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Erin Burnett Outfront
C.D.C. Chief Warns Virus has No Incentive to Let Up; Nearly Half of House G.O.P. will not Say if they are Vaccinated; Florida Governor Vows No Lockdowns as Cases Surge; Sources: Pelosi Looks to Boost Partisan Standing of Jan. 6 Panel; Olympics Opening Ceremony Hours Away as Tokyo COVID Cases Spike. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired July 22, 2021 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Absolutely, and Dr. Myron Rolle, thank you so much for that. We hope everybody gets vaccinated and stay safe. And thanks for the work you're doing over there in Zambia. Wonderful to talk to you tonight. Thanks so much.
And Erin Burnett and OUT FRONT starts right now. Have good night.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUT FRONT next, COVID cases surging among the unvaccinated as the White House weighs whether to reverse course on masks.
Plus, it is full steam ahead for the January 6th Select Committee after Kevin McCarthy pulled his picks, and there's a twist as we're learning, Nancy Pelosi may tap another Republican to join the team.
And the head of the C.I.A. calling the mysterious illness that's affected dozens of Americans real and serious, and now the officer who led the hunt for Osama bin Laden is reportedly on the case.
Let's go OUT FRONT.
And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUT FRONT tonight, COVID becoming more aggressive. That is the warning from the nation's top doctors today. The Director of the C.D.C., Rochelle Walensky calling the delta variant one of the most infectious respiratory viruses that she has seen in her 20-year career.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: If you are not vaccinated, please take the delta variant seriously. This virus has no incentive to let up and it remains in search of the next vulnerable person to infect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So tonight, there is a surge of people who are now getting infected. New cases are up 58 percent from last week, and hospitalizations are up, too, up 54 percent compared to last week, and much of that coming from states with low vaccination rates. I'll just show you the map of the country. This is a map by county.
So, what you're looking at right now is a month ago. The red represents counties with high COVID transmission, very tiny three percent. Well, things have changed since then, we'll fast forward until today, the south and parts of the Midwest as you can see exploding, so now 30 percent of the country that lives in a county that is red.
This explosion of cases is why CNN is learning top administration health officials are debating whether to recommend everybody mask up again.
Just moments ago, President Biden was asked if masks could soon be a reality again for Americans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We follow the science. What's happening now is all the major scientific operations in this country and a 25-person group we put together are looking at all possibilities of what is happening now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: "We follow the science." As of tonight, the C.D.C. insists the guidelines will remain as is, right, that if you're vaccinated no masks -- for now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Is the C.D.C. considering right now changing its mask guidance for people who are fully vaccinated?
WALENSKY: We are always looking at the data as the data coming in. If you're unvaccinated, you should absolutely be wearing a mask; if you're vaccinated, you have exceptional levels of protection from that vaccine, and you may choose to add an extra layer of protection by putting on your mask and that's a very individual choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK making it about individual choice. While some are not satisfied with that answer. Just today, Philadelphia's health officials saying today that all residents even if you're fully vaccinated, should go back to wearing masks inside public places.
In Atlanta, Georgia, the public school district announced it will require all students and staff even those who are vaccinated to wear masks when school starts, and it starts there in just a few weeks.
The top elected official in Harris County, Texas home to Houston today urging everyone to once again wear masks. In Clark County, Nevada, home of Las Vegas, county workers must again mask up in public places indoors. And it was just a week ago, of course that Los Angeles brought back
its mask mandate, remember everyone was so surprised, now we will see that spreading as well. It is confusing.
But one state at the center of the current surge will not be returning to mask mandates. Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis making clear tonight that his state's policy will not change even though Florida leads the country in new COVID-19 cases and is seeing an increase in hospitalizations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I get a little bit frustrated when I see some of these jurisdictions saying even if you're healthy and vaccinated, you must wear a mask because we're seeing increased cases. Understand what that message is sending to people who aren't vaccinated. It's telling them that the vaccines don't work. I think that's the worst message you can send to people at this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It is the Wild West when it comes to masks, with cities and states taking matters into their own hands, and that's prompting the former Surgeon General, Jerome Adams to speak out, calling for more clarity from the C.D.C.
Now, Adams, of course, you'll remember last year questioned the effectiveness of masks, and he came out and he owned that, tweeting last year, "Tony Fauci and I famously prematurely and wrongly advised against masks. I thought it was the best call at the time, but now regret it. I'm worried the C.D.C. also made a similarly premature, misinterpreted, yet still harmful call unmasking in the face of the rising delta variant."
