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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Top Health Officials Warn About "Aggressive" Delta Variant; Sources: Biden Admin Talking About Revising Mask Guidance, White House Insists Guidance Has Not Changed; Sources: Pelosi Considering GOP Rep. Kinzinger for 1/6 Committee; Chicago Mayor Sits Down with CNN; New Audio: Trump Rambles About Jan. 6, Says Rioters Were "Loving". Aired 4-5p ET
Aired July 22, 2021 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: So, this is what I love about when I was reading this. The idea is that the beds with cardboard frames would be for anti-sex purposes --
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Yes.
BLACKWELL: -- and would collapse under the weight of more was quickly debunked by an athlete.
I flipped like, oh, how did they do it? She jumped on the bed.
CAMEROTA: She jumped on the bed.
I see where your mind went, Victor.
BLACKWELL: Sorry, guys.
THE LEAD with Pamela Brown who's in for Jake Tapper starts right now.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: The White House now weighing a mask mandate as states with low vaccination rates fuel an explosion in cases and suffering that could have been avoided.
Their workplace was attacked and all they can do is attack each other. A new twist in the war over the January 6th special committee involving who Speaker Pelosi may pick to join it.
Plus, very stable genius. President Trump gives a bonkers interview where he makes the MAGA riot sound like Woodstock. We'd play you the whole thing, but your brain might go numb.
BROWN: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Jake Tapper today.
And we start with our health lead and the nation's top doctors making it clear once again they are extremely worried about the highly contagious delta variant spreading throughout the United States among the unvaccinated. But there's a very simple solution, folks, get your shots.
Dr. Anthony Fauci confirmed that real life data confirms that real life vaccines are highly effective against this variant. But in communities with low vaccination rates, hospital ICUs are filling up. And this week three states, Florida, Texas and Missouri accounted for 40 percent of all new cases.
But once again, the majority of these infections are in people who have not had their shots. There's also the question about what the spread of the delta variant means for masks.
Sources tell CNN that top Biden health officials are holding early discussions about changing mask guidance for fully vaccinated people. This as growing number of cities across the country reinstitute mask rules, as CNN's Athena Jones reports.
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): America's summer COVID surge shows no sign of abating, new coronavirus infections rising in 48 states. The country now averaging nearly 40,000 new cases a day, up nearly 60 percent over last week, and with a more contagious delta driving outbreaks, and a quarter of the country now living in a county with high COVID transmission, the White House urging the unvaccinated to protect themselves.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The threat is now predominantly only to the unvaccinated.
JONES: Louisiana reporting the most new infections per capita with Arkansas, Missouri and Florida not far behind. New Orleans recommending masks indoors for everyone to try to slow the spread.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know that masking works. We've seen this movie over and over again.
JONES: And in California, Los Angeles County reporting a 20-fold increase in cases since last month.
Austin, Texas Public Health Officials now urging people in the community to wear masks indoors, too. While Atlanta public schools were just 18 percent of eligible students are fully vaccinated will require masks for all students and school staff, and as the virus strikes more and more unvaccinated young people --
DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, PROFESSOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: We do know in our ICUs we're seeing younger people intubated who are very stick or who are on the floors and are very sick. That should be a gigantic wake-up call.
JONES (on camera): And a local leader in Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston is now asking the public to wear masks again. Harris County Judge Lena Hidalgo says the region is at the beginning of a very dangerous potential fourth wave of the pandemic. Hidalgo said the COVID-19 test positivity rate is doubling roughly every two weeks, and if the county doesn't act now, it will be too late -- Pamela.
BROWN: That is not a good trend.
Athena Jones, thanks so much for bringing us the latest.
Well, when asked repeatedly today about the possibility of new mask guidance, even for those fully vaccinated, the response from the White House leaves that option open. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That's not the advice of the CDC at this point in time so that is not a message we are conveying to people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: But they didn't rule it out. This as the Biden administration is getting pushback on even the talk of masks required for children in schools. CNN's Kaitlan Collins has more from the White House.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Biden administration is weighing next steps as the delta variant causes a spike in coronavirus infections nationwide.
PSAKI: There has been no decision to change our mask guidelines.
COLLINS: The president's top aides and federal health officials are considering whether they should change those guidelines or shift public messaging on mask-wearing for the fully vaccinated.
PSAKI: We've never said that that battle is over. It's still ongoing. It would more concerning or should be more concerning to all of you in the American people if we were not having those conversations.
