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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Continues To Peddle The Big Lie As The G.O.P. Embraces Him; Rep. Kinzinger Says Trump Aides Will Be Compelled To Testify To January 6 Committee; Average Rate Of Daily COVID Cases Drop Below 100K; Some Hospital Workers Are Willing tTo Lose Their Jobs Instead Of Getting COVID Vaccine; WI Parent Sues School District; Autopsy Results Released Tomorrow On Gabby Petito's Death. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 11, 2021 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thanks so much for joining us. AC 360 with Anderson starts now.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: John Berman here, in for Anderson.

One of the joys of this job used to be wondering what the new day -- no plug intended -- would bring. Not anymore. Now it's watching headlines like these pop up, quote: "Here's why you should be worried about U.S. democracy right now." That's from political analyst, Zach Wolf, and yes, it's the thing.


BILL MAHER, TALK SHOW HOST: The ding-dongs who sacked the Capitol last year? That was like when al-Qaeda tried to take down the World Trade Center the first time with a van, it was a joke. But the next time they came back, with planes.


BERMAN: Bill Maher misspoke there about the date, the attack on the Capitol was this year. As for the rest, the notion that what the former President incited in January was only a dress rehearsal. Well, listen to someone who does serious for a living.

Yesterday on CBS News, former National Security Council senior official, Fiona Hill was asked about Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley's quote in Bob Woodward and Robert Costa's new book, "Peril," comparing January 6th to quote, "The great dress rehearsal."

Her answer is chilling.


MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS HOST: You're a Russia analyst.

FIONA HILL, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SENIOR OFFICIAL: Exactly. BRENNAN: You know immediately with that phrase is, which is what

Lenin called an uprising that preceded the revolution. I read that and I said, "Dear God."

HILL: Yes.

BRENNAN: I mean, he -- the General is saying that this is a precursor, potentially to further violence. Is this overstating things in a historical sense?

HILL: He is not overstating it at all, because I mean, we all saw in real time what happened on January 6th at the Capitol Building. I mean, this is exactly the thing that you think of historical revolutions, storming the Bastille during the French Revolution, storming the Winter Palace during the Russian Revolution that General Milley was alluding to.

And as he was saying, we've seen many historical episodes where there is violence, people discount it. They think that this is just a passing occurrence.


BERMAN: "Just a passing occurrence." You mean, like Mike Pence, the one rioters wanted to lynch, calling it quote, "One day in January," that kind of thing? Well, if that were all it was, it would be bad enough and destructive enough to the truth, which any healthy democracy rests on.

But it's not just rewriting the history of one day. It is rewriting the history of another. Election Day 2020. Here is a member of the House Republican leadership doing it over the weekend, when asked if he thought the election was stolen?


REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): Well, Chris, I've been very clear from the beginning. If you look at the number of states that didn't follow their state passed laws that govern the election for President. That is what the United States Constitution says.

They don't say that the states determine what the rules are, they say the State Legislatures determine the rules --

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR: But the state shall certify --

SCALISE: They didn't follow those state legislative.

WALLACE: The states shall certify --

SCALISE: They didn't follow those legislative rules. Right. But at the end of the day, are we going to follow what the Constitution says or not? I hope we get back to what the Constitution says. But clearly in a number of states, they didn't follow those legislative rules.

WALLACE: So you think the election was stolen?

SCALISE: What I said is there are states that didn't follow their legislatively set rules. That's what the United States Constitution says.

WALLACE: Do you think the election was stolen?

SCALISE: And it's not just the regulations -- states that did not follow the laws set, which the Constitution says they're supposed to follow. When you see states like Georgia cleaning up some of the mess and people calling that Jim Crow law, that's a flat out lie.


BERMAN: He simply could not say what election officials in 50 states certified in 60 some odd court cases reaffirmed. But it's not just the rewriting the history of that day, either. Here is Senator Chuck Grassley, who certainly knows better trying to rewrite January 3rd, that's the day according to testimony from someone in the room, the former President discussed decapitating the Justice Department and appointing as Attorney General, someone who would support his demands as he tried to overturn the election.


SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): That was the advice that one person in the Justice Department was suggested by just one person, and he rejected all that. And they're trying to make it a scenario that he was trying to get the Justice Department.


BERMAN: Yes, that's the same Senator Grassley, who is running for re- election and who stood on stage Saturday with the man he once said, and I'm quoting from his statement here, quote, "displayed poor leadership in his words, and actions," unquote. He said on the 13th of February, and before that on January 7th, the day after the insurrection. So another two days rewritten.

