Return to Transcripts main page

Cuomo Prime Time

Cheney To GOP: We Can't Be A Cult Of Personality; Experts Warn Herd Immunity In U.S. Unlikely As Vaccination Rates Drop; NC Law Blocking Release Of Police Video Under Fresh Scrutiny. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 03, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Matt Rivers, appreciate the report. Thank you.

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

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

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

Look, here's the reality. The two-party system is a challenge for our democracy. And there is a real discussion to be had about whether it's time to change it, so that the full complement of beliefs, and people who want them can be empowered in our elective bodies.

But that's not where we are right now. Right now, we have a catastrophe on our hands, because it takes two to tango, in our system, as it is, right? And one party has become consumed by its fringe, by extreme notions of division.

We are in such a sad state that I bet you both parties, right now, think I must be referring to the other. But for all the flaws of the policies, and people that populate the Democrats, are really the Left, it is the Grand Old Party that is at war with itself, a war that is affecting everyone and everything in this country.

"We can't be a cult of personality," warns the number three in the House GOP, Liz Cheney. But she knows her party is just and only that now. Either you are for Trump, and pledge to oppose the reality that he lost, and oppose all efforts, to work with anyone who says he did, or else.

Cheney is one of the only to dabble with "All else." She called BS on Donald Trump, again today, as he tries to re-pitch the "Big Lie."

Cheney, at an earlier event today, said "We can't rebuild the party or the conservative movement on a foundation of lies. We can't be a cult of personality. We can't whitewash what happened on January 6th or perpetuate Trump's big lie. It is a threat to democracy. What he did on January 6th is a line that can't be crossed."

Now, all of that, until the last point, is a fact. It's all a fact. It all happened. It's all real. The problem is her party accepts fiction.

70 percent of her party believes Biden did not win rightfully. That's from the latest CNN poll. As a result, the leadership has decided to work only on one type of reform, not in immigration, not health care, not infrastructure.

The reform is reforming the reality of the act of terrorism that we all saw in the Insurrection of the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. Listen.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The President bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob.

I was the first person to contact him when the riots was going on. He didn't see it. What he ended the call was saying telling me he'll put something out to make sure to stop this. And that's what he did.


CUOMO: He's a liar! This is the guy that told people that he begged Trump to call off his dogs on the 6th. And that when Trump started messing with him, "Guess they care more about it than you do," they got into a cursing contest.

Now, he sees it differently, why? He's afraid. So now, he sees Cheney as more of a problem than the Insurrection. Listen.


MCCARTHY: This Republican Party is a very big tent. Everyone's invited in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Cheney still a good fit for your leadership team, do you believe?

MCCARTHY: That's a question for the Conference.


CUOMO: Question for the Conference? You are the Conference!

What happened to the big tent, Mr. McCarthy? "Everybody's invited!" Not anymore. It is a party of one, Trump. This is not debatable. The only thing that's debatable is what happens, as a result.

Trump knows this. He knows the party is weak. And he is doing what any good invader does. And be clear. This man is no conservative, OK? He is invading conservativism, and doing it brilliantly, and effectively.

So, what does he do, Trump? He goes at Cheney, as more proof of what happens, if you oppose his lies. He canceled her. "She's a warmonger, who will never run again in Wyoming."

But see this as two pieces. "You'll never run again." That's the consequence. That's why McCarthy lies. But it's also something else.


What's the other piece? It's a shot at her father, former vice president Cheney, who, by the way, was a warmonger.

But why is he saying it? Truth? Never. It's Trump's attempt to destroy the past players of the party. You see, he wants to destroy what was seen as the culture of GOP. "Make it all bad, all wrong. There is no past. The only reality is the present. And that is me."

And he is winning within the ranks. The past of the GOP has been rendered poison. And the most poisonous, those who dare to question his Trumpness, like Senator Mitt Romney.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Now you know me as a person who says what he thinks. And I don't hide the fact that I wasn't a fan of our last president's character issues.


ROMNEY: And I'm also no fan--


ROMNEY: Aren't you embarrassed?


CUOMO: Nope! There is no shame in their game. You see, that is the upside of anger. This is not about balance.

Romney was the Republican Party's nominee in 2012. Now he's called a traitor and booed at his party's state convention, because he's changed? No, because they've changed.

And he won't back the guy, who incited an Insurrection. But they wanted the Insurrection because they saw it as an act of patriotism, because they were told and choose to believe that they are under attack.

And Romney can smile up on that stage, but he feels the teeth. He won't even come on this show to talk about it. Think about what that means.

So, what is winning? Trump? Not just Trump, Trumpism, this, a QAnon kook, Marjorie Taylor Greene endorsed the execution of Democrats, and all that crazy Q stuff. She wanted to start a White Nationalism Caucus. Someone talked her out of it!

