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Joe Manchin Vows To Block Democrats' Sweeping Voting Rights Bill, Protect Filibuster; Obama: I Didn't Expect GOP Establishment Would Be "Cowed" Into Accepting Trump's Falsehoods; CNN Obtains Audio Of Giuliani Pressuring Ukrainian Officials To Probe Biden In Exchange For WH Meeting. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 07, 2021 - 21:00   ET




BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We create those venues, those meetings places, for people to be there, because, right now, we don't have them. And we're seeing the consequences of that.



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

President Obama sounded an alarm for us, as a country tonight, and specifically an alarm for his Democratic Party.

Is the fate of the Democrats really in the hands of one man? No, not President Biden! Joe Manchin, Senator from Ruby Red West Virginia. He does appear to be the key 50th vote in the Senate. And he has struck a position that is praised by Trump, not his own party.

Manchin most recently said, "I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster."

He said he does support the John Lewis Act, which is the companion piece to the voting legislation from the Democrats, the other part of the For the People Act. The John Lewis Act would block states from passing the laws we have seen restricting the ability to vote.

But if the party can't get any buy-in, from the Right, and can't get their full 50, are they done? This prospect has one progressive congressman from New York, calling Manchin out as the "New Mitch McConnell," who of course did everything in his power to block Obama's agenda.

Remember, he said, "My job is to make him a one-term president." And then you heard him say just last month, in case you didn't get it the first time that he is 100 percent focused on blocking Biden's administration. But is that fair criticism of Joe Manchin? Manchin says his party critics are, quote, "All my friends." How long can that last, if the Senator blocks Democrats from getting anything passed?

Obama suggested the Democrats need to get together, all of them, to fight against what he sees as a uniquely toxic opposition. Listen.


OBAMA: I think we have to worry, when one of our major political parties is willing to embrace, a way of thinking, about our democracy that would be unrecognizable and unacceptable, even five years ago, or a decade ago.

When you look at some of the laws that are being passed, at the state legislative level, and when that's all done, against the backdrop of large numbers of Republicans having been convinced wrongly that there was something fishy about the last election, we've got a problem.


CUOMO: No kidding that we have a problem!

Now, one step sideways, to process here. The former president said there, "One of the major parties has a problem."

The real problem is that there are only two parties, right? You really just have the Democrats, and the Republicans, or whatever you want to call them right now. I just want to keep the idea in your head is that it doesn't have to be that way.

Imagine if we had more parties, more stakeholders, so that you had to have deals made, in order to get to any kind of position of strength, so that you could keep a position of power. Just think about that.

Now, in terms of what the former president is trying to accomplish here, in his interview, he's never been known as a hammer, OK? But he did nail Trump as the agent of the animus that is all around us right now, and faulted the Right, the Party, of the Republicans, for being little more than a water boy.


OBAMA: I thought that there were enough guardrails institutionally that even after Trump was elected, that you would have the so-called Republican establishment, who would say "OK, it's a problem, if the White House isn't - doesn't seem to be concerned about Russian meddling," or "it's a problem if we have a president, who's saying that Neo Nazis marching in Charlottesville, "There're good people on both sides."


The degree to which we did not see that Republican establishment, say, "Hold on! Timeout! That's not acceptable. That's not who we are," but rather be cowed into accepting, and then finally culminating in January 6th, where what originally was, "Oh, don't worry. This isn't going anywhere. We're just letting Trump and others vent," and then suddenly, you now have large portions of an elected Congress, going along with the falsehood.

I didn't expect that there would be so few people who would say, "Well, I don't mind losing my office, because this is too important. America's too important."

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Some things are more important than just--

OBAMA: "Our democracy is too important."


CUOMO: Isn't that interesting that a former president, and a man of his sophistication, is surprised that the Party of Trump is choosing to stay in power, versus throw themselves, on the mercy of any kind of higher democratic appeal? I mean, look, we're all past being surprised by just about anything in our politics, right?

