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Dr. Fauci Spars with Sen. Rand Paul Over Need for Masks; GOP Lawmaker Uses Hearing on Anti-Asian Discrimination to Criticize China, Invoke Saying That Glorifies Lynching; U.S. And China Trade Barbs After Blinken Warns of Need to Respect Global Order or Face A "More Violent World". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 18, 2021 - 21:00   ET



THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, NEW YORK TIMES FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, AUTHOR, "THANK YOU FOR BEING LATE": --to incentivize risk-taking and prevent recklessness. Those - and they invested in education. We have got to focus on that.

And the name-calling between them and China - us and China, or us and Russia, it's not going to matter. If we are not strong--


FRIEDMAN: --no one will take us seriously.

COOPER: Tom Friedman, as always, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

FRIEDMAN: You got it.

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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Appreciate it, Coop.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

Let's try something a little different than just once again, giving you the obvious. Everybody in the media is rightly telling you the good news tonight.

President Biden announced that by tomorrow, we will have met his goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans, 42 days ahead of schedule. It's great news. Why? Because he has an administration that is taking it seriously, dealing with it on all fronts, and is not distracted by peddling denial.

But you do get that that's not the whole story, right? You understand that the vaccine is not a cure-all. It won't get us out of the Pandemic, not anytime soon.

There are so many out there, I hear you on the radio, I see you on social media, I get in your new responses to this show, "Hey, vaccine, Biden is doing a good job. Take the win. Why do you keep saying the situation is so dire?" Because it is.

Vaccine, Biden, not enough. He's not Trump. He's not going to tell you he's one move away, and only he can fix. Too many Americans insist on falling short. So yes, the vaccine is a step forward. But we're taking a step and a half back.

Here's the proof. After weeks of steep declines, infections are rising again, by more than 10 percent, in 14 states, this week, compared to last. More states are reopening. Now, is that good or bad? Look, I believe it's how you do it, and how you handle it on an individual basis.

The opportunity is going to be there. What do you do with it? There will be more risk, if you don't fly, dine, or work the right way. I'm not telling you not to do any of those things. I'm not your daddy. But you have to do them the right way.

And you know what the right way is? The more masks, the fewer people in a place, the more distance, the more reasonable, the less cases. Period! Always true everywhere.

But here's why we can't get to a better place as fast as we want to. We're not in it together. There is political advantage in keeping us sick, especially now.

Politicians are harnessing your frustration and fatigue, which are totally real and justified, to create feelings of opposition to the obvious. "Forget masks. Forget it. We've done it long enough. I don't even know if the science is right. I think we're good."

People like this guy, Senator Rand Paul. He's a doctor. He's an eye doctor. He doesn't know anything about epidemiology. He's not a disease doctor. But he was in denial about COVID, even after he got it. He won't even wear masks to protect other people.

And now, he decided to take on Dr. Fauci with his feelings about the facts.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): You're telling everybody to wear a mask, whether they've had an infection or a vaccine. What I'm saying is they have immunity, and everybody agrees they have immunity. What studies do you have, that people who have had the vaccine --


PAUL: --or have had the infection are spreading the infection? If we're not spreading the infection, isn't it just theater?

FAUCI: No, it's not.

PAUL: You've had the vaccine. And you're wearing two masks. Isn't that theater?

FAUCI: No, that's not - here we go again, with the theater!

Let's get down to the facts. OK. The studies that you quote, from Crotty and Sette, look at in vitro examination of memory immunity, which in their paper, they specifically say, "This does not necessarily pertain to the actual protection." It's in vitro.

When you talk about reinfection and you don't keep in the concept of variants, that's an entirely different ballgame. That's a good reason for a mask.

PAUL: What proof is there that there are significant reinfections with hospitalizations and death from the variants? None in our country. Zero.

FAUCI: Well, because we don't have a prevalent of a variant yet. We're having one - can I finish?