But it takes more to create the danger of a political uprising than just the wholesale creation of an old alternate myth to explain the defeat, as Confederate States did with the lost cause or Nazis claim that the betrayal from within was the reason Germany lost the First World War.


BERMAN: It also takes some to rally behind, which is why this program tries to play the ramblings of the former President sparingly, if at all.

But in this case, because he is the man whom Republicans like Chuck Grassley, Mike Pence, Steve Scalise, and all but a few lawmakers have chosen to supplicate themselves to, here is a sampling of what he said in Iowa this weekend.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am telling you, the single biggest issue, as bad as the border is, it is horrible -- horrible what they're doing. They're destroying our country -- as bad as that is, the single biggest issue, the issue that gets the most -- the most pull, the most respect, the biggest cheers is talking about the election fraud of 2020 presidential election.

The Justice Department was scared or impotent. They didn't want to do anything about it.

The Supreme Court refused to hear the case by Texas and almost 20 other states.

They rule against me all the time, all the time, very personal rulings.

It's been going on for years, but never like this. This again, they used COVID in order to cheat with all of these ballots and all of this early voting and late voting.

We are one movement, one people, one family, and one glorious nation under God, and together, we will make America powerful again.


BERMAN: The former President this weekend. Also here, trying yet again to turn a member of a violent insurrectionist mob into a hero.


TRUMP: It's my great honor to address each of you gathered today, to cherish the memory of Ashli Babbitt, a truly incredible person.

There was no reason Ashli should have lost her life that day.


BERMAN: Just to remind you, Ashli Babbitt was a woman who fell under the sway of the QAnon conspiracy, then incited by the former President's rally that day and was part of a violent mob that broke into the Capitol, the mob beat and wounded 140 police officers and wanted to lynch the Vice President.

She was shot and killed trying to break into a secure hallway with fleeing Congress Members just steps away.

And now those very same Republican lawmakers with only a few rare exceptions are hitching their wagons to the man and the idea responsible for the worst act of political violence since the Civil War. And in red states across the country, at the former President's prompting, state legislatures are imposing new laws making elections tougher to voting in, but easier for partisan forces to challenge.

Also at the former President's urgings, Republicans have begun replacing nonpartisan local election officials, including Republicans with Trump loyalists, each day seems to bring another headline, none seems to bring any joy.

Joining us now, two CNN political commentators, both of them conservatives, Mike Shields, who advises House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and S.E. Cupp.

S.E., Congressman Scalise and Senator Grassley, who, as we noted, knows better -- they are leaders in the Republican Party. Scalise is perpetuating the big lie and Grassley is kind of coming up with this new lie that Trump was somehow the victim in the insurrection.

What does this do to the party? And what does this do to the country?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's an embarrassment to the country to watch two grown men, so emasculated so afraid of losing Donald Trump's support and supporters? And unable to say what is -- what we all know to be true.

It's deeply disappointing, but I actually think, it is worse. In some ways, people like Steve Scalise, lawmakers like Chuck Grassley leaning into this and really giving it their full weight is, I think, worse than Trump doing it.

The idea that Trump lies and doesn't know how to tell the truth or doesn't care about facts that's almost baked into the cake, even amongst his supporters. But the idea that lawmakers are going along with it very seriously, not flippantly, but seriously going along with it, I think gives it a lot of credit to people who are tuning into FOX News, maybe who are disaffected voters and think, well, if they're saying it, surely, it must be true, because no one seems to be fact checking this, you know, on some of the right-wing media airwaves.

So, I think it's actually incredibly dangerous what Steve Scalise and Chuck Grassley and many other Republicans, by the way, are doing and some ways worse than saying it in the first place.

BERMAN: So Mike, Chris Wallace couldn't get a straight answer out of Congressman Scalise. Let me try to get a straight answer out of you. Do you think the 2020 election was stolen?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, hey, John. Good evening. I'll give you a straight answer, and maybe you and S.E. can give me a straight answer, too.

I don't believe -- I believe that Joe Biden is our President. He was elected. I would love it if you and S.E. would say that Donald Trump won the 2016 election and call on Hillary Clinton, to say, I read the Mueller report, and you know what, everyone? I was wrong. Donald Trump won fair and square.

