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New Day Saturday
States, Businesses Drop Mask Mandates Following CDC Guidance; House Strikes Deal To Create Independent January 6th Commission; New Video Shows A Black Man With Mental Health Issues Pepper-Sprayed And Tased Before Dying In Police Custody; No End In Sight To Conflict As Israel Military Bombards Gaza, And Gaza Fires Barrage Of Rockets Into Israel; Entire State Of ` Is Now In Drought, Expected To Intensify During Summer Months. Aired 7-8a ET
Aired May 15, 2021 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone and welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Amara Walker in for Christi Paul.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Always great to see you, Amara. I'm Boris Sanchez. America unmasked. For the first time in more than a year, the CDC says vaccinated Americans can ditch face coverings, but there is some confusion as states and businesses adopt their own policies.
WALKER: Plus, Congresswoman Liz Cheney is staying, saying silence is not an option and valley to do whatever she can to keep former President Trump out of politics.
SANCHEZ: Plus, disturbing new video shows a black man with mental health issues pepper sprayed and tasered before dying in police custody. What officers are saying about that case?
WALKER: And the death toll is mounting in the escalating Israeli- Palestinian conflict. We will take you there live.
Good Saturday morning to you all and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Saturday, May 15th. And good to be with you, Boris.
SANCHEZ: Great to be with you, Amara, we're grateful that you are with us and excited to anchor for the first time together. This is awesome.
WALKER: We do way back. People don't know that. So, it's nice to sort of be reunited, right?
SANCHEZ: Yes, yes. A lot of people don't realize that I was interning at a T.V. station in Miami and you were so gracious, you were so kind.
WALKER: You make me feel so old.
SANCHEZ: No. No, you were so gracious and so kind.
WALKER: You were interning while I was working there. Got it. SANCHEZ: I mean, look at us now.
WALKER: Yes. I know. And now we're back together.
SANCHEZ: This is wonderful.
WALKER: Well, you know, millions of Americans are enjoying their first full weekend with loosen to COVID restrictions and over a year. But there's confusion and some concern, with some thinking the decision to lift those mask mandates for the fully vaccinated maybe too much too soon.
SANCHEZ: Yes, the CDC says more than 155 million people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including about 2.4 million kids under 18. Some experts though, have raised concerns about the new guidance in part because vaccine hesitancy remains a barrier to getting to that goal of herd immunity.
WALKER: Nearly every state has ended or plans to end its masks mandates soon and while a growing number of retailers are telling customers they can leave their masks behind, unions representing grocery store workers and retail workers argue their members will now be forced to become the vaccine police. CNN's Polo Sandoval joining us now with more. And Polo, the new guidelines, yes, they are an important step toward returning to normal, but we got to remember the pandemic is far from over.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Amara and Boris, you know there are many people across the country have been overly cautious for the last year, year and a half. You might be asking exactly how the CDC was able to issue that guidance. Just yesterday, well consider those the number of cases that has been dropping. And the number of vaccinations that have been administered, that number has been increasing.
And that's why the head of the NIH said just recently here that we are on the right path that they are advising people that they can remove their masks on the outdoors but also indoors as long as they've been fully vaccinated. But the head of the NIH also saying we are not at the end of the story yet. There are many people who haven't even received one shot yet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: Several seed governors and big retailers signal the return to normal on Friday in the U.S. A day after the CDC said it is safe for fully vaccinated people to remove their face masks in most settings.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: People who feel that which they should now, based on the data, that it is safe for them not only outdoors, but indoors. They should feel comfortable in not wearing a mask.
SANDOVAL: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Friday the state which recently battled a surge in coronavirus cases will lift its mask requirement for fully vaccinated people effective this morning. Several states have already taken that step: Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Vermont and Virginia ended their mask mandates yesterday.
That's after the CDC on Thursday changes mask guidelines and said fully vaccinated people no longer need to keep their distance from others outside their household. Several national retailers followed suit: Walmart, Costco, Sam's Club and Trader Joe's announced Friday that they are no longer required to wear masks in some of their stores.
