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Erin Burnett Outfront
House Cancels Tomorrow's Session As FBI, DHS Warn Extremists Discussed Plans To Overtake U.S. Capitol; Biden Rips States For Lifting Mask Orders; TX Republican: Govt Needs To "Quit Making Arbitrary Rules"; Rep. Jackson Speaks Out After Pentagon Report Finds He Made Sexual Comments, Drank On Job While Working As White House Physician; DC National Guard General Says It Took Pentagon Three Hours To OK Sending Troops To Assist With Capitol Riot; Cuomo Apologizes Amid Sex Harassment Claims, Won't Resign. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 03, 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, the House in a rare move canceling tomorrow's session amid warnings of extremists discussing plans to take control of the Capitol and remove lawmakers. This as Mike Pence is now pushing the election lie that almost got him killed.
And Dr. Anthony Fauci is OUTFRONT on Texas fully reopening, a race to get every American vaccinated and the former Surgeon General taking him on, on vaccines.
Plus, remember that golden Trump statue at CPAC? Wait until you hear where it was made. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, high alert. Security threats forcing the House tonight to cancel tomorrow's session. As I speak, lawmakers are pushing through a vote that was actually planned for tomorrow. A joint intelligence bulletin issued by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, warning that violent extremists have discussed plans to take control of the U.S. Capitol tomorrow and remove Democratic lawmakers.
This threat coming exactly eight weeks to the day from when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. Because of a lie, they were fed again, and again, and again, and again and again by the former president. And today, Mike Pence, the former vice president perpetuated that lie, of all people, a lie that almost killed him on January 6th and resulted in five others dying that day.
Former vice president breaking his silence since the deadly insurrection, writing an op-ed opposing a House bill that overhauls election laws. But he began the whole thing with this. "After an election marked by significant voting irregularities and numerous instances of officials setting aside state election law, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of the 2020 election."
This is absolutely crazy to hear that he would say he shares those concerns. He was the vice President of the United States. He knows those concerns are unfounded and yet now he is fueling this lie. It is false. It is a lie. There were not significant voting irregularities and everyone who knows anything about this, who has investigated, who has put time, and money and effort into a full investigation has said exactly what Trump's appointed FBI Director said just yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: We are not aware of any widespread evidence of voter fraud much less that would have affected the outcome in the presidential election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Much less that would have affected the outcome. And remember what Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr told The Associated Press, "We have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election."
Look, this is a really simple thing. OK. They investigated it and they then spoke the truth. There was no widespread fraud. It simply did not happen. So why is Mike Pence who knows this full well, you can't even get into this, is he in some law-law never-Neverland like some people might try to say about Trump. Why is Pence fueling this lie even now?
He, of all people, knows firsthand the danger of spreading lies about the election because he was there on January 6th in the Capitol at the same time Trump was throwing him to the wolves and setting him up as the fall guy for not objecting to the election results.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mike Pence, I will tell you right now, I'm not hearing good stories.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: "I'm not hearing good stories." Well, many in that crowd heard Trump loud and clear and made their way then to the Capitol looking for one man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring out Pence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring him out.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Hang Mike Pence. Bring out Pence. As the crowd came within
100 feet of Pence, according to House impeachment managers, and you could see him heading for safety, quickly escorted down the stairs along with his family. Former Pence aides were furious that Trump had never checked in on his vice president never once during the day.
Instead, he pointed the finger at Pence, continuing to tweet at the height of the insurrection, "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth."
Well, of course, we got the truth. We got a true outcome in a fair election, it was not fraudulent or inaccurate. The truth is this, Trump's lie put Pence's life in peril. And yet Pence right now has broken his silence to push the same dangerous lie. Perhaps it is because Pence has decided his best personal career shot at this point is to kowtow to the very people who said this about him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike Pence is f***king traitor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, if you can't beat them, join them. Certainly not what someone who has his eye on 2024 wants to hear from the base that he needs to vote for him. So Pence is back on the wagon. The wagon of the lie.
