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48 States Report Rise in Cases, Three States Account 40 Percent of Cases; Growing GOP Group Wants Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) Punished for Joining Panel; Feud Intensifies Between Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Ahead of January 6 Hearing. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired July 26, 2021 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: An the top commander in Afghanistan with a message to the Taliban as U.S. forces head home.
BERMAN: And the stunning defeat for the U.S. basketball team in Tokyo, so who's to blame here?
KEILAR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It is Monday, July 26th.
And this morning coronavirus is on the rise in 48 of 50 states. These are the worst hot spots over the past week. That is Arkansas that you see there in red. And despite having one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson says vaccine mandates are off the table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): There's two mandates that are possible. One would be a vaccine mandate. We're not going to do that because that would even cause a greater reaction of negativity toward the government and that imposition on freedom.
Secondly, would be a mandate for wearing a mask. It is a conservative principle to allow for local control. That is a fair discussion about it. And that's something we're going to have to continue to weigh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Now, there is some hopeful news. Vaccination rates ticking up slightly here in the last week as this delta variant is spreading.
BERMAN: The White House says that three states now account for 40 percent of all new infections, Texas, Florida and Missouri. Starting today, St. Louis will require masks in public indoor places and on public transportation. But Missouri's Republican attorney general says he will sue to block the mandate.
Suzanne Malveaux in St. Louis tracking the latest developments for us. Good morning, Suzanne. SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. There really is a sense of urgency and unease among health officials and political officials as they try again to prepare those folks in St. Louis to mask up. We have heard from the mayor's, as well as the county executives, they say it's an issue of public safety, of health, that this is a dire situation, but the pushback has already been fierce.
You have Missouri attorney general saying that he is going to sue. Several of the city mayors saying they will not enforce this mask mandate. They are framing this as an issue of personal responsibility and freedom.
MALVEAUX (voice over): Here in St. Louis, masks will be required indoors and on public transportation starting today regardless of vaccination status. Local officials are also strongly encouraging wearing masks outdoors. The changes in safety guidelines come as the coronavirus surges nationwide.
As the virus spreads, vaccination rates within the state of Missouri are at less than 41 percent. That's one of the lowest rates in the country.
DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: COVID is spreading very rapidly through Missouri. Something has to be done. Either you close businesses down, and certainly there's no political will to do that, or you get more people vaccinated.
MALVEAUX: New Orleans is now under an indoor mask advisory put in place as Louisiana experiences a large uptick in new cases and low vaccination rates. Just over 36 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.
The number of people receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is also low in Arkansas. The governor says he will not require masks in the state.
HUTCHINSON: And I really think it's important not to have the current debate about mask wearing but to have the current emphasis on getting a vaccine. And so that's the singular focus we have, even though our guidelines continue to say, if you're not vaccinated, you should wear a mask.
MALVEAUX: Less than half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, and the nation's top infectious disease doctor warns that's not nearly enough.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Particularly when you have a variant like delta, which has this extraordinary characteristic of being able to spread very efficiently and very easily from person to person.
MALVEAUX: Now with the delta variant, new coronavirus cases are on the rise, sending mostly the unvaccinated into the hospital. In California, Los Angeles County reported its highest number of new cases since February. And over 700 COVID related hospitalizations for the first time since March.
DR. PAUL HOLTOM, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, LAC/USC MEDICAL CENTER: That is the people who are vaccinated now seem to have high level protection. The people we're seeing, the numbers that are increasing are all among people who have not gotten the vaccine.
It's young people now who are coming in very sick.
MALVEAUX: Dr. Anthony Fauci pleading with Americans to protect themselves against the disease as hospitals become filled with COVID- 19 patients once again.
FAUCI: It's really an outbreak among the unvaccinated.
MALVEAUX (on camera): And I've spoken with many of those unvaccinated in Louisiana on Saturday, here in St. Louis as well, many different personal reasons. But I did meet a bus driver who changed her mind, got vaccinated, wanted to protect her grandchildren, and so you hear many different kinds of stories about why people are starting to change their minds about this.
In the meantime, city officials later this morning will hold a press conference here to try to explain how this mask mandate is going to work. John?
BERMAN: Good for that bus driver. We're happy for her and her family, a wise decision. Thank you for being there, Suzanne Malveaux.
