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Erin Burnett Outfront

McCarthy Shows Allegiance to Trump Despite Looming Jan. 6 Special Committee Hearing, Report Milley Feared a Trump Coup Attempt; Source Claims McCarthy, Trump did not Discuss Panel on Jan 6 Riot as Trump's Whitewashing of Attack Reaches a New Level; L.A. County to Reinstate Mask Mandate, COVID Cases Up 500 Percent; Surgeon General: DHS Chief Won't Say Who Took Down Russia-Linked Cybercrime Gang. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 15, 2021 - 19:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: For our viewers, thanks very, very much. And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. Tweet the show @CNNSITROOM.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Kevin McCarthy's very own American idol. You know who it is, of course, Donald Trump. The two meeting today even as the Joint Chiefs Chairman feared the former president would stage a coup.

Plus, Gen. Mark Milley in the center of several new revelations about Trump's final days in office. Who is Milley and why is he now the right's favorite political punching bag?

And a major step backwards in the fight against COVID. Los Angeles County now requiring people mask up again regardless of whether they are vaccinated as COVID cases spike. Is the rest of the country going in that direction? Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, American idol. And for Kevin McCarthy, that idol is Donald J. Trump. Today the House Minority Leader going to meet with Trump at his golf club in New Jersey. McCarthy's office claims the two discussed upcoming special elections, the midterms and fundraising numbers.

But a source claims there was no discussion, apparently, about the elephant in the room, which is McCarthy's current high stakes decision to name five Republicans to the Special Committee that will investigate the January 6th insurrection. He's got to make that decision in the coming days. And, of course, to stay the obvious, at the center of that investigation is Donald J. Trump.

Well, the meeting between McCarthy and Trump today comes as we are learning some of the most disturbing revelations yet about Trump's final - his actions in his final days in office, specifically that the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley feared Trump would attempt a coup after losing the election, viewing him as the 'classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose'.

That bombshell coming from Washington Post reporters; Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker in their upcoming book. But none of that seems to matter to Kevin McCarthy. He's embracing the man who is at the center of the investigation into the insurrection. A man whose latest whitewashing of what happened to that day would be laughable if it weren't serious and deadly dangerous.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The crowd was unbelievable and I mentioned the word 'love', the love in the air, I've never seen anything like it. And, that's why they went to Washington.


BURNETT: Love is in the air. Attacking officers, destroying U.S. government property, threatening the lives of countless men and women is love. Surely, nobody would want to know what hate is.

But Trump hasn't even stopped there. This was just a few days ago. Listen to the president talking about Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed while trying to climb through a broken window leading to the Speaker's lobby.


TRUMP: I will tell you, they know who shot Ashli Babbitt. They're protecting that person. I've heard also that it was the head of security for a certain high official - a Democrat - and we'll see, because it's going to come out. It's going to come out.


BURNETT: The usual we'll see, trying to accuse the Democratic security detail of purposely, what, assassinating one of his supporters. Just to be clear, this is a lie. It is untrue. Law enforcement source confirms to CNN, it was a Capitol Hill police officer and that person was not part of a security detail for any specific member of Congress.

But the facts that have not, never frankly, stopped the president from trying to out, in this case, the officer whose name has not been released.


TRUMP: There were no guns in the Capitol. They burned - except for the gun that shot Ashli Babbitt and nobody knows who that man were. Why isn't that person being opened up, and why isn't that being studied? They've already written it off. They said that case is closed.


BURNETT: And facts, there were other guns. That case is closed. The officer was cleared of any wrongdoing by federal prosecutors. But the investigation into Trump's actions that day, frankly, would just be beginning. And McCarthy should want to get to the bottom of what happened. Well, of course, because he was there and also because of everything we are now learning about Trump's final days, what was truly at stake on January 6th.

We now know much more because the Justice Department has released footage showing what really happened was way worse than you thought at the time. Officers being attacked with crutches, with flagpoles. The video, I want to warn you, is difficult to watch.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...


BURNETT: And in that video, rioters can be seen dragging an officer into a crowd, which you can see there. That officer was hospitalized, had to have staples put into his head to stop the bleeding. And from inside the Capitol, rioters with fists up, trying to make their way into the Senate chamber.

The Capitol Police Sergeant who was beaten and had his hand sliced open told CNN he thought he was going to die.



