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New Day Sunday

Impeachment Article To Be Delivered To Senate Tomorrow; CDC Reviewing Data Suggesting U.K. COVID-19 Variant May Be More Deadly; Biden Team Meeting With Senators Today To Discuss Economic Relief; Broadcasting Legend Larry King Dies At Age 87. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired January 24, 2021 - 07:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a pretty good trajectory.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Biden administration went into its first weekend laser focused on the pandemic.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a wartime undertaking. We will get through this. We will defeat this pandemic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are going to get it done. We are going to hit our goal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The state of Georgia, COVID is overwhelming front line workers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We haven't had to ration care yet, but if the surge intensifies, we will have to make some tough decisions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is now beginning to take shape.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Senators will have to decide if Donald John Trump incited the insurrection against the United States.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Gorgeous morning there in Washington, D.C., as everybody is looking at Congress and what's going to happen tomorrow. They will be setting the stage for the impeachment trial of former President Trump. That would begin, that's when the article of impeachment charging incitement of insurrection will be ceremonially walked over to the Senate.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: But as agreed by Senate leaders, the trial will actually start the week of February 8. That will give House impeachment managers and Trump's defense team two weeks to prepare.

CNN's Daniella Diaz is on Capitol Hill. All right, Daniella, I have set the framework there. Give us some


DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: You are totally right, Victor. You have the timeline correct. Tomorrow is when the article of impeachment will be walked over to the Senate side. On Tuesday, a judge will be chosen. Senators will be sworn in. Then there will be a two-week break.

This is so that the Senate can focus on trying to confirm as many as Biden's picks for his cabinet as possible as well as other senior positions. Now, I really want to stress that even though this impeachment trial is going to happen on -- start February 9th, it is an uphill climb for Democrats to be able to convict President Donald Trump. They will need 17 Republican senators to sign on in support this trial.

There are a few senators we are watching, including Senator Mitt Romney, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Susan Collins. However, it's an uphill climb for the Democrats to convict Donald Trump. Now, what we are watching next is that this gives two weeks for the president's defense to craft a message. This also gives two weeks for the impeachment manager to build their message. So, we are watching that closely and we'll see how this plays out in the next two weeks.

BLACKWELL: Indeed, we will. Daniella Diaz for us there on Capitol Hill, thank you.

PAUL: Thank you, Daniella.

So, President Biden pushing forward with his agenda. He said he is going to leave the impeachment trial up to Congress essentially, but he is expected to sign additional executive orders on immigration specifically this week.

BLACKWELL: Let's go to CNN White House reporter Jasmine Wright now. One of those orders family -- includes creating a family reunification task force. Tell us about that.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: President Biden and his White House are really looking forward to Monday using that extra week that that impeachment delay is giving them and they are hoping again to go into those executive orders, but also to get some of those cabinet members he wants confirmed. He only has two out of three.

Now, for immigration executive orders, he is expected to sign more of those and they really go further into places that just weren't possible under President Trump, as well as roll back some of the things that he did in those four years in office. Now, just listening a few of those, they include funding for the root causes of immigration. They include creating a family reunification task force and address legal migration in this country.

Again, those are things that we -- excuse me, that Democrats had not just seen as possible to address immigration in this country during President Trump. But Biden has promised really over the campaign trail during the transition to improve the status of immigration in this country. So these executive orders are aimed at doing just that -- Victor and Christi.

PAUL: So, Jasmine, I understand that you have some new reporting on Vice President Kamala Harris. What do you know?

WRIGHT: Vice President Harris is, in her first days in this historic role that she holds, but already we are seeing moments where she is commanding a spotlight. That is typically unusual for a VP to do at this stage. It's certainly wasn't present during the weapon are Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump.

So, Harris, one of those moments was her speaking on inauguration night. Typically, VPs don't speak that day. And aides tell us, me and my colleague Arlette Saenz, sources tell us that it was intentional to highlight that historic role, but also to show that she is going to be a full governing partner to Biden.


It's something that they both talked about extensively during the transition. And she has been by Biden's side really so often these first few days. We saw her getting the presidents' daily briefing together, those are when they examine the threats that the country is facing. We saw her in key meetings, alongside him when he was signing those executive orders as well as those lunches that were so famous during Obama and in Biden's relationship, they are bringing those back and they had their first one on Friday.

Now, of course, she is doing her own things to push forward the agenda, making her own calls, including to SCIU.

