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Erin Burnett Outfront
House About To Vote On Holding Ex-Rep. Mark Meadows In Contempt; Cheney: Text To Meadows Said "Someone Is Going To Get Killed"; Wisconsin GOP Lawmaker: "Drumbeat" Of The Big Lie A "Charade;" Cornell Closes Campus, 900+ COVID Cases In About A Week; Manchin To CNN On Build Back Better Plan: "I Don't Think I'm Asking Anybody To Move, I Want People To Understand Where I Am". Aired 7-8p ET
Aired December 14, 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: We'll see what happens. Time, at least this year, are running out.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORREPONDENT: Right.
BLITZER: Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much for that report.
And to our viewers, thanks for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, the House about to vote to hold Trump's former chief of staff in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the January 6 Committee. And we're learning this hour new text messages the Republicans were sending to Mark Meadows before and during the insurrection itself.
Plus, health officials warning tonight the Omicron variant is spreading faster than any prior strain by far. One major university in the United States shutting down as cases spike.
And new details tonight about the officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright while yelling taser, taser at him. Well, we're learning tonight about that officer's training. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, the House is set to start voting this hour to hold Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress after Meadows refused to comply with a subpoena from the January 6 Select Committee. Tonight's vote shows the lengths Congress is willing to go to punish those who refuse to cooperate with the investigation into one of the worst attacks on the U.S. Capitol. Well, the worst since the War of 1812.
This is a monumental move by the House and that is not just because of what it is about, it is the first time that they are voting to hold a former member of Congress in criminal contempt in nearly 200 years. So if this resolution passes and as I said, anticipate this here happening any moment. The decision to prosecute Trump's former chief of staff will move to
President Biden's Justice Department. And as we await this vote, we are learning more about Meadows' efforts to overturn the election. Members of the January 6 Committee now just a moment ago revealed some more of the text messages that he had willingly handed over to the Committee before stonewalling.
One of the texts reveals the conversation to overthrow the election results started on November 4, a day after the election. A lawmaker messages Meadows, "HERE'S an Aggressive Strategy; Why can't the states of Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania and other R controlled state Houses declare this as BS and just send their own electors to vote and have it go back to the SCOTUS."
That was the day after the election. Meadows in these conversations, the groundwork being laid for Trump's big lie, which would fuel the outrage and violence that happened on January 6th. And today the Vice Chair of the January 6 Committee, Liz Cheney, revealing the messages that Meadows was receiving as the Capitol was actually being attacked that day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Some of those text messages, Madam Speaker, came from members in the chamber right now. Members who understood that a violent assault was underway at the Capitol. Members who pleaded with the chief of staff to get the president to take action. Dozens of texts, including from Trump administration officials and members of Congress urged that the President take immediate action.
I read a number of these last night at our hearing. I won't read them all today, but I will read a few of them.
"Mark," one member said, "He needs to stop this now." In all caps, "TELL THEM TO GO HOME. POTUS has to come out firmly and tell the protesters to dissipate, someone is going to get killed."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Those messages, House Republicans, and we could soon learn the names of those behind the messages, the chairman of the Select Committee telling CNN that he will make a decision in the next week or so on whether to release the names of those who are texting Meadows and, obviously, around the election itself, but on that day demanding Trump take immediate action.
Now, though, Meadows is claiming that Cheney and the Committee are trying to use the evidence that he handed over to them to twist the truth on Trump's inaction that day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK MEADOWS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: They tried to weaponize text messages, selectively leaked them, to put out a narrative that, quite frankly, that the president didn't act. And I can tell you, the President did act. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That was last night. I mean, there's no twisting the messages or the timeline, because the messages simply show that Team Trump was acutely aware of how bad the situation was while Trump did nothing. Remember according to the Committee, Trump's own son Donald Trump Jr. messages Meadows as the whole riot is going down, "He's got to condemn this," his word, "shit ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough."
Donald Trump Jr. did not send that message because Trump was doing something. He sent it because Trump was doing nothing. Trump's inaction is just a basic fact of the timeline. It was 1:10 in the afternoon when Trump called on his supporters to march on the Capitol.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we're going to the Capitol, we're going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Shortly after two o'clock, this was the scene Trump was watching play on TV, rioters breaching the Capitol. At 4:17 pm, 187 minutes later, within three hours passed before Trump said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So go home. We love you. You're very special.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It took 187 minutes to get that. That was the first action, go home, coupled with we love you, you're very special. That is pretty meek and pathetic as a definition of action. The timeline itself shows Trump's inaction just a fact of the record.
