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Biden To The Unvaccinated: "Our Patience Is Wearing Thin"; L.A. Schools Mandate COVID Vaccine For Eligible Students 12-Plus; Justice Breyer: SCOTUS Decision On Texas Abortion Law "Very, Very, Very Wrong". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 09, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: All this, as D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone returned to work, in what the department said was limited duty. Officer Fanone, you'll remember, was zapped with a TASER, beaten in the head, called congressmen, who downplayed the rioting, as both disgraceful and disgusting.

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

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

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to the PRIME TIME COVID Command Center.

You know what? Good for President Biden for saying today what the majority, of the reasonable people, in this country, on the Right and Left, from North to South, East to West, rich and poor, what has been said all along. "Enough is enough!"

Nine months, the majority has encouraged, incentivized paid, pleaded, pacified a minority, in this country, to get vaccinated. We are the only country that has willfully ignored the availability of a vaccine, to protect itself, this egregiously.

Think about that! From first to worst, why? The reality? Too many, too often, for bad reason, refuse to keep themselves and others safe. Is that their choice? Yes.

But mandates like this are controversial, right? Why? We don't like the government telling us what to do. But of course, it does, right? You wear a seatbelt, right? You can't blow smoke in my face, in closed places anymore, right? You can't drink and drive, right?

Too much of the controversy here is just oppositional animus, not about good policy, and certainly not about science. The majority cannot have their freedoms infringed upon by those who refuse to do what is right.

Yes, you have the right not to take the vaccine. That is your choice. But that doesn't mean the choice comes with no consequences.

And today, Joe Biden said something that I'm telling you will echo all over this country. "Enough is enough!"


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: A distinct minority of Americans, supported by a distinct minority of elected officials, are keeping us from turning the corner.

We cannot allow these actions to stand in the way of protecting the large majority of Americans, who have done their part.

This is not about freedom or personal choice. It's about protecting yourself and those around you.

My message to unvaccinated Americans is this: What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see?

We've been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us.


CUOMO: He is right. 75 percent of adults have one dose. That's impressive.

And yet, what's the reality? The pandemic continues, perpetuated, by those, who unreasonably resist, some 80 million, who remain unvaccinated in America, and are eligible to be vaccinated. So now, there will be a consequence for their recalcitrance.

Biden laid out aggressive new mandates and requirements that could apply to as many as 100 million Americans. Here are some of the biggest headlines. They haven't made the order yet, by the way. So, we got to see this.

But these are the headlines from the President. Mandatory vaccines, for approximately 4 million, in the federal workforce, and millions of contractors, that, do business with the federal government. No option of being regularly tested to opt out.

Same goes for the 17 million or so health care workers at facilities that receive certain federal funding, and as well as about 300,000 educators, in programs like Head Start.

Businesses with more than 100 workers must ensure their employees are vaccinated, or tested weekly, or face fines.

His new plan also includes expansion of free testing and test production. And he's directed the TSA, this is an interesting part, OK, don't get caught in the babble, the TSA to double fines for travelers, who refuse to mask up.

Now, here's a question that you're going to hear. Why didn't the President mandate, domestic fliers, travelers, be vaccinated, through the FAA? That may still come, if people don't do the right thing.

Remember, a month ago, what he did today seemed highly unlikely. They didn't want to have to do mandates. See, that's going to be the spin. "This is what they always wanted."


If this is what he always wanted, he would have done it months ago, because people have been asking for a passport, to show digitally, something that is all over this country that shows that people aren't faking the vaccination, and that he had to do more. For months, they've been saying that to him. So, that argument just fails.

Now, the resistance says this is unconstitutional. Now, have we seen an order, this broad, before, on a vaccine out of the government? No. Are there strong precedents for vaccines being a must, in situations? Yes.

But we will see how the order is drafted. And then there will be legitimate litigation that unfolds. I think that's a given. But we can already see a really grotesque double standard at play, with the pushback, to this idea. And the absurdity of the pushback deserves a brush-back.

