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Jeff Bezos & All Civilian Crew Make History With Space Flight; CDC Director: Delta Variant Now Over 80 Percent Of Cases In U.S.; McCarthy's Jan. 6th Committee. Picks Include 2020 Election Deniers. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 20, 2021 - 12:30   ET



JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER, AMAZON: And he makes a hell of a pie too, I'll tell you.

JOSE ANDRES, FOUNDER, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN: You know, I'm so honored. I'm really grateful for this award. And the incredible support from you, Jeff, and the entire Bezos family. World Central Kitchen was born from this simple idea that food has the power to create a better world. And bring the food is a plate of hope. It's the fastest way to rebuild life and communities.

And this award itself cannot feed the world on its own. But this is the start of a new chapter for us. It allows us to think beyond the next hurricane, to the bigger challenges we face. You know, people of the world, I mean, now is the time to think really big to solve hunger with the first urgency of now.

You know, the only thing we want to do is revolutionize disaster on hunger relief. You know, people don't want to repeat it. People want our respect, it's the least we can do is be next to them when things get tough. We want to double food aid around the world. And we want to change the way 3 billion people mainly woman cook their food today from dirty cook stoves to clean.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: So you've been watching a press conference and also just some interviews, Jeff Bezos and his team have been giving here took an unexpected turn when he announced a new award of courage and civility award, $100 million given to Van Jones who, if you watch CNN regularly, you know very well, and also Chef Jose Andres, who we've had on my program very often, and I've profiled on 60 minutes, twice.

So Jose right now is speaking. We will try to speak to him later tonight. We're going to be broadcasting from here tonight, as well as hope to speak to Van about this. Quite a surprise, obviously, none of us knew anything about it. Though, I did see Jose yesterday. And I thought, oh, maybe he's cooking for people here. So, yes, clearly, I did not pick up on what he was doing here.

But obviously, the big story today is the launch, the successful launch and return of the spacecraft that they had been working on here New Shepard spacecraft, four people, civilians brought up 62 miles into space, into the air off the surface of the earth, off the sea level and returning safely.

I'm here with Kristin Fisher, we're also joined by CNN -- by CNN aerospace analyst Miles O'Brien. A lot came out of that press conference, I mean, Bezos really talked more about the kind of the infrastructure of space that he believes this is kind of a stepping stone to that road.

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: He said big things start small. And he really relayed his experience from building Amazon. He said, you know, I know what it feels like, I know what it looks like, when you're on to something. I had that feeling when I started Amazon. And he says that he's having it again, now with this beginning of Blue Origin. And he --

COOPER: He also talked about with the beginning of Amazon. And it's something he has said, I heard him speak years ago about this, that, you know, when he created it, when he started Amazon, when he founded Amazon, there was an infrastructure, there was the Postal Service, there was Federal Express, there was PayPal -- you know, possibly paying online.

And because of that he was able to stand on the shoulders of others who had created those things. He sees Blue Origin, whether he'll be successful or not as building that infrastructure for future generations to then innovate in ways we can't even imagine right now.

FISHER: That's exactly right. And he said, this is not about escaping Earth. That's something that drives Jeff Bezos nuts. He says this is about protecting Earth. He says we're never going to find another planet, another moon in our solar system or another galaxy. Like this is habitable and beautiful, beautiful and livable as Earth.

So you know, and that's very different from what Elon Musk talks about, right? Like he talks about colonizing Mars, building colonies there. But Jeff Bezos, two very different visions but, you know, I have to say, Anderson, I think Jeff Bezos got the memo that some people were upset that all these billionaires are spending so much money in space with that donation to Van Jones, $100 million for him to do whatever he wants with.

COOPER: Yes, and Jose Andres as well. He also said that he is going to be spending his time now that he has stepped down CEO of Amazon. He remains as Chairman. He's going to be spending his time, a lot more time on Blue Origin. He has said in the past he thinks it's the most important thing he'll do in his life. Also focused on climate change here on Earth, his Earth fund, and we said one or two other things that he hasn't really figured out yet, but he likes to do multiple things at once.


Let's take a look. We saw for the first time the video that was taken inside the capsule as -- after it had already disconnected from the booster rocket. And we'll let's just watch and listen to them floating in space.


J. BEZOS: Is it everything you thought it would be?


J. BEZOS: Here, look. Oliver.

MARK BEZOS, JEFF BEZOS' BROTHER: Move your head just a little.

FUNK: Oh, that's great.

