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Sources: Pelosi Pushes For Vote On Biden Spending Bill Tonight, Infrastructure Bill Tomorrow; Deposition Video Shows Giuliani, Powell And Other Trump Allies Under Oath Discussing Debunked Election Fraud Claims; NFL Network: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers Tests Positive For COVID, Is Not Vaccinated. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 04, 2021 - 21:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, thank you, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

Learn or lose. That's the proposition for Democrats. So, question, why would Speaker Pelosi tell her Caucus, earlier, she wanted votes on the Build Back Better bill, tonight, and infrastructure, tomorrow? Why won't they learn the lesson? Don't promise what you can't deliver.

So far tonight, no votes scheduled, as of this program. But it may be worse, if they do vote, on Build Back Better, because they know the Senate is not ready to pass it, because of their own party.

The Speaker also chose to put four weeks of paid family and medical leave, back in the $1.75 trillion plan, after scrapping it, to get Senator Manchin on board. But he's still locked, in the same position, he's been articulating, for months, and says that paid leave has to be in a different bill, not the reconciliation bill. So why put it in?

The Democrats are acting like they're playing games with the out- party. But this is their, own party. Why air your incongruence, openly? To expose Manchin as the problem, right? But who loses? The Democrats do, because it is still Democrat dysfunction.

Push back over masks, mandates, bias, policing, these are all symptoms of this growing idea that government doesn't help, can't help, can't help, but mess with people. This is the existential threat to Democrats.

Now perversely, and I'm - they're not in a good position. But they're not in a good position for a good reason. Hear me out. Perversely, one political party is about feeding fears that government cannot do anything. So, it is on the Democrats, to show it can. That's the harder part of the equation.

As my father used to say, may he rest in peace, "Any jackass can kick down a barn. It takes a good man or woman to build one." So there's no question that the Right is making the easy play, play to cynicism.

Now, here's the problem for the Democrats. They're fighting the good fight. That's not me saying so. They said so. That was their pledge.

And, for months now, while promising that we'll show you government can work, "To end the chaos," they've demonstrated that the core of their pledge is a false premise. And if government is not getting things done that help, it is only seen as that which hurts.

And Senator Manchin said that out loud today.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): You wonder what's wrong with the place? I go to work in a hostile working environment, every day. If you're a Democrat, and a Republican is up for election, you're supposed to be against that person.

These are people you're working with. You have an obligation and a responsibility to get something done.


CUOMO: Now, I was tempted to say, "Joe Manchin, who are you working with? You have this dream that the Republicans will work with you. They've done nothing but oppose. And they will do nothing but oppose."

"Oh, what about the infrastructure bill?" That was in the making, for a very long time. On any of the things that the Democrats want to own, they won't work with you.

"Wake up! Welcome to politics." That's what I was tempted to say. But what is that? That's me, feeling the fever, right, of this fatalistic notion, about government that I want, I'm tempted to say to him, "Hey, that's how it works. Hate them! They're your enemy!" But that's not the way it's supposed to work.

And this isn't about the Democrats "Not getting it." That's lazy. That's an easy media narrative. It's appetizing. But it's not accurate.

They get it. Proof?


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: People want us to get things done. They want us to get things done.


CUOMO: They get it. They're just not getting it done. And if Democrats want to get reelected, they need to ask why they are not getting it done. And the answer is the man and woman in the mirror. It's not just Joe Manchin.

Listen, I'll tell you why it's not Joe - and no, I'm not defending Joe Manchin, OK? Just because he's got Italian blood doesn't mean that we're on the same page. I've only met the guy once or twice, in my life, in-person. And his positions have strengths and weaknesses, like the rest of them.

But Manchin has always been where he is, on these policies. He said it in a letter, remember? So, why would the Democrats put out something that they knew they couldn't deliver within their own party? Think about that.


You're trying to prove that government can work. And you're going to make a play that, you know, you can't even get done in-house, let alone with the other side? Who takes the blame? Because that's stupid, that's bad politics. It's bad leadership. It's bad governance.