Obama sees the problem. But he didn't articulate a solid solution, not that that's his job. I don't know that there is one. Is there a solution for his party or for our country in this moment?

Let's bring in a better mind. Longtime Democratic Strategist, James Carville.

I hope you had a good vacation. Thank you for joining me on the rebound.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, CO-HOST, "POLITICS WAR ROOM" PODCAST: I had a nice vacation. I was in great Las Vegas, and probably a little slow today. But that's OK.

CUOMO: Well, you'll still be two steps faster than me. But we need the Ragin' Cajun!

CARVILLE: All right, great.

CUOMO: Do you think that Obama gets what needs to be done? Do you think any Democrat gets what needs to be done--


CUOMO: --to counter what it's against?

CARVILLE: Well, I think that President Obama, obviously has a sense of where the country is, what needs to be done, understanding that the Democratic Party is more of a coalition, and the Republican Party is more of a personality cult.

So, in a democratic coalition, you have Congressman Brown, who I don't think a Republican has won a precinct, in his congressional district, in this century, is critical of Senator Manchin, who a Democrat has not carried a county in his state since 2008.

And when you have a coalition like that, they can be messy, but that's governing. That's how you govern with coalitions.

And I'd much prefer being part of a political party that is a coalition that has many different elements, in its coalition, than a political party that revolves around the cult of a single person, who, by the way, is, in my opinion, a terrible person, and not a very bright person. But that's their choice.

But - so we have to understand that this is what we are. We have a very thin reed that we're holding on to power with. And yes, it's going to look a little messy, from time to time. But yes, these things got to work through it. And I think they will.

CUOMO: How? Why do you think they're going to work through it? And if it stays the way it is right now, you think you guys are going to take a beating in the midterms?

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, I think President Biden completely understand where we are. I think Senator Manchin has a good grip on the country, and some of the problems we have.

And I think that the talks are going to have to transpire between President Biden, Senator Manchin, and Senator Schumer. We're not going to get itself from the peanut gallery here.

And understand, he is not going to be for 800-page bill. And so, they got to get down, we're going to erase it, and make some changes, and bring him along, and he really cares about infrastructure, they might be able to cut a deal out.

I think we're all get too depressed by one event. I think we have - I think we'll be fine. It'll take - it'll take time. It's just not going to be around the corner because we're part of a difficult coalition.

CUOMO: 2006, every Republican voted to reauthorize the VRA, the Voting Rights Act. 2019, McConnell wouldn't even bring the John Lewis Act to the floor. What does that tell you?

CARVILLE: Well, it tells me that it's a cult. And back then, it wasn't a personality cult. They actually had some coalitions in that party. He had the kind of tax cut, deregulate people, we had the Christian people, you had the muscular foreign policy people.

Now it's nothing but with the whim of Donald Trump, and Mitch McConnell, just follows that along. That's what that tells me right out their back. It's just more proof that it's a cult in one party and a coalition in other.

CUOMO: But if you are a coalition party, why is it come down to one Senator?

CARVILLE: Because we didn't do that well in the midterm elections, right? We lost House seats.

Now we have a very favorable - one of the things, if you look at the whole card here, Chris, we have a very favorable 2022 back. And you know, if we're smart politically, and pick up Senate seats in 2022, and hold the House, you got two years left of Joe Biden's term. I mean, somebody's got to think beyond next week.

And I think President Biden knows that. And I would be not surprised at all follow (ph), if he and Manchin are holding talks and discussions and about how they can do some things, and try to bring the country together.


Because I think both of these gentlemen are much like President Obama, think that the state of our democracy is pretty fragile right now. And I think that both people have good judgment, and let's see if they can come up with something.

I totally think that there's some way that we can do this better, and we can pick up Senate seats in 2022, and maybe win House seats. We're talking about having 7 percent growth now, OK? We have that, that'd be great.

CUOMO: What would you say to Manchin on the filibuster?

CARVILLE: I'd say, well, first of all, it'll be presumptuous, because I know what the state that he runs in, and how he does things.

