Return to Transcripts main page

Erin Burnett Outfront

"Radical" And "Dangerous": Questions Mount Over Whether Biden's Nominees Of Color Are Facing More Scrutiny; Sen. Hawley Denies Blanket Policy On Opposing All Of Biden's Picks Despite No Vote On Every Cabinet Pick So Far; Interview With Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA); Nikki Haley Flip Flops On Trump, Praises His "Strong Speech" Despite Saying He Had No Future In The GOP; Second Cuomo Accuser Rejects Governor's Apology; Trump Brags About "Massive" Pre-Riot Rally, Calls It "Lovefest". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 01, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and you can always follow me on Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. You can tweet the show @CNNSITROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, resisting Biden's nominees, especially the nominees of color. Is it about more than just their policies?

Plus, were they trying to hide it? Why are we just finding out now that former President Trump and Melania Trump got COVID vaccines in January?

And peddling Trump's lies is bad for business. Just ask the CEO of Goya. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, facing resistance. There are growing questions tonight about why some of Biden's nominees, particularly nominees of color are facing fierce pushback from Republicans. Those nominees include Deb Haaland, Biden's pick to lead the Interior Department, Neera Tanden, Biden's nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget and Vanita Gupta, Biden's choice for Associate Attorney General.

In each case, progressive groups say Republicans are trying to paint these women as extreme or a threat to the country. Sen. Rick Scott calling Tanden a radical liberal and this is what Republicans are saying about Haaland and Gupta.


SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): I am troubled by many of representative Haaland's views, views that many in my home state of Wyoming would consider as radical.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Biden promised unity, but this is a dangerous appointee at a dangerous time.


BOLDUAN: Dangerous, they argue. Former Democratic senators Mark and Tom Udall who is from Haaland's home state of New Mexico, they took issue with the radical label on Haaland, writing in USA Today this that her record is in line with mainstream conservation priorities. Thus, the exceptional criticism of representative Haaland and the threatened holds on her nomination must be motivated by something other than her record.

Whatever the reason, there is plenty of opposition which, of course, is nothing new in Washington. But what is new is a senator opposing every single major nominee that a president puts forward. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley. He has voted no on every one of Biden's cabinet nominees, 11 so far. The latest, Biden's pick for Education Secretary which was just a short time ago.

Even Ted Cruz has voted for at least one of Biden's picks. And this is rich coming from Hawley who railed against his opponent then Sen. Claire McCaskill in 2018 for obstructing Trump.


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): She has opposed this president on every single priority. She even voted against Gina Haspel, the first female CIA Director nominated by this president.


BOLDUAN: So you may ask how did Hawley vote on the first female Treasury Secretary nominated by Biden or the nation's first black Defense Secretary or the nation's first LGBTQ Transportation Secretary. No, no and no.

OUTFRONT now, CNN's Manu Raju. Look, Democrats, Manu, oppose many of Trump's major nominees, but not to the level that Josh Hawley is. You just spoke with him.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right, I just did, Kate, and I asked him why. In fact, he has voted against all of Biden's cabinet nominees. And he insisted this is not a uniform position he has taken against every nominee. He said, "I take it one at a time, so if there's someone who I think will be good to Missouri and I can defend with my voters, I will vote for that."

And he did point to a deputy level Defense Secretary nominee whom he supported, but on all the cabinet level nominees he has been no. And, of course, this is someone who potentially could be eyeing a possible challenge to Joe Biden in 2024. He has downplayed that possibility, but he has also aligned himself with Donald Trump, even in the aftermath of January 6th and even into the run up of January 6th, he was the first Republican senator to announce that he would object to one of the state's electoral results that of the state of Pennsylvania. He has defended his actions since then, but he also would not

criticize Donald Trump yesterday, after Donald Trump said the election was stolen and also Trump contending that he actually won. I asked Josh Hawley just moments ago, whether you have any issues with Donald Trump's actions at all. He said he's been very consistent, he said of the former president. He said he's going to say what he believes.

