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Rep. Cheney Warns GOP Not To Be "Party Of White Supremacy"; 9/11-Style Commission To Probe Capitol Attack Sparks Partisan Fighting; Data Confirms Single-Shot COVID-19 Vaccine Is Safe. Aired 9- 10p ET

Aired February 24, 2021 - 21:00   ET



KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's about one every single month, John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Wow! All right, Kyung Lah, thank you very much.

A reminder, don't miss "FULL CIRCLE," Anderson's digital news show. You can catch it streaming live at 6 P.M. Eastern at, or watch it there and on the CNN app anytime on- demand.

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

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

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

Do you want to know why the Democrats can't even get a deal on Pandemic relief? The answer is Trump. The Right is in a war with itself over whether it will be defined by principles that work in a democracy, or by whether they are in with a demagog.

The idea of whether or not conservatives should invite Trump to speak at their annual shindig brought out this divide in real-time on camera. Look.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Yes, he should.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Representative Cheney?

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Yes, that's up to CPAC. I've been clear about my views about President Trump and the extent to which following - extent to which following January 6th, I don't - I don't believe that he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.

MCCARTHY: On that high note, thank you all very much.



CUOMO: So, while Cheney, number three, is saying what should be obvious that they don't want the Party to be linked to the ugliness of January 6th, and the man who started it, McCarthy's like this, "Oh!"

Well on that high note, what do you expect, Mr. McCarthy? Remember, you were the one who called Trump, and asked him to call off the attack, on January 6th, and he mocked you and left you to whatever your fate would be. Then you still want to see him, because you are betting on Trump. Fine!

The House GOPQ's number three, Liz Cheney actually feels that she needs to keep reminding McCarthy and her fellow whatevers Republican - I don't know what they are, we don't know yet, but she has to remind them, "It's not a good look, to stand with a supremacist movement that tried to bring down the democracy." Listen.


CHENEY: It's very important, especially for us, as Republicans, to make clear that we aren't the party of white supremacy.

We, as Republicans, in particular, have a duty and an obligation to stand against that, to stand against insurrection.


CUOMO: Now, you think that'd be a no-brainer point, right? But guess what? She is losing. Recent polls have Cheney getting less support from party members than the QAnon kook.

This is why the Democrats can't get anywhere. It is not fair to put it on Biden and saying "He talked about unity. Where's the unity?" Are you kidding me?

This is about the GOPQ, and what led to the Insurrection, their decision to now go soft on a white supremacist mob, their decision to pretend it wasn't the Proud Boys, it wasn't the Oath Keepers and the QAnon kooks, and those guys in the MAGA hats, who were also at the rally.

"No, no, no, it wasn't really them." "OK, we won't go Antifa, because there's no proof of that. And we kind of feel still a little shame. But we will play to another conspiracy." That's what Senator Ron Johnson did yesterday.

How can you expect the Democrats to do a deal with a guy who says this?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret putting that article in?

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Absolutely not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not? JOHNSON: It's an eyewitness account from pretty knowledgeable trained observer. It's no conspiracy theory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'd do it again?

JOHNSON: Absolutely. We need - we need the full perspective.


CUOMO: No, you don't what the full perspective. You will do anything, advance any lie, to make Trump look good.

The man, a U.S. Senator, read a conspiracy theory, at the first public hearing on the Capitol attack, to misinform that the mob was Trump supporters in disguise that many of them were just families with small kids, elderly, overweight or frail.






CUOMO: What do you see? What have you always seen? What have you only seen? Left and Right, you must be reasonable. You know that he is lying. And the reason why is all that matters. That's the reality, OK?

And his fellow senator, OK, Republican, ReTrumplican, Josh Hawley, he didn't wave.

I always wave to crowds. This is a wave. Hi, how you doing? Maybe two. Hey, how you doing?

This is not a wave. It's a fist pump and you're showing support. That's why you do it. "Yes, we're strong. Yes, I stand with you." That's why you do it. We both - we all know it.


Now, he's telling you he wasn't saluting insurrectionists. "Don't call them that. These were peaceful, innocent lambs."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you regret any of your actions leading up to this? Walking by some of the insurrectionists, raising your fist like that?

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Now, first of all, let me just stop you right there. You call them "Insurrectionists."

I mean, folks who I walked by, when I was on my way to the House chamber, were standing there, peacefully, behind police barricades, off of the Plaza, the Capitol of the United States, they have a First Amendment right to be there. They don't have a First Amendment right to riot, as some of them later did.


