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Erin Burnett Outfront
Doctor Warns "The Delta Variant is Coming for Us. It's a Beast"; Zients: 1 in 5 COVID Cases this Week Came from Florida as Gov. DeSantis Mocks Fauci, Sells "Don't Fauci My Florida" Items; All 50 States Seeing a Rise in Cases for First Time in 6 Months; Judge Ruling Declares DACA Illegal, Blocks New Applicants; Facebook Fights Back After Biden Says Site Like It "Killing People". Aired 7-8p ET
Aired July 16, 2021 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: "Jerusalem, City of Faith and Fury," that's at 10 p.m. Eastern and Pacific only here on CNN. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. Tweet the show @CNNSITROOM.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, a prominent doctor's dire warning to all Americans, the Delta variant is coming for us and coming for our kids as cases are on the rise in all 50 states. More counties tonight bringing back masks for the vaccinated as well.
Plus, former Vice President Mike Pence acknowledging something tonight that his former boss refuses to admit.
And breaking news, a federal judge delivering a devastating blow to DACA tonight saying the entire program is illegal. What does this mean for dreamers? Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, "It's coming for us. It's a beast." That is a quote. It's a chilling warning coming from a doctor in Louisiana. Voice now raising the alarm about what is now, again, a growing number of COVID cases across the United States. The number of cases is now rising in all 50 states. Look at that map of new cases compared to the prior week.
You can see, if you're green or yellow, you're sort of steady or improving. Orange, you're bad. Red is terrible. And you see that dark red blanketing almost the entire country. And it's not just cases that are up, hospitalizations are now also on the rise. One state surging is Florida.
The White House's COVID Response Coordinator, Jeff Zients today saying one in five new COVID cases in the United States are in Florida. You can see the spike there from a month ago. Tonight, the State's Governor Ron DeSantis is taking a different attack, selling campaign merchandise, mocking Dr. Fauci, selling certain hats that say don't Fauci my Florida.
This also comes as Florida is telling companies and cruise lines that they cannot mandate passenger show proof of vaccination status. By the way, all these companies don't like that at all. Norwegian is suing Florida because they want to know if you're vaccinated.
Well, the nation's rise in cases comes as the war over mask is heating up again. So we're just hours away, you may remember from the indoor mask mandate returning to Los Angeles County and it's now not just there. Health officials in the San Francisco Bay Area today followed suit. That means another 7 million people there will be told to mask up, whether vaccinated or not.
And in Nevada, in the most populous county, Clark County, of course, the home of Las Vegas, they now are recommending both vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear a mask when they're indoors. The United States is heading in the wrong direction and in fact an infectious disease expert in Louisiana which has one of the worst vaccination rates in the country sounding the alarm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. CATHERINE O'NEAL, CHIEF MEDICAL OFC. OF OUR LADY OF THE LAKE REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER IN LOUSIANA: It's coming for us. It's a beast. That's what we're seeing in the hospital. That's why we're nervous. That's why I'm here to talk to you today, because it's different. We're either going to get vaccinated in the pandemic or we are going to accept death. A lot of it ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I will talk to Dr. Catherine O'Neal in just a moment. But first I want to go to Stephanie Elam, because she's OUTFRONT in Los Angeles where, Stephanie, I just mentioned that mask mandate will go back into effect in just a few hours for the vaccinated and unvaccinated. And it's amazing, Stephanie, officials are saying much more remains on the table as well.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. And what really needs to happen here is that there are a lot of people who've gotten one dose. They need to finish getting their second dose. And just looking statewide, you can see that this number is going in the wrong direction. That is why you see seven Bay Area counties now recommending that people wear masks, if they're in indoor public spaces. So stores, restaurants, movie theaters and the like.
And then you've combined that with Sacramento County and Yolo County which also have similar recommendations. And with Los Angeles County combined in there, you are looking at nearly half of the 40 million people that live in this State now looking at wearing masks once again.
And this is happening almost to the day, one month after California opened back up. And you can see just by looking at the data what needs to be done here. Throughout the state, about 51 percent of the state is fully vaccinated, which is great, but it is not enough. And so you can see in these pockets where you're seeing this rise and
if you look just to Nevada as well, like you were talking about what's happening there in Southern Nevada, they are also recommending, it's not a mandate like it is here in L.A. County that they wear these masks in indoor public places, whether it's casinos, restaurants, bars, wherever, except for when you're actually eating. All of that a big concern because the numbers are tripling so fast in that one area.
