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New Day

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is Interviewed about the Select Committee; Wildfires Burn in the West; Penn and Clapton on Vaccines; Facts and Fears over Vaccination; Philip Morris To End Cigarette Sales. Aired 8:30-9a ET.

Aired July 26, 2021 - 08:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: On the subject of retribution, CNN also has some new reporting this morning this morning that one thing that some Republicans are considering or are discussing inside McCarthy world is, since Speaker Pelosi removed Jim Jordan and Banks from the select committee, that if they take back power in 2022, they're going to start to do that to Democrats. They're going to remove committee assignments from Democrats that they don't like.

What do you think of that?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, if the rules of the select committee, which again only came about because Kevin McCarthy rejected an independent commission that would have been five Democrats and five Republicans, the rules of the select committee say that the Republican will nominate, and the speaker will decide who sits on the select committee. She accepted three of McCarthy's nominees, but two others were hostile to the very mission of the select committee and were put on merely to disrupt. And so that was the right decision.

We're just going to keep our focus on where it needs to be, which is bringing out the facts of January 6th, what led up to it, what needs to be done to protect the country going forward. McCarthy and the Republicans, that cult of Donald Trump, will do what they're going to do, but we're going to keep our eyes on the mission.

BERMAN: I was going to ask you about that. How does the actual membership of this committee affect what you will be doing starting tomorrow?

SCHIFF: Well, look, I think all of the membership thus far is very series about the task. We want to bring out, in the testimony tomorrow, the firsthand accounts of these police officers, the violence of that day. We hope their testimony will be powerful enough to rebut this revisionist history that you hear from some of our colleagues that claim this was a normal tourist day and try to downplay the significance of what happened, the most serious attack on our Capitol in hundreds of years. So we would like the public to be able to see and understand what it

was like to be on the front lines that day and how much these brave officers risked their lives to save ours, to save the vice president and the speaker, but also all of the members of Congress. And I know I feel very indebted to them.

BERMAN: We understand there will be some video that hasn't been released before. What can you tell us about that?

SCHIFF: Well, hopefully we'll have the opportunity to show the public a video that these officers lived, that they experienced, so that they can understand what it was like to be facing off against that massive crowd, some of which came wearing battle gear.

They were beaten with flag polls. They were beaten with fire extinguishers. They were sprayed with bear spray. Just the torment they went through. How much they felt in fear of their lives. But they were determined to do their duty. What heroes they were. How they returned to work within hours of that attack even though what they should have done is seek medical attention.

So I know I've been extraordinarily impressed and I'm quite sure the public will as well.

BERMAN: As you mentioned, the first witnesses and the first hearing tomorrow will be from law enforcement, various services, who were there that day.

In terms of who we hear from going forward, you've been asked this dozens of times, what about hearing from the former president, what about hearing or calling perhaps the minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, because of conversations we know he had with the former president during that day?

Even if the answer is yes, that you would want to hear from them, you would want to get their testimony, you've got some personal experience in this. I mean how could you go about getting that? Just because you want it does that mean that would be guaranteed to happen?

SCHIFF: Well, it doesn't mean that it's guaranteed. It could mean that we have to go through an enforcement process. Now, we were hampered in that over the last four years because the Justice Department was hostile to the mission. You know, Bill Barr was, at times, implicated in what we were investigating and so was not going to enforce a contempt against witnesses who were recalcitrant.

That hopefully that has changed but, you know, time will tell. But we're going to do everything we can. We'll use the tools that we have. Those that refuse to testify, you know, the public will likely draw an adverse inference that their testimony would be incriminating. But we hope to get as much of this evidence in the public realm as we possibly can.

BERMAN: Just to be clear, so our viewers understand what I think you're saying here, is that the Justice Department would enforce whatever contempt measures if they refused to testify. Might. I'm not saying they would. I don't know that you know that they would but that's what it would take. It would take the Justice Department, now led by Merrick Garland, to enforce whatever contempt measure to try to compel that testimony, correct?

SCHIFF: Well, there are a lot of -- a lot of steps you would take before you ever got to that where you would subpoena -- first you ask for their voluntary testimony. Then you subpoena them to come in. And then you continue to escalate the steps necessary to compel their appearance.


We tried enforcing the courts. And as you've seen, that can take years, as it did with Don McGahn.

But there's another route if the courts are unavailing or if there's an attempt to delay and protract the matter through the courts where you can hold someone in contempt and seek enforcement through the Justice Department.

Now, I hope none of that's necessary. And we're, obviously, getting way ahead of ours. But there are a number of tools that we can use and, of course, we'll explore what we need to, to get the public answers.

BERMAN: Have you, or anyone, had any conversations with the Justice Department about this issue?

SCHIFF: No, I have not. And let -- you know, let's hope that nothing like that is necessary.

BERMAN: Congressman Adam Schiff, we appreciate you joining us today. I know the committee is meeting today to talk about the hearings tomorrow. We look forward to watching them.

