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New Day Saturday

House Managers and defense attorneys will make closing arguments today, Senate vote to follow. CDC: Fully Vaccinated People Can Skip COVID-19 Quarantines; New York Gov. Cuomo Accused OF Covering Up Nursing Home COVID Deaths; Stanley Tucci Explores Italian Cuisines In New Docu-Series. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired February 13, 2021 - 07:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Will be found guilty, will be convicted of inciting the January 6th insurrection on Capitol Hill. As I said, the trial will reconvene in the next few hours. But just the final steps of this process.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: You know, House Managers could still ask for witnesses. It doesn't seem likely at this point, but we do know today's proceedings will include some closing arguments and the final vote obviously, as Victor just said on conviction or acquittal, that's expected to follow. Now, the former president's legal team did lay out a short rebuttal yesterday. The defense claimed his rhetoric did not incite the rioters they tried comparing it to the speeches from Democrats and argued the former presidents were protected under the First Amendment.

BLACKWELL: Key question that the defense left unanswered. What if anything, did the then president do to respond to the right especially considering that his own Vice President was in danger? We have new reporting on that. But let's start with some of the key arguments from yesterday.


MICHAEL VAN DER VEEN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: The reality is Mr. Trump was not in any way, shape, or form instructing these people to fight or to use physical violence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House Managers assert that the January 6th attack was predictable, and it was foreseeable. If so, why did it appear that law enforcement at the Capitol were caught off guard?

VAN DER VEEN: Holy cow! That is a really good question. And had the house managers done their investigation, maybe somebody would have an answer to that. But they didn't. They did zero investigation. They did nothing. They looked into nothing. But Gemini crickets. There is no due process in this proceeding at all.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): And you know, my counsel said before, this has been my worst experience in Washington. And for that, I guess we're sorry, but man, you should have been here on January 6th. Rather than yelling at us and screaming about how we didn't have time to get all of the facts about what your client did, bring your client up here and have him testify under oath about why he was sending out tweets denouncing the Vice President of the United States while the Vice President was being hunted down by a mob that wanted to hang him. And was chanting in this building: "Hang Mike Pence, hang Mike Pence. Traitor. Traitor. Traitor."


BLACKWELL: CNN's Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill. Lauren, what should we expect to see this morning and this afternoon?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, kicking off this morning around 10:00 a.m., Victor, you're going to begin to see a potential debate on witnesses, although senators could skip that if the house managers don't want to see any witnesses, which the expectation right now is that is where we are headed. They're going to skip that debate altogether, then you could see potentially two hours of debate over whether or not they should admit new evidence. Again, we expect that that could also be skipped over.

So, that gets in to the final four hours of these arguments in closing that senators are going to be hearing from both the House managers and Trump's defense team. And really the job here is to just do no harm for Trump's defense team. Look, it doesn't look as if there are going to be 17 Republican senators willing to convict Trump. In fact, we are looking at between five or six senators who might even be thinking about it. Those are the senators who decided that it was constitutional to move ahead with this process. Those were the only Republicans who thought that this process was constitutional because you were dealing with someone who was no longer in office.

So, the biggest question today is really how will those six Republicans vote? I have my eyes specifically on Senator Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, who just a couple of weeks ago, was arguing this process was unconstitutional, but his mind was changed by the arguments that he heard from the House Managers and the lack of argument he thought he heard from Trump's defense team. So, yesterday, he asked a key question about the timeline. What did Trump know when about his Vice President, Mike Pence, he said he did not get a clear answer from Trump's defense team? And that that was problematic. And so, I think that he is one of those members to keep your eye on today.

But this just all goes to show that this has been a very fast-moving process, we could get that vote on conviction. As early as later this afternoon, or this evening, after all of this raps, you might expect to see some senators giving some speeches on the floor. But we should note that they have a recess week next week that has really helped to accelerate all of this. Lawmakers feel to draw they want to get back to their districts, their states. And I think that that is part of what is factoring into the fact that this is moving very quickly. That in, that of course and the fact that no one sees any ending to this except Trump being acquitted at this moment, given the fact that we just don't see those 17 Republicans willing to vote to convict


BLACKWELL: That was a long. Lauren Fox for us there on Capitol Hill. Thanks so much.

