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Inside Politics

AL GOV: It's Time to Start Blaming the Unvaccinated; GOP Governors Sound Alarm for Unvaccinated; Unvaccinated Americans Behind Rise in COVID-19 Cases; McCarthy, Trump Are Potential Witness in 1/6 Committee Probe; Representative Aguilar: 1/6 Committee Members on Group Text, Including Cheney. Aired 12-12:30p ET.

Aired July 23, 2021 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Thanks for joining us this hour. "Inside Politics" with John King starts right now.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello, everybody. Welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington. Thanks for sharing your day with us. The COVID nightmare is back. It is back except this time there's a shop that stops it.

The Republican Governor of a hard hit state says the blame belongs squarely with the unvaccinated. Plus, a member of the January 6 Committee will join us what's next in the investigation? And should speaker Nancy Pelosi add more Republicans?

And back to the campaign trail. President Biden is in Virginia tonight. This year's governor's race there could tell us a lot about the midterm mood and if voters are sweet or sour on the Biden agenda.

We begin the hour though with the Coronavirus and the summer surge in States with low vaccination rates. It doesn't have to be this way. One more time, it doesn't have to be this way. Listen here to Alabama's Republican Governor. Her state is 50th dead last when it comes to vaccinating residents and the Governor is fed up.


GOV. KEY IVEY (R-AL): These bolts are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain, folks both to have common sense. But it's time to stop blaming the unvaccinated folks not the regular folks, its unvaccinated folks that letting the stain.


KING: CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now. And the governor Elizabeth is right. It is the unvaccinated folks in her words that are letting us down. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They really are. And really it's hurting everybody. Even if you are vaccinated, you can still get breakthrough infections and more importantly, think about the children under the age of 12 who can't be vaccinated. They rely on us to protect them. And we're not protecting them.

Think about people who have had organ transplants or who take medicines that suppress their immune systems. They rely on the rest of us. And a third of the country has said we don't care about you. We're not getting vaccinated.

I can't imagine I don't care what religion background you come from not caring about other people, vulnerable children, vulnerable, sick people that is not OK. Let's take a look at the 10 or 11 actually least vaccinated states in the country.

If you look at this map and think wow, I feel like I've seen this before. That's because the map of states with high COVID transmission rates is pretty similar. No surprise here. When you don't vaccinate, you get a lot of COVID. When you get a lot of COVID you endanger and vulnerable people, you also invite variants when you have a high transmission of COVID.

Now this next number if this doesn't convince people to get vaccinated, I don't know what will. When you look at all of the - I'm sorry, COVID infections in the U.S. 97 percent of the people in the hospital with COVID are unvaccinated. 97 percent - 99.5 percent of the people who die from COVID in the United States are unvaccinated that shows you how well this vaccine works.

Why you would choose illness why you would choose death? Why would you would choose to endanger vulnerable people it just defies logic, John?

KING: Elizabeth Cohen grateful for the reporting setting us up. I wish there were more positive but it is simple facts. The numbers are the numbers don't lie without a doubt. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you. Let's dig deeper on what Elizabeth was just talking about.

This is the vaccination map of the United States. If it's hard to see at home where you are, you want to be darker green Maine is 63 percent Vermont is 67 percent more than 6 in 10. In Vermont's case, nearly 7 in 10 people fully vaccinated.

You saw that swath Elizabeth just showed you down here across the Southeast Georgia at 38 percent, Alabama at 34 percent, Mississippi at 34 percent, Arkansas 36 Oklahoma 40. Remember this swath here. And remember out here we see the lightest green those are the states way behind the pack trailing in vaccinations.

Now look at this. This is the CDC's map. This is now this is a couple of weeks ago of transmission. A couple weeks ago we knew we had a problem you want to be blue or yellow, blue is low transmission in your community. Yellow is moderate, orange and red are bad.

Come over here now look at how much more orange and red there are and look where it is. That's significant. Elizabeth walks you through the vaccination problems here, right? Vermont, Maine, New England, a lot of the best vaccinated states in terms of percentage is up here.

They tend to be yellow or blue, as they were mostly blue and yellow here. The red is in the places across the country where the vaccination rates are low. It is just indisputable at that point. Let's bring in for his expertise and insights now, Dr. Carlos del Rio, Executive Associate Dean of the Emory University School of Medicine at the Grady Health System.

Dr. Del Rio, thank you for being with us. I want you to listen before we begin the conversation, the Governor of Missouri the Governor of Tennessee, the Governor of West Virginia, in Missouri, in Tennessee's case, already a lot of red and orange.

In West Virginia you see a situation a few weeks ago it is getting worse now the governor's - these are all Republicans telling their people get a shot dammit.


