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Erin Burnett Outfront

Biden's Answer To Crime Surge: More Funding, More Police Officers; NYC's Eric Adams Meets With Biden; Trump Intensifies Attacks On Liberals Focused On "Woke" Message; Indicted Trump CFO Weisselberg Removed From Several Key Positions As NY Prosecutors Pressure Him To Flip On Trump; Trump Supporters Echo His Delusional Election & Jan. 6 Claims; Texas House Dems Flee State For D.C. In Effort To Block GOP From Passing Restrictive Voting Bill During Special Session; Biden Has No Plans To Reverse Course On Trump's Cuba Sanctions. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 12, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: May she rest in peace. And as we say, may her memory be a blessing.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, fund the police. Biden tonight going against the progressive wing of his party by calling for more police and more funding. Is he worried about Democrats moving way too far to the left?

Plus, breaking news, Texas House Democrats who are fleeing their state to block a vote on a controversial voting bill are about to arrive in Washington, D.C. I'm going to talk to a lawmaker who's literally on the road right now. What's the plan here or are they just delaying the inevitable vote?

And also breaking this hour, Pfizer briefing the administration on a potential third booster shot for its COVID vaccine after the CDC and the FDA said no boosters needed, Pfizer said one was. That's happening this hour. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight so much for defunding the police. President Biden today says he wants to tackle the spike in crime across the United States with more police officers and more funding for police departments.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our strategy provides including funding for law enforcement through the American rescue plan for state cities and to be able to hire police and pay them overtime in order to advance community policing.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Funding law enforcement, hiring more officers, Biden believes

in that and he thinks that's the winning message. Just look at who he invited to the White House for today's meeting on crime and police reform, former NYPD Captain Eric Adams who just won a crowded primary for New York City Mayor by saying more officers are part of the solution, not the problem.


ERIC ADAMS, (D) NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: We have some amazing officers. We're going to say I have your back.

When I heard her hesitate on the answer, will you take guns away from police officers while we are experiencing uptick in gun violence, 10- year-old children are shot and killed, we're seeing shoot outs on the Upper West Side, assassinations in Park Slope, this is not the way you approach this issue. It sends a wrong message.

BURNETT: Loud and clear. On his campaign website he writes, "If we are for safety, we need the NYPD." And Adams won with that message. A message, frankly, that echoes what we heard from Biden during the campaign.


BIDEN: I believe in law and order. I've never supported defunding the police.


BURNETT: But he may have not supported it but defunding the police is what a whole lot of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party does support and embrace.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): What are you willing to sacrifice to make sure that overfunded police departments are defunded.

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): The Minneapolis Police Department is rotten to the root. And so when we dismantle it, we get rid of that cancer.

REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): I understand that people don't like the slogan, I get that. But I don't like death. I don't like black death. I don't like to keep seeing my people die at the hands of police and nothing is happening.


BURNETT: And of course, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib tweeted, "No more policing, incarceration and militarization. It can't be reformed." After she said policing is inherently and intentionally racist in the United States.

Those calls coincide with a major rise in crime across America. According to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, Chicago has a 37 percent increase in homicides in the first quarter of this year compared to last. Los Angeles, 41 percent, San Jose, California 43 percent and I'll speak to that city's mayor who also met with Biden today in just a moment.

But these statistics are alarming and the big cities of course, are often run by Democrats, which is something Donald Trump loves to point out.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you see the crime wave, even without this you see all in Democrat-run cities. Please remember that. The bloodshed and violence in these cities is reaching epidemic proportions.


BURNETT: It's why Biden is making law and order a priority and the polls frankly are telling the same story. An Axios-Ipsos poll from May showed 70 percent of Americans oppose to 'defund the police movement', 27 percent supported it.

The challenge for Biden, though, is now in his own party. Can he convince the progressives that his message to fund the police, to believe in the police is the right message?

Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live outside the White House. And Kaitlan, it was clear from the meeting today that President Biden knows the calls to defund the police are not what the public is responding to, but it is what the progressive wing of his party is fighting for.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. But it's always been something that he has pushed back on and said he doesn't support and he's actually gone a different route since taking the White House, saying that we need more investments in police.


