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Erin Burnett Outfront
CNN: House Managers Prepping Video Evidence Of Capitol Riot Amid GOP Claims Trump Impeachment Trial Is Unconstitutional; Sen. Leahy, Set To Preside Over Impeachment Trial, Hospitalized; Only Five GOP Senators Join Dems On Constitutionality Of Trump Trial; President Biden Announces Purchase Of 200 Million More Vaccine Doses; Will Increase Planned Supply by 50 Percent; Interview With Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO); Interview With Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). Aired 7-8p ET
Aired January 26, 2021 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, new details on the Democrat's case against Donald Trump as the senator who was just sworn in to preside over Trump's trial is now in the hospital.
Also breaking, President Biden announcing plans to buy an additional 200 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine. Is that enough? What's really changed here on supply? I'm going to speak to the President's Chief of Staff, Ron Klain.
And new reporting from CNN's KFILE reveals Congresswoman and QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene repeatedly indicated support for executing prominent Democrats in 2018 and 2019 execution. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, Sen. Patrick Leahy who was just sworn in today to preside over Donald Trump's impeachment trial has been hospitalized. This happening just a short time ago and we're going to have much more on his condition as we're learning more here in a moment. It does come as the case against Trump is starting to take shape. We're learning tonight that the House impeachment managers plan to show what sources say is evidence that will give anyone watching a visceral reaction.
The evidence is video, social media messages all together showing how Trump's explicit words and actions motivated the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. Video like what you see on your screen now posted by ProPublica and the legal blog Just Security.
It shows Trump's supporters responding to Trump's call to action in real time just before the Capitol riot. Watch in full.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to walk down to the Capitol ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's take the Capitol.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take the capitol.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's take it.
TRUMP: We will stop the steal.
CROWD: Stop the steal.
TRUMP: We fight, we fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.
CROWD: Fight for Trump. Fight for Trump. Fight for Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Chants of fight like hell. And look, the reality we saw today is that most Republicans in the Senate do not want to talk about the merits of the case publicly. Because it's - well, you can argue Trump didn't incite the insurrection.
Instead, today 45 Republicans, including the Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, sided with Trump and they basically sidestepped the entire issue of what he did and said, well, let's forget about that part. Let's say the trial is unconstitutional and that's how they voted. Republicans one after another hiding behind this fig leaf, saying that it's unconstitutional to impeach a former president, so let's not talk about the merits.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Do you believe Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense?
SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD): To begin with, I think it's a moot point because I think right now Donald Trump is no longer the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That a trial after the president's left office is beyond the Senate's constitutional.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, how do you anticipate this going?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) a post presidential impeachment has never occurred in the history of the country for a reason. That it's unconstitutional.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If you can impeach a president after they're out of office, why don't we impeach George Washington, he owned slaves. Where does this stop? (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. First, let's just be clear, impeachment has been used against former officials before. It came from English law and that's the only cases in which it was used in those cases. It is not unconstitutional, according to numerous constitutional scholars. OK. So that's the first thing.
On the second point, the thing you heard there from Sen. Lindsey Graham about impeaching George Washington, that is a canard. A total canard. As one of the nation's top constitutional experts, Steve Vladeck, tells us that is not an available remedy for George Washington who is disqualified on account of being dead. OK.
So the Republicans are claiming that it's unconstitutional. They know that it is a canard. In fact, one of Trump's staunchest defenders, the Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz tweeted in 2019, "You actually can impeach a former president for what it's worth."
For what it's worth, Matt Gaetz, you are right.
Manu Raju is OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill. And first Manu, of all but five Republican senators, including the Minority Leader, McConnell, voted today that Trump's second trial is unconstitutional. Is this basically the writing on the wall then in terms of the votes for conviction?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It seems that way. There still needs to be a trial. The arguments have not been had. The briefs will be filed by both sides over the coming days. The arguments will actually occur starting the week of February 8 and then it'll go on for perhaps a couple of weeks.
Will that change any Republic minds?
That does not seem to be the case. It seems that the five Republican senators that we mentioned, senators Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, Pat Toomey, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, people who have been concerned about Donald Trump's actions have contended to some degree whether that the President did was impeachable. Those are likely ones who are going to vote to convict this president.
Others, highly unlikely at this point. Perhaps there might be a couple others, but this vote today locks some senators to view that as a way that essentially locks them in a key position when it comes time to decide whether or not to vote to convict Donald Trump. Some senators say they could still vote another way once they hear the evidence, but getting an additional 12 Republican senators, which was what you would need, 17 total to join with all 50 Democrats to convict Donald Trump seems like a very high bar and a very key move.
You mentioned that Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader siding with Rand Paul on this question about whether this is constitutional or not. I asked him today whether or not he views Donald Trump's actions as impeachable. He would not answer. Privately we know he's raised concerns. Publicly he's raised concerns.