AQUILINO GONELL, UNITED STATES CAPITOL POLICE: They call us traitors. They beat us, they drag us and I could hear them we're going to shoot you. We're going to kill you.


BURNETT: The fact the anybody wouldn't want to, in a very serious, considered way, get to the bottom of what happened there is incomprehensible. Meanwhile, over at the Pentagon on that day by the time these horrific acts had been carried out that we're now learning more and more about, Trump's top generals were becoming increasingly concerned about the dangerous and fringe ideas that Trump himself was putting out there.

According to Washington Post Reporters; Leonnig and Rucker, Milley, Gen. Milley was preparing for a showdown with Trump, fearing the coup and was determined to stop him saying, "They may try but they're not going to f**king succeed. You can't do this without the military. You can't do this without the CIA and the FBI. Were the guys with the guns."

Manu Raju is OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill. And Manu, sometimes we when having these conversations and thinking about quotes like that you have to take a deep breath and remind yourself that that happened in this country about our government. And sometimes it's easy to just not go, wow, you got take a moment to let that sink in.

And I know you're learning more about the meeting between Trump and McCarthy. McCarthy who is going to be naming people to this committee, that if he was serious about finding out what happened would care deeply about it, but instead choosing to meet with Trump.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And that January 6th Special Committee that is going to get going later this month is going to look in to Donald Trump's role in all of this as well as the concerns around what happened here, as well as what happened with the House Republicans. Some of them voting to - a majority of them voting to overturn the electoral results and Kevin McCarthy himself having conversations with Donald Trump on January 6th itself, undoubtedly all that will be part of that select committee that Nancy Pelosi has named eight members, including one Republican, Liz Cheney.

But the five Republican names are a big question about who Kevin McCarthy will choose. Will he choose loyal supporters of the president? Will he choose people who voted to overturn the election? Will he vote for people who actually wanted to have an outside commission go forward? That did not happen, because Republicans in the Senate blocked it. Kevin McCarthy himself also opposed it.

But at this meeting today, a source claims that did not come up. The January 6th Committee, also the select committee, those appointments, the intent is - McCarthy is contending in a statement tonight they talked about their efforts to take back the House, the efforts to raise money and go after Democrats suggesting that they are on the same page as Donald Trump and making a much different calculation than Senate Republicans, particularly Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who wants nothing to do with Donald Trump going forward, wants the 2020 elections to be about them versus the Democrats, them going after Joe Biden, being on check on Joe Biden. But a much different calculation from Kevin McCarthy, he sees their future aligned with Donald Trump, Erin.

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

And I want to go OUTFRONT now to our Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel along with Scott Jennings, former Senior Adviser to Mitch McConnell and Republican former Congressman Denver Riggleman.

So Congressman, let me start with you. As a Republican and as someone who has wanted to get to the truth about what happened, how does it feel to watch Leader McCarthy go visit Trump again, kissing the ring, this time with what's at stake about this January 6th Committee on the line?

DENVER RIGGLEMAN, (R) FMR. CONGRESSMAN, VIRGINIA: I honestly don't think it's that much of a surprise. It's very disappointing. But if you look at the polling, you're looking at the sort of the stop the steal messages is actually growing. I've seen so many misses, and so many emails or so many releases from President Trump. It's almost like he's trying to start his own Delta variant of the stop the steal message and I think it's working so well. I think with the fundraising and the polling, I think with McCarthy going out there, I think it just sort of cements that they believe they're in the right swim lane to win the 2022 midterms. And talking to my, as you know, I still talk to a lot of members in the GOP.


RIGGLEMAN: I still talk to a lot of individuals on the ground here in Virginia in our fifth district and there's a lot of individuals who still believe the election was stolen and that 2022 is going to right the ship and they have to do everything they can to make sure that Republicans get back in power. And I think it does show the President Trump or former President Trump is seriously considering running in 2024 and I think that's what you're seeing, Erin.

I think you're seeing the start of that and I think the polling and fundraising is why McCarthy is out there and it's a head shaker for people who deal in facts because this become fantasy could actually carry the Republicans to a 2022 victory in the House.

