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Cuomo Prime Time

McConnell Warns Democrats That Overhauling Filibuster Rules Will Lead To "Completely Scorched-Earth Senate"; U.S. Intel Report: Russia Tried To Interfere In 2020 Election In Hopes Of "Denigrating" Biden, Helping Trump; Suspect Apprehended In Atlanta-Area Shootings. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 16, 2021 - 21:00   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Yes, Anderson. I'm picking up on the reporting.

Authorities in the area don't believe this is a coincidence. That's not surprising to have these kinds of shots and these kinds of proximity. It does seem as though there must be some connection. The question is what? Is it opportunity or is it bias? And we'll pick up the story and monitor during our hour.

Anderson, thank you.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

Eight people now confirmed killed, in a series of three shootings, at spas, in Atlanta. Now, at least four of the victims are Asian women. The question of course, is, were they targeted? One suspect has just been apprehended. When we get more information, we will bring it to you.

So let's go from that story of potential bias to what we know is absolute bias. And the Democrats have to see and deal with this absolute bias in what they're going to get from the other side of the aisle.

Why am I saying this? The media is all a Twitter, literally and figuratively that Mitch McConnell issued some new threat. Here it is.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin, can even begin, to imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like.

The Senate would be more like a 100-car pileup. Nothing moving.


CUOMO: Now, not only is this not true, but it is not to be believed. I don't know why anybody is seeing this with any type of sense of apprehension. It's being viewed as a threat. It is not a threat. It is a promise from a political conniver without equal, who has made a legacy of beating the Democrats.

He eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations in 2017. Hello, why would you listen to him about this? Why would you even consider what he's saying? That was scorched-earth. No one can imagine it? You've lived it, Democrats. You've lived it with him.

He refused to even meet with a President from your party's Supreme Court nominee. Remember his reasoning? "It was too close to an election." Then what did he do? He confirmed his own party's President's nominee in record time, during an election. Millions of Americans had already voted.

Why is anyone surprised by what he says or does? Why would you even weigh his words? Why would you even put it into the calculus of what you need to do to get your agenda done?

Be more like him, when it comes to understanding manipulation of the power. He only does scorched-earth. Show me Mitch McConnell acting in bipartisan fashion on any regular basis.

Scorched-earth is passing unpopular, unpaid for, tax cuts for millionaires, without a single Democrat vote. Scorched-earth is burning millions of struggling Americans by holding relief hostage, and why, to protect corporations during a pandemic.

You really think McConnell is going to work with the Democrats on H.R. 1 or S. 1.? This is a "Holy War" for the opposition party. Expanding voting rights is an existential threat to a party banking on White fright.

Trump admitted it himself, tonight, while again pushing the big lie. Here's the proof.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it would be a disaster for our country and it would be very unfair.

And our Supreme Court and our courts didn't have the courage to overturn elections that should have been overturned.

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS HOST: Can a Republican win again, if H.R. 1 becomes law?

TRUMP: If they allow that to happen, if it's allowed to happen, I think your Republicans will have a very hard time getting elected.


CUOMO: Now, just to remind the open-minded, it was courage that the courts, even judges picked by Trump, didn't bow to fealty, that they upheld the law. That is courage.

Now look, you just heard Trump say it himself. If H.R. 1 or S. 1, the Senate version is "S," "H.R." is the House version, if it becomes law, Republicans may not win elections.

Now, he answered a loaded question, right. Why? Because this was a Fox person, and they're all about spreading division. "Can a Republican ever win again, if voting is expanded?"

Of course, they can, if they don't constantly make White people afraid of diversity. You don't demonize people of color, maybe they'll vote for you. Improve their lives. Try that!


Look, this is why the Right, the Trump-faction, the opposition party are all trying to resurrect Jim Crow laws. Jim Crow laws designed in reaction to post Civil War Reconstruction to stifle integration of minorities, in 43 states. It's going on right now.

And by the way, the filibuster was born during the Jim Crow period, to allow the senators, who didn't want progress, to slow it down. That's where it comes from. It's not in the Constitution.

Just now, as in the last wave of color politics, it's about suppressing the minority vote, this time, to block Biden's agenda.

Now, the savvy members of the opposition party say "No, no, no, no. This is about election security." Show me how cutting out minorities makes an election safer for anyone other than people who appeal more to White voters.