I said, well, don't you have any concerns what Donald Trump said. He said, I don't give him advice. I'm not going to give you my emotional reactions to his quotes. So you're seeing how Donald Trump still has a hold over the party and over some of the senators here on Capitol Hill.

And the question too, Kate, for Joe Biden as he trying to fill his cabinet, there are some indications that perhaps there is still a possibility of him getting Neera Tanden confirmed as his Budget Director. The key Senate vote in the Senate, Republican Lisa Murkowski just met with Neera Tanden.


She emerged from that meeting undecided how she will come down and her vote could have the fate in determining whether or not Joe Biden's first nominee will go down, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Great reporting, Manu. Thanks so much. OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna. Congressman, it's Josh Hawley and it's more. Why do you think that President Biden's nominees, particularly of color, are running into such resistance? Do you think it could be just politics and not racism or is it?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Well, there's definitely an element of racism or here or there. Ads being run demonizing President Biden's appointees of color, pretending and lying about their records, saying that they're defunding the police when they're not, distorting it. And that's appealing to people's fears and it's no coincidence that Josh Hawley is voting against every nominee when he doesn't believe that Joe Biden is a legitimate elected president. He's fueling that sense of illegitimacy.

BOLDUAN: Some key nominees of color have been approved of Lloyd Austin as Defense Secretary, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as UN Ambassador, Alejandro Mayorkas is

confirmed as the first Latino Secretary of Homeland Security. So you believe racism is part of it, but then you have that.

KHANNA: Absolutely. And first let me give President Biden an extraordinary amount of credit for appointing diverse individuals and breaking history and making history and some of these appointments. But here's the thing, Erin, if you're a person of color and you question in certain ways the status quo, if you raise the issue of police violence as Vanita Gupta has, if you question policies that have been long standing and say we need more justice, then the bar is very, very high and you are subject to a demonization and a smear campaign. And that's what's unfortunate here. It shouldn't be that if you're a person of color, you have to toe the

line and that you can't question policies and certainly your position should not be distorted.

BOLDUAN: But with Neera Tanden, I mean she's opposed by one Democratic Senator as well, Sen. Joe Manchin. I mean, he's citing her inappropriate tweets in the past. I mean, do you think racism plays a part with Manchin?

KHANNA: No, I don't. I don't think you can paint a broad brush. I've worked with Sen. Manchin on issues. We disagree on issues, but he actually welcomed me to the State of West Virginia. We worked on creating tech jobs there. I believe that Sen. Manchin actually reaches out very broadly.

But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the special interest groups that have been watching ads, demonizing people and ads that are factually false and those ads need to be condemned.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, on Sen. Josh Hawley opposing every nominee, does it surprise you?

KHANNA: Again, it doesn't surprise me. Because if you really believe, as Josh Hawley does, that Joe Biden isn't the duly elected President of the United States and that's what he's telling his base, then he's obviously not going to confirm anyone. But the problem is that ...

BOLDUAN: Yes. He's definitely playing footsie with that and has for a long time, that's for sure.

KHANNA: Yes. And that the problem isn't that he isn't confirming anyone. The problem is he's still, to my knowledge, hasn't come out and said Joe Biden was legitimately elected to be President of the United States and he's my commander in chief. I would be happy with that.

If he just says those two sentences, he would do this country incredible good.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thanks for coming on.

KHANNA: Thank you, Erin.

BOLDUAN: It seems the bar is low on what does well for the country these days.

OUTFRONT with me now is Gloria Borger. Gloria, what do you think of what Ro Khanna is saying right there about the role of race he believes is playing in terms of the resistance against nominees, especially women?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it hard to get into people's heads in the Republican Party right now, because they're just opposed to Joe Biden one way or another. And you also know, as he pointed out, that Joe Biden has appointed the most diverse cabinet in history. So a lot of the people they oppose are going to be people of color.

But here's one thing that really sticks in my craw, Kate, and the thing that sticks in my craw is when they come out and say that all of these people are somehow unqualified. I take you to Donald Trump's cabinet. Let me just read a few names to you.