M. BEZOS: Can you move your head a little, Wally, for us?

FUNK: Oh, yeah. Hi, Mom. I love it.

J. BEZOS: Oh, wow, wow, wow.

M. BEZOS: Look at the blackness of space and below.


M. BEZOS: Here, catch.


M. BEZOS: Ready?

FUNK: Woo-hoo.

M. BEZOS: Here it comes. You just have to wait for it. Who wants a Skittle?

DAEMEN: Oh, yeah, yeah. Throw one.

M. BEZOS: All right. See if you can catch this in your mouth. Yeah, I love that. Well done. Here, toss me one. Good job. Here it goes. That was a mid foul --

J. BEZOS: Here, try again.

FUNK: I can't get it up.

DAEMEN: I got you, I got you.

M. BEZOS: Oh, wow. Awesome. It's so good. Oh, wow.

J. BEZOS: Oh, my God.

M. BEZOS: It's absolutely --

J. BEZOS: This is incredible.

FUNK: Oh, I love it. I love it. M. BEZOS: Oh, wow, wow, wow.

FUNK: Man, this is different, isn't it?

J. BEZOS: It's a little different.

FUNK: I could not --

COOPER: And Miles O'Brien joins us as well. Miles, it's interesting watching that, I mean, you got a sense of how short a time they actually were weightless, that thing was about three minutes or so, the whole, from start to finish this whole journey took a little bit more than 10 minutes, under 11 minutes. You know, Bezos talked about kind of looking outside, looking out the window, and seeing the curvature of the Earth, seeing space, sort of seeing the thin atmosphere. Hard to do that when they're also flipping around. It was a lot, it was a short amount of time that they had a lot to do.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AEROSPACE ANALYST: a short amount of time and once they started floating around, not as much space as you probably would like to really get the sense of being Superman, right? And so, you know, for people in that I know it can hold six people that'll be even a little bit tighter. You know, I'm watching and first of all, is Wally funk, a national treasure or what? I mean she and the rest of the Mercury 13, those women who went through the rigorous training back in 19 -- early 1960s for to be in the astronaut corps never got to fly, what a travesty that was in the fact that she got to find the flight today is a great thing.

And she's just a joy to listen to. And to watch her experience it that really makes it a tremendous visceral connection to those of us who are on the ground and makes you understand the thrill and the joy of it all. The one thing, I'm just curious how much they were able to process in that short period of time, just the colors and the curvature of the earth and the darkness of the sky and the fact they were floating. And the other thing that I just take away is it looks like nobody was feeling sick, which is good too, because that happens to a lot of people when they go to space.

COOPER: Yes. Yes, hey, Miles, I want to bring in Van Jones on the phone. Someone at CNN apparently has Van Jones' phone number so we were able to get him, winner now have the courage and civility award. Van Jones, congratulations. This is certainly not a -- this is, I had no -- we obviously had no idea about this. What do you -- when did you hear about this? What do you -- what -- when did this happen?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was -- this weekend I was walking by myself down the path and my phone rang and it was Jeff Bezos. And he talked to me for nine minutes and eight seconds. And said he thought that my attempt to try to bring people together across party lines and across racial lines has been inspiring to him. And could I use some more support? And said he want to give me this award. And I'm not usually speechless as you know. But I didn't really know what to say. I don't know what to say.

But I do know for sure that there's so many people out there that can use the money. It's not money for Van Jones, money for me to give to others who have a similar spirit. And I'm going to tell you, Anderson, as you know, there are millions of millions of Americans who get up every day and do brutally hard work and reach across those lines a race and class etiology every day. They don't get support and recognition the way they should. And hopefully we do something about it now.


COOPER: Just on a personal note when he told you this, when he said he was -- he wants to give you an award, did he say it's $100 million award? Or did he just say it's an award?

JONES: Well, he said it was an award. And then we talked and then Lauren, kind of mentioned that, Lauren Sanchez her partner, mentioned the dollar amount, and I was already speechless. And then I was kind of breathless. I really didn't know what to say. I started speaking incoherently. You might have decided to withdraw money at that point. But really, I was making no sense.

I may not be making sense now, actually. But there's a lot of people, listen, you got people coming out of prisons, you got people on Native American reservations, you got people in Appalachia, you got people at the border, you have the all people, I mean, this country is unbelievable what people are doing and how much heart they have and how much love, they don't care about, you know, these things that we divide over sometimes, and they need more support. And we can lift them up, and get them together and connect them with more resources. It's going to make a big difference. And I appreciate Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez so much.

