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Erin Burnett Outfront
Jan. 6 Panel Takes Over Investigation of Trump's Coup Attempt; Trump's Former AG Rosen and Deputy Could be Interviewed; Timeline of Trump's Pressure Campaign to Overturn the Election Shows Coup Attempt in Plain Sight; GOP Skeptic Mocked Vaccines, Masks, He Died of COVID Days Later; Senate Leaders Trying to Pass $1.2T Infrastructure Bill Tonight. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired August 05, 2021 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: That's so, so important and could save a lot of lives. Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, thanks so much for joining us. You're always welcome here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And to our viewers, thanks for watching.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Trump's coup attempt in plain sight. Tonight, the investigation into the former president's push to overturn the election and his role in the deadly insurrection now moving to a whole new phase.
Plus, President Biden has a new name for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, governor who, as the war of words between the two over COVID escalates tonight.
And it may not be enough to simply say you're a Trump supporter, you may now need to carry a card to actually show that to show your loyalty. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, the Trump coup attempt. Tonight, the investigation into former President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the election and his role in the January 6th insurrection is entering a whole new phase. The January 6th Select Committee is now taking over all aspects of the investigation and there are two crucial witnesses who could be called to appear before the panel. The acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and his Deputy Richard Donoghue.
Now, the House Oversight Committee was set to interview them this week and now we have learned that the January 6th Committee is going to take over where they left off. So, this is all going to be put in one central location one investigation. And they're important, because Rosen and Donoghue know firsthand Trump's repeated attempts to use the Justice Department to overturn the 2020 election.
Now, this news comes as we are getting, in fact some of the most disturbing details to date of how Trump tried again and again to use the Department of Justice to pursue and to create baseless claims of voter fraud, including what one official who went so far as to draft a resignation letter in response to what he said were Trump's 'direct instructions' to the DOJ to question the election results.
Now, this letter was actually drafted on January 3. That's three days, of course, before the deadly insurrection. But the pressure campaign started long before that and I want to lay it out for you so you understand what we're really looking at here. I'll start with December 1st.
On December 1st, Trump summons then-Attorney General Bill Barr to meet with him. After Barr told The Associated Press that the Department of Justice had 'not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election', period. Full stop. Basic facts from Bill Barr.
According to ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl, Trump had 'the eyes and mannerism of a madman' in this meeting with Barr. And Barr tells Trump in this meeting on December 1st, this is Barr to Trump, "You keep on saying that the Department of Justice is not looking at this stuff, and we are looking at it in a responsible way. But your people keep on shoveling this shit out." OK, so that's what Barr says.
Let's move on December 3rd. This is what Trump's cronies were actually shoveling out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: The Democrats were counting votes in the middle of the night, and they've thrown Republicans out of the room. They took ballots from under a table and counter them in the middle of the night.
SIDNEY POWELL, PRO-TRUMP ATTORNEY: They have fought so hard to get rid of President Trump and tried every dirty, nasty, evil, illegal trick in the book to do it. Yup, it is pure evil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. So that's what was being shoveled out. Then comes December 14th, an hour before Trump announces Barr would step down because you can see how that relationship was going to go after Barr said the truth. Trump's personal assistant fires off an email to the incoming Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. This email contains an attachment, a claim to show evidence of voter fraud in Michigan. The same claims that were tossed out by a federal judge a week earlier.
I'll give you another date, December 23rd. Trump picks up the phone, calls George's top elections investigator urging her to find the 'dishonesty'.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whatever you can do, Frances, it would be - it's a great thing. When the right answer comes out, you'll be praised.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: You'll be praised. December 26th, Trump, obviously unhappy that the Justice Department had not publicly come out to say there was election fraud, fires off a tweet. It says, "The 'Justice' Department," the word justice is put in quotes, "and the FBI have done nothing about the 2020 Presidential Election Voter fraud, the biggest SCAM in our nation's history, despite overwhelming evidence. They should be ashamed. History will remember. Never give up. See everyone in D.C. on January 6th."