It's only leaders, from the past now, who are willing to call out the obvious and odious. Remember this guy?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know... to me that's basically says that we want to be extinct.

But I know this that if the Republican Party stands for exclusivity, you know, used to be country clubs. Now evidently, it's white Anglo- Saxon Protestantism, then it's not going to win anything.


CUOMO: Or is he wrong? Will this new nativism lead to a return to power? Can Trump conquer conservativism by destroying the people and principles of the party's past, and replacing them with something simple? "It is us or it is them. And only I can save you."

Let's put it to the better mind, Mr. Michael Smerconish.

Now this isn't as simple, my brother, as talking about the party that you embraced versus the party today. I believe we already know the answer. You don't win in that party, if you are not on the side of what Trump believes in, and really is just an echo effect of a lot of different quarters of animus in this country. Isn't that the reality?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: So, I share much of what you just offered. I'll go a step further. This may be, politically speaking, because it's totally untethered to reality, politically speaking, it might be a brilliant strategy for Trump.

And I say that because he's now got 70 percent of Republicans lockstep on this issue, therefore, very hard to run at him, very hard to run at anybody, who supports his perspective, in primaries, so it secures his short-term position.

Now, fast forward to the midterm election, you know historically what happens, Chris. The party outside of the White House typically picks up. They only need what? A half dozen seats in the House of Representatives.

So, maybe when the midterm is over, Republicans are back in control of the House of Representatives, and who's going to be standing there claiming all credit? Donald Trump.

The only opportunity to dislodge him, as the titular head of the Republican Party, is if the GOP gets shellacked in the midterm, but that's so unlikely.

CUOMO: Yes, I mean, they lost 81 to 74, or whatever it was, when by all lights, he should have had a second term. He brought the vaccine there.


If he had just talked the right talk, about the Pandemic, right up until the end, he probably would have beaten Biden. Democrats were reluctantly in that camp. But it meant nothing to his fate. There is - he is the "Teflon Don." But here's my question. What does it mean for conservativism, if this continues, if jingoism and nativism replaces conservativism, what happens?

SMERCONISH: Well, they can splinter. The Romney, the Liz Cheney, the Adam Kinzinger, there's only a handful of them, but they're just going to have a piece of the GOP. Maybe it's enough to deny what's left to the Republican Party victory. But I doubt it.

And here's something else I want to say. And I - what I'm about to say, I think, applies to many people, who are in our business, but I don't think it applies to either of us.

I don't think they mean what they say. And the proof of this is that 139 Republicans in the House, just a couple of months ago, challenged the election result. That was in the light of day with the base and the world watching.

But when they were behind closed doors, and the vote was on Liz Cheney, all of a sudden, the 139 became 61. It was an anonymous vote. Nobody knew. You weren't going to be held accountable.

You can't have it both ways, Chris. Either you believe the election was rigged, and therefore you want Cheney out, because after all, she voted to impeach. But that's not the way those two votes were tallied.

So my point is, when the base isn't watching, I'll bet they tell the truth. I'll bet in the cloakroom, what they're really saying is, "My God, I wish I could say what Liz Cheney is saying, except I'd get primaried."

CUOMO: They all say that to us. Michael, you know it. And I know it. I've had phone calls with so - and I'll never go bad on them. I do not burn sources. I want to know where people's heads and hearts are.

Yes, I get frustrated. And I say "Don't tell me this now, and then say that I'm lying, or whatever it is, when you're out on TV, or over on hate TV, on Fox." But that's the reality. And I'd rather have the counsel than not.

But they've already answered the question. And now, I don't understand why this doesn't translate into everybody's mindset.

Why does anybody believe the GOP will work with Biden on anything? It is a deathblow for them, if they work with him. Why don't the Democrats and everybody understand this?

SMERCONISH: Well, and it's all - it's all about the cultural divide issues, right? I mean, here's an amazing thing. The Republican Party, in which I cut my teeth, in the 80s, the Reagan era, this would have been all about $6 trillion being spent. It would have been all about the size of the debt.

Nobody even talks about that anymore. Why? I guess it doesn't drive the base. You know what drives the base? The border drives the base. You know what drives the base? The whole Trans issue in sports seems to drive the base.

And what it tells me, overall, is that it's all about self- preservation. It's not about getting anything done. It's simply about keeping your gig in Washington.

CUOMO: It used to be, back then, it would have been, "Here's what I want to do," and then you have the fight over cost. Now, you start with price tag politics, right?

So, Biden has to put out a big number, because the best he's ever going to get is the number, because it's never going to happen. So he might as well say $16 trillion, because you're not going to get anything done, because you're not going to blow up the filibuster. You don't have the resolve in your ranks.

And I have to tell you something. I know people aren't going to like this. Manchin is right. And I'll tell you why.

I don't like the filibuster. Yes, it came out of Jim Crow. I don't believe it's ever been used for anything other than to forestall the obvious, and the Founders didn't want it. So, that's my case.

