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McCarthy Meets With Trump, Despite Looming January 6 Hearing & Report Milley Feared Trump Coup Attempt; Surgeon General Calls COVID Misinformation "A Serious Threat To Public Health"; Senate Democrats Push To End Federal Marijuana Ban. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 15, 2021 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[21:00:00]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues right now. Let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

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

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

I have a question. I don't care if you're Left or Right. Just be reasonable on this one for a second, OK? Here it is.

If you were told that a president's words and actions, worried people around him, that they were saying that he had lost it, and that he had top military brass planning for how to block a coup by that president, would your first move, after learning this, be to go to that same guy and kiss his butt?

Today, that's what Kevin McCarthy did, back on bended knee, after all these headlines, with the disgraced leader of his party. Meeting with Trump, at the Bedminster club, McCarthy says, "I enjoyed meeting with President Trump today. We had a productive conversation."

Listen to this part. We had a constructive or conversation - "productive conversation regarding House Republicans' record fundraising, upcoming Congressional special elections, and the latest work being carried out to target vulnerable Democrats," OK?

Here's why I said it slowly. The question isn't over yet about what you would do, OK, and whether what McCarthy is doing sounds sensible?

Where I grew up, someone who was acting in the ways that McCarthy has, we would call them "Scrambled eggs," because it seemed like their brains had been all mixed up. McCarthy would be said to be "Scrambled eggs."

Here's the case. Exhibit A. He shouts at Trump, on January 6, to call off his dogs. A week later, he says this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: JANUARY 13.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: "He had responsibility." Then he gets pressed to hold Trump to account, and he suggests "Trump did the right thing." Scrambled eggs!

Today, we get Exhibit B. He and the other Trumpers raise money on the election fraud farce, and other issues of White fright, but fraud farce, for sure.

McCarthy then says this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: FOX NEWS/TUESDAY.

MCCARTHY: Joe Biden is the President of the United States. He legitimately got elected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Scrambled eggs! You're raising money saying fraud farce. You don't shut any of those people down, when they say it. Then you say that? That was 48 hours ago!

After rejecting the "Steal," as he just did, you just heard it, he steals away to visit the originator of the election fraud farce, to celebrate, now remember, to celebrate the fundraising with Trump that is based on the farce that he just debunked by saying "Biden won legitimately." Scrambled eggs!

Then he leaves Trump, and comes back to have dinner, with the guy that Trump says doesn't belong in the White House. President Biden.

This is why people don't respect politics, and why Trump was seen as OK by so many, because they have no basis of respect for a standard. There is no honor. There is no principle other than power for the sake of exploiting the same.

McCarthy, these moments are proof of a problem. And look, he's not the only one on the menu as "Scrambled eggs."

Democrats asking him, to pick five Trumpers, for the January 6 panel, that makes as much sense as how Trump responded to the coup concerns! This is what he says. "So ridiculous! An Election is my form of "coup," and if I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is General Mark Milley."

First of all, this part, an election is the opposite of a coup, not a form of one. And "If I was going to do a coup," does that sound like something that a former president of the United States would say? It's become a viral punch line once again, like O.J.'s "If I did it."

He did just admit this after all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I got impeached twice. I didn't change.

(AUDIENCE APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I became worse.

(AUDIENCE CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I became worse!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21:05:00]

CUOMO: How have we gotten to the point, in this country, where conservatives, people my entire life, I've met and engaged with, married into, "We're about principle. We're about integrity. You got to do things right. Character counts," all this stuff about Clinton back then, you applaud when a guy tells you that he got worse after he got impeached?

And you know that contextually, he's talking about the kind of talk and inciting rhetoric that led to the infamy of January 6, and you applaud, as conservatives?

All 10 living former defense secretaries, all 10, warned against a military coup, in an open letter, three days before the Capitol attack. Why does that not resonate with conservatives?