KEILAR: With schools preparing to reopen here in the coming weeks, there has been a lot of debate around vaccines and masking, but there's another hot topic emerging, and that is COVID testing. Some school officials are debating how often to test students, if at all.
CNN Health Reporter Jacqueline Howard is joining us now. Jacqueline, tell us about this debate.
JACQUELINE HOWRAD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: It's interesting, Brianna. Really, at the core of this debate, some schools say that they don't have the time and the staffing to conduct routine testing. But what we're seeing so far, most states are taking one of three approaches to testing. There's screening programs, and that's where everyone in the school is tested, let's say, on a weekly basis.
And then there's diagnostic testing, and that's to diagnose only those showing symptoms. So, only those showing symptoms are tested to determine whether they have COVID-19 or something else, like the common cold.
And then there's pooled testing, and, Brianna, this is growing in popularity. Pool testing is where everyone in the school submits a nasal swab sample or a saliva sample. Those samples are tested in groups or batches. If one batch tests negative, then no one has COVID- 19. If one batch tests positive, someone in that group has COVID, and the samples are tested individually to find out who that person is.
Now, back in March, the Department of Health Human Services contributed about $10 billion to states to help implement testing in schools. And now, the White House says it's advocating for funding for other mitigation measures as well.
Here is White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: From the federal government, the role we have played is by advocating for funding in the American rescue plan that can help provide funding for mitigation measures for schools so that they can invest in social distancing opportunities or repairing vents that need to improve ventilation. We'll also -- we've also put out public health guidance from the CDC that includes specific mitigation measures that schools can take.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD: So, you see, Brianna, this testing debate is happening within the broader back to school conversation.
KEILAR: Yes, they have to do something, right? Children are unvaccinated largely for the younger ones. And there are a lot of Americans who are unvaccinated and we're seeing this surge going into the school year. Jacqueline, thank you so much.
BERMAN: Around 98 percent of employees at Houston Methodist Hospital System are fully vaccinated, that is because vaccines are mandatory for workers there. That's a big help now that Texas is among the states experiencing alarming rise in new cases and hospitalizations.
Joining us now, President and CEO of Houston Methodist Hospital System, Dr. Marc Boom. Doctor, thank you so much for being with us.
What difference has your vaccine requirement made?
DR. MARC BOOM, PRESIDENT AND CEO, HOUSTON METHODIST HOSPITAL SYSTEM: Oh, I'm so pleased that we did the vaccine mandate and so thankful to all of our employees for stepping up and getting vaccinated. You know, we announced the mandate on March 31st.
It went into full effect on June 7th. So we have the unique position of being really one of only a couple of hospital systems in the entire United States who has completed their vaccine mandate. And we know going into a pretty significant surge that we will see far fewer of our employees sick and we will see our patients be much safer than they would be otherwise.
So, really, our people are fulfilling their sacred obligation to care for our patients and to keep them safe during a pandemic.
BERMAN: You say prepared for a surge. You're seeing something of a surge right now. Tell us what's going on in your hospitals. BOOM: Yes. Unfortunately, we're seeing really, really rapid rates of increase, really, as fast as we've seen throughout the entire pandemic. Put it in perspective, two weeks ago across our system, we had about 105 patients. Today, we have 302, so almost a tripling in just a two-week period. Most of our indicators are up four to five times.
So, for example, at the low point in early June, we were admitting nine patients a day to the hospital. Yesterday, we admitted 66. And over the last seven days, it's been over 50 a day. So we're fully projecting that our numbers will continue to increase pretty quickly. Right now, unfortunately, there's no end in sight.
BERMAN: Who are these people getting sick?
BOOM: By and large, the unvaccinated. About 85 to 90 percent of individuals that we see have not received any vaccine, whatsoever.
So they are unvaccinated and at risk. Unfortunately, that 10 to 15 percent are vaccinated. The vast majority of those individuals have very significant underlying illnesses, things like cancer, things like transplant, or other things that might have impaired their immune system. So, there are people who probably didn't mount an effective immune response to the vaccine. They're the very people we should all be working together to protect and, unfortunately, we're letting them down.
I can tell you personally, I still practice. I had a patient of mine. We've been protecting all along because we're worried about him who got admitted with coronavirus this weekend, and made for a very bad weekend for his family, obviously, upset me a great deal. And that was 100 percent preventable. And that's the story here.