And that is something that is ramped up lately, as you've also seen crime ramp up lately as you've also seen crime ramp up.

And I was told this room today really is illustrative of what the Biden administration's policy on this is. Because if you look around it, who was invited to this meeting from Eric Adams to several of the other police chiefs, it's not a defund the police kind of crowd. And, of course, Biden is not a defunded police kind of president. He has never shown himself to be that way.

But well, Erin, what we are told is that they do feel a sense of urgency here on the federal response and how communities are going to be responding to this. Because the concern is that the violence, the gun violence is only going to get worse in the coming weeks as the summer drags on and so that was really what was behind part of this meeting today on how to address that, how the federal government can help since legislation on guns does not appear to be going anywhere on Capitol Hill.

But I think the other part of it is also being able to respond to Republicans who are trying to paint Biden as soft on crime and the Democratic Party as soft on crime ahead of the 2022 midterms. And this is somewhere where the White House thinks they can effectively push back on that by saying that is not our interest, that is not our priority here at all. And instead, Biden is encouraging local jurisdictions to use that coronavirus relief money to hire more police officers to pay them overtime.

The balance that he has to strike as a Democratic president is in between people who are angry about police violence and what you've seen happened lately with also people who want to balance it the more moderate wing of the party and how they want to balance that with rising crime rates in the United States. And so that's what you saw today as this bigger week on his domestic agenda is really the focus.

BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you.

And as promised, I want to go now the Mayor of San Jose, California, Sam Liccardo. He is a Democrat and he was inside that meeting with President Biden today.

So Mayor, I appreciate your time. I mentioned the statistics in cities across this country. But let me just again, San Jose, homicide is up 43 percent in the first quarter compared to last year, aggravated assaults up by a third. Look, these numbers are disturbing for you and for everyone, obviously, in your city. Is the White House doing enough right now to help combat crime in major American cities?

MAYOR SAM LICCARDO (D), SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA: Well, it's good to be with you, Erin.

I believe the White House recognizes the need for a more robust partnership between the federal government and local cities. And I think President Biden is demonstrating just how serious he is about that. He spent more than two hours talking with us about how they can be better partners, really much more listening than talking and I'm convinced that he's serious about this.

BURNETT: So you've been very clear, Mayor, that you've rejected calls to defund the police. But obviously the push by some in your party to move in that direction has been very loud and very potent. That tweet from Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, "No more policing, incarceration and militarization. It can't be reformed." Policing is inherently and intentionally racist in America.

Are you worried about how voices like Tlaib's could impact your party?

LICCARDO: Well, I think it's important that we hear these voices, because they're conveying something that is fundamentally of great concern to all of us, which is in cities throughout the country we are seeing a break in trust between communities and the police. And we have a lot of work to do to build those bridges and to restore trust.

But I have never supported slashing police budgets and certainly not in my own city where we have the most thinly staffed major city police department or any major city in the country. But certainly we have a lot of work to do and we're doing it now with the community and that doesn't mean that we're not going to be engaging in reimagining how we respond to various issues of public safety that don't always require a badge and a gun.

We're investing heavily right now in mental health providers getting out there on the street to be able to really reduce the tension when we're first encountering somebody having mental health episode. So there's a lot of solutions out there. I just don't happen to believe that laying off hundreds of officers is one of them.

BURNETT: So Mayor Liccardo, let me ask you because I know, obviously, Biden is being consistent now with what he said when he ran for office. This is what he believes. And yet, politics is complicated and that doesn't necessarily mean that's where this is going to go.

So when you talk to him today, how much passion did you sense in his point of view about being not supporting defunding the police and believing in investing in police?

LICCARDO: Actually, the topic the funding never came up. What we were talking about was solutions. And we had, for example, the head of a community-based public safety organization in Newark, talking about all the non-police solutions to reducing violence, to settling gang conflict in the City of Newark. We heard even from, as you mentioned, the current Borough President in New York, who talked about swimming upstream to tackle challenges with prevention.


This is a president who cares deeply about investing in cities, in prevention, ensuring we get to our young people before the gangs do, not with a badge and a gun but with a job, with educational opportunities.

BURNETT: All right. Mayor Liccardo, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much. Joining me from Washington, of course, the mayor of San Jose after his meeting with the President.

