Return to Transcripts main page

Cuomo Prime Time

CPAC Rallies Around Trump, Culture Wars & The Big Lie; USADA Shifts Blame For Sha'Carri Richardson Suspension To World Anti-Doping Agency, Says It Can't Change Marijuana Rules; CDC & FDA Wave Off Talk Of A Booster Shot After Pfizer Claims Waning Immunity And Need For Booster. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 09, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: When 360's Gary Tuchman visited, he and his wife Ethel, at their Pittsburgh home, two years ago, his wife said, his optimism had served him well, over the years. Among the many honors he's received, it was the prestigious French Legion of Honor.

Henry Parham died on July 4th. He was 99 years old. We wish his family the best, and we thank him, and them, for their service.

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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Well said, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

The Trump-electeds in Congress say they accept the election results. But listen to what is passing for conservative think, at CPAC.


LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK (R-TX): That here in Texas, we stand with President Trump.

And in 2024, Trumpism will rise again.


The Republican Party, under great leaders like President Trump, is being reborn, for another beautiful day, in America, across this country.

REP. TED BUDD (R-NC): President Trump is still fighting for, because we believe that it should be easy to vote and hard to cheat.



TRUMP JR.: Everything!

CROWD: Trump won!



CUOMO: Listen, it's OK to hug Donald John Trump as tightly as he hugged the American flag, at CPAC's past, to show how much he loves the country. But the question and the concern is the other stuff.

What are they trying to prove? Are they aware that pushing the same brand of sickness led to this? January 6th? That's why these people were so incensed. They believed the lies that the election had been stolen.

And here's a new look at those that Trump told he loved, after they attacked the Capitol. The Justice Department released this police bodycam video today that shows officers trying to save a pro-Trump rioter, who was trampled.


CUOMO: And then what happens to them? They get attacked, dragged downstairs, hit with crutches, flagpoles, batons. Is this what conservatives want to be about?

Today, the DOJ said Trump's "Big lie" and reinstatement fantasy talk could fuel more violence.

And yet, at CPAC, the theme, which is "America Uncanceled," but it raises a question. Is it really about canceling the truth? Seminars on "How to Collect Evidence of Fraud?" What fraud? Here's another. "Spare the Fraud, Spoil the Child."

CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, is it really now about pushing the "Big lie?"

Let's bring in the organizer, Matt Schlapp. Good to have him on PRIME TIME.

Good to see you.


CUOMO: So Matt, we've talked about this before. But I didn't expect it to be this big, at CPAC. What is the thinking on going so strong at the idea that the election was a fraud? I mean, not even your own elected officials in Congress agree with you.

SCHLAPP: Well, Chris, I think it's very clear that in the states I was in, after the election, including the State of Nevada, and the State of Georgia, they did not check the signatures on mailed-in ballots, contrary to the law. And that should never happen in this country again. Matter of fact, they saw some wrongdoing in New York City, in their elections as well.

And there's fraud in every election, since the beginning of time, including in America. And we ought to all agree, Democrats and Republicans that nobody should vote, who's not legally allowed to vote.

And unfortunately, in the last presidential election, because they didn't check those signatures, we had massive amounts of fraud. These are facts. And they're undisputable.

CUOMO: No. It is not a fact that there were large amounts of fraud. You had me right up until there. You've got people chanting--

SCHLAPP: Did they check the signature?

CUOMO: Hold on, hold on.

SCHLAPP: Did they check the signatures?

CUOMO: Well--

SCHLAPP: Did they check? But let me just push back on this.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

SCHLAPP: Did they check the signatures on mailed-in ballots, in the State of Georgia, which the Secretary of State said he would not check those and verify those signatures? And did they check the signatures in Clark County, the largest county in Nevada? Did they check them? They did not, in contrary to the law in Nevada.

CUOMO: Yes. But - but Matt, your burden is different.

SCHLAPP: Now, you could say it wasn't enough votes to change the outcome.

CUOMO: Your burden is saying--

SCHLAPP: But you can't say I'm not wrong.

CUOMO: Hold on, here's how you are wrong. And I think you know this. My real question is going to come next, which is why are you doing this. But just to engage in this little bit of palaver for a second, you know--

SCHLAPP: Why am I on your show? Because you asked me, and I'm happy to be on.

CUOMO: Appreciate it. I invited you because you're very relevant, on the right side of the aisle.

CPAC used to be the place where you would see where the head and the heart of the party were. And I just I can't believe they're going to be wrapped around a lie.

[21:05:00] To say there was fraud doesn't mean, even if you are right, OK, on your own assertion, you didn't check all the boxes of what you were supposed to do. I'm not saying you're right, and no Court has said you are right. And all of the suggestions that you would prove this over time have never been met.

But even if that's the case, that's not fraud, and it doesn't mean that the election was stolen, and yet you have people at CPAC chanting, "Trump won! The election was rigged!"

Do you really believe that? That Trump won?

SCHLAPP: I believe that what we should do in America is follow the rules on voting.

And what the Secretary of State did in the State of Georgia, and he's a Republican, not my kind of Republican, but he signed an illegal consent decree, to not check and verify the signatures, of people, who voted by the mails.

As you know, because of the Coronavirus--

CUOMO: But you don't know that there was fraud, Matt.

SCHLAPP: --we had historic levels of mailed-in voting.

