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Erin Burnett Outfront
Cheney Warns "Trump's Language Can Provoke Violence Again"; Trump Endorses Loyalist Rep. Stefanik To Replace Cheney; Interview With Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR); CDC Chief On Possibility Of Winter Surge; CDC: Variant First Detected In India Is Circulating In U.S.; Vaccine Misinformation Rampant On Social Parenting Groups; Interview With Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX); Fired Officer Who Fatally Shot Atlanta Man Reinstated. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired May 05, 2021 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thank you. And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll be back, of course, tomorrow.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, a warning that Donald Trump could incite violence again coming from Congresswoman Liz Cheney tonight as President Biden weighs in for the first time on the GOP hunger games.
Plus, vaccine hesitancy among expected mothers rampant disinformation claiming the shots will lead to miscarriages and infertility. A special report on the dangerous effects of these lies.
And the City of Atlanta bracing for protests as the officer charged in the deadly shooting of Rayshard Brooks is back in the force. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, Trump's language can provoke violence again. Those are the words. The warning of Congressman Liz Cheney in a new op-ed this evening, the number three Republican in the House, for now. She's all but certain to lose that role.
Writing, "There's good reason to believe that Trump's language can provoke violence again. Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work, confidence in the results of elections and the rule of law. No other American president has ever done this."
And she goes on to say, "We Republicans need to stand for genuinely conservative principles, and steer away from the dangerous and anti- democratic Trump cult of personality."
It's interesting word she chose. She's right that the new core of the GOP is just that. It is a Trump cult of personality. He may have lost the election, but he has won the heart of the GOP. Liz Cheney is the one on the way out and the front runner to take her spot right now is a Trump loyalist, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. She is now almost certain to replace Cheney as the third highest ranking Republican in the House after an endorsement from the Republican king himself.
In a statement, Trump writing, "Liz Cheney is a warmongering fool who has no business and Republican Party leadership. Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL endorsement for GOP Conference Chair."
It's a stunning shake up inside the Republican Party, especially given that when you actually look at her voting records, Stefanik is nowhere near as conservative as Cheney. Liz Cheney's lifetime conservative score is 80 percent according to the Heritage Action group. You compare that with Stefanik's with 48 percent, whatever curve you're grading on, that's an F.
But it doesn't matter. All that matters right now is that Stefanik has been repeating and amplifying the big lie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): I have an obligation to act on this matter. If I believe there are serious questions with respect to the presidential election, I believe those questions exist. Tens of millions of Americans are rightly concerned that the 2020 election featured unprecedented voting irregularities, unconstitutional overreach by unelected state officials and judges, ignoring state election laws and a fundamental lack of valid integrity and valid security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, that's what matters. It's that sentiment. And that's the whole thing, right? That's why this is happening now. But I think it's really important to point out that Stefanik's turn towards Trump on the big lie is a change from where she wants was. When Trump attacked the gold star family during the 2016 campaign, Stefanik released a statement reading in part, "I think there's no excuse to be attacking gold star families."
When it came to Trump's foreign policy. Here's Stefanik again. This is October of 2016.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEFANIK: His statements regarding NATO, his statements regarding Putin, regarding some of the positions in regards to Iraq that he made, regarding the oil fields - I absolutely oppose those.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And after the infamous Access Hollywood tape, Stefanik released a statement just days before the 2016 election. "Donald Trump's inappropriate, offensive comments are just wrong - no matter when he said them or whatever the context."
I mean, obviously that was at the beginning. But even as his tenure went on, the former president described places like El Salvador, Haiti and Africa as bleep pole countries in 2018. There were plenty of Republicans at the time who tried to brush it under the rug as a joke and all of that. I hear you, Lindsey Graham. But she released a statement saying, "Congresswoman Stefanik strongly believes the President's comments were wrong and contrary to our American ideals."
So what changed? Stefanik actually once worked for the Bush administration and as Paul Ryan's aide during Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign. Time will tell whether she rises back to the occasion, but for now she sounds like someone else. That someone who happens to be the reigning ruler of the GOP right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrats are obsessed with impeachment.
STEFANIK: They have been obsessed with impeachment.
TRUMP: The phony Russia hoax.
STEFANIK: The phony Russia hoax of Russia collusion.
TRUMP: Sleepy Joe rejects the scientific approach in favor of locking all Americans in their basements for months on end.