OUTFRONT now, James Carville, Democratic Strategist and Ben Jealous President of People for the American Way and former President and CEO of the NAACP.

So, Ben, do you have any concern that voices on the far left pushing things like defund the police, like saying that all police are inherently and intentionally racist could hurt the Democratic Party in the next election?

BEN JEALOUS, PRESIDENT, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY AND FOUNDATION: No. Well, I think that the Republicans want to fixate on that, because they don't have ideas. We have ideas, good ideas for actually how we make this country safer. That's what we're talking about it. You heard it from the Mayor. He said, no, actually, we were sitting there talking about the actual ideas. And so that's what we need to run on. That's what you'll see

candidates talking about. I think that folks who have a slogan, that's not going to decide these racism.

BURNETT: And yet, James, those voices are loud and people hear them. And sure they can give Republicans talking points, but I would argue deeper than that in the sense of this is what they believe. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib believes this. Congresswoman Omar believes this. Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez believes this and they have an audience for it.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right. Well, unfortunately, people that vote for them and people that vote in presidential primaries do not believe it. Democrats overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly nominated Joe Biden. New York City Democrats do not believe it. Eric Adams, a former police, also is a police chief.

So I understand that it's a deeply held conviction among a small part of the Democratic Party. We're not going to defund the police. We can have better policing as the Mayor was talking about. We can do things to improve it. It is a stone cold loser political issue and it just (inaudible) it doesn't lose general elections, it loses Democratic primaries, look at the presidential race, look at the Louisiana (inaudible), look at New York City.

BURNETT: Which is, of course, we did just see in New York and I guess you could - yes, that's right. Certainly, with Eric Adams and for anyone who doesn't realize this, when you win the Democratic mayoral primary in New York City you are likely to be the mayor.

So Ben, let me ask you though because the broader point here even if a law enforcement point is not something progressives can win on, the broader point of dealing with the progressives in the party is an important one. You were the Democratic nominee for governor of Maryland in 2018 and it was your Republican governor opponent, Larry Hogan, he tried to paint you as far-left, so it ends up in this scenario where you're asked if you're a socialist and you'll remember this exchange, but we were talking about having you on today, I remembered it, Ben, and I wanted to play it because I have a question about it. Here it is.


JEALOUS: I'm about to fell off my chair when I've read in The Times this weekend that Hogan was out there calling me names. And then it occurred to me him calling me a far-left socialist is what the tea party called President Obama. It's what Barry Goldwater called Martin Luther King.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not to put too fine of a point on it, but do you identify with the term socialist?

JEALOUS: Are you (inaudible) kidding me? Is that a fine of a point? OK.


BURNETT: And obviously, Ben, you apologize for your language there. But your emotion in that moment showed something I thought which was key. Are you worried about how this far-left image in your party could play out or do you just think that this would this will go away?


JEALOUS: I don't think that the Republicans will stop calling Democrats names until they come up with some ideas of their own. And so far, a combination of just having a ton of money and calling folks names seems to work better for them than their ideas. My opponent in that race was the incumbent, he had a ton of money, he also frankly had no good ideas.

He'd become the first governor, he still is the first governor to intentionally not comment on any piece of legislation and recently tried to veto, extending unemployment to the workers of the state only to have that veto beaten back by the Democrats.

I mean, so yes, they're going to call names. They're going to frame. Stick to your ideas, push your ideas out there and raise as much money as the next candidate.

BURNETT: James, the thing is and I'm bringing up the socialist point, in a sense it's the tip of the iceberg.


It's a small, tiny data point in a broader world where people are sometimes afraid to say what they think or they think they're going to be branded something awful for saying something. And this is according to a Pew poll, James, 57 percent of Americans believe that 'people today are too easily offended by what others say' and only 40 percent agreed that 'people should be careful what they say to avoid offending others'.

And that is something that Republicans are seizing on. Here's what former President Trump said about it this weekend, James.


TRUMP: We stand up to political correctness and we reject the intolerance of left-wing cancel culture. We will stop left-wing cancel culture.


BURNETT: James, how big of a problem could this be for the Democrats?