But I would say, "You know, Senator, you can keep it in place, and being - the Republicans made a carve-out for the Supreme Court. Senator Reid made a carve-out for the Courts of Appeal.

And maybe on this issue of voting rights, which is so fundamental and so important to the cohesion of the country, that that maybe you and President Biden and Senator Schumer can work something out that satisfies all of the parties, and gets this done."

I would work on that. I sure would. And I think that Senator Manchin, first of all, he's a Democrat. He could - he had to be - he had a tougher race than you think, in 2018. He'd have won by 35 points, if he had changed parties. So, I don't think he's going to change parties.

And I think he has an elemental sense of fairness. And I just think that voting is an issue, he thinks ought to be something that people are allowed to do, and express their opinion.

So, I think there are some ways to get from here to there, but it's not going to get done, from the peanut gallery. It's going to have to get done, get to highest level, and just gutting through this.

And well Senator Schumer is already scheduling things. I think - I don't know what they know, but I think they know more than we know, if that makes any sense.

CUOMO: Obama spoke about the state of play within his own party. I want your take on what he said.

Here's his sound.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I think Democrats, Lord knows, when I was President, I was getting a lot of incoming from my own base. And so, it's not symmetrical. But what is true is for all of us, there is a great danger that we just shut out anything that contradicts our own sense of righteousness, in these big debates.


CUOMO: What does that mean to you?

CARVILLE: It means exactly what he's saying that we - that God gave everybody two ears and one mouth.

And what he's saying is, is that some of the people, on Democratic base, can get so self-righteous, and so "How can you possibly disagree with me? And that we are the answer to everything," and it puts people off.

And it puts people off, like President Obama, who understands politics, who's about coalitions, about getting votes, assembly votes, making things happen. And I've spoken out against this before, that, you're tolerant about everything other than people that don't think like you, then you become intolerant.

Well, part of being tolerant is, is to be able to tolerate ideas different than yours. I mean, that's part of the whole tolerance thing, I think. And I think the frustration that President Obama was expressing is a frustration that I hear often.

CUOMO: I was being taught something the other day, and I was being instructed to close my hand, because open hand like this, can block a fist.

If you guys are a coalition, and you are splayed fingers of different coalitions, and you have a fist coming directly at you, which is what the Party of Trump is, they are galvanized, how does the coalition block the fist that's coming their way?

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, the fist is not that popular. If you look at, you know, the fist got 46 in 2016, got 47 in 2020. And he's not that popular right now.

And one of our fingers, our main finger is President Biden. And he's doing pretty well right now.

CUOMO: Which finger is Biden?

CARVILLE: Excuse me?

CUOMO: Which finger is Biden?

CARVILLE: He's probably the thumb and index finger.

CUOMO: I know which finger you want to be. So, I mean what I'm saying--


CUOMO: The point is do you think you guys can hold together? Because I don't believe it's just about Manchin. I think that a lot of this has been unfair to him. I don't think he's loving the moment. I don't think he loves the position he's in.

CARVILLE: Yes, right.

CUOMO: I think there are other senators that he's speaking for as a proxy. We've seen this before in your party. And I don't know where you get the optimism that you guys are going to get it together, and get something done here.


CUOMO: Before the midterms.

CARVILLE: Because, Chris, I don't think Senator Manchin is enjoying this at all. I think people are stage actors. They don't know human nature, don't know Senator Manchin.

And I totally agree with you that - because I'm always optimistic, because once you say you can't do something, then you can't do it. So, I never go into an election, I never go into a contest, where I think that we can't do it.


Now, I know it's going to be difficult. I have confidence that some people in the party have some real ability. We got some real common people that we can bring up. I don't see it right at this moment. But I think it's going to unfold.

And you can't just come into this thing and throw up our hands and say, "Oh, well, we're just too disorganized, hell we'll lose the next election," no, you can't do that.