Officials told us on Friday that is something that wasn't put in her schedule as well as reaching out to allies internationally. But aides and White House officials tell us that Harris will not have her own portfolio just yet. It will be that she responds to those crises that this administration is facing. Coronavirus, the economy, and all of the things intertwined with that. How she will define herself is by being by Biden's side responding to those as she is in this really initial period familiarizing herself with the West Wing and executive office -- Christi, Victor.

PAUL: All right. Jasmine Wright, appreciate it so much. Thank you.

WRIGHT: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Alex Burns is with us now. He is a CNN political analyst and national political correspondent for "The New York Times."

Alex, good morning to you.

I want to start here with the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, the rescue bill as it's called, and listen to Senator Lindsey Graham on that price tag and the contents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think the amount would be hard, but there are components I like and I don't like. I am hoping the bipartisan group, Senator Manchin and others, can come up with an alternative. I think we can do something. I think we need to do something. I don't think these bills are going to make it, but we need to do something.


BLACKWELL: So, he mentioned that bipartisan group, 16 senators, eight Republicans, eight Democrats. Senator Susan Collins is one of them, and she says she doesn't see a need for a bill right now, maybe in a couple of months. They just passed 900 billion. What is the expectation that's going to come out of this meeting?

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Victor, I think the expectation is that Joe Biden is going to have a choice between trying to get the kind of scale of bipartisan support that he wants for his agenda and that he believes is politically important for his agenda and actually getting the full slate of items he wants passed in his agenda.

You heard from Lindsey Graham I think a hint as to how things might proceed, it's possible they will end up doing a smaller bipartisan COVID relief bill sooner, and then have some of the bigger ticket in terms of the dollar figure items pushed into a second bill that Democrats could pass through a reconciliation, the budget process that only requires a simple majority of the Senate, which Democrats obviously have at this point.

But look, the political bet on the Biden side is that it's all well and good for Republicans to talk about the price tag in the abstract and $1.9 trillion certainly does sound like a lot, but what you heard from the White House over the last couple of days is pushing Republicans to say, okay, so in terms of substance, what is it that you want to cut? And Democrats are fairly confident that the actual contents of the legislation in terms of what that money is going towards in terms of relief to businesses and individuals and public health spending will be quite popular.

PAUL: So, bipartisanship is the big question here, whether it's for this particular proposal or for others. We have learned that there are some influential Republicans that have been lobbying GOP members of Congress to impeach and convict Donald Trump. We know that this is reported that it's not a coordinated effort necessarily, but I'm wondering if there is a gauge of how many Republicans still support the former president and I understand that you've got some good evidence of that in Arizona specifically, yes?

BURNS: Well, that's right. That you have this weekend the Arizona Republican Party voting to censure the governor of the state, Republican Doug Ducey, and Cindy McCain, the widow of Senator John McCain, and John flake because they supported Joe Biden and Doug Ducey for a range of perceived offenses.

But, look, this is an indication in one of the most important swing states in the country. It really is the hard right-wing of the party. And hard-core Trump supporters are very much in control, at least of the institutional apparatus on the ground.

Now, does that translate fully into Congress? We are going to have to wait and see, especially in the Senate. Those are folks who have some more distance from the ground level, the grassroots level of politics than some other folks in the party.


Certainly in the House where everybody needs to run every two years. I think members there are acuity sensitive to the possibility of a primary challenge from the right.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask about the reporting from "The Washington Post" this weekend. Look, we already know that the president, some of his rhetoric is responsible, at least in part, for the losses in Georgia, those two Senate seats. But now, "The Washington Post" is reporting that he is entertaining the idea of starting a new party, the patriot party, or trying to primary Republicans who voted against him in the impeachment in the House or didn't bend to his will in trying to overturn the election.

Is that just a scare tactic from your performance, or perspective, or should Mitch McConnell and Leader McCarthy, should they be afraid?

BURNS: Look, the idea of him supporting primary challenges to incumbents who voted to impeach him that I think is not an idle threat. That's something we've been hearing about for weeks. It's something that we reported really right after the November election, that he was planning to go after in the midterms, people who he saw as insufficiently loyal to him.

But, Victor, I think it's a big question right now exactly how the former president would plan to do that. He doesn't have his Twitter feed anymore to go and just sort of drop these bombs on people like Mark Sanford, who he successfully took out in the 2018 elections.