But Meadows' text messages add crucial context, because what they show is that people in real time we're telling Meadows just how bad this was. Coming in every single direction, the texts flying in. It isn't just that Trump saw it on TV. It's that they were getting all of this information coming in.
In real time, we saw just how desperately members of Congress, Fox News hosts and Trump's own son were for Trump to take action, which he failed to do. And now Cheney is suggesting that Trump's inaction alone could be criminal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: As the violence was underway on the 6th, it was evident to all but. We know that for 187 minutes, President Trump refused to act. And he refused to act when his action was required. Did Donald Trump through action or inaction corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress' official proceeding to count electoral votes?
Paula Reid is OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill to begin our coverage. As we await this crucial vote, Paula, the House ready to send a strong message to Meadows, something that hasn't happened to someone in his capacity in 200 years and they're about to do it any moment.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. Within the hour, they're expected to send this message not just to Meadows but to anybody else thinking of potentially not cooperating or stonewalling this Committee. Now, within the hour, lawmakers are expected to vote on whether to refer Trump's former chief of staff to be prosecuted.
Last night, the House Select Committee voted to hold him in contempt and now there will be a vote on the full House floor about whether to refer him to the Justice Department for criminal charges. And over the past 48 hours, Erin, it's been interesting to watch the Committee really lay out their case in the court of public opinion by slowly releasing this evidence, much of which has been provided by Meadows himself.
REID: For example, they've released these text messages like the ones you reference from Fox News hosts, from the President's own son, the Committee says, look, this kind of evidence suggests that the White House, Meadows, Trump knew exactly what was happening at the capitol in real time. We want you to come in and we want to be able to ask you questions about this.
Now, earlier today, Meadows attorney released a statement saying that his client is still cooperating in some ways, but that he can't show up and answer questions because he doesn't have the power to waive executive privilege. But as the Committee has noted, Erin, he's already handed over 9,000 pages of records. They want him to come in and answer questions about those clearly. He doesn't believe they're privileged, if he did, well, he waived it, and they believe there's no reason that he cannot come in and answer questions about those.
But Erin, if they proceed with these criminal contempt charges, potentially, it is unlikely that they will ever hear from Meadows. So this really is about sending a message not only to him, but to any other Trump allies who are thinking about not cooperating with this investigation.
BURNETT: All right. Paula, thank you very much. And everyone should know, Paula is standing by here as we're going to watch this vote because it is crucial. We'll see how many members of the GOP join. There were eight who joined Democrats to vote in favor of a contempt motion against Steve Bannon and we're going to see what they choose to do tonight to the former chief of staff for President Trump.
So as we await that vote as that room fills, CNN Senior Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez is with me along with our Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates and two-term Republican Governor of Ohio and a former member of Congress himself, John Kasich. Thanks to all three of you. I appreciate it.
So let me start with you, Laura, just the significance of this moment, a chief of staff not been in this situation since Nixon, a former member of Congress has not been in this position in 200 years. This is a contempt vote that does have historical significance and weight to it.
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It absolutely does. And Mark Meadows knows better. Remember, he was a former member of Congress. He understands the gravitas that must be assigned to a congressional subpoena. The idea of thumbing one's nose at it or using a manipulative assertion of privilege, when you've already waived portions of it, you've already provided information and conceded that the documents you handed over are frankly fair game for the actual questions.
And so here you're talking about somebody who knows better, should know better and should be doing better. He's also made it much easier case for the Department of Justice because unlike a Steve Bannon, frankly, Mark Meadows had a far more valid and colorable claim to assert privilege as a chief of staff for a president.
Remember, that's the institution of the presidency you're trying to protect. The idea of a chief of staff. You want forthright candid conversations.
But once he's already said that the body of documents he's handed over, do not actually fall underneath that umbrella, he's already given away essentially the entire case. And now you have a much easier case for the Department of Justice to say, listen, it's clear cut, there was a validly issued subpoena, you have chosen not to comply with it. Cut and dry.