And the whole process is going to evolve, and different things are going to come up, and talks are going to be had, and negotiations are going to go on. And that's the way the political world. It's always been that way.

It's particularly perilous now. But I think we're going to do fine. I think we're going to get through this. I think we're going to pick up seats in 2022. I honestly do.

CUOMO: Well.

CARVILLE: But I got to - I would think - I always think that. So, that's my - that's the way I look at life.

CUOMO: Well you're not wrong about the map. But you also had a good map in this last election, in terms of how it was supposed to go in Congress. You don't have a bad map this time.

But look, let's do this. I'll let people into the private process. I ask Carville to come on the show on a regular basis. It's how I know who's on vacation next week.

I'm going to keep doing it, because I do believe that where your head is, about how the party does its best, is in short supply, and needs to be heard, just for the quality of the debate that's surrounding us right now. So, you take the invitations as you want, but they're going to be coming your way.

CARVILLE: Well thank you.

CUOMO: Brother Carville, be well.

CARVILLE: Yes, sir, thank you.

CUOMO: All right. All right, so Trump - he was really going. He got up. He left.

So, Trump is declaring himself, "Democracy Savior." You roll your eyes. But he's got his people behind him.

Animus sells. Demagogs can get a lot of power. That's why there's no positive opposite to that term. What's the positive opposite of a demagog? We don't know. Because we know that negativity works, and you have to overwhelm it with a bigger and better idea.

So, he's out there, talking his BS about this being the crime of the century, right? This is the man, who could be facing down potential criminal indictment. Why is he resonated?

Let's ask his niece, Mary Trump, about the investigations into the Trump Organization. She too is accusing him of financial crimes. And she is here with her perspective that only she has, next.









CUOMO: Donald Trump is a man getting less attention, yet still commanding the entire focus of half of our political system. Even as he looks for more of this, attention from a crowd cheering, supporters, elected members of his party are still consumed with his lies.

All you have to do is ask those, who've tried to speak even the simplest of truths about January 6th. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I think what Donald Trump did is the most dangerous thing, the most egregious violation of an oath of office of any president in our history.

And so the idea that a few weeks after he did that, the leader of the Republicans in the House would be at Mar-a-Lago, essentially, you know, pleading with him to somehow, you know, come back into the fold, or whatever it was he was doing, to me was inexcusable.


CUOMO: Was it inexcusable, or was it unavoidable? Look what happened to her. That's the state of play in the party.

Now, here's the problem for Trump. One place that he's getting a lot of attention is from criminal prosecutors. So, where does the former president go from here?

His niece is also a psychologist. She has a new book coming out, August 17th. It is available for pre-order, I am told. That is called "The Reckoning: Our Nation's Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal."

Mary Trump. Powerful title! Thank you for being with us. Good luck with the book.


CUOMO: So, here's what I want to know. His personality type, he is able to ignore the negative, and focus on the positive.

And now, the positive for him is a defined term, what is good for him, in a way I've never seen in politics before. How does that carry forward, for him, in terms of what he's facing now?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, what's good for him, has always been his only calculus, really. That's the only calculation he makes ever.

So going forward, I think what he believes is that there's still an opportunity, for him, to somehow undo the results of the last election. And his main method for making that happen is, as you've mentioned, keeping the Republican Party, at his beck and call.

CUOMO: See here's the problem.

TRUMP: And he - yes?

CUOMO: The problem is he knows he's lying, OK? I don't buy the "Trump is delusional" arguments. I don't.

I think that he has an amorality to him, when it comes to what the cost is of what he's selling. And I know you get the distinction. But I'm not saying it's immorality. I'm not saying he's evil, necessarily. I don't think he processes that way. I think he thinks "This is good for me, man, and whatever it costs, it

costs. January 6th? Eh! It's not as bad as they said it was. And at the end of the day, they were there for the right reason, which is me."

So, what is any kind of expected end point for him, in terms of what lies would be too much?

