Return to Transcripts main page

Erin Burnett Outfront

Dr. Fauci Says Americans Should Take Advice from CDC and FDA, Not Pfizer After Confusion Over Need for COVID Booster; Data Shows Low Vaccination Rates in States Trump Won; New Jan. 6 Riot Footage Shows Officers Being Dragged; Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) Discusses About Proceeding with the Hearing of January 6 Insurrection With or Without the Republicans. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 09, 2021 - 19:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. You can always tweet the show @CNNSITROOM. Have a great weekend.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Dr. Anthony Fauci says listen to the CDC not Pfizer when it comes to vaccines. The principal investigator for Pfizer's COVID vaccine responds here OUTFRONT.

Plus, breaking news, the Justice Department just releasing some of the most graphic video we've seen of the deadly insurrection as the Chairman of the January 6 Select Committee says his group will meet with or without Republicans. Congressman Bennie Thompson is OUTFRONT.

And more breaking news this hour, we are learning new details about what Manhattan prosecutors may be doing to try to get Trump's top money man to flip on him. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, COVID confusion. The nation's top infectious disease expert says listen to the CDC not Pfizer when it comes to needing a vaccine booster. This after Pfizer came out and announced it's applying for emergency FDA authorization for a booster. A booster that Americans would get as early as six months after their second dose. Here's Dr. Fauci moments ago.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Nothing has changed with regard to the CDC's recommendations. So we respect what the pharmaceutical company is doing. But the American public should take their advice from the CDC and the FDA. The CDC and the FDA say if you've been fully vaccinated at this point in time, you do not need a booster shot.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: So look, this is a weird situation. That's not what we're

hearing from Pfizer who's doing the research and actually has the vaccine. Pfizer put out a statement saying that immunity from its vaccine was waning and they specifically cited Israeli health ministry data. Pfizer said and I quote their press release in part, "Vaccine efficacy in preventing both infection and symptomatic disease has declined six months post-vaccination." It's a definitive statement.

So this confusion is coming as the United States, just to be honest, and frank with you is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to the number of COVID cases. If you look at the map of new cases, compared to the prior week, 29 states are seeing an increase which, of course, is more than half the country.

And according to the CDC, the highly contagious Delta variant makes up more than half of all the new infections in the United States. The best protection available from getting seriously sick or worse from the Delta variant is, of course, still a full dosage of a COVID vaccine. And yet about half of the United States is not fully vaccinated and that has the Minority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell stumped.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not vaccinated.


BURNETT: OK. I'm sorry. Let me just tell you that was the wrong sound bite. But what he was going to say was, McConnell, "I'm perplexed by the reluctance of some to get vaccinated, totally perplexed by it." That's what McConnell said.

The point is, though, is why would he be perplexed? Because McConnell has, for sure, heard this like you have, what his Republican colleagues are saying repeatedly.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not vaccinated and until there's some science ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just because the vaccine is generally safe doesn't mean that it's 100 percent safe.


BURNETT: That's what they've said. And on Twitter, of course, you've got people including Congresswoman Lauren Boebert warning, I quote her tweet, "Biden has deployed his Needle Nazis to Mesa County. The people of my district are more than smart enough to make their own decisions about the experimental vaccine and don't need coercion by federal agents."

OK. Well, if you look at the five most significant clusters of unvaccinated Americans, let's ask what do they have in common? So I'll show you on the map. There they are. They are made up almost entirely of states that voted for President Trump.

Now, I wanted to break it down for you this way, because these numbers may just by accident be the same, but it's a pretty powerful point. Let's just take Vermont. Biden won Vermont with 66 percent of the vote. As of tonight, 66 percent of Vermont's state population is now fully vaccinated. Let's go to the other side of the country and let's look at Oregon. Biden one Oregon with 56 percent of the vote. The percentage of fully vaccinated Oregon tonight is 55 percent.

Now, let's flip the tables here. State's Trump one. I want to start with Tennessee, 61 percent of the voters in Tennessee voted for Trump. The percentage of people not vaccinated in Tennessee 62 percent basically identical.