And public supermarkets announced it starting today, fully vaccinated customers will, will not be required to wear face masks in their stores. Starbucks will make facial coverings optional for vaccinated customers starting on Monday, the company announced late on Friday in a post to their Web site. The CDC trying to make things less confusing with this new list of mask guidelines.
There's at least one group still scrambling for answers, parents of kids younger than 12. Children and educators should expect to return to school in person and full time in the fall, that's according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. But children who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 will still need to wear masks in the classroom this fall, said Dr. Anthony Fauci on Friday.
FAUCI: What hasn't changed is what's going on for the unvaccinated group. And if the unvaccinated group of the elementary school children, nothing has really changed for them, I think that's the thing we need to clarify.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: Recently, another significant announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that is that they will no longer be tracking some of those minor or mild or asymptomatic so-called breakthrough cases ever. You know, those are those cases that have people who have tested positive for the virus even after being fully vaccinated. But we need to remind viewers that is a very small percentage of the roughly 120 million Americans who are now fully protected by a vaccine.
WALKER: Polo Sandoval, great reporting. Thank you for that. Well, last night, the FAA and the TSA issued a joint statement reminding the public that the mask mandate on public transportation remains in effect. It is important guidance as millions of Americans begin to travel over the summer. The FAA says it has received more than 1300 reports of unruly passenger incidents in just the last three months beyond just mask issues. Joining me now to discuss is Sarah Nelson, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants.
Sarah, a pleasure to have you on. I've been seeing some of your tweets in recent weeks and months. And I know, lately, you're saying, look, there needs to be no confusion about what will be required of you when you get on a flight. What do we need to know if we will be flying today, tomorrow, and the days after?
SARAH NELSON, INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: Well, just as the FAA, TSA and CDC all reminded us yesterday, the mask mandate is still in place in transportation. And so, if you are at an airport or on an airplane, you will be required to have a face covering that will be enforced. And there's a zero- tolerance policy in place as well, because we need to really understand that just what Dr. Fauci said, for the unvaccinated people, this, the guidance remains the same.
We've got to have this layered approach to safety and health. And so, in the airports and on the airplanes, we have no way of determining who's vaccinated who's not. And so, the rules have to be the same for everyone, and that is have a face covering. And if you don't have that, you could face fines up to $35,000. And in fact, jail time if you're refusing to comply.
WALKER: Tell me what the reaction has been from fellow flight attendants, especially because there is concern that there's going to be an increase in mask fights. We, we just mentioned in the intro that there have been more than 1300 reports of unruly passengers according to the FAA, in just the last three months. Are flight attendants concerned that they might see more people, you know, saying, look, the CDC says, I don't need to wear a mask, why should I on an airplane?
NELSON: When we're not clear with the traveling public about what the rules are, it always falls to the flight attendants to enforce those rules, and it makes our job more difficult, and it gives rise to conflict in the cabin. Flight attendants have been on the front lines of this since January of 2020. And since April of 2020, since those max policies have been in place at our airlines, we've been enforcing that and we have been having to get intervene and a lot of conflicts and also, we have been at the receiving end of a lot of harassment and abuse and, and even physical abuse.
So, we need to be very clear with the traveling public and I, I want to really commend the vast majority of people in this country who really just want to know what the rules are and follow them and have a safe, uneventful flight. Listen to your flight crew. We give you instructions, just like we know that clearer turbulence can throw you around the cabin suddenly and we tell you to put your seatbelts on. We tell you do that for your own safety and the safety of everyone around you. The same policy applies here with the mask. This is for your safety and the safety of everyone around you. We've all got to follow the same rules in that enclosed space where we have to have layers of safety and security to keep us all safe.
