will now have at least a three-week window to know how many vaccines are coming, so they can plan appropriately, send it to states, so more of those vaccines will get in people's arms, and more people have their expectations met.

And then, the second thing we learned is we did not have enough vaccines contracted to give everybody who needs a vaccine a vaccine. We've taken care of that today.

So, it's been a -- it's been a good first week. We're still learning, as we go along.

CUOMO: Supply question. Like three days ago, Pfizer and Moderna said they didn't have anymore. It was going to take a long time. What changed, in three days, to make these vaccines available? How were they able to ramp up production so suddenly?

SLAVITT: Well Pfizer announced this morning that they think they're actually going to now be ahead of schedule. I think they announced that they're going to be able to push forward a couple of months, so we think they're going to actually beat their initial schedule.


And look, some of this is just plain-old day-to-day execution and management, working hand-in-hand with these producers.

This is a daunting task for everybody, for states, for the pharmaceutical companies, for the people distributing the vaccines, and mostly, most of all, for Americans, who are patiently, and growing out of patience, waiting to get vaccinated.

But getting our hands around this, from an end-to-end process is our first priority. I wouldn't say we're a 100 percent of the way there yet. We've just been here a week. But we've already been able to find some of those opportunities.

CUOMO: You're not a little curious about how they were able to change their projection in just a short period like that, like what happened? Did they add workers? Are they giving vaccine to America that they had earmarked for some other country? SLAVITT: No, I don't think so. I think -- I think some of this has been planned for -- in the case of Moderna, we have been just working closely with them. They have a planned ramp.

They didn't ramp as, I think, many in the public, including me, were led to believe, over the course of last year that they were building a lot of supply that they'd be ready to go, with tens and hundreds of millions. That's not the case.

They're still ramping up, producing more each week. I wish it were different. But this is the situation we inherited. So, we are working with them, and working to help them get every dose possible out to the public as quickly as possible. And then, once it gets to states, the states have a job to do.

CUOMO: Right.

SLAVITT: The states have to work to get those vaccines out into people's arms.

CUOMO: Help me understand that. Look, it's good that they need more vaccine, OK? It's bad that you can't give it to them right away, but you got to play the ball where it lies, and just do better than they did before you.

I don't understand how the rates don't reflect the urgency for more supply. So, the rates are, on average, I think, 50 percent, 53 percent, of what they have. They're putting into people's arms. And there is a range there, somewhere in the low-30s to somewhere in the 70s and 80s.

Why do they need more if they haven't been able to deliver what they have already? What am I missing?

SLAVITT: Well, the states are doing better. This is a new process for them, and there's a lot of variability.

I think our view, unlike, I think, the past administration is, we're going to try to provide technical assistance, wherever states are struggling. There are best practices out there. Not every state is probably using every best practice. They can learn from each other and get these out there.

And then I think the one other point I want to make, Chris, well two other points, the first one is that it is so essential that the Congress pass the American Rescue Plan, which is essentially the money and the resources that states need to get vaccines in people's arms. This is an orchestra. It's not a solo act. And the Congress can't sit on the sidelines.

And then the final thing I'll say is we also have a very important goal to make sure that the vaccines get into people's arms equitably and that there's equitable access.

So that means we're going to send vaccines to churches, and mobile clinics, and things like that. That may mean it takes a couple days longer to get into people's arms. But it will also mean that people of color, people in rural communities and others will have access too.

CUOMO: All right, that's a real problem for you. You know we have vaccine inequality going on just like we saw with COVID. You and I discussed many times.

The people who were the most vulnerable were getting the most sick. They still are. They're the largest percentage of essential workers. And now, with the vaccine, the same people are getting screwed again.

And I'm looking forward to the steps. It's good to message it that way. Let's see what the actions are that make it different.

I want to ask you about schools. So now the federal government is saying "We looked at the data. It's good. We should be able to go back to schools." The people I talk to, who track the data in schools, say "How do they know that?"

The schools aren't really reporting. The federal government hasn't really had any system set up to look at those numbers. There's so much variability around the states. You get different stories from different communities.

How do you know it's safe for everybody to go back?

SLAVITT: Well, I think you are referring to statement out from the -- from the Center for Disease Control today.

CUOMO: CDC, yes.

