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The Lead with Jake Tapper

CDC Revises Guidance, Recommends Vaccinated People Wear Masks Indoors In COVID Hot Spots; Officer Slams Lawmakers Who Downplay Capitol Riots: I Went To Hell And Back To Protect Them; Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) Is Interviewed About The Jan. 6 Committee Hearing; Olympic Stunner; Insurrection Hearings Begin. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired July 27, 2021 - 16:00   ET





BLACKWELL: I've got to end it right there. Thank you very much, Kelly Ford, Bruce Afran.

"THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I guess it's good that I didn't throw out my masks?

THE LEAD starts right now.

Breaking today, masks making a rather unwelcome comeback as millions of Americans continue to refuse to get vaccines. Updated guidance from the CDC just minutes ago. What that means for you even if you're fully vaccinated.

Reliving the day that will live in infamy. Officers testifying about being beaten and tortured by MAGA rioters yelling racist slurs and saying, Trump sent us, during a stunning first day of public testimony in the Capitol riot probe.

And a shocker at the Summer Games. Simone Biles withdraws from the gold medal event as Team USA falls to Russia. What's behind the move by perhaps the greatest gymnast of all time?

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start with breaking news in our health lead. A major announcement just moments ago that should give pause to every person vaccinated or not about the state of this pandemic in the United States.

First, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, is revising its mask guidance. They're now recommending those in high or substantial virus transmission areas, even those who are fully vaccinated, wear a mask again when you are indoors. Right now, nearly two-thirds of all U.S. counties are considered

higher or substantial transmission areas. So that new indoor mask guidance also applies to schools. The CDC says all students, all faculty, all staff in K-12 schools even those who are vaccinated, should wear a mask. Here's the CDC director just moment ago.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes is happening in places with low vaccination rates and among unvaccinated people. This moment and most importantly the associated illness, suffering, and death could have been avoided with higher vaccination coverage in this country.


TAPPER: As you heard there, today's new CDC guidance comes as a direct result of the failure of the American people to get vaccinated in the numbers that the CDC said were necessary to move past these steps.

With the highly transmissible delta variant and even more transmissible lies and conspiracy theories about the vaccine being spewed all over social and other media, cases and hospitalizations are surging at an alarming rate, as CNN's Athena Jones now reports.


ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With new coronavirus infections rising in every state, the CDC is revising its mask guidance for vaccinated people in areas it says have high or substantial COVID transmission. Now recommending they wear masks indoors in public spaces.

WALENSKY: In rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others. This new science is worrisome, and, unfortunately, warrants an update to our recommendation.

JONES: Some 17 percent of the country lives in a county with substantial transmission. And nearly half the country lives in a county with high transmission, including every county in Arkansas and Louisiana and nearly every county in Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

DR. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: We're heading into a rough time.

JONES: A former CDC director warning, within another four to six weeks --

FRIEDEN: It's likely that our trajectory is similar to that in the United Kingdom that we could see as many as 200,000 cases a day, four times our current rate.

JONES: The last time there were more than 200,000 new U.S. cases in one day was in January according to Johns Hopkins University data before vaccines became available widely and before the more contagious delta variant took hold.

Now the U.S. seven-day average of new cases is the highest in three months.

DR. STEPHEN HAHN, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: The key here is transmissibility.

JONES: The problem, a third of those eligible to get the vaccine have not gotten the shot, something experts say must change if the nation is ever to emerge from the pandemic.

HAHN: What we want to do is stop the transmission. How do we get variants? We get variants because the virus gets into somebody who is not protected, it undergoes mutation, and then it spreads to a different -- you know, additional people.

JONES: Hospitalizations rising rapidly in less vaccinated states. Florida, one of three states leading the nation in new COVID cases per capita, now accounts for nearly a quarter of the country's new daily cases.


The mayor of Orange County, home to Disneyworld, saying the area is in crisis mode.

MAYOR JERRY DEMINGS, ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA The virus is adapting. The state has not adapted.


JONES: And back to those vaccine mandates. President Biden saying just a short while ago, requiring COVID vaccinations for all federal employees is under consideration. This comes just a day after his administration mandated COVID vaccines for all healthcare workers or most healthcare workers working at the Department of Veterans Affairs -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Athena Jones in New York for us -- thank you so much.