WALKER: It's awful and I'm sorry that you know of your flight attendants have to go through what you do and, and have been going through for the last year with harassment and abuse. Can you tell us specifically about some of these confrontations that have been happening on planes? And secondly, do you feel like this is too soon because again, you're, you're, you know, a lot of flight attendants, including essential workers around the country will have to play mask police. NELSON: We have to have guidance that is very clear. From the
government because as you said, yes, playing mass police is not a good place to be. When people don't understand what those rules are or what the consequences are for not complying, that then puts all the onus on the people on the frontlines who are trying to keep everyone safe and themselves and their own families.
WALKER: Yes. Well, Sarah, though, can you -- sorry to cut you off, but could you tell us a little bit about those conflicts, like what has been happening on planes?
NELSON: We we've had people actually punched flight attendants, we have had people punched other passengers, we've had people retaliate against the people who are not wearing the masks. We had someone spit into a child's mouth, we had someone urinate on the plane. These are the kinds of things that happen. And those conflicts grow very quickly and exponentially on board, if they're not contained quickly. So, we've had 10 times as many cases as we have in a normal year in the first four months of this year. We need everyone to understand what the rules are and comply and again, listen to your flight attendants. Were there to keep you safe.
WALKER: Do you fear that those kinds of incidents will increase with the CDC saying the fully vaccinated do not have to wear masks, even though on transportation, public transportation, it will be required?
NELSON: Well look, the Secretary Transportation, Secretary Buttigieg, and Administrator Dixon at the FAA and the TSA, everyone has been very clear and President Biden that this is a requirement in transportation. This remains in place. Our airlines put out a statement last night that was very, very clear, they're going to continue to enforce this is a very important part of layered safety and security and air travel. And it needs to remain in place. We also have to remember that air travel is an international network. And oftentimes variants can travel through transportation.
So, we all want to end the pandemic, and we're not there yet, and this is a really critical part of ending the pandemic, keeping us all safe, and allowing us to resume that life that we want to have. Now, we say get vaxxed, wear a mask, and come fly with us. People can get out and fly and that's a good thing. But we have to follow the rules to keep everyone safe and make sure that this is not extending. And we're not putting the onus on the people on the frontlines who just have to enforce the policies that are in place.
WALKER: Yes, I feel for you. Just quick question yes or no, will airlines require proof of vaccination in the coming future?
NELSON: So, this is a discussion that's being had but right now that is not in place. So, there's no way to determine who is vaccinated and who is not. We are in discussions and we need to have more discussions with the federal government about best practices here about how we can apply an electronic passport of sorts. But it needs to be voluntary, it needs to be specific to COVID-19 and we need to get together to figure out how to best apply that for people, so that it can be something that is that helps the travel experience and doesn't hamper people's ability to get around when they really need to.
AMARA: Wear masks when you fly on public transportation. Sarah Nelson with the Association of Flight Attendants, thank you very much.
NELSON: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Still to come, a Rogue Republican is out, and a Trump loyalist is in so what is next for the House GOP after voting in Congresswoman Elise Stefanik to replace Liz Cheney.
WALKER: Also, there appears to be no end in sight to the deadly violence that continues between Israelis and Palestinians even as calls for a ceasefire (INAUDIBLE) we're going to go live to the region with more.
SANCHEZ: Congresswoman Lewis Cheney no longer has a leadership role in Congress. But she is taking out a leadership role in the fight to "save the Republican Party."
WALKER: And she told our colleague Jake Tapper that one challenge she sees his members who are now more interested in lies over legislation and political performance over policy. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I think it's been especially clear on my side recently is that, you know, we need to incentivize people who want to come to Washington and do real work, people who want to come and actually legislate. And we also need to get back to a time when we could have really vigorous policy debates, where we were confident enough in, in our views and our side of things that we could stand up and argue for them and make the case.
