Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

President Biden Encourages Americans to Get Vaccinated against Coronavirus During Townhall; White House May be Considering Recommending Mask Mandates Even for Vaccinated Due to Delta Variant Spread; Republicans Removed from House Panel on January 6th Capitols Riots; Interview with Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI). Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 22, 2021 - 08:00   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, I'm Brianna Keilar alongside John Avlon. Good morning to viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is Thursday, July 22nd. We're almost there, right, Thursday.

AVLON: I'm having a great time just start of Thursday.

KEILAR: A wonderful week.

The next few days and weeks, though, could make or break Joe Biden's presidency after just six months after the job. In a live CNN townhall in Cincinnati, President Biden seemed to be mindful of this. He made a desperate plea, really the most desperate plea that he has made to unvaccinated Americans to get their shots. The Delta variant is spreading so quickly that the White House is discussing whether tougher masking guidance is needed for the vaccinated.

AVLON: The president also made a plea for a bipartisan investigation of the January 6th Capitol riot. And he pushed for his economic and legislative agenda as well. But his primary focus is ramping up the vaccination rate and crushing COVID for good.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's real simple. We have a pandemic for those who haven't gotten the 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 the ICU unit, and you're not going to die.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will children under 12 be able to get vaccinated? BIDEN: Soon, I believe.

They are doing, they are doing examinations now, the testing now, and making the decision now. The CDC is going to say that what you 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 sixth. 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 elements, the individual elements of this plan to say, sure, we're going to fix that damn bridge of yours going into Kentucky.


BIDEN: 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. 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, United States Senate, pass S-1 and S-4, the John Lewis Act, get it on my desk so I can sign it.


KEILAR: Joining us now, CNN senior political analyst and "USA Today" columnist Kirsten Powers, as well as CNN national political reporter Maeve Reston. Let's, if we can, talk about what I think is the headline coming out of this, and that is how they are addressing COVID for vaccinated people and what it's going to mean, discussions we've learned underway for possibly telling vaccinated people to get masks? What do you think?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I guess idea is everybody would wear masks, right. But the problem is a lot of the people who need to be wearing the masks are the unvaccinated people, won't wear the masks. And so then we have a situation where all the people who are vaccinated are wearing masks. And I don't really understand how that's going to solve the problem.

I think that, personally, I don't understand why they don't have a vaccine mandate. I just -- at this point this is, this is out of control. It's been out of control for a long time, but we have a vaccine, and we all know, and Joe Biden talked about this last night, that if you have a vaccine, even if you catch it, which is very unlikely, you're almost definitely not going to die, that the hospitals are filled with people who aren't vaccinated. And so to tell us to wear masks just isn't going to solve the problem. KEILAR: The problem, I will say with the mask issue, and I totally

take your point on that, right. I totally understand that. But we've had doctors on as we're trying to get to this answer, hey, if you are vaccinated and you are a breakthrough case, can you spread it? They say yes, they think you can. They think you can. There's not a ton of data. It's much less likely, but what about for people who are around folks who cannot get vaccinated, like small children?

POWERS: I think the people -- I would certainly be willing to wear a mask even though I'm vaccinated. But my point is the people who are most likely to be spreading it are the people who refuse to wear masks in the first place.


AVLON: That's right. It's this connection between being antivaccine and anti-mask under the auspices of freedom. But it becomes the freedom to infect the rest of you. And this becomes a real problem.

But I just want to put all this, because the breakthrough stuff is big. It is bigger than we realized. We're still figuring out the facts on it. What we know to be true is that in the last month we've seen a three-x increase in cases, a doubling of hospitalizations, overwhelmingly from the unvaccinated.

So here's my question to you. This is clearly going to be some clarification from the White House, but if they go forward and try to reimpose mask mandates or recommend mask mandates for the vaccinated, do you think that runs a real risk of a blowback, not only among the vaccinated, but people saying, see, even if I got the vaccine I'd have to wear a mask, and so therefore I'm not going to bother?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: For sure. And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis talked about this this week, saying you don't want to disincentivize people from actually going out and getting the vaccine. But what I felt that the president really didn't capture last night is this kind of sense of terror among parents once again, as we're watching these cases rise, where we don't know what the long haul effects are on children. We don't know how easily we can spread it to our children.