TRUMP: Oh, none, you know? Because really, the only way he can perpetuate the myths, he's attempting to perpetuate, is to continue to lie. There is no truth here. And there is no end game, in terms of helping the party or the country. That's all just window-dressing.


So, I think by keeping the Republican Party in line, and he's been doing this since the election, by threatening to start a third party, or threatening to run again, I believe that it's about maintaining power, and using that, in the event that he gets indicted, which it looks like there's a possibility, at least on many fronts that may happen.

CUOMO: Well, look, I said to the audience, in the tease, leading up to this segment, you're suing him, you have your own issues with him, and your own theories, about his perfidy, or his wrongdoing, and his knowledge, where finances are involved.


CUOMO: Here's my question, understanding the family the way you do. What would it mean to Donald Trump, if they came after his kids, and an organization like this? Now, I'm not wishing that. I don't wish it on any family. But what I'm saying is the facts are what the facts are.

Would that change his disposition, you think? Would he take one for his kids?

TRUMP: No, he wouldn't. I think if that were to happen, if prosecutors were to go after his children, he would fully expect them to take a hit for him, to benefit him.

What he probably doesn't understand is that not - that's not really how it works, you know? They always try to get people to flip, so they can go after the bigger target. But Donald would never imagine in a million years that his children would do that, although I'm fairly sure they would.

So, if that indeed happens, it's going to be fascinating, because he would never do anything to protect them, if it were at his expense.

CUOMO: How do you know?

TRUMP: I've known him my whole life. And unfortunately, I've had to analyze him pretty closely, over the last four years or five years. This is somebody who's never changed. He doesn't evolve. And as you said earlier, he has one thing he cares about, and that's himself. That will never, ever change no matter, who gets in his way, no matter who gets hurt, even if it's his kids.

CUOMO: Knowing what you know, about the organization, through your own attorneys, what do you think the chances are that they're going to find something that he knew about that is demonstrably criminal?

TRUMP: Speaking only as somebody who has my own information about this, because of my case, and because of my history with--

CUOMO: That's why I'm asking you.

TRUMP: Yes, of course.

I would say that, even though my case, on its own, isn't in the grand scheme of things very important, except to me, what it does do is help prosecutors, hopefully, establish intent, and state of mind, because we know that the behavior that's being looked into, tax fraud, tax evasion, et cetera, has been going on for decades.

So, we're looking at setting precedent, and we're looking at state of mind and intent. And that's incredibly important, when we're talking about criminal cases.

CUOMO: And you've said many times that whatever was happening, he would have known, because control is everything.

TRUMP: Right.

CUOMO: Mary Trump, thank you for being with us tonight. Good luck going forward.

TRUMP: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Now, there's another window into potential distress for the former president, and that is the ongoing criminal investigation into Rudy Giuliani, because of his dealings with Ukraine.

CNN has just obtained exclusive audio that exposes how Trump's former lawyer pressured the country, to investigate BS conspiracies, about Joe Biden, before the election. This reveals things. We'll show you, next.









CUOMO: It is interesting, and you should note how many people discuss Rudy Giuliani's interactions with Ukrainian officials, as if it's a conditional, as if it's an "If."

We know that Rudy Giuliani relentlessly pressured Ukraine, in 2019, to investigate baseless conspiracies, about then-candidate Joe Biden. He doesn't think they're baseless, or at least he doesn't say that. But we know he did it. Partial transcripts have been released.

But tonight, CNN has exclusively obtained that 40-minute call. This is one of the moments Giuliani pushed Ukrainian leaders to publicly announce investigations into Biden, and suggested improved relations with the U.S., including a White House meeting, in exchange for that help.

Listen. And then we'll discuss.


RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: And all we need... all we need from the President (Zelensky) is to say, "I'm going to put an honest prosecutor in charge, he's going to investigate and dig up the evidence, that presently exists and is there any other evidence about involvement of the 2016 election... and then the Biden thing has to be run out."

If he could make some statement at the right time that he supports a fair, honest law enforcement system, and that these investigations go, wherever they have to go, it's going to be run by honest people that would clear the air really well.

