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Tiger Woods At Trauma Center In "Serious, But Stable" Condition After SUV Crash; Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson Pushes Debunked Conspiracies During Capitol Hearing; Race, Location & Wealth Play Key Role In Vaccination Rates. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 23, 2021 - 21:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: She tweeted "Prayers up for the GOAT Tiger Woods who was in an accident this morning. Was just with him yesterday. Don't take not even a MOMENT for granted! I know you're good because your Tiger within is a beast!!!"

And breaking just now, a tweet from former president Obama "Sending my prayers to Tiger Woods and his family tonight. Here's to a speedy recovery for the GOAT of golf. If we've learned anything over the years, it's to never count Tiger out."

The news continues. So, let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME."

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, John, appreciate it.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

We're about to talk live with the first man to come upon Tiger Woods after his car accident. Tiger is now in a trauma center, after this morning's horrific rollover, a crash in his SUV, south of Los Angeles, at about 7 A.M.

Woods suffered compound fractures in his legs. Compound is bad. It means the break came through the skin. It can create a lot of complications in terms of the surgery and the need for healing. Now, by the looks of it, he was lucky to survive.

The "L.A. Times" reports he also injured his ankles, probably going to be the least of his worries. We'll see. They had to use an axe and something called a hooligan tool, to pry Tiger free, from through the windshield, according to the "L.A. Times."

Listen to what happened on impact.


SHERIFF ALEX VILLANUEVA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Apparently the first contact was with the center median, and from there, then cross into the opposing lane of traffic, hit the curb, hit a tree, and there was several rollovers during that process.


CUOMO: Now, obviously, the question on everybody's mind is going to be why? Why did this happen?

As you heard the Sheriff there, we're going to have him on in a moment, they believe speed was an issue. The car did make its way across a median onto the other side of the road and down an embankment.

We have an up-close look at that site now from CNN's Nick watt.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So Chris, Tiger Woods was driving down the hill, on the other side of the road, somehow lost control, crossed the median, hit this curb, and then flipped. The County Sheriff said that he flipped multiple times in that SUV through all this undergrowth.

And look, look how far he traveled, all the way down here, rolling through, hit a tree, and then his car landed way further down here.

Now, the first deputy on the scene, a young man called Carlos Gonzalez said that he thought that Tiger Woods was lucky to get out of this alive. And frankly, I agree with him.

This is still - I'm still walking where his car was rolling. And this is where Tiger Woods car ended up.

Now, apparently, he was calm. But Deputy Gonzalez said maybe that was shock. Compound fractures to his legs, conscious when the emergency services arrived. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, thanks to Nick Watt. Why was he so calm? Tiger is known for being calm. But it also could have been shock. He was awake and talking, thankfully, when help arrived.

He was already recovering, remember, from his fifth back operation of his career. This man is the best, or one of the best ever, to play the game. His play made him famous, but he was always bigger than sport.

He was one of a kind, when he came along. And I don't mean to talk about him in the past tense. I'm saying when he was a kid, OK? Hopefully he'll have many years to come, even playing.

But that fame and his uniqueness in that sport generated huge attention and scrutiny. Look how we're covering a car accident, OK? There is no indication that Tiger Woods is in any mortal danger, thank God.

But everything about his life generates outsized curiosity. His marriage and personal issues were blown up worldwide in a way we have rarely, if ever, seen. But then what defines this man is that he came back. He came back from much worse than a pair of broken legs.

He's only 45-years-old, and he's had enough injuries for two lifetimes close, to a dozen back and knee surgeries, after which he still found a way to win a Masters just last year. He just had a surgery, days before this crash.

Just this Sunday, Tiger spoke about his hopes to compete at the Masters in April. At that point, he wasn't sure if he'd been in condition to even play yet.


TIGER WOODS: A little bit stiff. I have one more MRI scheduled, so that we'll see if the annulus is scarred over finally and then I can start doing more - more activities.

JIM NANTZ, SPORTSCASTER: Seven weeks from today, it's final round of the Masters. You're going to be there?

WOODS: God, I hope so. I got to get there first.


CUOMO: If anyone can handle the injuries and the scrutiny, it is Tiger Woods.


Now let's get the latest from the Sheriff of Los Angeles County, Alex Villanueva, and Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who you keep hearing about, because he was first to arrive on the scene.

Gentlemen, thank you for doing your job, and thank you for taking time with us tonight.

VILLANUEVA: You got it, Chris.


