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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Biden to G.O.P. Governors Threatening to Sue Over New Vaccine Rules, "Have at it;" How COVID Attacks Those Who are not Fully Vaccinated; Federal Education Dept. Opens Investigation In Florida Over School Mask Mandate Policy; Democrats Hold A Decided Edge So Far On Ballots Returned Ahead Of Tuesday's Vote. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 10, 2021 - 20:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Good evening.

To hear Republican governors tell it, President Biden's new mandate for businesses with more than a hundred workers is dictatorial, unlawful, un-American, unconstitutional, a war against capitalism. One said it smacks of the Soviet Union, another suggested it's time to use the 25th Amendment and unseat the President.

I'm John Berman, in for Anderson on a night when hysteria is high and sincerity low when it comes to Republican reaction to the new mandate President Biden announced Thursday.

Today, the White House said those orders should go into effect in weeks, Biden today, unfazed about the reaction from those governors.


QUESTION: What is your message to Republicans who are calling your vaccine requirements an overreach? Who are threatening to challenge it in court?



BERMAN: And let me note up front, we invited 15 of those Republican governors to come on the show tonight to explain their legal reasoning. I'll save you the suspense, all said they could not or didn't respond, you get the drift.

The ultimate reason is simple. This is not what they say it is. These governors who say vaccine requirements are awful. You know what they have? Vaccine requirements for schools, for a range of diseases -- diphtheria, polio, measles, mumps, rubella. These requirements haven't ended civilization as we know it, but for some reason, this one mandate for COVID will end capitalism and resurrect Lenin.

We'd also have to ask those governors about the latest evidence that says the vaccines don't just work, they work damn well. The C.D.C. today reported on new studies that say those who were unvaccinated are about four and a half times more likely to get COVID. They're more than 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die from disease.

And those are facts borne out seemingly every week by a new study that largely backs up the previous one. The key point of Biden's six-point plan is to require businesses with more than a hundred workers to require vaccination or -- and this is important -- or they can set up weekly testing, plus give workers paid time off to get tested. So, they actually have a choice. Something you didn't hear those Republican governors mention when they were thundering away; something we would have asked them about if one of them -- just one -- would have found the time to come on the program.

Now, reasonable minds could debate the legal framework behind the President's order or how something so vast will be implemented. But let's not kid ourselves here. This is not what they say it is.

If it were, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, in his response would not have bemoaned the attacks on Texans right to choose. You heard that right. The Governor who signed into law this new anti-abortion measure that bans a woman's constitutional right after six weeks, he is suddenly for a right to choose?

And remember, there is a testing out here. Why is Governor Abbott so desperate to maintain the right to choose to not get tested? Does he want to protect worker ability to walk on the job with a serious case of COVID? And then there's what Abbott called quote, "an assault on private businesses." Something Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis picked up on, too.

Today, he said the President was having a quote, "hissy fit," and that people might lose their jobs. Again, a bit hypocritical for both men. They're all huffy about President Biden telling businesses what they can and can't do on vaccines, when they have literally told businesses what they can and can't do on vaccines.

The cruise ship industry wanted to require vaccinations and Abbott and DeSantis said no. Oh, and the order from DeSantis which was shut down by a judge last month, would have included a fine, just like Biden's. Again, this is not what they say it is.

At the time, DeSantis framed his order banning vaccine passports using similar language as Abbott used yesterday. DeSantis said he was protecting a personal choice. He also recently said this about the impact of that choice.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): At the end of the day, though, it is what somebody -- it is about your health and whether you want that protection or not. It really doesn't impact me or anyone else.


BERMAN: "It really doesn't impact me or anyone else." Again, he didn't say that months ago before there was a delta variant, that was last Friday. This is what personal choice looks like right now in Florida. It's the current seven-day moving average of deaths in Florida from coronavirus. It's never been higher. But thankfully, cases are finally starting to drop there.

As Dr. Fauci told CNN Tuesday morning when responding to that comment by DeSantis, quote: "When you have a virus that's circulating in the community and you are not vaccinated, you are part of the problem."