SLAVITT: Yes. And the reason I say that, instead of just the federal government is I think we are used to sort of the federal government being this sort of one entity, where the White House controls the messaging.

The President has been very clear with us and very clear with the country that science is going to dictate what we do. And so, the CDC now speaks for itself. And the CDC's findings are based on the study that I think we saw today that schools actually may be safer than we once thought, based on what they have said.

So, given that, and given the President's goal, that we should be getting Americans back to school, kids back to school, K-8, K-8 in- person, and 8-12, as well, as quickly as possible, that's potentially good news.

But we're going to -- we're going to wait and let the CDC speak for itself here. And I don't want the White House to get into the -- to that habit of contradicting or commenting on the science, as it comes out. We'll let them do it.

CUOMO: Yes. I'm happy for them to do it. I just want to know what their confidence is coming from because what we want to avoid is every -- look, I got three kids. Everybody wants their kids back in school. The question has always been how.

So, if nothing is changed, in terms of the resources, given to schools, and their ability to get teachers, like should teachers now get vaccinated sooner, if we're going to move them back? Is that something that you want to make a federal mandate?


SLAVITT: What I do want to do is I do want to point back to the Congress again, because the American Rescue Plan has the resources to get schools safer, to get testing into schools, to help schools become modernized and updated.

If we want our kids back to school, then we need the Congress to act on the American Rescue Plan.

CUOMO: Absolutely. But you also got to think about that vaccination part. I'm sure we agree the teachers have to get vaccinated sooner, if you're going to have everybody else back in-person, right?

SLAVITT: No question!

CUOMO: All right.

SLAVITT: Teachers are an enormous high priority. That's one of the many reasons why we're working to get vaccines pumped out into the states, and into the doctors' offices, as quickly as we can.

CUOMO: Right. And just make sure those states, you know? They're going to listen to you, if they want the vaccine.

They have to take care of the people, who are going to be most at risk. They got to deal with minorities, where they're being underserviced, and they got to let the teachers get a chance to not bring things back to their families, when they're taking care of our own.

Andy Slavitt, I wish you god speed and good luck. I'm always here for you to make the case to the American people.

SLAVITT: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right.

Look, I mean, you got to go through these things. I want my kid back in school. You want your kid back in school. It's a horror show, having them at home.

But if nothing changes, and we send them back at school, is that the right move? Because these same people, the Democrats were saying that you didn't have the infrastructure and the supports around the school to have them go back. So, provide it.

It's on Congress? Great! Let's see what happens and how long it takes. We'll be on it every damn day.

At least 150 have been charged in the Trump insurrection. There's a lot more to go. Among them, again, the key part of the case against Trump is, what do the people who did the worst things say about why they did it? Forget about what it means for them legally, doesn't matter.

I have a Texas man who called for the assassination of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Why? What you're going to hear, from his lawyer will be key, to the prosecution, against Trump. Forget about the guy's legal case. It's not what we're here for. It's the political case against the President.

We'll talk to the man's lawyer, next.









CUOMO: The interesting part of the case against the former president is that it's not really being made by the Democrats. Yes, they're the prosecutors. But it's going to be made by his, own supporters, specifically the ones, who decided to attack our Capitol.

The FBI has charged at least 150 people. And when you go through all the charging documents, you keep hearing the same thing. "I did it because our democracy was under attack like Trump told me. He said we had to fight. He had to say if we don't fight, we're going to lose our country."

That's why I have lawyers on for some of them who did specific acts that will draw the attention and shock the conscience. You need to connect the dots. You need to show the case. And that's what we're going to do here.

Especially when you have someone like the so-called "Shaman" guy, the guy in the horns, that fool, you have to see past the stupid outfit.


AL WATKINS, ATTORNEY FOR JACOB CHANSLEY: He loved Trump, every word. He listens to him. He felt like he was answering the call of our President.


CUOMO: If the political charge is "Did you make these people believe this was the right thing to do," Exhibit A.

When it's someone like the retired firefighter, who was known as a good guy, who then threw a fire extinguisher, at a cop, yes, get mad about what he did, throw the book at him if you want, but why he did it matters for the political trial of Trump.



ENRIQUE LATOISON, ATTORNEY FOR ROBERT SANFORD: He's the Commander-in- Chief, for telling them to fight, and to stand up for your country, and to do all these things, and to protect the Constitution, and all these things.