RAJU: But he would not say so explicitly today, but siding overwhelmingly with Republicans because that is the direction their conference is going. We'll see if anything changes during the course of the trial though, Erin.
BURNETT: Well, we'll see what McConnell does. But in to your point, this is a person who stood on the Senate floor and with genuine anger said the President of the United States was directly responsible for this. It appears looking for any off-ramp he can, because if you're going to say that on the merits, you're stuck with a vote to convict. This constitutional, I guess, gives you an off ramp.
I mean, in terms of where this trial is, Manu, I want to ask you about Sen. Leahy, this breaking news taken to the hospital just hours after senators were sworn in for Trump's trial. Anyone watching this program last night with you and me saw him as he was speaking when they marched the article over. What else can you tell us about the Senator's condition?
RAJU: Well, we're told that he's been taking out of an abundance of caution, according to Sen. Dick Durbin, who just told our colleague, Wolf Blitzer, that he says that he has been told by Leahy's wife that he is doing well. He is recovering. They just want to ensure that he was generally OK because of the way he was feeling this afternoon and he hopes that he returns to the Senate tomorrow.
Leahy is 80 years old. He has been in the Senate since 1975. He is the most senior Democrat in the chamber. And he has been preparing for some time for this possibility that he may preside. It was not known for sure certain until the last few days that he will preside over the impeachment trial and he told me he's been going over law books, hiring staff, talking with staff to prepare for this moment.
So the expectation is that he will return but certainly something of note given he is in line of succession to the President behind the Vice President and the Speaker of the House, Erin.
BURNETT: Yes. Obviously, very significant. All right. Thank you very much, Manu.
And I want to go now to Steve Vladeck, constitutional law expert and a Law Professor at the University of Texas. So Steve, as I pointed out, almost all of the constitutional law experts are in agreement that this is perfectly constitutional.
Jonathan Turley, who the Republicans had used prior as a witness does not think so. He says it's unconstitutional, because Trump is no longer in office. And obviously, you had 45 Republican senators vote that way today. So just put out the facts here as to why that's wrong.
STEVE VLADECK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I mean, I think it's worth noting, Erin, that Jonathan Turley took exactly the opposite position in 1999 in a pretty lengthy lobby article. And what's relevant about that is what Turley said in 1999 is exactly what's still true today. That impeachment is not just about removing someone from office. If it were, the founders would not have included the separate power on the sentence part to disqualify the individual from holding future office.
That's why it's permissible and has been done to impeach former officials while they're still alive. It's why counter to Lindsey Graham, you can't really impeach someone who's dead. That the reason why the dispute persists is because not only is Donald Trump possibly going to seek federal office in the future, he's made no bones about wanting to do so.
So that's why I think this whole argument is really not meant to be a serious legal argument. As you say, it's really just meant to provide political cover so that Republicans can neither condemn Trump's conduct nor condone it.
BURNETT: And I thought that it was interesting a Princeton professor had put out a story in The Wall Street Journal this weekend saying state constitutions non-limited impeachment to current officials and in fact some only allowed former officials to be impeached. And that in Virginia, they had subjected Thomas Jefferson to impeachment after he was governor, so there is very clearly precedent for this in American history. I mean, it's not hard to find.
VLADECK: No, not only Erin ...
BURNETT: Yes, go ahead.
VLADECK: ... no, not only that, but there's precedent even in the American Congress. I mean, as the Princeton professor, Keith Whittington, as perhaps the foremost expert on this, Brian Call (ph), as they've all concluded that the very first impeachment Congress ever conducted was of a former senator.
And that was many of the folks who were in the room when the Constitution was written. There's the famous example from 1876 of the impeachment of the disgraced former Secretary of War William Belknap who, Erin, resigned the morning of his impeachment in an effort to forestall that proceeding.
If the Republican's argument was correct, it would mean that there would be literally no recourse for a president who on their last couple days in office commit to the most heinous egregious impeachable offenses that's never been how it's been understood and it's not really how anyone seriously understand this today. It's really just an argument to be used the way a drunk uses a lamppost for support, not for illumination.
BURNETT: And one final question, Republican Congressman, Jim Jordan, he's a lawyer, he says Trump is just one reason why the impeachment has no grounds. Here's another argument that he made about the Constitution. This is his free speech. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): He was engaging in constitutionally protected
speech and specifically told rally goers peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard, which is what you're supposed to do in this great country. That is first amendment liberties. That is basic freedom, so this whole case is ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So obviously, we've heard the word echo of what Trump said over months about fight like hell, all of these things. Stop the steal, all of the violence was echoed in the Capitol. But does the Congressman's argument have any merit about 1st Amendment?
VLADECK: I mean, no, in two respects, Erin. First, it would be nice if Congressman Jordan would actually read the article of impeachment, which says it's not just about the speech the President gave. It is, as you say, about all of the prior exhortations. All of the planning, et cetera.