And by the way, if Republicans and conservatives on the far right were really so upset about businesses demanding employees vaccinate, you'd think they have something to say about FOX News? Its parent company has its own version of a vaccine passport where workers have to self- report, not a peep.

Now, you may ask, why do they think mandates are basically all four horsemen of the Apocalypse?


BERMAN: Well, because they've all seen what happens when you try to talk reasonably to people who just don't want to hear it.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And you know what, I believe totally in your freedoms, I do. But you've got to do what you have to do. But I recommend take the vaccines, I did it. It's good. Take the vaccines.

But --


TRUMP: That's okay. That's all right. You've got your freedoms, but I happened to take the vaccine.


BERMAN: That's why. That's why they like mandates for social media companies, but not for life-saving vaccines, because this is all political. Because the former President was jeered last month in Alabama, all because he said perhaps the most honest thing he has ever uttered, "Take the vaccines. I did it. It's good."

It's a personal choice, all right. Tell people the truth or risk not having them like you.

Let's start tonight with CNN's chief national affairs correspondent, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, we heard the President tell Republican governors to quote, "Have at it." What else is the White House saying tonight about these likely legal challenges?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN U.S. CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: John, the White House does believe that they're on solid legal footing, and this is why. They point to a 1970 act by Congress. Very important here as it is challenged in the courts. This is a congressional act. It's OSHA.

It is the Occupational Safety and Health Act. It keeps all of our workplaces safe. If it's from you know, fire escapes to other matters, anything that would keep from grave danger at your workplace. And the White House believes after much research that this is the way they think they can get more people vaccinated because they believe this is a grave danger in the workplace.

So, this is the legal strategy, the legal framework they are going to go through here. And despite all the bluster from Republican governors across the country, it will not be one of the Republican governors filing suit, it will have to be a business owner and likely there will be one.

But the White House lawyers I talked to here today and really across Washington and beyond, they believe it is because of this OSHA Act and Act by Congress, again, not just a legislative or not just an executive act, they believe they're acting under that framework of the grave danger in the workplace.

So again, the President said "have at it" and he seem to mean it -- John.

BERMAN: Is there a sense of how prepared the administration is to implement and enforce these, either vaccine or testing mandates?

ZELENY: Look, that is the question here, and the Labor Department is going to be writing this emergency rule, and all they would say today, it's going to be coming up in the coming week. So don't look for this any time soon. They're frankly giving businesses some time here. They want businesses to sort of act on their own.

And John, interestingly, the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, two of the biggest business groups here in Washington support this move. They believe that the government is giving businesses cover here to reach the ultimate end goal of vaccinating workers.

So, it's very interesting. We've heard a lot of complaints from Republican politicians, but not as much from actual Republican business owners, or at least, the heads of these groups here. So, the implementation will be coming up in the coming days.

And as for that Federal worker mandate, that is 75 days away, so there is some time here. But why didn't the President do it sooner? They said they were he was waiting for the F.D.A. to formally authorize these drugs here.

So, he's always been resistant to mandates. He is suddenly is supporting them, and we'll see how this plays out.

BERMAN: What about possible additional steps, Jeff? You know, people have asked about vaccine mandates for commercial air travel, for example.

ZELENY: Well, that is something that the White House interestingly did not close the door to today. Jeff Zients who leads the COVID task force here, and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki both intentionally left the door open. They said, look, additional steps could be taken including on airlines.

As of now, that is not going to happen. The T.S.A. thinks this would be essentially a nightmare, you know, going through passengers coming through, proving their vaccinations, but it is one of the things that they are leaving open.

And a few months ago, the President was opposed to mandate even Federal workers, so they are doing what they can to get people vaccinated. So, they left the door open to vaccinating fliers. We'll see if that happens.

But John, as the week ends here, this is a dramatic shift. The biggest steps this President has taken so far in this fight.

BERMAN: Delta changes things. Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much for that.


BERMAN: Perspective on the actions and reaction from Dr. Jerome Adams who served as U.S. Surgeon General under the former President and Robert Reich, Clinton era Secretary of Labor, the department that is drafting the rules for the mandate. He's also the author of the book, "The System: Who Rigged it, How We Fixed it."