Biden takes the brunt. Why? Because he's the President. It's his agenda. The buck should stop with him. But here's my problem with that. Joe Manchin sent that letter to Joe Biden? No.

Who did he send that letter to? Who signed it, acknowledging that they knew, where Joe Manchin was, on all these things that since have come as a surprise? That wasn't Joe Biden.

That was this man.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Democrats are closer than we've ever been.

We're going to keep working, keep working, till we get this done.


CUOMO: You're working against yourselves. That's not what the people wanted. Working sounds like you're doing the voters' business. You're not. You're fighting with your own. "Until we get this done," where have you been?

Senator Chuck Schumer is not a camera-shy guy, until lately. He may pick friendly venues, where he's not going to get pushed too hard. But that doesn't make him unusual.

What makes him unusual is that is not delivering, as the Leader of the Senate. We hear more about Mitch McConnell within the Democrat dealings than we do the Democrat leader.

Chuck Schumer couldn't even get his own pick for mayor, in his state, New York, the city, Buffalo. He couldn't even get her elected, Tuesday.

He backed a socialist. He took that big step, to the left, told people, "This is the person." She won the primary, beat the incumbent, but then, likely got beaten by the same incumbent, in a write-in campaign. A write-in? That's usually an "Other," right?

"Who did you - who did you vote for?"

"Oh, I wrote in." "Who?"

"Mickey Mouse?"

Right? Those are the stories you hear. When is the last time a write- in candidate won, in a major race, against the candidate that the Senate Leader, set to vote for, and got trounced, if the returns are right. We got to see. We got to wait. Doesn't look good for Schumer, or the Democrats!

You said "Government can work. Give us a chance." You haven't even gotten your own party together. You were weighed and measured and found lacking, Tuesday, and with good reason.

If you want to restore faith in government? And you should want that. You are fighting the good fight. You're just not fighting it well. You have to show that you are better than the hate parade, on the Right. Otherwise, you're just fueling their fire. You are now proof of their case of government dysfunction.

So far, the people believe you have failed. Now, the good news is, for Democrats, you still got time. These weren't the midterms. The media just - we're just treating it like they were. But they weren't, right?

But, you, having time, so what, if, you don't plan to change? That's why I started with the questions about Pelosi's tactics. Pass the infrastructure bill. Get the win. See where that takes you.

Now, on the theory, that now even when you pass, all these goodies, for people, in the infrastructure, and the Build Back Better bill?

And be clear, I think a straight read on it is you have much-needed measures coming to more people than have been helped in a generation. But even when it passes, the work is tainted. Democrats need to show government can fix the real problem now.

This will be good for you. But people aren't going to forget how this happened. You know? There's this notion, on the Left, and with their buddies, in the media that "As long as we pass it, all this process, nobody cares." Yes, they do. Yes, they care. You just saw on Tuesday that they care.

So, here's what you got to do. You have to face the existential question. Can we make government work? And if you're going to prove that it can, you have to do it on the signature issue, securing the signature expression of voice, voting. And it may take a filibuster shift. And I get the arguments on both sides of that.

But, right now, this toxic two-party system? There is no motivation for cooperation. And, for the Democrats, "But Manchin?" it's not good enough. "But Manchin?" Keep saying that, and you're going to all be back home, living in them, not in power.


Yoda, "Do or do not, there is no try." Working hard is expected. Results are all that matter. The existential question is not whether or not Democrats get the mood. It's whether or not they can make government work. And I think it is an open question, whether or not it can.

Let's take it to the better minds, former Republican Ohio Governor, John Kasich, former Republican strategist, Stuart Stevens.

Let's start with the proposition, to both of you, good gentlemen. And thank you for being on the program.

Do both of you believe that in this system, with our two parties, toxic, as it is that government can work?

Governor Kasich?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR COMMENTATOR, (R) FORMER OHIO GOVERNOR: Absolutely, it can work. But government really usually needs to be a last resort, not a first resort, because of the bureaucracy connected to it.

