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Erin Burnett Outfront

Biden Rips Trump For Calling "Facts Fake"; Texas Dems Meet With VP Harris After Fleeing State To Try To Block Restrictive Voting Bill; TX Gov. Threatens Arrest; Interview With State Rep. Nicole Collier (D- TX); At Least Seven States Block Vaccine Requirements In Public Schools; Forty-Six States Seeing A Rise In Cases As Delta Variant Spreads; Interview With Eric Adams, NYC Mayoral Candidate; Lebanon "Days Away" From "Social Explosion". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 13, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Meanwhile, the Surfside Mayor has announced that security around the site will be tightened with only authorized personnel allowed access to what he called and I'm quoting him now 'a holy site'.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Biden rips Trump in some of his most impassioned comments yet, calling out Trump's election lies. This as Texas Democrats who fled the state appeal to the White House for health.

Plus, she's been on a ventilator because of COVID for more than 100 days. A family of Republicans and once vaccine skeptics now spreading the word to get the shots or end up on a ventilator too.

And the final days of Trump's presidency, worse than you may have thought, including this detail the president wanting to leak or executed. The author who broke the story for more is my guest. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Biden takes on Trump in a big way. The current president confronts his predecessor, even as he refuses to say his name.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The big lie is just that, a big lie. 2020 election does (ph) not hyperbole suggest the most examined and the fullest expression of the will of the people in the history of this nation, that should be celebrated. The example of America at its best. But instead, we continue to see an example of human nature at its worst, something darker and more sinister.

In America, if you lose, we accept the results. You follow the constitution. You try again. You don't call facts fake and then try to bring down the American experiment just because you're unhappy. That's not statesmanship. That's not statesmanship. That's selfishness. That's not democracy.


BURNETT: Extremely harsh and a breaking precedent for Biden. He usually chooses to ignore his predecessor. And his words come as Trump admits he calls things fake, when he doesn't like the outcome. He admits it. Here's Trump just on Sunday saying the quiet part aloud.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know they do straw poll, right?


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


BURNETT: Sometimes those dark truths are masked in jest, aren't they? If he doesn't like the outcome, he calls it fake. Well, that is the Trump playbook when it comes to the election that he lost and it's part of a considered strategy. And here he is just last week, revealing the strategy. He'll say something again and again and again because then people believe it.


TRUMP: If you say it enough and keep saying it, just keep saying it, they'll start to believe you.


BURNETT: That was last week. It's not like you have to wonder will the guy admit the truth, he just did. I mean, it's amazing on one hand to hear Trump admit that he calls things fake when they don't go his way for no other reason than they didn't go his way. And to admit that he repeats lies until people start to believe them, it is incredible, in fact, to hear him say that.

But Trump's big lie, no matter how much he repeated, would not be as powerful if it were not for his enablers early and earnest. They made up stories to support the lie. In fact lies upon lies upon lies. It is well documented, of course, but today we learned something new about Rudy Giuliani according to a new book by reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker about Trump's final years. Rudy Giuliani tells Trump on election night, "Just say we won. Same thing in Pennsylvania, just say we won Pennsylvania."

That's the advice he got and you know what, that's what Trump did again and again and again and still again even though we lost, he knew it.

Had Trump's cadre of sycophant stood up loudly and publicly and abandoned him on day one of his lie, things may have gone very differently, but they did not. And others in Trump world were unable to break through this wall of lies and liars.

According to The Washington Post Josh Dawsey. The RNC's Chief Counsel sent an email in November about team Trump's efforts to fight the election results in court and that was an email, putting it in an email. Referencing Trump's attorneys, including Rudy Giuliani, it reads in part, "What Rudy and Jenna are doing is a joke and they are getting laughed out of court."


And then the following month in December, someone who could have spoken out publicly and been heard spoke very quietly. Here's the operative line from the much anticipated book by The Wall Street Journal's Michael Bender, "Barr told Trump his fraud allegations were 'bullshit' and the team he put around himself were clowns."

But he only said it to Trump. No one broke through the wall of lies and liars around Trump. I'll speak to Bender about all of his reporting in just a moment. But first Biden's takedown of Trump today comes as an all out war is being waged between Texas lawmakers tonight.


BIDEN: In Texas, for example, Republican-led state legislature wants to allow partisan poll watchers to intimidate voters in imperil and impartial poll workers. They want voters to dive further and be able to be in a position where they wonder who's watching them and intimidated them, to wait longer to vote, to drive a hell of a lot long, excuse me, a long way to get to vote. They want to make it so hard and inconvenient that they hope people don't vote at all. That's what this is about.