So, let me get this right, from the Right. Insisting that doing what science, overwhelmingly shows, protects, a person and those around them, from a deadly virus is wrong, though it defies no existing law that deals with the subject. Basically, why? Because, a person has the right to choose, what to put in their body. That's their personal freedom!

But you only believe that with the vaccine, because you are all fine ignoring existing constitutional law, to prohibit a woman from having the right to control her own body. You practically ban access to reproductive rights, in Texas, in defiance of the standard, set out by science and law.

Governor Abbott, from Texas, says what Biden is doing is a power grab.

Governor Abbott says it is OK to use his power to force a woman to stay pregnant after being raped. And when asked, "Why is that OK?" he says, "Well, rape is a crime. And I'm going to arrest rapists." That's not a power grab?

You're going to arrest rapists? So, it's OK that a rapist can rape, make someone pregnant, and they have to deal with it? That's not a power grab by you?

Under your law, a rapist can sue a woman, who wants to end the pregnancy, forced on them, by the rapist. The rapist can sue under your law. But someone can't be told they have to take the vaccine to work for the federal government? That's a power grab! Are you serious?

Your resistance is not about science. It's not about law. And it sure as hell isn't about freedom. It's about animus and advantage. Where is the shame in holding such conflicting positions?

Now look, we may see the law on reproductive rights changed in this country. That may happen. But right now, Abbott, and those in favor of the Texas law are flagrantly, willfully, and wantonly violating what is constitutional law right now. And they know it. And they're doing it on purpose. So, you have no high ground, in arguing what is constitutional.

Still worse, you are playing politics, to protect life, in one case, that you say is fine, while arguing a point that costs us lives, with this anti-vaxxer irrationality. Your insistence on resistance is making us sick.

And now, it is making the people, we care about most, our kids, sicker than ever, and at the worst time. Kids are going back to school. And this mask madness, these vaxx gaps, they're creating more cases in kids than ever.

Now, Biden saw this problem also. And the President had a message for us, parents.


BIDEN: The safest thing for your child, 12 and older, is to get them vaccinated. They get vaccinated for a lot of things.

The best way for a parent to protect their child, under the age of 12, starts at home. Every parent, every teen sibling, every caregiver, around them, should be vaccinated.


CUOMO: You know why? Because enough is enough. And we cannot have a tyranny of a minority in this country. It is literally making us sick.

If there were to be a freedom argument to be had, it would have to redound on the side of the majority. We cannot live our lives the way we want to, because of a discrete minority that is insistent on keeping us sick.

And so, Biden said what this country needs not just to hear, because we already know it, but to act on.


And his words certainly echoed across the country, all the way to California, where just tonight, the nation's second largest school district, the Los Angeles Unified School Board, just voted to mandate COVID vaccines, for all students, 12 and older, going into school, by the end of the calendar year, in December. There are some exceptions. Teachers and staff already have to be vaccinated.

So now the question is, will this start a trend, of cities, nationwide, insisting that people be safe? Have we finally said "Enough is enough," and this will lead to moves that finally gets us to the other side of sickness?

Let's discuss with two better minds, Dr. Leana Wen, former Baltimore City Health Commissioner, and Dr. Zeke Emanuel, who advised then- President-Elect Biden, on COVID, during the transition.

Zeke, let me start with you because you knew where Biden's head was, on this, during the transition. And he was slow on mandates. He didn't even want to talk about them six months, seven months, ago.

What do you think about what he said today?


I like - I've been calling for a mandate of health care workers since April 14th. And I like the fact that he's mandated Head Start teachers to actually get vaccinated too.

There's more mandates I wish he would have given. I think he would have - should have incentivized States, so that States that mandated kids 12 to 17, get the vaccine, get some bonus, so that we could get all kids, in middle school and, in high school, vaccinated.

And, as you mentioned, I think mandating vaccines, for air travel, train travel, or interstate bus travel, would also be important. Remember, last year, we had this huge surge, around Thanksgiving and Christmas.


EMANUEL: Because of all the travel.

We really have to start now to get people vaccinated, to prevent the surge around Thanksgiving travel, and then Christmas travel. And so, I would have liked to have seen an expanded mandate. I think we've waited too long already.