Manu Raju is OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill. Manu, these threats to lawmakers that we're now talking about leading to this extremely rare cancellation of tomorrow's session, tell me what you know.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very rare that the House members would take this step, the House democratic leadership did not want to take any chances and moved up a scheduled vote scheduled for tomorrow, having that tonight, so members could get out of town.
But this comes despite the Senate taking a different course of action. The Senate also controlled by Democrats will be in session tomorrow and the number two Democrat, Dick Durbin just told our colleague, Ted Barrett, that there is an apparent contradiction in his word between how the House democratic leaders and the Senate democratic leaders are reviewing the intelligence.
And one top Democrat, the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman, Mark Warner suggested that it is a bit of an overabundance of caution that the House Democrats are taking, because the intelligence is mostly internet chatter, in his view, and certainly concerns to be had about what people are saying about the fact of the Capitol. But no, as we know now, any major demonstrations like we saw on
January 6th. And also on January 6th, some second guessing of Mike Pence and his role in certifying the election that day. Second- guessing from some Trump allies. I talked to one, just moments ago, Louie Gohmert, who was a staunch Trump ally, a Texas conservative.
RAJU: And I asked him about that Pence op-ed suggesting that the election was not found and he said essentially that perhaps that Mike Pence was having second thoughts about his decision and essentially having some concerns that Mike Pence suggested that the election was not - there's no integrity behind the election, because he did not align himself with those Trump allies during that January 6th session when he actually certified the electoral results. And I asked this Trump ally, Louie Gohmert, whether or not he believes Joe Biden was legitimately elected, he would not say that.
So it just goes to show you Erin how Mike Pence is aligning himself with the forces within the party right now overwhelmingly supporting Trump and those unproven lies, that the election was somehow stolen from him, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Manu.
I want to go now to Ben Ginsberg, a Republican election lawyer for four decades and Republican City Commissioner for Philadelphia, Al Schmidt. One of the rare Republicans who stood up to Trump's election lies and has defended the integrity of the election in his city and his state. I appreciate both of you very much. I know our viewers are familiar with you both and you're talking so honestly on these issues.
So Al, you were attacked by the former president for defending the integrity of the election. It led to a surge in threats against you and your family, even from people who you know really well, people that were near and dear to you. You did not back down.
Now you hear Pence coming out and standing by the lie, significant voting irregularities, numerous instances of official setting aside state election law, I share the concerns about the integrity of the 2020 election, not calling it out standing by the lie. What's your reaction to this?
AL SCHMIDT, (R) PHILADELPHIA CITY COMMISSIONER: I mean, it's really troubling if the Republican Party, my party, continues to travel down this road. And you have the op-ed and you have legislation in Pennsylvania and other states around the country that is little more than voter suppression masquerading as election reform. And as election reform intending to, allegedly, address problems that never actually occurred to begin with.
BURNETT: So Ben, the point of this op-ed that Pence put out was to, as I said, register his opposition to a bill that would do election reform. But that's not what he began and it was obviously very purposefully done. His first sentence was after an election marked by significant voting irregularities, that's how he started it. Raising doubts about the integrity of the presidential election.
He knows this to be false. He knows this to be a lie. Why is he doing it, do you think that, Ben?
BEN GINSBERG, REPUBLICAN ELECTION LAWYER: Well, there were odd politics flooding the Republican Party these days. I mean, what Mike Pence certainly does know is that all the charges of irregularities were actually litigated. There were 60 cases brought after the election. The Trump forces 1-0 of them.
And so there actually is a record and part of the fabric of the country is that you have every right to bring charges of irregularities in court. You get to litigate them. But if you lose, then there's an obligation under the compact of the United States of America to accept the result and so that's why this is such a disappointing op-ed.
BURNETT: Incredibly disappointing. And Al, it seems to show given that Pence knows it's a lie, give that these states silent after all of this, given that these people wanted to hang him and we're calling him an effing traitor and talking about hanging him.
Given that that's what happened and that he knows it was a lie, why do you think he's doing this? I mean, is this now a litmus test, if he's going to stay in the GOP and have any kind of future, he believes he has to just get back in line?