Kaitlan Collins is OUT FRONT live outside the White House, and Kaitlan, tonight, the White House is concerned.
COLLINS: They are definitely concerned because their concern mainly is that we're entering a new troubling phase of this pandemic, and their primary issue is for unvaccinated people and the wide circulation of this new delta variant, which you just said with the C.D.C. Director was saying, this is one of the most transmissible variants that she has seen in her 20 years in the public health field.
And I talked to one health official earlier who told me, you know, we've been warning about this for a month, we've been seeing the consequences now and we've been talking about for a month, and they said, it's serious, and it is spreading faster than we anticipated, talking about that delta variant.
And so their message tonight is trying to call out to the 50 percent of the country that is still unvaccinated, Erin. And it's so serious that the President of course, is regularly updated on what is going on with the pandemic. But today, he held a briefing with his -- or a meeting with his COVID Health Team talking about what's going on with the delta variant? What are they doing going forward?
You heard him say earlier, they've got a 25-person team looking at what the possibilities of what this could ultimately end up to, and it even made the President late to an event that he had here at the White House in the East Room earlier today, a bill signing because he was dealing with this briefing.
And I think it just speaks to the level of concern that is happening inside the White House about what is happening to the other 50 percent of the country that's not vaccinated, because they have maintained that position that if you are vaccinated, they still feel that you are well-protected from this. But there are even new questions tonight about what's happening with vaccinated people and whether or not they need to be wearing a mask indoors again as you've seen some localities say that, yes, you do need to wear one indoors like Los Angeles.
And so, they are raising questions about whether or not the C.D.C. needs to issue new guidance. What is it going to look like when children are going back to school? So, these are all concerns that are happening inside the White House, Erin, and they are very concerned about what the delta variant is going to look like and trying to get this message out to people who are not yet vaccinated.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much. I appreciate it, Kaitlan. We're just looking at these, you know, numbers out of Los Angeles, obviously, you know, you are seeing a real shift in terms of infections.
OUT FRONT now, Dr. Larry Brilliant, an epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox. Doctor, I appreciate your time. So, let's just start here with this issue of mask guidance, which I know is so fraught.
The C.D.C. got rid of it, because they felt that well, if you can't give people a prize or a payoff for getting vaccinated, they won't do it. Now, obviously, you're seeing this delta variant spread. It's a pandemic among the unvaccinated. But of course, vaccinated people are also getting infected as well. Should the C.D.C. issue a new mask guidance?
DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Erin, thanks for inviting me. You mentioned smallpox. This delta variant has now become more infectious than smallpox was. Each new variant becomes more infectious than its predecessor. We've now reached a point that, as Rochelle said, we're seeing one of the most infectious diseases we've seen.
So, we go back to the question, do vaccines work? Yes, of course they do. We're asking them to do three things -- protect us from getting it, protect us from giving it, and protect us from getting sick. That middle part, they are doing terrifically well. That first part, they are doing less well against the delta and that last part is uncertain as it is, we think that they're not doing as well, that they're able to infect people.
For both ends of that, yes, I think you should be wearing masks indoors when you're with people who are not all vaccinated. BURNETT: So, President Biden obviously made the point last night at
the CNN Town Hall that the pandemic is a pandemic of the unvaccinated, which is true. But of course, you know, there is data coming out that show a shift, much like they saw in Israel, right? In Houston, they say they are seeing more what's called breakthrough infections among vaccinated people with the delta. They had a preprint report posted online.
They said 90 percent of people who were positive had not been vaccinated, but that dropped down to 78 percent when the delta variant was involved. In LA, coming out now and saying 20 percent of the infections that they're seeing are now among the vaccinated. Is this cause for concern?
BRILLIANT: Yes, it is, indeed an epidemic of the unvaccinated, but that includes our children. They are unvaccinated, that includes your mother-in-law and my cousin. It's not enough to say that the 125 million people in the United States who are not vaccinated, that it's an epidemic only of them. No, we have to do everything we can to get as many people vaccinated as we can.
And even if you're vaccinated, if you are going into an event in which there are people there who you don't know or you don't know their vaccine status, you don't know the air conditioning status, it is just prudent that you wear the mask, and when you go home, it's prudent that you protect your family as well.
BURNETT: So, let's talk about that issue because obviously, you know, there had been reference to whether say parents could infect their own children -- vaccinated parents, right, who did not know they had it for example, right, asymptomatic infection among the vaccinated. Could they spread it along to their children?