GOV.JIM JUSTICE (R-WV): You've got to get vaccinated now. And so all I would say is this Delta thing is coming.


GOV. MIKE PARSON (R-MO): Unvaccinated Missourians are the primary target of this new COVID-19 strain. We must all take personal responsibility and do what is right to protect our own health.

GOV. BILL LEE (R-TN): I want to say today and I want to continue to say that the number one tool that we have to manage COVID-19, including the Delta variant, is the vaccine. And we encouraged - seems to pursue that.


KING: There does seem to be sir, in recent days more urgency from these Republican State Chief Executives, pressuring, pushing begging their people to get vaccinated. The numbers simply don't lie, right? When you look at this map, and you see where all the red and orange is you can overlay it with the states and - low vaccinations.

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT GRADY HEALTH SYSTEM: That's exactly right, John, and I'm really pleased to see that everybody's pushing Republican or Democrats are pushing for vaccination. I wish they had - this has happened before but it's happening now.

You know, the big challenge we have is that with the Delta variant being so much more transmissible, we think that the transmissible is probably 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant which is already more transmissible than the original strain.

The amount the percentage of people we need vaccinated to get have what's called the community immunity that herd immunity, we talked about probably goes up to about 80 percent. So it really makes it even harder to say you're - you have a well vaccinated state because 50 60 percent is not enough. You need to get up to the 80 percent or so range.

So yes, this is an epidemic right now that is being driven by the unvaccinated because there's so much transmission happening that both vaccinated and unvaccinated are getting infected. The vaccinated are getting less infected, they're protected, but there's so much virus out there in many communities, that everybody has a risk right now.

KING: I want to drill down on this point because there are still some people out there doubting the vaccines are saying I don't need it. It won't get me. I just want to drill down on this point. I just want to show you this is the State of Alabama. This is the worst it is 50th of the 50 states in terms of percentage of the population fully vaccinated.

34 percent of the people are vaccinated 67 counties in Alabama, look at all that red, that's high transmission right now lower vaccinations, high transmission, and 7 counties substantial transmission, only four with moderate transmission.

Look at these 23 cases per 100,000 residents that's the average right now in Alabama. It is the worst state when it comes to vaccinations. Remember this, 23 cases out of 100,000 people in the worst state. Vermont is the best state three cases per 100,000 people.

The numbers simply don't lie. And you see here moderate and low transmission and Coronavirus in a state where 7 in 10 almost are fully vaccinated. Three cases per 100,000 people if your state is doing well in the vaccine race 23 cases if you are not.

Dr. Del Rio, again, sometimes there are disputes about science disputes about math. It's simply indisputable.

DR. RIO: I think it's totally indisputable. If you are vaccinated, you're protected, you're not going to get sick, and you're unlikely to die. If you are not vaccinated, the Delta virus is going to find you. You are going to get infected and you are at high risk of getting hospitalized and dying. There's no doubt about that, John.

KING: And I want to come back to one of the pressing questions as we see. Let me come back to the vaccination map first. If you look, Massachusetts is doing pretty well. It says 63 percent the District of Columbia is at 54 percent a bit behind in City of Boston and the District of Columbia today announced that students when they go in school resumes should be masked all students should be masked.

The CDC had put out guidance just a couple weeks ago saying that if you're the older students and you have been vaccinated, you don't need a mask is this going to become especially in the urban school districts a snowball down the hill, if you will, more people saying the CDC says maybe you don't need it, we're going to go safe and require it.

DR. RIO: Well, John, I think that we need to make decisions based on the data and when the CDC made that recommendation that if you're vaccinated, you don't need to be masked, we did not have the Delta variant that I said is hyper transmissible. I think as long as we have a lot of transmission in your community, my recommendation is that you mask. I think we're going to go through periods of masking or not masking, depending on the date and the community, how much transmission there is, and what percentage of vaccinated people we have.

The more vaccinated people we have, the less transmission we will have. And the less likely we are that we're going to need a mask but at this point, if I was in a community that had high transmission, and I mean by high transmission, more than 10 cases per 100,000 population, I will still wear a mask if I'm going indoors in places that I was going to be likely mixture are vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

KING: And so I brought up this map again, as you were speaking high transmission is the red and orange when you're looking at this map and it is in more and more of America but it is specifically hitting communities that have the lower vaccination rates.

So Dr. Del Rio, your herd, the governors trying to cajole their people, please get a shot. You're putting yourself at risk. You're putting your neighbor at risk. You're putting your community at risk. And I can't walk into this building unless I have a vaccine and I do.

Some people require it. The NFL can't require its players to be vaccinated, but it has a new policy in place. We can show you a headline from the CNN story about this essentially saying that if you have a Coronavirus problem, a COVID problem and you can't feel the team you will forfeit.