Now, arguably, the most "Scrambled eggs" thing about all of this is that none of it seems to affect support for this man, from anyone in what was the GOP? Why, and what does it mean? Let's turn to the better minds, David Gregory, and Michael Smerconish.

Once and for all, David, can we call the former president the "Teflon Don?" It does not matter what is proven, let alone said about him, it does not shake, not just the base, but the party-electeds.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and it doesn't shake him. I mean, I think that Trump still exists in the space of kind of crude, perverse political theater, which he exploited.

He exploited what you were saying a minute ago that there's no standard, there's no honor. There's no trust in politicians, or institutions of politics, or institutions of government. And he exploited all of that. He continues to do so.

And the modern Republican power structure right now, led by the likes of McCarthy, they're just they're dancing around. There's no integrity there. There's no grand strategy.

They are just trying to placate Trump, because he's a money-raiser. He's a guy who makes - can still make a lot of noise, and a lot of trouble for them. They want to figure out how to find that line, because they're not sure whether he's coming back or not, because nobody really knows that.

But he's still around enough to have an influence over what they care about, which is raising money, and trying to get Republicans elected to the House. That's all Kevin McCarthy is thinking about right now, because he's dealing kind of day-to-day. He's not really thinking strategically.

CUOMO: Mike, that's the missing piece, right? When people say to you, and me, "Why do you keep talking about Trump all the time? He's gone," no, he isn't.

He is the center of the focus of that party. And if he doesn't run again, we know damn sure, whoever does run again is going to have to get his blessing, if they want to have a chance.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: If he remains healthy, if he remains solvent, if he remains unindicted, and if he wants to be the nominee, he will be the nominee. Now, those are three big ifs, but he has a clear path.

And if you ask yourself, Chris, well, what changed between when Kevin McCarthy said "Donald Trump bears responsibility for the events of January 6," and then today, he makes the trip to Bedminster, it's that Trump's numbers with Republicans didn't crater.

And I think that many Republicans expected that would be the case after the 6th, but it wasn't. And therefore, they figure they've got to hang with him.

One other thought, when you framed the issue, at the outset of the program, and you said "If the highest military officer told you, he was worried about a coup, would you still go kiss the ring?" there was one additional fact that you should have said maybe, which was "Oh, and you want to be the Speaker of the House. And all you need to do is pick up a couple of seats, and history is on your side that you will pick up a couple of seats." That's what really explains him driving up the Garden State Parkway today.

CUOMO: Power for the sake of exploiting the same. That's what McCarthy is about.

SMERCONISH: Sure.

CUOMO: And look, I'm not blaming him for doing it. I'm using it as a reflection of the perversity that has become our politics. That is the game. He's playing the right game.

Now, why does this matter? Because the roadmap of "Scrambled eggs," David, that I was laying out for people, it is about the embrace of misinformation. "He's to blame. He did everything OK. There's a fraud farce. Biden is completely elected." They're all over the place with information.

And misinformation is OK. We're now hearing that the White House wants to take it on with respect to the pandemic. What does it mean that right after the White House called on social

media platforms to combat the spread of misinformation, as I just mentioned, McCarthy and others, attacked the approach, when they're the ones attacking social media, at the same time --

GREGORY: Right.

CUOMO: --for their own purposes. What do you make of that?

[21:10:00]

GREGORY: Look, it's dangerous, because there's an effort around January 6, to somehow categorize it as something other than it was which was, an attack on our government, an attack on our law enforcement, an attack on our democratic process.

It's plain and simple what it was. And leaders like McCarthy want to just say "Well yes, I said what I said. Now, let's all just kind of move on from that, and get on to the next battle, because who really remembers anything anyway?"

But this business of misinformation is what makes government weaker. It makes all institutions weaker, media, business.

If you - if you're in a contest, it's what Hannah Arendt talked about, in the rise of Totalitarianism, if there's no longer agreement on what truth is, and what facts are, then you've got real problems holding people together.

