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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Fauci Gives First Interview Since new CDC Mask Guidance; CDC: Vaccinated People Don't Need a Mask Inside or Outside; Some GOP Lawmakers Still Insist The 2020 Election May Have Been Rigged Against Or Stolen From Trump; Rep. Chip Roy Says He Will Run Against Elise Stefanik In Tomorrow's Election For GOP Conference Chair; Israeli Forces: Ground Troops Are Currently Attacking Gaza. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 13, 2021 - 17:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to The Lead. I'm Jake Tapper.

Leading this hour, breaking news in our health lead, a huge shift in life as we have known it for the last year and change. If you are fully vaccinated, the CDC now says you can have ditch your mask outdoors and indoors. But again, that's only if you've been fully vaccinated.

Dr. Anthony Fauci will join me in moments for his first interview since this new guidance came out from the CDC this afternoon.

President Biden, just moments ago, celebrated the move at the White House where staffers have already been told they can go without a mask if fully vaccinated.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a great milestone. A great day has been made possible by the extraordinary success we've had in vaccinating so many Americans so quickly.

When your country asked you to get vaccinated, you did. The American people stepped up. You did what I consider to be your patriotic duty. That's how we've gotten to this day.


TAPPER: Let's get right to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Dr. Fauci, thanks for joining us.

Is this a sign that the pandemic is essentially over in the U.S. or no, not yet?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: No, Jake, I wouldn't go so far as to say it's essentially over. I think this is a very important step in the direction of trying to get back to some degree of normality, because this is something that everyone has had on their mind, you know, I'm vaccinated, when can I start doing things a little bit more in the normal trend. And being able to go around without a mask indoors, as well as outdoors is really a big step in that direction.

So I wouldn't want to declare victory prematurely. But I'm saying this is clearly a step in the direction that we want to go.

TAPPER: What is your message to parents who are out there thinking, well, I'm vaccinated my kids are not, but the odds of them getting the virus are very low? Would you tell them, no, no, no, the kids still need to wear a mask?

FAUCI: Yes. The children do when they're out there playing with their friends. And, you know, in, particularly in an indoor situation, they do.

But you know, one of the things that's also important that's happened most recently is the approval of vaccines for children 12 to 15 years old. And then we are also doing studies now in an age de-escalation from 12 to nine, nine to six, six to two, and then six months to two years. So that will be able, hopefully, by the end of the year, to be able to vaccinate children of any age. But right now, the 12 to 15 year olds are eligible to get vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. So that's another good news story in all this.

TAPPER: So, more than 40 percent of adults, we should note, still are not fully vaccinated. Some are partially but not fully. There's no real way right now to track who's vaccinated, who isn't vaccinated.

There's a lot of resistance to any sort of vaccine passport. But how are restaurants, airlines, others supposed to know if the people coming to their establishments or their vehicles without masks really have the right to not -- well, that we all have a right to do whatever you want, but really have the CDC guidance supporting they're not wearing masks?

FAUCI: Well, Jake, they will not be able to know. I mean, you're going to be depending on people being honest enough to say whether they were vaccinated or not and responsible enough to be wearing a vaccine -- excuse me, a mask, not only for their own protection, but also for the protection of others.

And by the way, even though we will not be in what we've said this many times, Jake, we will not be mandating vaccine passports from the federal level, there are going to be institutions clearly, that are going to be saying and that could be airlines. We know certain colleges are also saying if you're not vaccinated, you're not going to come on campus to classes in real time. And they're going to be some institutions that might be saying the same thing.

So, although, the federal government wouldn't be mandating to have a passport proving you're vaccinated, there may be organizations that will do that.

TAPPER: Do you think that places such as grocery stores, pharmacies, whatever, should allow vaccinated people to come in and shop without masks?

FAUCI: Oh, yes, absolutely. I mean, that's really the whole point that we're talking about, that vaccinated people. If you look at the data and you know people have asked the CDC, well, what's changed, why the change in in the recommendations?


