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AZ Secretary Of State Calls For Criminal Investigation Into Trump Pressure Campaign In 2020 Election; Biden Defends Afghanistan Pullout As Taliban Advances; CDC, FDA Say Americans Do Not Need A COVID Booster Shot As Pfizer Says It Will Seek Federal Authorization For Booster. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 08, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: When details emerged of Daniels' alleged relationship with the former president, Avenatti almost instantly became a regular presence, in both network and cable television news shows, including this one.

But he was convicted by, back in February, for threatening to publicly accuse the sportswear company, Nike, of illicit payments to amateur athletes, unless Nike paid him first.

For his part, Avenatti wept openly in the courtroom, at one point, saying he'd betrayed his friends, family and himself. The federal judge, who handed down the sentence said, quote, "Mr. Avenatti had become drunk on the power of his platform, or what he perceived his platform to be."

The news continues right now. Want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, thanks, Coop.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

If you're on the Left, or if you're on the Right, keep your eyes on Texas. It's America's largest Red state. And Republicans there are showing the 2022 playbook. And it's not new.

Fraud and fright, for you on the Right, do you like it? For you on the Left, can you counter it? Contrived culture wars with a side dish of election fraud farce, Democrats, better be watching!

The Trumper governor there, Greg Abbott, called a special session today, to push this agenda. And it is very campaign-ish, a revised voter restriction bill. It's revised because if you'll remember, State Democrats blocked the GOP's initial attempt.

Remember, they staged a walkout, said "We're not going to be part of this attempt to suppress the vote?" It happened back in May, just a few minutes before a House deadline? But it was kind of the only bullet they had, to stop it. They don't have the votes. Will another walkout work? Or is it just delaying the inevitable? The real question, though, is why the Governor is now saying now that

he must fix something that he admitted in the past was not broken?



GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Right now, I don't know how many or, if any, elections in the State of Texas, in 2020, were altered because of voter fraud.


CUOMO: So, he didn't know. He suggested there may be none. No proof, to bolster any sense that there was fraud ever came thereafter, nor does he offer any. Yet now, there is something he must fix. It is the game.

But again, the Democrat walkout may not work completely, but it did soften the suck that they now face. And here's how. The revised bill excludes a couple of provisions.

One, they were going to ban Sunday voting, known as "Souls to Polls." And they were going to lower the threshold for overturning an election. Now, both were obvious power grabs, and one was specifically targeting minorities.

Speaking of power, listen to what is not on the agenda. The power grid problems. Remember the woes back in the wintertime? They said, "Well, the grid's built for summer," and now, not doing too great in Texas with the grid. The Governor said it was built to handle it.

They have problems. Why not deal with the tough things? That's what this is all about. Distraction, culture wars, it's always worked. The new one, Critical Race Theory, CRT.

Buckle up! You're going to hear a lot about this. And you should probably get curious about what it really is, OK? It is a theory for understanding how the legacy of slavery, how racism, has mixed with law over time to create systemic inequality. That's what it is, OK?

What it's being used for? A weapon, "Forcing socialism, teaching all White kids, they are bad." These moves are obviously political. But will they be effective?

Let's turn to a Texas lawmaker, who has a say in all of this. State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer was one of the leaders of the Democratic walkout, in May that likely got Republicans to modify their voter restriction legislation.

It's good to have you, sir.


CUOMO: I see a lot of people asking you lawmakers, on the Democrat side, in Texas, "Will you do it again? Will you do it again?" You know it's just delaying the inevitable. The question is what is

the real move here? What is your warning, on coming on a national show, to tell people about what Texas might mean for the rest of the country?

MARTINEZ FISCHER: The message is very clear. America, we need to wake up, we need to preserve our democracy. We need a federal voting rights solution. And we need it now. Chris, this is a now-or-never moment.

We're holding the line in Texas, and we're going to fight with all our might. But even if we would have fixed this problem in Texas, it doesn't solve the problem for the rest of the nation.