CUOMO: Well, but you can't let perfection be the enemy of progress. And just because he hasn't done it yet--



CUOMO: --doesn't mean that he won't. Because, again, a couple of months ago, we couldn't even talk about mandates. They'd be like, "Oh, no, no, no, come on, come on. Let's just see what's happening."

Now, Leana, in terms of pushback, one thing I want to see them do is you have to have a national passport. If you don't have a centralized system of who has the vaccine, you know, we know how many fugazi vaccine cards people are carrying around already. You need to have a standardized system.

But the pushback is going to be, "Leana, you're asking for an un- American thing. You are going to force me to put something in my body, if I don't want to, and that's un-American."

What do you say?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST, FORMER BALTIMORE HEALTH COMMISSIONER, ER PHYSICIAN, AUTHOR, "LIFELINES": I say that we need to start looking at the choice to remain unvaccinated, the same as we look at driving while intoxicated, that you have the option to not get vaccinated, if you want. But then, you can't go out in public.

Because, when you go out in public, you have the potential of infecting other people, with a potentially deadly disease, just like you can choose to drink in private, if you want. But if you get behind the wheel of a car, and can endanger other people, there is an obligation, by society, to prevent you from doing that.

So, I think what President Biden did today is exactly right to say that the vaccinated should not have to pay the price for the so-called choices of the unvaccinated, anymore.

Although to your point, Chris, I definitely wished that he had also announced some type of proof of vaccination, because, at this point, we have this flimsy piece of paper that's so easy to counterfeit.

And I mean, we don't allow this to board an airplane, right? You don't go to the TSA checkpoint--

CUOMO: Right.

WEN: --and say, "I am who I say I am. Here's a piece of paper"--

CUOMO: Right.

WEN: --"where I wrote my name."

CUOMO: Some states though--

WEN: I mean we have ID for this reason.

CUOMO: Some states are doing it, right?

WEN: And we need to look at this specifically (ph).

CUOMO: New York is doing it. But you're right. We need a national system for these kinds of policies to take hold.

I have one more quick question for each of you.

First quick question for you, Zeke, is people will say, "Hey, you know now, if you're vaccinated or not, people are getting sick, at the same rate, because I hear about vaccinated people getting sick all the time. So, it doesn't matter. I shouldn't be forced to take it."

Your answer?

EMANUEL: It's not the same rate. You're not getting sick at the same rate. Those people, who are vaccinated, are getting sicker less frequently. And more importantly, they're getting less sick. They're having mild or asymptomatic cases. They're rarely ending up in the hospital and very, very rarely dying.

Whereas the unvaccinated, much more likely to end up in the hospital.


And you look at States that have low vaccination rates. They have children end up in the hospital at four times the rate, in those States, because there's so much virus floating around, so much easier for them to get sick.

So, not only does vaccination protect you, it protects the people around you--

CUOMO: Right.

EMANUEL: --and especially children. And if you care about children, you ought to be vaccinated.

CUOMO: Leana, one last thing, because you worked in Baltimore City, on the law and policy side, of putting health practices in.

The idea that, we've never seen a vaccine mandate, this broad, before, through OSHA, or through, any government body? "It's too broad. It overreaches."

WEN: I don't think it goes far enough. I actually think that what Zeke said about interstate travel was exactly right.

But, in this case, we have childhood immunizations that we don't even think about. All 50 States have laws in the books to require routine childhood immunizations, which we really should be looking at the COVID vaccine the same way.

And when it comes to employers, I think what the Biden administration did was quite brilliant, because it gives air cover for businesses that have wanted to do this, that have wanted to put vaccine mandates in place, but they didn't want to have their employees complain about them.

Now they can say, "Hey, we didn't really want to do this. But the administration, the federal government, is making us do it."

It also helps to level the playing field so that people aren't then going to threaten to go to another workplace, that every workplace has that same requirement. That's a good thing.

So, I don't think it's overreach. I think this is what's needed, in the middle of a pandemic. And in fact, I think the Biden administration, if anything, could have gone even further.