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, it's a big problem for somebody who doesn't like political correctness and talked about grabbing women in their private areas. If that's political - I'm not saying that's political correctness and I'm politically correct. Look, it is a problem. New York Democratic consultant named Matthew

Thomas (ph) said, if you can master the language of the identity left, then everyone is scared of you. And people just want to communicate as human beings with each other and not be stuck somewhere deep in a dictionary and they want to get along and they want to enjoy each other's company. They want to live in common and all around the country, particularly in our urban areas.

So I don't know if I'm politically correct, but I think we should use language that people use in everyday language to communicate with them. And by the way, Mr. Jealous is a very bright guy and he's right. They're going to call you socialist no matter what you do. But it's better not to just go out and say that you won, because I believe in our taxes on wealthy people, our strong robust safety net and strong environmental protections. I don't think I'm a socialist, but I think I have (inaudible) most people in my political party.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. I appreciate your time.

JEALOUS: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, the breaking news, indicted CFO Allen Weisselberg removed from several key positions at The Trump Organization, why?

Plus, Trump talking lies about the January 6th insurrection and taking them to another level. And his supporters are falling in line.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: They stormed the Capitol.



O'SULLIVAN: The Trump Supporters, right?

MOORE: Bullshit. I mean, I'm sorry. Bullshit. You don't know who those people were.


BURNETT: And Texas House Democrats fleeing the state, about to arrive in Washington, D.C. part of an effort to stop Texas from passing a controversial voting bill. State lawmaker who is now on his way to Washington at this hour will be OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: Breaking news, the Trump Organization removing CFO Allen Weisselberg from positions at several subsidiaries, including Mar-A- Lago. It comes less than two weeks after New York prosecutors charged Weisselberg who, of course, has been in Trump's close orbit since the 1970s with an alleged 15 year tax evasion scheme. Paula Reid is OUTFRONT with the breaking details tonight.

And Paula, I mean, here's the thing, I'm just pointing out if this happened the day of the charges, I mean, you could get it, but this is about two weeks later. What can you tell us given this timing? And does it show any concern on the part of Trump that Weisselberg may flip?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, not necessarily. Erin, I am a recovering lawyer, I can tell you this is pretty standard operating procedure for a business. If you have an executive who has been indicted in some states, there are regulatory requirements that you remove that person. There are also practical concerns like this person is going to have to spend a lot of time and energy focused on defending themselves.

So here what you have in certain subsidiaries like, for example, the Trump payroll corporation which processes payroll.


REID: You formerly had Mr. Weisselberg listed as the Treasurer, Director, Vice President, now you have Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump listed on those records. But Erin, a source tells CNN that Weisselberg is expected to remain at the organization though his role and his title may change. But as we know, this is not just an Allen Weisselberg problem, changing his title or his role isn't going to make this whole problem go away.

The Trump Organization itself has been indicted and we know from our reporting that this investigation is active and it is ongoing. At least one other executive is under scrutiny. There could be additional charges filed here that would definitely change the prospects potentially for this organization and Mr. Weisselberg.

But at this point, The Trump Organization, the payroll corporation and Mr. Weisselberg, they've all pleaded not guilty. And Erin, they have vowed to fight these charges.

BURNETT: All right. Paula, thank you.

And former President Trump taking his lies about January 6th and the election to a new level now, claiming that there was 'love in the air' on the day of the deadly insurrection, while falsely alleging the Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt was killed by a Democrats' security detail and that's just the beginning. Donie O'Sullivan is OUTFRONT.



MOORE: It's not called an insurrection to me. What about it was an insurrection ...

O'SULLIVAN: They stormed the Capitol.


O'SULLIVAN: The Trump Supporters, right?

MOORE: Bullshit. I mean, I'm sorry. Bullshit. You don't know who those people were.

MCCRARY: Some Trump supporters were invited in, and there's video, and there's audio that they said come on.

MOORE: Yes, (inaudible) come on in.


O'SULLIVAN (voice over): Trump and his supporters are either in denial or are lying about what happened on January 6th.


TRUMP: There was such love at that rally, they were peaceful people, these were great people. The crowd was unbelievable.


