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Deal Reached To Move Forward On COVID-19 Relief Bill After Dem Senator Manchin Held It Up Over Jobless Benefits; House Impeachment Manager Sues Trump And Others For Capitol Riot; Detroit Mayor Turns Down First Chance At J&J Vaccine For City. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 05, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The question, that we have and haven't been able to get a clear answer to, at this point, is just how many of those migrants have been put into those hotels? Local officials say that they're not able to force these migrants to do that. They're strongly urging them to do so.

And then one other thing complicating this is the city officials have also told us, they've gotten false positives on a lot of these tests. So, all of this very unclear, and kind of speaks to what is definitely starting to change rapidly on the border. John?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: Ed Lavandera, 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.

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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, CUOMO PRIME TIME: It's good that you bled over into my show, because I'm going to pick up on that point. Hold my program for a second.

Ed is exactly right. What Governor Abbott, in Texas, has been saying is really poisonous.

Yes, it's true, Biden overturning and reversing the Trump programs about how to control flow, and how quickly to send somebody back without due process, in many cases, is a factor in sending a message that is going to increase flow over the border. That's true.

They have to find ways to handle that flow and find programs to deal with it. You could argue that they did it all too quickly. But that's a political discussion.

When it comes to COVID, it is a trickle, the number of people they have coming over. They're getting false positives on the tests. And more importantly, Abbott won't receive the funds from the federal government to do the testing. So, if you're going to complain that there's some kind of plague

coming across, you know, this is just an extension of the trumpery of the "Brown Menace," but you won't test them, but you care about them having COVID, it is a ploy. It is a poison ploy.

The reality is we need to do better. But it would be very hard for Biden to do worse.

John, have a great weekend. Thank you very much.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

We have to expose and oppose things that are not true that feed division. And boy, is that the metaphor of the moment on the floor of the Senate! The good news, we have a deal among the Democrats on the relief bill, after a daylong standstill.

The game is not over. And be very clear, this is a game, sadly. We are now into what they call the vote-a-rama, meaning senators can offer as many amendments as they want.

So, it's going to be another long night, because the Republicans see it as a delay measure, just like Ron Johnson reading the bill was a delay measure. So, any argument from them about them understanding the urgency is just false.

However, the hold-up earlier today wasn't because of the toxicity of the GOP-Q, as I call them. The 50/50 Senate was in flux because of a Democrat. And I'm not ascribing any blame. But this is the dynamic on the Left. It's no sure thing that you get all 50 senators.

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is known for a particular sensitivity to fiscal fairness.

He was arguing for more fairness, when it came to what workers got what kind of tax relief, based on how much unemployment help they get, because maybe you're working part of the year, and not part of the year, how does that deal with taxing, who's getting advantaged, who's getting disadvantaged, and that's what it was about.

And Manchin says that we have reached a compromise that enables the economy to rebound quickly, while also protecting those receiving unemployment benefits, from being hit with an unexpected tax bill next year.

So, those making less than a $150,000, and receiving unemployment, wow, because you don't work the full year. You're out of work. You get unemployment, then you work again, and you make money. How does that get taxed? Those people will still be eligible for a $10,200 tax break.

Manchin's concern was that people who worked were going to somehow be disadvantaged compared to people who just never did work. Unemployment benefits will be extended through the end of August.

Now, a lot of this was done also with respect to the Jobs report, which I'll get to in a second. There is good news there.

And I wonder if what we're seeing here, not necessarily with Manchin, but with that pocket of people, who are center-left in the Senate, is a window into divisions among Democrats that may make the filibuster, not their biggest problem in getting important legislation through.

Now, to be sure, President Biden cannot count on the Right side of the aisle, which is literally pretending once again. First it was January 6th, "It didn't really happen the way we think it happened." Now it's "The pandemic isn't causing continuing economic pain."

Listen to this.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): They are dead-set on ramming through an ideological spending spree packed with non-COVID-related policies.

But only 9 percent addresses the fight against the virus itself.


We are already on track to bounce back from this crisis. That's not because of this bill. It's because of our work last year.


CUOMO: No, it's despite your work last year, Mr. Senator. And you know it.

McConnell is being misleading in the extreme. Money for vaccine, distribution, medical services, it all matters urgently. And they should have never delayed in the last bill, remember? I'll get to that in a second too.

