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Biden On Confronting Putin Next Week: I'll "Let Him Know What I Want Him To Know"; Fauci: U.S. Must Vaccinate More People Before "Delta" Becomes Dominant COVID Variant In U.S.; House Democrats Release Former Trump White House Counsel Don McGahn's Testimony. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 09, 2021 - 21:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Ryan Nobles, up on the Hill, thanks so much for being with us.

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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Question is now, does the DOJ decide to do anything, on the strength of what McGahn put out there? Likely politically? No. Possible? Yes. And we'll look at it later tonight.

John, have a good night.

BERMAN: You too.

CUOMO: I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

So, this is night one of President Biden's first overseas tour. The main question is will he take back the power, from Putin?

The President addressed U.S. troops, stationed in the U.K., upon his arrival, this afternoon. He made the case "America's back, and ready to lead the world again," reassuring our troops, our friends needed.

Getting Russia out of our elections and infrastructure is a must. Biden seems to get that.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm heading to the G7, then to the NATO Ministerial, and then to meet with Mr. Putin to let him know what I want him to know.


BIDEN: We're going to make it clear that the United States is back and democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges.


CUOMO: Can't do it alone. But it does have to be done.

That meeting with Putin will happen on the final leg of the trip, next week, cyber hacking, main topic. Biden says that he will convey that there are consequences for violating the sovereignty of democracies around the world.

The bar is low for success with him, and Putin, because of the singular level of sucking up that Trump brought to bear with Putin.


BILL O'REILLY, JOURNALIST: Putin is a killer.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of killers, we've got a lot of killers. Why, you think our country's so innocent?

If he says great things about me, I'm going to say great things about him.

Some others. They said, they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be.


CUOMO: That was in Helsinki. And it was one of, if not, the weakest presidential moment, I have seen, on my watch. I can tell you this, as an American, it was embarrassing.

The media covering that symposium there was waiting for a punch line. But it turned out the joke was on us. It felt like rock-bottom, right? But things then sunk lower.

Remember this?


TRUMP: Chairman Kim would like to have another meeting.

He wrote me beautiful letters. And they're great letters.


TRUMP: We fell in love.


CUOMO: While he fell in love with "Rocket Man," America's standing in the eyes of the world fell.

There were White House invites to MBS, of Saudi Arabia, who had a hit squad murder journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

There were congratulatory calls to the President of the Philippines, Duterte, for taking care of his country's drug problem by massacring thousands. And then there were the infamous perfect calls right, the one with Ukraine.

Last night, I spoke with a former top Ukrainian official, who listened in on that conversation, with President Zelensky that ultimately doomed Trump for impeachment number one.

That was Igor Novikov. He was also on the Giuliani call that teed it up. Now, sadly, he says because of those experiences, they don't see America in the same light anymore.


IGOR NOVIKOV, FORMER ADVISER TO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ZELENSKY: Basically, before this interaction with Rudy Giuliani, before the perfect phone call, before these events, a young kind of civil society of dreamers, kind of firmly believed in like American exceptionalism, and the strength of like American ideals, and I was one of them.

And then experiencing all of this firsthand, hearing those conspiracies, experiencing that pressure, that was really damaging. I mean, everyone, including myself, has a slightly more cynical view of America now. And that's the real tragedy. The damage has been done.


CUOMO: Now, I know when you hear something like that, there's a reflex like "Really? Ukraine is going to come at us for?" Hold on.

Think about what they're doing. They're desperate for legitimacy, right? They're getting pummeled by Russia. They reach out to America, who is supposed to be their friend. And that's what they get, Trump, Rudy, before him, on a squeeze play.

After they told them, "We don't have any information like that about Biden," they say "Yes, well, we want it - we want it anyway. Just make it good, make it fair, make it honest." Igor said last night, it was like "The Godfather," right, from the jump.

Now, what makes America special that Igor has to recognize, and Ukraine, and the rest of the world again, is that here, we hold people to account, and we make better efforts. That's what we can do here.


We can question our leaders. I do it on a regular basis. We're going to do it tonight. And that's why I want to bring in, a better mind to assess the stakes of what has been, on his watch, and what is to come, on Biden's watch.