I would love it. If you guys would say to Stacey Abrams, it's time for you to concede the 2018 election, maybe you should tell Terry McAuliffe who just said the 2000 election was stolen from Al Gore that he ought to do the same thing because --

BERMAN: Well -- SHIELDS: The intellectual dishonesty of these arguments is what

causes Republicans to say, you know what, I'm just not going to take the bait on these political arguments anymore because the left has created a situation where people don't trust the elections.

And what we need is trust in elections, for people believe when they go and vote, that their vote is going to be counted, that it wasn't stolen from Russians, that when you take part in the election, that your vote counts. We're in a situation where no one believes that anymore.


CUPP: Sorry, the left is responsible for why we don't trust the elections anymore is laughable.

SHIELDS: There is a poll -- let me just finish this last point. Let me finish this last point, S.E. Let me finish this last point, hang on.

CUPP: Absurd. Absurd.

SHIELDS: In May, there was a poll that came out that said more Democrats believe that Donald Trump was elected fraudulently in 2016 than Republicans believe that Joe Biden was elected fraudulently in 2020. That was back in May. But that shows you the depth of distrust in the American political system. And by the way, there's a lot of people that contributed to that in the last four years.

CUPP: Just saying that isn't a cause and effect to that? I mean, you're acting as if that's happened out of nowhere, when in fact Donald Trump saying Republicans --

SHIELDS: No, I think the media and the left really contributed to it. Absolutely.

CUPP: ... that idea. And I think the idea that there is distrust in elections is the sole responsibility of the people screaming distrust the elections. Those are the people responsible, and the people who are willing to believe them, instead of believing the myriad audits, the phony audits, they're willing to go down the conspiracy rabbit holes, and follow Donald Trump off a cliff, because he's told them, he likes them and they're special. It's crazy.

BERMAN: Hey, Mike. Hillary Clinton conceded the election the day after. I was anchoring a television show while that happened, something that Donald Trump, never did.

SHIELDS: But she --

BERMAN: Never did. No, she did. I mean, she absolutely conceded the election and congratulated Donald Trump.

SHIELDS: But she has not conceded the issue though that Russia didn't have a role in it.

BERMAN: She did. She did. She did. I mean, that's an absurd argument. It's absurd on its face.

And as for CNN and others, you know, we called the election for Donald Trump.

SHIELDS: That not my point, John.

BERMAN: We did.

SHIELDS: My point is that there is -- there was a two-year --

BERMAN: The point is that Donald Trump -- Donald Trump from before the election ever happened, said it was rigged. And then after it happened, never accepted the results and then he tried to overturn the results, and to try to equate any of that other stuff, any of that other stuff, it is absurd on its face.

And I think you know that and I think you're willing to admit what Steve Scalise wasn't willing to admit what just that the election wasn't stolen. It's a one word answer and it should be easiest answer in the world to say.

SHIELDS: Well, John, I just -- I just said that. My point is that we've created a situation where when Steve is going -- when the leader, or excuse me, the whip is going to go on television and talk about this, he's not going to take the bait in a fight like that because it's all political now.

We spent four years -- well, the better part of two, maybe three years before the Mueller report came out with daily -- I came on this show, probably 20 to 25 times to talk about the Russia collusion thing, and there are millions of Americans now who believe that Russia elected Donald Trump.

And so that is the context by which we have to look at these things. When you only look at it through one narrow thing. Republicans go, this is all politics, I'm not listening to it anymore. And so we have to have credibility --

CUPP: Listen, the idea that --

SHIELDS: You have to have credibility when you talk about these things. Stacey Abrams ought to concede the 2018 elections.

CUPP: The idea that that bait is the problem, right? Take the bait, as if that is some sort of bait to say acknowledge very clearly what we -- what we all know to be true, which is that the election was legitimate and not stolen. There's no bait to take. He says it.

He doesn't want to say it just for the same reason that that Mike doesn't want to have a conversation about Hillary Clinton and Terry McAuliffe and Joe Biden and Russia, because this conversation is why the American people do not trust the our elections and our political process. This is why.

SHIELDS: Well, I agree with that. That is right. This conversation is why, you're right. CUPP: Yes, you blaming it on the left and the media, when the people

who are actually yelling it from the rooftops aren't hiding about it. We can name them. They are going out in public and yelling, stop believing the elections, distrust everything. Those people are somehow just taking the bait. Got it.

BERMAN: We have to move on, friends. I will say this, it wasn't the media and it wasn't the left chanting "Hang Mike Pence." It wasn't those people who stormed the Capitol at this point. And it wasn't any of them who did not concede the election in November.