CUOMO: That's the point. By definition, "None of them were bad people before they did bad things."

Look, he's very smart. He's a legal expert. But this isn't about a big education. It's about an education in telling the truth and the decency of it, OK, because some of those people did do that after he did give them a seal of approval.

Now, here's more indication of how that party is just not to be dealt with right now. Mike Pence is not going to CPAC. But even he, like McCarthy, this guy, who literally the President left to die, the President literally baited a mob to go find him, and they set up a gallows, outside the Capitol, he too, is trying to get in with Trump again. Can you believe this?

The former vice president told the group of conservative lawmakers yesterday, he maintains a close personal friendship with Trump, and harbors no ill will over January 6th, according to Indiana Congressman Jim Banks.

Now, is that believable? No, probably not. But that makes it even more instructive of just how tore up this party is. Can you imagine harboring no ill will toward a guy, who drove a mob into the Capitol that wanted to kill you? Seriously?

Seriously? No ill will toward the person who knew you were seconds away from danger, and wouldn't send in the National Guard, who actually then trumped more - trumped - tweeted more provocative things about you?

But what does it tell you? That's how committed to Trump they are, and therefore, they can't do anything with the Democrats. They can't do anything to help Biden, because this is all about doing what Trump wants. And that's not what he wants. And that's why things are the way they are.

To the better minds, we have David Gregory, and Michael Smerconish.

And look, David, I'm open, Michael, you tell me I'm wrong, but I don't see any indication of anything but "Let's stick with what has got us here, and let's just play the role of opposition, the way we always do, let's try to smatter in a little bit of victimization, when we can, but this is the play."

Am I missing something?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, AUTHOR, "HOW'S YOUR FAITH?": No, I mean, I think the only - the only difference here is that a lot of these Republicans would like to find their way past Trump. But they don't know how to do it. They think there's a way to shake hands and not get dirty by the guy. And that's the same tired play they've been making for a long time.

So Kevin McCarthy is so transparent, in how badly he wants to be Speaker of the House, and win the House, I don't know what the guy's for, you know. And that he'd be, you know, to be talked to the way that the President spoke to him, on January 6th, as we've learned through that reporting, and then go to kiss his ring, is such blatant politics. Josh Hawley the same.

So look, they may not want to be associated with Trump, but they want his voters. And where I think that's now morphing is look, there's a big fight in the Republican Party. They're going to fight this out, and we're going to find out, in next year, who's got the upper hand in that, and we're going to get marching orders for a lot of them from Trump at CPAC.

But Chris, I think we have to remember, Trump lost. He was a one-term president. Republicans lost control of the House, when he was president. These are important things about the growth and the future of the Republican Party.

And maybe they're still a loud wing. But are they actually growing? Are they - are they growing in importance? I don't think they are.

CUOMO: Well, but they are growing in importance within the party. Proof - proof of performance. Listen to Senator Romney, Mike, in terms of what he says about the future of the party.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I expect he will continue playing the role. I don't know if he'll run in 2024 or not. But if he does, yes, I'm pretty sure he will win the nomination.


CUOMO: After we're not even two months away from January 6th, and you know what? He's not wrong. Look at the polls.

Put up the numbers for the people please.

November, 89 percent. After January 6, 83 percent.


David says, in the voice of optimism, Mike, there are Republicans who want to find their way through. 40-plus of them in the Senate said that it was unconstitutional to even try the guy. Do you see the same optimism that some may try to fight back to the original party?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I don't see it as a Republican Party at war with itself. If there's been a war, then there's already been a surrender or a ceasefire.

And I'm glad that you brought up former Vice President Mike Pence, because I find that to be very telling. I know that his story is that he believes in a time period of going dark, after you've served at that level. I don't buy it.

I think he recognizes, as Mitt Romney recognizes, that it's Donald Trump's nomination, as things stand, if he wants it. And there's nothing that Romney, Liz Cheney, Mike Pence, or any of the rest of them, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, can do to stop it.

Now you and I have discussed, there are intangibles that might get in Trump's way, but these individuals don't control any of them.

So, I think that Pence's attitude is one of, "I'm just going to lay low for a while and stay out of this. See if he gets indicted, see if his health remains strong, see if personal debt for which he has signed, gets called."


SMERCONISH: "I can't control any of that."

CUOMO: Then you have the counter-pressure from his own party, David.


CUOMO: Pick up on this point, then go anywhere you want.


CUOMO: So let's say they get rid of the filibuster, because they have to. It's the only way that they can make their progress.

