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Book: Trump Pressured Pence To Overturn Election On January 5: "I Don't Want To Be Your Friend Anymore If You Don't Do This"; Book: Top General Made Secret Calls To China To Prevent War; GOP Senator Pushes Right-Wing Theory, Alleges Biden "Mute Button". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 14, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Norm was fearless in comedy, and life. And his unique voice is missed by all of us, today. Norm Macdonald was 61- years-old.

I'll be back at 10 P.M. Eastern, tonight, for CNN's special coverage of the California recall election.

Now, it's time to hand it over to Chris Cuomo for "CUOMO PRIMETIME." Chris?

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

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIMETIME.

Now, we know the truth. We were closer to a real destruction of our democracy than was even apparent. Trump was considering crazy actions that threatened national security, concerns that went all the way to the top, at the Pentagon.

Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, both, of the "Washington Post," write in their new book, "Peril," that General Mark Milley, you've gotten to know him a little bit more recently, in politics, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, singlehandedly took action, twice, once, right before the election, and then after January 6th, to block Trump from going rogue, to limit him, from potentially ordering a dangerous Military strike, or even launching nuclear weapons.

Now, the question to start with is why? Milley was reportedly very concerned, concerns shared by others, in the administration, and Congress, according to the book, that a desperate Trump had gone into a serious mental decline.

In addition to consoling his Chinese counterpart that the United States' democracy was intact, and no Military action was imminent, the General also called a secret Pentagon meetings to after - two days after the Insurrection. The point was to review the process for Military action with senior officials.

Now, if you think back to that time, it wasn't too long ago, Trump had been upending the Military's leadership, if you'll remember, after losing the election. His cabinet members were resigning. He had nutjobs in his office talking about Martial law.

And he really was nutty enough to pressure the Vice President Mike Pence to try to steal the election, up until at least the day before the certification of the vote. Heavy charge! What's the backup?

In the book, it says Trump and Pence were in the Oval Office, on January 5, talking about what powers Pence had, to mess with the electoral count.

When the Vice President told Trump, he wouldn't want any one person to have that kind of authority, Trump said, "But wouldn't it be almost cool to have that power?"

"No," Pence said, "I've done everything I could and then some to find a way around this. It's simply not possible."

Trump then allegedly shouted, "No, no, no! You don't understand, Mike. You can do this. I don't want to be your friend anymore if you don't do this."

What a threat! He didn't just drop Pence, as a friend, the next day. He left him for dead, when the Trump mob, came to hang him, at the Capitol. And the concerns about what the then-president might do, to the rest of us, let alone Pence, lead General Milley to have that meeting.

We haven't seen anything like that kind of meeting that we know about, since Nixon, when top brass, during Watergate, wanted a warning, if then-president Nixon tried to use the Military, to distract from his downfall.

So here, Milley, according to the book, met with the top brass, after the Insurrection, and instructed them not to take orders from anyone, unless he was involved.

Quote, "If you get calls, no matter whom they are from, there's a process here, there's a procedure. No matter what you're told, you do the procedure. You do the process. And I am part of that procedure."

The top general, allegedly, then went around the room, looked each officer, in the eye, and said, "Got it?" The authors say Milley saw this as an oath.

There were loads of other alarming episodes, along with this. Now, you want to talk about Afghanistan, and who you blame, and all that, right?

Just eight days, after the 2020 election, Trump was so determined, according to the book, to end the war in Afghanistan, during his presidency, that he secretly signed a memo, to withdraw all troops, by January 15, 2021.

Can you imagine, if we had left that abruptly, how many would have been left behind?

The Secretary of Defense didn't know about it. Neither did the National Security Advisor. Milley and Company went to the White House, and had it withdrawn.


Now that is a very interesting anecdote, that last one, that puts into context, the framing for the big question, coming out of this, other than all that stuff about Trump, which will be about Milley, and what he did?

If it's true that he stopped that kind of withdrawal, think about how many lives may have been saved. But does Milley deserve thanks or criticism? And will these findings add any fuel to the search for answers, about January 6, in Congress?