We need a national standard. And we are deadlocked in the U.S. Senate. It is time for everyone to up their game. We are in the fourth quarter. Every man and woman in America, this is the time to speak up.

CUOMO: Have you seen with the passage of time, and trying to make the case to colleagues that it has changed the inclinations of any, on the Right, in your state, in terms of the lawmakers?


MARTINEZ FISCHER: Well, I'll tell you what. You hit it on the head. The problem we have here in Texas, people are actually voting. We had a 66 percent turnout in the 2020 election, and President Trump - former president Trump won by 5.5 points.

We're not as Red, as people think. We're becoming purple. And so, the only way you can stop that momentum is to change the game, just like you said.

"Let's make the hurdles higher. Let's put more tripwire on the ground. Let's make it a crime to vote in Texas," and that's the only way these folks can hold on to power. So, when it comes to survival of the fittest, they're not willing to be pragmatic or bipartisan.

CUOMO: Do you think that ignoring the power grid problems, which are a concern for a lot of people in your state, and instead focusing on the culture of war of Critical Race Theory, do you think that's going to work?

MARTINEZ FISCHER: So yes, they call this a special session, right? There is nothing special about this session. This is what we call the suppression session, because we are not dealing with the real problems.

We need to fix our grid. Just like you mentioned, we have federal dollars sitting in our Treasury that we haven't given to our schools. We haven't given to - there are small communities that don't get direct federal assistance from the federal government. And we have a Delta variant exploding in the State of Texas, and we are not prepared for that.

That's what we need to be working on. And I think that's what actually gets voters ticked off, is that folks are going to focus - Republicans will focus on these red meat issues that go absolutely nowhere. But they're just trying to hold on to that little power that they have. And it's slowly slipping out of their fingers.

CUOMO: Now, when you say that, what is the feedback, that you're getting in your area, your community, your constituency that makes you think that this won't work? Because, at least, on the media side, this Critical Race Theory, is getting a lot of traction in Texas, and it does play into White fright.

MARTINEZ FISCHER: It certainly does, right? But again, these are these dog whistle politics. We can't just fall for this, what I call a, Jedi mind trick here. We need to keep our eye on what really matters.

Listen, when I shop at my grocery store, here in my community, no one ever tells me "You know, Trey? We're not being mean enough to immigrants. Go to Austin and make some laws," or "Hey, Trey, by the way, we're not making it hard enough for women to have health care choices, you know? Go back up to Austin and do that."

Folks are concerned about these kitchen-table issues, having an energy system that actually works, making sure that we have an air conditioner in the summer, and a heater in the winter, making sure folks are prepared for a pandemic, folks have a job, folks have a place to go, if they want to go to college, that they can afford it. We're not focusing on those issues. And I think voters can see right through it.

CUOMO: Well, this is a laboratory, what's happening in your state. This is what is going to be what the midterms are about, writ large. So, we'll be watching to see how it goes, who benefits, and why.

Trey Martinez Fischer, thank you and good luck.

MARTINEZ FISCHER: Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: All right.

So, if Republicans were serious about election integrity, they would follow what Arizona's Secretary of State is calling for, a criminal investigation, in the face of mounting evidence that Trump allies pressured Maricopa County election officials, for months, to announce voting irregularities in the 2020 election. Wouldn't that be by definition, fraud?

Recall what Clint Hickman, the guy at the center of this, said on this show.


CLINT HICKMAN, MARICOPA COUNTY SUPERVISOR: I told people, that were close to the Trump campaign, with all this litigation that was going on, I said, "Just hey, just do me a favor. I can't talk to anyone, while this is being litigated."

And it - and that stayed true all the way up till that New Year's weekend. I got a phone call from the White House switchboard. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Arizona's Secretary Katie Hobbs joins us right now.

Secretary of State, thank you very much.

Any indication that the Republicans in your state want to move away from the fraud farce, and deal with any actual fraud that involved anything to do with Trump?