And look, I will probably do a special at some point, one night, where we will just talk about the filibuster, because I think it has to have a fair hearing. I really don't know when it's ever been used for good. So, I want to have a fair hearing on it.

But let's put up the tweet from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, OK? This is about what they're doing with not being able to handle the flow at the border, which they haven't changed the rules, they still can't handle the flow, they don't have the manpower down there to do it.

So Biden, supposedly, according to HHS, is putting people in better facilities than they were in the cages. AOC says "No." The Left flank is angry. They want more things done.

So might they have to get rid of the filibuster just to accommodate his Left flank? Because I don't think there's any reason to believe they'll stay with him.

GREGORY: No, and I think, at least give AOC and others credit for not giving anybody any due, right?

I mean, the administration can argue they're trying to upgrade the facilities. But they didn't give Trump any room or his administration. They just said, "You know, this is - this is a draconian policy. And that's it."

So yes, I mean, he may have to deal with this. And there could be other disappointments along the way that Biden's going to have to manage, although I think he's doing a lot, through nominations and other policy positions he's taking, and giving an airing to the Left flank, so that they're actually being heard.

That's what I think is a little bit different. I think he's actually managing them pretty well so far.

CUOMO: They did that this - they. It's her, but I don't think AOC is alone. And I don't even think she's the leader of any group. I think that she's just somewhat of the most vocal part of its conscience.

But, Michael, her remedy for this is to get rid of DHS. No more ICE.


CUOMO: Everything that is just completely going to lose you any center-of-the-road voter, a 100 percent.

SMERCONISH: It plays--

CUOMO: It's almost as bad as "Defund the Police."

SMERCONISH: Yes, it exactly - oh, you took the words out of my mouth. It is just playing right into the hands of the Republicans, give them such a sound bite.

And I would argue that if all of a sudden the dispute is the mattress size that kids are being afforded on the border, then it's a losing argument for Democrats. And if President Biden goes too far to appease AOC, he loses Joe Manchin. It's like herding cats. That's the difficult task this this White House has.

CUOMO: Bobcats!

GREGORY: And can I just bring it back full circle?

CUOMO: Not house cats!


CUOMO: Go ahead.

GREGORY: The bringing about it full circle, I agree with Michael on that. And where most Republicans want to be is they want to take on the Left. They want to take on the excesses of the Left.

Trump benefited a lot from that in 2016 kind of break up all the Washington establishment and take on the Left. I don't buy that Trump is as strong as he appears to be. Yes, he won 71 million votes a couple months ago. So he appears to be strong now. I think that wears thinner.

But to Michael's point, people, rank and file Republicans, who voted for him in 2016, even if they didn't like him initially, because they feared the Left. That's where the party wants to line up. And that's where they want to induce some amnesia, among Republicans,

who didn't like what Trump did, particularly on January 6th, to remember, "Oh, yes, but the Left. We can't - we can't turn the country over to the Left."


CUOMO: Well, look, the timing is always perfect for them. Even after something like January 6th, you'll hear them put all their arms around this immigration thing now, and say "What are you going to do to keep us safe?"


CUOMO: Now, I don't know that they have the leverage just off of one tweet and a few people on the Left, because January 6th is a singular moment of infamy in our history. They've ignored it, and they own it.

David Gregory, Michael Smerconish, thank you, gentlemen.

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

CUOMO: So, there is now, in a related story, haggling over Speaker Pelosi's push for a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Capitol attack.

Look, you see what's happening in the hearings, all right? They're not working. You're not getting the kind of clarity. The lawmakers are frustrated with the information they're getting. And it seems pretty obvious they should be.

So here's what happens. Senator McConnell goes after Pelosi, on the Senate floor, because he says "You said this would be bipartisan. We're not even getting the even split of seats."

Why doesn't the Speaker's plan, Pelosi, include an even split of seats? We'll ask another key House Democrat here what's going on. Next.









CUOMO: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has a plan for 9/11-style commission to investigate the Capitol riot. It faced pushback today, at least one aspect of it, from Minority Leader McConnell in the Senate. Listen.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Speaker Pelosi started by proposing a commission that would be partisan by design.

If Congress is going to attempt some broader analysis of toxic political violence, across the country, then in that case, we cannot have artificial cherry-picking of which terrible behavior does and which terrible behavior does not deserve scrutiny.

An inquiry with a hardwired partisan slant would never be legitimate in the eyes of the American people.