BURNETT: Yes. So, Governor, it's interesting, I was just laying out that Trump's inaction is a point of historical record. And we've done long introductions to our program, where we showed what was happening on TV during that 187 minutes. The presumption is that Trump, who was always sitting by a TV is seeing those images.
But now you know and that's what Meadows provided, perhaps unwittingly, because he thought these were good to provide, he didn't have problem providing these text messages, is how dire the situation was and that team Trump knew it. They were being told it by his own son, by many members of Congress, by Fox News hosts and you couple that with the inaction.
One thing they've not put out, though, Governor, is some of the things that he replied. We see very little of what Mark Meadows actually replied. In one case, we get one tonight that Meadows himself sent. And it's a text to a member of Congress. Meadow says, "He thinks the legislators have the power, but that the VP has power too."
Okay. So obviously, it seems like referring to what's going on with the electors. Can I ask you, Governor, and as a former member of Congress, why do you think they're not putting out any of Meadows replies to Donald Trump Jr. or the Fox News hosts for all of these things?
JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, maybe they will. And maybe that's the purpose of trying to pursue this, Erin. But as I sit here listening to your opening commentary, fine opening commentary, I'm just sick to my stomach.
Think about what this was about, starting at an earlier period before January 6th, there were people trying to figure out how to steal the election, how to say that Donald Trump was going to continue to be president even though he lost the election. And then you look at what Donald Trump did for all that time and I'll never forget that day when they were crashing into that capital. And I was out on a walk and I was looking at it on the phone until I got home. I couldn't believe what I was seeing and now it is clear to me that Donald Trump had violated the oath of his office.
And Erin, it's almost inconceivable that in America, this beautiful, beautiful Republic we had was under such vicious attack. The good news, though, is almost everyone condemned it, because maybe in the inner heart of all of us, we love our country, and we know wrong when we see it.
And you saw what they said then, but to imagine the President of the United States, he's watching all this violence. You know what I think? I think he wanted them not to be able to vote and this argument that the Vice President could figure out how to do away with an honest election, it's just complete nonsense.
And then you take a look at other people who had close elections, Richard Nixon, Al Gore and how they handled a close defeat with class. We're not to the bottom of this yet, Erin, and I'm sick for our country but we will heal.
BURNETT: Well, it is pretty incredible the point that you're making, which I know it's sort of stating the obvious, but no one stated it as well as you just did, which is that everybody, no matter what they were saying public, at that moment, we are seeing what so many people truly thought, the fear they felt what needed to be done and they all wanted something to be done. And there's one person who do not feel that way. There's one person.
KASICH: And Erin, here's the other thing, I just have to say this, there are so many people in the country that don't believe any of this. They think that nothing ever happened, that it was a tourist visitor, we have to look the other way. I just saw some people on Sunday and I was saying you got to be kidding me about Donald Trump, but they cannot see the truth. They have eyes and they can't - but they can't see.
BURNETT: So Evan, what happens from here? You heard Paula say it's unlikely we'll ever hear from Meadows. Is there any chance? I mean, how likely is it? And I guess there's the what is the Justice Department going to do, it's more complicated than Bannon and then there's the court process and where do you think this ends up? EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, the thing
is once you put this in the hands of a judge, the Congress loses control of this.
PEREZ: And so that's part of the problem is that we're never going to hear Steve Bannon story probably unless you listen to his podcast.
And in the case of Meadows, I do think that Meadows, he's in a different place for various reasons. One, I think he doesn't really want to go to jail, so I think he wants to find a way to find accommodation, which is why he's pursued this very muddled legal strategy that Laura really pointed out.
Look, he does have a better place, a better claim of privilege than Bannon did. But he has produced all these documents, so one of the things he's going to argue is that, look, we produced all of these documents that we believe are not privileged and so we are cooperating.
And I think it does make it a little more difficult for the Justice Department to go after him and they've got decades of precedents inside this building to give deference to this idea that close advisors to the president have a better claim of privilege than other people.
So I do think it puts him in a different place, but in the end I think he really doesn't want to go to jail. So, perhaps, what this does is it prompts him and his lawyers to get together with the House lawyers and find a way to reach an accommodation.
