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The Lead with Jake Tapper

CDC Reveals Breakthrough Infection Data Behind New Mask Guidance; CNN: Trump Pressed DOJ in December to Say Election Was Corrupt; First Group of Afghans Who Helped American Troops Arrive in U.S.; Dems Still Unable to Reach Deal to Extend Ban on Evictions. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired July 30, 2021 - 16:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Thanks so much for watching today.

And THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The CDC warns that the war against COVID has changed.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Breaking today, a new study revealing just how tenacious the delta variant of COVID is and why even the vaccinated, health experts say, now should take new steps to protect themselves and everyone around them.

Big lie obsession. A House committee releasing new notes showing Trump's determination to enlist others to lie about nonexistent voter fraud. Notes showing that he pressured his acting attorney general to help him overturn the election.

Safe at last. The first flight of Afghans who risked their lives to help American troops arrives in the U.S. But what will happen to thousands more with Taliban targets on their back?


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

And we start today with the health lead and the new data backing up what top health officials had been warning about for weeks, the delta variant is aggressive. The delta variant is highly contagious. Even among those who are fully vaccinated.

The new data out today is some of the same data that prompted the CDC to change its mask guidance earlier this week. Its pivotal discovery centers on a COVID outbreak in Massachusetts where vaccinated people were still infected. Though we need to emphasize, the vaccine can keep serious illness at bay. But those individuals can still become very contagious to others.

CNN's Athena Jones joins me now live from New York. Athena, what else are we learning from this alarming new data?


Well, you know, all of this data really raises the stakes for everyone, not just the unvaccinated but also the fully vaccinated. We're learning that this delta variant of the coronavirus is much more contagious, as easily transmitted as chickenpox, which means that one person infected can delta could spread to average on eight or nine people rather than just two or three people with the original strain of the virus.

And so, you remember earlier this week, the CDC announcing new guidance on masks, saying that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, needs to be wearing a mask while indoors. Well, part of that was based on, as you said, this study on an outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where 469 people were infected in May -- sorry in, July. Seventy-five percent -- 74 percent of the overall cases occurred among people who were fully vaccinated.

And they found that several, many, over a hundred of the fully vaccinated people who caught the delta virus had as much virus in their system as people who were unvaccinated. That is why the CDC was prompted to change its masking guidance because it shows that even if you're vaccinated, you may be spreading the delta variant -- the delta virus around.

One thing that experts are stressing is that the vaccine is still, it makes you much safer, it's still very much protective. In the case of Provincetown, only four of the vaccinated required hospitalization. Two of those people had underlying health conditions, and no one died.

One more interesting point here, the CDC estimates there are 35,000 symptomatic infections among the fully vaccinated each week. So that really gives you a sense of what's going on here with this new variant. And it makes protocols like masks and social distancing even more urgent -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Athena Jones, thanks so much.

Let's bring in Dr. Howard Jarvis. He's an emergency medical physician and medical director of emergency health at CoxHealth in Missouri where the virus is hitting rather hard.

Doctor, thanks for joining us.

The original strain, we're told, was comparable to the common cold, could infect two or three people. This delta variant, we're now told, has the ability to infect eight or nine others regardless of their vaccination status. The CEO of your hospital group says you all took in nearly 170 new COVID patients just today.

So what is your reaction to the CDC data, which is backing up what you've also been saying that the delta variant can spread very easily?

DR. HOWARD JARVIS, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, EMERGENCY HEALTH AT COXHEALTH IN MISSOURI: It really corresponds with what we've been seeing over the past, you know, several weeks and really now almost for a month and a half. We had about 15 patients hospitalized with COVID in the middle of May. And we're at about 150 in Springfield at our hospital. So, you know, it's up ten times.

The patients we're seeing are sicker, they're younger, and they seem to be getting sicker faster. We're also -- you know, we're also seeing a lot more pediatric patients that are ill and surely not all of them have to be hospitalized. But in speaking with our pediatricians, the total number of pediatric cases that we admitted over a year for COVID up until about the middle of May, we have done more than that just in the last couple of months.


