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Mayor Bill de Blasio is Interviewed about Mandates, Security and Thomas Jefferson; Movement on a Biden's Agenda; Cavuto Reveals COVID Infection. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired October 20, 2021 - 08:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And police officers.

Joining us now, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Mr. Mayor, thank you very much.

I said all. There's different timing on some city employees here but basically you're making all city employees get vaccinated.

Tell me about this.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: You know, John, my job is to keep New Yorkers safe. And the vaccine is what does it. The vaccine is what has allowed us it fight back against COVID and save tens of thousands of lives. And there's still a lot of city employees who are not vaccinated. I want it protect them. I want to protect their families. I want to protect all the people that they come in contact with in this city.

And look, law enforcement has borne the brunt of COVID. In this nation, in the last two years, 460 law enforcement officers have been lost to COVID. We've got to protect them. This vaccine mandate allows us to do that.

BERMAN: I was just looking at the figures. About 70 percent vaccination rate among New York City police officers or people who work with police. Thirty percent unvaccinated. That's a large number that you say need to get the shot within the month.

DE BLASIO: The city employees not yet vaccinated, we think about 46,000 is the number. That's a lot of people. And think about their families. Think about everyone they come in contact with.

Look, we're fighting this war against COVID still. Let's not kid ourselves. And the difference now, if you get people vaccinated, we're going to save tens of thousands of lives. If we don't, we're going to lose a lot of people who could have been saved and we're not going to get out of this morass.

But from my point of view, I want to see everyone safe. And I know vaccination work. I know it. And every time we put a mandate in place, it's worked. Our teachers and our school employees, 96 percent now vaccinated. Our healthcare workers, 96 percent vaccinated. The mandates work. And I'll tell you something, every mayor in America, every governor, every CEO of a company should do the same thing so we can end the COVID era.

BERMAN: And I'm not arguing at all. You've had enormous success in getting more people vaccinated with these mandates. You mentioned teachers and health care workers. But police officers, look at what's happening in Chicago. And, again, you're at 70 percent now. Can you afford not to have 10 or 15 percent of the police force not available?

DE BLASIO: I don't think that's what's going to happen, John, I really don't. We're saying to our officers, we need to protect everyone. Here's a fair rule. For months and months, purely voluntary. Then we said, get vaccinated or get tested. We tried that for a while. It helped, didn't get us far enough. Now we say, here's a mandate. We're giving them an extra financial incentive, by the way, an additional $500 per person to get vaccinated. That's helpful. But we're saying, get vaccinated, stay on the force, help us, help lead us out of the COVID era. We're asking our public servants and our first responders to do what they do best, lead us forward, help us out of the COVID era.

If they choose not to, they go on unpaid leave. They have a chance to correct.

Here's an interesting fact in our schools, 3,500 employees who originally said, nope, I'm not getting vaccinated, in the last two weeks they've come back, got vaccinated, resumed work because going without a paycheck is a burden. But we would love people to get it right the first time or, if they don't, fix it, come back.

BERMAN: I want to ask you a question about a Department of Investigations investigation into you and your presidential campaign run. The DOI said that you basically owe the city more than $300,000 for use of the police force and security. The report says, DOI determined that the city of New York expended $319,000 for members -- Mayor Bill de Blasio's security detail to travel on the mayor's presidential campaign trips. The mayor has not reimbursed the city for these expenses, either personally or through his campaign.

DE BLASIO: Look, I put an appeal in earlier this year and said, every mayor in the history of New York City who's gotten police coverage went all over the country, did political work, government work, whatever, they got police coverage. They were never asked, in fact, to have to pay for any of it. The notion -- the mayor of New York City is obviously one of the most prominent public officials in America. We're in a very tough moment in our history. Whether it's terrorism or political violence, the NYPD has said to me, it is crucial to have coverage at all times. They've never said, we have to pay for coverage in certain situations.

So, I put in an appeal that said, can we get this rule straight and clear because historically it's always been, the first question is how to protect a public servant and their family.

But we're going to find out what happens there. I'll follow the law, whatever the final decision is.

BERMAN: I don't think there's any question that a public servant, and the family, in this case, needs protection at times. The question is, is it appropriate, at times? For instance, the report suggests that a security detail went with your son to do common errands.