That is Ambassador William Taylor. You probably recognize him. He was the star witness at Trump's first impeachment trial. He's the former top American diplomat, in Ukraine, under Trump.

Thank you for joining us on PRIME TIME, sir.

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Thank you, Chris. Great to be here.

CUOMO: First and obvious question, why weren't you on the perfect phone call? Did they box you out, because they knew you weren't on board with what they wanted?

TAYLOR: That phone call was listened to by a small number of people, in Washington, and a very small number of people in Kyiv, in Ukraine.

No, I don't think that they had any idea of who would be on, or who would be listening, or what the implications would be. I don't think they knew what was going to happen on that call.

So, that was an unusual call, in many respects. And we know that there was pressure put on, on President Zelensky.

CUOMO: All right, so you just weren't on it.

When you think about what that was about, I mean, obviously you had texted Gordon Sondland, saying, "As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign." That's exactly what was going on.

Should people still care? Or is it just the past?

TAYLOR: People should certainly care. And what happened during that time was that there was an unusual, I called it, irregular channel that was operating between the United States and Ukraine.

This irregular channel was not related to, was not part of the regular channel that normally handles foreign policy. This was an irregular channel that Mr. Giuliani was playing, and Ambassador Sondland was part of that as well.

The irregular channel misled people. The irregular channel made people think, like Mr. Novikov, and maybe others on that phone call that this was actually U.S. foreign policy. It wasn't. That was not U.S. foreign policy. And they now understand that well.

CUOMO: So going forward, as I teed it up, at the top here, how important is it, that President Biden come strong, at Putin, in a way that Trump never did, and is saying the community is going to protect democracies again, enough?

TAYLOR: I think it's very important. President Biden has made it very clear that he is clear-eyed about President Putin.

We know that - you played some of the - some of the clips, where President Biden expressed his view about President Putin. He - President Biden mentions that he has told President Putin to his face that he doesn't think he has a soul. And President Putin said, "Well, now we understand each other."

So, all to say that I think President Biden, unlike all of his predecessors, or the last three predecessors, is not going to this meeting, in an attempt to reset, or restart, or make the relationship work. This is not what he's after. He's looking for something that will bring it to some level of predictability and stability.

The problem, of course, is Mr. Putin is not looking for stability. He's looking for instability. And he's not predictable. So, this is a challenge for President Biden. And I think President Biden understands that.

CUOMO: The diplomatic talk, you're the diplomat, but the diplomatic talk that, "Hey, there will be consequences. Democracies will protect," why talk in the future perfect, like that, instead of just common-speak, of saying, "Look, I know you did it. We know you did it. You know you did it. And I'm coming for you. Every time you do something, you're going to get it back, and there's going to be a consequence that you don't like. I promise you that." Why not just be plain-speak about it?

TAYLOR: And Chris, he has made that point. As President Biden earlier said, if we find that he has done these things, in Afghanistan, these things, in SolarWinds, these things, on use of chemical weapons, if we find out, when I get into - when President Biden gets into office, then there're going to be consequences.

And he found out about those three things, and others, and indeed, there were consequences. He has made it clear. President Biden has put sanctions on President Putin, and on the Russian economy, and has indicated that there will be more, if the - if these norms are violated again.

So, it is not just the future. I mean, he has put sanctions on - in fact, his first call to President Putin was a heads-up. "Mr. Putin, in two days, I'm going to announce sanctions on you." That was a heads-up that President Biden gave to President, and sure enough, two days later, sanctions were rolled out.


CUOMO: Cyber warfare is what's happening, cyber terror, whatever you want to call it. Ransomware, specifically, is on the rise because primarily not of technology, but of finances and cryptocurrency.

What is the leverage that Biden has, in fighting ransomware attack?

TAYLOR: I think the leverage is a recognition on the part of the - certainly the government of Russia, but even of those people in Russia, who are executing these ransomware attacks, and that they can be attacked back, they can be - they can be attacked in ways that puts them on the defensive.

