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Biden Pleads With Americans to Get Vaccine as Cases Spike; Standoff, GOP Yanks Panel Picks after Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Rejects Two. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 22, 2021 - 07:00   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: Hello, I'm Brianna Keilar alongside John Avlon. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It is Thursday, July 22nd.

And President Biden is pleading, right, he's pleading with unvaccinated Americans at this point to get with the program, roll up their sleeves in a live CNN town hall event that he had last night. And sources tell CNN the delta variant is spreading so quickly, the White House is actually discussing tougher masking guidance for the vaccinated.

JOHN AVLON, CNN NEW DAY: Potentially a very big news.

Also President Biden making a case for his economic and legislative agendas and a bipartisan investigation of the January 6th insurrection, but his primary focus was fighting the resurgence of coronavirus.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: It's real simple. We have a pandemic for those who haven't gotten a vaccination. It's that basic, that simple.

If you're vaccinated, you're not going to be hospitalized, you're not going to be in an ICU unit and you're not going to die.

There's legitimate questions people can ask that they worry about getting vaccinated, but the question should be asked, answered and people should get vaccinated.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: When will children under 12 be able to get vaccinated?

BIDEN: Soon, I believe.

They are doing the examinations now, the testing now and making the decision now.

The CDC is going to say that what we should do is everyone over the age of -- under the age of 12 should probably be wearing a mask in school. That's probably what's going to happen.

I don't care if you think I'm Satan reincarnated. The fact is you can't look at that television and say, nothing happened on the 6th. You can't listen to people who say this was a peaceful march.

What happens is the vote on Monday is a motion to be able to proceed to this issue. Then they're going to debate the issue of the individual elements of this plan to say, sure, we're going to fix that damn bridge of yours going into Kentucky.

Anyway, but I think it's going to get done.

The abuse of the filibuster is pretty overwhelming.

There's no reason to protect it other than you're going to throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done.

LEMON: Right.

BIDEN: Nothing at all will get done.

Never before has there been an attempt by state legislatures to take over the ability to determine who won. Not count the votes, determine who won.

I want to see the United States Congress, the United States Senate, pass S-1 and S-4, the John Lewis Act, get it to my desk so I can sign it.


AVLON: All right. Let's bring in Political Director David Chalian and CNN Political Commentator Michael Smerconish.

David, let me begin with you. I want to hear your top line takeaways, but I think the big news out of this, in many ways, the White House may be re-examining their mask guidelines. What do you think about that and its potential impact?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. Obviously, this is going to be a potential political pitfall that should indeed the administration move forward with that guidance, the CDC move forward with that guidance. You know, John, of course, that the administration is going to be on precarious ground to figure out how to do that without a revolt of vaccinated people across the country who were getting that shot with the belief that they were going to have freedom from the virus, freedom from some of these precautions that were in place.

It did not sound like they were going to go there fully yet last night, but I think it is part of why you heard, as Brianna referenced at the top, this plea. I mean, I thought that was a most stern sort of conversation the president had with the American people about getting a shot. I mean, he was out right sort of begging Americans who haven't gotten it to listen to all of the evidence that exists out there and go and get this shot because it has stalled, and that is a problem. KEILAR: You know, Michael, he's promising, clearly, what we heard last night freedom from dying from the virus, right? That's really what he's promising here, freedom from dying. And I wonder what are the pitfalls, as you see them, when he does have to navigate this?


And what would happen if the White House or, sorry, the Biden administration says, yes, you have to mask up again, and doesn't make it optional but actually says, hey, this is our guidance, we think if you're vaccinated and you're in these certain places where we told you before you could be unmasked, now you have to be masked?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he's saying all the right things, Brianna, but we've hit a wall. And no amount of argument from the president is going to get this job done. No more PSAs are going to get this job done because the people that he needs to reach just aren't listening and are stuck in their ways.

I don't like the idea of a mask mandate. To me, it's completely backwards. We aren't mandating vaccination for the unvaccinated but we're going to mandate masks for those who are vaccinated. I mean, maybe what the president needs to do at this stage is set an example and say to the 9 million federal employees, including all those who are military personnel, the same thing that CNN has said to all of us, if we want to come back to the workplace or the law firm where I'm associated has said to me, if I want to enter their space, you need to be vaccinated.