COLLINS: Ultimately any change to the guidance would come from the CDC.
Today, Director Rochelle Walensky stood by the current guidelines which the fully vaccinated people don't need to wear a mask.
Is the CDC considering right now changing its mask guidance for people who are fully vaccinated?
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: We are always looking at the data as the data come in. Our math -- our guidance has been clear since -- since we put it out several months ago. COLLINS: The agency under pressure to respond as the delta variant is
driving new outbreaks among the unvaccinated. New cases, hospitalizations and deaths are at a fraction of what they were before the vaccines but are still raising concerns.
WALENSKY: The delta variant is more aggressive and much more transmissible than previously circulating strains.
COLLINS: During a town hall with CNN in Cincinnati, President Biden pleaded with the unvaccinated half of the country to get vaccinated.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a pandemic for those who haven't gotten a vaccination. It's that basic, that simple.
COLLINS: But children who are under 12 still can't get the vaccine.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: When will children under 12 be able to get vaccinated?
BIDEN: Soon, I believe.
COLLINS: Until then, Biden president there will be new guidance for schoolchildren.
BIDEN: The CDC is going say what we should do is everyone over the age -- under the age of 12 should probably be wearing a mask in school.
COLLINS: Those comments already prompting pushback from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: There's been talk about potentially people advocating at the federal level imposing compulsory masks on kid. We're not doing that in Florida, okay?
COLLINS: Last night the president predicted the FDA will grant full approval for COVID-19 vaccines by this fall though his predictions came with this caveat.
BIDEN: I do not tell any scientists what they should do. I do not interfere. I mean, listen to the scientists and not interfere, not rush anything.
COLLINS (on camera): And, Pam, while the White House do their work, the White House is also sending $100 million to rural health clinics in the U.S. to help with vaccine outreach and education, given those have been areas where generally their vaccination rates have been lower than others.
The president's coronavirus adviser, Jeff Zients, also said today that they are potentially seeing a promising trend which is the area where you're seeing the delta variant surging, case rates are going up. He says they are seeing a new uptick in vaccinations. So, hopefully, potentially, this variant is driving people who have not yet gotten vaccinated to get vaccinated. BROWN: Absolutely. And as we know, it still takes a few weeks even
after that first shot to be fully vaccinated.
Kaitlan Collins, thanks for bringing us the latest there from the White House.
Joining me now to discuss is William Haseltine. He is a former professor at Harvard Medical School and the author of "A Family Guide to COVID".
Nice to see you.
So, there you heard it, CDC Director Walensky saying, for now, the guidance remains, vaccinated people do not wear masks. Do you think that should change given how quickly the delta variant spreading?
WILLIAM HASELTINEN, FORMER PROFESSOR, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: I do. I think it should change right away. This is a very, very dangerous variant. It is much more infectious than the previous variants. Masks can help, even from the vaccinated. Although it's very unlikely you'll get seriously if infected after you've been vaccinated, there are many cases now of people being infected, although they don't fall seriously ill. But if you're infected, you can potentially transmit that virus to others. So, not only, you know, who's vaccinated, who's not, but it makes accepts for everyone who is vaccinate to wear masks in public spaces --
BROWN: So, on that --
HASELTINE: And not just any mask.
HASELTINE: An N-95 mask.
BROWN: An N-95 mask. That's such an important point.
To your point about transmitting, you know, we're learning about these cases of vaccinated people, parents, giving the virus to their kids who aren't yet eligible to be vaccinated.
What does the science say now about how likely it is to transmit the virus to others if you are vaccinated?
HASELTINE: You know, we don't know the full answer to that, but if you are infected you are shedding some virus, and you have a possibility of transmitting it. This virus isn't like the virus we had before.
You produce, if you're not vaccinated, 1,000 times more virus in your airways. You produce it faster. And you get sicker and younger people get sicker. So this is not your COVID of 2019. COVID '21 is a much more dangerous creature.
BROWN: So, just to be blunt here -- I mean, how much are the unvaccinated, people who are choosing not to get vaccinated now, even though they're eligible, screwing things up for the vaccinated? [16:10:11]
HASELTINE: You know, it's -- everybody has their own choice, but if I had my druthers, I would rather see governments say, it's okay you don't want to be vaccinated, but then you can't go to the movie theater, you can't go to restaurants, you can't take public transportation. That's what they're doing in France right now.
