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Prime-Time Hearing to Detail Trump's Inaction During Riot; Attorney Gen. Garland: "No Person Is Above the Law"; President Biden Tests Positive for Covid as Cases, Hospitalizations Rise; Senators Expect Enough GOP Support for Same-Sex, Interracial Marriage Bill. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 21, 2022 - 13:30   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: But I wonder, why him? Why is he saved for this hearing? Because my understanding is he wasn't in direct contact, necessarily, with Trump on that day.

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Having worked in the White House, Ana, it's a very tiny environment. Everybody is aware of what's going on. It's like there's a vibe that goes through the hallways.

Who knows what Pottinger saw or did? But we know this much. The committee is staffed, both on the members and the professional staff, by very able trial lawyers. They haven't let us down yet. So if they're delivering Pottinger tonight, he must have the goods.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think Pottinger has two things you want in a witness. He had some access. You're right, Ana, I don't believe he was in direct contact with Donald Trump.

But he was in contact with Mark Meadows. He was the deputy national security adviser. He would have had access to incoming intel about what was the White House being warned about, what was going on down there.

And the other thing is, he doesn't seem to have problematic loyalties. He seems like he's willing, based on the deposition clips we've seen and the other reporting, willing to come clean and just say what he saw. And that's what you want in a witness.

EISEN: The term "loyalty, is also very important. Because one of the themes tonight, it's going to be conducted by Kinzinger and Luria, both former servicemembers, they swore an oath.

Pottinger felt so strongly about this, that he resigned after that tweet, no inaction, affirmative action, I argue, with murderous attempt by Trump.

Contrast Pottinger's reaction, his sense of duty, his loyalty to oath and country to resign --

CABRERA: He's a military veteran as well. EISEN: -- with the president attacking his own vice president.

CABRERA: Merrick Garland, I assume will be watching, as well as other members of the Justice Department.

They've been facing more pressure to take action and have been facing more questions as well, about whether they would indict a former president or a candidate running for president, should Trump decide to run in 2024.

Listen to Merrick Garland just yesterday.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Look, no person is above the law in this country. Nothing stops us --

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Even a former president?

GARLAND: No -- I don't know how to -- I'll say that again, no person is above the law in this country. I can't say it any more clearly than that.

There's nothing in the principles of prosecution, in any other factors which prevent us from investigating anyone, anyone, who is criminally responsible for an attempt to undo a Democratic election.


CABRERA: Let's listen to the vice president right now, speaking in North Carolina.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- the and work that we're doing in Washington, D.C., the work that we are doing in terms of the policy work, it's not real until it hits the streets.

It's not real until real people have the ability to take advantage of what we hope will help them and uplift their lives.

And the connectivity, if you will, between what we do in Washington, D.C. and it hitting the streets of Charlotte are people like Miss Tiffany. So she makes all the difference.


HARRIS: So, again, can we please applaud her? Please applaud her.


HARRIS: And before I begin, I do want to speak about our incredible president, Joe Biden. This morning, he and I spoke by phone. He is in good spirits.

He is feeling well. He is doing well. He is fully vaccinated and twice boosted. Of course, he is. As everyone, we would encourage who is eligible, to do the same. And he is working from the White House residence.

And when we spoke, he was very pleased, as I said, that he - we're all here together today, talking about the work that our administration is doing on behalf of parents and working families and all who deserve to be seen and heard.

So with that, it is good to be with everyone today. The great governor --

CABRERA: We'll break away. We'll continue to monitor that event.

We did hear the vice president address President Biden's diagnose of Covid, saying he's working still from the White House and encouraging her to continue with her events today.

Again, symptoms that are mild, we are told. And he tweeted out himself that he's doing great.


Much more on his diagnose right after this.


CABRERA: We are continuing to follow the breaking news. In just about 30 minutes, the White House will give us a formal update on President Biden's positive Covid diagnosis.