Second, if security is such a concern, then why are they all so quiet tonight?

We have news of a newly declassified report from U.S. Intel that Russia attempted to interfere with our election again, in the 2020 race. Isn't this an election security threat to address? This is a hint to the quietude we are experiencing on the Right.

The report says Putin authorized a range of influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden's candidacy, and the Democratic Party, that he used proxies, linked to Russian Intelligence, to spread disinformation against Biden, that Russian proxies who quote, met with and provided materials to Trump Administration-linked people.

That's why they're quiet. That's why there's no outrage from the Right. No calls for change. That's election security. It's not about election security. These laws all over the country, from the opposition party, are not about the Red Menace, but what I say Trump meant as the "Brown Menace," minorities.

Trump is gone. But what remains, in his ranks, is as rank as he was, not doing what it takes to get these laws, all over the country, 250- plus efforts. If you don't get these axed out, minorities will be put back 50-plus years.

Now that might be what some mean by "MAGA! Being great again!" But it means nothing good for this country, or for Democrats, if it happens on their watch. I know pundits and party members are saying "Democrats have a lot to think about. What should we do next?"

What matters more than this fight? And what options are there, for how Democrats can get it done? Let's ask the better minds, David Gregory and Brian Fallon.

Gentlemen, good to see you.

Brian, it's been a minute. I hope you're well.

D. Greg?


CUOMO: Is my analysis of McConnell, and this kind of feigned surprise, that what he's saying now, do you see this as unexceptional as I do?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, AUTHOR, "HOW'S YOUR FAITH?": Yes, I do see it as unexceptional. I mean, this is about the votes. And this is about power politics. I mean, we are well into this era of power politics.

And I think, Brian aweigh in on this, but I suspect, given the Democrats I know, there's a lot of frustration that Republicans have played power politics better than they have, in Congress.

And McConnell, of course, is the ultimate player in that. And so yes, he'll issue these warnings, saying that all kinds of things will happen.

And Democrats do need to remember that what they achieved today will ultimately be used against them, when Republicans are back in control, and they'll have to make a determination about whether it's worth it.

The calculation now is, on a filibuster, how do they reform it? Where do they have the votes? It's a simple numbers game here that they're playing. And that's the calculation the President will make.

CUOMO: Well, first things first, Brian, do you believe that looking at how to stop those state laws should be the next big effort for Congress?

FALLON: Absolutely. And as Democrats, let me just say that this is a very narrow two-year window, and maybe not even two years, when you only have the Senate by a 50-50 margin, and you have lots of senators over 70, some of whom have Republican governors in their state.

It just takes one senator falling, God forbid, for the majority to flip in the United States Senate. So, we can't even act like we have two years.

So, whatever narrow window of time we have, we have to get it right, in pursuing these democracy reforms, like H.R. 1, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, that is really the last remaining Bulwark to these 250-plus bills that have been introduced, in 43 states, across the country, seeking to suppress the vote.


And Mitch McConnell knows this. He's viewing this in apocalyptic terms. If H.R. 1 passes, if D.C. is added to the Union, as the 51st state, then this sort of unlocks the whole system that has propped up the Republican Party as a dominant force in American politics.

You have in the United States Senate, an institution that is designed to prop up minority rule, already through Senate malapportionment, where largely White, largely rural states, like Wyoming, have the same Senate representation as some of the most populous, diverse states in the country like California.

And then, on top of those rigged rules in the Senate that already create that imbalance, you add the filibuster, which is an added tool of the minority. And it's no wonder we're preordained to have permanent gridlock here.

So Mitch McConnell's threats, I think, are going to fall on deaf ears. And I have to say, I think he's misplaying it.

I think if he was clever, he would be strategically releasing some Republicans, to work with some Democrats, on some of these measures, not all of them, but just enough of them, to sort of take the wind out of the sails, of those of us, like myself, that are pointing to the fact that Republicans are blocking us on everything, and using that argument to rally support among Democrats.

If Joe Manchin had a negotiating partner, on some of these bills, like an infrastructure package, it could really slow things down. But McConnell only has one setting, he only has one year, which is block everything. And right now, that's backfiring on him.

CUOMO: Now, the question is how do Democrats get it done? We don't believe they have 50 votes, within their own party, to get rid of the filibuster.

