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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Rep. McCarthy Pulls His Five GOP Picks For The January 6 Select Committee After House Speaker Pelosi Vetoed Two Of His Choices; Interview With Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); Right-Wing Media Changes Tune, From Non-Believer To Vaccine Promoter. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired July 21, 2021 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (on camera): Good evening again. This hour of tonight's special late edition of 360.
The decision by the top House Republican to abandon any participation in the investigation on the attack on his workplace, the capitol, the one he begged the former president to stop that day. Kevin McCarthy pulling five of his members from the House select panel after House Speaker Pelosi vetoed two of his choices, Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio, both January 6th deniers.
At tonight's CNN town hall in Cincinnati. President Biden was asked about today's blowup. He did not get into specifics but he did say this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't care if you think I'm Satan reincarnated. The fact is you can't look at that television and say nothing happened on the 6th. You can't listen to people who say this was a peaceful march.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (on camera): Well, it is a moment we're going to have exclusive new audio which we will hear for the first time of the former president talking about the insurrection and saying this about the people who listened to him speak, and then stormed the capitol. Quoting him now, "what I wanted is what they wanted." That's coming up again. Here's what Congressman McCarthy had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: House Democrats must answer this question. Why are you allowing a lame duck speaker to destroy this institution? This is the people's House, not Pelosi's.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (on camera): We should point out that Congressman McCarthy drummed Congresswoman Liz Cheney out of the Republican leadership because she called out the former president for his role inciting the attack. She is still on the select committee and said this about the speaker's decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I agree with what the speaker has done.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And also, McCarthy wants to become speaker next year. Do you think that he deserves to be speaker in the aftermath of his actions?
CHENEY: I think that any person who would be third in line to the presidency must demonstrate a commitment to the Constitution and a commitment to the rule of law and Minority Leader McCarthy has not done that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (on camera): Joining us now California Democratic Congressman and House intelligence committee chairman, Adam Schiff, he's also a member of the select committee.
Thanks so much for being with us.
You said earlier you think that Congressmen Banks and Jordan were clearly selected just to be disruptive. Can you explain -- do you think what Speaker Pelosi did is correct?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Absolutely, it's correct. Look, Kevin McCarthy had two choices which he understood from the beginning. He could choose an independent commission which would be five Democrats and five Republicans, or he could offer a select committee in which he would have the right to nominate people but the speaker would have the ultimate decision.
He chose the latter and now he is unhappy with his choice because he wanted to put two deniers, two distractors on the select committee and the speaker wasn't willing to go there, so absolutely the right decision.
And look, I think for Kevin McCarthy, this is all about what does Donald Trump want. That's the first question he asked in the morning, that's the last question he asked at the end of the day, and Donald Trump doesn't want this to go forward. And so, Kevin McCarthy is doing everything he can to try to stop it, to try and distract from what we will find, but it won't work. We have a bipartisan quorum to go forward and we will move forward.
COOPER: Doesn't it, I mean, there -- we were just having a debate with our team here about whether this plays into speak -- Kevin McCarthy's hands in terms of this is exactly what he wanted and he's going to use this against anything that comes out of this commission?
SCHIFF: If this was what McCarthy wanted, McCarthy wouldn't put anybody forward to begin with. He doesn't want this to go forward, and I think what they will find if they continue to refuse to participate, is they will regret that they did because we will go forward.
We won't have the distractions of Jim Jordan and Jim Banks on the select committee. We will go forward with sobriety, and we will find out exactly what lead to the events of the 6th, what took place on that date, why reinforcements were not called in. We will answer those questions, and I think they will rue this decision.
But again, for Kevin McCarthy, it's all about the politics all the time. There's not a policy bone in his body and this is his political calculus, but I think it's really damaging one for the country.
COOPER: Speaker Pelosi didn't take issue with Republican Congressman Troy Nehls, he was named to the committee even though he voted to overturn the election. Do you understand what criteria she was using?
SCHIFF: I do and she made it clear before she made her decision that whether someone voted to decertify the election wasn't going to be the sole criteria, wasn't going to be disqualifying fact. And in that regard, it really is extraordinary how much the speaker bent over backwards to try to accommodate Republicans.