O'SULLIVAN (voice over): Members of the Three Percenters, a self- described militia group and the Proud Boys gathered outside CPAC here in Dallas Sunday ahead of Trump's speech. Members of both groups were allegedly involved in the insurrection.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the election was probably stolen from him.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Do you accept he lost the election?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I accept that on paper things happened to make it appear that way. I don't know what would have happened. I find it very questionable that he lost given the support that he had.


O'SULLIVAN (voice over): Almost everyone we spoke to at CPAC believe the election was stolen. One of the few exceptions, this man who said the so-called kraken, the smoking gun evidence of election fraud promised by lawyers who worked with Trump never materialized.



O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Do you accept Joe Biden won the election?


O'SULLIVAN: So you are one of the very few people I am likely to meet here this weekend who will tell me that Biden won the election fairly? "GRIZZLY" JOE, REPUBLICAN: That's unfortunate. I got to have the

evidence. I got to see it. If you tell me you're going to release the kraken show me the freaking kraken for crying out loud. Show me the freaking kraken. Show me a piece of the kraken. Show me something and don't tell me go to Mr. Pillow Man's website to get the information and I click on it and you're going to get a million sites of why ads pop up and I'm still not going to see even a fingernail of the freaking kraken.

O'SULLIVAN: What are you hoping to hear from Trump?

SUSAN FOUNTAIN, CPAC ATTENDEE, TRUMP SUPPORTER: That he is going to regain his rightful seat as president.

O'SULLIVAN: In 2024?



FOUNTAIN: As soon as the election is overturned for the election fraud.


O'SULLIVAN (voice over): Some still falsely believe the conspiracy theory that Trump could be reinstated and the 2020 election overturned. A notion the Department of Justice says could incite further violence. But most people we spoke to are looking ahead to 2024 and want Trump to run again.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we just need to move on to 2024. It would be great if they could really just come up with the smoking gun and go it really was that way. But I don't believe that's really going to happen.


O'SULLIVAN (voice over): Seventy percent of CPAC attendees surveyed in a straw poll said they want Trump to be the Republican candidate in 2024.


TRUMP: You know they do that straw poll, right?


TRUMP: Now, if it's bad, I just saw - I say it's fake. If it's good, I say that's the most accurate poll perhaps ever.


O'SULLIVAN (voice over): In a second question on the straw poll that excluded Trump as a potential 2024 candidates, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was a clear winner.


O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Would you like to see Trump run again?


O'SULLIVAN: What about you, would you like to see Trump run again?

CHAD MANLEY, REPUBLICAN: I think, yes, I think he'll run again. I just think that Ron DeSantis probably has a better chance than Trump does.



O'SULLIVAN (on camera): So Erin, quite a bit to unpack there. You heard one person mentioned that dangerous conspiracy theory that Trump could be reinstated before 2024, that somehow he might even come back this summer. We know from last week that the Department of Justice is very concerned that conspiracy theories like that could prompt more violence.

And finally, Erin, I just want to point out that this was a political conference, the main conservative political conference of the summer, but all throughout the weekend and especially yesterday when Trump was there, we saw guys walking around outside in tactical gear, people from the Proud Boys, people from the Three Percenters, a self- described militia just really, I think, an indicator of where this part of the Republican Party, where the Republican Party itself is right now, Erin.

BURNETT: OK. Thank you very much. CPAC always conservative but people walking around in tactical gear, Proud Boys, not something CPAC even in a few years ago would have found acceptable. Thank you very much, Donie.

And OUTFRONT next, Texas House Democrats going to great lengths to stop the state from passing a controversial voting bill. As we speak, they're actually on their way to D.C. One lawmaker now driving to the nation's capitol is my guest to explain why and the whole strategy here.

And tonight, the FDA warning of possible rare nerve condition associated with the Johnson&Johnson COVID vaccine.



BURNETT: Breaking news: Texas House Democrats are about to land in Washington after fleeing the state on two private planes in an attempt to stop action on a Republican elections overhaul bill that was to be voted on as soon as tomorrow.

Sources tell CNN the lawmakers kept these plans secret over concern that law enforcement could track them down and legally compel them to return to the state capitol. The latest gambit comes after Texas Democrats walked out of the Capitol in May and stopped another elections overhaul bill from passing.

Dianne Gallagher is OUTFRONT tonight at Dulles Airport.