And again, this is the cynical game. I mean, the thing about January 6th is look at all these accounts, you know. You framed this originally, because he went up there, to talk about the midterms, and fundraising, and the January 6th commission.

There are a lot of people talking around Trump. They want to talk. And a lot of it is to save their own skin, obviously, and their own legacies.

Think of Lindsey Graham, who's always appearing in these books, by the way, as the voice of reason. Just remember that. He always wants to be quoted saying how we tried to talk the President back from the cliff.

But people are talking about what really happened, and how incredibly worried they were, and how unstable Trump was. That's happening. And Kevin McCarthy can't stop that.

CUOMO: Lindsey Graham is not going to be remembered, in history, as somebody who was doing the right thing, during this period. I will make my bones on that bet. And I'm not a betting man!

Michael, the bigger point is they're banking on misinformation. It's probably the most dangerous tool in the political toolbox.

Even in their statement, "The Biden Administration just announced they are working with Facebook to censor more Americans. Big Tech and the Government want the same thing? To control you. As a reminder, America is a land of freedom."

They don't even mention that this is only within the context of things that are demonstrably false and said to be deceptive. They don't even mention that part, Michael. Why?

SMERCONISH: Well, you would think that the truth will all come out eventually, when the January 6 Commission, whatever it may look like, is completed in their task.

But when I step back, and I look at all the events that you're describing, what I see is a day where the second installment of the Leonnig-Rucker book came out, and it focuses on what happened on the afternoon of January 6th.

And as many of us suspected, according to this account, the President was simply watching it on a flat screen, while Rome was burning, and refusing to lift a finger.

And at - in the same day that that account comes out, you have Kevin McCarthy, essentially, who will select a portion of the jury, if you want to look at the January 6th commission that way, meeting with the chief actor. I mean, that's the part of this that is most troublesome.

I don't know if you accept the fact, Chris, that they didn't discuss the events of January 6, nor the commission. I find that hard to believe.

But even if they didn't, McCarthy was in his company, now comes back to Washington, and selects what, five members of that commission, who are supposed to go in and be impartial, and call the shots? How can that be the case?

CUOMO: It can't be. And the Democrats, once again, are showing their weakness.

They asked for a bipartisan commission. They gave them what they wanted. By all accounts, they can't - the Republicans can't come up with anything that they wanted, except to investigate "Black Lives Matter," that they weren't offered as a function of this. They didn't want it to be bipartisan because they want to reject it.

And for the Democrats, to allow them to have people on there, who will only be obstructionists, who have no interest in the truth, and will know that by whom they pick, and what they said about this before, because nobody's been quiet over there, makes no sense. It is scrambled eggs!

David Gregory, got to jump.

Michael Smerconish, as always, a pleasure, and thank you.

GREGORY: Thanks.

CUOMO: Heed the warning from our Surgeon General today, Misinformation, that we were just talking about, is an urgent threat to our nation's health. It's certainly hindering the COVID fight. How many people do you know, who aren't taking the vaccine because

they heard, fill in the blank, "There are little micro receptors in there? It's about culling the population. It gives everybody autism. Nobody really needs it. It's just to make Trump look bad," how many people have said that to you?

It's all BS. And it's going to take more than a pop star, visiting the White House, to get Americans to think any differently than they do now.

So, let's talk solutions and problem with a former key player in the Trump administration's Coronavirus response, next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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[21:15:00]

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: There is a lot of empirical evidence that you don't really care about what's happening with the pandemic anymore. I refuse to accept it. It matters too much. You have to care.

200 Americans are still dying every day from COVID. "Ah! It's not that many!" Look, the point is why? Why do we have to have 200 people dying every day, when most of them, almost all of them, are unvaccinated? You think that's a coincidence? We have the doses. It's available.

Everyone from the Surgeon General, to the American Academy of Pediatrics, says the conspiracy theories and misinformation that's being pumped up, mostly by the Right, is killing people.