The President, who had said he didn't want to get rid of the filibuster, had a nice modification, maybe tonight. Listen to this, fellas.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: So, aren't you going to have to choose, I know you've been reluctant to do away with the filibuster, aren't you going to have to choose between preserving the filibuster and advancing your agenda?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Yes. But here's the choice. I don't think you have to eliminate the filibuster.

You have to do it, what it used to be, when I first got to the Senate, and back in the old days, when you used to be around there. And that is that a filibuster, you had to stand up and command the floor, and you had to keep talking along.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're for that reform? You're for bringing back the talking filibuster?

BIDEN: I am. That's what it was supposed to be.


CUOMO: See look, David, I think they've been behind the ball. I mean, the question - you know, we all love George. He's a friend of mine. But it's never been binary. It was always about just massaging the filibuster, maybe even as a one-off.

Joe Manchin has all but told you he's open to that, by saying "I don't want to just get rid of it." And he talks about the Byrd Bath, Senator Byrd, obviously, West Virginia's affinity to him being West Virginian.

There are other forms of the filibuster. Has this been the missing dialog for the Democrats about something short of getting rid of it, the nuclear option?

GREGORY: Yes. But, I mean, it's emerged.

Manchin has forced its emergence by - because they didn't have the votes without him. And now, he's saying, "Well, we should make it more painful for Republicans to invoke that."

Senator Durbin was talking about that today. And that's what Biden is jumping on to because again, that's where the votes are. And look, I think Biden thinks this is a dangerous play, because he comes from a different political era.

What Brian said, at the end of his last answer, I thought was particularly interesting, because you're right. Manchin doesn't have a negotiating partner, because Republicans have made that decision.

And the leadership's made that decision, that basically the next election is five minutes from now, especially when you have an even split in the Senate. And so, there's a narrow amount of time for a president to get something through, like on - like a big bill, like the COVID relief, but they can block him on other things.

And Republicans had been so clear, at saying that what they talk about is election security, they apparently aren't concerned about foreign countries interfering in our elections, but they're concerned about what they'll call election security, which is not true. That's what they'll be concerned about.

It's really just a zero-sum game, which is they're worried about the fact that they can't get Republicans elected, if everybody has an opportunity to vote. And so, it's pretty clear what they're talking about.

CUOMO: Let's see Democrats massage this issue, and find a way to get together and get this done, because Brian, as you said, they do not have as long as they may suspect.

David Gregory, Brian Fallon, I didn't have as long as I suspected either. I have to go. But thank you very much, gentlemen. I appreciate you. And I'll have you back soon, Brian.

All right, we do have breaking news tonight. That's why I have to move along. An eighth person has now lost their life in back-to-back shootings at three spas in Georgia.

In crimes, there're very rarely coincidences. They have a suspect in custody. Is that person connected to other attacks? What was the motive behind these attacks? Was it the same?

We've got a team on the scene, with a live update, next.









CUOMO: Let's get back to the breaking news, a tragedy unfolding in Georgia, as we are on TV, at least eight people dead in a series of shootings at the same kinds of locations, spas, in and around Atlanta, Georgia.

At least four of the dead are Asian women. We do not know the race or gender of the others, or the relationship, of those people to this crime. The questions are obvious. Were these a coincidence? Likely not. Was this coordinated criminality on the basis of bias or opportunity?

Ryan Young is on the scene.

Ryan, what is the latest?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's a great question there, Chris. And that's what investigators are working to find out right now.

I can tell you this, though. One of the reasons why we haven't found out the race and the ages of one of those first shooting scenes is they haven't pulled all the family members yet. The folks who have died, their loved ones have been lost, I mean, it's a tough, tough day, especially when investigators are having to make those phone calls.

Also, by the way here, you can look at the active crime scene that's going on.

We do have the information though. The Cherokee County Sheriff's Department telling us that they have captured a suspect.


They believe Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, was involved in that first shooting scene, and that's who investigators were looking for. We do know that four people are dead at that scene.

And then, this is the scene, in Atlanta, where there are two separate shooting scenes. You have the Gold Spa, then you have the spa, across the street, over there. Three women were shot in one location. Another woman was shot at another location.