CUOMO: Let's see what happens next.

Dr. Zeke Emanuel, Dr. Leana Wen, thank you both. Good to see you both. Stay healthy.

Now, look?

EMANUEL: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Absolutely.

Now, objectively, politically, this was a good night for Biden. And he needed it, because there's a disconnect in this country.

What's said in the media, what's said by the political insiders, too many of you were always like, "Why are they saying that? What's going on?" You don't connect to this insider dialog. And you've been saying "Enough is enough" for a long time. And you heard the President say it tonight.

What will that mean for his numbers? Because, right now, the polls are not at the top. They are at the bottom, for him, personally. Will this matter?

Let's bring in the Wiz. He's got a look at the numbers, where the softness is, and what this might mean, and the popularity for these moves. Next.









CUOMO: When you sit down with pollsters, they break their analysis into two parts, qualitative and quantitative.

The qualitative on Biden would look something like this. Afghanistan resonated negatively. It's a mixed bag. But it's certainly juiced up his critics. But him now having the White House work with the Veterans groups? That may balance it out.

But regardless, the priority themes for people are going to be the pocketbook. And that's going to be the economy as a coefficient of COVID.

Now the quantitative will be what are the numbers that suggest the same? Biden came out today, to push the pandemic plan, to say "Enough is enough," and he needed to do it.

His approval numbers are dropping specifically because of COVID and concerns related to the economy. Will this change those concerns?

Harry Enten, the Wizard of Odds, with a look at the numbers.

What do you see in the approval?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: What I see is if you look right now, at the Coronavirus, and you say, "Is Biden doing a good job communicating a clear plan?" what do we see?

We see that number has been dropping from June at 51 percent, July at 48 percent, late August at 40 percent. More Americans now say he has not been communicating a clear plan. And I think that is directly correlated with why his overall approval rating is dropping.

Yes, Afghanistan is part of that. But when you see Americans over and over and over again, say that the most important problem facing the country is the Coronavirus, and you're not articulating a clear plan in their mind? You clearly have to go out and speak to the American people, like Biden did, this afternoon.

CUOMO: Few months ago, mandates were a no-go zone. Now, he went there tonight. "Enough is enough. Here's what we're going to do," couple of steps down that road.

What do we see in the numbers about the susceptibility, or enthusiasm, among Americans, for the moves made today?

ENTEN: I think it's a good political move. And it's a good political move for a very clear reason.

That is, number one, you can see the majority of Americans favor the idea of employer vaccination requirements. But remember, there are more Americans who are vaccinated than unvaccinated. The unvaccinated are the vast minority.

So, what you see is the vaccinated, clearly, a clear majority, want these vaccine mandates. And he is not playing necessarily so much to the unvaccinated. Yes, he wants them to become vaccinated.

But he's telling the vaccinated folks, who are right now, just personally just pissed off that "I am by you. I am by your side. And we're going to get these unvaccinated people vaccinated, come heck or high water."

CUOMO: Let's take a look at the susceptibility here, to this idea with both employers and employees.

ENTEN: Sure. So, when it comes to employers, what have we been seeing?

A higher percentage of them are now saying that in fact, "We are going to require you to get vaccinated." Look at that. In May, it was just 5 percent. Now, in August, it's all the way up to 19 percent, long before the Biden announcement even came in.

And here's the thing that we know from the numbers is that these mandates do in fact work. They do get more people to get vaccinated, who are unvaccinated. We can see this through both Delta and United.

What United did was they basically said "You're going to have to go get a vaccination." Delta said essentially, "You know what? We're going to fine you, if you do not, in fact, get your vaccination."

And what we've seen with United is that over 50 percent, over 50 percent, of their employer - employees, who were unvaccinated previously, are now in fact vaccinated, once that vaccine mandate went to effect.


And with Delta, 20 percent of those unvaccinated employees are now get vaccinated. They don't have the straight - the straight vaccination mandate. But still getting 20 percent? That's still a significant chunk.

And United, over 50 percent, that's a great chunk!

CUOMO: So, that's on the employers' side. And the employees' side, you believe that there'll be tacit acceptance?