So, Dianne, I mean, you know, this is sort of movie like development. It's pretty incredible these lawmakers are risking a lot by doing this. If successful, they will be able to stop action on this bill at this time. What more can you tell us?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, they are. And that's why in part this was kept such a secret before they took off. Democrats who were planning this said they had to be very careful because the Texas state law does allow for the state to compel them to return to the capitol and that's even sending the Department of Public Safety to essentially apprehend them and bring them back.

So you mentioned they've done this before. This is about two times now in as many months but what is different about this one is the fact that last time they left a building, this time they got on private planes and left the state, and they're likely going to have to stay out of the Lone Star State for, well, the rest of the special session. So into the month of August.

Now, the key is that once they come back if they wait it out, the governor can call another special session. I spoke with one of the Democrats who is on that plane that should be landing here in Washington D.C. in just about half an hour or so. I asked how long they're prepared to do this and Trey Martinez Fischer told me we are going to use every ounce of the fight we have in us for this, if it is one session or ten sessions.

Now, they are coming to Washington D.C. for a very specific purpose because they want to make sure Democrats were here in Washington see that those who are in the minority are risking everything they have for voting rights and they want those who are in the majority here to do the same.

Now, look, Texas Governor Greg Abbott did release a statement about this. He said essentially that the Democrats need to put aside their partisan political games and get back to the job they were elected to do but, Erin, in talking to these House Democrats, they tell me they plan to be here and they plan to be out of the state as long as it takes to ensure that those two particular bills that have been introduced as special session do not pass.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Dianne.

So let me bring in Democratic State Representative John Bucy of Texas. He's actually driving in a car right now out of the state of Texas.

I believe, right now, you are in Tennessee, near the town of Baileyton, if I have it correct. I don't know about your speed limit here, Representative.

JOHN BUCY (D), TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE (via telephone): That's correct.

BURNETT: I don't say this to make light of it. But please tell me, why is it so important to you to go to great lengths to stop this bill now? You'll have to stay out of the state until August. What makes this so important to you?

BUCY: This bill would make it harder for the people of Texas to vote. Texas is already the hardest state in the nation to vote and this would make it harder.

The secretary of state office in Texas told us that our elections ran smoothly, securely and were a success. So, you have to question, what are the problems the bill is trying to solve? And, clearly, all they're trying to do is make it harder for people of Texas to vote, specifically individuals with disabilities, women and people of color.

BURNETT: So, Representative, obviously, I mentioned now need to stay out into August, 26 days of this special session. You'd have to stay out of the state for this work temporarily, and as Dianne was just reporting, then the governor could call another special session if he chose to. I mean, at some point, this bill will be voted on and you don't have the votes to stop it.

So, I mean, is this I guess ultimately about just really drawing attention to this and you know what the inevitable reality will be?

BUCY: Well, I think it's a few things. One, I'm driving because my family and I decided that we were committed to being out of state as long as it took, which is why we came together and we're going to be together in D.C. My colleague Trey Martinez Fischer said at the top that we are committed to this as long as it takes. But what we're really doing is we're coming to D.C. to put pressure on them to act because this isn't just Texas. All over the South Republican states, we're seeing voter suppression bills.

So we need Congress to pass the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act to make sure all Americans' rights to vote are protected.

BURNETT: So, last time, Democrats, you all walked out to protest the bill's passage and you did get some concessions at that time, Representative Bucy.

BUCY: Absolutely.

BURNETT: Early voting no longer prohibited before 1:00 p.m. on Sundays. Just as an example, there were a few things that you succeeded.

Do you think they will make any changes this time or is this just sort of a -- you know, throwing a grenade into any kind of a negotiation?

BUCY: Look, I agree that some of those things were taken out, but it was only because of our actions and breaking quorum. When you have a bill that is not designed to solve a problem but to suppress votes, there is no compromise to be had. That's why we are committed to stopping this bill, which will still make it harder.

It will make it harder for people to vote by limiting the hours of voting, by limiting drive-thru voting, which was used in Harris County, by a majority of women, and it would allow poll watchers to have free passes at intimidating voters when they are in the act of voting.