One mother of two daughters, a five-year-old and a nine-month-old says she regrets not wearing her mask around her family, that her whole family has now tested positive, and she wishes she would have done things differently. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The kids have been really, really sick, 103 fevers, diarrhea, and vomiting. And it's been especially scary with a baby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What's your reaction to that, Dr. Brilliant?
BRILLIANT: Sadness is my reaction to that. A paper came out last week from China's C.D.C., and they've studied 167 people with the virus and they found that the delta variant creates 1,000 times as many viral particles in your nose, in your nasopharynx -- that variant -- if that's the case, then of course, if you're going places, if you're sneezing, if you're breathing, if you're singing, whatever you're doing, you could be spreading this virus even though you are vaccinated, and you yourself are asymptomatic. So, it's time to really get serious about this. This is a new kind of
-- a new kind of variant. We haven't seen this before.
BURNETT: So, let me ask you because the variants are moving quickly and becoming more infectious then I mean, obviously, I understand that, you know, in the evolution of viruses, one expects, you know, possible, you know infectiousness to increase. But what then happens to lethality? Does it decrease so that we're just sort of exponentially getting quicker, getting -- I'm sorry, getting closer to a virus that's you know, going to kill fewer people or what's happening here?
I mean, you eradicated smallpox, is this virus going to be eradicated?
BRILLIANT: I was the junior member on the smallpox eradication team. But yes, I saw the last case of smallpox in nature, and it is not in the best interest of the virus that it kills all of its customers.
BRILLIANT: So, we normally expect the virus as it gets more transmissible to become less lethal. But the problem is, as more and more people get it, because it's more transmissible, hospitals are being overrun. As hospitals are being overrun, pregnant women in an emergency can't get in, heart attack patients can't get it. So, it is causing more deaths, maybe not from the virus itself, but certainly from the epidemic.
BURNETT: Dr. Brilliant, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
BRILLIANT: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
BURNETT: All right. And next, we're going to take you to a hospital in Missouri that is inundated with COVID patients right now. Many fighting for their lives after opting not to get vaccinated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very real. I was so sick. They said, you should not be alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, Nancy Pelosi insisting she won't let Republican quote- unquote "antics" get in the way of the January 6th Committee as CNN learns another Republican could soon join the committee.
And Tokyo, just hours from officially kicking off an essentially spectator-free Olympics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Almost 70,000 seats in that stadium. Nearly all of them empty.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: Tonight, nearly half of House Republicans, 97 members still refusing to tell CNN their vaccination status. Meanwhile, all but one of the 220 House Democrats confirmed to us they are vaccinated.
More Republicans are speaking out encouraging their supporters to get the vaccine, but they are still defending their G.O.P. colleagues who choose to remain silent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe in health privacy. The bottom line is we believe that it doesn't stop at the COVID door. It's every citizen's right to choose to get a vaccine and then to choose not to reveal whether they've gotten the vaccine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Amazingly, vaccine skepticism is also a problem in some hospitals, which have now decided to announce mandates for all healthcare workers to be vaccinated. Miguel Marquez is OUT FRONT.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Healthcare workers suiting up, sickness from COVID-19 among the unvaccinated will not stop.
CHRISTY HENRY, HOSPITALIZED WITH COVID-19: The doctor told me twice yesterday that I should not be alive.
MARQUEZ (voice over): Neither Christy Henry nor her family got vaccinated from rural Houston, Missouri, they figured they were safe. Henry rarely went out, wore a mask and didn't see a lot of people.
HENRY: I've taken care of people, you know, for 20-plus years, but never been on the receiving end.
MARQUEZ (voice over): Henry, 56 years old was a nurse and now teaches nursing. She has a husband and six kids. She had to go on a ventilator, so did her husband. It got so bad she wasn't sure she'd see her family again.
HENRY: So, it's very real. I was so sick. They said, you should not be alive.
MARQUEZ (voice over): And she is lucky, the more contagious delta variant continuing to grip Missouri where only about 40 percent of its residents are fully vaccinated. Cases rising nearly 18 percent over the last two weeks, hospitalizations and ICU admissions both up sharply since May.
DR. HOWARD JARVIS, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT, COX HEALTH: I think this variant is just more severe than what we were experiencing previously.
MARQUEZ (voice over): Unvaccinated patients account for more than 97 percent of hospitalizations nationwide, says the C.D.C. Director.