So, we're really seeing a younger population and a population that's getting sicker faster.

TAPPER: It's still -- based on what you're seeing, though, I just want to underline, the best prevention, the best way to make sure you don't end up super sick in the hospital is the vaccine? I mean, most of the people if not all of the people that are hospitalized are not vaccinated?

JARVIS: That's exactly right. The best treatment that we have for COVID is to get the vaccine. You know, your chances of being ill enough to be hospitalized and certainly your chance of dying is far, far reduced by having the vaccine.

And I think one of the things that people tend to not realize is once you are ill enough to be in the hospital, once you're on a lot of oxygen, maybe you're on the floor or you're in the ICU, the treatments that we have for COVID are really not that great. The one treatment that we have that is really effective is getting vaccinated before you get the infection.


JARVIS: Once you're really ill, there is some supportive things we do. We can give you steroids, antivirals. And I'm not saying they don't benefit, but the degree of benefit is not anywhere close to the degree of benefit from getting the vaccination.

TAPPER: A study in China found patients with the delta variant have viral loads more than 1,200 times higher than samples taken in the early days of the pandemic with a different variant.

Do the unvaccinated people coming to your hospital, do they realize that they were putting themselves at such risk by refusing to get the vaccine?

JARVIS: I think a lot of them don't have a great grasp of that. I think they're getting more of a grasp of it with what's been happening here, you know, locally and recently. I think the word is getting out.

You know, if you look at it when we had the big uptick in people getting vaccines, you know, in January and on through the spring, I mean, you can just see a tremendous drop-off in the number of cases and the number of deaths per day. I mean, we really had great improvement.

Unfortunately, because we didn't have better uptake, that's allowing the virus to spread to hosts that are -- you know, that are not protected. And that's what viruses do. If you -- if you allow them to spread, they are going to mutate.

Some of the mutations may be minor and may not cause a significant change. But you may have, you know, as with the delta variant, you have a mutation that makes it far more infectious, far more transmissible. And you get people getting sicker.

Unfortunately, the longer we wait and the longer we keep a relatively low percentage of the population vaccinated, we're just waiting for another variant that's even worse. It's not going to be -- the vaccine is not going to be effective against it. And then we're back to the beginning and we start this whole thing over. So we really need to encourage people to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.

TAPPER: Dr. Jarvis, seeing the influx of patients in your emergency room, if the government, whether the Missouri government or the Biden administration on a national level were to go a step further and mandate vaccines, do you think that would be effective, or would it push already vaccine hesitant, vaccine spectacle people even further away?

JARVIS: I think there is a, I hope, relatively smaller portion of the population that still wouldn't hear that message and might be pushed further away. I will tell you that there's been -- we definitely have had an uptake in our area in vaccinations over the past few weeks.

And I think, you know, we have reached out to people as a hospital and some of the thought leaders, religious leaders that maybe hadn't been big proponents of getting vaccinated in the past, have stepped up and are doing so. So I think there's -- I think there is more willingness for people to get vaccinated. And I don't know, maybe being more forceful with the recommendations or even mandates.

I do think that would increase the number of people getting vaccinated. Anything we can do to get that number up, I really think we need to do. I mean, when -- when you look at it right now, you basically have every two and a half to three days, you've got a thousand people in this country dying from COVID.

And if you look at the statistics, you know, 990 plus of those are unvaccinated, and less than ten are vaccinated. So it's really -- there's really not much debate that the vaccination is extremely protective from preventing you from getting very sick and from dying.


So, we just need to keep getting that message out there that the vaccination clearly saves lives.

TAPPER: From Missouri, one of the hardest-hit states, Dr. Howard Jarvis, thank you so much. Thanks for the work you do, sir.