CUOMO: But you don't know that even if--

SCHLAPP: Yes. I do, because now you're using the word "Fraud."

CUOMO: No, you're using the word "Fraud."

SCHLAPP: You're using the word "Fraud." I might just use the word "Illegal."

CUOMO: And CPAC is using the word "Fraud."


CUOMO: Not me. I'm using the words you're using.

SCHLAPP: Let me use the words. I'm speaking. I'm speaking. Why don't you let me use words?

What I'm trying to tell you is that if you don't verify the signatures, on mailed-in ballots, especially when you had, in some cases, double the number of mailed-in ballots, you are inviting fraud, and those ballots could be illegal votes. And that's why we verify voting in this country.

When Democrats run against Democrats, most recently, in the City of New York City, they realized that they should verify each ballot. They found a lot of illegal ballots.

CUOMO: The Republicans who ran the election in Georgia--

SCHLAPP: There can be illegal ballots very easily in--

CUOMO: --say they did it the right way. It was reviewed by courts. And it was--

SCHLAPP: Chris, you're wrong.

CUOMO: --held to stand.

SCHLAPP: Chris, you're wrong.

CUOMO: And they certified. Of course, I'm not wrong.

SCHLAPP: Chris, you're wrong.

CUOMO: You just don't like how it went.

SCHLAPP: Let me - let me just start--

CUOMO: But hold on, again, Matt.

SCHLAPP: Let me - let me get you to - let me - I will agree that the Republicans in Georgia screwed up, and they did a bad job--

CUOMO: That's not what I'm suggesting.

SCHLAPP: Can you agree with me--

CUOMO: I'm suggesting that they ran the election.

SCHLAPP: --that we should follow - should we follow the law--

CUOMO: And they certified it.

SCHLAPP: Should we follow the law in voting?

CUOMO: Of course, everybody should we follow the law.

SCHLAPP: Should you verify, should you follow the law assiduously--

CUOMO: You just don't have any proof that the law wasn't followed.

SCHLAPP: --then why didn't they in Nevada and Georgia, why are you--

CUOMO: So, here's my big question.

SCHLAPP: That's not true. I have all the proof you need. Ask me any question you want. I have all the proof you need.

CUOMO: Yes, well I'm sure you're going to have answers.

SCHLAPP: Please, ask me the questions. I--

CUOMO: I'm sure you're going to have answers.

SCHLAPP: I have good answers.

CUOMO: I just don't think that you have proof.

SCHLAPP: And they're based in fact.

CUOMO: They're not facts.

SCHLAPP: But you're - what you're doing is you're sugar--

CUOMO: Facts are things that are established.

SCHLAPP: --you're sugarcoat--

CUOMO: I'm not sugarcoating anything.

SCHLAPP: Did they check the votes? Did they check the signatures on the mailed-in ballots, in Clark County, and in Georgia? Yes or no?

CUOMO: Every official that was involved said they followed the procedures--

SCHLAPP: Yes or--

CUOMO: --according to law.

SCHLAPP: They did not. That is not right.

CUOMO: Every one of them said it.

SCHLAPP: That is not right.

CUOMO: And it was reviewed by a court.

SCHLAPP: In Clark County--

CUOMO: And they found that it was viable.

SCHLAPP: I'm going to say this over and over again.

CUOMO: I know. But I'm not going to let you, because here's why.

SCHLAPP: In Clark County, according even to a Democrat-run state, you had to check the signatures--

CUOMO: Look, Matt, what I'm saying is--

SCHLAPP: --on all the mail-in ballots. And in the--

CUOMO: --you are using that argument--

SCHLAPP: --and in Clark County, they did not. Why?

CUOMO: You're using it as a proxy because here's why.

SCHLAPP: Why can't you acknowledge the fact that--

CUOMO: Here's why.

SCHLAPP: --they didn't check the signatures.

CUOMO: Matt, here's why. I don't understand--

SCHLAPP: Yes, sir.

CUOMO: --why you are banking, your conservative platform on this?

SCHLAPP: I'm not.

CUOMO: You really believe that the way--

SCHLAPP: You're just asking me questions. I'm giving you answers.

CUOMO: --to win the midterms, and maybe the next presidency--


CUOMO: --is by trying to create--


CUOMO: --misgivings about the democracy?

SCHLAPP: No. No. No. I'm not.

CUOMO: That's all you're talking about.

SCHLAPP: I'm just answering your questions, Chris. Now, let me - no, you asked all the questions. Now, let's stop.

What is CPAC about this year? It's about uncanceling America. It's about opening up schools. It's about opening up churches. It's about telling the federal government, you don't have the right to intervene on these questions.

It's about on social media, conservative voices should be accepted, just as liberal voices are accepted. We have a national media that just treats conservatives with disdain. But social media platforms, that had this idea that all of us would have a voice, we should have that voice. That is where conservatives are.

CUOMO: You don't have the voice on social media?

SCHLAPP: You can talk about this election - Chris, you can talk about this election all you want, and you're on unsolid ground. I'll answer any question you have.

CUOMO: Unsolid ground? You don't have a single decision.

SCHLAPP: But what conservatives are focused on is their agenda.

CUOMO: You don't have a single state official, on your side, and they're from your party. Look, let's put that to the side, OK?

SCHLAPP: You're - you're so wrong.

CUOMO: Just put it to the side, do yourself a favor.

