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Erin Burnett Outfront

Officer Blasts Whitewash Of Jan. 6 Riot: "I Went To Hell And Back To Protect Them" And The "Indifference" Is "Disgraceful"; Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) Is Interviewed About the Testimonies Of Four Officers About Their Experiences In The January 6th Insurrection; Biden To Announce Vaccination Requirement For Federal Employees; Former Senator Barbara Boxer Speaks Out After Assault In Oakland. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 27, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Congratulations to everyone at CNN. This is truly an honor to be recognized. Thanks very, very much.

And to our viewers, thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, destroying the Trump narrative. Four police officers who responded to the January 6th insurrection take down the lies about what happened on that day.

Plus, CNN learning the Biden administration will make vaccines mandatory for all federal employees. This as the CDC tells vaccinated Americans to mask up indoors again.

And former Sen. Barbara Boxer attacked and robbed in broad daylight. Sen. Boxer is my guest tonight. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, speaking the truth. Four officers who risked their lives on January 6th, one by one detailing the physical, verbal, racist attacks they encountered that day. Here's Ofc. Michael Fanone.


OFC. MICHAEL FANONE, DC METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: I was trying to push guys off of me, create some space. All the while I recognize the fact that there were individuals that were trying to grab a hold of my gun. I remember one of them distinctly lunging at me time and time again trying to grab my gun. And I heard people in the crowd yelling get his gun, kill him with his own gun and words to that effect.

I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room. But too many are now telling me that hell doesn't exist or that hell actually wasn't that bad. The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Ofc. Harry Dunn got wrenching testimony detailing the blatant

racism he endured when he mentioned the election. And I warn you that what you're about to hear right now is disturbing.


OFC. HARRY DUNN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: I do my best to keep politics out of my job. But in this circumstance, I responded, "Well I voted for Joe Biden. Does my vote not count? Am I nobody?"

That prompted a torrent of racial epithets. One woman in a pink MAGA shirt yelled, "You hear that, guys? This nigger voted for Joe Biden." Then the crowd, perhaps about 20 people, joined in screaming, "Boo, fucking nigger."

No one had ever, ever called me a nigger while wearing the uniform of a Capitol police officer.


BURNETT: Ofc. Daniel Hodges, who was seen in this graphic video whose head being crushed in a doorway.


CROWD: (Inaudible) ...


BURNETT: That video was shown to us, the American public for the first time today and Hodges spoke about that moment.


OFC. DANIEL HODGES, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE: I remember him foaming at the mouth. He also put his cell phone in his mouth so that he had both hands free to assault me. Eventually, he succeeded in stripping away my gas mask, and a new rush of exposure to CS and OC spray hit me. The mob of terrorists were coordinating their efforts now, shouting, "Heave, ho," as they synchronized pushing their weight forward, crushing me further against the metal doorframe.

The man in front of me grabbed my baton that I still held in my hands, and in my current state, I was unable to retain my weapon. He bashed me in the head and face with it, rupturing my lip, and adding additional injury to my skull.


BURNETT: Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell telling lawmakers he thought he was going to die.


SGT. AQUILINO GONELL, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: What we were subjected that day was like something from a Medieval battle. We fought hand to hand, inch by inch to prevent an invasion of the Capitol by a violent mob intent on subverting our democratic process.

I bitterly heard officers screaming in agony and pain, just an arm length from me. I didn't know at that time, but that was Ofc. Hodges. He's here today to testify.

I too was being crushed by the rioters. I could feel myself losing oxygen and recall thinking to myself, this is how I'm going to die, defending this entrance.


BURNETT: Their testimony so powerful, so raw and frankly really difficult to hear. But their words decimating a narrative that we have heard repeatedly from Trump and his allies.



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was a lot of love. I've heard that from everybody. Many, many people have told me that was a loving crowd.

REP. ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): If you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.

REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): The DOJ is harassing peaceful patriots across the country.


BURNETT: It's really disturbing to hear that. The testimony from the officers, of course, exposed all those words is false. Today's testimony from the officers who were there that day, putting their lives on the line was something that everyone who cares about truth should have listened to and should have heard.

Yet the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says he didn't listen and he didn't have a single person in the room. He pulled his picks from the committee after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vetoed two of them. This is a committee, of course, that McCarthy and his allies have railed against from the beginning.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I'm sure it'll be political.

REP. JIM BANKS (R-IN): It just goes to show this is entirely a political exercise.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): They want to play their political game.


BURNETT: Now, of course, McCarthy voted against a committee that was 50-50 bipartisan with equal subpoena power for Democrats and Republicans. He had all of that. And frankly, finding out the ugly details about the January attack on America is not political.