Becoming more dominant.

PAUL: You're making new policy based on conjecture.

FAUCI: No. It isn't based on conjecture.

PAUL: You have the conjecture that we're going to get variants, so you want people to wear a mask for another couple of years.


PAUL: You've been vaccinated, and you parade around in two masks for show.


PAUL: You can't get it again. There's almost - there's virtually zero percent chance you're going to get it. And yet, you're telling people with them - that have had the vaccine, who have immunity, you're defying everything we know about immunity by telling people to wear a mask, who have been vaccinated.

FAUCI: Let me just state for the record that masks are not theater. Masks are protective. And we ask--

PAUL: If they have immunity, they are theater. If you already have immunity, you're wearing a mask to give comfort to others. You're not wearing a mask because of any science.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Paul, you're out of time. I would like Dr. Fauci--

FAUCI: I totally disagree with you.



CUOMO: Joining us now, the better mind, involved in that mask-off, the President's Chief Medical Adviser himself, Dr. Tony Fauci.

Doc, good to see you.

FAUCI: Good to be with you, Chris.

CUOMO: Now, I know that Rand Paul is a doctor, but he's an eye doctor.

But at the same time, do you think he believes what he was saying to you today that with vaccines, there's zero percent chance that you need to wear a mask, zero percent chance you get sick, that if you've had it already, there's zero percent chance that you need any mask or anything like that? You think he believes it?

FAUCI: Chris, I don't know what he believes, to be honest with you. I mean, I've been dealing - this is not the first time that we've clashed at a Senate hearing.

There is always, as is always the case, a kernel of truth in what he says about that there is protection to some extent, after you get infected. There's no doubt about that. He completely does not take into account the variants. He quotes literature, which is selective in how he quotes it.

There's a paper that came out, literally yesterday, in Lancet that showed that yes, there was considerable protection against reinfection in general, but in people who are elderly, 65 years of age, or older, they were very vulnerable to reinfection. And that's the reason why.

So, I'm afraid, if people hear what he says, and believe it, and you have an elderly person, who's been infected, and they decide, "Well, Rand Paul says, let's not wear a mask," they won't, they could get reinfected again, and to get into trouble. So, that's the thing that bothers me about that type of an interchange.

CUOMO: You and I've talked about this a lot. You're in the medicine business. You're in the science business. But you're also in the messaging business.

And he is making a play. And the play is you guys have been too severe for too long. You're holding us back. And it's not on the basis of just science. It's playing it safe with the science. You're being too conservative. Is there any truth to that?

FAUCI: Like I said, there's always a bit of a kernel of truth in what people like Senator Paul says.

The kernel of truth is that people are tired of the constraints that you have, the types of things that we, as scientists, recommend. We're not saying doing this indefinitely. We're not saying this is the way it's going to have to be all the time.

We're saying that if you look at the data, and look at the science, there is a chance that you could get in trouble, if you pull back, too prematurely. That's what we're saying. We're not saying that it is not difficult to maintain public health measures when you're doing it for so long. On that, we agree. But the fact is, you know, when you look, Chris, historically, at pulling back on mitigation, we look at the different surges that we had. It was always at a time, when the cases came down, then they plateaued, and then they started going up again.

CUOMO: Right.

FAUCI: We're generally about three weeks or four weeks behind Europe, in the dynamics of the outbreak. It's been that way from the very beginning.

And what we're seeing in Europe right now, the same thing, they reached a peak. They started to come down. They plateaued. They pulled back on all of their public health measures in many countries. And now, they have a resurgence.

We want to avoid that. We've seen it before. We've been to that movie before. We want to avoid that.

CUOMO: Here's the counterargument. "Not all surges are the same. And we're not Europe."

The CDC website says a growing body of evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection, and potentially less likely to transmit. So, people are reading that as vaccine means--

FAUCI: That's true.