Secretary, I want to start with you here. When it comes to these mandates for businesses with a hundred employees and more, to either vaccinate or do weekly testing. How big of a task will this be for the Federal government to implement?


ROBERT REICH, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR: John, it is not going to be a giant task because most big companies already are doing this or they're on the way to doing this. In fact, this is a very conservative mandate.

I mean under OSHA, which is 50 years old, that statute allows the Federal government to set workplace conditions for companies that have as few as 10 workers. So, to go after companies that have 100 workers or more, you're really talking about companies that already have a fairly large public profile, and most of the time, tried to do what is right for their workers, most of the time.

Now, they still are going to have some monitoring, they're still going to have to do some regulating. OSHA inspectors themselves are not nearly going to be enough to put this into effect.

ASMAN: Well, what about that? I mean, how do you police this, Secretary?

REICH: Well, how do you actually do it? I think that you have to do it by allowing both workers to express their own views at the workplace in terms of not getting what the Federal government says that they should get, what OSHA says that they are allowed to get. Unions have to be very, very actively involved where there are unions at the workplace.

And there also have got to be various private sector groups and public policy groups who are working and gathering the data on which companies are obeying this order.

BERMAN: Dr. Adams, I want to ask you about some of the pushback that we heard from Republican governors, many of whom run states. I mean, all of whom run states that have vaccine mandates for kids who go to school, one type or another. So, it's not like vaccine mandates are foreign to any of these governors.

But Governor Abbott, for instance, in Texas is threatening to deny liquor licenses to restaurants that require proof of vaccination. So, how does that save lives?

DR. JEROME ADAMS, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, it doesn't. We need to calm down on the political rhetoric, and I want to be clear as a doctor -- vaccines work, and as you say, they work damn well. They are our number one tool to get out of this pandemic and to stay open.

And I want to applaud President Biden for trying to think outside the box as to how we increase vaccinations. I was impressed with a lot of the content in yesterday's speech.

I did take issue with some of the delivery because I think it fed into the culture wars. I'm part of the COVID collaborative with Mark McClellan, with Andy Slavitt, with people from several administrations, and we issued a letter on COVID safe zones in workplaces. And here's what we said.

We said that workplaces should establish infection screening protocols -- testing, we said that's where you start. That's where the mandate should be. And people can opt out of it if they get vaccinated. Well, in essence, it's the same thing that the Biden administration said, but really, it's focusing on making sure we're creating the safe workspace by ensuring no one is coming in there who is positive and then letting people opt out.

So, I think the words do matter in terms of feeding into the culture war. But John, again, I want to be clear, these vaccines work and workplaces, the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, who I've worked with to try to increase vaccinations in the past, recognize that this is about keeping America open. It's about our freedom.

BERMAN: Mr. Secretary, what about the threats of legal action? How solid do you think the legal ground is here for these new rules?

REICH: Well, I don't think there's any legal ground at all, John. For 105 years, the Supreme Court has made it very, very clear that they endorse vaccine mandates with regard to public health and particularly critical public health issues. And 105 years ago, it was smallpox.

And one state government actually forced a smallpox vaccination on its population. There was an action, an appeal to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court said look, public safety, public health, it warrants government action. That is really the essence of our society. If government can't take action on behalf of the people with regard to public health, then what good is a society?

BERMAN: Massachusetts and Jacobson right there, the Supreme Court case. Dr. Adams, you were part of the Trump White House and Operation Warp Speed. The White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki said today that this administration didn't anticipate so much hesitation and vehement opposition from within the Republican Party given that it was a Republican President who was in office last year, when this vaccine was developed.

President Trump took the vaccine, though, I know it wasn't on camera. I know you don't like to wade into politics here. But, you know, does this level of vaccine hesitancy from Republicans surprise you?

ADAMS: Well, we need to understand that we are already at vaccination rates for COVID for adults that are higher than what we get for the flu in any given year. So, we actually are doing relatively well.

If you had asked a public health professional this time last year what you expected our vaccination rates to be for COVID, I don't think you'd find one who thinks that they would be much higher than what they are when you look at measles, when you look at what happens with flu every year.