But second, I mean, Erin, once again, impeachment is not a criminal proceeding and so normal ordinary 1st Amendment principles don't apply. The question is purely a political one, which is whether we believe the President of the United States, while he was president, engaged in the kind of conduct that disentitles him to ever pursue that office again.
And if that's the question, I think it's pretty obvious that most Americans would say the answer is yes. That's why the Republicans are moving the goalposts away from a substantive debate about the propriety of what Trump did and toward procedural off-ramps that allow them to avoid having to actually vote one way or the other on whether they think the President acted appropriately.
BURNETT: All right. Steve, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Laying it out so clearly.
So I let's go to Nia Malika Henderson, our Senior Political Reporter and the host of CNN's "SMERCONISH," of course, Michael Smerconish.
Michael, I think what Steve is raising there, though, is a really interesting point. Because when you look at, say, Mitch McConnell, and what he has said very clearly, if everybody got to vote and no one knew what their vote was, this would be overwhelming, you might have a couple people who would not vote to convict. And because people are going to see their vote, they're afraid so many of these Republicans, at least it appears 45 of them.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I think you're right. They took an off-ramp. But I don't think it's an entirely illegitimate off-ramp. Professor Vladeck is a brilliant guy. But there's not unanimity of legal opinion on this issue.
Bruce Ackerman from Yale was a guest of mine on my radio program within the last few days and spoke expansively as to why he believes impeachment and a conviction are not an option for President Trump, because he's left office. Look, they are taking the easy way out because it preserves their
standing with regard to the base and it prevents them from ever having to address the merit of what transpired in particular on January 6th.
BURNETT: Right. And that's what they're doing. They're avoiding the merits.
Now, on that front, it was just days ago that McConnell did speak on the merits. He explicitly said Trump provoked the insurrection. He said on the Senate floor. But then today, he sides with Rand Paul. So Sen. McConnell basically tipping his hand here that he's hoping that having said what he thinks is going to make up for not voting that way.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Listen, I think this was ...
SMERCONISH: It's very hard - I'm sorry.
HENDERSON: ... pretty clear where this was always going, which is that Republicans were going to stand by Donald Trump, which is where they've always stood. They have sort of different versions of it. There's Jim Jordan who will defend the President no matter what he does and then there's kind of the Mitch McConnell version, where he might criticize the President, but ultimately will likely stand by him in this regard.
We've been talking about the sort of identity crisis that the Republican Party has been having. He doesn't really actually seem like they're having much of an identity crisis at all. It seems like they are still firmly with Donald Trump, either complete Trumpist or transactional Trumpist.
But in the end, they always land in the same place and that is with Donald Trump and with his base, primarily because it's likely that the Republican Party has much beyond Donald Trump, so they're very much clinging to him now. And so I don't think today's vote was very surprising and I imagine that the final vote will look very similar.
BURNETT: So Michael, obviously, we know Democrats are going to use video evidence during Trump's trial, video evidence that all of us have shown and seen. So we just showed Trump's words on the day of the insurrection and the words and actions of the mob.
Trump defenders say, oh, well, members of the mob came in D.C. They already have the plans before Trump even spoke, so who worries about that. Just to make it clear, things that the mob said when they attacked the Capitol echoed exact things that Trump had been saying for months before the riot and let me just play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We'll lose everything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man, we're going to - lose it all.
TRUMP: We got to get Nancy Pelosi the hell out of there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I speak to Pelosi, yes, we're coming, bitch.
TRUMP: That's treason. That's treason.
CROWD: Treason. Treason. Treason. Treason.
TRUMP: This is our country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is our house. This is our country. This is our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Michael, it is essentially word for word and he didn't just say those words once, he said them again and again and again and they were heard.
SMERCONISH: The juxtaposition of what the President said and what the crowd then repeated, I think is very, very compelling. And the question that I still need to have answered is whether then President Trump or any of the speakers on the stage that day were aware of plans already afoot to storm the Capitol.
But by virtue of that vote today, you've got 45 senators locked into this view now of the unconstitutionality of a Senate trial of a former president. Presumably they could change their mind, they could say that they were schooled by some academics and they now realize that that was the wrong view. But it's really hard to see how the number five suddenly grows to the number they need.
BURNETT: Right, five to 17. If it was five to seven, maybe we'd be having a different conversation, but it's five to 17.
SMERCONISH: Maybe. Right.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.
And next the breaking news, Biden announcing a major increase in vaccine supply, a 50 percent increase in the planned supply over the next few weeks. I'm going to talk to one of the nation's governors and the President's Chief of Staff about exactly what this means. Does it change the game or not?
Plus, the Oregon State GOP passing a resolution saying the Capitol riot was a 'false flag', an attack engineered by Trump's opponents to make him look bad. Is this seriously what Trump's arm of the Republican Party has become?