When she agreed and Chairman Thompson agreed to an independent commission which not a single subpoena could go out without the, you know, approval of at least Republican, that was essentially delegating to the Republicans they have elected control, I think part of that investigation. But they still turned it down, and in terms of the select committee, we are going to go forward. We will get to the truth of January the 6th. We will do so now without distraction.
We still invite McCarthy to have a change of heart and put responsible people on, but if he won't, and it seems pretty clear he won't, that's not going to deter us from carrying out our constitutional duty.
COOPER: And you don't think there will be an asterisk by the findings of this commission?
SCHIFF: I think that, you know, regardless of what Republicans were placed on the select committee, they would be attacking it. The question is, would they be attacking it from outside or would they be attacking it from the inside. That's just a fact of life, because after all, you know, Kevin McCarthy and these other members that are in Donald Trump's sway, they don't want the full facts to come out.
So, they are going to attack it either way. But, you know, if we go forward without the distractions on the select committee, I think the work product will speak for itself and we'll ultimately be judged by how good that work product is, and that's what we have to strive for.
COOPER: Do you believe that there is a possibility that the former president would be called to appear?
SCHIFF: I think there is certainly that possibility, I think our chairman Bennie Thompson hasn't ruled that out. There is a lot we don't know about what was going on in the White House that day. In fact, what was going on in the White House in the days leading up to that rally and that attack and insurrection?
Were there warnings given to the president or others in the White House about the participation of these right-wing violent extremist groups? Did they have forewarning? And so, yes, there are a lot of unanswered questions. I think no one is off the table that has relevant information to share.
COOPER: Chairman Schiff, I appreciate your time. Thank. You
SCHIFF: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Coming up next, just how closely did the former president identify with the insurrectionists. You'll hear what he thinks in his own words for the first time. We're joined by the best-selling Pulitzer Prize winning author how got him to go on the record.
Later, some answers to why all of a sudden just about every big-name Republicans sees getting religion on the need to get vaccinated.
We'll be right back.
COOPER (on camera): We have a CNN exclusive tonight considering perhaps the most chilling question any democracy can face, namely what happens at times of such great stress that responsible officials have reason to believe that democracy is threatened.
My next guest document just such a moment after the election when General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was concerned that the former president and or his supporters might try to pull off a coup. And the book they described had the joint chiefs described the plan to resign one by one rather than carry out orders that they considered to be illegal, dangerous, or ill-advised. Today, Chairman Milley was asked if in fact he was worried.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK MILLEY, U.S. CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Thanks for the question. I know there's a lot of interest out there and all of these books that are out there, quoting me and lots of others, et cetera. I'm not going to comment on what's in any of those books.
We take an oath, an oath to a document. An oath to the Constitution of the United States, and not one time did we violate that. The entire time from the time of commissioning to today, I can say with certainty that every one of us maintain our oath of allegiance to that document, the Constitution and everything that's contained within it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Reassuring words, no denial of what the Washington Post's Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker wrote in their best seller, "I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year." It is just out, it's a remarkable bit of reporting. We're pleased they can join us, and they brought with them some clips of their conversation with the former president that you'll be hearing for the very first time tonight.
Carol, not surprising that he would not go into depth obviously on what's in the book but he certainly didn't deny anything that was in the book.
CAROL LEONNIG, CO-AUTHOR, "I ALONE CAN FIX IT": That's absolutely right. I mean, knowing Chairman Milley's reputation, if there was anything that was a problem, anything that was inaccurate, anything that he had any context to add to, he would've said it.
COOPER: It's just, I mean, it is extraordinary the details in this book. Philip, you write that Milley told his aides that he saw parallels between Hitler's rhetoric and the former president's, a Reichstag moment.
PHILIP RUCKER, CO-AUTHOR, "I ALONE CAN FIX IT": And increasingly so after the November 3rd election, as Trump increasingly told his supporters that the election was rigged despite there being no evidence of that. Milley saw parallels to Adolf Hitler consolidating power in the 1930s in Germany. It was chilling when he saw those MAGA supporters in the streets in December in Washington he said those were like brown shirts in the streets. He said it was a Reichstag moment. And he worries that democracy could fall, that there could even be a coup.
COOPER: Really seems to be a really interesting character. You know, we saw testimony where he was being asked about critical race theory a couple of weeks ago. And he talked about, well, I've read, you know, Mao, I've read, you know, Marx, I've read all these different ideologies. He's a student of history, so for him to be referencing the Reichstag moment is extraordinary.