CUOMO: --you're basically safe. Europe doesn't have access to the vaccine. They don't have the kind of PPE and mask compliance culture that we've worked up to now, even though it's highly imperfect.

So, when you combine the advantages we have that they don't, and the fact that we have a lot more vaccinated people now, and more people wearing masks, though not enough, that this surge won't be as bad as past surges, and we won't be Europe.

FAUCI: Right.

CUOMO: Your response?

FAUCI: That's quite - no, Chris, you make a good point. It's absolutely conceivable that that will be the case. And that's the reason why we go by the data, as we know it.

When we did the first vaccine trial, the primary endpoint was not whether you got infected or not. The primary endpoint was whether you had clinically recognizable disease.


Now, in the data that was collected, the more data we get, the more we see that if you're vaccinated, the chances are that you won't get an asymptomatic infection, or if you do, the level of virus in your nasal pharynx will be considerably less that it is likely you won't infect anybody.

Now, when you accumulate enough data to say, "Wait a minute, the scientific data tells us now that we can be pretty confident that if you are vaccinated that not only would you not get clinical disease, you're not going to get infected," we're not there yet.

CUOMO: Right.

FAUCI: We're accumulating data. And once we're there, then the recommendations will change.

CUOMO: We keep talking about Europe.

Why don't we talk about Michigan? Cases are up 82 percent in the last two weeks. 13 days ago, they eased restrictions, even with the case jump, restaurants, bars, theaters, gyms and more. Adjusted for population, they have the most confirmed cases of the U.K. variant.

And look, again, I'm calling it the U.K. variant, because that's where we believe the origin is. I'm not blaming the U.K. for it, OK? This is a very different play than Trump made by calling something the "China Virus."

FAUCI: Right.

CUOMO: So, they're in middle of the pack, in terms of vaccine efficacy. Why are they behaving that way? What is your message about Michigan? Are we all going to be Michigan? And is Michigan acting the right way?

FAUCI: No, in fairness to them, you have to say it's understandable that they have that feeling. They just are tired of being kept down, of not being able to do the things that are normal in life.

It's an understandable feeling. And we counter by saying we understand that. We really do. But just hang on a little longer, until you get the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated.

CUOMO: But are you telling them--

FAUCI: When you do that, the chances--

CUOMO: Are you telling Michigan - just to be clear with what you're saying, Doc, are you saying to Governor Whitmer there, and their - obviously, their health apparatus, public health apparatus, "You got to slow down on the reopenings." Is this something that the federal government--


CUOMO: --is intercrossing (ph) with them with, because they're obviously going in a different direction.

FAUCI: Well, I - yes. I mean, she's a really good governor. I know. I think she's done some really good things. But I am telling them, "Just hold off for a bit." When you get the overwhelming majority of your population vaccinated,

the chances of there being a surge, are miniscule. So just hang in there. Don't turn the switch, on and off. Pull back gradually, not all at once, everything all things are off and everything goes. That's not a good idea.

CUOMO: There are good signs that things are starting to go away, families are starting to get reunited again, people are doing it the right way, mass culture is spreading, so it allows me a little bit of leeway to ask something a little lighter.

Did you know that on social media, people are referring to the vaccine as the "Fauci Ouchie?" Did you know that? Did you have anything to do with that?

FAUCI: Yes, I - someone brought - no.

CUOMO: Was that your idea?

FAUCI: I did not. Chris, I can tell you it was not my idea. It surprised me.

CUOMO: Can you prove it was not your idea?

FAUCI: Under oath!

CUOMO: Are you OK with it being called the "Fauci Ouchie?"

FAUCI: Well, if it makes people more good - more tendency to get vaccinated, you can call it "Fauci Ouchie" anytime you want. Just go get vaccinated.

CUOMO: I have never, you know, I've never had that picture of you. I've never had coming to mind, when I think of you, pain. But as long as it's protection, I guess it's OK, whatever gets people to take a step in the right direction.