And in L.A. County we are fully masked again. And it's just a moment where I felt last night like his kind of sunny talk about people just need to get vaccinated, all of us have friends who are vaccine resistant, vaccine hesitant. And it just feels like we haven't seen the plan yet from the White House to really attack the sources of disinformation and misinformation and get those people vaccinated.

And I think everyone is scrambling again, thinking, what am I going to do when my kids are out of school in the fall? How am I going to handle this? And for Biden that's a big problem because the underpinning of his approval ratings have been his -- the approval of his handling of COVID. And I just don't know if he was fully connecting with the fear that some of us are feeling again.

KEILAR: Especially for women who are disproportionately bearing the brunt of childcare when things get interrupted with school. It was interesting to hear the president not giving up on bipartisanship. Let's listen to this moment.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The well has been so poisoned over the last four years, and even now there is still this lingering effort. A lot of my Republican friends -- and I'm not talking about Portman, I'm not talking about your governor -- a lot of my Republican friends say, Joe, I know you're right, but if I do this I'll get primaried, and I'll lose my primary. I'll be in trouble. But I think that's all beginning to move.


KEILAR: Is it beginning to move? What do you think?

RESTON: I'm not seeing that. Are you? Again, he's sort of the eternal optimist, and that's what people like about him. But anybody who is out there covering politics and talking to voters, fresh coming off of CPAC, it just doesn't feel that way at all. It just feels as though things are getting further and further apart. And when you see these battles like we did this week over the January 6th commission or the -- there is some movement certainly on infrastructure. We'll see where that lands. But you have to appreciate his optimism, but I don't know if that's the real situation that we're seeing on the ground.

AVLON: The Ted Lasso of American politics.

RESTON: That's So true. It's exactly that.


AVLON: A defiant optimism in the face of daunting cynicism. But do you think that actually -- we're at a moment with infrastructure. If he could get that through, that could be a real win, not only for the cause of bipartisanship, but also his agenda and the economy.

POWERS: Yes, I think it is possible, and I think it would be wonderful. But there are really existential things that we're facing obviously with the pandemic, with voting rights, things that honestly at this point in my opinion require raw power. I just, I think this kind of sunny optimism thing is not really what we're needing right now. We're just needing more Pelosi-style raw power, because -- does anybody really think that if the Republicans get back in control, they're not going to get rid of the filibuster? I'm sorry. We need Mitch McConnell style raw power, frankly, if we're being totally honest, right.

It's not -- I think that Joe Biden, on the one hand, is absolutely the man for this moment because he really -- he's obviously a grown up. He has tons of experience. I think he's very reassuring and all of those other things. But he has faith in an institution that no longer exists. And so I think to have some sort of reality around that, that there are things that if they're not dealt with -- again, they are existential threats to this country. [08:10:08]

KEILAR: Interesting. It's not Joe Biden's Senate anymore.

POWERS: Yes, exactly.

RESTON: And what's next after infrastructure? Can you guys think of anything else where there's a real chance of bipartisanship?

AVLON: Police reform is still theoretically out there with an end of July deadline, but people aren't really talking about that right now for a reason.

All right, it's wonderful to have you both on set.

OK, up next, the January 6th panel, it's falling apart among partisan bickering in the House. And we'll get reaction from a lawmaker who is still feeling the effects of the Capitol attack to this day.

KEILAR: Plus, breakthrough COVID infections. We will talk to one couple now sick despite being fully vaccinated.

And the final countdown to the summer Olympics, what's it like in Tokyo on the eve of these very different games?


AVLON: The bipartisan House probe of the January 6th insurrection is falling apart this morning after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's picks, Congressman Jim Jordan and Jim Banks, who for months attacked the probe they were supposed to help lead. In turn, McCarthy went his own way, yanking all five Republican members from the select committee, adding that the GOP will run its own investigation into that deadly day.

Joining us now, Congressman Dan Kildee, chief deputy whip for the House Democratic Caucus, and he was also diagnosed with PTSD as a result of the January 6th attack.


Congressman, good to see you.

REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): Thank you.

AVLON: This is kind of a catch-22.

KILDEE: It is.