SCHMIDT: I don't know his mind. But I would think that he would at least know the truth and that's what makes it all the more disturbing is that you could be basically just trying to placate or tell people what they want to hear. If as all this legislation purports to be concerned about restoring confidence in the electoral process, the biggest thing that any of these people could do to restore confidence in the electoral process is to stop lying to voters about the integrity of the 2020 general election.
BURNETT: And so Ben, Pence goes on to say the American people must have utmost confidence that every voice matters and every vote counts or democracy cannot survive. Well, truer words cannot be spoken. I think that's why it's just so disturbing that he cloaks it in the big lie.
But yet, the Brennan Center says there's more than 250 proposed bills in 43 states that would restrict voting. They're going to scale back weekend voting in Georgia, limit mail-in voting in Arizona. Those are just a couple of examples. Do these types of efforts send a message that every vote counts?
GINSBERG: Well, the bills in the states are sort of born of the Republican Party fear that if everybody gets to vote, a lot of the new voters are not going to back Republicans. That is the worst reason possible in a democracy to propose legislative bills to restrict the right to vote that take away the convenience of the voter. So that's all that's all pretty disappointing. And there's no apparent irony in Mike Pence in opposing H.R. 1, which
I would agree is a really bad bill. But in not saying something about those bills in the states that absolutely do restrict the right to vote and people's ability to vote.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. I appreciate your time. Ben and Al, thank you both as always.
Next, a top Texas lawmaker defending the state's reckless reopening and slamming the Biden administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): The government needs to quit making arbitrary rules.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Dr. Fauci responds live next.
Plus breaking news, former White House physician turned Congressman Ronny Jackson just responding to the jaw dropping accusations that he was drinking and making sexual comments on the job among other things.
And shocking testimony from the head of the D.C. National Guard, why he says it took three hours to get the OK to send in troops on the day of the deadly insurrection.
BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden calling out the governors of Texas and Mississippi for lifting coronavirus restrictions in their states.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's a big mistake. The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything is fine, take off your mask. Forget it. It still matters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden. And Dr. Fauci, I appreciate your time. He calls it Neanderthal thinking, what do you think and why do you think the governors of Texas and Mississippi are lifting these restrictions right now?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Erin, I don't know why they're doing it but it certainly from a public health standpoint is ill advised. If you look at, right now, the curves of the diminution of infections that are going down, it's reached the point where the last seven days, it's plateaued. We've been to the scene before months and months ago when we try to
open up the country and open up the economy. When certain states did not abide by the guidelines, we had rebounds, which were very troublesome. What we don't need right now is another surge.
So just pulling back on all of the public health guidelines that we know work and if you take a look at the curve, we know it works. It just is an explicable why you would want to pull back now. I understand the need to want to get back to normality, but you're only going to set yourself back if you just completely push aside the public health guidelines, particularly when we're dealing with anywhere from 55,000 to 70,000 infections per day in the United States. That's a very, very high baseline.
BURNETT: Yes. A number that six months ago would have seemed incredibly high, but as you pointed out, it's come down but now plateauing. So like a plateau then could go back up, it's clear what could happen.
Well, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas was asked about Biden's comments, saying it Neanderthal move. He said Biden should not be quote preaching to my state about how to handle this COVID-19 virus. And then the senator went on to say this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORNYN: But at some point, the government needs to quit making arbitrary rules that do not have any demonstrable connection with the public health.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What do you say to that? He says that you're making arbitrary rules that do not have any demonstrable connection with public health.
FAUCI: Well, first of all, they're not arbitrary. They're based on evidence and data from science. We know that these interventions work. It's very clear. When you implement them, you see the cases go down. When you pull back, the cases go up.
What you want to do is get down to a low enough baseline so that when you do pull back on the public health measures, that you won't have a surge because when you have a level of virus that's low enough as you get these little blips, you can contain them. In addition, we have every single day that goes by, every week we get more and more people vaccinated.
So now's not the time to pull back. Now is the time to really crush this by doing both public health measures and accelerating the vaccinations like we're doing. So that's the reason why I said a moment ago that it's ill advised. It's not arbitrary. It's not empiric and it's based on scientific data.