My next guest knows the struggle of getting through the noise from inside Trump-world. He was Trump's Federal Coronavirus Testing Czar, Admiral Brett Giroir.

Welcome to PRIME TIME and thank you for taking the opportunity.

ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR (RET.), FORMER FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS TESTING CZAR UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP, FORMER HHS ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thanks for having me.

[21:20:00]

CUOMO: First, let's do this empirically. Is there a problem with misinformation when it comes to the vaccine? Let's look at the data. Two polls.

One, in terms of the gap in vaccination rate, the cue to the Control Room is P2, counties that voted for Biden versus counties that voted for Trump, as obvious metrics of partisan preference, you see the rate of increase in gap between those who are vaccinated.

Next, if we look at it, in terms of ethnic identity versus partisan identity, Blacks, Hispanics, Republicans, 65 percent, Blacks, 70 percent, Hispanics, only 54 percent, Republicans.

Now, we get to you, which is do you believe that misinformation that plays to poison partisanship is part of the problem with why people aren't getting vaccinated, sir?

GIROIR: So thanks, Chris. And let me say, first of all, that as a pediatric ICU physician, and as a member of the Trump administration, for three years, the COVID vaccines authorized in this country are highly effective. They are saving tens of thousands of lives.

And there is no such thing as a risk-free vaccine. But the side effects are very, very minor compared to the overall benefit. I recommend this for all people who they're authorized for.

Now, to get to your point, yes, there's misinformation. There's been misinformation that we have fought all the time with measles vaccines, HPV vaccines, and of course, there is misinformation on COVID vaccines.

And I appreciate the opportunity to dispel as many of those myths as I possibly can, within the few minutes we have together.

CUOMO: Well, first of all, this isn't the only time we can talk about it. You're invited here on an ongoing basis.

Unfortunately, I don't think this problem is going away anytime soon. I hope that you and I never have to talk about this again, and we can talk about something else. I don't think it'll be the case.

In terms of what you've dealt with in the past, or we have dealt with in the past, versus now, I present you with this piece of data that I don't think we've ever had with the measles or any other kind of immunization.

Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE HEGSETH, FOX NEWS HOST: What if we start testing more, and as a result of more testing, we find more positives? Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST, "THE INGRAHAM ANGLE": "Testing! Testing! Testing!" a common refrain from the Left. But that's not necessarily the best way out of this, is it?

STEVE HILTON, FOX NEWS HOST, "THE NEXT REVOLUTION WITH STEVE HILTON": We don't need the costly, complicated, technocratic nightmare of testing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now, we know that was a mistake. You had to fight it from the inside. Now we have the same things with vaccines. Political players on the Right are saying "You don't need it. It may be in violation of nature. It may make you die."

What do you say about those kinds of statements and the people saying them?

GIROIR: Well, I don't make value judgments about the people. But I could say the statements are absolutely wrong.

We know that the vaccines are highly effective. And they are very safe. And I do believe, Chris, that the solution, I'm a Justice Brandeis fan, is more speech, and not to necessarily quiet the misinformation, but to overwhelm it with the positive information. And we need to do that in a bipartisan way.

And people like me, I would argue, the Surgeon General, the former Surgeon General Jerome Adams, together with the current Surgeon General, all need to get together, to provide that, because the information is overwhelming that vaccines are safe and effective.

It is a political issue. But as you pointed out, really, it is still an issue of African Americans being horribly underrepresented, in those who are vaccinated, at least 30 percent, or 40 percent, less, and also looking at the new CDC data, people in areas of high social vulnerability. So, we still have an equity issue that I believe is independent of politics. We've got to do both.

CUOMO: You are not a politician. But I want your take on this.

GIROIR: No.

CUOMO: How powerful do you think it would be, if President Biden would reach out to former president Trump and say, "These are predominantly your people. And you were the one, who brought us Operation Warp Speed and this vaccine in record time.

