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U.S. Airstrikes Hit Iran-Backed Militia Site In Syria; Dem Sources: Senate Parliamentarian Ruling Against Minimum Wage Increase Will Make It Easier To Pass COVID-19 Bill; Years Of Trump's Tax Records Turned Over To Manhattan D.A. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 25, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Also, that episode hits Monday on Sanjay's podcast, "CORONAVIRUS: FACT VS. FICTION."

Reminder, don't miss "FULL CIRCLE." You can catch it live, streaming 6 P.M. Eastern at, or watch it there and on the CNN app any time, on-demand.

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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, thank you, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

We have breaking news tonight, the first known military action, under President Biden.

The U.S., we are told, has carried out airstrikes in Syria, near the border with Iraq, targeting a site used by two Iranian-backed militia groups. The action follows rocket attacks on American forces in the region, in the past two weeks, according to a U.S. official.

So, let's bring in two different reporters to cover this situation. We have Oren Liebermann, and Phil Mattingly.

Oren, let me start with you. This is a little complicated. These attacks in Syria may be a response to attacks in Baghdad, in Iraq, that may have been organized by Iranian-supported militia. Take us through it.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It's simplest to look at it this way. This region, from Iran, to Iraq, and into Syria is the Shia Crescent, a place where Iran has a tremendous amount of influence, and a place where Iran supports proxies there, provides weapons and more.

And that's why the message to Iran comes to Syria and comes into Syria. And that's where we saw the military carry out its first airstrike, its first offensive action, under President Joe Biden.

And that's what we saw earlier this evening, when U.S. aircraft carried out a strike, on a site in Syria, which Defense officials say was used by Shia militias, backed by Iran, to - for weapons smuggling purposes. And that's the key here. That strike carried out just a few hours ago, a U.S. official tells us that up to a handful of militants were killed in this attack.

The authorization for the strike came earlier today, at the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Austin says he is confident that this site that was attacked was used by the Iranian militias, the Iranian-backed militias that carried out the rocket attacks in recent weeks on U.S. and coalition forces.

Those include a rocket attack against Erbil, about a week and a half ago, in which a U.S. service member was injured as well as U.S. civilians and another civilian was killed. And that also includes rocket attacks on Balad Air Base, north of Baghdad, where there are U.S. defense contractors and on the Green Zone in Baghdad itself.

CUOMO: What is the word out of the Pentagon about what they want this message to be?

LIEBERMANN: Well, they're - it's important to note that this was not a strike on a major facility. It looks like a small calculated strike meant to send a message to Iran both that there will be a cost for continued rocket attacks from Iranian proxies on U.S. and coalition forces, and a response to those.

And here is a statement from Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. He says, "The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and coalition personnel. At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq."

That word there, "de-escalate" is a crucial one. It seems the Biden Administration didn't want this to lead to something bigger. This was a specific message at a specific site, Chris.

CUOMO: Phil Mattingly, thank you for jumping up for us on this.

Now, this is a little interesting politically, because Biden has not been talking the "War talk." There's been no real saber rattling. And in fact, the opposite message was sent that they were open to discussing de-escalation with Iran. How does this fit in?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, the broader policy has been made clear. When it comes to foreign policy, lead with diplomacy. The President has said it. Secretary of State has said it. Even the Defense Secretary has weighed in as well.

But the reality, as Oren lays out, is there are a couple of different elements here. And Oren makes a really good point. This is considered a proportional response.

This was a response directly to the rocket attacks over the course of the last couple of weeks, and one that they've been receiving pressure on, not just from Republicans, but also from Democrats on Capitol Hill. They had to do something. They had to do something to ensure that not just the Iranian proxies, but Iran itself knew what was happening here.

But keep in mind the broader kind of global political context, geopolitical context here. It was just last week when President Biden and his top officials acknowledged that they are willing to sit down for talks with Iran inside the guise of the P5+1 negotiation in terms of getting back into the Iranian nuclear deal.

They're not one-to-one talks. It didn't mean that something was going to happen over the course of the next week or two, but they opened the door. And not only is that door open, but they haven't received a response yet from the Iranians.

And so, to some degree, I'm told you can view the strikes today, obviously as a response to the rocket attacks, but also as a message to Iran that they are not going to put up with these attacks, as Iran might be using them for more leverage for negotiations that might occur later down the line.

They are going to make clear that any attack on U.S. forces or coalition forces will be met with proportional response. And it should be viewed through a different prism of the diplomatic talks that the U.S. is trying to enter through the P5+1 with Iran to try and re- engage in that Iranian nuclear deal, Chris.

CUOMO: Phil, any word out of the White House whether there is more to come?

MATTINGLY: Right now, no word. I think one thing to keep in mind, and Oren alluded to this, is that this was ordered directly by President Biden. This is obviously the first public action we have seen from President Biden.