But the practicality is Manchin is right, because they will get the Senate back. And we both know what happens, when they do Michael.

McConnell will still be there. And he will bring down a reckoning of epic proportion. And he will get things done, because they will be in line. And that's why Manchin is right. The Democrats don't have it, within themselves, to fight the kind of fight you need to fight, if you get rid of the filibuster.

Fair, or do I misread?

SMERCONISH: No, you're right. And I'll go a step further. Imagine if there were five Manchins, and not one, total power in the Senate would be controlled by an independent mindset.

CUOMO: That - talk about vestigial!

Michael Smerconish, thank you for Friday. Thank you for the upgrade. And thank you for being with us as always.

SMERCONISH: It was an honor.

CUOMO: The honor was me to watch.

SMERCONISH: It was an honor, thank you.

CUOMO: Thank you, brother, be well.

SMERCONISH: All right.

CUOMO: So Re-Trump-licans, why did I coin that phrase? Now you know.

[21:15:00] And by the way, I'm not casting it as an aspersion. I'm not here to judge whether or not that's good, to get in line, with one man's view, of what the country should be. That's for you guys to figure it out. But that's what it is. So, don't tell me that it's inaccurate. Don't tell me "Oh, you're just insulting." That's what they are.

Now they have to make a choice. And they have already. Don't you see? They want Congress. Lie about the election, win Congress, why? Stoke fear. Stoke animus.

And if people say "Yes, but it really did happen." "Oh, but don't they lie to you about everything, on the Left?" "Well, yes, they do." "So what, we're not supposed to do what they do?" "Well, it's a good point." That's what's happening. Or am I wrong?

What is the other outcome? Let's put it to two GOP veterans from one of the most important swing states, next.









CUOMO: Why is this happening on the Right? Simple! It's the math, stupid, right, to paraphrase Jim Carville? The math tells you, lie, deny, defy reality, create division, you win. And look at the results. A quarter of the party doesn't want to accept the truth.

And look, I don't know what to call the party. We'll talk about it with our two guests.

But Biden legitimately won the presidency. And a minority of this party believes that, and a minority believes that Trump is to blame at all for the Capitol riot. And that is why we're seeing this new strategy, "Carve away from diversity, make it about Us and Them."

We have to talk about where this goes. I will accept the arguments. I will not accept a false premise for it. I want to bring in former Republican legislators, Charlie Dent and Rick Santorum.

But first, I have wood to chop with Santorum. And this is the piece of sound that I need to talk to you about, right here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICK SANTORUM, (R) FORMER U.S. SENATOR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you think about this country, I don't know of any other country in the world that was settled predominantly by people who were coming to practice their faith.

They came here because they were not allowed to practice their particular faith in their own country. And so, they came here, mostly from Europe, and they set up a country that was based on Judeo- Christian principles.

If you think of other countries, like Italy and Greece and China, and Turkey, and places like that, they've all, sort of, changed over time. I mean, they've been - they've been there for millennia, in many cases. And their culture has, sort of, evolved over time, but not us.

We came here and created a blank slate. We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here. I mean, yes, we have Native Americans. But candidly, that - there isn't much Native American culture in American culture.


CUOMO: Now Rick, two problems. One, it's not accurate. There is a lot of affect from the native culture on America.

SANTORUM: Absolutely.

CUOMO: And there are a lot of people here--

SANTORUM: I agree.

CUOMO: --who believe in that. And this seemed like--


CUOMO: --you were trying to erase diversity in the interest of some--


CUOMO: --white Christian right.

SANTORUM: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, what? Just - just to be clear, what I was not saying is that Native American culture - I misspoke.

I was saying - what I was talking about is, as you can see from the run-up, I was talking about the founding of our country.

I had given a long talk about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and the ideas behind those. And that that - and I was saying we sort of created that anew, if you will.

And I was - I was not trying to dismiss Native Americans. In fact, I mentioned that because, yes, they were here, and they did have an impact, in fact, in this country. You're right. They have a huge impact, particularly in the West, and many other areas of the country, where they have a huge impact on American culture.

I was talking about, and I misspoke in this respect, I was talking about the founding, and the principles embodied in the founding.

I would never, and you know, people have said, "Oh, I'm trying to dismiss what we did to the Native Americans." Far from it! The way we treated Native Americans was horrific. It goes against every bone and everything I've ever fought for, as a leader, in the Congress.

I believe, as our founding document says that we are endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights and that we are all equal. And when we treat people as other or less than human, that's when America - that's when every country gets into problem.

We did it with the Native Americans. We did it with respect to African Americans. I believe we're doing it with children in the womb today. So, this is very personal, very passionate, that we can't treat people as different or other. And we get into a lot of problems.