Let's bring in CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, let's start with the question on the minds I'm sure of many of our viewers. I'm vaccinated, why do I need to wear a mask?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Uh-huh, right. Well, so, first of all for you, Jake, you know, if you look at that map, if we can put that map back up again. What we're talking about here is areas where the virus is spreading in high or substantial ways where you are, as it turns out, D.C., is moderate. This is maybe going to confuse people even more. But, technically speaking according to this new guidance, in D.C., that wouldn't apply for vaccinated people in public indoor spaces.

TAPPER: But you're in the red, right? You're in Atlanta. So why do you need to wear a mask?


GUPTA: Why do I need a wear? So, this is -- this is what they're saying. The new thing here, we've known for some time that vaccination rates aren't where they should be. We've known for some time that the delta variant has become dominant. We already knew that.

So what changed now is your question. What -- the new -- the new data that the CDC is talking about basically states that someone who is a vaccinated person who develops an infection, a so-called breakthrough infection, could be carrying the same viral load, the same amount of virus in their nose and mouth as someone who is unvaccinated, infected individual.

So, vaccinated and infected, unvaccinated and infected, they may carry the same amount of virus. It does not mean that that vaccinated person is getting sick. It does not necessarily mean that anything else is sort of different in terms of how the vaccines work. It still works really well at keeping that person from getting sick.

But could they still transmit?

That is what Dr. Walensky is talking about, this idea that it's possible. It's rare because the breakthrough infections aren't that common in the first place. So what we're talking about is not something that would happen frequently.

But I think as curves go up and we're going into the fall, I think they've decided that they want to introduce this indoor vaccinated masking again to try and get control of this.

TAPPER: So, in other words, you are in an area that's red, Atlanta, Georgia. You are vaccinated but the reason you're supposed to wear a mask is so that just in case you don't become infectious, not so much that you're going to get sick, so that you don't contaminate other people, you would wear a mask for the benefit of other people.

GUPTA: Correct. And some of those other people in my case I have three kids, they are all just at the age now where they're vaccinated. But for people who may have unvaccinated people in their household or work in a healthcare setting or something like that, it's really about that.

This should not suggest, again, just to reiterate, that the vaccines don't work. I feel very comfortable that I'm not going to get very sick even if I do develop some symptoms.


GUPTA: But what's new here, again, Jake, according to Dr. Walensky, this is data that hasn't even been published yet. But basically, they found enough evidence to say that even if you are vaccinated and developed one of these breakthrough infections, you could carry enough of a viral load to potentially spread it the way that an unvaccinated infected person would. TAPPER: And for children, the CDC is urging everyone, students,

faculty, staff, in K-12 schools, to wear a mask in school and as an all CDC guidance, this is a recommendation, it's not a mandate. Are most school systems expected to get on board with this?

GUPTA: I don't know. This is going to be -- this is going to make for some very, you know, big debates and fights I think over this.

There's obviously several school districts around the country that have laws that prevent mask mandates. They've passed those.

Large school districts in New York and Los Angeles are planning on returning with masks. I know here in Atlanta public schools are as well. But it's going to vary across the country.

What we are reporting right now, Jake, is obviously new. How much does this new guidance affect those school districts? There are several that are sort of on the fence about masks even before today. So, this may tip them over into mask wearing. We'll see.

The CDC director says, as you'd expect, that this still very much encouraging in-person learning but with masks K-12.

TAPPER: Yeah. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

One officer compared the MAGA riot to a medieval battlefield. The emotional testimony from the first day of the insurrection investigation. We're going to talk to two members of that committee, one of them next.

And Simone Biles shocks the Olympic world as she withdraws from the team gymnastics final for her mental health. Her friend and former teammate will join us live.


Stay with us.


TAPPER: We were all fighting for our lives -- that was the message from four of the police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol during the deadly riots on January 6th.

Their testimony today during the first hearing of the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection was highly charged and highly emotional, disturbing, at points infuriating. One officer who was pulled into the crowd heard chants of "kill him with his own gun." Another said he was more afraid during the insurrection than he was during his entire deployment to Iraq.

And they all agreed that they and their colleagues cannot move on without some kind of accountability to make sure it does not happen again.