We have the good fortune, of someone, who knows the players, and had eyes, on the situation, Miles Taylor. He's the no-longer "Anonymous" former senior Trump administration official.

You'll remember him turning the White House upside down, in 2018, when he wrote that mysterious "New York Times" Op-Ed, and subsequent book, "A Warning," declaring he was part of the quote, "Resistance," working to thwart Trump's worst inclinations, and did ultimately, of course, reveal his identity.

Taylor was Chief of Staff, to Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen. And back with us on PRIMETIME.

It's good to see you.


CUOMO: Now, first, the flavor. Does this sound as reporting remotely like what you understand, about Milley, his concerns, and what Trump could trigger, in people like him?

TAYLOR: Chris, the answer is yes, yes, and yes. And I want to say two things about it. First, it's alarming. But second, it's not surprising.

The alarming piece is obvious. You hit on those points.

You had the President's top Military adviser, his hand-picked top Military adviser, by the way, who was so worried about his mental state, that he wanted to basically keep the nuclear codes from him, put checks and balances in place, and talk to foreign adversaries, to keep wars from breaking out.

That suggests to me that the President's own top Military adviser, at that time, didn't see Russia, and China, and Iran, as the biggest threats to the United States. He saw the President of the United States as the biggest threat to the country. That is alarming.

Two though, Chris, why is this not surprising? Because I witnessed it. I saw cabinet secretaries, in the first year of this administration, talking about the potential, of invoking the 25th Amendment, because they were worried the President was so mentally unstable.

And there's one other episode, among many that I witnessed, that was very similar to this Milley incident.

We've been having conversations about North Korea, and were very worried that the President's bellicose rhetoric was going to lead to an unintentional war with North Korea.

I can remember walking out of the Situation Room, in a meeting, and Secretary Jim Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, turned to me, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, and said, "If you all aren't preparing the homeland, for war, you're not doing your jobs."

And he was saying we just didn't know where the situation was going to go, because the President was spiraling. That's deeply disturbing. But again, I think that reinforces what Milley saw firsthand.

CUOMO: All right, we'll go back to him in one second.

Just in terms of the threat, forget about putting Military in, the aspect of how dramatically he wanted to take Military out?

If the book is right about this secret memo, to withdraw, January 15, 2021, with what we just saw, with a lot of lead time, in getting them out that Biden had, what do you think might have happened, if the Military had been pulled out that abruptly?

TAYLOR: Well, I hate to say it. This is something that we warned Trump against, in the first year. When he took office, he actually wanted to pull out that abruptly, Chris.

I don't know if this has been reported yet. But he had told us he wanted to pull out that abruptly, at the very beginning of the administration. He just wanted to be gone from Afghanistan.

And we pressed him, and pressed him, and convinced him, in August of his first year, to keep a U.S. troop presence.

But, by the end of the administration, he'd gotten rid of the guardrails. He'd gotten rid of John Kelly, who convinced him to stay, and stay the course. He'd gotten rid of Jim Mattis, and others. And he wanted to double down on that.

If he'd been able to execute that, in January, the humanitarian catastrophe, we saw, over the course of the past month, would have been on steroids. It would have been more dead Americans trying to get out of that country. It would have been an absolute nightmare. I think Milley really deserves immense credit for preventing that from having happened.

CUOMO: Milley deserves credit. Help us understand why what he did is OK, and not maybe he had the right feelings, but is it the right way to go about it? Or are you supposed to resign and go public?

TAYLOR: Yes, I think that's a tough situation to be in, Chris. I mean, look, I witnessed a lot of people in it. I was in that spot myself. I think what's revealing, about this episode, is that the guardrails

are so thin that people like General Milley, I'm sure, in his case, were worried that if he left, and spoke out, well, maybe a more compliant person would be put in his place, who would execute a nuclear strike, for the President, to have cause to stay in office.

And that's the dilemma that a lot of these people close to the President faced. I think the answer becomes when the President no longer will listen to your advice, and will just go around you anyway, that's when it's time to go and to blow the whistle.