We do know the suspect was caught in Crisp County, which is about two hours away from here. There was a small vehicle pursuit, I'm being told by some of sources that we've been able to talk to, and they were able to capture him.

Not sure if they've been able to speak with him at all, to figure out what a motive is. We've also have not been able to connect him for sure to this scene at all just yet.

But I can tell you that law enforcement in the Metro Atlanta area was working with the theory, but they were looking for that man, who was 21, of Woodstock. They were looking for that four-door Hyundai Tucson, which was black in color, and had some damage to the side.

And so obviously, with these different sites here, there was a lot of people who were concerned about the targets of this. And of course, as Police got that investigation going, they say what surveillance video that sort of pointed them in the direction of who the suspect was. And this happened for several hours.

Chris, Cherokee County is about a 47-minute drive--

CUOMO: Right.

YOUNG: --from where I'm standing right now. And then, if you think about it, you're talking about two hours away from here, is where this suspect was captured. So, I'm not sure if there was any sort of online threats made, before this happened. But it's obviously something that investigators are going through.

Now, where I'm standing is near Buckhead, this is pretty much Buckhead, and this whole area, this street right here would be busy normally. They've shut this down, as they've done this investigation.

CUOMO: Right.

YOUNG: There were witnesses also to the shooting that they were speaking to. But obviously, right now, the focus is on that motive to try to figure out exactly why a person, or persons, were involved in this shooting, and were targeted these places.

Like, I said, three in this building, and one across the street, horrifying for the folks, who had to witness this, and obviously, the families that are finding out about their loved ones, at this hour. CUOMO: So, we know they placed him at the scene, but they don't know if they can place him in terms of the criminality. There was a pursuit. That's obviously somewhat suggestive.

And then the big question remains, Ryan, as you're teeing it up. Was he a customer? Was this about being disgruntled? Was it about romance? Or was it about bias? The more they get him to speak, the faster they'll get those answers.

Ryan, if you hear anything, let me know. And I'll come right back to you, OK? Be well, and thank you.

YOUNG: Absolutely. Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, let's turn back to the crisis impacting tens of millions of Americans, all right? Those are the stakes. It's not all Black people. It's not all minorities.

But more than 250 bills, in 43 states, will drag this country, far from the goal of a more perfect union. It will drag it back maybe 50- plus years, because that's the last time we've seen this, in this country, where there are laws, by design, to suppress the vote.

So, how do you stop it? Well state-by-state will take a very long time. Most of these legislatures are run by Republicans. So, you'd have to fight it out in the courts, lengthy process.

H.R. 1 in the House, S. 1 in the Senate, or the "For the People Act," the name doesn't matter, the impact does, without it, the Republican Party's mission is clear.

Make sure people who can vote now, who helped Biden win, can't do so in the future, by purging voter registrations, or by imposing stricter ID requirements. For those, who still can, give them fewer options, and less time, by closing polls earlier, shortening early voting windows, getting rid of popular options like voting by mail.

We need to be clear about who we're talking about. It is about stopping Black people from making their voices heard.

The bill, the opposition decries, as the "Written hand of Lucifer," that's what they say, what would the bill really do?

It would demand everybody get equal time and access. In other words, everybody can vote by mail.

Every state must allow 15 consecutive days of early voting for 10 hours a day.

No cutting out Sundays just because you want to stop Souls to the Polls, Black churches, tradition.

More polling places, to ensure that we don't have to see repeats and repeats of this.

What do you think? You really think it's a coincidence that when you're in lower-economic areas, they don't have as much access to polls, they have to wait one hour, three hours, five hours, seven hours, 10 hours? And then, they want to rule, in some of these places, that you can't give people waiting in line like that food or water.

Come on! All the talk about ensuring confidence in elections rings a little hollow. You know why? Because one, we know that's not what it is. That's what this tells you. That's what this tells you.

But you know what else? There was silence today on the Intel report that the Kremlin continues interference in this election and, once again, they were trying to hurt Biden, to help Trump.


If this were really about security, you'd be focused on that, right? The "For the People Act" will increase protections against Russia's go-to tactics of misinformation. These bills do not.

And for a Party that claims to be so focused on it, why not back a bill that demands a paper trail, and higher standards, for all voting machines? They don't do that in these other bills. It would let voters and officials track each ballot, in the mail, give states the ability to do more robust audits of election results.