The White House is dealing with a politicization of vaccines and now confusion over the science and that's a problem. Confusion over the science of this question of booster shot and what fully vaccinated even means.


Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT. He is live outside the White House.

So Jeff, what does the administration think of this release from Pfizer and I do want to emphasize Pfizer is the company with BioNTech that developed the vaccine and has done the studies and has all the data.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORREPONDENT: Look, Erin, I mean, the White House has worked very carefully with Pfizer. How many times have we seen President Biden with leaders of the Pfizer company in the plants in Michigan and elsewhere, but yet the White House was caught off guard by this announcement last evening. And Dr. Fauci said it earlier tonight on CNN that he received a call of an apology last night from the Pfizer CEO not apologizing for saying need a booster but apologizing for not giving officials a heads up.

So you can understand why there is a lot of confusion here. The White House still very careful to not show any anger toward Pfizer, very careful to say, look, they're a private company. They can do what they want. Never mind the fact though that the U.S. government is paying good money, a lot of money for all of these shots and has given a couple of billion dollars to Pfizer for these shots.

So simply the last 24 hours have been problematic enough, watching the variant, really trying to make the case to get more people vaccinated, so this threw a bit of a wrench in that. But, again, the White House, Erin, I can tell you, they took really careful pains to not try and make this a big deal with Dr. Fauci saying, look, it's not a mixed message. Follow the CDC and the FDA.

But it's hard to imagine this can't be confusing, especially to the people who are still trying to decide if they should get this vaccine, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much. I mean, they can say what they want to say, but it is confusing, and people do care and it matters. So, let's try to understand a little bit more what's going on here.

Dr. Stephen Thomas is with me. He is the coordinating principal investigator for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine trial. And Doctor, I really appreciate your time.

So there's so much to ask you to try to understand this a little bit more. Dr. Fauci, I understand they're being polite and everything, but they're making it clear the American public should be listening to the CDC and the FDA and they're saying something different than Pfizer. So don't listen to Pfizer, listen to us that you don't need a booster.

So can you just walk us through the research, the data that you've seen, to explain why you've come to the conclusion to seek this emergency authorization approval?

DR. STEPHEN THOMAS, PFIZER INVESTIGATOR FOR COVID-19 VACCINE: Yes. So first of all, thanks for having me. Second of all, just a point of clarification, so I'm not an employee of Pfizer, I'm an academic and a collaborator of Pfizer in the trial.

In terms of the science, so I think what Pfizer is looking at is they're looking at the real-world experience from Israel. They're looking at the immune responses that they have seen over time remote from that primary immunization series, which is two doses. And they're trying to do what vaccine and drug developers do, which is to try to be very forward leaning to try to anticipate what issues may exist and to have the data and the information available if that circumstance were to arise. The circumstance being that immunity has gone below the level that is required to protect somebody.

I would say that I don't think that there's necessarily confusion about the science and this is one of the great things about science. The data is the data and what is going to happen is Pfizer is going to have to give that data to the FDA. The FDA is going to have objective and external advisors who are going to look at that data, give them their advice.

And in the end, the FDA, the regulators, they make the rules and they're going to determine how and when the vaccine doses are used.

BURNETT: OK. So, I totally understand what you're saying and I'm not asking you to weigh into the politics. But Dr. Fauci is saying the CDC and the FDA say if you've been fully vaccinated at this point in time, you do not need a booster shot. Pfizer obviously has data that indicates to Pfizer otherwise.

It's problematic. It sends a signal that the science is confusing, and I think that that's troubling and that may be a messaging issue on the part of government. I mean, do you think that when they see this information, they're going to go, oh, wait a minute, guess what? Yes, Pfizer is right.

THOMAS: For those of us that have been making vaccines for a long time, it is not unusual for immune responses after vaccination to wane over time. What is the crucial point, though, and which we don't know the answer to right now is even though that immunity wanes over time, does it remain above a level which we need to protect people?