They know that we know who they are. Our people are pretty good at figuring out where that attack is coming from. And they - and we have taken some steps, some public, some not so public, that indicates to them, that people who are employed - are executing these attacks that they know the United States knows where they are.

CUOMO: One other thing while I have you, vaccines. We know that they need like 11 billion of them around the world. But we have 60 million AstraZeneca stockpiled. We've been making promises. We're actually behind the other major vaccine producers, in terms of the amount distributed around the world. What do you think of that? And how important is it for Biden to change that and quickly?

TAYLOR: Very important, very quickly.

I understand we - you have reported as well, that announcement that President Biden may make an announcement tomorrow, about 500 million doses that he's going to make available, 200 million this year, 300 million next year.

That's very important for the reasons that you said. This is important that United States be seen to be helping in this, being a major player, in the defeat of this virus.

CUOMO: So, you got to give to get. And this is a big part, especially if you want to play politics with China, who unquestionably started this thing, because they've given 350 million so far. So obviously, while they may have created the problem, they're also outpacing others, in seams of - in terms of being seen as a solution.

So, it's an important trip. I appreciate you clarifying why. And it's good to have you on the show, sir. Thank you, for your service to the country, both in the military and in the diplomatic corps.

TAYLOR: Thank you, Chris. Good to be here.

CUOMO: Be well, Ambassador.

TAYLOR: This president has his work cut out for him, not when he's out on the road, when he comes home. We just saw another months' long effort of bipartisanship collapse in the Senate.

The definition of insanity is when you keep doing the same thing and expect different outcomes. Is it time for the Democrats to change? And if so, what does that look like?

A long-time Democratic Strategist White House alum joins me next. Not a good fisherman!








(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Joe Biden is not the first president to go overseas, in search of a win. That's pretty much the only reason that presidents go overseas. But he is going at a time when things are not working well for him at home.

This bipartisan January 6th commission idea, blocked. Police reform stalled. Talks on universal background checks, forget it. White House negotiations on infrastructure, waste of time. The "For the People" voting bill does not have the numbers, and the filibuster is not going anywhere.

The one piece of legislation that is moving, and fast, is in states, led by Trumpers. It is a wave of voter suppression. It increases - they have laws that are about increasing gun access.

They have laws that are increasingly attacking a woman's reproductive rights, while at the same time saying the government doesn't have the right to control your body, and make you take a vaccine, by the way. Explain that to me!

They're also cutting short one of Biden's big wins by ending COVID benefits early.

The tight margins in the Senate are not new, but this is particularly tight. During the campaign, we heard a lot about Joe Biden's relationships, on both sides of the aisle, and how he could make the Senate work. Listen.


KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What Biden would say is, given the relationships that he has, particularly with people in the Senate, he has the ability to get some things done.

ASTEAD HERNDON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Senator Biden had working relationships with them in the Senate.

JOE LOCKHART, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Joe Biden had lots of close friends in the Senate. He still does.


CUOMO: I never bought this. And I said the same. And I always got written off as a cynic.

I'm not a cynic, unless you look at it in terms of Diogenes, then I believe in that, the root of cynicism, where you look at things going on in society, with a skeptical eye, to try to make sense of why it's happening that way, like what's happening right now.

So, let's bring in Paul Begala, to see what the fix is.

Because brother Begala, we don't agree on fishing, but we must agree that this ain't working, and you can't keep petting the snake, because you keep petting the snake, you're going to keep getting bit. What needs to change? PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, actually, I am a great fisherman. And one of the fishermen's rules, and you know this, because you putter around out there, in Long Island Sound, or wherever.

CUOMO: "The Ocean" is what you mean to say.

BEGALA: The more lines in the water--

CUOMO: "The Ocean."

BEGALA: I was--

CUOMO: "The briny deep."

BEGALA: I was in Upstate water--

CUOMO: You're in a stream.

BEGALA: My son John (ph) and I were just--


CUOMO: With big pants on. Go ahead.

BEGALA: Oh! Anyway! One of the rules of fishermen is more lines in the water, you get more fish in the boat.


Here's what Biden's doing. It's he's not only pursuing what I think is ultimately going to be a fruitless attempt, to get 60 votes on anything. But by pursuing that, he increases his chances of getting 50. So, let me tell you, three or four different tracks, he's going on simultaneously, not sequentially.