BURNETT: All right. Stephanie, thank you very much. It's sobering.
And I want to go now to the doctor you heard there with that powerful warning, Dr. Catherine O'Neal.
The Chief Medical Officer of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Louisiana and Dr. Peter Hotez will join me afterwards. He is Co-Director of the Center for vaccine development at Texas Children's Hospital.
So Dr. O'Neal, first let me let me begin with you. A lot of reaction to your warnings about the virus. You said Delta is a beast that it is not last year's virus. Tell me why. What are you seeing? Why is it different?
O'NEAL: It's different for a couple of different reasons. And I think the biggest thing that we're trying to get across to the people in Louisiana is we took a lot of preconceived notions from last year. My neighbor was 40 and he did OK when he got the virus last year and so I'm going to be fine, because I look and feel like him. And that's not the same thing, because this year's virus is not last year's virus it.
It's attacking our 40-year-olds. It's attacking our parents. It's attacking our young grandparents and it's getting our kids. And so understanding how different this is and that we can't take our experience from last year and apply it to today and assume that we're going to be OK is our biggest fight right now.
BURNETT: OK. So several questions on that front, but you mentioned age and that it seems to be striking younger people as well more effectively than the original COVID. We have obviously anecdotally heard that from other doctors as well. I'm a mother of three children too young to be vaccinated and you talked about this issue really struck me.
You said Delta variant is coming for our children. I know you're the mother of three as well, two teenage girls and a boy under 12 also unvaccinated. And I know you've changed your behavior because of what you're seeing and your real concerns, tell me.
O'NEAL: Right. So a month ago we felt pretty good about our kids going to play with other people, going to camps. We were having a great, good summer. But as the surge begins and as you start to see that community activity and then suddenly it's like gasoline on a fire and everybody has COVID again, just like they did before, we're starting to dial back on the number of things we do, definitely doing them outdoors again.
And my son stayed masked in public places because he needs to, because he's not vaccinated. And so following the rules we've been following, but also starting to pare down our big crowd activity to outside because that's what the safest thing is for the unvaccinated.
BURNETT: OK. So let me just ask about a couple other things that you mentioned, because I think people really care about this. Unvaccinated people obviously are at incredible risk. But vaccinated is a real question, right, masks now being brought back for vaccinated people. We're seeing more and more what they're still calling 'breakthrough infections'.
You talk about younger people getting this. You say, it's my friends, it's my peers, I'm quoting your tweet, Dr. O'Neal. The kids go to school. My friends and their kids are starting college in three weeks and they're not going to be alive. That is what Delta variant is. It's coming for us. It's a beast.
Tell me what you're seeing as a doctor on the ground that is making you say things that - look, anyone who hears that, they're concerned.
O'NEAL: Right. And I think they should be concerned, Erin. I started every one of my days with looking at our list of admissions from the night before. I go through their age, I go through their comorbidities and as I just run that list really quickly, what strikes me the most is that 50 percent of them are people that are just like me, are parents have young kids or kids of college age. They're in their 40s and 50s.
I have more people in our COVID units now than I've ever seen who I would have considered totally healthy. And that's just a striking difference from last year where we talked about, I have a 40-year-old, I've seen a 23-year-old who gets sick now. Now, half of the unit is that age.
And what we're also seeing and it's incredibly unfortunate is we're seeing a lot of death in that age group and that's not something we saw before. We saw those people have long haul COVID. We saw those people take weeks to get better. But to go through that with our peers and to not be able to tell that story to them and say, hey, it's you this time, it's coming for you, and you thought this was last year's virus, it's not. It's this year's virus and you have to get vaccinated.
That's the only way to end it. Masks and mitigation, they're not going to take it. It's going to be vaccination.
BURNETT: So, let me ask you one more question on that front. I know that there's a lot that we don't fully know about how effective the vaccine will be over time. Pfizer is saying that they want to do boosters and that if not, their head of R&D development for vaccines has called it a terrible disaster. CDC and FDA obviously not there yet.
But in terms of the vaccinated, Mississippi's State Health Director was saying now 7 percent of their hospital admissions are fully vaccinated. We just don't have a ton of numbers here, what are you seeing there?
O'NEAL: The vast majority of our hospitalized patients are unvaccinated, absolutely. The people who we're seeing who have breakthrough cases are either having very mild symptoms and the reason that they got tested with their sniffly nose is because they knew that they were contact traced and had been exposed.
Or we are seeing some admissions. But when I look at those charts and when I see those patients, these people were people that we know don't respond to their vaccine well. They're elderly. They're sick. They're on chronic steroids. They receive chemotherapy. That's a group of people that the community has to protect by getting their vaccine.
They were never going to keep their vaccine immunity up for a long time. They are vulnerable. We protect them by getting vaccinated too.
BURNETT: All right. Doctor, thank you very much.
So, I just want to now ask Dr. Hotez here in this conversation some questions. I mean, Doctor, I want to give you a chance to respond what Dr. O'Neal is saying. I mean, she's raising a very serious alarm about this, specifically for children and what she's saying, younger people, 40s and 50s, and specifically, children. What's your reaction to that on what she's seeing?
DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yes. So, I break it down like this, Erin. And I think she makes a lot of important points. First of all, it depends where you are, up in the northeast, where they're doing such a good job in terms of vaccinating just about all of the adults and adolescents, transmission is probably not going to pick up.
So there isn't that same level of scariness and urgency. It may get there, but I have some optimism. But in Louisiana, which is second to the bottom and vaccinating fewer than 15 percent, 16 percent of the adolescents are vaccinated. Very few young adults are vaccinated. That's a disaster waiting to happen, that combination with the Delta variant.
And so what you're seeing is this steep now acceleration what we call force of infection and that's what's landing so many unvaccinated people in the hospital. And that's what we're going to see across the south this summer. And unfortunately, it was predicted and predictable. It's similar to what we saw last summer with one important difference, which is we are doing a little bit better with older individuals even in Louisiana, where higher percentage are vaccinated, but we're basically immunologically naive young adults and adolescents. And so we're going to see a lot of illness, a lot of long haul COVID. And unfortunately, there will be serious hospitalizations and even deaths.
BURNETT: Well, and of course it raises the question that you're going to start to hit a point, whatever point the FDA and Pfizer can agree that boosters are needed. Then you have a whole another set of risks entering into this.
So let me ask you, Dr. Hotez about the Bay Area, counties in California that are joining L.A. County to recommend masks regardless of vaccination status. And I should be clear in L.A. it is a mask mandate that is returning not just a request or recommendation.
In Las Vegas, they're recommending that people start wearing them again, regardless of vaccination status. Do you think it's only a matter of time before we see this across the country again?
HOTEZ: Yes, it might be. And again, it's going to depend on the level of transmission, and this is the problem with the CDC guidelines. It uses - tries to do a one size fits all recommendation and that's hard to do. So if you've got a lot of transmission, then yes, I think, you're going to need to be wearing masks even if you're indoors and vaccinated.
BURNETT: All right. Doctor, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
HOTEZ: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, the Biden administration tonight giving credence to the theory that COVID first leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China. Now finding that theory just as credible as the natural origins' explanation.
Plus, Mike Pence splits with Trump on the deadly insurrection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The truth is we've been through a lot in the last year. A tragic day in our nation's Capitol.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And New York prosecutor stepping up the pressure on another top Trump Organization executive. Who is it and will that person flip on Trump?
BURNETT: Tonight, CNN is learning the Biden ministration now finds the theory that the coronavirus leaked from a Wuhan lab to be as credible as the theory that it developed naturally. This is a dramatic shift in what they're saying publicly. And it comes amid an intelligence review that President Biden demanded.
Natasha Bertrand is OUTFRONT with this new reporting. And Natasha, look, let's just be honest, this is a dramatic shift from the Biden ministration, which is looking at this now in an extremely serious way. What more are you learning?
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: It is a shift especially from last year when the lab leak theory, so-called lab leak theory was considered pretty outlandish and kind of a conspiracy theory by many on the left. And that, of course, had to do a lot with the fact that the former President Donald Trump was weaponizing it and was making it political.
But now what we're seeing is that senior Biden administration officials are taking this possibility very seriously. Biden ordered an intelligence community review of the origins of the pandemic, back in March. The intelligence community then came to him with their findings in May. He then already redoubled effort into this - the probe into COVID origins because the intel community was split on the issue.
That really led Biden administration officials to say this lab leak theory is as plausible, as credible as the idea that it originated naturally in the wild. So, what we're learning now is that the tone towards Beijing among Biden administration officials is hardening and it has been over the last several weeks.
They've been warning China that there will be consequences, for example, if they don't participate in a World Health Organization probe that allows them access to their data and their labs. So, we are seeing kind of a stepped up effort here by the Biden administration to take this possibility seriously. But obviously, we are cautioned that we may never know the final answer here.
BURNETT: Right. And certainly, we may not, and I know, obviously, there's a large body of circumstantial evidence that leads to the lab and it appears to be growing. But this is a crucial question and Natasha let me just ask you, obviously, a lab leak theory is not the same thing as an engineered virus that was intended to be used as a weapon just to make that very clear. Like a leak theory could have been an innocent leak, but a leak nonetheless that came from the Wuhan lab.
BERTRAND: Totally right and this is a really key distinction. It's not that the intelligence community and Biden administration officials believe that this was deliberately engineered, say, as a bioweapon by the Chinese and then was unleashed onto the world either deliberately or accidentally. What they believe could have happened here is that this lab, which was conducting this research on vax, that people somehow became infected with it, that it escaped from the lab.
But that it was over the course of kind of normal biological research. So right now, what we're hearing is that that biological weapon theory has pretty much been debunked by the intel community. It doesn't have much credence among senior officials. But the possibility, again, that it might have originated naturally, but again within that lab is being taken more seriously, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Natasha, thank you very much. And I think it is important for you to have a chance to make that distinction. So, I want to bring in Dr. David Relman now, Microbiologist at
Stanford University. He's advocated since last summer that the lab league theory should be taken seriously, and he's pushed for more investigation into it.
So, Dr. Relman, look, you've been leading on this. What do you make of the Biden administration - obviously, the evidence is growing, and we understand that to be the case? But they're now seems to be admitting that the lab leak theory is as credible as the theory it developed naturally. That even in and of itself appears to be a bit diplomatic, but what do you make of their shift?
DR. DAVID RELMAN, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, MICROBIOLOGY & IMMUNOLOGY, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: Well, I think from the start, it was clear that there was credible evidence, circumstantial evidence in favor of either and both hypotheses. And what I sense now is that finally we're able to shed some of the political baggage and that calmer minds are prevailing and what they're doing is simply looking dispassionately at the evidence and asking, OK, what is it tell us? Let's base this on facts.
BURNETT: So here's the question, though, are we ever going to know? And I understand in the court of public opinion, in a sense China has already been convicted, that's pretty clear. And that may be what ultimately matters.
But in the court of actually scientifically knowing and be able to hold it up in front of them and say are you kidding me, you covered this up, you lie, that's a big difference. Do you think we'll ever be able to do that, that will ever have an effect to definitively say that?
RELMAN: Yes, I'm not sure that we will. I mean, history tells us that very often definitive answers are not easy to come by. But I think it's really important to point out that just because a definitive answer is not available, doesn't mean that we won't gain really important new information, and that we may learn a lot that helps us in understanding how best to address this problem going forward.
BURNETT: I will just say one other thing. I mean, I guess, when you look throughout history, I was talking to one expert recently, an immunologist with a lot of expertise saying the country from which a contagious virus comes is usually the country hardest hit, both economically and in terms of morbidity and mortality. That's the opposite of what happened here.
And we don't know the vulnerability (ph) and mortality, but from the Chinese economic performance, it's been the opposite. What does that say to you?
RELMAN: I think we have to be cautious. I mean, first of all, there was a lot of suffering in China. They had the earliest take on what it might require to contain this thing. And it's hard to say whether this favors anybody in the end. There was a lot of suffering to go around, that's for sure. And I think what we have to do now is try to look at this in a cold,
hard, dispassionate way and simply say what is the science tell us here and what can we learn from further acquisition of facts as best we can know them.
BURNETT: Well, Dr. Relman, I really appreciate your time. Thank you.
RELMAN: You're most welcome.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Mike Pence trying to have it both ways tonight, praising his former boss but also speaking the truth about what happened on January 6th.
Plus, New York prosecutors tightening their grip on another top Trump Organization executive, someone who reportedly once said he would kill for Trump.
BURNETT: Tonight, former Vice President Mike Pence playing both sides saying today he couldn't have been more proud to serve alongside Donald Trump, while also acknowledging what Trump refuses to admit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: The truth is we've been through a lot in the last year. I mean, the global pandemic, civil unrest, a divisive election, a tragic day in our nation's Capitol.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: A tragic day in our nation's Capitol. Of course, Pence was at the Capitol to preside over the certification of Joe Biden's win. Trump wrongly told Pence that Pence could overturn the results. According to the upcoming book, I Alone Can Fix It by The Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig.
Trump called Pence on January 6th and told him, and I quote, "You don't have the courage to make a hard decision." Hours later rioters stormed the Capitol.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring out Pence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring him out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring out Pence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring him out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring out Pence. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring him out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Pence had to be taken to safety. And today Trump still doesn't acknowledge his role in the events of January 6th and he continues to perpetuate his big lie. That's the lie that led to the storming of the Capitol, led to five Americans dying there. Today, 255 days after the free and fair election. Trump putting out a flurry of statements including, "The Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, together with Brad Raffensperger, allowed this election in Georgia to be rigged and stolen." And 'had the election not been rigged and stolen, I would have won easily'. That's what he's saying today.
Kristen Holmes is OUTFRONT live in Des Moines, Iowa where Pence spoke today. And Kristen, Pence, again, today trying to have it both ways, the loyal lieutenant, full of praise and also going against Trump's view on the crucial events of January 6th.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. And Pence is really walking a tightrope here. This is a man who wants to stay politically relevant. He wants to stay in the arena.
We know there is already speculation he'll run for president in 2024 but he also sees what we all see, which is that despite January 6th, despite the rhetoric against our democracy, the Republican Party is still very much a party of Donald Trump. We see candidate after candidate, going down to Mar-a-Lago, lawmaker after lawmaker all kissing the ring, seeking endorsement or seeking approval.
And that's not lost on the vice president. One thing that was clear today was that Pence is trying to form a political identity outside of the shadow of Donald Trump. He talked about how he was proud to serve in the administration, all the accomplishments of the administration, but he was light on praise for the man himself. Obviously, it's a little different from what we have seen from Pence in the past.
But one thing to make very clear here, no matter how vague pants is about January 6th -- he touches on it, he even said at one point that he had Donald Trump might never see eye to eye on that day, but didn't elaborate on it, he is going to have to eventually answer for it. Because of Donald Trump's rhetoric, there are still people who are very, very angry at Mike Pence. And when he does speak about it, it is going to have to determine whether he stands with Trump or fully separates himself.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much.
And I want to go now to Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy. She is a member of the January 6 Select Committee, also sits on the House Armed Services Committee and is a former national security specialist at the Defense Department.
So, thanks very much for your time, Congresswoman. You know, today, former Vice President Mike Pence praised Donald
Trump, but he did acknowledge the tragedy of January 6th. Obviously, his role on January 6th was crucial, right? What Trump said to him before and after?
Do you want to call Mike Pence as a witness before the committee?
REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): Instead of getting ahead of the committee, and who we're going to call, I'll just say that I know that our committee will call whoever we need to get the full set of facts on what happened on January 6th. And obviously, Vice President Pence was there on January 6th as well, as his staff members.
But, you know, there's been a lot of focus on the prominent elected that were involved in either the run up to this event, or what happened on the day of the event. But I want to know more about the average American -- that schoolteacher, the father and son from a law enforcement family, the wealthy jet-setting woman who joined the organized extremist groups in an act of political violence, to try to change the outcome of an election.
You know, I think we're a country where we are going to have to have close and hard-fought elections. But we have to be a country that is willing to accept results. And we have to understand these trends, not only at the highest levels, but also the folks who showed up that day to prevent us from certifying the election.
BURNETT: So, in terms of the committee itself, right, you're -- you're kind -- you are half there now, right? I mean, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has not announced who he plans to name to the committee. We do know he met yesterday with former President Trump and a source claims that they didn't discuss the committee.
Do you have any concerns about Trump putting his fingers on the scales here, that whether he will be involved in picking or proving in any way the Republican members?
MURPHY: Let's say I am hopeful, maybe naively hopeful that Minority Leader McCarthy will pick patriots over politicians. He needs to put people on this committee who are willing to have an apolitical approach to what happened on January 6th. Because beyond, you know, what this particular president said or did, we have to understand how our bureaucracy responded to an attempt at dismantling our democracy.
Our bureaucracy is made up of career bureaucrats, and civil servants, and military officers. It's also made up of political appointees.
So how did that interaction happen when those political appointees were given a different direction from their political leadership? I think, for me, it's incredibly important that we understand how resilient our institutions are, so that we can fend off attempts at developing an autocracy. My family and I escaped one, and I know how fine that line is, between a democracy and an autocracy.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your time tonight. MURPHY: Good to be with you.
BURNETT: All right. And next, another top Trump Organization executive, now being pressured to cooperate with New York prosecutors.
But is it enough to get him to turn on Trump?
Plus, breaking news, a federal judge has ruled that DACA is illegal. Illegal. Wow, a federal judge -- what does this mean for the hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients from now?
BURNETT: Breaking news, New York prosecutors upping the pressure on another top Trump Organization executive to cooperate in the criminal probe, where CFO Allen Weisselberg has been indicted. That man is Matthew Calamari, who has also been investigated for possibly receiving tax-free fringe benefits. He's been with Trump for nearly four decades, rose from being Trump security guard to chief operating officer of the company. Well, you get there with Trump by being loyal.
According to the 1993 Trump biography "Lost Tycoon" by Harry Hurt III, Trump reportedly one asked Calamari from the back of a limo, quote: You'd do anything for me, wouldn't you, Matty? Yes, sir, Mr. Trump, Calamari replied. Trump then asked, quote: Would you kill more me, Matty? Calamari's quick reply: Yes, sir.
OUTFRONT now, CNN justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider.
Jessica, how involved are these efforts to get Calamari to turn on Trump?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, really, Erin, this is pressure prosecutors have been putting on Matthew Calamari since before that indictment we saw against the Trump Org and Allen Weisselberg two weeks ago. And we've actually learned that prosecutors there still talking to calamari's legal team. And that's in large part because Allen Weisselberg has refused to flip. We don't know of anyone else in the Trump Organization that's cooperating.
And now, prosecutors want to Calamari to turn on Trump, though it really does seem unlikely given those repeated comments that he would never let anything happen to his long-time boss.
But, you know, Calamari and his son, they are being investigated for the same thing that Weisselberg was indicted for, whether they properly paid taxes on the subsidized rent and cars that they received from the Trump Org and prosecutors believe they could potentially get the Calamari's to give them information and that could provide insight into what Donald Trump knew about that alleged scheme.
And also, another scheme they're investigating, whether the Trump Org misled lenders and insurers about the value of certain properties. Now, of course, you remember perhaps, Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen who has served time in prison, he told Congress in 2018 that Matthew Calamari was one of three people in the company who is aware of what was going on.
So, now, prosecutors, they continue to press him to spill information. But, Erin, his lawyer is telling our team that Calamari has no information on the financial workings of the Trump Org since Calamari was just the chief operating officer -- Erin.
BURNETT: The chief operating officer should have knowledge of the financial operations of the company.
OK. Thank you very much, Jessica. That's an incredible statement that they are trying to say that.
OUTFRONT now, Harry Litman, who is a U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general under former President Clinton.
OK. So, Harry, you just heard Jessica's reporting. Why do you think prosecutors are focusing, let's just start here, on trying to get Matthew Calamari to cooperate? I mean, it would seem to indicate on the one hand that they aren't getting anymore with Weisselberg, right?
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Maybe. Look. You know, it's become a cliche as to Weisselberg to say he knows where all the bodies are buried. Matthew Calamari is not that guy.
BURNETT: Oh, he may literally actually be that guy.
LITMAN: Right. Yeah. He's a big bouncer for Trump. So why are they going after him and as your reporter said, it's been a while now.
One thing he was, he's around all the time. He's a trusted guy who is in the limousine and so my best guess is Cohen or Jennifer Weisselberg has testified about a certain statement, something small and specific that they could get -- that Calamari was present for, and they could get him to turn.
He's not a mastermind. He wouldn't be able to explain what the mastermind did, but he maybe has some really key core piece of evidence probably about Trump's intent that he could corroborate.
And the pressure as you've noted, Erin, it's the same thing. He's getting the apartment. He's getting the Mercedes, as is his son. There might be the same kind of shenanigans with taxes. It wouldn't be a surprise. He's a Trumpy through and through.
BURNETT: Right. So, Trump spoke glowingly about Calamari in his book "Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and in Life".
BURNETT: Trump wrote, quote, when I hired Matthew Calamari as a security guard more than 20 years ago, it became clear he had more to offer than his job title warranted. He went to become an executive vice president and is now the chief operating officer of Trump Properties. He has been a dedicated and trustworthy worker and not been given challenges, this side of him would not have been apparent.
So, what -- do you see as a sign of strength or weakness in this probe that they're focusing on Matthew Calamari? And again, I make the point a chief operating officer should know things about the financial running of an organization, that's how any responsibly run organization, I mean, it's absurd to say he would know nothing. I don't know how the Trump organization was run. So, who knows?
But do you see this as a sign of strength or weakness on the sign of prosecutors?
LITMAN: Yeah, not quite either. Look, this guy is not a financial guy. And I think you can -- what Trump is really saying is he will kill for me. That is what gets you to be chief operating officer.
So in that sense, they're going after him just means they're leaving no stone unturned. He's a snippet of evidence probably about Trump's intent. Which is the number one thing they need, but he's nothing like Weisselberg for being able to show intent as to the financial crimes.
You know, if Trump killed someone, he might have helped saw the body, but he's not the financial mastermind that Weisselberg is and that's what the D.A. is charged him with.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you --
LITMAN: Charged Weiss -- yeah.
BURNETT: Yeah, Weisselberg. All right. Thank you so much. I appreciate it, Harry. Good to talk to you.
LITMAN: You, too, Erin, thank you.
BURNETT: And next, breaking news, a federal judge ordering an end to DACA, calling it illegal.
All right. So, what does this mean? Does this change the entire spectrum for DACA recipients?
And President Biden accusing platforms like Facebook of killing people by allowing vaccine misinformation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated and they're killing people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Breaking news: a federal judge ruling tonight that DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is illegal. The ruling blocks new applicants from the Obama era program, which protects some young undocumented immigrants from facing deportation.
Evan Perez is OUTFRONT.
So, Evan, I mean, you know, when you hear the headline, this is done, this is illegal, I mean, you sort of go, wow, this sounds extremely significant. Tell me what it means. .
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it means that for now, the government cannot accept any new applicants and new people into this program, so-called Dreamers that are already part of this program. Hundreds of thousands of so-called Dreamers --
PEREZ: -- can remain. And that's one of the things the judge said, that he said that essentially this is a program that has engendered a lot of especially good, right, for these Dreamers, for employers who employ them. And so, he believes that it was in the interest of the program -- of the people who were participating for it not to be ended, so suddenly.
But he said, in -- in those -- in simple terms, he said that this is a program that was illegal, that Congress never allowed the -- the administration -- the Obama administration, to create it.
So, now, what this means, Erin, is that this is the latest twist for these Dreamers, who have seen this program go back and forth. Trump administration tried to end it. Supreme Court did not allow that. So we may, yet, see some more court battles.
BURNETT: That's the question. Can it be appealed? I mean, you know, and at what time frame? I mean, this is essentially -- this is pretty significant for a lot of people, in terms of its impact.
PEREZ: Yeah, it is.
BURNETT: So how does it play out in terms of an appeal, for example?
PEREZ: We haven't heard yet from the Justice Department. We asked and they have not said but you can bet they will -- they will likely do this. And this will go back, again, to the Supreme Court.
But in the meantime, you know, the -- the -- the real answer is that Congress needs to pass some kind of legislation to resolve this, once and for all, because again, there is hundreds of thousands of people who rely on this program. And who have been going back and forth with each one of these court rulings.
BURNETT: All right. Evan, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
And next, Facebook just responding after President Biden accused Facebook of killing people with misinformation. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: Breaking news: President Biden versus Facebook. The tech giant just now releasing a statement saying it quote will not be distracted by accusations which aren't supported by facts after Biden delivered this sharp criticism about the dire consequences of COVID misinformation on Facebook.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: They're killing people. The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And that -- and they're killing people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: But Republican lawmakers are pushing back on the White House, urging social-media companies to combat misinformation, calling it a big-government attempt to censor free speech.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy saying the White House and tech companies want to, quote, control you, and Republican Senator Ron Johnson tweeting, quote, big government is now big brother.
OUTFRONT now, Mike Shields, strategist for Leader McCarthy and also former RNC chief of staff.
And, mike, I really appreciate your time.
So, you know, a source telling CNN after Facebook was unwilling to crack down on vaccine information, Biden officials decided the tech giant was either quote not taking this very seriously or hiding something. And now, obviously, Facebook pushing back, very strongly, tonight, on Biden's comments.
What do you make of the White House's push, against Facebook?
MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think it's dangerous. I think the government getting involved with censorship. We already have tech censorship, as it is. I mean, your reporting earlier about the Biden administration now saying the lab-leak theory, for instance, is something they are taking seriously, when that was first talked about, posts were taken down by social media because they said this is misinformation,
And so, having the tech industry decide what is information and what isn't is, already, dangerous. And then, having the government come in and say, you're not doing enough, we are going to get involved with censoring people is even more dangerous and that's when conservatives are worried about.
BURNETT: All right. So the Press Secretary Jen Psaki says there is 12 people who account for 65 percent of the information on Facebook, which, of course, is dangerous when 99 percent of COVID deaths are among the unvaccinated, right? That's true. It's dangerous stuff. But we can all agree the misinformation should not be happening. Okay.
So how do you deal with the problem, Mike? And I know, you may not accept her numbers. But if you are able to identify some of the key places it's coming from, but you're not comfortable telling Facebook to stop those sources. What do you do?
SHIELDS: Well, first of all, I'm vaccinated. The vaccines are safe. I -- the first thing you do is you communicate with people. And you try to win them.
I mean, go to Facebook, spend some of the trillions of dollars the government is proposing right now in spending. Go to Facebook and advertise to these anti-vaxxer people and win their hearts and minds.
What is happening is the message isn't getting through and so they said, well, let's just shut down the thought. And that is really dangerous. I think anyone in the media who respects the First Amendment should find that very dangerous because what if there is an administration in the future that says you and I can't talk about this? That's a dangerous thing to do.
Of course, we should get vaccinated. I'm clear about that. Republicans are clear about that, but shutting down someone who says you shouldn't and controlling their speech is, I think, un-American and something very dangerous for the government to take part in.
BURNETT: All right. Well, let me be clear, you're clear about being vaccinated. There are plenty of those in your party who -- who have not, right? And that is part of the problem. Not saying it's all of it.
SHIELDS: Both parties, Erin. I mean, look. L.A. County just reinstated a mask mandate. That's not a county teeming with Republicans. There's obviously people there that are getting vaccinated. It's a problem across the country. But let's address the problem.
BURNETT: Right, but elected Democrats aren't out there saying don't get vaccinated, don't knock on my door, don't tell me what to do, don't get vaccinated like some elected Republicans are. That's all I am saying. If all Republican leaders said what you said, we would be having a different conversation.
SHIELDS: Look, I think you have to win hearts and minds and go out and compete for ideas and use the freedom that we have in this country to go and communicate to people the values of something. Don't shut them down. And certainly, don't have the government be in the place of censoring people.
We have already had enough censorship. We should be going the other direction. We should be regulating the tech industry by saying stop censoring people, especially when it's unfair and the conservatives are getting censored more -- more than people on the left. Open up the speech and let the American people decide.
BURNETT: So what's interesting here is that, you know, you have a Biden administration wanting Facebook to do more on this particular issue. Overall, as you point out, Republicans are extremely angry at big tech but for a different reason. Here is just a few of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): These are the most powerful corporations in history. And here they are, coordinating about how they are going to stop us from speaking, coordinating about who they're going to ban.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I think they collectively pose the single- greatest threat we have to free speech in this country.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): This is a defining moment in American democracy. If we do not push back against Google and Twitter, we will lose our democratic ability to talk to each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. So that -- that's from the right and you have Biden today saying Facebook is killing people. I mean, I get the reasons are different. But this is a lot of -- a lot of vitriol for big tech, from the left and the right. Why? Why can there not be common ground here?
SHIELDS: You know, it's a shame. There should be. I think there's -- there's elements in both the right and the left that think that big tech has too much power and they are abusing that power. What they want to do about it is different.
As usual, conservatives want more freedom. And people on the left want more government. And so, what you are seeing from Biden is yes, they are abusing their power. The government should step in and start doing more of what they are doing and people on the right say, no, you should be fair.
And I think one of the other things we have to do is have everyone earn more trust. People in the media, tech, everywhere, earn more trust of people so when you talk to them about vaccines, they believe you.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Mike, I really appreciate your time. Thank you.
SHIELDS: Thank you.
BURNETT: And thanks so much to all of you for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.