In fact, the issues who testified today addressed this issue head on, making it clear that politics didn't affect their actions on January 6th and politics shouldn't affect the investigation now.


FANONE: Well, my response that day really was based off of my obligation as a police officer to not only protect the lives of the members of Congress and their staff, but also to my fellow officers. The Politics of that day really didn't play into my response at all.

HODGES: One man tried to start a chant of four more years. Another shouted do not attack us, we're not Black Lives Matter as if political affiliation is how we determine when to use force.

GONELL: When this call, radio call or dispatch send a call, we don't ask, hey, by the way before I treat you, before I take care of you, are you Republican or Democrat or Independent. We don't. We just respond. And normally, under any other circumstances, we just stay shut. We don't talk about politics. We don't talk about what happened to us.

But this is bigger than that. You're downplaying an event that happened to the country itself, to democracy, to the rule of law.


BURNETT: Just a reminder that McCarthy says he didn't have time to watch today's hearing. When asked, the House Minority Leader said he was busy that he was in back-to-back meetings. Meanwhile, other Republicans, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz and Paul Gosar made the time to hold a news conference today to side with the very same insurrectionists who attacked those police officers.


GOSAR: These are not unruly or dangerous violent criminals. These are political prisoners.


BURNETT: Political prisoners. Just to be clear, he's referring to the people who attacked the Capitol, people who attacked police, people who said they would hang Mike Pence as political prisoners? These Republicans, all three of them and, of course, everyone else were kept safe on January 6th by the police who spoke out today.

And tonight, they're siding with the political prisoners who stormed the Capitol and not demanding answers on behalf of the police officers that they so frequently claimed to champion.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): While Democrats talk about defunding the police, we'll also stand by and support our police officers.

GOSAR: I rise today to honor the courageous men and women in blue.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): All of our great men and women in blue, all of our police officers, let's back the blue together.

REP. MATT GAETZ (D-FL): I want an America where we support the police. They do it because they love America and they love Americans and we need to stand with them.


BURNETT: Tonight, no support for the police for many of them. Support for the political prisoners who attacked the police.

Manu Raju is OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill. And Manu, that was an extremely powerful hearing. It was, of course, the first for this committee. Tell me what happens from here.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, then the Democrats and the two Republicans on this committee are planning to lay out their investigative roadmap for the weeks to come with a potential second hearing that occur during the August recess of the House. The Chairman of the Committee Bennie Thompson indicated they'll likely to come back for that but he said that decision on the topic of that hearing still has not been decided.

Thompson also told me that there would be subpoenas that would be issued 'soon' because he said that the idea of asking for information voluntarily, sending letters to ask information, that's not necessarily the road that they're going to go down on all document requests. Instead, they plan to issue subpoenas and that's something that also Liz Cheney told me should happen quickly.


So there's a push to happen quickly. There's a belief that this could happen quickly after earlier today the Justice Department signaled that it would not assert executive privilege to prevent former Trump officials from testifying before this House Committee.

Now, that is one area too in which the Democrats and the Republicans want to pursue. Cheney made that clear today, Erin, that they do want to look into all the communications that occurred in the run up to January 6th with the Trump White House. She said that it was key to the investigation.

But first, they have to understand other areas as well, the breakdown in intelligence, the failure to communicate exactly how these white nationalist groups organized and the run up to January 6th, all that will be part of this investigation.

But also this much is clear, Erin, this will not wrap up anytime soon. Almost certainly this will spill into 2022 and election year. That's one reason why the Republicans were not eager for this investigation to happen, because it could spill up into the fight for control of Congress, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you.

And I want to go now to one of the members of the January 6th committee, the Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. And Congressman, I tried to play this here for anyone who wasn't able to hear it. Incredibly emotional testimony from the officers today. All of whom risked their lives to protect yours and your colleagues, dramatic and disturbing video that we have not seen before of the riot. What stood out to you the most?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, I was watching the officers as we played some of that initial video, and just seeing how difficult, how painful it was for them to see this again, to see the graphic footage of their own - attacks on them was very moving to hear Sgt. Gonell talk about going home to his wife and not being able to embrace her because he still had all that bear spray and wasp spray and whatever they were spraying on these officers, all over his uniform.

And particularly to hear this immigrant, in the case of Gonell, talk about being called a traitor, not really being an American. This is someone who joined the military, served in Iraq, put his life on the line time and time again. Or to hear Ofc. Dunn talk about being called these racial slurs for the first time in his life in uniform. It was just really, really powerful.