At the same time, he was pursuing conversations with Shelley Moore Capito, which she was just a standard for Mitch McConnell, and that was, I think, not in good faith, on the Republicans' part, now there's another bipartisan effort. Senators Cassidy of Louisiana, Republican Mitt Romney of Utah, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, that's going on.

At the same time, over on the House, today, they began marking up the surface transportation bill, in the Infrastructure Transportation Committee. This is a half a billion - half a trillion dollar bill that is moving right now.

And finally, in the Senate, they just passed, with a large bipartisan majority, the Innovation and Competition Act, which is $250 billion. One White House aide described that bill to me as part one of the Biden JOBS Act.

So, they're doing all of these things at once, and one or more of them is going to hit that bait.

CUOMO: So, you see it as flooding the zone, effectively. BEGALA: Right.

CUOMO: So that something has to get through. But the big ticket item is the infrastructure bill. You're saying they're going to do it piece-by-piece.

BEGALA: They may have to. I think that again - I think they're going in every way that they can, to try to get this through.

They - again, I think the only way to get to 50 is to get caught trying to get to 60. I don't think they'll ever make it. I don't think the Republicans are negotiating in good faith. But Biden knows the Senate better than you and I do. So, they're going to play out that string.

But here's the thing. I think they've only got 9 weeks or 10 weeks. I give them the deadline of the August recess, the second week of August. If they don't have something by then, then they're in real trouble.

CUOMO: Look, I have no reason to doubt President Biden's relationships. But I have every reason to doubt what they've been able to produce, right, because somebody who had terrible relationships with Republicans would be in the same spot as Biden is right now.

BEGALA: Right.

CUOMO: The "For the People Act," though, is the big problem, because this one is not about money. This is about literally the wheels of justice. And it's interesting. They are playing to win on this, the Republicans.

And listen to Senator Cornyn today.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): We've heard similar lines of attack, from many, across the aisle, who falsely tried to brand this law as a form of voter suppression. Once you play the race card, it's hard for people to think clearly, because it tugs at our emotions.


CUOMO: Now, the genius of this, Paul, is that that's exactly what's motivating these bills that are absolutely about voter suppression, is the emotion of fear about a fraudulent election that is based on a fraud of no premise. So, he is playing that game, and at the same time blaming you guys for it.

BEGALA: Right. This is - this is what the Trump Republicans doing. And Mr. Cornyn apparently has become a Trump Republican. They project. They project. But John Cornyn, particularly, because I'm from Texas, he has a particular obligation.

You know that John Cornyn and Ted Cruz represent more African Americans than any other senators? Texas has more Black citizens than any other state. He has an obligation, moral, political, civic, to stand up for those rights, of almost 4 million African American Texans.

Here's what they're doing back home in Austin. They're trying to pass a bill that would take polling places away from Black communities, and put them into White communities.

There's a district, for example, in Fort Worth. It's about 80 percent minority. It would lose half of its polling places under that bill. That's crazy. And then they would shift them to the White communities.

They're trying to cut back on early voting, on drive-thru voting, on late night voting, even on Sunday morning "Souls to Polls" voting.

They are targeting Black and Brown Texans, with surgical precision. And it is racist. And I think it's right to call that out as what it is. These are racist acts, trying to discriminate against some Texans.

CUOMO: Imagine what happens if Democrats, in the majority, don't stop it, and you have to head into the midterms that way. That's going to be--

BEGALA: That is--

CUOMO: --an existential crisis.

BEGALA: --obligation. That's right.

CUOMO: And--

BEGALA: I'm all for the infrastructure. I'm all for everything. But they got to save our democracy.

CUOMO: Right. I mean, I really think the move is, and we'll leave it here, and we'll pick it up next week, if you're around, is you got to go to Manchin, and say, "Show me your "For the People" bill. Show me. Show me the one that you'll pass. And then let's just do this right now.

It's got to get done, because your brothers and sisters on the Right aren't going to be with you, no matter what you want in it, if it has the redistricting in it, and you know, it has to have it."