TRUMP: Joe Biden wants to keep them locked up in the basement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: You heard it for yourself. And for the first time tonight, President Biden is weighing in on the turmoil inside the GOP. Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT at the White House. So Kaitlan, what did the President tell you?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he really seems baffled by what's happening inside the Republican Party, Erin. President Biden told us he's been in politics for decades and he has seen his fair share of fights within the Democratic Party. But he told us earlier today here at the White House, he's never seen anything like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It seems as though the Republican Party is trying to identify what it stands for and they're in the midst of a significant sort of mini revolution going on the Republican Party. I think the Republicans are further away from trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for than I thought they would be at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: That last part there, Erin, seems to be a reference to a post-Trump Washington and what that is really going to look like. Of course, he's saying that he doesn't think Republicans have figured it out. But President Biden said he does he think it's important to have this two-party system. He thinks it's important to have a healthy debate between the two parties happening here in Washington.
Of course, the debate that's happening right now is not over these trillions of dollars of spending that President Biden has put forth as he wants to reshape the American economy, the role of the government. And instead, of course, this is what we were talking about what's happening within GOP leadership.
And on that, we should note that one week from today, President Biden has invited congressional leadership to come here to the White House and meet with him. That's not just Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. That's also going to be Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy as well. That could, Erin, be that same date that the Republican Party votes on whether or not to oust Cheney from her leadership?
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan.
I want to go now to the Republican Governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson. And Governor, I really appreciate your time. I want to start with Liz Cheney. You have known our her and her family for a long time. You served in the George W. Bush administration when, of course, Dick Cheney was Vice President.
You have been highly critical of President Trump at times. A couple of months ago, you told me, and I quote you, "Trump bears a great deal of responsibility, key responsibility for what happened at our nation's capitol on January 16th - 6th." I'm sorry. That is the truth. We ought to be able to say that.
So Governor, what do you think of what is your party is doing tonight to Congresswoman Cheney?
GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): Well, first of all, you've got to think about our party that we're very broad. You've got the Senate, you got the House of Representatives, but our Republican governors are very engaged as well. What you're seeing with the leadership fighting Congress is simply one aspect of the party have an internal debate and the people of my state and across the country are probably more focused on vaccine rights and the infrastructure needs that we have.
But in terms of Liz Cheney, she's a conservative. She did a vote of conscience and she should not be ousted because of one vote of conscience. And regardless of the reasons of what's going to happen in the vote and it sounds like she's almost recognizing that she's going to be replaced. But this is going to be perceived by the American body politic as an ouster because of one vote. And I don't think this is healthy for our party that perception.
We've got to get back to talking about ideas and how to unify ourselves and we can't unify ourselves if we're pointing at each other and fighting against each other about a perception of January 6th or host of other issues in the past. We've got to come together for 2022 and this debate right now will not be perceived as helpful but divisive.
BURNETT: No. And, I mean, President Biden refers it as a mini revolution, but when you're talking about it as a perception, I mean, I think it's fair to say it's a reality. That's why she's being kicked out. When the President says he won the election the other day, she comes out and says it's a lie and he says, no, you're the lie.
I mean, because when we look at her voting record, Governor, she, over her lifetime, 80 percent from the conservative ranking group in terms of her votes on conservative issues. She's being replaced by Congresswoman Stefanik with a 48 percent vote. As I said, I don't care where that grade comes in, that's an F. So do you feel like you understand what's happening in your party?
HUTCHINSON: Well, yes, there is a disagreement on leadership and it is not a pretty look for our party. And whenever you've got people like myself that has pointed to January 6th and the president's role in that is not the right role of a leader of our country.
But I don't want to hit that every day.
HUTCHINSON: I think it's important that we leave this to our prosecutors that are prosecuting hundreds of people because of what happened there. The President's got his own legal issues. But we've got to move beyond as a party and we're not doing it very quickly.
And Liz Cheney battle for leadership position is illustrative of that. She won reelection after she did her vote of conscience. And so she maintained her post, but something has happened since then and the division has continued. So yes, it's a bad look for our party and we got to get beyond it.
BURNETT: But it's interesting, because that's something that's happened since then as you're saying, you don't want to have to talk about it every time but yet you are and you are because of that something, which is it's become the litmus test for the party. It's become the litmus test for whether she could be in leadership or not. I mean, Governor, I guess when you sit there and think about it, do you feel that you are now out of step with the core GOP?
HUTCHINSON: Well, and that's my point is simply that it should not be a litmus test. There's thousands of Republicans that have a different view than I do, but we're part of the same team. And if we're going to win in 2022, we've got to come together. It should not be a litmus test either way. And again, Liz Cheney should not be ousted because of a vote of conscience and at the same time, we should not ostracize those on the other side that are more sympathetic toward Donald Trump.