PAUL: So, let's hear from some legal minds here. CNN Legal Analyst Ben Ginsburg, Republican Election Lawyer, also CNN Political Analyst Toluse Olorunnipa, National Politics Reporter for The Washington Post, and Eugene Daniels, White House Correspondent for Politico and Co- Author of Political Playbook. Thank you, gentlemen, all of you for being here.

So, Ben, I want to ask you, as Lauren was talking about there. The concern for the Vice President and what President Trump did or did not know, we do know this morning based on some new reporting, that House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy had a phone call with the president during the insurrection asking him to call off his people call off well, not his people, to call off the rioters, and the President responded, saying obviously the rioters cared more about the election results, than he did, meaning, meaning McCarthy.

And then also this reporting from Senator Tommy Tuberville, who says he did speak with the president during the insurrection. He did tell the president, that the Vice President had just been rushed out and was in danger. How imperative is it, do you think if it changed the mind of Bill Cassidy, that perhaps it could change the minds of others going into today, when it comes to specifically than the safety of the Vice President, and how this former president reacted to that?

BEN GINSBURG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, as Lauren's reporting showed, they're not going to win impeachment of the president without some dramatic new evidence and this is the dramatic new evidence. What was put in the record yesterday, is obviously not enough to change the minds of Republican senators. So, witnesses attesting to Donald Trump, fomenting the revolution at that point, or not doing anything to stop the violence of the mob, which even if they weren't his people, necessarily, they were wearing Trump branded gear. And without calling witnesses about that, then, then the president is, is going to be acquitted.

PAUL: Eugene, one of the things that's so striking about this, this impeachment is that the essential jury and the judges are also the witnesses in the case. We're talking about the senators that experienced all of it. We're expecting an acquittal, as we've said, but what do you think, is the gain for Democrats at this point? Has it changed from the gain at the beginning, when and when we expected the same thing and acquittal?

EUGENE DANIELS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: I think something that the House Impeachment Managers really wanted to show, they went into this knowing that they probably weren't going to convince like you say, those 17 GOP senators to jump on their side. But I think they really want to show that they believe and that they felt like all of the evidence show that President Trump didn't do anything to help the people that were the victims of this insurrection, that the months and honestly years of him kind of fomenting this big lie, this idea that every time that something didn't go his way, and then it was stolen from him and more importantly, stolen from his supporters. And I think they've done that, right.

They have laid out very clearly to these GOP senators, to the Democratic senators, to the American people that, that is that is what's happened. And so, it's not just about this impeachment trial. It's also about what happens next and does -- is there any kind of censure is, is there, you know, the idea of voting on that and not allowing President Trump to run for federal office, but also, whether or not President Trump can get enough support after shouldering all of these things to run again in 2024. So, that calculation and that those gains have changed a little bit, because they showed us in some of those never before seen videos, how close how close it got to being even worse, right. We saw Senator Mitt Romney and Senator Chuck Schumer being this close to coming in contact with that mob.

PAUL: It showed, it showed them you know, they'd been through it. More importantly, it showed the public some things that we had not seen before, obviously. So, Toluse when you look at, at the big picture here at the end of the day, what does the Republican Party look like, after all of this?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It continues to be Trump's party. Apparently, especially when you're looking at the vast majority of Republicans, the overwhelming majority of Republicans likely to vote to acquit in addition to being the, the judges in the jury. The senators in this case, are, in some ways politically linked to the defendant. Half of the, half of the jury, the 50 Republicans, many of them see their political fortunes tied to whether or not they are in lockstep with President Trump. They are realizing that if they vote to convict President Trump, former President Trump, they could be the victim of a primary.


He's already threatened the primary many of these members and they can see their political careers ended because of this vote. So, this continues to be the party of Trump, there is a small minority within the party that wants to set out on a new course that wants to redefine the party in a post Trump-era. But based on what we're seeing, based on the comments from some of these Republicans saying that they don't have any problem with what the President did, the Republican Party continues to be very much in Trump's camp.

Now, we do expect some of these Republicans even after they vote to acquit to speak out against what the President said against his incitement, saying that they thought it was inappropriate, not presidential, but not impeachable. So, we do expect some Republicans to try to create some separation between themselves and the president, especially after those graphic videos that we saw. They don't want to be seen as the party of QAnon or the party of insurrection, but they are still very much the party of Trump. And I think the vote to acquit that the vast majority of Republicans are going to cast will show that they still are in lockstep with the former president.

PAUL: Ben, you said that the way the defense structured its case that will not be able, it will not allow President Trump or former President Trump to say he was exonerated. What can they say at the end of this?