Please join me and tell people to take the vaccine. Let's do it 24 hours of coverage in a day. Let's have it all over the country. And let's have some rally for how many people you can get to take the vaccine, in the next three weeks."

Do you think that that would be powerful medicine for people who are of the Trump persuasion?

GIROIR: I think for people of the Trump persuasion, yes, I do believe that former president Trump has enormous influence, over people who support him, Vice President Pence, as well.

[21:25:00]

And I think that everything that we can do, from both administrations together, to support it, will or potentially could make a difference. And really, with the Delta variant, and new variants, vaccination becomes more and more important.

But I will say again, Chris, the low vaccination rates in Detroit, the low vaccination rates among African Americans, these are generally not Trump people. So, I don't want to simplify this in to just a political issue of Red versus Blue.

It is a complex issue. And we have to reach the vulnerable, and the ethnic minorities, because those are the ones who are actually suffering the most. So, we have to do all of the above.

CUOMO: Well, it is complicated. I think it's worth discussing a little bit. When you look at a color or ethnic disparity, you basically have a two prong, right?

One is a history of misgivings, of having been duped about vaccinations--

GIROIR: Yes.

CUOMO: --and having misgivings about institutions that they don't believe in government reaching out to help them that often, whether it's fair or not.

And second, access, which they don't control. Even if they want it, as you mentioned earlier, we have an inequity going on in terms of who's getting the supply.

So, it's very different than people who are just choosing not to take it, because they think it's a thumb to the nose to the Democrats.

GIROIR: No, your point is there. I think everyone has access because of the delivery of vaccines in pharmacies. And we know that pharmacies are even in very high social vulnerability index areas. But your point is right. And we do need more information.

I'm very concerned. I think people, who support Trump, and conservative Republicans, remember, this was developed under the Trump administration. Operation Warp Speed was a tremendous success.

CUOMO: Would not have happened without you.

GIROIR: I think Biden needs to--

CUOMO: Would never have happened. I know the story from the inside.

GIROIR: And - and the Biden administration has taken the baton, and done a really good job, in distributing, and accelerating, and getting it globally.

So, this is a bipartisan win. Don't make it a political game, because thousands of lives are at stake, particularly with the variants, which are much more contagious.

And I believe the data are beginning to show that natural immunity, although it's good against the basic strains, are not so good against Delta. So, people who were infected, I believe, are going to be highly likely susceptible to Delta and new variants.

So, this could be a wheel that starts turning all over again. Trust me. We don't want to be there again. We have the capability to stomp this out.

Every person in this country should feel blessed to have these types of vaccines, and the access that's been provided by both administrations. And I would urge everyone, for whom the vaccine is authorized, to please take it for your sake, and the sake of your family.

CUOMO: Quickly, I don't know how accurate the numbers are, because of the nature of the reporting system in place.

But when you look at Florida, and you start to hear about the cases coming up again, and you have the governor there, selling propaganda that says "Don't Fauci Florida," it's an obvious anti-vaccine play, and you know that the numbers there aren't what they could be, do you believe that that's something to keep an eye on, in terms of how politics and misinformation and messaging can make a difference that can make us sick?

GIROIR: Yes, I don't - I really don't know about the specifics of what Governor DeSantis is saying.

But clearly, when you have urban areas, we've had - we've had several outbreaks in Florida that has required massive testing and support, by the federal government, as well as in South Texas, and in many other major cities.

Messaging is important. And our leaders' messaging is very important.

So again, not knowing the specifics, I would offer myself, I'm sure the former Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, and so many of the docs, in the Trump administration, who worked so passionately, to make this day happen, want to see it fulfill to its entire fruition, to get everyone vaccinated, so we can kill this pandemic, once and for all.

CUOMO: It's hard to see how "Don't Fauci Florida" could be anything other than a negation of anything to do with the vaccine. And that's what DeSantis is peddling down in Florida.