And I think it would make it possible for me to come and make it possible, I think, for me to talk to the President (Trump) to see what I can do about making sure that whatever misunderstandings are put aside.


CUOMO: Yes, I think Rudy was eating, during that conversation. But that's the least of it.

I want to bring in former Deputy FBI Director, Andrew McCabe.

And just to be very clear about this, because sometimes it's "Well, it may sound that way to you, but it didn't sound that way to Ukrainian officials. It wasn't so damning," yes, it was.

And we know that Andy because, on this show, we had Igor Novikov on, who was an assistant to then-President Zelensky, or was then an assistant to President Zelensky.

And here was his reckoning of what Rudy was doing.



IGOR NOVIKOV, FORMER ADVISER TO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: There was an attempt to the quid pro quo. So basically, he was asking for investigations, and public statements, and many other things.

And in return, towards the end of the conversation, he mentions that that would make it possible for him to go and speak with President Trump, to solve a problem that he admits to kind of putting in President Trump's head.

Let me remind you, we're a country fighting an active war with Russia, for many years. So anything to do with swapping favors, within our bilateral relationship, in exchange for trying to get us involved into U.S. domestic politics, is just wrong, on many levels, morally, ethically, and probably even legally.


CUOMO: So, one, those who were saying that "Novikov wasn't being truthful," Rudy Giuliani's own voice authenticates everything he said happened in the call.

The question is, so what, in terms of the overall investigation? What does this demonstrate?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR, FBI: Well, Chris, we don't know until it's been actually fully investigated and evaluated.

I think one of the things this highlights is the masterful job that the - that William Barr and the Barr Justice Department did, in throwing a wet blanket over this entire thing, before it could be fully evaluated.

So, if you'll recall, they supposedly looked into it, before the whistleblower complaint became public. And then, of course, once it did become public, they said, "Oh, there's nothing - nothing to see here."

I think now, we know, just from listening to this tape, there's plenty of questions that come up, about what Giuliani was asking for, why he was asking for, what was he soliciting, what was he pressuring the Ukrainians to do, in return for a clear political benefit?

And those things should be fully evaluated and investigated. It could be done in the course of the existing investigation that's ongoing, targeting Giuliani, but it should be looked at, by the Justice Department.

CUOMO: Do you think that Giuliani being used by the government, him changing and saying, "All right, look, fine. You think this stuff I did was wrong. I was only doing it because my client wanted me to. And he told me to do this. He told me to do that," now, some would call that "Turning" on Trump.

But do you think that that is a possibility here? And what would it mean?

MCCABE: It's almost, I think, harder for Giuliani to say that, because if he comes out and says, "Look, OK, I know it sounds shady, but I was doing it in the course of my representation of Donald Trump," then it's perfectly clear, the only reason he was doing it, was to benefit Trump, to benefit Trump politically.

And that detaches this effort from any sort of legitimate concern about potential corruption, or any sort of legitimate diplomatic effort. So, if he says that, he's basically admitting that he was doing it, to benefit Trump's political fortunes, and that makes it look even more like bribery or extortion.

CUOMO: But it does help him out on registering as a foreign agent, that if he was doing it for his client, here in the U.S., it helps him on the registration side, which I know is what he's offered up before.

But here's what we now know, with this tape, everybody now knows what was being done, what was the quid, what was the quo, and that it was actually happening. It is not speculation. It's not an allegation. It's not a suggestion. It's his voice, as confirmed by the person who was listening to it, because the sum and substance is the same.

Andy, thank you very much. Andrew McCabe, have a good night.

MCCABE: That's right.

CUOMO: Now look, what it means legally, we'll see. We'll see. But no more with the "That's not what he said. It's not how it was taken. It's not what they meant." There it is, OK? Plain speak.

We're not out of the pandemic yet. You know that. Do you care? Here's why you should care. We still haven't even discussed how we got into it. I'm not talking about the Wuhan lab. It's a way bigger, troubling situation than that.