We need to just take the politics out of this and talk to the people directly. And I'm talking to all the people who are listening to this show tonight. Please, talk to your health provider, get the facts. And once you get the facts, then hopefully you'll come to get the vax without needing a mandate, without someone forcing you because the hospitals are full.


ADAMS: I'm here in Chicago right now, I was at Northwestern today talking to ICU docs who are dog tired, and they're taking care of people who are mostly unvaccinated.

My kids are missing school because there are so many people who are getting COVID within these schools that we're having to quarantine or isolate people.

We want to stay open. We want to keep you safe. And the best way to do that is to get more people vaccinated.

BERMAN: Doctor, I just want to follow up on one point you made. I do understand that the number of adults with one dose is over what -- 70 percent now with one dose the number of adults. However, there is still 80 million Americans who are eligible who haven't been vaccinated. That's a huge number given how dangerous this virus is, correct?

ADAMS: It is a huge number, but we need to remember that most of these people are not what I call vaccine resistant. Some people say anti- vaxx, I find that term pejorative. Most of these people are in the movable middle. They're vaccine hesitant. They're African-Americans who still remember that Tuskegee lasted for 40 years. We're not going to undo that in nine months.

There are women who are concerned about the misinformation they've been fed about fertility problems. These vaccines do not cause miscarriage or infertility. Three studies came out this week, showing that.

There are people who have legitimate questions, and I found that when I talked to them with compassion and with empathy, I can convince a lot of them over time to get their vaccination. And that empathy, I think was missing a little bit from the President's delivery last night, even though again, I liked the content about vaccinations, about testing, and about treatment.

BERMAN: Well, Dr. Jerome Adams, Robert Reich, Secretary, thank you both so much for trying to get people beyond their hesitancy. I think it's important for all of us.

ADAMS: John, hesitancy beyond the politics.

BERMAN: We're going to continue our conversation about the fight against COVID, next with a disturbing look at COVID patients struggling to breathe, putting faces on an epidemic and underlining the need for as many people as possible to get vaccinated.

And later, a Federal investigation into Florida's order banning school mandates as Governor DeSantis claims a legal victory in his fight against local school districts.



BERMAN: We want to continue our COVID coverage tonight by showing you what a COVID patient struggling to breathe looks like. This is what happens to people when every weapon in our arsenal is not used to its fullest potential or even the most obvious one, the vaccine. We warn you, this may be disturbing to some, but it's necessary to see up close just what this nation is fighting patient by patient.

Randi Kaye has the story.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): You are watching the desperate attempt to save a COVID patient's life. This 75-year-old woman is having serious trouble breathing and is in desperate need of oxygen.

DR. HUDMAN HOO, PULMONOLOGIST, ST. ANTHONY'S HOSPITAL: So this patient was being maintained on non-invasive ventilation and unfortunately, failed. And so we had to transition to mechanical ventilation, which requires placement of an airway within the endotracheal -- within the trachea, the windpipe.

So the patient has to be sedated to allow us to access the airway.

KAYE (voice over): Dr. Hudman Hoo is a pulmonologist and the Medical Director of the ICU at St. Anthony's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. As the patient's oxygen levels dropped, doctors quickly prepared to intubate her so they could get her on a ventilator to help her breathe. The process involves a slender surgical probe known as a stylet.

HOO: He uses stylet that goes in the tube to maintain some rigidity so he can guide where the tube goes. And he uses a laryngoscope blade to lift the tongue out of the way so you can visualize it and it's actually a fiber optic visualization. There's a little camera at the end of the laryngoscope blades so he can visualize the airway and guide the tube into place.

KAYE (voice over): It has to be precise, yet time is of the essence. Lives are on the line.

For this patient, a second chance. Later we learned she had received her first dose of the vaccine, but got COVID while waiting for her second shot. Still, most patients here are unvaccinated.

Across the Bay Care Hospital System, which includes St. Anthony's, hospitalizations have increased tenfold since the beginning of July, and about 85 percent of the ICU patients are unvaccinated.

KAYE (on camera): Do they express regret that they're not vaccinated?

HOO: We have had patients that come and request like, can I get a vaccine now? But they don't understand that it's something that's meant to be preventative and once you have the disease, it's not helpful.