Now, a lot of people did do that. And I think it's important that there were folks like General Milley, and others, who stayed till the end, to keep their hands, on the steering wheel, as much as possible, before this thing fell apart.

But the fact that he was worried, about the President, potentially starting a war, at the end of his term, alarms me.

And Chris, I'm going to add one more anecdote here. And that is, Donald Trump talked multiple times throughout the administration, to us, about his powers, of declaring an Insurrection. He knew that if he declared an Insurrection, he could deploy the Military, to the streets, and do extraordinary things.

So, on January 6th, it was my supposition, as the Capitol was being stormed, that the President did want to invoke the Insurrection Act, to put the Military, on the streets, to prevent a transfer of power, because he had talked to us about it so many times. That's the type of thing that shows premeditation, in my opinion.

CUOMO: Two quick things. One, when did he talk about wanting to invoke the Insurrection Act, early on, in terms of what context?

TAYLOR: Well, usually it was around the border, Chris, is he would say, "Look, I want to seal the entire United States border. No immigrants get to come in. I have been told I've got magical powers, under the Insurrection Act, to do that." And we would--

CUOMO: He said "Magical powers?"

TAYLOR: He did, indeed. Verbatim, those were his words, Chris. It sounds Trump-like because it was Trump's words.

He said he had magical powers. He mentioned the Insurrection Act. And he said "I can use that to shut down the border."

We went back to our lawyers and came to the White House and said, "Look, there is no insurrection, at the southern border. You cannot invoke that power." But the President had the idea of insurrection in his mind.

So again, that day, I'm sure he had the thought that he could use those powers, if he wanted to, to deploy the Military, into the streets.

CUOMO: One other thing, because this is going to be a hot button, obviously. Milley having the concerns, fine, Milley wanting to do something about the concerns, fine.

Milley calling his Chinese counterpart, meeting with top brass, telling the Chinese counterpart, "Don't worry. Everything's going to be all fine. I'll let you know if we're going to attack you," and telling the top Military brass, "You come to me, no matter who tells you what?"

Do you believe that that is going too far?

TAYLOR: Well, look, on the call with the Chinese, I think we need more information.

Because if Milley actually did say to a foreign adversary, "I'll warn you, before we hit you," and if we had a credible reason to hit an adversary, that's dangerous talk. I don't think we have all the details yet.

It sounds to me like Milley was trying to reach out, to foreign counterparts, to say, "Let's keep the temperature low. You may hear some insane rhetoric, out of Washington. But let's try to keep it from going to war," much like many statesmen have, throughout history, to try to keep temperatures low.

I hope that's the case. And I think we need to ask those questions. And I think General Milley owes answers, on that front.

CUOMO: Miles Taylor, invaluable perspective. Appreciate you. Thank you for sharing what you know.

TAYLOR: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, if this new reporting, to use Miles' own qualification, we got to know, if everything is right, that Chinese call, let's bring in someone, who believes it's a problem.

A former administration official as well, a star witness, at Trump's first impeachment, retired Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman is here, somebody who did it a different way, next.








CUOMO: Look, you're going to have to read into more of this Woodward and Costa book, and see what's interesting to you. To me, it's about how things happened.

It's not enough just about character assessments, and that everybody knows Trump had unstable qualities, to him, an erratic nature to him, a very kind of spontaneous nature that could be very upsetting to people, who are used to, leaders, who think before they speak and act.

But there are real questions about what was done here, by Trump, for Trump, and to stop Trump, namely, the man, who was still the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Woodward and Costa report that General Mark Milley was holding secret back-channel communications, with his Chinese counterpart, even going so far as making promises to a hostile nation.

Then there are the parts of the book, where Milley was reportedly, going around the Commander-in-Chief, taking secret action, to protect nuclear weapons. When is that OK? When is it not?

Milley reportedly told senior Military officials not to take orders from anyone unless he was involved. Moves like that had my next guest, retired Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, tweeting.

Here's one of them. If this true General - if this true - "If this is true General Milley must resign. He usurped civilian authority, broke Chain of Command, and violated the sacrosanct principle of civilian control over the military. It's an extremely dangerous precedent. You can't simply walk away from that."