December 27th, Trump holds a call with the then-Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen because he'd gotten rid of Bill Barr. Rosen's Deputy, who is Richard Donoghue was on the call, and he's taking notes. So he takes notes and according to Donoghue here's what Trump says, Trump says and I quote, "Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen."
December 28th, Jeffrey Clark, a Trump loyalist who works at the Justice Department circulates a letter and this letter calls on Georgia to convene a special legislative session to look into 'irregularities in the 2020 election'. The letter obtained by ABC News falsely claims that the DOJ had identified 'significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple states, including the State of Georgia'.
That is a complete lie. The Department of Justice had not identified that, that never happened. It's a lie. Barr had already said it was a lie. This guy, Clark, goes out, works with the Justice Department, sends out this lie.
Well, DOJ officials rejected his request to send that specific letter. But Trump doesn't stop, in the days that follow he continues to go out there and he's growing more desperate at this point, so I bring you to December 29th.
Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has a meeting with Rosen and several others, and the topic of this meeting is voter fraud. January 1st, Meadows again emails Rosen and in this email Meadows, Chief of Staff of the President of the United States, sends Rosen a YouTube video that talks about Italian satellites fixing the U.S. election. I'm not kidding you. This comes from the president's office. Rosen forwards this email to Donoghue who responds, 'pure insanity', that's the quote.
But it doesn't stop then. January 2nd, Trump again picks up the phone. He calls Georgia's top election officials, including the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more that we have, because we won the state. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. And that was just one of 18 attempted calls from the White House to the Georgia Secretary of State since Election Day.
And that weekend, January 3rd, Trump appears to abandon his threats to replace Rosen after top Justice Department officials vowed to resign in mass, that's what stops him from firing Rosen.
And January 4th, just two days before the insurrection, this is what we heard from Trump publicly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Over the past few weeks, we've demonstrated that we won the election in a landslide. The fact is we won the presidential election. We won it big and we're going to win tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What was tomorrow? January 6th, the day of the insurrection. Trump's efforts to overturn the election then came to a head. His supporters gathering in Washington and Trump taking matters into his own hands as he whipped them up into a frenzy and then unleashed them onto the Capitol where the lawmakers were meeting to validate the election results.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We fight like hell and if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore. We're going to walk down, and I'll be there with you. We're going to walk down. We're going to walk down to the Capitol and we're going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Manu Raju is OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill. And Manu, it's incredible when you just do this, you take the date stamps, and you look at what Trump did and what he said. It is incredibly powerful to put it all together. What more are you learning tonight about what the January 6th committee is planning to do now?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they essentially have gotten more power this after it became clear from the Democratic leadership on down that the Select Committee would be the main investigative committee in the House of Representatives looking into what happened on January 6th, everything that Donald Trump did, everything about the communications breakdown that led to the deadly insurrection that happened on the Capitol on January 6th.
It was announced earlier today that the House Oversight Committee which had been doing a number of interviews with key justice officials who had interactions and had clear insight into Donald Trump's actions, they no longer would be doing that work, instead it'd be handed over to the Select Committee. That's, of course, the Committee with nine members including two Republicans who were appointed by Nancy Pelosi: Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.
Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy chose not to add name anyone to that Committee after Pelosi rejected two of his picks. But nevertheless, this Committee now is charging forward now that there are clear lines of investigation, and they undoubtedly will interview some of these key officials. A Select Committee aide tells me tonight that the Committee will, as part of its ongoing investigation, will 'conduct interviews' related to January 6th.
And also, Erin, on the Senate side, the Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin also pressing had telling me earlier today that Jeffrey Clark, the man you mentioned, the Justice official who tried to pressure states to overturn the elections, he wants to talk to him as well, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you very much. So, I want to go straight out of Ryan Goodman. He is the former Special Counsel at the Department of Defense and now a Professor at NYU School of Law along with John Dean, former Nixon White House Counsel.