I think the idea, from what John Kirby said, that Oren read off, that this was a proportional response that this is a response directly based on the rocket attacks, over the course of the last several weeks, and that there have been diplomatic channels that have been tapped into to try and de-escalate the situation, would imply that this is probably going to be it for now.

But I think the reality is, is with a new administration, with all of these different dynamics at play here, you don't want to predict what's actually going to happen next.

I will note that when you talk to Obama administration - when you talk to Biden Administration officials, they make clear, obviously, getting back into the JCPOA, or at least finding a pathway back into negotiations and talks is a goal right now, perhaps a primary goal.

But they're also making clear tonight, that they're not going to let stand any action by Iranian proxies.

CUOMO: Right.

MATTINGLY: And they are keenly aware that any talks that occur related to the Iranian nuclear deal are going to have to broaden out, related to Iran's malign activities, outside of just Iran, and also their ballistic missile capabilities, Chris.

CUOMO: Sometimes the most powerful message is silence. You didn't hear anything from Biden about this before. And nothing since. Just a word out of the Pentagon.

Just very quickly, yes, no, me, Oren, and obviously, we'll keep watching developments. You come back to me as warranted. Any sign of response from Iran yet?

LIEBERMANN: No, there has been no sign of response from Iran yet, whether it's a statement about this, or whether it's a response through Iranian proxies, in the region, firing off more rockets. That is certainly something of course, Chris we'll keep an eye on.

CUOMO: All right, Gentlemen, thank you very much. Again, you hear something. Let me know. I'll come right back to you.

Interesting sign of the times, the United States bombing in Syria, yet the threat here at home, more pressing to our safety. The more we learn about what happened on January 6th, and the scale of it, the worse it gets, and the more future threats there may be to come. That's the key.

10,000-plus MAGA rioters entered Capitol grounds on January 6th, 10,000-plus. 800 breached the building. Can you imagine what the security forces were up against, and how they were able to keep the Members of Congress safe?

800 invaded the U.S. Capitol! And so far, in the prosecutions, 250 or so have been charged. "Wanted" posters are all over the place online. You should look. If you were there that day, see if you can help.

Investigations into lawmakers, who were giving tours, and had other contacts with insurrectionists are just starting.

But again, the biggest concern that we've gotten out of these hearings is not what happened, but what may still be to come. And the politics is making it all poisonous.

The Right is shy to condemn the actions and the groups that attacked our democracy on the 6th. In fact, they continue to give them cover by falsely blaming Democrats and coming up with conspiracy theories, while warning their members to continue the Trump cause.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Liz Cheney and any other Republican that wants to make statements against President Donald J. Trump is a fool. They are disconnected with the base.


CUOMO: Once again, you see her with other Members in support, and you hear no one in the leadership, calling out that QAnon kook for demanding loyalty to Trump. This is the GOPQ.

The strategy thus far is simple. Be offensive, to the point of inciting a riot, and then pretend to be offended.


GREENE: I was also a victim in this chamber when it happened. And we are very offended at your constant attacks on us for claiming we had anything to do with it. So that needs to stop.


CUOMO: That needs to stop? You wearing a mask saying, "Biden is useless," that's OK? And, by the way, that's the most benign of her masks. What was she wearing leading up to the 6th? "STOP THE STEAL" was her mask, "TRUMP WON" was her mask, fueling the big lie that led to the deadly attack.

Why is she still giving cover to one of her close associates, who is among those in the Capitol mob, who admits storming the building that day? If you don't want to be blamed, then step away from those who deserve the blame.

Remember, no one in leadership is shutting her down. Too many are calling others, me, off the record, and they say "Listen, listen, I can't lose the voters in the base. It's very tight for me, if I get primaried. But I do not condone her."

Sorry! I will not report that. You will not get credit. Your job as an elected official is to stand and be counted. Otherwise, you are as complicit as she.


And those who are speaking up are as bad as the Q-kook, literally already trying to erase the reality of January 6th, everything we saw and know. They say "The Left were to blame. They are lawless."

Now, you ask, "Who could be that shameless? Not two months after the 6th, you're going to try to spin it like this? All those Trump flags, they didn't exist?"

Who else?


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Today's Democratic Party has been radicalized where they're you know, they're not even willing to enforce the law against violent criminals who are committing horrific crimes.


CUOMO: If Cruz is as smart as they say he is, maybe he's banking on being hated. Maybe he thinks that there is no more line between fame and infamy. As long as people talk about you a lot, and your name is out there, maybe that is power in our new politics that is largely about how to poison the other side.

Remember, he is a chief inciter of the deadly insurrection committed by "Violent criminals," to use his turn. And this is not about just lying about the past, which he knows he is. It's about fueling those who may be lying in wait.