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, welcome to PRIMETIME. It's good to see you, sir. Thank you for your service, once again.


CUOMO: Do you believe Milley did that? Let's start there.

VINDMAN: Well, first of all, I find the reporting, on China, to be frankly absurd.

I cannot imagine a situation, in which, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs offers to warn an adversary of an imminent attack. So, I find that kind of casting a shadow over the rest of the reporting. And that's why, I said, "If the reporting is accurate."

If the senior most Military officer, in the United States Army, or in the United States Military, acted without any oversight, without any accountability, I find that deeply troubling.

It's doing the what - to me, seems like the wrong thing, for seemingly the right reason. There's not a way to get away with that. And there's not a way to walk away from that unscathed.

I just finished writing a book about doing the right thing in the right way. And this, to me, screams of doing the wrong thing.


CUOMO: What if it's what Miles Taylor suggested, which was him, talking to a counterpart that he had a relationship with, and saying, "Look, I'm here to tell you no matter what you hear, coming out of the White House, everything is still under control here."

VINDMAN: Yes, my friend, Miles Taylor, made some excellent points. I agree with much of what he said, about the dangers of Donald Trump.

There's no question about the fact that there needed to be a better check on Donald Trump. That should have occurred, frankly, on two occasions, in which the Senate should have held him accountable, following impeachment, removed him from office.

That did not happen. That's the way the system is supposed to work. Ultimately, the American public held the President accountable, and removed him from office, by voting in a new president.

What we can't have is we can't have the senior Military officer, acting without any oversight, exceeding his authorities, without civilian control. This is, again, a sacrosanct principle.

What happens, if in a different situation, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs acts, what he believes is in his own best interest, and we find ourselves in--

CUOMO: Right.

VINDMAN: --in a slippery slope of where many other countries find themselves?

CUOMO: Now, would--

VINDMAN: I think, simply put--

CUOMO: Go ahead, go ahead. Yes?

VINDMAN: Yes. I was just going to say, simply put, even if he did this, for the right reasons, he did the wrong thing. And now, he is toxic.

He is a Chairman that has been criticized for the Lafayette - marching through Lafayette Park.

On several occasions, there has been reporting indicating that he was deeply concerned. He didn't voice those concerns, at moments, where his voice would have been critical, potentially, put a check on the President.

Instead, now we have reporting coming out about how he worked behind- the-scenes, to control the President. That's troubling to me. CUOMO: Hobson's choice. A Hobson's choice, a choice is a free choice in which only one thing is actually offered, which means what was Milley supposed to do?

If he does nothing, because well that's the President, then he is allowing things--


CUOMO: --that he has a problem, and he does nothing about them.

If he does what he does here, you're afraid of encroaching.

If he were to resign, and go public, now he has no power, to correct the problem.

VINDMAN: I grew up in the Military, in which, we trained our subordinates, and more senior leaders trained their subordinates, to be able to step up, when if you go down, right?

There was a - it wasn't just the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. There were another half a dozen chiefs that would be prepared to step up, and fill that role. 100 percent, in my mind clear that these are honorable individuals that would step up, and step into the breach, and do the same thing.

The Chairman, if he felt strongly about these issues, he could have done this on, January 8th. There's reporting that he spoke to, and he attested to speaking to Nancy Pelosi, when she expressed deep concerns about Donald Trump.

He could have been a guardrail, and made sure that at least for the remaining two weeks that Donald Trump wasn't able to steal an election, and launch it - and double down on Insurrection.

We heard none of this. None of this until months, months down the road, now coming out that he was really behind-the-scenes, serving as a guardrail. But, in my mind, the guardrail is not an individual. The guardrail is a system. It's an institution. It's multiple officers doing the right thing.

In this case, what's clear to me is, frankly, Chairman Milley's tainted, by all these things that I expressed that there are deep concerns about, and also by the fact that he's lost the trust of at least half the population, on one side, and those people that believe that he exceeded his authorities, and violated principles of Civil- Military relations.

There are better candidates to run the Military, folks that are less polarizing. I don't think we need one that has so much baggage at the moment, especially when we're trying to rebuild and harden institutions.