JARVIS: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Just say that the election was corrupt. The new evidence that the former president was leaning on the Justice Department to help him overturn a free and fair election.

And from an American tragedy to a national treasure, the eye-opening video Simone Biles posted and then deleted.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: We're back with our politics lead.

New evidence today of former President Trump's attempts to try to overturn the 2020 election based on lies. Hand-written notes show that Trump pressured his acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, and the Justice Department in general to back his big lie, urging the then attorney general to, quote, just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me, and the Republican congressmen.


These notes come from a December call between Trump, Rosen, and Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue.

CNN senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid joins me live.

Paula, what else do we know about this call, and tell us why this is so important.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's so important, Jake, because it's just an extraordinary example of the former president trying to pressure an agency that is supposed to be independent of the White House as part of his wide-ranging effort to delegitimize the outcome of the election. Now these new details come from hand-written notes that were taken by then acting deputy attorney General Richard Donoghue. And in these notes he details a December 27th call between the former president, the then acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, and himself.

Now, in this, he details how the former president encouraged the two top officials at the Justice Department to declare the election illegal and corrupt, despite no widespread evidence of voter fraud. Now, the acting attorney general in these notes tells the president, look, that's not the way this works. And now this new evidence, Jake, is being used in multiple congressional investigations.

TAPPER: And, Paula, this conversation took place after Attorney General Bill Barr had resigned and Barr, according to his own account, was also pushing back against the election lies. Does this shed any new light on Barr leaving?

REID: That's right. Well, let's look at the timeline here. Barr left shortly before Christmas. And, of course, we know, Jake, it's not unusual for attorneys general to depart an administration before the last day.

But Barr was seen as a very loyal deputy to former President Trump. But his last few weeks in office were pretty rocky because he and the president just were not aligned on this issue of election fraud. Now, we know in early December, Barr came out and undercut former President Trump's message on this by saying that the Justice Department had not found any evidence of large-scale voter or election fraud that would change the results, directly undercutting the message that the former president was putting out.

Now, even after he left office he's continued to have to defend himself against allegations from the former president that he tried to block investigations. But it's clear the president was not deterred when he encountered this resistance from his attorney general and moved on to acting top justice officials.

TAPPER: All right. Paula, thanks so much.

Let's discuss this now with Andrew McCabe, CNN commentator, former FBI director who had his own history with Donald Trump that has been well- covered. What was your reaction when you saw these hand-written notes today?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN COMMENTATOR: It's extraordinary. Hand-minute contemporaneous notes are some of the best evidence you can come across when you're trying to make a case or big a prosecution. That's, of course, not happening here. But I think the accuracy and the fact that they were captured in the heat of the moment on this incredibly controversial phone call is really moving.

TAPPER: And now, according to these notes, Rosen, who was then the acting attorney general, told then president Trump to understand that the Justice Department, quote, can't and won't snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election, unquote. He added, it doesn't work that way.

What does this tell you about how Trump viewed the Department of Justice in his final days in office?

MCCABE: It's absolutely clear, Jake, how he views the Department of Justice. And that is as a tool for him to use for his personal, political benefit.

We talk about the independence of the Department of Justice. When we say that, we're not talking about some act of institutional etiquette. It's vitally important that the department maintains independence from the White House so that all Americans can believe in the results of the criminal justice system, right? So we know that the criminal justice system isn't being used for political purposes.

Here you have the president of the United States pushing the acting attorney general to do exactly that, to lie to the American people, to undercut a lawful election, to undermine democracy, to try to overturn the will of the people all for his own personal benefit. TAPPER: This conversation took place after Bill Barr had resigned from

the office of attorney general. Barr told "The Atlantic" last month that Trump was livid with him when he revealed that the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Quote: My suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there, it was all bullshit, Barr told "The Atlantic."

Rosen and Donoghue had to know that this was going to be front and center for Trump after Barr left. I mean, this was obviously since September, October, plus after the election. This is what Trump was singularly focused on, finding a way to use this lie to overturn the election, and now we have these notes.