GINSBURG: That he was acquitted? It was very interesting listening to the Trump defense in the sense that there was no attempt to rehabilitate the President's image. And he is going to be left at the end of his presidency, with the ransacking of the Capitol. Again, they may not be able to prove that he instigated it. But, but the predominant signs that the people were wearing in that march was Trump.

So, that is a Trump legacy from the march, and that has an effect, not only I think over the long term, what his role is with the Republican Party, but how the Republican Party sees itself. It's now in a circular firing squad, basically, and is going to stay that way until there are 2022 elections. It's not clear after this how badly the Trump brand has been hurt, especially because his lawyers made no attempt yesterday to talk about what a great guy he was.

PAUL: Ben Ginsburg, Toluse Olorunnipa, Eugene Daniels. Listen, we really appreciate all your voices, and I think they're going to stick around for us. Thank you all so much.

BLACKWELL: All right. Coming up, one of the former president's attorneys yesterday, there was a really personal moment where he said a criticism of his strategy was threatening his family's financial security. So, we'll have the details of that criticism and I'll speak with one of the men who, who made it.

PAUL: Also, is one of President Biden's top priority is getting kids back to school. What the CDC says now needs to happen for all classrooms can safely reopen?



BLACKWELL: A final vote in the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump could come as soon as this afternoon. Now, ahead of that, we'll hear closing arguments from both sides. Once again, the former president's legal team will make the case that his actions ahead of the Capitol riot are protected by the First Amendment. But more than 140 prominent lawyers in constitutional scholars say that is not true. They signed a letter calling that argument legally frivolous, but a member of former President Trump's legal team blasted that letter during the trial yesterday. Watch.


VAN DER VEEN: The house managers have made several references to this letter signed by 140 partisan law professors, calling Mr. Trump's first amendment defense legally frivolous. This is really an outrageous attempt to intimidate Mr. Trump's lawyers. Whenever a lawyer advances a truly frivolous argument, they may violate professional ethical rules and could be subject to discipline. This letter is a direct threat to my law license. My career and my family's financial well-being these law professors should be ashamed of themselves and so should the House Managers. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Well, we have with us this morning, one of the signatories of that letter, Richard Primus, Constitutional Law Professor at the University of Michigan Law School Professor, thank you for your time this morning. I want to go through the points of this letter I have here with me. And as I said, more than 140 signatures here, before we go through those, those legal and constitutional points, what's your reaction to the personal nature in which Mr. Van der Veen responded to what you signed on to?

RICHARD PRIMUS, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: It's totally inappropriate and deeply wrong. First, he characterizes the 140 of us who signed a letter as deeply partisan. I'm not sure what he means by that. The signatories include a bunch of Democrats, a bunch of Republicans, a bunch of people affiliated with neither party. They include one of the founders of the Federalist Society, which is the most important conservative law organization in the country and a former Solicitor General for President Reagan.

So, I don't really understand what he means when he says it's a partisan letter. And then when he says it's an attack on him, because we call the argument frivolous, the problem is the argument is frivolous. And if it's an easy question whether it's frivolous, it completely is. And if you stand up and make a frivolous argument, you don't get to point to the person who points out that it's a frivolous argument and say you're behaving badly. The person who shouldn't have done what he did is the person who makes a frivolous argument.


BLACKWELL: So, let's go through the argument because there are three major points here on the First Amendment. And first, it's that it does not apply in the impeachment proceedings. So, it cannot provide a defense for President Trump. And right under that, you make it clear that this is not a unanimous point that many of you believe that the First Amendment simply does not apply. On which side of the line are you here does it apply here?

PRIMUS: So, it clearly does not apply in an impeachment proceeding in the way that it applies to protect a private person expected, expressing political ideas. This is really easy to see. So, think of it this way. Suppose you or I were to stand up and say, you know, I don't think the Constitution is so great. The First Amendment can't stop us from saying that, and under the First Amendment, the government couldn't punish us for saying that.

But if the President of the United States who has sworn an oath to preserve the Constitution, stands up and says, you know, I've decided the Constitution is not so great. And I don't promise to protect it anymore. That person can't be president anymore, because he's violated his oath. Now, he can't be jailed for expressing that opinion. The First Amendment protects him against that. But he can't hold that job anymore either.