COOPER: It's extraordinary when you think about, you know, we -- you and I, and all of us at CNN spent a lot of time out in the field talking to people, seeing people do extraordinary things, and people who don't necessarily have access to power who don't have money. And there's always times where you think, you know what, if this person had access to this person, or this person had access to some funds, that, you know, they can make a change in their community, sometimes it starts out as a small thing, sometimes it's a big one.

JONES: Absolutely. And one of the things that you see, sometimes the best local change makers are the worst fundraisers. Sometimes the people who are good at raising money aren't as good at helping people, you know, make their lives better, and vice versa. Well, you know, we have a chance now to try to fix that a little bit. You know, people in the Criminal Justice Committee always say, the people who are closest to the problem are closest to the solutions too, but they're the farthest from resources and from power.

And, you know, as a result of this, and what Bezos doing, and I think he's going to do a lot more. We might be able to flip that a little bit, and give some people a shot. And the other thing I know, is that people, that people have tech world, that people in the finance world, the people in Hollywood, the people who already are, quote unquote, the elites, they would love to be connected to people who are out there every day trying to fight. It's not that people are awful. People are awesome. We just don't know each other. We can't find each other. We don't know what to do. And so if we can just get the awesome people at all levels of society working together, the awful people now start looking real small, real fast, and that's what I want to focus on.

COOPER: Yes. Well, congratulations, Van. It's an extraordinary day for you and for an awful lot of people. Appreciate you talking to us. We're going to toss now for Kristen Fisher me here in Texas. We're going to talk toss to John King in the Inside Politics. John?

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Thank you, Anderson. Hello, everybody, and welcome to what's left of Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Some other very important news we need to bring you today. Today, the CDC director sounding the alarm as the United States reaches another coronavirus crossroads. Daily new infections have tripled, tripled in the last month. And the nasty Delta variant now accounts for four of five, every new four of every five new infections.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Areas with limited vaccine coverage are allowing for the emergence and rapid spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant. CDC has released estimates of variants across the country and predicted the Delta variant now represents 83 percent of sequenced cases. This is a dramatic increase from -- up from 50 percent for the week of July 3rd.


KING: Think about that up from just July 3rd now 83 percent, 83 percent the Delta variant which is driving this all the red and orange you see on this map, 44 of our state's now going up. More new COVID infections now than a week ago, even the base states holding steady five of them, they have modest increases in those states. So, most of America, in most states, most communities reporting more new infections.

Here's another way to look at it at the CDC's map of community transmission. You do not want to be red on this map and you do not want to be orange on this map. Look at all the red and orange, community spread intensify in many areas of the country. A one more way to look at it is the case trend here. A month ago we were reporting 11,351 new COVID infections in just a month now up to nearly 35,000 new infections a day and, again, as Dr. Walensky, you just heard, says, 80 percent plus now are because of the new nasty Delta variant.

At this point, let's bring in to share her expertise and insights Dr. Leana Wen, the former Baltimore City Health Commissioner. Dr. Wen, put into context the importance of what Dr. Walensky just said there not only about the four of every five new infections is the Delta variant. What does that tell us about the crisis?

[12:45:02] DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We are trending in the wrong direction again, John. And this is something that didn't have to happen because we actually have the wait to prevent this from happening through the vaccine. But at this point, the Delta variant is clearly dominant.

And so if you become infected with COVID-19, at this point, you should assume that it's because of the Delta variant. That Delta variant is ripping through our communities. People who are unvaccinated are going to get it. And I just have to say how unfair this is, especially for our young children. They didn't make the choice to not be vaccinated. And yet those who are choosing not to be unvaccinated are endangering our children and those who are immunocompromised.

KING: And so, again, help me here, I'm going to put the map back up that just shows the red and orange that I had hoped that was gone, I would hope that that was a thing of the past, it is back. That means new COVID infections more than last week, if you're dark red, 50 percent more or higher than last week. The Surgeon General says now even though we were in a place where we thought we were relaxing our use of masks, listen to Dr. Murthy. He says, you know what, given how nasty the Delta variant is, even the vaccinated should consider keeping their mask on.


DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Our kids who cannot get vaccinated, they depend on us being vaccinated to protect them from the spread of the virus. If you're out there, and you've got kids at home, or you're immunocompromised, and you're thinking should I be more cautious and put my mask on when I'm going to indoor spaces, I would strongly consider that. This is not the time to let down our guard.