KATIE HOBBS, (D) ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, we could only hope. But, right now, it seems like they are just continuing to lead by conspiracy theory.

Those who know that this fraud is a farce aren't willing to speak up about it, and certainly no indication that the state's top law enforcement officer is going to act on our request to investigate. In fact, he didn't even need a request from my office. He should have just acted on the reports alone.

Every layperson can look at this, and say, "This really does look like an attempt to interfere, and should be warrant further investigation."

CUOMO: Unless the man, who was on the show, was lying, it happened.

HOBBS: Oh, yes.

CUOMO: But do you agree that as it stands right now, it is highly unlikely anyone will be held to account, for strong-arming state officials, into putting out what they wanted, which was the fraud farce?


HOBBS: Well, to my knowledge, there is an investigation right now, on the same tactics that were used in Georgia. And so, hopefully, now that we have this actual evidence that's come forth, this will - it will result in at least an investigation here that can lead to these folks being held accountable.

CUOMO: Here's what you're up against. The GOP Chair, Kelli Ward.

Put up her tweet.

She was suggesting that election officials should go to jail because their pushback against the Fraud-it, you know, "You've blocked access, you withheld or deleted information," said "they did not possess the passwords to the computers." Did any of that happen?

HOBBS: They are just making this stuff up. I mean, honestly, right now, anything you see coming out of these people's mouths, you can just assume they made it up, to just continue to pile on, because that's their goal, is to continue to sow doubt, to undermine the integrity of our election. And they're just making it up.

CUOMO: Secretary of State, thank you for making your case to the audience. Thank you for letting us, know what's happening.

HOBBS: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, we got to spend some time, on this CRT, Critical Race Theory. Why, because it's going to be abused a lot. So, let's look at it from the teacher angle.

My next guest says that teachers in America are being bullied from teaching students accurate history about race. It's not just about talking too much about race. It's that she believes this is about really suppressing any talk about it.

She leads one of the largest teachers' unions in this country. And she's getting ready for a major legal fight. Let's get after it, next.









CUOMO: This is the thing that bothers or should bother about Critical Race Theory. It's a boogeyman.

It's not even taught in most K through 12 schools. But suddenly, it's like the biggest thing that's going on in the country, when it comes to our kids and schooling. Now, what does that tell you? It tells you that there are BS here.

The Critical Race Theory, this boogeyman, is just the new front on the culture war. That's all. The Brown Menace is gone. You have to - they're not coming over the wall, to come and take your women. Now it's "They're coming to take your kids."

They claim CRT "Doesn't enlighten. It spreads racism. It spreads socialism. It's just telling White kids, that everything you do is somehow given to you, and you're worthless, and that you have to be to blame for all the bad things."

It's none of those things. Don't fall for what you're being told. Do the homework, OK? It isn't about an intellectual theory. That's not their fight. Their fight is about a power theory, OK? Now, what Critical Race Theory is really about is just choosing which stories matter, in the teaching of the history of America.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave up the goods on what this is really about, for the Trumpers.

He tweeted, "If we teach that the founding of the United States of America was somehow flawed, it was corrupt, it was racist, that's really dangerous. It strikes at the very foundations of our country."

This guy is supposed to be a genius. He was at the top of his class at West Point.

You can teach that America, her birth, her independence, her fight, her foundation was part of the most notable and exceptional experiment in democracy, on the face of this planet, comma, and there have been problems all along. And racism is a primary one. Both of those things can be said. Both are true. And he knows it.

This is fake outrage. But it's having real impact on school districts, across the country.

And it may have a chilling effect on what our kids get to learn, about who we are, and how we got here, and why things are not perfect here, and why we are trying to promote a more perfect union.

Parents against parents, student against student, teachers, in danger of getting punished, for what they teach in their classrooms. States all across the country are taking up bills to ban Critical Race Theory.

What does this mean? Let's discuss with the President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten.