BURNETT: And yet, of course, it is something that in some parts of this country, people are listening to. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis, as you know, long opposed to mask mandates, lockdowns of any sort, school closures. But what's interesting about Florida and I wanted to give you a chance to talk about this, because Florida ranks 27th in the nation for per capita deaths from the virus. Some states that shut down, obviously, and had all those mandates New York, Michigan, Massachusetts all have higher death rates.
Do you think it's possible when you look back on this that it may be that DeSantis did some things right?
FAUCI: Well, I'm sure he did. I mean, I don't think it would be fair to say that that the Governor of Florida did everything wrong, not at all. There were certain things that were done that I disagreed with and that it wasn't just me, personally, it's any public health person who looked at it. But I think it would be unfair to say that he did everything wrong.
BURNETT: Are there some things when you look at Florida that you think that he did get right?
FAUCI: Well, Erin, we had often talks on a weekly basis during the last administration with the mayors of Miami and of Dade County. And some of the things that were done down there by people at the local level really actually did work. I mean, they were very careful. They tried really very hard.
BURNETT: So let me ask you about President Trump, because we just found out that he got the vaccine at the White House back in January. And you remember at least publicly at that time there was this whole conversation that he needs to get it, he needs to get it, he could send this message to a very vaccine-resistant Republican base, but he didn't at all. Never said anything about it, never would say he was going to it. Were you aware at the time that he got the vaccine, Dr. Fauci?
FAUCI: No, Erin, I was not. I was not aware that he was vaccinated.
BURNETT: So when you think about that, I mean, obviously I know you weren't talking all the time, but you were the public face of talking about this, how big of an opportunity did he miss to convince a certain group of the population who, by the way, are still some of the most vaccine-resistant people, hesitant people, I should say. He could have made a big difference for those people if he had talked about this, couldn't he?
FAUCI: Certainly. There's no doubt in anyone's mind that former President Trump is very, very popular among his constituencies who numbers in the 10s of millions of people. That would have been an extraordinarily good opportunity to get a signal to the people who would clearly have listened to him the way they listened to him in many other ways. He has a great deal of influence.
It was just, unfortunately, a lost opportunity because he could have gotten a lot of people who are hesitant about getting vaccinated. I'm sorry, he didn't do that? BURNETT: Yes. No, I mean, I guess on one level I'm not surprised that
you didn't know, but I am stunned by it on a certain level. You were the one trying to tell the American people that you wouldn't have known something so crucial. It says a lot about how he was handling things at that time.
I want to ask you about something else that a lot of people are asking about and this is the vaccine dosage. The former Surgeon General, Trump's former Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, he's questioning the Biden administration's guidance that people need to get both doses for the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.
He tweeted and I'm quoting his tweet exactly, Dr. Fauci, "Good protection for many with one shot is better than great protection for a few, 2,000 people a day are dying because they can't get a first COVID-19 shot - not because they can't get a second."
And then he included a link to The Washington Post article that quoted you saying the U.S. should stick with the two-dose regimen for both of those vaccines. That, of course, is what has been scientifically tested. Were you surprised by this tweet from Dr. Adams that he took the stand and that he links to an article where were you are saying to go with the science on this?
FAUCI: Well, first of all, I love Jerome Adams. He's really a terrific guy. We worked so well together during the Trump administration. I think he's incorrect on this and I wish that I would get the opportunity and I probably will after this to discuss with him why I think he's incorrect in that.
One of the things he's not putting into the mix, Erin, is the issue of the variants that are going around. When you look at a single dose that gives with Pfizer for example, the 52 percent efficacy, the level of antibodies are at just about the level to give that degree of protection.
If you look at the level of antibodies after the second dose, it's 10 times higher. So when you're dealing with variants that diminish somewhat, sometimes fivefold, the efficacy of those vaccine-induced antibodies, you may bring it down to hear still well within the range of protection, because you have a lot of cushion. Whereas if you stick with the one dose, A, you don't know how durable it is whether it's going to just go off and further down within a period of a month or so. But importantly, you're at a very tenuous level, good enough to do protection.