We should have never been in this pandemic. Fact! How do I know? There was a movie a decade ago that is exactly what we just lived through. And you know how they came up with the ideas? They looked at MERS and SARS. Guess who's in it? Captain Handsome, on the other split of the screen, Dr. Gupta.

What does that film mean to him? And what do we have to make sure happens now? Next.









CUOMO: You think we'll be ready for the next one? You know this will happen again, right? We're going to have another virus. This virus brought the world to its knees, infected over 33 million Americans, killed nearly 600,000 of us.

This week, I want to do something that we haven't done at all. We have not looked back to figure out what went wrong here, OK, and what we need to learn from this pandemic, because we need to know what we did wrong and how to do it right.

After all, we keep not learning what we need to, H1N1, Zika, Ebola, but we still weren't ready, SARS, MERS. Filmmakers drew on those experiences, to make a movie in 2011, 10 years ago, called "Contagion."

If you watch this movie, you will be shocked at how similar it is, to what we've just lived through. And it's a simple movie. It's what we just lived. How bad can things get, when the government doesn't respond right. We were in a deep denial of a threat we should have seen coming. And that denial comes in many forms.


The clip I want to show you features Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And I want to show you that one, because I love Sanjay, and because I want you to see the parallels that are uncanny between then and now, amid waning truth and transparency, and growing disinformation. Listen.



DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT, AUTHOR, "WORLD WAR C": Can you tell us, to date, how many people have died from this virus?

DR. ELLIS CHEEVER, FICTIONAL CHARACTER PLAYED BY LAURENCE FISHBURNE, "CONTAGION": Very difficult. We're still working on confirming that number. There are 50 different states in this country, which means there are 50 different health departments, followed by 50 different protocols.

GUPTA: Today, on Twitter, you wrote that the truth about this virus is being kept from the world, by the CDC, by the World Health Organization, to allow friends of the current administration, to benefit from it, both financially and physically.

You also wrote that the World Health Organization is somehow in bed with pharmaceutical companies? ALAN KRUMWIEDE, FICTIONAL CHARACTER PLAYED BY JUDE LAW, "CONTAGION": Because they are. That's who stands to gain from this. They're working hand in glove. And the hand is reaching into our pockets.


CUOMO: Uncanny!

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here.

By the way, he's got a new book out, in October, called "World War C: Lessons from the COVID-19 PANDEMIC & How to Prepare for the Next One." That is a book - I don't hawk product. Everybody knows I love Sanjay, not just because he's a CNN colleague. That's the least of it.

You got to read the book, because we didn't learn anything, Sanjay. I mean, you look better now than you did in the movie. Something with the hair, I think, maybe a little bit different on the cheeks, but we'll talk about that another time.

When you look back at where we were, in 2011, how do you explain how we weren't ready for this?

GUPTA: Well, it's a tough reckoning, Chris, because, as you point out, I mean, you can look to art, you can look to these various tabletop exercises, all sorts of clues and warnings, and even well laid-out plans in terms of how to handle a pandemic. And most of that just didn't happen, when we were actually confronted with this.

There was an exercise. I mean, that movie, "Contagion," was in 2011. There was a Crimson Contagion exercise that was done, just a couple of years ago, which showed exactly almost to the numbers, of what would happen, if there a respiratory virus that escaped and started to spread, much like the COVID did.

So it's sort of - it's really troubling, at times, to sort of look at the parallels there, in terms of the virus emanating, in that case, from China, this case from China, origins still being a mystery. Ultimately, it came from a bat in the movie. We're still not entirely sure. Obviously, it's a big topic of discussion, the origins.

Even a medicine, Forsythia, in the movie, which is being pushed, and hawked, people making a lot of money, it doesn't work, similar to what we saw with Hydroxychloroquine.