BURNETT: All right. Representative Bucy, appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

BUCY: Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: Representative Bucy, as I said, joining us on this way to Washington, driving through the state of Tennessee.

OUTFRONT next, breaking news, Pfizer briefing administration officials on why it thinks there could be a COVID booster needed, a third one as cases jump 47 percent in the United States in a week.

Plus, President Biden warns Cuba about violence against protesters. The Cuban regime facing the biggest demonstration seen there in decades.



BURNETT: Breaking news: the government saying nothing has changed after Pfizer briefed the Biden administration trying to make the case a third booster shot of the COVID vaccine should be approved. Pfizer has warned it's seeing waning immunity and it says people may need boosters as soon as six months after their second dose but the headline from the administration tonight, nothing has changed following the briefing. Pretty Incredible.

OUTFRONT now, Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and dean of tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Hotez, look, this is pretty incredible, right? Pfizer comes out and it's saying, we want to get approval for a third booster because we're seeing waning immunity and the CDC, Dr. Fauci, they say nope, nope, nope, go ahead with things as they are. So, Pfizer comes in to brief them so they can talk about it and share the data and they come out of this meeting and the headline from the Biden administration is nothing has changed. What is going on here?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yeah, well, there's -- we can unpack it in three different ways briefly.

First of all, we've been talking all year about the likelihood we will need a third immunization, which will help to dramatically elevate virus neutralizing antibodies even more, provide better T-cell help and cellular immunity and we need to do that because we've done as good of a job in the U.S. We're doing a terrible job in Africa which is largely unvaccinated, Latin America and Southeast Asia so the variants as they come into the U.S. is going to be important to do that third immunization down the line. That's point one.

Point two is, as important as that is, it's not really clear we need to do this for the delta variant. The two doses where most individuals give adequate levels of virus neutralizing antibodies and cellular immunity, the fight after delta variant, and the evidence of that is if you look at the people going into the hospital or losing their lives, 99 percent roughly are unvaccinated individuals.


HOTEZ: So that's still quite robust.

I think the one thing I'm surprised about is Israel said today they are now recommending a third immunization for patients receiving immuno-suppressive therapy, bone marrow transplants, solid organ transplants. That makes sense from the data that I've seen.

So, I think the only thing I'm surprised is that there was not a comment about immuno-compromised individuals.

BURNETT: Yeah, I mean, it does -- it keeps putting forth a very clear, you know, and they're aware of this story line that Pfizer says one thing and administration science team is saying another from HHS and the CDC.

So let me ask you, Dr. Hotez, if the third booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine is recommended, it will be under what's called an EUA, which is emergency use authorization and that's what the current Pfizer is under, right? The vaccine has not yet been fully approved by the FDA and this is, we understand, one of the major barriers to convincing some people out there to get vaccinated and Dr. Fauci is now saying this.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: So these vaccines are as good as officially approved with all the I's dotted and T's crossed. It hasn't been done yet because the fda has to do certain things but it's as good as done.


BURNETT: And, of course, we all understand why he would say that. He's trying to create confidence but, of course, if there is a process, this is a process. I mean, does there need to be more urgency on this? Because, you know, you've got people on the far right who are hiding behind this emergency use authorization to imply that somehow it's not safe or it's not known.

HOTEZ: Yeah, that's absolutely right and so the disinformation campaign is part saying that humans are being experimented on is nonsense and Dr. Fauci is right. Tony is right. That the emergency use authorization closely approximates the full approval process but I think it's really important the FDA move on this, at least take this off the table.


HOTEZ: And if they're slow in doing it, there should be a communication as to why because otherwise, people will believe there must be a problem. I'm pretty confident there is not but there should be that communication and give some kind of timeframe for when we can expect full approval. So I think it's really important for public perception and also doing this booster through EUA is also doesn't really make sense to me. We've never done a booster through emergency use authorization. So that's somewhat confusing as well.

BURNETT: Quickly, before we go, Johnson & Johnson yet another headline on sort of a negative impact here. This is a rare neurological condition they have to put a label notification. The CDC still says the benefits strongly outweigh the risk, but do you have any concern about the J&J vaccine all things considered?

HOTEZ: Well, I don't have concern about the vaccine. It's a good vaccine. It's an excellent vaccine, and gives good levels of protection. There are rare safety signals.