KEILAR: Yes. I think that's going to be a real possibility here once we see this not just be an emergency use authorization. That's what they're expecting. And also right now, the numbers in the military are actually significantly higher than the general population in the U.S. It's important to note that as well.

AVLON: Yes. And, David, I know one other moment really jumped out at you. I want to play that from President Biden and get your reaction.


BIDEN: The kinds of things that are being said of late, I think you're beginning to see some of the -- and Democrats as well -- sort of a venom sort of leak out of a lot of it. We got to get beyond this. What do you say to your grandchildren or your children about what's happening? Do you ever remember a time like this before in the entire history, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican? This is not who we are.

The rest of the world is wondering about us. Those of you who travel abroad, not a joke, not a joke, you ask -- when I went to this G7, all the major democracies, I walked in and I know a lot of them because of my role in the past. And they walked in and I said America is back. And they go -- I'm serious, heads of state, I give you my word as a Biden. They said, are you really back? I mean, how can -- we believe you, Joe. But will the country ever get it together?


AVLON: David, that's kind of devastating. I mean, my word as a Biden aside, the foreign leaders are still looking and saying, look, you guys have real problems and our trust in your stability by implication has been rocked. What was your read on that?

CHALIAN: Yes. When I listened to that answer last night, I thought, wow, that kind of encapsulates the entire sort of Biden rationale for being, his presidency, right, draining the venom in the partisan rancor that has so dominated our political culture, that was one piece of it, and trying to restore that image on the world stage. This, to me, when he was giving that answer in response to, you know, the events that occurred yesterday around the January 6th committee and if this is forever broken or not, he talked about his faith in the American people as to why he doesn't think it's broken.

And I just thought what you saw there was that battle for the soul of the nation that he campaigned on and how committed he still is to it as sort of the entire rationale of his presidency.

KEILAR: What do you think, Michael?

SMERCONISH: I think that the view from afar is much like the view that I have here at home, which is what's wrong with these people? They can't agree on how to fix their roads and their bridges. They had these tumultuous events on January the 6th, literally an attempted insurrection and can't even reach an accord as to how those events should be investigated.

I think as well that Speaker Pelosi is in a really difficult position, a Catch-22 with regard to the members who are Republicans, kind of damned if she does and damned if she doesn't, but I think she made the wrong political calculus and it would be better to have the Jim Jordans of the world inside the tent than outside the tent, shine a spotlight on exactly what it is they're saying and let the whole world watch instead of perpetuating the argument that they'll make, which is to say, see, it's all partisanship.

So, these are tough times. And I share the view that Joe Biden was explaining that he gets from abroad.

KEILAR: Gentlemen, stand by for me, if you would, because Biden also referenced a shift in tone in the GOP that we're seeing. There's many prominent Republicans who are coming out now encouraging Americans to get vaccinated.


Let's listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If you are vaccinated, fully vaccinated, the chance of you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID is effectively zero.

These vaccines are saving lives. They are reducing mortality.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): You do see about 95 to 98 percent of people in the hospital for COVID are people that are unvaccinated and I just -- I was ready to get the vaccine.

It's safe and effective. I took it. And I wanted to show the picture to just encourage people.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): This is not complicated. 97 percent of the people who are in the hospital now for COVID are unvaccinated. So if there's anybody out there willing to listen, get vaccinated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you have the chance, get the shot. But if you don't --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will save your life.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Just like we have been saying, please take COVID seriously. I can't say it enough. Enough people have died.


KEILAR: Like we've been saying. Fact-check, not like you have been saying. But that aside, you know, David, it is good to hear. It is good to hear that all of these folks are taking the side of science because, quite frankly, they want their constituents or their viewers to live. That's very important. But I wonder what you think about this because it seems like it might not make that much of a difference at this point.

CHALIAN: Well, it may make some difference certainly on the margins, Brianna. And, obviously, it's a battle now to get the unvaccinated vaccinated, as Michael was saying. I mean, we have seen in polling, right, that people say who are unvaccinated, they really have no plans to get the shot. So any convincing, especially in sort of an information echo chamber ecosystem that somebody may be swimming in to get reinforcing positive message to get the vaccine, I think we all should welcome that. Whatever minimal positive impact it may have, that's worth it.