CUOMO: Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Your book is "Here, Right Matters: An American Story."


CUOMO: Thank you very much, sir. We'll talk again.

VINDMAN: Thank you.

CUOMO: Now, listen, here's what's going to happen. Milley is going to have to come and speak. He's going to have to talk about this.

He's going to have to provide context, say what he did, what he didn't do, what he said, what he didn't say. And here's why. You're going to hear him being celebrated, a lot, on TV, by the media and the political/political left.

He did the right thing. He controlled Trump. Did he do it the right way? Because what this will do is absolutely turbocharge Deep State theories. And it is a lot of grist for that mill.


So, he's going to have to come out, and set this straight, about what this was, and what it wasn't.

Now, something else we're tracking, in less than two hours, polls close, in California's recall election. Will Governor Newsom stay in office?

This election was infected by the "Big lie," before there was even an election, before the votes were even completed, as being cast, the GOP front-runner doubling down, pulling a double Trump, lobbying baseless accusations of fraud.

How do you stop this poison from spreading in the Republican Party?

A brilliant mind, certainly a better mind, Michael Smerconish, next.









LARRY ELDER, (R) CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR IN CALIFORNIA RECALL ELECTION: I believe that there might very well be shenanigans, as it were, in the 2020 election.

My fear is they're going to try that in this election right here and recall.


JACOB SOBOROFF, CORRESPONDENT FOR NBC NEWS AND MSNBC: Will you accept the results of the election tomorrow?

ELDER: I think we all ought to be looking at election integrity, no matter whether you're a Democrat, an Independent, or a Republican.

SOBOROFF: Is that a commitment to accept the results--

ELDER: Let's all--

SOBOROFF: --of the election tomorrow?

ELDER: --let's all do that together.


CUOMO: Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California, was called "The Terminator," right? That may be Elder's new nickname, because he terminated the chances, of any likelihood of getting rid of Gavin Newsom.

For weeks, Larry Elder, now the leading Republican, in California's recall election, and that's really the issue, how? How did someone like this, wind up getting, to the top of the heap, on the Republican side?

But what's he doing? More of the same toxicity, laying the groundwork to baselessly call fraud, in this election, a familiar refrain in today's GOP.

Let's bring in Michael Smerconish, about what this recall election tells us, about the state of play.

It's good to see you, brother. If Newsom staves off, with a 50-plus percentage vote, tonight, so that he doesn't get recalled, what does that say to you?


I see a headline in tomorrow's "L.A. Times" that says "Elder saves Newsom," because I think that Gavin Newsom was in trouble, until the emergence of Larry Elder.

And what Newsom was able to do was no longer make this a referendum, on his role, as Governor of California, but instead, to present this as a two-person race, in a state that has twice as many Democrats, as it does Republicans.

And so, I think it played right into the hands of Governor Newsom. It's not over yet. We don't know how it ends, for sure. But I'm already kind of wondering what would have been the outcome, if Larry Elder had never gotten into the race.

By the way, Larry Elder, as you know, Chris, is going to say he was treated unfairly by the media, that there was all this analysis, on things he had said, over the last three decades, to the exclusion of focusing on Gavin Newsom. So, I expect that will be more what we'll hear from him than claims of fraud in the election.

And if the polling is accurate, the margin won't be that close. And it'll be very, very difficult to lay it off on shenanigans.

CUOMO: Right. But don't sell it short. Put up the poll. It is such an appetizing idea, for people on the Right, right now that there is fraud.

59 percent believe the "Big lie," as a Republican. Now, I believe that's not as much about the substance, as it is about the idea, of belonging. And that they now believe you have to believe that, in order to be on that team.

It's like a new thing, like believing the Jets will be good this year, you know? You know it's not really true. But you have to, to consider yourself a fan.

Now, two things to me, and then I want your take on it.

One, Newsom was clever. Newsom didn't talk about himself. He did what the Democrats often complain about, which is he just bashed the other guy.

We're calling it in the media, "Nationalizing the election." But what he really did was just attack that "Elder is another Trump." Biden came there, and said, "Elder is just another Trump."