Good to see you, Randi.


CUOMO: Let's deal with the argument. And then we'll go to the remedy.

The argument, you are teaching about the oppression of Black people in this country, but you're using it as a cudgel.

Mike Pompeo is saying, "You want to say that this country basically stinks, and blame White people. And this is the Left's effort to make a minority into a majority, because you want them all to vote for you guys, so you can stay in power."

WEINGARTEN: You know, I mean.

CUOMO: That's what you're hearing. I mean it's - and you're going to hear it more and more. So what's the answer?

WEINGARTEN: Right. So, the answer is it's completely not true. I mean, I am a high school social studies teacher. It's hard to actually fight against something that's completely not true, because then you're assuming something in evidence that's not true.

So, let me go through what is true, which is that for the last, I don't know, as long as I've been teaching, we teach history in a way, where you take salient pieces of American history, and you look at them, and you examine them, to have your kids be able to know the facts, and to think through what that means.

So, when it comes to issues of American history, we teach about the founding, and how great it was, to actually break from Great Britain, and have a democracy, and how important the Constitution was, one of the first constitutional democracies.


But it wasn't a multi-ethnic democracy. The Founders basically were very focused on making sure that White men of certain ways had a vote. But this is what's great about America, and what we teach in history, that the arc of the moral universe has actually bent towards justice.

And that whereas the Founders, actually were slaveholders, we went through a Civil War, we went through the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendment, we've just got to celebrating Juneteenth, and so, you see that through the struggle of America, we create more opportunity, more freedom.

What I don't get is that that's a great story for Fox TV. That's a great story for all Americans.

And what's happening now is that in this push to try to erase what has happened in our history, it is chilling teachers from teaching, the fact that we did have slavery. It was uncomfortable.

We need to get through it. We need kids to be able to critically think about it, and to engage and understand it, and get better as a result of it.

It is the American experiment that we are trying to teach, as school teachers, both the good and the ugly, but the change that we've seen, including having our first African American president, and our first African American Vice President.

CUOMO: So, you see these bills, five states, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, bans on Critical Race Theory, related topics as well. Now, that's the dangerous part, because Critical Race Theory, as is, is not really taught--


CUOMO: --at the primary, secondary level.


CUOMO: But if you have a dozen other states, pushing for similar legislation, what is your fear these laws, what they will do, and what is your remedy?

WEINGARTEN: OK, so number one, the fear is, take what's happening - so number one, it's like a modern day Scopes Trial. It's like the modern day version of stopping us from teaching biology and evolution. What it's - what the fear is, is that teachers will be so bullied, and

so disparaged, we've seen that already, and threatened, that they'll stop teaching about the Civil War, the 13th, 14th, 15th Amendment, anything to do with the issues around race, discrimination, bigotry, and things like that. And that will be terrible for kids to not understand history, and how we actually move to be a more--

CUOMO: Right.

WEINGARTEN: --perfect union.

CUOMO: What's the remedy?

WEINGARTEN: The remedy is that number one, as a union, we have a legal defense fund that we've now put some more money in, and we're going to fight to defend every one of our members, who teach honest history. But the other remedy is this. We are going to the courts.

Like, take the Texas law. It basically says, I don't have the exact language, but it basically says that you can only teach to slavery, as if it was a deviation from the Founders. Now, that's completely the opposite of our professional responsibility and our standards that says, "We have to teach honest history."

So in Texas, we're going to go to the courts, and say, "Well, can we or can't we teach the Civil War? Can we or can't we teach the Dred Scott decision, the 13th Amendment, the 14th Amendment, the 15th Amendment, Juneteenth, the new national holiday?"

So, we're going to do those things. But the other thing we're doing, Chris, is we're actually explaining to parents what we're really doing.

And really, truly, we want to get kids back into school, in August and September, in a welcoming and safe environment, where we really start actually bringing community back together, because I think that's the real issue here.

