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At This Hour

Carl Nassib Becomes First Active NFL Player to Announce He's Gay; Two Dead, Four Hospitalized with COVID at Florida Government Building; Catholic Bishops Move to Deny Biden Communion over Abortion. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 22, 2021 - 11:30   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: The far-right group, Proud Boys, who stormed the Capitol that day.


CNN's Paul Reid is live in Washington and she has all the details about this new video coming out. Paula, walk us through this video.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, this is the first up-close look we've gotten at the video evidence the Justice Department is using to make its case against the Proud Boys and how they moved to attack the Capitol on January 6.

Now, the Proud Boys are a far-right self-described western chauvinist group and these clips were specifically used in the case against Charles Donohoe. He's accused of leading the group during the insurrection.

Now, I want to show our viewers some of these clips but I will warn some are disturbing.

Now, here in this first video, you see the group before the riot. It captures a group of armor clad men milling outside of the Capitol. One has a walkie-talkie, another has a bullhorn. You hear someone in this clip call out to the others, let's take the Capitol.

Now, it is unclear if Donohoe is in this video but several other Proud Boy conspiracy co-defendants are on the scene.

Now, we also have another video. It shows Donohoe walking in front of another alleged Proud Boy, Dominic Pezzola, as they both carry a police riot shield.

Now, in this third clip, it appears to show Donohoe, his face is covered, you can in there he has a red and white striped bandana, and he's looking as others in the crowd take down four police officers eventually in this clip that are blocking a stairwell into the Capitol.

And prosecutors have made it clear, they believe, this here, this was a key moment as the pro-Trump crowd violently broke police down to move further into the building. Now, Kate, Donohoe is being held in jail but he is seeking to be released and he has pleaded not guilty, but these were released only after coalition of media outlets, including CNN, sought to access them from court proceedings. They are not being made public without a fight. And it is key that these videos are being released no to show frame-by-frame exactly what happened on that day as right-wing sites and news outlets are continuing to try to rewrite what happened on that day, trying to shift blame away from the president and his supporters.

BOLDUAN: Paul, thank you so much for that reporting and bringing that to us.

Coming up for us, a historic moment for the NFL, an active player announcing he is gay, a first for the league. His powerful message is next.



BOLDUAN: An incredible first for the NFL. Carl Nassib is the first active player in the league's history to announce that he's gay. Here is the video that he posted on Instagram.


CARL NASSIB, DEFENSE END, LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: I just want to take a quick moment to say that I'm gay. I've been meaning to do this for a while now but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.

I'm a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know that I'm really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important. I actually hope that like one day videos like this and the whole coming out process are just not necessary. But until then, I'm going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that is accepting, that's compassionate.


BOLDUAN: The Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman said that he has been agonizing for 15 years over this decision to announce that he is gay. Now, he's receiving an outpouring of support from the league and beyond, the NFL posting on Twitter this morning a picture of Nassib and also quoting him, as he said you can be that person who saves a life.

Joining me now, on the phone is Legendary Sports Broadcaster Bob Costas for more. Bob, what did you think of how Nassib spoke in this video and also the reaction since?

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (voice over): Well, obviously, he's a pretty together young man. He's given this some thought. He's been in the league now for six years. It is probably not coincidental that he made this announcement during pride month. It doesn't look like he wants parade or any undue attention. He wants to acknowledge it, hopes that it will, in the future, not be terribly newsworthy, get it out of the way. He described himself as a private person. So he comes across as very admirable.

But what I think is most significant in the bigger picture is the reaction, whereas a generation ago, people who were gay with the exception maybe of individual sports but within American team sports, gay athletes -- pardon me, Kate, gay athletes and obviously common sense tells us there have been many, many over the years. They were all closeted. Some came out after their active playing careers were over, a handful did.

Now, the atmosphere has changed considerably. I'm not saying it is 100 percent easy for Nassib to do what he did, but the atmosphere is much more accepting as witness, the immediate statements from the Raider hierarchy, the owner, Mark Davis, the coach, Jon Gruden, from Roger Goodell in the NFL, from players around the leage, J.J. Watt, Julian Edelman, Saquon Barkley, who played -- was a teammate of Nassib's at Penn State, and that is just the beginning. The atmosphere has changed. I think that is the most significant thing about this.


