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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Excerpts From "Washington Post" Reporters' New Book, "I Alone Can Fix It", On Trump's Final Year In Office; White House Prepares To Fight Back In The COVID Vaccine Disinformation War; President Biden Meets With Democratic Senators As Trillion-Dollar Spending Plan Looms; Britney Spears Asks For Legal Action Against Her Father. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired July 14, 2021 - 20:00 ET
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Anderson starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. We begin tonight with breaking news on just how unhinged the final days of the last administration were and how much worse they might have gotten. We have some examples which are just now coming to light.
America's top military commander, comparing then President Trump's rhetoric to Hitler's and his followers to brown shirts, to Nazis. That top commander finding himself rallying subordinates to protect the peaceful transfer of authority, and perhaps even head off a coup. Having to explain to the Speaker of the House that no, this country will not launch a nuclear strike at the whim of who she characterized as an unbalanced President.
These and other chilling scenes are contained in a new book, "I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year." The authors are Pulitzer Prize winning journalists from "The Washington Post" Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. It comes out next week.
CNN has obtained a series of excerpts, each, which is really more alarming than the next.
In this one, General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is reassuring his deputies about preventing a coup attempt. Quoting now from the book, "'They may try, but they're not going to effing succeed,' he told them. 'You can't do this without the military. You can't do this without the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. We are the guys with the guns.'" CNN's special correspondent, Jamie Gangel is doing the reporting on
this for us. She joins us now.
I mean, it's fascinating to hear how far General Milley and what exactly how he saw this. According to -- there are parallels, according the book about what the former President said about the election being stolen, and Adolf Hitler's rhetoric.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Milley was so shaken by Trump's behavior that what he did was, he got together with the other Chiefs -- the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines -- and they planned, they believe there really could be a coup attempt by Trump.
And Leonnig and Rucker write, "Milley view Trump as quote, 'the classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose.'" And then Milley is quoted as saying, "'This is a race dog moment,' Milley told aides, 'The gospel of the furor.'"
Look, we've known that people were concerned that Trump wouldn't leave office. We reported that.
To hear General Milley say this, it is clear when you read the book, he cooperated. There are extensive quotes. To hear him --
COOPER: And he comes off looking pretty good from what I understand.
GANGEL: He does, and let's remember, he had his Lafayette Square, very bad moment.
COOPER: When he apologize for -- he was, I believe in combat fatigues walking with the President and that kind of motley assortment of people from the White House to Lafayette Square.
GANGEL: A very bizarre moment, but to hear General Milley say this is stunning.
COOPER: There were also -- according to this book -- daily check in calls that Milley started to do with Mark Meadows and some others.
GANGEL: So, one of the interesting things about that is in the book, Milley says he was doing it also to keep tabs on Trump, as if by talking to Pompeo and Mark Meadows, he would get a better sense of what's going on.
We should say that Pompeo has denied some of this account to the authors, but there is another extraordinary moment where after January 6, and Milley is seeing the insurrection.
He is now preparing for the inauguration with other law enforcement officials, with the National Guard at Fort Myer, and he is so worried that there is going to be another violent attack by Trump supporters that he says to the other senior advisers quote, "Here's the deal, guys. These guys are Nazis. They're Boogaloo Boys. They're Proud Boys. These are the same people we fought in World War II."
"Everyone in this room, whether you're a cop, whether you're a soldier, we're going to stop these guys to make sure we have a peaceful transfer of power. We're going to put a ring of steel around this city, and the Nazis aren't getting in."
COOPER: That's incredible to hear. There's also a lot of revelations including one after the insurrection, General Milley and Congresswoman Liz Cheney in which Cheney who voted for impeachment describes a confrontation she had. It was during the attack, during the insurrection, Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, kind of I guess -- tell us what happened.
GANGEL: So, Jim Jordan is a staunch ally of President Trump. He is the head of the Freedom Caucus. He is known to make a circus out of things. He is certainly the antithesis on the impeachment of -- you know, Liz Cheney -- he supported it. He supported the impeachment.
GANGEL: So, Milley and Cheney are actually close. They are friends. They talk a lot. They have a phone call.
And in the book Milley says to Cheney -- this is the next day, the seventh -- "How are you doing?" And she recounts this encounter with Jim Jordan and she says, quote, "That effing guy, Jim Jordan, that son of a --" you can read it on the screen, Cheney said, "While these maniacs are going through the place, I'm standing in the aisle, and he said, 'We need to get the ladies away from the aisle. Let me help you.' I smacked his hand away and told him, 'Get away from me. You effing did this?'"