DE BLASIO: The security team -- and I listened to the NYPD -- they set the rules. They said whenever we can cover him, we want to cover him. He was very prominent himself. He was very well known. They said, we need to protect the whole family. Whenever the younger people in the family will accept security coverage, we want them to. And that's the decision of the NYPD.

And really what this report missed is, what was the understanding of the NYPD had of security. Why did they set the rules they set.


The top official, the top security official of the NYPD, was not even interviewed for the report, which I don't understand. I don't think it's fair or accurate to not talk to the security experts in making a determination.

BERMAN: If the appeal finds -- say you have to pay, will you pay?

DE BLASIO: Of course, I'll follow the law.

BERMAN: A statue of Thomas Jefferson is being removed from city hall. This is not your decision --


BERMAN: To be clear.

DE BLASIO: Yes, I'm glad you clarified.

BERMAN: Do you approve of the decision?

DE BLASIO: I have very mixed feelings, and I want to be honest about it.

Thomas Jefferson, one of the greatest figures in American history. And one of the person -- one of the people who created a lot of the values we live by and still cherish.

On the other hand, he did something that -- and he knew at the time was wrong. He was a slave owner. That's unacceptable on the measures of today. But even back then many people understood it was a moral sin.

So for folks who say they have mixed feelings about him, I understand that. Our city council felt they didn't want that image in their chambers, or near their chambers. They wanted something else. There's lots of great New Yorkers that can be honored in that space.

But as we come to an understanding of our history, we've got to be able to say, someone did something great and someone did something wrong at the same time. We've got to have that honesty.

BERMAN: But not a decision you would have made?

DE BLASIO: Look, I honor his larger contributions. I'm troubled by that part, of course, of his history. And he was too, we now know. He knew it was wrong to own slaves. But I do respect that the city council has a right to say what works for them, you know, in their chambers.

BERMAN: Mayor Bill de Blasio, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

DE BLASIO: Thank you.

BERMAN: So, happening today, Paris Hilton goes to Washington. A very serious mission to fight to change an industry that she says caused her physical and psychological abuse as a teenager. We have new details ahead.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And why Democrats' decision to drag fellow senators, Manchin and Sinema, may not pay off after all. Your "Reality Check" is next.



BERMAN: So, developing this morning, there could be major movement toward a deal on the president's domestic agenda. Major new funding for kids, the elderly, family leave. But there are compromises. Compromises that have been made to placate moderate Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. So, what's the larger significance of these two senators for the Democratic Party?

John Avlon with a "Reality Check."

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: With the self-imposed Halloween deadline ticking closer, Democrats will soon find out if it's trick or treat in their tortured effort to pass the Biden budget, along with bipartisan infrastructure.

Now, progressives are frustrated because they've seen their initial $6 trillion wish list cut down to $3.5 trillion. And now, according to President Biden's latest statements, $1.9 trillion.

Yes, they've made a lot of concessions to two centrist holdout senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. But take a step back and you'll see that it's really a concession to political reality, because for all the liberals FDR and LBJ era ambitions, the reality is that they -- those folks enjoyed massive Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. And by contrast, Joe Biden's margin is as tight as can be. 50/50 in the Senate and just an eight-seat lead in the House.

Now, to get a sense of how precarious this is, get this, since Jimmy Carter, the first midterms under a new president have averaged a 28 seat loss in the House to the opposition party. Not only that, despite Biden's 7 million popular vote victory margin over Donald Trump, largely due to independent voters and suburban voters by the way, House Democrats actually lost 13 seats after their 41-seat blue wave win in 2018. All of which is to say Democrats need to win more swing states (ph) and swing states to gain a stable governing majority going forward.

And this leads to logic that progressives won't like. Democrats need more Joe Manchins and Kyrsten Sinemas, not less. Or, more to the point, they need more red state senators like Jon Tester from Montana, Sherrod Brown from Ohio.

A quick look at the Senate map in '22 highlights the states with The Cook Report calling tossups in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, as well as projecting battles in states like Ohio, Georgia and Florida.