Where do you see this argument going about whether it's requirements, whether its incentives or maybe the word there is disincentives? Where are we heading?


DR. RIO: I think we're increasingly heading towards organizations requiring vaccination for certain activities. We know many colleges and universities are requiring it for students to return in the fall. Healthcare systems, many are starting to require it.

I think you're going to see many businesses require vaccination. You know, the reality is, as long as we have pandemic and we have an effective vaccine, we should be using it. I think one of the challenges John is still that the FDA has not fully authorized the vaccines. I think when that happens, you're going to see a lot of places requiring the vaccine.

KING: Dr. Del Rio grateful as always, for your time and your insights. I wish we were having a more positive conversation, perhaps in the weeks ahead. Perhaps Dr. Del Rio, thank you. Up next for us, a member of the Select Committee investigating the Capitol Insurrection joins us how to handle a Republican boycott and tough decisions about high profile witnesses?


KING: Next week the January 6 Select Committee calls its first witness after a run up filled with drama and a lot of partisan combat. The Speaker Nancy Pelosi projecting to have Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy's picks Jim Jordan and Jim banks that in turn led McCarthy to pull all of his choices for the panel now the Speaker is considering selecting other Republicans to fill out the committee.

Joining our conversation is Congressman Pete Aguilar of California. He's a Member of the January 6 Select Committee Congressman grateful for your time today. That does seem to be the most pressing question at the moment should the Speaker in your view add a Republican or two? Adam Kinzinger's name has come up, for example, in addition to the one Republican already on the Committee, Liz Cheney.

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): We would welcome new members to the committee as long as they are rooted in the facts as long as they are, you know, going to join us in seeking the facts having an honest and unbiased view of what transpired on January 6 that we need to know about that event.

KING: Forgive me for jumping in, are there other - have you heard Republican names? Are the members of the committee discussing other Republican names beyond Mr. Kinzinger?

AGUILAR: I've not heard other names beyond Mr. Kinzinger. But you know, we would welcome and keep in mind, you know, the Speaker only objected to two of the names. So if Kevin McCarthy was serious about the effort here serious about finding the truth, then we would have no problem seating the other members.

KING: One of the questions you're going to have to answer pretty quickly is are other people serious about finding the truth that would include the Former President of the United States and his senior staff? Only they can answer questions about what the president was doing that day.

His side of the conversations with Leader McCarthy, for example, did he say yes or no? Did he stall and delay the response of the National Guard? We know in this interview, I'm going to talk to one of the authors in a few minutes of this great new book.

And where Trump, in an interview with them said it was a loving event at the Capitol. We know it was anything but do you see it worthwhile in trying to interview Donald Trump? Or is it more important for you to document his day?

AGUILAR: We need to be very clear that there were no loving individuals, there was no tourist activity. But the events of that day are important to catalog to seek the truth. That's what this committee is going to do. And so anyone who has information that will help us, you know, in those efforts should be willing to come forward and lend their voice.

We'll see if that's true. Right now, we're only focused on the four voices that we're going to hear on Tuesday, the Capitol Police officers and the Metro Police officers who are going to share their experiences, protecting democracy and protecting those of us trying to exercise that democracy inside the Capitol.

KING: I want to come back to that first hearing, because it's important to just a minute but you say that's where your focus, you're only focused on them right now. When you do and when do the staff, again, about testing everybody else, which is Mr. Former President, will - letter a phone call, will you voluntarily testify?

Should Leader McCarthy be on that list? Will you refers request voluntarily? And if the answer is no, I tried to subpoena Kevin McCarthy, will you try to subpoena the former president? What about Mark Meadows, the Chief of Staff if they don't come in voluntarily?

KING: The committee was just constituted we have our first hearing next week our Chairman announced our staff, our lead staffers yesterday. So we're going to - we're going to take a couple minutes here to get our sea legs, but we're going to start in earnest, and we're going to start creating that work plan that will guide our efforts to seek the truth, find out what happened, and ensure that this never happens again.

KING: When you talk about the first hearing and bringing in some of the heroic police officers. What is your goal in the sense that I covered the White House back on 9/11? And if you read the 9/11 report, it is a fantastic, helpful historic document about a horrific day in American history.

Do you want to get to a point where you're crafting a report that 10 years and 20 years from now is critical piece of historical references that your biggest goal or because of the environment we live in because the former president wants to make a comeback because many of your Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives want to whitewash that day.

Do you think it's important to I guess, answer the questions of the here and now or is this more about history?

AGUILAR: This can be about both. But ultimately, this is going to be about ensuring that this never happens again, that this was the first time since 1814 that the Capitol has been taken over and we need to ensure that this doesn't happen again. And that we protect democracy.