BURNETT: So the officers shared the stories about that day, but we also heard a similar plea from officers who testified. Let's play it.


GONELL: We do need to get to the bottom of who incite it, who brought those people here, why the people were made to believe that the process was rigged.

HODGES: I need you guys to address if anyone in power had a role in this.

DUNN: There was an attack carried out on January 6th and a hit man sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that.


BURNETT: That's what they said again and again, get to the bottom of who incite it, anyone in power, hit man. Can you truly get to the bottom of this, Congressman Schiff without having the former President Donald Trump testify?

SCHIFF: Well, we'll make that decision further down the line when we follow the evidence. We certainly need to get to the bottom of why all of these thousands of people felt that they were somehow in the right to attack these police officers, to attack the Capitol.

Somehow they were convinced that the election had been stolen. They were convinced by all these lies. Someone organized this. It was clear from the testimony, but also clear from other evidence. People came prepared to do violence against the Capitol and there's responsibility among our ranks in Congress for the propagation of that lie, that deceit that motivated so many of them. And those officers today were exactly right, that's beyond their power to investigate. That really falls to us in Congress.

BURNETT: So I want to play an emotional moment that you had during today's hearing, Congressman. Let me play it.


SCHIFF: As if we're no longer committed to a peaceful transfer of power after our elections. If our side doesn't win, then God help us. We deem elections illegitimate merely because they didn't go our way rather than trying to do better the next time, God help us. And we're so driven by bigotry and hate that we attack our fellow citizens as traitors if they're born in another country or they don't look like us, then God help us.


But I have faith because of folks like you.


BURNETT: So Congress, I played that because obviously you were prepared going in today. You knew what the videos would show you knew what these officers would say generally and yet it was emotional for you. Were you surprised by that and struck by your own - really essentially losing your ability to talk there for a moment.

SCHIFF: I was surprised, I guess, going into the hearing that I would find it as moving as I did. But I wasn't surprised really after the beginning of the hearing, because seeing the reaction of these officers, hearing them describe what they endured, what it's meant to them, and what it's meant to their families and the hardship that placed on them.

Hearing Ofc. Dunn talk about breaking down with his fellow black officer, colleague and they're shocked at what had happened, that profound questions they were asking about whether is this America. It moved all of us. I think all of us on the committee had to really struggle to hold it together, watching these brave men and hearing what they went through.

BURNETT: Congress Schiff, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, the two Republicans on the January 6th committee, they were there, of course, today and they took on other members of their own party.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Many in my party have treated this as just another partisan fight. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Plus, breaking news, a source telling CNN that Biden will announce a vaccine mandate for federal employees as the CDC reverses its guidance on masks for vaccinated Americans. And I'll speak to legendary Olympics broadcaster Bob Costas about Simone Biles and her decision to drop out of the women's team final.


SIMONE BILES: I just need to let the girls do it and focus on myself.




BURNETT: Tonight, the two Republicans on the January 6th House Select Committee forcefully taking on their Republican colleagues.


KINZINGER: Many in my party have treated this as just another partisan fight. It's toxic and it's a disservice to the officers and their families. It's time to stop the outrage and the conspiracies that fuel the violence and division in this country. And most importantly, we need to reject those that promote it.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Do we hate our political adversaries more than we love our country and revere our constitution? I pray that that is not the case.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now Mike Shields, CNN Political Commentator and paid strategist for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Van Jones, CNN Political Commentator and former Special Adviser to President Obama.

So Van, today we hear Congressman Kinzinger and Congressman Cheney call up their fellow House Republicans for trying to whitewash January 6th. There was not one person in that room defending Republican leadership or Trump. Did McCarthy miscalculate by pulling out all of his picks out of the Committee by saying, I'm not going to have anyone in the room to listen.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He's been miscalculating the whole time. He had the opportunity to have a bipartisan commission with everybody having the same rights when it when it comes to subpoenas, et cetera, and he missed that, so that's strike one.

Strike two, he could have put forward reasonable Republicans, critical, tough but reasonable Republicans. Instead, he put forward Republicans that he knew would be unacceptable to most Americans and certainly Nancy Pelosi, And then today, he's missing an action while officers are baring their souls as to what happened to them and I think he's miscalculated the whole - if he cares about the country, he's miscalculating. Now, for his own party, who knows, but if he cares about the country, he's been miscalculating the whole time.

BURNETT: So Mike, I want to play another moment from the Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger today when he became choked up as he responded and reflected on that emotional testimony of those officers, the bravery of those officers. Here's Congressman.