BOLDUAN: Yes. And it is always asked when there is a historic first in any sport, is this a turning point. I do think it is a particularly interesting question when it comes to the NFL, and let's be honest, the false stereotypes that people have about masculinity in that particular sport.

COSTAS (voice over): Yes, there is no question that it is a hyper masculine environment in locker rooms, on the field, but there is also no question that while some of those attitudes, it would naive to say that those attitudes don't still exist, they are socially unacceptable now. They are not as openly expressed. Might there be an outlier here or there, sure.

But, generally speaking, the country as a whole and the league significantly are on Nassib's side, and on the side, it goes almost without saying, on the side of anyone else who should come forward in the future. So that really is the -- in the larger sense, the more significant thing here.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And you and I -- that that actually reminds me, you and I have talked about -- previously about how sports can sometimes be on the leading edge of change in society, right? But is this a situation, as you're describing it though, a sport actually doing more catching up?

COSTAS (voice over): Yes, but catching up in a hurry. Take a look at what has happened societally, polls concerning approval gay marriage and how that is changed so dramatically just in the space of one generation. Are we all the way there yet? Of course not. Is there going to be some bigotry or people who are slow to come around on this? And coming around means just simply living and let live. Does it mean we're at 100 percent on that? No. But it is so much different than it was just a generation ago. BOLDUAN: It sure is. And as he says, representation matters. And this is very big day for that. It is great to see you, Bob, thank you for joining me always on these big moments.

COSTAS (voice over): Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I appreciate it. So as part of Nassib's announcement, he also announced that he was making a donation of $100,000 to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit that is focused on suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ youth. And here, as you can see on the screen, is the Trevor Project's lifeline number on the screen for anyone, if you or someone else is needing help, needing someone to reach out to. You can also learn more at the



BOLDUAN: At this hour, a race to contain a coronavirus outbreak at a government office in Florida. Two people are dead and four of their co-workers had to be hospitalized with coronavirus because of an outbreak that swept through the Manatee County Administrative Office. Officials there say it started in the I.T. department and spread from there. The only exposed employee who did not get sick was the only employee who was vaccinated.

The building was shut down on Friday for emergency cleaning but it has since reopened, it reopened yesterday, no masks required.

Joining me right now is Dr. Stella Safo, she's assistant professor of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai. It's good to see you. Thank you for being here.

This is something, I must say, we all have feared, economies opening up, people going back to the office and people still resisting vaccines. What is your reaction?

DR. STELLA SAFO, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE,ICAHN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, MT. SINAI: I think my reaction and the reaction of many public health practitioners is to look at this as a warning sign. What we're seeing with this example is what we could see in the winter when we have people going back to work full-time, when we have the increase in respiratory illnesses just because of the seasonal variation. If we don't do things, like enforce mask rules, and even better, push people to get vaccinated, we're going to see this again and again.

And it's it is really devastating because we have the tools and we have the vaccinations to really prevent people from getting infected and in this case two people dying. And so, for me, this is a warning and I think it is a warning for people all over the country of what we can expect if we don't kind of get our measures in place.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and get more people vaccinated. We have new reporting on that front from our White House team, that, today, the White House COVID response coordinator, Jeffrey Zients, he is expected to acknowledge the country is going to fall short of the president's July 4th goal of 70 percent of all adults having at least one shot. They're now going to be focusing on convincing adults that are 18 to 26 years old, which is the group that just isn't getting vaccinated as quickly as they would like. Why is that?

SAFO: It is a couple of reasons. You know, the perceived personal risk for COVID severity illness is low among that group. They have been told when they get sick, they are usually asymptomatic. And if they do get more severe illness, they'll normally recover.

And so people feel like they're not at high risk for being very sick from COVID, unlike patients with chronic illnesses or the patients that I see that have HIV, but have really motivated to get vaccinated.

And I think there is also a little bit of a sense that other people are vaccinated so they don't need it. But we have to remember, the more of us that are vaccinated, the more we can all prevent the spread of disease in total so that you don't see what you saw just today in Florida. So I think there's a little bit of a --

BOLDUAN: That's right.

SAFO: Yes, there's a sense that they're not at high risk, and yet, like they really can help the whole population protection.

BOLDUAN: And just to put a fine point on it, I mean, look, they and the country need to get younger people on board and vaccinated. What happens if they do not?