Mike Shields, S.E. Cupp, thanks to both of you.

Next, what will lawmakers do and what can they do about witnesses who refuse to cooperate with the January 6th investigation. Hear what one Republican member of the Select Committee just said and what our own Jeffrey Toobin has to say as well.


BERMAN: And later, a remarkable look inside one hospital where vaccine refusal is jeopardizing patient health, but so is the prospect of workers quitting because they're refusing to get vaccinated.


BERMAN: We have what appears to be an answer tonight to one of the big questions hanging over the House Select Committee investigating January 6th: What happens when Trump insiders refuse to cooperate? It certainly happened to other committees and to other investigations before.

And now with Steve Bannon, one of the four big names subpoenaed to appear openly refusing to cooperate, the answer seems to be the committee will get tough. Here is Congressman Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the panel this morning.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): It is my impression and my intention and the Committee's intention that they will be compelled. You know, there is some little back and forth nuances between the lawyers right now, but I think if it gets to a point where we realize they are stonewalling or they're not serious, there's contempt, things can file. You can do it through Congress. You can do it through the D.O.J. criminal contempt.

I think that's our leaning now to say criminal contempt.



BERMAN: So joining us now CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. You heard what Congressman Kinzinger said there. You can refer it to the Justice Department. What would that look like, Jeff? What would the process there be?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it tells you something that as far as I can tell, this process has not been used in decades. It's a very difficult, cumbersome process to the extent we can identify how it works at all, but basically, it works like this.

The Committee says this person is defying a legitimate subpoena. The Justice Department says, oh, we agree and we are going to prosecute this person for contempt -- for criminal contempt.

However, what that means is they have to impanel a grand jury, present evidence to a grand jury, indict, say Steve Bannon, if he continues not to cooperate, and then offer him a jury trial of the criminal contempt.

All of that is possible. It takes a long time, even if the Justice Department pursues it, as Congressman Kinzinger and others are trying to do.

BERMAN: You say, even if the Justice Department pursues it. Why won't they? And I understand this hasn't happened, as far as you can tell in a long time, and if so, hardly, ever, but isn't an insurrection the type of thing that you want to get serious about if you have to?

TOOBIN: I do think it's likely that they will pursue it. I mean, you know, when you're dealing with these archaic legal doctrines, like criminal contempt, like inherent contempt, which is a related point is that, you know, the Justice Department is very careful about its institutional role and trying to make sure that they follow precedents that subsequent administrations would and should follow.

I think it's likely, but all I'm saying is that in a congressional investigation that has a real time limit, with you know, this Congress, ending in a little more than 12 months, the idea that Steve Bannon will be actually forced to testify or actually jailed for criminal contempt strikes me as remote.

BERMAN: Gum up the works beyond January, whatever third, 2023, which is when they'd have a new Congress.

TOOBIN: Absolutely. And that goes for all of these disputes, not just criminal contempt. The President has -- the former President, the former guy, as President Biden calls him, has said he wants to exert executive privilege for certain documents that are at issue. He is also asserting executive privilege regarding Mark Meadows, his former Chief of Staff.

Those arguments, I think, are at least semi-plausible, they're not plausible with Bannon because he didn't even work in the government, but those claims will have to be litigated. That means District Court, Circuit Court, possible petition for certiorari -- all of that can takes up months.

I mean, that's the tragedy of all this is that the Trump administration learned that you can defeat congressional oversight, even if you have bad legal arguments simply by delaying things in the courts.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin, counselor, always a pleasure. Thank you very much.

TOOBIN: All righty, Berman.

BERMAN: Still ahead, we'll take you inside a hospital in rural Missouri where the man in charge says he is afraid a vaccine mandate will make some of his employees quit. And we'll meet one of those employees who says he's right. Their story, next.



BERMAN: There is some good news tonight in the fight against COVID. New infections and hospitalizations are down. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the average rate of daily new cases is dropped below 100,000. Also the F.D.A. is scheduled to meet this week to discuss boosters for people who received the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines.

And as we have been reporting, states with vaccine mandates have seen an uptick in vaccination rates. But there is still vaccine resistance across the country including in rural Missouri, where at Scotland County Hospital, only 60 percent of workers are vaccinated. Elle Reeve went to that hospital and spoke to an employee who is willing to lose her job instead of getting the shot.