YOGANANDA PITTMAN, ACTING CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF: Members of the militia groups that were present on January 6th have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many Members as possible with a direct nexus to the State of the Union.


CUOMO: So, it's not just what happened. It's what may happen. You heard. The threat very much remains. I hope the planning is there.

Now, Chief Pittman, who you just heard, the Acting Chief says, security will remain high because pro-Trump extremists want to bomb the Capitol when Biden addresses Congress. Now, they can't give away their whole strategy. But I hope it's not just the Capitol cops.

And the ReTrumplicans, remember, they still want this mobs' inspiration to be the head of their party. Even Mr. "I'm for, not for, with, not with, guilty, not guilty, he did it, he didn't do it" Mitch McConnell has fallen back in line. Listen.


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: If the President was the party's nominee, would you support him?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The nominee of the party? Absolutely.


CUOMO: Look, you knew as soon as he went on TV, over there, he was going to be nice to Trump, but he just said to you on the Senate floor, "He started a mob, incited them, baited them with lies, and then they attacked the Capitol in his name."

Now he says he supports him. How can any Republicans be OK with this? It was 12 days ago that you said Trump could be criminally prosecuted for January 6th.


MCCONNELL: As an ordinary citizen, unless the statute of limitations is run, still liable for everything he did while he's in office. Didn't get away with anything yet. Yet.


CUOMO: Yet? But you would absolutely support Trump, if he's the 2024 nominee, even though you would think it's an open question whether or not he should go to jail for starting the Insurrection.

I mean, and the rest of the party is more or less in lockstep. More than two dozen House and Senate Republicans still refuse to debunk the "Stolen Election" lie, this week, in interviews with CNN, a lie that Trump may still push in the land of what was supposed to be the conservatives, CPAC, on Sunday.

And as for him running again in 2024, Mitch from 12 days ago, maybe right, Trump may not have gotten away with anything yet. The Manhattan D.A. now has his tax returns. But people with the power to hold him accountable and did not have a lot to account for themselves.

Look, it's going to be continued.

Plus, breaking news on the $15 an hour federal minimum wage battle, there was just a big ruling. And the Democrats expected this, but they can't be happy. The question is what happens next with minimum wage? Does this get a Pandemic bill to have any kind of cooperation?

We're back with our better minds, next.









CUOMO: All right, more breaking news, the Senate Parliamentarian ruled tonight against including the $15 an hour minimum wage in Biden's COVID relief bill.

Now, Biden is said to be disappointed with the outcome. But the reality he may like is that senior Democratic sources think it will be likely now that it will be easier to pass the bill.

Now, what does that mean "Pass?" What is the state of play? What's the state of play with Iran? What's the state of play with the GOPQ, which may be more unstable than things with Iran?

Let's bring in Dana Bash, and former governor John Kasich, to discuss.

Good to have you both.

Dana, on the Biden side, what are we to make of this? They're saying it's not a provocation with Iran. They actually still kind of want to try to de-escalate. But he bombed. He didn't say anything before. He hasn't said anything after. What are you hearing about the messaging?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN CO-ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: This is one of those, I think, it's going to take a little time, frankly, to know the answer to that question, Chris, about exactly what happened and vis-a-vis what they're saying right now.

It is noteworthy given the fact that this is a brand-new presidency and a brand-new Commander-in-Chief that this is the first time that we have seen, at least we know about, something that has gone on that is this provocative, to use your word.


So, I don't mean to punt on this. But I think that as we know, because we've covered things like this, what it looks like initially, and what it ends up being, could be very different things.

CUOMO: And also, we're so out of touch with what the state of play on the ground is there, you know? We've been so deeply ensconced in Trumpland--

BASH: Good point, yes.

CUOMO: --now as we come out of it, and people like me are able to get back into the region, and start getting on the ground, and figuring out what the dynamics are, we'll start to be able to kind of push more for what the strategy is.

All right let me ask you another hard one, before I go to Governor Kasich, because he can answer everything.


BASH: Yes.

CUOMO: I'll come to you on it, in a second, Gov.


CUOMO: Let me just, Dana--

KASICH: All right.

CUOMO: --the idea of Kamala Harris, overruling as VP, the Parliamentarian that is an iffy proposition, but is it true that they didn't even consider it not for fear of upsetting whatever is on the Right, but that they would have lost Democrats?

BASH: Yes, that is true. And it's not that - it's not over, Chris, you know? This is going to be pressure that she is going to be under, when, when and if, I think when is the best word for it, is the most appropriate word for it, she has to break a tie on, on all things COVID relief bill.

And it's over when it comes to the ruling. And, you've talked about this earlier in the show, but the ruling that the $15 minimum wage, will not be allowed to be in the COVID relief bill, which means that it has to be done separately, and it is probably open to the filibuster, right?