LEONNIG: The idea that he was so worried about the comparison that he believed according to the reporting that Phil and I did, that Trump and his supporters were willing to create chaos, to stoke fear, just as the Reichstag moment to consolidate power.
He was getting middle of the night calls, Anderson, from really important people, and also great confidants who were warning him, watch your back. The people that are being installed, the Trump White House is installing in the Defense Department are going to be a problem for you and you need to check on them.
COOPER: And according, and that's why they were installed to be a problem. Why -- they actually had a, not just Milley, but others came up kind of an idea on how to, at the very least slow any kind of coup down.
RUCKER: You know, Milley and the other joint chiefs, the heads of the army, the navy, air force, the branches of the military had meetings after the election to discuss what they would do if the president were to execute or issue, rather, an order that they considered unconstitutional, illegal, immoral, unethical. [22:15:07]
They will try to block it by resigning one by one. And sort of a reverse Saturday night massacre to just prevent him from being able to execute those orders. That's a chilling thing to think about when this is the commander in chief with the nuclear codes still in office until January 20th.
COOPER: Carol, you and Philip sat down with the former president for a two and a half hour of interviews. I want to play part of the interview for the first time. It's about five minutes long. But you ask him about the January 6th and the insurrection. But it's an important part, so let's play it.
(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)
LEONNIG: So, what did you hope where they would do when you set, go up there and stop the steal?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, I heard that people wanted to go down to, you know, that wasn't my rally per se. That was, there were a lot of people that spoke. They had rallies the night before. They had speakers all over the city.
You had hundreds of thousands of people. I would venture to say. I think it was the largest crowd I had ever spoken to before. It went from that point, which is almost at the White House to beyond the Washington Monument. It was, and wide. And --
LEONNIG: But if you could have waved your hand.
TRUMP: And it was a loving crowd too by the way. There was a lot of love. I've heard that from everybody. Many, many people have told me. That was a low loving crowd.
And you know, it was too bad, it was too bad that got, you know, that they did.
LEONNIG: There were just some --
TRUMP: But my statement --
LEONNIG: Mr. Mr. president, I apologize. What we're trying to understand is not blame, not castigate.
TRUMP: No, I understand that.
LEONNIG: We want to understand what did you want when you said go up there? What you have dreamed for them to do?
(CROSSTALK) TRUMP: I would have said to them that you will show -- not to go in, although they were ushered in by the police. I mean, in all fairness, the capitol police were ushering people in. The capitol police were very friendly. You know, they were hugging and kissing. You don't see that.
But there's plenty of tape on that, too. You know, because the capitol police were, that's the way it is. But I wanted, I mean, personally, what I wanted is what they wanted. They showed up just to show support because I happen to believe the election was rigged at a level like nothing has ever been rigged before.
There is tremendous proof. There's tremendous proof. Statistically, it wasn't even possible that he won. I mean, anything such as if you were in Florida and Ohio and Iowa, there's never been a loss. There was --
RUCKER: And did you need better lawyers? Because they took it to court, but they didn't get evidence to convince the judges.
TRUMP: No. I need better judges. The Supreme Court was afraid to take it. Don't forget, if you take all of the, everything out, take all of the dead people that voted and there were thousands of them by the way. We have a list of, you know, obituaries, et cetera.
If you take the illegal immigrants that voted, if you take this, the Indians that got paid to vote in different places, you know. We had Indians getting paid to vote, many, many different things. All election changing, not just, you know, 12 people. I mean all, because they were all very close, you know? The five, it's only in five places.
If you take that, forget all of that. It's massive numbers. But forget all of that. If you take all of that, just look at one thing, the legislatures of the states did not approve all of the things that were done for those elections, and under the Constitution of the United States, they have to do that, and the Supreme Court, they didn't find fact.
Don't forget, they didn't say, well, we disagree. They said, we are not going to hear the case. I'm very disappointed in the Supreme Court.
LEONNIG: What do you think they were afraid of?
TRUMP: They were, I guess they thought that it would be violent maybe. And it was violent the other way, perhaps, I don't know. But I guess they thought that it would be violent. But the Supreme Court of the United States, in the Constitution it says you can't, you can't local politicians setting the rules. And they set the rules, early voting, this voting, ballots, many, many different things.