I don't think Liz Cheney felt she needed Jim Jordan's help at that moment.
COOPER: It's probably that during -- and I mean, according to this that, I mean, during the actual insurrection, Liz Cheney saw this as a direct result of Jim Jordan and the other enablers of the former President.
GANGEL: Absolutely. Looking back, we knew about the big lie, and Jim Jordan was close to the President. He was probably calling the President every day a couple of times a week in the weeks leading up to January 6. It was not a surprise to Liz Cheney that this happened, and she feels that Jim Jordan was part of it.
COOPER: I want to bring in also with us -- stay with us -- because I want to bring in our chief political correspondent and "State of the Union" co-anchor, Dana Bash, also CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former F.B.I. Director, Andrew McCabe.
So, Dana, we're talking about concerns from the country's top military officer of an attempted coup by the President of the United States and his allies. It is one of those things you have to kind of step back and just kind of realize, this is so out of the ordinary.
There are clearly a lot of, you know, a lot -- worse things happening behind the scenes according to this than anyone knew publicly. DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And, you
know, it is important to understand and learn this for lots of reasons. But first and foremost, it's because yes, it is history, but it is recent history and it informs what is going on right now.
And that is if General Milley was, you know, saying these things and screaming from the rooftops and having conversations, Jamie is reporting also about this book is that Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker was involved in conversations, then there's no way that the Republican leadership weren't also aware of some of this, even if they didn't have direct conversations with the likes of General Milley.
Those Republican leaders are currently running the G.O.P. and running towards Donald Trump still, right now. And that is one of the things if you look at it from where we are now is so remarkable that even those days, these stories, what happened on January 6 and the days following, if that's not enough for them to say, wow, we have to stand up and separate ourselves from him. It's hard to imagine what is.
COOPER: Andrew, I just want to read this part about the coup again for your reaction. Milley says, "'They may try, but they're not going to effing succeed.' He told them, 'You can't do this without the military. You can't do this without the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. We are the guys with the guns.'" I mean, obviously there's an awful lot of guns out there in circulation. There's a lot of people who do have guns.
But the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs was essentially ready for a showdown with the Commander-in-Chief and comparing him to Hitler.
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, he was apparently and it sounds like he was actually thinking through the mechanics of what a military conflict, a hot conflict would look like and how that would play out here in the capital.
It is absolutely extraordinary. I think it fortunately shines yet another light on the commitment and the dedication of career public servants. This time, of course, General Milley and his team in the military, with the courage to stand up to realize that something was going horribly off the rails with the President of the United States, and that they might be thrown into a terrible, terrible never before thought of or experienced scenario in which they had to do exactly what you suggested, which is stand up to the President himself.
But they were willing to do it because we have those sort of dedicated career professionals serving in government.
COOPER: And also, you know, Andrew, it makes you think about all those people who took part in the insurrection who attacked the Capitol, who call themselves patriots, and that word, "patriot" has now been kind of taken over by far right -- you know, there were far right nationalists who marched, I think it was through Philadelphia the other day calling themselves patriots.
[20:10:05] COOPER: You read what Milley was doing and which you know is obeying
the Constitution. It is standing up to the oath that he and serving members have taken. I mean, that's what a patriot does.
MCCABE: That's exactly right, Anderson, that's exactly right. So, patriot is someone who stays committed to that oath to the Constitution, despite the politics and the craziness that is swirling around him and does the right thing for the American people obeying the law, unlike the direction they were being pushed by the presidency of the United States.
It's just -- it's just absolutely stunning. And the way that that crowd that attacked our Capitol on January 6 has completely coopted the symbology and the terminology of patriotism is an offense and it should be an offense to all Americans. Those are not patriots who threw themselves on the Capitol and threw the doors and windows of the Capitol on January 6, they are not.
BASH: And Anderson, could I just add one thing to that? And that is, the Constitution deliberately set up the balance of power, so to speak, so that there is civilian leadership at The Pentagon, and that the elected President is the Commander-in-Chief.
But in this particular case, according to this new report that Jamie has and the book, it is the military and the military leaders who are trying to protect American democracy and people around this elected official, in this case, the President of the United States.
It's really kind of -- it turns what the founders of America thought on its head.