The same thing if the president were to say, you know, I've decided that I don't believe in elections, and I'm not going to leave office, even if the election goes against me. A private person can't be punished, certainly not jailed for expressing the view that we should have a king instead of a president. But if a president has that view, and articulates in public and is acting on it, that person's got to go. And that's not really difficult as a legal proposition.

BLACKWELL: So, you got to the first point, the primary and secondary point, let me get to the tertiary point here about constituting unprotected incitement. And there was, of course, discussion appropriately of the Brandenburg status, the Brandenburg standard, I should say, Brandenburg V. OHIO case in the 1960s Supreme Court set the standard for speech that incites violence, that it must be directed to inciting or producing imminent lawlessness, action, and likely to produce such action. I want you to listen to another member of the President's team on that standard. Let's take a listen.


BRUCE CASTOR, TRUMP IMPEACHMENT LAWYER: The third element under the Brandenburg test, is the imminent use of violence, imminent use of violence. In other words, right, then the imminent use of violence or lawless action must be the likely result of the speech, the likely result of the speech. Well, that argument is completely eviscerated by the fact that the violence was pre-planned, as confirmed by the FBI, Department of Justice, and even the House Managers, not the result of the speech at all.


BLACKWELL: What's your take?

PRIMUS: Well, there are a few things wrong with that argument. The first is, it's very strange to say a bunch of people were planning to be violent. And my guy can't be responsible for the violence they committed, even if my guy egging to them on. No, if your guy egged them on, then he does bear some responsibility. We're not saying I don't think anyone in this trial is saying that President Trump is the only person who's responsible for the violence at the Capitol.

There's a lot of blame to go around. But he clearly is one of the people who is responsible for it. And then the larger legal point is that the Brandenburg test is a test that applies when the government prosecutes criminally, a private person for speech that might have a tendency to encourage or incite violence. The Senate of the United States in an impeachment trial is not bound by the Brandenburg test. It's not a test that the court has articulated for impeachments.

In fact, the Court has said that it doesn't articulate tests for impeachments. That's the United States versus Nixon case. In the Senate, where the issues are very different, the tests are, what the senators think is the right commonsense judgment about whether a person acted in a way incompatible with the office. And it seems pretty clear that the President acted in ways that are incompatible with his office, in this case.

BLACKWELL: Professor Richard Primus of the University of Michigan Law School, thank you so much for your time this morning. As soon as I heard that criticism of the letter, I want you to come on and have an opportunity to defend it, and that you did. Thanks so much.


PRIMUS: Happy to do it.

BLACKWELL: And be sure to watch CNN special impeachment coverage. It resumes today at 9:00 Eastern. Christi.

PAUL: There are more details emerging about the accusations of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo covering up thousands of COVID deaths in nursing homes, what his top aide said that's really fueling the controversy at this point.

BLACKWELL: And details on how the CDC says that everyone can get back into the schools get children back into the classroom, and whether that means that teachers should be vaccinated.



BLACKWELL: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new guidance for reopening schools safely.

PAUL: The guidelines emphasize mask wearing, hand washing, social distancing. As we know, the agency did not, however, include vaccines and testing among the key strategies. Instead, it says those are additional layers of COVID-19 prevention. Now, the new recommendations come as states and school districts debate whether to prioritize teachers for vaccinations. The CDC says vaccinating teachers is important but not a prerequisite for reopening.

A doctor, Richina Bicette, medical director of the emergency department at Baylor College of Medicine and emergency -- medicine physician with us now. So good to have you here with us, Doctor. Thank you.


PAUL: Of course, good morning to you. I wanted to ask you about some of this latest guidance from the CDC. One point of which they say if you have been vaccinated -- fully vaccinated, you don't need to quarantine if you have a potential exposure.

Fully vaccinated, I'm assuming being the operative word there. But are you -- are you comfortable with that line of guidance?

BICETTE: Well, a little bit of some feedback on that guidance. There are criteria that you have to meet in order to not quarantine if you've been fully vaccinated. So, fully vaccinated is the operative word. That means that not only have you had both doses of your vaccine, but it's been at least two weeks since your last dose of the vaccine. Then, the CDC says if it's been more than three months since you've been vaccinated, you may still have to quarantine because they're not sure how long immunity will last. And of course, if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, you don't fit the criteria and you should still quarantine.

The reason that they've changed these guidelines is because it has been shown that people who have been fully vaccinated are less at risk of developing severe disease. And so, it poses greater benefit to allow them to continue to work and to continue to be in society as opposed to quarantining.