CUOMO: Sheriff, what can you tell us about the latest on the investigation into why this happened?

VILLANUEVA: Well the investigation is in its infancy right now. They're - the investigators are gathering all the facts.

Deputy Gonzalez on scene, they take all their measurements, and put all the - all the information together, they're going to prepare a very detailed report. And it's going to be approved. And then, we'll have an actual cause of the accident.

CUOMO: But right now, it's being investigated as an accident, right?

VILLANUEVA: That is correct. There is no evidence of any, any sort of, on his part, inebriation, anything like that.

CUOMO: All right, good. It's good to have that clear from the onset.

Let me ask you something, Deputy Gonzalez. You've seen a lot of ugly accidents, I'm sure. Were you at all surprised to look at what had obviously happened with that vehicle, and get there, and find Tiger Woods in this condition he was in, in terms of alertness in that car? GONZALEZ: I was surprised for a moment when I realized that it was Tiger Woods inside of the vehicle. But of course, my job comes first. And my responsibility is, is to the person involved into the collision. And so, I didn't let the surprise last more than a second, because I had a job to do.

CUOMO: Oh, I hear you about him being a star. That's not even what I'm talking about. The car traveling as far as it did, off the road, down that embankment, as bashed up as that car was, were you surprised at all that the person inside was still alert and awake?

GONZALEZ: You know? Over my experience, I've learned with vehicle collisions, there's no telling. Sometimes something really minor- looking can be very serious. And vice versa, something very horrible- looking can result no injuries.

In this situation, it was a very traumatic collision. I do think that the fact that he was wearing a seatbelt and that the vehicle's safety features worked, as designed by the manufacturer, likely resulted in either reducing his injury or saving his life.

CUOMO: Why did they have to use tools to get him out? Was it because of the pain of the injuries and his inability to move? Or was he stuck in there?

GONZALEZ: So, when I arrived on scene, the vehicle has rolled over onto the driver side door, so there was no way to open the door. And he was still seat-belted in.

When I got there, I made the decision, because I was able to get my upper body through the windshield, and I determined that he was alert enough and, and not a medical condition that necessitated me extracting him myself, and I decided to wait for the fire department.

They have the tools and the training to rescue people in these situations. And they're the real experts. So I decided to wait for them.

CUOMO: Sheriff, you've been doing this a long time. Celebrities get into garden-variety trouble, it gets more attention. But this is unusual. There is something about Tiger Woods that provokes a level of examination.

There's no foul play. Nobody else was involved. Nobody's heard. Thank God, everybody's alive. This is getting national and international attention. What do you make of that?

VILLANUEVA: Well, it's just the nature of a, you know, cult of Celebrity, whatever you want to call it, people just have an interest in things like this.

And thankfully, it's an accident, nothing beyond that. Now we're just going to pray for Tiger's speedy recovery. And hopefully, he'll get back on his feet and doing what he's known to do. We'll just have to wait and see. CUOMO: Now, Deputy, when you made contact with him, I've heard you say that you were talking to him. He may have been in shock, which is not unusual when somebody has had bad injuries.

Did you need to prompt him to stay conscious and to stay awake? Or was he - was he OK, but maybe in a little bit of shock?

GONZALEZ: When I got there, he was lucid. I was able to ask him his name. I was able to ask him if he knew where he was and what time of day it was. So, I didn't need to keep him conscious.

What I was more focused on was to keep on talking, so that he wouldn't be so concerned about the situation he was in. And that way, he wouldn't go into additional trouble (ph) before the fire department arrived.

CUOMO: Deputy, did he ask you to contact anybody and let anyone know that he was OK?

GONZALEZ: He did. After he had arrived at the hospital, he asked my partners if we could reach out to his team that's here in L.A. County, and notify them of what he'd been through.

CUOMO: That's all a good sign right that he was able to have his head around him?

Now, in terms of the injuries, Sheriff, what do we know? I'm hearing compound fractures in the legs and a break in one of the ankles. Is that accurate, as far as you know? Is there anything to add to it?


VILLANUEVA: We can't report on what's happening at the hospital, so that'd be up to Tiger or his team to disclose that, and the medical authorities. But when he was removed from the scene, obviously he had very serious injuries, and he was treated for that, and we have to leave it at that.

CUOMO: How bad was this accident from your experience?

VILLANUEVA: Well, I've seen many accidents throughout my career. I know Deputy Gonzalez has seen as well.