MARQUEZ (on camera): You do not plan to get the vaccine. Correct?
SUSAN DEAN, RETIRED HEALTHCARE WORKER: Correct.
MARQUEZ (voice over): Susan Dean, now retired, worked in healthcare for 25 years.
MARQUEZ (on camera): Should vaccines be mandatory for at least healthcare workers?
DEAN: I don't think we know enough about the vaccine to say this is what it does.
MARQUEZ (voice over): It's a growing issue that Mercy Hospital network including here in Springfield has now mandated vaccine for all employees; some healthcare workers here now organizing to reverse Mercy's decision. Dean says it should be a personal choice.
DEAN: Anybody who is forced to take something or lose their job is -- I think that just makes me so sick. We've already suffered so much.
MARQUEZ (voice over): Mercy Hospital says the public health implications and dangers of the virus far outweigh any concerns about the vaccine.
CRAIG MCCOY, PRESIDENT, MERCY SPRINGFIELD COMMUNITIES: We've got a narrow window to basically sustain or even get ahead of where we are right now. As of this morning, we've got 172 people hospitalized, which is our all-time peak.
MARQUEZ (voice over): Kate Giacchi is an ICU nurse in Columbia, Missouri; after a hellishly difficult year, just when she thought there was light at the end of the tunnel --
KATE GIACCHI, CRITICAL CARE NURSE, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, HOSPITAL: We are mentally and emotionally and physically worn out.
MARQUEZ (voice over): For Christy Henry, the message now clear.
HENRY: Everybody I know and I love, you know, you need to get vaccinated.
MARQUEZ (on camera): The Governor of Missouri has just ordered more resources into Springfield-Greene County where we are right now, everything from ambulance strike teams to help the hospitals go out and get people who may be having an issue and to an alternative care center, which hospitals here want because they are seeing so many patients here, and not just in this area, but other parts of the state.
So, if people get that sick, they cannot easily get them to other parts of the state or even into other states, if need be. It's becoming just a massive backlog of patients again -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, thank you so much, Miguel. I appreciate it.
And OUT FRONT now, William and Rebecca Hughes. William was hospitalized with COVID for 14 days in Arkansas, just able to return home on Tuesday. And I appreciate both of you coming on, and William, I know you're obviously still recovering, so glad you're back home, you know, with your wife and family. You know, the relief and joy you must feel even though of course I know you're still -- you're still fighting it.
So, I guess let's get to the heart of the matter. I know you decided not to get vaccinated because you figured you were young and healthy and you had no underlying conditions, you weren't likely to get sick. How has this entire experience changed your view on things?
WILLIAM HUGHES, REGRETS NOT GETTING VACCINATED, WAS HOSPITALIZED WITH COVID: Basically, it's just made me wish that I'd gotten the vaccine. I mean, the vaccine may not have kept me from getting COVID, but it may have decreased greatly the pain and suffering I had to go through to get to the point where I am now.
REBECCA HUGHES, RECOVERING FROM COVID, REGRETS NOT GETTING VACCINATED: Yes.
BURNETT: Rebecca, I know you also -- you know, tested positive, you didn't obviously get as sick as William but you had a lot of worrisome chest pains and things that persisted. I mean, how difficult was it for you?
R. HUGHES: It was very difficult. I had a lot of different emotions going on, worried about him, obviously, and then worried about myself, worried that I might get pneumonia and have to be admitted. And then then our daughter not having either one of us, you know, here at home. And so that was very scary.
BURNETT: I can only imagine. I know that that's obviously at the heart of it all, it would have been that fear.
You know, William, I spoke to one of your doctors last night, Dr. Bolding and he says you were one of the patients who inspired him to just go out and say I have to make a video, I have to talk to people about getting vaccinated. It's now been viewed more than 200,000 times.
And when I talked to him, I asked him how he felt after treating you, people young and healthy like you who have gotten so sick and in here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MICHAEL BOLDING, HOSPITALIST, WASHINGTON REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: I mean, in a word, heartbreaking. You know, my voice is cracking down just even seeing that and talking about it.
You know, that morning, I had seen three males just in a row. They were 32 years old, 28, and 27, all healthy before this, and I just called our marketing team and I said I don't want what I'm going to say, but I need a camera. I need to say something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And you could hear his voice his voice cracking there, your doctor, and he said it was one of the moments was when he called your family to update them on you and he heard your four-year-old daughter in the background and it just -- it broke him up. I mean, William, was there a time you thought you weren't going to be there with her again?