And the former Army Secretary with a shocking admission, telling lawmakers that the D.C. National Guard did not have a plan on the day of the Capitol riot other than to direct traffic.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:21:27]
BURNETT: Breaking news, President Joe Biden announcing plans to buy 200 million more vaccine doses in a major effort to increase vaccine distribution in the U.S.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We didn't get into this mess overnight. It's going to take months for us to turn things around. But let me be equally clear, we're going to get through this. We will defeat this pandemic. And to a nation waiting for action, let me be clear on this point, help is on the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So it's going to increase the planned vaccine supply by 50 percent. Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT.
So Phil, obviously, a major announcement from the White House tonight. But it's always hard to figure out these numbers, is this all coming out of a stockpile? Is production actually increasing? How long does this supply go on? I mean, what are you able to tell us from all of the information you have?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, Erin, this is obviously been the biggest issue the administration has been trying to grapple with and it's opening days getting some sense of where things actually stand, not just from the distribution side of things but just from the stockpile and supply side of things. What we know is there are really kind of three buckets of what was announced today by the President.
On the long term, as you noted, an additional 200 million doses were purchased. They don't have them in hand, but they were purchased, which would allow for every American who wants to be vaccinated to be vaccinated by the time those are delivered, which is the expectation is for late summer.
Then I think there's the near-term issue, which I think the administration has really been grappling with the last couple of days and this is probably the most important in terms of the near term and that is the boost of deliveries into states. Right now it's about 8.6 million doses per week.
This new plan will allow them to boost that delivery up to north of 10 million doses per week which, obviously, we've been hearing from state governors, Republican and Democrat about how they don't know what the supply is, they don't know what's actually coming in, so that'll be a key component.
And then I think the third one, which we've also been hearing a lot from state officials, is information availability. The inability for state by state to plan their distribution. The administration now saying that they believe they will have the data to produce for each state to be able to plan three weeks out in advance in terms of the supply they have, in terms of the distribution they will be able to have.
So they're putting all of these pieces together, trying to address kind of the big what they believe were shortfalls when they came into office at this point in time and trying to address some of the biggest concerns you've heard from state officials as they try and get their populations vaccinated.
Again, to your point, though, until the vaccine is in hand, perhaps more importantly until the vaccine is in arms, there's no guarantee for what this all will mean. But obviously, the Biden ministration approach to really trying to federalize, centralize into a clearinghouse the entire vaccine distribution process being unveiled today in full as they push forward to try and enhance their efforts over the course of the next several weeks and months, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Phil, thank you very much.
All right. And OUTFRONT now, the governor of Colorado, Jared Polis. And Governor, I really appreciate your time. So President Biden says the distribution to states is going to increase to a minimum of 10 million doses starting next week. So that would be an increase of 1.4 million doses.
You said Colorado is ready that you would be using three to four times as much vaccine as you have been getting. So from your understanding from the administration, does this do that for you?
GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): So what this is, is it's a 16 percent increase, which is moving in the right direction. In addition, it's providing stability for three weeks. Meaning, this is 16 percent increase and what they're also telling us is it'll stay at that level next week, the week after or the week after that.
So it's numbers we can plan for. To put that in perspective, Colorado, this coming week about 83,000 doses, we're a state of 5.7 million people. We'll have to run the exact math, but we'll be talking about approximately a hundred thousand doses for the following weeks. Still just a small step in the ramp up and we certainly hope that there's several times that as level of doses we get into March.
But we're excited to get it out, because this is life saving and it's about ending the pandemic.
BURNETT: Right. Because you're saying, I mean, ideally, you could use more than 300,000 a week, if you could get it. You're saying getting to a hundred from 83, that's something. Gov. Cuomo here in New York, Gov. Hogan in Maryland, they say this increase isn't anywhere near enough. It sounds like you're sort of saying the same thing, you're just looking at it as a glass half full.
POLIS: Right. It's going to take an awfully long time at these levels to end the pandemic. So this is important because we can protect our most vulnerable sooner. Currently, in Colorado, we're rapidly making our way through people age 70 up and then we'll go down to 65 soon. And three quarters of our deaths are people in that cohort. So we can really reduce deaths by three quarters.
But to be able to end the pandemic, you need to get up to about 60, 70 percent vaccinated and it's going to take a very long period of time at these levels. So I'm really hopeful that quantity ramps up into March and April.
BURNETT: So have they given you any? Have you had any conversations with them where are they? Because you're saying you have visibility here for three weeks. Look, that's better than no visibility or getting a cut, I understand that. But three weeks is not a lot of visibility. Do you've concerned about that or do you think that's then going to be ratcheted up more? I mean, what's your sense here?
POLIS: It's more visibility than we've ever had before. We were literally finding out on a Thursday or Friday what we were getting the following Monday. And now we're getting the sense that the numbers are increasing and they're going to be predictable for a few weeks.