We can have a disagreement. Those are very serious issues, because they go to the heart of our democracy.
BURNETT: Yes. HUTCHINSON: But we have to move beyond that and we've got to do it
BURNETT: So I understand that, but when you say that and I know you're trying to make the big 10 argument, I understand it. But Liz Cheney's point in her op-ed today was Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work, confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law.
No other American president has ever done this. Are you comfortable, including people on how you define your party who are on board with those things?
HUTCHINSON: Well, first of all, obviously, if you're wanting to win a leadership post, you don't write an op-ed like that.
HUTCHINSON: Because that is a sticking the camel with a needle in the eye. And so that is an example of where you're defining our party based upon your view of that. I don't think we need to do that. There's honestly areas of disagreement. I've been very strong about that, but there are others that that have a different view and we're not going to make that the litmus test.
It is important to me, it is important to our Constitution, but I don't think we have to re-litigate that, let that be handled in the courts and let it be handled in the view of public opinion. We'll be asked about that. I get asked about it on this show and I'll state my opinion. But that's not my driving force every day.
Our driving force should be about what President Biden is doing on the border, the infrastructure plan and how we come together on that. That's what governors are working on. And my message is simply, let's get back to that.
BURNETT: So the President, as you know, has been banned temporarily from some social media sites, including Facebook, including Twitter. And he says things that they get out there. Like he puts out a statement that Liz Cheney is a warmonger and Mitt Romney is a loser.
So he's doing the same things he did, but it doesn't have the same sound okay as it did when he was on those sites as you know, Governor. Today Facebook's advisory board upheld the company's decision to ban Trump after the insurrection. No end date on it, so it's still temporary, but they've upheld it. Do you think that was the right move or not?
HUTCHINSON: No, I don't think that was the right move there. There are just something fundamentally unfair about a former president being banned from social media post. I don't like corporate America being the guardian of what's right and wrong to post there.
I know they have to make judgments about terrorist and criminal activity. They have to make those judgments. But this does not seem right to me. I don't believe it seems right to the American public. And so I probably would be on the bad end of some of his tweets if
he's put back on there.
HUTCHINSON: But I think that's just the price of democracy and I think they made a mistake by denying him that access.
BURNETT: So Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was asked about Cheney today and he has defended her in the past. But he dodged the question. Here's some of what he said, Governor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): One percent of my focus is on standing up to this administration. What we have in the United States Senate is total unity from Susan Collins and Ted Cruz in opposition to what the new Biden administration is trying to do to this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, I know, Governor, from where you sit as the Governor of a state, that's your point of view, that you want to focus on the policy. But from the perspective of the Minority Leader in the Senate, we're talking about leadership and Liz Cheney and her role in leadership. Should he have defended her? Would you have, as you have, of course, here on this program tonight?
HUTCHINSON: Well, I thought his comments were right on. I mean, he's the Senate leader. You try to stay out of House leadership disputes and that's what this is. It's the Republican caucus choosing who they want to represent themselves.
So I applaud him and that's exactly the message. Let's pivot from some of the internal squabbling and disputes that we have. Focus on President Biden. Focus on our disagreements on policy and there are some areas we could work together with him, so it doesn't have to be all negative but there are important issues facing our country for foreign policy to the infrastructure and I applaud him for recognizing that. We don't need to get into that debate.
I'm here today, because I do believe that this is important for our party, not to ostracize somebody because of one vote and I think that's going to be poorly received. But we've got to move beyond together and hopefully we can do it.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time, Governor.
HUTCHINSON: Thank you, Erin. Good to be with you.
BURNETT: All right. And I want to go now to Jamie Gangel, our Special Correspondent who has been breaking so much of this story on Liz Cheney. So you get the Governor, he thinks it's wrong and made it clear, loud and clear, but obviously not going to criticize Mitch McConnell or anyone else for not taking the stand that Gov. Hutchinson was willing to do. What does this mean for the GOP?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I just want to address one thing that the Governor said. He kept talking about this is one vote that she's being ostracized for. That's not what this is about.
The litmus test here is about telling the truth and the litmus test here is about democracy. And I think what we have seen and what we're going to see next week when it looks like Liz Cheney will be removed is that Donald Trump is back. Maybe he never went away. But this is not Kevin McCarthy doing this. He carried out the orders, because Donald Trump wanted him to do this.
I will say this, the op-ed today, I think, made very clear that Liz Cheney is not going away. This is just the opening salvo.
BURNETT: Yes. I mean, she is clearly and not doing so quietly.