SAFO: Well, you know, we call it like the kind of opposite of the grandma effect. So, early on with vaccinations, we saw that when older folks were getting vaccinated, other members in their family were also getting vaccinated. In this case, we have to remind people that you want to protect the older folks in your community. And so, yes, you're young, yes, you're maybe asymptomatic with COVID, but you're also protecting people who are older, who are more at risk, for people who have chronic illnesses that are more at risk. And I think that reasoning for a lot of young people actually does push them.

I think it's also on the point of scientists and public health practitioners and clinicians to help debunk some of the myths around fertility impact from vaccination and some of the side effects that will make young people more comfortable to go ahead and get vaccinated.

BOLDUAN: Yes, much more work ahead. Doctor, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

Coming up for us, America's Catholic bishops taking steps to deny President Biden communion because of his views on one issue. The new controversy facing the country's second Catholic president, next.


[11:55:00] BOLDUAN: Right now, the nation's Catholic bishops are moving forward with an effort to potentially deny President Biden and others communion because of support of abortion rights. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted overwhelmingly 73 percent in favor of drafting a document directly targeting Biden, only the nation's second Catholic president.

Joining me now for more on this is Michelle Boorstein, Religion Reporter with The Washington Post. She's done great work in looking into this. Thank you for being here, Michelle.

Biden's Catholic faith is an important part of who he is. What do you think it means for him to have this kind of focus on his faith right now?

MICHELLE BOORSTEIN, RELIGION REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I would love to know. I mean, he doesn't talk and he shirks away from conflicts with the bishops when he's asked about this. Generally, he won't comment or he'll say something that sort of downplays the conflict, and he never says that he disagrees outright with Catholic teaching. He's obviously been accustomed to this conflict for some time. He also has mainstreamed for a large slice of American Catholics and Catholics around the world who have his type of personally opposed to abortion, but don't feel that it's right to make the law exclusive on something like that to other people.

So it would be -- I mean, it would be fascinating to know what kind of conversations he has with his priests about this. I mean, he's obviously been in communion his whole life. He goes every week. He was denied once last year, but, in general, he's obviously made some kind of peace with this.

BOLDUAN: Yes. You know, Father James Martin, he's Jesuit priest and Editor-at-Large of American Magazine, he spoke to CNN yesterday kind of about this move by the bishops and kind of what it speaks to. Let me play what he said.


FATHER JAMES MARTIN, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, AMERICA MAGAZINE: I think the bishops who are proposing this are sincere. They are pro-life. I am pro-life. But I think the problem is, again, that, for example, when you consider someone like Attorney General Barr, who expedited executions, the death penalty is against Catholic teaching and there was no call to deny Attorney General Barr communion. And so I think people are seeing this as rather focused on the president.


BOLDUAN: What do you think of that point, because what kind of -- I don't know if rift is this exposing, kind of among U.S. Catholic bishops?

BOORSTEIN: Well, it's kind of a multi-headed thing. I mean, first, you have the formal Catholic teaching and discussions over whether abortion is actually a preeminent, seen above other things, what's the role of a Catholic's conscience? Does the president feel that he's reducing abortions through his policies and that he thinks abortion being illegal would actually result in more abortions, sort of that kind of thing.

And you also have many Catholics bring up the Barr thing, and many other things. I mean, Catholic teaching is very rich and touches on so many different things. It doesn't prioritize everything equally but it does have a complexity about what's the goal of Catholic teaching, the morals and how do you get there? What's the role of a policymaker compared to individual Catholic?

So I think there're many Catholics that identify with what Jim Martin is saying and, I mean, I get a lot of feedback from people who say, basically, they just don't feel that this is applied consistently, and that's part of why they don't give the bishops full credibility in this. They think there's a strong political edge to it. We also have the Supreme Court is going to be hearing an abortion case soon. We have a Catholic Supreme Court. And I think a lot of people are looking to see sort of how Catholics and the bishops interact with that. So there's a lot of different things going on.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Real quick because we're out of time, do you think he says he wants to keep this private, Biden does. Do you think he's going to be able to?

BOORSTEIN: I do. Because I think among Democrats and a lot of Americans, they don't want to see -- especially after the Trump years, they don't want to see this kind of religious war. Some people are motivated by it. But I think his voters are supportive of what his approach now.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Great to meet you, thanks for coming on, I appreciate your time.



BOLDUAN: Thank you all so much for joining us At This Hour. I'm Kate Bolduan. John King is up with Inside Politics right now.