W. HUGHES: Absolutely. I actually had that conversation with Dr. Bolding. I'm sorry. I asked him. I asked him if I was going to make it, and he didn't know. He told me that I was young. I didn't have any underlying issues and that they were going to do the best that they could do.
But he couldn't make me any promises. But I'm fortunate enough to still be here.
BURNETT: Rebecca, I know you're now -- the reason that you guys are here tonight is to try to tell others, right, so that this doesn't happen to anyone else to get anyone you know vaccinated. What do you tell them?
R. HUGHES: Yes.
BURNETT: Obviously, people at this point have some really strong opinions and beliefs on this. Have you been able to change anyone's mind?
R. HUGHES: Yes, mostly family, one friend, my boss at work, they all have said that our -- you know, COVID experience has changed their mind about the vaccine. And so I just want people to try to put themselves in other people's shoes, because I feel like the majority of people, they -- it's hard for them to empathize with others because they're not going through it.
And I just would hate for them to have to get to that point where, you know, this happens to somebody that they love and care about.
I mean, it's awful. I don't recommend, you know -- I just would recommend the vaccine for sure because I strongly feel that, you know, the symptoms from the vaccine, if any, would be way less than, you know, potentially being hospitalized over this.
BURNETT: And William, you know, you're home. You're home with your wife and your child, what's your message to someone who is watching, who is moved by what you say, but still on the fence about getting vaccinated? W. HUGHES: Please, just go get the vaccine. If you don't do it for
yourself, do it for your family. Because I almost left my wife and my daughter here to fend for themselves because I didn't go get one.
BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate both of you very much. I know it's not easy to do an interview like this. I thank you. It makes a difference.
R. HUGHES: Thank you.
BURNETT: Next, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, he is against lockdowns, he is against mask mandates, but he has thrown his support behind the vaccine. So, what does this say, his balancing act about his plans for the future?
Plus, the C.I.A. reportedly tapping the officer who led the search for Osama bin Laden to track down the cause of a mysterious illness that is affecting Americans overseas.
BURNETT: Tonight, a troubling sign for the state of Florida, as the delta variant of COVID spreads rapidly there and across the country.
Florida now leading the United States in the number of new daily COVID cases, averaging right now roughly 6,500 cases a day and hospitalizations are also increasing.
Could this be a problem for Governor Ron DeSantis who repeatedly touts his response to the pandemic?
Leyla Santiago is OUTFRONT.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: If anyone is calling for lockdowns, you're not getting that done in Florida.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The governor refusing to back down from his conviction that he is successfully handling COVID in his state.
DESANTIS: I have a 3-year-old son. You got people like Fauci saying he should be muzzled, that you should be throwing masks on these 3-year- old kids. It's totally unacceptable.
SANTIAGO: The state is averaging 6,492 cases per day, a figure that's nearly doubled in one week, quadrupled in a month. In just one week from July 15th to July 21st, Florida has 45,449 new cases, and is once again leading the nation in the number of new COVID-19 cases.
DeSantis says it's just a seasonal thing.
DESANTIS: We have a summer season here. Just like last year. It started a little later this year. So, you're going to have higher prevalence for the rest of July, probably into August. And then it goes back.
SANTIAGO: Doctors disagree.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a much more contagious variant that we didn't see in December or in April.
SANTIAGO: But then there's also this messaging from DeSantis.
DESANTIS: These vaccines make it so that your chance of survival is pretty doggone close to 100 percent.
SANTIAGO: Which is a far cry from his tone last May.
DESANTIS: Because you've got a lot of people in your profession who waxed poetically for weeks and weeks how Florida was going to be just like New York. Wait two weeks, Florida is going to be next. Just like Italy, wait two weeks -- well, hell, we're eight weeks away from that and it hasn't happened. So we succeeded, and I think people just don't want to recognize it.
SANTIAGO: A little less than ten weeks after that press conference, Florida became a global COVID epicenter. Only California, with its larger population, recorded more cases at the time.
So, Ron DeSantis is encouraging vaccines, he's continuing to push back on masks and Dr. Fauci.
His political operation is selling merchandise that reads "Don't Fauci my Florida" and "How the hell am I going to drink a beer with a mask on?"
Right now, about 48 percent of Florida residents are vaccinated. And the state is now recording the most new deaths in the country this month. Yet DeSantis stands firm.