I want to put a smile on your face, because otherwise--

FAUCI: Right.

CUOMO: --we're crying all the time under these circumstances.

Dr. Fauci, thank you for keeping it straight. Thank you for fighting the good fight. The messaging matters. Be well, Doc.

FAUCI: Thanks a lot, Chris. Appreciate it.

CUOMO: All right.

FAUCI: Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: All right, so from a disease, not of our own making, to a disease of our own making, hate.

Do you want to know why Asian Americans are under threat? A U.S. Congressman made it ugly and obvious today. I've never heard anything like it since the 60s. I want you to hear it. And then we have to figure out how to fight it, next.









CUOMO: Grisly new details tonight in the Atlanta spa shootings that left eight people dead, At least six of them Asian women.

Atlanta Police say that of the three victims killed, at the Gold massage spa, two of them were shot in the face. One was shot in the head. Why do those details matter? They show passion. They show purpose. They show potentially range, as in up-close, and they almost scream of animus.

Now, as of right now, we only know the names of four of the victims. Authorities say they're still trying to notify the families of the other four women, before releasing any information. The other victims may have been as old as 75.

Now, police say they're still working to determine the shooter's motivations.

But let's be very clear. What he says, about what was going on in his head, and his heart, and why he did it, that is not dispositive about his motivation. He certainly doesn't have a very high credibility index, right?

This evening, people rallied together for a vigil, and a call for action, to stop Asian hate. The reason they did that is it's hard to divorce this crime on several levels, from race, specifically anti- Asian animus. And I know that the shooter has given an early indication that wasn't about that is compelling.

The message is a stunning contrast to what we heard from one Republican lawmaker today, out of all places, a hearing on anti-Asian hate. I need you to listen to GOP Congressman Chip Roy, and the Democratic Congresswoman Grace Meng, who fired back.



REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): There's an old sayings in Texas about, you know, "Find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree".

I'm not going to be ashamed of saying I oppose the Chi-Coms. I oppose the Chinese Communist Party. And when we say things like that, and we're talking about that, we shouldn't be worried about having a Committee of Members of Congress policing our rhetoric.

REP. GRACE MENG (D-NY): Your President, and your party, and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want. But you don't have to do it by putting a bull's eye on the back of Asian Americans, across this country, on our grandparents, on our kids.

This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community, and to find solutions, and we will not let you take our voice away from us.


CUOMO: Georgia State Representative Bee Nguyen joins us now.

It's good to see you, Bee.


CUOMO: Well, you wanted to serve, you wanted to get involved, on the issues that matter. And who could have imagined they would have affected you, and where you come from, and what you're about, as much as they are right now.

Help people understand why Grace Meng was so hurt to hear Chip Roy making this about him, and how he feels he's being hemmed in by this discussion of racial animus, specifically towards Asians?

NGUYEN: Well, I think it's important to talk about the context and the history of Asian Americans in this country.

And for those of us, who learned our history, and who experienced it, through our ancestors, know that from the inception of this country, that there has been violence and brutality against Asian Americans starting with Chinese rail workers.

And then we see an Exclusion Act that was extended to an entire continent of people, the incarceration of Japanese Americans, the rise in hate crimes against Muslim-Americans, following 9/11. All of those things are part of our history in this country.

And in the last year, we have seen the rise of anti-AAPI sentiment, and the rise of Asian hate crimes by 150 percent. And I think it is critically important to note that of those being reported, 68 percent of those victims are Asian women.

CUOMO: And, so the statistics are that women are much more likely, within the Asian American community, to report them. They're more likely to be targeted. There's certainly a legacy of that.

But also, in terms of an issue brought home, you have a number of siblings. NGUYEN: I do have.

CUOMO: Is this something that is real for you, in your own life?

NGUYEN: As a public elected official, whenever somebody disagrees with my opinion, or my policies, the first thing that they do is criticize the country from which my parents come from. And the second thing is my gender.