And again, I would just kind of focus people on the point here, the public health burden of COVID is severe disease, hospitalization and death. And even though these vaccine immune responses wane over time, they're still very, very effective at preventing those three outcomes.


BURNETT: So, Dr. Thomas, I want to ask you something because obviously the mRNA technology is new and in part because of investments by people like the Gates Foundation. It has accelerated. There's no way we would have this if it weren't for things like that.

So, when you look at this and where we are when you're looking at meeting the possibility of more boosters, is it the vaccine or the variant? In other words, is it this possibility that this mRNA technology just definitionally is going to keep requiring this or is it that the vaccine, I'm sorry, that the variants are learning to evade the vaccine?

THOMAS: Well, it's vaccines in general. So, it's not just Messenger RNA technology, which has been around for about 30 years and has actually been in other vaccine clinical trials over the last decade or so. It's just that's what vaccines in general do, their immunity wanes over time. I mean, this is why we need boosters for tetanus, for example. It's just it's the way vaccine, all vaccine technologies work at some point.

BURNETT: Yes. But this is a really short period of time that six months is a lot shorter than a lot of those other cases.

THOMAS: Oh, that's true. But I definitely would not put this on Messenger RNA technology or adenovirus technology or killed vaccine technology.

I do think your point about the variance is true. I mean, we have seen with all the different variants that as they pick up these mutations in the spike protein, they seem to be more efficient at evading the immune response that people have either because they've been naturally infected or because they have been vaccinated.

This is why it is a race. It is a race to get people vaccinated versus the ability of these mutations and the ability of the variants to spread.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Dr. Thomas, I appreciate your time. And thank you very much for explaining the data as much as you could. Thank you.

THOMAS: Thank you.

BURNETT: And as we just mentioned in that conversation, there is a divide in this country as to who is getting vaccinated and who isn't. Just remember the example that I shared with you at the beginning of the program, Vermont, where 66 percent of residents are fully vaccinated, and that happens to be the exact same percentage of residents who voted for President Biden. The reverse holding true as well, remember Tennessee 61 percent voted for Trump, 62 percent are not vaccinated.

OUTFRONT now Elizabeth Greenaway. She's a Republican and she was a vaccine skeptic, but she did her research. She changed her mind and she's been fully vaccinated. So, Elizabeth, I'm glad to talk to you again. And I know that you have really spoken out to try to help others to see the science here and to get vaccine vaccinated. Are you at all surprised that the vaccination in this country seems to be stuck right now that people in Trump states aren't getting it, people in Biden states are?

ELIZABETH GREENAWAY, FORMER VACCINE SKEPTIC: Erin, I just want to say thank you for having me on again. And the answer is I'm not surprised. Unfortunately, the way that I sort of see it from my perspective is that the vaccines have essentially become an extension of the mask debate. So, where we started to see initially, the divide in the country right down the political aisle for whether or not you're going to mask, if you were going to follow the recommendations or the rules, in some cases, when we had lockdowns or you were not going to, we saw a political divide there as well. And I feel like vaccines are just the next step in protection and unfortunately, the political divide has followed right on through.

BURNETT: Have you had any second thoughts, Elizabeth, about your decision to get vaccinated?

GREENAWAY: I haven't. I have the information about the myocarditis came out after I was fully vaccinated and I did get the Pfizer shot, so that was something that came up. But again, I wasn't too alarmed, because if you do the research, I have mentioned many times, Dr. Paul Offit, at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, he has a really great video where he shares this fact that all vaccines have had these rare but real side effects and so some of that is to be anticipated.

But in all cases throughout history, those long term effects appear within six weeks. And so I may not have my numbers exactly right, but we're more than 26 weeks past that. And I believe we have more than 156 million people vaccinated so that seems to speak volumes to me.

BURNETT: It certainly does and as you say, data and science. Elizabeth, I know you've had conversations with other vaccine skeptics and you've tried to speak to people about this.


In the context of what we're talking about with a moment ago with the person leading a lot of the research collaborating with Pfizer, do you think the mixed messaging that we're getting right now, the seemingly contradictory information from the CDC and the FDA versus Pfizer will have any impact on vaccine skeptics you know or not?