CUOMO: That brings us to our next exhibit, Garrett Miller. He said some scary stuff, including calling for the assassination of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

His case is instructive because while McCarthy and the other Re-Trump- licans try to make it all about some magic word that Trump did, or didn't say, like if he didn't say "I incite you" on January 6th, then he's OK, Miller's case proves Trump was laying the groundwork long before the day of the riot.

How do we know? Clint Broden representing Miller.

Counselor, welcome to PRIME TIME.

Ordinarily, this would be a tough conversation, if it was whether or not your client should be charged criminally. But this is about the political process, and your understanding of his motivation.

How does that apply to our understanding of the former president's influence on someone like your client?

CLINT BRODEN, ATTORNEY FOR GARRETT MILLER: Well I think you're exactly right, Chris. I'm an attorney. I'm certainly not a psychologist. But when you have -- and I've referred to him as a cult leader, Donald Trump was a cult leader.

And you have somebody like Garrett Miller, who was not very politically involved, haven't even voted much, earlier in his life, loses his job, gets focused on the internet, and you have, as I said, a cult leader telling him that he needs to do X, Y, and Z, to protect his country.

And that's what cult leaders do. They prey on vulnerable people. And that's not to excuse what Garrett Miller did. As you said, his comments are vile, disgusting, what have you.

But without going into attorney-client privilege, I'm having some discussions with him. And really, we're trying to deprogram him, because that's what cults do, and that's how you get people out of cults.

CUOMO: Is he open to the suggestion that he fell for something with Trump that he is under the sway of something that is irrational?

BRODEN: Yes. And as I said, I think the more he gets removed from Trump, Trump being out of office now, the more he gets removed from the vitriol that goes on, on Facebook and Twitter, I think he is going back to the Garrett Miller that his family and friends remember, the one who raised money for his wrestling coach's wife's cancer drive.

CUOMO: He said, on January 3rd, he was going to bring -- he was driving across the country. He was going there.


"The dollar might collapse. Civil War could start. I'm bringing a grappling hook and rope and a level 3 vest." That's a type of protective armor. "Helmets mouth guard and a bump cap." The last time he came to D.C. was for a pro-Trump rally. He "Had a lot of guns with him."

What did he think he was going to do when he got there?

BRODEN: Well, I think he thought was going to join the camaraderie of the Trump crowd and, as I said, be part of a bigger purpose, and that was what Trump was inviting him to. And I think he went along with the crowd, and went in.

And certainly not to excuse his actions, he didn't have firearms that day. Unlike others, he didn't breach to go past the Rotunda. And again, that's certainly not to excuse it. But I think, again, it comes back to being part of that cult that was created by Donald Trump.

CUOMO: Look, I mean I think the facts are bad. I think he's going to get a hard time, and I think he deserves it. Unless you can show that somehow he was suffering from diminished capacity, it's not going to be easy.

But in terms of his relevance to the political process, this is most interesting to me, not just that he did things because he thought Trump wanted him to, which he says again and again, and again in a criminal complaint, "I also left Washington and started back to Texas immediately after President Trump asked us to go home."

He was that directly responsive? Do you believe that if he had heard Trump say, "You should try to kill all of them, get them out of here," you think he would have?

BRODEN: That -- well I don't know that I would go that far. Luckily, we never got to the point. But you make an interesting point because it came out of a detention hearing.

As soon as Mr. Miller heard that Trump told people to go home, he said "I needed to verify that. And once I verify that my President told me that, of course, I left the Capitol building."

CUOMO: Do you think he would testify in open court?

BRODEN: He is. CUOMO: Or in a political process against Trump?

BRODEN: I think it's very important what he has to say. And he's made that point -- he made that point in court yesterday.

Again, not to help himself, but, I think, in order to help the nation, I think he'd be a very valuable witness at the congressional impeachment hearings and, in court, if that becomes necessary. And he's indicated his willingness to do so.

CUOMO: Clint Broden, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

BRODEN: Thank you for having me.

CUOMO: All right.

Now, again, it's not about what's going to happen with this guy. That's not my issue of interest right now. The process will take care of it. The political process, his own people could be strung together, to make a case that defies any defense I have heard, politically.