AVLON: You knew that Republicans were going to put people who bought into the big lie, voted to de-certify the election. The question is now that Pelosi pulled the two and McCarthy said, we're not participating at all, did she just fall into a trap set by the Republicans?

KILDEE: Well, first of all, it was a tough call. I support the decision that the speaker made. I understand arguments on both sides. It was a tough call and she made the decision.

The problem isn't that Nancy Pelosi had to make this choice. The problem is that we have a Republican conference that has gone completely off the rails. Kevin McCarthy leads or follows a once great party that has lost its soul.

This is a party that has become a cult of personality around one guy, one guy. And if you think about what's going on right now, what they fear is that the truth about Donald Trump, the truth about the supporters of Mr. Trump who attacked the Capitol will be made plain to the American people.

Why don't we just all agree that we're going to seek the truth? I can't understand how this party has gone from being a party that I opposed, a party with whom I have big differences, but one for which I had some respect and it's turned into a clown car. It's a shame.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: That's where we are. This is -- Republicans are committed writ large to the big lie, or at least enabling it. And McCarthy is now saying that he'll run his own investigation.

I wonder how you see that as better than having a Jim Jordan and a Jim Banks despite the rhetoric on this committee?

KILDEE: And, again, it's a tough call. But I think at the end of it all, if we're going to have a committee to examine the facts, we have to have people who are committed to facts. And to have two people who have made it their business to ignore reality, to pretend that gravity does not exist, to invite them into the room where we're supposed to have a serious conversation about the worst attack on the United States Capitol since the war of 1812, something that I personally experienced along with all my Democratic and Republican colleagues, and we know that this was a real attack, that it was not some walk through the Capitol by a bunch of tourists as some of these Republicans have described it.

We can't have people who are not committed to truth on a panel that is intended to find truth. And that's what Mr. McCarthy seemed to want to do.

AVLON: Yeah, this is -- not 9/11 truthers on the 9/11 commission.

KILDEE: Excellent point.

AVLON: But -- and I say that as someone who worked for the mayor of New York at the time, a Republican.

Listen, you talk about the tourism charge that has been leveled by some of your colleagues. We have new audio of former President Trump saying in an interview from last March -- late March, that the insurrection crowd was loving. I want you to listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: It was a loving crowd, too, by the way. There was a lot of love. I heard that from everybody, many, many people told me that was a loving crowd. In all fairness, the Capital Police were ushering people in. The Capitol police were very friendly. They were hugging and kissing. You don't see that.


AVLON: You're still suffering from PTSD from that day. What does hearing ex-President Trump say the crowd was loving make you feel?

KILDEE: I mean, we are being re-traumatized every time one of these people whether Trump or Jim Jordan or Jim Banks, any of these folks try to paper over an attack where we felt our lives were at risk, where 140 officers of the law were injured by this mob with the intent to kill. And the idea that it was a loving picnic that President Trump describes is -- it's an offense to those of us who experienced this, and especially the staff and the officers who went through this, who continue to struggle. It's an offense against them.

But it also just says how far we've gone. The fact that we're having this conversation about a president of the United States of America who plainly denies facts in front of his very face is a pretty frightening moment for us.

I don't know how to be more hyperbolic about it. He's gone nuts. He's gone nuts, and he was the president of the United States. Thank God he's no longer president.

AVLON: I mean, it is delusional, as you say, but also to see and feel the pain that you and the people who suffered through --



AVLON: -- feel when you hear him say it's loving.

KILDEE: It's not easy. And for those of us that have had some difficulty getting through it, because we literally experienced an attack on our lives, had to hide on the floor of the gallery of the House of Representatives, only were able to get out as a result of officers being willing to put their lives at risk to save us, and then to have him describe this in that fashion and have other members of Congress try to pretend that it really wasn't what it was, when they themselves experienced it.

It's not like they were casual observers and sort of caught it on CNN while they were flipping through the channels. They were there, too. They were there, too.

And then that night, it only took them a few hours to begin their amnesia. That night, two-thirds of them voted still to de-certify an election that we all know was a legitimate election.

This is how far the Republican Party has fallen. We need two great parties in this country and we don't have that right now.

KEILAR: Congressman Dan Kildee, thank you so much for joining us in studio today. Really appreciate it.