GREENAWAY: Yes, I do. It's a problem. And I'm actually a marketing and communications consultant. That's what I do for a living. And so from the beginning, the mixed messaging has been a problem and I don't think it's anyone's fault. It's just that, unfortunately, we're watching science in real time, both with vaccines and with the virus.

And so being able to communicate messages, there has to be an understanding from the public that things are going to change. And the public just doesn't - perception is reality and so unfortunately at the end of the day, when you have conflicting, you have two different sides saying two different things at this point, the perception is, nobody knows what they're talking about. I mean, candidly, that's what it is. Well, nobody knows.

And so that doesn't hurt for the skeptics who are thinking, well, they don't even know how many doses I need. And they don't know when I'm going to need the next one and so how do they know, what do they know. And, obviously, I don't feel that way, but I can certainly understand and know of others that do and so that is a problem.

And no vaccine is a hundred percent. I noticed earlier in the show you had played a clip by someone who had said about vaccines being a hundred percent. Well, no vaccine is 100 percent. There's always going to be some side effects. There's always going to be a chance, a risk and we're finding out what that is and now it's just sort of a race.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Elizabeth, I really appreciate your time. Thank you for coming back on. I'm glad to speak to you.

GREENAWAY: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. And next, we have graphic new video just released by the Justice Department tonight. It shows an officer on January 6th being dragged and attacked while trying to save the life of a rioter.

Plus, CNN learning how New York prosecutors could get Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg to flip on Donald Trump at this point. We have new details about their strategy.

And a new federal warning tonight that Trump's talk of getting reinstated as president could feel more violence as Trump loyalists gather in Dallas at this hour to talk about election fraud.



BURNETT: Breaking news, the Justice Department just releasing new body camera footage showing some of the most disturbing images we have seen from the deadly insurrection. Video showing D.C. police officers being attacked with crutches, flagpoles and fists after going into the crowd to try and help a pro-Trump rider who is trampled. I'll warn you that the video which I'm about to show you is graphic and disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Seconds later the mob ignores an officer's pleas for help and

drags him into the crowd.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fuck you. Fucking traitor. (Inaudible) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let him go. Hey, no. (Inaudible) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...


BURNETT: That officer was hospitalized after the attack, needing staples in his head to stop the bleeding.

OUTFRONT now Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson. He's was the chair of the House Select Committee investigating January 6. And Chair Thompson, obviously, it's really disturbing to hear that to even read those words. But this is exactly why, why you want to know what happened and what you want to look at for this committee. I know you've announced that you'd like to hold your first hearing soon, July 21st or July 22nd with or without the Republicans that Minority Leader McCarthy can still pick to join your committee. Do you think you'll have to proceed without those Republicans?

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Well, we are prepared, Erin, to move forward. We hope to have a fully populated committee. But under the rules, we have a quorum of the committee and we'll go forward. Our first hearing will be from the rank and file of Capitol Police, some who you saw in the opening video there.

Nobody's had a chance to talk to those individuals and we think it makes a good statement for the committee to start off, making sure that those individuals put their lives on the line to protect all of us that day, that they are appreciated and we need to hear from them.

BURNETT: Well, I think that's crucial and we do want to hear from them. All of them. And each of these videos as disturbing as they are is showing horrible events and horrible things that happen, even in the context of knowing that this was a horrible event we didn't know about. And yet this committee, obviously, even though McCarthy went to Pelosi with his full list of everything he wanted about a Select Committee all have it was (inaudible) yes to and yet still wasn't on board. Here's his latest criticism about your Select Committee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): This is the least bipartisan committee you

can find. Think about the structure. There's not an equal number of Republicans or Democrats. She appointed Adam Schiff and Raskin. This is a impeachment committee. Only Democrats have subpoena power. The speaker has control over anyone who is appointed.


BURNETT: I mean, again, I just want to emphasize for anyone watching that McCarthy did oppose a bipartisan commission with equal representation, completely opposed to that. So this is what Pelosi did in lieu of what McCarthy said he wanted.