But to assume that anything other than medical costs means "It's not COVID-related" is absurd. This isn't a health care bill. It's an economic relief bill due to a health care crisis that is virus- related. And he knows it.

Of course, we're in a rush. Everybody's in a rush. People are starving, like never since the Great Depression. And he knows it, even in his home state of Kentucky. He's slow walked this because he cares about political position more than that pain. Give me a better reason.

Last time we delayed, why was it, for Mitch McConnell to save companies from getting sued by the sick with COVID.

Now, the Head Senator of the Party that denied the pandemic, remember why the economy cratered, remember, they delayed any action until the point where it was in extreme, and that's why the economy cratered. But now he's taking credit for the bounce-back?

To be clear, the Republicans lost the presidency for two main reasons. The big one is that they lied about the pandemic, and delayed action, which cost money but, much more importantly, lives, and because people like McConnell backed the most offensive and divisive president in modern history.

But looking at what's going on in the Senate floor right now, really does highlight a fundamental challenge going forward.

The need for Biden to be more in front on trying to create progress and seeing if he can create a safe harbor for this rumored reasonable Republican senator, that's looking to escape the torment of Trump. They're pretty quiet for people who're so desperate to do something different.

Now, what Biden has going for him is there is growing reason for optimism. I talked about that Jobs report and the economy did add 379,000 jobs last month.

Biden used that as a chance to say "You see? Things can get better. Let's add momentum."


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our economy still has 9.5 million fewer jobs than it had this time last year. And at that rate, it would take two years to get us back on track.

But without a rescue plan, these gains are going to slow. We can't afford one step forward and two steps backwards. We need to beat the virus, provide essential relief, and build an inclusive recovery.


CUOMO: Now the question is, will his members listen to those words and get on board more easily than happened here? And will those words fall on anything but deaf ears across the aisle?

Now, the most important question is with the vote-a-rama happening, what happens next? People are hungry. People are desperate. When will the help come?

The better minds, Manu Raju, Michael Smerconish, right now.

Manu, answer that question for me, what happens next?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's going to be a long night of voting, Chris. This voting was supposed to begin in at 11 A.M. this morning. And in fact, the first and only vote that has happened today is still open.

It could be one of the longest Senate votes in American history, if it continues to stay open. And one reason why I'm pretty certain is that they're still drafting this deal that was reached between Joe Manchin and the White House and Democratic leaders. And they're going to offer that as an amendment to this bill.

And then this process in which any senator who can offer as many amendments as he or she likes, will begin. That's why they call it "Vote-a-rama" here in the Senate. Because under the rules that the Democrats are pursuing, to allow them to pass this $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan, with just 51 votes, just Democratic support here, they have to essentially allow for as many amendments as possible, because that's what the rules dictate.

And that's what Republicans plan to take advantage of. And some Republicans plan to offer a dozen, more than a dozen, a couple of dozen amendments each. We'll see when they decide to - decide how far they want to go.

But the expectation had been at the beginning of the day that they would take this overnight into the morning into the weekend. Will they still do that after this eight-hour standstill, and this furious negotiation that was happening, among Democrats, to get Joe Manchin's support?


Now that they have it, then the process now can move forward. But Democrats at the moment, Chris are confident they can keep this very tenuous coalition between liberals and moderates together to get this bill through, Chris.

CUOMO: Let me ask you about both sides of the ball, Michael. On the Republicans' side, because Manu finished on that, how does this play for them, delaying obviously for delay's sake?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, "SMERCONISH": Well, I think they were denied a win because of Joe Manchin, ultimately coming down on the side of Democrats. If instead he'd gone with Rob Portman, right now, you'd have a lot of Democrats eating crow, and it'd be the Republicans who'd be proclaiming victory.

May I say in response to your monologue? Good for Joe Manchin, there's such an absence of independent thinking in Washington I don't know whether he got all that he was looking for.

But Chris, I'm reminded of the fact that in the 1960s, the typical Republican, the typical Democrat, voted with his or her party, 60 percent of the time, no more than that.

In fact, look at a Texas Congressman, by the name of George Herbert Walker Bush, who voted with the Johnson administration, in the same percentage that he voted with the Nixon administration.

By 2010, the number was 89 percent. 89 percent of the time you vote with your party. So, it all becomes a really rote exercise. You know what's going to happen, because they all line up lockstep. So, I appreciate a guy like Joe Manchin, who's willing to exercise some independent thinking.