And, you know, it's well and good to talk about starting a political party as a threat, but when you talk to people who are, you know, not in sort of the inner circle of a die hard Trump loyalists and political enforcers, but maybe the next ring out, people who spent a lot of time around the president but don't sort of have their entire political identity bound up in him, there is a lot of skepticism that he has actually the kind of sustained interest and political discipline and political savvy, frankly, to go about the extraordinarily difficult business of building that kind of a new institution.

PAUL: So, when we talk about this faction in the Senate of Republicans who are sticking with Trump, how does that affect McConnell's leadership?

BURNS: Look, for as long as we can remember, basically, in political terms, you are talking about more than a decade and a half, Mitch McConnell has been seen as, by Republicans as just the bastion of conservatism on the Hill and the most trustworthy, most dominant political strategist and tactician of the right. And I think that he still has an enormous amount of goodwill and trust within the party.

But, look, he is also a very, very long serving leader who is approaching his 80th birthday, who had his, more than his share of clashes with the base of his party, and there are certainly people within his own caucus who feel his best days have come and gone. It is very, very, very hard to remove a leader in the Senate. And I don't think there is any expectation that that's going to happen for Mitch McConnell. It's much harder to remove a Senate leader than to remove a speaker of the House based on an internal revolt.

But is he going to be able to deliver the lock step party discipline that he has for many years? I think that's a much tougher question because you do have people in the Senate like your Ted Cruzes and your Josh Hawleys who are sort of looking to the next presidential election or maybe just era of leadership in the Senate.

BLACKWELL: Yeah. All right. Alex Burns, thank you so much.

PAUL: Thanks, Alex.

BURNS: Thanks a lot.

BLACKWELL: And coming up, Dana Bash makes her debut on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash this morning. She will be talking with Xavier Becerra, President Biden's nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Senators Mitt Romney and Bernie Sanders and Pennsylvania Representative Madeleine Dean. That's today at 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

PAUL: Well, the country is reaching a milestone, at least when it comes to the coronavirus vaccinations. State leaders, however, say it's not enough. More needs to be done to ensure that the millions of people who want that shot can actually get it.

BLACKWELL: Plus, one of the busiest attractions in our nation's capital, the Washington Monument, will be closed until further notice. We will have more on that ahead.

PAUL: And there's some disturbing video showing a Washington state police officer plowing his car into a private pedestrian.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looked like something out of a zombie movie. You see a zombie movie and imagine you are trying to get away from zombies, you run them over.




BLACKWELL: The scientists at the Centers for Disease Control are looking for data that suggests that coronavirus variant from the U.K. could be more deadly.

PAUL: At least 195 cases of the coronavirus variant have been identified in 22 U.S. states now. It's not clear if the new variant is indeed more deadly, but experts say it is more contagious.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Polo Sandoval is following the latest from New York this morning.

Polo, the spread of this variant, it really underscores the importance of increasing the vaccinations.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It also adds urgency, too, that we are seeing across the country, and what you are hearing from multiple leaders across the country here at the state level, Victor and Christi, is asking the government for more supplies. Here in New York, they are saying send it to us, we can handle it.

For example, Mets Stadium that you see behind me, Citi Field in Queens, also Yankees Stadium, they are already preparing to potentially set up these mass vaccination sites, but, as we heard from New York City leaders, that can't happen unless they get more than the expected 250,000 doses of the vaccine this week.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): The only half of the roughly 41 million COVID- 19 vaccines distributed have actually been administered, the head of the national institutes of health says he is seeing progress.

FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: It's not as bad as some people are painting it. We are averaging almost 1 million doses per day going into arms.


And that's a pretty good trajectory.

SANDOVAL: At that rate, President Joe Biden appears to be on course to meet his target at least for now, this despite not inheriting a vaccine distribution plan from the Trump administration, according to White House senior advisor Cedric Richmond.

CEDRIC RICHMOND, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR: We're going to get it done. We are going to hit our goal of 100 million doses within the first 100 days. And, look, we are not making excuses.

SANDOVAL: But the rest of those 100 days won't be easy for President Biden with demand greatly outpacing vaccination supplies across the country. New York state administered nearly all the doses it received during the first six weeks of vaccine rollouts. About 250,000 doses will be delivered this week, but New York City's mayor says they are ready to take on more.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY): The places that can do it fastest really need to get the ball quickly. We need the supply because we can get it into arms, but it's just not there for us. SANDOVAL: And where there is supply, there is a wait.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The line was long and I waited an hour and a half, but, you know, that's okay. If you really want to get this, you'll wait.