The reason it's 100 percent preventable is that the unvaccinated are getting sick and they're making some of the vaccinated sick. We need to get everybody vaccinated. We need to be careful. We need to implement a lot of the safeguards in our society so we can bring this back down.
BERMAN: I'm sorry to hear about that. Well, sorry to hear about anyone getting sick but that one patient you say you were personally working very hard.
The idea of the unvaccinated letting us down, talk to me more about that because that's something that we started to hear last week from political figures as well.
BOOM: You know, when I talk to our frontline staff, I was talking to the head of our ICUs, I can't tell you how frustrated these individuals are. They've worked like crazy for 18 months. They swear to care for patients who are ill and they're there every single day, including now to do that. But now they're watching this fourth surge in Houston and they are caring for people by and large who are unvaccinated. And those people express tremendous regret. They're seeing stories of entire families who get infected and the young people do okay and the older people don't. And then nobody can see their loved ones again as they are critically ill and sometimes passing away.
This is heart wrenching for an ICU physician, for a nurse, for others who are sworn to care for patients and they are so frustrated because they see this as completely preventable. So, we talk about this being a pandemic of the unvaccinated.
It's also a pandemic right now of the ill-informed. There is so much misinformation that we need to combat. It's also a pandemic of the indifferent, people who just are sick of it, want to do something else and, frankly, the irresponsible as well at times, people who simply flaunt the rules, flaunt protections and don't want to act like we're in a pandemic. We need to go back to some of the things we know that work.
BERMAN: It's the optional portion of the pandemic. Right now, the pandemic is happening in the way it is because of the choices people are making.
Just, finally, I want to go back to mandates. Let's circle back towards the beginning. This is something you have done obviously because you are a medical business. How effective do you think vaccine mandates could be? I'm not talking about federal mandates or necessarily even statewide mandates, but businesses, you know, schools, mandating vaccines for people who walk through their doors. What would you say to them?
BOOM: Well, hospitals are a unique business. And, unfortunately, most hospitals took too long to do this and are not benefiting from this. And I'm hopeful that many, many more will follow suit soon. It gets a lot more complicated when you talk about other institutions. I think, honestly, it is the decision of an individual business based on their individual risk factors and the type of their business.
I would certainly like to see certain businesses doing that to protect their clientele, to protect their business itself, to know that their people will be there to care for and to carry out the work of the business. But that's a very complex issue.
BERMAN: Listen, Dr. Marc Boom, thank you for the work you're doing. We appreciate you joining us this morning. Best to you and everyone who works with you.
BOOM: Thank you.
BERMAN: Republican Adam Kinzinger named to the January 6th select committee. That is not sitting well with other members of the Republican Party.
We're live outside the courtHouse as another Trump ally goes before a judge.
KEILAR: And later, hardwood heartbreak, a shocking defeat for the U.S. men's Olympic basketball team. Who is getting the blame here?
KEILAR: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has appointed Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger to the special committee investigating that is the January 6th Capitol insurrection. And now, a growing group of GOP House members want Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to punish Kinzinger and Congresswoman Liz Cheney for joining the panel.
CNN's Melanie Zanona with us now. Mel what do they want?
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: So, a growing number of Republicans are calling for Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger to be kicked off their other committee assignments for agreeing to join the January 6th select panel. Now, there was murmurs over this last week, but those calls really started to grow yesterday after Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Kinzinger to join this panel.
CNN's Ryan Nobles and I were both hearing from members and aides and sources who were saying, this is getting to a point where we're going to potentially push leadership on this.
Now, Kevin McCarthy and GOP leaders actually don't have much of an appetite to go this route for a number of reasons. One of them being that Speaker Nancy Pelosi technically just reappoint them to those committees any way. However, the right flank is seen as a very important constituency for Kevin McCarthy who wants to be speaker one day. And at the end of the day, he might feel like he has no choice but to go ahead with this route if his members are pushing him to do it.
So, it's something we're keeping an eye on. The members come back today. They've been out of town. They'll have a meeting tomorrow. So, we're going to keep an eye on it, for sure.
KEILAR: They have some pretty plum committee assignments, we should, right, these Republicans.
