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Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Is Interviewed About McCarthy Attacking Pelosi Over Mask Mandate; Soon: Biden Announces Vaccine Requirement For Federal Workers. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 29, 2021 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: But in your view, who should be in the chair first before the Committee and why?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, I hope you'll forgive me for not saying who should be first. But we will be issuing a series of subpoenas. We will I'm sure first be interviewing the potential witnesses in a deposition type setting before we have a public hearing. Our goal is to find all of the facts. What led up to January 6th, who was involved? Obviously, there was pre planning, you don't show up to a rally in a bulletproof vests with weapons. So who funded it? Who coordinated it?

KING: You just raised the question you don't show up in a rally in a bulletproof vest. I'm assuming you're referring to one of your Republican colleagues, Congressman Mo Brooks, who told this to "Slate," I was warned on Monday that there might be risks associated with the next few days. I did not go to my condo. Instead, I slept on the floor of my office. And when I gave my speech at the Ellipse, I was wearing body armor. In that speech in the Ellipse, he said it was time for those people to go kick ass. Do you want Congressman Mo Brooks under oath to answer, who told you there were risks, why we wearing body armor?

LOFGREN: Actually, the body armor I was referring to was that worn by the rioters who attack the Capitol. But I'm sure that we will want to be to talk to members of Congress to find out what their activities were and many of them. And I think all that have spoken publicly have indicated that they have nothing to hide that they will certainly cooperate with the Committee. And that would be my expectation.

KING: We'll see if that proves true when you actually issue the subpoena, or the invitation, or whether what they've said in advance ends up to be their posture, including among them, Jim Jordan, repeat frequent defender of President Trump who says he speaks to President Trump frequently, and including on that day, January 6th, he told sold this to CNN. I've got nothing to hide when asked if he would testify, but he suggested that if Democrats tried to subpoena him, Republicans could respond by trying to depose Democrats like your colleagues, Adam Schiff, and Eric Swalwell, should they take the majority next year. Is a threat like that bother you? LOFGREN: It sounds like he's got something to hide. And he's trying to threaten people so he won't be called. But I think we need to find out everything that happened on that day and preceding it. And that includes people who were communicating with the then president, and apparently that includes our colleague, Mr. Jordan.

KING: Do you see it as a fruitful enterprise to try to question Donald Trump himself? Or do you think that would be a waste of time and it's better just to question everybody around him and build the documentary evidence of where he was or he who did he meet with or to speak with?

LOFGREN: Well, I don't think we've made that decision. We'll follow the facts where they lead up. I am mindful that the former president has a veracity problem. And so that has to be factored into the decision making.

KING: I want to ask you lastly, Congressman, before we go, we were talking before we came on air about so many things are connected right now, the threats against local election officials around the country, Republicans continue to perpetrate the big lie, a complete lack of trust and respect among a lot of people here in Washington. The Speaker the other day, called Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, a moron, because of what he said when she put in place with the House physician, the mask policy again, in the House of Representatives. I want you to listen to the Leader this morning, the Republican Leader.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): We believe in science, and we want a Speaker that will take the time to understand the science instead of just calling people names.


KING: Let me do a little fact check on that. He says we believe in science, a good piece of the Republican Conference either has not been vaccinated or won't tell us if they've been vaccinated. And that's why the House physician believes it's safer to wear a mask on the floor. But where are we? You served in Washington, including as a staffer back in the Nixon impeachment days, you've been here through the highs and the lows. Where are we right now in terms of if we cannot agree on a basic common set of facts or basic self-protections against a pandemic, can this town work?

LOFGREN: Well, I just got to say that the Minority Leader and many of my colleagues on the Republican side have been just whining big time about the mask. I mean, who likes to wear a mask? I don't. But I'd rather do that than give COVID to children too young to be vaccinated. So let's stop thinking that the rules don't apply to us because we're so special that we're in the House of Representatives.

Come on, get a grip, do what's responsible. And let's get to legislating the people's business instead of whining about your circumstances and having to wear a mask of other people safe, it's ridiculous. KING: You've known the Speaker a long time. She is a friend, fellow Californian. When you hear her say, moron, where's that frustration come? She's someone who respects the institution, respects the titles, for that to come out tells me this thing has disintegrated.


LOFGREN: Well, you know, the House of Representatives is still functioning. We are despite many differences working on bipartisan issues in many cases. The Science Committee, just reported outs and by voice vote, a number of issues. Those are not newsworthy. But certainly the minority leaders statements are so disappointingly incorrect. And he seems untethered, really, from reality. It's very difficult to deal with.

KING: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren grateful for your time today and we'll keep in touch as the Select Committee gets into the next phase of this very important work. Thank you so much.