SANDOVAL: Lines continue snaking around Dodgers Stadium which is serving as a drive-through vaccination center. The death toll which remains alarmingly high is being particularly felt in the state of Georgia.

DR. DEEPAK AGGARWAL, GEORGIA PHYSICIAN: We are dealing with an increasing number of deaths. Our system normally deals with less than ten deaths per month. And we have already had 169 deaths as of January 21st.

SANDOVAL: And some rare good news. Nationwide hospitalization numbers dipped slightly Saturday night to levels not seen since before Christmas.


SANDOVAL (on camera): And now over a year after the first U.S. coronavirus case was confirmed and yet another U.S. mark will be closing, referring to the Washington monument that federal officials announced this weekend will be closed indefinitely, Victor and Christi. It previously had been closed off due to security concerns and the siege on the capitol earlier this month, but now authorities are saying that due to the pandemic, it will remain close for now.

PAUL: All righty. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Polo.

Let's bring in now, Dr. Lisa Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention at Johns Hopkins.

Dr. Maragakis, good morning to you.

Let me start here with something I read that you told "The Baltimore Sun," that there are substantial logistical hurdles that stand between the vaccine and getting them into arms. What's the biggest one where you are?

DR. LISA MARAGAKIS, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF INFECTION PREVENTION, THE JOHNS HOPKINS HEALTH SYSTEM: The single biggest problem that we are having right now is with vaccine supply. We just simply need more vaccines. We have many places that stand ready to safely and efficiently distribute and administer these vaccines, but the supply is just extremely limited right now.

BLACKWELL: Let's put up the map. We have a map of, I believe it's now 23 states where this U.K. variant of the virus has been reported. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there is evidence it might be more deadly. We know that the CDC is studying that as well. It spreads more easily. And you believe that the variants could, in your words, overwhelm

vaccines. Explain that.

MARAGAKIS: Victor, the problem right now is that we are in a race with this variant version of the virus, that appears to be more transmissible and it took over very quickly in the United Kingdom and it has been, as you said, detected here now in more than 20 states.

And so, what we need to do is to double down on our infection prevention precautions so that we interrupt transmission as much as possible. That helps slow the emergence of additional variants and mutations, and we need to get vaccines to individuals as quickly as possible to achieve a level of protection. There is concern that some of the variants may evade the current versions of the vaccine, and some of our therapies.

BLACKWELL: So, then, if these variants could evade the current version of the vaccines, do you know of the effort, and maybe you don't, but the effort to adapt the vaccines, or is it too early to start doing that because we don't know where the variants are going?

MARAGAKIS: That's right. I think we're not at that point yet. So I think what we need to do is to focus on this race to get everyone vaccinated and tamp down transmission as much as possible. Right now the data are showing that we are in an okay place, that we haven't yet proven that a variant can completely escape our therapies and our vaccines, but that's the concern. We see it taking steps towards that, and that's why time is of the essence.

BLACKWELL: Have we learned anything about these variants that would suggest that states should reconsider or the federal guidance should be reconsidered on who should be prioritized for getting the vaccine?


MARAGAKIS: You know, vaccine prioritization and concerns about equity and making sure that we vaccinate the most vulnerable among us and really reach the communities that have suffered so much disproportionately effects from this pandemic, all of that is very important. And we have now, I think, clear federal guidance about that. But right now the most important thing is that we need to figure out how to ramp up vaccine supplies so that these distribution sites can really make it available to everyone.

BLACKWELL: Last one here on the supply. The CDC, because of some questions and issues about supply, they've eased the guidance, the vaccine rules under, as they call them, exceptional circumstances one can get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and then get the Moderna second dose, or if you can't get it within the 21 or 28 days respectively as advised, that you could get the second dose up to six weeks later.

What do we know about the efficacy of the changing of those of those rules and if I don't get it within six weeks, do I have to start this regimen all over?

MARAGAKIS: Right. So the very best approach is to stick with the vaccine schedule that was studied in the clinical trials. And so, for the two vaccines that are currently in wide distribution, that means two doses either three or four weeks apart respectively.