BURNETT: Jamie, this is the thing and, I guess, the Congressman is laying out the logic that McCarthy could be following. But choosing just for, what, political calculation as opposed to some sort of moral clarity or sense of right and wrong, this is what McCarthy's choosing to do.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: A hundred percent. As Denver said, it's surprising. It's not surprising, but it is so many things stunning.


What are we seeing here? Kevin McCarthy is perpetuating the big lie for exactly the reasons you just mentioned, he wants to be speaker of the House. He thinks that this is a way to win back the majority.

But there's another reason here we can't forget. He's part of the big lie. In the weeks and months between the election and January 6th, he was talking to Donald Trump, if not every day, several times a week. He was perpetuating the big lie and he may very well be called by this committee to ask him what he was doing.

BURNETT: So Scott, I mean, this is the thing. McCarthy could be called by this committee, it's because he was on the phone with Trump on the day of the insurrection saying, this is serious, what are you doing. And Trump tries to say it's antifa or whatever he was saying. And McCarthy is like, these are your people call them off.

So McCarthy cared in the moment, he knew the importance in the moment. Since then he finds things out like the generals were worried Trump was going to stage a coup. He's finding more and more of this out. But he doesn't seem to care.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he has a couple of responsibilities. One is official. I think he should appoint members to the committee, because I think Republican - it's an official action of the House and we can say that it's partisan and certainly the Democrats have good political reasons to keep this in the news. But it's an official action of the House, so they need to appoint members just like during the impeachment.

I think a lot of Republicans would look back and say the impeachment committee hearings would have gone much differently had Republicans not been there to cross examine witnesses.

So number one, he really should appoint these members. Number two, as an official matter, he should certainly participate if he gets asked. As a political matter, he wakes up every day asking what do I have to do today to get back the majority and to become speaker, that's his dream.

And let's be honest, Donald Trump holds the dream of Kevin McCarthy being the speaker in his hands, because even if we do win a majority next year, if Donald Trump decides he doesn't like Kevin McCarthy anymore, on that given day he could crush those dreams by saying we need someone else.

And so I would expect them to remain totally aligned. But I think as it relates to his official duties on this commission, we need Republicans on it. He needs to participate. I know he may not like it, but that's the facts and I hope they appoint people who will take it seriously.

BURNETT: Well, yes, go ahead, Jamie.

GANGEL Erin, can I just jump in and say I've spoken to a lot of members of the Republican conference, who believed that's exactly what's going to happen, that Trump will turn on Kevin McCarthy if they win the majority and he will not be the speaker if they win.

BURNETT: Which is pretty incredible, right?

GANGEL Absolutely.

BURNETT: Because McCarthy is doing the same calculus that so many have done with Trump, be nice, kiss the ring and then Trump turns on them and they're done. And yet the next person comes in and does it again.

Congressman, it is pretty incredible. Are you hearing things like Jamie is?

RIGGLEMAN: Yes. I mean, it's interesting I had a call the other day like, hey, Kevin is doing the right thing for the 2022 midterms, but it doesn't actually sealed the deal for him to be speaker. And that is really not that shocking to me, either.

When you try to keep everybody happy all the time, they're certainly going to be cracks in that ship. So I don't think 2022 is some kind of catch the brass ring on this. I just don't think that's the thing. And that's why I'm, again, very surprised. It's almost like a - I don't even know how to characterize it like a hostage crisis in the Republican Party where they feel that they have to be loyal to this certain individual. And as a free thinking individual, as somebody who thinks because I have conservative thoughts where liberty is the number one thing and constitutional rights and things like that. It's amazing to me that one man that these people are so afraid that they'll belly crawl to Mar-A-Lago or wherever he's going, Bedminster, wherever he's going today. Wherever Trump is at, that is where the people will gather and that is really something to me.

And again, for somebody who thinks they've been pretty conservative their whole life, I really don't understand what that definition is anymore based on the Republican Party today.

BURNETT: I mean, Scott, to this discussion about Kevin McCarthy, Trump's angry about these book excerpts, I'm sorry, I mentioned a couple of them. I do want to note, by the way, he sat down with the authors of these books and spoke to them for hours. It isn't like these things are - he didn't have a say in them. He did because he can't stop himself. He just loves it so much.

And so there's a lot from him in the books. In fact, one time he talked about people that he made stars. I guess one could now say perhaps Kevin McCarthy, you might want to listen to this line, Trump says, "Many say I am the greatest star-maker of all time. But some of the stars I produced are actually made of garbage."