DESANTIS: We've never had any mandates in the state of Florida, and we will not have any mandates in the state of Florida.
SANTIAGO (on camera): And, Erin, when he said that about mask mandates, he was met with applause by the supporters surrounding him.
And, listen, he's up for re-election next year, 2022. But there are plenty out there wondering if that is for 2024 for a presidential bid.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Leyla.
And OUTFRONT now, Marc Caputo, national political reporter for "Politico" who has covered Florida politics extensively for two decades. And, Scott Jennings, former special assistant to President George W. Bush, and former senior advisor to Senator Mitch McConnell.
So, Marc, Governor DeSantis is talking about the COVID pandemic more, supports the vaccine, but obviously very insistent he won't go back to restrictions, you know, referring to masks as muzzling children. So, he's got the code words here. What do you think his game plan is here?
MARC CAPUTO, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: I couldn't really say what his game plan is. He doesn't have a big circle of advisers who leak things to the press.
What I can say is, observing Governor DeSantis, he has a very good internal compass, a good internal order that helps him navigate and spot trends especially in the conservative movement and get ahead of it. That's one of the reasons you see polling, where if they're polling for the 2024 election, he's second only to Trump, and without Trump in the race, he's lapping the rest of the potential Republican candidates. So it's served him well, at least on the national stage.
On a state level, DeSantis is in good shape heading into re-election in 2022. So what is he going to be doing now? It's what he did in (AUDIO GAP) which he is rather defiant with health officials. He is clear that he doesn't want mandates, and he will frequently talk up Florida's success, sometimes will make it sound a little more successful than we are, but at times, there are critics who make Florida sound like much more of charnel ground than it really is.
BURNETT: So, Scott, DeSantis placed first by wide margins in two CPAC straw polls this year for 2024 if Trump is not a candidate, OK? That's an important if. But if Trump is out, he's first by far.
He's dodged questions about 2024, but here are some things outside COVID that he's been very willing to talk about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DESANTIS: Critical race theory is basically teaching people to hate our country, hate each other. It's divisive, and it's basically an identity politics version of Marxism.
While some over the last year have been talking about defunding law enforcement, we're proud to say we're funding law enforcement and then some.
In Florida, we chose freedom over Faucism. And we're much better off for doing that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. All red meat issues for many on the right, Scott. It's clear DeSantis is running, isn't it?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, I think so. I mean, as long as Donald Trump isn't running. I have a hard time believing he'd make a race against Trump. And you didn't play a clip from his recent immigration visit to the border, which is another hot button Republican topic.
JENNINGS: I think that what Marc said is correct. Ron DeSantis has a very, very smart internal barometer for what Republicans are talking about, for what they want to hear, and tapping into that zeitgeist. He did it to win the governor's race in Florida and he's doing it right now.
And, frankly, I think lapping the fields, as Marc said, is the correct answer.
I think there's other strong candidates out there but right now, Ron DeSantis is showing he's got really strong instincts for getting reelected but also for being a front runner for '24.
BURNETT: So, meanwhile, Marc, Donald Trump repeatedly floats DeSantis as a possible VP pick if he runs again in 2024. He always tries to remind DeSantis anytime that he can that DeSantis is only governor because, of course, of Trump. Here he is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I endorsed Ron and after I endorsed him, he took off like a rocket ship.
Certainly, Ron would be considered. He's a great guy.
I would certainly consider Ron. I was -- I was at the beginning of Ron. I was the first one to endorse him. When he came out as a congressman, a lot of people didn't know, and my endorsement helped him tremendously.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, Marc, he's keeping air from going into the DeSantis balloon as much as he can. I mean, how do you think DeSantis sees this?
CAPUTO: Well, I think, to my earlier comments, and also what Scott said, he knows what's going on here. The reality is Donald Trump lies a lot. He's set of a lot of untrue things. If there's anything he said that's true, it's that. He did make Ron DeSantis what he is. Ron DeSantis knows that.
And even though the polling shows that maybe President Trump's favorability rating has slipped a little among Republicans, the reality is he's the supreme leader of the party. DeSantis knows, that all Republicans know, that they wouldn't dare run against.
DeSantis, despite what you hear from some media outlets, and some Republicans who might work for the candidates or potential candidates who want to run for president and certainly from Democrats and some progressives, Ron DeSantis is not a feud with Donald Trump. He's not going to get in a fight with Donald Trump. If he does, I would be totally shocked.