And these were Democrats going to Republican -- with the exception of Nevada which was a Democrat legislature -- and by the way, they didn't even -- they did, for the most part, approve, but they had things that they didn't approve.
But the others had very little done, almost nothing. So, they were setting illegally all of these rules, regulations, everything, poll watchers who were absolutely brutalized and thrown out. We had no poll watchers allowed in buildings for days, OK? It was an illegal, corrupt election as bad as a third world country, OK?
So, with that, the judges just would not -- they would not rule. We had --
LEONNIG: Can I have one more beat on that? If you had bad judges, that's like 86 bad judges. Were they afraid? Were they -- some of them were people you appointed?
TRUMP: No, that's true. I'm not saying. I appointed them and I was very disappointed in them.
(END VOICE CLIP)
COOPER (on camera): I mean, there's so many -- it's fascinating that -- I mean, I said, this is -- this is like listening to Nixon drunk rambling, except he's not drunk, he's just rambling, and that he still is holding on to all these lies.
The idea that poll watchers were brutalized, but there was love, nothing but love and the police just ushered in these loving people into the capitol on the day of the attack, is sickening. I mean, it's stunning. This is the former -- this man was the president of the United States.
I don't even know what to really ask about it, but what was he doing during the attack? I mean, you have reporting in this book about he was unreachable.
RUCKER: Anderson, our reporting shows that the president during the attack, was sitting in front of the television watching it unfold. At first, he was happy. He liked seeing hundreds, thousands of his own supporters with MAGA flags, with Trump MAGA hats on their heads storming the capitol in a show of force. He enjoyed that. He thought he was proud of that.
When the shots were fired and it became deadly and violent, he became more concerned, according to people around him, and yet he didn't really act to do anything. He was AWOL as the commander-in-chief. It took Mike Pence, the vice president, whose life was under threat at the capitol, in the basement of the capitol in hiding to actually call the Pentagon and try to organize and mobilize a military response.
COOPER: You also read that Ivanka Trump repeatedly -- he was what, he was in the dining, private dining room watching on television?
RUCKER: That's right.
COOPER: And that he wouldn't take calls from people, Chris Christie you report tried to reach out to him, he didn't take the call. Ivanka Trump would repeatedly come down to try to get him to do something?
LEONNIG: Well, it was really an awkward time, because you might remember that as protesters literally broke into the landing near the Senate and lawmakers were scrambling for their lives along with their staff who were barricading themselves away from people chanting for their heads, during that time, the president actually tweeted something criticizing Vice President Pence.
Eventually, that came down. But Ivanka was being asked by the chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to please, come down here, let's get your dad to say something, to call off the dogs, essentially. Ivanka went back and forth between her second-floor office, back and forth multiple times at Meadows' request, trying to get it right essentially with the president with her father.
And many people told us different ways that she was described that day, and not extremely forceful at first but she was also compared to the stable pony, to, you know, to come in and calm the racehorse. She was her father's stable pony.
COOPER: Again, and you know, we've seen, we showed the video of, you know, the peace-loving folks full of love being ushered into the capitol. And you know --
LEONNIG: Hugging and kissing.
COOPER: Right. I mean, we have the video of course, and we've all seen what the reality was. I mean this was what they were facing. This is not capitol police officers ushering them in to and even in the video that we did see that, it was kind of hold back the line by falling back. That they were -- they were outgunned, outmanned.
LEONNIG: That's absolutely right.
COOPER: The -- were you surprised that he is still sticking to this? I mean, clearly, this is the conversation he has at Mar-a-Lago around dinner tables when he crushes weddings on the golf course. This is what she talks about nonstop.
RUCKER: You know, and it's not just this topic where he spewed lies to us in our interview. We talk to him for two and a half hours, and on almost every topic it was this sort of alternative reality playing out in its head. He brought up the fact, according to him that he won the state of Arizona.
What we all know he lost the state of Arizona. He lost the state of Arizona in part according to some of his advisers because he was attacking John McCain, a hero in that state. And he brought it up and attacked John McCain in our interview. And it's just again and again, he would say things that weren't true as if they were to, as if you when you enter Mar-a-Lago and sit there in the lobby, you're in a different universe with a different set of facts.