But if you diminish it by five-fold, you fall off the chart of protection. So it's really quite risky when you're trying to deal with variants that we know are out there. There's no doubt there are a number of variants, the 117 will be dominant in this country, probably by the end of March. California has a variant 427, 429, New York has a variant 526, that's the thing you've got to be careful on. It's a risky proposition. So that's the reason why I would be happy to discuss that with him.
He's a very smart guy and a really good guy. I'd like to discuss that with him.
BURNETT: Well, I hope you get a chance to and I hope everyone heard you lay that out, because I have not heard this laid out so clearly. I have a lot of people are making that one shot argument, I have not heard you - that was very clearly laid out about that efficacy, especially vis-a-vis the variants.
I want to ask you one other question if I can, Dr. Fauci, about Dolly Parton. She got her COVID shot yesterday. She's 75 and she waited in line, she said, since December to get her shot. Last year, she got a claim because she donated a million dollars to COVID-19 research and some of that money was used to fund the Moderna vaccine development.
So I wanted to play for you some of the video that she just posted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOLLY PARTON, SINGER-SONGWRITER: I've been waiting a while. I'm old enough to get it and I'm smart enough to get it. So I'm very happy that I'm going to get my Moderna shot today. And I want to tell everybody that you should get out there and do it too, having changed one of my songs to fit the occasion.
It goes vaccine, vaccine, vaccine I'm begging you please don't hesitate.
Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine because once you're dead that's a bit too late.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: A play on her song Jolene. I can see as you realized what it was, what do you think when you see that?
FAUCI: I mean, you got to love Dolly Parton. She's giving a good message about people getting vaccinated. That's just terrific. That's what we need. We need people who are respected and admired, entertainers, celebrities, people who get out there that the community relates to them to get the message to get vaccinated. It's really very important. That's going to be the solution to the problem. That's going to be the thing that's going to get us back to normal, together with implementation of public health measures.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Dr. Fauci, as always, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
FAUCI: Good to be with you, Erin. Thank you for having me.
BURNETT: OK. And next, the breaking news, former White House doctor turned Congressman Ronny Jackson, speaking about the allegations that he was drinking, making sexual comments on his job. So what does he have to say for himself?
Plus, the Head of the D.C. National Guard testifying he had troops ready to respond to the insurrection. Then what happened?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM J. WALKER, HEAD OF D.C. NATIONAL GUARD: To word that I kept hearing was the optics of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Breaking news: Republican Congressman Ronny Jackson speaking out in his first interview since an IG report found out that he made sexually inappropriate comments while serving as White House physician, drank alcohol on presidential trips.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. RONNY JACKSON (R-TX): It's complete garbage. The accusations in there are completely false. I can tell you the accusations came from a handful of people from three or four, maybe four or five disgruntled employees that worked for Biden. I never made any inappropriate or disparaging remarks about one employee or one subordinate or one coworker that I had to another coworker, certainly nothing of a sexual nature ever.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Of course, the IG report did speak to 78 people who had worked with or around Dr. Jackson.
Jessica Dean is OUTFRONT.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A scathing review from the Department of Defense inspector general for the former White House physician and current Texas Congressman Ronny Jackson.
The report obtained by CNN prior to its release on Wednesday and based on interviews with 78 witnesses concludes Jackson made, quote, sexual and denigrating comments about a female subordinate, violated the policy for drinking alcohol on a presidential trip, and took prescription sleeping pills that caused concern from colleagues about his ability to provide proper care.
On Wednesday Jackson's aides scrambled to contain the fallout, and Jackson declined to answer further questions.
JACKSON: I've already submitted a statement.
DEAN: In his statement to CNN, Jackson alleged the investigation was politically motivated, saying, quote, Democrats are using this report to repeat and rehash untrue attacks on my integrity. He added: This is because he refused to, quote, turn my back on President Trump. Jackson also said he rejected any allegation he consumed alcohol while
The years-long investigation details one incident in which one witness recalled Jackson pounding on the door of a female subordinate's room saying, quote, I need you to come to my room. Another witness alleged Jackson made a comment about a female medical subordinate's breasts and buttocks during a presidential trip to Asia in 2014.