COOPER: Yes. There's another moment, Jamie in this book that you've learned about where the former President, then President Trump is talking about his strained relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
GANGEL: Well, some of this won't surprise us because we've heard some of this from Donald Trump before, but he is speaking in the Oval Office about Merkel and the Germans. He says "That bitch, Merkel," can we say that on TV? Which I just did, and then he goes on to say, "I know the effing krauts," a very derogatory term. "I was raised by the biggest kraut of them all," and points to a picture of his father.
Again, maybe not surprising, because we've had reporting about the President saying things like this. But another stunning revelation.
COOPER: There is also a report in the book about Pompeo actually going to Milley's house, right, and sitting at the table, which Pompeo is now denying, but the fact that, you know, it's two people sitting at a table, I mean, it seems like it's got to be true, based on the other information they have in this book, what happened?
GANGEL: So, what happened in that case was they both live at Fort Myer. They have houses near each other. And according to the book, they were checking in regularly with each other. Pompeo comes over to Milley's house one day and talks about having to be careful of the crazies, and keeping an eye on all of this.
COOPER: So, the crazies are in control of or the crazies are now, the ones around --
GANGEL: Correct. Pompeo for the record, someone close to Pompeo denies his saying that, but when you look at everything in this book, these are very direct quotes. Carol and Phil are two excellent reporters.
COOPER: And assuming, I mean, if one assumes, and I don't know this for a fact, but based on you know, if Milley did talk to them for this book, or talk to other people who talked to them that, you know, he was the other guy at the table. Pompeo clearly, you know, has visions of himself running for President or having a political career and wants to continue sucking up to the former President.
GANGEL: He is not -- he wants the Trump base. He is planning to run for President by all accounts, and he does not want to --
COOPER: He didn't want to be on record calling them all crazy.
COOPER: Yes, probably a good idea.
GANGEL: One point that Dana raised about the Constitution and something people should understand by General Milley, he believes in civilian authority. He did not want to be doing this planning. So, he was walking a very fine line so that it wouldn't appear, the generals or senior officials were planning something. He was trying to keep the guard rails up to January 20.
COOPER: And Dana, we just know what happens next, which is the Trump world now goes after Milley, which Republicans have already been doing because he talked about critical race theory as being something that --
COOPER: You know, as a manager of an enormous organization, the U.S. Military, he wants to know about all these theories just like he wants to know about Maoism and you know, communism.
BASH: Yes, he is a public servant who is steeped in history, who is well read and well-educated, the kind of public servant we should all want. And I totally agree with Jamie that based on the account in this book that he was trying to walk that fine line and knowing that he wears a uniform, and is not an elected official or appointed by one who -- or confirmed by the Congress, as somebody who works in that other branch.
But there's no question, you can write the script that now press release, not tweet anymore, that the former President is going to send out. We all know what it is going to be. But the fact is that people as we get a little bit further away, and as we said at the beginning of this conversation, as the reality of what happened is becoming twisted and warped and whitewashed and the former President continues to lie about things, it clearly is more important and more imperative for the people who were there to pull back the curtain.
And then somebody -- a friend just said to me in a text, it's kind of unbelievable that we knew how bizarre and scary and dangerous it was because we saw it with our own eyes. But now that we're seeing even more, that was behind the curtain, it's even more frightening.
COOPER: Well, also you think about the future. And you know, obviously, this is the, you know, news -- paraphrasing -- you know, the first piece of history, that famous idea, you know, these books are now starting to be written 10 years from now, 20 years from now, once more documents actually come out and you know, e-mails and things and there is the passage of time and historians look at this.
It's not that this President's reputation is going to get any better. I mean, as we learn more and more details, it only gets more and more tarnishing.
Andrew, I mean, according to the book, General Milley tried to stop the former President from firing F.B.I. Director Chris Wray and the C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel. We talked about this a little bit earlier. But I mean, as someone who has served in the F.B.I. at the highest levels, did you get the sense at the time that Director Wray may have been fired or was close to being fired?
MCCABE: You know, I think if you go back Anderson all the way to the beginning of 2017, Jim Comey and I knew and frequently talked about the fact that he could be fired or I could be fired at any time. And so, I think that serving under Donald Trump, particularly in the role of Director of the F.B.I. came with that understanding.
It would not surprise me at all if several times during the course of the service for Donald Trump, Director Wray thought he was probably pretty close to the knife, and who is to say why that never actually happened? Maybe it was because people like General Milley came in and made the comments that he did, according to our reporting.