I mean, forget what this says about his hiring, but this is how we see some of them who have been loyal to him, they're just garbage whenever something changes.


JENNINGS: Yes. I mean look, he's shown time and again that he will turn on you in a moment of anger, even if it's not in his best interest to turn on that particular person. I mean, we've seen that happen over the years. So again, though, I think Kevin McCarthy is - he's dealing in the moment, every moment and sort of playing whack a mole with all the problems that he has to deal with every day.

But the constant problem, the mole that has to be whacked every day is I got to try to stay in the good graces of Donald Trump because I need him to like me, I need him to help us fundraise, I need him to not muck around in primaries where it wouldn't be helpful. There's a number of things Trump could do to be helpful or hurtful and so McCarthy every single day wakes up going down that checklist and doing what he can to try to keep the whole thing on the rails and is a high wire act.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate all of you. Thank you very much. I just want to clarify something, he did speak to the authors of those books for hours. But that quote that I just read was what he put out slamming the books today, talking about the stars he produced being made of garbage. Thank you all.

And next, Gen. Mark Milley, he is now in the center of all of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We are not going to be intimidated into making stupid decisions.


BURNETT: So more on who he is, why he is now such a political lightning rod in America.

Plus, the largest county in the United States now reinstating its mask mandate for everyone regardless of whether they've been vaccinated.

And a Russian-linked hacking group behind some of the biggest attacks on the United States has disappeared. Did the U.S. take the group down. Biden officials mum (ph) tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, former President Trump lashing out at Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley amid reports that Milley feared Trump could attempt a coup in his final days in office. Trump denying the reports adding, "If I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is Gen. Mark Milley.

This as CNN is learning Milley convened a meeting with the Joint Chiefs for two days following the January 6th insurrection and gamed out what to do if Trump did not leave office. Oren Liebermann is OUTFRONT.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, the podium is yours.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT(voice over): The nation's top General thrust into a political battlefield of which he wants no part. Gen. Mark Milley made no mention in his public appearances today of his reported clashes with former President Donald Trump.

For the first time in modern U.S. history, the Joint Chiefs Chairman prepped a plan because he feared a coup attempt after Trump lost the November election, according to an upcoming book from Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker from The Washington Post.

The fears came to a boiling point around the January 6th Capital riots. Milley told his staff that he believed Trump was stoking unrest, possibly in hopes of an excuse to invoke the insurrection act and call out the military. The role of the Joint Chiefs' Chair is advisor to the President, but he found himself increasingly at odds with the man who appointed him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAJ. GEN. JAMES MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, U.S. ARMY (RET): All levels of leaders must be prepared to resign and walk at a moment if there's a moral or ethical or legal challenge.


LIEBERMANN(voice over): Milley's 40-year military career has taken him to Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and more. He is a student of history. But one who can be quite blunt.


MILLEY: We are not going to be intimidated into making stupid decisions. We will give our best military advice regardless of consequences to ourselves.


LIEBERMANN(voice over): As a leader, he's tried to keep the military firmly out of politics. But one defense official told CNN he's not going to sit in silence while people try to use the military against Americans.


MILLEY: We do not take an oath to a king or queen, a tyrant or dictator. We do not take an oath to an individual. No, we do not take an oath to a country, a tribe or religion. We take an oath to the Constitution.


LIEBERMANN(voice over): It's a refrain the 63-year-old general uses often, statement of fact about the oath of service. But it's taken on a political overtone in this charged environment. During racial injustice protests across the country last summer, Milley was often the lone voice of opposition in the Trump White House according to a separate book from Michael Bender.

Trump wanted to use military force to quell the protests saying, "Crack their skulls or just shoot them," the author wrote. Milley pushed back saying it was a law enforcement issue, not a military one.

The most public split between Trump and Milley came last June 1st at Lafayette Square. Law enforcement cleared the square of protesters before Trump's photo op. Milley walked beside him.


MILLEY: I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.


LIEBERMANN(voice over): It's a perception that Milley can no longer shake. In hearings on Capitol Hill, Milley is verbally sparred with some of those most loyal to Trump like embattled Congressman Matt Gaetz over extremism and the study of racism in America.