As CNN's Ryan Nobles reports, the officers also had sharp words for the Republican members of Congress who continued to downplay and deny and lie about the horrible events of that day. We want to warn you.


Some of what you're about to see and hear is graphic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So help me God --

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From its opening moments, the first hearing of the select committee to investigate the January 6th insurrection was a jarring display of the violence on that day.

Never before seen video and clips previously released showing front line officers dragged into the mob and beaten and then crushed between doors. One had his gun taken from him, while another was sprayed with chemicals. That video was coupled with the raw memories of the officers who experienced it.

SGT. AQUILINO GONELL, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: I could feel myself losing oxygen and recall thinking to myself, this is how I'm going to die defending this entrance.

NOBLES: All four of the officers who testified and many of their other colleagues are still suffering from the physical and mental scars from that day, in addition to the brute violence.

OFC. MICHAEL FANONE, DC METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: I heard chanting from some in the crowd "get his gun" and "kill him with his own gun."

NOBLES: The mob was also racist, screaming at this officer.

OFC. HARRY DUNN, CAPITOL HILL: Twenty people joined in screaming "boo fucking nigger". No one had ever, ever called me a nigger while wearing the officer uniform of a Capitol Police officer.

NOBLES: And these officers made it clear, the terrorists were there with a specific purpose.

DUNN: No, man, this is our house. President Trump invited us here. We're here to stop the steal.

NOBLES: The root causes of that day are an important part of the mission of the committee, and the role of the former president to fire up his supporters is part of their investigation.

Representative Liz Cheney, one of only two Republicans on the panel, vowed to follow the investigation wherever it leads them.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House, every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack.

NOBLES: Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy saying he didn't watch the hearing, instead, holding a press conference beforehand blaming Speaker Pelosi.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MINORITY LEADER: On January 6th, these brave officers were put into a vulnerable, and impossible position because of the leadership at the top has failed.

NOBLES: And Alabama Republican Mo Brooks who spook at the rally on January 6th before the capitol riot.

Do you have anything to say about the Capitol police officers?

REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): I didn't watch it. I don't know what happened.

NOBLES: In the hearing, officers expressed outrage over Republicans unwilling to accept reality of what occurred on that day.

FANONE: The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful.

NOBLES: And then President Trump's conduct afterwards, defending the riots and calling them, quote, very loving, cuts these front line officers deeply.

GONELL: It's a pathetic excuse for his behavior for something that he himself helped to create, this monstrosity. I'm still recovering from those hugs and kisses that day that he claimed that so many rioters, terrorists, were assaulting us that day.

NOBLES: And many want the former president to be held responsible for the role he played.

DUNN: If a hit man is hired and he kills somebody, the hit man goes to jail. But not only does the hit man go to jail but the person who hired them does. There was an attack carried out on January 6th, and a hit man sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that.


NOBLES (on camera): And it could be some time before this committee holds another public hearing. The next one may not occur until September. But they vow that their work will continue. In fact, Congresswoman Liz Cheney saying today that subpoenas for information and for witness testimony could come immediately -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill, thank you so much.

Joining me now for her first national interview since today's hearing is Democratic Congresswoman Elaine Luria of Virginia. She's a member of the select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection.

Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us on this really depressing, grim day.

What do you think was the most important thing that the American people learned today?

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): Well, I think hearing from the officers themselves directly, just seeing the emotions and pairing that with the videos and understanding that you're hearing from this officer who's pinned between this door with a mob of people just pushing him and, you know, afraid for his life, and the fact that they were so brave to come and tell their stories because the stories need to be heard, but -- that we can't let something like this happen again.

And so, I just think those images and the sounds and the stories from people who were there and suffered real traumatic injuries, both physical and emotional, you know, that really stuck with me, and I think that other people watching it can feel that.

TAPPER: The chairman of the committee, Bennie Thompson, said the next hearing could be August, could be September. Subpoenas could soon be issued.

Who do you anticipate is going to be subpoenaed?

LURIA: Well, you know, as a committee, this is something that we're looking at closely.


So, I think that the one thing we've been clear about is that nothing is off the table. We'll follow the evidence where it takes us, and we need to understand everything that happened that day and led up to that day so that it can't happen again.