BURNETT: Texas Governor tonight threatening to arrest of 57 Democratic lawmakers who fled the state in its attempt to derail Republican attempts to pass a controversial voting rights bill. Just a short time ago, Vice President Kamala Harris stopped by to meet with some of those lawmakers who are pressing Washington to now get involved and to pass federal voting rights legislation.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know what you have done comes with great sacrifice, both personal and political. And you are doing this in support and in defense of some of our nation's highest ideals.


BURNETT: Kaitlan Collins was traveling with the president today OUTFRONT live in Philadelphia where he gave those impassioned comments. So Kaitlan, Biden taking on Trump today in a highly unusual way for him, a break in precedent. But is that enough for those who are pushing for the President to do more?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it remains to be seen. We've heard from some of them like Al Sharpton who liked the speech but wanted the President to go a little bit further. But when it came to those remarks that he made directed toward his predecessor, Erin, this is probably the most forceful that we've ever heard President Biden on the big lie.

He has talked about it in the past, of course. It's kind of loomed over the first several months of his presidency, because he came into office in such an extraordinary manner, given what he was pushing back against with the former president, former President Trump, but today going after him saying in the United States if you lose, you just accept it. You don't dispute the facts of it.

And of course, I think that talking about that is certainly something that we have not seen from Biden in that way before. But the question, I think, is what is he going to do about it. Because we know that the former presidents claims are a lot of what's driving what you're seeing happen in several of these states with these state Republicans trying to change their election laws, even though there was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

And so that is where this powerful and definitely symbolic speech given by President Biden kind of runs headfirst into reality where he was calling on lawmakers to pass those two massive voting rights legislation, those two bills on Capitol Hill. Erin, they have no path to being adopted right now.

The President and the White House are well aware of that and so I think that raises the question, of course, about the filibuster and whether or not he is going to actually try to get Democrats to unify around changing those rules. And that is something Al Sharpton said he wants to see from the President. It's not something he mentioned in the speech today.

And Al Sharpton said he has not been committal about or he's been non- committal about whether or not he is going to push for that. So that's the next question, I think, still facing the White House after this speech.

BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much. And I want to go to Al Schmidt now, the Republican Philadelphia City Commissioner. You may remember him. I've talked to him several times. He oversaw the 2020 election there.

He's been attacked by President Trump, because he's refused to accept the big lie. And today, Schmidt was there and attended President Biden's voting rights speech.

So Al, I appreciate seeing you tonight. I know you were there invited by the White House and you heard President Biden take on Trump and Republicans who have supported the big lie about the election. Do you think President Biden said anything in his speech today, though, that will actually convince more Republicans to stand up for the truth about the election? AL SCHMIDT, (R) PHILADELPHIA CITY COMMISSIONER: I do. I think it was

very important what the President did. He amplified and really brought into focus exactly what's on the line here and that is the future of our democracy. And I think it's important that the American people, Democrats and Republicans alike hear that message from the President of the United States.

BURNETT: So I want to play something else for you, Al, that President Biden said today. Here he is.


BIDEN: The assault on free and fair elections is just such a threat, literally. I've said it before, we're facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War.


That's not hyperbole. Since the Civil War.

The confederates, back then, never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on January the 6th. I'm not saying this to alarm you. I'm saying this because you should be alarmed.


BURNETT: Al, are you alarmed? Do you agree with Biden?

SCHMIDT: Unfortunately, I do. And I have a PhD in history in my former life before I became an election administrator. I think we're at a very critical juncture in the history of our democracy. And I think the President in part of his speech really raised an important point and that is that it's going to take a coalition of people, Democrats and Republicans and really right minded people to save it. It's far more fragile than I think most of us ever contemplated and it's going to take a lot to save it.

BURNETT: President Biden also spoke today about states like Georgia, new laws there that let state or county legislators which are now run by Republicans to remove anyone they don't like from election boards, whether Democrats or Republicans. I want to play that.


BIDEN: Who gets to count what vote counts, literally not figuratively? You vote for certain electors to vote for somebody for president, state legislature comes along and another proposal. They say, no, we don't like those electors. We're going to appoint other electors who's going to vote for the other guy or other woman.


BURNETT: Are you worried about that Republicans in more states, even yours, could find a way to remove you because you've spoken up about this or people like you who stood up for the truth? SCHMIDT: I'm very concerned about it and it's not really about me.