CUOMO: Well, let's also figure out. Joe Manchin is going to take a beating, OK? The Left-fringe, and the media that plays to Left-fringe, they're going to kill him. But obviously, he's apparently OK with that.

Put up the full screen. "COVID-19 Relief Bill, Senate Democrat Plan For Unemployment Benefits."

Here was Manchin's point. And Michael, I want to get your take on it. Manu, yours as well.

Let's see where the economy is. There's a lot of money on the shelf that they haven't spent yet. How can they know how much money they need now, when you haven't spent that money yet? So, you don't know what the last batch of money will do for the economy.

And let's look at the Jobs report. Jobs report comes out. And now, he felt that it had - should have shifted people's perspective on how much unemployment benefit was needed, and for how long. And he was met with nothing but resistance, Michael.

So what they worked on was $300 a week. There were a lot of people who wanted less than $300. Some of the Democrats wanted more. And it was for how long.

And then Joe Manchin's big sticking point, Michael, and then I give it to you, was the way it was designed, people who didn't work, who stayed on unemployment, the whole time, would be advantaged in a way that people went back to work, were not, when it came to taxation.

Why were not more people with Manchin?

SMERCONISH: It sounds to me - great question. I don't know the answer.

It sounds fiscally prudent, the way that you've just explained it. I too looked at those jobs numbers. Hospitality and leisure really had growth. I think the whole economy is poised to pop, because of all the pent-up demand that exists.

So, where Manchin is saying "Let's not make a long-term commitment until we see how this is all going to shake out," I think, is a very reasonable path. And I'm disappointed that more people didn't rally around him.

CUOMO: Manu, give me a quick take on how people see Manchin's resistance on the Left.

RAJU: Not well, particularly among the activist base. And in the Capitol too, he is exerting obviously the power that he has. This is a 50/50 Senate. Democrats are employing a process where they can - can't afford to lose any Democratic support.

And when they were moving behind the scenes, for this last-minute deal - remember, this deal that was announced this morning, had - was announced between the White House and Democratic leaders to move forward on jobless benefits. It would change what was actually in the underlying bill.

They did not have Joe Manchin's support at the beginning of the day, but they did have 49 other Democratic - Democrats on board, and Manchin just simply was not going to get rolled by his party. And he pushed back, and he led to all these negotiations happening behind- the-scenes, all day long. I'm told Joe Biden personally called him. He met privately with Senate

Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. Rank-and-file Democrats met with him.

Even Rob Portman, who, the Ohio Republican, who does have that alternative Republican plan called him. Portman told me they spoke to him all throughout the course of the day today.

So, he was getting enormous pressure, on both sides, but ultimately, decided he's going to cut this deal that will most likely pave the way for this bill's passage.

But as I mentioned earlier, a daunting series of amendments still awaits the Senate. So we'll see if anything changes, because as you can tell, pretty unpredictable process here.

CUOMO: Manu, you are a man - "The Man!" Not "A Man," "The Man!" I'm "A Man!" You're "The Man!" Thank you for keeping us on top of this.

Michael Smerconish, always a plus, I'll be seeing you on TV this weekend.

RAJU: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, why has it been so hard for Democrats to get this passed by their own majority party?

It's really not just Manchin, OK? They have issues in the House. They have issues in the Senate. I think Manchin is probably more of a proxy than we're told outright. I don't think it's just him. I think it came down to just him.


But what is this about? And what does it mean in terms of what their best way forward is, to enact the Biden agenda? Is it about getting rid of the filibuster? Can they guarantee they get 50 votes from their own members on that?

Senator Tim Kaine, live from the Hill, next.








CUOMO: In nine days, millions of Americans could begin to see their jobless benefits expire. This tonight's breakthrough, which was with Manchin but in terms of

what you give the unemployment benefit ratio over time, and to how many, does that mean it's a done deal? The answer should be "Yes." But let's ask Democratic Senator Tim Kaine.

It's good to have you, Senator. First of all--

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): Chris, great to be with you.

CUOMO: Always a pleasure.

What did you make of Joe Manchin's resistance? Did you think it was well-founded or is he missing a point?

KAINE: Well, I'm - look, Joe's been a friend of mine for many, many years. We were governors, at the same time, of neighboring states. This was something that mattered a lot to him.


And when you've got 50 Democrats, you need all of us on board. So, the leadership in the White House worked with him to find an accommodation.