My next guest was a target of a domestic terror plot, and accused Trump of trying to incite violence against her, months ago, and he never said a damn thing to make it easier on Governor Whitmer of Michigan.

Now she's with us. A call, to take a stand against extremism, and the latest on what she needs to get her state well, next.









CUOMO: 200 million more doses, that's what President Biden is vowing to get us to, to vaccinate nearly all Americans by the end of summer, or early fall, all Americans, very ambitious, a lot of moving parts.

Part of the plan means buying more vaccines and increasing supply, therefore, sent to states. But is that enough? And how will state governors ensure that it gets into your arm?

Let's get some perspective from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.



CUOMO: Governor Whitmer, thank you very much for joining us on PRIME TIME.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): Glad to be with you.

CUOMO: So, you were on the call today with Biden's COVID Coordinator Jeff Zients. He announced a 16 percent increase in allocations for states. What was your level of trust? What did you think about competency? What do you think about that number?

WHITMER: Well, I thought it was a great conversation. I mean, obviously, governors, all across the country, want more. We want more vaccines. What we need the most, though, is predictability and communication and transparency. So, this is a welcome change from where we have been.

The fact that there is a plan to ramp up gives me great peace. Of course, it's not as fast as we all want. But we're feeling better about where we are headed, as a nation, that there's a national strategy, and that's going to help us, as states get shots in arms, and get people protected.

CUOMO: "16 percent is not enough," fair point?

WHITMER: It's not enough. But you know what? It is welcome information and change and trajectory. And I think that's what we're craving the most. It's been so sporadic and it's so little information.

When we found out there wasn't even vaccines that were being held back, despite what the representations were from the last administration, this is a welcome change, transparency and a plan to move forward.

CUOMO: Were they able to tell you when it will be more than 16 percent?

WHITMER: Well, they said we're going to have three weeks where we can be confident what the numbers are that helps us with our planning. And then they're hoping that it will continue to ramp up. And I believe that it will.

I know that the administration announced that they're making purchases of vaccines. That is something that we were asking the last administration to do and, for some reason, they wouldn't do it. It is happening now. And I think that gives all of us great confidence and reason to feel hopeful.

CUOMO: So, your numbers have been going up on the vaccine. You are now at about 67 percent of doses administered. Two weeks ago, it was 40 percent, 45 percent. What makes the difference in efficiency?

WHITMER: Well, we've made incredible strides. I mean, we're working very closely with our local health departments and our hospital systems.

Part of the issue is that, in the long-term care setting, those vaccines are being administered directly by the pharmacies. And we don't control those. And that's where we've seen the numbers not quite keeping up with what we are doing as a state.

But I think it is communication, and the ability to plan. And so, we will see our numbers continue to improve. We're seventh best in the country now. We're competitive. Lives are on the line. We're going to keep moving so that we can get everyone inoculated as fast as possible.


CUOMO: But the thing you need most is just the vaccine. You don't need manpower. You don't need logistical help. What are the wants?

WHITMER: The most important thing we need is the vaccine.

We also know the administration has told us that they will fund the National Guard. That is something that was unknown under the last administration. They funded the Guard in some states but not all. We are all going to have that benefit.

And we are really utilizing our National Guard, in terms of manpower, on the ground. And so, I think that's made a big difference here in Michigan, too.

CUOMO: Controversial issue. Some governors, like you, say, "Look, I learned from PPE. Let me go get this vaccine myself. Let me cut my own deals. And that way, I can assure my flow." The Biden administration says, "No."

Do you accept the answer? And why?

WHITMER: I do. The reason that we were working so hard to try to just purchase vaccines was because we weren't getting information out of the administration. We did not have confidence that they had bought the vaccines for the nation.

They were not communicating and they had not done the work. And we saw eventually that they came clean and said that they didn't have second doses that they had been holding back, despite what the representations were.

This administration is a very different situation. They're working with us. They're telling us what to expect. They're doing the planning.

I have great faith in the national strategy that the Biden administration is working. And so, I don't feel the need to say, "Let me go buy this," because I believe this administration is doing all the right things. And I'm grateful for it.

CUOMO: Do you reserve the right to sue if they do not give you what you need? WHITMER: I believe that the Biden administration is going to deliver. I know that they are listening to the same experts that we have been listening to, here in Michigan. We have some of the best numbers in the country right now, in terms of pushing our COVID rates down, because we have been following the science.