MCCABE: That's absolutely right. And I know exactly how those gentlemen felt. I know what it's like to have your boss leave or get fired in my case and then know that the pressure of the presidency is about to come down upon you, as it did to them and as it certainly did to me.


TAPPER: You're referring to when the president fired FBI Director James Comey.

MCCABE: That's exactly right.

TAPPER: Your then boss.

MCCABE: That's exactly right.

But I think this timeline raises questions for former Attorney General Barr, knowing that the department was under assault from the White House, being pushed to support this conspiracy to overturn the election might not have been a good idea to stick around and help them withstand that attack.

TAPPER: The key quote here, just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the R. congressmen -- Republican congressman he later in those notes references a number of these Republican congressmen, basically Trump lackeys who everything he want like Jim Jordan of Ohio.

But what does this tell you about what Trump expected the Jim Jordans of the world to do?

MCCABE: It's almost like handing off the baton in a relay, right? All he needed from the Department of Justice was to throw that statement out there that their opinion was the election was corrupt and he was confident that the next runner, in this case the Republicans in Congress, would pick up that baton and run it forward.

TAPPER: What's also interesting about this is that Merrick Garland, the attorney general now, issued an announcement this week saying that the Justice Department was not going to assert executive privilege and blocking Rosen from testifying. And we were talking about that moment. Garland is such an institutionalist, in my view, this is an opinion,

not based on anything I know for a fact. But I find it hard to believe that Garland wouldn't have said that if he did not think that Rosen wanted to testify. And this maybe sheds some light on that because he's all about protecting people if they don't want to have to do it.

MCCABE: I share that opinion about the attorney general. I think his decision in the E. Jean Carroll case to continue maintaining the former Trump administration's defense there indicates just how strong an institutionalist he is.

However, you're absolutely right. In this case I think he made the absolute right decision to pull back the shield and to allow these gentlemen to step forward and testify fully and truthfully. I would expect he probably had some sort of a conversation with them or understood where their position was on it, although I don't know that that would have been dispositive for them. But it is incredibly important that they have the ability to sit down in front of Congress and share those facts with the American people. That is how we get through periods like this.

TAPPER: Is this a crime, Trump saying this -- Trump telling the acting attorney general to do this?

MCCABE: It's hard to see initially how this could turn into a federal crime. But, listen, it is absolutely an abuse of power. It's absolutely an abuse of the office of the presidency had he done it while he was still president, I think it would likely qualify as an impeachable offense, but we're obviously well beyond that.

TAPPER: Well, also there are a bunch of people who won't vote to impeach him no matter what.

Andrew McCabe, thanks so much. Good to see you.

MCCABE: Thanks.

TAPPER: The first Afghans who risked their lives to help American troops and are now trying to escape because the Taliban wants to kill them, they have landed in the U.S. they're the lucky ones right now. Thousands still remain in danger. That's next.



TAPPER: A momentous day tops our world lead. The first group of Afghan translators and interpreters and others who risked their lives to help American service members in Afghanistan this first group arrived in the U.S. today early this morning. The group of around 200 Afghans is now at Fort Lee, Virginia, where they will finish their last steps to officially becoming American immigrants.

But we need to note, tens of thousands of other Afghan allies are still waiting in harms way in Afghanistan, facing increasing threats from the Taliban who are gaining power and control of that country, hunting and killing those who helped the U.S. -- as CNN's Kylie Atwood now reports.


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the beginning of an effort to uphold a promise. Those buses are carrying about 200 Afghan interpreters and their families, pulling into U.S. Army base Fort Lee in Virginia, now safe on U.S. soil.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a home for you in the United States if you so choose.