So, I appreciate both of you and we really need your analysis here as you look at this moving to a new phase. John, when you look at the totality of what Trump did over the weeks leading up to January 6th of which I just laid out some of it, the pressure that he was putting on officials to back his lie from Georgia to the Department of Justice to other states, do you see a crime here by Trump?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Erin, thank you. I certainly do. That's an impressive list. I think it's an important list. The only thing I would add is bending of the arm of the vice president as well goes in there.
And it is a clear effort to overthrow the election. It is a very conspicuous conspiracy as it's finally surface. To me, it is the crime that got everybody in Watergate, which is 18 USC 371. It's defrauding the government. It's interfering with their processes.
This is a classic, if that statute doesn't fit for this, that statute has no meaning.
BURNETT: Ryan, do you see a crime by Trump or anyone else here?
RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER DEFENSE DEPARTMENT SPECIAL COUNSEL: I absolutely do. It's in fact hard to escape that conclusion. There's also the Hatch Act. So, the Hatch Act is not enforced generally because there's only this one specific criminal provision. But the criminal provision fits this like a hand in a glove.
The criminal provision actually says if you try to pressure an official to support one candidate in a campaign, that's it, and they can be prosecuted for that. So, all of the documentation that we have of Trump and Mark Meadows reaching into the Justice Department to pressure them to carry out these investigations and try to flip the results in Georgia need that quite squarely? BURNETT: So, John, according to new reporting by our Justice Reporter,
Evan Perez. And this is really interesting, because I lay all that out and so much of it involves the Department of Justice. But the Department of Justice according to Evan right now is not looking at these events as prosecutable right now. So, John, what's your reaction to that and is the DOJ doing enough?
DEAN: That's fairly stunning reporting. I'm kind of disappointed with the department, come what may they should be investigating this even if it's to exonerate Trump, which I can't imagine, but to at least dig into it. They're sort of waiting for the results of the Assistant U.S. Attorney's investigation in the District of Columbia to see if in anything surfaces. And heads up, they're kind of waiting for a crime to fall in their lap.
I don't think that's appropriate. I guarantee you. I didn't blow the whistle in Watergate to lay the predicate for Trump to disrupt the entire government in the electoral process. This is pretty serious stuff and much worse than Watergate. So, I'm surprised they're doing nothing.
BURNETT: So, Ryan, we know the Oversight Committee was supposed to interview the former Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen along with his former Deputy Richard Donoghue this week. They're now standing down and the January 6th Committee is taking over, so we don't yet know when those interviews might happen.
But when I lay out their role, what those two gentlemen were privy to, Donoghue taking notes of some of these calls when Trump says just go out and say there's fraud, just go say it, go say it, say it was rigged and I'll take care of the rest. How important could the testimony of Mr. Rosen and Mr. Donoghue be, Ryan?
GOODMAN: So, I think it could be incredibly important. The December 27th call where Trump tells him to just say it was corrupt, he also threatens them at the end of the call. He basically says, I've been told that I should maybe change the leadership of the Justice Department and put in Jeff Clark.
So, he's saying it all right there, that's coercion, that's pressure and I think we definitely want to hear it. And the committee mostly wants to hear from those particular individuals on that call with Trump and then who were subject to the weeks long repeated efforts by Trump to get them to use the Justice Department's powers for improper purposes.
Basically, I've just paraphrased the draft letter of resignation of the senior Justice Department official, which is another document and they need to speak to them about that.
BURNETT: Right. Which is crucial and I just want to remind, of course, viewers that Jeffrey Clark was the one who wrote a letter, calling on Georgia to have a special session to look at irregularities and in the letter he lied and said that the DOJ had identified significant concerns that it may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple states. [19:15:04]
So Jeffrey Clark who Trump wanted to put in place had written a letter that had lies in it about the election.
All right. Thank you both very much. I appreciate your time.
And next, the battle between Biden and DeSantis escalating tonight as President Biden responds to the Florida Governor vowing to 'stand in the way of Biden's plan to combat COVID'.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Governor who?
BIDEN: That's my response.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, a Republican official die from COVID just days after mocking masks and vaccines. It's sad and sadly he's not the first public figure to downplay the virus only to lose his life to it.