I think that's the move.

BEGALA: I talked to one of the very progressive people, who wrote that bill.


BEGALA: A Member of Congress, who said, "We're open for business." They see Manchin as a reformer, as someone who expanded, and protected voting rights when he was Secretary of State.

CUOMO: Well he did it - he did it as Secretary of State, and as Governor, in West Virginia. BEGALA: He was a terrific Secretary of State.

CUOMO: And it's at 81 percent popularity.

BEGALA: Right, so if he could sit down--

CUOMO: In his own state.

BEGALA: Right.

CUOMO: The "For the People Act."

BEGALA: Right.


CUOMO: So, look, it's got to be about something else that's going on with him. I don't believe any of this jaundice and this hate parade going on about Manchin. I think he's caught between then and now.

BEGALA: Right.

CUOMO: But they have to put it to him. Because I think if you guys don't get that done, you've got big trouble.

Begala, I love you. I appreciate you. I'll talk to you next week.

BEGALA: Love you. Great to see you, Chris.

CUOMO: A highly transmissible new COVID strain has absolutely taken hold in the U.K. That's where the President is now, lord willing to keep them safe. He's been vaccinated. He should be OK. But it is a early distant warning for us here, about what is to come, and what it means, for the unvaccinated.

The U.S. Surgeon General is here, next.








CUOMO: All right, so now we have the U.K. variant that spreads much more quickly than what we had here.

[21:30:00] And then on top of it, we have the Delta variant that's even more contagious than the U.K. And that is going to be dominant in the U.S. It accounts for 6 percent of the cases here so far. Doesn't bode well for our battle to end this pandemic, because vaccination rates are dropping, OK?

Dr. Fauci issued a new warning.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We cannot declare victory prematurely because there are still a substantial proportion of people, who've not been vaccinated.

We don't want to let happen in the United States, what is happening currently in the U.K., where you have a troublesome variant, essentially, taking over as the dominant variant, which has made it a very difficult situation in the U.K. We don't want to be there.


CUOMO: Look, people can come at Fauci now, on the political right. They're making him the new Hillary Clinton. That's their play.

I want to see them come up with proof that he's wrong about what it means to get vaccinated, in the face of these variants, that it's not necessary that you'll be fine, because we are living in deep denial about the need for the vaccine.

I got the vaccine. I still had antibodies, even when I got it. I could donate the plasma. I could do all of that, why? I wanted the protection. I was a little sick when I got it. But now, I have some protection, if these variants come, or at least that's what we're told.

Let's check, OK? We continue our series of looking into the problem, how we got here, and how we don't get here again.

Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, it's great to see you, sir.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Hey, it's good to see you, Chris. How you've been?

CUOMO: Better than I deserve.

So, with these variants, if people are vaccinated with the vaccines we now have, what does it mean, if the U.K. variant, or the Delta variant, do we know anything about protection with the current vaccine and those variants?

MURTHY: Well, Chris, it's a really good question. And the news about the Delta variant is evidence of really why it's so important for us to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

This variant is even more transmissible than the U.K. variant, which was more transmissible than the version of the virus we were dealing with last year. And there's also some concern that it may be more dangerous as well.

The good news is that when they looked at the Pfizer vaccine, they found that it was quite effective, after two doses, at protecting against even the Delta variant. We already know that it's effective against the U.K. variant, and others, circulating here, in the United States. So it's yet another reason to get vaccinated quickly.

But for those who are unvaccinated, they are increasingly at risk, as more and more variants develop.

And look, we are blessed, absolutely blessed, to have multiple options here, in terms of vaccines. There are places in the world where these vaccines are not available. And my hope is that people will take advantage of this opportunity that we have, to protect themselves, protect their communities, and get vaccinated as quickly as possible.

CUOMO: Doc, you think the horse is out of the barn? 13 states have met the Biden goal of 70 percent of adults, with at least one shot by July 4th.

The vaccination rates are dropping because places are opening anyway, because people have had it, and states are desperate for commerce, and politicians are desperate for approval. So, what's the chance that we get more people vaccinated?