SCHLAPP: I respect you. But you are so wrong.

CUOMO: What I'm saying is - OK.

SCHLAPP: You have not won on one substantive case. Give me a substantive argument--

CUOMO: You never get to substance. You never get to a substantive case because you never--

SCHLAPP: --as to why it was OK to not check the signatures on mailed- in ballots.

CUOMO: Hold on, Matt. You guys never got - you guys never - you guys never - hold on a second. I'm sorry.

Get out of my ear.

SCHLAPP: I know.

CUOMO: You guys never get--


CUOMO: --to the point of having any type of judge, get to review it because there is never the basis for a claim--

SCHLAPP: That's not right.

CUOMO: --upon which they can make a determination.

SCHLAPP: Did you not read?

CUOMO: And you guys have used this to your advantage. But here--

SCHLAPP: Did you read Justice Scalito's--

CUOMO: --and my question is bigger than this. It's much bigger than this.

SCHLAPP: --did you read Justice Scalito's - did you read Justice Scalito and what he said?

CUOMO: Alito.

SCHLAPP: Excuse me. Justice Alito, on what he said about the election?

CUOMO: I know. But I know why you'd want to combine the two.

SCHLAPP: Did you not--


CUOMO: Because he's trying to be like Scalia, even though he's Alito. I'll give you that. SCHLAPP: Because I love Scalia, I love Scalia.

CUOMO: And they were both Italian.

SCHLAPP: It's on my mind. I love him.

CUOMO: Listen?

SCHLAPP: I love him.

CUOMO: May he rest in peace.

SCHLAPP: There's nothing wrong with being Italian.

CUOMO: What I'm saying is this.

SCHLAPP: And here's the thing. Chris?

CUOMO: I'm asking a different question.

SCHLAPP: Chris? Let me talk, just for a minute, OK? Because it's your show.

CUOMO: You've been talking a lot, Matt, to be honest.

SCHLAPP: It's your show. But let me just talk for a minute.

CUOMO: But go ahead.

SCHLAPP: Well, that's what being a guest is, you get to talk.

CUOMO: It's a conversation. Two people talk in a conversation.

SCHLAPP: But my only point is this, which is you guys--

CUOMO: Go ahead.

SCHLAPP: Fair enough. And I like - and I respect the fact that you have me on.

CUOMO: Go ahead. Go ahead.

SCHLAPP: But my point to you is the following, which is don't act like there's not a legitimate claim, where you have an election that's one we've never had before, with all these mailed-in ballots.

Don't act like it's outrageous for Republicans, and conservatives, and people who like Trump, to be - be really question this case of why didn't we vote the same way, we voted in 2016, where everyone who voted by mail, you had to verify that you were a legal voter?

CUOMO: Matt, I'm just telling you. I hear your point.

SCHLAPP: In 2020, we simply didn't do that, in this city--

CUOMO: You've made it a lot of times. SCHLAPP: --in these cities.

CUOMO: Here's the problem.

SCHLAPP: But we should do that. Do you agree? We should do that.

CUOMO: Of course, you should follow the rules. What I'm saying is you are creating a boogeyman.

You know, and I know that Georgia looked at 10,000 ballots. They found 10 signatures that didn't match, and then they later found out that they were OK. The facts aren't in your favor.

SCHLAPP: That's not true.

CUOMO: What I don't get is, why are you making a case--

SCHLAPP: Chris, you're not right.

CUOMO: --to the American people--

SCHLAPP: Chris? Chris, stop.

CUOMO: --that you know is based on a lie.

SCHLAPP: Chris, stop.

CUOMO: Why are you making CPAC--

SCHLAPP: They didn't have--

CUOMO: --about the "Big lie" and not all the other things you could argue?

SCHLAPP: CPAC, the title, and the theme of CPAC is "America UnCanceled."

CUOMO: But what are you canceling? The truth?

SCHLAPP: And what we're trying to do with these CPAC conferences--

CUOMO: As an alternative?

SCHLAPP: --is trying to - it's a nice little slight. Now let me talk. The whole idea with CPAC is this idea that the federal government came in, and said, because of the pandemic that we couldn't have churches open, we couldn't have schools open.

Half of this country is outraged over the fact that our kids have fallen behind, because the federal government said you couldn't open up. Then on social media, all of us get canceled. You don't get canceled. You'd probably never get canceled.

CUOMO: You know it was state-by-state, by the way, right?

SCHLAPP: The rest of us get canceled all the time. CUOMO: You know it was state-by-state, right?

SCHLAPP: On what?

CUOMO: You know each of these governors made their own determinations, right? Why are you making the government a boogeyman?

SCHLAPP: No, I don't think that's right. I think--

CUOMO: Why are you attacking institutions?

SCHLAPP: I don't think that's right because--

CUOMO: I thought you guys were about bolstering the institutions.

SCHLAPP: Why am I attacking the federal government, which told kids--

CUOMO: They didn't tell anybody anything.

SCHLAPP: --that it was unsafe to go to school?

CUOMO: They should have told kids.

SCHLAPP: Which partnered - which partnered with the Teachers Union--

CUOMO: Your - the president, at the time, from your party--

SCHLAPP: --which partnered with the Teachers Union--

CUOMO: --said "Let the states do it. You'll get no oversight."

SCHLAPP: --which partnered with Teachers Unions--

CUOMO: "You'll get no guidance."