That he's alive and well, is - is good, is nothing short of a miracle considering the damage. However, like you said, we've seen accidents with far less obvious that are fatalities, multiple fatalities, as a matter of fact. So, there's a lot of things that played in his favor.

CUOMO: As we often say, whether you believe or not, there but for the grace goes Tiger Woods. Thank God he is well. Hopefully, he makes a full recovery. And also really important to see people doing the job doing it fast, getting there in moments, and doing it the right way.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva, thank you.

Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, appreciate you taking the time. GONZALEZ: Thank you.

VILLANUEVA: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Now, the medical reality has been as big a part of the Tiger Woods' story in recent years as his play on the greens.

Again, anybody can do it, at a high level, if they're a pro, when they are injury-free. You start building in injury, and players fade in every sport. Imagine five back surgeries, five knee operations, all before today.

Now, let's talk about what the range of what he may be facing could be based on what we know. Let's bring in our man, Chief Doctor Sanjay Gupta.

Now, I don't want to handcuff you with too little information here. But the words "Compound fracture," let you know multiple compound fractures. That is where the bone literally breaks through the skin. What does that create as a range of severity here?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is a - it is a big range, Chris, you know?

I mean, just simple things, was this the upper leg, the femur? Or was this the lower leg, the tibial - tibia and the fibula? These types of things matter in terms of trying to figure out the severity of the injury, and I think to your question, prognosis long-term.

I mean, think about him, it's amazing, you know, 2014, he has a back operation, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020, it's pretty remarkable. And then he comes back after these operations and plays a really high level of golf.

I just - we just don't know right now, as part of these injuries to his legs, did he also have nerve injury? Did he also have significant vascular injury?

It sounds like he had a significant amount of bleeding. That's what caused him to be in this sort of serious condition, vital signs becoming a little unstable at times. But there's a lot of still questions to be answered.

And also Chris, just having, as a trauma neurosurgeon, I know that there's a picture in time that those, you just heard from the Sheriff and the Deputy, that's what they saw, and that's what they're describing at the time.

He then goes to the hospital. And at that point, you get a full surveillance, everything, CAT scan of your - of your brain, make sure there's no other internal organ injuries, any other broken bones.

It's tough to assess all that on the scene. That's why they put you on a backboard, they put you in a neck collar, they just got to assume there's more severe injuries, and then they go to the hospital to make sure that's not the case. CUOMO: Now, the level of golf that this man plays, you know, people, if they're not familiar with it, they'll say, "Well, it's a game. It's not - it's not like football."

Incredible amount of torque, incredible amount of strain put on the body, through repetitive motion, which is how he got the back issues, is there an open question as to whether or not what did this do to his back?

They're talking about the legs being broken, the ankle, maybe being broken. But you have a fragile back, you just had surgery, that's got to be part of the analysis also, no?

GUPTA: I think without question. And in addition to the fact that he had recently, by his own description, I guess, in December of last year, he had another - let's call the discectomy, a herniated disc that was operated on.

But prior to that, he had had a spine fusion, where that's where they basically put a graft in between two of the bones in the - in the lower back.

I know that the doctors, whenever someone has a mechanism of injury, like the one that we're hearing about here, high speed, multiple rollovers, you're going to obviously assess the status of that fusion as well, the CT scan or an MRI scan, depending on what's going on with him.

But absolutely, Chris, I mean, it's kind of remarkable that he was continue - he was able to play after all those operations. We'll see what these injuries now do to him. But they're going to want to assess how this has affected all those areas that he's had previously operated in his back.

CUOMO: Serious but stable, does that tell you anything other than "Yes, that sounds like broken legs, and you're banged up from a car accident?"


GUPTA: Yes, it's interesting. So you got stable, you got serious, you got critical.

So, they said he was in serious condition. What that typically means is that may have been periods of time where his blood pressure may have dropped out of the normal range. His heart rate may have gone up to try and compensate for that. And it's usually, as you - we should point out, Chris, indicative of significant bleeding.

He's a young guy. If you--

CUOMO: Phenomenal athlete.

GUPTA: --typically, you may have to give blood transfusions. Phenomenal athlete, very good shape. But that does, you know, the body compensates pretty well. It can keep up for a period of time. If you start to drop your blood pressure significantly, that usually

is indicative that there's a significant amount of blood loss, maybe necessitating blood transfusions, IV fluids, all the things that you might suspect.

But I think that there's lots of clues that you were - you were getting at with the Sheriff and the Deputy. He was calm and lucid. He was oriented times three, meaning he knew who he was, he knew where he was, he knew what time it was.