KINZINGER: You guys may like individually feel a little broken. You guys all talk about the effects you have to deal with and you talk about the impact of that day, but you guys won. You guys held.

Democracies are not defined by our bad days. We're defined by how we come back from bad days.


BURNETT: So Mike, last week a senior GOP source told CNN it was a gift from Pelosi to Republicans to veto McCarthy's picks. So McCarthy could sit back and paint it as a witch hunt. But when you hear things like that today, Republican congressman in that room, shouldn't McCarthy have been in the room or instead listen to - at least show support for the officers, the police officers?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, first of all, I want to say I love the Capitol Police. They keep us safe. They have every right to talk and to share their voice and to share their experiences. I think all police officers across the country deserve our respect.

I would actually appreciate it if Democrats on that panel before they addressed the police would say, before I asked you my question, I'd like to say I reject defund the police and I support the police across the country. That would be a nice thing for Democrats to say to police officers.

But look, he talked about what democracy is about. Democracy is also about dissent even when you don't agree with someone, bringing them in to be a part of a committee so that you can hear that dissent as a part of it and Nancy Pelosi rejected that and those police officers deserve better than that type of rank partisan ...

BURNETT: But Mike, can I say? I understand it is a little - you put apples and oranges here, OK? The thing about defund the police that you had to put that in there. I mean, they sat in there today and bared their soul and move people to tears. And McCarthy said he didn't listen because he had back-to-back meetings.

And Marjorie Taylor Greene and others had a press conference where they refer to the rioters as political prisoners. And your thing - it just seems a little ridiculous to start to the preface of your sentence to be like, I wish Democrats had started off by saying I'm not for defund the police.

SHIELDS: Well, Erin, I'll tell you why. BURNETT: What about in that room at that moment listening to those

police and supporting those police, that's what I'm asking.


SHIELDS: Look, Kevin works around the Capitol Police and supports them every single day. But it is very hard as a Republican to listen to the hypocrisy, the absurdity of Democrats wrapping themselves in the Capitol Police as if they are supporters of the police in this country when we just went through a year, a national debate that's still ongoing where the base of the Democratic Party says let's defund the police.

JONES: That's just not true.

SHIELDS: And then today in the political theater of all political theaters, people are crying and talking about how much - I support the Capitol Police. I love them. I have friends who are married to Capitol Police. I've been around Capitol Police my entire career that I've worked on Capitol Hill. What happened to them was despicable.

I hope every single person that attacked the Capitol policemen gets put in jail and I'm glad the FBI is investigating it. But I'm not going to be lectured by Democrats who suddenly act like they support the police when (inaudible) party says defund the police.

JONES: OK, listen. Listen up. It's really enough.


JONES: It's really enough. It's just so disappointing to hear you saying what you're saying. First of all, you know and I know that the majority of the Democrats who are in elective office have rejected that slogan and over and over again you can't control what people in the base of your party say or think any more than we can.

But the people who were in that room, hold on a second, the people who are in that room, the Democrats who are in that room who were there listening were moved. The American people who were listening were moved. Today was a somber day. It was a sacred day. It was a difficult day.

And I don't think that what you're saying right now is very helpful, because all you're doing now is throwing a bunch of dirt around when in fact we are not showing the respect that's due to those Capitol Police in terms of Republicans not showing up. And this is the type of stuff I think makes people feel very discouraged and disappointed in the country. Just don't do that, man. It's just not right.

BURNETT: I mean, Mike, how is it showing respect for them and what they did to not only not show up, but like I said, to hold a press conference referring to the people who attacked them as political prisoners and for the Minority Leader to say, I had no time to listen to anything that happened today. I'm sorry. I was in back to back meetings. How is that not offensive? SHIELDS: But Van just said something, I want to challenge that. Van

just said, oh, the vast majority of Democrats don't support defund the police. I don't hear that. But now you're using Marjorie Taylor Greene and trying to paint all Republicans with (inaudible) that went up there. That's not what the Republicans ...

BURNETT: Well, certainly their votes do show that. They have a vocal base who says that, but the votes on legislation shows that. But Mike, can you answer my question, what justifies referring to the people who attack those police as political prisoners and saying today Minority Leader ...

SHIELDS: Nothing does.

BURNETT: ... that I didn't have time to listen to anything they said, because I was in back-to-back meeting.

SHIELDS: Oh, that's my point, Erin. Nothing justifies calling them that. And the vast, vast majority of Republicans in Congress and across this country do not agree with that sentiment. And now you're trying to do something political which is paint all Republicans with Marjorie Taylor Greene and the radical people (inaudible) ...