Well, the data that's accumulated now is that clearly the infections are going down. They're averaging about 36,000 a day right now, which has gone down about a third, as you mentioned, 58 percent of people have at least one shot of a vaccine and greater than 40 percent of fully vaccinated. So the situation has changed. So, there's no reason at all for storekeepers to have people who have vaccinated walk in without a mask. I mean, there's no reason not to have that at all.

FAUCI: Same thing with restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, everything like that, if you're vaccinated, let them come in.

When people ask you, when people from private companies ask you, which I assume they do, because they probably asked you everything, if they see you. And they ask you, should we be checking people at the door to make sure they're vaccinated with these new guidelines? What would you tell them?

FAUCI: You know, that's going to be a real difficult one, Jake, because people feel very put upon if you're -- if you're essentially judging them on the basis of whether they've been vaccine. We want vaccinated -- we want people to get vaccinated as many people as we can possibly get vaccinated. But I think there's going to be a pushback against questioning somebody when they walk in, because you could never validate or prove that they're telling you the truth.

And then you get into a situation that what does that mean someone says, yes, I'm vaccinated to come in. That's virtually a functionally equivalent of a vaccine passport. And I don't think that's going to work.

TAPPER: Many states and cities still have masks mandates in place, should local governments, state governments drop those mandates for people who are vaccinated?

FAUCI: Well, for people who were vaccinated, that's another story. But the problem they're going to find, Jake, from a public health standpoint, since you can't completely validate that someone's vaccinated except depending upon them telling you that if you drop the mask mandate, then you might have an increase in infection among those who are not vaccinated. So that's the kind of dicey situation that you're in when you're trying to deal about policy at the local level when you have a high degree of transmission. That's not an easy decision to make.

TAPPER: So airplanes are still keeping their mask mandates. Why, I mean, why should I have to, just to play devil's advocate here for a second, if I don't have to wear a mask anymore when I go out to a restaurant or I go to a store, because I'm fully vaccinated, why do I have to wear one if I get on an airplane?

FAUCI: You know, again, that's going to be an issue that's going to be discussed. What the CDC has made clear that they have not yet made a recommendation about any changes in the travel guidelines of when you're on airplanes or trains or what have you. They're going to look at that real carefully, very soon. And they likely will come out with some sort of a guideline.

But once you ask and try and answer correctly the question you just asked me, Jake, then you're going to get into a situation where the plains, the easiest way to do that, is to just say you're not going to get on the plane unless you can prove you've been vaccinated. That's not a federally mandated vaccine passport. But I can tell you, I'm almost certain that there'll be organizations, including airlines that will very likely do that.

TAPPER: Yes. I mean, I don't have a vaccine passport, but I got vaccinated, and I have a card from Georgetown Hospital where I got vaccinated that show, you know, somebody signed it, it's essentially a vaccine passport, even if it's from the hospital, not from the government.

FAUCI: Right.

TAPPER: What do you say to people --

FAUCI: Right. So then --

TAPPER: Go ahead, I'm sorry.

FAUCI: No, no, go ahead. Yes, please.

TAPPER: So we have vaccine skeptics on one side who are still resistant or hesitant or in many cases don't know how to access the health system when we're talking about people who are, you know, maybe in disadvantaged groups. And then on the other side, we have people who think, what are you doing, this is too much too soon. Most of the country is still not vaccinated. You're rushing the process here. What do you say to them?

FAUCI: Well, again, you want to explain to them the rationale of what we're doing. We want virtually everybody to get vaccinated. What we're doing now with the relaxation of the restrictions on people who are vaccinated is trying to get back to a degree of normality which people who get vaccinated deserve to have that.

That's been one of the things that's been the concern, saying, if I get vaccinated what difference is it going to make? My life hasn't really changed that much. Well, now your life is going to change that much.

