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Erin Burnett Outfront

DeSantis To Biden: I Don't Want To Hear A Blip About COVID From You; Biden To Governors: Help Or Get Out Of The Way; Top DOJ Official Prepped Resignation Letter Over Trump's "Direct Instructions" To Support His Election Fraud Claims; ABC: Trump Loyalist At DOJ Wanted Department To Intervene In Election; Moderate Dem Pulls Surprise Win Over AOC-Backed Progressive; White House Doubles Down On Biden's Call For Gov. Cuomo To Resign. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 04, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Appreciate it.


BLITZER: Once again, the book is entitled Here, Right Matters: An American Story. Very important book. A really insightful look at what's going on in the country.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Biden versus DeSantis. The Florida Governor slamming the President saying he doesn't want to 'hear a blip' about COVID from him. After President Biden told governors like DeSantis to get out of the way. The war of words escalating tonight.

Plus, a surprise winner of the Ohio congressional race that split the Democratic Party. Shontel Brown is OUTFRONT. Is the key to her victory sticking close to Biden instead of running away from him?

And an update tonight on the mother of three who was facing eviction, Dasha Kelly. Tonight her response to the overwhelming number of you, who've come to her aid and how she plans to pay it forward. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Biden versus DeSantis. The Republican Governor of Florida is hitting back at President Biden after the president said governors who are not helping in the fight against COVID should just 'get out of the way'. Well, here's the Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis today.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA: What is he so upset about Florida? His solution is he wants to have the government force kindergarteners to wear masks in school. Joe Biden also believes that vaccination should be mandated by force of government and that you should have to show vaccination status to be able to participate in society. I think the question is we can either have a free society or we can have a biomedical security state. I don't want to hear a blip about COVID from you.


BURNETT: Biomedical security state. Well, OK, putting hyperbole aside, if anything Florida right now is a crisis state because it's not just leading the country in new cases. Florida right now, here we are, August has more hospitalizations than any other point during the pandemic.

So it's at the highest hospitalization rate in the State of Florida at any point in the pandemic and DeSantis has been fighting tooth and nail to stop any type of mandate. Whether it's telling companies and cruise lines that they aren't allowed to mandate passengers show proof of vaccination status, which of course puts gum in the works of business.

He's also threatening to strip schools of funding if they mandate masks when, of course, the majority of young children, all young children under 12 are unvaccinated. And through it all, he has been mocking at every turn as the virus rages in Florida.


DESANTIS: Did you not get the CDC's memo? I don't see you guys complying.

We are not supporting doing any vaccine passports in the State of Florida. We always said we want to provide it for all but mandated for none.

Biden is a lockdowner, his advisors are lockdowners. Lockdowns don't work. We've demonstrated that.


BURNETT: DeSantis has his eye on getting reelected and he thinks turning the tables on the federal government is a good way to keep his job. His campaign is actually selling T-shirts and other items that say don't Fauci my Florida, literally on his campaign website. There you can see it. Don't Fauci my Florida. You can even get a water bottle.

It's not just DeSantis using the pandemic though to run for reelection. The Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott using a similar playbook in his state where one out of three ICU beds in the state is now being used by a COVID patient. That's the situation in Texas. The State's own health department just warned and I quote, "Texas is facing a new wave. Delta has erased much progress to end the pandemic. Full vaccination protects nearly all from hospitalization and death." Yet here's Gov. Abbott.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R) TEXAS: There will not be any government-imposed shutdowns or mask mandates.


BURNETT: Which include schools where kids under 12 who are not able to get vaccinated yet, of course, are defenseless if they don't have masks on, so it's all they got. Now, to be clear, the Biden administration has stopped short. I mean, I know that DeSantis says that Biden wants lockdown, he has not called for one and they have not yet called for a vaccine mandate across the country.

But the CDC does recommend right now that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask indoors and the best tool right now against the virus, as we all know, the single best tool is to go ahead and get vaccinated. That's just the bottom line fact. So why are these Republican governors fighting both masks and vaccines?

Could it be possible that anyone would put politics ahead of anybody in their state's well-being and safety? I mean, let's just look at the map right now because it shows how fast COVID was spreading a month ago.


And on this map you'll see very few areas of red which represent high levels of community transmission of COVID. Now, I'm going to flip it and show you the same map today, that entire southeast and most of the Midwest is now deep red. And many of these states in red also have fully vaccinated rates that are below 50 percent like Texas and like Florida.