But Admiral Brett Giroir, you're not a politician. I want to talk to you about best practices. And I appreciate you doing so. The misinformation is a problem. And hopefully, we can get on top of it. Thank you, sir.

GIROIR: Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: All right, now, again, look, I do see it as political, why, because it's a lot of politicians, who are doing it.

And one of the biggest misinformation spreaders is a politician. And he has struck again. It is Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. Again, the guy's a metaphor for how the game can disease somebody. I

remember, when he came in, he was a businessman, who said, "I don't know anything about politics. I don't want to play those games."

Now that's all he does, fear mongering about the border, and now, let's take it apart.

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CUOMO: I just don't see any other way to say it other than the Party of Trump is banking on BS. Republican leadership doesn't care about the threat of toxic talk.

Here is the case in point, their silence on this.

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SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Wouldn't you say a 15-, 16-, 17-year-old immigrant male would certainly fit the profile of somebody, who might be in a gang, or be recruited by a gang, or be used by the drug traffickers, to traffic their drugs, right?

Isn't that what's the reality of the situation is with this flood? We are letting in people that are potentially gang members. We're letting people that are going to be trafficking drugs or human trafficking. Isn't that your experience, as Houston's Sheriff?

ED GONZALEZ, ICE DIRECTOR NOMINEE: I'm always mindful of not profiling and developing any stereotypes in my work. So, I try to look at the facts.

R. JOHNSON: That's - that's not - that's not profiling.

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CUOMO: It's by definition, profiling, taking what someone looks like, and putting them into a category of criminality, because of how they look. That's profiling.

[21:35:00]

Facts, immigrants who are undocumented, are much less likely to commit a crime. Why? Because they're scared of getting detected by the system and thrown out. The average age of a drug trafficker is 37. The vast majority of them are U.S. citizens.

By now, we're past fact-checking, what comes out, of Ron Johnson's mouth, because so much of it constitutes a domestic threat. You know what those other 49 Republican senators swore to defend against? That!

You want proof? Just name the danger. According to DHS, under Trump, there were spikes in domestic threats, driven by people, stoking fears, about immigration, in other words, what Johnson just did.

More than 200 Americans are dying a day, because they haven't gotten the vaccine. Yet Johnson is one of the biggest pushers of the very vaccine conspiracies that are killing us.

Listen.

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R. JOHNSON: According to the VAERS system, we are over 3,000 deaths after, within 30 days of taking the vaccine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Find somebody, from the Trump administration, or from the Biden administration, who will tell you that the vaccine is what's killing people?

As for the actual terror attack, we all witnessed, on the Capitol, five dead, more than 100 police officers injured, maimed, here's Johnson again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

R. JOHNSON: Those are people that love this country that truly respect law enforcement.

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CUOMO: Is that why they beat the hell out of them? Ron Johnson has shown you time and again exactly who he is, or more importantly, who he's become.

Again, I remember the guy, when he first came in. "Just as businessman. I want to make some deals. Let me show you some charts about how different policies can affect us. I don't want to play these politics games." Now, he's the worst!

It's only the people in his own Caucus that I really worry about, not him, because they won't say anything about him.

Say, for example, the ongoing efforts to tear down the fabric of our elections.

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R. JOHNSON: We have tens of millions of people that do not view this election result as legitimate.

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CUOMO: They don't view it as legitimate because you keep saying it's illegitimate.

Even when it comes to the climate crisis, which DHS called a, quote, "Multilevel threat to the American people," here's your boy, Johnson.

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R. JOHNSON: I think climate change is, as Lord Monckton said, Bull (BLEEP), OK?

(AUDIENCE LAUGHTER)

R. JOHNSON: And, by the way, it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: By the way, he had just said that he wasn't a climate-denier.

The Wisconsin senator hasn't said if he's running for re-election next year. But the question for Republican leadership is why would you want him? Why don't you make that reach-out to people who are center-right and reasonable, and stand against all of the, BS coming out of his mouth? That's not what being a Republican is about.