Betsy DeVos, unqualified as Secretary of Education. Ben Carson, a former surgeon knew nothing about housing and urban development. Rick Perry, the head of the Department of Energy who wanted to get rid of the Department of Energy.

BOLDUAN: He was surprised what the job of an Energy Secretary entailed.

BORGER: That's right. And so all of these Republicans who are now railing not only about policy, they're allowed to say we disagree with Mr. Becerra on Medicare for All or on abortion rights.


But when they say people are unqualified, take a look at the people you voted for during the Trump administration. And they were so unqualified that half the time President Trump never put people up for confirmation again and kept them as acting, because he knew they couldn't get confirmed.

So take a look in the mirror, folks. You confirmed a lot of people who shouldn't have been in those jobs, so that kind of ridiculous.

BOLDUAN: It absolutely is. You lay it out well. So what game is Josh Hawley playing?

BORGER: He's a mini me. He's she's trying to be Donald Trump, newer, younger, thinner, whatever and I think he doesn't want to get Trump angry. He wants his support. He's running for president. He's too clever by half. I don't know what his game is, but I think lots of people will end up seeing through it.

But right now, this is where he plants himself in Donald Trump's camp and believing that he can appeal to Donald Trump's voters and that's where he's going to stick and this is how he believes he's going to distinguish himself.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you, Gloria.

BORGER: Good to see you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And a programming note for all of you, Linda Thomas- Greenfield, Joe Biden's new UN ambassador, she will be a guest with Don Lemon 10 pm tonight.

OUTFRONT for us next, a former Republican Congressman saying that his party needs to treat Trump like the U.S. treated the Soviets in the Cold War; isolate him, contain him and stop pandering to him.

Plus, former President Trump and Melania both vaccinated against COVID at the White House back in January. Why are we only finding out about this now?

And Gov. Andrew Cuomo's second accuser rips into him for his so-called apology and urges more women to come forward.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, former UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, showering her former boss Donald Trump with compliments after Trump's revenge seeking speech at CPAC. Haley tweeted this afterwards, "Strong speech by President Trump about the winning policies of his administration and what the party needs to unite behind moving forward. The liberal media wants a GOP civil war. Not gonna happen."

But remember that speech was also full of just straight up lies and Trump still pushing the stolen election lie throughout it. It's also is the same Nikki Haley who was just turned down by Trump for a meeting at Mar-A-Lago last month. The rejection after a big profile on her was published in Politico and she told Tim Alberta on the record this in the days after the insurrection.

She said, "I don't think he's going to be in the picture, I don't think he can. He's fallen so far." She also said, "He went down a path he shouldn't have, and we shouldn't have followed him, and we shouldn't have listened to him. And we can't let that ever happen again."

Haley says, we can't ever let that happen again. Yet, she said this on Fox News about Democrats wanting to hold Trump accountable for the deadly riot.


NIKKI HALEY, FORMER UN AMBASSADOR UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP: They're going to turn around and bring about impeachment, yet they say they're for unity. I mean, they beat him up before he got into office. They're beating him up after he leaves office. I mean, at some point, I mean, give the man a break. I mean, move on.


BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT with me now Matthew Dowd. He was the Chief Strategist for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004. It's good to see you, Matthew.

I mean, whiplash is something that you often must get used to in politics, but with Nikki Haley, this is becoming a special case.

MATTHEW DOWD, CHIEF STRATEGIST, BUSH-CHENEY '04 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: It's incredibly. I mean, we ran against John Kerry and one of the things we ran against him on was being a flip flopper. But John Kerry looks like the mountain of stability compared to what Nikki Haley has been doing. She moves and shifts around more than a Prius driving across the Mackinac Bridge in a 50-mile an hour wind in the course of this. But one thing I think we can say she's consistent about that I think

this reveals is that she fits right in because that shows that her lack, complete lack of any sort of principles that define her that she can stay and be the center of her core which you want like leaders to be, have a center of principles that you know is solid in their core. She is very consistent in that. She is very much comfortable in an unprincipled party in the course of this.