People have gone through such terrible agita because of COVID that there is a sense of chaos and consternation that these culture warriors are seizing on. And what we need to do is bring people back together, our community, our education community, and do it in a welcoming and safe environment, where all kids can thrive.

CUOMO: Well I look forward to the kids being back in school, in person. That is for sure.

Randi Weingarten, thank you for coming on, to make the case.

WEINGARTEN: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, a brand-new update, out of Haiti. As you know, its President was assassinated. We have dramatic new video. Take a look.





CUOMO: What is it? It's a gunfight between police and suspects. That's what we're being told the tape is. Two arrests in the manhunt are American. Does that mean that there was American involvement beyond their citizenship?

We're going to have a former top counterterror official's take on what this means, about any involvement America did have, or will have, going forward, next.








CUOMO: We have breaking news in Haiti. Authorities now say as many as 28 attackers were involved in the assassination of President Moise. And two of them were American citizens.


CUOMO: You're looking at video of a gun battle, presumably, between Haitian police and 15 of the suspects, who has posted to social media today. CNN has not confirmed its authenticity.

But the point stands. Haitian officials say that they have arrested eight suspects, including two Haitian Americans, and six Colombians. Seven other suspects were killed. In the meantime, what does this mean?


Joining us now, Richard Clarke, who served as the White House point man, on Haiti.

The fact that two have American citizenship, does that mean to you in any way that there was U.S. involvement in any attack on Moise?


What it suggests to me, based on the reporting we have so far, is that Colombians, a large number of Colombian citizens, and perhaps two Haitian Americans, were involved in this. That suggests a drug gang. It suggests mercenaries hired by perhaps one of the Colombian cartels, because the President probably wasn't cooperating.

Haiti has always been a transit point for drugs from Colombia, moving into the United States. And it's a small market for drugs from Colombia as well. So, this looks like a spillover of a Colombian drug war.

CUOMO: Big move for a drug dealer, or a cartel even, to go after a president. But then again, it is Haiti. It's not like you're worrying about the state coming after you.

What does this mean about the likelihood that America is going to have to have a heavier footprint there, because there'll be chaos to come?

CLARKE: Well, I don't think so. I mean, the U.N. was there last, with its troops, and tried to establish security. We tried to establish security before that.

It's a very difficult country to govern. I've been in every corner of it. I've been there over a dozen times. It's a country that just doesn't allow itself to be governed very well.

There's no tradition of policing. We spent a lot of time, trying to build a Haitian police force. And that lasted about two years, or three years, before it too fell into corruption. So no, I don't think the United States is going to go back in.

But it does show us, Chris, that the reason that we, as Americans, have an interest, in preventing countries, from falling into failed- state status, is that the spillover affects us. And, in this case, the fact that Haiti is more or less a failed state means that drugs can flow from it, into the U.S., more easily.

CUOMO: Speaking of failed states, and what it means for us, Afghanistan.

You don't have to be Richard Clarke to know that when America leaves, the Taliban will move right back in. They're going to have a war there. But it's going to be pretty quick.

And they use the stick and the carrot. And we're going to start to hear ugly things there, about what's happening to women, what's happening to ethnic minorities, what's happening to non-Muslim extremists.

And what does that mean for the United States, short and long?

CLARKE: Well, Chris, that's probably right.

The President said today, the Afghan forces have 300,000 troops, and the Taliban only have 75,000. I think those numbers are off a little. But it's not a foregone conclusion that Kabul will fall, or it will fall immediately. But your chances are you're right.

And we will probably see terrible things happen. And the rights of women will probably be cut back enormously.

CUOMO: Here's how - wait, let me just play for context.

CLARKE: The President also said today--

CUOMO: Let me - let's play what he said, Dick.


CUOMO: And then I'll have you comment on it.

Here's the President.



It's a silly question. Do I trust the Taliban? No. But I trust the capacity of the Afghan military, who is better-trained, better- equipped, and more re- - more competent in terms of conducting war.