Let's go to break. When we come back, to another Johnson, very different, former Homeland Security Secretary, this one has his facts straight, Secretary Jeh Johnson.

How close was the democracy to a real problem? What do we learn from what we've heard about this new book? Next.

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CUOMO: This new book, on General Milley's fears, about President Trump, should frighten you. Doesn't take a soldier to know Joint Chiefs don't scare easily. So, just how close did we come to the edge of darkness, in our democracy? What does it really mean?

We have a great guest, who knows this world well, as well as General Milley, former Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson.

Welcome back to PRIME TIME. It's good to see you, Mr. Secretary.

JEH JOHNSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Chris, thanks for having me. Look forward to our discussion.

CUOMO: So, what was your take, on what has come out on this book?

J. JOHNSON: I can't say I'm surprised.

If one assumes that what has come out, in these recent spate of these books is accurate, then, ironically, President Trump may have selected in General Milley, unwittingly, the right man for the moment, someone who was prepared to stand up to his Commander-in-Chief, to say, "Mr. President, what you've ordered me to do is patently illegal," if he had, in fact, ordered some sort of coup or revolt by the military.

And so, I can't say I'm surprised. It is now well-known that President Trump was fixated with figuring out a way to try to stay in office, even after he had lost the Electoral College vote. So, I can't say I'm surprised.

I also have to say, never in my lifetime, what I have imagined that we would have found ourself in this situation, we found ourselves in, in December and January of this year. Our democracy was put under a stress test. It survived. But it was put under a severe stress test.

CUOMO: Was it surprising to you, or does it continue to be surprising to you that people around then-President Trump saw the same things that Milley did, expressed some of the same concerns, as we're now learning in books, but said nothing during their time in the administration?

J. JOHNSON: Well, that's because a lot of the people around Donald Trump, in the waning days of his administration, were "Actings."

We had, remember, Chris, in the last few days of the Trump administration, we had an Acting Secretary of Defense, an Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, an Acting Attorney General.

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And apparently, it took someone, like General Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, to remind all the rest of us what the Constitution means and what it stands for, and what the oath, to support and defend the Constitution, means.

And so, the military is one of the most respected institutions of our nation. And one of the reasons for that is part of - the core, the fabric of military training, are the basics of our Constitution, and what a Commander-in-Chief has the power to do, and what a Commander- in-Chief does not have the power to do.

CUOMO: You say that you never would have imagined where we found ourselves in December, and January. What about where we find ourselves now, and this concern from your

former agency, that this reinstatement talk, these misinformation campaigns that all kind of blend together, whether it's the fraud farce, or the vaccination, that it's creating an animus and a rejection of the institution of government that could cause violence?

How real do you think that threat is?

J. JOHNSON: Chris, we live in a world, where large slices of Republicans believe the election was stolen.

There was a survey that came out, in the last couple of weeks that a full 15 percent of Americans, not 15 percent of Republicans, 15 percent of Americans ascribe to the QAnon theory.

And what my old agency is telling us, along with the Intelligence community, the law enforcement community, is that the pot is boiling. It boiled over on January 6. But the pot is still boiling.

There's no reason to believe that it all dissipated, after January 6. The environment, the underlying environment is still there. And so, Homeland Security officials, law enforcement in this country, need to beacon - need to continue to be vigilant, and on the watch, for another flashpoint.

CUOMO: Secretary Jeh Johnson, always appreciate your perspective. It's always a gift to the audience. And thank you.

J. JOHNSON: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Be well.

All right, there's an historic push, in the Senate now, to legalize marijuana at the federal level. Why?

A lot of reasons, but not the least of which is you have this big disconnect. All these states are making it legal. But federally, it's illegal. So, every time you travel with it, from one place to another, you have a problem. It's a disconnect. So, how do we feel about it?

The Wizard of Odds will take a look at the numbers, and see which way we're headed, on weed, next.