BURNETT: And you have covered her for a long time. So in that op-ed that you're talking about, Jamie, she specifically mentioned the Justice Department investigation and the January 6th commission and specifically says that they should not be interfered with. So in the midst of an op-ed about all of this, she made this very specific point, why do you think she felt the need to do that?
GANGEL: So I think there are two things here. The Governor also talked about criminal activity on Facebook. It has been very clear that there was criminal activity on January 6th. And as she says in her op-ed that there are courts that believe that Donald Trump is continuing to provoke criminal activity by perpetuating the big lie.
Kevin McCarthy does not want a January 6th commission and he does not want a Justice Department investigation, because he is likely to be called as a witness. He was talking to Donald Trump for weeks after the election. He had that famous phone call with him on January 6th.
I think there is great concern from Kevin McCarthy and maybe some other members of Congress, that they are going to have to testify under oath about conversations with Donald Trump that they don't want to testify to that will speak to Trump's mindset and whether or not he has some responsibility for January 6th. ' BURNETT: It's amazing to me as to why they wouldn't want to just say the truth on that, given how core it is. That in and of itself, I think, is one of the most significant implications of what you just reported. All right. Jamie, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
GANGEL: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, the variant first detected in India circulating in the United States as experts warn another COVID surge is possible in this country. The Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is next.
Plus, what were once blogs and chat rooms about parenting have now become a hotbed of conspiracy theories about the COVID vaccine?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One woman, this is a case that they had, where she got herself that shot and was nursing her six-month-old and the baby died.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Of course, that's not true. It didn't happen because of the shot, but the damage could already be done.
And the Pentagon now tracking Chinese rocket that is out of control and barreling back towards Earth.
BURNETT: New tonight 'anything is possible'. CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, refusing to rule out a winter surge of coronavirus when asked about one of the nation's top vaccine experts, Dr. Paul Offit, who was warning it could happen if the United States does not hit 80 percent herd immunity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: I think we have to be humble but with this virus. I think we have variants ahead of us. We have not full immunity in this population yet. So I think anything is possible, which is why I think we should focus on getting people protected and vaccinated now to do as much as we can to prevent death from happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now the U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy. And Dr. Murthy, I really appreciate your time. You just heard Dr. Walensky. She also called in that same appearance variants a 'wild card' and said that we are not out of the woods yet. Those are her words. How worried are you tonight about another surge this winter or sooner is inevitable?
VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, Erin, I think let's just look at the broader picture. I think we are doing a really good job in vaccinating people in our country and that is going to be the key to protecting us from a potential surge down the line.
The longer we allow coronavirus cases to continue to develop at a high level, the longer we allow other countries in the world to have unchecked spread of this virus, the more we will have variants that will develop and there was always a chance that some of those variants may not be as sensitive, if you will, to our vaccines.
But the good news right now, Erin, is that the primary variants that are circulating in the United States are sensitive to the vaccines that we are delivering here. And that's why the message is consistent from all of us, which is get vaccinated as soon as you can and then turn around and talk to your family and friends and make sure that they have a plan to get vaccinated. That's how we're going to turn this pandemic around.
BURNETT: So as you talk about variants, the CDC today identified the coronavirus variant first detected in India now circulating in the U.S. as a variant of interest. And I know this is deeply personal for you, Surgeon General, you've lost five family members to COVID as well as two here and I mean what incredible loss. I'm so sorry, it's hard to comprehend.
And I know we're so grateful here in the United States for the health care system that we do have, for the progress that we have with vaccines, but we remember how dark things felt here in the U.S. last spring. Do you fear that the variant in India or somewhere else on that variant and I know there is some concern about its transmissibility, its lethality, that a variant really could come along that could put the U.S. back in those dark days?
MURTHY: Well, Erin, we certainly hope that won't be the case. But it is always a possibility and that we have to be mindful of. And I'm cautiously optimistic that we will do well in this country, especially if we keep up our efforts at the vaccination campaign.
But look, what's happening in India is a tragedy. And India has two challenges or has many challenges, but in terms of their variants, it has to B117 variant, which is the predominant one circulating here, which we know is at least 50 percent or more contagious than the variant we were dealing with last year in the United States.
So that is probably contributing to spread and the 617 variant, which is the other variant that seems to potentially have arisen in India, this variant may be more transmissible or it may not be. We don't know yet. We're still trying to understand.
But this is why it's so important to get these viruses under control, because viruses mutate. It's just what they do. But they can't mutate, if they're not spreading, if they're not replicating within people. That's why we got to work hard. But just remember, this is not an effort that one person can take care of on their own or one country on their own.