Here's what we know. The president had mild symptoms last night. He tested positive this morning. He has started taking the anti-viral treatment, Paxlovid, and is working from the White House today, but he's in isolation.

We are told a lot of people in the White House saw this diagnosis as inevitable and they've been preparing for it as cases have ticked up all around the country.

Take a look at this. This is the current level of community transmission here in the United States. If you're in an area that's shaded red, the CDC says you should be wearing a mask indoors.


Joining us now is Dr. Peter Hotez from the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital. He's also dean at Baylor College of Medicine. And Dr. Carlos Del Rio is the executive associate dean at Emory Medical School in Atlanta.

Guys, thank you for being here.

Dr. Hotez, President Biden has contracted this virus as Covid hospitalization numbers are right now as high as they were back in March.

First, are you surprise he got it? And how would you characterize the state of Covid we're in right now? DR. PETER HOTEZ, CO-DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR VACCINE DEVELOPMENT, TEXAS

CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Well, the level of transmission from this BA.5 subvariant is just extraordinary. This is probably the most highly transmissible subvariant that we've seen.

And so many of us are hearing about friends and colleagues get infected. So it's not surprising that coming back from Europe, that the president might have gotten exposed and infected.

And that's why, you know, there was a big effort to make certain that all of Americans are getting boosted and, hopefully, getting their second boost, which is the single most impactful thing you can do to prevent yourself from being hospitalized or going to an emergency room.

CABRERA: Dr. Del Rio, to that point, President Biden had his second booster dose. But right now, according to the CDC, only 34 percent of Americans over the age of 5 have had their first booster dose.

So how vulnerable is most of America right now?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY MEDICAL SCHOOL: Ana, I think there are two issues here. Number one, I think because of this variant, this BA.5 that Dr. Hotez talked about, not only is it highly transmissible, but also is more likely to invade the immune system.

So prior infection with Covid, as well as vaccination, is not sufficient to prevent you from getting infected. You can still get infected.

The key of vaccines is not the prevention of infection, though. It's prevention of severe disease, hospitalization, and death.

People over 65, about 63 percent of them have received their first booster and about 23 percent have received their second booster.

So my major concern is, people 65, even over the age of 60, only 25 percent have received their first booster and only a lower number have received their second booster.

If you're over the age of 50 and you have not been boosted, I would strongly recommend you get boosted, because the reality is you will find this virus or this virus will find you.

If you get infected, you're much likely to do better if you're vaccinated and if you're double boosted.

CABRERA: We know what the mitigation efforts look like, but they have to work, Dr. Hotez, people want to travel and go to concerts and sporting events. How does the country keep moving forward while now living with Covid?

HOTEZ: I know we sound like broken records by now, but the answer is, get the second boost if you're over the age of 50 and you're eligible.

The CDC came out with data, and it's pretty sobering that the decline in protection is substantial.

When and if you haven't gotten boosted or even if you've got a single boost, the decline after four months is pretty concerning, down from 75 percent protection versus hospitalization, down to only about 50 percent protection versus option. So the second boost makes a big difference.

So the single-most impactful thing you can do is be mindful of your vaccination status, maximize your boosters, and also, vaccinate your children.

And the other sobering numbers are only about 30 percent, for instance, of parents are vaccinating their 5- to 11-year-olds. And almost no parent has been vaccinating their under 5.

We still have a lot of advocacy and awareness to do to make the American people understand that 2022 is not a good year for Covid. It's looking almost as bad as 2021 or 2020.

CABRERA: Dr. Del Rio, when you talk about these variants sort of evading our previous immunity, whether it's from previous infection or from the vaccine so far, we know vaccine makers are trying to kind of keep up with the variants and reconfigure their vaccines to be stronger.

But when do you anticipate that we'll have vaccines that actually do protect us from getting infected, not just from severe illness?

DEL RIO: Well, you know, that's going to take some time, Ana. Creating vaccines against mucosal infections, mucosal viral infections, respiratory infections that are sterilizing, that produce protective immunity against infection is very hard. It's extraordinarily hard.