That was not my concern. I had a number of concerns about the bill. But I worked with it, on the House side, to make sure that the House version that came to us had my priorities in.

I think this solves Joe's challenges. I don't want to speak for him. But now we're going to get this done, because America - the American public, still is in desperate need of relief so that we can climb out of this crisis.

CUOMO: But just as a fair call on it, do you believe what he wanted, which was basically more sensitivity to the tax ramifications of people, who go back to work, or who work part of the year, and weren't on unemployment full-time that they were actually being punished for working?

KAINE: Chris, I'll tell you this. Joe had a concern that he was very sincere about, that it was not my concern. I thought the bill that it was, you know, was in a pretty good shape on that point.

But I don't contest his right to raise his challenge and try to work it out to his satisfaction, because again, in a 50/50, Senate, we've all got to be on board. And this was a last concern that he had. We've now got it worked out. And we're ready to rock it forward through 10 or 1,000 amendments to get Americans the relief that they need.

CUOMO: So everything that's about to happen right now, on the Republican side of the ball, is just a dilatory tactic. It's just to delay this. Why?

KAINE: Well?

CUOMO: Go ahead. KAINE: Yes.

CUOMO: Go ahead. What's your take?

KAINE: Well, look, again, I'm not going to challenge their motives. Some on their side, we don't know all the amendments they'll offer. I'm sure some are just gotchas, or for campaign stickers, or ads or whatever. Some will be sincere, and we'll have to see what they do.

But you're right. Overall, their goal is to get in our way, and trip us up, as we're trying to offer this needed-assistance to the American public. It's not going to work.

We're sticking together. We're going to make this happen. We're putting the bill on President Biden's desk, because as you point out, millions would lose unemployment benefits, starting next week, if we don't.

CUOMO: How - do you really expect that you're going to be able to do any deals, where people on the Right side of the aisle, in the Senate, let alone in the House, work with you on any of it?

KAINE: So Chris, that's a really good question. When this bill passes, I'd love to come back on with a copy of the bill. And I'll highlight in yellow, everything in the bill that was part of a Republican piece of legislation that had been introduced at some point along the way.

And what you're going to see is a bill that's just chock-full of priorities that Republicans supported that they had earlier voted for, that will benefit their constituents.

They may make a strategic decision, like they did when the Obama-Biden administration started that they have to vote against it. But this thing is going to be very full of bipartisan priorities.

And I think this is going to happen. When the Republicans see that they can't, through delay or other tactics, trip us up, and we're rocketing forward, to do what we need to do, and we're determined to do it, I think even more of them are going to want to come to us and say, "OK, we see you're determined, please make sure that our priorities get reflected in the next bills that you do."

CUOMO: Well, isn't the biggest lever that you have with them that you guys could remove the filibuster? And why - what's the best argument for not doing that?

KAINE: I'm going to let them make the best argument for not doing it. I, you know, I - my constituents, Chris, in Virginia, they don't ask me about Senate rules. They say, "Can you raise the minimum wage? For Gosh sake, can you do something about"--

CUOMO: Not with the filibuster in place.

KAINE: --"can you do - can you do something about gun safety? Can you do immigration reform?"

CUOMO: Not with the filibuster in place.

KAINE: Yes, but they're not talking to me about rules. They're talking to me about results. And my goal is I promised folks that if we got a Democratic majority, we would get results for them. And I'm not going to let form be elevated over substance. So, we're going to do the substance.

We're going to try to get Republicans on board. We're going to listen to them and incorporate their ideas. They're going to make their own strategic call. But I'm not going to - I'm not personally going to elevate arcane Senate rules over meeting promises.

CUOMO: But what does that mean? Are you in favor of getting rid of the filibuster? Because you don't get it otherwise.

KAINE: What you're going to see - we don't have to worry about this right now. We can do COVID relief with 50 votes, and we're going to have them. There may be--

CUOMO: Yes, but you can't do H.R.1.


CUOMO: You can't do a minimum wage. You can't do gun legislation of any kind. I'm not saying you should.


CUOMO: But you'll never get it done.

KAINE: I know you want to talk about the next thing. My thing right now is to deliver $1.9 trillion of relief to Americans.

And yes, I think you're right, we're probably going to get to a D-day, down the road. Could be in a month, or it could be in four months, where we're going to put something like voting rights reform or minimum wage increase on the table.