SHEILA BALCH, ADMISSIONS STAFF, SCOTLAND COUNTY HOSPITAL: I do believe COVID is terrible. I believe it's dangerous. I watch people every day. And I watch the fear in people as eyes every day and that's -- that's the saddest, most terrifying part is to see our society become so fearful. But I do not think the government has the right to step in and mandate and tell us what we have to do.

ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How do you think that's going to affect you if there is a vaccine mandate in this hospital?

BALCH: I think that I will then seek further employment. And I hate to do that because I love my patients. I love the people I work with. But at the same time, I'm not going to personally go against something that I feel very, very deeply in my soul that would hurt me.

REEVE (voice over): Only about 60 percent of staff are vaccinated at Scotland County Hospital in rural Northeast Missouri. The hospital CEO doesn't think a mandate will make unvaccinated staff gets a shot. He thinks it will make them quit.

DR. RANDY TOBLER, CEO, SCOTLAND COUNTY HOSPITAL: Our reality is we need staff to work, and in return for you working, we're not going to ask you to get a vaccine mandate. There were people in the hospital that freely shared that if the vaccine mandate happened on our account or on anyone else's, they would not work here, that's just something they weren't going to put in their body, and we thought well, why not take advantage of people's perceptions and people's fears? Because everyone wears an N95 mask when they're giving patient care anyway.

A lot of people were pleased that we honored their right to choose what they want to do with their body. And I think that may have helped retain some staff that may have been tempted to jump to other places because of salary or what they perceive as different working conditions.

ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tobler strategy reflects the reality of where he lives. Only 22% of people in the area are vaccinated.

DR. RANDY TOBLER, CEO, SCOTLAND COUNTY HOSPITAL: For someone who is on the fence or has previously been rejecting vaccines for whatever reason, the closer that they see someone, you know, that they either know or love that suffers a grave illness or tragically dies, that often is the switch that flips their mind.

REEVE: And how do you square that with health care workers, though, who saw so many people sick and then still don't want the vaccine?

TOBLER: I can't other than that doesn't make common sense to me. I just -- I can't explain, it's inexplicable.

REEVE: The Supreme Court upheld a vaccine mandate for smallpox in 1905. Still, a small portion of hospital workers around the country have protested vaccine mandates.

But the opposition matters a lot more here because Scotland County Hospital struggles to have enough staff and 10 of its 57 nurses left during the pandemic.

It even mail pamphlets advertising, it had no mandate to nurses across Missouri, hoping to entice them to come. But two days later, President Biden announced a federal mandate that would affect workers at all hospitals that except Medicare or Medicaid.

JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: If you're seeking care at a health facility, you should be able to know that the people treating you are vaccinated.

TOBLER: I criticized President Biden's mandate, I thought it was a mistake, because I think it's going to backfire.

SHEILA BALCH, AMDISSION STAFF, SCOTLAND COUNTY HOSPITAL: I think it's going to hurt our people and our health care. Because if you lose your health care workers and who's going to take care of the people that do have this disease, you know, it's just it's ridiculous mandate. And I just personally, it's my own choice.

REEVE: Shane Wilson saw his own dad hospitalized with COVID here late last year. He's also Sheila's Doctor.

Do you talk about it with staff members who don't want the vaccine? Or do you just like try to avoid? DR. SHANE WILSON, INTERNIST, SCOTLAND COUNTY HOSPITAL: Sure, no. I've talked with him. A lot of the people that I've talked with around here that aren't vaccinated are concerned about mostly the unknown, of what if this vaccine causes an issue with whatever in the future, and they're just skeptical. It's incredibly frustrating to try to get the education, the understanding across that you're not just protecting yourself. We're doing this to try to keep our neighbors healthy. We're doing this to try to keep others from losing people. And that's what I tried to do is to try to sit down with staff members and patients so I can explain why it is that I would prefer that they get vaccinated. What our goal is. What the end goal is here. And it's not an individual thing.

REEVE: Dr. Wilson also tried to convince his high school best friend, Curt Triplett, who co-owns Triplet Farms with his brothers.

CURT TRIPLETT, FARMER, TRIPLETT BROTHERS FARMS: For me personally, I have no problem with the vaccine. But what has turned rural America conservatives against it, is basically turn it into a political football.

REEVE: Are you vaccinated?

C. TRIPLETT: I am not.

REEVE: You're not. How come?