Well, I have concerns about efforts to restrict access to voting and concerns that will disenfranchise our voters, even more so perhaps the most pernicious part of some of the so-called reforms that we're seeing are ones that replace nonpartisan and bipartisan election administrators with political operatives appointed by political state legislators or other people. That's really not how the system should function and that's a really dangerous road to go down.

BURNETT: All right. Al, I appreciate your time. Thank you for it, despite the sobering content of our conversation. Thank you.

SCHMIDT: Thank you.

BURNETT: And as I mentioned a moment ago, President Biden did also call out what's happening in Texas where Democratic legislators fled to Washington, D.C. under the threat of arrest from the Governor to try and stop new voting bills from becoming law. OUTFRONT now one Democratic member of the Texas State House who is now in Washington, D.C., Nicole Collier. She's also the Chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus.

I appreciate your time, Representative. So I know you saw vice president Harris today. She stopped by meeting your group was having (ph). Do you want more time with her and with the President?

STATE REP. NICOLE COLLIER (D-TX): Thank you so much for having me, Erin. The Vice President was very generous with her time today, gave us an hour by explaining the symbolic nature of the acts that we have done, the courageous acts that we've done as Texas Democrats by breaking the quorum. She was very generous.

President Biden has been very generous also by pointing out the very important work that Congress needs to do. And let me just break it down. Maybe I need to translate this for the Trump supporters. This is a bigly lie, how about that? Maybe they'll start understanding that this is not the truth. The elections were not stolen. In fact, even in Texas, our Republican-appointed Secretary of State confirmed that the last elections were safe and secure.

BURNETT: Right. Absolutely true and important that you raised that point. Of course, the reality of your situation is now, Representative, you can ride this special session out outside the state. But Greg Abbott, your Governor, can just keep calling special session after special session, until eventually a vote can't be avoided. I mean, here's how he put it to a local station about his plans.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R) TEXAS: I can and I will continue to call special session after special session after special session all the way up until election next year.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: What are you going to do about this? I mean, is it not

realistic to imagine so many people staying outside the state for a year? I mean, do you have a plan on how to handle that strategy?

SCHMIDT: Well, we're here in Washington, that's part of the plan. We're asking Congress to act by passing the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. We need them to get this done right away. Now, our special session is set to end August 7th. Senate is supposed to log out on August 6th. We've got the time. Let's get it done.

BURNETT: So I know you're fighting for voting rights and it's a crucial thing.


But there's also the reality that the voters of Texas did elect a Republican majority in your State House and here's what some of those Republicans are saying today, Representative.


REP. MAYES MIDDLETON (R-TX): They fled to Washington, D.C. on private planes and refused to come to work. They've abandoned their constituents. They've abandoned their jobs. They've abandoned the state. They took a solemn oath to protect and defend and faithfully execute the duties of the office of a member of the House of Representatives. We demand that the Democrats show up for work. It's an outrage that they refuse to do their job they were elected to do.


BURNETT: Representative, are you concerned it sends a conflicting message to voters about respecting the will of the people when you're preventing the legislature from doing its job, from voting on something?

COLLIER: Well, I would disagree because we are doing the work for the people. We are representing the people. They are ignoring the people because over 400 people signed up to testify against this bill that dealt with elections, this voter suppression bill, and only 65 voted wanted to support it. So they are ignoring the vote of the people.

And when we tried to amend it, we've tried to work with Republicans. When we tried to amend the bill, they ignored us. So there's no working with them. There's no compromise with the Republicans. It's their agenda or nothing. So we are representing the people of Texas.

BURNETT: All right. Rep. Collier, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

COLLIER: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, vaccine wars as more states banned vaccine mandates in schools. The former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says she wants to stop 'tiptoeing around mandates'. She's my guest.

Plus, the author of a highly anticipated book about the end of Trump's presidency is OUTFRONT. Who is Trump threatening to execute? Michael Bender has the new details.

And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says the New York mayoral race was a one- off not a bellwether. The man who won the Democratic nomination on a pro police moderate platform, Eric Adams, response.



BURNETT: Tonight, at least seven states passing laws banning coronavirus vaccine requirements in schools. The debate over mandates is growing as the highly contagious Delta variant is spreading while U.S. vaccinations plummet.