You're right that some leeway is now available and we are, as data emerge, we are getting new guidance about how far apart the doses can be. So I think some of these are to accommodate situations that arise, but ideally we will still stick with the studied vaccine administration.

BLACKWELL: Hopefully, the supply kicks up soon.

Dr. Lisa Maragakis, I thank you for your time and expertise this morning.

MARAGAKIS: Thank you.


PAUL: So, President Biden say the U.S. is in a national emergency and more economic aid is needed now. The question is, what will lawmakers do? We will talk about that, what's at stake, that's next. Stay close.



PAUL: President Biden's promise to push for bipartisan is facing a big test today. His economic team is set to pitch the administration's $1.9 trillion rescue package to a group of senators from both sides of the aisle. And now, the president says he wants lawmakers to act, quote, decisively and boldly, and he's spending his first days emphasizing equity in his agenda.

Jim Tankersley is closely following all of this. He covers tax and economic policy from "The New York Times".

Thank you so much, Jim. Good to have you here.

So in your article for "The New York Times," which is really interesting, I should point out, you highlight that President Biden is one of only three other presidents who have come out and made really pushed for equality so early and with such authority, with such force. What is the future reality of these priorities once you get into the House and Senate?

JIM TANKERSLEY, TAX AND ECONOMICS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, the president has really made an effort in his stocking his cabinet and now in the first week in office to emphasize racial, in particular, equity in all of his policies, and the way that his team talks about it is it goes hand in hand with addressing this economic crisis that we're in, that if you act in the ways the president has proposed to help lift the economy, lift people now through the end of this pandemic and back into what will be hopefully a fast growing economy again, you are going to especially lift the people who have been hurt the hardest. So, that is -- workers of color and particularly low-income workers of

color. The president has been talking about this in these terms, helping to reduce poverty in black and Latino communities with these emergency steps that he wants Congress to take and that's where the action is now.

PAUL: So, when you talk about some of these lists, one of them is the new expansive child tax credits that are being talked about this morning. If it passes, this is just so our viewers know, this is what it means, that families would receive incoming or recurring monthly payments of about $300 a month, $3,600 per year per child. If the child is younger than 6, it would be about $3,000 per year, if the child is 6 to 17 years old.

How likely this could be reconciled, say, before the impeachment trial begins because the president is saying this is necessary?

TANKERSLEY: That seems very aggressive to hope that within two weeks Congress would have fully passed a bill when we haven't even seen legislative text yet. But there is a $1.9 trillion of these proposals in a bill and a lot of Republicans are saying that's too much spending for them. So Democrats are going to have to either win them over or find a way to go around them by using a special budget reconciliation process that allows them to pass things without Republicans.

Very interesting to see how long they wait on those negotiations versus just trying to move quickly on reconciliation. But I would say it's very unlikely that you see a bill on the president's desk before the impeachment trial starts.

PAUL: Yeah, I want to talk about what you just mentioned there, this procedural maneuver to push it through the Senate without the need for any Republican support, what does that look like and how likely is it that it would be used?

TANKERSLEY: I think there is a very good chance that Democrats will end up using it. It's what Republicans used to pass former President Trump's signature tax cuts in 2017. It has become sort of a more popular means of pushing particularly a lot of legislation that involves spending, which is what it's designed for.


So they have to pass a budget first and then quickly approve that and then quickly approve a bill that sort of tracks with that that sets out the spending priorities that the president has laid out. There are big questions over whether things like the president's minimum wage proposal seems like it's not the sort of thing you can do under this procedure, but Democrats have said they're going to be aggressive about it and try to sort of push the boundaries of what they have been able do in the past with the procedure.

PAUL: Yeah, that $15 minimum wage proposal. He's pushing. I want to ask you, since spring another element here is these 8 million eligible people who never got the stimulus checks, that they were supposed to get in March and then again in December, what is the president doing about that?

TANKERSLEY: Well, as part of a series of executive orders the president issued this week trying to take a few unilateral actions to help the economy. He expanded some food stamp benefits for families who need more nutritional assistance. In this case, he directed the Treasury Department to find new ways to get the checks out to people, people who are often cases unbanked or the IRS was unable to find ways to connect them to their money.

The president has basically told the treasury be more creative, see if you can't get this money to people because they need it almost certainly. These are folks who are probably struggling in this recovery based on the demographics of who has been hit hardest.