But now you're in a tough spot, Congressman.


I mean, if you move ahead without Republicans at all, does it help fuel McCarthy's narrative that the panel is political?

THOMPSON: Well, it fuels the fact that McCarthy didn't do his job. As you know, I negotiated the other agreement that McCarthy wanted done. We accepted everything he put on the table and at the last minute he opposed it.

So Speaker Pelosi and the leadership on the Democratic side, we're left with no choice. We can't walk away from what happened on January 6th. We have to make sure that it never happens again. So whether McCarthy comes forward or not, the committee has a quorum. We've had two meetings. We've decided to have hearings and other things necessary.

We have to protect the Capitol. We have to protect the workers. We have to protect the members of Congress and everyone who utilizes that facility. So it's important for us to go forward. So we would hope to have McCarthy's nominations, but he's proven not to be trustworthy in the negotiations.

So I think the speaker is correct to have the final approval on who goes on the committee. We will produce a product. Our challenge is to look at the circumstances and facts surrounding January 6th. It won't be a sideshow. It will be a deliberative effort for this committee to get to the facts. We'll hire the best professional staff that we can find to help us figure out for the sake of this country of what went wrong and then recommend the fixes necessary so that it will never happen again.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Chair Thompson, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

THOMPSON: Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: All right, sir. And next, cooperate or everything you know, everyone you love is on the line. We're getting breaking details right now about what prosecutors are doing to try to flip Trump's CFO Allen Weisselberg. Will it be enough? Plus, the billionaire space race about to get real. Richard Branson is

taking off in less than 48 hours. Is beating Jeff Bezos to space worth the risks?



BURNETT: OUTFRONT tonight, CNN learning new details about what the prosecutors are likely doing to get a key witness, Trump's CFO Allen Weisselberg, to flip. It boils down to this: cooperate or everyone you love in the world is fair game. Fifteen count indictment references a Mercedes, an apartment given to Weisselberg's family members, all part of a not subtle strategy to get Weisselberg, the most influential person outside of the Trump family and the top echelon of the Trump Org, to turn on Donald J. Trump himself.

Kara Scannell is OUTFRONT. She's breaking this all the way through.

So, Kara, I know you've got new details this hour. So, what more can you tell me about the Manhattan district attorney? They're actually doing to get Weisselberg who has so far been not in anyway indicating he'll cooperate, to cooperate, to flip in their investigation?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Erin, one source tells CNN that before Allen Weisselberg was indicted, prosecutors dangled the idea that his son Barry was, an employee of the Trump Organization, might himself have some legal exposure, that's because Barry and his then wife Jennifer Weisselberg, lived at some Trump-owned properties that were referenced in the indictment for either no rent or at a discounted rate. An indictment against Allen Weisselberg, prosecutors alleged the value of the lodging should have constituted income to that family member.

Now, Allen Weisselberg did not cooperate. He was indicted. His son Barry was not charged with any wrongdoing, but this is a tactic that prosecutors use where they try to leverage the relationships, either his son Barry or Allen Weisselberg's wife, who also would have signed joint tax returns.

Now, in order to bring charges against the prosecutors, they would have to establish that they understood this financial arrangement, that they knew that taxes should have been paid. So, it's not an easy lift. But attorneys that my colleague Erica Orden and I spoke with, said this is a common tactic, that this is an indictment in a way to send a message to Weisselberg that these charges are serious. They have evidence and that he should consider cooperating.

One lawyer said it should not be lost on Weisselberg or his lawyers that family members could get dragged into this even as potential witnesses. Now, Weisselberg has not been cooperating. He pleaded not guilty and his lawyer says that he will fight these charges in court, and so far the Trump Organization and Weisselberg are very much aligned after the charges were announced last week. The Trump Organization said that Weisselberg was a pawn, and Donald Trump himself told "The New York Times" of Weisselberg, I'm with him all the way -- Erin.

BURNETT: Kara, all right, thank you very much.