So, I wasn't saying any of the things that the social media world is saying that I was saying. I was simply talking about the founding documents of the United States, not the colonies, but the United States, was based on these principles of freedom of conscience, religious liberty, and the importance of that, as a building block to the American Dream.

CUOMO: I want to take one more beat on it, because I think it's instructive of the conversation--


CUOMO: --we're going to have about your party. Why are people pissed off?


CUOMO: Because it seems to be the continuation of a trend, not just with you, but with the newest manifestation of your party, of beating up the little guy, and making them seem as less than.

Forget the Natives.


CUOMO: You have done this with homosexuality, comparing it to bestiality, same-sex marriage, minorities.

And it seems like this is part of your party now that "There's something wrong with these Black people. That's why bad trouble happens. There's something wrong with these gay people. There's something wrong with these people on reproductive rights. They're not us. They're not us. We started this country."

Who is "We?" You're like me. You're a mutt, who came here a couple of generations ago, Rick. You ain't no pilgrim, OK?


CUOMO: So, the point is--



CUOMO: --that this is a continuation of an "Us" and a "Them." And a "Them" is "The Native Americans, the Black Americans, the Gay Americans, they're all others. They're not us, white Christian types." But the white Christian types aren't even white Christian types.


CUOMO: Do you see why it makes people so--

SANTORUM: No, no, I would just--

CUOMO: --so scared?

SANTORUM: Chris? Well--

CUOMO: And so hurt?

SANTORUM: Yes, all I can say is if you just listen to what I said, before your question, which is, the beautiful thing about the imperfect people that put together our founding documents, they put together a pretty perfect saying, which is, "All men are created equal and endowed by our Creator with rights."

And, as I said before, we get into trouble in this country. And I agree with you, there are people, who look at people as "Other," look at people as "Less than."

CUOMO: Yes, your party is led by one of them.

SANTORUM: And that is despicable, disgusting.

CUOMO: Right now.

SANTORUM: Well, all I can say is I have rejected that. I've rejected, whether it - look, and--

CUOMO: You won't even say his name, and say that you reject that--

SANTORUM: --I don't think you want to conflate dis--

CUOMO: --about him.

SANTORUM: I don't--

CUOMO: You won't even say it, by the way.

SANTORUM: Well, I'd be - I'd be happy to say I reject the way that Donald Trump has phrased "Others" in some of his - in some of this rhetoric. But the point is I don't think we want to conflate disagreements about

public policy issues, which are based, which have a whole lot of other ramifications, and how we treat people as individuals.

CUOMO: I agree.

SANTORUM: I think we can treat people with respect and dignity, and disagree with them, on very important issues--

CUOMO: I agree.

SANTORUM: --like abortion, or like marriage, and not - and not just because I disagree with someone on the issue of marriage, doesn't mean I hate them, or see them as less than.

CUOMO: I agree.

SANTORUM: And I think that's what I get accused of. And that's wrong.

CUOMO: Well, I think a little bit of it is context. You asked for it with what you say, and who you choose to carve out, in terms of who you find acceptable and don't. But I wanted to give you a chance to explain yourself, because that's what this show is about.


CUOMO: I'm going to test you on it--

SANTORUM: Thank you.

CUOMO: --because I don't like where it's coming from. But I want to have that conversation with Charlie Dent, who I believe represents a different part of what you guys used to be about, as a party.

So, let's take a break, come back with two people, who share the same label, but I don't know that you're the same thing anymore, right after this.









CUOMO: All right, let's bring in Charlie Dent with Rick Santorum. Now, Charlie, here's the proposition. Rick's getting beaten up, he's

saying "Give me the benefit of context. I didn't mean it that way." People are jumping on him because this is how they see your party.

You guys are about "Us versus Them," and lying about anything that doesn't suit you. You won't say Trump's word. I had to come at Rick three times just to get him to say it. And he has no reason not to say it. But McCarthy does. And Scalise does. And McConnell does.

And that's why they all shut up, and do what they have to do, even if he says there was no Insurrection, even if he says the election was wrong, even if he makes Blacks sound like savages, "Black people, and they're coming for your neighborhood with Cory Booker." And now you got a QAnon lady, who's safer in your party than a former VP's daughter?

What does that tell you about where you are, Charlie?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, HOUSE ETHICS COMMITTEE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ASPEN INSTITUTE CONGRESSIONAL PROGRAM: Well, the party's in a terrible place. And it's badly fractured. And I think some of the Republican leaders, in the House, simply want to whitewash this whole thing. They want to tell us that they're all unified. They're happy, heavy.

Hey, Kevin McCarthy raised $27 million in the first quarter, and the NRCC raised $33 million. That's a - those are big numbers. And so, they don't want to do anything that would disrupt their ability to monetize this current movement.

And they find it easier and politically safer to attack the woman, Liz Cheney, who's telling the truth, rather than condemn the man, the former president, Donald Trump, who continues to perpetuate this lie that somehow he won the election, and that it was all stolen from him. It is nonsense. It is destructive.