For people who are not vaccinated, this might be an incentive for them to get vaccinated. The decision that the CDC made was not as an incentive to get people vaccinated, but this could actually have the indirect effect of getting people to be incentivized to get vaccinated. [17:10:05]

TAPPER: Both CDC Director Walensky and the president of the American Federation of Teachers are now saying that schools in the fall should be 100 percent open and in person, five days a week. Do you agree? And if that's the plan, should it be formalized, so schools and parents can start preparing?

FAUCI: Yes, I agree with that. I believe the school should be open five days full blast, just the way it was before. That -- we really have to do that by the time we get to the fall.

TAPPER: And if the kids are -- and if the kids are vaccinated, no masks required, right?

FAUCI: Right. Well, again, I'm going to leave that to the CDC to make that decision. But I would think that that certainly would be an option if the children are vaccinated not to have a mask.

TAPPER: As you know, there's so much misinformation online and other channels about vaccines and coronavirus. We've seen reports of teens being targeted with this vaccine misinformation on TikTok, on Instagram, other platforms. Are you worried that all that misinformation could lead to vaccine hesitancy among some teens now eligible for the vaccine?

FAUCI: I'm very disturbed by that, Jake. I mean, you know, my goal and the goal of my colleagues, is to protect the health and the safety and the welfare of the American public from a medical and health standpoint. And misinformation that gets in the way of the proper implementation of the things you need to do to stay healthy is very disturbing to us. I mean, that kind of social media is really good to spread good information, but it's equally as destructive when it spreads false information that way we know it so often does.

TAPPER: Dr. Anthony Fauci, thank you so much, and congratulations on the role that you played in this important development today.

FAUCI: Thank you, Jake. Good to be with you.

TAPPER: Masks have been political ever since the Trump presidency. So, what happens now? We'll discuss.

Plus, does this look like just the normal tourist visit at the U.S. Capitol to you? Nonsensical offensive claims from some House Republicans about the January 6 insurrection. That's coming next.




BIDEN: As the virus tragically rages in other countries, as other nations, even wealthy nations, are mired in the challenges of slow vaccine rollout and poor economic conditions, as a result, things are very different here.


TAPPER: President Biden, just moments ago, marking a new era of sorts in this pandemic here in the United States. Let's go to the White House where CNN's Phil Mattingly is.

Phil, this is a indisputably, it's a big day in this country.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's no question about it. President Biden referring to it as a milestone moment, one that underscored the progress that the U.S. had made. And its vaccination program, obviously a significant push really the primary focus of President Biden since he took office on January 20.

The President also making clear, there's still work to do. But no question about it, there is a celebratory mood to some degree in the White House right now.

Jake, just a short while after the President's COVID taskforce finished the announcement about the new mask guidance, an e-mail went out to White House staff saying for those fully vaccinated they no longer needed to wear a mask on campus.

You've seen the President walking out without a mask. It had been a question over the course of the last couple of weeks. Why was the President always wearing a mask, particularly if he was surrounded by those who were vaccinated? The White House in a bit of a complicated spot wanting to model specific behavior, a key focus of theirs.

But when that behavior started to conflict with guidance that seems somewhat out of date, that guidance has now caught up, the White House embracing it fully. And the White House, also hoping, to some degree something Anthony Fauci told you a couple minutes ago, that kind of a side effect of this is it will help push more people to get vaccinated. The goal the President has outlined is still the same, 70 percent of U.S. adults vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4, Jake.

TAPPER: Republicans have not been quick to give Biden praise on much, but they are applauding this decision today.

MATTINGLY: Yes, you only needed to look on the Senate floor on Capitol Hill where Republicans who, at least on the Senate side for the most part with the exception of maybe one or two, have always been wearing their masks throughout the course of the pandemic, making clear they are no longer wearing their masks.

Two senators, Senator Susan Collins and Senator Joni Ernst ripping off their masks in front of reporters I'm told by my Capitol Hill colleagues. One of them saying, freedom clearly, happy about this moment. But also it underscores there have been a lot of frustrations. Susan Collins made very clear in a hearing earlier this week to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, that she had lost faith and trust in the CDC because they had not revised their guidance. Well, now they have, Jake. TAPPER: All right, Phil Mattingly, thanks so much.