But that's just life in a Trump regime. I think people who are compelled to do the right thing and follow the rules are cognizant of the fact that they will probably get fired for it.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, Dana, I can't imagine anybody working in the Trump orbit who does not now know that there is no such thing as loyalty to this person. And no matter how much you debase yourself, no matter how much you Rudy Giuliani yourself, to toady up to him, in the end, he is going to trample on you, defame you or just disavow you.
BASH: It's a one-way street, and in this time and place for the former President, it is all about -- he talked about his father and according to the quotes in this book, it is all about not committing one of the major sins that his father warned about, which is being a loser.
And all of the lies, all of the conspiracies that he is peddling all boil down to that one trait that he is desperate not to have, and that is to be a loser, to have lost the 2020 election. And that's why he continues to do what he is doing, and that is why anybody who gets in his way by deigning to tell the truth will get steamrolled by him.
And we know as part of that, the people who support him, the conservative media, the social media, all of those who will just take what he says as gospel.
COOPER: Yes. And of course, the irony is he has become and is what he has always feared he would end up being, which is a loser.
Jamie Gangel, appreciate it. Fascinating reporting. Dana Bash, Andrew McCabe, thank you.
Coming up next, what the book has to say about the House Speaker's fears of what she feared was an unbalanced President with nuclear command authority. Former Defense Secretary William Cohen joins us for a perspective on that.
And later, what the current President is doing to rally the country to get vaccinated as the dangerous delta variant threatens to undo months of progress containing COVID.
COOPER: We're talking tonight about the terrifying new book from "The Washington Post's" Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, "I Alone Can Fix It," it is called. "Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year." It comes out next week.
CNN's Jamie Gangel has obtained excerpts of it. In this one, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confronts Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley about the specter of the President ordering a nuclear strike without justification.
Quoting now from the book, quote, "'This guy is crazy,' Pelosi said of Trump. 'He's dangerous. He's a maniac. We have deep concerns.' 'Ma'am, I guarantee you that we have checks and balances in the system,' Milley told her. He walked her through the process in nuclear release authorities. 'Ma'am, I guarantee you these processes are very good,' he said. 'There's not going to be an accidental firing of nuclear weapons.'
'How can you guarantee me?' Pelosi asked. 'Ma'am, there's a process,' he said. 'We will only follow legal orders. We will only do things that legal, ethical, and moral.'"
COOPER: Joining us now, someone intimately familiar with the chain of command, former Defense Secretary William Cohen.
Secretary Cohen, appreciate you joining us. As a former Defense Secretary, what do you make of the fact that the House Speaker Pelosi confronted Milley over the possibility of the President of the United States using nuclear weapons inappropriately?
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, I think she was right to be worried. I have said this on multiple occasions, going four years, five years ago, saying I thought that the former President was unfit to be Commander-in-Chief for the reasons I felt at that time were pretty evident.
I think his mercurial nature is impetuous. He has no sense of value for the rule of law. And all of the combination of factors that he exhibited from the time he started running. He made it very clear to me that he would pose a danger.
I had confidence, certainly, in the military and D.O.J. I certainly had confidence in Jim Mattis. And I worried about it, because the former President would say, "Wait until I get in, and I'll get my generals. I'll get my Justice Department, I'll get my judges." And so everything was possessive, my, mine, my, and I worried at that time that he would try and put in place people who would just say yes to him. He could do that in terms of appointing Cabinet positions.
I didn't feel very confident he be able to override the generals who understand the rule of law better than he does.
COOPER: And can you, I mean, kind of walk us through in layman's terms how the chain of command works on ordering a nuclear attack? I mean, you know, we all know about the football. I mean, can the President just get that and launch an attack?
COHEN: The answer is, it would be very -- it's not hard -- almost impossible for him to do. Is it possible? Rarely. Could he ever do this? Because you do have checks. You do have others who are in the chain who have to carry out his order.
There are others who would, number one, they would check through the chain of command through the Secretary of Defense. Would the Secretary of Defense continue to support the President under these circumstances? Would the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs -- would the Chiefs support what the President is ordering?
Now, they're not in the chain of command, I make that very clear. But certainly, if he were to give that order, and the Chiefs are undoubtedly will be consulted on this, I think there would be an absolute walkout en masse on what he was trying to do and send the signal down, "Don't carry this out."