BURNETT: And do you think that happens, Laura? I mean, I don't want to presume, but obviously one accommodation that would just make complete logical sense would be for him to answer questions about the 9,000 pages he handed over, an eye for an eye.
COATES: I mean, of course.
COATES: Well, of course, the idea that you are going to produce documents and not be able to answer them, remember, subpoenas are quite specific. And one of the things that Congressman Bennie Thompson spoke about today when challenged on this issue of why not compromise further, why not indulge a little further.
He said, well, he was subpoenaed to actually sit for a deposition. And the leverage at stake here is not within the hands of somebody who is the recipient of the subpoena. The person who issues a subpoena really sets the parameters for the conversation, and they have asked in a particular medium, and a vehicle for communication.
And so he said, you want to compromise on the time, place and manner of the actual presentation of the testimony, you do have that sort of leverage to do so. But ultimately, at the end of the day, if Congress has issued a valid subpoena based on its legislative and oversight authority, the idea that somebody could come in, unlike the layman, who you know, could not and say, you know, what, here are the terms of my compliance.
That is really more towards what you saw in the past several years about thumbing their nose. You're not in control here, you're no longer a member of Congress, it's no longer your subpoena. And those who had the power to issue it did so on their own terms.
BURNETT: Governor, just a point to make I think to follow up on all of this, it's what Trump did leading into this. It's what he did on that day. It's actually what he did not do on that day. But here's what he did the other day, actually, two days ago, speaking toward this weekend with Bill O'Reilly, doubling down on the lie, doubling down ...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I was disappointed only in one thing, but it was a big thing. Mike should have sent those crooked votes back to the legislatures to approve and you would have had a different result in the election in my opinion. I think Mike has been very badly hurt by what took place with respect to January 6th, I think he's been mortally wounded, frankly, because I see the reaction he's getting from people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So Governor, even now 13 months after he lost, 11 months after January 6th, Trump is siding against Pence. "Pence has been mortally wounded."
KASICH: Well, Mike Pence, look, thank God he did what he did, but he had no choice because that was what the Constitution says, so pinning a gold star in him is not my idea of a great reward. But let me tell you something else, Erin, and I hesitate to say it, but I need to tell you this.
A source has indicated to me that in this redistricting, where they draw the districts for Congress, if you put two Republican Congressman together, potentially, they begin to draw a district more favorable to that Congressman who has sided with Donald Trump and the fact that the election was stolen.
If you dare to speak out and say that is nonsense, you could have your district taken from you. So it's even now in the bowels of the Republican Party, and it needs to be flushed out in it, because if it is not, it can begin to destroy that Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, because what we have witnessed since that election that Donald Trump lost.
BURNETT: Thank you all very much. I appreciate your time.
And as I said, we are anticipating that vote any moment and we're going to keep an eye on the members of the GOP who had voted in favor of contempt for Steve Bannon. There were nine members of the GOP on that. Tonight, we will see how many there are in these next few minutes as we watch that with you.
Next, a Wisconsin Republican slamming her own party for ordering a secret review of the State's 2020 election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KATHY BERNIER (R-WI): This is a charade what's going on with this constant drumbeat of all the massive voter fraud.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I'm going to speak to an election expert next who says that what is happening right now in Wisconsin has him most worried about democracy in the U.S.
And Dr. Anthony Fauci warning the Omicron variant is on the verge of becoming the dominant strain in the United States. As the CEO of the investment firm Morgan Stanley reverses course completely on returning to the office.
And the death toll climbing after those devastating tornadoes, we are learning more tonight about those who lost their lives.
BURNETT: We're watching live pictures from Capitol Hill where lawmakers will soon vote on holding former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in criminal contempt. See that live picture on your screen. We are monitoring that for you.
And it comes as a Republican lawmaker in Wisconsin is slamming her own party for pushing a baseless investigation into election fraud in state saying it's putting American democracy at risk. There is a secretive review going on of Wisconsin's 2020 election results, it's underway. And this is even after multiple recounts audits, judicial rulings all of that has been done in duplicate, triplicate, no evidence of widespread fraud.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNIER: What has happened is with my colleagues from the pressure from Donald Trump is to only look at politics and not at policy. This is a charade what's going on with this constant drumbeat of all the massive voter fraud.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And, of course, as I said, she's a Republican elected state representative.