Let's discuss Elizabeth Cohen, you just heard Dr. Fauci tell me that he believes vaccinated Americans can do things like shop for groceries without a mask? Do you expect stores, restaurants rushing to get rid of any mask mandates?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think they might. I think customers are going to start demanding it. So, I really wouldn't be surprised to see that happening.

You know, it's interesting, I'm in New York now, and I look around and people are really quite good about wearing masks here. I would say in other parts of the country, for example, I was in Georgia, they've already taken off masks. So, I think we want to, you know, this is such a big day. But I think we should keep in mind, in many parts of the country they were already taking off masks.

So in some ways, this CDC advices sort of catching up if you want to think about it that way to what the many people in the rest of the country have already been doing.

TAPPER: Gloria, tell us what you think this moment is about. I mean, this pandemic has been just brutal, in terms of loss of life, loss of health, existential despair, kids not able to go to school, weddings canceled. Tell us what you think is this moment is in history.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I can tell you that it's been 14 months to the day since we had the shutdown. And I think it's monumental. It's emotional to all of us in many ways. It's historic, because the country that went from having the most deaths from COVID has now been vaccinating people at a speed more than four times faster than anywhere else in the globe. And today, the President of United States went out there and said, you can take this off.


TAPPER: If you're fully vaccinated.

BORGER: If you're fully vaccinated.

TAPPER: That's a big if.

BORGER: That's right.

TAPPER: And Ayesha, let me ask you about that because most Americans are still not fully vaccinated. Most adults are not fully vaccinated. Some are partially. Do you think this announcement today by the CDC, by President Biden might encourage some in communities that are hesitant to get vaccinated?

AYESHA RASCOE, NPR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's certainly the hope that this will make people feel like, you know, what, I -- if I get vaccinated, I don't have to worry about going around with a mask or anything like that. It's been such a contentious issue for Americans to have to worry about wearing masks and became very polarized.

So, looking at it as a benefit, that if I do this, I will be able to get this in return, I won't have to wear a mask, I won't have to worry about it and I can say I'm free. I think that is something that they are hoping will encourage people to do it. Certainly it helps the White House to not have to answer questions anymore about why Biden was always wearing a mask and he was outside. And that was always a question. It helps them in that sense not to have to answer that question.

TAPPER: Yes, I'm sure they're glad that people like me aren't going to pester them with that question anymore as I did with Jeff Zients on Sunday.

Elizabeth, President Biden brought up another point today, which I think is potentially important here being patient with each other, as we all get used to the new normal, take a listen.


BIDEN: Some may say, just feel more comfortable, continue to wear a mask. They may feel that way. So, if you're someone with a mask, you see them, please treat them with kindness and respect.

We've had too much conflict, too much bitterness, too much anger, too much polarization of this issue about wearing mask, let's put it to rest.


TAPPER: And we should. Remember, almost 600,000 Americans have died from this virus. Tens of millions more sick, injured, hurt, some of them with scars that will -- they'll have forever. We shouldn't judge people who want to keep wearing masks, even if we think they're being overly cautious.

COHEN: That's right. I actually just got an e-mail, Jake, from the dean of a very prominent School of Public Health. And he said, I disagree with what the CDC has done, I'm still going to wear a mask.

He's not elderly, he doesn't have an underlying condition. He just would prefer to wear a mask, he feels safer. And that is OK. And no one should give him grief about it.

People who have underlying conditions, people who are immune compromised, and Dr. Walensky alluded to this in her -- in her talk today. They should talk to their doctor, if your immune compromised, you should think twice about taking off your mask. Talk to your doctor about that. You know, civility is so important.

I will notice I was talking about sort of different worlds. When I was in Georgia once, a couple months ago, I was wearing a mask in a pretty crowded indoor place. And I was the only one and people were looking at me so oddly and really sort of getting these glances. Then I was in New York, by accident, I didn't have a mask on and I got dirty looks then as well. We all need to stop with the dirty looks. People need to be able to respect each other. If it's a situation where you think, for example, if you're on a plane and someone's not wearing a mask, that's one thing, you could ask the person you know, you're supposed to be wearing a mask. But really we -- the civility is so important. It's so good that Biden called for it.