ZANONA: House Armed Services. These are big committee assignments for them. But at the end of the day, I talked to Cheney and Kinzinger about it. And they say, we're not worried about this threat from McCarthy, and so they're definitely brushing it aside.
KEILAR: So, look, it's not a surprise perhaps that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy don't get along that well, but I know you have some new reporting about their relationship or lack thereof.
ZANONA: Right. I mean, it was never great before. They didn't do a lot of communicating. It was mostly done on the staff level. Kevin McCarthy usually communicates with Steny Hoyer, his majority leader, but their relationship is now in the downright gutter. And CNN's Manu Raju and I have some new reporting about a very heated phone call that took place last week when Speaker Nancy Pelosi informed Kevin McCarthy that she would be vetoing two of his picks for the committee. We've heard that voices were raised. Kevin McCarthy responded and snapped back and said, what you're doing is unprecedented.
And it all just came amid this really whiplash week of power moves over the select committee because after McCarthy pulled all of his picks, of course, of course, Speaker Nancy Pelosi turned around and appointed Adam Kinzinger, a Republican, to the panel, which is going to make it a lot harder for Republicans to now argue that this is a partisan witch hunt, and Kevin McCarthy knows that. He was outmaneuvered by Pelosi. And so it's all just really contributing to a toxic atmosphere on Capitol Hill.
KEILAR: Toxic drama. All right, Melanie, thank you so much for the new reporting.
The great divide in the Republican Party right now is dependent on loyalty to former President Trump. Adam Kinzinger, who we were just talking, for instance, often referred as to an anti-trump Republican because of his criticism of the big lie.
So, let's discuss this with our CNN Political Commentators Amanda Carpenter and Scott Jennings with us.
Amanda, to you, first. I know that you think that that's not a fair label, anti-Trump Republican. Tell us why.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean, I think it plays into the narrative that Trump likes to put out that people are somehow unfairly out to get him, both Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney Supported Donald Trump twice for election, 2016 and 2020.
But they, like so many other Republicans on the ground through the states, were horrified about the consequences of the big lie that Trump started post-election that culminated in the January 6th insurrection. It wasn't until that attack that they started vocally speaking out against him and saying many of the very same things that Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell were saying in the way that Donald Trump bore a special responsibility for that attack.
Most people were on the same page. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger stuck to their guns on that. McConnell and McCarthy folded.
BERMAN: So, Amanda, if you're not going to call them anti-Trump, what would you call them?
CARPENTER: I would call them pro-democracy, anti-insurrectionists, Republicans who are committed to the country and the Constitution.
KEILAR: Scott, what do you think?
SCOTT JENNIGNS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, I'm not sure Kinzinger and Cheney would wear that title of being anti-Trump, as anything other than a badge of honor. I mean, they are anti-Trump. They've made no bones about it and they don't think Trump is good for the future of the Republican Party. I suspect they don't think that he should be nominated again.
And so as a practical day-to-day matter, they are anti-Trump. And I don't know that they would oppose that. I mean, the reality is that -- the practical reality is that Trump is the defining issue in the party right now. You are, as Amanda pointed out fairly, I think, defined about whether you support Trump or you don't support Trump.
I do think, though, as we move into the future, these labels -- I mean, depending on what Trump does, are going to be less important because people are going to want to define the party around, you know, can we win the White House again, who's going to be the nominee and so on and so forth.
But as we sit here today, one of the big issues, I think, roiling the party, and Melanie had some great reporting on this, is are we going to play ball with Pelosi on this commission and the people getting appointed. And it really has, I think, more to do with Pelosi being able to tell Kevin McCarthy what she's going to do and Republicans not wanting to give her any of that authority.
So, I mean, there's a lot of issues being conflated here. But at the end of the day, as we sit here today, fair or unfair and for better or worse, everything tends to be defined by Trump. I'm not sure that's great for the party moving forward, but that's a practical matter.
BERMAN: Let's try to engage in some de-conflation, which is -- if it's not a word I just mentioned. I want to talk about that issue with the committees here and Melanie Zanona's reporting, the idea that there are Republicans in the conference now that want to punish Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for being on that select committee, Scott. Do you think it's a good idea to pull other committee assignments from the likes of Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger?
JENNINGS: No, this would be a horrific idea. And I cannot begin to imagine that leadership would entertain it. They may not like what's happening with the January 6th commission. They may not like the way it's played out, but at some juncture, this idea that we're on a constant purge.