All right. So on the back of Kara's reporting, I want to go straight to John Dean. You know him. He's the former counsel to President Nixon, who, of course, flipped on Nixon and testified against him in the Watergate hearings in Congress.

So, John, I just want to -- you know, obviously, Weisselberg has so far been steadfast in his unwillingness, right, to flip. And Trump has been saying how great he is, to obviously encourage that. You made the decision to testify against your boss back in the day. Do you think this kind of pressure that Kara is reporting on will work or is it not enough?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, my situation was certainly different. I tried to end the cover-up internally and broke rank and had all these different situations. With the situation no, I think the prosecutors in that speaking indictment laid it out very clearly. They have all the evidence. They understand the internal workings of the Trump Organization, and Mr. Weisselberg.

So, his lawyers have got to tell him that he has got some serious jeopardy here. And as the indictment itself talks about other family members who could well be charged, his wife, his children.


So he's got to be doing some serious thinking, whether he will flip or not has much to do with his personality at this point.

BURNETT: So, is it basically a game of chicken? That, you know, at the last minute, if he believes they are going to charge his wife or do something like that, we are talking serious prison time associated with some of these charges, that it's basically a game of chicken?

DEAN: Well, he is 73 years of age. I don't know with his wife's age is, but this is not how they planned their retirement, surely. So, I think they have to do some real soul searching as to whether this is the way they want to end this career they have had. So, I think that you have got to understand, Erin, these prosecutors are professionals at squeezing deals out.

Somewhere between 94 and 95 percent of all state criminal actions are negotiated please. That is what is going on here. I would not be surprised to see them push this a little further to test it.

BURNETT: All right. John Dean, thank you.

And next, a new warning tonight. A Trump's claim that he's returning to the White House could fuel more violence.

Plus, billionaire Richard Branson is just 48 hours from his historic lift off into space. He's going to be using the same model spaceship, though, that was involved in the deadly accident not long ago.



BURNETT: Tonight, the GOP firmly in Trump's grasp, one of the clear takeaways from day one of the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC. It's happening right now in Dallas.


DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: What was Donald Trump right about?

CROWD: Everything!

TRUMP JR.: Everything!

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Our movement will stay true to America first policies created by President Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And in 2024, Trumpism will rise again.


BURNETT: Sara Murray is OUTFRONT live from CPAC in Dallas.

And, Sara, Donald Trump Jr. just finished speaking moments ago. It's clear from what we hear that the big lie is still a lie, still thriving, still growing within the Republican Party. What did you hear?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely. You know, we saw Donald Trump Jr. come out and he was sort of trying to offer the normal kind of red meat to the base that we would expect, talking of Second Amendment, slamming cancel culture, criticizing the media.

But the line he got the biggest applause for wasn't even for one of his own lines and his talk here at CPAC. It was someone from the crowd who yelled out "Trump won". And this set off a standing ovation, probably a full minute of applause, you know, cheers about Donald Trump. I think this gives you an idea sort of where this audience is.

And, of course, the former president is slated to speak here on Sunday. We expected between now and then, we're going to hear a lot more about this notion of widespread election fraud that didn't happen, a lot more rearing up the crowd that's clearly very eager to hear from Donald Trump here, we have that moment I think when the woman yelling out from the crowd that Trump won. Take a listen.




(END VIDEO CLIP) MURRAY: That is the kind of enthusiasm, Erin, that we are seeing here from the notion that the former president is somehow still rightfully the president. And I think he'd be very happy to see this kind of crowd awaiting him on Sunday.

BURNETT: So, Sara, it comes as the new filing by the Justice Department is now warning tonight that Trump claims that he'll be reinstated to the White House could fuel violence from his supporters. Trump is going to be speaking where you are on Sunday. Is there any doubt this comes up?

MURRAY: Well, it's always hard to know, right, with on all Trump, what exactly he's going to cover in his list of grievances, it certainly wouldn't be a surprise of this made the list. And it's going to be interesting to see, you know, there are a number of advisers around him. We want to see him talk about something other than re-litigating the last election. It's not the head space the former president doesn't. So, again, if this makes his list of complaints on Sunday, I certainly wouldn't be surprised -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you.