C. TRIPLETT: We live very secluded, where we're at? I don't feel like the risk either to me or to someone else's high enough to justify taking it.

REEVE: I'm sorry, this is a dumb question. But you can yell at me if you think it is.

C. TRIPLETT: No, no.

REEVE: But like, don't you vaccinate your animals?

C. TRIPLETT: To some extent it herd immunity does happen and maybe the vaccine would speed that up other times it isn't that big a deal.

REEVE: But like what about a farm dog?

C. TRIPLETT: We do take her dogs in for rabies and parvo and things like that.

REEVE: Exactly rabies. Yeah, parvo.

C. TRIPLETT: Yes, yes, if we don't want them to be sickly. So yes, we do.

REEVE: Well just explain it to me like I'm an idiot. Why do you see those things as different?

C. TRIPLETT: Really, I'm not going to say that I'm not getting the vaccine because I don't believe it wouldn't do the job that it wouldn't work. I just -- I don't know what the risks are out there for the vaccine. I mean, they're well documented, we don't have to go over all the risks and I just feel like my risks of being exposed to COVID. And what it do to me is not greater than the risks that the vaccine is what it really comes down to.

JAMIE TRIPLETT, FARMER, TRIPLETT BROTHERS FARMS: If you wanted to get opinions, there's no telling what you'll get opinions both ways. You just step into Lacey's diner out there at a certain time and you get exposed to lots of opinions and ideas about everything you've asked me and some might agree with me and some would definitely disagree with me and that just be the way it is.

REEVE: Are your vets all vaccinated. 0:04:40


REEVE: No. How come?

FOWLER: I don't believe in it.

REEVE: To get the COVID vaccine.

FOWLER: Oh, yeah.


FOWLER: Right off the bat. They don't like good.

REEVE: Yeah.

FOWLER: Everybody should get it.

REEVE: She doesn't think so.

ALAN, MISSOURI RESIDENT: I feel like, I'm feeling more secure after getting the shot than I won't get it.


REEVE: Do you not find that argument convincing?

ALAN: Do I not find, no.

REEVE: You don't. Well, just can you explain. Why don't you find that argument convincing?

ALAN: My daughter, she don't believe in it either. She worked all through last year with COVID patients up there. She's a nurse.

REEVE: OK, but she didn't get the vaccine.

ALAN: Nope.

REEVE: And when she tell you, what's the reason?

ALAN: To not get it? REEVE: Yeah.

ALAN: She believe, going to do.

REEVE: Can you just say, why?

ALAN: I don't think it's been proven yet.


ALAN: It's never been fully approved.

REEVE: It is FDA approved.

ALAN: For emergency use.

REEVE: No, that's -- there was an emergency use authorization. But now it is FDA approved.

ALAN: Is it?

REEVE: Yes. The Pfizer shot. I don't believe there had to be a mandate that you had to get it.

ALAN: I think that it violate my constitutional right. And shall be works, and my daughter, she just quit.

REEVE: Really think she'll quit.

ALAN: Mm-hmm. So, like three or four others.

REEVE: Nurses?

ALAN: Mm-hmm. So, if they mandate it, we'll going to be short of lot of nurses.

BALCH: I think a lot of people here just feel like it's not a necessity, that they have the system that can fight that and if their system can't fight that the likelihood is they were going to probably pass from something else anyway.

REEVE: So, you're confident your body is strong enough to (inaudible).

BALCH: My mind is now whether or not my body is, is a whole another situation. I wouldn't know until I had had that. But I have made it this far in life.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And Elle Reeve joins me now. Elle does such important, incisive reporting, and we appreciate it so much. And we heard so many people questioning the safety or the efficacy, often with false data of the code of vaccines. But did you get a sense of what else is driving their hesitancy?

REEVE: So more than 400 million doses of the vaccine has been given out in America and billions worldwide, the CDC says the vaccine is safe, and that serious problems are rare. But often when we say that to people who don't want to take it, they have some other objection ready. And what we found is that at the bottom of it, a lot of people just think it's not going to be me that somebody else is going to be the one who gets really sick, and they won't.

BERMAN: It's not going to be me. You know, sooner or later. It could be, Elle, like I said, terrific reporting. Thank you so much.

REEVE: Thank you.

BERMAN: Up next, the mother sues for child school district and the school board after she says her son caught COVID from a classmate how she says this school put her kids in danger. That's next.




BERMAN: Wisconsin mother is suing her school district and school board because she says her son got COVID from a classmate. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Shannon Janssen and other families in Walkinshaw School District.