So, there's all these storylines that, again, were in the movie, but played out in real life, because, the movie-makers went to the World Health Organization, the CDC, they looked at H1N1, they looked at SARS, and they said, "How is this likely to play out? Here's what we think is going to happen." And then 10 years later, that's exactly what happened.

CUOMO: As you know, my wife, Cristina, is in the Wellness business. And when we were talking about you writing this new book, she made a good point. "The book shouldn't be necessary. This should be out there already.

The government should have been telling us, "We know what to do now. We're going to do this and this and this."

I had Francis Collins on, the Head of the NIH, and he was using like "Hope," and "They," way too much, in terms of what will need to change for the same time. "Well, I hope that we blah, blah, and I hope they blah, blah."

He is "They." It should be no "Hope." It should be "Yes, we know what we have to have ready for PPE, for vaccine trials," which he talked about a little bit, "for testing, for all the reagent and everything we need, the swabs."

Do you think they're doing that?

GUPTA: No, not right now. I mean, what's striking to me, Chris, is if you looked at preparedness indexes, from around the world, the United States always ranks either number one, or very close to the top of the list.

We are a wealthy country. We have, as troubling as the public health infrastructure may be, at different times, it's still much stronger than many other places, around the world. So, it wasn't a question of capability. It was a question of execution. And that's the sad truth.

I mean, you look at basic things, like personal protective equipment. And again, these exercises showed exactly how much we need. I can show you sort of where we were, at the beginning of the pandemic, when it came to N95 masks, for example. We're making around 30 million per month at that point.

We know that we - we knew that we would need a lot more, if there was ever going to be a pandemic. And by the middle of the year, we were basically importing half a billion masks, per month, from other countries, paying a lot of money for that, when we could have manufactured that on our own.

April 2021, just a couple months ago, we're sitting around 375 million, so roughly one mask for every citizen in the country. So, we're still not, you know, that's not an effective stockpile, if we're suddenly going to get hit again.


There's two swab companies in the entire world, one in Maine, one in Italy. We got stymied by nasal swabs for a period of time. We didn't have enough reagents, we didn't have enough beds, all the things that we knew we would need.

It wasn't something that we actually, I guess, thought would really happen. It's kind of like how we, people, think about preparedness in the first place. "It's a distant storm. It may or may not come. I'm not going to worry about it." It's a philosophical sort of decision to say, "Hey, look, we've got to prepare ahead of time."

CUOMO: Well, I don't know what the excuse is. I have to tell you. It's embarrassing.

And even now, all this energy we're wasting on, "Was it the lab? Was it a bat in the wild, or at the market," or whatever it is, these are the same people, who are so curious now that they want to be right, at the same time that debate was happening, early on, they were saying there is no pandemic, that it's a hoax, that it's just like the flu, that it won't be a big deal here.

So Sanjay, thank you for writing the book. It is so necessary.

GUPTA: You got it.

CUOMO: And I'll tell you, at home, you watch this movie, you don't just get to see the less handsome version of Sanjay. You will see that we should have never wound up where we were.

I love you, brother. Be well.

We'll be right back.

GUPTA: Love you too. Talk to you.








CUOMO: I don't know how much this will matter, but it should matter. Former president Obama took time to call out a certain section of the media. Listen.



OBAMA: I also think that there are certain right-wing media venues, for example, that monetize and capitalize, on stoking the fear and resentment, of a White population that is witnessing a changing America, and seeing demographic changes, and do everything they can, to give people a sense that their way of life is threatened, and that people are trying to take advantage of them.

And we're seeing it right now, right, where you would think with all the public policy debates that are taking place right now, that, the Republican Party would be engaged in a significant debate about how are we going to deal with the economy, and what are we going to do about climate change, and what are we going to do about - lo and behold, the single most important issue to them currently right now is critical race theory. Who knew that that was the threat to our Republic?


CUOMO: Once again, he's right about the problem. What is the solution?

We'll be right back.


CUOMO: Appreciate you giving me this opportunity. It is now time for the big show, "DON LEMON TONIGHT," and its big star, D. Lemon.