Chris, I agree with much of what you said. And I've been saying, for months now, that they need to pass the infrastructure bill. I mean forget this "Build Back Better," whatever it is. Pass the infrastructure bill.

Take it to the House. If the progressives won't vote for it, then Biden goes to the Republicans, and say, "I need you." And if they don't vote for it, he travels the country, and he makes this point that "Nobody wants to cooperate. I'm going to force them to cooperate. I'm going to get this done."

On the Build Back Better bill, Manchin just said it. I heard it just here on - I saw a scroll, just before I came on the show. "Break that big package up, into things that people can understand."

I mean, people do care about a child tax credit. They do care about family leave. Break it up. Don't shove it all through. Figure out how you're going to pay for it.

And then also, in the group-think, inside the White House, you got to have people telling the President the truth. Everybody can't tell him what he wants to hear.

And finally, what is his passion? What does he really feel strongly about? I can't figure out what it is right now, Chris. And they need to get an issue that can relate to all Americans, beyond all this.

And I'll give you one. I'm kind of involved with it, and, so is your - so is your brother-in-law, the issue of mental health, touches every American, for kids, for adults. You can rally around something like that. You can get this kind of thing done.

CUOMO: Hmm! Ah, well look, on the last point, Stuart, to bounce it over to you, it's way past time.

Every family we know, your - Kasich's family, Stevens' family, Cuomo's family, if we don't believe that we are directly connected to, or care deeply, about someone, who struggles with mental health, the same way we see with physical health, right, it's all the same, we just call it different things, because of the stigma, we're lying. So, we're way past due on it.

But the Governor's quick rush, to say "Yes, government can work," where's the confidence, in that position, come from, though, Stuart, when your party is resolutely against doing anything with the Democrats?

So how can government work? And are the Democrats may be fighting the good fight, but to no effect? They can't even get it through their own side.


I think it's really important that Democrats understand that this isn't a normal time. I think they're looking at this, and thinking it's back, when the Governor, was in Congress, and getting things done.

You have a party - you can't negotiate with a party that doesn't believe that you're a legally-elected president. And that's the reality here.

So, to me, when people talk about three parties, there really are three parties now. There's a party of "No," which are Republicans.

And then there's two parties, inside the Democratic Party, which ultimately can be a strength, and that it reflects more of the diversity in the country, and the - but it's a great challenge.

And you have to come to grips between call it the Biden wing, and call it the Bernie Sanders' wing. And that battle is going to decide, I think, the future of major policy issues.

But they have to conduct this with the appreciation that what this is really about is preserving democracy, because if they lose the House, it's not going to be Kevin McCarthy, who's Speaker. It's going to be Jim Jordan, double (ph) Kevin McCarthy's head on a spike.

And it's going to be just absolute madness. And they'll move into 2024, and support Donald Trump. And we're off to the races of any democracy, like we know it.

So, act like that. Act like democracy is at stake. And I think that'll change how you feel about whether or not it's $1.8 trillion or $1.6 trillion, because ultimately, 20 years from now, that's not going to be remembered, but whether or not we lost democracy will.

CUOMO: Governor, last word to you, quickly, about whether or not you believe that the hill to die on, is securing the democracy, specifically, the right to vote? KASICH: Yes, I think it's very important. I think they have a reasonable bill there that Joe Manchin helped put together. And they ought to try to move on that.

But frankly, Chris, to me, the number one thing Democrats should do is pass the infrastructure bill. Republicans supported it in the Senate. Put it to them in the House, and force them, up or down, for it or against it. That's what I would do.


And either way, if you're the President of the United States, you'll be a winner. Whether you win that vote, or whether you don't, you'll be a winner.

Get it done. People want it. Everybody in this country understands highways, bridges, airports. They want this fixed. That'll show them that government can be capable of working.

CUOMO: Governor Kasich, Stuart Stevens, appreciate you both.

STEVENS: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: What does a leading progressive voice, make of her party's ongoing struggles? Let's turn to Congresswoman Katie Porter, smart as they come. Do we believe that the Democrats know how to do better? Next.