CUOMO: Now, I know that these words ring hollow to many of you, coming out of his face. But at the same time, the Pelosi proposal is to have the population, the membership, of the commission, split 7-4 Democrats. We've never seen that before.

Now, the Democrats are also protective because they see the GOPQ as in lockstep with Trump, over the election lies, and they don't believe that they are fair on the subject. What are we to make of this?

I want to bring in Democratic Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, spearheading a bipartisan effort to create this commission.

Good to see you.

REP. MIKIE SHERRILL (D-NJ): Nice to see you.

CUOMO: So Representative, 7-4, you were asking to give high ground even to somebody like McConnell on this? Do you believe that's a fair split?

SHERRILL: Well, Chris, I think what we need to do is put forth a commission, much like the 9/11 Commission.

And I've actually put together a bill along with Jackie Speier, who I served with, on the House Armed Services Committee, and has a deep expertise in violent extremism.

We've reached out across the aisle, and now we have a bill, along with Representatives Reed and Garbarino, Republicans, to have an even split, so that we can move forward with the commission that the American public can have faith in.

CUOMO: It doesn't - it has to be, you know? It's got to be even. It doesn't work any other way. And you don't need me to tell you this.

You have former members of that 9/11 Commission, which was seen as successful. And you had Tom Kean, former New Jersey Governor, obviously, Republican and Lee Hamilton, former U.S. Representative from Indiana, they both say exactly that, that Pelosi can't have this be 7-4. It won't make sense to people.

Now, is the Speaker open to you saying it has to be even, and what is her reason for 7-4?

SHERRILL: Well, we've been talking about this for some time since we conceived of the idea, and Jackie and I have both talked to the Speaker.

And I think there is a real concern that Members of the Republican Party have been so co-opted by the former president that they won't investigate the events leading up to the January 6th, and they won't get to the bottom of it.

Because what we're looking at is not just what happened on January 6th itself, but what actually led to that event, what were all of the pieces that led up to an angry mob attacking our Capitol, on January 6th, as we, in Congress, were trying to certify the election.

So, there is that that desire to make sure that we get to the bottom of it. But I think what this commission needs to do is also present that to the American people.

And we now have so many people who've believed the President's lies that the election was unfair somehow. And we need to have this commission show the American public why our democracy is strong, why that's not the case, why this was a fair election.


SHERRILL: And I think in order for them to believe that it has to be bipartisan.

CUOMO: Yes, I agree with you. But it also has to be even, because otherwise, you're coming right out of the box with giving them a reason not to understand it. I get that it's not your idea. And I'm not going to hold you to account for an idea that's not yours, but I just wanted your perspective on it.

Couple other things I'd like your take on. First, I am worried about this talk that is growing about how much of a military presence there was, among the insurrectionists, former and maybe even current.

I'm very shy about this talk. I didn't like when that report came out, a while ago, saying that people returning from war was susceptible to radicalization. I didn't like it. I thought it had gross assumptions in it that weren't fair to our fighting men and women.


But at least 27 current or former U.S. military members have been charged with federal crimes, stemming from the attack, according to an analysis of court documents and Pentagon records, a 11 percent of the 250 charged so far.

Do you believe that it is relevant that they are military members or are they just angry Trumpers who also happened to have been in the military?

SHERRILL: I certainly think it's relevant.

As a veteran myself, as you know, Chris, I served for almost 10 years as a helicopter pilot. And that was certainly not my experience, granted, I've been out of the military for quite some time now. But I certainly didn't note a strain of violent extremism.

So it's very, very troubling that we are seeing these military - former military members involved in the attack on the Capitol. And I spoke to General Austin, before he was confirmed as the SecDef about just this issue.

And I know he takes it very seriously. In fact, he is having what we call in the military a stand-down. As you can imagine, military operations are critical, the timing is critical. So to take a day off, out of these operations, to focus on one issue is really a move to show just how much we need to highlight this because again, I've also been talking to General Milley about this.

And even if it's not a large number, it's certainly something that we have to root out of our military.

CUOMO: Right. And some of them were former also.

And just one other quick thing, you requested an FBI investigation last month, into last month, saying that you had seen some GOP Members giving tours before the assault. What's the latest? Because I feel like that's something you should - that should have been pretty quickly discoverable.

SHERRILL: Well, there are ongoing investigations. I've certainly spoken to law enforcement. They are investigating it right now. And as you've seen, they've been doing a great job, making a lot of the connections. They are also wading through quite a bit of information.