OUTFRONT now Kathleen Sebelius, former Health and Human Services Secretary in the Obama administration and also the former Governor of Texas. So Secretary Sebelius, I really appreciate your time and you've expressed frustration over what you call the U.S. decision to 'tiptoe around mandates'.

I have to say that's very fair. It's been just so much tiptoeing. It's unbelievable how silent people can be. What would you like the U.S. government's message to be about mandating vaccination?

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES UNDER PRES. OBAMA: Thanks for having me, Erin. And I was the Governor of Kansas, not Texas.

BURNETT: Oh, I'm sorry. I literally just misspoke because we were just talking about Texas. Thank you for correcting me, that was my bad.

SEBELIUS: No problem. I think that the federal government has done an amazing job and we are in such a fortunate position in the United States to have ample vaccine, have a policy that says it's free, have a government that's determined to get to the final mile and we still have this block of vaccine hesitancy which is pretty terrifying.


SEBELIUS: The federal government has never, in history, issued a vaccine mandate of any kind. And I don't expect that to change very soon. But I think the federal government can continue to play an enormously important role looking at all of the tools that they have, so their mask mandate on transportation was very effective. I think they could look at whether or not that could be effective working with schools.

The authority since 1905 has been at the state and local level. The states like Kansas, passing laws saying any entity that gets funds from the state can't put a mandate in place are really terrifying, because there are 48 million Americans who are under the age of 12, including my four grandchildren. If we start with a lens on the children and wanting children to go

back to school, which is what we all say is the priority, then we have to get more serious about employers, and schools and universities stepping up and saying, it's great if you don't want to be vaccinated. But if you don't, you really can't have access to places that will put you in contact with folks who can't get vaccinated.

BURNETT: I mean, this is the thing. I mean, so let's talk about the private company. Some of them are requiring vaccines, Delta. Any new hire has to be vaccinated. Investment banks like Morgan Stanley barring anyone unvaccinated from going to its New York offices. Hospitals, we're seeing a lot of this obviously. Houston Methodist mandated vaccines and 153 people resigned or were fired because they wouldn't get it.

I mean, that's the real question here. Because it would seem to me if you're putting the government aside for a second, a private company, it is a no brainer, especially if you don't want to get sued by someone who gets sick from someone else to mandate vaccines.

And in fact, we all expect it for our kids. You can't go to summer camp. You can't go to school now with a whole bunch of other vaccines. So I don't know why this one is different. Do you think that the mandates are worth it for all these private companies? Should they keep doing this?

SEBELIUS: Well, I think first of all, we have never seen a situation where our public health guidance has been so politicized and that started a long time ago during the Trump administration. And you saw just recently at the CPAC convention this weekend, where people cheered the notion that the 70 percent threshold that President Biden had set as a goal was not met.

Why in the world would we have Americans cheering for a very dangerous variant to be spreading throughout the United States, I don't know. I do think that the federal government can also work on expediting the full approval. Pfizer has submitted on paperwork. Moderna is close behind.

So getting full approval, getting out of the emergency use authorization and into full approval is something that will clear up any legal questions that private employers may have. They have a big chance. A lot of universities have real authority, Rutgers, Cornell others took the lead.


SEBELIUS: But university is saying students shouldn't come back unless they've been vaccinated.


BURNETT: Yes. Well, I think it's a really interesting point, because I know some people have said there are some people who may get vaccinated once they get that full approval, that the EUA is been sort of a conspiracy talking point that that would help. But I think you raise an interesting point that legally that may enable companies to require it and I think it's a significant one.

You also mentioned though CPAC, and the hesitancy we've seen is, for getting vaccines, is contributing to this precipitous drop in the pace of vaccination in this country. And as you point out, we see it at CPAC, we're seeing it from Republican lawmakers, from other Trump supporters, pushing the hesitancy, pushing the resistance onto others. Here's just a brief summation.


REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): Don't come knocking on my door with your Fauci ouchie, you leave us the hell alone.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Do you any people who got sick or died from the virus?

ZACH BARRETT, CPAC ATTENDEE: I know three people who got it and died. But you know what? I know people who got cancer and died too, so ...

O'SULLIVAN: You know three people who died from coronavirus and you won't get the vaccine?

BARRETT: No. Like I said, I don't need the vaccine.

ALEX BERENSON, CPAC MODERATOR: The government was hoping that they could sort of sucker 90 percent of the population into getting vaccinated and it isn't happening. There's younger people ...


BURNETT: You heard the chairs, you heard a man who was equating cancer to the virus when there's virus, obviously, a vaccine that would prevent those deaths. What's your reaction when you hear all these?