And Trump supporters may soon have a new way to show their devotion, a Trump loyalty card.
BURNETT: New tonight, President Biden mocking Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis after a war of words between the two over how to deal with COVID.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gov. DeSantis who is using your words about 'don't be in the way' and he's saying, 'I am in the way to block too much interference from the federal government'. Your response, Mr. President?
BIDEN: Governor who?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, John Kasich, former Republican Governor of Ohio and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, of course, as you know.
So, Governor, in the spring President Biden really stayed silent when GOP governors began lifting COVID restrictions. He tried to stay out of it. But now obviously, Biden and his team are calling them out. Is this a smart fight for Biden, do you think? JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it's the
right thing to do. I mean, you saw where the Governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, he had signed some sort of a ban on masks and he said he wish he hadn't done it, called his legislature back in to try to change that.
Look, Republicans are supposed to believe in local control so you don't want to have a governor telling local people what they can do like a school district. If they want to have their kids in that school district wear a mask, they should be able to. And frankly, it's kind of hard to believe that they stand up against that, because we are all in this fight together, not just on mask. And maybe we could fight about mask, but we should not be fighting on vaccination, we should all be in that together.
BURNETT: So, Gov. DeSantis really lashed out at Biden after Biden said governors should do the right thing or get out of the way. Here is just some of what we heard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA: Joe Biden suggest that if you don't do lock down policies, then you should 'get out of the way'. But let me tell you this, if you're coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I'm standing in your way. I'm not going to let you get away with it.
So why don't you do your job, why don't you get this border secure and until you do that, I don't want to hear a blip about COVID from you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What do you make of the tone from DeSantis?
KASICH: Well, it makes it sound like he's trying to run for president against Joe Biden starting today. That's what I make of it. And secondly, the idea that somehow if a local school district wants to use masks to protect the kids, that he says you can't do it, to me it's irresponsible. I don't understand. I don't understand that position.
I wish you could explain it to me, Erin, because I can't figure out why anybody would do that. Why would a leader of a state where you see this Delta virus spiking like crazy tell local government, if you want to use a mask, I'm prohibiting you from doing it. It makes absolutely no sense to me, unless you're playing to some sort of an audience. In the middle of all this we should not be using political mumbo jumbo here to try to promote oneself, but we should all be in this together.
BURNETT: And of course, I've had on members of some of the school districts in unions who are defying what DeSantis is saying. DeSantis is now threatening to take away their funding. I mean, he's going to the mat with this. And just to give the context, it's not just the point you make about Republicans priding themselves on local government and local ideas, which of course an edict from one high from a governor goes against. It's also the statistics in Florida, which leads the nation in new
adult and child hospitalizations for COVID. Number one in both in hospitalizations, it's responsible now for one in five new cases in the entire country. But yet, this is what we keep hearing from Gov. DeSantis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DESANTIS: In Florida, we chose freedom over Fauci-ism and we're much better off for doing that.
Florida is free. We pride ourselves on people being free to choose how they want to govern their affairs.
We can either have a free society or we can have a biomedical security state. And I can tell you, Florida, we're a free state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Governor, he thinks this works. He thinks it resonates with his base for reelection maybe for 2024 as well. Do you agree from just a strategic point of view, or will it backfire?
KASICH: Maybe he believes it. Maybe he believes this. But I was governor of the seventh largest state, I wouldn't ever have imagined telling a local school district that you shouldn't protect yourself against something that's a virus like this. It doesn't make any sense to me. I don't understand the political calculation unless there is appeal to a narrow group of people who just think this is great.
And people are free in Florida, they're free in Arkansas, they're free all over the country, that's what Americans are, free. And to say that because a local school district wants to tell parents or a local school district wants to say to parents, I want your kids to be vaccinated so they can be safe, I don't understand how that's a loss of freedom.