This is horrible for a party, that it's - we've - I've been saying, Chris, I've been saying this since I was in Congress, that too many people in our party, the litmus test is about loyalty to a man. It's not about any governing principles or ideals anymore.

And there are a bunch of us, on the outside, working to establish these ideas and principles, which will be released at some point, in the not too distant future. But we're in a very bad place, and everybody knows it.

CUOMO: What do you think about what happened to Mitt Romney, Rick? Isn't that kind of like the ultimate sign that it's over, in Utah, of all places?

SANTORUM: Well, what happened to Mitt Romney was because and I don't think - it was obviously because of what he did with Trump and the impeachment vote. But it's a whole host of other things that Mitt Romney has been doing, and sort of breaking away from conservative orthodoxy, in the Senate. And the conservatives in Utah were never for Mitt Romney. He wasn't

their choice. So, I'm not necessarily surprised at a Convention, usually dominated by conservatives, that he would get that kind of reaction--

CUOMO: What did he break away from?

SANTORUM: --he would get that kind of reaction.

CUOMO: What do you think he did that rejects conservativism?

SANTORUM: Well, I can give you a long laundry list.

CUOMO: Just one.

SANTORUM: I ran against him in 2012. I have a long laundry list of - health care is probably the biggest one.

CUOMO: How so?

SANTORUM: And he - he continues to - well, I mean, he was the - he was the architect of Romneycare, which became the template for Obamacare. And he's continued to not be, in my opinion, a strong conservative on health care for a long, long time. So that's - that's one - that's one area.

CUOMO: But hold on a second. Hold on. Rick? Rick? I'll take your example.

SANTORUM: But the broader issue I want to--

CUOMO: I'll take your example, because I think it's relevant.

Charlie, this is new thinking, OK? One, Romney was your nominee in 2012, which means the party, as a majority, accepted what he wanted. But this notion that conservatives don't want everybody to have health care, and that conservative don't think health care should be affordable--

SANTORUM: That's not what I said.

CUOMO: But that was what Romney's argument was to get you--

SANTORUM: That's not what I said, Chris.

CUOMO: What - I know. It's not what you said.

SANTORUM: But no it wasn't, it's--


CUOMO: But you argued against Romney's plan, and that was his plan.

SANTORUM: --whether we need a market-based solution or a government solution.

CUOMO: No, his plan was--

SANTORUM: Which is a government solution not a market solution.

CUOMO: But there's no such thing as a market solution--

DENT: But--

CUOMO: --when you're dealing with something that--

DENT: But--

CUOMO: --people can't afford unless government steps in.

SANTORUM: Yes, there is.

DENT: Hold it.

CUOMO: And you know it. But Charlie, go ahead.


DENT: Hold it, right - well look, Mitt Romney was not being censured, or rebuked, for any ideological transgression. He was being rebuked because he voted to impeach Donald Trump, and because he has told the truth about Donald Trump, and the Insurrection. That's why they're attacking him.

This has absolutely nothing to do with ideology. You think people who pledged fidelity to ideology would be standing up and defending Mitt Romney right now. But that's the sad state of the party right now. We don't do that anymore.

We had these oh, these self-designated chiefs of the Republican Purity Police, "Oh, he's calling people RINOs, and Squishes, that they were not pure enough."

And look, here comes Donald Trump, the most non-ideological transactional guy, in the planet. And all of a sudden, you know what? They forgot all about those principles, on trade, on so many other issues, you know what, because it was in their political interests, to stay close with him.


DENT: This has nothing to do with ideology, and we shouldn't even--

SANTORUM: Yes. Again with all--

DENT: --endorse it forward (ph).

SANTORUM: --with all due respect, Charlie, I agree with you that there are many in this party, and I think it's sad that there are many in this party, that have sort of a cult of personality attraction to Donald Trump, and they get a lot of play on the national media.

But I can tell you that the vast majority of Republicans, in the House and Senate, don't have that personal connection to Donald Trump. But they are very, very much afraid about what's going to happen here in the next couple of years, if Republicans don't get control of the House of Representatives in 2022.

And what they don't want is a civil war, where Donald Trump is splitting off and running candidates every - in every single election, dividing Republicans, and causing a victory for the Democrats, in 2022, which they think the consequences, not just politically, but more importantly, for the future of the country are dire.

So yes are they sitting on their tongues, and they're - they're not - they're not going after Donald Trump. But they're trying - what they're trying to do is, what Kevin McCarthy and leadership has been trying to do is walk the razor's edge of trying to hold the party together, and to see - so we can stop this march toward socialism that Joe Biden has put us on.

CUOMO: March toward socialism? All right, anyway let's--

DENT: Yes.