TAPPER: And Gloria, CNN just caught up with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who told our own Manu Raju that masks are still going to be required on the House floor. She said to Manu, are they all vaccinated? And you know, I think that's a pretty good question when you look at some of the members of Congress these days.

BORGER: Right. And the answer to that, at the end of April she said publicly that she thought only 75 percent of House members were vaccinated.

Now, they may have taken off their masks in the Senate. And we know some members of the Senate haven't been vaccinated.

So the question is, if you're in a group of people, and you're huddled together on the House floor, and only 75 percent of you have been vaccinated, would you wear your mask? Or should you, you know, still require you to wear your mask?

TAPPER: Yes. Especially if you're going home to kids, right?

BORGER: That's right.

TAPPER: And you worry that somebody might give you something that you then take home to your kids who can't get vaccinated.

BORGER: That's right. So, she's going to keep it for now.

TAPPER: A maskless Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, unfortunately, in the eyes of some critics, that he was free at last. He was happy about the CDC guidelines.

Do you think there's anything in this moment that might actually encourage some sort of working together? Shared humanity?

RASCOE: You know, that would be nice. I don't think so.


RASCOE: I don't -- I don't think it's likely.

TAPPER: That's why (ph).

RASCOE: But you know, Mitch McConnell what -- did encourage people to wear a mask.

TAPPER: Absolutely. Yes.

RASCOE: He was one of the Republicans who said, you know, you should wear masks. So he wasn't one of those who's -- who was against it. I think for a lot of Americans being able to get rid of the mask will be a big deal. They'll feel like it's free at last. They'll feel like they're getting their freedom back.

BORGER: You know, Mitch McConnell did not go to the White House for the Amy Coney Barrett --


TAPPER: Right.

BORGER: -- event because he thought it might be a little dangerous.

TAPPER: And it was a super spread (ph).

RASCOE: And it was.

BORGER: And it was super spread (ph).

TAPPER: Although probably more inside than outside, although we'll never know. But --

BORGER: But he didn't go.

TAPPER: Right, he didn't go, either way.

Gloria Borger, Ayesha Rascoe, Elizabeth Cohen, thanks to one and all of you. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, the House Republican leadership shuffle who is going to replace Congresswoman Liz Cheney as Conference Chair. We have new reporting about who might be running for that spot. That's next.



TAPPER: We're back with our politics lead. Soon, House Republicans will huddle on Capitol Hill to plot their next chapter after purging Congresswoman Liz Cheney from party leadership for telling the truth. But Cheney's not backing down. She says her continued advocacy for facts and truth is because Donald Trump and his enablers continue to pose a threat to the nation.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): You've watched over the course of the last several months, the former president get more aggressive, more vocal, pushing the lie. And I think that's a really important thing for people to understand. This isn't about looking backwards, this is about the real time, current potential damage that he's doing, that he continues to do. It's an ongoing threat. So silence is not an option.


TAPPER: Listen to what she's saying. It's an ongoing threat. Liz Cheney was pushed out of her leadership role yesterday, because of her clear-eyed view of not just the election, and the Capitol insurrection, which Republican leaders like this guy continue to lie about.


REP. ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): You know, if you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.


TAPPER: Really? This looks like a normal tourist visit to you, Congressman? But this is about more than just that lie. It's about more than the deception of millions of Americans who believe the lie and how far they were willing to go on January 6th, to push back against the injustice they were falsely told it happened. It's about the future, that's what Liz Cheney is saying.

There's a denial here about how committed Trump was to overturning the election, how determined some are to succeed next time. That's what Liz Cheney is warning us about.