But that we didn't have the kind of vitriol flying back and forth that would that we certainly have over the course of last several years. And people ought to want to be there and work hard and not be social media stars, in not that that's not the right reason to be there. The vast majority of members are there for the right reasons. But -- but we've got to find a way in our society to incentivize more substance more seriousness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Let's discuss the state of the Republican Party with two longtime members of the GOP: Michael Steele, is a former Adviser to Republicans like John Boehner and Jeb Bush, and also with a CNN Political Commentator, Alice Stuart, she's a Republican Strategist and Former Communications Director for Ted Cruz. We are grateful to have you both. Thank you for joining us. Alice, I want to get your reaction to Liz Cheney doing this media
circuit on her way out of leadership. She's calling out Donald Trump, Kevin McCarthy and saying we have to save the party. The reality is the majority of Republicans at least publicly don't think the party needs to be saved from Donald Trump.
ALICE STUART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let me just say first of all, Boris that Liz Cheney is 100 percent correct in everything that she just said, we need to stick to the truth. We need to stick to policy. I've supported everything she said with regard to we had free and fair elections that Joe Biden won, Donald Trump lost.
We should not have had the insurrection we should not have challenged the outcome of the results. But the truth is in our position of leadership, she needed to focus on taking our fight to Joe Biden and not litigating her fight with Donald Trump and that is why she is no longer in the position. What I do expect with the new leadership under Elise Stefanik is to bring it back unity, focus on policies and pushing forward to win in 2022 putting behind us that the lies of the big lie and the, the inequalities in our election.
We have wonderful elections in this country. We have a great system of democracy in this country. We need to focus on that. But the Republican Party, we need to keep those Trump loyalists on board, and we also need to bring on the disaffected Republicans that we lost due to this divisive language, and that's the goal for a winning formula for republicans moving forward.
SANCHEZ: Michael, the part of the interview, and specifically that sound bite that we just played that stood out to me is Cheney not so subtly calling out people in her own party. Like Marjorie Taylor Greene, for example, she talks about getting back to a time where we have confidence in our views. It sounds like she's lamenting that instead of trying to win with ideas the GOP has leaned into Trump-ism with bluster and stunts, getting headlines and clicks and attention, instead of trying to win on ideas. Is that where the votes are?
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER ADVISER TO REPUBLICANS: Well, I think that's where some members are. And I think it's going to be an increasing issue in both parties. As Cheney said, the incentives are aligned in the wrong way, in a lot of ways right now. But I do agree that this is an opportunity to turn the page and start talking about the failures of the Biden administration, border security and Middle East flames, high gas prices, inflation, trillion-dollar spending, plans, coupled with job killing tax hikes, and offering better solutions rooted in Republican principles, to the real issues that the American people face. I think we have a real opportunity to do that with this new leadership team. And that's the thing that's going to give us success going into the midterms in 2018.
SANCHEZ: I'm curious about this commission, this bipartisan commission to analyze the events of January 6th. Alice, we've heard from several law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol that day, some of them accusing Republicans of whitewashing what happened. Do you think enough Republicans are going to actually back this commission, especially if it finds what we all know what Leader McCarthy said after the insurrection that Donald Trump bears responsibility?
STUART: I certainly hope there's bipartisan input into this everyone. Republicans and Democrats alike, we're at in danger on January 6th, and we owe it to, to them and to our American public and the Constitution of this country to find the truth. And I fully support complete and full investigation of this. I think Liz Cheney was absolutely correct in our emphasis on this. And not only that Boris, people need to be held accountable; the people who invited people to the Capitol that day and prompted them on.
And I do think that Donald Trump is one of those people, Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump, Jr., and that's the key here, and this is an affront to our Constitution. This should never have happened. And we need to make sure that the right questions are asked, and the right punishment is handed out to make sure that this is not this challenge to our constitution and our election system does not happen again.
SANCHEZ: Michael, you've argued that to win in 22, McCarthy has to build a coalition of Republicans who support Trump and those who are repelled by his actions. Having the leader of House Republicans subpoenaed would not seem to help that effort. Do you think he somehow tries to block this?