I think, again, it's -- a lot of it is perception because this safety signal on top of the previous rare safety signal related to the cerebral thrombotic events related to the problems that they've had with manufacturing and with the contract manufacturer. So, all of that adds up to cause people to lose confidence. As I like to say, it doesn't take much for a good vaccine to be voted off the island, even if it's a good vaccine.

BURNETT: Yeah. Dr. Hotez, thank you very much. I appreciate you.

HOTEZ: Thank you very much.

BURNETT: And next, protests like we have not seen in decades. Thousands flooding the streets in Cuba demanding a regime change and the escalating outrage is quickly becoming an issue for Biden.

Plus, for weeks, we followed Pablo Rodriguez's agonizing way just for word about what happened to his mother and his grandmother after the Surfside condo collapse and tonight, we have an update.



BURNETT: Tonight, the White House says Biden has no plans, right now, to reverse Trump-era sanctions on Cuba, despite promising to do so during the campaign. It comes, as Biden faces growing pressure from the right to do more -- as Cubans struggle with widespread shortages of food, medicine, and a major COVID crisis.

Patrick Oppmann is OUTFRONT.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN HAVANA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The protests that swept across Cuba, the largest in decades, stunned the communist- run government and quickly turned violent.

Demonstrators pelted patrol cars with stones and police forcibly arrested scores of people.

Repression, this woman told CNN, all that we have here is repression.

Counter-protestors organized by the government tried to shut them down. Some chanting that they are Fidel Castro. But Fidel Castro died in 2016 and his brother, Raul, retired in April.

Now, the job of managing Cuba's worst crisis in a generation falls to their handpicked successor, Miguel Diaz-Canel, who called the protestors criminals.

They stoned the police force, damaged cars, he said, a behavior that's completely vulgar, completely indecent.

Tensions have been building for months, in Cuba, over increased sanctions, first, imposed by the Trump administration.

The pandemic has further wounded an already-ailing economy. Cubans wait for hours in crowded lines, each day, to buy what little there is, as the number of COVID-19 cases surge.

Cuba's food crisis appears to be getting worse, and worse, as the pandemic goes on longer and longer. The people here said they don't want to be waiting hours in these lines. But they feel the choice they have is run the risk of getting infected, or going hungry.

The Biden administration warned the Cuban government not to crack down on the protestors.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We call on the government, government of Cuba, to refrain from violence, their attempts to silence the voice of the people of Cuba.

OPPMANN: But after a day of angry clashes, that warning may have, already, fallen on deaf ears.


OPPMANN (on camera): And there is a heavy-police presence on the streets of Havana tonight, Erin, and there is an island wide Internet blackout. It appears the Cuban government is trying to prevent Cubans from posting the images and pictures that we saw the last several days, that sparked these unprecedented protests -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Patrick, thank you very much. Please, stay safe. Being down there with then-President Obama and what a different world and tone it was.

Thank you so much.

And next, for weeks, we have been speaking to Pablo Rodriguez as he waited for word about his mother and his grandmother after the condo collapse. Tonight, an update. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BURNETT: Tonight, 94 people are now confirmed dead in Surfside, Florida. Among them, Pablo Rodriguez's mother and grandmother. Pablo spent two weeks waiting for any news about them. You remember him graciously speaking here about these women, who were so core to his life, Elena Chavez and Elena Blasser. Pablo's little boy was the focus of their world.


PABLO RODRIGUEZ, LOST MOTHER & GRANDMOTHER IN SURFSIDE COLLAPSE: And then, today, they were going to go pick him up to take him out to lunch. You know, they -- they came over, every single weekend, to spend -- spend the day with him.


BURNETT: Pablo tweeted this, on Saturday. Quote, last night was the first night since this nightmare started that I was able to get a little bit of sleep. The thought they suffered was weighing on me, heavily. And confirmation that they did not was a relief. It was the best bad news I could receive in this situation. Only hope I had.

Pablo says, he will try to tell himself what his mother always told him. When you get knocked down, get up. Keep moving forward.

Our deepest sympathies to Pablo, his brother Alex, and their family.

Thanks very much to all of you for joining me tonight.

"AC360" with Anderson begins, right now.