Right now, there's an attempt to unseat those Republicans who stood up for facts and for democracy, not just Liz Cheney, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom Trump allies want to replace with election liar, Congressman Jody Hice. Relatedly, look at the changes being made to voting laws, like the voting law in Georgia regarding legal voters. They can now have their votes disqualified if they go to the wrong precinct and cast a provisional ballot. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the majority of provisional ballots, supported Democrats in 2016 and 2020.

It's all very clear. They're trying to change the leaders, including their own Republicans and voting laws so that next time they can get away with that. House Republican leaders like Kevin McCarthy are pretending that the election and the insurrection are old news, not worth discussing. But the question is this, what would a House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, what would he choose, if he had to decide between upholding the Constitution and being subservient to Donald Trump and trying to overturn an election on his behalf? Which one would Speaker McCarthy pick?

Liz Cheney is warning the country, past is prologue. And she's putting her career on the line to warn the public.

CNN's Manu Raju caught up with House Republicans today to see whether Liz Cheney's warning convinced them to stop spreading lies about the election and the insurrection. Take a listen.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As conservative Republicans in the House rewrite the events of January 6th, many refused to bat down former President Donald Trump's lie that the 2020 election was rigged. (on-camera): But do you agree with Trump that the election was rigged or stolen somehow?

REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R-KY): We didn't have hearings. There's no way to litigate that up here. If you're in the minority, the DOJ wouldn't investigate it.

RAJU (on-camera): Let me guess (ph), so there's no evidence of widespread fraud.

MASSIE: That's your opinion.

RAJU (on-camera): No, that's what the Justice Department said. Even Jeffrey Rosen testified (ph) it.

MASSIE: I just told you the DOJ didn't prosecute. That's Trump's DOJ.

RAJU (on-camera): Are you concerned by suggesting that there's something wrong it could lead to more violence here?

MASSIE: No, no.

RAJU (on-camera): Why?

MASSIE: I didn't see any violence.

RAJU (voice-over): It's a viewpoint shared widely among House Republicans. Claudia Tenney, who won one of the closest House races in the country last fall, told CNN of the 2020 elections, "We don't know if it was stolen or not".

RAJU (voice-over): But do you think Trump supporters came into the Capitol that day?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): In certain there were all kinds of people came in the Capitol and the ones who did harm and who broke the law, guilty of a crime should be punished --

RAJU (voice-over): Do the former president was he responsible for what happened?

JORDAN: No, of course not.

RAJU (voice-over): Why not?

JORDAN: No, he said if -- he said peacefully and patriotically, make your voices heard and no way was he responsible.

RAJU (voice-over): Stunning new body cam video obtained by CNN shows Officer Michael Fanone brutally attacked by the Trump inspired mob. The officer pleading what the insurrectionists saying, I have kids. Yet some Republicans defending the rioters.


REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): The DOJ is harassing peaceful patriots across the country.

RAJU (voice-over): Confronted today by CNN, Gosar would not respond to questions.\\

(on-camera): Mr. Gosar, why are you downplaying what happened on January 6th? Mr. Gosar?

GOSAR: Would you please get out of the way?

RAJU (on-camera): Can you explain why you're downplaying what happened on January 6th?

(voice-over): Others making startling claims.

CLYDE: You know, if you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.

RAJU (voice-over): Press today about those comments, Clyde refused to discuss them.

CLYDE: Think about what you just said. You didn't take what I said in context at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So can you explain it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Explain to us. Explain to us.

CLYDE: You don't listen to what I said, OK?

RAJU (voice-over): House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy would not call out his GOP colleagues today even as he appeared at an event honoring fallen police officers.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MINORITY LEADER: What happened on the 6th, the -- was atrocious went through, nobody -- when I look at the rioters that came in, those people should be held accountable.


RAJU: Now one person who has allied herself through all of this has been Elise Stefanik who is the likely number three Republican who will face her conference tomorrow in a secret ballot leadership election. And right now she is behind closed doors and is now facing a new challenge. That from Congressman Chip Roy who believes her more moderate record does not represent the conference. Though Chip Roy is a long shot to defeat Elise Stefanik, why? Because she has the support of Donald Trump who just reiterated his support in his statement saying he supports Elise Stefanik and when after Chip Roy assigned where things are going also in the Republican conference. Jake?