BURNETT: What about the Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy whom you work with?

SHIELDS: That's how this thing is broken.

BURNETT: What about him? He said he was too busy today to listen to (inaudible) ...

SHIELDS: Here's something that would have been respectful to the Capitol Police, allow the minority to be a part of this process. Let there be dissent. Have some people have questions that you don't agree with, instead of picking people that already have the conclusions that already agree with you, which is what Nancy Pelosi did.


SHIELDS: Instead, she has broken the process and they deserve better than that.

BURNETT: So Van, I want to give you the final word but first, Mike, I do need to correct you on one point, because the Minority Leader had asked Speaker Pelosi for a 50-50 Republican-Democratic committee with equal subpoena power. She granted him all of that. He still voted against it. So that's why we're in this situation and I think it's important to say ...

SHIELDS: And then she changed the (inaudible) and the scope.

BURNETT: ... it's very important to say that though, because people leave that out. Van, I'll give you the final word since I gave Mike the first.

JONES: Well, I just want to say that I do hope that people who did not see the officer speaking will find a way to do so, go on and Google it and just listen to them. They deserve better than the kind of political food fight that's going on in the country right now.

They're hurt. There's a look in their eyes that lets you know that what happened there was really not OK and we still haven't figured out a way to do anything about it. Just forget all this nonsense we're talking about, listen to those officers. They deserve it.

BURNETT: All right. I appreciate both of you taking the time. Thank you.

And next, the CDC reversing course when it comes to masks for vaccinated Americans. Why our Dr. Reiner says the CDC has completely dropped the ball on this?

And former Sen. Barbara Boxer mugged near her Oakland department. Trump now seizing on the attack saying cities have become a paradise for criminals. What's Boxer's response?



BURNETT: Breaking news, President Biden will announce Thursday that all federal employees and contractors will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine or submit to regular testing, a source tells CNN. It comes after yet another change in masking guidance from the CDC which now recommends fully vaccinated wear masks indoors again in higher with higher substantial coronavirus transmission.

Look at the map. It's red or it's orange, you know -- well, that's the vast majority of the country. Mask up.

Also recommended everyone in K-12 schools wear mask, all of this citing the highly transmissible delta variant.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: In rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others. This new science is worrisome and unfortunately, warrants an update to our recommendations.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, who advised the White House medical team under President George W. Bush.

So, Dr. Reiner, let me start with you here. What is your reaction to the CDC updating its mask guidance for vaccinated people?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the guidance is right but I think their messaging is awful. I have enormous respect for CDC and their mission and for Dr. Walensky in particular but, boy, they're really, really getting messaging wrong here. Do you really think that CDC has changed mask guidance for vaccinated adults -- to use Dr. Walensky's words -- because of rarely a vaccinated person may transmit virus to an unvaccinated person?


No. They changed guidance to do the right thing, which was to force basically unvaccinated people to be vaccinated, unvaccinated people to be vaccinated and to mask up.

Look, they need to articulate the problem clearly and the problem is that 80 million American adults have made a choice, they've made a choice not to get the vaccine and those same people are not masking. And that is the force that is propagating this virus around the country. And what CDC needs to say is clearly that if you are not vaccinated, you must get vaccinated and you must mask up. But to do that, they had to basically tell the --


REINER: -- vaccinated to mask up.

BURNETT: So, I understand what you're saying, but I also take a step back here and I say, okay, first they said and science and information can change, right? We all remember at the very beginning here, mask up even if you're vaccinated because you could spread it and then the yay guess what you can't spread it, and now oh my gosh, now you can maybe spread it and making the change to the masking guidance based on unpublished data but it shows vaccinated and unvaccinated people infected by the delta variant can have the same viral load.

So, after changing it, from maybe you can spread it, to you definitely can't, to maybe you can but it's really rare, they're telling you it's really rare but you have the same viral load. I mean, Dr. Reiner, it really confusing and does beg the question of, do they really know or do they know things they're not sharing us -- sharing with us? I mean, it's a credibility question, isn't it? We don't know what rare means.

REINER: Completely. Let see the let's see the data, right? Let's be transparent. Let's explain to the public what the problem is and what the fix is, and I don't get that vibe from CDC now.

Look, I think you can tell the American public that delta is bad and because delta is bad, we need everyone to vax up, everyone to mask up, but both vaccinated and the unvaccinated. The American people will listen to that.

Instead, you know, this story of occasionally maybe vaccinated people can, you know, can spread the virus, so it just doesn't ring true to me. It doesn't ring true.