And today, the nation's top infectious disease expert warning that if more action is not taken to stop the Delta variant from spreading, there is a good chance that the United States of America could soon be facing a more dangerous outbreak from another variant.

In an interview today, Dr. Fauci says, I'll quote him, "If we don't crush the outbreak to the point of getting the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated, then what will happen is the virus will continue to smolder through the fall into the winter and there could be a variant that's lingering out there that can push aside Delta."

I mean, look, variants are living with the vaccines, that's a good way to learn how to evade a vaccine. As DeSantis and Abbott are scoring political points to win reelection, they are giving fuel to those who are against the vaccine. And in many cases, those who are spreading conspiracy theories about the vaccine, which is why there are some other governors including New Jersey's Phil Murphy losing their patients. Here's Gov. Murphy today confronting a group of protesters at a COVID relief bill signing.


GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D) NEW JERSEY: These folks back there have lost their mind. You've lost your minds. You are the ultimate knuckleheads and because of what you are saying and standing for, people are losing their life. People are losing their life.


BURNETT: He lost his cool because of people out there protesting, trying to say no need to get vaccines.

Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT live outside the White House tonight. And Phil, you have been talking to officials at the White House tonight. How are they reacting to DeSantis' comments and actions? He is coming straight at and punching at the President.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, they're responding with data quite literally. One White House official sent me a series of data points underscoring just how severe the surge is in Florida. White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, noting that 23 percent of the hospitalizations in the country are based in Florida saying Florida's hospitals are overwhelmed, saying the White House believes it is doing everything it can to help the people of Florida and it wishes that Ron DeSantis would join them in that effort.

I think this goes to why you've seen such a significant shift in the tone from White House officials, from the President on down over the course of the last several days in terms of calling out governors like Ron DeSantis, governors like the Governor of Texas as well.

They believe that this isn't partisan, that's what they say, but that it is data based and that there are certain governors as Jen Psaki, The Press Secretary, said earlier today who simply aren't doing the right thing in terms of the safety of the people and their response, the White House response, given how sharp it has been is meant to convey simply that more action is needed. It's not something you're going to see change, I'm told, over the course of the next several days.

The White House is firmly ensconced in this posture and they believe it is a necessity, given the surge they're seeing across the country.

Now, Erin, you noted this is about masks, this is not about vaccine mandates and that's not something the administration is considering nationwide. However, we are learning tonight from a White House official that the administration is in the midst of drafting plans to vaccinate almost all foreign travelers that come or require vaccination for foreign travelers that come into the U.S.

It's in the early stages of the process of a phased approach, but this is one of the areas in terms of how they would lift travel restrictions, it is a key element. It is something that is under consideration right now, Erin.

BURNETT: No, it's pretty crucial. You're looking at a vast swathes of the world that have no vaccination. So if you're trying to prevent new variants coming in, they got to do it. All right. Phil, thank you very much. I appreciate it. And I want to now talk about to school districts that are defying Gov.

DeSantis in Florida, Carlee Simon is the Superintendent of the Alachua County Public Schools. The Alachua School's Board voted Tuesday to require masks for the first two weeks of school. And Anna Fusco is back with me. She is the President of the Broward Teachers Union. Broward County Public Schools which is the sixth largest school district in the country, says it is keeping its mask mandate in place for now in defiance of the Gov. DeSantis.

So Anna, let me start with you because Gov. DeSantis issued an executive order saying the CDC guidance which the CDC says students should wear masks. So this executive order comes out from DeSantis and it says, "That order lacks a well-grounded scientific justification." Of course, that is false. We do know mask prevent transmission and we do know that children under 12 are unvaccinated definitionally. Why is it important to you to stand up to Gov. DeSantis now?

ANNA FUSCO, PRESIDENT, BROWARD TEACHERS UNION: Because our students, all of our children need rational people that are really believing and understanding science and are paying attention that this State is in a crisis.


And we need to keep all protocols and that includes mask wearing. I mean Broward County did exceptionally phenomenal last school year when we went back to face to face in October where we didn't have a spread.

BURNETT: So, Carlee, I know you've said the decision in your county was made after two people lost their lives from COVID, two custodians died. Now, though, I understand it is a two-week rule here on masks. Why just two weeks? What went into that? Are you considering making it longer?