CUOMO: If you're looking for something, that's a window, into the state of play here, take a look at the White House, pushing back, against this statement, from Virginia moderate, Abigail Spanberger.


She seemed to suggest that Biden's agenda is far bigger than what voters wanted, and why they put him, in office. Quote, "Nobody elected him to be FDR."


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: This is not too much. This is what needs to happen. And it should have happened, decades ago. It's been some time, since we actually invested in our country, and invested in American public.


CUOMO: You should have invested, in dealing with your own party, and figuring out what you could pass, before you went out with the offer. That's what would have made sense.

Moderate Democrats, by the way, don't agree with what you just heard. That's why Biden is still having to make calls tonight, to get them on board, especially in the Senate, where the Senate Leader, for the Democrats, Schumer, when is the last time, you saw him, talking about what - how he's getting it done?

So, where do things stand? Let's bring in a truly better mind, Deputy Chair of the Progressive Caucus, Congresswoman Katie Porter.

I generally know better than to go toe-to-toe with you. I'm generally bringing you on here, to explain things. But tonight, I got the facts on my side.

It is political malpractice, to push out something, when you don't even have it through your own ranks. And your party, not your caucus, but your party keeps making the same mistake.

Even Pelosi, trying to have a vote, tonight, on the Build Back Better bill, why, when, you know, you're not, going to get it through the Senate? What's your party up to?

REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): Well, look, we have a bicameral legislation. That means we have a - legislature. That means we have a House and a Senate. One of us has to go first.

And, in this case, at this point, it's pretty clear that the House needs to act first, on the Build Back Better Act. And I think we are all prepared to do that. The negotiations and conversations, when I just walked back, from the Capitol, were ongoing, but wrapping up. And I think we will vote to pass this bill tomorrow.

CUOMO: Which bill?

PORTER: The Build Back Better Act. And also, we will pass the infrastructure bill, tomorrow. I think we're going to pass them, on the same day, and send them over. And the Build Back Better Act will then go over to the Senate. The infrastructure bill will head to the President's desk, for signature.

CUOMO: All due deference, and I am a big fan of "Schoolhouse Rock," so, I always like understanding how a bill becomes a law.

But, but, this is your own party that you're doing this with. It makes perfect sense, if you were playing against your opponents. But you're not. And this is stuff that you're supposed to do in-house, figure out, go to your leadership, get the votes, and then worry about how to fight the other side.

How can people believe that government can get things done, with Democrats, when Democrats can't get things done with Democrats?

PORTER: Well, first, Democrats have gotten things done this year. Well, unemployment rate is low. Wage growth is up. GDP is growing.

We have shots in arms. We delivered money, to help people with Coronavirus. We've taken action, to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. And we've protected public lands. So, we have gotten things done, already, this year.

There is no doubt that we need to get these bills finished. We need to get them done. We need to see what the Senate does with them. But I think we are on a path to doing that.

And the end is coming very, very soon, literally, I think, within the next 24 hours. And I am very, very ready, as I know the American people are, to get these bills passed.

Look, Chris, people understand that debate, and disagreement, whether it's within a party, or between parties, is part of democracy. This is not the easiest form of government.

But this is a form of government that we're committed to, because we think it reaches the best results, and gives the most opportunity, for that debate, that makes the best policy. That is exactly what we're trying to do, tonight.

CUOMO: Representative, do you believe, that the mandate, that was delivered, to the Democrats, was the voters saying, "We're OK, if you guys can't agree on things, within your own party?"

PORTER: Well, with regard to the election results that we saw, this week, look, the American people had some struggles that we're facing.

We're dealing with high child care costs. We're dealing with climate change. Those were problems on Monday. The election came on Tuesday. Those are still problems on Wednesday. They're still problems today.

So, there's no doubt that the biggest problem we have, in politics, in our country, is that Americans have distrust, of both Democrats and Republicans. They're constantly unsure, who in Washington, they can count on, to fight for them.

And I think it's incumbent on each one of us. I certainly take this to heart, each and every day, to try to get up, and show the American people that I'm putting their interests first.