COOPER: Yes. We are going to take a short break. We are going to have more when we come back. We are going to play some more clips of the interview that they did with the former president, including what he said when asked about his vice president's refusal to overturn the election.
COOPER (on camera): And we've got more, really fascinating, exclusive clips from that interview with the former president conducted earlier today by our two guests this evening, Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig. They'll be back with us in a moment. First, we want to hear about what the former president told them about his vice president's refusal to overturn the election.
(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)
TRUMP: Had Mike Pence had the courage to send it back to the legislatures, you would have had a different outcome in my opinion.
RUCKER: Is that when you told him to do? The vice president?
TRUMP: I didn't tell him --
RUCKER: What specifically --
TRUMP: I didn't tell him to do anything.
RUCKER: What did you want him to do?
TRUMP: I thought that the election was rigged. I think that when you have more voters, when you have more votes than you have voters, I think that the vice president of the United States must protect the Constitution of the United States, right?
And it says a very, very clearly, protect the Constitution of the United States, I don't believe he's just supposed to be a statue who gets these votes from the states and immediately hands them over.
(END VOICE CLIP)
COOPER (on camera): Back with Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, authors of I -- authors of the new book, "I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year." It's a fascinating, fascinating read.
You know, he's talking about Mike Pence. In the last bite -- the first bite but the long bite we played, he talked about, you were asking him about what did he -- what did he want the people who he told to go to the capitol that he was going to walk with them, what did you want them to do when he get there? And he stumbled around it.
But basically, the closest he got was saying, I wanted what they wanted. Well, what a lot of them wanted according to what they were chanting was to hang Mike Pence.
RUCKER: Yes, and what President Trump wanted was for Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the results somehow, not constitutional but in Trump's mind it was what he thought is loyal vice president should have done.
And It's ironic that Trump said that Pence shouldn't have been just a statue there following the rules, because for four years, Pence was a statue. That's why Trump picked him to be Vice President because he would stand in his side, nod his head, smile approvingly, and not cause any trouble for Trump.
COOPER: I also, I find it hard to imagine that the former president restrain himself and never said to his vice president what he wanted him to do. I mean, he was saying like, no, I didn't tell him to do anything kind of.
LEONNIG: He absolutely asked him.
LEONNIG: He absolutely asked him multiple times.
COOPER: I want to play another clip from your interview. You asked the former president where you talked about Pence. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)
RUCKER: Who will your vice president be if you run again?
TRUMP: Listen to him.
RUCKER: Really. It's a good question.
TRUMP: Well, I was disappointed in Mike, but you know, I'll be making a decision or something.
RUCKER: But not guaranteed that --
TRUMP: I will say this, based on the polls, those polls are great. The Republican Party loves Trump. You saw that, 97 percent.
RUCKER: But you're not -- you're not locked in that you would run with Pence again.
TRUMP: No, I'm not locked into anything.
RUCKER: What if he were. I mean, he could, he could run against you in a primary. He wants to run for president, too.
TRUMP: Everybody -- it's a free country, right? It's a free country. I always liked Mike. I was very disappointed and so were a lot of Republicans, very disappointed. Because had he sent them back, had he been Thomas Jefferson, had he sent them back which took courage but not a lot of courage but not a lot of courage. What courage would have been is to do what Thomas Jefferson does --
did -- we're taking he votes. He could have done that too. But that would have been politically unacceptable.
But sending it back to these legislators who now know that bad things happen would be very acceptable. And I think -- I could show you letters from legislatures, big-scale letters from different states, the states we're talking about. Had he done that, I think it would have been, I think it would have been a great thing for our country. I think it would have been a great thing for our country and that's the way it is.
(END VOICE CLIP)
COOPER (on camera): I'm not sure what big- scale letters are, but the idea that he is still spreading these lies and believing these lies and propagating these lies, it's extraordinary and really kind of, not criminal, but just outrageous.
Given that this was actually a remarkable election and Americans should be praised, Republicans and Democrats for, in the midst of a deadly pandemic, coming out in overwhelming numbers at risk to themselves and you know, by a whole bunch of different ways that may be easier for them to vote, which is obviously something that Republicans are concerned about now.
But this was actually a victorious election for Republicans and for America because Americans turned out in a pandemic, and by the way, Republicans did great all across the country, except for Donald Trump.