PAUL: All righty. Jim Tankersley, thank you so much for walking us through all of it and for getting up so early on the Sunday morning.

TANKERSLEY: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

PAUL: Of course.

BLACKWELL: Coming up, we are going to have more of Larry King's iconic moments. Here he is. This is 1999 with serial killer David Berkowitz once known as son of Sam.


LARRY KING, BROADCASTING LEGEND: What was it like to kill someone? First time you killed someone. We all wonder about something like that. What was it like?

DAVID BERKOWITZ, SERIAL KILLER: Larry, I don't dwell on that much and I don't dwell on it at all. It was a horrible thing.





KING: How do you deal with the inevitability that one day, you will lose your ability to communicate?

STEPHEN HAWKING, PHYSICIST: We all face the inevitability of death one day. While I'm alive, I will make sure I communicate one way or another.


BLACKWELL: People around the world are remembering the legacy of talk show king, Larry King.

PAUL: Yeah, his three sons say, of course, they are heartbroken over the death of their father. But listen to this statement. They say he was the man who lovingly obsessed over our daily schedules and our well-being and who took such immense pride in our accomplishments, large, small or imagined. And through it all we knew without a doubt in the world that he loved us more than life itself.

That's an image that we don't always get when we think about Larry King because he is their father, not ours, obviously. We saw the man on the screen.

But Tammy Haddad knows him as well. She was the first executive producer of CNN's "Larry King".

Tammy, so good to have you with us. Thank you for being here.

TAMMY HADDAD, FORMER EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, LARRY KING LIVE: So glad to be with you. And CNN has done a remarkable job in really explaining who Larry was and what he did. You know, you love seeing him so much. In fact, he had been offered millions and millions of dollars to leave. Sorry, guys. But (INAUDIBLE) because he loved being on live at 9:00 p.m. It was the greatest thing for him to do, to know that the whole world was watching.

PAUL: So, live can bring about some very interesting moments. And one of the things that I think was a cornerstone of his show wasn't just the questions he was asking. It was the live callers. Talk to us about how he managed all of that on the air.

HADDAD: Well, Larry viewed himself as every man. I know there was a lot of talk about how he didn't read the books. But that didn't mean he wasn't educated. That didn't mean he didn't read overall. He knew exactly what was going on, and he believed he was every man. He didn't want to get ahead of the audience and he wanted the audience to have the same opportunity to talk to the guests as he did.

And if you think that went over well, you have got to be kidding. People didn't like to do that. They didn't like to take a chance on the audience, right? They could ask me anything.

I mean, we curated the questions, but that's really offering Larry this opportunity to control their destiny. And I think that's what he did that's so unique, that people felt like he's not going to embarrass me, you know. He is not going to make me look bad. He is going to let me speak my truth and not judge me.

I think that was the big trick. So that reminds me, Ross Perot, there has been a lot of talk about him and how Larry changed the election. You know, we had been looking for Ross Perot to come on TV for two years. He had written his best-selling book about how he rescued his team from Iran, and he was a national hero.

And we pushed and pushed to get him. Larry finally interviewed him, and then he, you know, he trusted Larry. It's not a politician. And then we knew that he was thinking about running for president and Larry doesn't get enough credit because that night he kept pushing, pushing Perot. And Perot said, well, if the American people want me, they can register me in all these different states, and Larry said during the break, Ross, if you are going to run, can you please just announce it? If you want to do it, you know, you can't make it a mystery.


Anyway, in that last, last few minutes. Show, last few minutes of the show, he said, I'm going to run. Of course, it changed that election. And then what happened after, it forced Bill Clinton to come on.

Now, Bill Clinton then, he was on Arsenio Hall, did some things. That wasn't a big deal for him.

But President George Herbert Walker Bush, you know, he is president and he is thinking I am not going on this cable show. Why should I talk to this guy and have American people call me? I mean, it just was such a foreign thing to a White House.

So it wasn't until towards -- excuse me. It wasn't until towards the end of the election that he finally agreed to come on, and Larry had a lot of fun with him.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, of course, there was the Gore and Perot show with them together, which is iconic. That conversation.

But there is one thing I want to ask you about because you were with him very early on, and there was a line that I heard Larry king say. We have heard so much, where he said I didn't change, technology changed. And that transition from radio to television, was that difficult for him?

HADDAD: Oh, my God. Did you see the "Oceans 11", "Oceans Eight" movies?