Thank you.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

BERMAN: Wildfires raging across the western United States, destroying everything in their path. We're on the ground near one of the largest, next.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, Sean Penn and Eric Clapton both taking a stand on vaccines. What each of them refuses to do.



KEILAR: Hundreds of firefighters are on the front lines battling the biggest active wildfire in history. It's called the Bootleg Fire. And they, right now, are struggling to hold back the flames that have burned more than 400,000 acres at this point. In California, the Dixie Fire is only 21 percent contained. It's already burned nearly 200,000 acres. CNN's Camila Bernal is joining us now from near the blaze in Chico,

California, with more.



About 5,000 firefighters are working on the Dixie Fire. And as you can see here behind me, this is the area where many of them come to get their marching orders, to figure out a strategy and to rest. And that's going to be particularly important today because it is going to be a challenging day for firefighters. There is the potential for spot fires and the potential for rapid growth.

As you mentioned, already about 200,000 acres, 21 percent containment, about 16 structures that have already been destroyed and about 10,000 more at risk at the moment. This is the largest fire burning in California. The largest of the year here in this state.

But as you mentioned, it's the Bootleg Fire that's the largest in the United States. Authorities there say there is some progress in containment. It's about 46 percent contained. But the rapid growth of the fire is what's concerning for so many people. We're talking about 400,000 acres already in the U.S., about 86 large fires are burning. And that means about 22,000 brave men and women who are fighting these fires, 24/7, doing everything they can to save as many homes as possible.

The problem is that there are so many people who are having to worry about these evacuations. About 1.5 million acres burned all over the United States. And people are having to get used to this. And not just people who are evacuating, but people who are dealing with poor air quality. That is becoming the new normal.


KEILAR: Yes, you can see just how dry the fuel is in the case of these fires. It's a very serious situation.

Camila Bernal, thank you so much, live for us from Chico, California.

Next, celebrities are divided over vaccines. Sean Penn and Eric Clapton sending very different messages this morning to their fans.

BERMAN: And the big tobacco boss who says cigarettes should be banned.



BERMAN: As COVID cases surge across the globe, some of the biggest names in music and film are taking a stand. Now, on one end of the spectrum we have Sean Penn, who is refusing to return to the set of his new television series "Gaslit" unless the entire cast and crew are vaccinated. On the other end we have Eric Clapton, who announced that he will not perform at any venue that requires COVID-19 vaccinations for entry.

Joining us now is Lisa France, CNN entertainment senior writer.

Lisa, great to see you.

Let's start with Sean Penn. Talk to me about what he is doing and whether this is going to be a thing in Hollywood.

LISA FRANCE, CNN SENIOR ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: It's absolutely going to be a thing. He is just furthering his mission. He has a non-profit, Core, which has been very active in COVID testing and getting people vaccinated. So he's just walking the talk. He's been out there saying, you've got to get vaccinated. So he's taking a stand and saying that unless his entire cast and crew are vaccinated, he's not going to return to the set.

KEILAR: (INAUDIBLE) this, right, with his non-profit by providing the infrastructure to test?

FRANCE: Yes, they have been hosting sites and they've also been hosting sites for vaccination. This is an organization he set up back when Haiti was suffering from earthquakes and he's just been very active ever since the pandemic in getting the word out that people need to be tested and people need to be vaccinated. And so he wants his co-workers to do the same.

BERMAN: To what extent, though, I guess I'm asking, is Sean Penn on an island here or is this something that will likely catch on with other big named stars who won't go on set unless everyone is complying?

FRANCE: Well, you know, Hollywood is -- they're regular people. They just -- they're just like we are. They just have bigger platforms and more money. So there's a split. You know, just like in our country and in the world, some people believe in vaccination and some people don't trust it.

We like to think that Hollywood is just completely liberal. That's not always the case. And as you can see, Eric Clapton has a very different perspective on it. He says that he will not perform in a venue where they're going to require people to prove that they're vaccinated. He said those are discriminated audiences. And so he's taking a stand in the opposite direction saying he absolutely does not want to perform and he reserves the right to cancel any shows that require people to have any type of proof that they've been vaccinated.

KEILAR: Yes, it's really -- I mean it's quite the divide and we're seeing it play out in the music industry, in Hollywood and we'll see what it takes, right, for music and for Hollywood to come back. What steps do they have to take so that people feel safe and then people can make money doing what they love doing. We'll see.

Lisa, thank you so much.

FRANCE: Thank you.

BERMAN: The need to dispel myths about the life-saving coronavirus vaccines more important now than ever. The reasons why some Americans are refusing to get the shot simply don't hold up.

John Avlon has a "Reality Check."

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: With the highly contagious delta variant spreading across the U.S., we're seeing a pandemic of the unvaccinated because people don't need to die from this. But over the past two weeks we've seen new cases nearly triple and hospitalizations increase by more than half. That's because roughly a third of those eligible are still not vaccinated, despite the fact that vaccines are free, widely available and we know that they work.