TAPPER: Are you looking into how all those people got there, who paid for the buses, who organized the groups? People -- I mean, some of the people there that day obviously were swept up in the emotion of the moment. But others obviously had been planning.

There was a constructed gallows. There were people with shirts that said "January 6th." For some people, this was obviously planned.

LURIA: I agree. There's certainly -- everything shows me there was an orchestrated effort, someone was behind that, coordinated it, brought those people there, got them into the fold to get them in Washington and angry and ready to come to the Capitol. You know, there was one clip that was played during the hearing that basically said, we're not here to be violent, we're just here to overthrow the government.

TAPPER: Right.

LURIA: So I think that's very telling, that people came for a reason, they were in Washington, they stormed the Capitol, they were violent, they harmed these police officers, and they tried to stop the work of the government and the certification of the election results.

TAPPER: There are seven Democrats on the committee, two Republicans. The Republicans were appointed by Speaker Pelosi.

Listen to what Republican Congressman Kelly Armstrong told me yesterday. Armstrong was originally one of McCarthy's picks and then when Pelosi vetoed Jordan and Banks because they're big election liars, McCarthy pulled all the rest.

Here's Armstrong.


REP. KELLY ARMSTRONG (R-ND): When you serve on the committee at the call of the speaker and the minority members aren't allowed to put their own members on the committee, you just completely make this thing partisan and move it forward in a way that just -- I'm just telling you 50 percent of the country is not going to take anything going on with it with any credibility whatsoever.


TAPPER: Now, I want to distinguish between Congressman Armstrong and the Jim Jordans and Bankses of the world. This is not an election liar. This is not somebody who's out there lying about the election.

But he's saying the way that this has happened, Republicans are not going to take it seriously.

LURIA: I think that anyone who watched that testimony today and saw and felt what those officers went through should take this seriously. And, you know, I think we all welcome members on both sides of the aisle who will come to this committee and work seriously and not make it a partisan circus. I think you could see that it was very solemn today, it was very emotional.

Many members of the committee at various times had tears in their eyes because they felt the pain that those officers felt and they felt the responsibility they felt is the last line literally protecting our democracy on that day.

So, you know, I think that we have a bipartisan committee now, and I think that there's the opportunity to bring more Republicans on.

TAPPER: And we should note, you're a Navy veteran. We heard from one of the officers is a veteran as well, and he said he was more testified -- I'm sorry, more terrified during the insurrection than he was during his entire deployment in Iraq. What was it like for you as a veteran to hear another veteran say that?

LURIA: Well, I think the connection there is this oath. And, you know, we in Congress all take the oath, the police officers. But as a veteran, to know that you take that oath to support and defend the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic, that serving overseas in a war zone -- he said, you know, I expected to be in danger, I expected to get attacked and IEDs and hostilities overseas in Iraq.

But here in our Capitol, in the seat of our democracy, you know, they all said that they just never could've envisioned being in that situation that they found themselves in on January 6th.

TAPPER: No question a horrible, horrible day.

Democratic Congresswoman Elaine Luria of the Commonwealth of Virginia -- thank you so much for your time today. Appreciate it. One of the most shocking moments of today's hearing, an officer recounting the vile, racist slurs hurled at him during the riot by the rioters. We'll talk about that next.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with our politics lead.

A sober and difficult day on Capitol Hill as the select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection began its public hearings.

Let's discuss.

Jamie Gangel, let me start with you. What do you think is going through President Trump's head today with no allies there to defend him, which is obviously by design?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump is not happy. What happened today is what he didn't want to happen. He did not want any committee. And to your point, he didn't have Jim Jordan or any other allies there fighting back or pushing back.

It also was devastating because four policemen in uniform, four heroes sat there and in devastating, excruciating detail, talked about how Donald Trump supporters were racist, were violent, were trying to stop democracy. This was a bad day for Donald Trump.

TAPPER: Mayor Rawlins-Blake, one of the most upsetting, distressing moments today came when Officer Harry Dunn, who's a Capitol Police officer, described some of what he heard from the crowd.

Let's play some of that. I have to warn our viewers that the language here is upsetting.


DUNN: I told them to just leave the capitol, and in response they yelled: No, man, this is our house.