BURNETT: Yeah. And he also doesn't want to be his VP, I would imagine. That would be the last thing he'd want, you know, right? I mean, that's not where it's going to go.
I want to ask, Scott, one thing here. We obtained this exclusive audio from an interview that Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker had in Trump -- I'm sorry, with Trump in March for their new book entitled "I Alone Can Fix It". And this is about the crowd for Trump speech on January 6th, the deadly right that followed. Let me play part of this for this conversation.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: It was a loving crowd, by the way. There was a lot of love. I've heard that from everybody. Many, many people have told me. That was a loving crowd.
They were ushered in by the police. I mean, in all fairness, the Capitol Police were ushering people in.
They showed up just to show support, because I happen to believe the election was rigged at a level like nothing has ever been rigged before.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Scott, if Trump doesn't run in 2024 and the sentence does, can DeSantis really rise and run the party and win? Let's put that out, there and win without calling that out? Calling out the big lie bringing all of those untrue things?
JENNINGS: My view is whether it's Ron DeSantis or anyone else, eventually, the Republican Party nominee is going to have to look into a camera and say Joe Biden was the legitimately elected president, January 6 was a travesty, the election wasn't stolen, Biden is legitimate. But let me tell you why you shouldn't reelect him, and let me tell you why I'm better.
That's what they're going to have to say. And, of course, if we don't do, that our platform de facto than becomes relitigating 2020 and I don't see any way the American people are going to return us to the most awesome political power in the world if we're not willing to say what the truth is, which is, you know, this election was legit, January 6th was bad. We won't do it again. What happened was wrong. If you can't say that as the general election nominee, I think you're
going to face a rough ride. My suspicion is when someone gets the nomination, you're going to see them pivot back to a more rational place on this matter.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. I appreciate it.
And next, a new twist in the January 6 Select Committee. Nancy Pelosi now talking to a former Republican congressman about joining the committee's investigation.
Plus, Tokyo, they're about to try and pull off the Olympics in the midst of a pandemic and a state of emergency. And you are going to see exactly how.
BURNETT: New tonight, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi looking to bolster the bipartisan image of the January 6th Select Committee. We are told that she is not seriously considering naming Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger to the committee after Minority Leader McCarthy said he would have no part of it after she vetoed two of his picks.
Pelosi also meeting today with former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman, to discuss him possibly serving as an outside adviser, or staffer.
Manu Raju is OUTFRONT.
So, Manu, of course, a context around this is there could've been a completely bipartisan commission, McCarthy had specific terms, Pelosi agreed to all of them, he went against it anyways, and we ended up in the situation.
What else do you know about Pelosi's talks with Kinzinger, and Riggleman now?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she was looking to bolster the bipartisan credibility of this committee, and making clear that she is ready to move ahead, because she already, in her view, has a bipartisan quorum to move ahead, because of Liz Cheney, serving on this committee. That may not be the only Republican serving on the community.
Adam Kinzinger, we are told, us being seriously considered for this spot. Republicans and Democrats, who have spoken to, would support this. Republican Liz Cheney said that it would be a great addition, and including Bennie Thompson, who is the chairman of the select committee said that he has been discussed with the speaker, and he also said that this would also be a positive addition.
Now, Denver Riggleman, the former congressman, is being looked at as an outside adviser, Republican, to help with the investigation going forward. This is someone who Liz Cheney herself has recommended here. So, this is occurring, Erin, as this committee is staffing up the amounts of key staff hires tonight. But they are trying to move pretty quickly in this investigation, wants to get through this hearing, next week, and then map out their investigation for the weeks ahead.
BURNETT: Right. And it's important to emphasize, this hearings happening next week. It's going ahead. So, when Congressman Liz Cheney first agree to be part of the committee, it appeared that she would be punished by her party, but what are you hearing right now about how that is going to play out in the GOP?
RAJU: Yeah, in talking to a wide range of Republicans today, my colleague Melanie Zanona and I heard that there's just not much appetite among Republican lawmakers to punish Liz Cheney, at this moment, believing it would amount to a distraction of sorts, as the party attempts to retake control of Congress last year.
Of course, she was pushed out of her leadership position already after Donald Trump -- battle with Donald Trump, and that led her to, ultimately, except this post on the select committee. Kevin McCarthy, today, sized up question as to whether Cheney should be punished.