So really, they were playing that game of just bashing the other guy, and it helped him. What does that mean?

SMERCONISH: So, you're right about that.

I think there was some additional strategy that frankly, I got wrong, and didn't understand, at the outset, when a couple of weeks ago, the Newsom campaign, and the Democratic leadership in California, said to folks, "Don't even vote on question two. Don't even vote."

And I thought, "Man, that's kind of nutty," because they're diluting the population, who will pick a successor, if on question one, Newsom goes down?

But I think that the strategy there, the psychology was, to not even give heft to that huge field of candidates, and then, in the end, to focus only on Larry Elder, and to make the point, "Well, of course, we're not going to get rid of Gavin Newsom. We're not even going to have a conversation about the others. And oh, that Elder guy, wow! Would he be out of touch with California?"

May I say what really concerns me about the "Big lie," and the spread of this, as a strategy? That Drew Griffin piece, that package that we've all, been watching, on CNN, which, puts together all the pieces of what went on in Trump-world post-election.

My big takeaway was how people on a local level - you know, Chris? The person that you go in, when you're going to vote, and there's a man or a woman sitting there, and they're getting paid nothing, or next to nothing, but they're all part of the integrity of the system?

It's become so vicious that I worry that good people are going to say "The hell with it. I'm not getting involved," just as right now they're saying, "I'm not getting involved in a school board, because I've got to put up with these vax-obstinate people."

We are driving good people out of government. And you know who's going to fill the void? The nuts!


CUOMO: Well, look, the proof is in the participation. Even though Elder loses by like 66 percent to 69 percent, to "Anyone else," in the polling, Larry Elder rose to the top, on the Republican side, in a big state of California. What that tells you about the party is probably everything you need to know.

Michael Smerconish, it's good to have you brother, as always, value- added.

SMERCONISH: See you. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right.

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

CUOMO: Lies and conspiracies have held back our pandemic fight. It is all part of the same toxic stew.

And now another influential voice, in the anti-vax movement, is dead from COVID, another conservative radio host. These deaths did not have to happen. Will they change the mind, of any listeners, who followed their lead?

We'll ask an insider, in the conservative talk radio circuit. My man, Broomhead's back!









CUOMO: A fifth right-wing radio host, who spoke out against the COVID vaccines, has died, after contracting the virus, 62-year-old Bob Enyart. He was also a Christian pastor.

He called for a boycott of COVID vaccines. A post on -, home to his radio show, explains why he and his wife refused to get the shot.

"Bob and Cheryl Enyart have sworn off taking the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson vaccines because, as those firms admit, they tested these three products on the cells of aborted babies."

That's not true!

Enyart's wife had also been hospitalized, with COVID, for more than a week, according to a post, on their Church's social media.

These deaths don't have to happen. They can stop. I really, really hope nobody takes any measure of satisfaction, in any way, in reporting anything like this. All life matters, right? It's a tragedy for any family to go through this.

But why? Why are some conservative figures still pushing harmful anti- vaccine messages?

Let's get some perspective on what's working, and what isn't, from the Host of "The Mike Broomhead Show," on KTAR, in Arizona, my bud, Mike Broomhead.

Good to see you!


CUOMO: Man, I don't know if you knew this guy or not, or any of these guys, but I'm sorry. I'm sorry that we're seeing lives like this that don't need to happen. And--

BROOMHEAD: You know what? I didn't. I didn't know - I didn't know any of them. So, but it still is very sad.

CUOMO: Absolutely. I mean, these lives - life is hard enough, without creating easy avenues to demise.

Why isn't it making any difference?

BROOMHEAD: I don't know that it isn't making any difference.

I think that - I think the divide in this country comes from that understanding each side of the argument. I can tell you here, in the State of Arizona, where our governor has been pretty adamant, against mandates, as have I, I'm not a big mandate person.

But when our governor went to all the churches, churches, synagogues, temples, across Arizona, the major ones, and sat down and, and talked with them, and said, "Listen, we are not going to force you to shut down. But we are asking you to comply," I don't know of a church in Arizona that didn't comply.