BOLDUAN: Look, the thing about it is like Haley was pretty clear eyed about Donald Trump and the damage that he's done and his responsibility for January 6th. I mean, on top of what she told Tim Alberta, again, on the record in hours and hours of interviews that he sat down with her and discussed, she also said, according to CNN is reporting, she said, I want to read this, to members of the RNC in the day just after the insurrection.

She said that he was badly wrong with his words yesterday and it wasn't just his words, it was his action since the election and will be judged harshly by history. And I'm wondering now kind of looking at all of this in full view, is this proof of Trump's strength in the party that Haley somehow missed?

DOWD: Well, I think it's proof that Haley doesn't recognize what the Republican Party is. I mean, the Republican Party created Donald Trump. Donald Trump didn't create the Republican Party today. The reason why he became the Republican nominee is because that's who the Republican Party is. He enjoys 90 percent favorability rating among Republican voters. They like where he is positioned against what they think is something wrong in America, modern America.

The interesting thing that I think she's completely missed is what unites Trump voters in the base of the Republican Party today isn't policy, it isn't a set of issues, because they're all divergent. I mean, it used to be there's part of the Republican Party that is for fiscal responsibility and part of the Republican Party was for free trade and part of the Republican Party was for standing up for law and order.

But what really unites them, Kate, is this complete hate of a diverse America and America, as it exists today, in the 21st century. And that's what unites them and I don't think Republicans who take or are taking a stand in moments against Donald Trump recognize what the modern Republican Party fundamentally is.


I said today or earlier today on Twitter, I said today the Republican Party did have a civil war and the confederacy won and I don't think they've come to terms with that.

BOLDUAN: Now, former Republican Congressman Francis Rooney, he said today that the party needs to treat Trump like the U.S. treated the Soviets in the Cold War, isolate him, contain him and stop pandering to him. And I feel like I know the answer to this after what you just said, but can the party do that right now? DOWD: Well, I think there's an apt analogy there because of Donald

Trump's closeness to Vladimir Putin, so the treating him like the Soviet Union shouldn't be a big step for it in the course of that. I think, again, Kate, he's missing the point. I think he still thinks of the Republican Party as the business people, Chamber of Commerce Country Club Republican Party.

And as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and all of the other candidates found out in 2016, that is not what the Republican Party is today. So, yes, he should be isolated, he should be treated as a scourge or pariah, never to be talked about again and leave him in Mar-A-Lago. But that's not where the Republican Party is.

They want him and they seem to have moved on very, very quickly from the insurrection that happened on January 6th, which is amazing to me where people died and where they were trying to sort of stop the vote in a very similar manner to what happened in 1860 and 1861.

But the Republicans who think they're principle don't know the modern Republican Party.

BOLDUAN: It's fascinating. It's good to see you. Thanks for coming on.

DOWD: You too, Kate. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, a third vaccine is out and available. But the CDC Director today warning this country is at risk of erasing the recent gains against the pandemic, why?

Plus a second woman accusing New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment now encouraging other women to come forward. Are there more?



BOLDUAN: Tonight, former President Trump and Melania both vaccinated at the White House back in January, but we are just learning about it now and clearly, he didn't do it in public like basically every other top official from Mike Pence to Alex Azar to Anthony Fauci. Despite that there is good news on the vaccine front tonight, Johnson & Johnson's one-dose vaccine has started to ship out. The first doses could be administered as early as tomorrow. Nick Watt is OUTFRONT.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The first doses of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine have shipped, three vaccines are now out there in the mix.


DR. MARCELLA NUNEZ-SMITH, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 EQUITY TASK FORCE CHAIR: This is all very, very good news. All three vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing what we care about most and that's very serious illness and death.


WATT (voice over): Plus, Johnson & Johnson is single dose and does not need deep freeze storage.


DR. PAUL STOFFELS, JOHNSON & JOHNSON CHIEF SCIENTIFIC OFFICER: UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will have 20 million in March and hundred million by June and hopefully by the summer contributing a lot to vaccinating all of the United States.


WATT (voice over): But issues remain.


JEFFREY ZIENTS, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Scheduling remains for far too many people too frustrating and we need to make it better.