BURNETT: All right. Dr. Reiner, thank you very much. I appreciate your time as I always do.

REINER: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And now, I want to bring in the Democratic mayor of St. Louis, Tishaura Jones. She instituted a mask mandate along with St. Louis County amid a surge of cases there.

Mayor Jones, I appreciate your time there. I know the mask mandate you put into place went into effect yesterday. Do you feel like this new guidance from the CDC validates your decision?

MAYOR TISHAURA JONES (D), ST. LOUIS, MO: Yes, absolutely. The biggest push back I was getting from regular citizens was, you know, why aren't you following the CDC guidelines? So today's decision by the CDC for those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated to wear masks especially in areas where there's high transmission definitely validates the decision that Dr. Paige (ph) and I made.

BURNETT: Right. And I know obviously you're seeing incredibly high transmission and you seem to reference there you're facing a backlash over the mask mandate. The attorney general of the state is now suing you. Other small business owners and some of your constituents have been pushing back on the decision. Here is a bit of what they've been saying.


MAYOR JIM BOWLIN, WILDWOOD, MO: I don't think our residents need to be told to mask up or to social distance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're fully vaccinated, you know, it's your personal choice.

COREY HAMMERSTONE, MANAGER OF ST. LOUIS BAR: Whenever we had the mask mandate, we had to fight a lot of people that didn't want to wear a mask. We had a customer pull a gun. We've had customers like threaten to fight and just go crazy.


BURNETT: Now, Mayor Jones, I know those are different reasons for their frustrations. But what do you say to them?

JONES: I say that number -- well, a couple of things. Number one, I went to school at -- and got a masters in health administration and worked in health and hospitals, health systems and hospitals for over ten years. So I'm pretty sure that a mask mandate is doing to help protect people and the people of the city elected me to look out for their best interest.

This has been politicized far too much by those on the right and our attorney general by pushing back and filing frivolous lawsuits about mask mandates. Even if I didn't do anything, they would have a problem with me not doing enough.

So this is one of those situations where I'm dammed if I do and dammed if I don't, but I'd rather be on the right side of history trying to do something to help the residents that elected me.

BURNETT: So, now, of course, as you mentioned, the Republican attorney general suing you and now, you have to deal with that. He says it's, quote, unreasonable, arbitrary and unlawful, in reference to your mask order.


Do you think you're on solid legal ground here to have this held up?

JONES: Yes, absolutely. We should also mention that same attorney general running for U.S. Senate. So this is a political stunt. He's also attempted to sue China over the origin of COVID-19. So, he is in the practice of filing frivolous lawsuits with baseless claims and we will be victorious.

BURNETT: So, President Biden is expected to announce a requirement that all federal employees and contractors get vaccinated or submit to regular testing and we expect that that's going to happen this week, Mayor Jones, probably by Thursday.

Will you mandate vaccines for city employees?

JONES: We're not at that point just yet. We are starting an incentive program for city employees to get $100 gift cards for getting vaccinated. So we're going to try to, you know, strongly encourage that through that incentive program and hopefully, we can increase our vaccination rates among city employees.

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

JONES: Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, former Senator Barbara Boxer assaulted and robbed in broad daylight near her home in Oakland, California. The search on tonight for her attacker. The former senator is next with details.

And world's greatest gymnast, Simone Biles, dropping out of the women's team final citing mental health. Bob Costas weighs in.



BURNETT: Tonight, Oakland police searching for the person who assaulted and robbed former Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer. The former senator who is 80 years old says she was walking by herself, and someone came up, pushed her in the back, stole her cell phone and jumped back into a car. And all of this happened in broad daylight.

OUTFRONT now, the former Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer.

And, Senator, I'm so glad that you're okay. It's really terrifying and upsetting thing to have happened, daylight, walking down the street.

I mean, can you tell me what you experienced? What exactly happened?

BARBARA BOXER (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Yes, I can. First, I just want to say we had a place in Oakland since 2005 and we love it and we've never had a hint of any kind of problem, Jack London Square is beautiful by the bay, wonderful restaurant, wonderful greenery. And so, I wanted to say that.

This day was a different day for me and so unexpected and so scary because I was on the phone with some business partners talking about some issues and I wanted to get to a quiet street so that people wouldn't hear all the noise in the back front and obviously, there were a couple guys waiting to find an old lady with a new cell phone and literally, that's what they wanted, and so, one of them kind of stalked me.

I didn't think much of it. He got in the car and I thought, okay, he's leaving but then the other fellow jumped out of the car, and started to run toward me and I started to run away. And he essentially sort of at the same time slammed me in the back, grabbed my phone because my hand obviously let go of the phone.