MILLEY: I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States Military, our general officers, our commissioned and noncommissioned officers of being 'woke' or something else because we're studying some theories that are out there.


LIEBERMANN(voice over): The quote made Milley a favorite target of the right and Fox News.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: He's not just a pig, he's stupid.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With the failures of the country's top general.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: He's just a total partisan at this point.



LIEBERMANN(on camera): In the final chaotic days of the Trump administration, a defense official tells CNN that Gen. Mark Milley and the other Joint Chiefs had one common goal. Get to the date where Joe Biden was sworn in as president and became commander-in-chief. On that date, Donald Trump was no longer in charge of the military and couldn't try to bend it to his will, Erin.

BURNETT: Oren, thank you.

And I want to go straight now to retired Army Major General Paul Eaton. He knows Gen. Milley and he was also a part of a group called the Transition Integrity Project, which gamed out scenarios in which Trump would not leave office peacefully if he lost the election.

So, Maj. Gen. Eaton, Trump is denying these reports. Obviously, they're not a surprise to you, given what you were spending your time on after the insurrection. You've spoken to active duty soldiers as well and what you've heard aligns with much of - which have been reported in this book about Milley, tell us about that.

MAJ. GEN. PAUL EATON, U.S. ARMY (RET.); KNOWS JOINT CHIEFS CHAIR MILLEY: Erin, thank you very much. There is no surprise in this book to those of us who have lived through this. Like any professional person, soldier, we remain connected to our institution and with active duty and retired peers and subordinates alike.

[19:25:08] We were hearing things. The rumors were alive and well. They became more alarming when we saw some interesting personnel moves, notably the Secretary of Defense Esper. The judicial attacks on the election, the lead up to the insurrection, I just have to tell you that I'm not surprised by what I have heard, seen in this book. And the rhetoric that continues, and the rhetoric out of the former president is also no surprise at all.

BURNETT: Gen. Milley is not publicly saying anything about this, but as you just heard Oren Liebermann lay out, he is now, Milley, is at the center have several of these new books on Trump's final days as one of the few people who is willing to stand up to Trump in a very meaningful way. And Major General, you know Milley. Tell me about his character.

EATON: I first met Gen. Milley when he was Col. Milley commanding the brigade in the 10th Mountain Division. One, any commander in the 10th Mountain Division has a very tough job. That's a great unit, light infantry. And to be a brigade commander in that kind of organization, you've got to be one of the very best.

When I met him, I found him very strong. He tends to physically impress. He is obviously well-educated, well-read and I was struck by how he can carry an argument in a very blunt yet professional manner. A really impressive guy.

And when I watched his performance with the disrespectful, seditious Congressman and how he took them to the intellectual woodshed, I was just delighted, impressed and proud to know that man.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time very much, Major General. Thank you.

EATON: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And next, Dr. Fauci says the vaccines are 'as good as officially approved'. So what is the difference between an official FDA approval and an emergency authorization? This has become central to some of the debate over vaccine mandates.

Plus, hackers have crippled America's infrastructure and they're setting their sights on everyday Americans now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were just sitting in our computers where all pretty much operating and then all of a sudden everything was gone.




BURNETT: Breaking news: Los Angeles County, the most populous in the United States, reinstating its mask mandate with cases up 500 percent from last month. All residents vaccinated or unvaccinated will be required to wear a mask indoors starting this weekend. Local officials warning, quote, anything is on the table if things continue to get worse.

This comes as we see a nationwide surge. Cases up now in almost every single state across America.

Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The latest coronavirus surge hitting hospitals across Louisiana. Patients struggling to breathe, now younger, sicker and staying in the hospital longer, say doctors treating them.

DR. FRANK COURMIER, ICU INTENSIVIST, OUR LADY OF LOURDES REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: Something new that I'm having to struggle with is now having to tell 4 and 5 and 9-year-olds about their loved one and not being able to get them home or be able to see them, and that's difficult. And I don't want to go that over and over again.

MARQUEZ: Doctors and nurses stressed a long year getting longer.

Lafayette's Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center has had the highest number of COVID patients admitted in the state.

COURMIER: We're going to exhibit now more stress on the system, more stress on us as we're having to take care of these patients. Once they arrive, they are in the hospital for weeks and months.