Until one party or the other figures out how to convince the American people that we will do that day in, day out, year in, year out, we're going to keep seeing these movements, back and forth, between Democrats and Republicans, as we did in the last two elections.

CUOMO: But when the Democrats make the promise, "We can make government work, and end the chaos," and then you spend months, fighting yourselves, and having leadership, not get it done?

[21:25:00] Again, all due respect, I've known Nancy Pelosi, my entire life. I do not question her bona fides. This isn't about her. It's about Chuck Schumer, in the Senate. We shouldn't be hearing about Joe Manchin all the time. Joe Manchin is not the leader of the Senate.

When the President said, "Can you get this done?" Chuck Schumer knew, because of that letter that he's supposed to say, "No," Representative Porter.

"I can't get Joe Manchin. Let's not go forward on this. We got to figure it out another way, in House. Let's not go out $3.5 trillion, because I can't get it done. He sent me a letter!"

Can't you blame him?

PORTER: Well, look, I don't think we're going to advance any accomplishments, for the American people, with blame. I think we're going to advance accomplishments, by negotiating, and coming to the table. I, as a parent--

CUOMO: But it's how you learn the lesson.

PORTER: As a--

CUOMO: It's how you learn the lesson.

PORTER: As a--

CUOMO: It's how you learn the lesson, of why this has been stalled so long. That would be my point. Back to you.

PORTER: Well, look, has it been stalled a long time? Yes. Is that frustrating? Yes. Believe you, me, we are frustrated. But the reality is we have the votes we have. Chris, you know it. And I know it. It's simple math.

We have exactly 50 votes in the Senate. We are not able to pass things through normal Senate procedure. So, when someone says, "We ought to break this up, into a bunch of small bills, and do them separately," what they're really saying is we shouldn't pass these things at all.

Because we will not, sadly, in this political environment, get Republicans, to come over, and work, on issues like child care, work on issues, like climate change, work on issues, like prescription drug prices.

And so, we have to do this through reconciliation. And that makes it a bigger, more unwieldy, more difficult, and longer process, than if we were acting, on each one of these issues separately. But if we try to take these issues on, separately, we do not flat-out have the votes.

CUOMO: I think you're right. And I think that you work hard. And I think you work for the right reasons. And that's why I appreciate you being on this show.

PORTER: Yes. CUOMO: But - there is no but. Full stop.

Your party though, and the leadership, better figure it out, because this does not look like making government work, to voters. And you got lucky. That was a warning, on Tuesday. You've got a year-plus to figure it out. Let's see what you do, with the time.

Congresswoman Katie Porter, always a pleasure. Appreciate you making the case.

PORTER: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: All right.

Now, you know what's nice about when you win? Nobody complains about the elections being fugazi, or rigged. You notice that? GOP just happy with the votes, why? Because they won, remember that.

And remember that their high dudgeon is just deception, and that when they're upset, they're just trying to play to advantage.

"My God! That's a lot of speculation. How dare you? Where's the proof?" Glad you asked! Glad you asked!

We have proof you've never seen before, of just how brazen, ugly and obvious the intentions are. These people are trying to get you to hate what you're supposed to love. And if you don't believe me, see with your own eyes, listen, with your own ears, next.









CUOMO: Never-seen video, obtained exclusively, by CNN's Tierney Sneed, you watch, and see, how obvious, and ugly, the former President's intent is.

Started with lies about "Caravans of Brown people coming for your women, taking your jobs, and bringing drugs," and ended with a mob of Red Hats, convinced to attack the government, trumpeted, as the cause of all that concern.

The proof of his purpose is in his people. You'll see names, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, others, under oath, on camera, depositions, lawsuit, by a former executive, with Dominion Voting Systems, who claims he was defamed, by the Trump campaign, Giuliani, Powell, prominent conservatives.

The defendants are moving to dismiss the case. That's pending. But they did do the depositions. And, on video, you'll hear how they lay out the objective, namely, feeding fears, not with facts. Facts be damned! No proof of truth necessary!