PAUL: Now, there these new variants that are expected to be dominant by next month. Does that modify do you think any of this guidance we're hearing now when it comes to vaccinations?

BICETTE: I don't think it modifies the guidance just yet. Vaccines are still going to work. We're not sure how well they're going to work against these new variants, but early research is favorable, and it does show that there are still some neutralizing properties produced if you are vaccinated.

I like to use Israel as an example because they've vaccinated a large proportion of their population. And despite the U.K. variant being dominant in Israel, they're still having a decrease in caseload and a decrease in hospitalizations, which is our current real-world examples that these vaccines do work.

PAUL: What is your take on the vaccines that are being distributed, a million of them to different pharmacies? Is that a game-changer for getting shots into arms in your opinion?

BICETTE: It could potentially be. I think what is more of a game- changer is not where the vaccines are going to be given, but in which communities the vaccines are going to be given.

We've seen in a lot of places that vaccine distribution is going to major names: CVS, Walgreens, public pharmacies. But in rural communities, these large chains may not be available. So, we have to make sure that we're tapping into the small local pharmacies. The mom- and-pop shops that may be more accessible to people in those communities.

PAUL: So, there's news this morning that AstraZeneca is testing children as young as six for their vaccine. This is in the U.K. right now. Do you see -- do you foresee vaccinations for young children for COVID?

BICETTE: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. We've proved that vaccinations are safe in adults and it's the next logical step that we start vaccinating children. Although children don't typically get as sick as adults do from COVID and the death rates are much, much lower, children are still getting COVID-19.

Today, there have been about 3 million cases of children with COVID, and that's almost 13 percent of our COVID cases. So, we definitely need to make sure that we include them in our vaccination groups.

PAUL: Good, good point to make. You know, the most asked question I get from people when they're talking about this is, how long will it be before we can stop wearing masks and before we can stop social distancing? What do you think has to happen publicly in this realm for us to move into what we knew as life before COVID?

BICETTE: That's such a difficult question. So, I think in order for us to get back to where we were in maybe January of 2020, it's really going to take us achieving that herd immunity marker. And that's not going to happen until we get at least 75 percent of the population vaccinated.

The good news is, in the last month, we've ramped up vaccinations so much that we're now giving on average 1.6 million vaccines per day. So, current estimates is that it will only take about another eight months if we're continuing on the same trajectory to vaccinate 75 percent of the population.


BICETTE: That being said, although it may take eight months for us to kind of get back to life as we know it, I do think that we will see a substantial decrease in COVID cases and in COVID hospitalizations. Once we reach a much lower threshold, potentially, 40 to 50 percent of the population being vaccinated.

PAUL: All right. Although there are people who argue we will never go fully back to normal because maybe some of us have changed priorities about things as well.

Dr. Richina Bessette, so good to have you with us. Thank you for taking the time.

BICETTE: Thank you so much for having me.

PAUL: Of course.

BLACKWELL: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing accusations that his administration undercounted thousands of COVID deaths in the state's nursing homes at the height of the pandemic.

Now, comments from the governor's top aide are adding to this controversy. She explained why the administration delayed the release of certain information. CNN's Athena Jones has the story.


NICK LANGWORTHY, CHAIRMAN, NEW YORK STATE REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE: The gravity of this cover-up cannot be overstated.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is under fire after his top aide admitted to withholding data for months. They revealed thousands more confirmed and presumed COVID-19 deaths of long-term care facility residents than previously disclosed. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Applies --

JONES: According to a transcript of a private video call, Melissa DeRosa, who often appeared at press conferences with the governor told Democratic state lawmakers, "Basically, we froze because then we were in a position where we weren't sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice or what we give to you guys, what we start saying was going to be used against us."

Cuomo arguing at the time the threat of an inquiry from the Trump administration was politically motivated.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): They have played politics on this from day one.

JONES: The New York Post first reported the story, citing a recording of the call. State lawmakers from both parties slamming DeRosa's admission. 14 Democratic state senators saying in a statement, Cuomo should be stripped of his emergency powers. Among them, Senator Alessandra Biaggi, who tweeted, "You're only sorry that you all got caught." State Republicans echoing their call and going further.

LANGWORTHY: The Cuomo administration purposely lied and withheld evidence and information to avoid prosecution. Andrew Cuomo must be prosecuted, and Andrew Cuomo must be impeached if this evidence exists.