CARLEE SIMON, SUPERINTENDENT, ALACHUA COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: So what we ended up doing is actually on Monday I ended up having a mask mandate for all of the employees, our vendors and volunteers on campuses, so essentially all the adults that would be on campus. I also included in that incentives for people to get vaccinations and we're also providing COVID leave for individuals who have been vaccinated who are having a breakthrough with the Delta variant. And we are not offering that COVID leave for individuals who have not been vaccinated because we really want to encourage it.

The Board on Tuesday, they did vote in a unanimous four-zero decision to have two weeks of a mask mandate for the students and then we would come back on August 17th with the Board and we would listen to data and we determine next steps after that.

BURNETT: OK. I understand. So Anna, several local health officials are saying they're being intimidated now, they're receiving threats from anti-maskers. That's according to the National Association of County and City Health Officials. So they have come out and said this is happening. I know that you yourself have been the target of protest. I'm going to show one right now outside the school Board meeting in your county where they were yelling at you before you went inside. And I'll just play something they said as they were burning a mask.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is time to cast off this symbol of tyranny, this symbol of child abuse. We will not stand for it anymore.


BURNETT: Anna, is the Governor's latest order making things worse when you already have people hurling insults, protesting burning masks.

FUSCO: It's much worse. It shows poor leadership when we elect the Governor to take care of our state and he's making decisions god knows why and it is affecting everybody. As you said earlier, our state is in a crisis with this COVID. It's spreading.

Not everybody is vaccinated, trying to get people to get vaccinated is a chore with (inaudible) unsure or whether they just can't get it because of medical reasons and to have our governor jump onboard with going against our school Board and threatening us to have no funding is extremely deplorable. It's not something that we would ever have expected to see from any elected official, let alone our governor in the State of Florida.

BURNETT: So Carlee, let me ask you about the point Anna raises, because as she points out in the order, Gov. DeSantis threatens that the State can withhold funds. So you lose funding from any schools unwilling or unable to comply. So basically take off the masks or else I'm not going to give you money. I mean, are you concerned about losing funding?

SIMON: Yes, of course. I mean, we're very much concerned about losing funding. I think we're also concerned about losing instructional time and we know that if we have masked children in our classrooms and all of them are masked, then we are going to have fewer quarantines. And when we have fewer quarantines, that means our children are going to have direct instruction more often.

And one of the things that concerns me is that when we have families who do not want to have masks on their child, what they're doing is not only are they making the higher chance that they will have to be quarantined, but because they're not wearing a mask, they will also have other students who did have masks on who would also need to be quarantined.

And we need instructional time, we know we had a loss from last year and what we need is we need our kids in the classroom getting a healthy and good education. And when we don't have funding, we wouldn't have that either. And so I think what we're hoping is that the Governor understands that we really need to do this. One of the things as far as the decision associated with employees, it was because I'm losing parts of our workforce.

I have had schools of custodians where the entire team is gone and we are running into a situation where we know we need adults to run schools. And if my adults are sick or they're needing to quarantine, then I don't have adults present to provide the education. And so I'm hoping that the governor is just willing to let us get through this surge and then we can move forward. Everybody wants to move forward. No one wants to have mask forever.


We just would like to be able to be safe and have instructional time with our students.

BURNETT: Well, I mean just on that basic thing, right, people want to be in-person. The students are falling behind. The entire country is falling behind.

All right. Thank you so much, Carlee and Anna. I appreciate you. I appreciate your time.

And I want to go straight to Dr. Leana Wen because she's the former Baltimore City Health Commissioner and she is also the Author of a new book, Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health. Dr. Wen, I always appreciate your perspective so I want to ask you about something I mentioned at the top of the show. Gov. DeSantis saying tonight this is a choice between a 'free society' or a 'biomedical security state'. That's how he's framing the issue of masks in schools with unvaccinated kids. Is that what a school mask mandate is about?

LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: No, of course not. And I don't even understand what is this term of this biomedical security state. I mean, are we saying that we shouldn't be using antibiotics for pneumonia or get your appendix out because we're enlisting the biomedical apparatus, whatever that means.

I mean, in this case, we are at war. We are at war with this virus that has already killed more than 610,000 Americans. We now have the tools with vaccines and masks to stop further death and suffering and destruction. I mean, why is it that there are political leaders in this country who are saying, we have these tools but we're not willing to use them. And in fact, we're going to forbid people from using these tools to protect their family members, their employees.