KING: Not only not the time not to let down our guard. But is it time for states, localities, businesses, schools, public buildings to start to say, put your mask back on if you want to walk in these doors?

WEN: Well, I would say that right now, I completely agree with Dr. Murthy that those of us who are living at home with young kids or people who are particularly susceptible to COVID-19, that we should really be on guard. And what we know about the Delta variant is that the vaccines we have, protects you very well for you as if you become infected with the Delta variant, you're probably not going to end up in the hospital or die. That's very important.

But studies also show that if you get the Delta variant, you are carrying around 1,000 times more virus than with the original wild type variant. And so if you're vaccinated, you might have a chance of transmitting it to other people around you. And so if you have young kids at home, for example, as I do, I certainly do wear my mask in public places when I'm around others who could potentially be unvaccinated. And I do agree that if unvaccinated and vaccinated people are mixing in public places, if there's no proof of vaccination, that indoor mask mandates should remain.

KING: Well, let me ask you a couple questions about vaccination. One is we're just learning today that an official who works at the White House and a top aide to Speaker Nancy Pelosi both fully vaccinated have breakthrough COVID cases. They were apparently out in an event together. How, is it still rare, these breakthrough cases? Or are we seeing more of them, are we learning more of them just because they're high profile individuals or are there more of them?

WEN: Oh, there's certainly a lot more of them, the CDC for whatever reason, that's -- that they have not fully explained, stop tracking mild breakthrough infections a couple of months ago. That's a mistake, because we really need to understand how common this is, who it's happening to is that older people is that people with underlying medical conditions, we've got a certain vaccine, we also need to understand how many people who get breakthrough infections end up severely ill.

It's probably a very small number. And actually, the more tracking we do, the more it paints the picture that the vaccine protects you very well from becoming severely ill. We also critically need to know if you are vaccinated and you get a breakthrough infection, are you still able to transmit it to others or are you very well protected? That's the question that so many parents want to know the answer to. And the CDC needs to get these answers to the American people. We need more data and not less.

And we really cannot repeat the mistakes of the Trump administration when the model seemed to be if we don't test for it, it's not there. When actually if you don't test for it, it's there, you just don't know about it.

KING: And one more question related to vaccines that I do so, I just want to show the importance of the vaccines, with community transmission now at red and orange levels around much of the country. This is why you need to get a vaccine to protect yourself and protect everybody around you. We learned just a short time ago, that Congressman Steve Scalise, the number two in the House Republican leadership says just this weekend, he got a vaccine and it's being reported back home in Louisiana, he got his first shot.

It was more than seven months ago that the vaccines were first improved. I guess should we take this as finally progress and example or is it just why in the world did you wait seven months?

WEN: I think both can be true at the same time. Do I wish that that he got the vaccine many months ago? Of course. But I also think that there is some value to people who were initially hesitant to getting the vaccine for them to explain what got them to change their minds. So I hope that Congressman Scalise and many others are going to take this mantle at this point and recognize that vaccines are lifesaving, and that this is for their constituents, the people that they serve. KING: He does say he's now recommending to his constituents, they get them. So let's hope we're in a new chapter there as well. Dr. Wen, grateful for your time and your insights today.


Up next for us, more politics on Capitol Hill, a big day, Kevin McCarthy makes his picks for the committee investigating that Capitol insurrection, expect confrontation.


KING: This morning no clear answer from the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on whether she will approve the Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy's picks for that January 6th Select Committee.

With me in studio here to share the reporting and their insights CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Jonathan Martin of the New York Times, Catherine Lucey of The Wall Street Journal, and Tia Mitchell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Appreciate all of your patience.

Let's just put up on the screen the five picks Kevin McCarthy has for this Select Committee. Three of them, you see, voted essentially to reject the fact that Joe Biden won the election. They would not vote to certify the election results. And all of them voted no on the impeachment of Donald Trump. The question is what does this signal for this Committee?


CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I mean I think it's very clear McCarthy sending a message about how Republicans want to approach this. I mean Jim Jordan and others have been very critical of this process. And really, I mean, if you look back at how he handled the President, the impeachment attempts with President Trump was a real defender of President Trump, really, you know, consistently argued, this is a witch hunt. And you're going to see more of that kind of rhetoric, I think, as they try and frame their arguments going into next year, questioning the whole premise of this.