And again, I think what's so critical to these investigations is that - is that we get a broader picture of what happened on January 6th, and then we have a bipartisan independent commission really study all the events leading up to it.

How did we have these people become radicalized? How did they get incentivized to attack the Capitol? What led to the events of January 6th?

CUOMO: So, you stand by that suspicion that you have about those tours?

SHERRILL: There were, as I've said, Chris, there were some suspicious things. I've turned it over to the FBI. I think based on what we're hearing about some of the Members and that - of that attack at the Capitol, and the planning that went into it, I remain concerned. But I know the FBI will get to the bottom of it.

CUOMO: Other than the pictures, this commission is probably the best chance, not just for history, but currently, of getting people to believe anything that doesn't go along with the Trump agenda, so I hope you guys get it right.

Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, thank you for your service to the country. Thank you for coming on the show.

SHERRILL: Thanks so much.

CUOMO: All right.

Now, vaccine, good news, OK? In truth, there's good news, and there's bad news. But we'll start with the good news. We are making progress, OK? But there are also things that are holding us back.

The Wizard of Odds has been tracking the data all across the country. What he wants you to know, next.









CUOMO: All right, we're doing our vaccination effort. We're watching what's happening. And we have the latest for you.

The FDA says Johnson & Johnson's single-shot vaccine meets the requirements for Emergency Use Authorization. Those are those EUAs you hear about. That's what you need to get into the mix.

So, it is getting closer to getting into our arms. Plus, it turns out that the vaccine may not require an observation period post-shot that you do need with the other vaccines. That should also pick up the pace in terms of getting people shots.

At the same time, the White House was surprised how few shots it'll have ready to go next week. The plan was around 10 million. It's now looking like 3 million or 4 million.

Have you noticed this? It keeps going back and forth like they said, "Oh, we're going to have more than we thought. The states are getting more," and "Oh, no, we're not." Why? It's a good news/bad news reality, OK? Take the daily case count, great to see it falling fast.

Now, again, you have to look at where we are compared to the height of the big summer spike, and the spike that we had after Christmas. We do stupid things. And the cases go up. But they are coming down, which means what? If nothing else, we're being less stupid, and that's good. Let's bring in the Wizard of Odds, Harry Enten, who is running the

numbers on the vaccination effort.

Wiz, good to have you, somewhere other than on my office couch. More people are getting shots per day than are getting sick. That is a good rate. That means that the vaccine is beating the virus/variants.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: That's exactly right. If you were to look at the number of vaccines per day that we've averaged, over the last week, it's 1.5 million doses. The cases per day averaged, over the last seven days is just 71,000.

So, we are running well ahead with the vaccinations per day than the cases per day. And that, I think, is sort of the baseline of where you want to be at this particular point to know if in fact, we are beating the virus.

Obviously, the virus is probably going to be with us for a while. But we are doing what we need to do in terms of the vaccinations. And I'll also point out that that 1.5 million per day is well ahead of that 1 million rate per day that Biden wanted to hit at the beginning of his administration.

CUOMO: So, the race is largely going to become a race of supply with the vaccine. We're looking at a matter of months, until there's enough for everyone over 18. Do you see this as a click in the right direction, or is this where we said we'd be or is it underperforming?


ENTEN: I think at this point, we're basically where we thought we were going to be, perhaps a little bit behind. But what's so important, as you look at this graphic, on your screen right now, is just how quickly the pace is going to pick up, right?

So this is the projected COVID-19 regimen delivered. Remember, you need two shots of the Moderna and Pfizer, just one of the Johnson & Johnson, if in fact it gets the Emergency Authorization, and this is a total as a percentage of the 18-plus population.

Look at this. We're only at 17 percent right now, but delivered by the end of March, we're going to be at least 51 percent, end of May, at least 86 percent, and by the end of June, we're going to be over 100 percent. That is we'll have enough vaccines delivered in order to cover the entire adult population.

So look, right now, obviously, we're not necessarily where we want to be. But I can promise you, as long as those vaccines get delivered, at the pace that the manufacturers say they will, we're going to be in much better shape by the end of next month, and then certainly by the beginning of summer.

CUOMO: You worried about the government saying, "Oh, we thought it was going to be 10 million. Now it's 3 million or 4 million." That's like the second or third time that's happened? What do you make of that kind of disconnect? ENTEN: Look, these are imperfect sciences, right? You have to - the vaccines got to get from the manufacturers, to the nation. Then the federal government has to get them down to the States. Then they have to distribute them. This is something we really have never done before.