CUOMO: Right.

BASH: And so, the progressives are going to really, really push for the President of the Senate, the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, to override and overturn the Parliamentarian.

My sense is that she's going to push back on that, and fall back on the fact that, you know, if she starts doing that now, then, when she's going to be on the other foot, one day, Democrats would be sorry.

CUOMO: I think the real noise is going to come in Pelosi's House, from those on the Left, who are going to say that "This was always a bait- and-switch. You got us on board, and we lost the $15. Now it's going to come back after reconciliation. You're going to make us swallow it," it'll be interesting to see how she plays it.

All right, Gov., weigh on in what's been said so far, and then I have a question for you about your party.

KASICH: Well, look, with the Iran strike, I mean, this is very clear to me what Joe Biden is doing. I mean, the Iranians were testing and firing missiles, at - into our friends and some of our own folks, located in Iraq. And Biden just wasn't going to put up with it.

Now, at the same time, of course, they're trying to reopen these negotiations. But these are going to be extremely difficult. If Iran says that, you're going to have to be in a position of where you've got to get rid of the sanctions, and then we won't do anything - that we're not going to do that.

So, I think it's a message back to Iran, that Joe Biden is saying, "Hey, I've got a spine. I've got steel. And I'm going to - I'm going to make it clear to you what is expected of you." And I think it's - I support the move. I think it was very, very good. And I think it was right, because it was response to efforts and aggression on the part of Iran.

And now, we're going to enter these negotiations. I'm not sure how they're going to go because Iran may be too far down the road to work anything out. These are really serious issues, Chris.

CUOMO: So speaking of steel and spine, what do you make of the fact that more and more the QAnon congresswoman is coming out and speaking, with people behind her, on behalf of the party, and McConnell saying he would back Trump--


CUOMO: --absolutely, in 2024, even though he just said 12 days ago, the guy may be found criminally responsible for what happened on January 6th. KASICH: Yes.

CUOMO: Is it really over in that party for Republicans like you?

KASICH: Well, I don't know if you and Dana will agree with me on this. But I think Trump's popularity and strength is fleeting every day.

Yes, it exists with state parties, who don't have the - they don't have the power that they used to have, and maybe with these Members of Congress, who look over their shoulders, and they're afraid of a primary, which to me is ridiculous.

But the biggest problem that Trump is causing is it's very difficult for Republicans to recruit candidates, because candidates don't want to get into this craziness.

So, I think there's a situation here, where I can tell you this, people who have been very smart, who have been wealthy, who stood behind Trump, they're leaving. January 6th was it for them.

And so, I think it's right now for candidates to be able to get out, and meet with people, who are smart, who are successful, who do have resources, and can get them to support them, because I think Trump's losing his power. And I think it's going to continue.

He can't affect much now. He's going to go make a speech at CPAC. Everybody's going to go gaga. But, at the end, I see him as a disappearing guy. I really do.

CUOMO: Dana, how do you read the silence, on the Right?


BASH: Deafening. Deafening. I'm not sure I agree with - with the Governor on Donald Trump.

I've no idea if this is - if it's accurate or not, but my understanding is the people who are in Trump's orbit are pushing polling showing that his numbers are coming back. We don't - we don't talk about that. We don't, you know, we don't - we approve our own polling.

But I mentioned that only in the context of Mitch McConnell, and other Republicans, who refuse to, despite the reality of what happened on January 6th, never mind so many issues, over the past three months, won't separate themselves completely and fully from Donald Trump.

CUOMO: I hear you.

BASH: And they're hearing from people around them, despite the money people, despite the real desire that Mitch McConnell even had explicitly, to rid the party of Donald Trump, it's not that easy. And he sees that.

CUOMO: Right. All right, I'm out of time. Gov., I got to jump. But Dana, I'd be remiss if - you screwed up my weekends. You are really strong, anchoring at "STATE OF THE UNION." You're doing a great job.

BASH: Aw! Thanks.

CUOMO: And I just wanted to say.

BASH: Thanks a lot, Chris.

CUOMO: And I really, I don't like to watch TV on the weekends. You're screwing up my schedule, but it's worth it. It is really great to see you.

BASH: Thank you very much.

CUOMO: I didn't - I think people at your level, usually, you know, you're already good. But the position's really bringing something out so, good for you, Dana.

Gov., you're always welcome on the show.

BASH: Thanks.

CUOMO: I'm sorry we're tight on time because of the breaking news. Be well.

KASICH: It's all right. We'll see you.

CUOMO: All right.

KASICH: Thanks.

CUOMO: The Pandemic really very much in the news and for the right reasons.