It isn't that there's not pushback there. But that is a reasonable suggestion. Yeah, you're free to get infected and die yourself, but you're not free to infect other people.
BROWN: Today, we learned that 31 kids under the age of 12 have tested positive for COVID at a sleep away camp in New York. Is this a warning sign for what could happen when kids return to school?
HASELTINE: Well, you know, this is not the first case. First of all, the answer is yes, it is a warning sign.
Second thing so say is this is not the first case. There have been cases at religious camps, for example, in Texas, where very large numbers of people got infected and many people got very seriously ill.
I want people to understand that infection with the delta virus is much more life-threatening for themselves and for their children, regardless of your age, than the infection before. You've got to change your frame of reference. This is a much more dangerous virus. Not just more transmissible, which it is, but it's more dangerous once you catch it.
BROWN: Once again, masks are becoming a political football when it comes to kids in schools. What is your advice to parents sending back to school particularly in states that ban mask mandates?
HASELTINE: You know, you can't tell a parent what to do. If the school doesn't want to put on the mask, the parents are in a tight bind. I really feel for those parents who want to protect their children, yet a governor of a state says, you can't do that if you want to. We're not going to have masks in our schools. That is equivalent to say, we would like your children to get infected. It's a very poor move.
BROWN: All right. William Haseltine, thanks so much.
HASELTINE: You're welcome.
BROWN: Today, one nurse is now warning people not to be like her and to get a vaccine before you get a ventilator instead. That cautionary tale up next.
Plus, dangerous dodge. Why are so many Republicans mocking questions about their vaccine status?
BROWN: We're back with our health lead.
More and more hospitals are requiring employees to get the COVID vaccine as the number of cases skyrocket. In fact this week, Florida, Texas, and Missouri account for 40 percent of cases nationwide. In Missouri, more than 90 percent of the cases are unvaccinated people.
Now, one nurse there is telling CNN's Miguel Marquez she wants everyone to get the vaccine after she didn't and was put on a ventilator.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Health-care workers suiting up. Sickness from COVID-19 among the unvaccinated will not stop.
CHRISTY HENRY, HOSPITALIZED WITH COVID-19: The doctor told me twice yesterday that I should not be alive.
MARQUEZ: Neither Christy Henry nor her family got vaccinated from rural Houston, Missouri. They figured they were safe.
Henry rarely went out, wore a mask, and didn't see a lot of people.
HENRY: I've taken care of people, you know, for 20 plus years but never been on the receiving end.
MARQUEZ: Henry, 56 years old, was a nurse and now teaches nursing. She has a husband and six kids. She had to go on a ventilator. So did her husband. It got so bad she wasn't sure she'd see her family again.
HENRY: So, it's very real. I was so sick. He said, you should not be alive.
MARQUEZ: And she's lucky, the more contagious delta variant continuing to grip Missouri, where only about 40 percent of its residents are fully vaccinated.
Cases rising nearly 18 percent over the last two weeks. Hospitalizations and ICU admissions both up sharply since May.
DR. HOWARD JARVIS, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, EMERGENCY DEPT. COX HEALTH: I think the variant is just more severe than what we were experiencing previously.
MARQUEZ: Unvaccinated patients account for more than 97 percent of hospitalizations nationwide, says the CDC director.
You do not plan to get the vaccine, correct?
SUSAN DEAN, QUESTIONS VACCINE: Correct.
MARQUEZ: Susan Dean, now retired, worked in health-care for 25 years.
Should vaccines be mandatory for at least health care workers?
DEAN: I don't think we know enough about the vaccine to say, this is what it does.
MARQUEZ: It's a growing issue. The Mercy Hospital network including here in Springfield has now mandated vaccine for all employees. Some health-care workers here now organizing to reverse Mercy's decision.
Dean says it should be a personal choice.
DEAN: Anybody who is forced to take something -- or lose their job is -- I think that just makes me so sick. We've already suffered so much.
MARQUEZ: Mercy Hospital says the public health implications and dangers of the virus far outweigh any concerns about the vaccine.
CRAIG MCCOY, PRESIDENT OF MERCY SPRINGFIELD COMMUNITIES: We've got a narrow window to basically sustain or get ahead of where we are right now. As of this morning, we've got 172 people hospitalized, which is our all-time peak.
MARQUEZ: Kate Giacchi is an ICU nurse in Columbia, Missouri, after a hellishly difficult year, just when she thought there was light at the end of the tunnel --
KATE GIACCHI, CRITICAL CARE NURSE, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI HOSPITAL: We are mentally, and emotionally, and physically worn out.