CUOMO: Since when? Who has the Afghan military ever taken on--


CUOMO: --and won?

CLARKE: Well, no one. And they really don't have 300,000 people. But the point he made that I - that resonated most with me, is he said, "We did not go in to do nation-building."

I remember the decision. I was in the room, on the night of 9/11, when we made the decision to go into Afghanistan. It was to get bin Laden, to clean out the terrorist training camps, to prevent Afghanistan from being a sanctuary for al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups.

Well, it's not anymore. And we don't have to be there in the country, with U.S. troops, all the time, to prevent it from being a sanctuary. We can operate remotely, from over the horizon. And the military have developed plans to do just that.

I don't think we can say to an American mother or father, "You've lost your kid in Afghanistan in 2021," and look them in the eye, and say to them, honestly, "And your son was there fighting for the freedom of Americans." That's just not the case anymore.

And I couldn't say to a parent, and I know Joe Biden couldn't say to a parent, "Your son or daughter died in Afghanistan, and they were there, fighting to keep us safe." That's not true anymore.

CUOMO: I don't think it's been true for quite a number of years now. The question is, will it become true again? We'll see. We'll see.


And Richard Clarke, I will call on you to help us understand whatever happens, going forward. Thank you, sir.

All right, the war at home, as tough as any terrorist, COVID. 24 states are now going in the wrong direction again. Look, this isn't a surprise. You knew the variants were going to be here. You knew that places, where there hadn't been vaccinations, were going to be harder- hit.

There is news tonight, from the government, on booster shots. That's not new, either. Be honest. They've been talking that maybe you'd need a booster shot for a long time, even if fully vaccinated.

It's the only way it makes sense. Why would you need a booster if you're not vaccinated? You need the vaccine first. So, do we need them sooner than later? There's confusion because of something Pfizer just said.

We'll put it out there. We'll explain it. We'll discuss with somebody, who understands the medicine and the policy, next.









CUOMO: OK, so why is everybody talking "Booster! Booster! Booster! Booster!" Pfizer.

Pfizer put out a statement saying it's ramping up efforts to develop booster shots. Why? Data from Israel, that immunity is waning from the initial doses.

However, the CDC just put out this statement. "Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time. FDA, CDC and NIH are engaged in a science-based rigorous process, to consider whether or when a booster might be necessary."

Here is something that you have not heard, and you need to hear and needs to be said, OK? If you guys are all getting together, why not do this? Push the FDA to commit to the process to get the vaccine approved. Instead of jumping ahead to booster, get past EUA. Because there are many people in this country, especially where their kids are involved, who won't take the vaccine, because it is not approved. Why isn't it yet, if it's so safe, and all the data is so good? Legit question!

Now, when it comes to the booster, let's talk about what is noise, and what is news.

Dr. William Schaffner, it's been a minute, Doc. You look well. How you doing?


CUOMO: "Booster! Booster! Booster! The vaccine doesn't work. You see? Now we need more. Now we" - calm me down.

SCHAFFNER: The answer is that our vaccines still are very, very effective, in keeping us out of the hospital, in averting severe disease. That's what they were designed to do.

Now, it's a bonus, if they can also prevent what we call infection. You could get infected have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. They diminish that possibility greatly. But they can't turn it off completely. And that's what the Israelis are talking about, and Pfizer has echoed.

But as long as these vaccines keep us out of the hospital, then we don't need a booster. And at the moment, they also cover all the variants, including that Delta variant that's rushing through the unvaccinated in this country today.

So, we're on solid ground at the moment. I'm so glad the Pfizer people have done the research, ready to have a booster on the shelf, if we need it, but we don't need it yet.

CUOMO: Let's look at the data about how the - this idea of waning immunity versus what we're seeing about the strength of the vaccination in the first place.

Put up the bar graph, please.