I mean, it really is, I don't have the words for it, it's extremely frustrating. It's really tragic and it's the reason why we're having the surge. The reason why we're not able to get our economy back, our kids back in school is because of these leaders.

BURNETT: Yes. So I've heard the argument that, hey, why are you talking about Florida, they have the most cases because it's one of the most populous states. Well, I obviously also - I pointed out by the way that their hospitalizations are at a record, but I also just on this point about being so populous.

California is actually the biggest state in the country, bigger than Florida. It is nearly double the population of Florida, but right now, less than half the cases. OK. So just to take away this point for everyone who may hear it. Do you have any doubt Dr. Wen then and looking at the record hospitalizations in Florida, do you have any doubt that it is political decisions not allowing masks, not pushing vaccines and not allowing cruise companies to mandate vaccines is just an example that that is actually driving case loads?

WEN: At this point of the pandemic, we know what works. I mean, this is not back in November or December last year where we didn't have these vaccines, we certainly didn't have widespread access to the vaccines and we just have to say to people that hey, you have to social distance, you have to hunker down at home, you have to mask.

Right now we actually have the answer to all of this, which is vaccination. I mean, in the meantime, masks are also really important. But ultimately, we have the answer. And so I think this is exactly the point that we have a lot of states that are not embracing vaccines. We have a lot of states that are not doing indoor masking and it's no surprise that these are the same areas that also have the highest concentration of infections, hospitalizations and soon deaths as well.

BURNETT: Of course. Thank you very much, Dr. Wen. I appreciate your time.

And next, we have troubling new details tonight about what was actually happening inside the Justice Department after the 2020 election. One top official actually drafting a resignation letter because of Trump's attempts to overturn the election.

Plus, the winner of that closely watched Democratic primary in Ohio that we were talking about last night with Van sounds a lot like the current president.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can find common ground now.

SHONTEL BROWN: One of the things that I've been successful at is building consensus and finding common ground.


BURNETT: Was this the key to her victory? Shontel Brown is my guest.

And in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo defiant tonight as the State's assembly members say they now have enough votes to impeach him. Kick him out.



BURNETT: Tonight, more evidence of former President Trump's attempt to weaponize the Justice Department to overturn the 2020 election. We have just learned that a former top Justice Department official actually drafted a resignation letter because he was so concerned that Trump gave 'direct instructions' to his acting Attorney General to use the department to support Trump's false election claims. Now, this comes as we're learning top DOJ official shut down a Trump

loyalists scheme to get Georgia lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden's win in the state. That's according to another draft letter tonight obtained by ABC News.

Jessica Schneider is OUTFRONT. And Jessica, these are some really significant developments, a top DOJ official actually drafting a resignation letter over Trump's actions to overturn the election. And if you think about it, this is in the final days of the Trump administration. You've gotten through all of that and it was that event that led this top official to draft a letter, what more can you tell me?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Erin, it was this chief of staff to the acting Attorney General. He had his resignation letter written and ready. It was January 3rd and it was because he as well as other DOJ officials, they were bracing for Trump to fire and replace Jeffrey Rosen with Jeffrey Clark.

Rosen was the Acting Attorney General, Clark was the top official for the Civil Division. And unlike Rosen, he was aligned with Trump when it came to those false claims of voting fraud. So that official who was prepared to resign was Patrick Hovakimian. And we've learned tonight, Erin, that he talked to investigators on the House Oversight Committee for three hours this week as part of their probe into Trump's baseless election fraud claims.

And notably, Hovakimian drafted this resignation letter on January 3rd. It's the same day that Trump summoned Rosen and Clark to the White House to have what we learned was this apprentice-style showdown for the Attorney General job each of them having to make their case. Rosen, of course, wouldn't backup Trump's claims of election fraud while Clark would.

Now, before that meeting, Hovakimian wrote in this letter that he never sent. He said this, "This evening, after Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen over the course of the last week repeatedly refused the President's direct instructions to utilize the Department of Justice's law enforcement powers for improper ends, the President removed Jeff from the Department."


Now, of course, that firing never happened. He never sent the letter. But we know, Erin, that at least a half dozen other DOJ officials they had similar plans to resign if Rosen was fired. So this is all coming out as investigators in the House, lawmakers are looking into all of these efforts from Trump and now we know at least one DOJ official to try to overturn the election, Erin.