Maybe you need a nasal vaccine, you need a different kind of vaccine. Even if you think about the flu vaccine, it only has about 40 percent to 50 percent protection against infection.

But I want to emphasize, this is not just about vaccines. As much as we talk about vaccines, we also have testing. And we also have anti- virals.

And when you ask about, how do we get protected, we get protected by getting vaccinated and boosted. We get protected by wearing masks when we're indoors.

But we also get protected by testing ourselves. And what happened to the president, he started having symptoms, he rapidly got tested. He got tested. And if you are eligible to get anti-virals or monoclonal antibodies, you should get treated.


And so knowing about treatment, access to therapy is one of the advantages that we have in our country. And people are not using therapy actively enough. So Paxlovid is available, and another drug is available. And there also a monoclonal antibody that is available. These are three very good treatments for Covid.

So if you're over the age of 60 or 65 within, if you're immunocompromised or you're at high risk like a pregnant woman, I think it's a good opportunity to talk to your doctor and to get tested and to get treated, because treatment makes a big difference.

CABRERA: That's encouraging. And that's such good information.

Thank you so much, Dr. Carlos Del Rio, Dr. Peter Hotez. I appreciate you both very much.

To Capitol Hill next, where there's a major push to codify same-sex marriage as well as interracial marriage. We've got new CNN reporting on that, ahead.



CABRERA: Now to a movement on Capitol Hill to protect same-sex and interracial marriage. A bill to codify both could be gaining ground in the Senate.

At least 10 Republicans would need to join all 50 Democrats to do so. CNN has been asking all 50 GOP Senators where they stand.

And CNN's Melanie Zanona is joining us now.

Walk us through. How did the numbers break down, Melanie?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, my colleagues have been doing some excellent work on this, asking every single Republican in the Senate where they stand on this issue.

And what they have found is that, so far, there are four either "yes" or likely "yes" votes on this. There are eight hard "noes," and there are 16 undecideds, with the rest so far just not responding to our requests for comment.

Remember, they need 10 Republicans in order to overcome the filibuster. So what initially looked like a symbolic messaging bill in the House now looks like it has a real potential path forward in the Senate. This is something that is really gaining steam.

It's a little unclear as far as timing for a floor vote. There's only about a week left until the Senate goes on break for an August recess.

But it's worth pointing out that, across the capitol in the House, there was a strong show of support for this bill. GOP leaders didn't even whip against it.

In fact, 47 Republicans there in the House supported it, including Scott Perry, the chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, Elise Stefanik, a member of leadership, and Liz Cheney, who was previously openly opposed to gay marriage. So there's clearly been a sea change in the Republican Party on this issue. The question is whether that translates into legislative changes.

And Democrats are certainly feeling the urgency to act after they saw Roe v. Wade overturned. And they aren't leaving anything to chance when it comes to gay marriage and interracial marriage -- Ana?

CABRERA: I know you're going to continue to ask questions of those Republican lawmakers to figure out where they stand exactly.

Melanie Zanona, thank you.

There's more big news from the Senate today. Democrats say they're working with their Republican counterparts on a bill to decriminalize marijuana. Details ahead.



CABRERA: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he and a group of Senate Democrats are introducing a bill to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. It would strike it from the federal controlled substance list.

The legislation would need, again, 10 Republican Senators to overcome a filibuster. And Schumer he says he hopes to get something done this year.

We have an update now on that awful case where 53 migrants died in Texas. Four men have now been indicted. Two of the suspects are Texas natives.

Authorities say they were involved in a smuggling operation that left those 53 people dead after they were trapped inside a sweltering semitruck. The suspects could face the death penalty if convicted.

The other two suspects are from Mexico. And they face up to 10 years in prison for possessing illegal firearms in the U.S.

That's going to do it for us today. Don't go anywhere. We're minutes away from an update from the White House on President Biden's Covid diagnosis. We'll bring it to you just as soon as it begins.

See you tomorrow.