But until any of that is actually passed in the Senate, it's up to those on the ground, in all these states, to fight for a country that is truly for the people and by the people. That includes folks, like new friend of show, Nse Ufot, CEO of The New Georgia Project.

Welcome back to PRIME TIME. It's good to see you.


CUOMO: Let's pick up this fight with--

UFOT: Yes.

CUOMO: --what the next step is.

First, I have heard Democrats, pundits and party-type saying, "Well, you know, Biden's got to figure out what's next. He's got a lot on his agenda." Do you believe anything should come before this fight and H.R. 1/S. 1?

UFOT: No, not at all.

I understood the need for emergency relief for American families that are suffering, that we are very much still in the middle of a pandemic. Georgia is the last, in the state, in terms of vaccine distribution.

So, I understood the importance of it, the primacy of getting COVID relief out the doors, those $1,400 checks have been hitting people's accounts this weekend. Folks have been all over Twitter, thanking Georgia voters for making it happen. And now, we have to get to the business of protecting our democracy. I don't think that there's anything that is more pressing and more

urgent than making sure that we have a federal standard for elections, and that we don't let Republicans play politics and get in the way of a justice agenda.

CUOMO: If they don't change the filibuster, they likely don't get this done. What would that mean? What does a state-by-state effort look like, if these bills get passed?

UFOT: I mean, you've mentioned it earlier. We are going - there are 43 states that are currently delivering anti-voting bills, and it is going to take an extraordinary amount of time, to work those bills, to fight them in the legislatures, or to fight them in court.

And with the H.R. 1, and H.R. 4, and filibuster reform, we have a clear path to protecting our elections, to protecting our democracy, and stopping these nonsense attacks that are based on disinformation, that are based on lies, that is a naked attempt for the minority -- for the Republicans who lost, and lost badly, and lost repeatedly, and will likely continue to lose, unless they moderate their positions, and move closer to something that the American people actually want, that this "Party of No," these sort of toddler politics, where they throw themselves, on the ground, and just flail around, stopping from doing -- stopping the people's work, from happening, is not going to cut it.

And again, I think that democracy reform, filibuster reform, passing Senate 1, and H.R. 4, are of the utmost importance, in this moment. I think that there's some concern about whether or not we can get policing reform.

CUOMO: Right.

UFOT: You know, my folks, we are desperately looking for Americans to get an increase, a wage increase, because Americans haven't had a raise in 12 years. The minimum wage is still $7.25 an hour.

And we won't be able to make progress on any of those much-needed policy reforms, if we don't have the right to vote, if the American people don't have the right to participate in our elections, free of intimidation.

And if every vote is not allowed to count, if people aren't allowed to participate in our elections, in the way that they choose, the entire agenda is at jeopardy. And so, I think that--

CUOMO: Right.

UFOT: --the right to vote is the antecedent. It's the precedent that we need to protect it that we need to shore it up, so that we can win on these other reforms.

CUOMO: And just, to remind people, I understand that Democrats are worried about what message it sends, if they mess with the filibuster.

What message does it send to the all-important African-American voters that helped Biden that helped sustain Democrats, if in this biggest struggle, of their political existence, they don't get it done?

Nse Ufot, thank you very much for giving us the state of play. You're always welcome on the show.

UFOT: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Be well.

UFOT: Good night.

CUOMO: This country has been making big gains, when it comes to the Pandemic. And that's good. Feel good about it. But that doesn't mean that the fight is over.


There is a new spike in Europe. Now ordinarily, let's be honest, pre- COVID, "Ah, Europe, South America. We're kind of an island here." No, we're not. And what happens there will be here next. How are we handling the warning of the wave of variants? Next.








CUOMO: Fact, Trump supporters are the least likely to say they'll seek a COVID vaccine. Big part of that is messaging.

Today, after being berated for his silence, for months, about the need to take the vaccine, Trump finally said this.


TRUMP: I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don't want to get it and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly. But, you know, again, we have our freedoms, and we have to live by that and I agree with that also. But it's a great vaccine. It's a safe vaccine and it's something that works.


CUOMO: Look, he started off the right way. It was a little bit muddled. But here's why.