MURTHY: Well, Chris, I am optimistic that we can. I don't think it's going to be easy. But I think what it's going to require is several things, number one, us continuing to increase access to these vaccines.

As you heard last week, there have been even more measures that we're taking, from free childcare, to extended pharmacy hours. And this is all in addition to the free transportation, the rides through Lyft and Uber partnerships, and other measures.

But it's going to take more than that, Chris. It's going to take us continuing to work with trusted local messengers, to ensure that faith leaders, and doctors, and nurses, locally, are in communities, talking to members, talking to their patients, to their students. This is really what it's going to take.

Chris, we knew it was going to get harder, as this effort went on. But one thing that we have learned, more clearly than anything else, is that this vaccination effort will move at the speed of trust.

And that's why all of us have an important role to play here, because there's somebody who trusts us in all of our lives. Maybe it's a family member, maybe it's a good friend, maybe it's the people that you serve, if you run a business, or that you minister to, if you are a pastor in a church.

Whoever it may be, those people need you in moments like this, to share your experience, to ask them if they've got vaccinated, and support them, in their efforts, to get questions answered, and to find a place to get vaccinated, which you can do now easily, at

But this is an all-in effort, Chris. It's going to take all parts of society, every part of our country, to step up, in order to hit our vaccination goals, and protect our nation.


CUOMO: The one part I think we'll revisit someday is access is what, is the key component, of wanting the vaccine. And I don't get what the politics were about the passport or whatever you want to call it that somebody has.

But preferences for people who are vaccinated, not making people get vaccinated, not forcing it, obviously, but when they know that they get vaccinated, and they get to go places, and get spaces that they wouldn't otherwise, I think it's a really big thing that we're leaving just to the private sector. But we'll talk about that another day.

I want to take a look back, and I want you to play - I want to play a piece of sound for you, from Dr. Lipkin, who, the name I'm sure you know, about whether or not if COVID-20 comes, a year from now, will we be ready to take it on?

Listen to what he said.


CUOMO: We don't have stuff in place, ready to go, if we were to get hit again, do we?

DR. IAN LIPKIN, JOHN SNOW PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Not yet. I'm hoping this is something we're going to be addressing shortly. There are so many areas where we're weak.


CUOMO: Leading question, fair point. However, he did agree with the assertion that we don't have it. And it boggles me. Yes, the Obama administration gave a book to the Trump's, about "Here's what you need to do," when they came in.

But you would think Doc that now we would be working on reagents, swabs, PPE, have contact tracing staff, and mechanisms for it, to spread quickly, in case any of this ever happens again. And we don't. Why?

MURTHY: That's a really good question, Chris. And it gets to the heart of what we need to contend with, if we want to be able to respond to the next pandemic.

And there will be another pathogen that comes our way, like COVID-19. The question is will we be ready? What I can say is that we are more - we are further along now than we were six months ago, because there are several areas where we've got to work, Chris.

Number one is on infrastructure. That's about people and systems. And it's not just federal infrastructure. It's the local infrastructure, which really matters. This is where contact tracing is strengthened and workforce comes in.

The secondary though is on manufacturing. We know that there're, from the 100-day study that was done by the Biden administration, that there are critical areas, where we have vulnerabilities.

We ought to shore that up, on the supply chain side, but also enhance our manufacturing capacity, so we can make PPE, we can make test kits, we can ultimately produce vaccine, at the scale that we need.

But in addition to that, Chris, it's also going to be essential that we build the right partnerships, both domestically, but globally, and also communicate in a manner that is clear, consistent, and based in science. These are all areas where we can make improvements.

But the funding that's already come through Chris, in the last several months, through the American Rescue Plan, has actually pumped billions of dollars, into strengthening the public health infrastructure that we're talking about.

This is really, really important because you can't build that overnight. It takes time. You got to recruit people, train them, get them used to the data systems that they need to use.

You also need to rebuild trust in institutions, Chris, and not just the CDC, but scientific institutions across our country. That too takes time. But you start by communicating transparently, openly and honestly, with people.

So, we are in a better place now than we were. But we are by no means as far as we want to be. And that's why we're going to keep working hard to invest more of these dollars, to build the workforce and manufacturing capacity that's needed, and ultimately to build trust, by investing in people, communicating openly, and delivering results.