His airway was clearly, his - his ability to breathe was clearly OK. They were able to extricate him from the vehicle. I wouldn't read too much into all these reports that he couldn't stand. You wouldn't have somebody stand in this sort of situation.


GUPTA: You'd have to assume that they might have a spinal cord injury. So you'd put him straight on a backboard collar--

CUOMO: You got compound fractures in your legs, why would you ask him about - did he stand, you know? I mean, that - that alone--

GUPTA: Exactly.

CUOMO: --could account for all the bleeding.

The best thing I heard, tell me if you feel differently, obviously, is that he was able, once he got to the hospital, to make a conscious call to say, "Hey, please contact so and so."

That makes me feel a lot better about head trauma, because people can phase-out once they go through that initial trauma and shock to get to the hospital. Sometimes, they go south. It's good to hear that he was still talking in a coherent way.

GUPTA: Yes, that's a really good point, Chris.

Again, when you hear this description, from the Deputy, and the Sheriff, that is a snapshot in time. And it's always an important lesson. Someone can decompensate, or deteriorate, even en route to the hospital, and something that is either continuously being evaluated for.

But as you point out, you now have two points in time, where he seemed to be very lucid and making these types of decisions. My guess is he was still scanned.

CUOMO: Yes, sure.

GUPTA: Brain was scanned. Internal organs were assessed to make sure there was no additional bleeding.

I mean, again, it was a serious accident. So you have to make sure that you don't miss something. You can't just go by what is obvious. It was obvious, I'm sure, these compound fractures. As you point out, they're tough to see, because that - that's bone coming through the skin.


GUPTA: But you got to make sure you don't get too - too myopic, and you miss other injuries as a result.

CUOMO: Now, because we're talking about Tiger Woods, and the art of the comeback, what is the shortest imaginable timeframe for recovery to activity from those kinds of issues, if they are compound fractures of the femur, the upper biggest bone in the body?

GUPTA: That's - that's, you know, it's tough to say. It's speculative. But we're talking - this is a long recovery here, Chris, I mean, for sure. Was there nerve damage as well? How much vascular damage was there?

Sometimes, Chris, you may have heard of this - this idea that if there's so much injury to the muscle, it'll swell. And because it's swelling underneath these thick layers of tissue known as fascia, sometimes you actually have to open up and provide some - you got to relieve the pressure. That can slow down your overall recovery. We just don't know.

CUOMO: Right.

GUPTA: We just don't know. All I've heard really is these compound fractures. I don't know, if they're the femur or the tibia, fibula.

We know about the ankle. The ankle can be a very serious injury, because it's an area of the body, that doesn't get as good a blood supply, so it can take longer to heal. It obviously is bearing a lot of the weight, most of the weight. So there's all these things to take into consideration.

But I will say again, five back surgeries, and the guy was still playing at the level that he was, I don't want to overstate that, but I'm just saying the guy has clearly come back from some - from some significant operations in the past.

CUOMO: It'll be interesting to watch. Thank God. There's more of this story to tell.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, as always, thank you.

GUPTA: You got it.

CUOMO: The only thing that matters tonight for Tiger Woods, and the many who care about him, is that he's alive, and that he's going to get another chance at this.

And if anybody's going to break our expectations of what this injury can do to you, it would likely be Tiger Woods. But this could be a moment that winds up deciding the future of a one-man sports dynasty, at least in terms of his play.

I want to bring in just one of the greats from the art of broadcast and communication, Bryant Gumbel. He's going to come in, and I want to talk to him about, you know, Tiger Woods means more than golf. He means more than sport. We are covering this accident, because it happened to him.


What does he mean? What would it mean if he can't play again? What is next? Bryant Gumbel. Stay with us.








CUOMO: We've seen Tiger Woods come back from bad crises, physical and emotional. Now, the interesting thing will be what will this moment matter to him, in terms of his legacy, as one of the greatest sports icons of all time.

I want perspective from somebody who knows the man and also knows his meaning. Legendary journalist, he's been following Woods' career, got a great clip for you tonight, of Bryant Gumbel, with Tiger Woods, at 5.

You know the Host of "Real Sports" on our sister network, HBO, friend and mentor.

Good to see you, Bryant.


CUOMO: Let's talk about his significance for a second.

First of all, no intention to speak about him in the past tense. He's only 45-years-old. If anybody can recover from a couple of compound fractures, it's this guy. We've seen him come through worse, frankly.