So, I have experienced a lot of targeted messaging, targeted xenophobia, messages of going back to your own country, though I was born here, I was raised here. I've lived in Georgia almost my entire life. And it is very real.

I was also the first Vietnamese American to be elected in the State of Georgia in our 200-year history. And I was the only Asian American woman serving, out of 236 lawmakers, up until this year.

So it is prevalent in my life. And related to the elections' hearings last year, when I dared to question one of the alleged expert witnesses, I did receive death threats. And they were targeting me for my race and for my gender, but also for daring to speak up, for daring to have a voice.

And then, outside of that, all of my family, all of my friends, the conversations, that we're having, are "Do you feel safe? What is it going to look like for our little nephews? Are our parents OK? Are our friends OK?" And so, it is a very real and very visceral thing.

CUOMO: So, you get a chance to be with the President and the VP tomorrow. Obviously, this will be something that is on top of mind.

But also, you are a Representative, in a State, that is really the tip of the spear, in terms of these countrywide voter suppression efforts. What do you see as the urgency to head off what is happening, potentially, in Georgia?

What do they want to do? Why do you think it's wrong? And how urgent?


NGUYEN: I want to say I'm very grateful for our new leadership in the White House, and the fact that the President and the Vice President will be meeting with me and other Asian leaders in our State.

It is different. It is much different from the last four years, the previous administration, where the former president assigned a public pandemic to one country, assigned blame to them, which led to the increase of AAPI violence and hatred in our country.

And I think that there are so many urgent things in the State of Georgia, including the horrific crime that just happened here in Atlanta.

And I do have to say, as an Asian woman, I feel comforted by the fact that President Kamala Harris will be in the room, given that she is half-Asian, because there are cultural things that she will understand that people, who are not children of immigrants, who are not Asian, they just simply cannot connect to some of those nuances that complicate the shooting here in Atlanta.

And along with the voter suppression that is happening, that is something that will impact the Asian community as well. We know that Asian Americans turned up, in massive proportions, for the presidential election, as well as the U.S. Senate seats.

And so, all, of those things, are, going to be at the top of the mind, as we meet with the President and the Vice President tomorrow.

CUOMO: Georgia has become a crucible, from the election, now with these animus-driven murders.

I don't care what the suspect says. I don't know how you divorce them from the choice of victims that he made, especially with the newest details about how personal the murders were.

And the election reforms, what is being fought in your state, will be reverberated across the country.

So you're right in the mix, State Representative Bee Nguyen. I'm sorry, about how this hits your heart and your family. But you can put a purpose to that pain, and I hope you do. I look forward to hearing how it goes.

NGUYEN: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: Be well.

All of the animus is related. And you are either for it, or you are against it.

The FBI just released new videos of some of the worst assaults on police officers from January 6th. Now, ordinarily, if there was video of cops being attacked, the opposition party, the old GOP, they would have been all over it.

You've not heard any member of that party talk about "Blue Lives" that day. You've never heard it in the context of January 6th. You've never heard law and order come from their lips, about the demands of the infamy of that day.

Why not? Next.









CUOMO: All right, an entire political party now stands in opposition to the truth, and we have to get after it.

You have to see it for what it is. It's as obvious as the latest wave of videos, released by the FBI, showing exactly what Capitol Police faced on January 6th. That's what's on your screen.


CUOMO: Keep in mind, when you see people, unleashing clouds of chemicals, "Ah, well, what is that?" Officer Sicknick is dead, as a result of bear spray, in all likelihood.

When you see officers being beaten with poles, remember, 140 were injured in the attack, some maimed, some lost body parts. Some will carry the scars of that day for the rest of their lives. Doesn't take a gun to hurt someone!

See what the opposition party doesn't want you to see, the dominant color, red, because they're Trump hats, Trump flags.