Case in point, a conspiracy theory that has been played, mostly for laughs, bizarre claim, made on national TV. "Two American companies were working with a dead Venezuelan dictator." Absurd, yet absorbed! Listen.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP PERSONAL LAWYER: We had a report that the heads of Dominion and Smartmatic, somewhere in the mid-teens, you know, 20, 13, 14, whatever, went down to Venezuela, for a get-to-know meeting, with Maduro, so they could demonstrate to Maduro, the kind of vote-fixing, they did for - for Chavez.


CUOMO: Barely say it, let alone believe it! Fallen man! From America's mayor, to Trump's stooge, a former federal prosecutor, who says, repeatedly, he couldn't be bothered to verify, whether any of the claims, he was making, were backed up by facts.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say that Heads of Dominion and Smartmatic?

GIULIANI: Yes, that's what I was told.

Before the press conference, I was told about it.

Sometimes, I go and look myself, on - when stuff comes up. This time, I didn't have the time to do it.

It's not my job, in a fast-moving case, to go out and investigate every piece of evidence that's given to me. Otherwise, you're never going to write a story. You never come to a conclusion.


CUOMO: First of all, it wasn't a case. It was and is a con. And Rudy likely knew it. Now, why would I say that? Because, the Trump camp had a memo, debunking, the claims of election fraud, yet, they didn't say a word.

Under oath, Sidney Powell, forced to admit that getting to the truth, was never an objective.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You had the ear of a number of conservative media outlets. Why did you not ask to provide a statement correcting that these misstatements that you had recorded?

SIDNEY POWELL, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN LAWYER: That didn't seem to be the material part of the inquiry.


CUOMO: Material part! The truth wasn't material?

Now look, you'll say, "Hey, look, in politics, they all lie." That's not true. But you can feel that way. I understand why you would, if you don't have good reason to be cynical right now.

But just know, if you, or anyone, decides to still put stock, in Trump sludge, you now know, you are buying a bunch of lies, designed to destroy confidence in government.

Listen to the response to why the Trumpets would ignore a report that corrected their assertions, done by the Department of Homeland Security, on the integrity of the election.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm asking if the Trump campaign read this and considered it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would they not have read this? It comes from the U.S. government.

DOLLMAN: Objective form of foundation.


CUOMO: Rudy's justification for spreading sputum is that "Everybody does it!"

So, what we have here is a battle to the bottom. What does that mean, for where we're all headed? For that, we're going to turn to Norm Eisen, next.









CUOMO: The Chair of the January 6 committee says about 20 new subpoenas are going out, quote, "Soon." This, as lawyers, for the former President, appeared in court, to try and keep documents, about the Capitol riot, secret.

Let's discuss, whether, government works well enough, to uncover the truth, with Norm Eisen.

What's the answer?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, HOUSE JUDICIARY SPECIAL COUNSEL IN TRUMP'S FIRST IMPEACHMENT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS CZAR: The answer is, yes. It's already starting to uncover the truth. And Chris, it now will be up to the D.C. Circuit, to prove me right or wrong.

CUOMO: So, you go through. You get the documents. You see that Trump was talking to people. There was some kind of knowledge. There was a semblance of suggestion that "Let's see what happens." He was too quiet for too long. Then what?

EISEN: Well, the thing that happens next is that we see the devastating consequences of the insurrection. And I think we're going to get these additional documents. And I think they're going to have some very explosive information.

And when this - it's clear that Judge Chutkan is going to open the door, Chris. And I think, on appeal, it's going to move quicker than some fear.

CUOMO: Am I wrong, to be cynical, about the impact of the outcome, to see - I see support for Trump, as people, using him as a proxy, for their animus, against the entire system. He has never been an antidote. He has always been a virus, injected into the political corpus, to make it sick, because people hate it.

Will that change?

EISEN: Chris, I think we've already seen a national dawning, as to what Trump represents. And, as these facts come out, they will have impact.