ATWOOD: President Biden welcomed the interpreters home and thanked them for putting their lives on the line alongside U.S. troops in America's longest war. Those arriving today are part of a group of 700 special immigrant visa or SIV applicants who've completed the majority of their background screening process. They'll be at Fort Lee for about a week, some in temporary housing and hotels, securing a medical clearance and getting the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia talked about their arrival.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): We feel particularly supportive and even proud that we can be the initial place of touching soil in the United States as these Afghan SIVs and their family members begin a next, exciting, challenging chapter of opportunity in this country.

ATWOOD: These Afghans were essential to America's efforts on the ground in Afghanistan over the last 20 years. Army Captain Sayre Paine who served in the country described the wartime camaraderie.

SAYRE PAINE, FORMER ARMY CAPTAIN: I'm grateful to anybody that sat in the trenches with me fully knowing the hazards that we faced that more than likely one of us was going to die. And the interpreter was right there with us. And I owe them a duty as much as I owe any soldier that I was with.


ATWOOD: Of the 20,000 Afghans in the SIV pipeline, about 10,000 of them have just begun the application process, according to the State Department. Applications can take years to process.

That could be a deadly problem for some, with the Taliban issuing death threats for Afghans who worked with the U.S. and seizing control of the country.

NAYAB, SIV APPLICANT: If I don't get out of Afghanistan, I am counting down my end of life.


ATWOOD (on camera): Now, President Biden said earlier today that these arrivals are just the first of many as the United States continues to work and relocate additional interpreters. But the remaining question, Jake, is just how many of these interpreters they will be able to get out of the country before the U.S. finishes its complete U.S. troop withdrawal next month -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Kylie Atwood at Fort Lee, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss is Matt Zeller. Matt served in the U.S. Army. He deployed to Afghanistan. He's also the cofounder of No One Left Behind. That's a nonprofit dedicated to helping these interpreters navigate the U.S. visa process and set up their new lives in the United States.

Matt was there this morning in the wee small hours this morning, given rare access to film a new documentary he's working on.

Matt, thanks so much for joining us.

So, tell us -- I mean, you were shooting this video earlier today as these families arrived at Ft. Lee. What was it like? We're showing some of the video right now.

So, show us what we're seeing and what this was like for you.

MATT ZELLER, TRUMAN NATIONAL SECURITY PROJECT FELLOW: Sure. So what you should be seeing is the first families that came out of a special area of customs to where the United States Army had set up some buses to move them to Ft. Lee.

I was joined by a gentleman by the name of Rohin (ph). He had not seen his mom, his dad, or his two sisters in 11 years, and he's part of the film that we're making and we were there to try to capture their hopeful first reunion, or at least first glimpses of one another. We had no idea if we would see it.

What we saw were the first people coming out, and I have to tell you, as somebody who's been working on this for a decade, it finally felt like seeing a promise kept. This is the best part of doing this work is seeing these people arrive here. But the reality, Jake, is that it only represents 0.3 percent of all the Afghans waiting. There's 99.7 percent of them, which is around 88,000 people, who are still left behind in Afghanistan desperate to get here.

These 240, I am so fortunate are here. I hope that this is the start of a massive pipeline, but we're going to need an avalanche of an effort to get them over here.

TAPPER: And just to be clear, it's 240 of the actual translators and hundreds more of their families who came, right?

ZELLER: No, it was 240 people total.

TAPPER: Two hundred forty people total?

ZELLER: Yes, sir.

TAPPER: That's Afghans, interpreters and their families? That's it, wow.

ZELLER: One flight, one plane.

TAPPER: And of the 89,000, is that --

ZELLER: Eighty-eight thousand.

TAPPER: Eighty-eight thousand. Is that interpreters or is that interpreters and their families?

ZELLER: That's 20,000 interpreters plus their associated family members.

TAPPER: OK. You're passionate about this effort and we talked about this because you say when you were deployed in Afghanistan, your translator saved your life. What do you mean?

ZELLER: I wouldn't be sitting here alive today if it wasn't for my brother Janis (ph). He shot and killed two Taliban fighters who are about to kill me in a battle on my 14th day of war. I made him a promise that if I could ever repay -- repay that life debt, all he had to do is ask. I learned firsthand in trying to get him his visa, just difficult it is to get someone here.