Remember the Senator who told you the attackers were really from a Leftist group. Remember, all the cops being beaten, when this same Senator says this.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I knew those are people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break a law. And so, I wasn't concerned.


CUOMO: He is perpetrating a fraud.

He and others, in his Party, are trying to convince that the terror attack, and that's what it was, they're all supposed to be all about terror, right, not this one, the terror attack of January 6th "Wasn't really that bad. People weren't armed!"

Look up the definition of Insurrection. Show me where it says "Armed." It says "Violent."

What happened to the GOP party? What is happening to the Republican Party? The party of "Character counts" is replaced by this guy? And no member of the Party really got up, and told him to shut up that they're better than this that he is not what you're about.

Instead, the top member of this new opposition party, in the House, is trying to rewrite the history of the big lie, this same way Johnson and others are trying to rewrite the Insurrection it led to. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump tried to overturn the results in Congress, and you supported that effort.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Well, now you're saying some that's not true.

RAJU: But did you or did you not support Donald Trump's effort to overturn the election?



CUOMO: What do you mean "No?" Yes. Yes, you did. You were on the phone with him, panicking, saying "Call off your dogs." He mocked you. And then, you still voted to decertify, and you still played the election- rigged game?

Come on the show. Please, Representative McCarthy, come on the show. I'll give you half an hour. Let's talk it out. I don't want to yell at you. Don't yell at me. Let's go through it, make the case. Because the way you say it here, in light of the facts, would make Orwell blush.


They are literally saying that they didn't say what they said, and for you to believe them over your lying eyes. How can any real Republican go for this?

Not when the U.S. Intel agencies are telling us "Narratives of fraud in the recent general election," the big lie, had the "Emboldening impact of the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol," the infamy of January 6th, and that it will almost certainly spur domestic violent extremists, to try and engage in more attacks this year.

When you learn that, where are you real Republicans? You need to de- Trumpify your ranks. Now, that takes us to another big problem that the Right is pretending to care about, election security.

Now, if election security means restricting the rights of minorities to vote? "Yes!" But if it means dealing with Putin, who was caught interfering again, once again, to help Trump? "Shh!"

But the new guy in office won't placate Putin. Trump said he believed Putin over American Intelligence. Biden looked at the same Intel, and said "Putin is a liar" and now, a "Killer."

Did Putin just show his next move? We have a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander on this, next.









CUOMO: Team Biden is saying "No more trumpery when it comes to dealing with bad guys."

Today, Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, laid out deep concerns about some of China's actions, around the world, of - and warned of the need to respect global order, or face a more violent world.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We'll also discuss our deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyberattacks on the United States, economic coercion toward our allies.

The alternative to a rules-based order is a world in which might makes right and winners take all. And that would be a far more violent and unstable world for all of us.


CUOMO: Those words were not well-met. A heated confrontation ensued.

A top foreign policy aide, to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, said, the U.S. does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength. All this playing out, amid Putin's response, to Biden calling him a "Killer."

Let's discuss with the Author of "2034: A Novel of the Next World War," Retired Admiral, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, James Stavridis.

It's good to see you, sir.


CUOMO: Good luck with the book. Hopefully, it stays a novel, and we don't have to deal with it in real-time.

Biden, calling Putin a "Killer" is likely a reference to his reputation as a former KGB operative. But what does that do for the state of play?

STAVRIDIS: I think it's honest. It's direct. It clears up any lingering sense, on the part of Putin that he's got anything but a free ride with the Biden Administration. Look, I'd call it A, honest, and B, refreshing, when the President of the United States does not act sycophantically toward Vladimir Putin.

And Chris, you and I both knew John McCain.

After President Bush looked in the eyes of Putin and said, "You know, I can work with Putin, I see his soul," John McCain said, "I looked into Vladimir Putin's eyes, and I saw three letters, KGB."

I think McCain got that one right. And I think Joe Biden has it right.