KAYE (voice over): Dr. Warren Abell, a critical care physician in the ICU calls the pandemic quote, "our World War II." Unvaccinated patients as young as 20 years old, dying before his eyes.

DR. WARREN ABELL, CRITICAL CARE PHYSICIAN, ST. ANTHONY'S HOSPITAL: Every person that that passes away that was unvaccinated, it's a preventable death. It's very -- it's heartbreaking actually.

KAYE (voice over): Twenty seven of the 28 ICU beds here are filled with COVID patients, and far too many are on ventilators like this woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you nod your head for me? There we are. All right, good.

ABELL: Almost always, before they get intubated, they want to call their loved ones to tell them they love them and say goodbye and unfortunately, oftentimes that's the last time they speak to them.

KAYE (on camera): For people who say, you know, this is Florida. We're past it in Florida. We're good. What do you say to that?

[20:25:08] HOO: This is one of the worst waves that I've experienced. I mean, I

think things are as bad with COVID as they've ever been in Florida.

SUE RIVERA, NURSE MANAGER, ST. ANTHONY'S HOSPITAL: No, come spend a day with me. You'll see we're not okay. I walked down the hall and almost all of our patients are on their bellies to help them breathe.


BERMAN: And Randi Kaye joins us now. Randi, given the surge in patients, given that we're not okay as these healthcare workers are saying, does this hospital have what it needs? Does it have enough ventilators?

KAYE: Well, John, they have dipped into their hurricane supply of ventilators. Those are the ventilators that they would have put aside for a major storm. So, they are using those. They are also using these refrigerated mobile units as morgues so they need those as well. And funeral homes also, John, in this area are feeling the impact.

We spoke to the Funeral Director at Wilson Funeral Home here in Tampa, and he told me that not only has he buried friends of his, but he is also running out of caskets. He is now ordering multiple caskets a day. He has had to move the hearses out of the garage to make room for more caskets inside that funeral home. And he also told me he's having trouble scheduling funerals because the cemeteries are so busy. He can't even get a funeral scheduled on the books.

So, I will just tell you that being in that ICU for anyone who thinks that you know that we shouldn't be wearing masks or we might not need to get a vaccine, they should spend a day with those healthcare workers, walking in that ICU, walking in their shoes. It could change their mind -- John.

BERMAN: Yes, indeed, and a bull market for funerals. What a tragedy that is.

Randi Kaye, thank you so much.

Up next, breaking news on the battle over masks in Florida schools. How Governor Ron DeSantis won one legal battle today, but now the Federal Department of Education is stepping into the fray. We have the details ahead.



BERMAN: Breaking news, the Education Department is opening an investigation in Florida over its school mask mandate policy. The goal of the investigation is to determine whether the Florida Department of Education may be preventing school districts in the state from considering or meeting the needs of students with disabilities by not mandating masks. This is an as an appeals court today reinstated a stay on mask mandates in schools, meaning schools in the state cannot require mask for now. Today's ruling is the latest in the showdown between Governor Ron DeSantis and some local school districts that have insisted on requiring students to wear masks. The Alachua County School District is one of those districts but was not part of this particular lawsuit. Its Superintendent Carlee Simon joins me now.

Superintendent, thank you so much for being with us.

First, I do want your reaction to the breaking news about the Department of Education Civil Rights Enforcement Investigation. It's based on concern for students with disabilities. Is that one of the reasons why you wanted to require mask in your schools?

CARLEE SIMON, SUPERINTENDENT, ALACHUA COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Well, it certainly is. And this is a reason that we've actually shared with the Commissioner of Education and with the Board of Education, that we have fragile students who need to have the additional layer of support and security that our mask mandate would have by making sure that we have as many people mask to reduce the transmission of the virus.

BERMAN: Now, I know, you say that your stiff district is not part of the lawsuit that was ruled on today by the appeals court. But it's an important ruling nevertheless. What impact do you think it will have on students across the state?

SIMON: So as far as our district, it's not going to have an impact. We are continuing to do what we have done since the school year began. We're going to have the mask mandate to protect as many students as possible so we can provide face to face instruction. We know that it's impacting our quarantine rates, because we are now below 1,000 students, which is the first time that we've had this since the school year has begun. The fewer students we have quarantining the more that we can have instruction and face to face time with.