President Biden promised to put 100 million shots in people's arms in his first 100 days. Now, I said be careful of gimmicks, be careful of gimmicks, because it puts you in a spot. Now it did with schools. But he has over-performed with the vaccines. He's now halfway there in just 37 days.

We have his Chief Medical Adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, here, tonight. Is this what's driving the cases down? Is it about the vaccine is a little bit more complicated? And I have all your questions about what the vaccine means to you, what should you take it, what you get out of it? He's the man to answer them. Next.









CUOMO: Dr. Anthony Fauci is here. A good week of good news, on the vaccine front, the FDA is preparing to meet over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine tomorrow to likely approve what could be the nation's third COVID vaccine.

Today, President Biden commemorated a new milestone, 50 million vaccine doses administered since taking office. He's already halfway into his 100 million shots in arms. It's only day 37, so it's good.

We've got a lot more we have to do to get to where we want to be, which is meaning we don't have to care about it as much anymore. About 14 percent of the population has gotten one dose, OK? Just over 6 percent are fully vaccinated. We got to get much higher than that.

Why? Because we're learning about the variants. It's always been vaccine versus variant. And there is spread in New York City that researchers warn could evade the body's natural immune response.

Dr. Anthony Fauci joins us now.

Good to have you, Doc.


CUOMO: All right, let me get through a bunch of stuff here with you, if I can. First, do you believe that the vaccine is single factor responsible for the drop in cases?

FAUCI: I don't think so. I don't think it's the single factor. I think it's a combination of a number of things.

We had a really very steep inflection upward. You can't keep going up that long, because of the factors that got you there may no longer be present, namely, the holiday season and things like that. So, there's a natural turnaround.

You have people probably doing better, now realizing the numbers of cases we had, is - it was a terrible month of January and the end of December. And I think there may be some contribution to the vaccine. I don't think it is the contributing factor. It might be a part of it. But it's a complex, multi-faceted reason why it's coming down.

CUOMO: Now, full disclosure, Tony has told me this before, when we weren't on TV. I saw you being quoted to different effect that you said it was about the vaccine. I wanted to give you a chance to clarify it.

Now, people keep hearing that the other vaccines--

FAUCI: Yes. I didn't say that (ph).

CUOMO: --thinking about booster shots and all this, and maybe that's how they'll deal with the variants. And we'll see. And they're taking a wait-and-see attitude. I'm hearing it on my radio show. I'm seeing it on social media.

What do you say to people who say, "You know what? I'm going to wait, because these boosts, or maybe if I got the vaccine, it wouldn't work against these new variants. I'll wait."

So what do you say to them, and to the people who did get the version that's out right now about what the variants may mean for them?

FAUCI: Well, I mean, I would say what they're thinking exactly opposite of what they should be doing for the following reason.

When you get, for example, the Moderna or the Pfizer, and we'll probably see the same thing with the J&J, when you get that prime, followed by a boost, the difference is a 10-fold increase in the neutralizing antibodies.

So, when I've been telling you, on previous interviews, that these variants, particularly the one that is troublesome, in South Africa, we can get to the ones in New York, and California, in a moment, if you want, but the one in South Africa that actually diminishes the impact and the effect of the antibodies that are induced by the vaccine.

When you get enough of those antibodies at a higher height, even if it diminishes it by the variant, you still have enough cushion to protect you against the variant.


So, the higher your titer of antibody, to the vaccine, the better off you are about protecting yourself against serious disease, hospitalization and death from the variants. So, the more people that get vaccinated, the better off you are, the higher your titer of antibody, the better off you are.

The best way to prevent the emergence of further variants is to stop the replication of the virus. Viruses don't mutate, unless they're spreading. If you could stop their spread, you have two things that are in your favor, one, less people get infected, and two, you give the virus less of a chance to mutate.

CUOMO: All right, so get the vaccine now. And it's not worth waiting because you're better off with something rather than nothing. And if the variants change, and you've been vaccinated, and you need something else, it'll probably mean a booster shot, OK.

What about New York City? How scary is this?

FAUCI: Well, it's something you really got to pay attention to. That variant, the B.1.526 that's in New York, it started off just a cluster in the Washington Heights section up by Columbia Medical Center, and then it started to go through the other parts of the city, the other boroughs, and it's something you really want to pay attention to, because it has some worrisome mutations in it, the cluster of mutations.

Again, that's the reason why keep doing the public health measures, and get as many people vaccinated, as you possibly can.

CUOMO: The--

FAUCI: Everything you throw at us about a mutant is going to be countered by getting people vaccinated.

CUOMO: And we don't know yet whether the vaccine works in what way against this variant?