STEELE: I hope not. I think that this is a bipartisan agreement. I think that it seems like a fair agreement, at least on the face of it. I think that it will pass the house with a strong bipartisan vote. And I think that the Republican leader should be willing to talk about the events of that day. We can never forget our turn our back on this assault on the Cathedral of our democracy, the United States Capitol, the lives were put in danger. And the reasons that had happened to the lies that former President Trump spread about the election last year. And so, I think that a fact finding commission honest, bipartisan, is certainly appropriate.
SANCHEZ: Go ahead, Alice.
STUART: If I can just say this is critically important to follow through with what Michael said and, and the affront to our Constitution. At the same time, while that goes on the main focus for Republicans and I believe Michael will agree needs to be taking the fight to the Biden administration on the policies that he outlined and having a leader such as Elise Stefanik, leading the fight into 2022 and possibly 2024. To take back the house that needs to be the top priority for the Republican Party and members of the House and Senate moving forward. But simultaneously getting to the bottom of January 6th also needs to take place. We just need to make sure we have them in the right priority.
SANCHEZ: I think what I wanted to get from you, Michael was a sense of how Republicans would respond if the results of this commission doesn't shine too well on them, especially people in leadership like McCarthy.
STEELE: I don't know that there would be anything critical of the House Republican leadership than -- than the results. We'll have to wait and see what that is. I obviously think it will be critical of President Trump and many of the folks that organized and spoke at the rally earlier that day. But again, we need to find the truth. We need to look at the facts out there for the American people. Prosecutions are continuing the individuals who committed crimes that day, and I think that I think that this is exactly right.
The big picture here is the failures of the Biden administration on things like gas prices, inflation spending, the Middle East, border security, that needs to be the focus and the better solutions that Republicans offer on those issues. But we can, in one of the most horrible cliches of Capitol Hill life, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can have a commission look into the events of January 6th, investigate the past while also looking to the future and offering an agenda that the American people support.
SANCHEZ: We'll see how McCarthy feels about potentially having to testify to the things that Donald Trump said to him on the phone on January 6th, and the fact that just days later, he essentially capitulated to the former president and has been placating him ever since. We have to leave it there. Michael Steele Ella Stewart thank you both very much.
STUART: Boris, thank you.
SANCHEZ: Of course.
WALKER: Up next, disturbing new video involving the death of a mentally ill black man being pepper sprayed and tased as South Carolina sheriff's deputies tried to remove him from a jail cell. Ahead, what the family and the sheriff's department are now saying about that video.
AMARA WALKER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The South Carolina Sheriff's Office has released disturbing new footage, and it shows the black man with mental health issues getting pepper-sprayed and tasered repeatedly before dying in police custody.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The death of Jamal Sutherland is the latest incident to raise questions about law enforcement's use of force during encounters with the mentally ill.
CNN's Ryan Young has more on this story, and we should warn you, some of the video you're about to see is difficult to watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, come to the door. Come here.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Newly released video shows the events leading up to the death of 31-year-old Jamal Sutherland, a black man awaiting a bond hearing for an alleged misdemeanor assault.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop to your knees.
YOUNG: Sutherland, whose family says he was diagnosed with mental health issues at a young age was involuntary treatment at a mental health facility in North Charleston, South Carolina.
On the night of January 4th, authorities responding to an altercation that broke out at the facility, arrested Sutherland after he allegedly assaulted a staff member. His family says they were never notified and are speaking out for the first time since the video was released.
AMY SUTHERLAND, MOTHER OF JAMAL SUTHERLAND: We got no information from anybody. We never knew he was taken from the mental health center.
YOUNG: Sutherland died in custody the next morning at the North Charleston detention center after he was removed from the cell to attend the bond hearing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) and get out of here.
YOUNG: The newly released body cam video shows the timeline of what occurred in the moments leading up to Sutherland's death.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, come put your hands through the flat man.