MARQUEZ: For Christy Henry, the message now clear.
HENRY: Everybody I know and I love -- you need to get vaccinated.
MARQUEZ (on camera): Now, here is the situation in Springfield, Missouri: the hospitals are filling with patients to record numbers. Hospitals across the state are no longer able to take in patients from other areas. If you thought you were safe from the delta variant because you were safe in the past, whether you live in a city or rural area, you are not, say experts. Get vaccinated -- Pamela.
BROWN: Right. It's worth repeating -- 97 percent of the patients in hospitals with COVID are unvaccinated.
Miguel Marquez, thanks so much.
And now, let's go over to the south. No other state added more COVID cases in a single week than Florida.
CNN's Leyla Santiago is live in Miami.
Leyla, many hospitals are now forced to deal with this fallout.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Pamela. I spoke to one doctor who told me, if policy makers don't start doubling down on vaccination, quit with the misinformation on social media, this is a health system that will break down soon in the state of Florida. So let's take a look at the numbers. If you look at a map to kind of
look at the hot spots you're going to see a lot of red of the entire panhandle, as well as where we are right now in South Florida.
I'm at the Jackson Health System where they upped the COVID-19 threat level to high because of the influx of the patients. One doctor told me this influx of COVID-19 patients is a warning sign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. LILIAN ABBO, CHIEF OF INFECTION PREVENTION, JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM: What this is telling me is in the next two to four weeks we forecast the cases will continue to go up, and I really urge everyone listening to you to please go and get vaccinated. A lot of people only got one dose of mRNA vaccines. You need two doses to be fully protected from severe disease.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANTIAGO: Here when you talk about the COVID-19 patients and this health system, 90 percent are unvaccinated, 95 percent of those in the ICU are unvaccinated.
And I've got to tell you, we have spoken to nurses, to doctors, to patients, all of them urging people to get vaccinated, and there is a strong sense of frustration among health-care workers because they feel it's like, here we go again, except this time we have the PPE, we have to vaccines, we just need more people, they say, to get vaccinated.
BROWN: Yeah. I mean, their frustration is palpable, and understandable.
Leyla Santiago, thanks so much.
Speaker Pelosi now could be planning to pick more Republicans who aren't in the tank for Trump for the January 6th committee. That's next.
BROWN: In our politics lead, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is lashing out at Speaker Nancy Pelosi for rejecting some of his picks for the January 6th committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MINORITY LEADER: We predicted back at the very beginning this is a sham committee that's politically driven by Speaker Pelosi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Well, Pelosi says she won't let Republicans', quote, antics get in the way of the investigation.
Two sources tell CNN the speaker is now considering Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger for the committee. Kinzinger, of course, was one of the ten House Republicans who voted for former President Trump's second impeachment. He's also been very outspoken against Trump.
So, let's discuss all of this. We have a panel full of ladies today.
And, Ana, I want to start with you. You have Pelosi saying this group is beyond partisan. We just heard Kevin McCarthy saying, this is partisan. What do you think? Does a happy medium exist, or are we beyond that at this point?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, Kevin McCarthy wants it to be partisan. He wants to be able to say it's not legitimate and question the integrity of the results. And what it is is shameful. It is shameful that an event we all saw on TV that has scarred so many of us, scared so many of us, is being used as a political wedge by Kevin McCarthy.
I mean, what he did was so deliberate and so devious and so orchestrated, right? He put these two Jims in there, Jim Jordan and Jim -- to -- as poison pills, as poison pills, knowing that this would be the only rational reaction that Nancy Pelosi could have.
So I do hope that Nancy Pelosi appoints more Republicans. There are some Republicans that can be legitimate brokers and do their work on this committee. Adam Kinzinger is one of them. Certainly, Jaime Herrera Beutler who spoke about the truth and was unbending about it could be another appointment, although I suspect she'll be a witness.
BROWN: She spoke out about the phone call --
BROWN: -- between Trump and McCarthy.
So, Linda, what do you make of Kinzinger on this committee? Will this be enough for Republicans?
LINDA CHAVEZ, DIRECTOR, BECOMING AMERICAN INITIATIVE: Well, first of all, there are some people, about probably a third of the country, that is never going to believe anything that comes out of any commission no matter how many Republicans are on it.