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CUOMO: Question, how high are the chances that Left and Right can come together on cannabis?

The bill that the Democrats want would decriminalize smoking, and personal use, and also expunge non-violent federal convictions for pot-related offenses.

But it may go nowhere, why? Republicans have threatened to fight it. What are the odds that their own voters push them to loosen up on weed? Good question for the Wizard of Odds, Harry Enten.

Good to see you.

Public perception on whether or not marijuana should be a scheduled controlled substance?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I mean, look, the fact of the matter is, the only other issue, in which I've seen the public move so fast, over the last 20 years, is same-sex marriage.

Look at this. Back in 2000, what we saw was just 31 percent of Americans thought that recreational marijuana should be legalized.

Look at that, in 2021, 60 percent now. This is a doubling of support. So, went from 31 percent, back when you were in your 30s, to now, I'm in my low 30s, and we're now at 60 percent. Unbelievable movement!

CUOMO: Let's play with demographics. So, we go from the what, to the, who, old, young, Black, White, Red, Blue?

ENTEN: Yes, this is unbelievable. Look across these states. Remember, it's one thing to be in a poll. It's another thing to look at actual election results. And what we see here is something unbelievable.

What we see is that it is, look at this New Jersey, 67 percent ballot measure last year, Arizona, purple state, 60 percent, Montana, Red state, 57 percent, South Dakota, a really Red state, 54 percent.

And that is sort of translated, when you look at the different demographics, in the polling, what you see it's pretty much popular across all of them.

Yes, it is more popular, say, among Democrats than it is among Republicans. But even Republicans, 47 percent, aged 65 to 74, senior citizens, 53 percent.

Really, the only group, who it is not popular among, is age 75-plus, just 32 percent. Interestingly enough, there are a lot of senators in that demographic, and also the President of the United States.

CUOMO: How does the decriminalizing aspect of this play?

ENTEN: Look, I think that it's something that is popular. But I also think that part of what's going on in this situation, I'm being honest with you, Christopher, and why Democrats are pushing it, and why they want this idea essentially, of they - they want a lot of different things in the bill, is if you look among their own voters, African Americans, what do we see?

They are the ones who were most penalized by marijuana being illegal, because they are the ones who, look at this, the percentage of age 12- plus, who use marijuana, Blacks and Whites equal.

But marijuana possession arrest per 100,000, look at that, Blacks are more than 3 times, more than 3.5 times more likely to be arrested than White folks. And this is something that I think a lot of Democrats are interested in.

A lot of Democrats want to get back to their base, and they want to recognize that Black people have been treated unfairly, disproportionately, by the law.

CUOMO: Now, how does this upside-down nature of having like a handful of states control 50 percent of the U.S. Senate, so they're only really worried, on the Right, about a small slice of Right America, how do we see their disposition, on the Right, in the Senate, going into this debate?

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ENTEN: Here's the strange thing to me, is if this was about the public, then marijuana would be legalized nationally.

This is not about the public. Even in the small states, right, we saw in South Dakota, a very small state in the plains, 54 percent of voters approve legalizing marijuana.

It's Republican senators who want to stop this. And maybe they have some different reasons, right? This bill is sort of complicated. But on the general issue, I don't think this is about the voters. I think this is about senators, who are disconnected from the voters.

CUOMO: Some kind of vestige of a culture war!

Harry Enten, appreciate it.

It's just ironic, right? Because they've moved so off the character counts, the integrity, and all those values. And now, this is a little bit of a vestige of that. We'll see if it goes up in smoke!

ENTEN: Ooh, very nice!

CUOMO: We'll be right with the handoff, after this.

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CUOMO: Thank you for watching and giving us the opportunity.

It's time now for "DON LEMON TONIGHT" with its big star D. Lemon.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: Did you hear me screaming, a minute ago?

CUOMO: No.

LEMON: I got all the way up here, because I had to tape something earlier.