And so, they wanted to be good stewards in their community. They wanted to be good in their community. And they did just that. They complied with what the government said, as law-abiding citizens, to be a good example to people around them.

So, I can tell you that an isolated example, as sad as this is, is just that. It's an isolated example.

CUOMO: I hear you, absolutely. I mean, we're talking about five hosts. But I'm saying, in terms of the resonance, you say, maybe it is sinking in.

Here's what I don't get about the anti-mandate thing. I don't know anybody, who does like government, telling you what to do, in your life, or not. But it really seems to be a strawman argument here, Mike, because we've already made this deal with the government.

Both of our kids get vaccinated with all kinds of vaccines that you don't know and I don't know anything about. And they don't get to go to school, if they don't, so we take them.

Now we're in the middle of a pandemic. People aren't taking the vaccine. People like us, who took it, our lives are being compromised, as some kind of tyranny of a minority.

What other option is there?

BROOMHEAD: Well, and this is the - the pushback on that is two things.

First of all, I want to make very, very clear. I got vaccinated the very first opportunity. We had State Farm Stadium, where the Arizona Cardinals play. And I went down, in March, at 2 o'clock and 3 o'clock, in the morning, on two separate occasions, to get the Pfizer Vaccine. So, I'm fully vaccinated.

But we also know that there is a waiver form, in schools, for parents that haven't vaccinated their kids, for years and years and years, because we believe that with those vaccines, the kids that are at risk, are the kids that aren't vaccinated.

I think that there are reasonable people out there that have arguments that say, "Why would I get a vaccine that's been experimental, until recently? Only one of the three vaccines are approved by the FDA."

And then they go on to say other things about "I'm young, and healthy, and have a great chance of surviving. So, it's more of a reasoned decision to not get vaccinated."

I'm not agreeing with it. I'm vaccinated. But I don't relegate those people to either bad citizens that they don't care, and that they are - they're just horrible people or stupid. I just think they're making a different decision than you and I would have made. CUOMO: I'm with you. It's just about the basis of it, especially because it reeks of politics, because you have this overweighting, on the Right, of people, who are vaccine-resistant. And that has to have something to do with politics. Otherwise, it would be a weird metric to have.

And how is this not a law and order issue? This is what we need to do. You say you believe in that.

BROOMHEAD: But it's not just people on the Right. It's not just--


CUOMO: It's not just people on the Right. But it is disproportionately people on the Right.

BROOMHEAD: Again, I think that when the government starts telling us, what we have to inject, into our bodies, I understand why people push back.

I would - again, I'm kind of got my feet in two boats. I'm vaccinated. I would tell people I had absolutely no side effects. It worked well, for me, because of the life I live. I got vaccinated. I've told other people that.

But what I would never do is assume to - presume to tell somebody else that I know what's best for them, to put in their body, or they wouldn't.

What I will say to this is about these five people that died that are anti-vaxxers? Everybody in my family, prior to my parents, and including my parents, for a while, were smokers. We have cancer that's riddled my family.

And it was sad to see them die. But nobody went to their funeral, and pointed their finger, and said, "I told you so." It was sad that they went, and they should have known better.

But that's why you and I lead a healthier lifestyle. I'm 54-years-old.

CUOMO: Right.

BROOMHEAD: I want to be 94, if I can, you know?

CUOMO: No, I hear you. It's just that, look, that's why you can't smoke, in a lot of places, because once your freedom of choice starts to affect somebody else's, that's where the - that's where the line is. And here, if you don't get vaccinated, it creates risk for others.

But I'm hearing you. And I'll tell you one point, I hope everybody takes away--


CUOMO: --because I got to jump, Mike, is this.


CUOMO: Somebody who doesn't arrive at the same conclusion doesn't make them a bad person.


CUOMO: Now, once you talk to them, and you figure out what their reason is, you may conclude, well they're doing this out of politics, there's going to be a consequence for what they do.

Rights come with responsibilities.


CUOMO: But the idea of dismissing everybody the same way, it's clearly gotten us in trouble.