The number of people fully vaccinated by COVID-19 vaccine type Pfizer, 83.9 million, Moderna, 61.7 million, J&J, the single-shot, 12.5 million. Isn't that enough people and enough time for them to be able to make the case that this should be authorized, and approved, and not just for emergency use?

SCHAFFNER: Ah, you're talking about licensure. That's exactly correct. A lot of us are frankly a bit impatient that the FDA hasn't yet worked its way through all the elaborate important evaluations, in order to license this vaccine.

This vaccine has been used in more people. And we know more about its effectiveness and safety than any other vaccine that we've ever licensed. Hurry up already!

CUOMO: Right. So, what's going on?

Because look, you - I'm sure you hear it all the time, being a white coat, that, "Listen, if it's so easy, and so good, why isn't it approved yet? And I'm not giving it to my kids before it's approved." And state officials, local officials, even private entities saying "Look, I don't think that we can demand that people take it, when it's not even approved yet."

This would be a big piece in the puzzle, would it not?

SCHAFFNER: Oh, it certainly would. It would put at ease many, many people, and would make it so much easier, for us, to speak to so many folks, and get people who are still anxious, and not quite convinced, over the line, and we could get them vaccinated. It would be a great help.

And I would urge my friends at the FDA. I have no insights into the process. I would say "How about a few all-nighters and long weekends? Let's get a move on, please."

CUOMO: Because who's going to believe the FDA about not needing a booster, when they can't even say that this thing is approved yet?

Look, not many people are saying this. It's not that politically popular, but who cares? I hear it from too many people. They should get it done. Biden says he's going to do what he can. That's what he can do.

Let me ask you something else, as I let you go. Are those CDs, over your right shoulder, in that rack?

SCHAFFNER: They are, yes.

CUOMO: You have any Bee Gees in there?


SCHAFFNER: I have all kinds of stuff. But I don't think I have Bee Gees.

CUOMO: What? I'm crestfallen!

SCHAFFNER: I have a lot of--

CUOMO: Doctor?

SCHAFFNER: --I have a lot of country music.

CUOMO: Of course, you do.

SCHAFFNER: I'm here in Nashville. I have jazz.

CUOMO: Of course you do. You're down in Nashville. And you're a man's man! All right, Doctor, be well, always a pleasure.

SCHAFFNER: My pleasure.

CUOMO: He's actually much more than just a man's man. He's a man for all season. He's a man of science. He's a man of letters. He is a man in full.

All right, the gift that keeps giving, that's what my next guest is about, a real Ameri-CAN. We must remind ourselves, we are more than a noise. We are more than the haters. This man is a gift, who keeps giving gifts, to others, in need, by doing what he can.

Ordinary, creating the extraordinary, an Ameri-CAN, to remember, next.









CUOMO: "What can I do to help? I'm ordinary." You do what you can. And tonight's Ameri-CAN is proof of just that. He's using what he is good at, to do good for others, in need.

I want you to meet Eliot, my man, Middleton, former car mechanic, although once you're a mechanic, you're always a mechanic, but he did change professions, and now is a restaurant owner in South Carolina.

But here's the true soul food on his menu. On his days off, he takes in junk cars, in return for some of his specialty BBQ ribs, all right? Love ribs! I'll be talking to him about that.

Now what does he do? He takes the car, fixes it up, and then gives it away. 33 cars, nine months, first of all, great rate, but think about what that means for these people, for work, for family?

Eliot joins us now.

God bless, brother. Thank you for what you're doing. Now, tell us why you started.


So, pretty much in 2019, it was a food drive that me and the Mayor of Andrews, we conducted. And Andrews is a small town. We did a food drive. We had about 250 family boxes that we can provide, for the - for the area.

And once those boxes was gone, I did notice that there was a few people that wasn't able to get in. So, I was walking out the door, to try to tell them "I'm sorry, we were out." And when I turned my head down the - down the block, they were a lot of people still left.

Just distraught, by the folks that couldn't receive the food, but even more distraught of the fact that some of them just kind of turned around, and just started walking back, didn't go to cars or anything, and I caught up with some of them.