CUOMO: Hold on, Charlie, let me give you the last point here. He says "Walk the razor's edge." I say you've dived on the blade, and you've made your decision.

You are now the party of "Islamic Christianity, it's out to hate us. And these Black people, you better be careful, because you see that they're coming forth." That's who you are.

You got a QAnon person in your ranks, who is safer than your number three, because she's saying things that are on par.

You could shake your head, Rick. You're playing the same game. And that's why all the conservatives ran around you.

SANTORUM: I'm not playing, Chris.

CUOMO: When you said that thing about the Native Americans.

SANTORUM: Donald Trump lost the election. I think--

CUOMO: You know?


CUOMO: Yes, yes.

SANTORUM: What I said--

CUOMO: Why are they loving you up, Rick?

SANTORUM: That's not fair, Chris.

CUOMO: Why are they loving you up?

SANTORUM: That's a - that's a-- CUOMO: Why are they loving you up?

SANTORUM: They're lighting me up--

CUOMO: About going bad on Native Americans?

SANTORUM: --they're lighting me up, Chris, for the same reason - the same reason they light you up on the other side, because they hate you. The people on the Right hate you. People on the Left hate me.

DENT: Look?

SANTORUM: And so anytime, they can take something out of context, and go after me, they do. You know this, Chris, come on.

CUOMO: No, no, no, I'm saying why are the people on the Right loving you up, Rick?

DENT: This--

SANTORUM: This is - this is the blood sport that is social media.

CUOMO: Rick? I'm not a victim. What I'm saying is--

SANTORUM: Who is loving me up?

CUOMO: --why are the people on the Right, celebrating you? "He should say that. We are white and Christian. We have to get back to that. Rick's right." Why are they loving you up?

SANTORUM: Yes, well, that's not - by the way, that's not what I said. And that--

CUOMO: It's odd how it came across though Rick.

SANTORUM: --and those who took it out of context, tried to make it that. But that's not what I said.

No, it didn't. If you looked at the whole speech, I was talking to a group of young people, about the founding of the country, and the importance of religious liberty in the country.

CUOMO: And you dismissed--

SANTORUM: It was all about the founding. It was all about principles.

CUOMO: And you dismissed the impact of people, who were conquered, marginalized.

SANTORUM: I dismissed--

CUOMO: And brutalized.

SANTORUM: I dismissed--

DENT: Look? SANTORUM: I did not dismiss them or that - I talked about what their contribution was--

CUOMO: Then I guess everybody has it wrong.

SANTORUM: --what was the contribution to the founding? Well, I guess the question is, if you want to make - go out of here and make a case that Native Americans had a huge impact on the founding documents--

CUOMO: Well, the story you guys tell--

SANTORUM: --of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

CUOMO: --they saved your grandparents (ph).

SANTORUM: I'm asking you. You - you--

CUOMO: The story you guys tell, they kept you alive.

SANTORUM: I'm asking you, Chris, I'm asking you, Chris, if you want to go out and make the - make the case, please do. I'd love to hear it.

CUOMO: I don't want to make the case.

SANTORUM: As to what founding principles--

CUOMO: I want to make the case that you respect people, and you don't--

SANTORUM: That's the - that's the case I'm making.

CUOMO: --make it sound like that anybody who's not some white Anglo- Saxon Protestant--

SANTORUM: No, no, no, I'm talking about--

CUOMO: --is a problem.

SANTORUM: Wrong, Chris! Wrong!

CUOMO: I agree it's wrong.

SANTORUM: Chris, I'm talking about the facts of what happened, not - what happened, that's all I'm trying to describe, what happened.

CUOMO: There's a lot of our culture--

SANTORUM: And I understand you may not like what happened. But I'm just trying to say--

CUOMO: --that still reflects--

SANTORUM: But I'm just trying to say--

CUOMO: --the first Natives who were here.

SANTORUM: Of course, there is. And I didn't say that.

CUOMO: They're talking about it (ph).

SANTORUM: Of course, there is a lot of our culture--

CUOMO: But look? Look?

SANTORUM: --that reflects that. I'm talking about--

CUOMO: I'll talk to you about that.

SANTORUM: --the two founding documents.

CUOMO: I understand that.


CUOMO: But it didn't come across that way. And you understand why. And you have a list of things that have--

SANTORUM: And I, again, I understand.

CUOMO: --fallen to this bucket before, OK?

SANTORUM: They took it out of context.

CUOMO: Well but context is sometimes--

SANTORUM: They - they took it out of context.

CUOMO: --a little suggestive to what your ultimate goal is.

But Charlie, the last point to you, go ahead


CUOMO: Rick, listen?

DENT: Look, the GOP--

CUOMO: I'm being as fair as I can.


CUOMO: Charlie, go ahead.