We do have our own case, and not just do we have our own case, but we have other school districts that have cases, as well as other family groups. And I think this is an interesting hill that the governor wants to have this battle on, because it's not just one case that's coming to him. He is going to have to defend this with multiple different avenues, multiple courts, and by multiple people who have the same types of concerns. It is not something that is really appreciated in the community. We have more than 50% of Florida students who are under this mask mandate. I think that's telling and I think it says that this is perhaps not the battle the governor should be taking on.

BERMAN: What are you hearing from parents and students for that matter?

SIMON: So our students, and our parents are, you know, enjoying the fact that they're having class and they're able to participate in the day to day. I get quite a bit of support from community members. We're thankful that we are protecting as many people as possible because it's not just in our schools. It's our entire community and they appreciate that. Our students are complying. I have my own children in schools and they're enjoying being with their friends and learning. his is what they want. We do have other people who are upset, but it's a small group of people.

BERMAN: In a speech last night, President Biden laid out some additional steps to keep schools safe. One is to ask schools to test students and staff regularly. Do you have the resources to do that? And what do you think parents will say about having their children tested regularly.

SIMON: So we will -- we are working on a screening program where we can have parents opt in to test I think it would help us to just get a temperature make sure that we understand how much COVID we have in our schools. We do have ESSER funding although we are asking the governor next week where the ESSER 3 funding is because we have not had that released yet to outside of our district to find out. I'm just had the additional resources to fund all of this.

We have rapid tests for COVID that we currently are using for students who show symptoms as well as for five day testing. But we are excited about the screening program to help us more understand the level of COVID just by having random screens.


BERMAN: Superintendent Simon, thank you so much for being with us tonight. Stay safe.

SIMON: Thank you.

BERMAN: Next, is California Governor Gavin Newsom faces the recall election in four days. I'm going to speak with a former governor who knows the politics of the state a good deal better than most, Jerry Brown. That's coming up.


BERMAN: Four days and counting until the final votes cast in the California recall election. The latest figures show the Democrats so far have returned by far the largest number of ballots prior to next Tuesday's deadline. Today, around 7.3 million ballots have been returned about 53% from registered Democrats, 25% from registered Republicans. Those figures from a group called Political Data Incorporated a firm that works with Democrats and non-partisan groups.

I'm joined tonight by a man who has a decades of experience in California politics, former Governor Jerry Brown.

Governor, thanks so much for being with us. What do you say to the rest of the country tonight who's watching this recall election wondering what on earth is going on here? What is this unusual system California has to recall governors Is this a process that you support in principle?

JERRY BROWN (D-CA) FMR GOVERNOR: Well, yes, recall the initiative the referendum but recall is rarely used, except in the last decade or so big money has been able to put recall successfully before the people. Now this one is going to go down to defeat, because for a very simple reason it has no rationale. And the people wanting to succeed Governor Newsom are ridiculous. I mean, they, their values, their proposals are so far from California, they belong in a foreign country or something


So, the recall, I think it paradoxically is going to strengthen Governor Newsom and what he's trying to do. So yes, we've had this thing since Hiram Johnson, a governor back in 1913, put it into a fact to fight the Southern Pacific, Southern Pacific Railroad that has a stranglehold on government. So it's a relic, but it's fair. But you can see the result will be a resounding vote of confidence.

BERMAN: You found something in California, which predates your tenure there, Governor Brown.

BROWN: Oh, not very much. Almost everything started my governorship in '75. No, there was another 100 years, sitting around with a lot of mischief actually.

BERMAN: Do you think it was smart, the Wise strategy for Governor Newsom to sort of nationalize this race and tie Republican front runner, Larry Elder, to Donald Trump. It seems to be a warning, basically saying that, like be careful, or California could end up looking like Texas or Florida?

BROWN: Well, I think looking Elder in the recall that Trump helped you get the opposition going? I think Elder on his own demerits is seeking the recall. So the others, I mean, this thing, 41 characters, most of them are unknown. Running guessing government has been really working hard over the last three years. So look, this recall the initiative, it is kind of a wild process. But to get rid of it, we'll take a vote of the people again. And I think it might be rather hard to get the people to give up the power, because I think they'd like to hold the last part.