And up next for us, we'll continue the conversation about refusing to mask up. There is high drama in Congress, as the mask mandate returns.



KING: Today should be a day of joy for any president. The government reporting this morning, the economy grew at an annualized rate of 6.5 percent of the second quarter. That's proof of the recovery from the worst of the COVID crisis is pretty strong. But instead, the word we're hearing most about the President's mood today is frustration.

CNN has told the President is telling aides, it feels like things are hitting a brick wall, and that vaccine hesitant Americans are putting recent progress at risk. One result of that frustration is today's big shift by the President to requiring COVID vaccines for federal workers and contractors.

The panel is back with us to discuss. You write about this in "The Journal" today. This is a big shift for the President. It's not an outright mandate, but it's a requirement or else, you know, you have to wear a mask, you have to keep distance, you have to be tested all the time. The frustration, explain it?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that the White House did not anticipate that the pace of vaccinations would slow quite to the extent that it hasn't. So this is as you point out, one of the more robust actions that President Biden is taking to try and ensure vaccinations. But yes, it's not a mandate. He will -- he's expected to require that federal workers get vaccinated or undergo regular testing and other mitigation measures.

We're seeing a number of private companies also adopt a similar policy. So I think there's also a way for the President to signal to local officials, to the private sector, that perhaps we do need some kind of vaccination requirements, especially as the Delta variant is surging across the country and really threatening to imperil the progress that has been made thus far in the fight against the pandemic,

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And further to imperil Biden's political status too. I mean this is a pivotal moment for Biden. If you look at the data, he does the best with voters when it comes to his handling of COVID. He doesn't get good marks for immigration or for crime and certainly, there's questions about inflation, but what he does do well is on COVID. And if he loses that, that's great real challenges for him.

KING: That's his foundation hitting the midterm or with this vaccine mandated requirement debate, the marketplace driving much of it. You're absolutely right about that. That's important. Now we have the renewed massive debate. The CDC says if you're in high transmission area, even a moderate transmission area, you should put your mask on even if you're vaccinated, and we just listened to this is playing out here in Washington. First, let's listen to a House Republican who says the House attending physician has said let's a wear masks indoors, again, when you're in the House, office building on the floor, Republicans say no.


REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): When you say we have to wear masks, we're sending a signal to our country to lay down in fear for our kids to have to be in the corners. And here we are saying oh, we're going to have to wear masks on the floor of the House. But we're going to do nothing to stop the flow of people coming across our border.


KING: Remember, a half or more of House Republicans either are not vaccinated or will not tell us they are vaccinated, which is why just moments ago, the veteran Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren says, Give me a break.


LOFGREN: The Minority Leader and many of my colleagues on the Republican side have been just whining big time about the mask. I mean, who likes to wear a mask? I don't. But I'd rather do that than give COVID to children too young to be vaccinated. So let's stop thinking that the rules don't apply to us because we're so special, that we're in the House of Representatives. Come on, get a grip, do what's responsible.


JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So my colleague, Sam Brodey, wrote in his piece today that the House has devolved into the physical equivalent of an angry Facebook comment board. And that I think that's pretty -- that's a pretty good way to describe it. But just stepping back from the, you know, some of the theatrics going on in the House of Representatives, there is a lot of confusion out there in the country about whether to mask, whether to not, and it is slightly impractical to expect people walking out of their house to be like, oh, what's the transmission rate and my county?


KUCINICH: The inconsistency I think has really, has rattled some folks out there. So while we're seeing a little bit a little ridiculous in Congress, they are reflecting some frustration out in the country about these changing rules.

WOOTSON: I think that's also why you see Biden being so careful in his wording, right? Because when you start putting out words like mandate, for us have to and all that stuff, it invokes this kind of reaction and eventually just descends into the Facebook comment board or something like that, especially with this additional confusion.

KING: We shall see.


Up next for us, more big employers require COVID vaccine to keep their job. We'll talk to a doctor whose hospital system was among the first to say, get the shot or get out.


KING: Today marks a giant and important shift in the American workplace toward requiring COVID vaccines. President Biden issuing a new requirement for federal workers either get a vaccine or be subject to regular COVID testing and mitigation roles and corporate America also getting bullish on vaccine mandates from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.

Our next guest was at the forefront of this debate. Dr. Marc Boom is the President and CEO of the Houston Methodist Hospital. It was the first major healthcare system to make COVID vaccines mandatory for employees and that was back in April. Dr. Boom, thank you for your time today.


So you see, we can put up on the screen some of the logos Google, Facebook, Netflix, the Wall Street firm BlackRock, Lyft, the Washington Post, Saks Fifth Avenue, another healthcare company, so this is across the economy now, people saying what you did back in April, they view as necessary, isn't working?