The point of the commission is to get at the truth but also to figure out what mistakes were made and how we can prevent this from happening again.
I happen to believe that there is something to look into about the security at the Capitol. Some of that was President Trump's fault. He was the person who had control of the National Guard, but I actually have extended family members who were Capitol Hill police officers, and I don't think they were prepared. I don't think there was any idea what was coming.
So, there are legitimate questions, they need to be answered. It shouldn't be partisan. This is about finding the truth.
BROWN: Right. They were all impacted by this in their workplace, and, of course, it becomes this partisan bashing fest.
And then you have Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney saying Kinzinger would be a tremendous addition to the panel.
The conservative Club for Growth is out with a new ad though attacking Cheney. Let's listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD ANNOUNCER: She benefitted from a famous political last name. She sided with Nancy Pelosi and attacked president Trump when he was in office. She supported impeachment and she continues to attack President Trump today.
Hillary Clinton? No. Liz Cheney.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Comparing her to Hillary Clinton is really --
BROWN: Right. I mean, that's the question, right, like what's more toxic for Liz Cheney among her constituents, being tied to please and the Clintons or being anti-Trump?
KUCINICH: I mean, being anti-Trump in Wyoming is not the greatest thing in the world certainly and what the Republicans might end up on this committee have to weigh is their political future and whether they care or not.
Liz Cheney clearly has put principle over, you know, potentially her re-election chances, but, you know, going back to Kevin McCarthy, in some ways, just speaking purely politically what, else could he do other than, you know have the -- vote for the January 6th commission that would have been non-partisan and outside of the Congress and have people who weren't currently in office with equal representation picked by both sides. That's what they rejected initially and Pelosi capitulated on several different points that McCarthy had complained about.
Aside from that, what else could he do but make this political because ore twice would force some of his colleagues to own up to some of the role they played in what happened on January 6th and they certainly don't want to do it, particularly stretching it out as this investigation goes closer and closer to the mid-terms and having to look themselves in the mirror.
BROWN: Yeah, exactly. Interesting watching that press conference yesterday with McCarthy and the Republicans, they want to make it all about Pelosi and the security failures. It is true that the security failures should certainly be looked at, but, you know, there's a lot more to this story than what happened there, and from what we know, Pelosi did not have a huge role in that.
ASMA KHALID, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: The challenge, I was going to say for Democrats, Democrats writ large at this point is that with the conversation and the narrative that Republicans are arguing, that this is a partisan commission at this point, you know, that whatever findings now Democrats do find, and I will say Democrats because it's being led by Democrats, it will be hard for them to argue that it's not a partisan finding, right? Because Republicans and the language we're hearing from the Republicans is that this is a partisan, you know, kind of -- I don't want to say witch hunt but that's the language and the trajectory that we're hearing from them.
So, how do Democrats defend whatever findings they come with this? How are they able to present to the American public that this is quote, the truth, because I would argue at this point in time that facts are not really agreed upon. Many of us saw these things happen. But there is --
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That can't be an obstacle for them going full bore and getting totally invested into this committee succeeding because it's not going to be about changing the minds of that one-third of the American people you talked about. It's really about history. It's really what we owe to the Capitol Police. It's really about truth.
It's really about making sure that the history books get it right and that whatever measures need to be taken in order to protect the people who work in that building for centuries to come hopefully are taken and taken very seriously. So regardless of this, of what we're talking about, you know, dissecting the partisanship of it. It's got to go on.
BROWN: It's got to go on. And you mentioned this sort of alternate reality where there's not this shared reality.
We're seeing this play out, Linda, with the vaccines and how some of the GOP lawmakers have tried to fuel skepticism. In fact, our Capitol Hill team reports nearly half of House Republicans won't share their vaccination status. Chip Roy saying it's nobody's, quote, damn business.
CHAVEZ: Well -- and there's a reason for that. I think a good many of them probably got vaccinated because they don't want to die, but they are scared to death that once, you know, the base at home, the QAnon people and the anti-vaxxers get wind of that, they will basically be driven from the party.
I mean, I look at somebody like Tucker Carlson. I would bet every penny in my retirement account that Tucker Carlson has been vaccinated. No matter how much he gets on television and spews this anti-vaccine stuff. These are not dumb people. They know the vaccine works. They know that
they want to protect themselves but they're scared to death of speaking the truth.
NAVARRO: Well, the reason they are squared to death though is because they created this monster.