DENT: The GOP must reject the nativism, the nihilism, this ugly cronyism that we experienced over the last four years. These are not attributes of a great party, and certainly not the Party of Lincoln, and not of a great country. We have to--



DENT: --we have to embrace the diversity of this country, and reach out to it, and get people to vote for us. Not simply retreat and say "Oh guys, who are like me, you know, who are white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, and some Celtic, by the way," but - we can't win by just this type of - it's an identity politics--

SANTORUM: Couldn't agree more.

DENT: --that we should not be part of.

SANTORUM: I agree.

DENT: I mean that's the--

SANTORUM: I agree.

DENT: --that's the problem here. And we've had nativism from day one. My German ancestors were not always treated well by their English - the English, who were here, before them, in Pennsylvania. And every other group that's followed has been mistreated. But we shouldn't embrace it or encourage that kind of ugliness that we've had in our country. That's where we got to--

CUOMO: Listen?

DENT: --we got to get beyond this.

CUOMO: The faster that that gets a big--

DENT: And--

CUOMO: --big Amen, the faster your party will figure out its problem, because if that were being said in any way that this disappear in the actions and sentences that were to follow, you'd be in better shape.

And just to be very clear, this is personal for me. And it has nothing to do with white Anglo-Saxon Protestant. I love you, Charlie. I'll give you a big kiss on the face, if you're here right now, especially now that I'm vaccinated.

But it's that for people like me, and Santorum, we're a couple generations, at best, removed from being in this other category. And I'm not saying that I like being part of some white majority.

DENT: Right.

CUOMO: It happens if you don't stop it. And once you've experienced it, you should stop it. And anything that you do, to suggest that, it's still the right way to do things, you're going to have more trouble. So, it is personal to me. It should be personal to all of us.

Charlie Dent, Rick Santorum, respect to you both for taking the opportunity.

We'll be right back.









CUOMO: Reality? We're not going to reach herd immunity, not anytime soon. A third of us have been fully vaccinated, overweighted into the vulnerable and the older population, which is probably saving us.

Daily vaccination rates are dropping, and they'll continue to, why? It's been politicized. But it's raising concerns among experts that not only won't we get to herd immunity, but what it'll mean down the road that we didn't.

Dr. Ashish Jha, I do not mean to be a wet blanket. But once the politics have come into play, you got DeSantis down in Florida, you got Fox News, 24x7 "They're trying to take your choice. It's your body," I mean, it's amazing, they sound like they're reproductive rights advocates, all of a sudden, you're not going to get to herd immunity. What does it mean?


So first of all, look, whether we get to herd immunity or not is up to us, right? If I think that if people are willing to roll up their sleeves, and get vaccinated, we will get to herd immunity. So I'm more optimistic than a lot of the other folks out there.

Second, is if we keep vaccinating, right now, or at about 55 percent of adults vaccinated, keep going, get up to in the 70s, it'll make a massive difference. Case numbers will plummet. We may not be at herd immunity. We'll see little outbreaks here and there. But life will begin to really get back to normal. So I--

CUOMO: But what if you don't?

JHA: Yes. I--

CUOMO: What if you don't? What if we get just a little bit beyond where we are right now?

JHA: That's a problem, right, then. We have 50,000 cases happening. I think that those numbers will come down a bit more. But we're going to be stuck with dealing with this for a long time. This is why I think failure is not an option.

I think we got to figure out what's holding people back. And we've got to address it. Some of it is hesitancy and politicization. Some of it is it's still a pain to get a vaccine in place. You got to sign up.

CUOMO: Some of it is--

JHA: You got to do this. You got to do that.

CUOMO: --you don't get enough of a boost for having the vaccine. You know what I mean?

JHA: Yes. I can--

CUOMO: You don't get enough of an upside.

JHA: Yes, we got to do a better job communicating on that. It's massive, the upside, right? You're protected. You can start really going back and living your life in a very, very different way, once you're vaccinated. That message has not gotten across.

CUOMO: Not enough.

JHA: Clearly, we got to do a better job.

CUOMO: You still got to wear a mask. You don't get to go and do things and go places the way that you want to. There's no preference for you being vaccinated.

JHA: Yes, look, you don't have to wear masks, when you're outside, if you're fully vaccinated. Pretty soon, as case numbers come down, you're going to see a lot of indoor mask mandates starting to pull back, for vaccinated people.

It's just safer. You can be around people, who are older, and chronically ill. And they're vaccinated, you're vaccinated, it just becomes way safer. So, we've got to do a good job of communicating that, Chris.

CUOMO: How bad can it get? If people don't get vaccinated, and they say "You're not vaccinating my kids? All the science says that they're fine. You already screwed us on school. They're going back. Leave me alone," what happens?

JHA: Yes, I mean, if we just don't vaccinate, then obviously, one of the things we've known is we get big outbreaks, you're going to get more variants, which of course can pose their own problems.