WATT (voice over): From today, teachers in Connecticut, Mississippi and Louisiana are eligible for vaccination. Educators now on the list in 31 states and Washington, D.C., not yet in Massachusetts where today roller rinks and theaters can reopen at half capacity.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a good step in the right direction, that's for sure.


WATT (voice over): But let's hold off on the high fives.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It is really risky to say it's over. We're on the way out. Let's pull back. Just look historically at the late winter early spring of 2020, of the summer of 2020 when we started to pull back prematurely, we saw the rebound.


WATT (voice over): Average new case counts have been falling sharply for weeks, but ...


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: The recent declines appear to be stalling. Please hear me clearly, at this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained.


WATT (voice over): On average, around 2,000 Americans are still dying from this disease every day.


SMITH: Get vaccinated with the first vaccine available to you, protect yourself, your family and your community from COVID-19.



WATT (on camera): Well, Kate, today is 11 weeks exactly since the first American got a dose of vaccine and here's where we are. Roughly a hundred million doses have been distributed across the country. About 10 percent of the adult population of America has been double dosed, fully vaccinated. This Johnson & Johnson single dose should change the landscape, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Nick, thank you.

OUTFRONT with me now, Dr. Jonathan Reiner who advised the White House medical team under President George W. Bush. Dr. Reiner, it's good to see you again.

The fact that, if we could just start with, the fact that Donald Trump and Melania Trump, they both received their vaccines back in January and the country is only hearing about it right now and you couple that with recent polling showing that Republicans more than Democrats are resisting the vaccine.

There was a poll out just last week from the Kaiser Family Foundation that found 75 percent of Democrats have already received the vaccine or will compared to 41 percent of Republicans. And those who said they definitely will not get it, it's only 2 percent for Democrats, 28 percent for Republicans. What's your reaction?

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Right. So in a similar fashion to the politicization of masks, we've seen the same thing now to a little bit of a lesser degree, but nonetheless they're with vaccines. Right. Another poll by the Gallup organization last week asked people if a vaccine was available for them right now, would they take it, and 91 percent of Democrats said yes, 51 percent of Republicans said yes. So we must close that gap.

So what an opportunity for the most respected Republican, the former President of the United States to make a big statement to be publicly seen getting vaccinated.


But yet he did not do that. Why would he not do that? My only couple of -- (CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: It gives him a chance to brag. Two of these were approved under his watch.

REINER: Right. Take a victory lap. So why wouldn't the former president do that?

It is either something like he didn't want to estrange the vaccine denier population of his base or something completely insane which is he didn't want to roll up his sleeve in public. But, you know, the net result is incredibly destructive. We saw what happened when he cast doubt on the utility of masks last year. Without the president's very visible ascent to vaccines it has just a devastating result on the acceptance of vaccines in people who doubt it right now.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, we are also coming on the one-year mark of this pandemic and on this day March 1st last year, the pandemic was starting to spiral out of control more than we even knew. On this very same day, Vice President Mike Pence said President Trump was instructing him to say this about the pandemic.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: His charge to me is, to remind the American people that the risk is low, to assure the American people that we're ready.


BOLDUAN: Just really struck by that. What goes through your mind when you hear that, we are ready?

REINER: Right. So what we know from the reporting of people like Bob Woodward is that they knew that the risk was high and we also know that they knew that we weren't ready, that we had no PPE.

It's one reason they were advising the public a year ago to stop buying masks because we didn't have a reserve of N95 masks or surgical masks. We didn't have testing capacity. We weren't ready.

And, you know, despite leveling with the public and telling the public exactly what we needed to do to stem the transmission of this virus, they lied to the public over and over again. We weren't ready and the risks were great. And now half a million people are dead.

BOLDUAN: Really quickly, there is good news of a third vaccine out there now and available to Americans but also the CDC director today warned basically all of this hard-earned ground could be erased very soon because of the trajectory of cases and deaths where they're leveling off right now.

Do you think the country is once again at a crossroads?

REINER: You know, cases are down again today of the COVID tracking project reported about 45,000 new cases today. It has been a very long time since a single day had, quote, only 45,000 cases.