Now, here's the Catch-22 that Democrats confront and how they can solve it. To begin to win back rural and red state voters, Democrats need to show they can deliver on economic issues that improve the quality of life in those communities, while sidestepping culture war issues like the disastrous messaging of defund the police. And this is where passing the Biden budget infrastructure bill can begin to bring real results because polling suggests that these bills and many of the specifics are really popular.

For example, a midsummer Quinnipiac poll found that 65 percent support of the $1.2 triller infrastructure bill and 62 percent support for a, quote, $3.5 trillion spending bill on social programs, such as childcare, education, family tax breaks, and expanding Medicare for seniors. A midsummer Monmouth poll found similar results.

Not only that, the Pew survey found that 66 percent support for raising taxes on large corporations and 61 percent support for raising taxes on folks who make more than $400,000 a year, which are ways to actually pay for these bills without adding much more to the deficit.

Now, typically, the broad popularity of these proposals make it easier for moderates to support them and many of the policies crucially would especially benefit rural communities, where, for example, child poverty is much higher than in urban areas.

Progressives can take some solace from the fact that even with Biden's new reduced price tag, these are big bills by any measure. A combined $3 trillion in new spending. That's far more than the signature first year budget bills of the Clinton and Obama years combined.

But inaction is not an option. As Ron Brownstein (INAUDIBLE) points out, failing to pass their agenda could compound the Democrats' problems by disillusioning their base and sending a message of dysfunction to swing voters.

The bottom line, if Democrats want to pass an even more ambitious agenda going forward, they need to win more seats. And they're not going to do it by doubling down on the Berkeleys and Brooklyns of the world. Instead, they'll need to build a record of results that resonates with moderates in the middle class and swing states. And, yes, even more rural voters in red states. [08:45:02]

And that's your "Reality Check."

BERMAN: And maybe focus about what's in the bill, not what's not -- not in the bill, right?

KEILAR: Thanks, John.

AVLON: That's right.

BERMAN: All right, John Avlon, thank you.

The breaking news, Liz Cheney saying that she's seen evidence that shows it is possible that Steve Bannon had foreknowledge and likely she says even helped plan the January 6th insurrection. Details ahead.

KEILAR: Plus, a Trump rally in Iowa gets "The Daily Show" treatment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wasn't Q's whole thing that Trump would be reinstated as president?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's never left. There's no doubt in my mind, 150,000 percent.




KEILAR: Time now for "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

President Biden ready to make big concessions to get his social spending bill passed. He's now discussing a $1.75 trillion to $1.9 trillion price tag. He may be willing to remove free community college while accepting reductions for climate, paid family leave, child tax credits and home care.

BERMAN: The NTSB will be on the scene today of a plane crash near Houston. All 21 people on board the Boston bound flight survived after the plane ran off the runway on takeoff, hit a fence and erupted in flames.

KEILAR: And Nebraska GOP Congressman Jeff Fortenberry has been indicted on charges of lying to the FBI. This stems from an investigation into $180,000 in illegal campaign contributions from a Nigerian billionaire of Lebanese descent. Fortenberry is expected to appear for an arraignment today in Los Angeles.

BERMAN: So her heart will go on, but Celine Dion won't. The singer announced she is postponing a return to her Las Vegas residency to deal with some health issues. Dion says she has been unable to perform because of severe and persistent muscle spasms. Her new show was scheduled to open November 5th.

KEILAR: And, today, Paris Hilton will be on Capitol Hill advocating for changes to the troubled teen industry. She will be attending a news conference with Congressman Ro Khanna and other institutional abuse survivors and child welfare advocates to discuss a bill of rights for children placed in congregate care facilities.

BERMAN: Those are your "Five Things to Know for Your New Day." More on these stories all day on CNN and And don't forget to download the "Five Things" podcast every morning. Go to

KEILAR: Fox News Anchor Neil Cavuto has tested positive for COVID-19. Cavuto has battled multiple sclerosis for 25 years and he credits being vaccinated against COVID for saving his life. He said this, while I'm somewhat stunned by this news, doctors tell me I'm lucky as well. Had I not been vaccinated and with all my medical issues, this would be a far more dire situation. It's not because I did, and I'm surviving this because I did.