LEONNIG: You know some of the president's advisers tried to tell Trump that, including Bill Barr, his attorney general. After the election he said, Mr. President, these allegations you are making about a rigged election or fraudulent votes, we have looked into them, they are B.S., they're nonsense.
And he actually said to him, how is it that you think you lost in the state, but the entire Republican ticket did great? How can that be? You know, I'm really amazed too about how much Donald Trump's inner narrative has hardened since the election.
Every conspiracy theory that Phil and I heard people whispering in his ear after the election, he was listening to, sort of tangentially maybe or maybe not. But immediately after the election he said to Kellyanne Conway, how could we have lost? How could we lose? I'm so sorry we lost. But as time has gone by, his narrative has gotten more conspiratorial, more totally lacking in basis of fact, but he's spreading the word. And it's part of the reason --
COOPER: And also, I mean, who is going to contradict him at Mar-a- Lago? The beautician in the spa? I mean, it's not -- there's not a lot of people around there of, you know, weight who are going to stand up and say, Mr. President, that's not, you know, that's not reality. RUCKER: That's right. And in fact, during our interview with President
Trump, Laura Ingraham, the Fox News host came by and interrupted because she's a guest at Mar-a-Lago. I mean, that's -- those are the kind of people that are hanging around the president and putting things in his ear.
COOPER: He said something to you as you left. What was he exchange?
LEONNIG: It was actually one of my favorite moments of the interview. Because as I said, he was quite a gracious host, quite charming in his way. And he came over to check on us where we were seated for dinner on the patio. And Phil and I, you know, mentioned to him that we might have some follow-up questions and he said absolutely, please come back. I would love. It was an honor to do this.
And we both remarked, you know, you spent a lot of time with us, Mr. Trump, and that would, you know, we promise not to use that much time if we come back again. And he said, you know, it's a sickness but I really enjoyed it.
RUCKER: A sickness? It's a sickness but I really enjoyed it.
COOPER: I find that fascinating. I mean, it shows almost like there has been some introspection which I find hard to imagine, but maybe I'm reading too much into it. But it's a sickness but I really enjoyed. Thank you both. I really appreciate.
RUCKER: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: The book is fascinating. "I Alone Can Fix It." It is out now. Thank you so much.
LEONNIG: Thank you again.
COOPER: Incredible reporting.
What to make of a shift in both tone and attitude by some Republican lawmakers and some right-wing opinion hosts on getting the COVID vaccine something President Biden took note of during tonight's town hall and ended up praising, saying this is a good thing. We'll talk about that ahead.
COOPER (on camera): In tonight's town hall as we reported earlier, President Biden took note of the shift in tone among some Republican politicians and even some conservative television hosts about the benefits of COVID vaccinations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Those other networks are not a big fan of mine, the one you talk about a lot. But if you notice, as they say in the most southern part of my state, they have had an altar call some of those guys. All of sudden, they're out there saying let's get vaccinated. Let's get vaccinated. The very people before this were saying -- so that -- but I shouldn't make fun of it, that's good. It's good. I's good. We just have to keep telling the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (on camera): Even Florida Governor Ron DeSantis today became the latest high-profile Republican politician to advocate for the COVID vaccine. Coronavirus cases in Florida continue to rise. DeSantis said vaccines are saving lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If you are vaccinated, fully vaccinated, the chance of you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID is effectively zero. If you look at the people that are being admitted to hospitals, over 95 percent of them are either not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (on camera): It's a sea change for some, there is something different brewing there.
More from CNN's Jessica Dean.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
BRIAN KILMEADE, HOST, FOX NEWS: If you have the chance, get the shot.
STEVE DOOCY, HOST, FOX NEWS: It can save your life.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: A shift in tone in the right-wing media when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy talking over his co-host to encourage viewers to get vaccinated. Doocy has been advocating the benefits of the vaccine since the winter, but now other Fox News hosts are following suit.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS: I believe in science.
DEAN: Sean Hannity who in January said he was beginning to have doubts about getting the shot made this plea to viewers this week.
HANNITY: Just like we have been saying, please take COVID seriously. I can't say it enough. Enough people have died.