HADDAD: Okay. Larry was broadcasting from Surfside Six, this boat off Miami. And then six weeks later they move him to D.C. to launch the radio show. I produced the radio show and it was in this tiny building in Crystal City.

You couldn't even enter on the civilian level. We had to go into the underground. It was crazy. It wasn't even named. This is the Mutual Radio Network.

And people would come on. They would have to be on for three hours. One hour of interview, two hours of people calling in asking questions. If you can believe that, but, you know, again, Miami was an important location that every celebrity went through there.

Don Rickles, Frank Sinatra, Joan Rivers. You name it. It was the Las Vegas at the time. So people knew Larry, sports people certainly knew Larry.

So he comes to Washington, D.C., and then Ted Turner comes knocking on our door saying, hey, I got this 24-hour news channel and you would be great to come on at nine or join us to, you know, give more context and do more in-depth interviews. And, you know, you got to give Ted Turner a lot of credit, because you look at Larry, I mean, I love Larry, but you look at Larry in those days, and you think TV, primetime, you know? He was no Anderson Cooper. Let's put it that way, okay?

But he came in, and he just was so passionately about the people. And people would come in and they wouldn't be afraid. But they also got their story out. And he was tough in the sense that he always asked the biggest question. What's the biggest question? Why? Why are you doing what you are doing?

Like you were talking about this serial killer. We used to write letters to every serial killer. Let me tell you.

You know, Mr. John Wayne Gacy, we would like you to appear. You know, can you imagine that happening now? Would you guys like to talk to some serial killers?

BLACKWELL: The letter-writing campaign alone to get them to respond I could imagine was the challenge.

HADDAD: Oh, my gosh, so true. You know what? Larry never got involved in any of it. He didn't really focus on who the guests were. We'd have him cut the promo, he'd move on to the next thing because he was curious about everyone.

I am telling you, he would have been as happy talking to the cab driver that dropped him off as talking to whoever the guest was. He just wanted to know what made people tick.

PAUL: Well, I understand he had a real love for Frank Sinatra. And when you look at the plethora of people that he talked with, was he ever star struck? And did he come to you and say, I want to talk to this person, through to get this person? Meaning Frank Sinatra or others?

HADDAD: Oh, when I tell you, it was years and years. I think it took us like eight years at "LARRY KING LIVE" to get Sinatra. He finally says yes. He is coming to the New York bureau. It's the most exciting thing that's happening at CNN, if you can believe.

Frank Sinatra, biggest star in world. There were all kinds of negotiations. He shows up that night and he comes in. I remember the walls were painted this weird purple in the green room, and there is Frank Sinatra.

You know, we didn't have iPhones at the time and you are desperate to take a picture. On the other hand, the purple background, it looked ridiculous.

And we were all really scared, right, because it's Frank Sinatra. He wasn't scary at all. He was as nervous as every other guest.

And he goes on the air. Frank Sinatra famously was not very happy with media. Of course, he didn't do that many interviews and was, you know, had been a star his whole life. You know how that goes.

But it didn't matter to Larry. [07:50:00]

He just looked at him like he was the whole world. And honestly, we all walked away that night saying, the joy in Larry's face is the greatest gift we could ever give him. All right, what are we going to do next?


PAUL: Wow, that's hard, that's hard to follow up.

BLACKWELL: Tammy, I have so enjoyed spending this time listening to these stories about Larry King and from this perspective, we lost a legend of this industry. But also from the stories we're hearing, just a great, great man.

Thank you so much, Tammy Haddad.

HADDAD: Sure was. Thank you.

PAUL: Tammy, thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. We'll be right back.


PAUL: A group of national honor society students from Cloquet High School in Minnesota put a smile on the faces of residents and staff at a local nursing home staff.


Now, this was part of their volunteer hours, but around a dozen students built several snowmen, look at this, and snow sculptures outside the Sunnyside Healthcare Center. One student said with the ongoing pandemic, it's something to brighten their day.

And they can look at it when they feel sad or lonely and know, you know, what, somebody was thinking of us and they wanted to do something nice. And sometimes that's all we really need.

BLACKWELL: You just need to know that somebody is caring.

PAUL: Absolutely.

Hey, well, we care and we're grateful that you hang out with us here on the mornings. Thank you so much for being with us and I hope you make good memories today.

BLACKWELL: "INSIDE POLITICS" with Abby Phillip is up next.