OUTFRONT now David Becker, an election security expert with over 20 years experience. He joined that Wisconsin lawmaker along with longtime Republican elections lawyer Ben Ginsberg and others in calling out efforts to delegitimize U.S. elections. So David, talked to me about Wisconsin, why does it worry you so much?
DAVID BECKER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & FOUNDER, THE CENTER FOR ELECTION INNOVATION & RESEARCH: Well, Wisconsin right now is ground zero for the election denial that we're seeing and the attacks on election officials, which are weakening our democracy. I organized yesterday's event with Sen. Bernier, and Ben Ginsberg, and Bob Bauer, former Obama White House Counsel, to show that this is not a partisan issue. This is an issue that goes to the very core of our democracy.
Wisconsin is a state, for example, that has very well-run elections. They have a tradition that goes back decades of nonpartisan election administration. They have paper ballots that are auditable throughout the State. They, in fact, audit those ballots regularly. They had more pre election litigation than ever before to clarify the rules, all of the rule changes that might have come about because of COVID were done out in the open, and everyone knew about them and could challenge them if they wanted to.
And they have more post election litigation to confirm the results than ever before. In fact, there was a Trump appointed federal judge in Wisconsin that ruled against President Trump on the merits, found no merits to his claim of election fraud.
In fact, President Trump had the right to a full recount of the state that's under Wisconsin law and he chose not to do that. And in fact, all the legislators that are now attacking election officials around the state, most of them were on the ballot. The ballots that they're now questioning.
This is in a state where the margin of victory was almost identical to the margin in 2016, when President Trump one and there were no investigations of this type by Republican legislators. So when you have all these facts that showed that the election was extremely well- run and you still have leaders who refuse to tell the truth to their own voters, I think we've got a real problem and it's resulting in threats and harassment of election officials, for instance.
BURNETT: So State Senator Kathy Bernier who's the - you know her, of course, because you organize that with her. But for our viewers, she's the Republican state senator that you all just saw on that sound bite. So she once served as a chief local election official in Wisconsin County. She knows this so well. She's telling her Republican colleagues to stop pushing these lies about fraud.
But she's the lone voice there at least publicly. So David, I'm curious from what you see, do you think Republicans, elected Republicans in Wisconsin agree with her, with you, with Ben Ginsberg and they're just afraid to speak out? Or do they actually really believe that the election was stolen? BECKER: It's so hard to get into the minds of the people who are
refusing tell their voters the truth about the election. I don't want to assume what their motives are, but I think there has risen up this entire ecosystem of grifters surrounding a losing presidential candidate who have a great incentive to keep these lies alive.
They are making money off of these, Sidney Powell made $14 million off of that and she got charged $180,000 in attorney's fees for bringing frivolous claims. That's a pretty good net profit for this grift. And despite the grift, despite the incredible incentives that these grifters have to continue the big lie, they have still not in over 400 days since the 2020 election, they have not been able to develop or manufacture any evidence of fraud anywhere in the United States that would change the outcome.
In Arizona, the Cyber Ninjas couldn't do it in Georgia, in Pennsylvania, in Michigan, in Wisconsin. We've seen this story time and again.
BURNETT: Well, gosh, I mean, the Cyber Ninjas actually - despite all of their efforts, actually their audit resulted in an increased margin in favor of Joe Biden. The ultimate irony of the whole thing.
But as you point out, it isn't just happening in Wisconsin. It's happening across the country, in many states; Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, just to name a few of them. People who are grifters, as you say, people pushing Trump's lies, they are running for crucial administration positions to run elections and it is a very specific strategy. Steve Bannon recently talked about it, here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: We're taking over the Republican Party to the precinct committee strategy, we're taking over all the elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Are they going to be successful?
BECKER: Well, we've yet to see. I will tell you and I said yesterday in Wisconsin, I'm as scared and worried as I've ever been in my career working in elections with election officials of both parties.
We have people now running for positions as election officials who view election denial as a feature not a flaw, of their campaigns. It's actually one of their primary campaign platforms. We are seeing people who believe it is okay to try to leverage some kind of perceived constitutional cheat code to install someone who lost an election by over 7 million votes in the White House.