So I think that this is where it is right now. I think hopefully, as the Biden ministration digs in, they'll get a better sense of exactly what it's going to look like in mid late February and March and April. I hope that it ramps up quickly. I also hope that there's additional effective vaccines, perhaps Johnson & Johnson or AstraZeneca already approved in parts of the world, AstraZeneca in United Kingdom. If that becomes available here, that will further increase supply.
BURNETT: Yes. I mean, that would be a dramatic change in the situation. And obviously, a single dose vaccine in the case of Johnson & Johnson. I want to ask you about a CDC paper today. It's a new study that came out in CDC journal and it fits with every other study about schools that we have seen.
But what it says is that the virus spread that you see in crowded offices or long-term care facilities simply has not been reported in schools, that you're just not seeing the transmission. Do you believe all schools in Colorado should reopen immediately?
POLIS: Yes, that's consistent with everything we've seen here. So the majority of our school districts have been in person all year long and we have seen no increase of the virus in areas where the schools have been fully in compared to areas of our state, including some of our cities, where schools have not been in session.
So with the precautions that we're taking, it's not going back to school like it was last year or the year before. This is mask wearing. This is protecting cohorts. This is using ventilation and distancing where possible that our state is supplying free medical grade mass to teachers. We're providing two tests per week to every educator. So all of these things combined make schools one of the safer places that you can be during this pandemic.
BURNETT: All right. Well, hopefully we'll see more schools around the country follow that lead then. Governor, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
POLIS: Thank you. Take care. BURNETT: All right. Next, so you just heard the Governor on what he
needs in his state for vaccine. So what is the administration's response? President Biden's Chief of Staff is my guest.
And CNN uncovering disturbing comments and posts from Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. Comments that show that she indicated support for executing people, Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi.
BURNETT: Breaking news, as you just heard a few moments ago, governors across the country are saying the Biden administration plans to increase vaccine allocations for states by around 16 percent is a really good start. But, of course, it's not enough and they want more.
OUTFRONT now, President Biden's White House chief of staff, Ron Klain.
And, Ron, I appreciate your time.
So, I know you've just sort of got hooked up, so I don't know if you heard the governor of Colorado, Governor Polis. He just said, he's really glad to see the increase, he sees this glass half-full. But he says, look, honestly, he could use more than 300,000 doses a week, and your increase gets him to 100. So, he still needs a lot more.
New York's governor says, great -- great news on the plan, but the increase isn't enough.
Maryland's governor same thing, we appreciate it but we need much more.
Is there any way to get them what they say they actually need?
RON KLAIN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Erin, I think we've -- you know, we've been here seven days. We've ramp up capacity higher than it's ever been. We're moving into the states faster with more certainty and clarity. But there are just some limitations on this process, the president has been very honest.
We're inheriting a system that was built with limited capacity. We are asking the drugmakers to dial that up. There is only so fast they can increase that. So, we are ramping this up as you said, capacity up, starting next week and the week after. We have to pass it even more in March.
And, of course, most significantly, the president announced today that for the first time in this entire epidemic, he has signed the agreement to make sure we have enough vaccine for everyone in America by this summer. So, you know, we have a lot of work to do, it's not just vaccine also. In some states, Erin, the problem is a lack of people to give the shots. We're working on surging that capacity.
KLAIN: In some states, there aren't enough places. We announced the creation of federal vaccination centers.
So, we need more vaccine, we need more vaccinations, we need more places to give the vaccinations.
KLAIN: We are working on all three of those things.
BURNETT: Okay, so understand you are saying you have now signed to get an off. Obviously, you get Johnson & Johnson or something that isn't approved and that, you know, makes it happen even more quickly. I get that.
But, you know, your COVID chief Jeff Zients said the increase in supply, you know, the 16 percent increase is basically coming out of manufacturing kinks that Pfizer and Moderna ironed out, and he said, you know, this was expected.
My question to you, though, and you just raised this point, have you talked to Pfizer and Moderna about a mass increase in production capability, the word you used, but that would dramatically change the game here, right? Then you get the amount you bought but you get it a lot sooner.
KLAIN: Yeah, that's what they're working on.
And that's why we will see more, of course, in March and in April. They need time to ramp up, too. And so, they're working well, they're working quickly.
This is a brand-new vaccine. It's on an experimental approval. They are ramping up their capacity.
That's why -- look, 10 million a week would never get us there if that's where we stayed. So, they're going up -- to higher numbers in March, higher numbers in April and that final delivery of another 200 million doses by the summertime.
So, you know, the challenge now is to try to match the demand and the supply, and also try -- you know, nationally, only about half of the doses that have been delivered to states have actually been administered. So we also still have a gap on given the shots and getting people into get the shots.