That's a decision made at the local level and one of the tenants of conservatism. I've been a conservative all my life is that you allow people to make decisions and to have local control. Just listen to Republicans when they talk about local control. Now all of a sudden going, hi, I'm going to strip local control away. I don't agree. So I can't see it'd be any more clearer than that, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Gov. Kasich, I appreciate your time and thank you very much you lay this out. Let me give everyone another example, another Republican who opposes mandates also firing back at President Biden, I'm talking about the South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster, who has just come out and tweeted, "Every day illegal immigrants, drug dealers and sex traffickers enter the USA undocumented, unvaccinated and untouched. Yet an American citizen wouldn't make it into an airport like that. The hypocrisy of POTUS and Democrats is astounding and dangerous." OUTFRONT now, the Democratic Mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, Steve
Benjamin, who just declared a state of emergency because of the Delta variant and includes a mandate for elementary and middle schools. So, Mayor Benjamin, I appreciate your time.
So, classes begin for you in less than two weeks, why did you think that this mask mandate is necessary?
MAYOR STEVE BENJAMIN (D-SC), COLUMBIA: Well, we've seen a precipitous rise in cases between the first of July and end of July 10-fold increase in COVID-19 cases, a six-fold increase in hospitalizations. And just earlier this week, our children's hospital announced that they were at capacity almost every single day treating children who are dealing with either COVID-19 or RSV.
And it seemed to be there was this odd proviso plugged into our state budget that sought to deprive school districts as Gov. Kasich just said of the ability to provide mask or have masking policies in place to protect the children. I also took an oath when I decided to run for office over a decade ago to protect the lives safety, health and welfare of our citizens.
And it just didn't make sense to me. I thought it was not only illegal, but immoral and unconstitutional and we decided to do something about it. Declared a state of emergency yesterday. Our city council validated that emergency and is now in place in the City of Columbia the next 61 days.
BURNETT: Yes. So, a spokesman for Gov. McMaster responding to you said in a statement, "This is another attempt to force children to wear masks in schools without a bit of consideration for a parent's right to make that decision. State law prohibits mask mandates in public schools, and the city's ordinance would require teachers and administrators to violate state law." I don't know if you just heard Gov. Kasich, but he's making the point that it's ironic that Republican governors would be trying to mandate what local jurisdiction should do, because that would go against the tenets of conservatism. But separate from that, what do you say to the fundamental point here that they're making?
BENJAMIN: The fundamental point is that is that the Governor's spokesperson is wrong. The law does not say that and obviously I reached out to our Attorney General who we had significant disagreements on some points of law in the past as well and we're prepared to defend this to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Our state law does not say that. And if in fact it did quite frankly, it would be immoral. We have in South Carolina compulsory attendance law when most states don't. We required. I am required to send my 14 and 16-year-old daughters to school every single day under the penalty of law, a fine or 30 days imprisonment.
If I'm required to send my children to school, which I will do every single day, you're required to keep my children healthy and safe while they're there. And (inaudible) immoral that seek to limit the ability to slow down the spread of COVID-19 by using good data. The data gives you the ability to make intelligent decisions and create good policies. We need to trust these men and women who work every single day to educate our children and give them the opportunity to do it in a safe environment.
So, we're putting on the boxing gloves here and we're on the side of right here in Columbia and we're going to work every single day to protect these babies. Now, mind you, Erin, our policy, our law is narrowly tailored. None of the vaccines that have been approved are approved for those children under 12 years old, so this focuses on elementary schools and middle schools, children who by definition cannot be vaccinated. They are voiceless. They are voteless. It's our job to protect them and that's not only good mayors do, and city leaders do, school district leaders do, it's what good parents and good people do.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Mayor Benjamin, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
BENJAMIN: Thank you. God bless.
BURNETT: All right. And next, the Texas GOP official praised mask burnings and said vaccines don't really work. But less than a week later, he was dead from COVID.
And more breaking news from Capitol Hill, the Senate could speed things up on the infrastructure bill and vote on it tonight. It's a big development. Will it pass?
BURNETT: New tonight, a Texas GOP official mocks masks and vaccine. Less than a week later, he died from COVID.
Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
H. SCOTT APLEY, TEXAS REPUBLICAN: The number one thing we can do to support our local businesses is get out of their way.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That was Texas Republican H. Scott Apley in 2019, before the pandemic came along and he became a raging critic, praising mask burnings, calling a health official promoting vaccine, an absolute enemy of a free people and last Friday echoing a claim vaccine don't really work anyway. But just after posting that, according to a GoFundMe page set up for his family, Apley was admitted to a hospital, diagnosed with COVID, and by Tuesday, he was dead.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: The virus, they're working hard. It looks like by April, you know in theory, when it gets a little warmer, miraculously goes away. I hope that's true.
FOREMAN: Plenty of Republicans joined Donald Trump's early dismissal of the COVID threat, even as he wound up in the hospital from the virus. Among them, one-time presidential hopeful Herman Cain, who downplayed masking at one point before he went to a crowded Trump rally unmasked last summer, developed COVID symptoms and died.
But GOP downplaying of the danger did not stop them. Not even close.
In Tennessee, conservative radio host Phil Valentine joked about the virus this summer. Then it nearly killed him and left his brother pleading with the public.
MARK VALENTINE, UNVACCINATED BROTHER BATTLING COVID: We want as many people as can hear my voice this morning to put politics aside, go get the vaccine.
FOREMAN: In Louisiana, Republican Luke Letlow died of COVID in December weeks to before he was sworn into Congress. He wanted the vaccine. It wasn't available. Now his wife can't believe others still won't take it.
REP. JULIA LETLOW (R-LA): I would have given anything. I would have given everything for that shot to be available for us. I mean, looking back now, and for someone to turn it away, just -- it's heart breaking to me.
FOREMAN: Still, a recent poll found nearly a third of Republicans insist they will never take the vaccine even as other people like Travis Campbell who didn't get around to getting the shot is also begging from his hospital bed for everyone to get on board.
TRAVIS CAMPBELL, COVID PATIENT: Now so please for the love of God, if you really want to have a chance don't fall for the TV rhetoric and social media, just protect yourself.
FOREMAN (on camera): Yes, some Republican leaders are now in a lukewarm fashion embracing the idea we should do something about this. But an awful lot of others remain white hot against mask mandates, against any kind of social distancing, against any sense that there should be restrictions if you do not get the vaccination, even while their own supporters keep getting sick and dying -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Tom.
And I bring in now Dr. Jonathan Reiner, medical adviser George W. Bush White House.
Dr. Reiner, first your reaction to what happened to Scott Apley. It's horrible.
DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yeah. It's horrible. My condolences to Mr. Apley's family. There should be no schadenfreude for the death of somebody like Mr. Aptly or anyone else who has, you know, doubted the seriousness of this of horrible pandemic and yet has gotten sick.
This virus has split the country by politics, and this is the tragedy that we've let politics blind people to science. I am reminded that at the time of the signing the Declaration of Independence, that Benjamin Franklin said very presciently that, you know, if we don't all hang together, we will hang separately and we're starting to see that.
We need to come together as a country and listen to scientists, not politicians, listen to scientists about this pandemic. Ninety-six percent of physicians in this country have been vaccinated. That's about all the public needs to understand right now. Physicians get it. The public needs to get it. You shouldn't be listening to polarized politics.
BURNETT: So Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, he's recovering from a breakthrough infection. He did get sick from the breakthrough infection. He told the "AP" that he spoke to former President Trump, and he said to Trump, quote, I've urged him. He said, I've urged him to be aggressive and say, take the vaccine.
So, Lindsey Graham says he says this to Trump and Graham is calm at this time antidote to the virus that's wreaking havoc on our hospitals. So, now, he's saying the right thing here. He is calling Trump. Trump, of course, hasn't done it.
What do you say to Senator Graham?
REINER: Where has he been for the last 18 months? Where has he been for the last eight months since the vaccine has been released? You know, Senator Graham has been very effective adviser and enabler and golf caddie for the former president. But he has not wanted to run afoul with him, which is why you haven't heard him vigorously urging Americans or South Carolinians to become vaccinated, despite the fact that almost 10,000 people in his state have died from this terrible pandemic.