CUOMO: Mr. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, thank you very much for joining us.

MURTHY: Thanks so much, Chris. Good to see you again.

CUOMO: Pleasure is mine.

It was testimony, in Congress, to investigators, and they waited two years for it. We now finally know, what former Trump White House Counsel Don McGahn revealed, under oath, about the ex-President's attempts, to interfere with the Russia investigation. To some, that would be called obstruction of justice.

"Oh, what do I care?" Because the truth matters. And people said that the assertions about what Trump did with McGahn were BS, they were exaggerated, now, you can hear it for yourself. Next.








CUOMO: And I know there are a lot of people who watch this show, to see what's said about the President, what they're lying about with him now, what they're doing to Trump.

Well know this, for a fact, and you can check it yourself, and you can read it yourself. Trump did exactly what he told you he never did.

You remember? "I never told then White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller." All of his people were so sure that it never happened. Listen.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Does the President commit to not firing Robert Mueller?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, FORMER COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The President has not even discussed that. The President is not discussing firing Bob Mueller.

REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I never felt the level of and, you know, the--


PRIEBUS: --the level ten that that--

TODD: --and what people heard, it's possible the President had uttered the words, "I want Mueller fired. I want Mueller gone."

PRIEBUS: I never heard that.

TODD: But you never took it--

PRIEBUS: No, I never heard that.

TODD: You never heard those specific?

PRIEBUS: I never heard that.

RUDY GIULIANI, (R) FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: If he doesn't file his report by September 1st, mid-September, he's clearly doing a Comey. CNN: So, will he fire him if he doesn't file the report by September 1st?

GIULIANI: I don't think - I don't think he's going to fire Mueller. Mueller is - is creating his own problems.


CUOMO: They all knew that they weren't telling you the truth.

Now they'll say "Well, hold on. He didn't say it to me. He said it to Don McGahn. When I said I never heard it, I never," let me tell you how those places work, OK? There's not one person that knows anything. If one person knows something, several people know it. That's how it works.

And you know who says otherwise? Don McGahn. It happened so often, that he testified to Congress that he quote, "Felt trapped, because the President had the same conversation with me repeatedly."


As for all those who say it never happened, McGahn says Trump, quote, "Certainly seemed to ask a number of people about it." But none of those were closest to him, right? That's who he was. That's who they were. They lie. They deny. And they defy. And there is proof.

Now, what does it mean? Let's bring in Norm Eisen.

Good to have you, sir.


CUOMO: What does it mean, and why doesn't it mean nothing except a little bit of a, "I told you so," and for the record appraisal of what was true, and what was not politically? What does it mean legally, if anything?

EISEN: Well, Chris, the new revelations that the House Judiciary Committee finally got out, of Don McGahn, in the transcript that was released today, demonstrate that the President's repeated denials that he wanted to fire Mueller, have Mueller fired, were false, was a lot of new information that not only did the President very likely obstruct justice, McGahn himself felt that he was on the verge that he, if he had complied with those requests, for the President, that he could have been prosecuted by Mueller.

And he was so desperate, that he went out, and he felt that he had to leak it to the press. He used words like "Crazy" and "Out of control." And here's why it matters, Chris. We've seen over and over again, and it's frustrated some of us that the Department of Justice under Joe Biden is going to be fiercely independent.

I think with this public transcript out there, they must look again, at the presidential obstruction of justice. In a country where no person is above the law, we have more proof that the President broke it. So, I think it's going to require another hard look by DOJ.

CUOMO: What would you like to bet that there is absolutely no action taken by the DOJ, to open any kind of investigation, against the former president, or any of his people, on this issue?

EISEN: I understand your skepticism. It's a polite word for it. I will bet you that the President is going to face charges somewhere.

You're right. It's a steep hill. His greater exposure is in New York State, in Georgia, for some of his election misconduct. But Chris, I know the Department of Justice. And I don't believe that they are going to be able to turn away from this transcript.