SCHLAPP: --which made it sound - which made it sound like it would be unhealthy and unsafe for kids to go to school, which actually said that it was - it was - it would make people sick to go to church, where the governor, Republican Governor of Maryland said it would be a super-spreader, if we had a CPAC in Maryland. So you know what we did? We went to Florida. We went to Texas.

CUOMO: Church gathering did become--

SCHLAPP: This nation is very divided.

CUOMO: --super-spreader events. They still do. You just had a camp--


CUOMO: --where the kids went to camp. And they had a 125 cases after it.

SCHLAPP: Chris, you are advocating--

CUOMO: It's not anti-religion. SCHLAPP: --but you are advocating for an abridgment of the First Amendment because you were scared about a virus. We have the right to make those choices.

CUOMO: It was state-by-state, Matt.

SCHLAPP: About how we practice our religion ourselves.

CUOMO: It was state-by-state.

SCHLAPP: It doesn't--

CUOMO: It was state-by-state.

SCHLAPP: No state can abridge - no state can abridge--

CUOMO: But why are you saying the federal government?

SCHLAPP: --my First Amendment rights.

CUOMO: It was state-by-state.

SCHLAPP: Just as the federal government cannot abridge them.

CUOMO: But why are you saying the federal government? They had nothing to do with that.

SCHLAPP: Chris, it doesn't matter the level of government, your constitutional rights--

CUOMO: Their Republican governors--

SCHLAPP: --your bill of rights, is some--

CUOMO: --made the same determination.

SCHLAPP: Let me explain this to you one more time.

CUOMO: Yes, sure.

SCHLAPP: You don't feel canceled because you never are. We feel canceled because we constantly are. Now, you've - you've broken the model, because you've had me on CNN. People like me, don't get on CNN anymore.

CUOMO: Matt, you're always welcome here to make the case.

SCHLAPP: And I applaud you for having me on. But we don't--

CUOMO: Because I want to understand--

SCHLAPP: No, that's not true. It's not true. I'm not welcome at CNN. And you know that.

CUOMO: Where are you right now? What do you think CNN is?

SCHLAPP: You have - you are the only one at CNN--

CUOMO: The Cuomo News Network?

SCHLAPP: You're - you are the--

CUOMO: You're on CNN right now, brother.

SCHLAPP: I'm trying to give you a compliment. You're the only one, who will have me on--

CUOMO: Don't do that!

SCHLAPP: --periodically and but--

CUOMO: Listen, Matt, I got to jump. You're always welcome to make the case.

SCHLAPP: It's - it's the truth.

CUOMO: You're always going to make - I'm always going to welcome you to make the case.

SCHLAPP: But you're never canceled. Have you ever been canceled, in your whole life, on social media?


SCHLAPP: Or national media? Have you ever been canceled?

CUOMO: Yes, I have. Matt, I have people coming after me--

SCHLAPP: You don't know what it's like. You don't know what it's like.

CUOMO: --from the Left and the Right, 24x7. It is a dog eat dog world.

SCHLAPP: That's not true.

CUOMO: And I have Milkbone underwear on. OK?


CUOMO: But listen, you're always welcome here to make the case.

SCHLAPP: I don't know what that means but--

CUOMO: It's from "Cheers." Norm said it.

SCHLAPP: I don't know what the underwear thing means.

CUOMO: Look it up. You'll like it. And you'll use it.

SCHLAPP: But thank you for having me on.

CUOMO: I got to jump. Matt Schlapp, thank you for making the case, all right? I appreciate you doing the show.

SCHLAPP: If I said that, I would have gotten canceled.

CUOMO: If you've quoted anything correctly--

SCHLAPP: OK. Thank you.

CUOMO: --I'd give you a credit. I'll tell you that right now. I'll talk to you later.

SCHLAPP: Oh, that's not too nice.

CUOMO: I'll see you next time.

SCHLAPP: Bye-bye.

CUOMO: All right. So look - look, I believe in the conversation. I know some of you are going to be unsatisfied. In fact, I know a lot of you will.


But I'd tell you what. Your biggest mistake is that you don't listen. You have conversations. You can talk over each other. You can do that. But keep the talk going, because conservatives matter in this country.

Now, I don't know what they're becoming. I don't get this "Big lie" thing. That's why I had him on. Conservatives are better than that. We'll continue the talk.

And it really is a quote from "Cheers." You can look it up.

So, the MAGA mindset, what does this mean, all right?

And I want to bring in somebody, who is a mentor to me, in terms of the mentality, as a broadcaster, all right? A student of the world, somebody, who understands the dynamics that have shaped us for decades, and who's also going to help us understand what's going to happen, when we get to the Olympics this year.

Bob Costas, what a treat! Next.








[21:20:00] CUOMO: Look, you can feel any way you want, I fixed the IFB, about "Oh, don't have those people on!" I don't agree. I don't know what to tell you. I don't agree. You have to disagree with decency. You have to have the conversations, all right?

CPAC matters, all right? Conservatives matter. Now, this year, I don't get it. I don't get embracing the "Big lie" this way. Conservativism could be about so much more. But it's all about Trump. And not just Trump. It's about the deception that Trump just explained to you as disinformation.

So, what does this mean about the direction of the country? We're going to get a great twofer tonight, from the legendary journalist Bob Costas.

First, brother, always a pleasure.

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Chris, nice to see you.