First, you would turn to the Secretary of Defense. Remember Jim Schlesinger during the Nixon years when Jim Schlesinger put the word out to people saying look -- to his military -- if you get any recommendation or command from Richard Nixon to the use of nuclear weapons, do not do it. You check with me.
COHEN: So, there have been checks in the system. Is it possible under some rare circumstance he could do that? I think -- I think it's rare and practically impossible, but not impossible. COOPER: It is also -- I mean, in your long and distinguished career,
did you ever imagine that a general, you know, the position that Milley was in would be concerned -- seriously concerned about a possible coup attempt in the United States and actively talking with others about, you know, how to prevent such a thing. And comparing the former President's rhetoric to Hitler's and followers, you know, some of the followers, the ones attacking the Capitol and also where, you know, some from these far right groups as Nazis.
COHEN: I don't think the full story has been told yet by those who were in the room with the former President. I have talked to a number of them, the top generals. And that story has not fully been told. You've had reporters, two now "Washington Post" great reporters, and I would certainly confirm their legitimacy as far as their sources are concerned and what they are reporting.
But frankly, there are generals who have yet to speak out and that's because they have been trained not to politicize the military. Their goal has been yes, I'll support the Commander-in-Chief provided what he tells me, what he commands me is legal, is ethical, and moral.
And if he gives me an order which doesn't meet that test, I have a duty to step up and resign and tell the world why I'm resigning.
And so it's hard to believe we've come to this point, but if you go back for the past four years, and you ask the generals who have been in the room who have not written a memoir, because they're trying desperately not to politicize the military, but if you put them under oath and say, "Tell me what was going on at any given time. What was the President saying? How is he reacting or acting? And what was your concern that he might do?"
I think you get a very different story from what we've heard to date. So, I'm hoping that those generals who have served him, who have listened to him, who have watched him will confirm exactly what this book is telling him.
COOPER,: (INAUDIBLE), I appreciate your time. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My pleasure.
COOPER: Coming up next, what's behind the troubling rise in COVID cases Delta variant. Also what the President plans to do about and how Republican anti vaccine beliefs are making things worse. We'll talk with the former top vaccine official in Tennessee who's now lost her job when politics got into -- got injected into what should be non- political questions of public health.
COOPER: Well, sadly they're growing size tonight that as much as we want to be through with COVID it's not yet through with us. And increasingly we have no one to blame but ourselves. Just two weeks ago, the country was averaging a little less than 13,000 new cases a day. Today, it's more than 23,000 and climbing.
Positivity has also been rising steadily over the last several weeks more than doubling in fact, the reasons are simple, the more infectious Delta variant is spreading. And too many Americans are still not getting vaccinated and making the surge in cases almost entirely preventable.
Early data from a number of states only underscores that notion suggesting that 99.5 percent of COVID deaths since the beginning of the year have been in unvaccinated patients. Red states with the worst vaccination percentages they are seeing the biggest surge in cases. And Republican resistance to getting vaccinated is an issue.
Listen to this guy at the Conservative Political Action Conference and with the crowd is cheering for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The government was hoping that they could sort of sucker 90 percent of the population into getting vaccinated and it isn't happening, right. There's younger people --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's what the fight against COVID is now up against. It's what the Biden administration today began taking on more forcefully. CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the White House for us tonight.
So the President knows that the neither he nor his administration are in the best position to convince Republicans certainly get the vaccine. What are their plans?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the issue and kind of the delicate balance that they have to strike here is because they know that just having President Biden go out every single day for the next 30 days and give a speech on getting vaccinated is not going to reach some people.
And that's the issue that they have with certain audiences that they are trying to reach a lot of them are not Biden, voters. If you look at some of the states that have some of the lowest vaccination rates, including my home state of Alabama, those are states that voted for Donald Trump in the election.
And it's not just on politics. Of course, there are other levels and layers to this. But they know that that is going to be a struggle for them as how to get this message out if they can't always be the messenger.
COOPER: Do they have an answer for that?
COLLINS: I think the -- what they're trying to do is not just implore Republicans, of course, they point to people like Senator Mitch McConnell, who has been telling a lot of people to get vaccinated citing his own personal experience with polio and saying that, yes, vaccines do work. But they know it's not just Republican lawmakers. They also have to deal with conservative voices and things like happening at CPAC in Dallas just a few days ago. That is also helping so doubt about this.