The suit says the school board removed the mask requirement in many other COVID mitigation measures that were in place last school year. In September. Janssen says her oldest son sat next to another student who had COVID symptoms and was not wearing a mask. Janssen says her son tested positive two days later and her two younger boys after that. The lawsuit is the latest example of parent frustration with how some schools have responded to the pandemic.

Joining us now CNN Legal Analyst -- Senior legal Analyst Elie Honig and CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen.

Elie, let me just ask you, legally speaking, what's your take on this case?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, John. So first of all, I'm surprised we haven't seen more of these cases that I think we will see more going forward. These are not easy cases to make though. If you're the plaintiff, if you're the one doing the suing, you have to show causation. First of all, that you are the person you're suing on behalf of actually got it from this classmate, for example, and not maybe at soccer practice or from someone else, you have to show damages. And then the hardest part is to show negligence, meaning that the school failed to take reasonable precautionary measures.

Now, the parents here are going to point to the CDC. They're going to say the school violated CDC guidelines. That's going to be very persuasive. But CDC guidelines are not binding on state and local entities. So, it's not a give me, if they can show that. That said, I think they have a fairly strong case here. We'll see how the judge and jury handles it. BERMAN: Dr. Wen, who I should say you're also the author of Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health. Dr. Wen, if you're a kid in school, and I, you know, unvaccinated at this point, because they were unvaccinated when this all was happening, if you're an unvaccinated kid in school, and you are wearing a mask, and you're sitting next to someone who is symptomatic, what's the likelihood you could still get sick?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: This is the issue. And actually, in so many ways, this is a lot of parents' nightmare. Because so many parents are doing everything they can, they're taking matters into their own hands to protect their children, they're having their kids be masked, but you can't control what other kids are doing. And we also know at this point that there are a lot of measures that can keep school safe. But when you have a lot of virus around you, you need all these layers of protection in place, you need masks, you need contact tracing, you need for kids to be staying home when they're symptomatic. It seems like these layers were not there in this case in this Wisconsin School. And I think a lot of parents are going to look at this and say, wow, that's what I'm really afraid of.

To your point about what are the chances it can certainly happen when there are documented cases of outbreaks happening in schools because of lack of these protective mechanisms. And I think this again, points to why all of these measures are important, but also why vaccines for younger children will also be really desired by many parents were in cases like this because they want to do everything, they can to protect their children.

BERMAN: Elie, in the courtroom, how much of a deal will it be? Whether or not you can prove you actually got COVID from someone specific from the kid sitting next to you.

HONIG: You have to prove that as a plaintiff, you can't just come in and say, gee, I could have gotten it from anyone, but it probably was. I mean, you don't have to prove to 100% scientific certainty. But as the plaintiff, you do have the burden of proving that. Look, think about any average school aged kid I think we all have school aged kids, how many different people they come in contact with throughout the school day, before the school day. Maybe they have aftercare, sports teams, people at home, so that's part of the difficulty here is making that case. I mean it sounds logical that this kid would have got it from the unmasked kid who sat next to who was positive. But it's another thing to prove it to a jury to, by a what we call a preponderance of the evidence in a court.


BERMAN: So, Dr. Wen, when you look at this, at this Wisconsin school, you know, where are the breakdowns in in the possible protections that they could have had in place?

WEN: There are so many. So, let's talk about the layers of protection. So, think about this as it's really cold outside, and you want to wear multiple layers to keep you warm. It's similar when you have a lot of virus around you. And when you have a lot of virus in a community, you need to have a lot of these layers in place. Very important, kids should not be going to school when they're symptomatic that happened here it seems like and we also know that masks are very important for protecting the individual. But also, masks work best when everybody around you is also masked.

Think about, there was this case study reported by the CDC out of California where an unvaccinated, unmasked teacher went to class and was symptomatic, and ended up infecting 12 out of 24 of her elementary age students in one class. So, we really need to have all these layers of protection in place. In addition, it's reported in this Wisconsin case, that there is not contact tracing, and also that parents were not notified in time about positive cases in their class. So, it does seem like there were so many holes in a lot of ways. This is the so- called Swiss Cheese model, that when you have so many different missing pieces that the virus will find its way through, especially when we're dealing with something as contagious as the Delta variant.

BERMAN: Elie, where's the possible liability here? Is it with the school? Is it with the school district? Is it with the teacher? How do you figure that out?