BERMAN: So look, I think it may be easy for some, and it sounds like maybe you'd write off Larry Elder at this point and say he can never win. But look, I mean, we had 2016, we saw Donald Trump win an election. So --


BERMAN: -- what are your concerns there?

BROWN: Well, if you'd asked me a couple of weeks ago, I might have said, well, this could be close. But it is turning I think, on the basic philosophy of California, and that is heavily Democratic. And the people who are running are out of touch, they might not be out of touch with Mississippi or I'm going to be Texas. But they are out of touch, and not with everybody in California. But the vast majority, I'd say 55, 60%. So we are a divided country. We're also divided state. But there is a strong majority that agree maybe not everything. But the vast majority of what Gavin Newsom has been doing.

BERMAN: There's something I think important that people need to be aware of right now that Larry Elder is doing. He's trying to basically set the table for some sort of voter fraud here again, with no evidence, no basis at all for this. He's saying, quote, I believe that there might very well be shenanigans, as it were in the 2020 election, Donald Trump said this week that the recall is probably rigged.

Go ahead. I mean, this is just a new reality to deal with the Republicans basically will go out and say an election is rigged and crooked before it's even done.

BROWN: Yes, if this keeps going, democracy itself, our own governing process, will begin to lose its credibility it already is. And so, it's a very dangerous tactic started by Trump. And now the little Trumps who are following. We have to have a system where the winners win, the winners accepted by the losers. I mean, everybody got accepted the loss, Nixon accepted the loss.

What's going on here? I think it's a very disquieting sign. It comes from the intensity of belief. People are giving their political preferences, almost a religious conviction. And when it doesn't turn out, they just make up state of affairs that don't comport with reality. And it's very threatening to our Democratic system.

BERMAN: Religious conviction that's coming from someone who I believe did go to Divinity School. Former Governor Jerry Brown, I appreciate you being with us tonight. Thank you so much for your time.

BROWN: OK, thank you.

BERMAN: Up next, breaking news. President Biden's message to the nation with the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks tomorrow. And a story of friendship, family and great loss on that tragic day.



BERMAN: Breaking news on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, in a video released by the White House a short time ago, President Biden paid tribute to the victims and what he called the central lesson learned on that day.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We learn that unity is the one thing that must never break. Unity is what makes us who we are, America at its best. To me, that's the central lesson of September 11. Is that at our most vulnerable in the push and pull of all makes us human, ad the battle for the soul of America. Unity is our greatest strength.


BERMAN: The President will visit all three sides of the attacks tomorrow including Ground Zero where the tribute in light shines tonight to honor the victims.

"360's" Gary Tuchman spent September 11, 2001 in many days and weeks after reporting from Ground Zero but there's one story he hasn't told until now a story that is very personal to him and his good friend.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the morning of September 11 2001, Louis and Diane Inghilterra were excitedly getting ready to move into a renovated house in Westchester County, New York. Diane who has been a friend of mine for more than 35 years, says her husband did not have to go to work that day, but felt it was important to just go in briefly for a morning meeting.


(on-camera): Do you remember anything about him going to work that morning?

DIANE INGHILTERRA, WIDOW OF LOUIS INGHILTERRA: Yes, because we were so giggly and silly.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Louis was a senior vice president of the Fiduciary Trust Company. He worked on the 95th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. He called Diane from the office that morning, asking if the movers had arrived.

D. INGHILTERRA: And then he started to reflect a moment and he said, oh, oh my gosh, and I said, what's wrong? And he said, oh, I think that plane, I see a plane, it's going to hit the North Tower. And I said, what? And he said, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have told you that because you have the movers and you're just don't worry about it. I'll call you back.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): So he was afraid he was going to scare you?


TUCHMAN (on-camera): And he said he's going to call you back. And then he hung up.

D. INGHILTERRA: And then he hung up.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Minutes later, she saw that plane did a deed flying to the north tower. She was terrified, but knew her husband was in the south tower. Seventeen minutes later, though, the second plane hit.