MARQUEZ: The Bayou State entering its fourth coronavirus surge driven by low vaccination rates currently only about 36 percent of residents here are fully vaccinated, and the rapidly spreading delta variant, accounting for nearly 60 percent of infections here.

How fast is the virus growing in the community here?

DR. JOSEPH KANTER, LOUISIANA STATE HEALTH OFFICER: Well, right now, we've had the highest number of new cases, almost 2,000 new cases today than we've had going back three or four months. Delta variant up until last week was doubling in prevalence, every two weeks.

MARQUEZ: In Monroe, in northern Louisiana, St. Francis Medical Center has admitted the second highest number of COVID patients in the state.

DR. JOHN BRUCHHAUS, CRITICAL CARE SPECIALIST & CO-ICU DIRECTOR, ST. FRANCIS MEDICAL CENTER: We're seeing patients in their 30s and 40s. Ninety-nine percent of the patients that are presenting are unvaccinated, people that are having symptoms to the emergency room.

MARQUEZ: The hospital now expanding its capacity for COVID-19 patients.

Dr. John Bruchhaus is in an ICU that usually cares for patients getting out of surgery. It's been emptied and is again being prepared for coronavirus patients.

BRUCHHAUS: We know that our area has about 25 percent to 30 percent influx of the delta variant. We expect every seven to 10 days for that to increase by 10 to 12 percent. So, we're concerned that over the next three to six weeks that the large majority of the virus in Louisiana will be the delta variant.

MARQUEZ: One vaccination clinic here putting a couple dozen into arms daily. They were doing hundreds a day just a few months ago. They say overcoming anti-vaccination conspiracies, the hardest part of their job.

KATIE BARBER, DIRECTOR, PRIMARY CARE SERVICE LINE, ST. FRANCIS MEDICAL GROUP: Seeing people, seeing their loved ones seeing other people that they know love and trust receive it and seeing that they are perfectly fine, I think that's what it really takes is making it personal. Or someone in their family becoming very sick, then makes it a priority.



SANCHEZ (on camera): Now, look, health officials believe there is a large number of people out there who can be persuaded to get the vaccination.

Their best advice, if you are vaccinated and someone you know or love is not, don't mock them. Don't tease them. Don't haranguing them. But just keep giving them good information, keep encouraging them to get vaccinated and keep working on them -- Erin.

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

And OUTFRONT now, Lawrence Gostin, he is professor of global health law at Georgetown University.

Professor Gostin, so we're just getting this news out of Los Angeles county tonight, that the mask mandate is coming back. Cases up 500 percent. Do you think we could see other places follow as cases climb?

LAWRENCE GOSTIN, O'NEILL INSTITUTE FOR NATIONAL & GLOBAL HEALTH LAW, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, I appreciate you having me, Erin. You know, it's a wise decision in L.A. County, because apart from vaccines, masks are our best public health tool. But the problem is that masks have become a social and political fault line in America. We seem to have two Americas.

And some of the states that need the masks most because they have such a low vaccine rate, won't do it. So some states will. But I'm afraid that we'll still see this major divide in the United States.

BURNETT: So the number of vaccine doses administered are dropping significantly, as the number of cases surges, right? We're down to 300, I'm sorry 530 doses -- 530,000 doses a day, a huge drop. Less than half the U.S. population is fully vaccinated so that's well below what anyone's definition of herd immunity would be. D So, at this point, Professor, do you think that we need to get real? And possibly admit that the only way to get more people vaccinated is through mandates?

GOSTIN: Well, I don't think it's the only way but I think it's a very highly effective tool. You know, there is a lot of evidence that requiring vaccines at work or in schools really increases vaccine coverage. And most Americans actually want to feel safe and secure in their workplace or their college dorm room. It's really important to them.

BURNETT: So let me ask you. Some companies have hesitated. They encourage but they don't mandate. New York's Governor Cuomo said he can't mandate the vaccine until it is fully approved by the FDA. So this is an interesting point here and I wanted to get to the bottom of this.

The vaccines are being administered under an EUA, which is an emergency use authorization by the FDA. It is short a full approval. We know that tons of conspiracy theorists have seized on this.

But here's what Dr. Fauci recently said about it.


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


BURNETT: Okay. It's as good as done but yet it is not done.

So, Professor, I believe you can explain why it could make a huge difference, the different between full approval and emergency use authorization in whether government and public employers can mandate it. How come?

GOSTIN: Yeah. I mean, states can't mandate it while it is just under an emergency use. So, Governor Cuomo, for example, is right. He can't do it.

Employers and colleges and university, they can do it. The Equal Opportunity Employers Commission has already stated it is lawful, even under an emergency use authorization.

But here's the problem: there are large swaths of Americans who think this is an experimental vaccine. But the truth is that it is one of the safest, most effective vaccines I've ever seen in 30 years of working in public health, as safe as small pox vaccines or polio, which eliminated those scourges from the Earth.

And so, it is all but done. But the FDA really needs to move quickly because American lives are at stake. BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Professor. I appreciate your


And next, the U.S. surgeon general an important message for vaccine skeptics. But Fox News didn't air it. So, did the right people even hear it?

Plus, a Russian-linked hacking group that's behind some of the ruthless attacks appears to be gone. And tonight, the Biden administration is mum on whether they're behind its disappearance.



BURNETT: Tonight, the Biden administration warning that misinformation is slowing vaccinations in the U.S. and leading to unnecessary deaths and calling out technology companies for their role in that.


DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Modern technology companies have enabled misinformation to poison our information environment with little accountability to their users.


BURNETT: But it's not just technology companies. Look who wasn't covering the surgeon general's briefing, as other networks took at least part of it live. The box that looks different at the bottom is Fox and they are talking about Black Lives Matter.

And this is important because we know 47 percent of Republicans say they aren't likely to get vaccinated compared to 6 percent of Democrats, according to a recent "Washington Post"/ABC News poll. And 93 percent of Republicans name Fox as their main source for political news, according to Pew Research Center.

So, in other words, many of the people that the White House needs to reach likely didn't hear it.

Oliver Darcy is our senior media reporter and he's out front.

So, Oliver, I mean, you know, Fox didn't take this live. Instead, they were choosing to do a segment about Black Lives Matter. They came out of commercial as the surgeon general finished and noted this report on misinformation was released. That was all they said.

Is there any indication from what you can see, Oliver, that this campaign is reaching the audience it needs to reach?


OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yeah, Erin. It's not -- it's less about whether it is reaching the audience that they need to reach and more about whether it is resonating with that audience. And I can tell you confidently that it is not.

You know, I was watching Fox before coming on with you. The banner headline says something of, the White House wants to censor you over public health. That's how many Americans are hearing about today's news.

Not that misinformation may have misled them into believing things about the vaccination that aren't true, but the White House is trying to control you. They've been wrong in the past and now they want to censor you. And so, you know, I'm not really quite confident that anything they announce today will really change any minds among the people that they need to persuade.

BURNETT: Well, of course, part of the issue for Fox is if they were to air that, it would go against what people hear day in and day out when they hear Fox. So it is calling out Fox as disinformation itself. I mean, just take listen to this.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: The idea that you would force people to take medicine they don't want or need, is there a precedent for that in our lifetimes? I honestly think it is the greatest scandal in my lifetime by far.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: There is nothing more anti-Democratic, anti-freedom than pushing an experimental drug on Americans against their will.


BURNETT: That's having an impact. I mean, this is what our own Donie O'Sullivan has heard on the ground from Republicans he's talked to. And I know, Oliver, you know, you've highlighted some of these exchanges. Let me play them for viewers.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: You know three people who died from coronavirus and you won't get vaccine.

ZACH BARRETT, CPAC ATTENDEE: No, like I said, I don't need the vaccine.

O'SULLIVAN: You're not getting vaccinate, are you?


O'SULLIVAN: Even though it is the Trump vaccine?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doesn't matter whose vaccine it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: So you're very tuned in to what's being said in the media that people like that are consuming. Just how pervasive is the anti- vaccine rhetoric, Oliver?

DARCY: It's extremely pervasive. And, you know, Erin, it's been pervasive for some time now. This isn't anything new. This has been going on for months and months and months.

So, you know, it's great that the White House is finally recognizing that they have this huge information crisis on their hands. And that it's preventing people from seeking out vaccines which can save their lives. But, you know, where were they six months ago? It is will like they're fighting a war that they've largely lost at this point.