BURNETT: It's pretty incredible. And it's incredible to do apprentice- style showdown when you've lost the election and you have a couple weeks left in office to actually stage that. It's pretty stunning on so many levels. All right. Jessica, thank you very much.

So let's go straight to Elie Honig. He's former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and John Avlon, Anchor and CNN Senior Political Analyst, so thanks so much to both. So let me start with you. Did Trump commit a crime?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Erin, forget about a crime. I see several federal crimes here, at least potential federal crimes. I'll be specific. It is a federal crime to deprive a state of a fair election. It is a federal crime to solicit false counting of ballots, false certification of an election. It is a federal crime to conspire against the United States.

Now, could a good defense lawyer come in and quibble with some of this or try to poke holes in it? Sure. I gladly take on that fight. But my point is, there is more than enough here for the current Justice Department under Merrick Garland to open a criminal investigation.

They have to do this, Erin. I'm not seeing a single public indication that the current Justice Department has any inclination to look at anything Donald Trump has done. But this is deadly serious and there has to be consequences. Imagine if there's no consequences for this whatsoever, what kind of message does that send? So DOJ has a job to do here.

BURNETT: So John, you take these new developments on top of something else we learned just the other day, which is that Trump told his Acting Attorney General Rosen to, "Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen." I mean, John, it's not hiding in plain sight. It's in plain sight. There's an extremely clear pattern of behavior here.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And as every day we learn new details that we just lived as a country through the most dangerous moment of our democracy since the Civil War. And Donald Trump makes people like Richard Nixon look like a choirboy. He was using the power of the presidency to try to overturn an election, to destroy our democracy, what can also be called a coup d'etat.

And a few good men and women stopped that effort to their great credit but it shows how badly the guard rails have been damaged. And to Elie's point, there needs to be accountability. Otherwise, we will encourage more of this in the future.

BURNETT: So Elie, you used to work for the Justice Department and this latest reporting does paint the picture of a very dysfunctional Justice Department. Let's just be honest, in the final days of the Trump presidency, if not for a few key individuals pushing back this mass resignation sort of threat, President Trump could have put in Mr. Clark and things could have turned out very differently, couldn't they?

HONIG: Yes. A lot of credit goes here to Jeffrey Rosen to Richard Donoghue to other leaders of the Justice Department. I think Jeffrey Rosen had a very up and down term as Deputy Attorney General. But here, he absolutely did the right thing and it's an important reminder of the importance of the Justice Department as a check on the runaway powers of the President. And I think it's so important that we not go numb here because we've

seen so much reporting on this and it's sort of started to become a drumbeat. We now see that the President tried to weaponize DOJ to steal this election. There's nothing normal. There's nothing acceptable about that. It's an act of disloyalty by Donald Trump, by Jeffrey Clark. It needs to stick with them for history and there needs to be real consequences.

AVLON: Absolutely.

BURNETT: So John, Jeffrey Clark is the Trump loyalist former DOJ official who is at the center of a lot of this, obviously, and ABC News has gotten that letter showing that he tried to meddle in the Georgia election. I just referenced this, but let me explain what happened.

He was vying for the Attorney General's job along with Jeffrey Rosen in that hours long Oval Office meeting that Jessica describes as apprentice-style. Trump tells Rosen he wants to replace him with Clark and Clark is going to Georgia and trying to get them to overturn the election there. I mean, the consequences of all of this could have been incredible.

AVLON: Absolutely. Look, this is two days before the insurrectionists attack on the Capitol, which the President incited and we see behind the scenes this henchmen willing to do the President's bidding, drafting a letter to try to encourage the governor to overturn an election in Georgia, throwing the country into complete chaos and the counting of our electoral college votes.

So this was coordinated. This was a clear attempt. This is more than just sort of cynical careerism by Jeffrey Clark.


This demands accountability. We see all the evidence that the president was conducting a full court press to try to overturn the election, to overturn the democracy. There is no greater sin in our republic than that.

BURNETT: All right. John, Elie, thanks both.

And next, Shontel Brown defeating a progressive candidate who once said this about having to choose between Biden and Trump.


NINA TURNER (D), OHIO CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: You've got two bowls of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in front of you, and you have to pick one.