So the fact that we are so close, and the fact that we do have these deadlines, and even if say we're a few days late, we generally tend to catch-up. And right now, we're running ahead of the pace.

Again, it was Biden, who said 1 million - 1 million doses per day for the first 100 days. We're running well ahead of that at this particular point. So we're running ahead of the game, in my mind.

CUOMO: I always worry that I don't - it's not that complicated in terms of finding out from the company, how many doses they're going to have, and when. That should be pretty much a consistent chain of information. And it seems to break down more often than not.

ENTEN: I mean, look, raw materials, it's very, you know, it just never happened - we just haven't done this before. I mean, this is amazing. The fact that this was really only came to the news, a little bit more than a year ago, and the fact that we already have--


ENTEN: --it looks like three vaccines that work, it's truly remarkable, Chris.

CUOMO: No, you're right, you're right. I'm just, you know, I'm just so worried about--

ENTEN: Sure.

CUOMO: --us getting what we need and getting into people's arms. And that's the next point to make, which is we're actually getting better at what is being received, and how quickly and efficiently it's getting into people's arms. How so?

ENTEN: Yes, I mean, look, remember, vaccines getting delivered is one thing, right? They need to be administered.

And if you look at the right from where we were eight weeks ago, we're just 20 percent of the vaccines delivered actually reached folks' arms, then it was 51 percent, four weeks ago.

And then this week, it's 80 percent. That means that that entire chain of getting those vaccines from the federal government, to the state government, and then into the arms of folks, we're getting much better at that.

So, the more vaccines, when we finally get those vaccines delivered, say by the end of March, and then the end of April, and end of May, and then end of June, we're doing a - you can be much more rest assured, Chris, that we can get those vaccines into the arms of folks, as long as that people are willing to accept them. So to me, as you just look across all of it, we're doing a better job delivering, we should (ph) do a better job delivering. We're doing a better job of then getting those doses administered. It's just a pretty good picture. It's a reason for optimism in a time that truthfully is just hard to be optimistic in.

CUOMO: Fair point. So now, playing on optimism, how much of a boogeyman is demand, meaning people's willingness to get this vaccine? It has been better to this point than was expected.

We thought we'd have a real problem with people wanting it. Early numbers were over 50 percent, 60 percent didn't want it. Where does it stand out?

ENTEN: Sure. I mean, look, look at this. This is from the Gallup poll. Would you take a free COVID vaccine right now, if it was made available to you, and the FDA approved it?

Look, among Democrats, we've seen this massive increase, right, from just 53 percent at the end of September to now 91 percent of Democrats, who said that they would in fact, take it.

Here's the problem, there really does seem to be this partisan split where Republicans, only about half of them, according to Gallup say that they would actually take it. That's the number one thing to worry about right now. Will those Republicans who are vaccine-hesitant actually come aboard later on in the process?

CUOMO: Boy, this is such a weird thing. I wonder how Republicans will read this, you know, the ones in Congress right now.

They should be at like 99 percent. Trump told you this was the magic pill. He told you, you didn't have to worry about masks, you didn't have to worry about social distancing, that the cases would either disappear, or the vaccine would save us all. Now you don't want it?

Harry Enten, thank you for combing through the numbers. Thank you for playing to the optimism. That is just as important as the analysis is the attitude.

ENTEN: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Thank you, brother.

So look, the practical problem right now, I hear from you all the time, hearing on the radio, and yes, your concerns will be represented, and right now.

The vaccine's out there. It's coming to your state in bigger numbers than ever, but you can't get it. And there are three key factors in answering that. What color is your skin? Where do you live? And how much money do you make?

Here's why. Black and Hispanic people are still getting a disproportionately low number of shots. Why doesn't the federal government earmark a certain number of these doses for them? We'll discuss with the big expert in a second.


They are also seeing too many people in their communities dying proportionately. It is a reality that we see state-by-state.

The three states getting the most vaccine, when you adjust for population, are Alaska, South Dakota, and New Mexico. All three of them are less than 5 percent Black people. Those are also the three highest in terms of percentage of people with at least one-shot.

See, it's either, the more shots you have, the more you can get people vaccinated, or the more shots you put into arms, the more the Feds send you. You see what I'm saying?

So just because your state is getting the supply, it doesn't mean you can get the shot. That's because each state sets its own guidelines on who, where, and when. And it can be maddeningly difficult to keep track.