CUOMO: Thank you for being in my life. We'll talk the political sport, and then we'll talk--


CUOMO: --about Olympics. Now, you heard the Matt Schlapp interview.

COSTAS: I did.

CUOMO: He knows that he doesn't have proof of what he suggests.

COSTAS: He is personable, and civil, and just is full of it, as any MAGA cultist, when it comes to what he's telling you.

CUOMO: Now, what does it tell you that the - I mean, look, we both grew up watching these things. The conservatives have had very established platforms, about high principle, and what they want. For them to be reduced to just the "Big lie"--

COSTAS: That's a Trump--

CUOMO: --and cancel culture, I'll give them. You know what I mean? They can - they can campaign on that.


CUOMO: But on "And there was fraud! And there was fraud!" What does that mean to you?

COSTAS: Either - either you have cultists, who really believe, despite all the evidence that Donald Trump is the answer, or you have people cynical enough, to say, "Look, our base is devoted to him. So our political future lies in aligning ourselves with that, as much as we possibly can. And if we won't go full-throated, like some of the most extreme members of Congress, or people that are out there, in MAGA media, if we won't go full-throated, then we'll try to just slide past some of the stuff that we can't really rationalize, and change the subject to something else."

The last time I was on with you, I made this point. And I don't think I'm alone in this. I think millions upon millions of moderates, and people who think of themselves as left of center feel the same way.

Wokeism and leftism are not the same thing as classic liberalism. They need to be called to account. They need to be opposed, even if some of it is what we might agree with. They need a thoughtful opposition. MAGA-world is not. It's many things. It ain't thoughtful.

CUOMO: It does feel broken, doesn't it? I mean, we use that--


CUOMO: It's like tripe but true these days. "Everything's broken! Everything's broken!"


CUOMO: But having this system where opposition is enough, look, nobody understands sport better than you.

COSTAS: Right.

CUOMO: You'll never find another competition, where it's enough for you to win, is if I lose. You're going to have to put up points.

COSTAS: It's all zero - it's all zero-sum.

CUOMO: That's right. And that's what a two-party system gets you, which is if opposition is enough. Opposition is now a saleable position.

Look? That is what they're trying to approximate with the "Big lie." "We're against what happened in the election. We're against how it's done." The question is where does this get us?

COSTAS: I don't think it gets us any place good.

Look, leave aside, leave it - let's accept the absurdity that whatever the flaws of the mainstream media are, whatever the flaws and omissions of CNN might be.

Leave aside the notion that every single journalist, who is not right of center, is either corrupt, or just spectacularly wrong, and just leave it to what Trump showed us himself, with his tweets, with his actions, with his biography, prior to entering politics, and how do you explain away?

Maybe you could have one or two disgruntled former employees, somebody trying to sell a book.

Of all the presidents in my lifetime, you don't have as many people who worked closely with that president, as have worked closely with Trump, and then have said, how oblivious he is to facts, how unfit he is temperamentally, and morally, to be the President of the United States. How do you account for that? That's not Chris Cuomo or Don Lemon, saying that.

How do you account for the people that you used to find at CPAC? How do you account for George Will, and Bret Stephens, and Max Boot, and S.E. Cupp, and Peggy Noonan, and Kathleen Parker? How do you account for those solid conservatives, and Republicans, who saw through this from the beginning?

CUOMO: You know what their answer is. Their answer is everyone you just mentioned?

COSTAS: They're a RINO.

CUOMO: "They're all RINOs."


CUOMO: "They're all part of the machine."

COSTAS: Right.

CUOMO: "Elitist D.C."--


CUOMO: --"muckety-mucks."


CUOMO: "They've all made their money on the system, and they want to keep it closed. They don't want an insurgent like Trump."

Now, look, I'm good with all of that. I, honestly, I think that it is a debatable issue. It's an argument to have. They just picked the wrong change agent. And I think--

COSTAS: That's right.

CUOMO: --that's why it had to get worse, because they were never going to be able to bank on him, as being better. So, what they had to do was now argue that everything is even worse than they thought. And that's what the big lie is.


COSTAS: Well, look, they are devoted to him, hopelessly devoted, as an old song lyric went. And yet, what is his level of devotion to anyone, who is not 100 percent loyal to him? Exhibit A, Mike Pence.

They call themselves "Patriots." "We're true American patriots." Who tried to overthrow the election? Who tried? And it's on tape, the phone call, to election officials in Georgia, everywhere.

All these things that are preposterous on their face, and yet, if you're a member of a cult, you're down the line with that cult.

What could be more patriotic than anybody, Democrat, Republican, Independent, encouraging everyone to get vaccinated?

It's not a coincidence that the top 20 states, in terms of percentage of citizens vaccinated, are all Blue, not because Democrats are morally better, or more intelligent, than Republicans, but because of the atmosphere that you're talking about.

And the top 20 states with the smallest percentage of citizens vaccinated are all Red. They all voted for Trump.

Trump will barge into somebody's wedding at Mar-a-Lago, and go through his insane obsessions about how he's been mistreated, and the election was stolen.

But think of the good that Donald Trump could do, if he asked for, and he'd receive from every network, 10 minutes, half an hour, of television time, and said, "No matter where you are on the spectrum, please get vaccinated. It's the best thing to do for yourself, for your family, and for your country." That would be the best thing Donald Trump ever did in his public life.