If COVID has taught us anything, Erin, it's that we need each other to get through this pandemic. And as a world, we need each other in terms of countries to step up to help make sure that the world has an adequate supply of vaccine to ensure people have treatments available, supply of PPE because the threat of COVID in any part of the world is ultimately a threat to every country.
BURNETT: Right. Right. Especially if you're talking about as variants develop, right? If something develops far away that evades the vaccines, then that affects the whole planet. So, Doctor, I know you have two young children, I have young children as well. And I know that you and me and many other parents across this country want their kids' lives to be a little bit more normal, whether that means summer camp or other things.
The CDC guidelines now for summer camps include social distancing and wearing masks, except for when eating and swimming. But, obviously, we now know the overwhelming majority of infections occur indoors, children don't get very sick from this. Are these rules just too strict?
MURTHY: Well, Erin, it's a good question that I know a lot of parents are wondering. Like you, I've got two small kids. They're three and four. They desperately want to go back to seeing their friends again and living life the way they did before the pandemic began.
And I think what the CDC has been helping us to do is a science-based organization. They're taking a hard look at the science as it evolves and they're trying to make evidence-based recommendations. And here's one thing that is clear, the more people we get vaccinated, the more we'll be able to relax some of these restrictions and get back to our way of life.
We've already seen progress in the last few months and if we hit the goal that the President laid out is 70 percent of adults by July 4th, I think that we will get there as well.
But, Erin, let me say one last thing here on a personal - this has affected, certainly, my family and many of our families in big ways. I have lost seven relatives, relatives here in the United States, family members in India. But when I think about why my parents came to this country more than four decades ago, they came because they were drawn by the values of America and they believe that this is a country that lead based on its values.
And the news that we received today that the president has decided that we are going to waive patent protections and -- you know, around COVID-19 vaccines, to pave the way for producing the supply that the world needs.
To me, this was a value statement. It was -- it was a statement that put people over patents. It was about leading in the world and helping producing what the world need at a time of unprecedented crisis.
That's a country that my parents dreamt of before they moved into the United States, the country I feel blessed to be able to serve as surgeon general.
And if we stick together, if we work together, if we help work and collaborate with countries around the world, I do believe we will turn this pandemic around.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Before we go, Doctor, just one more thing I want to play something that -- you know, we're getting ready for speaking to you tonight saw this. It brought a smile to my face. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MURTHY: If you receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or if a family member of yours received a vaccine, your likelihood of developing blood clots or especially these dangerous blood clots is extremely rare.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Murthy, something keeps popping up on your screen. We want to viewers to know, we see it too. We don't know what the hell it is.
Everything is safe? Everything is good? But there's something -- it looks like a dog or something popping up around. All is good.
MURTHY: I'll show you. It's my little boy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Just for everyone to understand, right, what comes first in your life.
It did make me curious, right, as you're sitting here as surgeon general the United States of America, what is it been like to deal with moments like that, with your family responsibilities during all this?
MURTHY: Well, Erin, that moment actually happens quite often. My son just sits on my lap often during meetings with many folks in government, in the private sector, just hanging out in my lap.
But you know what it reminds me of -- I feel, first of all, just so blessed to be a parent, to have these two beautiful children. And they remind me each and every day of what truly matters, which is our relationships with one another.
Yes, I'm surgeon general, but I'm first and foremost a father. And I take my responsibility to those children, you know, very, very seriously.
And I think that this is one of those moments where parents cross the country have had to struggle to figure how to balance work with taking care of your kids and try to get them to learn home, through virtual environment that is -- that is strange, and not always easy to navigate. And I think we have to make it easier, Erin, for people to integrate their work lives and their home lives.
I don't think it should be -- you know, a source of embarrassment to people if their child wants to join a Zoom call, or if they are -- if they need to sort of be taking care of their kid at some point during the day because that's what your family needs.
You know, the question, Erin, fundamentally for me is what do we build our lives around? Do we choose to build our lives around other people's priority? Or do we choose to build our lives around the people who matter to us?
I want to build my life around the people I love and the people I care about. I think if all of us were able to do that, and to be clear, I've got to work to do on that front. But I think if all of us build our lies around the people we care about --
MURTHY: -- I think we would be more happy, more fulfilled. And that's ultimately what matters.
BURNETT: All right. Truly words of wisdom. Thanks so much, I really appreciate your time, Doctor.
MURTHY: Thanks so much, Erin. Great to see you.
BURNETT: All right.