D. INGHILTERRA: I froze. And then I kept saying, Louis knew he saw the first plane, he must have gotten out.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But he did not. Forty-five-year-old Louis Inghilterra was killed. He left behind Diane, and their two-year-old son. A son who shares his father's first name, Louis Sam, who is today a 22-year-old college student at Colorado State University majoring in interior architecture and design.

(on-camera): Do you have any memory of your father at all?


TUCHMAN (on-camera): Do you feel like you were cheated that you have no memory of him?

L. INGHILTERRA: Yes, 100%.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Diane remembers waiting until Louis was about four to try to explain what happened to his father.

D. INGHILTERRA: And I said daddy went to work. And a plane hit his building. And daddy died very quickly. And so that became how he understood how his dad died.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): When Louis was in first grade, he wrote this in class.

L. INGHILTERRA: My dad died. He was in a building and a plane crashed into the building. And he couldn't get out. He is an angel now, but he is in my heart now, but I love him.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Diane says her little son's words and actions back then helped sustain her.

D. INGHILTERRA: I was in the kitchen. I remember so many times. Just like mommy, like, yes, you need a hug.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): This week, Diane is visiting her son at college. And she and Louis invited me to watch home videos of father and son taken just a few months before 9/11.


LOUIS INGHILTERRA, 9/11 ATTACK VICTIM: Mommy, mommy, that's right. How about this one?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Your mom was telling us that there are a lot of things that you do, the way you look that remind you of your father. How does that make you feel?

L. INGHILTERRA: Oh, it makes you feel great. Makes me feel connected to someone that I basically never knew. But it's really heartwarming. I'd say for me.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Diane has never remarried. She still wears her engagement ring.

(on-camera): Are you happy today?

L. INGHILTERRA: I am. I think despite the horrible tragedy that happened to me and to my mother, I think I've overcome and persevered. And I'm really happy person today.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): And you Diane?

D. INGHILTERRA: I am happy.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): And you know what, my guess is your husband and your father would be happy that you're?





BERMAN: Oh, I'm sure he would be happy. And Gary joins us now. Gary, what a story. Did Dane and Louis today have any specific plans for the 20th anniversary tomorrow?

TUCHMAN: Well, John, Diane and Louis are very private people. They've only attended one commemoration in New York City all these years. They'd like to do things quietly. So they're telling me what they're doing tomorrow. They're going to a remote part of Colorado and they're going on a long hike together, just mother and son. John.

BERMAN: Just wonderful they have each other. You know what, Gary, send them our love. That was a really, really lovely story.

TUCHMAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: And you can join Jake Tapper, Wolf Blitzer and Paula Reid as we remember September 11. Live coverage begins tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. Eastern.

Coming up, a very fond farewell to a friend and a legend in our business who has about six minutes to go before he officially retires.



BERMAN: Tonight, we end our broadcast with a special thank you and goodbye to our friend and colleague Dave Fitzpatrick. We call him Fitz. Fitz is retiring after more than 45 years in this business, 45 years. He was at CBS News for 25 years where he traveled all over the world with Dan Rather and others and then joined us at CNN shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001. For years he produced some of the best investigative stories for this network, and eventually came to work full time for this show as one of the staff writers. Fitz always has a story to tell, it's not unusual to hear him start off with something like when I was covering the Iran hostage crisis or that time I was in Pyongyang.

One of our favorite stories about Fitz is when he was still in high school. He drove with some friends from New Hampshire to Washington D.C. and talked his way into attending the presidential funeral for John F. Kennedy. Even at that young age, he was eager to witness history and report on it, which he did for the New Hampshire Sunday News.

Fitz and his wife Andrea (ph) are now ready for their next adventure. They have two baby grandchildren who they hope to spend more time with. It'll also have more time to obsess over his beloved Patriots and Red Sox, which are wicked awesome obsessions. This is his last show when after 45 years in the news business, Fitz can finally turn off his phone and relax just a little.

Fitz, you're a legend in this business and we're going to miss you not as a colleague but as a friend, thank you.


The news continues. So let's hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME."

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: He's a good man. I was lucky enough to work with him at ABC.