TAPPER: Chip Roy much more conservative than Elise Stefanik, but did not vote to overturn the election. Manu Raju, thanks so much.

Coming up next, escalating toward wars, CNN live on the ground in Israel as the violence continues to get worse. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


TAPPER: In our world lead today, the United Nations says that Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocket fire are escalating so quickly. This could become a, quote, full scale war. The fight has spread beyond traditional flashpoints into Jewish and Arab neighbors who are fighting in the streets and their long-standing coexistence seems to be -- is hanging in the balance now.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman is in Lod, Israel. Our lead, if you're Arabic, where a state of emergency was declared. Ben, tell us what's happening.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me -- before I get to that, the Israeli Defense Forces put out a tweet saying that air and ground forces are attacking in Gaza currently. We don't have details on that. However, I just got off the phone with someone in Gaza City itself, who says that the city is now under intense bombardment. So we don't have any more details than that.

Is this the beginning of a ground incursion? We don't know. But we do know that, as this evening, 9,000 additional troops have been -- reserved troops have been mobilized. And, of course, there has been much talk of a ground incursion, although not necessarily a full on ground incursion at this point.

Now, as far as the situation here, we're in front of the Grand Mosque of Lod or Led (ph). And there's been a standoff between Israeli police who were scattered around this square and those people inside now. A few hours ago, we were here doing a live shot when we saw two missiles rockets rising from the horizon in the direction of Gaza and they were intercepted just above -- right above us. We don't know if what their actual target was, but the reaction of the people who say they're guarding the mosque from possible attack by Israeli settlers have been bussed in from the West Bank, started to cheer and set off fireworks.

Now, this is a town that since Monday evening has seen the worst communal violence in decades. There's now an 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. curfew in place and units of the border. Police have been called in from the West Bank to bolster the security forces, not just in this town but other Israeli cities as well. Jake?

TAPPER: So Ben, you're alluding too, there's a tweet that the Israeli Defense Forces put out that says, quote, IDF, Israeli Defense Forces, air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip. Now the air troops, the air strikes have been going on for several days. But ground troops in Gaza is a development that we haven't seen in this scale since 2014 when they went in they said to shut down those tunnels into Israel.

WEDEMAN: Yes. We don't know, as I said, and I must stress, we don't have sort of a broad array of details at this point. Does this mean that there's an incursion of the likes we saw in July of 2014, or is this just limited action around the fringes of Gaza itself? Because obviously, Gaza is a very small area with a population of 2 million people crammed into that area. It's a very dangerous place to operate. And it's something that, obviously, the Israeli command when they make this decision, they have to take many things into consideration. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Ben Wedeman on the ground in Lod, Israel, thank you so much. Please stay safe.

Let's talk about this with Richard Haass, he's the President of the Council on Foreign Relations. He just released the newly revised paperback version of his book, "The World: A Brief Introduction".


So Richard, let me get your reaction to this news, the Israeli Defense Forces, now announcing that they have ground troops in Gaza, as well as the airstrikes that have been going on for several days. Your reaction? Obviously, I know, there's a lot we do not know beyond what I just said.

RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Look, I think the main thing the Israelis want to do, Jake, is to reestablish deterrence to essentially get a stand down with Hamas. There's zero chance, I would argue, you're going to have anything like a reoccupation, a large scale effort to retake Gaza. What you could see, though, is some very targeted incursions to perhaps go after select leaders, an effort to weaken the top level of Hamas. But again, I think the real Israeli goal here is to reestablish a de facto ceasefire.

TAPPER: The explosion in violence between Israel and Hamas in the recent days, started after the decision to try to evict six Palestinian families from East Jerusalem. And there's this looming Israeli Supreme Court decision on whether or not those evictions can happen. But you think it's even broader than that, that this conflict started with the Abraham Accords, the peace accords between Israel and several Sunni Arab nations negotiated in the previous administration by Trump and Jared Kushner. Tell us why, why do you think the Abraham Accords factor into this?