We have to put this election in perspective. It was -- it was the widest margin of any presidential election in the 21st century when Barack Obama wasn't on the ballot. It was not a close election. And to see this kind of denial -- and it's not just in the states like
Arizona and Wisconsin and Georgia where the margin was close. We are seeing attacks on election officials and denial of election results in places like Florida, Texas, and California. That's how -- that's how much this toxic sickness has spread.
All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
BECKER: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, the breaking news. We are standing by for that crucial vote in the Capitol. The House will begin voting on holding Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress for stonewalling the January 6th committee. We're going to bring you that vote when it happens.
Plus, the U.S. just reporting 800,000 deaths from COVID. Cases again spiking, forcing a major university, an Ivy League, to shut down.
BURNETT: Tonight, the U.S. crossing a somber milestone in the COVID pandemic. More than 800,000 people dead. It comes as the United States sees ominous signs of a surge of infections from the omicron variant.
Cornell University shutting down its campus, entirely, because they have reported 900 new cases in a week.
Dr. Fauci warning today that the omicron variant will, soon, be the dominant strain in the United States, and also saying that people who are saying it's less severe may be doing so too early. They just don't know.
OUTFRONT now, Bill Hanage. He's associate professor at Harvard School of Public Health.
And Dr. Jonathan Reiner, who advised the White House medical unit under President George W. Bush.
Professor, I really appreciate your time.
Obviously, have been following your Twitter and social media commentary on all the developments here. This shutdown at Cornell University is pretty stunning, right? Just because of the speed with which the -- the virus spread. Sixty cases each day, suddenly going up to 200 cases a day by the weekend. And the university says that they preliminarily believe this is the omicron variant. But they are also saying no students are severely ill.
So, professor, my question to you is, on the one hand, if they are not getting sick and they, by the way, are all vaccinated. They are not allowed to be on campus if they are not. And they're all vaccinated. If they're not getting sick, some people say this is a major overreaction. But I know that you are warning that omicron could lead to another surge in death even if -- and I say if -- it is a less deadly variant. Why?
BILL HANAGE, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, HARVARD T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Well, first, Erin, thanks for having me on the show. And thanks for following.
It's all about speed and it's all about time. Like you just said, Cornell has experienced an extraordinary rapid surge in cases and that's just come, you know, come on really, really, really quickly. Omicron was only described around Thanksgiving and look at how much news coverage it is getting now. Look at how many cases it's causing now and there just hasn't been enough time for those cases to actually start to get sicker and to be hospitalized, and so for us to be able to get a good handle on the severity.
I think Dr. Fauci was absolutely correct to say that it's premature to declare that this is very mild. And if you think about the cases that you are seeing on Cornell, we expect them to be mild because they are younger people. And there are a lot of people in this country who are not young, and too many of them have not yet received vaccination.
BURNETT: You know, Dr. Reiner, a year ago today -- a year ago today, you and I were together in this very hour marking the major milestone of the first Americans to be vaccinated. To the point the professor just made, there are still more than 70 million eligible Americans who have not received a single dose, 365 days ago, the vaccine started to become available, 70 million people.
Now, we find out Pfizer's two-shot vaccine regimen appears to drop to 70 percent protection against hospitalization with omicron, 70 percent. This -- this -- therein lies part of the exponential problem the professor's talking about, right?
DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the biggest problem that we've faced over the last year is ourselves. I -- you know, a year ago when you and I spoke, I never imagined that we would have such effective vaccines throughout the year but so many Americans would not accept the vaccine.
So, you know, the good news is we have vaccinated -- fully vaccinated over 200 million people in this country but the bad news is that there are 330 million people who actually live in this country and we are not going to put this pandemic away until we can fully vaccinate this country.
Now, we know that adding a third dose of a vaccine increases or sort of restores the ability of -- of this vaccine to prevent severe illness and that's what we need to do. We need to vaccinate more people, get more -- get shots into people for the first time and then boost everyone in this country and we need to do it with a fierce sense of urgency and I just don't see that right now.
BURNETT: Well, no. I mean, especially if you look at the drop you see after two shots. If you realize, gosh, you could see where that's going in terms of being -- people being susceptible to serious infection, your numbers of not yet fully vaccinated plunge, right? I mean, you know, we're vast minority of this country has been boosted.