Jackson rose through the ranks to become physician to the president for both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump.
In a handwritten performance review, Obama described Jackson as a, quote, tremendous asset to the entire White House team.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You had President Obama giving him an A-plus report. You have president Trump giving him an A-plus report.
DEAN: But Jackson's profile rose dramatically when President Trump took a liking to him. Jackson declared Trump in excellent health despite evidence of heart disease.
JACKSON: The president's overall health is excellent. His cardiac performance, his physical exam is very good.
DEAN: Trump later nominated Jackson as the Veterans Affairs secretary but that nomination fell apart over allegations Jackson was, quote, abusive towards colleagues, that he loosely handled prescription pain medications and was periodically intoxicated, allegations Jackson called completely false and fabricated.
TRUMP: He started getting hit with vicious rumors, vicious. They're not true. They're not true. So they try and destroy a man.
DEAN (on camera): Jackson could now face a Navy review of his retirement pay. The inspector general, Erin, suggesting and telling the secretary of the Navy to take, quote, appropriate action as it pertains to Jackson and these conclusions -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jessica.
And OUTFRONT now, John Avlon, our senior political analyst.
So, John, you know, he says it's three or four or four or five, but you get the point, people that are disgruntled. Obviously, the report was quite detailed. People -- 78 people were sources for this report.
So he's now a sitting congressman. Drank alcohol on presidential trips where he was charged with caring for government officials. One time he gets so intoxicated allegedly he's going to wake up President Obama. How troubling is it? JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Very because, of course, a
presidential physician on a trip has direct responsibility for the president's health. And the idea that this is a political hit job, the Department of Defense doesn't do that.
One of the bizarre things about this particular incident is that he got high marks from President Obama, from President Trump, seemed to be entirely nonpartisan during the Obama years and very professional. Yet we see from this report that out of the 70-plus people they interviewed, only 13 had positive things to say about him.
And then in the running up -- you know, after his failed nomination to the Veterans Affairs Department, he embraced the Obama-gate conspiracy theory baselessly, presumably to curry favor and help in a Republican primary, but it seemed so out of character.
But the picture we are learning is that the allegations that surfaced seem to be true and that it's a political hit job is incredible.
BURNETT: Yeah. No, I mean, it's incredibly detailed, it's inspector generals report, Defense Department, all those of things that you lay out.
So, you know, he's one of the House Republicans who objected to the electoral victory of Joe Biden, right?
BURNETT: He echoed Trump's campaign that Obama spied on the campaign. And as you point out, he's become one of Trump's most ardent supporters, right? Ardent supporters. What do you make of this? It's an incredible transformation.
AVLON: That's it. I mean, look, partly I think it reflects the district he represents in Texas, if you win the close partisan primary, you're going to win the seat and where he's at. Backing up Donald Trump to the hilt is going to be very popular.
But this seems personal as well. And, look, you know, any recourse is going to come from the pentagon. It's not going to come from his colleagues in the Republican Party. We're way past that. They're willing to coddle conspiracy theorists which (INAUDIBLE) upon their Democratic colleagues. They're not going to blink at this and that's the danger of accountability in the system.
BURNETT: And yet, top Republicans are silent on this report. Liz Cheney, right, who, of course, has been very brave and courageous in standing up to Trump in every which way, she did not answer questions from CNN today on this.
So, either avoiding it or undecided on what to do? Do Republicans need to address this behavior or do they -- does this just kind of like get brushed under the rug and we move right along here?
AVLON: This is going to be table stakes for Republicans given the scandals and conferences they have to deal with. BURNETT: Yeah.
AVLON: There's not going to be any accountability.
BURNETT: Yeah, is unfortunately, I guess, you're here to speak the truth such that it is.
John Avlon, thank you.
AVLON: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, three hours, 19 minutes. That is exactly how long it took the National Guard to respond to the insurrection, and tonight, we know why it took so incredibly long.