And we're going to try to get Republicans to help us. And we're going to see whether they'll meet their constituents' needs or not.


And if at that point, they don't, it's not a hard call for me, if I have to choose between meeting promises and doing what Americans want versus upholding arcane Senate rules that can easily be changed. But we're not there yet.


KAINE: Tonight, we're about getting COVID relief, and we're going to get it.

CUOMO: But it is a window into where you'll be on that filibuster. Joe Manchin believes - I thought at first it was just a nostalgia play because Senator Hyde was West Virginia. But he really believes that that's the culture of the Senate. He'll - I'll take that up with him on this show. But you--

KAINE: Well, but one thing.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

KAINE: One thing quick. He does believe it. And we could return to the way Senator Byrd did it, which was--

CUOMO: Byrd, not Hyde.

KAINE: --you - yes, you can't--

CUOMO: Byrd, sorry, sorry.

KAINE: You can't filibuster on paper.

CUOMO: The Byrd Bath.

KAINE: Right. You can't filibuster on paper. If you want to filibuster, you got to be Jimmy Stewart, and stand on the floor.

CUOMO: Right.

KAINE: For hours

CUOMO: Right.

KAINE: We could return to the Senate that Senator Byrd was in, and that Joe Manchin would respect, and do it the right way, and we get a lot more done.

CUOMO: Right. The Byrd - the Byrd Bath, and being on the floor, and being in real-time that might be a modification that could work.

So, here's our date, Senator Kaine. Next week, you should be done with this, God willing. You come on with the bill and make your point.

And I will once again attack you, to savage effect, on how it's OK, that Joe Biden uses military action in Syria, and you guys didn't have to approve it, or even be consulted well in advance and make a call on it.

KAINE: And you and I are going to agree about most of that, because I called him out right away. But now we're having some interesting discussions.

And Joe Biden has said, "Look, I don't want my presidency to just be another car on the train of forever war. We got to make a - we got to find an off-ramp to that." And President Biden, I think, because of his unique experience, of having been in the Senate, he's the President who can do this.

CUOMO: Well he's certainly got an open mind on this. There's no question about it. And you've got a date. I'll contact the office.

KAINE: Good. Look forward to it. CUOMO: Senator Tim Kaine, keep your energy up, and good luck going forward getting something done for people in need.

KAINE: Thanks so much, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, so the Republicans are betting in an area and on a group that is just not where the country is. Just look at any polls you want, from anywhere, about how people feel about the relief bill, how they feel about the minimum wage.

We're going to show you where Congress is versus you guys, even the states where they represent. Wizard of Odds, all the numbers. And look at that punim! Next.









CUOMO: I don't know about you. But it's been really interesting for me to watch President Biden approach this first major legislative effort.

He's been much more people than PR. His approach is like the opposite of Trump, which would seem fairly obvious. But you would think that he might want to be more at the forefront of pushing this through.

Let's bring in "The Wizard of Odds" Harry Enten, for a closer look at the numbers.

And I want to start with this, Harry. Why Biden isn't at the relief bill forefront? I suggested it earlier. I thought that was going to be his way like the gray beard. "I've done this. I know these people. Get out of the way." But no, why?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Because the COVID bill is more popular than he is.

Look at this. Support for the stimulus, Biden's name wasn't mentioned, 62 percent. Biden's overall job approval rating, 51 percent. What's he going to do? Go and try and threaten Joe Manchin, who's from West Virginia, a state that Biden lost by nearly 40 points? Don't make no sense!

Biden's an experienced guy. He knows the game. He's going to stay out of the way. Let the popular bill stand on its own. Let Joe Manchin come to his agreement with Senate Democrats.

Maybe Biden works behind the scenes, but he understands the game and the way it should be played. That's what all the years in the Senate have taught him.

CUOMO: Well-argued. Why the GOP doesn't agree to a popular relief bill, even where they live?

ENTEN: Yes. Look, there are multiple reasons why.

Number one could be the fact that the bill's overall support among Republicans is only at 33 percent. But that's actually fairly popular for a Democratic bill among Republicans.

And even it's the case that if you keep let's say, the 1,400 - $1,400 checks, without bipartisan support, 53 percent. So, there's something else that's going on here. It's not just about the GOP - the GOP base, in my mind, although the bill overall isn't so popular.