And Anderson, I think they're even looking beyond that. Because a lot of this has to do with social media platforms, as well, where they feel like that is where a lot of people are getting their misinformation from. And the Chief of Staff Ron Klain even recently told "The New York Times" that when he spoke to Mark Zuckerberg in May, and he told him that every time we ask people, where are you getting this misinformation about vaccines, these misconceptions that you have about what they're going to do to you given we have been pushing how safe they are.
He said, time and time again, they say Facebook, which of course, is a massive social media platform. And so that's another question that it's raising for them is how to handle misinformation on social media.
COOPER: Yes. Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. Thanks.
Joining us now is Dr. Michelle Fiscus. Until Monday, when she was fired, Dr. Fiscus was the Tennessee government's top vaccine official. She lost her job and appears for simply doing her job. She joins us now.
Dr. Fiscus, appreciate you being with us. I understand, so just last week before you were fired, you received a disturbing Amazon package at your office. What was in it? And what did you think when you received it?
MICHELLE FISCUS, FIRED TENNESSEE VACCINE OFFICIAL: Hi, Anderson. Thank you so much for having me.
Yes, the week before I was terminated from the Department of Health, I received a package that contained dog muzzle. And at first I thought that was a joke and contacted a few friends. And then when no one claimed it realized that that was something that was sent to me as some kind of a message I suppose.
COOPER: I understand, I think it was your husband who said or you said something to your husband that he recounted. What was it you said?
FISCUS: I said that they obviously didn't know me because they sent me a size three, which is for beagles. And I'm obviously a pitbull, which requires a size six.
COOPER: So, just for people who haven't been following what happened to you, it's really extraordinary. I read your account of it. And what you say essentially, is that you sent out a directive to other health officials in the state, which was just restating what procedure was and what the law was in the state of Tennessee, a law for some 30 years that was backed by the State Supreme Court about people under the age of 18, being able to get medical treatment without parents consent in some cases. And that became politicized, and spun by politicians in the state who
made it seem like you were out at nursery schools, you know, with a van trying to inoculate children when their parents weren't looking.
FISCUS: Yes. And so, what you're referring to is Tennessee's mature minor doctrine, which was it was Tennessee case law from Tennessee Supreme Court ruling in 1987 34 years ago, that has been in place since then. And I sent a memo to the physicians that were providing COVID vaccines across the state, because they asked me what to do when minors showed up requesting vaccines if they weren't accompanied by a parent. And if it was within, you know, their ability to provide vaccines are not.
So I reached out to our legal counsel at the Department of Health, who provided me with the language that I put into the memo said that it was public facing on the TDH website. That it had been blessed by the governor's office and that I was free to use it in any way that I saw fit.
So I put it into a memo and send it to those providers to answer the questions that they had asked. And what resulted was some blowback with accusations that I was actually trying to subvert parental authority and in target children, which, you know, this was never public facing messaging until the people who objected to it made it public.
COOPER: And the this -- what's happening now in the state, because I also read that, basically, there was a memo going around, and I think, correct me where it was from, but essentially, that the health department there is now saying, well, not just about, don't be pushing vaccines for COVID. But also, you know, don't work with schools right now to do outreach about, you know, getting ready for flu season and getting flu shots in schools or HPV outreach.
FISCUS: That's right. So, you in the days of to leading up to my termination, we were given the directive by the Commissioner of Health, that we were no longer to not only not conduct any kind of outreach to adolescents to get COVID-19 vaccines, but to stop messaging even to parents about the need for back to school vaccines, to teenagers who are missing HPV vaccines and are therefore vulnerable to HPV related cancers, canceling school based flu vaccination clinics that were done in partnership with local departments of health that we've done for years.
Even not allowing us to even acknowledge that August is National Immunization Awareness Month, which is a platform that we often use to remind parents of the importance of vaccinating their children.
COOPER: I mean, this is nuts. This is -- I -- it's -- that this is a statewide mandate is pretty incredible. I mean, I just on a personal note, can you describe what this experience has been like you? I mean, as a pediatrician with a career dedicated to the health and the welfare of children? What is this been like? FISCUS: You know, it's -- it is maddening and disheartening and frustrating. And, you know, this is politics getting in the way of public health and political agendas, whatever they may be. That is obstructing our ability to prevent disease in the state. And as you mentioned, at the start of the segment, COVID-19 is a vaccine preventable disease.
There is no reason why anyone should be dying from COVID-19 at this point, and yet, we're going to see increasing deaths because we have 38 percent of the state of Tennessee vaccinated at this point. Compare that to Vermont that sitting in the '70s.