We can design, build, fly, and land a rover to Mars faster than we can get one of these people their visas. It's atrocious. We're out of time.

What we need now is the largest airlift since Berlin in 1948 to move them. And, Jake, what I haven't heard from the administration, which haunts me, is that, thus far, the only place we're flying people out of is Kabul. The Association of Wartime Allies polled the Afghan special immigrant visa population, the interpreters. And what they learned was that over half of them live outside of Kabul, with no means to get there. That's about 44,000, 45,000 people --

TAPPER: With so much land controlled by the Taliban, they may not be able to get to Kabul.

ZELLER: They can't. The roads are controlled by the Taliban. They've erected checkpoints where they're using our biometrics data bases and the U.S. military hardware that we would use to enter and then check people into it, to see if people that they stop, used to work for us. If you pop up in the database, they kill you.

So, you can't drive on the road to get to Kabul, which means you got to fly. And there aren't flights for most of the cities anymore. And there aren't flights for most of the cities anymore. All flights from Herat ceased yesterday.

How do people in Herat now get to Kabul? That's what haunts me.

TAPPER: Yeah. I mean, the Biden administration knew this was coming and haven't started acting on it in a real way until just now.

ZELLER: No, they had -- you know, we've been sounding the alarm now for months. It's been radio silence from the administration. There's an entire coalition of organizations people like Human Rights First, Veterans for American Ideals, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services.


I just listed a human rights organization, a veteran organization, and a faith organization.

Organizations that might not always partner, along with a huge bipartisan coalition in Congress. You know, people like Ron Johnson and Patrick Leahy united on this.


ZELLER: I don't know of a single other issue that they agree on, and since may, they have been telling the Biden administration, we have to evacuate these people.


ZELLER: Why didn't we do it while we had the troops in place to do so?

TAPPER: Well, they didn't, and we're going to stay on top of this story.

I also want to note, Matt, Matt is looking for financing for his documentary. He showed me some of the other images, not the ones we just showed you, but other ones, and there's really powerful stuff on there. He's on Twitter @MattCZeller if you want to help him. If you are somebody that could help him put that doc together.

Thank you so much for being here, Matt.

ZELLER: Thank you so much.

TAPPER: And we're going to keep telling the story, and if we have to we're going to tell about the funerals.

ZELLER: That's what's going to come next, I fear. We have a podcast called "Wartime Allies" and every time I talk to one of these people, I feel like I'm taking their last testament.

TAPPER: I hope that's not true, but we're going to keep working on this.

Right now, millions of Americans are at risk of losing their homes if Congress doesn't move fast. That's next.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, millions of Americans could potentially be homeless within days if Democrats cannot find a way to extend the current ban on evictions. House Democrats still unable to reach a deal.

The CDC order prevented landlords from evicting renters for failing to pay their rent. That expires Saturday night, an estimated 11.4 million adults are behind on their rent. That's a crisis that is obviously been exacerbated by the economic turbulence of the pandemic.

Joining us now live to discuss, Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan.

Congresswoman, thanks for joining us.

Passing an extension is one thing. I know that's up in the air right now, but there's this other part of this that's so interesting to me.

According to "The Washington Post," there's this $25 billion of rent assistance that was passed. Only 12 percent of that has reached the renters who need it the most so they can pay their rent.

How do we fix that? How do we get that money to people who need it?

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): Yeah. Well, I think that's why we're going tomorrow for an extension. We're actually not talking about providing any more dollars for folks who need it. We're talking about just giving the program time to work.

It's not -- it's not glamorous. It's a -- it's a bureaucratic problem that Washington is having and we're trying to make sure that people don't lose their homes, don't get kicked out of their homes because Washington can't get the money out.