President Trump invited us here. We're here to stop the steal. Joe Biden is not the president. Nobody voted for Joe Biden.

I'm a law enforcement officer. And I do my best to keep politics out of my job. But in this circumstance, I responded: "Well, I voted for Joe Biden. Does my vote not count? Am I nobody?"

That prompted a torrent of racial epithets.

One woman in a pink MAGA shirt yelled: "You hear that, guys? This nigger voted for Joe Biden." Then the crowd, perhaps around 20 people, joined in screaming: "Boo, fucking nigger."

No one had ever, ever called me a nigger while wearing the uniform of a Capitol Police officer.


TAPPER: He says he asked another black officer, how could this happen?


I don't know if there was a dry eye in the place when you hear this officer, this big, burly, seemingly unflappable officer, talk so candidly about how it felt to be called the N-word in his uniform. And it just makes me so much more grateful for the men and the women who protect our country at every level, because it's clear they protect people that they know, people that they don't know, people that they care, people that they don't even like and people that don't like them. And

they do it every day. They showed up the next day for work. And I think that that certainly was not lost on me that these officers deserve our respect. And they deserve to be heard and their stories not to be diminished.

TAPPER: And Scott, Officer Michael Fanone, who's with the Metropolitan Police Department, he felt like he was not getting the respect that Mayor Rawlings-Blake just talked about from some, not all, but from some Republican lawmakers who have been downplaying the attacks.

Take a listen.


MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: What makes the struggle harder and more painful is to know so many of my fellow citizens, including so many of the people I put my life at risk to defend, are downplaying or outright denying what happened.

I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room. But too many are now telling me that hell doesn't exist, or that hell actually wasn't that bad.

The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful!


TAPPER: A very emotional event.

What do you say to House Republicans? Well, I mean, House Republicans, I have to say, with a few exceptions, have really either been quiet or have not been backing the blue. I mean, they have been attacking and undermining this committee and these officers.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, the ones that are being quiet are being quiet because they know what happened.

I mean, that's the thing. If we watched it, if you have seen the videos, if you listen to the testimony, I don't know really how you go out with a straight face and say what we all saw, it didn't really happen the way you saw it.

I'm glad you played the raw unedited language from that officer, because every Republican, whether they're in the House or whether they're sitting at home right now, needs to understand that efforts to get you to believe that this mob was something other than it was are wrong. they're wrong.

So what I would say is, we're going to have to accept who this crowd was. We're going to have to accept why they were there. And while I have been dubious as a political analyst that this is going to have as big of an impact on the midterms, this manifests itself in 2024, when the Republican Party asks for the supreme political authority in this country again, and we're going to have to say whether we condone that, whether we accept the facts of it, and whether we accept the circumstances around it.

And so I have a hard time believing voters are going to reinstate us to that power if we're unwilling to acknowledge what happened the last time that we had it. And, of course, this won't happen if Donald Trump's the nominee. I think, personally, it will happen, we will acknowledge it, and we will accept the truth, if anyone else is.

But what I would say is, people saw what happened. We all watched it.

TAPPER: Yes. Yes.

JENNINGS: This happened in the dark of night.


JENNINGS: This happened on our TVs. We hear the testimony. You cannot deny it.

So I think the best policy is always honesty. And that'd be my advice.

TAPPER: Congresswoman Elise Stefanik from New York, Laura, she's been an election liar. She's been part of this problem for a while.

She out -- she decided today that the line of attack was to blame the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi because there wasn't adequate security. We should point out Pelosi as speaker is not directly in charge of the Capitol protection.


But, to the degree she is, Mitch McConnell is equally or was equally in charge that day, because at the time he was Senate majority leader.

Do you think this messaging is going to work beyond the base?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Beyond the base? No. I mean, with the base? Yes, which is why Elise Stefanik, as well as Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are again pointing at Nancy Pelosi, which is what they have done cycle after cycle for other reasons.

As Scott knows, she's been an effective boogeywoman for them in the past. They're doing it again right now with this. But, yes, to say that, you have to ignore logic and you have to ignore the fact that McConnell is -- was head of the Senate, that Trump was president at the time.

And so, beyond the base, it is difficult to see where they expand their numbers if they continue down this line, because, right now, they are just continuing with saying that they don't want to follow the truth by furthering these lies about the election and about what occurred that day

TAPPER: Yes, thanks to one and all for being it. Appreciate it.