That is why this litigation, the civil libel litigation, you were talking about, earlier on this show, this litigation, over the committee's subpoenas, they're getting to the truth. People do pay attention to the truth. And that truth inoculates against the virus of lies and hate that you're talking about.

CUOMO: I'm with you. But so much of the truth is about, or people accepting something is true, it's about who's telling them it. And that's why I have some hope, for this iteration, because it's about documents.

You can't like or dislike documents. They're documents. They say what they say. They mean what they say. And hopefully, if you get paper, people will see it, as a reasonable basis, to make, an informed opinion.

Norm Eisen, you are always part, of an informed opinion. Thank you for being on the show.

EISEN: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Now, I'm off tomorrow night. But the game is on!

You're going to have a CNN Special Report, "TRUMPING DEMOCRACY: AN AMERICAN COUP," right in this slot, tomorrow night.

All right, sports world, star quarterback, benched for Sunday, after testing positive for COVID. So, what? It happens, right? Not like this.

Aaron Rodgers, big deal, lots of commercials, his words and actions, up to this point, bring a whole new set of questions, to the issue of pro athletes, and this virus.

Let's see what Bob Costas thinks. Aaron Rodgers, what's the action that's needed to be taken here? Next.









CUOMO: The fugazi-o-meter is going "Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding," up against the needle, why? Because this does not smell good, what's going on with the Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He's not playing this Sunday against the Chiefs. "COVID protocols," says the Head Coach. But what does that mean?

The NFL Network and ESPN say that the quarterback has tested positive, for the virus. Wish him well. Hope he recovers quickly. Hope he's asymptomatic.

And they report he is not vaccinated, which makes this statement, from the MVP, back in August, all the more perplexing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you vaccinated? And what's your stance on vaccinations?

AARON RODGERS, GREEN BAY PACKERS QUARTERBACK, NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE: Yes, I've been immunized. You know, there's a lot of - a lot of conversation, around it, around the League, and a lot of guys, who have made statements, and I've made statements, owners who made statements.

You know those guys on the team that haven't been vaccinated? I think it's a personal decision. I'm not going to judge those guys.


CUOMO: Is he one of those guys? He said "I'm immunized." He didn't say "I'm vaccinated." Could mean the same thing, could not mean the same thing.

Same Aaron Rodgers, who was not seen observing, any of the protocols, for unvaccinated players, since training camp opened, in late July. And here he is, partying, it up, for Halloween, with some of his teammates.



CUOMO: What's going on? Is he vaccinated or not? Why don't we know that answer? Or why isn't it reaffirmed immediately? And if he isn't, what should the penalty be?

Bob Costas, what's your take, brother?

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he is not vaccinated.

What happened, Chris was that, at some point, during training camp, or just before, he petitioned the NFL, to be listed as "Vaccinated." He had apparently sought some sort of homeopathic remedy. The NFL rejected that petition. So, he has officially been unvaccinated, the entire season.

And the proof of that is that unvaccinated players and, they comprise now, only about 5 percent of NFL rosters, unvaccinated players have to be tested, every single day. Vaccinated players are tested once a week.

There are also other obvious protocols, involving unvaccinated players. They're not supposed to travel on team charters. They have to get there separately. They're not allowed to leave their rooms, for any other reason, except team meetings, and the games themselves, when they're on the road. They have to be separated by six feet in the locker room.

CUOMO: Sure.

COSTAS: They have special lockers, often with Plexiglas between them.


COSTAS: They're supposed to wear masks, at all times, when at a team facility. So, it would be obvious that the team had to know, because they're testing him every day. The League knew.

CUOMO: If they are testing him every day.

COSTAS: Now, if you want to give Aaron--

CUOMO: If they are testing him every day.


CUOMO: I mean, I think it's a really--

COSTAS: Yes, the supposition--

CUOMO: --it's a really honest question, as to whether or not Aaron Rodgers has been able to do whatever the hell he wants to do, because of who he is.


CUOMO: And if so, and this all gets blown up, what should the penalty be?

COSTAS: Well, both he and the team could be liable for penalties.