Mike Broomhead, I'm glad you're healthy. Thank you for helping us, understand, the other side. Appreciate you.

BROOMHEAD: And I always appreciate you let me speak my mind, Chris. You're a great guy! Thank you.

CUOMO: You got it. Stay healthy. I'll talk to you soon.


CUOMO: Now, look, Broomhead is a conservative, which means he values the integrity of information and the truth. And that's why he tells you things that he thinks he can verify.

There are a lot of people, not him, putting out misinformation. That's a form of disease also. And sadly, it is spread by leadership as well. And there's evidence in this, in a bizarre moment, from today's Senate hearing.

A Republican badgering Secretary of State, Blinken, who by the way, has tough questions to answer, and he hasn't answered them all well, but nonsense about pressing a button to cut off Biden?

This is the kind of stuff that you have to take, expose, and remove. Next.








CUOMO: #BOLO, Be On the Look-Out. More Republicans are buying into yet another big lie that there's some kind of secret button-pusher, who has the power to mute the President of the United States.

At a hearing, focused on Afghanistan, Republican Senator Jim Risch decided to use most of his time, to press Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, about this.

Here it is.


SEN. JAMES RISCH (R-ID): Somebody in the White House has authority, to press the button, and stop the President - cut off the President's speaking ability and sound. Who is that person?

Somebody has the ability to push the button, and cut off his sound, and stop him from speaking. Who is that person?

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: There is - there is no such person.

RISCH: Are you telling this committee that this does not happen, that there's no one, in the White House, who pushes the button, and cuts him off, in mid-sentence?

BLINKEN: That's correct.

RISCH: You're telling us, you don't know anything about this that somebody cuts him off in mid-sentence? Is that what you're trying to tell this committee?


RISCH: Because everybody here has seen it.

BLINKEN: Senator, I'm telling you, based on my own experience, with the President, over the last 20 years, anyone who tried to stop him, from saying what he wanted to say, speaking his mind, would probably not be long for their - for their job.


CUOMO: What's the fact? The "Mute button" that Risch, at one points, refers to, appears to originate from an RNC tweet. It hones in on a White House feed, cutting off, as Biden speaks to Idaho officials, about the fire crisis, out West.

So, I guess it's true! Oh, wait! The RNC fails to point out that the moment is listed on the President's schedule, as an out-of-town pool spray. What does that mean?

What it means - my microphone's falling off. Is somebody stopping me? No. It's just a mic falling off. It was planned. Look, here's the point. The press pool, following Biden, comes in

briefly, for pictures, then, they're ushered out. This happens all the time, SOP, Standard Operating Procedure.

But the Right has been building this lie for months. They'd rather it be something more, like this.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: This presidency feels like a never- ending Silver Alert. Except, every day, we wake up, and realize anew that this missing senior citizen is actually living in the White House, as the country is being run into the ground by whoever's pulling his strings.

DANA LOESCH, RADIO AND TV HOST: You know why people are muting Joe Biden? Joe Biden can't talk about any of this. It's a walking cringe fest.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: This is a guy, who is clearly not doing well.

Now, Joe is clearly getting worse.


CUOMO: Look, it's ludicrous, but it's dangerous. Again, it was a pool spray, and then they cut the sound. It happens all the time. There is no person. There is no button.

Even after this exchange with Blinken, Risch went on Trump TV, to talk more BS.


RISCH: From time to time, his sound is cut off, whether he's in the White House, or in other places. Sometimes, he's hustled off, off the stage, where we can't - or the media can't get answers. Somebody needs to be in charge.



CUOMO: I mean, listen, there are so many legitimate things, to go after, deciding power. Why make things up?

From the senior Republican, on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, what a shame, at a hearing that should be about pressing Blinken, for real answers, on a real crisis, in Afghanistan.

And his colleague Josh Hawley is doing them one better, threatening today, to hold up every single civilian nominee, for the State and Defense Departments, unless Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Blinken, and National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, resign. Look, accountability matters. But to slow-walk key Pentagon officials, when we need them most? I can't see how that keeps us safe. Don't buy the BS.

Look, thanks for watching. Stay tuned.

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