Thank you, Senator, for saying what was so painfully obvious.
BURNETT: Dr. Reiner, thank you very much.
REINER: Sure. My pleasure.
BURNETT: And next, Trump's die-hard supporters may soon have a few way to show their devotion to the former president, an actual loyally card.
And breaking news, Chuck Schumer announces the Senate will vote on Biden's massive infrastructure bill tonight. We will go to Capitol Hill for the latest on this breaking story.
BURNETT: Tonight, Donald Trump wants Americans to carry Trump cards. So, the former president's political action committee e-mailing supporters asking them to choose from these four card designs announcing they are launching official Trump cards for his strongest supporters to carry. Now this raises eyebrows for many reasons. I mean, membership cards to be in a political party, of course, goes to Nazi parties, the Italian fascist party, and now, communist parties in several countries. That's who does this sort of thing.
One of Trump's designs is drawing comparisons to the Nazi war eagle, which is obviously a hate symbol. It's listed as such by the Anti- Defamation League.
OUTFRONT now, Bill Kristol, editor at large of "Bulwark" and director of Defending Democracy Together.
So, Bill, the campaign sends out these e-mails for the strongest supporters to carry. You can pick your designs to nominate. What do you make of this?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE BULWARK: Hi, Erin. I don't know if you ever carried around a card professing loyalty to a person or idolizing a person?
The closest is I come is I carried around a baseball card, you know, Al Kaline, Detroit Tigers right fielder. This is before you were born, of course. He was my hero because I didn't like the Yankees. I was living in New York.
Anyway, Kaline is a wonderful right fielder, wonderful baseball player, an impressive man actually.
Anyway, I carried around his card when I was 10 years old. It's one thing, 10-year-olds should carry around baseball cards. Adult citizens should not carry something weird about carrying around a card. Al Kaline is a good baseball player. Donald Trump is not a good president. So --
BURNETT: Well, I mean, it is -- it is bizarre. And as I point out, it is something that has been done, you know, in communist countries, fascist countries, that itself the history of the card-carrying global member.
KRISTOL: Yeah, the authoritarian side --
BURNETT: Not to mention, the authoritarian side. But it was also, Bill, in the context of the people who are being told that they can carry and these cards to show their loyalty to the former president are the same wing of the Republican Party who say if they are asked to carry a vaccine card that it's such sort of a fascist state asking them to do this. I mean, just listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): I am not going to go up there and show my vaccine passport. I'm not going to give in to this tyrannical regime.
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): They want you to be required to have something called a COVID passport and this would mandate your ability to be able to travel, your ability to be able to go to events.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: No vaccine passport. Yes, Trump loyalty card. Do you see hypocrisy?
KRISTOL: Yes, I mean, you're getting to the serious side of what I was treating maybe a little too cavalierly, which is the loyalty to Trump isn't sort of free. It's not something, oh, okay, people like him a lot, that stupidly buy this card and carry it around.
They're being loyal to someone who didn't tell the truth about COVID while president, has done very little, almost nothing to get people vaccinated since, has propagated the big lie about it and that's the person whose card they want to carry. So, it's not just silly, I mean, I came to Washington, worked in the Reagan administration and we really looked up to President Reagan in retrospect and probably overdid it a little, you know?
But there was nothing like this, and here, the idolization of Trump goes along with denying the truth, you know?
BURNETT: So all this comes as Tucker Carlson is broadcasting from Budapest right now and celebrating the right-wing populist Viktor Orban's regime, which has been criticized for, I mean, you know, years of crushing democracy in Hungary.
And here's some of what Carlson said just last night celebrating Orban's leadership.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: International pressure. They called him all kind of names. The E.U. called what he was doing illegal. But he did it anyway. He built a wall.
He said to a Hungarian minister standing there, it's hard to believe that's your policy, when you come here legally, you're just escorted out politely? And he said, quote, we're a serious country.