SEBELIUS: Well, it's horrifying. I don't know any cancer patient who if they were offered a shot that was 90 percent effective wouldn't take it in a heartbeat. So we are in a situation where we have a wildly effective vaccine, multiple choices, lots available, free of charge and we have folks who are just saying I won't do it.

I think that it's time to say to those folks, it's fine. If you don't choose to get vaccinated, you may not come to work. You may not have access to a situation where you're going to put my grandchildren in jeopardy where you might kill them or you might put them in a situation where they're going to carry the virus to someone in a high risk position.

That's, I think, the point where we are is freedom is one thing, but freedom when you harm others like secondhand smoke and issues that we've dealt with very clearly in the past, you can't drive drunk. You can drink but you can't drive drunk because you can injure other people. You can't smoke inside of a public place where you can give cancer to someone else in spite of their never having been a smoker.

So I think we're reaching that point in the United States for those of us who are vaccinated. I want to take off my mask. I want to be able to live my life with vaccination. And I'm being impinged on by people who say, I don't want to get vaccinated. It's fine, but I want them to maybe have a limitation on where they can go and who they can possibly infect.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Secretary. I appreciate your time tonight.

SEBELIUS: Nice to be with you.

BURNETT: All right. And next, Trump didn't think Biden would be the Democratic nominee according to a new book by The Wall Street Journal's Michael Bender. So who did he think you'd be facing off against? Bender is guest with the new details he's breaking.

Plus, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rejecting the idea that Eric Adams' win in the New York City mayoral race is a warning sign to progressives like her. Adams is here to respond.



BURNETT: Tonight, quote, they should be executed. That's what President Trump reportedly said in the Oval Office after someone leaked that he was taken to a secure underground bunker during protests near the White House following George Floyd's murder last year.

A new book out by "The Wall Street Journal's" Michael Bender says, quote, it was the most upset some aides have ever seen him. "Whoever did that, they should be charged with treason!" Trump yelled. "They should be executed!"

OUTFRONT now, Michael Bender. He's the author of the book, "Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost".

Most excellent book and there is so much in here, Michael, and I just want to try to get to some points here. I know people will buy it and buy read the whole things for themselves. But that bombshell from your book is getting a lot of attention today. You're revealing just how furious Trump was when he saw that bunker story.

Why did that strike such a nerve? Of all things, that that is the thing that makes him the most furious some had ever seen him.

MICHAEL BENDER, AUTHOR, "FRANKLY, WE DID WIN THIS ELECTION: THE INSIDE STORY OF HOW TRUMP LOST": Yeah, I think it was a perfect storm of things. The walls were coming in on Trump, and he could feel it. It's middle of 2020.

If you recall, he had started the year at a real high point. Yes, he had been impeached. He survived and was thriving. His polls were at the highest point they were. The economy, the only thing he really wanted to talk about and run on was red hot.

And just a few months later, all of that was gone. And he's -- he's in the middle of the worst pandemic in 100 years, civil rights protests. He's afraid that -- and he takes it all personally. And he response to it not by a thoughtful, careful message, or a particular policy response, but by lashing out at the people closest to him, in the White House, and by directing his fury at the protesters who were, you know, demonstrating against civil rights.

BURNETT: So Trump's chief spokesperson, of course, is no surprise, tells CNN the former president, quote, never sat this or suggested it to anyone. But aides have told you that they have never seen the president lash out like this. And you went on to write, and I quote you in your book here, Meadows repeatedly tried to calm the president as aides avoided eye contact.


BURNETT: OK, he said over and over, I'm on it. We're going to find out who did it.

You know, it is, it is, you know, pretty amazing, right? Just immediately, just the fear, right? Of everybody around him.

BENDER: Yeah, I mean, I was trying to reconstruct -- I think this was a real pivotal moment in 2020 for Trump's presidency and his reelection.


And so I went back and tried to reconstruct that. And I was struck by the number of aides, when I asked about the bunker detail, the first thing that they mentioned was how visceral it still was about how Trump, how angry he was that the story had gotten out, and how much time it had taken day after day after day, and again, in the middle of a pandemic that this was what he was that this was what he was focused on.

And I think it's a through line, really through the book, Erin, that we know the story of chaos with the Trump administration. What this book shows, through repeated situations and multiple anecdotes, is that it's the people around him thought Trump was dangerous. And they were trying to prevent a dangerous situations and it really shows how close to the brink we've got several times.