ENTEN: I believe, looking at the numbers that look, not every single employee is going to get vaccine, no matter what. There are some people out there, who are just not going to get vaccinated.

CUOMO: Or some can.

ENTEN: They're vaccine-resistant.

CUOMO: Some are immune-compromised.

ENTEN: Sure.

CUOMO: Some may have other exceptions. But the majority is resistance as a function of political insistence.

ENTEN: That's exactly right. It's resistance as a function of politics for most of them. And what the numbers say is that a good chunk of them will, in fact, go out there, and get vaccinated, if there's an employer mandate, put into effect.

And I will honestly say, looking at all of the numbers that are out there, that employee mandates are the best way to get the unvaccinated vaccinated. And that's why I think you saw Biden come out today, and argue for just that.

CUOMO: Look, you always know you're in a good place, as a leader, when you are matching the mood of the country.

And we are in the "Enough is enough," especially with our kids going back to school, and all these cases popping up. We know why it is. We know why it is.

Harry Enten, thank you very much. Appreciate you, Wiz.

ENTEN: Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: So now, about the reverberation, of the President's message, we go to Los Angeles, the first major school district to mandate students, 12 and older, get vaccinated.

Remember, you can't mandate it probably legally, any earlier than that, because the FDA hasn't approved the drug for them. And even if they do, and it's as an Emergency Use Authorization, that's soft ground legally also.

But the FDA has approved it, for 12 and up, so they mandated it in order for them to go into school. What will this do, in terms of the rest of the education world's approach, to preventing outbreaks? You have the "Can you?" And you have the "Should you?"

We have the Interim Head of L.A. Schools, here, next.









CUOMO: Enough is enough. Nobody likes to force anybody's hand. You should do things because it's the right thing for you to do. But when you don't, especially where kids are involved, somebody's got to do something.

And the President said it tonight. And now, we're seeing it reverberate across the country.

The nation's second largest school district, in California just made the COVID vaccine mandatory, for all students, 12 and older. That is the Los Angeles Unified School District. They voted just tonight that all eligible students must be fully vaccinated.

Megan Reilly is the Interim Superintendent, and joins us now.

Thank you.


CUOMO: So, let's break this into two parts. One, can you do this?

REILLY: Everything that we have looked at says that we can do this. We're protecting - our goal is to keep kids as safe as possible, and to preserve the best quality education, which we know is being in school, and not online.

CUOMO: What was the biggest resistance?

REILLY: I think the biggest resistance would be just really looking at all the science, and understanding, and weighing the options.

We know that there's hesitancy out there, and people have concerns about it. And so, again, making sure that the science was very sound, and just overwhelmingly compelling, on doing this as the right move.

CUOMO: So from can, to should, what pushed you from - I know this is uncomfortable. I know it's controversial, not this interview, I hope, but the idea of doing this kind of policy.

But what pushed you over the line of believing you had to do it?

REILLY: I think there's several things. One is the data that comes out about the Delta variant. We know that it's highly transmissible.

And it's been overwhelmingly obvious that the past 18 months, when we saw that our schools were closed for a majority of time that kids did not thrive in that environment, and they didn't learn as much as they should have.

And again, looking at what we've learned, from that period of time, and having tools, like masking, vaccines, all of the ventilation issues, we used a multi-layered approach, to create the safest possible controlled environment, in schools, so that we can keep kids safe, while they learn in the best environment possible.

I think it's a convergence of the threat of Delta, and the information, and frankly, the science that has been collected around the Delta variant, and its transmissibility, and the fact that it's affecting kids, because it is so transmissible.

We worked with UCLA. We worked with Stanford and Johns Hopkins, and a whole steering committee of health experts. And we've been watching this, since it started.

CUOMO: 62 percent of campuses have an active case, even with a lot of mitigation efforts and testing that you've been doing. And that's between August 15th and August 29th. 5,200 cases were reported among students, 729 among staff.

47 percent of the school outbreaks are associated with sports. So, you're going to start with that. What has been - what is the - what happens if you don't get vaccinated?