And next, an alarming look at the COVID misinformation that is taking over websites dedicated to parenting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It says, just got my vaccination card and the card reads, go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) after yourself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, Texas, on the verge of becoming the next state to pass a new voting law with restrictions, one that actually allows partisan poll watchers to record some voters.
BURNETT: Tonight, a group of Republican lawmakers who are also doctors fighting against disinformation about coronavirus vaccines. They released a PSA declaring the vaccines to be safe, as the United States sees a troubling decline in the number of doses administered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN JOYCE (R-PA): Operation Warp Speed brought us safe and effective vaccines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope you'll join me, along with over 100 million Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In choosing to receive the vaccine so we can throw away our masks and live life as free as we did before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: This message comes as one group is being particularly targeted by disinformation, mothers on Facebook. Elle Reeve is OUTFRONT.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whenever there is a discussion in the group of vaccinations wore masks, the vibe is disturbed.
ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, there's a lot of hate, a lot of name- calling.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They'll be like, why are you putting this in your body? No, thanks, I don't want to be a science experiment. They'll tell people, oh, you're stupid for wanting to get it.
REEVE (on camera): One of the front lines of the COVID vaccine misinformation worse is in a weird place, mommy groups on Facebook.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to see?
They're hesitant, there's distrust, generally speaking.
REEVE: Like, what do they say?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're concerned about infertility.
REEVE: Maureen Gornachia (ph) is a doula who runs a Facebook group called Crunchy Moms of Florida. She's had to monitor the group much more closely since COVID-19 hit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It says just got my vaccination card in the card reads, go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) yourself. So that's good.
Rule number one is no vaccine discussion and rule number six is no mask discussions because a lot of misinformation follows these types of things. You want to kind of be someone who's not going to give a platform for any talk that's not factual.
REEVE: Misinformation has been circulating on social media, that the COVID-19 vaccine can hurt women's fertility, by either attacking the placenta or by causing a vaccinated person to shed the virus onto women and somehow affect their periods or pregnancies. There is no evidence of this, and the mRNA vaccines do not contain the virus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unvaccinated women report miscarriages after interaction with vaccinated people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was one woman, this is a case that they had, where she got herself that shot, and was nursing her 6 month old and the baby died.
[19:40:07] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Women in their menstruating years, I'm not, are experiencing severe side effects from people around them, having received this jab.
REEVE: Maureen says those in her group trying to evade bans on anti- vaccine talk use the term "medical freedom".
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is our keyword alert.
REEVE: Wow, medical freedom, medical freedom, medical freedom, wow!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're all within minutes of each other.
DR. LUCKY SEKHON, FERTILITY SPECIALIST, RMA OF NEW YORK: Pregnant women are allowed to get the vaccine, and it is widely being encouraged. I get asked about this every day. You know, all of my patients who were either trying to conceive or they're already pregnant, they want to get the vaccine, they're interested. \
But they have that nagging worry in the back of their mind that this could cause infertility, that this could cause miscarriage, and we just know that this is not true. But unfortunately, it's such a scary thought that it just really stuck.
REEVE: The mRNA vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna do not appear to pose any serious risk during pregnancy, according to preliminary findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine. But the CDC says, pregnant women who get COVID are at an increased risk for severe illness, pre term birth, and maternal death.
SEKHON: I always talk to my patients about the risk benefit calculus, we know that there are real risks if you're pregnant and you get sick with COVID. In my mind, the benefits outweigh the risks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Claims that are made about this activation particularly, do you target women, right? They target women. It's funny because the hesitancy that shown amongst males is more politically-charged. That's what I've seen.
REEVE: We were set to interview multiple women who told us they don't want the vaccine, but they'll bailed. Some saying they feared backlash. That's not an irrational fear. There's a lot of shaming on social media, which public health experts say does not work.
Some of Maureen and Philanie's (ph) friends wouldn't talk on camera. Neither would women CNN spoke to in public parks. Influencers turned us down. So, we went to an outlet mall and found this one woman.
So, are you going to take the COVID vaccine?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the moment, no, because I'm pregnant. But I've heard like a lot of stories about losing babies and stuff.
REEVE: What kind of stories have you heard?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've heard like after the vaccine, they were having like issues with the baby and losing their baby and everything.
REEVE: And where do you get news about that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was an article, I'm not sure where.
REEVE: OK. And then, what has your doctor said about getting the vaccine?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She hasn't said anything. I haven't really asked her about it. Just taking caution right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is completely understandable to be hesitant, I beat back hesitancy with knowledge.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I kind of hope that people will look and see where is this information coming from, where is the backing of this information. Is it something from the CDC? Or is it some quack doctor that who knows where he got his degree from?