BURNETT: Well, was backing Biden the key to Brown's victory? Well, she is next.

Plus, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo refusing to resign although it now appears there is enough votes in the state assembly in New York to impeach him. Is there any chance he leaves without being impeached?


BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden congratulating the surprise winner of Ohio's 11th district Democratic primary after a bitter race the divided the party. Moderate Democrat Shontel Brown defeated Nina Turner, close ally of Senator Bernie Sanders, who was endorsed by big- time progressive including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.


Brown making her loyalty to President Biden part of her campaign for Congress, echoing many of his key points on the campaign trail.


JOE BIDEN (D), THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I never, never, never said defunding police.

SHONTEL BROWN (D), OHIO CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I've never been a champion or believer in defunding the police.

BIDEN: We can't find common ground, though, working across party lines.

BROWN: One of the things I have been successful at is building consensus and finding common ground.


BURNETT: Brown's victory follows a string of winds for moderate Democrats this year. We have seen them in Louisiana. We've seen them in Mexico -- New Mexico and congressional races. Virginia's primary for governor and in the New York City mayoral race.

OUTFRONT now, Shontel Brown, the Democratic nominee for Ohio's 11th congressional district. She's currently a member of the Cuyahoga County Council.

And, Councilmember Brown, I really appreciate your time. Look, it's a huge day for you after your win. You are the underdog and you prevailed.

Now, I just played some of those moments from the campaign. You know, you were -- you were clear that you supported Biden's agenda, you are a Biden loyalist. You contrast that to your opponent, Nina Turner, who once compared endorsing Joe Biden for president to eating a, quote, bowl of S-H-star-T, in case anyone wonders what I'm saying.

Do you think you support of the president was key to your victory?

BROWN: Well, I think the support for the president was instrumental, but I wouldn't say it was the sole factor that got us to victory. I wanted to be clear long before this became a national narrative between a progressive and what I have been described as, a moderate or establishment candidate. I had to support 100 local officials, city council members, mayors, school board members, precinct committee folks, those who are closest to the ground who know what the needs of their communities are.

I also had a ton of support from faith-based leaders, both in the Jewish community and the African-American community. And in addition to that, we had a lot of local union support. So that was always our path to victory.

So I've never got into a race with the expectation of doing anything other than winning. I say that respectfully and humbly. I've got six victories under my belt, and today makes that seventh. Lord willing, we are victorious in the general election. I take nothing for granted.

So that is largely in part what I believe -- what I believe we were able to win this race. We had a winning formula from the very beginning.

BURNETT: So, you know, it's fair to point out all of those endorsements you have, of course. But of course, your opponent, Nina Turner, you know, there was a lot of vitriol in this race. Last night while conceding the race, which she did do, she said this.


TURNER: We didn't lose this race! Evil money manipulated and maligned in this election.


BURNETT: Evil money manipulated and maligned this election.

Now, I do want to note, Councilmember, Turner actually raised more money than you. And she received help from outside groups, as you did, which actually raised more money than you.

What is your response when she says she didn't lose? That what lose, it was evil money manipulating and maligning the election.

BROWN: There's only one winner, so I am grateful for the people making a decision to elect me to be the primary Democratic nominee. Listen, if money where the deciding factor as you pointed out, she certainly had more of it.

And so, again, our winning formula was connecting with people in the community. All politics is local, I'm as local as it gets. I've been a legislator for nine consecutive years here. That's given me the opportunity to develop a lot of relationships and help develop results for the people when they need them.

Again, as you pointed out in your previous footage, I'm a consensus builder. I focus on the issues. Never seeking to make headlines or getting attention, but always looking to make headway and be effective.

And so, that was the primary difference I believe in this race. People wanted someone they could count on to focus on getting them the representation that they need.

BURNETT: So one of the biggest supporters is Congressman James Clyburn, the number 3 Democrat in the House right now. When he endorsed you in June, he said something to the New York Times, I remember talking to him about -- he's been very adamant about this issue. He does not like the "defund the police" slogan.

He said, and I quote, when I spoke out against sloganeering like "Burn, baby, burn" in 1960s and "defund the police," which I think is cutting the throats of the party, I know exactly where my constituents are. They are against that and I'm against that.

Now, of course, as you know, there are many in your party elected to Congress who don't always say defund the police, they mean defund the police.