Plus, New York's governor making his first appearance in over week. He's apologizing for making women uncomfortable, but there are a lot of ifs.
BURNETT: Tonight, stunning new testimony from the head of the D.C. National Guard about the delay in getting his troops to the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. He said he was ready to deploy more than 150 guardsmen shortly after the attack, but was then left waiting hours and hours for approval.
Oren Liebermann is OUTFRONT.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From this moment that you see here, it took three hours and 19 minutes to deploy the D.C. National Guard to help secure the Capitol. At 1:49 p.m., a frantic phone call from the Capitol Police to the D.C. Guard pleading for help.
MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM WALKER, COMMANDING GENERAL, DC NATIONAL GUARD: Chief Sund, his voice cracking with emotion indicated that there was a dire emergency at the Capitol.
LIEBERMANN: But Major General William Walker, commander of the D.C., says his hands were tied. Walker had guardsmen at the armory, but to move them, he needed approval from his superiors, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. That included a 40-person quick reaction force that had been tasked to help with traffic control.
WALKER: Just be clear: the secretary of defense said I could use it as a last resort. But the secretary of the army says that I could only use it after he gave me permission.
LIEBERMANN: Some 30 minutes later as this was unfolding on Capitol Hill, D.C. officials got on the phone with the Pentagon, Walker was on that call. And he heard hesitation and the concern about the optics of deploying troops to the streets of the capital.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Everyone is seeing this on TV, they're not immediately approving your request and in your recent testimony you just said, hey I could've gotten them on those buses and ready to go. Is that correct?
WALKER: That is correct, Senator.
LIEBERMANN: Walker says he could've had 154 troops to the Capitol within 20 minutes, but it wasn't his call.
WALKER: The word that I was -- I kept hearing was the optics of it, there was a concern that it could inflame the protesters.
LIEBERMANN: Roberts Salesses, acting assistant secretary of defense for homeland security, said the acting secretary of defense wanted final authority because of the sensitivity of deploying U.S. troops against a civil disturbance involving American citizens.
ROBERT SALESSES, ACTING ASSISTANT DEFENSE SECRETARY FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: There is no ability for the military to respond without the secretary's approval for several disturbance operations.
LIEBERMANN: The Pentagon offered more guardsmen multiple times before January 6, but Capitol police and D.C. officials repeatedly said, no. Without a formal request for help, military officials couldn't plan for a specific mission until the riot was already unfolding.
At 3:00 pm, about 90 minutes after the evacuation of the capital, acting defense secretary miller approved the call with the full National Guard, within an hour of the call with Walker and city officials, he moved available guardsmen from the armory to the Capitol later.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, insisted the Pentagon responded with a sprint speed according to "The Washington Post". They reacted faster than most of our elite forces from a cold start, Milley said. It's an argument senators weren't buying.
KLOBUCHAR: And so, you could have had them their earlier, hours earlier if it had been approved.
LIEBERMANN: As security at the Capitol broke down, so too did communication.
Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller approve the D.C. National Guard to help clear and secure the capital at 4:32. General Walker said, he can find out about that approval for more than 30 minutes.
LIEBERMANN (on camera): Senator Rob Portman says he wants to hear from both the former acting secretary of defense and the former army secretary to get their take on what happened in their decision-making process. And the timeline of that day, certainly a sentiment shared by many of the senators in that hearing.
Erin, crucially, there are two competing narratives emerging from that day about DOD, the Pentagon that is and the D.C. National Guard. Critically, those competing narratives are emerging from the Pentagon and from the D.C. National Guard. And that has confused the entire process of trying to forget what when wrong on January 6th and the response.
BURNETT: Still such an amazing amount of time to go by.
Oren, thank you very much.
And next, he says he's sorry but did New York's governor go far enough to stop the growing calls for his resignation after being accused of making unwanted advances to multiple women?
And Mexico did not pay for Trump's wall and as it turns out it also did not make Trump's fake gold statue at CPAC. So who did?
BURNETT: New tonight, embattled Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York rejecting calls to resign, after two women accused him of sexual harassment and a third accused him of unwanted advances.