REILLY: We're giving kind of like a timeline that says that people, kids, students should get vaccinated.

You mentioned sports. That's one of the first things, those that are involved in extracurricular activity, the science, the data that you just cited, is that those that are playing sports, and doing athletics, and other things, are more susceptible, and there's more case outbreak from that. So again, we're asking that they get vaccinated, in the October time frame.

Those other students, 12 and older, we're asking that they get vaccinated their first and second shot from Pfizer, in the November to December timeframe, and then using winter break, for that vaccine to be, taken into effect.

And then, by January 10th, we're asking that everyone be fully vaccinated. We've already put in place an employee mandate, so all of our employees to be vaccinated by October 15th. This way, we create the safest possible environment, for those that are eligible to be vaccinated, to learn.


And frankly, then we create a safer environment, for those children, zero, kind of like to 12-years-old that can't get vaccinated that they're safer being surrounded by adults and others that are vaccinated.

CUOMO: And if you don't get vaccinated, will you have the option of at-homeschooling?

REILLY: We have an independent study program in California. That's the option. So, there is an educational option. I would have to say I don't think it's as viable or as, kind of, like as rich a program that you would have with whether you - when you come back to class.

CUOMO: Megan Reilly, thank you very much. This is a big move for the school districts. It's going to reverberate around the country. Thank you for joining us to discuss it tonight.

REILLY: Thank you, Chris, for giving us the time to talk about this.

CUOMO: OK, now, we want to talk about constitutionality.

A "Scheme to nullify the Constitution," that's what the United States Attorney General calls the new law in Texas that bans almost all abortions. The Biden Justice Department is now suing Texas.

And we're just hearing something new tonight, something very rare. A Supreme Court justice went on the record, with a reporter, about their view, his view, I'll give you the tip, of how the High Court responded, to the Texas ban. This is very rare, and it shows just how high the stakes are. Next.








CUOMO: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer just broke convention tonight. He spoke out publicly, about how the High Court handled the Texas abortion case, or really, refused to handle it. Watch.


JUSTICE STEPHEN BREYER, SUPREME COURT: I thought the last decision you mentioned was very, very, very wrong. I'll add one more very. And I wrote a dissent. And that's the way it works.

But it's a procedural matter. And so, we'll see what happens in that area, when we get a substantive matter, in front of us.


CUOMO: Now, and that is the hedge for the Supreme Court, right? Not Breyer. He was being very candid there. But the 5-4 vote, from the SCOTUS, allowed Texas' effective abortion ban, to remain in the books, because there isn't a ripe instance.

Now, a substantive matter, before the court, may be headed their way sooner rather than later. That's because the Justice Department just sued the State of Texas today. The lawsuit asks a federal judge to block the near-total abortion ban from being enforced, on the grounds that it's unconstitutional.

Why? Because it violates the Supremacy Clause, right, which is that the Constitution comes first. Federal law comes before state law. And the Constitution leads all. And a Supreme Court case is constitutional law.

And the Supreme Court precedent here is Roe v. Wade, meaning you should not disrupt that. And that's what Texas just did.

Nancy Northup is the President of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

It's good to have you on PRIME TIME.

I'm going to jump the conversation a little bit, because a first-week law student would know that a state that puts together a law that violates existing constitutional precedent has a problem.

But here's your problem is that they may take this case, and they may be looking to change precedent. America is going to be woken up to how meaningless, stare decisis is here, because justices can change it whenever they want to. How worried are you?

NANCY NORTHUP, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Well, I have to start by saying I'm actually quite elated that the Department of Justice sued Texas today. I mean, this is a game-changer. It has never happened before that the United States government has sued a state over an abortion restriction. So, let's start with that.

To your question about, the precedent of Roe versus Wade, and how secure is it in the Supreme Court? Well, they have taken a case. It's our case from Mississippi--

CUOMO: The Dobbs case.

NORTHUP: --in which they have asked that question. So, that will be coming before the court this fall.

CUOMO: So, the Dobbs case, in Mississippi, is about a 15-week benchmark.