BURNETT: So, you know, I want to ask you about this goal that you have. Now, obviously, you got a production that you're dealing with, and you're trying to increase that capability. You know, your initial goal, the president said, was to vaccinate 100 million Americans in the first 100 days.
But then the president, you know, he was more optimistic than that yesterday. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNTED STATES: I think with the grace of God and goodwill of the neighbor and the creek not rising, as the old saying goes, I think we may be able to get that to 150 -- 1.5 million a day rather than 1 million a day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, today, the Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, OK, the official goal is still at a million.
BURNETT: But, look, Ron, you know, you and I both know that. That started happening when Trump was in office, he had a day of a million doses, his seven-day average --
KLAIN: Let's be clear, he had, out of 40 days, one day with 1 million, one. Our goal is to hit a million 100 days out of 100. No country in the history of the world has ever done that. It's never happened before. So, that's a pretty ambitious goal.
Obviously, the president is pushing us to see if we can do better than that, we hope we can do better than that. But if we hit that 100 million shots in the first 100 days, that will be something that no one has ever done before.
BURNETT: Well, that's true, but, I mean, what I'm saying is that this was a ramp-up once you get to a million a day, then you're -- right? You know, when you started, you didn't have a lot, it was just starting, right? So, it was sort of a ramp up. So, can't you keep ramping it up more?
KLAIN: Well, we're going to -- no one is going to limit shots. We're going to get as many shots into his many arms as you can. We think 100 million shots in 100 days is an ambitious goal. If we can do better than that, of course, we will, right? I mean, we're -- the president is honest to do as many as we can, but again, we're inheriting a system that produced 1 million shots one day out of 40. If we can do it 100 days out of 100, that would be a big improvement.
BURNETT: All right. So, let me talk about schools. I don't know if you heard the governor of Colorado, you know --
BURNETT: -- saying that schools are the safest place to be.
Look, we've known for studies for quite some time, I have two kids in a public school which is meant they've been home a lot. Even a study after study, of course, has shown it's safe to open schools.
So, today, I know you saw the CDC journal publishing yet another study saying, you know, you can open K-12 schools for in-person learning with minimal COVID transmission. Why do you think so many public schools across this country are still
closed in places that the private schools are open?
KLAIN: Yeah, I'll give you a word, money. That's why the president of the United States set a plan into Congress even before he took office, to make the investments you need to make the school safe. What that study in Wisconsin from the CDC showed was, the 17 rural schools that got a sizeable grant from a private foundation, to put in the kinds of safety measures that they needed.
Students in very small pods, classes about 11 or 12 distance in a rural area, they can go to school safely, and governors who made those investments. Governor Polis is a great leader in this field. You know, he has done a lot. But in other states, we haven't seen those kinds of investments.
President Biden has sent a plan to Congress that will make sure that the majority of our schools can be open within 100 days. We need Congress to pass that plan so we can do the kinds of things you need to do so that schools can be safe, so the teachers can be safe, so the student can be safe. Sadly, it costs money, Erin.
BURNETT: Yeah, no. I mean, that's definitely true but, you know, we've all seen, of course, that the transmission, it's just -- it's just not happening. I mean, in Chicago, the teachers union voted this weekend to continue remote learning. They were about to open.
The town of Montclair, New Jersey, this story came across, public schools were scheduled to reopen for hybrid learning. For elementary school kids, it'd be the first day of going to school in-person since March of last year, 10 months, but then they scrapped plans at the last minute after the local teachers union refused to return to classrooms.
Ron, why do you think that the unions in many cases are overruling what the studies show?
KLAIN: I don't think unions are overruling studies. I think what you're seeing is schools that haven't made the investments to keep the students safe. I mean, again, the Wisconsin city where classrooms of 12 on average. So, that requires a lot more classrooms, a lot more teachers, or, you know, other kinds of arrangements to get them small, plotting students very carefully.
So, we need to do the things to open safely.
Most of the teachers I talked to, they want to be back in the classroom.
BURNETT: That's true.
KLAIN: They just want to know that's safe, and we as a country should make the investments to make it safe.
BURNETT: So, obviously, Ron, you spent many years working on the Hill and, of course, working with the president.
On the Hill, though, right now, right, impeachment. You had the vote today on this unconstitutionally point. Senators were sworn in. Trial still now doesn't start until February 9th.
Look, we know this was clearly something the president wasn't looking forward to. He had made that clear before when Nancy Pelosi made the decision to move ahead.
Are you frustrated that this trial is now hanging over Washington for the next few weeks, when you want to do other business?
KLAIN: Look, the reality is that the Senate has to do its constitutional duty, and it has to hold this trial. Our focus, Erin, is how we can get work done around that.
We've -- President Biden today got his third major cabinet position filled. We have our secretary of state, secretary of treasury, secretary of defense that ties with President Obama did at the stage of his presidency. We got other nominees moving forward. We're going to move our confirmations forward. We're going to move this American rescue plan forward.