Why won't he do it? Because he doesn't feel there's any benefit in it for him.

CUOMO: Good point. We'll see if he decides to answer it. Sometimes he does, in real-time, not on Twitter anymore.

COSTAS: Let's do this.

CUOMO: You know what's going to be on Twitter about me? "Stick to sports!"

COSTAS: No way.

CUOMO: But you asked me!

COSTAS: No way. And look, I'll tell you what. It's a good segue though, because one of the things that used to bring this country together so much was when we will get to the Olympics.

Now this year, you're going to have COVID. You have the headline that they're not going to have people there. People like CPAC are going to argue that that's about government trying to ruin our good time. And there's other controversy there about testing.

I want your take on it, brother. Thank you for being with us.

We'll take a quick break. We'll come back with Bob Costas. Let's talk about what the Olympic is going to be like this year. Is it better or worse? Next.









CUOMO: All right, here's the latest on the Olympic front, OK?

The leaders for USADA, that's the United States Anti-Doping Agency, they're responding to critics, who blame them, for Sha'Carri Richardson's ban from the Tokyo Olympics.

In a letter, to Congress members, AOC and Jamie Raskin, OK, two Democrats, they called on the agency to reconsider Richardson's suspension last week, they responded with a letter, quoting from it here, "USADA does not make or have a direct vote on the anti-doping rules but, as a WADA Code Signatory, we are required to enforce them."

That's called "Ducking the situation."

Bob Costas back again.


CUOMO: Again, thank you for being with us on a Friday night.

COSTAS: A third handshake in 10 minutes!

CUOMO: Listen, I'm going to get all - how - when do I know I'm going to see you again?

So, that's a hedge.


CUOMO: They have to enforce the rules. It still takes you to the rules and whether or not it's correctly applied here.

COSTAS: I think they could speak out more forcefully. They did say that they - they think it should be reviewed. But they should speak out more forcefully about how unfair and officious this rule is without applying commonsense.

But they're right in that they can't overturn the rules that apply to the Olympics.

CUOMO: So, who can?

COSTAS: WADA rules apply.


COSTAS: The IOC. CUOMO: So, WADA and IOC would have to do it. But the United States hasn't gotten upset about this. And in fact, they then took her off the whole team. She can't even be on for the relays now.

COSTAS: Yes. This is what's interesting. She was suspended for a month. But the 4x100 relay is one of the last events of the Olympics, doesn't take place until August 9th. That suspension would be over.

It would keep her from running her signature event, the 100 meters. But in theory, she could run on the 4x100 team. But technically, she didn't qualify, because her time, her winning time, at the trials, was discounted, because she tested positive for weed.

Now the way to look at this, I think, in an enlightened way is this. Let's say I'm a baseball player, and I bump an umpire. It's - maybe it's a five-game suspension, in the mind of the Commissioner.

But it's on the eve of the playoffs, or the World Series. Very often, in a situation like that, it's "So it will be served during the regular season," because if it's the playoffs, or World Series, the effect is disproportionate.

The IOC and WADA themselves make it clear this is a misdemeanor. It's only worth a month.

Justin Gatlin got four years, and missed the Beijing Olympics, America's top sprinter, because he tested positive for performance- enhancer. Christian Coleman is now sitting out two years, not because he tested positive, but because he avoided tests three times, and they consider that circumstantial evidence. Those are serious offenses, and it cost them Olympic appearances.

So if this thing had happened in March, she's back running in April. It does - it just doesn't blend any kind of commonsense, with the technical rule.

You're a lawyer. Suppose you are arguing your case, and the guy is charged with a misdemeanor, the judge is going to sentence him to three years - I'm sorry, three months.

Seems like a fair sentence. But he says "You know what? My daughter's getting married, in two weeks." The judge postpones the sentence. It's the right thing to do. The guy's not going to run out and shoot somebody. You look at the case for what it's worth.

Sha'Carri Richardson should be allowed to take part in the Olympics. And then the penalty should be served subsequently.

CUOMO: Is there any chance it gets reviewed or changed? And who would have to do it?

COSTAS: The IOC and WADA would have to do it. I don't see it happening.

[21:35:00] CUOMO: Them making the decision not to have fans, they have all these athletes now that they're putting out on social media, who are saying, "Ah! It sucks that I'm not going to have my family there, or the fans."


CUOMO: Is this the right call?

COSTAS: Well you have to say, with such a small percentage of Japanese citizens vaccinated, and states of emergency throughout the country, and what their health experts are saying, and political figures there are saying, it is the right move. I mean, this whole thing is looming as a disaster.

Every Olympics has cost overruns. They're into the billions and billions. And COVID is only making it worse. And they can't recoup much of it, because there's no tourism, there's no fans, and paying spectators.

CUOMO: You think it'll change it, in a way that will make it like so much less than it would have been otherwise?

COSTAS: Yes, atmospherics are part of sports.

Think of even the NBA in the bubble. We watched the games. They were competitive. Some of them were very good games. But they didn't have the atmosphere that you expect.

The Olympics are about so much more than the competition, which is central, but it's not the only thing. The atmosphere, the emotion, family and friends, the reaction of spectators, and countrymen, all, of that, will be missing.

I know that my friends and colleagues at NBC will do a great job. And they've already made plans. They're going to have cameras and microphones in the homes, of some of the American athletes, expected to do well.