REEVE: Is it influential at all though to know that there are other crunchy moms who got it? Does that seem to affect them?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm always getting these questions, all the zoom first that I am not getting the vaccine, that I did not. So, it's kind of hard to tell them. And so, hopefully, me talking today helps some crunchy mom go, ok, all right I want to measles but I guess I get the COVID one, you know?
BURNETT: And, Elle, think it's just such an important report. We just heard the woman who runs a Facebook group for moms that you spoke to there. I thought she was really courageous. I mean, you know, talking about this is all part of a general stress, it goes beyond these vaccines.
You know, what did she tell you about where this comes from? It didn't just come in with the COVID vaccine, right? I came into fertile ground.
REEVE: Yeah, Maureen told us that for most of these women, their skepticism of the healthcare industry began with really negative experiences when they gave birth to their first child. There's a long history of women not feeling respected or listen to by doctors.
And so, these vaccine rumors are powerful because they play on real feelings and real experiences that these women have had, that were very, very painful.
BURNETT: Wow. Well, it's incredible and such an important report, I know she did it in the hopes that she can get one crunchy mom, I hope that many hear this.
Thanks so much, Elle, for your reporting as always. And next, the Texas legislature poised to pass legislation, one that
bans drive-through voting and limits extended early voting hours. Can Democrats stop it?
Plus, the city of Atlanta, bracing for potential protests after the officer charged with killing Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy's parking lot is reinstated.
BURNETT: Tonight, Texas poised to be the next state to pass sweeping voting legislation as lawmakers there debate two controversial bills that include restrictive measures, like this -- allowing partisan poll watchers to videotape people receiving assistance to vote and making it a state felony for election officials to send mail-in ballot applications to voters unsolicited, so they can't just give people the option to vote that way. Also bans drive-through voting and limits extended early voting hours.
The Republican-controlled House could vote as soon as tomorrow to advance the legislation, even as the powerful group of corporations that includes American Airlines, and Microsoft have come out in opposition to the bills.
OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman Colin Allred of Texas. He was a voting rights lawyer before being elected to Congress.
And, Congressman, I really appreciate your time.
So, there are two bills in play. One of them expected to advance in the House tomorrow in Texas. The governor has made it clear, Governor Abbott, he supports the measures. You're not going to have any problem there.
Is there anything that can stop this from happening at this point?
REP. COLIN ALLRED (D-TX): Well, it doesn't look like it, Erin. We'll probably have to challenge these laws in court and I think there will be ample grounds for challenging. I mean, you mentioned some of the things that are in these bills.
It's also just opening up the use of poll watchers for intimidation that I think is really one of the most egregious aspects of this. So, you mentioned allowing poll watchers to film voters in polling places. You also can't throw the poll watchers out under these laws.
And we've already seen some officials saying that they need to go into minority neighborhoods, to have the courage to go into those neighborhoods to, quote, stop the fraud that's occurring there. So we know they're planning on practicing intimidation. We can't allow that to happen.
BURNETT: The poll watching thing is really, really hard to comprehend here.
It also, as I said, you know, you got restrictions from early voting hours. You can't just send unsolicited mail-in ballots. There's a lot of things in there.
There are some things, though, that seem, at the face, to make a lot of sense -- requiring more counties to provide additional hours of early voting in many counties, requiring all counties use voting machines that produced an auditable paper record of ballots, creating an online tool allowing voters to track their absentee or mail-in ballot, which is done in 44 states and Texas would add to that list.
I mean, do you think those are all good things? I mean, do you concede there is some good in the bill?
ALLRED: This is a common practice among Texas Republicans to try and combine some things that may be necessary, clearly policies that are intended to make it harder to vote and then to wrap it all up and say it is about the integrity of our elections, and that's clearly not what's happening here.
This isn't about the national effort that we are seeing across the country to support the big lie really and to try and make it harder to vote and support Donald Trump's claims that the election was stolen. We had a successful election in Texas in 2020.
Over million 11 million Texans voted. That was record turnout for us. And you know, guess what? Republicans still won and I wish they would be confident in that and allow Texans to cast their ballots and just see where the chips fall.
BURNETT: So, Texas Democratic lawmakers have written a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland saying Texas House Republicans have violated rules by pushing these bills to the legislature without adequate debate. The letter says, quote: We ask that you review the facts, and if it's deemed appropriate, the Civil Rights Division monitor the proceedings in the House Elections Committee and Texas House for the remainder of session.