Steve Scalise, the number two Republican, would not say that when I asked him directly of Cheney should be punished. He said she just stepped down from the committee here. So, you're seeing what the Republicans are saying. We'll see if they change their tune at the moment, but right now, it sounds like, Erin, they're not going to punish her any further.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Manu.
And next, a small but growing number of Olympic athletes, testing positive for COVID, as we take you above the bubble, and almost literally that. Is it meant to keep them safe?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Some 18,000 athletes, and officials, will be staying in those buildings down there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETTT: The CIA director says he's throwing the best the United States has to find out who is behind the mysterious Havana syndrome attacks on Americans.
BURNETT: Tonight, the opening ceremony at the Tokyo Olympics, just hours away. There will be 950 VIPs taking part in the stadium that seats 70,000. This is more Olympians tonight are testing positive for COVID.
Will Ripley is there. He'll take you inside the Tokyo Olympics tonight.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Taking off, it really hits you, hosting the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games is a massive, logistical challenge.
This is one of the biggest cities in the world. Every single direction you look in, it's skyline, it's never-ending.
One building, really standing out. Tokyo's $1.5 billion Olympic Stadium.
Right now, we are flying over the centerpiece of Tokyo 2020, almost 70,000 seats in that stadium, and nearly all of, them empty. The Olympics' first ever spectator ban, a dramatically scaled down
opening ceremony. Organizers say, only around 950 VIPs attended, including U.S. First Lady Joe Biden. We get a closer look on the ground.
This is as close as most Japanese can get to their Olympic stadium. Police have shut down surrounding roads, and even fenced off the perimeter.
For everyday folks, this is their only shot of seeing the Olympics up close.
Public opinion polls show Japanese overwhelmingly don't want the games to go forward. But, wouldn't know it, looking at these long lines of people who are waiting to take selfies in front of the Olympic rings.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I am worried about the Olympic bubble. It's not perfect, but I want to cheer on the athletes.
RIPLEY: That bubble, to protect athletes from COVID-19, a small, but growing number of athletes, are testing positive. Even inside the Olympic Village.
POPPY STARR OLSEN, AUSTRALIAN SKATEBOARDER: So excited to go to Tokyo, but I am also terrified, the fact that you can go all the way there, and then test positive.
RIPLEY: Athletes are tested for COVID, daily. They are asked to arrive 5 days before competing, and leave 2 days after. From above, you can see how packed it is.
Some 18,000 athletes in, officials staying in those buildings down there, and you can see a lot of their national flags on the sides.
Most of the Olympic venues are here in Tokyo. Japan invested billions, only to have fake crowd noise, echoing through all of those empty stands.
This is going to be an Olympics like none other. And the world is watching, they wanted to see if they can't pull this off, in the middle of a pandemic -- in the middle of the state of emergency, without the Olympics turning into a super-spreader event.
RIPLEY (on camera): Erin, I used to be based here in Japan, it was my first time flying over Tokyo and a helicopter like that. The city, it looks magnificent. It's just such a shame that down, here on the ground, it's such a mess right now.
Yesterday, they reported almost 2,000 cases, their highest daily number of more than six months. So, everybody really rooting for these Olympics, Jill Biden is here. But even the mastermind, the guy who sold the Olympics to the Japanese people, the former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, isn't going to the opening ceremony 11 hours from now.
BURNETT: Which is amazing. I have to say, though, it does look beautiful there this morning. Flying over it, I guess it's sort of a beacon of hope. That was a gorgeous, and the only thing that would be like to see that megacity, from the sky. Thank you.
And next, the officer who help track down Osama bin Laden, now reportedly in charge of tackling the mysterious illness affecting American diplomats in Washington D.C., and around the world.
BURNETT: New tonight, the CIA director revealing that the CIA is taking aggressive action related to the mysterious Havana syndrome. The mysterious attacks most recently reported in Vienna, Austria, have hit Americans around the world, including in Washington, D.C., near the White House.
Many victims suffering with debilitating symptoms, severe headaches, disorientation, piercing noises, the source of which is unexplained. In an exclusive interview with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly, William Burns says he is, quote, throwing the best we have at this issue, putting an officer in charge to lead the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WILLIAM BURNS, CIA DIRECTOR: The National Academy of Sciences a year ago in an extensive report they did suggested that the most plausible theory for what caused this was some form of directed energy, and that narrows then the number of potential suspects that could've used this historically and had the reach to do this and more than one part of the world.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Burns says have on a syndrome cases number in the hundreds here and overseas.
Thanks for joining us.
It's time for Anderson.