They will make the best of the situation, ambient sound, coaches and peripheral people miked up. But you just can't make something into what it's not.

And everybody watching will know that there's a pall over these games, because of the way in which they're being held. So, that diminishes the good feeling that we usually associate with an Olympics.

I said to you, when I was on previously, that the ideal would be to postpone it, till 2022, when hopefully, circumstances would be better. That would be ideal. But there are other reasons why they had to go ahead.

There are contracts that have already been pushed back a year.

The Olympic Village will be repurposed for housing or commercial real estate, the venues for concerts and for other sporting events. The World Cup is next summer. And to much of the world, that's of

greater interest than the Olympics.

And the World Track and Field Championships are in Oregon, at about the same time, as a rescheduled Olympics would be next summer.

And it's not like you're missing some peripheral sport. Track and field is one of the signature events of the Summer Olympics. Athletes don't get paid directly to take part in the Olympics. They do--

CUOMO: For the other guys.

COSTAS: --at the World Track and Field Championships. So, there were mitigating circumstances.

CUOMO: I have never seen anybody undercut their own suggestion as well as you just did. You said we should do in 2022.

COSTAS: I said that was the ideal.

CUOMO: And you have now N reasons why they can't.

COSTAS: No, I was just - I was just trying to give them their due.

CUOMO: And you did!

Bob Costas, you are a gift to the audience. Thank you for the brain food. I appreciate you.

COSTAS: Four handshakes!

CUOMO: Hey, I'll take it.

COSTAS: It's more handshakes than I got in a year during COVID.

CUOMO: It was like - it was like a vice. I know. That's why I'm trying to get them all back in now.

Thank you very much, brother. Appreciate you.

COSTAS: All right.

CUOMO: All right. So, the booster shot thing, look, I told you last night that this was a nontroversy, right, that what was Pfizer saying, what was the CDC saying? Now everybody's saying it's a debate. There is no debate, but it is confusing.

But this is the bigger question. Don't be distracted. If the vaccines work so well, if the data is so overwhelming, why aren't they approved by the FDA?

Think about what that would do for a certain number, a significant number of people who say "Emergency use? Not for me. I'm certainly not going to let my kids take it." Why not remove doubt about safety, if you can?

A top doctor, in the house, next.









CUOMO: Booster shots. Pfizer says "Yes, we're going to need them."

The FDA, the CDC, they say "No." They issued a rare joint statement. "Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time."

But an infectious disease expert, who led the clinical trial for Pfizer's COVID vaccine says immunity may weaken.


DR. STEPHEN THOMAS, COORDINATING PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR, PFIZER/BIONTECH VACCINE TRIAL: It is not unusual for immune responses after vaccination to wane over time.

What is the crucial point though, and which we don't know the answer to, right now, is even though that immunity wanes over time, does it remain above a level, which we need to protect people?


CUOMO: Now, just to be clear, that has always been the calculus, or the consideration, depending on how you want to look at it. They've always known that the vaccine will wear off. A lot? Just a little bit? They don't know. That has always been that way since the beginning.

Now, why do we care so much? The Delta variant. How troubling is it that we have experts that are worlds apart, on this potential need for a vaccine, when you have this variant coming? And it is here, and it's making a difference already.

Let's discuss and get deeper with Dr. Ashish Jha.

It's good to have you.


CUOMO: Boosters, I think we can dispense with this very, fairly quickly. Give me your take on what the reality is, and what it has always been. Has anything changed?

JHA: Nothing's changed, Chris. The bottom line is we got to follow the evidence. The evidence says two shots work. I've seen nothing that says people need a third shot. Until that time that we see the data, got to stay with the two shots. Nothing has changed.

CUOMO: Vaccines do wane over time, yes?

JHA: They do. They do. But there are vaccines that are long-lived. They may wane a little over time, but five years, 10 years later, they're still protecting people. A lot of vaccines out there like that. We don't know if this will be one of them. But it might be.

CUOMO: How confident are you in the data about these vaccines?

JHA: Well, I'm super-confident that these vaccines are incredibly protective, including against the Delta variant. And they're very, very safe.

And the best way I can prove that I'm confident, not only am I vaccinated, my kids are, my teenage daughters are vaccinated, my wife is vaccinated, everybody in my family is vaccinated.

CUOMO: Then why hasn't the FDA approved it?


JHA: Well, look, this is a good question. And I've been kind of beating up on the FDA a little bit. They're doing a thorough job. I get it. It takes a while. But I don't want them to cut corners. And I don't think they're going to.

I think their data here is overwhelming. And it's clear. And they've acknowledged as much. But it takes them a while to go through all of it, and kind of dot all the I's and cross the T's. And I wish they would move a little faster.

CUOMO: It creates misgivings. And the administration is compounding the problem by not speaking about the process. Am I right, or am I wrong?

JHA: Yes, the problem, the one thing that the White House is trying to be careful of is not looking like they're meddling in the FDA's business.

And I appreciate that, by the way, because we've seen that happen before in other White Houses. And that's not a good outcome. So, the White House is trying to stay away from this and let the FDA do its thing.

And the FDA is moving, but I want them to move faster.

CUOMO: Yes, it's unsatisfying, though, Doctor. This is in extremis, OK? We're in a pandemic. People aren't getting vaccinated, because politics is winning over practicality. But one of the real obstacles that I'm sure you hear about all the

time is, "You know? It is only Emergency Use Authorization." And like, if Brown University came to you and said, "You know, we're going to mandate this," they'd get pushback from families, because it hasn't been approved yet.