That is our goal. So the 9/11 Commission is the gold standard when it comes to a document. We want to produce something that can live up to that standard that can be not just bipartisan, but nonpartisan in how it reads and it lays out the facts and helps us guide our efforts in the future to protect the Capitol but also to protect democracy.


KING: Maybe in the days ahead, you'll get another Republican but right now the only Republican on the panel is Liz Cheney. As you know, the former president and his wing of the Republican Party is gunning for her they've won amount of primary challenge. They want to come after her there as being run against her. Have you had a chance to talk to Liz Cheney about her work on this committee?

AGUILAR: Well, we've sat down and we were in the in the Speaker's Office talking as a group yesterday. We've had a couple huddles. We're on a group text together, the members of the committee, and I continue to be impressed, not just with her work product and her ideas and thoughts but in her unwavering commitment to the Constitution.

I wish that there were more colleagues on that side of the aisle who would take that oath to the Constitution instead of to one person.

KING: Congressman Pete Aguilar of California grateful for your time today, sir. We wish you the best in this work, and you're going to get a lot of requests to be looked at on that group text. I suspect after saying that right there. Appreciate your - appreciate you're being with us today. We'll circle back as we go through this important work. Thank you, sir.

AGUILAR: Thanks, John.

KING: Up next for us more on that January 6 Committee and its work and the big decisions looming right now for Speaker Pelosi, since Republicans plan a boycott.



KING: The committee tasked with building a comprehensive picture of just what happened on January 6th faces a big first week challenge. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now considering Republican reinforcements of that committee before it calls its first witnesses next week.

Her deliberations are happening as Republicans say the Speaker made their point that the committee is nakedly partisan in rejecting Jim Jordan and Jim banks from serving on that panel with me to share their reporting and their insights Jackie Kucinich of "The Daily Beast" Zolan Kanno-Youngs of "The New York Times" "POLITCO'S" Laura Barron- Lopez and CNN's Maeve Reston.

I just had a conversation with one of the Democratic Members Pete Aguilar. He was talking about how the emphasis right now is on the first hearing. They're just getting started just staffing up. You're going to call in for police officers next week to talk about the horror of that day their effort to protect the Capitol, the violence inflicted on them.

The one Republican on the committee as of now that might change but the one Republican for now is Liz Cheney. I just want you to listen to her take here and then what I'm going to call the conservative, although I'm not sure that's the right word. It's more of a parallel universe alternative.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): To hear from the some of the very brave people who defended the Capitol for that day, to hear their experiences directly. To put some facts on the table, in particular, to counter some of the attempts of whitewash that have been going on.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: On Tuesday, Pelosi will call a Capitol Police Officer called Harry Dun; Dun will pretend to speak for the country's law enforcement community. But it turns out Dun has very little in common with your average cop. Dun is an angry left wing political activist.


KING: Is that do we just now know right out of the box four police officers are going to testify not just Officer Dun, four officers who protected members of Congress who protected American democracy who protected a sacred institution, the building the United States Capitol on that day?

Is that just it that anyone who testifies and cooperates this committee is the Fox - is going to call them whack jobs and we're done.

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, I think that's exactly what's going to happen. And we could see this building. We see this building all the way back when they - when Republicans rejected the commission that was supposed to be an outside commission that would have been picked evenly between Republicans and Democrats.

Because in a lot of ways, what else can they do? Otherwise, they would have to talk about a day that is politically problematic from the person who could to still leaves the party, which is Former President Donald Trump.

KING: It's interesting to go. Congressman Aguilar - this is interesting because of the challenge now, because this was political to begin with Speaker Pelosi decided I'm not having these two ignore reality ignore the facts Trump apologists on the committee, which does give the Republicans the political argument.

I get the factual reasons Pelosi did this. It does give the Republicans the political argument. Well, she wouldn't let us pick our own members, the whole thing is political. So the caliber of the work here becomes critical. Listen to Congressman Aguilar, talking about a group text about how they're trying to coordinate?


AGUILAR: We're on a group text together the members of the committee, and I continue to be impressed, not just with her work product and her ideas and thoughts but in her unwavering commitment to the Constitution. I wish that there were more colleagues on that side of the aisle who would take that oath to the Constitution instead of to one person.


KING: One of the fascinating subplots here is going to be watching how does Liz Cheney conduct herself? She says she wants the truth and nothing but the truth. And then how did the Democrats in some ways rally to support her?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Right, because this isn't necessarily about the Republican Liz Cheney. This isn't about her conservative ideology. This is about she wants the truth the same way Pelosi is saying this is about getting to the unvarnished truth which is why she kicked Jim banks and Jim Jordan off of the committee.