YOUNG: It shows officers at his cell door for several minutes telling him to put his hands out to be cuffed, warning if he doesn't comply they'll use force.
Sutherland can be heard yelling and officers say he was holding a spoon saying, I'm warning you. And officers can be seen spraying pepper spray into his cell a short time later.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come and go, Sutherland.
YOUNG: After several more failed attempts to coax him out, he is hit with more pepper spray. About a minute later, the doors open again. This time, deputies tased Sutherland and tell him to get on his stomach.
He can be heard asking, what's the meaning of this? Deputies enter the cell telling him to relax and not to resist.
Deputies tased Sutherland multiple times to get control of him in the cell. He can be seen and heard screaming on the ground. Two minutes later, Sutherland is eventually cuffed and slid out of his cell. His family saw the video for the first time just a week ago.
A. SUTHERLAND: Mental illness does not give anybody the right to put their hands on my child.
YOUNG: Sutherland's father says a mental health professional in the cell with his son would have changed the outcome. JAMES SUTHERLAND, FATHER OF JAMAL SUTHERLAND: He was already afraid and confused about the situation, and there was nobody in there to talk to him with any compassion, to try to reason with him.
YOUNG: Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano speaking out.
KRISTIN GRAZIANO, SHERIFF, CHARLESTON COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA: I will not tolerate by acts of any acts of violence against our citizens or our residents at our facility and I will not -- any acts of destruction will -- that jeopardize the safety of that community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: That was Ryan Young reporting.
WALKER: All right, coming up, as the death toll climbs in Gaza from Israeli airstrikes and artillery, deadly violence is now spreading to the West Bank. We're going to take you to the region for a live report, next.
SANCHEZ: This morning, ceaseless rocket fire in Gaza as the Israeli military and Hamas continue fighting around the clock. Right now, there is no end in sight for the deadly conflict, the worst in that area in years.
WALKER: Our Nic Robertson is in Israel near the Gaza border with the very latest. Nic, what can you tell us about what's happening there where you are?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Definitely compared to 48 hours ago, less rockets are being fired, they are just as deadly. If you remember an hour ago, I was talking to you and showing you the Iron Dome intercepts of rockets fired from Gaza that were happening in the sky just behind us.
I said that we knew that sirens were going off in Tel Aviv and small -- and towns close to Tel Aviv. So, those rockets that were being intercepted last hour, we now know where they fell. One landed in a street in a town just outside of Tel Aviv and killed a 50-year-old Israeli man who was in the street. Another one landed near an IKEA shopping center. Didn't hit it, landed near but big plumes of smoke coming up there.
And since then as well, there have been more rockets fired out of Gaza, more intercepts in the skies around us here. The situation in Gaza, we know that buildings have continued to be targeted.
The IDF say that they have been targeting today tunnel networks. The entrances to tunnels, which they say are located very close to civilian areas. They say they know that, that they try to minimize civilian casualties. They say they've been targeting weapons teams, rocket teams -- Hamas rocket teams in Gaza as well.
Nevertheless, there are civilian casualties in Gaza. A small toddler was pulled from the rubble of a three-story house that was -- that was demolished overnight. The rest of the family, it appears perished. And that -- and according to Palestinian authorities in Gaza, 139 people killed so far. 39 of them children, 22 of them women. So, the casualties are continuing on both sides here right now.
WALKER: All right, Nic Robertson, appreciate your update on what's happening there on the ground.
Let's talk more about this with my next guest who wrote in the Washington Post. "So much for the Abraham Accords. Trump made things worse in the Middle East."
Max Booth -- Max Boot, a senior fellow at the council on foreign relations joining me now to discuss. Max, always great to see you.
Before we talk about your piece, I want to get to what's been happening. Nic Robertson has been doing some, you know, really great reporting there, and he was just mentioning that -- look, it's obviously continuing, more rockets are being fired from Gaza, more intercepts happening on the Israeli side.