FAUCI: No, we don't know if it works directly against it. But that's the point you want to get across to people. Even though this vaccine is not directly matched to a variant that might occur wherever, South America, South Africa, California, New York, the higher the level of protection, against the original one, there's a spillover--


FAUCI: --of protection against the variant. What we're also doing, Chris, if I might, we're also directing a version of the vaccine against specifically the version that's in South Africa, in case we really want to rev up. And you could do that with the other variants that you see.

But several of the companies, including Moderna, the one we're working with is doing the same thing. What Pfizer is doing is they're talking about a third shot of boost, to really lift up the level of antibodies to get that effect that I've been mentioning to you.

The higher the level of antibodies, even if you're not specifically directed against the variant, the better off you are in protecting against hospitalization, and death. So, get vaccinated, if you can.

CUOMO: One of the questions that came up again, was if you're vaccinated, can you still spread?

Just in the interest of time, yes, you told us last time, you were, on the show, you still got to wear the mask. We got to see how it plays out. It means that you may not feel as sick, but you could still spread it.

All right, now here's the big thing that I got from people. "Why should I get this vaccine? What's in it for me? People are getting transactional. Will you guys keep record of who has it? Will that allow me to travel more, go to restaurants more, go to games more? And will I be able to get that benefit from being vaccinated? Can businesses say, "Vaccinated only"? Can employers say--

FAUCI: Yes. CUOMO: --"Oh, you're vaccinated, Tony. Get back to work"? When's that going to happen?

FAUCI: Well, I think what you're going to start seeing really soon, we've had some very serious discussions, with our colleagues at the CDC, is that what happens when you get two vaccinated people?

I'm vaccinated, my wife vaccinated, my daughters vaccinated. Back before vaccination, if they wanted to come to visit you, they'd have to quarantine for a while, get tested, wear a mask.

What we're saying right now, even though it isn't backed by data, it's backed by common sense that if you have two vaccinated people, and they want to get together, be they family members, or friends that you know, are vaccinated, you can start getting, as individual people, even though the risk is not zero.

The risk becomes extremely low when you have both parties vaccinated. So, we're going to start seeing people saying, "Hey, the more people get vaccinated, I can have dinner with my family member that comes in."

CUOMO: But what's the time horizon?

FAUCI: "I can go see my mother."

CUOMO: What's the--

FAUCI: "If she's vaccinated and I'm not."

CUOMO: I get it on a personal basis. I get it on a household-by- household. But when do you think we'll start seeing, "Hey, if you're vaccinated, you can go to this restaurant? There's no capacity restrictions for vaccinated people or travel or work."

FAUCI: I think you're going to see a gradual increment of that where you could start doing things normal. There's going to be a benefit both personally, socially, and from a public health standpoint of people getting vaccinated.

We understand that when people were getting vaccinated, were saying "Well, wait a minute, we're not really quite sure about things," and people were naturally complaining and saying, "Well, wait a minute, why am I going to get vaccinated? Why can't I do things that I really want to do personally?"


And you're going to start seeing, I know I'm going to tell you myself, my professional expert - my professional judgment is that when my daughter wants to come in here and she's doubly-vaccinated, I'm going to have her over the house, and I'm going to give her a big hug that I haven't been able to do for a year.

So, I mean, you got to use some common sense. You don't want to go, like just anybody and everybody. But when you start getting vaccinated, there are things you can start doing. So that's what we're telling people. There will be a benefit, both socially and personally, and from a public health standpoint.

CUOMO: All right, Doc, I appreciate it very much.

One last quick thing. My mother got vaccinated. She's got her second shot. And I said, "Great, now you can come over and help me with the kids." She said, "No. Tony said "No." I can't help with any kids until I feel like it." Is that true?

FAUCI: All right. No, tell her Tony said, "Yes, come on over."

CUOMO: All right. Good. Thank you, because I think she's just ducking to come in and be with my kids because they're crazy.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, thank you very much for helping out the audience. I appreciate it.

All right, a tale of two congresswomen.

FAUCI: OK. Good to be with you, Chris.

CUOMO: Always a pleasure.

We have two congresswomen to look at, all right? And they really are like the antipodal positions of decency. Take a look at these videos. Which one is standing up for the persecuted, and which one is giving comfort to prejudice?

I have the one who doesn't stand for hate here tonight, antagonized once again by this person that is just proof of a growing malevolence in what used to be the GOP.

Let's talk to Representative Marie Newman, and find out what did this mean to her? What did this mean to her kid? What does this mean about trying to achieve equality in our society? Next.









CUOMO: Even with the House passing the Equality Act - and by the way, that may become one of the strongest arguments to get rid of the filibuster, for another day. The Equality Act is a landmark piece of legislation that would ban discrimination against LGBTQ Americans. Remember, the gay marriage case was only a start. If they don't have federal protection, like color, creed, sex, forget it, you're going to fight this case-by-case.