Professor, you know, this -- this is changing the way people are see things, right? It's like well everybody thought this was at least the way people are acting, you see the way people are traveling, right, that this was over.
And now, you know, I highlight this because I don't know if people remember the CEO of Morgan Stanley, right? He very famously said get back in the office, right? If I see you feel comfortable enough to go to a restaurant, you darn well better be back in the office. He was very firm about that and now suddenly he has changed his point of view. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES GORMAN, MORGAN STANLEY CHAIRMAN & CEO: We are in a transition period still. I was wrong on this. I thought we would have been out of it by Labor Day, past Labor Day. We're not. And I think we will still be in it through most of next year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Through most of next year. Professor, do you agree?
HANAGE: Can I just, first, say how incredibly refreshing and cool it is to hear somebody say they were wrong?
BURNETT: Right. I give him full credit for that, right? And he said it in a very declarative sentence. Yeah.
HANAGE: And I think if we had been talking about delta, I would have totally understood where he was coming from but we are not talking about delta, we are dealing with omicron.
And to be honest, I don't think we should be rolling out the tape too far into next year, I think we have just got a very difficult few months to get through. And even if it's pretty mild, and it could be certainly in people who have been vaccinated, get your shot if you -- if you know somebody who hasn't gotten their shot, please encourage them to do so.
Even if it's pretty mild, a very large wave could still have pretty grave consequences for our health care system which is teetering because we just spent two years fighting with a pandemic there. And we are still struggling to recover from that.
BURNETT: Dr. Reiner, you know, that is a crucial thing. You know, I hear from people I -- I -- I know very closely, right, who are doctors in hospitals.
A lot of nurses have -- have left. People are burnt out. People are exhausted. People are frustrated across the medical system and you are about to be hit, again. REINER: Right. And I don't think the country understands what
America's healthcare workers have gone through over the last two years. Our system is stretched to the breaking point and it's not just our ability to care for COVID. It's our ability to care for heart attacks, for strokes, for appendicitis.
Right now, every hospital in the country is short of critical care nurses. Almost every hospital in the country has people literally stacked up on stretchers in ERs because there are no beds or no staff upstairs. If we -- if we don't control COVID, our healthcare system is in danger of crashing.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you, both, very much. Very sobering but important to hear. Thank you.
And next, new details on whether Senator Joe Manchin is any closer to backing Biden's massive $2 trillion spending bill.
Plus, the jury in the trial of Kim Potter. She was accused of killing Daunte Wright. New details about the officer's training and what may have caused her to draw her gun.
BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden talking for a second day in a row with Senator Joe Manchin as his $2 trillion spending bill hangs in the balance. The White House admitting, quote, we are not quite there yet as Manchin continues to raise the same concerns he has for several months about the massive price tag of the bill and his concerns about inflation.
Manu Raju is OUTFRONT.
Manu, you just spoke with Manchin on his way out of the Capitol. What did he tell you?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He is indicating that there is still far apart. In fact, what he said to me is that I asked him if Biden is moving any closer to his position. He said, quote, I wouldn't say that. And then, when I asked him what he meant with that -- by that, he indicated he is still detailing his positions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): In general, they still want to talk.
RAJU: What do you mean you wouldn't say that when the president's not moving closer towards you?
MANCHIN: No, no, I don't think I'm asking anybody to move. I'm wanting people to understand where -- where I am. And I think that's where we are getting more of an understanding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Now, sources tell us that there are significant differences still between the president and the most important swing vote on the Democratic side of the aisle in the Senate, including over the size, the scope, the true cost of this bill. Joe Manchin has concerns that the bill, which would extend the number of benefits around -- around a wide range of programs, ranging from climate change to education to housing, a number of those programs are not adequately accounted for because they are temporary spending measures. He believes they should be extended out to give the true cost of the bill. There is a disagreement between the White House and -- and this key senator on this issue.
And also, some other major provisions, such as the expansion of the child tax credit which is included in this bill. And which would actually expire at the end of this year if they don't get a deal. Manchin is still in odds with the president on this issue, all raising concerns, Erin, about how quickly they can get this done after months of torturous negotiations, and Democratic leaders pushing to get this done by Christmas.