JONES: Residents of long-term care facilities have accounted for a significant percentage of COVID deaths in many states. In New York, some 15,000 residents of facilities like nursing homes died according to the Department of Health, about a third of all COVID deaths statewide.

JERRY MALDONADO, MOTHER DIED IN NEW YORK NURSING HOME: The COVID crisis in New York's nursing homes was a preventable crisis.

JONES: The true death toll was revealed after New York attorney general and Cuomo ally Letitia James issued a scathing report last month, accusing the state of undercounting deaths in these facilities by some 50 percent, by only publicly reporting those who died on site. Not residents who were admitted to hospitals and died there or elsewhere.

The deaths were counted in the state's overall death toll but were not attributed to long-term care facilities.

CUOMO: Whether a person died in a hospital or died in a nursing home, it's the -- people died. I wish none of it happened. I wish there was no COVID, I wish no old people died.

JONES: The Associated Press reporting, more than 9,000 recovering coronavirus patients in New York were transferred to nursing homes from hospitals early in the pandemic. Including more than 6,300 previously disclosed admissions directly from hospitals, and more than 2,700 readmissions of patients sent back to nursing homes from hospitals. Cuomo, who was among the governor's meeting with President Joe Biden has faced criticism over a March 2020 state health department advisory that required nursing homes to admit and readmit patients with COVID. Something critics say may have further fueled the outbreak in those facilities. Cuomo has said the policy was in line with federal guidance.

Cuomo's administration has pushed back. State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker arguing 98 percent of New York nursing homes had COVID cases before admitting a positive patient from a hospital. And that the major driver of infections appears to be from asymptomatic staff. The controversial directive was scrapped in May.


JONES (on camera): And this latest controversy comes after Governor Cuomo was praised initially for his handling of the pandemic. He even wrote a best-selling book about leadership in a pandemic. His daily COVID briefings became appointment viewing during the worst of the outbreak here in New York and he was even awarded an International Emmy Founders Award for his use of television to inform and calm the public.

Some people were even talking about how he should run for president. Well, now, he faces a real crisis.

Athena Jones, CNN, New York.


PAUL: Athena, thank you so much to you.

Up next, President Biden's agenda. We are live in Washington with details on the strategy the president will move to push ahead beyond the impeachment.


PAUL: So, President Biden is spending the weekend at Camp David. And yesterday, he spoke with our Jeremy Diamond about former President Trump's impeachment trial. Saying, he has no plans to speak with any senator about how they're going to vote.

BLACKWELL: Jeremy Diamond joins us now from the White House. So, the president does not speak much about the impeachment trial. What else did he say to you?


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, look, it was interesting. First of all, President Biden was making this impromptu stop to the North Lawn to visit these candy hearts set up behind me by the first lady. And I was able to speak with him for a few minutes as he was walking back to the White House. And he made clear to me that while he is -- the impeachment trial has not been his focus over the last week. That he is anxious to see how Senate Republicans will react. Listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm just anxious to see with what my Republican friends do, will they stand up?


DIAMOND: And that question of whether they stand up was notable there, because the president and his press secretary have declined to say, so far, whether President Biden believes that former President Trump should be convicted in this impeachment trial.

But clearly, this notion of standing up in this trial, standing up to the former president, standing up for their oath to the constitution, clearly suggests that President Biden would like to see or believes that President Trump -- former President Trump should indeed be convicted.

But as I said, most of President Biden's attention over the last week and in the coming week has been focused not only impeachment trial but on this $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that he is trying to get through Congress.

Yesterday, we saw the president sitting down with the group of bipartisan mayors and governors who support his $1.9 trillion package, and all of whom stress the importance and the need for this urgent relief which will not only help the economic crisis but also go towards additional funding for testing and vaccine distribution.

In the coming week, you'll see more from the current president talking about that package as the House Democrats move forward with actually writing this bill into law. The president is actually expected to participate in a CNN town hall in the State of Wisconsin. The first time we'll see him go out in the country to pitch this coronavirus relief package.

PAUL: So, I want to ask you before we let you go about the White House suspending this press aide for threatening a reporter. What are you hearing from the White House about whatever this incident was?

DIAMOND: That's right. Well, the White House Deputy Press Secretary T.J. Ducklo allegedly threatened a reporter who was writing a story about a relationship that T.J. was having with a separate reporter from Axios. And T.J., according to this report in Vanity Fair, which CNN has since confirmed threatens to "destroy" her if she published it, and also made some misogynistic comments towards her.