TAPPER: So, President Biden called on Congress yesterday to pass legislation to extend this eviction moratorium. We've known for months that this deadline was coming obviously.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, your fellow Democrat, told Punchbowl News too little too late.

She says, quote: For the White House to do this right before we're about to leave, it's just -- it's ridiculous. I don't want to hear any of the spin about how they've been trying this whole time. There has not been the advocacy, the voice, et cetera, that we have needed to have on this issue. So I'm not here for the excuses about how this is the court's fault. This is on the administration, unquote.

Does your colleague have a point?

SLOTKIN: Well, listen, you have to be truthful and honest. And we're at the 11th hour, it expires tomorrow. Most of us had not heard of this problem in detail and that Washington was having such a difficult problem getting this money out. We've been hearing from our districts that they weren't receiving the funds. But I don't think we connected the two dots. And, you know, you have to own that no matter what.

TAPPER: I think there's this stereotype out there that landlords are, you know, they're all slumlords, it's all Jared Kushner in Baltimore, or whatever. But the National Association of Realtors says 41 percent of these rental units across the country, they're owned by individuals, not owned by big companies or big corporations. And this hurts them, too, I guess, right? Because you're not allowing

-- not you -- but the program isn't allowed to work so they're not getting the money.

SLOTKIN: Right. I mean, that -- it is the small mom and pops who are really the realtors, the folks who -- I'm sorry, the real estate owners who are the ones who are really not getting the money right now, right? It's for -- it's a moratorium so that people can't get evicted but it's also paying the people who are owed that rent so that they don't go under.

And I hear from small mom and pop shops that they own maybe two, three apartments, that's their income, their supplemental income, and they're in trouble. So, it's hurting kind of everyone from the renter to the landlord to everyone in between.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about voting rights legislation, which is important to you. There are two big Democratic bills in the mix. One is this huge sweeping election reform bill HR-1. The second is called HR-4. It's the John Lewis bill. It's a more narrow measure that would revive parts of the Voting Rights Act.

You and other Democrats sent a letter to Democratic leadership urging them to use a sword and shield approach to passing these bills.

Can you explain to our viewers what that means?

SLOTKIN: Sure. I mean, I think I've just been hit up so frequently from constituents about what are we doing at the federal level on the issue of voting rights. We're seeing states across the country who are trying to curb the ability to vote, who are trying to preserve an ability to change the results of an election after the vote has taken place. So I'm getting pushed, as are most of my colleagues, about what we're going to do at the federal level.

So, the sword and the shield -- a sword is a skinny down version of HR-1. It's saying voting rights is the most important thing, it doesn't have to be the only thing but it's the most important thing. So let's do a skinny version of HR-1, let's do HR-4, which is the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, that's the shield. That's how you play defense on some of these issues.

And then we need a real organizing effort on the ground.


There's no way to just handle this at the federal level through legislation. We're going to need people like we saw in Georgia to do voter registration and voter education. We're going to need to think about next summer, you know, Freedom Summer take two and get your kids, get your grandkids, get on a bus and go register or reregister people if they've been kicked off the roll.

So, it's a combined effort, but we were pushing the administration, we were pushing our own leadership to get a strategy and move out because people want to know that we're not going to lose the democracy through all these chipping away by state law.

TAPPER: Senate Republicans blocked an earlier bill from advancing. This is going to need 60 votes in the Senate to even be considered. Right now, I don't know of any Republicans in the Senate that support either of the bills.

How can it get through the Senate?

SLOTKIN: Well, Joe Manchin has been involved in the conversation. Obviously, he's a big player and trying to make things work and determining what can actually get through. We know we're not going to get the whole enchilada. We know we're not going to get everything.

And I'm a pragmatist, right? I'd rather have some of those things than nothing. So I think it's about Joe Manchin having those conversations, but it's also, you know, I'm open on something as existential as voting rights, I'm open to some sort of temporary measure on the filibuster.

I mean, I think we have to separate the issues that are nice to have and the issues that are existential to our democracy and voting rights is one of them.

TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, thanks to -- thanks for coming on. Good to see you.

SLOTKIN: You, too.

TAPPER: Some Olympic athletes suggesting the Russians have not changed much since "Rocky 4". The latest rumblings of steroids at the game, that's next.



TAPPER: The sports lead, accusations of Russian meddling this time at the Olympics. An American swimmer sparking a doping controversy at the Tokyo Games, suggesting that the Russians are still not winning clean. Russian athletes are still allowed to compete under a neutral banner in the Tokyo Olympics despite the fact that Russia the country is banned from competing as a country because of its state-sponsored systematic doping program. That's quite a loophole to go along with the Olympic rings.

CNN's Will Ripley is live for us in Tokyo.

What compelled U.S. swimmer Ryan Murphy to make this charge?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he kind of stepped back after speaking pretty candidly and was quite frustrated at his post-event press conference because he was the reigning Olympic champion in the 100 meter and the 200 meter back stroke and he left to his competitor Evgeny Rylov. And he questioned whether that 200 meter backstroke was 100 percent clean. And then reporters pressed him further. He said I'm not meaning to make any accusations against my competitor here, congratulations to him for his gold, but hey, we all know that doping is happening in swimming.

And it's true, we do. Russia is not playing under its flag. They don't have their national anthem when somebody wins a gold for Russia because they are technically playing as the Russian Olympic Committee as part of sanctions over ongoing and widespread doping.

But ITA, the International Testing Agency, has tested some 3,000 samples here from 2,000 athletes, and they say they have not had any adverse findings as of now.

TAPPER: Will, Simone Biles posted and then deleted videos of her practicing on the uneven bars struggling with some dismounts, talk about having the twisties. Tell us more.

RIPLEY: So the twisties are now becoming part of our nomenclature that we're all learning what gymnasts have dreaded for years. When they're in the middle of maneuver, when they're in the middle of a vault and they lose their place in the air and they get lost. And then they could potentially fall and seriously hurt themselves.

So, Simone Biles says she is still struggling with that very dreaded condition right now. And she is firing back at her critics saying that people who are saying, oh, she doesn't have what it takes or she's somehow letting her team down by checking her ego, stepping aside and letting other players like Suni Lee step forward and compete and win gold. They're saying that Simone somehow is falling short.

She says people don't realize how dangerous it is to have a condition like the twisties. You could potentially be seriously hurt or even killed if you were to break your neck. She says she is not willing to do that. So, she is continuing to try to focus on getting it out of her head.

It is a very dreaded condition gymnasts say, to have those twisties where you're just kind of, you're in your head and you're disconnected in your moves, and you're afraid you don't know where you're going to land.

TAPPER: Yeah. Will Ripley live in Tokyo for us, thank you so much. Good to see you again as always.

CNN goes inside the so-called canary in the coal mine of the delta COVID explosion. That's next.



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

This hour, we're learning just how far Donald Trump went to try to overturn the election, attempting to push the Department of Justice to call the totally free and fair election corrupt and illegal.

Plus, where's Ant Man when you need him? The battle between two Hollywood titans, Disney slamming Scarlet Johansson for suing the company over her salary.

And leading this hour, alarming data revealing the war against coronavirus is getting more challenging. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today laying out its reasoning for telling more Americans to mask up, even -- even if you're vaccinated. With the delta variant spreading as easily as the common cold, and vaccinated individuals, though strongly protected against serious illness, appear to spread the variant at the same rate as those who have not gotten their shots.

These new details come as President Biden tries to renew efforts to vaccinate more Americans -- as Jeff Zeleny reports, the White House is desperate to get the virus back under control.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's so darn important that everyone get vaccinated.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden sounding the alarm even louder today as the White House scrambles to contain a surge in COVID cases from the delta variant as contagious as the chickenpox.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the CDC, telling CNN: I think people need to understand that we're not crying wolf here. This is serious.