Next, Richard Branson, countdown mode, 48 hours from going where no civilian, no billionaire has gone before, space, on a rocket his own company built. So, what are the real risks here?

Former astronaut who's been up, spacewalks a whole bunch of time is next.

And Valerie Bertinelli tells me why her hit sitcom "One Day At a Time" still resonates today. We're counting down to CNN's new original series "The History of Sitcoms."



BURNETT: Tonight, final preparations are underway to send Richard Branson to space. The billionaire is set to lift off in less than 48 hours, as he attempts to beat Jeff Bezos in the space race. This is a launch Branson hastily announced last week, but he was scheduled to be this Sunday, which is ahead of Bezos', which is later this month.

If he does succeed, Branson will be the first billionaire to travel to space aboard a vehicle he helped fund, and develop.

OUTFRONT now, former NASA astronaut, Mike Massimino.

And, Mike, I mean, this is all in the context of this, you know, incredible moment we're having for space exploration, you know, exploration and technology, in part because of these private companies' involvement. So, while we're going to be watching Richard Branson take off on Sunday morning, but the big question, of course, is how much risk do you think he's taking on?

MIKE MASSIMINO, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT: Thanks for having me on, Erin. I think there, of course, there's always some risk involved when you talk about flying to space, even when it's just suborbital like they'll be going on. I think it's a well tested vehicle. They've had issues before, and it's been a long time in developing this spacecraft and getting it right, successful test flights.

So I think there will be a safest can be. I'm not worried about them at all.

BURNETT: Which is good to hear, and I know you mentioned several, that's one of the differences that will be with basis, who's going up soon.

But, you did mention, they've had issues with this particular space plane model that Branson is using. In 2014, they had a deadly crash with it. That crash was determined to be related to pilot error, and Branson tells us he's not worried. In fact, he said, I'm incredibly excited. I spent 17 years trying not to get excited, basically, until I got the call saying we've ticked every box, we're ready -- we're ready to go.

You know, I know you feel confident, but a lot is riding on this, you know? Anything going wrong would have serious repercussions.

MASSIMINO: You know, you're right. There's always some risk, Erin, and we are always honored percent sure that things will go fine, but they're pretty close to that. As you mentioned, they did have that accident back in 2014. They thought they were going to start flying this way, like they're doing on Sunday, in 2015, about a year later.

They had that accident. They lost one of their test pilots, and it has taken them another 7 years to get to the point that they thought they would be a year after that accident. So, it's about a 6-year delay, and I think they have worked out just about everything they needed to. They are ready to go.

So, of course, you can't see without doubt, that everything is going to work perfectly, but I'm really confident, and obviously they are too, or they wouldn't be doing this.

BURNETT: So, you know, you've been up there as I've said multiple times, in the space shuttle. You've done spacewalks, you've got Bezos going soon, you know, to space, and Branson at suborbital obviously being key, but he loves the thrill of risk. He's -- I've got some pictures, and amphibious car that Branson drove across the English channel while he wore a tuxedo.

You know, he loves the theater of it. Repelling from a building while drinking champagne, driving a tank through times square, launching Virgin Cola. You know, what's his experience going to be like for him?

MASSIMINO: Well, I think if he's a thrill seeker, he's in for a big ride. First, I'm not a thrill seeker.


I'm not rappelling down a building unless the elevator is broken. I mean -- I'll take the stairs.

So, I think he's more of a thrill seeker than I am, and maybe than most people are, but I think, in this case, for him, it's going to be a very enjoyable ride, I would imagine, an experience that he hasn't had before, and very few people have had.

And I think it's going to be pure enjoyment for him. So, I think he's going to love it. The ultimate adventure for someone with this type of personality, for sure.

BURNETT: That's for sure. And, of course, we are all watching. We're waiting for him, and, of course, Bezos as well. Because these things of the frontier. Thank you.

And next, Valerie Bertinelli tells me why so many connected to her character, Barbara Cooper, on the sitcom "One Day at a Time".