The White House has suspended T.J. Ducklo for a week without pay. Here is the White House press secretary talking about that just yesterday.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: T.J. Ducklo, who is the deputy whom you're asking about has apologized to the reporter. Apologized to the reporter quite shortly after the comments were made. He had a heated conversation about a story related to his personal life.

I'm not saying that's acceptable, but I just want to be clear that it was not about an issue related to the White House or White House policy or anything along those lines.

He's the first to acknowledge this is not the standard of behavior set out by the president, nor is that the standard of behavior set by me, and I'm his direct supervisor.


DIAMOND: And President Biden had made clear that he would actually fire anybody -- any White House official who is disrespectful towards a colleague or towards anybody else.

Clearly, the White House stopped short of this, but the White House insisting that they sent a strong signal by suspending him without pay for a week. Christi, Victor?

BLACKWELL: Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Thank you so much. And we have something special for you on Tuesday, Jeremy mentioned it. President Biden will join CNN's Anderson Cooper live from Milwaukee for a CNN Town Hall. It is Tuesday, at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.



BLACKWELL: Award-winning actor and best-selling cookbook author, Stanley Tucci is coming to CNN, and he's taking you along for an unforgettable journey.

PAUL: Our Brooke Baldwin takes a closer look at his illustrious Hollywood career, his passion for cooking, and his family ties to his beloved Italy.


STANLEY TUCCI, AWARD-WINNING ACTOR AND BEST-SELLING COOKBOOK AUTHOR: I'm traveling across Italy to discover how the food in each of this country's 20 regions is as unique as the people and their past.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST (voice-over): Good Italian food has been a constant in Stanley Tucci's life.

TUCCI: My mom was an incredible cook -- is an incredible cook.

BALDWIN: Born in New York to Italian American parents, Tucci spent a year growing up in Florence.

TUCCI: It was the start of a lifelong love affair with Italy.

BALDWIN: When Tucci first became an actor, he was often cast as a mobster.

TUCCI: All right, hurry up, I want to make bail and get out in time for my racquetball game.

BALDWIN: But his career blossomed beyond any stereotype.

TUCCI: Well, hello there. Good evening --

BALDWIN: Appearing in more than 100 films and T.V. shows.

TUCCI: Well, I know.

BALDWIN: Tucci has filled his roles with humor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You kind of look like a stripper.


TUCCI: A high-end stripper for governors or athletes.


TUCCI: No adults allowed.

BALDWIN: And big budget action.

TUCCI: -- Annual Hunger Games!

Yes, yes. I think we did it. They're here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this a turning point in your career?

TUCCI: It could be.

BALDWIN: His directorial debut, 1996's big night starred Tucci and food.

Two Italian American brothers struggle running a restaurant while cooking family recipes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a secret recipe that they brought from their hometown.

BALDWIN: Not much has changed.

TUCCI: I'm on the hunt for the perfect timballo, it's a dish I'm obsessed with.

BALDWIN: Food is an important part of many of Tucci's films.

TUCCI: And it turned out to be Julia.

BALDWIN: He played Julia Child's husband in 2009.

TUCCI: What is it that you really like to do?


BALDWIN: The same year, Tucci's real wife Kate died from breast cancer.


TUCCI: All right, everyone, gird your loins.

BALDWIN: But he found love again when his co-star in The Devil Wears Prada, Emily Blunt, introduced him to her sister, Felicity.

TUCCI: This is where we met.

FELICITY BLUNT, WIFE OF STANLEY TUCCI: Have you got some poetry?

TUCCI: Not on me.

BALDWIN: The two share a love of cooking and cookbooks have resulted along with some viral quarantine cocktails.

BLUNT: What are you going to make me?

TUCCI: A Negroni.

BALDWIN: Family, friends, and food. A theme of Tucci's life.

TUCCI: I think it's time to feed the film crew.

BALDWIN: And his new show.

TUCCI: I'm going to make them one of my favorites.

BALDWIN: Brooke Baldwin, CNN, New York.


PAUL: Love that he -- love that he remembers the film crew. "STANLEY TUCCI: SEARCHING FOR ITALY" premieres tomorrow at 9 00 p.m. Eastern.

Be sure to stay with CNN now throughout the day. We have special coverage for you. The second Trump impeachment trial begins at 9:00 a.m.

BLACKWELL: Smerconish is up after a break.