So, I ask you this because, you know, you mentioned that this -- there probably is nothing you could do legislatively, that this would have to go to the legal route. But given your background as a voting rights lawyer, do you think the Justice Department should get involved in this?
ALLRED: Well, I think they're going to have to take a good look at it. And I think that lawsuits take time, and that's the problem we've seen for decades here in Texas, with these restrictions that have been passed, is that it takes time, and it has to go through the appeals process. We have a circuit that's been pretty hostile to voting here, so even if you get a good ruling at the district court level, you never know what's going to happen.
You know, Erin, this is why we need to have a national standard around elections and why I've been such a big advocate for HR-1, the For the People Act, trying to set national standards for vote by mail, for early voting, also to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to fix what happened to the Voting Rights Act at the Supreme Court when they cut down part of it.
We need to have national standards so that our democracy isn't radically different from one state to another. What's happening in Texas, what's happening in Georgia is unacceptable in a democracy like ours.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Congressman, I really appreciate your time. And, by the way, congratulations on the arrival of your little 5-week- old.
Our viewers should know, you told me, when am I hear your kids, and I was kind of hoping we would, but all has been quiet on the Allred front.
ALLRED: This time.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time.
ALLRED: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, an officer was fired and charged in the deadly shooting of Rayshard brooks last summer. You remember the story. But now, he has been re-hired. Brought back. Why?
BURNETT: Tonight, the Atlanta police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks will be reinstated after a board ruled he was wrongfully fired. A warning, some of the video in the case is disturbing.
Investigators say Officer Garrett Rolfe fired multiple shots at Brooks in a Wendy's parking lot last June and Brooks took another officer's Taser and fired it at them.
Ryan Young is OUTFRONT.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It started with an officer responded to a call about a man sleeping in a car in the drive-through at a Wendy's in Atlanta. The officers body camera and dash cam video show them talking to Rayshard Brooks from more than 20 minutes after which authorities say Brooks failed a sobriety test. One of the officers tried to arrest him, and things escalated.
POLICE OFFICER: I think you've had too much to drink to be drinking. Put your hands behind your back for me.
YOUNG: The footage shows a struggle. Brooks grabbing one of the officers' Tasers, and firing at a he's runs away. That's when Officer Garrett Rolfe opens fire, two shots hit Brooks, killing him. In the wake of the shooting, two weeks after the death of George
Floyd, there are days of violent unrest in Atlanta, including the arson of Wendy's where Brooks was shot. Atlanta's mayor used her executive authority to call for the officer to be fired the day after the shooting.
MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GA: I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer.
YOUNG: The mayor also tried to comfort Brooks' family.
BOTTOMS: I do hope that you will find some comfort in the swift actions that have been taken today.
YOUNG: But that swift firing which led to turmoil in the police department resulting in mass call-outs of officers at the center of Rolfe's fight to get his job back.
During a hearing last week, his attorney Lance LoRusso pled his case.
LANCE LORUSSO, ATTORNEY FOR GARRETT ROLFE: We are here challenging the gross violation of the ordinances, policies, and due process that were committed by the city of Atlanta.
YOUNG: This morning, the city's Civil Service Board announced they had voted to reinstate the officer based on the procedural issues during his firing. LoRusso told CNN after the decision he and his client, are very excited with the outcome and hope to get Rolfe back to work soon.
But the city police department says the 27 year old will be on administrative leave as he faces 11 charges, including felony murder. That case, though, remains in limbo as the newly elected Fulton County D.A. believes that it would be improper for her to try the case, leading to more frustration for the Brooks family.
JUSTIN MILLER, ATTORNEY FOR THE FAMILY OF RAYSHARD BROOKS: It appears Rayshard Brooks life didn't really matter. And that the world has moved on. But clearly that's not the case. You know, all people want is for this officer to go through the proper court proceedings.
YOUNG: Mayor Bottoms tonight defending her decision to fire Rolfe, saying: Had the immediate action not been taken, I firmly believe that the public safety crisis we experience during that time would have been significantly worse.
YOUNG: Erin, you think about the fallout from this case, dozens of officers left the police force after this decision, and you can see behind me, Rayshard's name still remains outside where the Wendy's used to be. Of course, it had to be torn down, but when you think about the turmoil that was here, just think about an 8-year-old girl was also shot during the protests.
A lot of people asking questions about what's next. They want to know what's going to happen in this case moving forward. Still a lot of questions -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Ryan, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
And thanks to all of you.
Anderson starts now.