HAASS: I think a couple of things will work here. One is the Abraham Accords ignored the plight of the Palestinians. So they were simply left out and the idea that they could be ignored, and would simply be quiescent. History would suggest not. Then secondly, you've got this effort to change the character of certain neighborhoods, obviously, pushback there.

And what Ben referred might be actually the most worrisome thing. Israel is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society. There's roughly 2 million Israeli Arabs, most of whom are Muslim, some of whom are Christian, but they've essentially lived in peaceful coexistence in Israeli cities and towns. What is beginning to happen here is we're beginning to see that emerge as another fault line. In part, it's almost a civil rights type issue. Israeli Arabs have often been discriminated against.

I think the big question is also though, whether they're getting slightly radicalized because of what we've seen in Jerusalem, because of Hamas. Because obviously, Jake, the other thing that's going on here is Hamas is making the -- a bit not just to lead Palestinians in Gaza, but to lead all Palestinians including those living in Jerusalem, including those living in the occupied territories in the West Bank.

TAPPER: Richard Haass, thank you so much for your insights. Appreciate it.

Only a tiny fraction of people who are fully vaccinated had been infected with COVID afterwards, but that includes multiple people who work for the New York Yankees. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Our health lead today can double as a sports lead for you and ain't over until it's over. Just ask the New York Yankees. Multiple people associated with the team have tested positive for coronavirus despite being fully vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. CNN's Miguel Marquez is outside Yankee Stadium. Miguel, what's going on?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, the Yankees haven't had a great season so far this year but they are batting very, very well when it comes to coronavirus cases. Eight members of the Yankee's organization with one player, four coaches and four staff members all positive with the coronavirus. What is weird about this is that they were all vaccinated with the J&J, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Couple of things that aren't clear in this though, it is not clear when they all got that Johnson & Johnson vaccine. You have to have it for two weeks after getting it before you are fully inoculated. Now only one of these individuals was showing any symptoms and that person apparently -- even those symptoms have now disappeared, everybody else was asymptomatic. It's also not clear how they got it or where they got it or who they got it from.

Obviously, if they got it from somebody who was unvaccinated, you might expect that the J&J vaccine is a little less effective than the others, about 66 percent effective against getting the coronavirus. But even if you do get it, it doesn't kill you. And certainly this is certainly prove the rule here. All the individuals here asymptomatic one had light symptoms, and now they are gone as well.

What might be very, very concerning is if they got it from somebody who was vaccinated themselves. That is something that would be a very, very small possibility. But if that were the case, that would be a concerning. One other little piece of information to keep in mind is, look, the Yankees get tested a lot more than you or I or most Americans do. So they may have just caught a lot more cases and they may be sort of just an organization that is much closer together and this may just be a one off fluke. But the New York State Department of Health wants more answers. They've asked the Yankee organization for more information about how they got it, where they think they got it, so they can understand the effectiveness of this vaccine. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Miguel Marquez outside Yankee Stadium. Thanks so much for that.

Coming up, a new update just in on the U.S. fuel pipeline, shut down by that massive cyber attack. That's next.



TAPPER: Just into our money lead, major progress for that hacked pipeline company which just announced it has restarted its entire pipeline system and is making deliveries to every market it serves. Colonial Pipeline, which is one of the United States largest oil transporters says it will take several days for the supply chain to return to normal after that shutdown caused by a ransomware attack from Russia.

Finally today, in our pop culture lead, my new novel is now in bookstores. It's called "The Devil May Dance", it takes place in 1962 Rat Pack Hollywood featuring Charlie and Margaret Marder, the heroes from my previous effort, "The Hellfire Club". If you are interested, you can order an autographed copy of or go wherever you buy books.

Tomorrow tune again to The Lead, again 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Joining me live in studio, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, after being purged this week from House Republican leadership. You can also follow me until then on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN.

Our coverage on CNN continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door in The Situation Room.