Why does he matter so much to us in this culture?

GUMBEL: I think he's one of the few athletes, who has - who has really moved beyond just athletics and become a symbol in popular culture.

I mean, I think if you're going to - if you're going to gauge his impact, you'd have to pick a world. If you chose entertainment, he made golf worth watching. If you're going to talk sports, he tied the record for most PGA victories in his second and most Majors.

If you're talking racial context, he gave the game color and brought a lot of African-Americans to golf. If you're talking financial impact, he doubled and tripled the amount of money that persons were worth on the PGA Tour.

So his impact is enormous, in a number of different spheres. And I don't know if that will ever be minimized, whether he makes it back or not.

CUOMO: That's an interesting point that you make there about what this will mean for him. If he were to come back from this, it would really cement him as the Iron Man of all time, when it comes to sports.

GUMBEL: Iron Man, Miracle Man, maybe.


GUMBEL: I mean, as you've noted, five back surgeries, five knee surgeries, and now, we're talking about, if we're to believe the reports, a shattered ankle and at least one broken leg.

He's 45-years-old. I heard Dr. Gupta talking about his chances of recovery, us not knowing if it's his tibia or fibula. It's hard to imagine him trying to compete before the age of 47, 48.

And then you get into the game of how many men have been able to win a tournament on the PGA Tour beyond that age. Now, about a dozen have done it. But it remains a very unusual circumstance.

Certainly, he's an unusual player. I don't know. It would be nice to think he could at least get one more, one more, which would break the tie, which would be his 83rd Tour victory, which would move him to number one all-time on the PGA Tour and victories. That would be very nice.

CUOMO: You know sports so well. Could you imagine us talking like this about anybody else near the tail-end of the normal career?


CUOMO: I hope that Tom Brady, you know, like some God forbid happened to Tom Brady, he's already had an amazing run, you know, I hope he can come back and win one more Super Bowl, if God forbid, ever in a situation like this, you just hope he could play with his kids.

Now, I want to get your perspective on him as a person from the poles of his existence. First, I want to show this - people this clip that is just so beautiful and signature Bryant Gumbel journalism.

Here is Bryant--

GUMBEL: Uh-oh!

CUOMO: --telling the story of Tiger Woods at the beginning.


GUMBEL: Tiger Woods, the most amazing 5-year-old golfer you have ever seen.

What has Rudy been able to teach you?

WOODS: Putting, hitting, chipping.

GUMBEL: He says you're a good student.

WOODS: I am.


CUOMO: It's always great to interview kids. What did you--

GUMBEL: It isn't. It's always torture.

CUOMO: Yes, right. You never know what you're going to get. They can go so bad on you so fast.

What did you think of him at that age other than having a swing I'd never seen in a kid that age before?

GUMBEL: Yes, I mean, look, it's very hard to be - to not be impressed, you know? As a hacker, you watch a guy at that - at that age doing things that you can only dream about. His ability with a golf club is unsurpassed, certainly unsurpassed in my lifetime. And I suspect he'll wind up being a multi-generational talent.

Yes, Jack Nicklaus has more majors. But I think even Jack would concede that Tiger has hit golf shots that no one who has ever lived has hit.

CUOMO: Now, when you say "Hit shots," you have the mechanics and the skill, but also the pressure Bryant.

GUMBEL: Yes, his--

CUOMO: This guy carries color. He carries class. He carried a lot of things in there with him. People were watching this guy for better and worse in a way no golfers ever experienced.

GUMBEL: Yes, he was under a microscope at all times from an early age. And yet, he has - he has so many moments, as you note, that continue to stand out.

Whether it's the shot from the - from the fairway bunker at the Canadian Open, or the "Shot in the Dark" at Firestone, or the Ace at Phoenix, or the better-than-most putt at TPC, the guy manages to transcend the game and create moments that stay with you forever.


My dear mother, God rest her soul, could not have told you the difference between a golf ball and a hockey puck. But whenever Tiger Woods was on, she was glued to the set.

He was, to steal a phrase from my old network, he was "Must-see TV." When he was on, you have to watch. You have to watch because it was what everyone was going to be talking about the next day.

CUOMO: The idea of being an icon transcends sport. You think about Muhammad Ali, somebody who winds up creating a significance beyond what they do in their field of play.

What do you respect most about Tiger Woods, as a man now of 45?