The greatest gymnast ever perhaps withdraws from the Olympic team finals, putting new focus on the pressures of being an Olympian, especially during a pandemic.

Three-time gold medalist gymnast Aly Raisman weighs in on that next.



TAPPER: Big news in our sports lead today, the USA gymnastics team upended, after a surprise withdraw from star Simone Biles, ending in an upset, with Russia's team snagging the gold.

Biles told reporters she withdrew because her head was not in the right place.


SIMONE BILES, U.S. OLYMPIC GYMNAST: That five-and-a-half-hour wait or something, I was just like shaking, could barely nap. I have just never felt like this going into a competition before.

Once I came out here, I was like, no, mental is not there. So I just need to let the girls do it and focus on myself.


TAPPER: Joining us now to talk about this is two-time Olympian, three- time gold medalist gymnast Aly Raisman, who competed with her friend Simone Biles in 2016.

Aly, great to see you again.

Mental health at the Tokyo Games is now front and center. We have Naomi Osaka saying she lost because of the intense pressure. You know Simone personally. Give us some insight into the mental demand put on other elite athletes.

ALY RAISMAN, THREE-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Yes, first of all, thank you so much for having me on.

I can only speak from personal experience, of course. And having competed in two Olympics, it is so much pressure. And I think, coming from the U.S., where we are lucky to have so many incredible successful athletes, there's this pressure that we have to win and that, if we don't win, it's this fear of, what if we disappoint people? What if people don't like us anymore?

There's so much pressure. And then thinking about the pressure I had on myself, it's nothing compared to what Simone Biles has on her leading into the Games and right now. And so I just honestly can't even imagine. I have been watching the press months leading up to the Olympic Games, and I just would look at it, and I couldn't believe how much pressure was being put on Simone.

So I feel so much for her. I'm completely devastated. And I support her so much. And I'm just sending her all the love in the world right now.

TAPPER: I'm sure everybody watching feels the exact same way. She is a superstar. And knowing your limits is part of that.

I think it's important for people to also understand just how potentially dangerous gymnastics can be. If you're a basketball player, and your head's not in the right place, maybe you foul out, maybe you don't take any shots in the fourth quarter, whatever. But if you're a gymnast, you can get seriously injured.

RAISMAN: Yes, I'm glad that you asked that, because it's really true.

In the team finals, it's three gymnasts go up. And every single score counts. So there's no room for error. And that adds just a tremendous amount of pressure. But then, in a sport like gymnastics, I think that sometimes gymnast make it look easy. And that's a compliment to the gymnast. But I don't think people realize just how dangerous it is.

You're flipping in the air. The beam is only four inches wide. There is so much room for error. Like, even breathing at the wrong time or running a little bit too fast, it's so easy to roll your ankle or to hyperextend your knee or get lost in the air when you're twisting, kind of doing a little bit too much, more twisting than you want or less.

It's just -- it's also so mental. And the fear of gymnastics mentally is also such a big component of it that I don't think a lot of people understand. But you are right. Gymnastics is really -- it's very dangerous to say I feel really off today, I'm just going to ignore that and push myself anyways. And that's when injuries can occur.

And so I really am proud of Simone for sharing with everyone. It's very hard to do that, especially when you're on such a big stage as the Olympics. And I can't imagine how hard that was for her to pull out today. But I'm proud of her. And she knows her body better than anyone else. And she knows her mind better than anyone else.

TAPPER: It sounds like you think the hype about her, not by her, but by the Olympics hype machine, might have also played a role in this.

RAISMAN: Yes, this is someone that is watching from afar.

I would be curious to hear Simone's thoughts whenever -- if or whenever she's ready to share that. But just watching the amount of pressure, I saw a headline the other day that said Simone is favored to win six gold medals.

And so that is just so much pressure where -- my coach used to say the hardest place in the world to be as an athlete is number one in the world, because everyone is trying to catch you. There are so many eyes on you.


Simone had so many eyes on her. She still does. She's the biggest story in the Olympics or one of the biggest stories in the Olympics. Everyone is watching her, everyone is expecting nothing but less than a gold medal.