CUOMO: I read this thing today, where - made a really brilliant analysis of why you can see this diversion of things that people should want for their own lives.

People accept diversity of thought on their own side, meaning, if Biden didn't really love a bill, a lot of Democrats still might, OK? However, just as they believe in diversity, on their side, they see the other side with sameness, meaning there is no diversity on the other side, they all suck.

So, if you say, "Do you like the minimum wage increase to $15?" "Yes." "Do you like the relief bill in the money, and then this?" "Yes." "Good. Joe Biden's putting it forward." If you are a Republican, there is an exponential change in attitude, because it's him. How much of that do you think is in play?

ENTEN: A little bit. I mean, look, there's some polling out there that does suggest that if you do attach the Democrats' name to it, that the bill does become a little less popular, but it's still overwhelmingly popular, even so.

So, I don't necessarily ascribe too much to that, in this particular instance, because let's be frank, giving money to people is pretty popular. People like receiving $1,400 checks in the mail. So, I don't particularly think that that's exactly what's going on.

What I think may be going on, is that Republican senators don't necessarily like this bill. And even if their constituents do like it, they know something, Chris. They know something. And that is that this bill, although there's obviously many parts to it, overall is an economic stimulus bill.

And if you look at the polling, if you look at slide three here, what do you see? What are the most important problems, according to Americans, at this particular point?

Economic-related problems are just 16 percent. Where Americans are much more focused on right now is the Coronavirus, Coronaviruses and diseases. And the fact is I'm not quite sure, at this particular point, that Joe Biden, and the Democrats have made that connection.

And certainly, what we've seen from the Republicans is they are trying to say, "Look, this is all about the economy. This is all about pumping money in. This is not about the Coronavirus." And right now, that argument seems to be holding at least with Republican senators.


CUOMO: If the Democrats can't win that argument, they don't deserve the midterms, because everybody, who's in pain right now, knows it's happening for one reason, and that's the pandemic, whether it's hunger, jobs and, of course health maladies.

Wiz, I got to jump. Thank you very much. Have a good weekend.

ENTEN: You too, my friend.

CUOMO: House impeachment prosecutors were not able to get a political eviction - conviction against Trump. You know this. But one of them just filed suit in a court of law for the insurrection.

Eric Swalwell, California, is now the second U.S. lawmaker to sue Trump over the riot. And if this moves forward, it is a very interesting strategy. It could open the door, not just for a lot of lawsuits, but for a lot of discovery.

The case, the chance, next.








CUOMO: Donald Trump is going to have a lot of legal troubles, some more creative than others, for instance, these lawsuits over the Capitol riot from lawmakers.

First, there was Bennie Thompson, Democrat law - congressman.

Now, there's another one, this time, one of the House impeachment managers, Eric Swalwell, Democratic, California, suing not only the former president, but his son, his then-lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and Congressman Mo Brooks.

[21:40:00] The suit claims they broke D.C. law, including an anti-terrorism act, by inciting the riot that they aided and abetted violent rioters, and they inflicted emotional distress on the Members of Congress.

The last part is something Swalwell spoke about during the impeachment, when he shared fears that he wouldn't see his family again.


REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Uncertain what would happen next, I sent a text message to my wife. "I love you and the babies. Please hug them for me." I imagine many of you sent a similar message.


CUOMO: I mean, look, it really does remind, we got so lucky on January 6th. That could have been one of the worst days of death in our history.

Phil Andonian is representing the Congressman in this suit.

Counselor, welcome to PRIME TIME.


CUOMO: All right, so let's dialog this out. What is the goal of this suit?

ANDONIAN: The goal is accountability. Donald Trump, and his inner circle, incited a violent insurrection. They conspired to interfere with the will of the American public in throwing out the election results. And we need accountability for it, and we haven't had it thus far.

CUOMO: So, for the uninitiated, a claim of intentional, right, this is intentional infliction, of emotional distress, you got to have extreme and outrageous conduct on the part of the defendant.

Now, that usually comes along with documented behavior that usually has been the subject of some type of prosecution. This is often a case that's made after a prosecution.

Do you think a standalone litigation this will work? Do you think there's enough that will be believed as true?

ANDONIAN: Well, if this isn't a case for intentionally inflicting extreme and outrageous conduct, I'm not sure what will be.