Look, first of all, if you're a Trump supporter, and you somehow believe that this is Deep State or whatever BS you believe, he just told you "Take the vaccine." Listen to him.

The easiest case study on why we need the vaccine is Europe. COVID cases are surging there right now. Top experts, like Dr. Fauci, are warning "See them? That could be us." Listen.



DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: And when you see a plateau at a level as high as 60,000 cases a day, that is a very vulnerable time to have a surge, to go back up, and that's what exactly happened in Europe.


CUOMO: The proposition is simple but serious. Will we learn from our COVID history or repeat it?

Look, we've come a long way from the winter peaks. But look at how we compare to several countries across the Atlantic. Every time we saw a new wave, over there, we not only followed with one, we outdid it, in cases and in deaths.

Experts say the latest surge across Europe is driven by these new variants, right there, the one they call the U.K. variant. Some places have no choice but to lock down again.

Half of Italy's 20 regions, including Rome, Milan, Venice, they all went into a new lockdown, just today. People are banned from leaving their homes again, this time with the provisions for work and health reasons.

Germany and France are considering new restrictions because cases are exploding. About 100 COVID patients in Paris were evacuated from the region, because hospitals there reached their breaking point. The Czech Republic, already in a strict lockdown, for the past two weeks.

These places have vaccines. See, there's a lot of misinformation on the internet. "They don't have the vaccine!" It's not true. This is a race between the vaccine and the variant. And if you don't keep doing the right things, and rely just on the vaccine saving you, you will wind up in the suck again.

Many European countries lag behind the U.S. and U.K. in vaccination rates. It's true, true. Bureaucracy, supply shortages, political infighting, they have problems there that hopefully were moving past.

But vaccine hesitancy is hitting them hard. At least 16 European countries are suspending a primary vaccine, AstraZeneca. Why? Concerns about blood clots. Are those legitimate? We're going to break down what the science tells us.

We're going to take a segment, and we're going to look at this, because you got to have confidence. Nobody wants you to take something that's going to hurt you. But it all underscores why mitigation measures and getting more shots in arms, fast, is crucial.

12 percent of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated. We need like five times that. The number of daily vaccines are getting better by the day. I'm just telling you, it's not fast enough. It is not enough to keep new hotspots from occurring.

We're going to take it to a top health authority, for the reality, next.









CUOMO: This new wave of COVID cases is real, the variant is real, and it is crushing Europe. Ontario, Canada also declared a new wave tonight. You see what's going to happen.

We know that it's here. We just heard the CDC say that this U.K. variant, as they call it that, I don't mean to disparage the U.K., it's just about where they believe the variants started, it is going to be the dominant one here, and soon. That's what the CDC says.

So, let's bring in Dr. Ashish Jha for how to deal with this. It's not "If." It's "When." What is the likelihood that the vaccine efforts here will get us to immunity before the variants can force shutdowns like what we're seeing in Europe?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yes. Good evening, Chris. Thanks for having me on.

It's going to be a close call, Chris. We are vaccinating really well. That's the good news. These variants are spreading pretty quickly across the country. That's the bad news. And to me, I think the vaccine should win out.

But, here's the big but, what Texas, Mississippi, other states are doing, to relax, and get rid of the mask orders, and kind of act like everything is back to normal, that is definitely coming down, on the side of the variants. That is not helpful. And that is what I'm most worried about right now.

CUOMO: But you are open to the analysis of "How," not just "If," right? So, you want to travel? OK. It's about "How." Not travel, don't travel, but travel the safe way. And when you get to where you're going, don't pretend that there's no COVID. That's the Miami problem that we see.

Am I right in this analysis?

JHA: Absolutely. Like there's a lot that we can do safely. We've learned a lot over the last year or so. The problem is that if we decide that it's over, the Pandemic is over, and go back to normal, we're really asking for another way, we're asking for a lot more infections. And I think that's going to be a real problem.

CUOMO: AstraZeneca, virtually all of Western Europe is not going to use the shot anymore, concerns over blood clots. Warranted?

JHA: I've looked at the data. I can't find anything that makes me think that this is really because of the vaccine.

So, they've had about 30 or so cases of blood clots, out of 17 million people, who've been vaccinated, and doesn't seem like, based on the data, we've seen that it's any more likely than people who don't get vaccinated. So, until we find more definitive data, I would not have paused this thing.