Impeachment is just a reality we have to work around. We can work around it. We can get things done for the American people, even as impeachment takes place.
BURNETT: So I want to ask you one personal question here if I can, Ron, just since this is the first time you've been on, on this show, since you took a new job. But you've worked with Joe Biden for a long time, then senator right back in the late 1980s. You were chief of staff when he was vice president. So, you know him well.
You served alongside him all the way through his tenure in the Obama administration. So, when you watched him take the oath of office last week, knowing what he has, you know, that he had wanted that for so long, had not achieved until now, knowing the personal tragedy has gone through as well during all of this.
What emotions went through you?
KLAIN: I mean, just an incredible sense of pride, of happiness. Look, like a lot of Americans, let's be very honest -- I was very happy to see the Trump era end.
But, as you say, I've known Joe Biden for a long time and I think the opportunity he brings to move this country forward and the crisis he's talked about, COVID, the economy, climate change, racism, and just seeing this person who has devoted his entire life to public service. You know, he was once rated the 100th poorest person in the Senate.
You know, his whole life has been about serving this country. To see him at this crucial moment when there's so much at stake, become our president. I mean, I was -- I was kind of overwhelmed with emotions. I cried. It just -- I don't know, it's a moment that I will certainly never forget, Erin. That's for sure. BURNETT: All right. Ron, thanks very much. I appreciate your time.
KLAIN: Thanks for having me.
BURNETT: All right. And next, CNN uncovering unsettling comments from Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, repeatedly indicating support for executing prominent Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi.
BURNETT: In tonight's conspiracy call out, the Oregon Republican Party claiming the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in which five people died was what they call a "false flag" operation. That means they think opponents of former President Trump did the whole thing and pulled the whole thing off to make him look bad.
The party passing a resolution stating, quote: There is growing evidence that the violence at the capitol was a false flag operation designed to discredit President Trump, his supporters, and all conservative Republicans. This provided the sham motivation to impeach President Trump in order to advance the Democrat goal of seizing total power in a frightening parallel to the February 1933 burning of the German Reichstag.
OK. These are -- these are people who run a party in a state in this country.
OUTFRONT now, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon.
OK. So, this is your state. You have butted heads with Oregon Republicans for years and yet now, this is the formal position of the Republican Party of the entire state of Oregon.
And, you know, what -- what do you say to this? I mean, this is nonsensical.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): It's just so profoundly disturbing. It's like the executive committee that's leading the party has gone down the conspiracy sinkhole. They are surrounded by Trump media that's just -- they breathe it in continuously. It's on their cable television. It's on their talk radio. They're getting it on their social media.
And somehow, they just become completely detached from reality. They call this a false flag operation, to make excuses for inciting an insurrection, to make excuses for the insurrection itself. And they went even further in this -- in this statement by the party. They called those Republican members of Congress who voted to impeach Trump, they called those members Benedict Arnold's, labeling them as traders, really endangering their lives.
And so, we're seeing -- this isn't just Oregon. This is happening around the country. And, you know, we see it in Arizona --
MERKLEY: -- where there's -- the party is attacking the governor there. They are censoring Cindy McCain and so forth.
But it shows you what the state has come to.
BURNETT: Well, I mean, this is -- this is I think the big question, and when you talk to your Republican colleagues, how concerned are they about this, right? This is not -- because you just pointed out Arizona, Oregon. It's happening in different states across this country, right?
It is a QAnon deep conspiracy theorist group, but it's not just a quick little thing that blew away in the window when Trump left office.
What do your Republican friends say about this? How deeply concerned are they?
MERKLEY: Well, they are extremely worried, but they're maybe not worried about the right things. They are worried about their primary elections in the future.
MERKLEY: They should be worried about the state of the Union, the state of our ability to address the immediate problems facing our nation on every front, the pandemic, the economic collapse, the corruption of our election systems through gerrymandering and voter suppression.
Instead, they are really -- they're worried that this mob that has been created by Trump's four years of daily lies, virtually hourly lies, they're afraid of that mob.
And they're not just afraid for the election. They're afraid for their health and their family's health as well.
BURNETT: Well, some of these -- the people who believe these things are now in elected office, right? I mean, I guess, there are parties and states, but I mean elected to Congress.
BURNETT: KFILE, our KFILE has a new report about Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, right, a QAnon supporter. She has repeatedly indicated support for executing prominent Democratic politicians, and she did this before taking office.
In 2019, she liked the comment that said, quote, a bullet to the head would be quicker to remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In 2018, she said, quote, the stage is being set, after someone asked whether they could hang President Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Now, her response to CNN was that a lot of people have managed her Facebook page over the years.
What do you say to Congresswoman Taylor Greene?