Do you agree the slogans, like defund the police, are hurting your party? Or to use Congressman Clyburn's words, cutting the throats of the party?

BROWN: I think that they are damaging. I know that they come from a place of good intention, but three-word slogans are not what get us to a place of agreement on policy. To negotiate and sit across the table, for folks to come to a place of consensus, requires a lot of hard work.

So I understand how that is damaging. As a person who really would look to maybe strengthen our police force by investing in training them and dealing with racial biases and cultural conflicts it seems, those are the things we really need to be focused on and also streamlining the services so that the police can focus on really violent crimes instead of things like dealing with mental health issues, those who are drug addicted, and also those who might be committing level offenses like trespassing. Like the homeless population.

Those individuals need support. So I would be in favor of legislating crisis assistance helping out on the streets. That would provide a 4th option if people call for 911. Instead of police or an ambulance, they would also get an option to get a crisis intervention specialist. So, that streamlining services does not defund the police.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your time, Councilmember Brown. Of course, victorious in that primary in Ohio's crucial 11th district.

And next, New York state assembly members appear as of my speaking right now to have the votes to impeach Governor Andrew Cuomo. Those votes are getting on hour-by-hour and they have just crossed the line.

One assemblymember Andrew Cuomo allegedly threatened to destroy is next.

Plus, an update on the story brought you last night. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BURNETT: Tonight, embattled New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, defiant and clinging to power, even after the president of the United States said Cuomo needs to resign, and after the White House doubled down on the message today.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president believes Governor Cuomo should do the right thing, resign and leave space for future leadership in New York.


BURNETT: Well, this comes as a majority of New York state assembly members, at least 80 Democrats and Republicans now, confirmed to CNN that they would vote to impeach the governor, over allegations that he sexually harassed 11 women.

OUTFRONT now, New York state Democratic assemblyman Ron Kim.

And, Assemblyman, I appreciate your time. It appears, and I've been watching these numbers take up through the day, as I'm sure you have, that you now have the votes with the majority of assembly members telling CNN they would support impeaching Governor Cuomo.

How soon do you think a vote could happen?

RON KIM (D), NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLYMEMBER: I think the vote can happen as soon as the next couple of weeks. We are past the point of debating whether he should be impeached. We're just discussing how he should be impeached.

BURNETT: So, a couple of weeks away. I mean, that's a pretty stunning development here. He, of course, Governor Cuomo has remained defiant. He has denied allegations. In fact, he's been fundraising to run for reelection for next year.

I mean, I guess if you take a step back, do you believe there is any chance that the governor will leave office without being impeached?

KIM: I think there's zero chance of him staying in a position of power at a time when the public, lawmakers and constituents are demanding accountability. The top prosecutor of the state of New York came out and said he broke state and federal laws. The legislature now has a legal and moral duty to remove him so we can fully hold him accountable.

BURNETT: So, you have one of the loudest voices speaking about another issue the governor is being investigated for, which is of course is his handling of COVID deaths in nursing homes, and you and I had spoken about this multiple times. In February, you told me about a call that you received from the governor where you said he threatened you that -- if you did not issue a statement defending him. You said Cuomo told you on that call that he could, quote, destroy your political career. You told me it was 10 minutes on the phone where he was berating, yelling and threatening. That is how you described it, you in this call.

Do you see parallels in the way the governor has treated you and how he has now tried to discredit his accusers?

KIM: Oh, 100 percent, there is a clear pattern of his abuse of power and his abusive behavior. (AUDIO GAP) conduct and assault of women, there is a clear pattern of him not just bullying, this is a clear pattern of an abusive person who thinks he's above the law. Whether we are talking about Donald Trump or Andrew Cuomo, this country has had enough of executives who feel they are above the law. And it's about time we hold everyone accountable.

BURNETT: All right. Assemblyman Kim, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

KIM: Thank you so much.

BURNETT: And you hear the assemblyman saying Governor Cuomo could have an impeachment vote within the next couple of weeks.

OUTFRONT next, Arkansas has just 25 ICU beds available now in the entire state. The surge of COVID cases is taking a toll on nurses. E surge of COVID


REPORTER: Have you had days where you didn't want to come into work?

NUSRSE: Yes, yes, I've had moments where I've sat in my car and cried before I came to work.


BURNETT: Plus, an update on Dasha Kelly, the mother of 3 girls with who we spoke with last night who is facing addiction. How she plans to help others facing the same situation.