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, kill me. Well, it's better than laying through the boy shower room like Julie and her friends did.



BURNETT: Tonight, we all lived it. Most of us did. Remember when Ross, and Rachel broke up?






BURNETT: Or maybe this is more of your moment, when Mary Tyler Moore tosses are iconic out in the air, or when Lucy and Ethel stuffed chocolate in their mouths.

One of those probably resonates with you. The new CNN original series, "The History of the Sitcom" takes us behind the scenes and some of our favorite shows, from across the decades.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Television has changed with the times, but it was a lot more comedy than just genie and her master. There's a lot more going on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We demand freely available child care facilities that will give women an alternative to confinement in the home. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an interesting moment because in the real

world, the women's liberation movement is pushing female equality further than its ever been.


BURNETT: It would not be a conversation about iconic sitcoms with Valerie Bertinelli, and she joins me now, and you may know her from "One Day at a Time", or "Hot in Cleveland", or now, her host of "Valerie's Home Cooking" on the Food Network. And she joins me from her lovely set there tonight.

So, Valerie, thank you so much. It has to be interesting when you look at it in the context of an interview like this. Looking back, "One Day at a Time", nine seasons during the '70s, and '80s. Such a crucial part of your life, and so unique at the time. There is no voiced, single mother, raising kids at her own, on the core. Here you are.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Playgirl? Really?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never saw it before!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it certainly isn't mine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay, kill me. It's better than laying through the boys shower room like Julie and her friends did.


BURNETT: So, do you remember that moment? What a precious girl you were.

Why do you think people connected so much with the show, and with you, and your character?

VALERIE BERTINELLI, ACTRESS, "ONE DAY AT A TIME": I am so blessed. I don't even remember that. It's been a long time! I sort of that shows 15, and it ended when I was 24.

I think people just connected because the stories were so familiar. By the time they got to know all of our characters, they wanted to see what our characters were going through, and how they can relate to it. I think that is what, really, holds people to a show.

BURNETT: So many of the issues on one day at a time, still, are there today, right? Just and slightly different ways. But the core issue you refer to is there.

Women, now disproportionately affected by the pandemic, single mothers, especially hit hard, and as you said, you are 15 when the show premiered. You know, I guess, at that age, gosh, all you are doing is like thinking about yourself, or most people are. BERTINELLI: Sure.

BURNETT: Did you have any concept of how groundbreaking some of the ideas where? Some of the themes were, that were in the show?

BERTINELLI: I don't think I realized it in the moment, although, I did see the heft that Bonny would give, and the amount of work she put into ensure it was done correctly. Same with Norman Lear, and all of the producers, and writers of the show. They really wanted to make sure that they got something across. They weren't flippant with it, but they did want to find the humor in it so it was palatable.

So, I think -- I definitely know that "One Day at a Time" was able to accomplish that, mainly because of the people involved. I was there for the ride, and riding on their coattails. I was more than happy to do it.

BURNETT: Well, I know, now, you do this incredible thing with your show, and cooking, and other parts of yourself that you're expanding, and exploring. As you look back, what are some of your favorite sitcoms? And is there a reason that anything, especially, resonates with you?

BERTINELLI: Well, I mean, Mary Tyler Moore. "I Love Lucy", "Friends". I absolutely loved "Friends". It was actually something that Wolfie and I were able to connect on. So, I was able to be with my son, and enjoy something. He can, probably, recite every single episode, and in fact, we watch the reunion special together.

So, I think that's the thing about sitcoms. They bring families together. You sit, you enjoy, you laugh, and you talk about the lines that made you laugh, and you talk about the moment that made you think, and that is the great thing about sitcoms. That they just give you everything you may need in your life at that moment.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Valerie, thank you very much. I know people are going to be so eager to see more and this amazing series. Thank you so much.

BERTINELLI: They'll love it.

BURNETT: Be sure to tune in. The all new CNN original series, "The History of the Sitcom" premieres with back-to-back episodes Sunday, at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific, only on CNN.

Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.