HONIG: Yeah, it would have to be at the school and school district level. One of the really interesting things about this case is what the plaintiffs are seeking here is what's called an injunction, meaning they want the court to say, hey, school district, you have to start doing things this way. You have to, for example, require masking and social distancing. And the other things that Dr. Wen laid out, that's actually a little bit of a tougher asked to make of a judge, then your standard monetary damages, money damages, judges give out monetary damages all the time. But it's a little harder for a judge to say OK, I'm going to now dictate to you school board, how you should be handling your health issues.

BERMAN: Dr. Leana Wen, Elie Honig, I appreciate you both for being with us. Thank you very much.

And we do have a major development, autopsy results that are expected tomorrow in the death of Gabby Petito. What it may and may not reveal, that's next.



BERMAN: Today marks one month since Brian Laundrie's parents say they last saw him. While the search continues for him. We have learned final autopsy results for his fiance Gabby Petito will be released tomorrow by the Coroner in Teton County, Wyoming. Petito's death was ruled a homicide in preliminary findings.

360s Randi Kaye joins us now with more on this. Randi, what are investigators most anxious to hear regarding the autopsy?

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you said, John, her death has been ruled a homicide. So, investigators are certainly hoping to hear the cause of death. But we spoke with a forensic scientist who said just as important as that is actually the time of death. And so, we know that Gabby Petito's family had contact with her in the final days of August, and then her remains were recovered on September 19th. So, there is that window of time that they're trying to pinpoint when she died. And then they would look at where Brian Laundrie was at that time.

So, for example, if it turns out that her time of death was September 1, we know that he was already back here at his family's home in Florida on September 1. If it was before that, then they would look at whether or not Brian Laundrie was still in the area and around where her remains were found, John. So, the time of death is key, at least for investigative purposes.

BERMAN: So, if Gabby Petito's body was exposed to elements for a considerable amount of time, as we think it was, how does that limit what investigators might be able to find out?

KAYE: Well, the forensic expert scientists that we spoke with said that they should still be able to find out the cause of death that there would be considerable decomposition because she was likely exposed to the elements for weeks. But he also said that it was very hot in Wyoming. And we know that from being there. And that would actually speed up the decomposition. But he still said that a cause of death, it could be something very obvious if it was blunt force trauma, that would show up as a skull fracture. If it was strangulation that would show up in the bones of the neck.

And what's also really interesting, John, is that we're also told that if it was an accident, that the autopsy would be able to tell the difference. In other words, if Gabby Petito fell and hit her head on a rock, they would be able to tell if that happened, or if it was something more deliberate where somebody hit her in the head with a rock or weapon. The autopsy will know, we're told, John.

BERMAN: So, as we said, we are expecting this news conference tomorrow. But do you know for sure whether the FBI Coroner will release to the public all the autopsy findings?

KAYE: No, we don't. So, we're going to have to wait until tomorrow and there is a chance that they will hold back some of this information and because this is information that only the person responsible for Gabby Petito's death would know. So, they may keep some of that close to the vest. And they may not release the cause of death until they get closer to having a suspect in hand or closer to charges. So, we will continue to watch this. But we may not know what they're actually going to release until tomorrow, John.

BERMAN: Nevertheless, this is a big important development in a case where often the developments are few and far between. Randi Kaye, thank you so much for reporting on this.


Still ahead, a Boston tradition is back after being canceled and postponed due to COVID. The Boston Marathon returns with a special mission for one runner. Why we in so many others were rooting for Team Beans.


BERMAN: After more than two years of waiting due to COVID safety restrictions, the 125 Boston Marathon took place today, today instead of Patriots Day. And we were rooting on CNN's Andrew Kaczynski of the Kfile. He ran for Team Beans, a special mission for him and his wife Rachel Ensign. Team Beans is in memory of their daughter Francesca, Beans was their baby girl's nickname.

This past Christmas Eve she passed away in her parents' arms at just 99 months old. She had a rare and aggressive brain tumor. Since then, Team Beans has raised money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston whose doctors treated Francesca. Every dollar will fund childhood cancer research.

If you'd like to make a donation, go to Today Andrew dedicated each mile of the race to a different child who has fought or is fighting cancer. The last mile as you see was for Beans.

Andrew across the finish line of four hours and seven minutes. He did it for his daughter and every child and family touched by cancer. We're thinking about Andrew and his wife tonight.

The news continues. So, let's head over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME."