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Erin Burnett Outfront

Rep. McCarthy Pulls All Five GOP Picks For January 6 Select Committee After Speaker Pelosi Rejects His Two Picks; GOP's Rep. Cheney Rails Against McCarthy's "Disgraceful" Rhetoric; Some Republicans Now Pushing Vaccines As States That Voted For Trump Lag In COVID Vaccinations; CDC: About 91 Million In U.S. In "High" Transmission Areas; Moments Away: President Biden Addresses The Nation As He Faces Headwinds In COVID Fight, Economy, Other Issues. Aired 7- 8p ET

Aired July 21, 2021 - 19:00   ET


JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: All right. Thanks so much, Evan Osnos. Thanks so much for that. And CNN's exclusive Town Hall event with President Joe Biden begins in about an hour. Don Lemon hosts live from Cincinnati beginning at 8 Eastern.


Our special coverage continues right now with "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT."

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, political Washington implodes. Kevin McCarthy boycotting the committee to investigate the deadly insurrection after Pelosi vetoes two of his picks. Sandra Garza, the longtime partner of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick is OUTFRONT tonight.

Plus, President Biden about to address the nation here on CNN at a time when COVID cases and hospitalizations are spiking again. Could the Republicans who have suddenly started to encourage vaccines help?

And new details about Trump ally Tom Barrack, will he fight the charges or cooperate with investigators against Trump? Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, all out war. The Special Committee to investigate the January 6th insurrection imploded today as Kevin McCarthy pulled all five Republicans he named from the panel. It comes as President Biden is about to speak directly to the nation right here on CNN.

Tonight's exclusive town hall comes at a pivotal moment in Biden's presidency. He's facing headwinds on crucial issues. The most pressing of all, of course, is the pandemic and also the economy, infrastructure, voting rights, police reform, immigration, a daunting list, especially when Washington has descended into an all out partisan war. We'll have more on that in a moment.

But first Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live in Cincinnati, Ohio where Biden's exclusive town hall will take place shortly. Kaitlan, the stakes are high for the President tonight so what is his message to the American people?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, it's a critical juncture for his presidency. He hit that six month mark yesterday. So obviously, he's going to come here tonight and want to talk about what he believes he's accomplished in the first six months. But he's also looking to sell his economic agenda and his domestic agenda for going forward and what the rest of his first term is going to look like.

And this comes as this town hall is happening tonight as that infrastructure deal, the bipartisan one that the President has touted so often is in limbo right now in Washington as you're seeing lawmakers race to finish the final text. The White House says they feel good that it's all going to come together in the end, but they are still actually waiting on all of it to come together.

And of course, he is still dealing with the challenge that he was dealing with on day one of his presidency and that is obviously the coronavirus pandemic. But it's a new aspect of that pandemic, because it's the concerns about the Delta variant and also concerns about misinformation and the 50 percent of Americans who are still unvaccinated.

So there are other questions that the White House is expecting he will get from the audience tonight. But, of course, inflation is another one. You've seen that increase in demand in prices, raising concerns about potential inflation. The President and his team, his economic team says they are not concerned about it right now. But it is something that we know voters are concerned about.

So that is another area he could be questioned on as well as several foreign topics as well when it comes to foreign policy and the international challenges that are facing the President. So yes, Erin, he will be talking about his first six months in office, but he's also going to be talking and shaping, hopefully, according to the White House what the next six months are going to look like.

BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much. And in Washington, the epic battle that is downright ugly that will no doubt be a part of tonight's conversation. Today, Kevin McCarthy pulling all his packs from the Special Committee investigating the January 6th Capitol riot after Nancy Pelosi rejected two of his picks. McCarthy now calling the committee a political sham.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): It's an grievous abuse of power. Pelosi has broken this institution. And it shows exactly what I warned back at the beginning of January that Pelosi would play politics with this. Pelosi has created a sham process. Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republicans, we will not participate.


BURNETT: OK. My way or the highway or taking his ball and going home. Let's be clear, though. McCarthy has never wanted to be part of any investigation into the deadly insurrection, because he actually voted against creating a bipartisan independent commission to investigate the riot.

It was a commission that had been negotiated by Democrats and Republicans. They agreed. And it was one that actually gave McCarthy what he wanted. Here is the letter. This is the letter that McCarthy actually sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi back in February. She released the letter and in it McCarthy asked for some pretty specific things, an equal five to five ratio in appointments by Democrats and Republicans, equal subpoena power, no pre-determined findings or conclusions.

Pelosi acquiesced specifically to every single one of those requests. So McCarthy sends a letter said give me all these things. She said yes, yes, yes, yes. Gets everything he asked for and then still votes no and doesn't want the commission.


He and most of his fellow Republicans still voted no. So for this Special Committee, that's where it went to, that was the only option because he rejected the bipartisan equally staffed one. Then he gets to name people.

So we named three people that had very clearly towed the Trump line of the big lie, including trusted Trump ally Congressman Jim Banks who is obviously not going to take this investigation seriously. I mean, just look at the statement that Banks released after McCarthy selected him for the committee. Banks says, "Make no mistake, Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to malign conservatives and justify the Left's authoritarian agenda." OK, so there's your open-minded person.

And then, of course, there's Congressman Jim Jordan who has repeatedly defended Donald Trump's actions on the day of the insurrection.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): The facts are how do you incite a breach of the Capitol when it was already planned?

How do you incite a riot when the breach happened before the president completed his speech?

I don't think there was any kind of language from the president that provoked them or got them or incitement in any form whatsoever.


BURNETT: So the lone Republican remaining on the Special Committee, Liz Cheney, which was not picked by McCarthy. She was picked by Pelosi backing the Speaker's decision. She backs the Speaker's decision to veto both Jordan and Banks being on the committee.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): The minority leader has attempted to prevent the American people from understanding what happened. We cannot allow those voices who are attempting to prevent the American people from getting the truth to prevail and we certainly will not allow that.


BURNETT: As for Pelosi by vetoing two of McCarthy's pick, she upped the ante, setting off a chain of events that seems to have dashed, for now, at least the last hope this country has for any kind of bipartisan investigation. So who does that hurt the most?

Well, it hurts the family of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. In a moment, I'm going to speak to Sicknick's longtime partner, Sandra Garza. It hurts the more than 100 officers who were injured during that riot. It hurts every American who watched in horror on January 6th as our Capitol was attacked by a mob of Trump supporters and deserves and needs to know who, what, when and why.

Ryan Nobles is OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill. And Ryan, Speaker Pelosi is still going full steam ahead with the committee, but obviously now you got no Republicans on it. Now she could ask McCarthy and Jordan to testify. Tell me where this goes from here.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, from the very beginning, Erin, the members of this committee, the Chairman Bennie Thompson has said that they're going to go wherever this investigation leads them and that could include calling witnesses like the House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, the former President Donald Trump or even Jim Jordan to testify in front of the committee about their role as to what happened on January 6th.

And after everything that we saw today, the back and forth between both sides, there doesn't appear to be any wavering in that commitment to finding the truth. In fact, Liz Cheney who remains the sole Republican on this panel now appointed by Speaker Pelosi doubled down on her commitment to this committee. She even suggested that Jim Jordan who was one of the picks by Kevin McCarthy could be what she called a material witness to what happened on that day. Meaning that she's open to calling him before the panel.

And then I also caught up with Jamie Raskin of Maryland who's also a member of this Select Committee. And I specifically said, "Would you call Trump or McCarthy in front of this panel?" And he said, "They're going to go wherever the investigation leads." And he said and I thought this was interesting, Erin, he said, "If people were not involved in the attack or the insurrection or the plot to overthrow the electoral count process, then they don't have anything to worry about."


NOBLES: And this was after I specifically asked him about Trump and McCarthy. So this committee is going to move forward and their first hearing is next week, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Ryan. And I want to go now to Sandra Garza. She is the longtime partner of

fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick who was attacked by protesters outside the Capitol on January 6th and later died.

Sandra, you see this happening, Speaker Pelosi rejects the two Republicans. McCarthy then responds by saying I'm going to pull all of my Republicans from the committee. How do you even respond to this?

SANDRA GARZA, PARTNER OF OFFICER BRIAN SICKNICK: Well, I think it's a very infantile move on his part. And I think, hopefully, in my humble opinion, I think Speaker Pelosi is doing the right thing by at least from what I've heard, by continuing to just press right ahead and go forward and just continue with the investigation and not give in to this kind of political playground here.

This is serious business. We need to get to the root of what happened. Kevin McCarthy has been given every opportunity to have things his way.


And I think Speaker Pelosi was more than generous and gracious to work with them to have a true bipartisan commission. They didn't want to do that and now with the select committee - and I think she did the right thing, in my humble opinion. This is just my humble opinion by saying, no, we're not going to have - oh, I'm sorry, did you have something you want to say?

BURNETT: No, no. I just wanted to ask you because I know you've met with Liz Cheney. And obviously, she's made it very clear, she supports what the Speaker does just like you do.

GARZA: Yes. Yes.

BURNETT: And she's going to remain on the committee. Do you feel that the committee should continue even if the only Republican on it is Liz Cheney? Are you confident that they can reach the truth?

GARZA: Yes, I do. I mean, I think it's a shame in the sense of for people who are still not convinced that the facts that are found that come up in the select committee are just that facts. I mean, clearly, if they're going to subpoena emails, text messages, have witnesses come forward, I mean, you can't dispute that, right?


GARZA: But I realize that for some of the supporters, they're still going to say, oh, well, it's very partisan. So it can't be true, which is very sad. But facts are facts and history will show that. So I think if Pelosi does, in fact, decide to continue and press ahead. And maybe I was given incorrect information or read something wrong, but if she does, I think that's the right move.

I don't think they should sit around and continue to play these political playground games. This is serious stuff and I understand that the officers are going to be testifying next week. BURNETT: Yes.

GARZA: I really hope that that's going to be public so that we can all hear their witness testimony.

BURNETT: So let me ask you, Sandra, because you have been pounding the pavement on this. Obviously, you continue to speak out because you want justice, but you also literally went to Capitol Hill. You met, tried to meet with as many Republicans as you could.

As I said, I know you met with Liz Cheney, but you tried to meet with others, you met with others, tried to appeal to them to support the bipartisan commission to talk to them and, obviously, they failed to do so.

But do you believe from those meetings that there are other Republicans, maybe viewers may not know the names of some of them who may listen, who may still want the truth here or were you truly just saddened and demoralized by your experience meeting them?

GARZA: I mean, no, there was some that we met with that certainly were moved and do care about America, because really that's what's at stake here is really caring about America and our democracy, Sen. Murkowski, Sen. Collins and several others that I can't think of right now. I'm sorry, I'm put on the spot.

BURNETT: No, that's OK.

GARZA: But certainly, yes, there are those that do truly care and do want to get to the bottom of what happened and are very concerned about the events of that day. They were there in the Capitol when everything was going on and they were terrified. It was a very scary event and we cannot have that happen again.

It's horrifying that the majority of Republicans are taking this as a joke and more concerned about their political careers and worshipping Donald Trump than they are to ensuring that this never happens again and keeping America safe.

BURNETT: All right. Sandra, I appreciate your time. Thank you for speaking.

GARZA: Thank you.

BURNETT: And now Van Jones. He was former Special Adviser to President Obama and Mike Shields, strategists for Leader Kevin McCarthy.

So let me just ask you, Mike, what do you think is going on here? I mean, McCarthy was - we showed the letter. He got the letter. He sent the letter, I'm sorry, to Pelosi. And she did acquiesced to everything on it and then he still voted against that. So did he ever have any intent of supporting a committee here?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, sure. He tried to work with Speaker Pelosi and the goalposts kept getting moved. And first of all, if you're going to have a bipartisan commission, then you ought to let the other party choose who their members are. So I think what Nancy Pelosi did today was proved Kevin right on everything he's been saying about this from the very beginning, which is that this is about politics.

And so what Kevin first said was, as the leader said, let's have something that looks at not just starting on 1-5 and 1/6, but going back to political violence. Let's find out how this happened. Much like the 9/11 Commission. Went back to the bombings in Africa and the coal being blown up and Jihadism in the Middle East to find out what happened in 9/11. No, I only want to stick to this thing.


OK. Well then let's have a bipartisan commission. No, I'm going to have subpoena power for my side only.

Finally, Kevin says, OK, you know what ...

BURNETT: No, no, she did give co-equal subpoena power.

SHIELDS: ... but then she moved the staff and subpoena goalposts after that. And then even saying all that, as of today, Leader said, OK, fine. This is partisan. I'm going to take part. I'm going to name my members and then in an unprecedented move that's never happened before, Speaker Pelosi said, no, you can only have the members on your committee that I decide.

And at that point, that puts the lie to her entire argument the entire time. This is about politics.

BURNETT: OK. Well, look, he did pick two people who have said the whole thing is a joke and I think they think bad about it, so it would seem that he was mocking the system by putting them on.

SHIELDS: They are elected members of Congress and they are people on the Benghazi committee when Republicans were in the majority. We did not do that to the Democrats. It did not say you can't have people that you choose.

BURNETT: OK, the language, by the way, for the select committees is exactly the same in both. We did confirm that for the Benghazi committee and the January 6th committee. We did actually go back and check the resolution. The language is identical.

SHIELDS: But we didn't tell them they couldn't have members on the committee. We didn't dictate to them who the members are.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Now who's moving the goalpost? Now who's moving the goalpost?


JONES: Now you're moving the goalpost. Look, I mean, everything we've just heard is a big part of the problem here. First of all, yes, with Benghazi and with others, you've been able to go back. But you went back and stayed within the same form of violence, the same kind of organization.

What was happening was there was a demand coming from the Republicans that we look at every form of violence in the country most of which had nothing to do with what happened with this attack on our democracy.

The other thing, I think, that is very important, Kevin McCarthy put Nancy Pelosi in an untenable position. This was a poison pill move. If you're trying to put together a bipartisan commission, you have to put people on the commission who are serious about the mission of the commission.

When you go and get people who have already discredited the commission, the intent of the commission, the point of the commission and have already prejudiced themselves, you've now put her in an untenable position.

And has she gone forward with these kinds of people, we will have nothing but a show of kangaroo court and an outcome that the public couldn't accept. So I think Nancy Pelosi did the right thing.

BURNETT: So Mike, can I just ask you a question because I do want to get a chance to respond to this, to this point about Banks and Jordan which are the two that Pelosi rejected. Banks gets tapped by McCarthy to be on the committee, OK. And before anything happens, he puts out a statement saying, "Make no mistake, Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to malign conservatives and to justify the Left's authoritarian agenda."

That's what I'm getting at, Mike. How can someone like that be picked? You cannot say this person was taking this seriously at all. He told you he wasn't.

SHIELDS: Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats from the beginning have said 1/6 was about Donald Trump. You had a guest on that just said it a moment ago. There was someone on CNN earlier that said that. The Commission hasn't even started yet and the Democrats have all said that 1/6 was Donald Trump's fault.

Look, the Chairman of this commission is Bennie Thompson. Bennie Thompson is an election denier. He didn't believe the 2004 election was correct. You had Jamie Raskin on earlier. Jamie Raskin was an election denier in 2016. So this is a joke. The idea that you have to have someone who believes in the mission that Nancy Pelosi should remove all the election deniers that she's already appointed to this commission herself.

This is part of the problem. In 2004, you had a few people who raise their hand to try to call attention to a couple of problems. You didn't have half of the caucus or more of the caucus reject the election after there had been attack on the Capitol. And so to go crawling back through the history books, trying to find some little Skittle on the sidewalk and hold up and pretend it's the same thing as this Mack truck that was run through our democracy doesn't make any sense. But if it makes you feel better to do it, you can. But here's the

problem. You got people at home who are just bewildered by all this, why can't we just come together, put reasonable people together and get to the bottom of this and make sure it doesn't happen. Nobody wants violence and this kind of stuff though is, I think, is going to result in more of it going forward.

SHIELDS: Our law enforcement on Capitol Hill deserves what you just said. I wish that they could be bipartisan. I wish that they hadn't played games. Nancy Pelosi admitted today this was all a game and it's a shame for those who believe it.

BURNETT: Well, she didn't admit it was all a game, just to be clear. I understand both sides are now playing the hands that they're dealt, but I think it's tragedy. You're going to end up getting nothing or something that's just all one side that it is ...

SHIELDS: I agree.

BURNETT: ... it is a tragedy. All right. I thank you both. Appreciate it.

And don't miss the town hall with President Biden hosted by Don Lemon starting at 8.

And next, some Republicans are having a change of heart when it comes to the vaccine.


REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): We should be getting the facts out there and encouraging people to take it.


BURNETT: Better late than never, yes. But how much of a difference can it make now?

Plus, Biden's infrastructure bill blocked by Senate Republicans today. I'm going to talk to the Mayor of Cincinnati where Biden is about to take part in the town hall. The Mayor says the city needs that money now. He doesn't have any chance of seeing it.

And First Lady Jill Biden tonight on her way to the Tokyo Olympics as another American athlete is pulling out of the games.




BURNETT: Tonight, confronting vaccine skepticism. That's a big theme in tonight's CNN town hall with President Biden. Here's one of the major hurdles Biden faces, in each state Trump won in 2020 that you see on this map in red, in each of those less than half of the residents are fully vaccinated. And so Republicans now suddenly shifting their messaging, making an urgent push seven months after vaccination started in the United States.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): These vaccines are saving lives. They are reducing mortality.

SCALISE: We should be getting the facts out there and encouraging people to take it.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Get vaccinated. I want to encourage everybody to do that and to ignore all of these other voices that are giving demonstrably bad advice.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Please take COVID seriously. I can't say it enough. Enough people have died. I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccination.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now Dr. Michael Bolding who works in the COVID unit at a hospital in Southwest Arkansas where hospitalizations are up more than 500 percent in the past month. So Dr. Bolding, I really appreciate you and your time here tonight.


I know that you've made a video pleading with people to get vaccinated that's being shared with many thousands of people online and I am going to ask you about that. I want to play a part of it.

But first, let me ask you about where you are tonight. You're at the hospital. Arkansas, one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. I think you're at 36 percent fully vaccinated. Do you think when you hear politicians now suddenly speaking like this or television personalities in the case of one of them, that it's going to make a difference where you are?

DR. MICHAEL BOLDING, HOSPITALIST, WASHINGTON REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: I do. I think that those are influential voices in our state and I welcome anyone who has the message to get vaccinated. That's the only way we're going to get through this pandemic.

So Republican, Democrat, Independent, let's be on the same team here. Absolutely.

BURNETT: So I do want to play a part of that video that you made. You're really begging people in your community to get vaccinated, because you see what happens when they come in to where you are right now. You're warning specifically about a dramatic spike you've seen in younger patients in their 20s and 30s at your hospital, Dr. Bolding. Let me play a clip from it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BOLDING: What I really wish you could see is to look into the eyes of

a young father, for a gentleman who knows that they may be short for this world, because they didn't get their vaccine and the regret and remorse on their face and fear.


BURNETT: I mean, what is it like doctor for you to see that, to see that look on people's faces and to look at them and know that at that moment, they know that they could have done something to not be there.

BOLDING: I mean, in a word, heartbreaking. My voice is cracking down just even seeing that and talking about it. That morning, I had seen three males in a row that were 32 years old, 28, 27 all healthy before this.

And I just called our marketing team and I said I don't know what I'm going to say, but I need a camera. I need to say something, because there's so much misinformation out there about the vaccine and we are not seeing vaccinated patients dying from COVID.

I've been doing this for 16 months and when the vaccine came out, it was a miracle and we all thought, yes, we can finally be over this. And to see a less than 40 percent vaccination rate and to see actual human beings dying and struggling for each breath over a vaccine. It's mind boggling and heartbreaking.

BURNETT: So more than 170,000 people watch that video on YouTube and Facebook and I hope that number is going to be many times that Dr. Bolding. I hope people will go watch it now. One woman commented, she said you convinced her three children who are all in their 20s to get vaccinated, which is incredible.

I mean, you're having an impact and you're saving lives, not just in literally saving lives, but by what you said. Have you been hearing more response to it that there are people who watch that and it is the wakeup call they need?

BOLDING: I have. I've gotten texts and messages from so many people, people haven't talked to in a decade in some instances that just a quick text and say, hey, dude, where do I get my vaccine. Because they know me and they know that I'm one of them. I'm from rural America. I was born and raised here. I don't have an agenda. I want to see less people on ventilators for a preventable illness. I don't think that's a lot to ask, so I think I hope that that resonates with people.

BURNETT: Well, it does and we can just hope that we can get those numbers more and more people to see that and be grateful for someone like you. Dr. Bolding, Thank you.

BOLDING: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, our live town hall with President Biden in Cincinnati. So should he be worried about this message from Republicans?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democrats' response to these rising prices is to simply spend more.


BURNETT: And breaking news, CNN learning prosecutors had evidence last year to charge Trump ally Tom Barrack. So why did he just get arrested and charged yesterday?



BURNETT: You're looking at live pictures of the stage where President Biden just moments will participate in a CNN town hall moderated by my friend Don Lemon. It comes just hours after Senate Republicans blocked an initial vote on the president's signature infrastructure proposal.

OUTTFRONT now from the town hall, the Democratic Mayor of Cincinnati, John Cranley.

And, Mayor, I appreciate your time.

So let's talk about this news that came out late today. Senate blocks an infrastructure bill that hadn't been fully written. Democrats are trying to hold together their own fragile collision, right? And then on top of it, they've got to get ten Republican votes to get it done.

So, it's an uphill battle but I know you say you desperately need this money for your city. Are you confident this bill is going to pass?


Well, I'm confident that President Biden and the Democrats are going to support it. And our Senator Sherrod Brown, I know, will support it, the Democrat. And Rob Portman was one of the architects. So, I hope he sticks with it.

We need it. I mean, look, we need progress and movement. President Biden has provided that so many different ways. But this bill is our bridge between Ohio and Kentucky. Donald Trump promised to fix it. He never did.

It's time to get it done and, you know, the fact is Republicans have led the state of Ohio for 28 out of 32 years and they haven't gotten the job done on bridges, on roads, on infrastructure and clean water, on high speed broadband Internet.

And so, I'm glad that President Biden is leading because Republicans here in Ohio have failed us.

BURNETT: So, you know, this is all coming, of course, the Republicans are saying why do all this trillions of spending when there is inflation? Now, one can argue about how long this inflation is here for, but it's here right now, right, where you are in the Midwest, according to the Labor Department, gas prices are up 45 percent. Used car prices 46 percent. Home energy prices 11 percent.

That's the backdrop, of course, that you're well aware of and Republicans have seized upon. Just listen to these few.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): They're going to talk about inflation. They're going to talk about the fact that the price of eggs is up. The price of milk is up. The price of bread is up.


The price of gas is up. The price of airline ticket is up. The price of a used -- the price of everything is up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Small businesses are struggling to hire workers and our families are paying much more for far less. Under Bidenomics, the price is up.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): Six months since Joe Biden became president, I would give him a grade of "I" for inflation. It's a real problem for families.


BURNETT: You know, how worried are you about this? Lindsey Graham said: If this reconciliation bill passes, it will take an inflation problem we have today and pour jet fuel on it. Do you share that concern?

CRANLEY: Absolutely not. They're completely full of it.

I mean, first of all, yes, do I care about inflation? Yes. Everybody does. Nobody wants to see prices going up. It's -- the fact is we're coming out -- because of Joe Biden doing a great job on the vaccine, we're coming out. The economy is hot. The Biden boom is happening.

And now, it's time to invest in America, in Middle America, in Ohio, in Cincinnati. You know, Biden is getting us out of these foreign wars that cost money.

It's time to spend money in Middle America, building the roads we need. The bridges, the Brent Spence Bridge, the Western Hills viaduct here in Cincinnati. We need high speed broadband Internet.

If we want Americans to do well in this economy, we need to spend money in America and it's Joe Biden that is getting us out of Afghanistan and it's Joe Biden who is investing in infrastructure. The Republicans in Ohio haven't provided any of this and they've been in charge for almost 30 years.

BURNETT: So, let me ask one final question because COVID cases are up in the past two weeks by nearly 120 percent, right? More than doubling.

CRANLEY: Yes. BURNETT: So when we look at the breakdown here of what is going on, in Hamilton County, Cincinnati, home to Cincinnati, you have 29 percent of blacks fully vaccinated compared with 61 percent of Asians and 51 percent of whites, OK? Those numbers are really, really different. What are you hoping Biden says tonight to people who still resist getting vaccinated?

CRANLEY: Look, we have to speak truth. We have to speak morally and from the heart.

My wife Dena and sister Barbara Lynch (ph), the wife of a very prominent pastor of an African-American church here in Cincinnati, New Jerusalem Baptist Church, they've led the First Ladies for Health to get people vaccinated by taking the vaccine distribution to churches, to the community.

My wife and I have door knocked in underserved community asking people to get vaccinated. We have to lead by example. I've been vaccinated. My 12-year-old has been vaccinated. Of course, my wife has been vaccinated.

We've just got to keep speaking truth to everybody and loving people and asking them to do what's right for them and their families.

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

CRANLEY: Thank you. Great to be with you.

BURNETT: All right. You, too.

And next, the breaking news, CNN learning federal prosecutors believe they had enough evidence last year to charge long-time Trump ally Tom Barrack. So why did they wait until yesterday?

Plus, another American out of the Olympics tonight, joining a long list of athletes that had Olympic dreams dashed again.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am heartbroken. I'm in healing right now. I'm in mourning.




BURNETT: Breaking news, federal prosecutors believe they had enough evidence last year to charge long time Trump ally Tom Barrack with illegally acting as a foreign agent from the UAE. That's according to people familiar with yesterday's indictment. This as a source familiar with Barrack tells CNN he has committed to fighting the charges and that he has no plans to cooperate with on going probes involving Trump including investigations focused on the inaugural committee, which, of course, Barrack chaired. Paula Reid is OUTFRONT.

So, Paula, Let me start with what else you're hearing about Barrack's plans to fight the charges, right? You know, some thought, okay, they're going to go with these charges, to try to get them to get him to cooperate and give information on other things and this is part of a pressure campaign but he doesn't seem to be indicating that he's going to cooperate.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Not at all. This is a guy with the money, the resources to fight these charges.


REID: I've spoken with sources close to this case and I'm told Barrack is not expected to cooperate in any on going investigation related to the former president.

Now, we've also learned that prosecutors in Manhattan had examined Barrack's role as chairman of the inauguration committee but that federal investigation has been dormant since last year and no one was ever charged.

Now, interestingly, Barrack was deposed last year related to a civil suit by the attorney general here in the District of Columbia. And in that deposition, he was actually asked about his dealings with the Trump Organization, which is of course, under investigation and has been charged in a New York state case.

But I'm also told it is highly unlikely Barrack could actually Cooperate in that investigation, either.

BURNETT: So, if prosecutors believe there was enough evidence to charge Barrack last year as I know the reporting is now that you have, why was he only indicted yesterday?

REID: It's a great question, Erin. Now, the full context is of course, prosecutors are discouraged in the run-up to an election from bringing any politically sensitive cases but we're told this investigation was mostly completed far before that period would have kicked in.

But CNN has learned that the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn who is overseeing this case, Richard Donoghue, had some misgivings about the specific case.

But what's not clear is whether this case was stalled directly by Donoghue or if the prosecutors who were doing the investigation just didn't want to proceed because they knew their boss did not support it.

Now, Mr. Donoghue has not responded to our request for comment but we know his former boss, then Attorney General Bill Barr, he wasn't supportive of these foreign lobbying cases because they've been difficult for the Justice Department to successfully prosecute.

[19:45:05] But now, a new administration, the Biden Justice Department is moving forward with this case.

BURNETT: All right. Paula, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

And next, First Lady Jill Biden on her way to the Olympics tonight as we get our first look at the venues where some of the events are already underway with no one there.

And a live look at the set of CNN's exclusive town hall with Joe Biden set to begin in just a few moments.


BURNETT: Tonight, First Lady Jill Biden headed to the Tokyo Olympics as another American athlete pulls out of the game after testing positive for COVID. U.S. men's beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb today announcing he won't participate in the games, according to NBC. Crabb is the fourth U.S. athlete to test positive for the virus. The news coming as the Olympic Games are underway and you can see the stadium empty.

Will Ripley is OUTFRONT in Tokyo.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even Olympians are not immune from the cruelty of COVID-19. The pandemic striking some of the world's top athletes, including a U.S. gymnast just days before the opening ceremony.

Catching COVID early this year cost Priscilla Loomis more than eight weeks. The American-Antiguan high jumper still has trouble breathing.



I am heartbroken. I'm in healing right now. I'm in mourning.

RIPLEY: Loomis says she ignored doctor's advice and kept training but failed to qualify for Tokyo 2020.

LOOMIS: This was it. This was my final -- this was my curtain bow.

RIPLEY: British rower Oonagh Cousins qualified for the Olympics in March 2020. She came down with a case of long COVID leaving her with chronic fatigue.

OONAGH COUSINS, BRITISH ROWER: I'm really struggling to exercise still. By comparison, I was doing 30, 35 hours of training a week, when I was well. And now I can probably do like 3 20-minute sessions in a week, super lightly.

RIPLEY: And this is more than a year later? COUSINS: Yeah, I just really struggled with really intense fatigue.

RIPLEY: Cousins calls her coronavirus battle an emotional rollercoaster.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We are dealing with a disease that we didn't even know how to define a year ago.

RIPLEY: CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta says researchers don't fully know why the virus hits some people harder than others.

GUPTA: So if you are now sleet, you could have some symptoms from COVID that last a long time, and really impact your performance for a long time as well.

RIPLEY: Are these athletes putting themselves at risk if they're coming here?

GUPTA: I think it's really tough to justify bringing 206 countries, states and territories together in the middle of a pandemic.

RIPLEY: A risk Vinesh Phogat is willing to take. The Indian wrestler is a gold medal favorite, number one in her category. She says postponing competition by a year was in even bigger challenge than catching the coronavirus.

VINESH PHOGAT, INDIAN WRESTLER: I had to start by training again from scratch. It was very difficult.

RIPLEY: Surging cases in Japan and the world mean Olympians won't have fans in the stands cheering them on. Nobody knows if nearly empty venues will be enough to stop the Summer Games from becoming a super- spreader event. At Tokyo 2020, not just Olympic dreams, lives are on the line.


RIPLEY (on camera): The head of the World Health Organization is here in Tokyo. He says before the Olympic flame is extinguished, Erin, 100,000 people around the world, 100,000 more people, will die from COVID.


RIPLEY: Now we know at least five USA athletes have now been knocked out because of the virus, but because a lot of these athletes are vaccinated, doctors say their chances are good because the cases are much more mild, even is symptomatic, when people are vaccinated, as opposed to those who aren't.

BURNETT: Yeah. All right, thank you so much. And while, does it look beautiful there.

Well, next, our exclusive town hall with President Biden. It is just a few moments away. We'll be right back.



BURNETT: All right, live pictures out of Ohio because we are just a couple of minutes away from President Biden's CNN town hall from Cincinnati. He faces multiple challenges in the United States, the coronavirus pandemic, fears about the economy growing, GOP efforts to block his agenda.

OUTFRONT now, Dana Bash, the co-anchor of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" and our chief political correspondent.

Dana, look, six months since President Biden took office and here we are in an extreme extremely critical town hall for him to speak to Americans directly.

What are you looking from him tonight?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are several things. First and foremost is the health crisis that he inherited. And the fact that he and his administration were feeling really good just a couple of months ago and feeling less good, understandably now, because of the fact that most people are not getting on the vaccine and all of the ramifications for that. So expect some real bully pulpit moments with regard to telling people, asking people, pleading with the American people, who are eligible to get a vaccine to do so.

But also about what's going on here in Washington, Erin. I mean, you saw a vote to start debate on a bipartisan infrastructure deal fell today, but that kind of masks what we have been reporting on what I'm told is going on behind the scenes which is genuine progress.

I was told by a Republican source that 75 percent there, the 25 percent is a real 25 percent that doesn't get them there, but it is noteworthy, Erin, that the lead Republican on this bipartisan compromise deal is Rob Portman, from Ohio, which is exactly where Joe Biden is tonight.

BURNETT: Right, right, right and. That's crucial. I'll take the 75 percent of people. People across this country want progress there.

BASH: Yeah, in this day and age, exactly.


BASH: That's what he has to try to prove. We have to prove that part of his campaign promise is going to see fruition.

BURNETT: Absolutely, but then what about the river rest of the agenda, right? You've got, you know, the immigration to choose, border crossing surging, the voting rights legislation going nowhere.

How does he navigate through that tonight?

BASH: In a difficult way. I mean, this is going to be one of tests of what Joe Biden is selling in the campaign, that he can be the person who can not only try to bring parties together that haven't come together in a while here in Washington, but connect with people in the country.

And there is one of the issues that you mentioned, immigration is certainly one, and a big political problem for the Biden administration, just like it was for administrations before him. But voting rights is going to be really fascinating to watch when it comes to how he is going to articulate that.

We heard him give a very robust speech last week, maybe it was this week -- I'm losing track of time, I think it was this week -- imploring Congress to do something on that. But what they are hoping, not but, and what they're hoping, is that they can get a groundswell of support among the public to push that.

It's a big if and he's going to try tonight, no question.

BURNETT: All right, it's a very big, important night for him.

Dana, thank you very much.

BASH: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: And thanks to all of you for joining us.

CNN's town hall with President Joe Biden live from Cincinnati, starts now.


DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone. We are live in Cincinnati, Ohio, tonight, on the Campus of Mount St. Joseph University, overlooking the Ohio River. This is a CNN Town Hall with the President of the United States, Joe Biden. I'm Don Lemon.

President Biden is six months into his presidency, a critical moment for his agenda, where half the U.S. population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. But the pace of the vaccination is at its lowest point since January, and the highly infectious delta variant is driving new COVID surge in all 50 states.

Virtually, all COVID hospitalizations and deaths are now among the unvaccinated.