So now there's another ugly feud brewing on Capitol Hill. And once again, you got the ugliest member of the GOPQ is there at the center. It all started Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the Democratic Representative Marie Newman, she's got a transgender daughter, OK, she posted this video of herself hanging a pink and blue transgender pride flag outside her office door. It's in the interest of what we used to call "Tolerance."

Greene, right, the QAnon kook, who sits directly, across from Newman, is a vocal opponent of the Equality Act. That's OK. That's politics. But how do you show that?

In response to the flag, Greene, makes her own video, posting this. An antagonizing sign that completely demoralizes all people who are non- binary, "There are TWO genders: MALE & FEMALE "Trust The Science," which is of course, irony, because she doesn't believe in any science. She's a QAnon freak.

She also aimed a tweet at Newman's child. "Your biological son does NOT belong in my daughters' bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams." Now, this speaks to an ignorance of transgender people.

The last thing a transgender kid wants to do is show off a difference anatomically from any other kid. This has always been a boogeyman, that some grown-up, some man was going to come in, to a girl's bathroom. It's always been a boogeyman. The cases aren't there. And it's just ugly.

Congresswoman Newman joins me right now.

And I got to tell you, I thought we were past this. I thought we were better than this, at least, on the congressional level.

I get that there are people out there because there's some faux sense of religion, or some faux understanding of science, they want to judge. That's their right. And it's your right and job to try to persuade.

But what did it mean to you to have a Member of Congress act like somebody who you'd have to deal with as a fringe at a Town Hall?

REP. MARIE NEWMAN (D-IL): Well, first, thank you for having me this evening, Chris. This is a great opportunity. And it's a great day.

We passed the Equality Act today, which means that we will have a law on the books, when it passes the Senate, and President Biden signs it, and he has agreed to that, that will prevent discrimination across our great land. So, I cross anything from housing, to employment, to public spaces, private spaces, so I'm thrilled today. What put a damper on things yesterday was I was simply expressing my support for my daughter, the greater LGBTQ community, and Representative Greene took another path.

She is in disagreement with the view, shall we say, but clearly, clearly, she is angry. She's angry at everybody and everything. So, her kind of modus operandi at all times is to in fact, bully people. Well, you can only let bullies go so long, and you have to speak out.

And so, I was making a statement about seeing the community, seeing LGBTQ folks, embracing them and respecting them. That's all that was meant. I am not surprised at her behavior. I am surprised that she is a Congressperson.

CUOMO: Well, it's good point. Let's forget about her.


CUOMO: What do you say to the members of her party who are silent in the face of her words and deeds?

NEWMAN: Yes, here's the good news is that several members of the Republican Party did reach out to me privately, and expressed that they were horrified by her behavior, and they were horrified by her general being in Congress, to be honest with you.

A few actually, spoke out publicly. Adam Kinzinger is among them, and I really appreciated those comments.


That said, I think that they are in fear of the QAnon kooks because they do spread lies, and they can turn on their own. They've demonstrated that. So, it is unfortunate that more didn't reach out. But some did. And I want them to have credit. And I want them to know I deeply appreciate them reaching out.

CUOMO: They reached out to you directly?


CUOMO: Kinzinger, I think, he put out something public.

NEWMAN: He did.

CUOMO: Here's my beef. I understand human to human, it's nice for people to give consolation on something as intimate and personal as your kids.

But that's not their job is to just talk to you personally. They've got to stand and be counted, because that party is literally running in the wrong direction of what its own values are supposed to stand for.

What effect do you think it has on safety of people in the LGBTQ and broader community, when voice and actions like the QAnon ladies are allowed to go unchecked?

NEWMAN: Right. We're supposed to be role models in Congress, not just by our character, but our deeds, our actions and what we say. So, it's very important about what we say. Words matter, but actions really matter, Chris. And that's why I actually chose to act today.

I will also say too that we have to be representing the American people all day long and their values. What they want right now is COVID relief. They want us to get this relief package out. But the good news is that Congress can walk and chew gum at the same time.

We passed the Equality Act today. We are going to pass the American Rescue Plan and get payments directly to Americans. We're going to fund and support cities, counties, and towns, and get this vaccination rolled out to everyone over time. And so, I'm immensely proud of the Democratic Party right now.

I do think that there are folks inside the Republican Party, who are demonstrating some level of courage. I am encouraging more of them to come out. There are more people supporting you than you could possibly know.

And my message to them is, is that we need two strong parties, in order to have checks and balances. And I encourage that. So, whoever can take on that mantle to bring the Republican Party back to what it is, so that we can have a partner in governing that, would be, great and very helpful.

We must get relief. We must get our Transportation Infrastructure bill out. We must build back America. We must get a Green stimulus package out. So, I'm looking forward to some folks getting some courage.