GUMBEL: Well, it's very interesting you say that, because I do think part of - part of the allure of Ali, in my opinion, the allure of Tiger is, is that we do see all facets of their personality, that we do see how fragile they are, that they are not perfect men, that they are not unbeatable, that they are prone to illness, injury, disease, that they are inclined to fail at various points in their life, that that not everything is as perfectly executed as the sport they've chosen to play.

And I think, to most of us, who are all too familiar with our flaws, we watch that, and it makes them more easily relatable, for most of us. And certainly, that's the way I feel.

CUOMO: And yet, I do believe, you know, look, Tiger is very different than Muhammad Ali. And it's not correct to qualify him--

GUMBEL: Absolutely, yes.

CUOMO: --just because of color. But Muhammad Ali lived at a different time. He took on politics in a way he took on class and structure in a way that Tiger Woods has not.

But I'll tell you what, I've never seen anybody get taken down the way Tiger Woods was either. In a world of sexual peccadilloes, and what people make of your marriage, that was epic, what was done to him, and it was done, as you know, a social kill-shot. And he came back. And I didn't think he would.

GUMBEL: He did come back. Although I would venture to say he came back in a different fashion. I think he lost a lot of people. I think a lot of people cheered the failures. But yes, he did come back.

And you are absolutely right. He does not belong in the same social sentence as Muhammad Ali and not even close. But in turn, on the field of play, what Tiger was able to accomplish is, it's absolutely amazing, when you think about it.

This is a guy who is number one in the world, basically, for 10 years in a row, was a 11 times, Player of the Year, who has these 82 wins, who has these 15 majors. And yet people forget he played in basically one tournament for three years. He had back surgeries constantly--


GUMBEL: --for a five-year stretch. Simply, from a physical standpoint, what he did was remarkable. To do it, when you're under that kind of a microscope, in this media age is really something we had never seen before. And that's something even Muhammad Ali didn't have to port.

CUOMO: Hardest thing in life to do is change. And to get taken down on a big stage, most go away.


CUOMO: Most stick with their close circle, and they don't want the scrutiny anymore.

He came back. He put himself out there. It's something that deserves respect, no matter how you feel about the behavior that brought him down. He tried to do better, and he tried to do better in public. And that's impressive.

And I think that's one of the reasons we're all paying so much attention now. People want to see what happens next. And I hope it's a beautiful chapter. Bryant, you gave--

GUMBEL: And you know what Chris? If I can add just one--

CUOMO: Last word to you.

GUMBEL: --if I can - if I can add just one thing, I'd like people, at this point, selfishly, we are all sad at what happened because we're now going to be deprived from him playing. But I hope a lot of people feel relief that when we first heard about this we thought we were hearing the early stages of another Kobe accident.

CUOMO: God forbid.

GUMBEL: And clearly, clearly that's not going to happen. These are not life-threatening injuries. He is presumably going to heal and enjoy a life with his children. Whether he can play golf or not, I don't want to say it's incidental, but that's not the important thing.

This is a man who seems to have found happiness with his family, and himself, and a degree of contentment. And it's wonderful that he's going to survive this accident and be able to live his life.

CUOMO: It will be interesting to see what happens. And you're right. There has been too much terrible loss in this country, in the last year, already. The last thing we need--


CUOMO: --is to lose anyone else, let alone a Tiger Woods.

Bryant Gumbel, you are one of the men that every time I see you, I have the same thought. "Why don't I see this guy more?" Thank you for taking the time to give us your perspective tonight. God bless and be well.

GUMBEL: Chris, take care of yourself.

CUOMO: Thank you, sir.


A big news night, the first public hearing on the Trump Insurrection was held on the Hill today. And it was a perfect distillation of just how screwed up we are.

One of the top Re-Trump-licans in the Senate, a man embracing that GOPQ, he made a mockery of what we should see, in January 6th. He literally did what he could to make it worse.

We're back with a key lawmaker, looking for real answers. And we've got to be honest, some things may be broken in our style of government, and we got to take them on. Next.









CUOMO: So today marked the first of many public hearings on the Capitol attack. The first time today we heard from security officials, former and present, on why our leaders were forced to run for their lives from a rabid Trump mob On January 6th.

Was this about planning? Was it about Intel? Was it about intentionality? Why did this happen? Especially now that we understand that what happened on the attack side was at least partly coordinated in advance.

So you had two Senate Committees hear from four witnesses who blamed federal law enforcement and the DoD, the Defense Department, for Intelligence failures and a communication breakdown.

Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund resigned in the wake of the Insurrection. He says he only learned, over the past 24 hours, of a critical FBI warning that extremists were calling for war. Is that true?

So, we also heard powerful testimony from current Capitol Police Captain Carneysha Mendoza, how she left for the frontlines of the Capitol attack, on the 6th, only to return home with a nearly broken arm and chemical burns on her face that have yet to fully heal.

Unfortunately, we heard another Re-Trump-lican pushing more lies. I can't believe, I really can't, that in the face of listening to these lawmakers, and all the things, and legitimacy of it that this Senator, Ron Johnson, literally with a no - with no irony on his face, like he believes it, starts talking about how this wasn't what it looked like.

These stupid, baseless conspiracy theories about who these rioters were that they really weren't Trump supporters.

Listen to this bull.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): But he said the mood of the crowd was positive and festive.

Many of the marchers were families with small children, many were elderly, overweight or just plain tired or frail.

Many wore pro-Police shirts, plainclothes militants, agents- provocateurs, fake Trump protesters.

But almost everyone seemed talkative and happy.


CUOMO: First of all, let me tell you something, brother, very few people fake being a Trump supporter, OK? And you can describe who was in the protest any way you want. Look at the faces and the intentionality of what happened at the Capitol.

Why would you try to fake the reality? What do you think is going to happen, if you continue to be this way? Why would anyone who calls themselves a Republican want to associate with what's coming out of that man's mouth?

I want to bring in Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan, who chairs the Subcommittee investigating the police response.

Congressman, thanks.

Have you heard anything to put any meat on the bones of any suggestion that what happened at January 6th was anything other than what it seemed in all the pictures that these were posers, these were plants? Is there any guidance from any level of law enforcement to authenticate any of that?

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): Zero, zero, Chris. And they're just repeating the same lie. There's zero truth to any of that.

You can see the prosecutions, the 200 people that are prosecuted, are saying "Trump told us to go." They're members of these right-wing extremist groups. There's all kinds of connections to President Trump to these organizations.

And so for Senator Johnson to say that he's just blatantly lying, but it's working to some extent, because 58 percent of Republicans believe what Ron Johnson was saying, because people like Ron Johnson keeps saying that.

CUOMO: I think the only answer is that every time it's brought up, you got to step on it, not just by saying it's not true, but by showing the footage, and showing the reality of who's prosecuted and what they say.

Now, one of the things that is not so clear, is that in terms of Intel failure versus lack of preparation, you're going to have a little CYA going on here. That's not unusual.

But if there were a meeting, where the FBI was present, meeting with the local authorities there, I don't understand how this January 5th meeting between the Capitol Security and Federal Law Enforcement did not generate an understanding of the FBI report.

Now, I heard one explanation was what was only raw Intelligence. Now, for people at home, that means it hadn't been processed. It hadn't been verified in a way that it was actionable. Do you buy that?

RYAN: No. And the idea that the FBI just sent this as an email like, "Holy crap, all this is going on, let me send you an email," along with the 400 other emails you get every single day. No one picked up the phone. No one made a call. No one elevated this situation. And so, that's what we've got to find out.


And then to have a meeting and that same information not come out is mind-boggling. And this is all with the backdrop, Chris, of all of the things that you've covered, leading up to January 5 and 6. Trump circled that date on the calendar. "It's going to be wild. We're going to go down. We're going to have a rally."

So, the more you look at it, the more you see all these data points, and there was nobody or no group of people there really to synthesize all of this information, it seems like everyone's got these little pieces of information, and no one said, "Man, this can turn into a real you-know-what storm and we better be ready for it," and ready significantly because they're talking about National Guard too. "We wanted the National Guard. We wanted the National Guard."

Chris, there were only a few 100 National Guard like 150 to 200 that if they did get the emergency clearance, if they did activate, it was only like 300. So, we were still ill-prepared, even if the National Guard got activated immediately, once they started storming the Capitol.

CUOMO: Well, you got to keep pushing, and you will continue to have this platform to tell people what you find out because you got to find a fix. God forbid you don't, this could happen again.

So, Congressman Tim Ryan, I hope you keep learning, and you are free to come here. We'll keep inviting you to tell people what's going on and what needs to happen.

RYAN: Appreciate it, Chris. Thanks. CUOMO: Sure.

Other front in the war is obviously COVID. We do have more hopeful news tonight. The vaccine-makers are saying that they have been figuring out ways to make more and keep their consistency. Remember, it's not easy to match batch when it comes to vaccine.