There is -- there was some concern we might plateau in the 60,000 to 70,000 case per day. It is possible that was a statistical bubble. We'll see.

Hospitalizations continue to drop. I'm hopeful if we continue to mask and social distance and now get all of the shots into arms, we can continue to get this pandemic under control.

BOLDUAN: Hold on to that hope with you. Thanks, Doctor.

REINER: My pleasure.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, the second woman to accuse New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment is speaking out and reacting to the governor's apology.

Plus, Trump is now bragging about the rally that he held just before the insurrection, calling it a love fest and that's not all.



BOLDUAN: New tonight, the second woman who accused Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment is rejecting his apology and encouraging other women to come forward now.

Charlotte Bennett is saying in a statement tonight that Andrew Cuomo, quote, has refused to acknowledge or take responsibility for his predatory behavior, she says.

Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT.



JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York Governor Andrew Cuomo facing new scrutiny tonight after a second former staffer has come forward alleging sexual harassment.

Charlotte Bennett, a former executive assistant and health policy adviser, telling "The New York Times" over the weekend that the governor asked her numerous questions about her personal life, including whether she thought age made a difference in romantic relationships. She alleges Cuomo said he was open to relationships with women in their 20s.

Bennett who was 25 years old told "The Times": I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me and I felt horribly uncomfortable and scared.

Late yesterday, nearly 24 hours after "The Times" first reported Bennett's story, Governor Cuomo issued a statement, acknowledging his past comments may have been inappropriate saying, I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal. And that some of my comments given my position made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.

Some lawmakers within Cuomo's own party saying his statement is not enough.

MICHAEL GIANARIS (D), NEW YORK STATE SENATE: That statement was unfortunate in my opinion. There is a very big difference between saying to someone I'm sorry if you're offended by what I did and saying I'm sorry for what I did.

CARROLL: Cuomo also saying in a statement he never inappropriately touched or propositioned anyone be denying the allegation of another former aide Lindsey Boylan who wrote in a Medium post that Cuomo had kissed her on the lips after a one-on-one briefing. Boylan and Bennett have not discussed their claims with CNN.

Cuomo, a third term Democrat, suggested Sunday night that New York's attorney general, Letitia James, and New York's chief judge select an independent attorney to investigate claims against him. James rejected the proposal saying she needed subpoena power. The governor's office relented saying they would turn over a referral allowing it.

James' office confirmed they received the referral Monday afternoon. Lawmakers on both sides critical of the investigative process today a Democratic State Senator Todd Kaminsky introduced a bill to change the law so that the governor does not have to refer an investigation in order for the attorney general to start one.


TODD KAMINSKY (D), NEW YORK SENATE: When you think about it when the governor is being the person investigated asking the governor for a referral is, you know, doesn't make sense at all. I think what shocked members of the public that that is the system we have.

CARROLL: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released statements on the importance of an independent investigation, Pelosi calling the allegations serious and credible.

All this as Cuomo still faces allegations of mishandling the COVID-19 crisis in New York's long term care facilities currently under scrutiny by the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office.


CARROLL (on camera): And, Kate, in that statement that Cuomo's second accuser put out today, she also encouraged other people who might be out there like herself to come forward saying, quote, for anyone who needs to hear this know that I am holding a place for you, too. The governor continuing to defend his administration's handling of all of this saying that he will also continue to cooperate with investigators -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Jason, thank you.

I want to bring in right now, Jesse McKinley, who broke this story on governor's second accuser. He's the Albany bureau chief for "The New York Times".

Jesse, do you think based on what Charlotte is saying on her statement tonight that -- just what Jason Carroll was talking about there -- that there are more shoes to drop, that there are more allegations to come?

JESSE MCKINLEY, ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think that's obviously something that myself and other reporters will be looking into in the days and weeks to come. Certainly, the two allegations that have come out already have created the impression that, you know, there might be more people out there.