We're going to have problems with our people getting sick, hospitalizations. It's going to be hard to do those large gatherings, indoor concerts, outdoor baseball games, like this stuff will get much, much harder, if we do not make more progress on vaccinations.

CUOMO: You think things get worse, or they just stay bad longer?

JHA: They stay bad longer. I don't think that they get much worse. We've got a lot of progress built in. Obviously, new variants, ball- game can change. But assuming that there isn't a curveball like that, I think they just stay bad longer. CUOMO: You know why I asked the distinction, apropos of the conversation I'm having about politics. I don't think people care enough that "Look, I took care of me and mine. I feel good about me and mine. Yes, people are going to get sick. Life is hard."

And surrendering the "Me" to the "We" happened in some ways, but not in the ways that we needed to really beat this. And now, we'll be watching what the effect of our own choice is.

But I'll tell you this. Ashish Jha, you've always been straight with us. You made a miracle happen, up at Brown University, by doing the right things, and everybody can study it, and learn what you did, and how well it worked. Thanks for being with us.

JHA: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: "Us versus Them, Us and Them, Us and Them," worse disease we face. Proof of it, today, another funeral, another Black man killed by North Carolina, deputies this time, by Police.

Andrew Brown's family, they want answers. Now we've made them the proxies for the rest of us. Only they get to see the video. So now they have to carry that burden on top of their loss. They have to make the case to the rest of the country about what happened.

Does that sound right that we don't get to see the footage that it's reverse that you don't have any interest in it, unless somebody says you do?

North Carolina's Attorney General, next.









CUOMO: It's been 12 days since Andrew Brown Jr. was killed. Protesters are still marching, in the streets of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, demanding justice, which really now is the fairness of transparency. Just hours after Brown's family and friends gathered for his funeral, they were back out on the streets.

Why is that family given the responsibility of letting the rest of us know what happened?

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is here.

Good to see you, sir.

I don't understand this. This was an easy pass in the legislature. I think it was like 48-2. And it reversed the transparency requirement from suggesting that things are seen as being presumptively of the public interest, and making the public have to fight for transparency. That's what the law does. Why was it such an easy pass?


Yes, today, Andrew Brown Jr. was laid to rest. And he was a father and nephew, friend and neighbor to many.

And, at the service, Reverend Barber spoke, family members, from Eric Garner, Daunte Wright, George Floyd, they all spoke, as members of a club nobody would ever want to be a part of. And they gave intimate words of support to Mr. Brown's family, and they gave the public charge to do better, and we must do better.

And one way we can do better is having better transparency and more accountability. North Carolina law was changed in 2016. And it declared that bodycam footage is not a public record. And that's backwards.

The whole reason we have body- and dash-cams footage is so that we can know what happened. The public will have more trust and faith in what law enforcement does, when we can see what happened.


So, we need to change North Carolina law, switch it, so that it is a public record. And if there's some valid investigative reason why the footage should be temporarily delayed, put the onus on law enforcement to get that hold, not put it on the people.

CUOMO: And they're leaking what they want people to know, by suggestion about Andrew Brown Jr.

They did it in the beginning, when the Sheriff came out and said, "This guy's got a history of resisting arrest." Then you had a member of the prosecutor team come out and say, "You know, the car hit them."

I don't understand. Anything they thought about prejudicing the case, they've already filled that vacuum with their own words.

Now, the Governor had said he wanted the bodycam video to come out. Then the case was removed from the locals to the state. And yet there has been no action on transparency.

Can you sue, Mr. Attorney General? Can you sue and say this law is unconstitutional, and it has to change now? Can you sue?

STEIN: The case was not taken away from the locals. The local sheriff invited in the State Bureau of Investigation to do - perform the investigation, which is a good thing, because we want to have independent investigations.

We don't want the Sheriff's office investigating itself. He also invited in an outside Sheriff's office to ensure that their local policies were complied with, an internal affairs investigation.

I don't have the authority to sue on this matter. In North Carolina, the authority, to prosecute these cases are left with the local district attorney, not the state. So the case has not been referred to my office.

The law, as it's written by the General Assembly, can be revisited by them. And there are bills in the legislature that had been filed to do just that.

CUOMO: Mr. A.G., I appreciate you clarifying where the case is, and saying what I hope should be obvious to everybody, including your Governor. He said he wanted it out. Why doesn't he demand its out? Why doesn't he say it every day? That's not a question for you. It's a question for him.

Mr. A.G., thank you for being with us.

We'll be right back.

STEIN: Thank you.








CUOMO: All right, "Us and Them," the longer that that stays the state of play, on any level of society, is doom. It is poison. It is more virulent than any virus we'll ever face, "Us and Them."

The founding of this country was all about the surrender of the "Me" to the "We." It hasn't been done right since its inception. But it's always been an experiment. It's always been about getting better. Will we recommit to the idea of becoming better, or will we just be doomed to just watch ourselves get worse?

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