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, McCarthy is trying to thread this needle of not putting on the Marjorie Taylor Greenes and Lauren Boeberts, which would sort of make a mockery of the whole thing. But at the same time, he's not putting on any of the 10 who impeach Trump either, obviously, Liz Cheney's already on there from the Democratic side.

So he's trying to find what, I think in today's house is basically the mainstream of their caucus. That would be a shock to folks who were in the House GOP are familiar with it in an earlier day. But that's really what this is today, basically, pro Trump, but not so sort of flamboyant, that it's going to cause McCarthy some obvious embarrassment.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: But it will be interesting, given the tension between Jim Jordan and Liz Cheney over how they have obviously viewed the future of the Republican Party and how it should go. We should note for the White House on this, they've been very deferential to House Speaker Pelosi about how she's going to handle this, what will her final decision be about these members.

And they've said that they do believe Republicans could act in good faith on this Committee. They haven't said whether they believe Republicans who voted to overturn the election result against impeachment, and some of those members also joined on to that Texas lawsuit to invalidate the results in several states can act in good faith.

KING: It's interesting in the sense that Leader McCarthy did not make Jim Jordan, the ranking member. He made Congressman Banks of Indiana who has aspirations to move up in the Republican leadership. So here's essentially your trial runner, we can show the pictures of the members again, Congressman Banks gets to prove to fellow Republicans, I'll defend Leader McCarthy who could end up being a witness here, number one.

And I'll defend President Trump and I won't get contentious with the Democrats. But Jim Jordan is the number two. We know him from the impeachment hearings. We know him from the judiciary committee hearings. And we hear this last night expect this as a common theme from the Republicans.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: McCarthy, have you had any indication that Speaker Pelosi will approve the members that you've chosen?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Why would she not? I wouldn't understand why she would not it just be more politics.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): We know what this is. This is impeachment round three. This is the go after President Trump. What are they going to do? The same old thing, go after President Trump, who was the most successful president in our lifetimes.


KING: There are a lot of questions for this Committee to look at. Who were these people? How well organized were they? And yes, yes, prior to the event contact, during the day contact, and what did the President who as this is all playing out? Jordan, though, clearly, anything that Democrats try to do is going to be you're trying to smear Trump.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: And I think that's going to be a tough line for these Republicans to toe because the first meeting is going to feature police officers who were there defending the Capitol. So how do they try to defend President Trump, try to support Republicans in thwarting this investigation without coming across that they're, you know, attacking the officers who were there, you know, during a really violent event. And we know Democrats are going to be there to remind the people at home watching that this was a violent riot, it was an insurrection.

KING: And which gets the timing here, it gets you to the point where unfortunately, but I don't see any way around this. This should be an important fact finding committee. This was an attack on the United States government, an attack on the United States Capitol, an attack on the Democratic process on a critical day of certifying the Electoral College that will play out as we move into a midterm election year where inevitably, right, is there any way around it?

MARTIN: No. I mean, it's going to be obviously central. And President Trump is going to himself want to remain central, because he doesn't want to fade away, which is what I think a lot of GOP numbers of Congress --

LUCEY: And that's a, I mean reason McCarthy does want to have people on their, right? Is you're going to see both sides trying to frame their arguments with this and trying to frame this going into the midterms. So they don't want to be left out of the process entirely.

COLLINS: But it will also be interesting what's the outcome because with the other commissions I've done on this, a lot of them didn't even mention, or the reports they've done did not mention Trump's name. And this one, obviously will. And so depending on how the outcome of this looks, what is the public opinion of it, the President's allies are on this. Jim Jordan, if they're approved by Pelosi will be on this. So does that lend some kind of credibility among Republicans to this, it remains to be seen.

MARTIN: Yes. We're assuming that this actually unfolds here. And if there is going to be a report that is produced that is signed by every member.


MARTIN: It's easy to see a scenario where at some point, there's effectively a protest by Jordan and the Republicans who don't put their names on the final report.


KING: I think this -- a lot of this comes down to discipline now by the chairman, the Democrat Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney was going to have to make some tough decisions at times to side with the Democrats. I think when you're asking for documents, information, witnesses.


MARTIN: And going into her primary next year, which obviously is going to be a fight for her political life, it's easy to see a scenario where the Republicans on this Committee put out their own report, one or two separate report.

KING: We'll see this one as we go forward. At least we have the names finally. Thanks for joining us today on Inside Politics. Appreciate your patience through the breaking news. Ana Cabrera picks up right now.