You know, I think, generally, with sexual harassment, oftentimes, it's not a single case. It's multiple cases. We don't have credible reports on those yet. But I think certainly, those are going to be lines of inquiry going forward for days and weeks to come to be sure.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, Governor Cuomo isn't disputing any of the facts of the account laid out by Charlotte. So I'm kind of left to wonder if the facts are not really in dispute. Is this likely to get any better from the governor, for the governor from here on out?

MCKINLEY: Well, certainly, he did not dispute the story we ran on Saturday night, did not go through it point by point, basically said this was misunderstood, that he was a mentor to Charlotte not pursuing her sexually.

Then, of course, put out this other statement last night where, you know, he elaborated on this idea that, you know, he kids around the office, et cetera. I -- I don't think either of those statements are going to satisfy critics of Mr. Cuomo's or answer all of the questions still outstanding, which, of course, will be the subject of this investigation going forward.

And that investigation could have some teeth. You know, with subpoena power, you can draw down documents. You can compel testimony. You can get recordings if there are any recordings. Charlotte did speak to a lawyer inside the Cuomo administration.

So those sorts of powers granted to an outside investigator could really lend some answers to these open questions.

BOLDUAN: And she is being represented by a very well known attorney now, Debra Katz. That is a major part of this for sure.

MCKINLEY: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Jesse, thank you. Thanks for your reporting. Appreciate it.

OUTFRONT for us next, Donald Trump downplaying what happened on be the day of the insurrection and you won't believe what he is saying now.

Plus, the CEO of Goya was silenced but he's back. And it's hurting his bottom line.


ROBERT UNANUE, CEO OF GOYA: The real, the legitimate, and the still actual president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.




BOLDUAN: Tonight, former President Donald Trump bragging about the massive rally, of course, that he had on January 6th, hours before the Capitol insurrection, calling the rally a lovefest and a beautiful thing, and trying to blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for security failures later that day. This as more and more Republicans are now attempting to rewrite this horrible moment in history.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): This didn't seem like an armed insurrection to me.


BOLDUAN: Joining me now CNN's senior political analyst John Avlon.


BOLDUAN: Hey there. Disinformation like this led to January 6th. What does trying to paint January 6th as something softer than a violent attack do now? Is it something like -- is something like this the way they're talking about it just to assure it is going to happen again?

AVLON: It's an attempt to rewrite history. It's nothing less than that. Here we have indelible evidence of an attack on our Capitol. Five people died the worst attack on our Capitol since the war of 1812. Having watched it all unfold and having information from the protesters who turned into rioters who said they were there because Donald Trump sent them they believed, it is an attempt to simply create a fantasy tale.

And it's a sign of a political party that's veering into a cult and very dangerous ways and yes, it does open the door to further problems down the road because if you deny reality once you open the door a second time as Voltaire once said the person who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

BOLDUAN: Just remind folks of kind of the denial of reality that is coming from major voices that support Donald Trump, that Donald Trump supporters listen to, just one example claiming that it couldn't be Trump supporters who took over the Capitol.


BOLDUAN: It had to be Antifa. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were probably some undercover Antifa that dressed as Trump people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were likely not all Trump supporters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think a lot of it is the Antifa folks.


BOLDUAN: The FBI said it wasn't Antifa. People who stormed the Capitol themselves say it was not Antifa. It was them. All of this is on video.

I mean, do they think if they just say it enough it will be so?

AVLON: Yes. Who are you going to believe, Kate, them or your lying eyes?

I mean, this is the fundamental problem, though. This lie, we can track its growth in right wing media. From the day of the attack on talk radio via Twitter echoed by congressmen -- the president himself suggesting it to Congressman McCarthy who had to shut it down.


We know that is a lie. Yet it persists because people can't confront the uncomfortable truth. Why? Because they're culpable. Because at the end of the day there is nothing less conservative than a violent mob attacking the Capitol, and that's what they wrought.

BOLDUAN: You know, our Trump supporters and talking to supporters of Trump who also believe in the QAnon conspiracy, that he spoke to some of them recently who for the most part all believe Trump did not lose the election and they are now looking to Myanmar, of all places, where there is deadly military coup where 18 people were killed yesterday and they're looking there and saying they're hoping that that happens here in the United States.

Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's going on in Myanmar? The government took over and redoing the election.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Would you like to see it happen? Really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like to see it happen, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know why? Because the election was stolen from us.


BOLDUAN: I see this, John, and I'm starting to think that even after January 6th, the worst of the worst, it looks like things are getting worse, not better.

AVLON: Well, I don't know they are getting worse, but it's clear we've got a problem in the hard-core base of the Republican Party that's willing to believe unreality and look to violence as a recourse. You know, they are identifying with the military coup.

But let's not forget, you know, Donald Trump's national security advisor essential recalled for that and it indicates this isn't about ideas. It's not about partisan politics. It's an authoritarian impulse that we're seeing, and it's incredibly dangerous because it will try to persist.

We haven't had an attempt to overturn an election or call for a coup by people who wrap themselves in the American flag and call themselves patriots. Wake up to what it is. It's dangerous.

BOLDUAN: I'm most stuck with Republicans that continue to try to chip away at little pieces of the real history of what happened on January 6th, small pieces that add up to a big picture problem and they know better but they continue.

AVLON: They do.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, John. Thank you.

AVLON: You, too, Kate. Be well.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, backlash building tonight after the CEO of Goya comes to Trump's delusional defense.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, Goya's CEO is under fire after again pushing Donald Trump's election lie at CPAC, calling Trump, quote, the real, the legitimate, and still actual president.

This is just one month after his company's board reprimanded him from doing this very thing, pushing the bogus claims of election fraud.

Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT.


CARROLL (voice-over): After pledging to keep his controversial political views private, Goya CEO Robert Unanue is again publicly making fast election claims.

UNANUE: The real, legitimate and still actual president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

CARROLL: This echoes Unanue's unfounded election claims during this TV appearance in January two weeks after the Capitol insurrection.

UNANUE: Mission accomplished by conglomerate and social media, big tech, big media and government -- big government for ushering in the dawn of a new world order. This great reset with an unverified election.

CARROLL: That caused Goya's board to essentially silence their CEO, voting to censor him. A person familiar with the board's actions which includes Unanue's family members called his comments insulting and dangerous and said that Unanue can no longer speak to the media without the board's permission.

The source also tells CNN, Unanue has hurt Goya's bottom line, imperiling the future of the company.

Unanue and Goya did not respond to several attempts by CNN to reach for comment. But at the time, Unanue told "The New York Post": Independently, I've made the decision to lower the temperature and walk away from speaking about politics and religion.

Welcome news to this consumer who said he had stopped buying Goya products given the CEO's past politically charged comments.

MAURICE, FORMER GOYA CUSTOMER: When certain corporate raiders support an ex-president who basically green-lighted white nationalism, racism, sexism, homophobia, we should expect him to pay the consequences.

CARROLL: Unanue first came under fire late last July after he praised Donald Trump after a White House visit.

UNANUE: We're all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump.

CARROLL: Those comments prompted a backlash from buyers, hashtags like Goya away and boycott Goya trended, while supporters of the president fought back, with a so-called buycott. Ivanka Trump even posting a picture with a can of beans.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is among a number of Latino leaders critical of Unanue, saying his words then and now have consequences.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): It's a great disappointment whether you are immigrant, whether you are one or two generations from Puerto Rico like my family. It's a great shame.

CARROLL: It's unclear if Unanue's comments have hurt sales, Goya, a privately owned company, doesn't disclose earnings. Hispanic consumers make up a significant chunk of buying power in the United States, $1.7 trillion in 2019. That's 11 percent of the country. The president of one of the oldest Latino civil rights organizations offered this advice to the censured CEO.

DOMINGO GARCIA, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, LEAGUE OF UNITED LATIN AMERICAN CITIZENS: At least tone down the rhetoric. You're entitled to support whoever you want but when you put out false information and lies to the community, there are consequences and there will be ramifications for your product.

CARROLL: Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


BOLDUAN: Jason, thank you very much.

And thank you so much for joining us tonight. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks.

"AC360" starts right now.