And I was like, "You know, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Is there anything I can do? I'm sorry. Are you walking back to a car, and you need a hand?" And we got some elderly folks there. And they was like "No, like, we walked like three or four miles to try to get to the food drive."

And from that moment on, I said, "I'm dealing with food and beverage now, but I need to do something about this." And that's how it started.

CUOMO: Where did you get the idea that "I'll trade you ribs, for a wreck, and then I'll fix it up, and give it away?"

MIDDLETON: Well, of course with anything, a good trade-off would be great, versus it going to the salvage yard.

I figured the ribs would be a good pitch to get folks to let me have their cars, instead of going to the salvage yard, and you get a dinner - dinner plate of ribs on me. So, that started off, and it took off after that.

CUOMO: And you're - they're giving you cars that were you know - you can get them to a place where they're going to pass inspection, and people will feel good at it. And how is it scaling up, in terms of what you've seen with what these cars mean to people, in their lives?

MIDDLETON: What I've seen, is just a turn of emotions, a turn of a lifestyle. They are able to do different jobs, go and seek jobs.

And all of this is really pretty much going on down, of course, the worldwide COVID outbreak. And when all of this happened, folks were losing jobs. They needed to be able to pay their bills, and they couldn't. I mean, folks were losing their cars, losing their homes, and all that stuff.

So, I've seen a whole lot from the cars that were donated up until this date, as far as how it changed lives, and just made people a little bit more comfortable, made them be able to go out, and search for jobs, and reliable transportation, for grocery shopping, and medicines, and hospital bills.

CUOMO: I know it's--

MIDDLETON: Hospital visits.

CUOMO: I know it's ramping up. Word is spreading. And people want to help you and get your cars. But you can't do it all by yourself, especially when you're running a business. And you want to be able to help more people.

So, there is a GoFundMe page, right? Where can people find it? And what is your hope?

MIDDLETON: Yes, sir. My GoFundMe page is - it's on, you can go on Facebook, and it's under Middleton's Village To Village Foundation. That's the main page that we operate off of. This is all something that's just getting crumped up, as far as the page is concerned. You can go there. You can find the mailing address.

And also, just folks pitching in now, like we have - we have car carriers, we have different folks that are asking, how can they help, what can they do?

It was just me, and actually one other friend, who pretty much towed those cars, repaired the cars, got them out to the family, and that's how the way it was for the pretty much the last nine months.

But we're starting to get more people involved. We're starting to get more people that just want to help. And that's something that I didn't think was going to be on the broad span that it is now.

But my logo and my pitch on my Foundation is Middleton's Village To Village, because everybody is all this takes (ph).

CUOMO: Middleton's Village To Village. Middleton's Village To Village.



CUOMO: Middleton's Village To Village. Middleton is M-I-D-D-L-E-T-O-N. M-I-D-D-L-E-T-O-N.

You have right now a goal of getting to 50 grand. You're going to get to 50 grand. I'm going to tweet it out. You're going to have to pick a new goal, because you're going to have more people to help.

Real quick, what's the secret, what's the difference between a good rib and a great rib?

MIDDLETON: I'll tell you what, a good rib and a great rib, that's a - that's a tough question, because, sometimes I sit there, and I want my customers to experience it. And sometimes, they go off the wall, "It is the best ribs that I ever had."

Other times, it's more like, "Let me try another piece," and once they try the other piece, it's like, "OK, this is awesome. The fried ribs is awesome." They just love picking choices, and just coming in, experience a good time, at my restaurant. Yes, sir.

CUOMO: I love it. I'm going to talk to you in the break. I got to see how I get some flown up right away!

Eliot Middleton, thank you.


CUOMO: I'm glad you're doing well. And I'm so impressed that you're doing good for people. God bless. And thank you.

MIDDLETON: Thank you.

CUOMO: We'll be right back.

MIDDLETON: Thank you, sir.