CUOMO: Boy, I'll tell you that is the kind of discussion we should be having about people who are in the LGBTQ minority community, that "Listen, you can come out."


CUOMO: "You'll be accepted. You're embraced." They may have to add an "R" to that if the Republicans keep going the way they're going, because they're becoming a frightened minority, in their own party, that are going to need protection from their own.

And I just want people to understand something. 90 percent of trans people report experiencing harassment, mistreatment, or discrimination. It is rampant.

NEWMAN: Right.

CUOMO: 53 percent of transgender people report being harassed or disrespected, in a place of public accommodation, like a bathroom, especially because of the weaponization of that issue.

Look, we all know that tolerance, and integration of different types of people will require finesse. You have to figure it out. You got to figure out the sports thing. You got to figure things out. But we've got to embrace it.

And I'm really sorry that you had to deal with this in the place that's supposed to be about making us better.

Congresswoman Marie Newman, the best to your daughter. And you're here to have a platform to discuss the way forward. And I think it's going to happen soon, because I don't know how this gets through the Senate. So, I'm here to discuss when you want.

NEWMAN: Well, thank you so much. And thank you for having me this evening.

CUOMO: Thank you for making the time.

All right let's turn to this. The taxes, they got them, millions and millions of pages of Trump's taxes, OK? The Manhattan District Attorney has them. The Manhattan District Attorney is rumored to be leaving at the end of this year, so there is pressure on an abbreviated timetable, OK?

It is nine years of returns, but also financial statements, engagement agreements, documents on preparing and reviewing taxes, communications about the taxes.

So, let's discuss why all that paperwork matters with a journalist who's actually seen part of Trump's taxes, and understands tax law, and the journalism of it very well, David Cay Johnston.

Good to see you, brother.


CUOMO: So, let's do the ultimate kiss here. Keep it simple, stupid for me.

In looking at these documents, what are the main avenues of potential discovery?

JOHNSTON: They're not worried - it's not the tax records themselves.


It's the supporting documents, memos that say "Value this more than it's worth, or less," and I don't mean by a little bit, I mean by multiples, an instruction from Trump perhaps through one of his aides saying, "I'm not going to pay that much in tax, get the number down," assessments internally of whether things were proper to do and the risks that were on drafts of the tax returns to show manipulation. That's what they're looking for. Those are all badges of fraud.

Tax cases are very complicated. Fraud is very simple. And fraud is always and everywhere a crime.

CUOMO: So, fraud is "I want to borrow money. My hotel is worth $100 million. I have to pay taxes on my hotel. It's worth $50 million." What about other entangle entanglements and potential legal avenues

for prosecutors?

JOHNSTON: Well, Donald's had several large insurance claims, including one connected with, and it was a government payout, I believe, 9/11, even though he doesn't have a building anywhere near the World Trade Center.

He has, we know from other records, presented wildly different valuations to property tax officials. He claims his West Chester Golf Course is only worth about $1.3 million dollars. That's roughly the value of two houses on the Fairway. And he's got a huge clubhouse, a 100-foot waterfall and 18 holes of golf. So, I think there's a rich target area here. And I'm also sure that they will use digital means to search through

the millions of pages of paper to find the golden nuggets of fact that Donald doesn't want anyone to know about.

CUOMO: All this paper, what is a reasonable time horizon? And what is the line between "I don't agree with you on the value of my property" versus "This is a crime"?

JOHNSTON: Well, on that one, houses, for example, have a value. If you're a homeowner, "I don't think my home is worth exactly X. It's worth 10 percent - 20 percent more or less than that number." But Donald has done multiples.

And your example of $50 million to the Tax Authority and $100 million to the banker is a real good example. Those are too large to be reasonable numbers. And also, what if they change from one year to the next, depending on the particular circumstances that he has?

As for searching the documents, thank goodness that we now have software that will be able to do that. That will speed this up a great deal.

But there are going to be a lot of people, lifting through these documents, forensic accountants, and others, looking for the key things, and hopefully they've gotten someone in Mazars on the inside to help them.

CUOMO: Well especially if they have any paper that shows Mazar may have been on the wrong side of the line is much more likely, they'll get somebody from Mazar, the accounting firm--


CUOMO: --to help them. And we both know they're also looking to see who he did business with, and in what way. So, as it comes out, you will be my first call to help us understand it.

David Cay Johnston, best to you.

JOHNSTON: Thank you.

CUOMO: Quick break. JOHNSTON: Take care.

CUOMO: We'll be right back.








CUOMO: Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT," the big show with the big star, D. Lemon.

Very interesting and different state of play with our breaking news tonight, we went from somebody, who was saber rattling all the time, and talking, talking, talking. No word about this before. No word from the President after but--