KEILAR: One person it's worth it.

CHALIAN: Absolutely.

KEILAR: That one person, we know that.

AVLON: Because this disinformation can literally be deadly.

Michael, I want to give you the last word. Speaking on behalf of independence, as you do, I wonder what you make of this very recent sea change among many Republican leaders and whether it's motivated by political calculation as well as humanitarian concern because it is stark and it seems swift.

SMERCONISH: Yes. It's a little too little too late, as they say. I mean, the one statistic that I've been repeating is the fact -- and this is just one illustration, that last week in L.A. County, every person hospitalized for a COVID-related ailment was unvaccinated. In other words, there was no one hospitalized in all of L.A. County last week for COVID-related ailment who had the vaccine. That's the one fact that I've shared on radio, on television and with anybody in my orbit who is unvaccinated.


AVLON: That sort of says it all.

KEILAR: That's all you need to know.

AVLON: Really important information to get out particularly as folks deal with some of this confusion. Michael and David, thank you.

KEILAR: Just wish that these folks had started saying this sooner. It could have made more of a difference.

Ahead, we'll speak live with the newlywed couple that asked Biden about hesitancy in the black community when it comes to the vaccine.

AVLON: Plus a standoff erupts as Republicans poll their picks for the January 6th committee after Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejects two of them.

And new audio surfaces of Donald Trump trying to whitewash the insurrection again and defending his actions that led to that riot.



KEILAR: There's a standoff in the House as Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy blasts Speaker Pelosi for rejecting two of his five appointed members to the committee to investigate the January 6th insurrection.

Joining us now to talk about this is former Virginia Congressman Denver Riggleman. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us for this.

I just wonder as you're looking at how this developed, he put forward five picks, three of whom had questioned the election results, two of those Nancy Pelosi nixed and he pulled everybody from the committee. What is your take on where things stand right now?

FMR. REP. DENVER RIGGLEMAN (R-VA): Well, I think this is what maybe, you know, Kevin wanted, that now he has the ability to say this is completely partisan, even though it's not. And when I saw this, I was mildly surprised that Nancy pulled off those members but she's in a damned if you do damned if you don't sort of situation.

I even look at this politically, I would want the people that I think enemies sort of on the inside figuratively as we go through this, but on the other hand, it's going to be politicized anyhow with sort of partisan rhetoric, so an impossible situation.

Now that you're going to see Republicans, GOP will try to paint this as partisan, Democrats are going to try to move toward the middle a little bit and try to make sure that this looks like something that's completely facts based, which it needs to be. It needs to be nonpartisan. And I think Liz was spot on. I think there's been so much disingenuous chatter on this that we just need to move forward and make sure this happens.

KEILAR: Liz Cheney backed the speaker on this, right? She essentially said that those two members who were yanked should have been disqualified. But I wonder, you know, politics aside, let's just say what's best for America here, which I don't know that we hear a lot of in Washington, but what would have been best? Would it have been okay, do you think, to have Jim Jordan and Jim Banks on this committee so that at least Americans could hear what a significant chunk of the country believes?

RIGGLEMAN: I think it would have been okay. I think that goes back to whatever the political calculation is for Republicans or Democrats right now. And I'm to the point, Brianna, that I don't care about the political calculation.


I think Americans need to hear the truth and they need to hear the facts.

They need -- they don't need politics and professionalism to be mutually exclusive. I think they need individuals that are pretty good at parsing through bull shit. I think that's what they need. They need data specific individuals and facts-based individuals. And I think to have those -- to have Jim and Jim on the committee, I don't think it was an awful thing, but I also believe it would have been politicized anyhow.

And that's the thing, Brianna, is that, at this point, I think they just need to move forward. And I think that's why Liz was so vocal last night. And I think that's why other individuals understood this was already politicized.

But, again, Brianna, you bring up a great point. It's sort of -- right, it's, what is it, six in one hand, half dozen in the other. How do you actually play this when the bipartisan commission was already rejected by the Republicans, which was a surprise to me, when they only had 35 votes? We already had a chance to have a completely bipartisanship, and that was lost by the GOP.