BURNETT: So you know it's amazing and to learn a lot about top General Mark Milley, and how he clashed with Trump in the administration. And what I thought was so amazing here was you revealed his real time reaction, you know, when Trump staged the photo-op at a Lafayette Square where protests were taking place after Floyd's murder. And, you know, it quotes, you're right, what the F-star-CK., Milley mutter, as Ivanka stepped towards her father with the Bible.

Milley grabbed his aide and they backed away from the church.


BURNETT: He channeled his rage Monday night by patrolling Washington streets with his troops until well past 2:00 a.m. And you reported this in your book that Milley had no idea about this political photo op but clearly this enraged him.

BENDER: Yeah, again, this is all kind of in the same few days here and in June, and it's -- I think what's striking about this -- it hasn't been reported yet about this day is that Milley and Attorney General Bill Barr ended up at the White House has kind of a lark, and that they were, the there had been a lull in kind of the actions today -- that day, they were monitoring protests, there wasn't much happening in the afternoon.

Milley was in his fatigues. He was going to visit with National Guard and the National Guardsmen stations around the city that night. Barr knew they were going to push the perimeter out at some point that they. He had wanted to see what the progress was so they describe on, you know, kind of, you know, heck, let's just go to the White House moment.

And what happens, they both end up in one of the most controversial political moments that people are going to be talking about, that historians will be talking about for years.

BURNETT: So you write about a theory that Trump grabbed onto the election and somehow elections were going to steal but his nomination at the DNC. And he told advisor in April 2020, you write, quote, they're going to realize he's old and they're going to give it to somebody else. They're going to give it to Hillary or they're going to give it to Michelle Obama.

Now, at that moment, of course, Biden had the delegate math to win the nomination, as you, Bender, Michael, but -- but Trump really just couldn't believe that Biden was going to get that nomination, right? He just could not. And this was one time where his political instinct really was off.

BENDER: Yeah, I mean, really, throughout 2020, he can't figure out how to message against Biden. I think he comes up with something like 12 or 16 different nicknames for Biden, which is --


BENDER: -- which is a signal for, you know, for President Trump that he's kind of grasping at straws. I mean, he got impeached trying to go after Biden on one had, but then on the other hand, he is just dismissing him.

I mean, I set that up a little bit of the book. There's another scene a couple of months earlier where he calls in -- the middle of a policy meeting in the Oval Office -- just blurts out that he can't believe he's losing in the polls to a mental retard. This is the president of the United States using this language with policy advisers in the Oval Office.

BURNETT: Wow. Mental retard, amazing.

All right. Michael, thank you so much. These are just a few of the anecdotes. Everybody, you've got to -- you've got to be the book. But as you can see, I ask a question, and then there were six levels deeper that Michael was able to share.

"Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost" by Michael Bender -- and, Michael, thanks so much for your time tonight.

BENDER: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Alexander Ocasio-Cortez says the New York City mayoral race was not a warning sign to progressives like her. Eric Adams won the primary. He responds.

Plus, her mother has been sick with COVID on a ventilator for more than 100 days. An D tonight, she has a message for vaccine skeptics, because, after all, she was one of them.



BURNETT: Tonight, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rejecting claims that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party took a hit after New York City, which is the largest in the nation, elected a moderate nominee for mayor for the Democratic Party. That man, Eric Adams, campaigning against some of Ocasio-Cortez's key signature issues like defund the police.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I do not believe that this is some large bellwether for the country or for Democratic voters in the country and I think it was very just indicative of a pretty wild race.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, the Democratic nominee for mayor of New York City, Eric Adams.

So, Eric, Ocasio-Cortez says your -- your victory is just the outcome of a wild race and is not a bellwether at all about the Democratic Party, not sending a message that the party is rallying around a moderate candidate like yourself, even though, of course, you won in the largest city in the country. What's your response?

ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Well, I am not running against any particular elected or any particular person, and I believe that it was crucial that both Kathryn Garcia and Eric Adams are two extremely forward thinking candidates were able to occupy the top spot.

And I think far too often, people tend to define what they are against and not what they are for. I'm for a safe city where we can raise healthy children and families. It is something that I committed my life to. And I believe this is a great opportunity for the entire Democratic Party to look at what we are doing here and what we are going to continue to do. BURNETT: So the current mayor, Bill de Blasio, said that New Yorkers

should assume masks will be worn in schools in September even for vaccinated students, which comes after the CDC released new guidance that says fully vaccinated teachers and students don't need to wear masks.