JHA: Yes.

CUOMO: That is a big variable that we can control. And I get that you want it done right. But if the data is so overwhelming, what's taking so long?

JHA: Yes, well I will say the following, Chris. So Brown University did mandate it for everybody. And a lot of people said, "Whoa, can we do that, without full approval?" And the answer is "We can," and we have, and lots of other people are too.

So, companies that are waiting for that, you don't have to. You can do it now. But yes, I agree with you. Full approval is going to help a lot.

CUOMO: Yes, it makes it hard. I mean, it's easier to do it when you got Ashish Jha, in your house, you know? It makes it easier to have comfort on the vaccine. But not everybody has that.

Doctor, I appreciate you, and thank you.

JHA: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: If you want to get away from this, really get away from everything? There's so many different viruses, right? You got the COVID. You got the politics. You got everything going on. How about just blasting off to space?

When you're a multi-billionaire, like Richard Branson, you can. You can hitch a ride, on your own rocket. Less than 48 hours from now, that's exactly what he's going to do.

What does a former top astronaut make of the launch? Next.










UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you ever thought about going to - into space, Richard?

RICHARD BRANSON, VIRGIN GROUP FOUNDER: I'd love to go into space, as I think pretty well everybody watching this show would love to go to space. I mean, the - when you see those magnificent pictures of - in space, and the incredible views, I think there could be - could be nothing nicer.


CUOMO: Three decades, since that moment, and it is finally happening. Richard Branson is blasting off to the edge of space, aboard Virgin Galactic's rocket-powered plane, this Sunday.

If everything goes according to plan, the spacecraft known as VSS Unity, will take off from an airplane runway, attached beneath the wing of a massive mothership.

So how does it go - work? It gets to about 50,000 feet. The mothership will then release Unity. The rocket engines fire up, send this craft, up into space, like the space shuttle used to work, three times faster than the speed of sound.

The trip would make Branson the first billionaire ever to travel the space aboard a vehicle he helped fund, beating Bezos by just nine days. Love it or hate it. Why would you have a strong feeling either way? This is what's happening. Commercializing spaceflight, good, bad? Let's ask an astronaut.

Let's ask Captain Chris Cassidy, retired Chief NASA Astronaut.

Good to have you sir. And thank you for your service.

CAPT. CHRIS CASSIDY (RET.), FORMER CHIEF NASA ASTRONAUT, U.S. NAVY SEAL (RET.): Chris, thank you very much, really glad to be with you tonight.

CUOMO: So what do you think, brother?

CASSIDY: You know?

CUOMO: Billionaires blasting into space?

CASSIDY: Everything about commercial space travel, I think is exciting for people, which excites our nation, and ultimately is good for the overall manned space program. So, I couldn't be more excited about it than I am. I think it's all positive.

CUOMO: What do you think about those who are criticizing it? "Oh, all that money, they should donate it to hunger," or "How come the rich get to go, and nobody else?" What do you make about those kinds of complaints?

CASSIDY: Those are valid arguments, and particularly coming out of the year of COVID, when everybody's battling through their own financial troubles, and getting back on step, of where we were, prior to that, and there's certainly things, that we can spend that money on, to help fix the broader issues, as you allude to.

But I think that in some time, in the future, 10 years, 20 years, 50 years, space travel will be affordable for everybody. Right now, it is not. It's expensive. But we got to start somewhere. And it doesn't need to be right now.

That's beyond my pay grade, whether or not we spend government dollars, to do that right now. But I think that now's a great time, as any. And just coming out of the government world myself, I think it's a great partnership, this commercial and the government space--

CUOMO: Here's my concern, safety. Going to space is hard, Chief. I mean, you know this. I mean the god-forbid risks. We've all watched them and you guys live in fear of them, and so many multiple redundancies and training to mitigate risk.

Can the private sector do it as well? Do you have worries about this?

CASSIDY: Everybody involved in manned spaceflight has worries about safety. It's something that's taken near and dear to every person's heart, every engineer, every astronaut, regardless of your country. I've flown in space with pretty much all of our international partners, and it's taken at the same level of severity across the globe.

And do I think it can be achieved in the same level in the commercial world? Absolutely.


It's terrible for your business case, to have a catastrophe on one of your launches. So, I think that they wouldn't be - neither company would be putting people on the rocket, if they didn't think it was ready, to be viewed live on CNN.

CUOMO: Why do you think we need to have more attention on space?

This is something that we've kind of touched on, from time to time, that there's something about the ambition of it, about the endeavoring of it, about the final frontier that seems that we've shied away from, here, on a national level.

What does that mean to you?

CASSIDY: I think people, in general, are explorers, by our very nature, humankind. And space is just that, you know?

We're pushing the boundaries of knowledge. And really, that's what space exploration is all about. It creates jobs. It creates economy. And there's trade-offs, on how you spend the money, in any government budget process.

But that's the beauty of how now, commercial spaceflight is coming into play, where it really is exciting, and it really does get--

CUOMO: We can go to space, but I can't keep Chris Cassidy on a satellite feed, from a hotel room!

All right, it's OK. We had enough time with him anyway.

Captain Chris Cassidy, thank you very much.

We'll be right back.