We had, again, an insurrection that was fomented and planned by Donald Trump and his inner circle. He called on militia members and other extremist groups to come to D.C. with a plan to attack. He incited many, many others, who were there that day, to join in.

There's no question in our mind that it's intentional. And I don't think there's even a laugh test that could be passed to argue that what happened afterwards wasn't extreme and outrageous. So, we feel very strongly about our claim.

CUOMO: What if they offer to settle?

ANDONIAN: Well, I think we're probably a way away from that. Our goal, though, is Chris, is to hold Donald Trump accountable.

Our goal is to take the case that Eric Swalwell and the other Managers masterfully put, in front of the Senate, and that the Senate punted on. And they punted on it, because they said the Senate wasn't the right forum. And they invited lawsuits in civil courts of law. And so, we've taken them up on their invitation, and we intend to see it through.

CUOMO: Well, what do you want? I mean, because let's say you win, although, as we know, the overwhelming majority of civil litigation ends in a settlement. But what would you want? Usually, it's money or some kind of equitable relief, or declaratory judgment of what - of what?

ANDONIAN: Well, yes, I agree with you, most civil lawsuits settle. At the same time, this is certainly not most civil lawsuits. And hopefully, it's the last of its kind or others that follow, in having to adjudicate this kind of claim in court.

What we're looking for we are looking, I'll say it again, we're looking for accountability. We haven't had a proclamation that Donald Trump and his co-conspirators and others that he incited did something wrong. And, in an official sentence, we had a lot of opinions, and a lot of comments, after the impeachment trial, by Senators who acquitted him.

So, what we're looking for is we're looking for a proclamation, we're looking for a legal proclamation in a court of law, in this country, that Donald Trump violated the law that he abused civil rights and that he conspired to essentially overthrow the government.

CUOMO: And I think a couple of steps earlier than that, if the suit is found to pass the initial muster, would be Phil Andonian, lusting after the opportunity to sit across from one or all of those men in an examination before trial, if you could get them.

I appreciate you coming on to explain this.

ANDONIAN: You bet.

CUOMO: We'll be tracking it. Please keep us in the loop, OK?

ANDONIAN: Thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: All right. It's going to be very interesting to see the range of ramifications from the time that Donald Trump spent in office.

[21:45:00] Now, on the vaccine front, three strong vaccines are now in play, to conquer this pandemic. Millions are scrambling for shots. The Mayor of a big city, Detroit, just turned down doses, at first, because he thinks one isn't as good as the others.

My next guest calls it irresponsible and wrong. She was a participant in the J&J trial and has the facts. Dr. Leana Wen, next.








CUOMO: We have a problem with messaging in this country when it comes to the pandemic, when it comes to science, when it comes to being sensible. We really have to start asking if anybody in power, at the local level, is even listening to the CDC anymore, even when they know, when they say stuff, we all know.



ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: You have decreases in cases and deaths when you wear masks. And you have increases in cases and deaths when you have in-person restaurant dining.


CUOMO: Unless all you watch is Fox, you know that that's true.

The Agency put out hard numbers just today. The question is, since they've had that data since, December, and it goes back to March, what took them so long?


What's not up for debate is that in places, where there are mask mandates, fewer people get sick. Period! Fewer people die. The longer those are in place, the better.

What's the flip side? Well we want to get back. We want to live, economy, you know, life is - when does life no longer become worth living, that's been the balancing test, OK? But as you open up, cases go back up.

However, it may be too late, given how many states are already moving to ditch the mask mandate, the vaccine has kind of backfired as a messaging. Boy, we thought nobody would want it. Now, there's so much enthusiasm about it that Republicans are saying, "Let's open because it'll save us."

You've also had Democratic-controlled states, though, easing back on restaurant restrictions, and I get it.

Now you've got the Mayor of Detroit, rejecting a shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Now, here is the problem. And we asked him on the show a lot. He initially explained it like this.


MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN (D-MI), DETROIT: So, Johnson & Johnson is a very good vaccine. Moderna and Pfizer are the best. And I am going to do everything I can to make sure the residents of the City of Detroit get the best.


CUOMO: Let's bring in someone who knows both the policy and the practical side of all this.

Dr. Leana Wen, always good to see you.

At first, OK, I thought maybe, but also, you know, he just doesn't fit the profile of this.

We do know that in minority communities, there can be a fear of medical intervention. There's just such a long history of being underserved, given medicines that were subpar, treatments that weren't thought through, without follow-up.