Let's just look at the Tri-State Area here in the Northeast, OK, because lots of people are crossing back and forth across state lines. And a lot of them are doing it for this reason. And they're not supposed to.

A 60-year-old bus driver can get a shot in New York, but not in New Jersey or Connecticut. A 45-year-old fifth grade teacher, yes, in New York, no, in Jersey. In Connecticut, it will be a yes on Monday, but only at some clinics.

Then there's a 35-year-old smoker, which actually makes it easier for you to get the vaccine. I know that makes people upset, but it's an absolute health risk. "Yes, but you're rewarding them for smoking." You want them to die? So it's yes, in Jersey, no in Connecticut, and in New York.

But even within your state, it's not a level playing field. The data shows the more money you have, the more likely you're going to get a shot. Why? Look, that's a longer conversation. But let's just prove that it's true.

Look at California. In the state's wealthiest county, 16 percent of the population has gotten a shot. But in the poorest county, it's barely more than half that. In D.C., vaccination rate in the wealthiest two Wards more than double the two poorest.

It's going to take some big brains to figure this out, or at least to get me past my suspicion, which is this is how the system works, you know, the song from Leonard Cohen, "Everybody Knows," right?

The rich get rich, and the poor stay poor. How to fix it? Let's get on big brains, Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of Public Health at Brown.

Doctor, good to see you.


CUOMO: First, to qualify why I called you a - call you a "Big brown" - "Big brain," Brown University.

So, I'm talking to this friend of mine the other day, was trying to fix some of the things that's wrong with my body. And he says, "Hey, my kids' doing great at Brown. They have no cases. That Ashish Jha got it right." And I didn't even know about this.

Put up the statistic, please.

And then explain. The campus positivity rate is 0.15 percent. The Rhode Island rate is 2.1 percent. I thought colleges were supposed to be worse. What did you get right up there? And are any other people taking your lead?

JHA: Yes, so Chris, we decided we're going to follow the public health science, things that you and I have talked about for the whole last year.

We put in really pretty strict mask mandates, made sure that people weren't bunching up together indoors. We held classes all through the fall. We're holding classes in-person now.

But the other big thing we did, this is not magic, we did really aggressive testing and tracing, like we put in a really good testing and tracing program. And as soon as somebody gets infected, we identify them, we isolate them, we do contact-tracing, and we make sure that one infection doesn't end up being becoming a big outbreak.

It's not rocket science. It's just basic public health science. We decided that we do it.

CUOMO: What is the biggest thing we can do to stop the systemic inequality that we're seeing with vaccines? And is that thing, earmarking from the federal side, a certain number that must go to those communities, and into those arms, so people can't cherry-pick the appointments?

JHA: Yes, so Chris, I think the biggest issue on this is look, we can come up with the best plan in the world. But we live in a deeply inequitable society. And when those plans are implemented, we see the kind of outcomes that we're seeing.

And my argument has been that this is - you don't achieve equity by chance or by randomness, or by hope or prayer. You do it through proactive engagement and action. We just haven't done that.

We have not prioritized those communities. We have not sent in people to do outreach and help people get into the vaccine clinics, and get vaccinations, and we have not used community health centers, and churches, and all the social organizations that have so much trust in those communities. You don't do any of that stuff. No surprise we are where we are.

CUOMO: You got to treat it like you want their vote. You want their vote for this vaccine and you have to go get it.

Dr. Ashish Jha, good on you for what you've done for Brown University, and all those families feeling good about having their kids in school. I know that the rest of us would like that as well. Appreciate you.

JHA: Thank you, Chris.


CUOMO: A plane engine, did you see this? Very scary! Plane engine goes in flames midair just after takeoff. And the pilots, beautiful, they find a way to get it back on the ground.

But there are concerns, right? What are federal regulators doing to prevent a scare like that again? And what did we just learn about what they decided they needed to do right before this happened?

We have the perfect guest. A former FAA Administrator is going to give us his thoughts on something that had not been reported before. Details, next.








CUOMO: A new FAA directive has effectively grounded all Boeing 777s, the ones that carry the same engine or the same kind of engine as the United flight that failed and erupted in fire midair on Saturday. Thank God it wasn't a catastrophe.


Should that have happened sooner? CNN is learning tonight that just days before that Denver flight, federal regulators had met about requiring more frequent inspections of the same type of engine. That FAA review was apparently prompted by another engine failure in Japan back in December.

It's remarkable that the Denver flight with 241 passengers aboard landed safely. There were no injuries reported from that mile-long trail of debris across Colorado. Officials say this new investigation could take more than a year.