The Texas law is a six-week benchmark, and then this civil authority for people to sue. Basically, they become the executors of the law.

Which one do you think is a bigger problem?

NORTHUP: They're both an enormous problem. They're both clear violations of the Constitution.

As the Department of Justice's lawsuit made clear today, there has been an unbroken line of Supreme Court cases that have said that pre- viability, the government cannot take the decision away, from a person, about ending a pregnancy. And so, that unbroken line of cases goes back 48 years now.

And the precedent is very strong. There's only one way - Justice Breyer said it that what the court did last week was "Very, very, very wrong," in letting this six-week ban stand.

CUOMO: They basically said they didn't - they didn't have a real claim in front of them yet. But they will.

And the question then becomes what seems likely here? Look, the 5-4 thing is scary, to people like you, because these judges showed a real openness, to this situation that we haven't seen.

And yet, Roe v. Wade has been dinged up before, the Casey case and others, while refining the standard. They've had notification principles, and things like that, that have taken away a little bit of the right of a woman to have complete control over this process.

How concerned are you that there'll be further erosion with this court?

NORTHUP: Well, of course, we're concerned. And our brief is going to be filed in the Supreme Court, tomorrow, I think, or next Monday.

But here's the thing. We are in such an unprecedented time to have had the Department of Justice come in today. And it can't, you know, we're talking about the politics and what the court could do.

But meanwhile, on the ground in Texas, it's now been nine days that 85 percent, 90 percent of patients are being turned away. Some are leaving the state. We hear from our clients, our clinics in New Mexico, that there are waiting lists now, because of people coming in, from Texas.


And it's also impacting those people, who cannot leave the state, people on low income, people of color, people who are undocumented immigrants.

And so, yes, to come is the battle in the Supreme Court. But, right now, our eyes are on getting this injunction in place in Texas, so that services can be provided again. And that's where the Department of Justice coming in today is just enormous.

CUOMO: Do you think it helps you get an injunction?

NORTHUP: Absolutely. Right now, because of the Supreme Court's action, last week, we are stuck in our case, in the Fifth Circuit, on a non- expedited basis.

The Department of Justice coming in, I assume, should quite shortly they'll be seeking an injunction. And it is put before the same district court that our case is in, as a related case.

And so, I think they have a very - it's a very strong complaint. It makes it clear that both the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution allows the Department of Justice to sue, and that this is a clear violation of Roe versus Wade. And so, I think it does increase dramatically the chances of having an injunction.

And so, to have this response from the Department of Justice, when people are so hurting on the ground, the Vice President met with providers, in Texas, today, to hear how dire the situation is on the ground.

So, this is a whole new day, in the attention, and focus, and force, of trying to get Texas back in line, with the Constitution, and to be able to restore the rights to the people of Texas.

CUOMO: Look, it's all coming to a head. And it's going to be a seminal moment that really shines a light on exactly where we are, with women's rights, and the equality of the same, in our society today.

Nancy Northup, thank you, for the very smart take. Appreciate you.

NORTHUP: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, some good news, on the Afghanistan front. I know this is touchy, politically. It really shouldn't be, OK?

Everybody should want to get Americans, and their allies, out of Afghanistan. And today, more of them were able to get out. And a big reason why is that the White House has now approved a partnership with the "Digital Dunkirk" folks. This amazing network, I've never seen anything like it, of Veterans and NGOs, and their allies, people here, people there, trying to do the right thing. It's not Left or Right. It's just doing what's right.

We've been closely following those missions. We have a guest ahead, who's with one of the groups, working with the government, and on the ground. How big a deal is today? What will it mean and when? Next.









CUOMO: Good news! About 113 people were aboard a charter flight, out of Kabul today. The State Department says more than 30 U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents were invited on the flight. But they weren't sure how many were actually on the plane.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is on board with a plan for the State Department to run lead, on all the groups, behind this "Digital Dunkirk," we've been talking about, this massive volunteer effort to evacuate at-risk U.S. citizens, and Afghan allies, who were left behind, after U.S. and NATO troops withdrew.