And I feel like the Republican Party has been on a 10, 12-year mission where people sort of get control of it and they think their only mission in politic is to purge the people they hate. It's the first move. Ted Cruz just running around trying to purge the RINOs, now, the Trump people try to purge the anti-Trump people.
At some juncture, we're all Republicans.
These are Republicans elected by their districts, they've done a good job representing their district, they do a good job on their committees, there's no reason to punish them. This would further divide the party, further hurt the party and I think really further hurt the institution of the House. So, please, don't do that, Kevin McCarthy.
KEILAR: Amanda, what do you think?
CARPENTER: Well, I just -- you know, this whole idea that Donald Trump is going to magically go away, and we can wring our hands that it shouldn't be this way, but if anybody stands up to it, they're somehow the problem, right? Like unwavering loyalty to Donald Trump is absolutely becoming the litmus test for membership in the Republican Party and it's because of people like Kevin McCarthy who run around and say, well, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, if you accept this assignment from Nancy Pelosi, I don't know if I can call you Republican anymore.
And where is Mitch McConnell? Is he standing up for any of these people that might want to protect democracy and look at the attack on the U.S. Capitol and what that means and what could be coming ahead? No. He's just hiding out.
And so unless you have people like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger making the case for how this transcends politics and why this is a much bigger issue than Donald Trump and the Republican Party, we're screwed. I mean, keep crying about the future of the Republican Party because the road where we're going down is where you only have candidates like Paul Gosar, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Herschel Walker, that's what you're going to get if you don't stand up and speak out against this and support people like Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney.
JENNINNGS: Well, I think as a realistic matter, you're going to have a number of candidates get elected in 2022 who support Trump. You're going to have a lot of people using their support of Trump in their primaries. It's likely going to mean that they're going to get their nominations.
Where the rubber really hits the road, of course, is in 2024. I actually think these issues may not matter all that much whether we will win the House. I think we will. But in 2024, if the Republican Party cannot stand up and say, we're not going to nominate Trump, I think Trump would be a definite loser and most likely a loser. If we can't stand up and say we have got ideas for the country that have nothing to do with re-litigating 2020 and saying January 6th was a fine idea, we are probably going to lose the next election.
So, I think the electoral reality is that '22 and '24 are different animals and how you triangulate on these issues maybe different depending on which race you run in.
KEILAR: It seems, Amanda, that some Republicans don't have those options, that there's an element of performative pro-Trumpism that's going on to that point, Melanie Zanona's reporting, that Kevin McCarthy might feel he has no choice but to move forward with taking the committee assignments of these Republicans even though, in the end, Nancy Pelosi can just reinstate them right back on their committee. I mean, in the end, he can't actually purge them from their committee assignments and yet he may feel compelled to do so. CARPENTER: Listen, Kevin McCarthy is probably going to do whatever Donald Trump tells him to do because Kevin McCarthy is not a true leader. He's a proxy for power for Trump. And that's why we keep getting back to the same problem. We can talk about 2022 and 2024, but that's not actually what matters.
What actually matters is that the U.S. Capitol was attacked on January 6th by a political mob that wanted to deny a duly elected president from taking power. And still today, there's a faction of people egged on by Donald Trump who want to delegitimize votes in swing states, like Arizona and Pennsylvania, to try to undermine the election.
What we saw from November to January was a concentrated effort by campaigns, lawyers and activists to undermine, overturn and decertify elections. I mean, this is bigger than the Republican Party. And I wish people would really get their heads screwed on straight. Because if we don't have elections, we don't have parties, we don't have democracy. I don't care about 2022 and 2024. I care about 2020 because that sets the stage for everything to come.
BERMAN: Listen, I want to change subjects slightly here. I'm a big soccer fan. I know this sounds like I'm really changing subjects but not quite. A big soccer fan, one of my favorite team is the U.S. Women's National Team and they had a tough start at the Olympics. They lost their first game against Sweden. They did win their second here.
But after the loss, the former president that we've been speaking of seemed to try to, you know, get people at one of his rallies to boo them. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Wokism makes you lose, ruins your mind and ruins you as a person. You become warped. You become demented.
The U.S. women's soccer team is a very good example of what's going on. Earlier this --