BURNETT: Tonight, there are just 25 ICU beds available in the entire state of Arkansas, a record low. The state surges driving health care workers there to the breaking point, with some even walking off their shifts.

Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Greg Thompson (ph), surging COVID cases have made every day a disaster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A slow-moving mass casualty event, yes.

SAVIDGE: He runs the ambulance service for Little Rock and Central Arkansas. But his ambulances are running out of places to take patients. Computers track hospital availability. Red means they're full.

It is the reddest day they have ever seen.

For Dr. Cam Patterson, every day is a challenge.

DR. CAM PATTERSON, CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS FOR MEDICAL SCIENCES: We are down over 200 nurses, empty positions that we can fill.

SAVIDGE: As chancellor at the University of Arkansas for medical sciences, part of his duties include overseeing Arkansas's only level one trauma center. He says the latest surge is pushing his health care workers to the breaking point.

PATTERSON: We've had people literally walk off the job, because I couldn't take it anymore.

SAVIDGE: Somebody walking off of their shift at this hospital?

PATTERSON: We've had people -- we've had people walk off their shift in the middle of the shift, as distressing as that is, because they just cannot take it anymore.

SAVIDGE: They now have pre-COVID wards that could add more beds, but like most hospitals, they can't add more staff.

Did you ever anticipate that the worst surge would be at a time when there was a vaccine?


SAVIDGE: What's different this surge health care's says is the frustration that should not be happening, not with the vaccine, not in summer. This was supposed to be their break.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think everyone thought that.

SAVIDGE: Instead, Arkansas's vaccination rate has remained low and daily new COVID hospitalizations have exploded.

Overwhelmingly, most of the patients are unvaccinated. How do you not get angry?

DR. MARC PHAN, ER AND ICU DOCTOR: I try to respect everyone's decision. I know there is a lot of misinformation.

SAVIDGE: Being in intensive care and emergency room physician is all Dr. Marc Phan ever wanted, or so he thought. I just wanted to read a tweet that you put out. You sit out -- you

said, not going to lie, this has sped up my thoughts of retiring from helped her by a few years. What's going on?

PHAN: It gave me second thoughts on, you know, what I'm going to do entire -- the rest of my life.

SAVIDGE: He sees the constant stress stealing his coworkers passion for their job, and compassion for their patients.

Burnout, do you see it? Do you hear about it?

PHAN: Oh, it's constant.

SAVIIDGE: As a new nurse, COVID is the only life Takela Garner has ever known.


TAKELA GARDNER, NURSE: I feel like it's taking over.

SAVIDGE: In 18 months, she's seen as many people die as most nurses before COVID saw in a career. And it's taking its toll.

Have you had days where you did not want to come to work?

GARDNER: Yes, yes, I've had moments where I have sat in my car and cried before I came to work, before I came in. I literally just sit there and cry.


SAVIDGE (on camera): Some hospitals are so desperate to find nursing staff that they are willing to pay a $25,000 signing bonus. Put some medical personnel say it's not about the money, it's about their health and their mental well-being. And they say no amount of money can change that -- Erin.

BURNETT: Well, all right, Martin, thank you very much from Little Rock.

And OUTFRONT next, an update on a story that we brought you last night. Dasha Kelly, the mother of three little girls facing even action, well, tonight she's finding her footing thanks to you and we will tell you how.


BURNETT: Finally, tonight an update about Dasha Kelly, who you've seen on our show the last few days. Her GoFundMe account has enough money, she says quote a number beyond belief, she says to help her and many others.

Kelly is a mom of three young girls and she faced eviction. She pawned her possessions, sold her blood plasma, and she was worried that her family might be left without a place to live. So, here's what she told us last night about strangers who cared

enough to help.


DASHA KELLY: These are tears of joy, trust me. I don't -- I'm just so thankful. I appreciate each and every one of you.

Just overnight, all you guys just reached out and helped us and support, your encouraging words, it's just give me a lot of hope. Just want to make sure I do the best that I can to help the next person that is in my same situation.


BURNETT: Donations for the most part, $10 and $20. One was $15,000 however, and it all added up to so much for Kelly. She plans to put the money into savings accounts for each of her 3 girls, pay off the rest of her apartment police, and she says to make sure to pay it forward to others. Thanks so much for joining much.

"AC360" starts now.