It's public now. That's why it was so important to do it. They have got to ask themselves, "Are we really going to let the President get away with this?" I recognize that it's an uphill battle. But it's important for DOJ to struggle with that question.

CUOMO: Norm Eisen, you are the better mind. And I take your counsel. Thank you for giving us the perspective tonight.

EISEN: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. What do we want? We want better. That's why we care about our kids so much. And we are praying desperately that we see better in them than what's going on around us all now.

Well, I got somebody, who seems to give us hope. She seems to be the definition of an Ameri-CAN. Harvard-bound, don't hold that against her, but it is her heart. It is her heart more than her head. And it's about what was put into her, by her family and her life. She maybe the student, but she just taught us something that we really need to learn.

I got a great young person here for you, and a very proud mama, next.









CUOMO: An Ameri-CAN, an extraordinary Massachusetts High School grad, reminds us of our ability to overcome, and be better. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VERDA TETTEH, HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE: We are resilient. And I say resilient, because if we're being honest with ourselves, some of us were born with the odds stacked against us that we may not make it today.

To every immigrant child, you can make it, and to every DREAMer, you can make it.


TETTEH: And to every child in America, you can make it.


CUOMO: Can't make me cry! Too much makeup!

Verda Tetteh, Harvard-bound scholarship, wasn't born here, came here with her family, worked her butt off. The whole family pulled together. And she is living the dream. It's not why I have her on.

After the speech, she is awarded the school's highest honor, the General Excellence Award, $40,000. Amazing, right? Not why I have her on the show.

She goes back to the podium, sits down, gets back up, goes up to the podium, and guess what she did?

She's here with her mother Rosemary right now. Let's show them. People don't want to see me. Let's see Verda and Rosemary, please.

Verda, congratulations. Rosemary, even bigger congratulations to you.


CUOMO: Because being a parent today is not easy. Overcoming what you did is not easy. And you've done great things for your family. Now, Verda, we wait to see what you do with these amazing opportunities.

You sit back down, $40,000 in your pocket, your family works and works and works. Your mother worked two jobs, went to community college at night. What goes through your head and heart when you sit down?

TETTEH: Yes, I mean, I was just sitting down, and there was just so many things going through my head. And one of them was my mother's journey.

We came here, and she decided to go to college, at the age of 39, and get an education, to better her life and the life of her children. And she worked really hard, like you said, the two jobs, raising her kids, studying, paying her bills and her tuition.

And it was a difficult journey. And yes, as a family, we all learned a lot, and we grew stronger because of it. But we also knew that it was a very difficult journey. [21:55:00]

And sitting down and being surrounded by my peers, and my community, I knew that I was in a position, God had given me a chance, to give back to my community. He had blessed me so much, and this is my chance to be a blessing. And that's exactly what I wanted to do.

CUOMO: So, what did you do?

TETTEH: I - oh, yes. I got up and--

CUOMO: You Harvard people!

TETTEH: I got back up and--

CUOMO: So, what did you do?

TETTEH: Yes. I got back up, went on the stage, politely, interrupted my graduation. And I asked that the scholarship, $40,000, be invested, if you will, donated to another student, who would need it more than I do, a student who is going to community college, and maybe has an unmet financial need, and would definitely need the money.

CUOMO: Rosemary, what did that mean to you?

ANNAN: Oh, that means that well, to me, I found a mature lady in her. At that moment, I felt like "Oh my goodness, my baby's ready to face the world. She's ready!" And then I just stood up, and started shouting, and clapping. I was so thrilled.

CUOMO: I am thrilled for you both. I can't wait to see. I know that you are voted most likely to be president.


CUOMO: If they change the law that you don't have to be born in the United States to be president--

TETTEH: Right.

CUOMO: --then you could run. But hopefully, you find something better with your life, to do.


CUOMO: You've already made a mark that will never be erased. What you did in giving back that money is the best of us. God bless you, good luck going forward.

TETTEH: Thank you.

CUOMO: And Rosemary, congratulations to the whole family.

ANNAN: Thank you.

CUOMO: Be well, Verda, be well, Rosemary. Take care. We'll be right back.

TETTEH: Thank you, Chris.

ANNAN: Thanks.