We are surrounded by other states that are surging in Delta, Missouri, Mississippi, with kids in the intensive care units, Arkansas. It is only a matter of time before that takes over here as well. And, you know, it's like a bad disaster movie, the scientists are warning the politicians and the people that there's bad things coming, and it's just falling on deaf ears.
COOPER: Yes. Dr. Fiscus, I appreciate what you've done in your career and appreciate you speaking out now. Thank you.
Up next --
FISCUS: Thank you so much.
COOPER: -- President Biden traveled to Capitol Hill today to meet with Democratic senators amid a whole host of pressing issues from voting rights to that much heralded infrastructure bill. Coming up, I'll talk with one of those senators who sat in on the meeting.
COOPER: Just before the news broke that new information about the dramatic final days of the Trump presidency and up be President Biden sat down with Democrats -- Democratic senators today on Capitol Hill. This is they grappled with concern over voting rights and a massive spending bill total -- totaling around three and a half trillion dollars. The party leaders say they want to pass.
Among those senators the meeting was Virginia's Tim Kaine, a former candidate for vice president. He joins me now. Senator, thanks for being with us.
First, I do want to ask you to begin about Jamie Gangel's reporting the idea in this new book coming out from Phil Rucker that and others that some of the top generals in the former presidents administration allegedly feared there would be a coup and made in formal plans to protect against such an outcome. Does that surprise you?
SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): No, Anderson, it shocks me. But it doesn't surprise me. As you pointed out, I was on the ticket at 2016 and I spent 105 days trying to tell America that Donald Trump the man, pre 2016 would be a disaster, bigoted, narcissistic, bully, anti-science guy as a president.
And America wanted to take a chance on, you know, Donald Trump, and they did. And we've got 600,000 dead and we had an attack on the Capitol and we had a big lie perpetrated against the 2020 election that goes on to this day and state legislatures around the country that are passing anti-voting laws.
So no, it didn't surprise me at all. What saddens me is the way this guy was able to bamboozle so many Americans into thinking he would do a good job. Many of whom still want him to return.
COOPER: What happens now on voting rights? I mean, you know, you have this case of the Democrat from Texas who have fled the state who have come to D.C. they say what they hope to do is talk to, you know, Democrats in the Senate and talk to anybody who listen in the Senate to try to push for to change the filibuster. There doesn't seem to be a possibility of that. I mean, do you believe this whole effort on voting rights is dead in the Senate?
KAINE: I don't Anderson and I don't agree that there's no possibility of change of the filibuster. I do think it would be very, very difficult to eliminate the filibuster. But what if we were to return the filibuster to hits historic kind of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington filibuster rather than Mitch McConnell filibuster.
If somebody wants to get in the way of a Senate Majority, doing something for the good of the country, let them stand on the floor and try to convince the country and their colleagues that the Senate's about taken -- to take a bad step. But if they, if they tire and they can't continue, then we'll go to majority vote.
The voting rights issues are fundamental. You know, I realized on January 6, I've been in public life for a long time. My own job description is battling for Virginians and increasing economic opportunity. I never thought my job description was my oath of office, protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Now I realize my job description is my oath of office.
COOPER: But --
KAINE: (INAUDIBLE) oath of office, we have to take steps forward on voting rights. And I'm -- I was proud to play a role in getting all 50 Senate Democrats to be on board with really big bold steps for to protecting voting rights. But we can't be done with this. We've got to make it happen.
COOPER: So how's --
KAINE: (INAUDIBLE) President Trump breach that still having credence in Republican states in this country.
COOPER: I mean, I understand the idea of, you know, not getting away with filibuster amending it, you said returning it to its original format. But I mean, that still takes convincing of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema and others. Where do you -- I mean, have they shown any indication to you? Because obviously, that's not a new idea, it's been out there and been floated, and yet they haven't grasped it.
KAINE: Well, when you say they haven't grasped it, I mean --
COOPER: They haven't accepted.
KAINE: -- we didn't. We didn't have all 50 Democrats on board for a robust voting rights bill until two and a half weeks ago, but we've worked really hard. And we got 50 out of 50, to promote a expanse of protection of voting rights, and every Republican voted against it and stopped it. But we were able to get Democrats on board with it.
So, the next thing we need to do, having gotten everybody on board with the content of a bill to protect people's voting rights is to convince people that this is what the oath of office demands. Nobody takes an oath of office to arcane Senate rules that we can change.