And so, this administration, I think, is going to show. They know how to get this under control, get our economy back ramped up, get our kids back in school, and that's what we, as a nation, need more than anything.

CUOMO: Right-wing extremism, is it better now that the election is over? What is your level of concern about infiltration of these groups into your officials?

WHITMER: Well, I think that this has been a serious issue. And we, in Michigan, saw it a lot earlier than the rest of the nation did.

When it was happening at the Nation's Capitol, those of us, in Michigan, those who have been paying attention, like you, know this started -- the first time we saw this was here in this state, eight months prior. It ended up culminating in a plot to kidnap and murder me.

This is a very real threat. This is domestic terrorism. And we all, every one of us, who has a platform, needs to take a stand. This is unacceptable, and it's a very real threat that continues.

It might not be as scary in this moment. We've seen a lot less of it recently. However, it is still there, and it is still something that we need to take seriously, as a nation.

CUOMO: You worry about it in your ranks, about how it's penetrated into different agencies or people who work around or with you?

WHITMER: We are mindful of what the nation's lessons have been in this last couple of weeks, in particular. We see that in the Republican Party, in Michigan, there are leader, who were part of that demonstration, and insurrection, at the United States Capitol.

And so, this is something that's entrenched in certain parts of our society, and we need to -- we need to root it out. It's unacceptable and it's dangerous, and undermines the democracy. And that should come before any other allegiance.

CUOMO: Governor, thank you very much for your bravery, your calm, in the face of the threats that you have faced. And thank you for letting us know about the vaccine.

You know that you always have this as a platform. Let us know, if they're not giving you, what they said you should get, so that we can pressure those in power to make sure they keep their word.

WHITMER: You got it. Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Be well, Governor. WHITMER: Thank you. You too.

CUOMO: So, Whitmer says that she has a new level of confidence. It's about what the administration does, but it's also about what our new leader says.

For four long years, we had a president, who sympathized with White nationalists. He denied systemic racism. That hurts when it is an obvious reality for so many.

What did the new president have to say to help heal? This was the chance. You have to listen to what he said, next.









CUOMO: We now have a chance to speak truth and deal with reality. We are not all equal here. We know that. The President knows this, invoking George Floyd, as he signed four executives actions today, aimed at furthering racial equity.


BIDEN: Those 8 minutes and 46 seconds that took George Floyd's life opened the eyes of millions of Americans and millions of people around all over the world. It was the knee on the neck of justice.

I ran for President because I believe we're in a battle for the soul of this nation. And the simple truth is our soul will be troubled as long as systemic racism is allowed to persist. We can't eliminate it. It's not going to be overnight.

We need to make equity and justice part of what we do every day, today, tomorrow and every day.


CUOMO: Contrast with this guy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some African-American community leaders, and a lot of others, actually, have said it's systemic. Where do you stand on that?

TRUMP: I don't believe that. No, I don't believe that. I think the police do an incredible job. And I think you do have some bad apples. I think you'd agree, every once in a while, you'll see something.


CUOMO: Look at the faces on the people around him. They all knew it was wrong.


Biden's executive actions today are aimed at fair housing, recommitting the government, to lifting up Native American communities, and combatting xenophobia against Asian-Americans. It all matters. It's all part of a more perfect union.

He's pressing ahead with the most diverse cabinet, in U.S. history, equity and inclusion, at the forefront, in week one, from disbanding the 1776 commission, and repealing the transgender military ban, to ending the Muslim travel ban, and strengthening DACA. Steps in the right direction!

But this reckoning is going to take all of us, the President too. He had that role in the '90s crime bill. He had that handling of Anita Hill's testimony. Yes, they were in his past, but they have to be recognized in his precedent -- in his present, so he can be a better president.

He's vowing to build back better. How? We've got a lot of healing to do, a lot of building to do. Aspirations must be a coefficient of perspiration and inspiration that lead to action.

We will be right back.








CUOMO: I have great wisdom for all of you. It came from my 10 -- almost a 11-year-old, Carolina.

I want to bring in the big show, "CNN TONIGHT," with D. Lemon, its big star, right now.

Carolina said to me "You are too negative. And you always tell me what you think is wrong. You never ask me what I think is wrong." And I thought --

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Oh! I love her!