They're going to do a deep dive, look more carefully. I think they're going to come up with the idea that it wasn't from the vaccine. But we'll see.

CUOMO: What does it mean for the EUA, the Emergency Use Authorization, in the U.S.?

JHA: The FDA, our FDA is really, really rigorous. They go through this stuff with a fine-tooth comb. So if the vaccine is causing clots, like our FDA will identify that and--


CUOMO: Because you know why I'm asking you Ashish, right? Because when people hear this, this is a reason not to take it, people feel it was rushed--

JHA: Yes.

CUOMO: --it wasn't tested as much.

JHA: So let me say two quick things. First of all, no concerns about blood clots for any of the three vaccines we have right now, for Astra - not for Johnson & Johnson, not for Moderna, not for Pfizer.

If AstraZeneca were to get authorized here, and that's a big if, it would be because the FDA did the thorough review. So, I'm very confident in our process.

CUOMO: There's a piece in "The Washington Post" that long-haulers - it's all anecdotal, by the way, and the research, I've done, suggests it's correlation but not causation.

But here's the headline. And I'll be full disclosure. I don't like the headline. I think this is misleading. But I'll take your word for the audience.


People who have long-haul, who took the vaccine, say their symptoms are subsiding after getting the vaccine. Do you buy it?

JHA: Yes, there's some good immunologic explanation for how a vaccine can help long-haulers.

The data I've seen, Chris says it won't help everybody. But there probably is a chunk of people, who have long-haul symptoms, who I think probably will be helped. But we got to carefully study this, to figure out if it's real or not.

CUOMO: Because when I read into the piece, they don't have causative science in there. It's anecdotal at this point. And when I talk to people, who are researching, and help develop the vaccine, they said, it's likely, at this point, that time is as relevant in what abates the symptoms as the vaccine.

Look, I'd love for it to be true. I can't wait till I'm eligible to get the vaccine. I'm definitely going to get the vaccine. I'd love for my long-haul symptoms to be better. But I just don't want people to get false hope, because I believe with that story, we're just starting to learn about it. And it will be the legacy of COVID, will be long- haul.

All right, Jha, thank you very much. And I always tell people--

JHA: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: --one of the reasons I love having you on, you figured out how to do it right, at Brown University, and you got the case count to zero.

I know people whose kids go there. My doctor is one of them. You know how to do it right. And you know what happens when it's done right. And I appreciate your perspective because you put it to work.

Ashish Jha, thank you.

JHA: Thank you, Chris

CUOMO: Be well, Doc.

Think about that. Zero cases, he got at Brown University, just by doing the same things that they're telling us to do everywhere else. We know how crazy college kids are, right?

President Biden kicked off his "Help Is Here" tour today. He's selling the relief bill. But there's not much to sell. Is that really his goal? Popularity, he's been doing well, even in the states he lost. Why?

Let's look at the numbers, in terms of where Biden's challenges are, where he's strong, where not, and why. The Wizard of Odds inside the numbers, next.









CUOMO: President Biden is out working the country. Good! Good! Don't rely just on us. Don't rely just on insiders. Bypass it. Go to the people. That's how you build a real mandate, especially when you have the kind of partisan poison going on in our Congress.

Now, what's the main reason? The headline is the legislative victory, the Coronavirus relief package. And he certainly has that.

But there may be something else to celebrate, which is a boost in the polls in states where he lost. True? And if so, can we figure out why? That's where the Wizard of Odds comes.

Harry, what do you see, when you take a look at this? Let's start with your first slide.


Take a look at these three swing states that he lost, back in 2020, Iowa, North Carolina and Texas. He lost them by anywhere from a point in North Carolina, points of eight, in Iowa.

And look at that. His net approval rating, his approval rating, minus his disapproval rating, in all three of those states, are in the blue or the green perhaps that is they're all positive.


ENTEN: Why? I'll tell you why. The reason is if you look in each of these states, what you see is that, on the Coronavirus, his response is seen much more positively than his overall approval ratings.

So, this is something we saw during the campaign, right? We saw that Biden was able to defeat Trump, on who was best able to handle the Pandemic. And so far, voters, even in these Red swing states, are liking the way that he's handled.