Now, many are vaccine resistant, in large part because of disinformation and misinformation. And that's why we need to answer their fears with facts.

So CNN looked into some common myths that are keeping Americans from getting vaccinated. And we're going to line up their arguments and then knock them down by answering them for you.

First, people say we don't know what the long-term side effects are. Now, they're downgrading the danger of the disease and elevating their fear of the vaccine because public health experts point out that adverse side effects in new vaccines are normally caught within the first two months of trials. That was a key reason why the FDA required pharmaceutical companies to provide two months of safety data before issuing emergency use authorization.

Second is this rationalization, I've already had COVID-19, so I don't need to be vaccinated. Here are the facts. While people infected with the coronavirus do gain some immunity, vaccines provide a level of immunity that is likely to last longer and be stronger. So just because you've had COVID doesn't mean you're protected, especially indefinitely.

Number three, the vaccine might hurt my fertility. And I understand why this one really might resonate. But here is the thing, Dr. Paul Offitt, who sits on the FDA's Vaccine Advisory Committee, calls this one, quote, pure nonsense. The CDC says there's simply no link between any vaccines and fertility and it advises women trying to become pregnant now or in the future to get vaccinated.

Number four, I'm young and healthy, so I don't need to get vaccinated. Wake up, people. Doctors in states battling surges caused by the delta variant say more young and previously healthy people are ending up in hospitals. And some are even being placed on respirators. That's not all. Young and healthy people who recover from the virus can also end up with long-term complications, like chronic fatigue and chest pain. So don't fall for this one. You could really regret it for a long, long time.

And finally, number five, these vaccines only have emergency use authorization, not full FDA approval. And, now, this is understandable up to a point, but it's really an excuse because, while it's true that all three COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. are still under Emergency Use Authorization, public health experts stress that doesn't mean they're less safe. And this may soon be a moot point anyway with President Biden telling a CNN town hall audience that he expects the FDA to give final approval to COVID-19 vaccines by the fall.

So listen to the facts, not your fears and, please, get vaccinated, because the life you save may be your own.

And that's your "Reality Check."

BERMAN: John Avlon, thank you very much for that.

So just three states account for nearly 50 percent of new COVID infections last week. CNN is live in two of them just ahead.

KEILAR: And the big tobacco boss taking a surprising stand on cigarettes.



BERMAN: A major move from one of the world's biggest tobacco companies.

CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins me now.

And, Romans, like getting out of the smoking business? What's going on here?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Giving up cigarettes. Essentially this big tobacco company quitting the habit. The plan is to ditch cigarettes over the next decade in the U.K.

Marlboro owner Philip Morris International wants to replace smokes, cigarettes, with smoke-free products. Its CEO, Jacek Olczak, told "The Daily Mail" that the goal is phasing out traditional cigarette smoking, urging people instead who still want to smoke to use alternatives products, like e-cigarettes and heated tobacco devices. The company says the best thing is to quit but they have products if you can't.

It's asking regulators to help here. The CEO calling on the U.K. government to ban cigarettes within a decade, saying cigarettes, John, should be treated like gasoline-powered cars. Those are set to be barred for sale in the U.K. by the year 2030.

Now, this corporate strategy of a smoke-free future, as they call it, it dovetails with what the U.K. government has already vowed, smoke free in England by the year 2030, 2034 in Scotland, while Northern Ireland and Wales haven't set dates yet.

For Philip Morris International, it's not exactly cold turkey. The transformation here is away from those traditional cigarettes to new smoke-free ways to consume nicotine. But, John, it really shows how consumer behavior has changed so much in our lifetime, hasn't it? BERMAN: I mean, I can't even think about it. I -- just to think back about what things were like in the '70s and '80s and where we are right now. It's an enormous shift.

But I want to be clear about one thing here. We're really talking about the United Kingdom, which I suppose could have influence around the rest of the world. But these companies and their sort of sisters and brothers in the corporate structure they have, they're still selling plenty of cigarettes in other places, right?

ROMANS: Yes. And let's be clear, emerging markets in Asian are still very big markets for traditional cigarettes and for tobacco products. But these smoke-free -- these nicotine delivery devices that are smoke-free, those have really become more popular in developed markets. And I don't know if they'll completely replace the old, very lucrative cigarette market, but it does show you this transformation is certainly underway.

BERMAN: History.

Christine Romans, thank you very much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

KEILAR: A woman is lucky to be alive after a metal pole impaled her car. It crashed through her windshield as she was driving in Phoenix.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can picture it coming by my face and that feeling. And that's hard to get out of your head. And I remember the paramedics telling me, I can't believe you're alive.


I can't believe you made it through this. You're so lucky.


KEILAR: This was a pole that fell off the load of a pickup truck that was driving in front of the woman's SUV.