MERKLEY: Well, I would say that whoever she had managing it, it was managing it in the instructions based on the philosophy and instructions she was giving them, and -- or she would have fired them or she would have deleted those comments. So, she can't shirk responsibility for threatening the lives of people in our country, threatening anyone's lives, certainly threatening elected leaders. It places them at significant -- significant risk.
I remember a few years ago where there were a series of ads that would put kind of a rifle scope target on top of elected officials, basically saying the same thing symbolically. But here, she is just saying it straight out.
BURNETT: Yeah. Senator, thank you very much.
MERKLEY: You're welcome. Take care, Erin. Thank you.
BURNETT: All right.
And next, the former Army secretary admitting today that the D.C. National Guard had only been prepared to direct traffic on the day of the deadly Capitol riot. So why? Why could this have happened when, of course, all of this had been so telegraphed online?
And then look at this video of Senator Rand Paul, a doctor, on the Senate floor. Notice anything off?
BURNETT: New tonight, no plan. Former Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy admitting to Congress the National Guard was only prepared and had planned to deal with traffic on the day of the deadly siege on the Capitol. The acting Capitol police chief also said today the department was aware of a, quote, strong potential for violence but, quote, failed to prevent it.
At least 150 people have now already been charged in that riot and authorities are working towards charges of sedition.
We are also learning several were outspoken and bluntly stating their cause, was revolution. And, of course, they were devotees of Donald Trump.
Jessica Schneider is OUTFRONT.
BRANDON STRAKA, ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH U.S. CAPITOL RIOT: Welcome to the revolution!
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brandon's Straka took center stage on January 5th, one day before prosecutors say he stormed the capitol. Straka spoke out at a Stop the Steal rally, warning the calls to stop Joe Biden from taking office would only amplify.
STRAKA: We are a problem for the RINOs who wanted to lay down and hand over this election to Joe Biden and the Democrats, help me tell them right now. We're not going away! We're not going away!
SCHNEIDER: The next day, prosecutors say Straka recorded himself and other rioters attacking the Capitol. In one of the videos, court filings claim Straka directed people to storm inside and told fellow rioters to take the shield away from the capitol police officer. And prosecutors say he wrote on Twitter that he was confused why the capitol attack was being condemned.
He allegedly wrote: For 6 to 8 weeks, everybody on the right has been saying, 1776. That if Congress moves forward, it will need a revolution! So Congress moves forward, patriots storm the capital. Now everybody is virtually signaling their embarrassment that this happened.
Straka even posted pictures of him posing with the president from December 2019 on his Instagram, writing: Tonight was a long-awaited thrill. I finally met and spoke with @RealDonaldTrump, he offered tremendous praise and even went around to several tables nearby and lauded me, and he walked away.
Walk Away is the group Strake founded which encourages liberals to abandon their beliefs.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We are going to walk down and I'll be there with you. We're going to walk down to the capitol.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So on the capital right now!
SCHNEIDER: This new video compiled by Just Security shows just how closely many in Washington January 6th were parroting the president. Hundreds of those who attended the rally on the ellipse marched to the capitol to commit violence. One hundred and fifty people have been charged federally so far, and prosecutors say the charges will be getting a lot more serious. They're building toward charging some rioters with seditious conspiracy which carries a hefty penalty of 20 years in prison.
And now, the acting chief of the capitol police is revealing the major missteps by the department, and that officials at the capitol were not prepared for what they knew was coming.
Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman telling a House committee today, we knew that militia groups and white supremacist organizations would be attending. We also knew that some of these participants were intending to bring firearms and other weapons to the event, we knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target. The department prepared in order to meet these challenges, but we did not do enough.
SCHNEIDER (on camera): And Acting Chief Pittman was operations manager the day of the insurrection, and we've learned that capitol police officers are discussing a no confidence vote targeting her and four additional chiefs who are on duty that day. And, Erin, one source tells us Pittman never took control of the radio or even instructed officers on how to respond in any form that day. The union president is telling us, no vote is currently underway, Erin, but that officers are pushing for one.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much.
And finally, tonight, Senator Rand Paul. He's out of bounds when he should be setting an example. Senators were sworn in as jurors in Donald Trump second impeachment trial today. All of this in this video, you see all of them wearing masks, all of them.
Now, take a look at Senator Paul, as he signed the oath book. As you can see, he's not wearing a mask. Now, he did contract the virus himself, he may be immune to it we have no idea. Neither is he, and it's no excuse.
Dr. Jonathan Reiner, you know him well from his appearances on OUTFRONT, didn't hold back, said, the only senator refusing to wear a mask as he signs the oath is former doctor, Rand Paul, an embarrassment to the Senate and to medicine.
And yet, let's just be clear, Senator Paul was the only one, right? And there are plenty of others who may not have wanted to, but they all did out of decency. And out of decency and out of respect, to set a good example, to behave like an adult during a pandemic where we have several thousand Americans dying every single day. Senator Paul should wear a mask.
Thanks so much for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.