NAVARRO: And let's be -- you know, it's not just Fox News. It's not just people saying stupid stuff on TV over and over every night. It's also the politicization of masks.
It is the selling of campaign swag, picking on Fauci. It's the demonizing of Fauci. It is Congress people refusing to admit that they got the vaccine and even refusing to follow the mandate that Nancy Pelosi put in place. It is prohibiting private businesses like cruise lines from demanding proof of vaccination.
All of those things have been done by Republicans and so the reason now that it's hard for them to put the genie back in the bottle is because of the environment they creed and we're all being held hostage as a result.
BROWN: Well, and you heard Fauci say, look, if this was going on back when the polio vaccine was available, then we would probably still have polio, right? I mean, that's a reality. So much has changed.
All right. Thank you so much, ladies. Great conversation.
Well, Chicago is suffering through its third mass shooting in a six- hour span. Will a new program help a city battle gun violence?
BROWN: In our national lead, at least eight people were shot just before midnight last night in Chicago's old town neighborhood. This is the third mass shooting for the city in a six-hour span. And now federal officials are unveiling a new strategy to combat this violence.
And as CNN's Omar Jimenez shows us, they are teaming up with officials like Chicago's Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), CHICAGO, IL: We've got to build these anchors and infrastructure in the communities. I want to restore retail space. I want to create more green spaces for folks to gather.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Chicago's West Side, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is trying to fight violence with investment from things as simple as planting trees to constructing a community plaza and roller rink. LIGHTFOOT: Looking at the challenges our city has faced. This is
really a generational opportunity to make had a long lasting difference so that the next generation of kids that are growing up in this community have a very different trajectory.
JIMENEZ: Lightfoot was elected in 2019 as the city's first black woman and openly gay mayor. Two-plus years into the job, a pandemic and record jump in violence have complicated her vision for a better Chicago, some have even questioned how she's handled that stress, especially after a June confrontation with a local alderwoman as the city council meeting recessed.
And in an email obtained by "The Chicago Tribune", she wrote to a scheduler in January, I need office time every day. I need office time every day -- repeating the phrase sent during scheduled office time.
A source in city hall said this is who she is. Is that true?
LIGHTFOOT: I don't know, what that means this is who she is. Am I demanding boss? Yes, I am. But I'm demanding on behalf of the residents of our city.
JIMENEZ: She made a different demand as she hit her two-year mark as mayor in May, writing for the day, she would be exclusively providing one-on-one interviews with journalists of color -- setting off a firestorm of criticism, including that she was discriminating and doesn't get to choose who covers her.
LIGHTFOOT: In a city that's two-thirds people of color, that we don't have journalists of color that are covering the back there mayor of the third largest city in the country is an outrage.
I'm not going to worry about making friends in the media or accepting the status quo because I don't want to the blowback. No. I got elected to shake things up.
JIMENEZ: All of it happening under a cloud of increased violence from 2020 spilling over into 2021.
Despite some improvement murder is still up 48 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels with shootings up more than 60 according to data from the Chicago police department.
LIGHTFOOT: If people don't feel safe, literally nothing else matters. I know that. I own responsibility for that, along with every other stakeholder in our city. We've got to be united and move forward together to address these issues.
JIMENEZ: That includes at the federal level. After clashing with the previous administration, she's more optimistic about working with the current one.
You've asked President Biden for help. What exactly have you asked for? What do you need?
LIGHTFOOT: We need gun trafficking and multi-jurisdictional strike forces to disrupt the flow of illegal guns that are coming into our city.
JIMENEZ: It's part of a multi-tiered approach that light of needs as mayor to help Chicago turn a corner when it comes to violence and more, but the neighborhood level, she hopes her investments leave an impact well beyond her time in office.
LIGHTFOOT: It's not the critics who count. There has been and there will continue to be skepticism like, is this real? Are you just doing this for the cameras? No, it's real and we're going to continue to be here rain or shine because I know that if we can change the fortunes of this neighborhood, we can do it anywhere in the city. We'll move as fast as the trust builds.
JIMENEZ (on camera): Now on the violence front, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland just arrived here in Chicago to launch federal anti- gun trafficking strike forces, the very kind Mayor Lightfoot says she asked President Biden for -- to go beyond those just pulling the trigger and get to the sources that are putting the guns in their hands in the first place -- Pamela.
BROWN: All right. Omar Jimenez, thank you so much for that.
Former President Trump spinning more incoherent lies on the assault on the Capitol. The interview you won't be able to unhear next.