However, I think Nancy had a chance to have these individuals on the inside, but, again, it's a political calculation, because you wonder if they were going to just politicize it anyhow. So, it's a very difficult question to answer. But I still think we go forward and do this.

KEILAR: On the topic of -- and, look, and, to be clear, Liz Cheney, there is a Republican voice on this committee. It's Liz Cheney.

RIGGLEMAN: There is.

KEILAR: She's picked by the speaker, Pelosi, one that Kevin McCarthy may not be happy about.

On the topic of January 6th, there, of course, is a new book out by Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker about, really, Donald Trump and his administration, writ large, but there's a fascinating moment sound of him talking to them about how he saw that crowd on January 6th. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you hope they would do when you said, go up there and stop the steal?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, I heard that people wanted to go down to -- that wasn't my rally, per se. There were a lot of people that spoke. They had rallies the night before. They had speakers all over the city. You had hundreds of thousands of people. I would venture to say -- I think it was the largest crowd I've ever spoken before. It went from that point, which is almost at the White House, to beyond the Washington monument. It was -- and wide. And --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But if you could have waved your wand --

TRUMP: And it was a loving crowd too, by the way. There was a lot of love. I've heard that from everybody, many, many people. That was a loving crowd. And you know, it was too bad, it was too bad that -- you know, that they did -- but my statement --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But, Mr. President, I apologize, what we're trying to understand is not blame, not castigate.

TRUMP: No, I understand that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to understand what did you want when you said go up there? What would you have dreamed for them to do?

TRUMP: I would have said to them that you will show not to go in although, they were ushered in by the police. I mean, in all fairness the Capitol Police were ushering people in. The Capitol Police were very friendly. They were hugging and kissing. You don't see that. But plenty of tape on that too, because the Capitol Police were -- that's the way it is.

But, I wanted -- I mean, personally, what I wanted is what they wanted. They showed up just to show support because I happen to believe the election was rigged at a level like nothing has ever been rigged before. There's tremendous proof. There's tremendous proof. Statistically, it wasn't even possible that he won. I mean, things such as if you win Florida and Ohio and Iowa, there's never been a loss.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did you need better lawyers? Because they took it to court because they didn't give --

TRUMP: No, we needed better judges.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KEILAR: All right. That whole last bit, I will say, was a load of, as my grandfather would say, pucky, right? That was just not true. But I wonder, he talks about this -- I know there's worse words. I'm trying just to be creative, I guess. Look at this loving crowd, Denver. He talks about a loving crowd. We're watching video of that loving crowd. What do you think about what you heard him say there?

RIGGLEMAN: I would say officer Fanone wouldn't define this as a loving crowd. I think I remember he said, hugging and kissing, I don't think the 140 individuals that were injured, law enforcement would say this is loving, you know, or hugging and kissing or whatever that ridiculousness is. And if this was such a loving crowd, I don't think the president or anybody would be that against any type of investigation, right, Brianna? This is loving, if this wasn't his rally, why is anybody worried?

And that's where people like me sort of come in who have been in intelligence, who have been counterterrorism, who looked at this from a domestic terrorism lens and data, if this is hugging and loving, we have a real problem in the United States. This is not how I dated my wife obviously, right? And so, I mean, those are some of the things we have to look at. But to listen to that ridiculousness is very difficult for people who look at this on a facts-based analytical way because that's really just -- it's just tripe what President Trump was saying in that interview.


KEILAR: Yes. Maybe he believes violence perpetrated in his name is a way to show love to him, but that's obviously pretty perverted, I would say.

RIGGLEMAN: It doesn't make any sense.

KEILAR: No. Congressman, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

RIGGLEMAN: Thank you so much, Brianna. I appreciate it.

KEILAR: And new this morning, President Biden is sending in strike forces to fight violent crimes. We're going to talk to the administration about what that means, what the plan is, next.

AVLON: And the truth about COVID vaccines. We'll to sort out the facts from the fiction.


KEILAR: Just in to CNN, the Biden Justice Department is deploying strike forces to combat violent crime.


They're going to be based in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, the San Francisco Bay Area.