Where do you see this heading? I mean, is it going to get worse? How long could this last? I know this is a difficult question to answer, but you're hearing Israeli officials saying, look we're going to keep going as long as necessary until all our targets have been hit.
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: To me, this is resembling in a lot of ways previous conflicts between Israel and Hamas, minus so far an Israeli ground incursion into the Gaza Strip, which I hope can still be avoided. But basically, you know you've had these periodic eruptions of violence since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
And what normally happens is pretty much what you're seeing now Hamas firing rockets at Israel, Israel retaliating with airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, and basically continuing until both sides feel like they have made their point.
And then, they will do some behind-the-scenes negotiations via Egypt or some other interlocutor, and basically, call a ceasefire with basically returning to the situation before the violence started. Now, it's impossible to predict exactly how long that process will take.
WALKER: Yes. Right.
BOOT: Or unfortunately, how many people will get killed in the meantime, but I think that's, that's what's going to happen. It's just the question was it going to be a few days, is it going to be a few weeks? We just don't know.
WALKER: Yes, this flare-up -- recent flare-up and violence in the region obviously doesn't surprise you because, as we mentioned, you wrote in your latest Washington post piece that you believe Trump made things worse in the Middle East.
Could you expand on that? And I know that you point to his steadfast support of Prime Minister Netanyahu.
BOOT: Well, first off, you know, the Abraham Accords were not this new dawn in the Middle East. They did not lay the foundations for peace in the region as Trump claimed when he signed them in September.
It's a nice thing, the Abraham Accords are the accords that normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, but that does nothing to solve the underlying Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
And what I argue in the article is that, in some ways, Trump actually made it worse, because he was so one-sided, so much in Netanyahu's corner, allowing Netanyahu to do anything, including expanding settlements in the West Bank, including evictions of Palestinians.
Trump, you know, moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, he recognized the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights. And all of that inflamed the current situation, and that's why you know you have this latest outburst of violence because they -- the crisis that lit the fuse was occurring in Jerusalem where Palestinians were protesting what they believed to be looming evictions of several Palestinian families. Then, you had clashes with the Israeli riot police and, you know, Hamas came in, and here we are.
But, you know, basically, Trump gave up any notion that he -- that the U.S. would be a peacemaker, and would try to mediate between Israelis and Palestinians. He was 120 percent in Israel's corner, and, you know, working hand in glove with his fellow right-wing populist Bibi Netanyahu, and that simply inflamed an already volatile situation.
WALKER: Right. Yes, and Max you wrote, you know, "It has long been obvious that a two-state solution is the only way out of this quagmire. But of the three major players: Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and Israel, none has a leader willing to make the slightest sacrifice for peace."
WALKER: So, I wonder, is a two-state solution the best option to pursue because, Max, I've heard the argument from many commentators who say, look, that's been an elusive pursuit. Why not just focus on trying to, you know, help secure or protect the rights of the Palestinians?
BOOT: Well, I think a two-state solution does secure and protect the rights of the Palestinians. I don't see any way to do it. If you don't have a two-state solution, what you have is the current situation, which is basically a state of continuing war with occasional ceasefires.
It's not a tenable long-term solution and you certainly can't have a single state because most Palestinians and most Israelis don't want to be part of the same government, so, you have to have a two-state solution. But the problem is, you don't have any leaders on either side who are interested in that outcome right now with Hamas. I mean, they want to eradicate Israel, the Palestinian authority under Mahmoud Abbas is willing to cooperate with Israel, but they're not willing to make a deal that would actually end the conflict.
And, of course, Bibi Netanyahu, in a lot of ways, he benefits from the current conflict because before the violence started, he might have been on his way out of office because he failed to secure a majority in his fourth election in two years, and his opponents were trying to make a deal to create an alternative government. Now, those negotiations have been put on hold.