And yes, you can go all the way back in history to Tuskegee because history has legs. And people remember that they did you wrong. They said they were going to give you medicine, but they didn't. So, there is that in place in that culture. But certainly, that's not going to be his basis for it.

So, what did you make of his initial rejection, and why you reject his rejection?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, I was really disturbed by it because, first of all, it's just not true.

I mean, we have three safe and very effective vaccines. And it's really disturbing to hear a Mayor turn down something that will save his residents. I mean, it's kind of like it's--

CUOMO: He says it's not as safe.

WEN: --his residents were--

CUOMO: He says, "You look at it. It's 66."

WEN: Right but-- CUOMO: "The others are 90s."

WEN: But imagine if people are drowning, in his community, and he's been given life jackets, and he says, "Well, I don't want that one, because it's not the right color." I mean, that's the equivalent of what's happening here, because there are three vaccines, all of which prevent hospitalization and death.

In fact, they are essentially 100 percent of preventing hospitalization and death. And so turning down one, to wait for others, and then have people go without any kind of protection, that's really dangerous.

And I'm glad that he's walked back these comments. But I think it needs to be said that we have three safe, highly-effective vaccines. You should get whatever you can first.

And also note that Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the one-dose vaccine really has advantages too. Maybe you're afraid of needles, maybe you don't want to come back for a second appointment, maybe you want to be fully vaccinated sooner. There are real reasons.

And again, to deny people, in his town, in his city, a choice is really not a good idea.

CUOMO: Maybe you're poor, and understaffed, as a government, and you don't want to have the storage concerns that come along.

And this story that we haven't really even told people yet about what happens all over this country, where every day, you have to remove a certain batch of vaccine, from cold storage with Moderna and Pfizer. And if you don't use it all, you can't put it back. So that's a whole story within a story about making the most of this we haven't told yet.

But also, when you look at his numbers, he should be a lot more anxious to get anything. Detroit's, the ICU bed occupancy is 73 percent. 15.9 percent of Michigan's population has gotten the first shot. That's not great.

7 percent of vaccinations have gone to Black people versus 75 percent to White people. Detroit is 78 percent Black people. He should be getting anything he can to correct, which is an obvious continuation of a systemic inequality.

WEN: That's right. And I think we should also remind people that the vaccine that you get first is not necessarily the last vaccine that you're ever going to get.

So, you get the vaccine that you have, that gives you some level of immune protection. Maybe over time, we find out that another vaccine is better at covering certain variants, or another vaccine is better at covering you, if you have certain medical conditions, you can still get another vaccine later.

Don't turn down the one that you have now. And I think that may be a misunderstanding. I think some people think that whatever vaccine they first get they're committed to you for forever. But actually this is just what gives you some level of protection right now, when there is such limited supply

CUOMO: Now Leana, you have no problem telling me when I'm wrong, so feel free to do so now.


But I sense that I have picked up on a pattern, that this CDC is being too careful, especially in the middle of a pandemic. Information is almost medicine for people on this.

And whether it was where they started with masks, to when they made the shift with masks, when they thought that this was about what you guys were calling fomites, things that you touch, versus it being aerosolized, and now about what you get, if you're in the vaccine, you know, restaurants on delaying post-vaccine guidance, decisions are being made without the CDC, because they're taking too damn long.

Where is the line in terms of all deliberate speed and just too slow?

WEN: It's really hard. And I understand that the CDC wants to get the research right. And there's also a concern that if they came out with something, and they revised it, maybe that might undermine trust.

But I actually think the opposite. I think that right now, if their voice isn't heard, and people are making decisions anyway, that also undermines trust in them, and essentially makes them irrelevant.

I mean, we've got 27 million people, who are already fully vaccinated. We've got governors that are already rolling back restrictions and essentially opening up everything without the input of the CDC.

If the CDC came out right now, or ideally, weeks ago, and said, for example, "We think that if you're fully vaccinated, here's what you can do. You can travel. You don't need to quarantine and get tested. You can go to restaurants. You still have to wear masks, but here are all the things you can do. Maybe restaurants can be 100 percent capacity for fully vaccinated people," and so that's the kind of guidance that we need. We need more celebration, less caution.

CUOMO: Leana, thank you very much. Appreciate you. Have a good weekend.

I'm going to go to break. When I come back, I have a song test for Don. We'll be right back.