CUOMO: What did you think of the Trump unorthodox approach of being so sycophantic, to use your word, to stand on the world stage, and say, "I believe him over United States Intel?"

Was that just self-serving, to protect Trump from any scrutiny of having been assisted? What was the effort of that play? And why is Biden's play better, in your opinion?

STAVRIDIS: Well, first of all, in international relations, I was Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy for five years. I have a PhD in International Relations. Rule number one, be honest and direct. It clears up any chance of miscalculation.

In terms of why President Trump was so benign in the face of constant Putin aggression in Syria, in Ukraine, above all, Chris, in our elections, you know, there's more good reporting to follow on that, I hope.

However, what we have now is a Biden Administration, in my view, that's taking a very clear-eyed look at Vladimir Putin, and assesses correctly, he is no friend to the United States. We have got to confront him.

CUOMO: Putin is mostly noise. China is a threat. We don't really have China - Russia doesn't really have anything that we want.

China is a true opponent, on a number of different levels. That was a very muscular response from them today, saying, "You don't have any high ground. You can't come at us from a position of strength."

Is that them saying "We hold all your debt?" Is that, you know, what do you see them communicating in that?

STAVRIDIS: I think they recognize that we are waking up to the fact that China is a looming tower. They are a serious competitor to the United States. They are advancing in technology.


Chris, they claim the entire South China Sea as "Territorial waters." This is a body of water the size of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea combined. It's a preposterous claim.

But if we were to acquiesce in that, if we were to acquiesce, in their gross human rights violations, in their own nation, in Hong Kong, the pressure they put on Taiwan, on neighbors around the region, we cannot afford to do that, because long-term down that path doth madness and war lie.

We need to confront them where we must, find zones of cooperation, where we can.

And I think Secretary of State Tony Blinken stood up well, in the face of a lot of bluster from China. And I, for one agree with Tony Blinken. I wouldn't bet against the United States long-term.

CUOMO: But Antony Blinken was still general. I mean, we know what they're doing with the Uyghurs. Some people call it "A genocide."


CUOMO: America has not been loud or proud about what's going on in there, in any real way. The media has very little access, if any. Should America start calling that out? Should we start demanding transparency? Should we try to get in there?

STAVRIDIS: What we should do, Chris is take it out of a channel, where it is U.S. versus China.

Because we have this enormous, enormous network of allies, partners and friends, all of NATO, where I was Supreme Allied Commander, Japan, Australia, increasingly, India, the so-called Quad, Vietnam, South Korea, we have a huge network of allies, partners and friends.

We ought to encourage all of them to collectively call out China. And I think, over time, they will do that because China cannot be allowed to be the bully in Asia.

CUOMO: Well, it's got to be a team effort, right, Admiral, because, you know the American appetite for any military intervention abroad is very, very spare.

Admiral James Stavridis, I know you're very busy. I know you've got the new book out. Again, for people to understand that you know what you're talking about, and you're always welcome on this show, remind us of the name of the new book.

STAVRIDIS: "2034: A Novel of the Next World War." It's a cautionary tale. Let's avoid the war. But let's do it from a position of strength dealing with China.

CUOMO: I hope I'm alive just to see that it doesn't come true. Take care, Admirable, and thank you again.

STAVRIDIS: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: I called him "The Admirable!" That was a slip, but it works!

The Pandemic, it's kept so many of us apart, right? Vaccines slowly bringing us back together. For one grandson and one grandmother, this is a really special way. I dare you not to smile! This is the latest installment of "I Wish I Were Them" next.









CUOMO: Time for another installment of "I Want To Be Them!"

This family in Maryland, I want you to meet Shirley Donaldson, a 90- year-old grandmother in Maryland. She got to get vaccinated, and see one of her loved ones, at the same time.

The young man vaccinating her, her grandson, Mike. There he is. And he gave his grandmother the vaccine. Look, she's looking away.