How embarrassing to be an American in a conversation like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: You know, Bill, some have called this a week-long infomercial for authoritarianism. Is this what Trump Republicans want?
KRISTOL: I mean, it is sort of the ultimate working out of Trumpism I think, kind of idolization of European-style authoritarian right-wing nationalism. That's what Carlson is saying there. I mean, I was at a conference a couple of years ago pre-COVID, with a woman who had left Hungary because Orban is cracking down on universities on freedom of speech and the freedom of the press, the incredible corruption and so forth.
I mean, the idea that he is mocking people who are critical of this person was really eroding democracy, one of the great achievements in the last 30 areas, right, is liberating the fall of the Berlin wall, the Iron Curtain, all these countries, to be able to achieve democracy in Central and Eastern Europe.
And for Tucker Carlson, it's kind of a joke that Orban is destroying democracy in Hungary.
BURNETT: I hope he goes through some of the amazing buildings there as many of us has and sees the bullet holes on the wall so he can see what people sacrificed to get democracy there in Budapest.
Thank you very much, Bill. I appreciate it.
KRISTOL: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: Next, breaking news, the Senate could vote tonight on infrastructure bill. Does it stand a chance?
And former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo breaking his silence after a bottle of whiskey valued at $5,800 that he was given as a gift in 2019 is missing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Look, a couple of facts.
I have no idea. I assume it was never touched. It never got to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: More breaking news tonight from Capitol Hill. A surprise move by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, announcing the Senate will attempt to pass the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill tonight which would give President Biden a massive victory.
Manu Raju is OUTFRONT live from Capitol Hill.
And so, Manu, what is happening right now?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are negotiations happening behind the scenes to set up this vote on final passage that would essentially kick in over to the House. But they're still going back and forth to set up this vote. That is not a done deal yet.
If there's not an agreement to have a vote tonight it could potentially get kicked into the weekend or into early next week for final passage. But it is moving in the direction that bill proponents want, to get this bill out of the Senate. That despite a number that came back from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office today that said that this bill had $256 billion to the deficit, that is something bill supporters say this bill will be fully paid for, but the Congressional Budget Office had a different assessment.
There's still some disagreements about that number. But nevertheless, Erin, it is still expected to pass with Republican support, potentially even the support of the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell.
BURNETT: All right, so this is something. Some would say, if you can get it through the Senate, you're set in the House, right, because Biden supports it. But, of course, no, no, no, not so fast.
I mean, what are the chances, Manu, given this -- given some of the real pushback on the far left that if it gets through the Senate, it actually passes in the House?
RAJU: It's a very delicate dance for Nancy Pelosi in the House, because there are moderate Democrats in the House who want this bipartisan bill to pass quickly but she has said she will not move on this bill until the Senate passes a larger $3.5 trillion Democratic only plan that they can pass without any Republican support because of the rules they're employing to advance it. That bill, the Democratic bill would expand social safety net programs, some of the Democrats on the left had pushed hard for.
But in order for the bipartisan infrastructure to have to pass the Senate has to pass a Democratic only plan. Unclear if that's going to happen. So, still a lot of questions about whether this gets to Biden's desk, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much.
And next, Mike Pompeo has something to say about the missing $5,800 bottle of whiskey he received while secretary of state. Does he know where it went, or I guess who drank it?
BURNETT: It wasn't me. That's the former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo weighing in on that bottle of whiskey valued at $5,800, which has now vanished. Apparently, Japan gave the whiskey to Pompeo in 2019 when he was secretary of state. Pompeo personally claims innocence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POMPEO: The great case of the missing whiskey bottle. Look, a couple of facts, I have no idea. I assume it was never touched. It never got to me. If it had been a case of Diet Coke, I would have been all over it.
I had -- I had no idea it was missing. Sadly, I wouldn't know the difference between a $58 bottle and a $5,800 bottle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK, I'm totally with him on that but who the heck took that thing. At one point, knowing its value and drank it? Wow, we're assuming, of course, it's long gone.
Thanks so much for watching.
It's time now for "AC360."