DR. MARC BOOM, PRESIDENT AND CEO, HOUSTON METHODIST HOSPITAL: It's worked really well for us. You know, we announced back March 31st a June 7th deadline. And as a hospital system, we have a sacred obligation to care for our patients and to keep our patients safe. And of course, we see the most vulnerable in society. So very appreciative to our employees who rolled up their sleeves, stepped up, did the right thing, and got vaccinated.

And we were able to achieve near 100 percent vaccination. We did lose about half a percent of our workforce, 26,000 individuals work at Houston Methodist. We lost 153 individuals who did not want to get vaccinated. We have about 1 percent of people have an exemption for a medical or a religious reason. And about 1 percent who've been able to defer until after their pregnancy to get vaccinated.

So if you come to our institution, 98 percent of people are walking around vaccinated. And now we're really glad we did that. And we've watched dozens and dozens and dozens of hospital systems follow suit, all of the major medical societies, hospital societies, et cetera recommending strongly that health care is --

KING: Let's see if we've lost Dr. Boom there, did we lose that signal? Can we restore that? Dr. Boom, we got you back? Great. Sorry, we had a little glitch there. We had a little glitch there. That's a welcome to the technology of today. So your system --

BOOM: I'm sorry.

KING: That's quite all right. You're setting an example at what has become another testing time. Another testing time in the sense that you mentioned, told our staff 17 days ago, you had 109 COVID patients, today you have 374. Who are you seeing? What is different now from the horrors you went through, say a year ago over the winter?

BOOM: Yes, that's a great question. It's a very different scenario. We are seeing a much younger population on average and mostly unvaccinated individuals. More than 85 percent of people who get admitted are unvaccinated. And we're seeing that group of people with an age range that's about 14 years younger than we saw before.

Unfortunately, we are seeing some vaccinated individuals, they tend to be older, they tend to have underlying illness like transplant or cancer illness. And that's been very problematic. Of course, we're also seeing that group is an average age of 69, so versus 51 on the unvaccinated. So there's a big difference there.

But very importantly that group of older people are only using ICU about half as often as that group of younger people who are unvaccinated. So we're seeing milder disease even in a very sick older population of vaccinated individuals. The fundamental answer is get vaccinated, protect yourself, protect everyone else.

KING: And to that point, that's one of the goals of your mandate there, get your, you know, get your workers that you did effective in June. It's one of the reasons the President is going to speak today about federal workers. And we were looking around. We can put a map up of, you know, people fully vaccinated around the country as a percent of population.

You know, it varies from place to place. And you have, it's no coincidence, I'm sure you would agree that we have rising case counts in place -- cases are rising faster in places that had a lower vaccination rate, you say you see some evidence of an uptick now, that this past Monday was your highest vaccine day since mid May? Why do you think that is happening? Is it a fear factor? Is it public education? Is it common? Is it mandates? Is it everything? BOOM: I think it's probably a little bit of all of the above. But to be honest, I think the biggest issue is people now see how significant the Delta variant is that it is surging quickly. So if you go back a couple months ago, an individual might look at things and say, you know, I'm OK, everybody around me got vaccinated, things seem to be quiet, I'm going to hold off and now they're realizing that was a mistake. And now this is going wildly out of control.

Unfortunately, while we've seen an uptick, it's still not enough. We've seen an uptick for very low levels and up about 45 percent week over week, and now another 30 percent this week, but we got a long way to go. And we got a lot of people left to vaccinate. So we urge everybody, step up, roll up your sleeves, get vaccinated, protect yourself. Let's get out of this Delta surge and let's not have young people getting admitted to the hospital, getting sick and sometimes dying. It's all avoidable, and we need to work together to avoid that.


KING: Dr. Marc Boom. Thank you for your time today, Sir. Appreciate your hard work on this issue. We'll be right back.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today, cyber ninjas, that's the P.R. firm running the Sham 2020 election audit in Arizona raking in some big bucks last quarter, $5.7 million from conservative organizations linked to individuals who relentlessly promote the big lie including former National Security adviser, Michael Flynn, Trump election lawyer, Sidney Powell, and the former CEO, Patrick Byrne. Donations come on top of $150,000. The group was paid by the Arizona Senate.

A familiar face in the East making an appearance out west in California Governor Gavin Newsom's fight against the looming recall election.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): We've seen Trump Republicans across the country attacking election results and the right to vote. Now they're coming to grab power in California.


KING: That's Massachusetts Senator, of course, Elizabeth Warren, former presidential candidate, linking the recall directly to restrictive voting legislation supported by Republicans now across the country, including the former president.


Thanks for joining us in Inside Politics today. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up right now.