Cuomo, who avoided cameras, uncharacteristically, for more than a week as these stories broke, finally said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional, and I truly and deeply apologize for it.
I never touched anyone inappropriately. I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The attorney for Charlotte Bennett, Cuomo's second accuser, alleges that the governor lied during that press conference today, saying, quote: The governor repeatedly said he had no idea he made anyone uncomfortable. My client, Charlotte Bennett, reported his sexually harassing behavior immediately to his chief of staff and to his chief counsel. We are confident that they made him aware of her complaint.
OUTFRONT now, Jesse McKinley, who's covered Cuomo extensively, and Jesse broke the news on Cuomo's second and third accusers. He's "The New York Times" Albany bureau chief.
So, Jesse, the governor, you know, went out of public view for a week, which I emphasize is completely uncharacteristic for him. And today, he came out with very little warning and said what we heard there, attempting to contain the fallout, you know, stop these calls for impeachment and resignation. Was it enough?
JESSE MCKINLEY, ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think it -- I think the tone that he struck today was as far as you'll ever see Andrew Cuomo apologize and it felt heartfelt to me. I think he is in a position right now where the consequences of his action are beginning to dawn on him a little bit.
He said the word apologize at least seven or eight times. He was extensive in his -- kind of -- in that regard.
But the thing that I was left with, as well, there are still unanswered questions. There is still a lot of details in this story that have not been addressed and I think that leaves open, reporting leads as well as further questions down the road.
BURNETT: Well, certainly, and as Charlotte Bennett's case shows, you know, she did immediately report it to the chief of staff, to the counsel. What you mentioned though about him seeming genuine, he was emotional. We saw a little bit of that, very expressed regret.
He looked embarrassed, clearly. But some of what he said was reminiscent of his statement from Sunday, specifically that he is sorry if people felt in ways he didn't intend. Here he is today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: If they were offended by it, then it was wrong. And if they were offended by it, I apologize. I didn't mean it that way, but if that's how they felt, that's all that matters, and I apologize.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, if, obviously, was a keyword there, you reported just last night that he's been losing allies in a growing number of state lawmakers are calling for him to resign. Obviously, this would be a seismic shift here for the Democratic Party.
So, what are you hearing now in reaction to, you know, the full press conference today?
MCKINLEY: Well, a couple more lawmakers before the press conference began basically signaled that they wanted a resignation. Since the speech today, there has been no additional calls for that. But I think in part, that's because people are processing it, right? They're kind of taking the temperature both of their constituents, as well as the general public.
So I think the next couple of days will be critical for Governor Cuomo. I think if it seems as though the damage stopped, if no more allegations come out, perhaps he can start to turn the corner on this, and wait for the attorney general's report to see whether or not that is damming or, you know, positive for him.
But I think the next 48 hours are going to be critical. BURNETT: All right. Well, Jessie, thank you very much. We'll talk to
BURNETT: And next, call it the un-American idol. This infamous fiberglass statute of Trump at CPAC, wait until you hear, you know, its provenance.
BURNETT: Beware the false idol, in this case, the infamous gold fiberglass statute of Donald Trump. You know, the big gaudy celebration of the former president wearing flip-flops that was unveiled at CPAC, you know, with all the pomp and circumstance.
It delighted his supporters who appeared, you know, it got a lot of attention. Now we find out that the statute that the artist and Trump fan initially said was made in Mexico as first reported by "Politico Playbook" was actually made in, China.
Yes, China. The same country Trump slammed again and again for taking American jobs among other grievances. So the artist and his business partner confirmed to CNN's Michael Warren that statute was indeed like so much made in China.
And there is more. Check out this video of the business partner says is the statute in China sent to him by the Chinese manufacturer. Business partner said he and the artist had a falling out. We don't know why or what it's over. It seems, though, that on some level, it has to be sadly what has divided so many in this country which is a divide over Donald J. Trump.
Thank you so much for joining us. Don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT any time, anywhere. You just have to go to CNN Go.
Thanks for watching. I'll see you tomorrow.
"AC360" with Anderson starts now.