BURNETT: All right. Oliver, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

DARCY: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, not exactly the place you would expect a Russia linked cyber crime to attack but they did. And we're going to take you there, next.

Plus, a first look at CNN's new original series on one of the most controversial cities in history.



BURNETT: Tonight, the Biden administration refusing to say whether the U.S. knows anything about the merest disappearance of a major ransomware group believed to operate from Eastern Europe or Russia. One expert saying the group called REvil has conducted some of the most ruthless attacks on global meat suppliers and major, major software companies. In their latest strike, the hackers are even targeting small towns here in the United States.

Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Leonardtown is a quiet little town in Southern Maryland, at the banks of Potomac River, population, 4,500. Not the kind of place you would expect to be hacked by Russian hackers, but that's exactly what happened as the Fourth of July weekend started.

LASCHELLE MCKAY, TOWN ADMINISTRATOR FOR LEONARDTOWN, MARYLAND: We were just sitting on our computers and all of a sudden everything was gone.

MARQUARDT: Michelle McKay is the administrator of Leonardtown for over 20 years and says the past two weeks had been the most chaotic she's ever seen.

MCKAY: They said shut everything down. So, it was a little bit of panic. MARQUARDT: Leonardtown was one of the up to 1,500 victims of a massive ransomware attack carried out by REvil, a criminal hacking group. They attacked an American company called Kaseya whose software is used around the world.

In the town hall of Leonardtown, the Wi-Fi went down, the computers were locked up, email and data inaccessible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll email it to him once the system is back up and running.

MARQUARDT: They couldn't process permits or payments and had to resort to writing everything out, or using the office's one typewriter.

MCKAY: Just everything you can imagine that you would start to do, you realize wasn't available.

MARQUARDT: In Sweden, 800 grocery stores shut down. In New Zealand, schools and kindergartens were knocked off line. REvil demanded a $70 million ransom payment.

The White House argued that the national impact was small since critical infrastructure wasn't hit. But the pain was deeply felt by small companies like Shasho Real Estate Consulting, which we visited with Joshua Justice, whose company, Just Tech, is the IT provider for Leonardtown, Shasho Consulting and more than 100 others whose systems were locked up by the hackers.

JOSHUA JUSTICE, PRESIDENT, JUST TECH: We prepared for the worst and we have encrypted backups of everyone's data in case the worst happens. We never envisioned this and having to bring up so many, over 100 clients up at one time.

MARQUARDT: Just Tech had shut everything down in only eight minutes. But the damage was done.

JUSTICE: Over 1,000 devices infected in that short period.

MARQUARDT: Thanks to the Just Tech backup system, none of their clients like Shasho Consulting and Leonardtown, had to pay the $45,000 per computer demanded by the hackers. But their business essentially ground to a halt.

HARRY SHASHO, PRESIDENT, SHASHO: It's been pretty bad. Yeah, it really hurt us.

MARQUARDT: Harry Shasho thought his company with just four employees had all the protection they needed.

SHASHO: Who would have thought that that would happen? I could see this on a TV program but I never thought that would happen.

MARQUARDT: Back in Leonardtown, Michelle McKay says this has been a major lesson, one she hopes others will learn from, that attackers thousands of miles away are wreaking havoc on towns like hers.


MCKAY: It's just a small town, rural area. But it just goes to show no one's really safe from this.


MARQUARDT (on camera): It took that IT firm Just Tech about ten days of working around the clock to get their clients back up and there's still work to be done. Erin, both the mayor of Leonardtown and the head of that real estate company say they want President Biden to be more aggressive and go after these attackers overseas. That may have happened in this case but we simply don't know. The Biden team also saying that they're leaning on the Kremlin to crack down on hackers based in Russia. That remains to be seen -- Erin.

BURNETT: Alex, thank you.

And next, a first look at CNN's new original series on the city that is at the center of faith and fury.


BURNETT: Jerusalem, conflict across the ages, is now a focus of a new CNN original series.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jerusalem, besides its religious significance, is the center of national aspiration of two communities, the Israelite community and the Palestinian community. That adds another layer of complexity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's impossible to imagine fixing the present and building a better future for Jerusalem without understanding the many stories of its past.


BURNETT: "JERUSALEM: CITY OF FAITH AND FURY" premiers Sunday at 10:00.

Anderson starts now.