So, you know, the only people who are benefiting from this current state of violence politically are Hamas and Netanyahu, and that's a tragedy for the people in the area because ordinary Palestinians, ordinary Israelis, they're both being victimized by this conflict that neither side the ordinary people truly want. But their leaders just can't make the sacrifices for peace that are necessary.
WALKER: Yes, you're right on that. And Netanyahu also facing trial on corruption charges, all of that being delayed.
Max Boot, appreciate you joining us this morning. Thank you so much.
BOOT: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Coming up, the entire state of California is in a severe drought bringing major wildfire concerns. Our Allison Chinchar has the latest on weather conditions in the state along with your weekend forecast just a few minutes away.
SANCHEZ: The 2020 fire season was the worst in California's history, but the stage is set for 2021 to potentially bring even more wildfires.
WALKER: Yes, Gavin -- Governor Newsom has declared a drought emergency as a state endures its second major drought in less than a decade. And this year, California has already seen more than seven times the amount of acres burned due to wildfires compared to this same time last year.
SANCHEZ: Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is in the CNN Weather Center. Allison, tell us what areas are being impacted the most.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right. So, overall the entire state is under some type of drought level, starting at moderate that's the low-end level. But if you look, you'll notice that red color that's the extreme, you're talking almost three-quarters of the entire State of California under a level four or three out of the four levels here.
And again, you'll notice it's not just in one particular area, although, the eastern portion that borders up against Nevada likely is dealing with some of the more longer term worst-case scenarios, but the entire state is impacted.
When we talk about where we were at the same time last year, you had about 1,700 acres burned in 2020. So far, up to this point, over 13,000. Again, that's more than seven times the number of where we were at the same time last year.
But it's not just California, look at other states: Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, even Utah. Over 80 percent of all the western states are under some type of drought condition as well. You have the fire concern, specifically for today for places like Las Vegas and even Tucson, where you have critical and elevated fire threats because of those gusty winds and the low humidities.
Now, some areas today, good news, are going to see some chance for rain. It's not going to be much, but at this point, they'll take anything. But on the eastern side of this same system, the main concern is going to be flooding, too much rain, and the potential for some severe storms.
You're talking Cheyenne, Denver, stretching down towards Amarillo, even down into San Antonio, Texas. Damaging winds, large hail, Boris and Amara, and even the potential for some tornadoes as well.
SANCHEZ: We know you'll keep an eye on it for us. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.
The Colonial Pipeline has restarted, but the gas panic still isn't over. How long is it going to take for a full recovery? That's just ahead.
ANNOUNCER: "FOOD AS FUEL" is brought to you by noom. Noom is based in psychology for lasting health and weight loss results.
WALKER: Meat-free meals have been part of East African and South Asian cuisine for centuries. In today's "FOOD AS FUEL", CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard shows us some healthy dishes from those parts of the world.
JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: It's easy to find nutritious meat-free meals at your local Indian restaurant. Dal is a dish made of lentils, and lentils are filled with protein and fiber.
Chana masala, an Indian favorite, made mainly of chickpeas. That means it's full of fiber, iron, folate, and vitamin B. And Aloo Gobi is a potato cauliflower dish that's flavored with healthy turmeric ginger, garlic, and cumin.
Another cuisine to try Ethiopian, which is usually full of nutrients and its low in fat. Most traditional Ethiopian food is eaten with your hands. So, it's a fun way to get your kids to try new flavors too. The meals are usually served on a whole grain flatbread made from the super grain teff, which is high in protein and calcium, and it's gluten-free. You can use that flatbread to scoop up thick vegetable stews. Try a stew made of split peas or ground lentils or beyaynetu, it's a vegetarian sampling of curries, stews, and vegetables, all placed on that healthy flatbread.
SANCHEZ: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Boris Sanchez.
WALKER: And I'm Amber Walker, in today for Christi Paul.
Tapped out. Gas stations across the parts of the southeast are still running on empty even after that pipeline restarted. When is supply expected to return to normal?