CUOMO: How can you hurt your grandmother like that? No, it looks like he did a great job. And the result after it, a giant safe bear hug. Look at that.


CUOMO: Don't you want to be them? That's why we need to get people vaccinated.

Mike Rechen and Shirley Donaldson are here with me now.

Yes. There's you on TV. What a beautiful moment! It's nice to see you both.


CUOMO: I'm better now.


CUOMO: Thank you very much. You're part of a very exclusive group. You're probably only watching because you couldn't get out of the house. Now that you've been vaccinated, you can get back to enjoying yourself at night. What did it mean to you, Mike, to vaccinate your grandma, and be able to sit like this again, and hug her, and remind yourself of why she's so important?

RECHEN: Oh, it was great. We're a very close family. And we're used to spending every holiday together, eating crabs all summer. And finally, we can hopefully resume that.

And then, today, we just found out that my parents' age group is going to be eligible in Maryland now. So, everybody will be vaccinated here soon, hopefully.

CUOMO: Shirley?


CUOMO: Why is your grandson so special?

DONALDSON: He's our - I'm 90-years-old.

CUOMO: I don't believe you.

DONALDSON: And he was our - he was our first grandchild. And he's just special. He and his brother are special.

CUOMO: What makes him a good boy?

RECHEN: He said, what makes me a good boy?

DONALDSON: Yes. What did you say?

CUOMO: What makes him such a good grandson?

DONALDSON: Because he came from a good mother and father.

CUOMO: That's exactly what I thought I was going to hear.

Well, listen, brother. I hope that - I hope that you really get to appreciate each other, and make those memories, and spend that time. This has been such a hard time for so many. I'm happy and jealous of your family.

I still haven't seen my mom. I got a sneak peek of her for my birthday. She's vaccinated now. She's got the double shot.

I want you guys to be an inspiration to the family. If they're lucky enough, Mike, to have a grandmother, as beautiful and as sweet, as your own, what a chance to get reconnected. Thank you for bringing us this story.

DONALDSON: I love him.

CUOMO: You should. Look at him!

RECHEN: Yes, I was--

DONALDSON: And he's got a brother that's just as good.

CUOMO: I believe it. I know. They're all equal. They're all equal. But this one vaccinated you, so he's got a little bit of an advantage. He's good-looking, and he did the right thing.


CUOMO: And Shirley, thank you very much, young lady. I appreciate you watching this show. I need you. So, thank you.

DONALDSON: Thank you for calling me "Young lady." It makes me feel good.

CUOMO: I call them as I see them.

DONALDSON: Thank you.

CUOMO: I call them as I see them.

DONALDSON: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: God bless and be well.

DONALDSON: Thank you.

CUOMO: Don't you want to be like them?

DONALDSON: Thank you, Chris.

RECHEN: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Take care.

Don't you want to be like them? Get people vaccinated. I know it can be a pain. But what a pleasure comes with it!

We'll be right back.









CUOMO: There sure is a lot going on. And there is reason for hope. But you know? Hope sometimes is defined as, as-yet undiscovered

disappointment. Now what is that, just cynicism? No. It means that, like the definition of luck, preparation meets opportunity, you set yourself up for whether or not what you're hoping for comes true.

You can't hope for a great summer, and all these July 4th barbecues, "I'm hoping for Memorial Day," to be able to experience each other, and make some of the memories that make life worth living, when it can be so hard. But it's only if you set yourself up for it.

And I don't understand why there's this mystery when it comes to the Pandemic. I don't understand why you don't see what's going on that the science is clear. It's never been about the science. You learn things over time.

But it's been a long time that we knew that masks are the right move. The only reason for somebody to tell you "Well they told us not to wear them, now they say wear them," the only reason to go back a year is because you don't like where you are right now, because you see some advantage of it.

And I tell you, Senator Rand Paul, come on. Make the case to the non- converted, the way you preach to the converted, because they are selling people, bad situations and non-science, and it's keeping us.