And so, it is just a tremendous amount of pressure. And I think people are well-intentioned. But I think that the idea that the intention behind -- I think that, sorry, I'm a little bit overwhelmed. I was up early watching them.


RAISMAN: But I feel for her so much. And it's a lot of pressure and I definitely think that factored into it.

TAPPER: And you told CNN today that there weren't really mental health services when you were competing just a few years ago. What does USA Gymnastics need to do to better support the athletes?

RAISMAN: Yeah, I think that USA gymnastics has been an absolute disaster for years. And, unfortunately, not enough has changed for us to believe in a safer future. But I think this just really shows the lack of leadership that USA gymnastics and the United States Olympic committee -- I mean, their best athlete is struggling.

And is there someone there to help her? I don't know, I'm not there so I don't know. But I think it's an important question that, you know, we should be asking is, does Simone have the support that she needs? Do other athletes have the support they need? Not only when they're in Tokyo but also when they come back home.

I don't know what's there. I know there wasn't. It was not discussed much when I was training, and we didn't feel like we had access to mental health experts to help us through the stress.

So that's definitely something that needs to change and they need to have that for these athletes.

TAPPER: Aly Raisman, always so well-spoken, it's always great to see you. Thank you so much.

RAISMAN: Thank you. Thanks.

TAPPER: Nearly every county -- every county in the state of Florida is listed as a high-transmission area for COVID right now. There is no sign that Governor DeSantis is going to change course at all. We're going to go live to Florida, next.



TAPPER: Sticking with our health lead, the CDC hopes its new mask guidance can make a difference in the notable hot spots in the United States such as Florida, which has one of the highest rates of cases in the entire country.

I want to bring in CNN's Randi Kaye who's in Palm Beach County.

Randi, has Governor DeSantis responded at all to this new CDC guidance?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, I've called, we've emailed the governor's office and Florida's department of health. We have not received any response to this new guidance, which is a recommendation or advice, as you say, certainly not a mandate.

But right now, masks are optional in schools here in the state of Florida. So, you can bet the governor's not going to be very happy about hearing this advice from the CDC. He thinks things are going really well here in the state of Florida. If you look at Florida's vaccination rate, we could show you it's 48.5 here in Florida. That's just slightly below the national average. The governor is very proud of that.

And he's really against any type of mask mandate. He has said that he's issued an executive order prohibiting local governments from collecting fines from people who violated previous mask orders. He threatened to hold a legislative session if the federal government did issue a mask mandate for schools.

As you know, Jake, children 12 and under are not eligible for the vaccine. And the CDC is clearly concerned that if people who are vaccinated can transmit the delta variant that those kids could get sick in those schools.

So listen to what the governor said recently about masking children.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Is it really comfortable? Is it really healthy for them to be muzzled and have their breathing obstructed all day long in school? I don't think it is. Parents can make decisions how they want to. We wouldn't restrict that. But we certainly will not have any mandates on students and on parents in the upcoming school year.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KAYE: And, Jake, I just want to point out, the governor likes to point out that children don't get very sick from the vaccine. But I really visited Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville. And I am now told that they now have 18 children who are testing positive for COVID in that hospital, and six of them are in the ICU. So while many of them may not get very sick, certainly some of them do, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Randi Kaye in Palm Beach County, Florida, thank you so much.

Police officers pointing the finger at former President Trump for firing up those MAGA terrorists on January 6th.

Congresswoman Liz Cheney, one of only two Republicans serving on the January 6th committee joins me next to talk about the first day of testimony.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We start this hour with breaking news in our politics lead. Emotional and disturbing and gut-wrenching testimony today from the frontline police officers who risked their lives to protect the Capitol and democracy during the January 6th attempted insurrection.

Four officers who battled the MAGA mob testified today in the first hearing of the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection. The officers recounted the terror from that deadly day. As one officer put it, he thought, quote, this is how I'm going to die.

And now the pain and trauma that the officers feel as fellow Americans deny what actually happened after the officers, quote, went to hell and back to protect everyone inside the Capitol that day.

CNN's Manu Raju joins me now live from Capitol Hill.

Manu, what are Democrats and Republicans on the Hill saying about today's hearing?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Democrats are saying this was riveting testimony that will pave the way for their investigation in the months ahead.