BROWN: In our politics lead, detached from reality. That's how President Trump sounds in an interview that he did about the deadly January 6th insurrection.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: It was a loving crowd, too, by the way. There was a lot of love. I've heard that from everybody. Many, many people have told me. That was a loving crowd.
They were ushered in by the police. I mean, in all fairness, the Capitol police were ushering people in.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BROWN: So clearly, Trump was wrong about that, and that was just part of his disjointed and incoherent ramblings. The interview was for the new book "I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year" by "Washington Post" journalist Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig.
Carol, congratulations on the book. Thanks so much for joining us.
So, we learn a lot in this book, and we learn about what was happening around the insurrection, an aide said that Trump thought the insurrection was, quote, cool. You write that when aides finally convinced Trump to do a video message calling up the rioters, it took three times to make it seem sincere.
Why did it and why doesn't Trump still not grasp the severity of that day?
CAROL LEONNIG, CO-AUTHOR, "I ALONE CAN FIX IT": I'm so glad, Pam, that you go right to the day of the event because -- and inside the Oval where Trump is watching TV in his dining room, you know, just off that part of the West Wing, and people inside front row witnesses to this moment in history basically describe the president as MIA. He's kind of a little giddy as he sees his protesters, his supporters, the people he just spoke to at the ellipse start charging up the Capitol Hill.
And remember when they break through barricades and start going up the inauguration platform, they are breaking the law, and he's pretty happy. It's only when shots are fired and there's violence and reports of that that he essentially says the version of "oh, crap," but it takes his chief of staff mark meadows and his daughter Ivanka Trump multiple visits and attempts to get him to basically call off the dogs because he is not saying anything.
He's sort of wondering what he should say and how he should say it. He wants to praise his base. That part of him is so reflective.
BROWN: Right, and even calling off the dogs, I mean, he barely did it initially, right? There were ardent Trump supporters who saw after he respond topped that that was a turning both for them and that's a whole other story. But you spent time 2-1/2 hours with president at Mar-a-Lago. You interviewed 140 sources. Take us into the psyche of Donald Trump and his influence even now in GOP politics, particularly on the Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. We just saw what he did, pulling his picks from January 6 committee.
How is Trump pulling the strings behind the scenes?
LEONNIG: So, keep in mind that right after the election, President Trump seemed to be believe that he may have lost. What we learned is the night after he said to Kellyanne Conway how could we lose? I'm so bummed we lost.
So -- but in the meantime, his inner narrative has gotten harder and harder and less and less related to reality, less -- it's unmoored. And he in Mar-a-Lago, when we visited, a ton of people traipsed by to sort of kiss his ring and more were coming. Congress members trying to get his endorsement, and as he said to us, you know, if they don't come and they don't get the endorsement, they don't win.
And he views himself very much as a successful king-maker and the standard bearer for the Republican Party. He likes Kevin McCarthy. He detests Mitch McConnell.
BROWN: I mean, he likes Kevin McCarthy for now because Kevin McCarthy is kiss the ring. I want to go to this thought that the book opens up, just to go big
picture after what you laid out there, Carol. It says, the year 2020 tested the republic. Yet the institutions designed by the founding fathers were still standing by the time America left office, America's democracy withstood the unrelenting assault of its president.
Why do you credit -- who do you credit, I should say, most with keeping democracy afloat?
LEONNIG: It's two things at once, Pam. It's fact that a ton of people who supported Donald Trump, worked for him ultimately beloved his impulses were soup dangerous and tried to be a bulwark against what he was trying to do. The other part is, Donald Trump wasn't that organized and effective. If somebody was better at this, at being an autocrat, at being a democracy splinter, they might have been more effective, but he wasn't.
BROWN: And that is pretty frightening.
All right. Thank you so much, Carol Leonnig, co-author of "I Alone Can Fix It".
Well, who needs the Olympic torch when you have a dumpster fire? The chaos surrounding the games with just hours until the opening ceremony.
BROWN: In our sports lead, the event that usually stands as a beacon of world unity in absolute chaos. Tomorrow, the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics -- 2020 -- will be overshadowed by the ceremony director getting fired for past anti-Semitic comments, skyrocketing COVID cases in Tokyo and at least 20 athletes who have had their life work dashed because of positive COVID tests.
Despite all that, the two-week long Olympics will go on.
And our coverage continues now with Jim Acosta in THE SITUATION ROOM.