KILDEE: Thank you.

KEILAR: They got the vaccine. They still got COVID. Coming up, one couple shares their story of their breakthrough infections.

AVLON: And new vaccine rules for some college athletes.



AVLON: Nevada is quickly emerged as the latest coronavirus hot spot with cases and hospitalizations surging, but interest in vaccines plateauing.

State officials are stressing that the risk to the unvaccinated Nevadans is more than ever before.

CNN's Ed Lavandera live in Reno, Nevada, with more -- Ed.


Well, if you look at the graph tracking the new cases here in Nevada, it looks almost exactly to what we saw a year ago, the first surge. That's why medical experts and health officials here in this state are concerned about what's coming next.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): The COVIDovid-19 vaccine sparks passionate barbershop banter inside the Fade 'Em All shop in North Las Vegas.

In the last month, owner Robert Taylor says three of his barbers and his business partner were infected with COVID-19. Taylor and another barber got the virus last year. None were vaccinated. It was a wake up call.

So Taylor decided to turn his barbershop into a vaccination site.

Taylor partnered with state health officials to offer vaccine shots to clients coming in for a haircut.

ROBERT TAYLOR, OWNER, FADE 'EM ALL BARBERSHOP: The barbershop is a place of transparency, truth, debates, and brotherhood.

LAVANDERA: Taylor says he wins them over with trusted voices and easing their fears.

TAYLOR: Like, you got people who will say, well, it's not 100 percent -- nothing is 100 percent. It's not 100 percent, but I make it home when I leave this barber shop and put on my seat belt.

LAVANDERA: The average number of newly daily coronavirus cases has jumped from 132 in early June to almost 700. And the average daily number of hospitalizations has shot up from 178 in mid June to more than 900. Medical experts say this surge is driven almost entirely by unvaccinated people.


LAVANDERA: Dr. Shadaba Asad is the director of infectious diseases at University Medical Center in Las Vegas. Only 40 percent of the Nevada population is fully vaccinated, and with that Dr. Asad offers an ominous warning.

ASAD: It's just a matter of time before you're going to come across a variant where your vaccines do not provide that degree of protection. So, unvaccinated people pose a huge threat to the rest of us who are vaccinated because they're literally a breeding ground for new variants.

LAVANDERA: In Reno, where the vaccination rate is higher than the state average, the lines at the main vaccine site have dwindled. At the peak, they were administering 2800 doses per day. It's under 150 now. Health officials say people spreading misinformation are hampering vaccination efforts.

KEVIN DICK, HEALTH OFFICER, WASHOE COUNTY DISTRICT: Our country is not united. Battling COVID-19 is bad enough, but having to battle one another to try to overcome that virus I think is terrible.

LAVANDERA: To motivate the unvaccinated, the state is holding weekly lottery drawings. They're literally paying people to get vaccinated, and even those events have been interrupted by anti-vaccine hecklers.

TAYLOR: I want you to live and be healthy.

LAVANDERA: At the barbershop, vaccine skeptics like Darrius Voyeur who just recovered from COVID are quickly becoming vaccine believers.

DARRIUS VOYEUR, BARBER: Man, I wouldn't do that to nobody. Whew, that was some tough days.

LAVANDERA: He says he's already received his first shot and Dillard Scott says sitting in Robert Taylor's barber chair after the coronavirus killed two of his cousins was the turning point for him to get vaccinated.

DILLARD A. SCOTTT, BARBERSHOP CLIENT: I struggled whether or not to vaccinate. When it takes family out like that, you're forced to look at the options you have both as a family and also as individuals to not only protect yourself, but to protect others.

LAVANDERA: Last year, Taylor says the pandemic forced him to close his barber shop for almost four months. Now he worries about what might happen as the resurgence of the coronavirus spreads across the unvaccinated in Nevada.


LAVANDERA (on camera): And, John, it is chilling to hear the doctor talk about how the unvaccinated are a breeding ground for new variants of this disease. She said it puts vaccinated people in the long term possibly at risk.

It is so dire here that the health and human services secretary will be visiting Las Vegas, the most -- Clark County, the most populous in the county. FEMA has sent surge teams to help increase the rate of vaccination here in the state.