Let's bring in former FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, who also sits on Delta Airlines' Board of Directors.

Good to see you.


CUOMO: So, you can take this two ways.

One is, "Aha, you knew you had a problem and you moved too slow." Or they have been on top of this and monitoring it. And now they know they have to do more for this kind of engine, in terms of how many cycles or how many starts of the engine go by, before you check it.

How do you see it?

HUERTA: I see it is the latter.

There is a doctrine in aviation called continuous operational safety. As an aircraft enters service, as it completes operations, you learn more. And as aircraft get older, you increase the frequency of inspections.

And so, they were following up on the December incident. And they were looking at tightening up the inspection protocols for this engine. Yesterday, they issued an Airworthiness Directive that effectively grounds the fleet until very detailed inspections can take place.

CUOMO: Please engage the suspicion that "The Japan event happens. You know that it's the fan blades, and that this is something that's happened. Somebody knows. Because you guys know the engines so well, you should have grounded them all, right then, instead of waiting, and that's why this happened."

HUERTA: I think that it's important to look at the full scope of the 777 fleet. This has been an incredibly successful aircraft program. There are over 1,600 of these that are flying around.

And this particular problem relates to a very small subset, many of which are on the ground already, as a result of the Pandemic. I think that what they were doing was a very thoughtful and a very detailed analysis.

What this had the effect of doing is requiring not only an inspection that would take place, after a certain amount of cycles, but effectively what the Administrator has decided is they need to baseline this entire segment of the fleet, some 125 airplanes. And I think that's a conservative move.

But I think it's prudent, given the age of these aircraft. And what they want to ensure is that they have a very clear picture of the condition of these engines, and to ensure that there's no threat to safety.

CUOMO: Two more quick things, one, 6,500 cycles, a cycle is when you start one of these turbine engines. To make it apples-to-apples, that is a lot longer in between checks than people are used to with their vehicles. Why is that OK?

HUERTA: Well, a cycle is one takeoff and one landing. And so, it's based on what the analysis shows of the expected life of the parts that are there.

CUOMO: Right.

HUERTA: They put a conservative buffer into it. And these are incredibly well-engineered precision machines.

CUOMO: But I'm saying just to understand the issue--


CUOMO: --Commissioner, 6,500 to 1,000 makes it sound like that 6,500 was crazy, if you needed to reduce it by that much.

HUERTA: Not necessarily because again, recognize that this particular aircraft and this class of aircraft are 26-years-old. So, just like in your car, a new car is going to require less maintenance than an older car. And so, as the aircraft gets older, you're always going to tighten up the inspection cycles.

And so, what they've done now is they've taken it all the way down to zero. Essentially what they're saying is we need a very thorough inspection to baseline where this fleet is.

CUOMO: Yes, safety's got to come first. It just has to.

HUERTA: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Michael Huerta, thank you so much for the Insider's guide to this.

HUERTA: Thank you.

CUOMO: Appreciate you.

We'll be right back.









CUOMO: Little gut check to end this show on what we focus on versus what we ignore.

Bruce Springsteen, you remember how he was chased all over the place, had his Super Bowl commercial pulled? God forbid we see an ad promoting a message of unity in this country, right?

Remember, Jeep pulled it because he was accused of DUI after this. Well, now they're going to resume using the ad, and you know why? Turns out everybody had it wrong.

The charges were dropped. "Oh, because it's Bruce Springsteen!" Yes, Bruce Springsteen with a blood alcohol level that was 0.02, well below the 0.08 legal limit in New Jersey.

"Oh, I heard he's guilty." He did plead guilty to drinking in New Jersey Sandy Hook National Recreation Area, despite knowing it was prohibited, had nothing to do with drunk-driving.

So, all that attention to that, one year since Ahmaud Arbery's death, one year, no trial date. You remember him, the Georgia jogger. "Wasn't dressed like a jogger!" He was a jogger, and he was shot and killed while on a run. Despite the murder being on camera, the case still hasn't gone to trial.

The trial of Derek Chauvin starts next month. "Chauvin?" You forgot the name, right? Because the cameras left Minneapolis after George Floyd's death.

Did you hear that 157-page report that found officers in Colorado had no justified reason to stop Elijah McClain or to use multiple chokeholds on the young man?

What we ignore we empower. We can't ignore the reality that has taken too many young Black lives anymore. That is a message for me, and for you.

Thank you for watching. The big show, "CNN TONIGHT," big star, big head, D. Lemon.