My earphones fell on the ground and more than anything else, I was shaking. I've never been so surprised and it was so fast and I was just not ready.

I was stunned and they were young. They were young. That's what's so upsetting.

BURNETT: So, you know, Oakland police chief recently was talking to me and he was saying he's extremely worried about the rise in crime. Now, obviously, you're talking about a very upsetting incident, a pretty crime.

But, of course, as petty crimes rise, more serious crimes have as well. Homicide has a 69 percent increase. Assaults with a gun, 58 percent increase. Robberies like you experienced, actually only, I put that in quotes only up 14 percent.

Senator, the reason I give these numbers is to put it in context because the Oakland City Council just voted to move $18 million away from the police department to other programs, mental health programs, other things, but away from the police department and former President Trump seized on this.

He said today in light of what happened to you and that defunding: Our once great cities like New York, Detroit, San Francisco and so many others have become a paradise for criminals because of Democrats.

What do you say to that in the context of what is happening in Oakland?

BOXER: Well, first, I want to say this former President Trump has a horrible record when he was president. The murder rate went way up under Trump. Crimes with guns went way up and hate crimes under Trump surged 20 percent. So he has literally no standing.

And let me just say how I feel. I feel we need more money for community policing. We need more officers on the street. We need them to be from the community, by the community, for the community. And I worked on that issue many years ago when I was a county

supervisor. Community policing works because you've got to make relationships with these young people and, you know, somebody asked me the other day if you had a chance, Barbara, to say something to the young kids who did this to you, what would you say?

It came pretty quickly. It was how could you hurt someone who has the potential to love you? These are our youngsters. They were the same age as my grandkids.

And I do have to say, Erin, as this gentleman ran away and went into the car, I don't know automatically I yelled out how could you do this to a grandmother? I need to call my friend kids. Bring me back my phone.

Well, obviously, he wasn't that interested and jumped in the car. But it is a hurtful thing to see young people that don't have the love in their heart.

So we have to do all of this. We have to go -- we have to pass sensible gun laws for God's sakes.


We don't need weapons of war on our streets.


BOXER: We need to give our kids opportunity. The Oakland A's should stay in Oakland. We need them.

BURNETT: Right. All true. I do -- you know, in the context of the broader conversation about the surge in violent crime and many cities in this country, I wanted to ask you one other thing, though.

The Chicago police superintendent is speaking out. And he's blaming the rise in crime there on courts releasing these criminals, right? In part just go ahead and release, bail reform.

Here he is.


DAVID BROWN, CHICAGO POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: Can the courts hold people in jail who are violent, who have been arrested, who have been charged with murder? Murder. I don't think there's another city in this country releasing people charged with murder back into the community on electronic monitoring.


BRUNETT: And, Senator, closer to home for you there was a study. Half of people released from jail in San Francisco who get out before trial -- you used to not be able to do that -- failed to show up to court. Even more arrested for allegedly committing another crime while free.

Do you think that bail reform, which is something progressives have championed, is at the heart of solving the crime problem right now?

BOXER: I think we have to look at all of these things and we need to base our decisions on what is happening. Clearly, the Chicago police chief knows exactly what he's talking about.

We don't want people out on the streets who are a danger to other people. Of course we don't. We have to keep them in jail. And we have to try to reach them in jail and get them on a better path.

Look, this is been around a long time. Democrats, Republicans, we need to come together and we need to get at the root causes of it and we need to be very strong with tough love on our kids, real enforcement and more community policing. I believe in that and I always have.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Senator Boxer, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much, and I'm glad to see that you seem to be recovered and looking and feeling so good after that scary incident. Thank you.

BOXER: Thanks.

BURNETT: And next, Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast in the world, dropping out of the women's team final. And legendary Olympic broadcaster Bob Costas joins me next with what happened.


BURNETT: Tonight, the world's greatest gymnast Simone Biles sending shockwaves around the world after dropping out of the women gymnastics team final and revealing that she's concerned about her mental health.


SIMONE BILES, GYMNAST, TEAM USA: I was just shaking, could barely nap. I've just never felt like this going into a competition before. Once I came out here, I was like, no. Mental is not there. So I just need to let the girls do it and focus on myself.


BURNETT: I want to bring in legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas. He's covered 12 Olympic Games.

Bob, I mean, it's hard to overstate how big this decision was, this news was.



BURNETT: Biles has been hinting at mental she's been under. She wrote on Instagram just yesterday, and I quote her: I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn't affect me, but damn, sometimes it's hard. The Olympics is no joke.