KAINE: But we do take office to protect and defend the Constitution. And that's what this voting rights battle is about.
COOPER: I'm almost out of time. But I do want to ask you about the infrastructure reconciliation package, you want to 10 Democrats in the budget committee worked on the bill. Some of your party have expressed concern about the $3.5 trillion figure obviously, are you confident you'll have the support you need?
COOPER: All 50 Democrats?
KAINE: There's details to be worked out the top line number of 3.5 trillion together with together with a bipartisan infrastructure bill 600 billion gets us to what we need to do to help America climb out of a pandemic, heal economic catastrophe, and build an economy back. That's not just what it was before. But that's an economy that is more sustainable and especially more equitable.
COOPER: Senator Kane, I do appreciate your time. Thank you.
KAINE: Absolutely Anderson.
COOPER: There's breaking news straight ahead with a singer Britney Spears said late today about her father and that ongoing battle over her conservatorship, but she wants to -- why she wants charges against him brought. Details when we return.
COOPER: It's breaking news tonight from Los Angeles. The singer Britney Spears told the judge that she wants to her father charged with abuse over his control of the conservatorship that runs her career in her multimillion-dollar estate. She's spoken hearing by phone as her fans once again gathered outside the courthouse to lend their support.
Randi Kaye has the story.
BRITNEY SPEARS, POP STAR: When I tell them the way I feel it's like they hear me but they really not listening.
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Angry, traumatized, unable to sleep. That's how Britney Spears says she's feeling with her father in control of her life, and her $60 million dollar fortune. Her desire to now press charges against her father comes as Britney called the conservatorship f-ing cruelty. If this is an abuse, I don't know what is. I thought they were trying to kill me, she told the judge.
All of this comes after a hearing last month, where she painted a troubling picture of her life under the conservatorship run by her father. Alleging emotional abuse, financial manipulation and forced isolation and medication. All I want is to own my own money.
Britney told the court saying, anyone involved in the conservatorship including her father, Jamie Spears should be in jail. Perhaps most disturbing Britney's claim that she can't get married or remove her birth control and have a baby without the conservatorship signing off.
The so-called team won't let me go to the doctor to take it out. Because they don't want me to have any more children, she told the judge.
Britney Spears was 26 when she entered the conservatorship that was in 2008 after she'd been hospitalized, shaved her head and attacked a paparazzi's car with an umbrella, all fueling concern about her mental health. Jamie Spears lawyer told ABC earlier this year that he rescued his daughter from a life threatening situation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Britney knows that her daddy loves her.
KAYE (voice-over): Conservatorships are designed for people who can't take care of themselves. Yet since hers was set up, Britney has released numerous albums, starred for four years in her hit Las Vegas show and headlined a global tour that brought in $130 million. Now, 39, she is asking the judge to end the conservatorship calling it abusive.
Britney Spears has sold more than 77 million albums in the U.S. according to Nielsen music. Yet "The New York Times" reports the conservatorship limits her allowance to $2,000 a week. The Times also reports Britney was made to perform when she was sick with a temperature over 100 degrees.
SPEARS: It was like (INAUDIBLE). KAYE (voice-over): Earlier this month, Britney's mother Lynn Spears filed a petition to allow her daughter to choose her own attorney, which was prohibited by the conservatorship. Today, the judge granted Britney the right to choose a lawyer and she's now retained former federal prosecutor Mathew Rosengart to represent her.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS: Free Britney!
KAYE (voice-over): Meanwhile, across the country, the movement Free Britney is growing and celebrities are taking notice. On Instagram, Madonna recently called Britney's conservatorship, a violation of human rights, demanding, give this woman her life back.
COOPER: Randi joins us now. What is Britney Spears new lawyer have to say about all this?
KAYE: Well, Anderson, he is calling on Britney's father to voluntarily stepped down as conservator. He says it's in the best interest of his client. The lawyer says that he will promptly and aggressively move for his removal. He also says that his firm is going to do what he called a top to bottom review of what Britney Spears has been through in the last decade or so. As you know this conservatorship has been in place for 13 years.
He also commented on the statements she made in court he called them he said that she showed courage, passion and humanity. And in terms of her testimony, he called it clear, lucid, powerful and compelling.
So Anderson, certainly sounds like he is going to make a big move to free Britney from control of her father.
COOPER: All right. Randi Kaye, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
That's it for us. The news continues. Want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right Anderson, appreciate it.