I've never seen anything like it. And I think it's beautiful. And I don't think that's a Left or Right statement. I think it's just doing what's right.

Now, this effort includes groups like Task Force Pineapple, led by former Green Beret, retired Lieutenant Colonel Scott Mann. And we welcome him to PRIME TIME.

It's good to see you, sir.


CUOMO: I'm doing well.

Now, what I like is that you're doing better. How big a deal was it today that the White House finally said "We're going to put our arms around you guys?"

MANN: Well, look, I mean, first of all, I really liked the statement you made that this is absolutely not a Left thing. It's not a Right thing. It really is it's the right thing.

It's honoring a promise, right? And you know that extremely well. And what I love about it, too, is that it's our combat veterans that really stepped up, and showed us what that looks like. And they continue to do that.

I think if this - if this goes forward, and we do get that closer connection to the State Department, with this citizen liaison network, I think it could be - I think it could be potentially really powerful. We'll wait to see. I hope that - I hope that happens.

CUOMO: So, you guys met with them, and basically said, "Look, we're doing all the work. We're doing the logistics. We're raising the money. We're doing overland. We're getting people to airports. And then, you aren't letting us fly out. And you're not letting us arrange third-party transfers, so that you can do whatever vetting you want to do with these people."

Did they have an answer for that?

MANN: Well, I mean, not to the degree that I would like to see. I think - I think there's still some more questions that need to be answered there.

Because we're doing the work, like you said, and we're ready to go right now, we're ready to play that responsible role, as a citizen liaison network. We know who these people are. We know where they are. And they trust us, to move them, and to help them move.

And that's something, whether that's in safe passage, Chris, or whether that is in resettlement, or reintegration, we've had those relationships, for years and years and years. And we know how to play that role responsibly.

And I still think we have some work to do to get there. I think we can. But we're really just waiting to see how the State Department plays with that. But we really hope they do.

CUOMO: How many people do you have waiting that could get out, if you get word of somewhere to bring them?

MANN: There are a range of groups. I mean, Pineapple is ours. But all of these nicknamed groups that are Veterans groups, they - it's in the thousands. I mean, I don't want to get super-specific on it. But it's in the thousands, hundreds--

CUOMO: And what do you say to people, quickly?

And, by the way, this is just one conversation. Colonel, you can come on, whenever you have news, to report, about, who you're getting out, who helped, and who didn't. You have this platform.

MANN: Thanks.

CUOMO: I don't care whether it's popular or not. It's the right thing to do. MANN: Right.

CUOMO: The big pushback is "You don't know who you are even putting on these planes. Could be ISIS-K coming here to kill us! And all these people should have gotten out already. They had plenty of time."

What do you say?

MANN: I say that you're talking about combat veterans, Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and Marines, who have worked with these people in combat. They have fought with them. They have bled with them. They know their hearts better than anybody, and they know exactly who these people are.


CUOMO: And the idea that these people all should have got out already?

MANN: Absolutely. But what I love about the way, our Veterans are doing it, is rather than getting angry, they're just getting to work. And that's what I think we can all take a lesson from.

CUOMO: Lieutenant Colonel Scott Mann, I'm telling you, I've never seen anything like this before. And I get that it's got the stink of politics all over it. I wish the politicians had just stayed out of it, and just helped you guys with the funding, and the resources, to do the job.

But, as an American, I appreciate you, once again, for your service. Be well. And again, you got an ear here, whenever you need it.

MANN: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

CUOMO: God bless and be well.

MANN: Thanks.

CUOMO: All right, we'll be right back with some big news about "The Handoff," next.


CUOMO: "You like The Handoff! The Handoff is good!" Name the movie that I'm playing with there, and I'll send you a hat. You can hit me on Twitter, and tell me.

D. Lemon and I are so thrilled that so many of you are checking out "The Handoff" podcast that we just kicked off Season 2, today.

And here's the even better news. Every episode of the show is now available, for free, on all podcast platforms, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, wherever you listen, or just go to, OK?

Thank you for watching.

The big star, of "The Handoff" himself, Don Lemon, of "DON LEMON TONIGHT," right now.