Joining us now is Brian Stelter, CNN chief media correspondent and the anchor of CNN "Reliable Sources."

This is such a contrast, right, between Neil Cavuto's statement and then the comments from some of his Fox News colleagues.

Let's listen to that first.


WILL CAIN, FOX NEWS HOST: We're seeing data from Europe, from the United Kingdom, that fully vaccinated people are being hospitalized and fully vaccinated people are dying from COVID. And here we have a very high-profile example that is going to require more truth, more truth from our government, from our health leaders as well as we talk about this story on a day when state after state and institution after institution are pushing mandates for vaccination.


KEILAR: I'm going to listen to the guy whose life depends on it, I think.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, me as well. We learned about Cavuto's diagnosis on Monday evening when he tested positive. We did not report it until he decided to share it because that's his health news to share.

But I think it's important that he's comes forward and shared this and said to everyone, I hope everyone gets the message loud and clear, get vaccinated for yourself and for others. This is coming on the same day that our colleague, John King, shared his news about multiple sclerosis. Both of these men have MS. Both of these men, immunocompromised.

I love what John said about, you know, I'm glad that we work in a building where everyone's vaccinated. Cavuto deserves the same thing. And, of course, the vast majority of people at Fox are vaccinated but some are being very loud about opposing mandates, about opposing, you know, vaccines for all. And it is -- it is such a striking contrast. This is another example of how Fox News is two things in one. This relatively small news operation where Cavuto works and then this giant, sometimes dangerous opinion operation that spreads this information. And it's unfortunate people like Cavuto are in the midst of this, you know, propaganda machine against vaccinations.

KEILAR: It's life or death. And their primetime hosts are choosing disinformation. I mean they're making a very clear choice here that can injure or even kill viewers.

STELTER: They are. And including, you know, hurting their colleagues. And, you know, we know there's at least one staffer at Fox News who passed away as a result of COVID last year. This is something that affects everyone. Nobody is, you know, is able to avoid this. And so I think this real life case with Cavuto, he's off the air for the time being. Maybe it's a wake-up call for somebody. I don't know.

KEILAR: "The Daily Show" went to Iowa for a Trump rally.

Let's look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wasn't Q's whole thing that Trump would be reinstated as president?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's never left. There's no doubt in my mind, 150,000 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That he's still president of the United States?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really? Does he still hold the powers of the presidency?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he's been flying around the world on Air Force One. That says something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought Joe Biden technically is on Air Force One. No?

So they're -- they're faking it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's -- it's not even a presidency.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is running the government right now?


(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: That man is -- I'm not trying to be mean here, he's delusional. How do you make sense of someone being delusional like that?

STELTER: Well, I remember after January 6th, Jeffrey Goldberg of "The Atlantic" said, one-sixth, the riot was a mass delusion. Thousands of people attended a rally and then attended a riot under a delusion that Trump would still be president or that he actually won or that he could stay in power. And to see that continuing almost a year later is scary.

Now, look, "The Daily Show" is comedy. You know, Jordan Clipper (ph) goes there to produce comedy. So, with that caveat, you know, he might be trying to edit it in certain ways. We know that that's a real sentiment that's out there. It's on the fringes, but it's real and it's out there. And it's a bracing reminder that we do live in a country where there are alternative realities.

I was talking to a researcher at Stanford yesterday who said, everyone has their own micro reality now. And I thought, well then we're in deep trouble. We're in deep you know what if everyone has their own micro reality now. But you can see it. It is somewhat true.

KEILAR: That's real.


KEILAR: People think he's like flying around on Air Force One.

STELTER: There's only psychological explanations to that situation. But I -- actually, we need to book more psychiatrists on television these days to try to explain what's happening in the country.

KEILAR: It's an amazing phenomenon.

Brian, thank you so much.

STELTER: Thank you.

Maybe I'll get a psych degree.

KEILAR: Maybe.

STELTER: I'm going back to school.

KEILAR: It might help.

All right, here's what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: Soon, House Democratic caucus meets.

3:05 p.m. ET, Biden departs White House.

5:15 p.m. ET, Biden speaks in Scranton, Pennsylvania. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The White House unveiling its plan to roll out the COVID vaccine for kids. We have breaking details ahead.