CUOMO: That was the second slide. People can see the numbers, if you put it up for them. ENTEN: Yes. This is a separate thing. But yes, what this is - but I think this is important, though, Chris. And what this is suggesting is that this is a national look, right?

We can average a lot of polls nationally. And this gives you a good indication. And that is where he is seeing that growth isn't just in those Red states, but it's among Republicans.

Look at that. His vote share among Republicans in 2020 was just 6 percent. His approval rating right now, in 2021, 14 percent.

CUOMO: How much is that because he's not being compared to a Republican?

ENTEN: That's at least part of it. But I think also part of it, again, just comes down to the fact that at this particular point, Republicans, at least some portion of that base, is willing to give him a shot.

It's a small portion. But it's enough of a portion that right now, what we see is that Biden is doing well, much better, in those Red swing states than he was doing back in November.

CUOMO: All right, so let's do apples to oranges, no pun intended, with him and Trump.

ENTEN: Right. This, I think, gives you the whole thing, right, which is look at how much better shape Joe Biden is right now, to go out, and sell this relief package, than Donald Trump would have been back in 2017, to sell whatever the heck he wanted to.

Look, his approval rating, 53 percent. Historically, that wouldn't be great, say compared to Obama or Bush at this point. But compared to Donald Trump, in this very polarized era, the numbers are basically inverted, right, where Biden has this rating of 53 percent, Trump was just at 43 percent.

And more importantly, look at that disapproval rating, right now, just at 41 percent, for Biden. Trump was already had a majority of the country against him at this point.

CUOMO: What do you see when you look in to the people who don't like Biden?

ENTEN: If you watch all these shows, on Fox News, you go down to CPAC, what you saw was just very difficult to get Republicans too animated against Biden. They had to speak about other issues, Dr. Seuss, all that jazz.

And a big reason why you see this here is if you look at the "Strongly disapprove" ratings, the people who really, really don't like Joe Biden, it's just 29 percent of the Electorate. That's a fairly small portion in today's polarized electorate.

Donald Trump's "Strongly "disapprove at this point was already 43 percent. There was this huge chunk of the Electorate that no matter what he did, they were going to dislike him. That portion of the Electorate, right now, for Joe Biden, at least in the early days, significantly smaller.

CUOMO: So, what do you think the strategy should be in going out there?

He already got the relief bill done. So it's not like he's selling it to them. They've already bought it, right, putatively, through their representatives, of course, just one side of the party aisle.

What do you think he should be trying to focus on out there?

ENTEN: Well, in selling it, what he wants to do?

Remember, a lot of the portions of this program, run out in the next few months, right? He wants to go bigger. He wants to enact a program that doesn't just last the next few months. He wants it to last the next few years.


And he's going to have a lot of congressional battles going down the chute, and if he's going to keep those congressional Democrats keep voting with him, right? They have a very small majority in the House, and obviously a very, very small one in the Senate.

If the - if these Red state congressmen, or these Red state senators, like a Joe Manchin, or a centrist, like Kyrsten Sinema, don't believe that the voters are with them, they're far more likely to abandon on future legislative endeavors.

So, it's very, very important that these senators, and these Members of the House, stay with Biden, believe these packages are popular, so that when you go down the line, and you want to pass even more pieces of legislation, they will in fact, do so.

CUOMO: It's a good step-up move for Biden, you know? He's been a little bit laid back. And we understand why. And it's worked for him as a calculus, so far.

But if he can get in front of the congestion in Congress, by going right to people, and talking about what people want, that is the origin of the bully pulpit, as Theodore Roosevelt dubbed it.

Thank you very much for taking us inside the numbers, Wiz.

ENTEN: I'd love taking you inside.

CUOMO: Have a good night.

ENTEN: Right inside. Even without my glasses, I'd go right inside the numbers. I don't wear glasses.

CUOMO: I didn't know you wore glasses.

ENTEN: No, I don't wear glasses. CUOMO: Lie to the audience? Don't do it.

ENTEN: I didn't lie to the audience. I wish I wore glasses, make me look so much smarter.

CUOMO: It's the least of your problems. I'll see you back in the office.

ENTEN: See you.

CUOMO: We're going to take a break. We come back teeing up the Big Show.


CUOMO: All right. Thank you for watching. Time for the big show, "CNN TONIGHT" and the big star, D. Lemon right now.