I mean, in gymnastics the Olympics are the Holy Grail. It's not like, say, tennis where you've got the U.S. Open and the French Open. It is the Olympics. It is shocking that she quit. What happened?

COSTAS: Well, I think she explained it, that she was just feeling so much stress. But also that played itself out in a poor performance, uncharacteristically poor when she is so often perfect or close to perfect, both in warm-ups and in the early stages of competition on the vault today.

Unless something has happened in the last half hour of which I'm not aware, we don't know yet if she'll resume competition on Thursday when the individual all-around takes place, and then there are several other individual apparatus on which she would be favored if she were at her peak.

So we don't know if she's just left the team competition, which is over now and her teammates took the silver medal behind the Russians, or whether she's out altogether.

But the point you made is true, Erin. Not only is the Olympics everything in sports like gymnastics or track and field or swimming, once you leave there it isn't by a matter of degree. It's a whole different world in terms of what's the next most important thing in terms of your legacy and prestige and eyeballs in front of television sets and whatnot.

So she has waited five years, not four, for this. And four years from now or I guess three years from now in Paris, she would be at a very advanced age for a gymnast, which would be 27.

So if she steps off the stage entirely now, she will still go down as the greatest female gymnast of all time because she has done things that no one else has ever done. It isn't just that she's won gold medals. Others have won. In fact, the last four Olympic all-arounds among women were won by American women going back to Carly Patterson in two of.2004.

It isn't just that she won. You're saying Bolt won the 100 meters. Others have won the 100 meters. But he holds the world record.


COSTAS: No one's ever did what he did. So, that's her standing even if she never competes again.

But everyone wanted to see her. With all due respect to Katie Ledecky and a few others she was the face of this very unusual Olympic Games from an American perspective.

And it isn't just that she's excellent. She's so artistic. Her artistry is breathtaking. And I think everyone would feel, though they sympathize with her, they'd feel deprived of the privilege of seeing the greatest of all time not do it at least one more time.

BURNETT: Well, incredible when you watch those leaps, we've never seen anyone leap that high. I mean, she is stupendous.

She did say that tennis star Naomi Osaka inspired her to focus on her mental health. In the sound bite I played there she told her teammates that she needed to focus on herself. So obviously, as you point out, if she returns to competition, you know, they lost. They came in second, right? To the Russians on the team.

How do her teammates feel, right? When she said I need to focus on myself. What's their reaction to her quitting the team event if she comes back and actually competes on her own for individual medals?

COSTAS: Well, obviously, after being part of every Summer Olympics since 1988, I'm watching from a distance. So I'm not going to pretend to insight I don't have.

But from everything I can gather, from what I saw firsthand in Rio in 2016, from what I know having spoken to some of her teammates in the interim and what I've seen from a distance, they love her. They're in awe of her. They know she's the best ever. And there's a lot of love there. You saw it on the medal stand.


COSTAS: So I think if she comes back and excels individually they'll cheer for her and I think they're in basic sympathy with her and the decision she made today.

BURNETT: So mental health is now something people talk about. But obviously it being a huge challenge for athletes isn't new. It's just that we're hearing about it, right? Michael Phelps did an interview with you where he talked about struggling ahead of the Olympics. And he was the greatest swimmer of all time. And he talked about even considering taking his own life.

Here he is in an interview in 2018.


MICHAEL PHELPS, FORMER U.S. OLYMPIC SWIMMER: I was so down on myself, I didn't have any self-love. And quite honestly I just didn't want to be alive. It was a really, really, really crazy time for me. And I didn't want to see anybody. Because for me like I saw myself as letting so many people down and me myself in particular.


BURNETT: Do you think we'll hear more of this?

COSTAS: Yeah. There's a cultural shift. There used to be stigma attached to it. There still is to some extent. But that is lessening. With each person that comes out.

I think Michael Phelps has devoted much of his post-Olympic life to trying to be a spokesperson for the idea that yeah, if you need help it's no different than if you had an aching back. It may be different in terms of what the implications are but there should be no more stigma attached to it than going to the doctor for a physical ailment.

He's not alone in that. I mean, Aaron Rodgers hasn't stopped competition but one of the things Aaron Rodgers has said while he dickers back and forth with the Packers is I'm taking this summer to work on the mental aspect of my life.

Kevin Love, the NBA player who's been on Olympic teams had an issue and stepped aside for a while. So it's becoming more and more accepted.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate it. Thank you so much, Bob. Really great to have you, and thank you.

COSTAS: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks to all of you.

It's time for Anderson.