This is going to be a big issue for you if you're mayor to take this over.

Do you agree with De Blasio's decision to keep a mask mandate for all students, even those above the age of 12?

ADAMS: No, I do not. I believe what we must do is follow the science. If the CDC states that we don't need mask and we don't have to wear them, that's fine. But let's always give people the option because there is a level of comfortability that we should look at. Like I still wear my mask when I'm in certain locations because I believe it's crowded and I feel comfortable in doing so.


So, let's not take away that comfortability because feeling safe is not only actual (ph), but it's actually perceived just as well.

BURNETT: So, you know, schools are one part of COVID. If you win the general election, the biggest challenge you'll face is the city's economic recovery from COVID. Crime obviously is a part of that, and we talked about that.

But you mentioned taxpayer money, and New York passed a so-called millionaire's tax during COVID, which made New York's personal income tax rate the highest in the United States. The top 1 percent of New Yorkers alone -- and, Eric, I know you know these numbers but for some listening who don't -- they paid nearly half the income tax collected in 2018, 42.5 percent paid by the top 1 percent of New Yorkers. And we know that this has caused some to leave -- part of the asset management arm of Goldman Sachs, West Palm Beach, Carl Icahn, the investor, Florida, and there are others, of course, as you and I both know, as well.

How will you make up for that revenue loss? Are you going to have to increase taxes on everyone else?

ADAMS: No, here's what I've -- what I have found. You know, in New York, 65,000 New Yorkers higher income earners pay 51 percent of our income taxes, and when I speak to my high income earners, you know what they tell me? They say, Eric, public safety.

They don't feel safe in their city. They're not seeing the city services they deserve. Our streets are dirtier. You can't go to parks and feel safe.

We're watching what's happening at Washington Square Park where you bring your babies and people are injecting themselves with heroin right in the park.


ADAMS: You're seeing what's happening in front of restaurants where you have encampments.

And so, what we must do is say to our taxpayers and businesses that, number one, we're going to be safe. That includes our subway system and we're going to have a better use of your tax dollars.

We're not doing that. The city is too bureaucratic, too expensive and too difficult to do business in. And we're going to turn that around to show how to run a city.

BURNETT: All right. Eric Adams, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

ADAMS: Thank you. Take care.

BURNETT: All right. That was Eric Adams, the mayor of New York.

Next, we will hear about a Republican, a one-time vaccine skeptic, who witnessed her mother's brave battle with COVID and now has an important message to share.

Plus, people are starving, an economy in utter collapse. What happened to Lebanon, the Paris of the Middle East? It's a story you will see only OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: Tonight, a life and death battle with COVID for more than 150 days. That's the nightmare scenario playing out for Gwen Starkey, a 59 year old woman from Missouri with no previous medical issues. She's now spent more than three months on a ventilator, after getting sick and February before she was able to get a vaccine.

OUTFRONT now, April Shaver, the daughter of Gwen Starkey.

April, I'm so sorry. Thank you for talking to me about this ordeal you are struggling through every day. I know your mom, Gwen, has had many ups and downs since getting sick.


How is she doing right now?

APRIL SHAVER, MOM HAS BEEN SICK WITH COVID FOR OVER 150 DAYS: We've had a series of really good days. So, we are in a good place right now, doing better.

BURNETT: So, you think perhaps soon, things will turn around, I hope?

SHAVER: That's the plan, yeah.

BURNETT: Well, look, you know, I obviously, part of the reason you are talking to me is about the vaccine and I know your mom didn't have a chance to get vaccinated before she got sick. But, you know, you're not sure she would have gotten the vaccine, or if others in your family have gotten the vaccine if it weren't for what happened to her and this awful ordeal that she has gone through. Tell me why.

SHAVER: I mean, honestly, I can't tell you because we don't have that opportunity now. But we were scared. You just didn't know. We don't work in the health care industry. All I knew is what my friends are saying on social media, my mom groups on the news, and we were scared. It was just too soon for it to come out. So, we were scared.

BURNETT: And you're not alone in that. And, I know, you know, you identify as a conservative Republican and you just mentioned social media and I want to ask you about that, because, you know, I know the pure pressure that you are getting on social media, the things you are seeing, the things that were being put out there, had an impact on your view of the vaccine before your mom got sick.

Can you tell me some of what you saw, April? Some of what influenced you, some of what was really impactful on social media?