It is appearing increasingly unlikely as Manchin is not onboard and the bill text still isn't finalized.
BURNETT: Yeah. I mean, it's pretty incredible. You are not on the same page about size, scope, or cost. You are not on the same page about anything. Pretty -- pretty incredible. This is where we are.
All right. Thank you very much, Manu Raju, of course, the one to speak to Senator Manchin.
And next, important testimony today in the trial of the officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright. What we are learning tonight.
Plus, heartbreaking new stories of those who lost their lives after tornados tore through eight Midwestern states.
BURNETT: Tonight, key testimony about Taser training in the trial of the police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright. The jury learning today that Kim Potter had stellar markings in her training. Veteran officer said she meant to use her Taser, not her gun.
Josh Campbell is OUTFRONT.
KIM POTTER, FORMER POLICE OFFICER: Taser, Taser, Taser!
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (on camera): What was then Officer Kim Potter considering in these tense moments with Daunte Wright?
POTTER: I shot him. Oh, my God!
CAMPBELL: And what influenced her to draw any weapon at all?
POTTER: I don't know what happened.
CAMPBELL: Those are the questions the court weighed Tuesday in Potter's manslaughter trial. The defense continuing to argue that Potter, who has pleaded not guilty, feared for the life of her fellow officers, including, the sergeant who had entered Wright's car from the passenger side.
EARLY GRAY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He is ignoring the warnings Taser, Taser, I got -- I'm going to tase you. You have a right to use deadly force to save that cop, that police officer, that's lying over the seat, correct?
COMMANDER GARRETT FLESLAND, BROOKLYN CENTER PD: Potentially, yes, but I wasn't there.
CAMPBELL: The prosecution objecting as their witness, a senior officer, made a point for the defense. The second witness to do so, thus far.
JUDGE: The objection is overruled. You may answer.
CAMPBELL: Commander Garrett Flesland of the Brooklyn Center Police Department conceded potter's use of deadly force may have been lawful.
GRAY: You've got to save that officer that's laying over the seat, correct?
GRAY: If you're dragged down the street by this driver if he gets away, that man's going to be seriously injured or dead. Fair statement?
MICHAEL JOHNSON, POLICE OFFICER: Could likely happen, yes.
CAMPBELL: That man -- Officer Michael Johnson -- was also a witness called by the prosecution.
JOHNSON: Kim, that guy was trying to take off with me in the car.
CAMPBELL: But he also testified he could have been killed if Potter hadn't done something.
GRAY: And if he had taken off with you in that car halfway, what would have happened to you? Do you -- what would you think would be the worst that would happen?
JOHNSON: Probably dragged.
GRAY: Dragged and what? JOHNSON: Injured.
GRAY: Seriously injured? Maybe even dead, right?
GRAY: Of course, the encounter turned deadly for Wright, instead. When Potter fired her handgun instead of her Taser.
FLESLAND: The way I have mine oriented is for a cross draw.
CAMPBELL: A less lethal device Flesland said she had trained on with near perfect marks for her entire career.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got a perfect score.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
CAMPBELL (on camera): Now, Erin, last week, our team went out front with the Los Angeles police academy where we learned how officers in the United States are trained to use the Taser. Some of what we learned there has been front and center in this trial. That is, officers are trained to keep their service weapon on their dominant side, their Taser on the opposite side in order to limit weapon confusion. That has been a key point the prosecution has been making.
But on the defense' side, Erin, we have seen something in this trial that we don't often see and that is prosecution witnesses making the case for the defense. We have already heard from two senior police officers saying that Kim Potter was not only testify -- or justified in using the Taser but also under Minnesota law, lawful use to use her service weapon -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Josh Campbell.
And next, the struggle to pick up the pieces after the devastating tornados that tore through eight states.
BURNETT: At least 88 deaths are now tied to the tornados that went through the eight states in the Midwest over the weekend, including six members of one family. Three generations. A relative confirms to CNN.
The devastation when you look at it is truly hard to comprehend. And 109 people are still unaccounted for just in the state of Kentucky where the governor, Andy Beshear, saw more of the destruction for himself today and pledged support.
President Biden will visit the area, and meet with victims tomorrow. The White House says the president wants residents to know that the federal government will continue to help.
Thanks for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.