DEAN: The CEO of the far-right network Newsmax, Chris Ruddy published an op-ed saying he's been vaccinated, and writing President Biden should be, quote, "applauded for his administration's vaccine efforts." That shift in tone coincides with the Delta variant tearing across the U.S., hitting conservative leading states especially hard, where vaccination rates are some of the lowest in the country.
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): It's safe and effective. I took it and I want to show the picture to just encourage people.
DEAN: Now some Republican lawmakers are being more outspoken in their effort to encourage people to get the shot. House minority whip Steve Scalise announce he got the first dose of the vaccine on Sunday, after seeing COVID cases rise due to the Delta variant.
SCALISE: I was ready to get the vaccine. I've always felt it was safe and effective.
DEAN: In his state of Louisiana, only 36 percent of people are fully vaccinated, and the daily case rate is three times the national average. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who survived polio and has consistently advocated for people to get vaccinated did not mince words this week.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: This is not complicated. Ninety-seven percent of the people who were in the hospital now with COVID are unvaccinated, so if there's anybody out there willing to listen, get vaccinated.
DEAN: But there are still a number of Republican lawmakers who do not face any public rebuke from their Republican peers for pushing vaccine lies.
UNKNOWN: Now they started talking about going door to door, to be able to take vaccines to the people, they can go door-to-door to take your guns, they can go door-to-door to get your bible.
DEAN: This is not true. But that was not enough reason for the North Carolina congressman to correct his statement.
Jessica Dean, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
COOPER (on camera): Well those statements encouraging vaccinations by prominent Republicans are clearly a start in the long run. Can they have an impact?
Joining me now is Dr. Peter Hotez, the co-director at the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital and the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He's also the author of "Preventing the Next Pandemic: Vaccine Diplomacy in a Time of Anti-Science."
Dr. Hotez, it's certainly, you know, it's easy to kind of point out that this is a sea change in tone and, you know, criticize them for not doing it sooner, but I think that's a mistake. I think this is a good thing. It is good to have as many people as possible on all sides of -- you know, not that it should be political, but of the political spectrum telling the truth, which is that vaccines can save your life, and it's the only thing, really, the only tool you have against the Delta variant. PETER HOTEZ, INFECTIOUS EXPERT, BAYLOR UNIVERSITY: Well, that's
certainly true, Anderson. The question is whether all these statements in the last couple of days will continue into next week.
HOTEZ: You have to remember that, or we have to remember that since the beginning of the year the far-right element of the Republican Party has launched a war of aggression against vaccines, vaccine scientists, and other scientists. Right? I mean, this is not an isolated thing.
I mean, these anti-vaccine rants were nightly events on the conservative news outlets including Fox News. This just wasn't just one anchor. This was clearly at the direction of the leadership of Fox News. This continued, you saw what happened at the CPAC conference. There was a whole contingent of the America first Republican congressman who held town halls that emphasized adverse events about vaccines. That said vaccines are being used as a political weapon for control.
This came out of the red state governors. I had, you know, the governor of Florida with Laura, what's her name, Ingraham on Fox News a week or just a couple of weeks ago, went after me and mocked me in public saying that I am predicting that Florida is going to get hit hard with COVID and now Florida is the third most affected state with COVID.
So, this was a systematic effort to delegitimize science and scientists. So, it's great hearing the statements. Are they nothing more than sound bites for the midterm elections? Will we continue to hear this? I don't know but the truth is, what they engendered is devastating.
They brought back COVID-19 to the southern U.S. That's why it began in southern Missouri, extended into Arkansas, into Louisiana where Representative Scalise is, this was not an accident. This was deliberate. This was deliberately engineered, I'm sorry to say.
COOPER: Yes. There's certainly a lot of commentators who have blood on your hands for not being factual about the science here, and certainly let's hope that, you know, the Sean Hannity's of the world, this is not just a one-off statement. You know, we'll see. We'll see what happens. But you know, you know, during -- while Biden was saying this about the altar call, they were also still peddling conspiracies out there.
Dr. Peter Hotez, I appreciate you being on. Thank you so much.
Coming, up we're going to take you to Nevada --
HOTEZ: Thank you so much. COOPER: -- where COVID cases are surging. How a local barbershop owner turned his business into a vaccination site after several of his unvaccinated employees came down with COVID. That's next.