SHAVER: A lot of chatter about what ingredients are in it, the side effects. I even heard some people say they put microchips in them, which, of course, I didn't believe that part, but I was afraid of the possible side effects. I didn't want to injure myself or my family. So, obviously, we were afraid. But we just -- we didn't know.

BURNETT: Right. And, you know, Missouri, now, obviously is unfortunately ground zero for the delta variant, right, which is so much more significant in contributing to outbreaks and hospitalizations across the state. Look, we all know what doctors say, right, vaccines are the way to stop these infections, to save lives.

Now that you have been through this horrible ordeal, what is your message to people who still have the fear that you had, who still may be very influenced by social media, whether it's microchips or something less sinister and are not getting vaccinated?

SHAVER: I mean, it's just -- they are there. They're available. Just get them and be safe.

I mean, I convinced one person, my neighbor Lisa, she went and got vaccinated. If that's the only person I convinced, then I did what I'm supposed to do.

BURNETT: Well, I mean, I think convincing one person, that's a life you may have saved. I mean, that's hugely significant.

Are you -- are you trying to talk to some of your friends who felt very differently or had all of those concerns? Has this -- has your now -- I guess I'm asking, April, is your belief now in the vaccine influencing in any way your relationships with friends who feel very differently?

SHAVER: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, just because my friends feel that way, it doesn't mean that we're not friends. I mean, I don't feel the same way that some of those people feel. They are still good people outside of their beliefs. I'm not going to try and change them because they're not going to try and change me.

But, yeah, I am trying to influence people to get the shot, because look where I am. This is -- this is my mom. This is my family photo. This is it.

You want this for you? This is -- this is it. So, yeah, I mean, I try to convince them. This used to be our family photo.

BURNETT: Well, I hope that will be your photo again.

SHAVER: It will be.

BURNETT: Because you describe to me and what you said that's been a few good days. But I hope the power of that picture will convince some. Thank you so much, April. I appreciate your honesty and your courageousness in speaking out. I know it's not easy.

SHAVER: Thank you.

BURNETT: Thank you.

And OUTFRONT next, what was once known of -- Switzerland of the Middle East. Lebanon is now a spiraling completely out of control and it is awful what is happening. We'll show you.



BURNETT: Pandemonium in Beirut right now triggered by rage, in part over that deadly bomb blast. And adding to that, food, electricity, medicine in dramatic shortage. Lebanon is a country on the verge of total collapse, with the major ramifications for the entire Middle East.

Here's Ben Wedeman.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anger is seething in this country beset by multiple crises, a collapsing economy, mounting shortages of food and fuel, as rage continues to boil over last August's Beirut port blast. Relatives of those killed in that blast carried pictures of the victims and mock coffins to the home of Lebanon's caretaker interior minister.

Protests soon turned to pandemonium Tuesday evening, with protesters enraged that the minister, Mohammad Fahmi, has ruled Lebanon's powerful intelligence chief won't have to answer questions about the blast.

The massive explosion that killed more than 200 people.

It's almost a year since the blast, says protester Melissa Fadlallah, where is justice?

The government promised swift justice at the time. That promise, like so many others, proved empty.

Lebanon, once known as the Switzerland of the Middle East, is falling apart. For almost two years, the economy has been in freefall, made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

Marina (ph) picks up a bag of food, part of the local radio station's program to help the needy. Two years ago, her monthly salary was worth more than $800. Now it amounts to less than $80.

Things were all right before, says Marina, we worked, we got by. But now, we can't afford anything.

And at a gas station just up the street, people line up for hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to hell.

WEDEMAN: Beirut gets, at best, just a few hours of the electricity a day.

The United Nations reports that nearly 80 percent of families here don't have enough food to eat, while the World Bank describes Lebanon's economic crisis as one of the worst in the world has seen in the last 150 years.

The bottom still nowhere in sight.

You go to the pharmacy for baby formula for your kid, there's none, says Mustafa. Aspirin? None.

Days ago, the caretaker prime minister here warned that Lebanon is days away from a social explosion. He may be right.


WEDEMAN (on camera): U.S. and European diplomats have made it clear they are actually clear to provide Lebanon with the aid to stop it from falling into the abyss, but they, and in fact most Lebanese worry that Lebanon's corrupt and incompetent political elite will simply pocket that aid, send it to Switzerland, and Lebanon be damned -- Erin.

BURNETT: And thank you very much for that powerful report.

And thanks very much to all of you for joining us.

Anderson starts now.