So then you have the real question. I know what you're hearing because I'm hearing it in my own life with my own family. "How do I get this thing? How can I get an appointment? Why is it that my friend who's 50 miles away, but in a different state, they're getting vaccines but I can't even get my old - my family, my" I get it. I don't understand either.

But we do have a former CDC Director here, and let's get some answers next.









CUOMO: Executives from the vaccine-makers are promising a big increase in production this spring. They're talking of about 3 million shots a day by April. That would be a game-changer.

We certainly need as much as we can get. We are in a race. We have to get as many vaccinated people as we can, before the Variants start creating cases that may or may not be as affected when they have the vaccine. So we'll see.

But while it's good news that we're up to more than 13 percent of the population having at least one shot, we still got a long way to go. And it's really uneven.

I know you're all hearing these stories about nearby states being very different than yours. Let's discuss what's going on with the pace and what will be different once we do have prophylaxis once we do have herd immunity.

We're joined by former CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.

Good to see you, Doc.

DR. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: Great to speak with you, Chris. CUOMO: So why is it so uneven, where in let's say, you know, New York, where at one place where you still can't get old people vaccinated, and everybody's desperate looking for appointments, and it's so hard? And then in New Jersey, you got people who are my age, getting it? Why is it so uneven?

FRIEDEN: Well, first off, the fundamental problem is there isn't enough vaccine to go around. We just don't have enough yet. Supply is getting better. But it's going to be months before there's ample supply.

And second, there really wasn't the kind of planning that was needed. World-beating science to create these mRNA vaccines, fantastic, just- in-time delivery of a technology that's been a decade in the making, and is giving stunning results, but not that same kind of attention to planning a campaign. So there's a lot of catch-up to be done.

There's not a national approach. There's not standards. The IT systems aren't really up to it. And we're paying the price for a poorly- planned vaccination campaign. But we're seeing it get steadily better.

The biggest thing that concerns me right now is the continued lack of equity in vaccine access. We're seeing Black and Latinx people vaccinated at about half the rate of White people in the U.S.


FRIEDEN: And we know that they're about twice as likely to die from the virus.

CUOMO: A quick fix--

FRIEDEN: So, we have to do much better. And we're seeing some places have creative approaches, such as having the number of slots per zip code. That's a way of increasing the fairness of who gets the vaccination.

CUOMO: Right.

FRIEDEN: But fundamentally, you have a lot of frustrated people, because there aren't enough vaccines to go around.

CUOMO: The federal government gives them the vaccine, so they can put rules on who it's supposed to go to. Why doesn't the federal government say X percentage of these have to go to people who are minorities or within these communities? Why not?

FRIEDEN: Well, they're doing some things that are trying to do that without doing things that would create unnecessary conflict.

For example, providing more vaccines to pharmacies, big and small pharmacies, providing vaccinations for community health centers to vaccinate, this is going to get better as vaccine supply improves.

And really, we are seeing a lot of vaccinations being given well over a million and a half a day, on most days. CUOMO: OK.

FRIEDEN: But fundamentally, it'll be a few more months, until we can begin to see a really big impact.

But Chris, I'll tell you one thing we are already seeing, which is very encouraging. We're seeing a drop in the number of deaths in nursing homes around the country. And that's a direct reflection of the vaccination--

CUOMO: Of the vaccine.

FRIEDEN: --in nursing homes because that's gone pretty well.

CUOMO: One other quick thing. One of the greatest things that will motivate people to get this vaccine, other than safety information, is what they can do once they're vaccinated.

When will we get guidance about whether people who are vaccinated will get some kind of thing they can have on their smartphone, so you can go to games, or you can go places? Will we get some kind of guidance like that where people who are vaccinated get a preference?


FRIEDEN: I think that's probably inevitable, especially for some international travel and maybe for some local events. We're already seeing Israel do that.

The problem is if we don't have equal access to vaccination, we're going to make unequal risk combined with unequal opportunity to do more things. So for now, mask-up.

But I think, by the summer and fall, we're going to see a big difference, and a lot more safety and a lot more activities. By fall, I think schools should be in-person virtually entirely with a few minor exceptions.

And increasingly, over the course of this year, we're going to get back to a new normal, where we're going to be able to go out and share space with others, even indoors.

CUOMO: I hope so. Dr. Tom Frieden, thank you very much.

We'll be right back.

FRIEDEN: Thank you.








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