There have been teams, already, that have been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars. And the Saints and the Raiders lost low-round draft picks, for failing to follow the protocols, as carefully as they should have followed them.

When it comes to Aaron himself, there are a lot of people already in the media, who cover the NFL, on a daily basis, which I no longer do, who have labeled him a "Liar."

If you want to be extremely kind, you could say that he was "Disingenuous." He was obviously comfortable with most of the media, and football fans, nearly unanimously believing that he was vaccinated.

The other thing about this is, when people say, "It's a personal choice," I don't want to be overly glib about this, but it's a personal choice, whether or not to get a tattoo, or whether you're going to have the sushi or the pizza.

But it's not a personal choice, when it affects other people, not only their health, for obvious reasons, but in the case of athletes, on a team, it affects your team, and their chance to win.

An unvaccinated player, even if he's asymptomatic, must be quarantined, for at least 10 days. So, he misses not just this weekend's game, against Kansas City. The earliest he could return, without having practiced, or been part of any team meetings, is the day before their next home game, against Seattle. So, in effect, he could miss two games.

They're seven and one. They're vying not just for a playoff spot, but perhaps for the number one seat, in home-field, and a buy, and all those things. And he's put that in jeopardy.

How is that solely a personal decision, when you're not only part of a team, you're the single most important component of the team? The quarterback in football is the single most--

CUOMO: Right.

COSTAS: --important position, in all the team sports. That's obvious.

CUOMO: Here's what I want to see. I want to see Aaron Rodgers--


CUOMO: --assuming that he's healthy enough, own it. Say that you're not vaccinated. You can say why? Say what you did, say what you didn't do, be straight. You're too important to the League, for them to do anything that bad to you anyway. But own it.

Because I'm telling you what's going to happen right now, Bob. No matter what comes out about him, it is going to be a reinforcement, for exactly every color of cynicism, and suck, we have going on, about COVID.

People who are anti-vax, or hesitant, or against mandates, or getting fueled, into this thing of "Big Brother," all the time, they're going to support him, even though it may be the case that he's done everything wrong.

And, then on the other side, people are going to want to see him canceled. Now, I don't think that's right either.

But I want to hear him own it. That's what we need. That's what everybody needs, the fans, society, someone to just own the truth.

COSTAS: Well, no matter how anti-facts, anti-science, anti-common sense, some of the anti-vaxxers are, people like Carson Wentz, and Cole Beasley, and Kirk Cousins, in the NFL, are more - and are more celebrated, if that's the right word, certainly the more focused-upon case of Kyrie Irving, in the NBA, say whatever else you want, they've all owned it. They've all come out, and said, "This is what I believe. This is what I'm doing."

Aaron Rodgers was disingenuous about it. And I think his reputation - he's one of the greatest players of all time. That's obvious. But his reputation is going to take a hit out of this. He may get some support. But, on balance, his reputation is going to be hurt.


CUOMO: We'll see how he handles it. We'll see how he handles it.

Bob Costas? I'll tell you how you handled it. You're a pro. Thank you very much, always a plus.

COSTAS: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, let's take a breather, come right back with the handoff.


CUOMO: Thank you for watching. It is now time for the big show, "DON LEMON TONIGHT," with its big star, D. lemon, coming to you early.


CUOMO: Because you deserve the time.

LEMON: Well, so I'm walking into the studio, and I look up at the monitor, as I'm walking in, and I see on your thing, "Aaron Rodgers tests positive for Coronavirus, not vaccinated," what?


LEMON: What?


LEMON: Why is he still working? Do you know how many people he comes in contact with?


LEMON: Do you know how many lives that, or at least people's lives, he put in potential jeopardy, of getting sick and beyond? Why is he being allowed to - nobody else can do that. I can't. I have to be vaccinated, to come into this building.

CUOMO: You know how much he matters to that team?

LEMON: Everybody matters! Everybody matters!

CUOMO: Not the same!

LEMON: Yes, yes.

CUOMO: Not the same!

LEMON: No, no, no, no, no.