COOPER (on camera): COVID cases are on the rise and Nevada where only about 40 percent of the population has been vaccinated. And away from the glitter of the biggest strips, CNN's Ed Lavandera found a local barbershop where the talk is about the pandemic and had to convince people to step up and be vaccinated.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The COVID-19 vaccine sparks passionate barbershop banter inside the Fade 'Em All shop in North Las Vegas.
UNKNOWN: She got it before I did.
LAVANDERA: In the last month, owner Robert Taylor says three of his barbers and his business partner were infected with COVID-19. Taylor and another barber got the virus last year. None were vaccinated. It was a wakeup call. So, Taylor decided to turn his barbershop into a vaccination site. Taylor partnered with state health officials to offer vaccine shots to clients coming in for a haircut.
ROBERT TAYLOR, OWNER, FADE 'EM ALL BARBERSHOP: The barbershop is a place of transparency, truth, debates, and brotherhood.
LAVANDERA: Taylor says he brings them over with trusted voices and easing their fears.
TAYLOR: Like, you have people who say, well it's not 100 percent. Nothing is 100 percent. It's not 100 percent, but I'll make it home when I leave this barbershop but I will put on my seatbelt.
LAVANDERA: The average number of newly daily coronavirus has jumped from 132 in early June to almost 700, and the average daily number of hospitalizations has shot up from 178 in mid-June to more than 900. Medical experts say this surge is driven almost entirely by unvaccinated people.
SHADABA ASAD, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER OF LAS VEGAS: This could've been prevented.
LAVANDERA: Dr. Shadaba Asad is the director of infectious diseases at University Medical Center in Las Vegas. Only 40 percent of the Nevada population is fully vaccinated, and with that, Dr. Assad offers an ominous morning.
ASAD: It's just a matter of time before you going to come across a variant where your vaccines do not provide that degree of protection. So unvaccinated people pose a huge threat to the rest of us who are vaccinated because they are literally a breeding ground for new variants.
LAVANDERA: In Reno, where the vaccination rate is higher than the state average, the lines at the main vaccine site have dwindled. At the peak, they were administering 2,800 doses per day. It's under 150 now. Health officials say people spreading misinformation are hampering vaccination efforts.
KEVIN DICK, HEALTH OFFICIER, WASHOE COUNTY DISTRICT: Our country is not united. Battling COVID-19 is bad enough but having to battle one another to try to overcome the virus I think is terrible.
LAVANDERA: To motivate the unvaccinated, the state is holding weekly lottery drawings, they're literally paying people to get vaccinated and even those events have been interrupted by anti-vaccine hecklers.
TAYLOR: I'm going to sell you anything. You know, I want you to live and be healthy.
LAVANDERA: At the barbershop, vaccine skeptics like Darrius Voyeur who just recovered from COVID are quickly becoming vaccine believers.
DARRIUS VOYEUR, BARBER: Man, I (Inaudible) nobody. That was some tough days.
LAVANDERA: He says that he's already received his first shot, and Dillard Scott says sitting in Robert Taylor's barber chair after the coronavirus killed two of his cousins was the turning point for him to get vaccinated.
DILLARD SCOTT, BARBERSHOP CLIENT: I really struggle on whether or not to get vaccinated, so when you, you know, you have two people in your family that it takes out like that, you're forced to look at the options that you have both as a family and also as individuals to not only protect yourself but to protect others.
LAVANDERA: Last year, Taylor says the pandemic forced him to close his barbershop for almost four months. Now he worries about what might happen as the resurgence of the coronavirus spreads across the unvaccinated in Nevada.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (on camera): And Ed Lavandera joins us from Reno. So, what are some of the mitigation factors being considered to get COVID infections under control?
LAVANDERA: Well, in Clark County where which is home to Las Vegas, county officials there are requiring that business owners and government officials are requiring that all employees in public spaces, whether they're vaccinated or not, begin wearing masks once again.
FEMA is sending in dozens of workers to work in surge teams to increase the vaccination efforts. And as you saw there, Robert Taylor in that barbershop in North Las Vegas, essentially teaming up and partnering with health officials to create these vaccination sites. They vaccinated 18 people. It might not sound like a lot but it's better than nothing, they say. Anderson?
COOPER: It's awesome that he is doing that. Ed Lavandera, thank you. I appreciate it.
Up next, an encore of the CNN Town Hall with President Biden moderated by Don Lemon.